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Corruption Chronicles

Government Distorts Terror Stats

The Department of Justice has greatly inflated statistics relating to counterterrorism arrests in the years since the 2001 attacks by counting cases involving marriage fraud and drug trafficking as terror-related.

Details of the distorted government statistics are featured in a 160-page report issued this week by the Justice Department’s Inspector General. It found that data from the Executive Office of the U.S. Attorneys, which compiles statistics from 94 federal prosecutor districts nationwide, were the most severely flawed because data that was coded as terror related was not supported by any reasonable link to terrorist activity.

The Inspector General found that agency wide nearly all of the terrorism-related statistics on investigations, referrals and cases were either diminished or inflated. In fact, it determined that only two of 26 sets of date reported between 2001 and 2005 were accurate.

Examples of cases that were counted as terror related include charges against a broker for being paid to arrange six fraudulent marriages between Tunisians and U.S. citizens; prosecution of a Mexican citizen who falsely identified himself as another person in a passport application and charges against a suspect for dealing firearms without a license.

The report specifically says that law enforcement efforts such as those should not be counted as anti-terrorism. It also stresses the importance of reporting accurate counterterrorism statistics because those numbers are reported to Congress and they in turn shape the Justice Department’s annual budget.


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