Wednesday, September 06, 2006

So Just How's That Global War on Terrorism Going?

With today's headline news that Bush acknowledged the secret CIA prisons in countries that specialize these types of outsourced services, bloggers have asked the perennial question about how the No Terrorist Left Behind Global War On Terrorism is going. Since unfunded testing mandates were unavailable at this time, we turn to Bruce Schneier. Schneier is a security technologist and author. He's the go-to guy on security issues whom The Economist calls a "security guru". He'd be what any other Whitehouse administration would call an expert. Schneier's provided a handy scorecard for this overly funded hysterical mandate foisted on America by Dick Cheney and company.

This is absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in how the U.S. is prosecuting terrorism. Put aside the rhetoric and the posturing; this is what is actually happening.

Among the key findings about the year-by-year enforcement trends in the period were the following:

  • In the twelve months immediately after 9/11, the prosecution of individuals the government classified as international terrorists surged sharply higher than in the previous year. But timely data show that five years later, in the latest available period, the total number of these prosecutions has returned to roughly what they were just before the attacks. Given the widely accepted belief that the threat of terrorism in all parts of the world is much larger today than it was six or seven years ago, the extent of the recent decline in prosecutions is unexpected. See Figure 1 and supporting table.

  • Federal prosecutors by law and custom are authorized to decline cases that are brought to them for prosecution by the investigative agencies. And over the years the prosecutors have used this power to weed out matters that for one reason or another they felt should be dropped. For international terrorism the declination rate has been high, especially in recent years. In fact, timely data show that in the first eight months of FY 2006 the assistant U.S. Attorneys rejected slightly more than nine out of ten of the referrals. Given the assumption that the investigation of international terrorism must be the single most important target area for the FBI and other agencies, the turn-down rate is hard to understand. See Figure 2 and supporting table.

  • The typical sentences recently imposed on individuals considered to be international terrorists are not impressive. For all those convicted as a result of cases initiated in the two years after 9//11, for example, the median sentence -- half got more and half got less-- was 28 days. For those referrals that came in more recently -- through May 31, 2006 -- the median sentence was 20 days. For cases started in the two year period before the 9/11 attack, the typical sentence was much longer, 41 months. See Figure 3.

Schneier concludes that most "terrorism" arrests are not for actual terrorism; they're for other things. Things like buying cellphones at Walmart. Don't worry, the FBI cleared that all up.

Which brings us to the odd timing of Bush bringing these alleged 14 terrorists to Guantanamo for a military tribunal. Why now? Could it be there's a midterm election that is not going according to Rove's plan? This has been your periodic reminder that Shays, Simmons & Johnson failed to provide any semblance of Congressional oversight to the Executive Branch. If the centerpiece to a Republican campaign is to be strong on terrorism, and they can't manage that ... what's left for them to run on, fiscal conservatism? Oh wait ... better just reduce taxes on people making over $500,000 a year.

Schneier on Security, Scorecard from the War on Terror, 09/05/06


Bobby McGee said...

Three letters...K...G....B...

Anonymous said...

No turff, we will base a national campaign on inadequate storm sewers and letting the taxpayers bail out the UAW

BRubenstein said...

Bush cant even catch Osama...

GMR said...

The median sentence is 28 days because many of the people arrested on "terrorism" charges only had to pay a fine or do community service. For istance, some guy sold some forklift parts to an Iranian, and was sentenced to 50 hours community service.

The illegal combatants who were taken to Guantanamo were not tried. Illegal combatants are not afforded the same rights as POWs (and this is not a new practice: in the Battle of the Bulge in 1945, some Germans donned US Army uniforms and pretended to be US Soldiers. Upon capture, they were not afforded POW status and were all summarily shot).

Also, it's interesting to see how other countries did since 9/11:

UK: 9/11/01 to 12/31/04 had 701 arrests under the Terrorism Act. Only 119 of these faced charges, and 45 were also charged for other things not in the Terrorism Act. Only 17 received convictions. 135 people were charged only under other legislation.

Australia: Only 3 convictions since the new security laws went into effect in 2002.

Anonymous said...

Brucie, go back to your "free" medicine

Anonymous said...

Prosecutons let the enemy know what you are doing. Interrogations let you know what the enemy is doing. The study does not tell us the quality of the information garnered from apprehended terrorists. But some of it must be good because we bagged the #2 gut in Iraq. He was apprehended, held incommunicado for months, not prosecuted, and milked for information. The intel he provided led to the capture of other terrorists. They have not been tried either.

Anonymous said...

turfgrrl (aka Lieberman schill) -

This comment is completely pathetic: "This has been your periodic reminder that Shays, Simmons & Johnson failed to provide any semblance of Congressional oversight to the Executive Branch."

How can you support Lieberman on the one hand, and attack the Republicans for lack of oversight on the other?

Let's review some facts (although I realize facts are often inconsequential in your opinion pieces):

Rob Simmons voted AGAINST the war, Joe Lieberman voted for it.

Both Simmons and Shays (who supports the war obviously) have been very critical of the Bush Administration's handling of the war.

Shays has conducted hearings in Washington and has travelled to Iraq more than a dozen times to learn about what's happening (also know as OVERSIGHT).

Until his most recent appearances on the Sunday mporning talk shows, Lieberman has NOT been critical at all of the Bush Administration. Remember, he is the Senator who said that at the time of war we question our leaders to our peril.

How can you justify your attack on the Republicans and support for Joe regarding the war?

Perhaps, you may say, "Well, the Republicans are in charge, so it is their responsibility?"

I disagree.

First, you forget that Lieberman WAS in charge when the Democrats had control of the Senate (thanks to Sen. Jeffords). Remember, Joe's idea of oversight was to confirm "Brownie" at Homeland Security in record time.

Second, I believe that all of our elected officials, even more so those who voted to send our troops into harms way, have a moral obligation to be vigilent with respect to oversight.

Please tell me what oversight Senator Lieberman has done and how his oversight is better than that of the 3 Republican Congressmen you criticize?

If you cannot answer that question, perhaps you should stick to cutting and pasting articles from the Norwalk Hour about sewers.

bluecoat said...

draw your own conclusions on counterterrorism but here's a couple of views from NYC:Polls apart on security By DAVID SALTONSTALL

href="">NYPD's terror trackers Kelly builds elite unit

bluecoat said...

NYPD's Terror Trackers

bluecoat said...

there is absolutley no proff of this statement:The intel he provided led to the capture of other terrorists. They have not been tried either.

bluecoat said...

and to answer Turrfgrrl's question of whynow transfer the terror suspects to Gitmo? It is political but not necessarially about the election. The US Supreme Court shot down his tribunals that were outside of the UCMJ and now he has submitted an 81 page doc/proposed bill to Congress instead of adopting UCMJ: check out the NYT and others for details. Bush wants it his way and his using this press action to bully the Congress. stay tuned.