Effectiveness of the war on terror

by Ragnar Schierholz

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghous (TRAC) at Syracuse University has analyzed justice departments' statistics to assess the effectiveness of the "war on terror". The results are now published in a TRAC Report.

In his blog, Bruce Schneier highlights some of the ironic results. You want examples? The median sentence in terror-related trials range from 28 to 20 days, depending on how long after 9/11 the trial took place. U.S. prosecuters rejected slightly more than 9 out of 10 cases of international terrorism brought to them. Several more can be found in the original report.

[via Schneier on Security]


I am not sure if I would call these results "ironic". Rather I think they are a good and healthy sign for prosecutors still being independent from government's will, which is far more than many would expect.

Haiko Hebig, 2006-09-06

Haiko, seen from that point of view, you make perfect sense. I think it's somewhat ironic because it largely contradicts the official administation position that the measures are oh so effective. Successes such as the finding of the plans and the arrest of the terrorists in London are put into perspective by these statistics.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2006-09-06

Call me a conspiracist, but my worry is that the U.S. government would use this information to put pressure on prosecutors and judges to garner more trials and convictions. We know they don't care about anything like justice, and they are certainly good at twisting data to make their agenda and themselves appear better.

Katie Bondurant, 2006-09-06

I'm not surprised at all, because it's pretty obvious that the Bush administration is not relying on the normal prosecutors and courts, except in the most trivial cases.

I think (unfortunately) that the correct interpretation of this is that when investigations lead to dead ends but some minor matters were discovered without violating any rules of evidence gathering and without violating due process rights, then the cases are turned over to the prosecutors and courts. In those cases, the defendants get the benefits of all the rights the US system gives to accused criminals, and they are lightly punished. Those are the only cases that show in the statistics, but the are not the only cases.

When investigations lead to dead ends and some minor matters were discovered but violations of the rules make that evidence inadmissable in US courts, then the cases are turned over to the immigration department and the accused people are given hearings according to the much lower standards of due process that apply, and then they are deported. And when investigations are leading to real evidence against real terrorist threats, those cases are never being handled by prosecutors and courts, and they're not being handled by immigration. They are being dealt with by other agencies, with no due process.

Richard Schwartz, 2006-09-06

So I guess this story comes right in time to prove your point, Richard: Bush admits to CIA secret prisons.

Haiko Hebig, 2006-09-06

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