|From Sunday's Washington Post:|
Few Terror Convictions in Cases Since 9/11
Despite government claims of success in prosecuting terrorists, Post analysis shows that majority of cases are not linked to extremists.
By Dan Eggen and Julie Tate
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, June 12, 2005; A01
First of two parts
Flanked by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Bush said that "federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been convicted." But the numbers are misleading at best.
Many people appear to have been swept into U.S. counterterrorism investigations by chance -- through anonymous tips, suspicious circumstances or bad luck -- and have remained classified as terrorism defendants years after being cleared of connections to extremist groups.
The patterns discovered by The Post are similar to findings in studies of Justice Department terrorism cases by New York University and Syracuse University, each of which examined different sets of data.
More than a third of the cases on the list arose from a post-Sept. 11 FBI dragnet, which resulted in the arrests of hundreds of Muslim immigrants for minor violations unrelated to the hijackings or terrorism.
"What we're seeing over time is the equivalent of mission creep: cases that would not be terrorism cases before Sept. 11 are swept onto the terrorism docket," said Juliette Kayyem, a former Clinton administration Justice official who heads the national security program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. "The problem is that it's not good to cook the numbers. . . . We have no accurate assessment of whether the war on terrorism is actually working."