Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Dog Ate The Justice Dept's Homework!

I have this notion, given to me by my parents, that if I keep on making the same mistake time and again it stops being an "accident" but and instead becomes that I am just not trying hard enough to get things right.

Obviously the folks at the Justice Department had a different upbringing.

Most of the Justice Department's major statistics on terrorism cases are highly inaccurate, and federal prosecutors routinely count cases involving drug trafficking, marriage fraud and other unrelated crimes as part of anti-terrorism efforts, according to an audit released yesterday.

Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found that only two of the 26 sets of important statistics on domestic counterterrorism efforts compiled by Justice and the FBI from 2001 to 2005 were accurate, according to a 140-page report. The numbers were both inflated and understated, depending on the data cited and which part of the Justice Department was doing the counting, the report said.

The biggest problems were in numbers compiled by the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, which counted hundreds of terrorism cases that did not qualify for the designation because they involved minor crimes with no connection to terrorist activity, the report said.

...A 2005 Washington Post analysis of terrorism cases tallied by the Justice Department's Criminal Division showed that most defendants were charged with minor crimes unrelated to terrorism.

Fine's office examined similar data as part of its analysis but, unlike The Post, it accepted at face value any claims of a terrorism link by the government. Under those conditions, the report said, the Criminal Division actually understated the number of cases that would qualify as related to terrorism.
The only two entirely accurate sets of statistics were compiled by the FBI, said the inspector-general's report, but they got far more reports wrong too.

When pressed on this, the Justice Dept. gave one of those "I didn't lose my homework on purpose, it was an accident" excuses.
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said "the notion that the Justice Department inflated its statistics is false and flatly contradicted by the [inspector general's] report itself, which found that the Criminal Division either accurately stated or understated the department's terrorism statistics in nearly all categories."
So here's what we have: they've known about the problem since at least 2005 but they still can't get it right. They claim it isn't so bad because they both over and under-estimate their figures - figures used to explain to Congress and the taxpayer how the Justice Department is spending taxpayer's money to protect the country against terrorist attacks. Yet even a casual analysis of the data reveals that all their figures are rubbish in the first place because they rest on a wide definition of "terrorism" that includes immigration sweeps at airports.

I blame their parents, who have given them no appreciation for the truth.