- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Justice Department’s reporting of terrorism-related statistics is “decentralized and haphazard,” according to an internal audit, which said immigration, marriage fraud and drug cases often were wrongly counted as terrorism-related.

In examining the accuracy of 26 terrorism-related statistical reports by the FBI, the Justice Department’s criminal division and the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA), Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said all but two were inaccurate — lacking documentation and “significantly overstated or understated” by 10 percent or more.

“Department officials either had not established internal controls to ensure the statistics were accurately gathered, classified and reported, or did not document the internal controls used,” he said. “We found many cases involving offenses such as immigration violations, marriage fraud or drug trafficking where department officials provided no evidence to link the subject of the case to terrorist activity.”

The statistics, collected from the FBI, the department’s criminal division and all 94 U.S. attorneys, are reported to senior Justice Department managers, Congress and the public.

Mr. Fine’s office focused on terrorism convictions during fiscal 2003 and 2004 reported by EOUSA; the number of persons convicted or who pleaded guilty resulting from terrorism convictions from September 11, 2001, through Feb. 3, 2005, reported by the Criminal Division; and the number of terrorist threats tracked by the FBI in fiscal 2003 and 2004.

“The Justice Department agrees fully with the Office of the Inspector General that the department must collect, verify and maintain accurate statistics on the important national security work being conducted at Main Justice, the FBI and in United States Attorney’s Offices around the country,” according to the FBI.

The FBI said it has made improvements to its statistical reporting systems in recent years, specifically its case management and supporting information technology programs.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said the EOUSA has changed the way it counts and classifies anti-terrorism cases, and that the IG’s findings, with respect to U.S. attorneys’ statistics, “largely boiled down to a difference of opinion over the definition of anti-terrorism.”

He also said criminal division prosecutors and the FBI also have changed their case reporting systems to more accurately reflect terror-related cases.

The report said the EOUSA significantly overstated the number of anti-terrorism defendants in cases it filed, the number of terrorism and terrorism-related convictions, and the number of terrorism-related defendants sent to prison. It said the criminal division significantly understated the number of persons convicted or who pleaded guilty in terrorism cases, and the number convicted with material support of terrorism.

Also, it said the FBI significantly overstated the number of counterterrorism threat assessments it issued, the number of presidential terrorist threat reports, and the number of terrorism-related convictions, but significantly understated the number of intelligence assessments and bulletins it issued and terrorist threats it tracked.

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