A Special TRAC Report:
A Word About the Data
This report is based on very timely data received by TRAC on a month-by-month basis as a result of a continuing series of requests and court
actions under the Freedom of Information Act. The original source of the
data are the offices of individual United States attorneys who are required
under long-established rules to keep track of their daily work product
referrals for prosecution received from the investigative agencies, the
decisions made by each office about how the referrals were handled and the
ultimate disposition of each matter. This very detailed information is used by
the Justice Department to prepare special studies for the attorney general
and Congress and to publish an annual report summarizing the department's
criminal and civil enforcement actions.
Presented here are findings concerning those recommendations for
prosecution from the investigative agencies that the U.S. Attorneys in one
way or another had acted upon and that they categorized as involving
"terrorism" or "anti-terrorism." Because the Justice Department is now
withholding certain data that it previously had provided TRAC, the counts of
agency "referrals" are estimated.
The Department now divides terrorism into four main components. The
first three are international, domestic and financial terrorism. The fourth, is a
category the government has labeled as anti-terrorism. Anti-terrorism
concerns individuals who were targeted on the grounds that charging them
with some crime might "prevent or disrupt potential or actual terrorist threats."
(See figure 1 for a table of program categories.)
Most of the counts in this report are based on two separate "cohorts"
one concerning those matters recommended for prosecution in the two years
after 9/11, the second in the two years before. In both cohorts the processing
of each matter was followed up thru September 30, 2003.
A critical report on an investigation by the General Accounting Office
about the way the Justice Department classified terrorism matters was issued
on February 19, 2003. It called for better management oversight and internal
controls to ensure accuracy of terrorism-related statistics.
One further note. The Justice Department data presented here focus on
the government actions in regard to those individuals who an investigative
agency has recommended be prosecuted for a specific crime and who the
government classified as terrorists or anti-terrorists . This means that those
individuals who the government has detained without a referral are not
 This litigation is continuing. TRAC filed a new lawsuit December 22,
2002 challenging the government's very recent decision to begin withholding
information on program area for new prosecution referrals. As a result, it is
possible that the counts of terrorism referrals since the latter months of FY
2002 may be slightly under-counted. Data on terrorism declinations and
prosecutions, however, are not being withheld and should therefore be a
complete record of the actions of individual United States attorneys as they