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Cato Institute-Policy Analysis
May 16, 2011

Leashing the Surveillance State How to Reform Patriot Act Surveillance Authorities
By Julian Sanchez

While international terrorism is defined by statute, an analysis by the Syracuse Universityís Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research institution focused on government oversight, suggests that government entities apply the classification inconsistently. Federal prosecutors decline to bring charges in a substantial majority of the terrorism cases referred for prosecution by intelligence and law enforcement agencies, but in the recent cases where charges have been brought, more than a quarter of defendants identified as terror related by the Justice Departmentís National Security Division were not so categorized by prosecutors. Only 8 percent of defendants appeared on all of three lists of terror-related cases independently compiled by the Justice Department, federal prosecutors, and federal courts......citing TRAC research. Though it is difficult to say definitively without access to classified records, publicly available data provides some reason to believe we have passed the point of diminishing returns.Of the fraction of FBI terror investigations ultimately referred to U.S. attorneys in 2001, immediately after the 9/11 attacks, 66 percent resulted in prosecutions in 2002. By 2009, the number had fallen to 21 percentómeaning federal prosecutors were declining to pursue nearly 80 percent of the cases referred to them by the FBI.......citing TRAC research.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2011
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