|(27 Sep 2009)
The federal government remains baffled by the question of who should be prosecuted as a terrorist and who should not. The continuing confusion on this key point -- eight years after the 9/11 attacks -- has at the same time weakened national security and undermined civil liberties.
Evidence that federal agencies can't agree emerged from an extensive analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) of many thousands of terrorism case-by-case records obtained from the Federal Courts and two agencies in the Justice Department.
One part of TRAC's study found that three highly authoritative lists of alleged terrorists prosecuted by the federal government since FY 2004 -- each of which was independently compiled by separate federal institutions -- had surprisingly few names in common. The report includes maps giving locations along with case-by-case details of those prosecuted, including names, charges, and outcomes.
A different kind of evidence documenting the government's lack of any clear focus emerged from TRAC's analysis of the data showing that during the last five years U.S. Attorneys refused to file criminal charges against two out of three (67%) of the thousands of terrorism matters that the investigative agencies had recommended for prosecutions, and that this turndown rate has been rising.
Read the new TRAC report at
This report was developed with the support of Syracuse University and the Rockefeller Family Fund. It builds on extensive research and numerous previous studies about the FBI, the DHS and the investigation and prosecution of terrorism matters in the United States that were funded by earlier grants from the Rockefeller Family Fund and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.