RealNews

Terror Cases Rise, but Most Are Small-Scale, Study Says

In the most detailed examination to date of how the Sept. 11 attacks are changing the face of law enforcement, a study found today that federal officials have sharply increased their prosecution of terrorism-related crimes, but often by bringing minor charges that have resulted in jail sentences of only a few months. In the year after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, federal prosecutions of crimes connected with terrorism and domestic security grew tenfold, to 1,208 cases from 115 the previous year, according to researchers at Syracuse University. But the sentences shrank markedly, from a median of nearly two years in 2001 to just two months last year, as prosecutors brought cases for smaller-scale crimes like document fraud, identification theft, threats and immigration violations, the data showed. Most of the cases were far removed from the headlines generated by terrorism defendants like John Walker Lindh and Zacarias Moussaoui. Federal prosecutors “are being a lot less picky than in the past,” said David Burnham, co-director of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse, the research group that compiled the report. “They’re casting a much wider net, and they’re getting a lot more fish. What’s not clear, though, is whether they’re getting the sharks or not.” Full Story

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