Your own government wouldn’t use fear and intimidation in order to push an agenda – would it?
Absolutely it would. Enter “the terrorist threat.”
Most Americans know that the threat of terrorism exists. The two gaping holes where the World Trade Center used to be on Sept. 12, 2001, are more than enough proof of that. But Boston bombing aside, are Americans really under constant threat of being killed by terrorists? No, we’re not – though our government would like for us to think so.
According to a newly released audit, all of the Justice Department’s terrorism-related statistics were reported inaccurately, and most of them were greatly exaggerated.
Five years ago, reports Courthouse News Service, the department’s Office of Inspector General found major problems with its reporting of terrorism-related stats. In an effort to ensure better reporting, the IG advised the department to revise and improve its internal controls.
So much for honesty and integrity from the ‘justice’ department
A follow-up audit this year, which was intended to assess whether the department’s corrective actions improved the accuracy of its statistics and reporting, found that not much had changed. According to the news site:
Auditors selected 11 of the 39 statistics to thoroughly test, including the number of terrorism-related cases filed, the number of defendants convicted at trial or by guilty plea, and the number of defendants sentenced to prison.
But, instead of improvement, the audit found that the Department “inaccurately reported all 11 statistics we reviewed during this follow-up audit. Most of these 11 statistics were inaccurately reported by significant margins.”
For instance, one stat reporting the number of terrorism-related defendants who were judged guilty in the year 2009 was inflated some 13 percent. The following year, 2010, that figure was artificially boosted 26 percent. Meanwhile, the number of terrorism-related defendants sentenced to prison in 2010 was overstated by nearly one in five instances – 19 percent.
Upon further examination, IG auditors found cases in each category that were coded incorrectly as “terrorism/national security” cases, and should not even have been included.
“In response to these findings, EOUSA [Executive Office for United States Attorneys] officials told us that to the extent cases are overstated in one year due to untimely data entry, these cases are correspondingly understated in previous years in which the cases should have been reported,” the audit said.
The main reason given for the “inaccuracies” in the department’s reporting was EOUSA’s failure to allow a lag time at the end of the fiscal year in order to give U.S. attorney’s offices time to get their backlogged cases entered into the system. Also, a lack of clear definitions for how some states are to be reported, coupled with delays in data-entry due to a lack of prioritization, were also blamed.
“USAO officials told us that this problem had occurred because they placed a higher priority on opening and prosecuting cases, had limited staff, were under tight time constraints, and did not provide case files to staff for docketing in a timely manner,” said the IG audit.
In the U.S. attorney’s budget submission to Congress in 2012, the Justice Department said that 168 defendants had been sentenced to prison on terrorism-related offenses stemming from a few years prior, in 2010. However, in a review of those cases, IG auditors discovered that one defendant had actually been sentenced in 2007, and eight a year later, in 2009.
Fudged numbers = more authority over YOU
“Through our audit testing, we did not identify deficiencies in the EOUSA’s internal controls that were significant within the context of the audit objectives and that, based upon the audit work performed, we believe would adversely affect EOUSA’s ability to effectively and efficiently operate, to correctly state financial information, and to ensure compliance with laws and regulations,” said the auditors.
“However, we did identify weaknesses regarding the EOUSA’s controls over the reporting of terrorism-related statistics that have resulted in significant inaccuracies when reporting some of these statistics. EOUSA officials acknowledged these discrepancies and expressed interest in strengthening their processes,” the report concluded.
To what end is this distorted reporting of terrorism cases? More power, of course. The “see how well we’re doing?” crowd will always want bigger budgets, more regulations on you and more authority for them.
Scaring us into thinking that terrorists are just around the corner – then “proving” they are with inflated numbers – feeds into that cycle of authoritarianism.