NOVEMBER 06, 2006
Sloppy investigative work by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has led prosecutors to reject nearly 90% of international terrorism cases in the last year, lowering drastically the convictions of individuals the U.S. Government has identified as international terrorists.
Though the numbers have peaked in the last year, the trend began around 20001 when the United States Department of Justice began identifying the poor quality of investigations as an obstacle in prosecuting cases targeting suspected terrorists.
Now a report published by an independent research center that studies federal government agencies, reveals just how serious the problem is. Using data from the Justice Department’s Executive Office for United States Attorneys, it reveals that in the last year alone, federal prosecutors declined to bring charges in 131 of 150 international terrorist case referrals from the FBI.
Using charts, graphs and various informative tables, the detailed report illustrates the steady decline in terrorism prosecutions since the 2001 attacks in the U.S. as well as the decline in sentences for terrorists who were actually convicted. Sentences are often a good measure of the quality of criminal investigations and the medium sentence for a convicted terrorist in 2006 is a dismal five months.
Like many agencies that lack resources, the FBI cannot blame that for its shortfalls. The bureau increased its force by more than 3,000 since the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks and more than doubled its intelligence officers – from 994 to 2,104–during that period.
With that kind of force, it’s no wonder the authors of the report go on to say: “With more special agents, many more intelligence analysts, and many fewer prosecutions the question must be asked: What is the FBI doing?”
No comment from officials at troubled agency. In fact, they declined an opportunity to see the scathing report in advance to comment on its findings. Perhaps lawmakers can force FBI officials to give tax-paying Americans an answer.
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