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Anti-terrorism scorecard

Declan McCullagh's Politech list pointed me to an op-ed piece by James Bovard in last Friday's Boston Globe titled The 'terrorist' batting average. It's purpose is to argue against Congress passing any law that would endorse the Bush Administration's use of military tribunals at Guantanamo and other places. I wholeheartedly agree. But it's worth reading even apart from its merit in making this case because it briefly totes up the administration's scorecard on combatting terrorism.

In the six weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, the US government rounded up 1,200 people as suspected terrorists, or their supporters.... None of the detainees proved to have links to the attacks.

The federal government has inflated the "No Fly List" to 200,000 names. But the list has nabbed more members of Congress than it has terrorists.... Federal officials make it very difficult to correct the list, thus tormenting citizens who are guilty of nothing more than having a name resembling a name suspected sometime by some government official.

Hundreds of disruptions have occurred at American airports since Sept. 11 after security breaches set off fears of terror attacks.... Though no terrorists have been apprehended, thousands of Americans have been arrested at airports for violating Transportation Security Administration regulations or other rules.

Since 2001, federal officials have carried out wave after wave of arrests and crackdowns on alleged terrorist financing. But none of those apprehended in the United States have been linked to Al Qaeda....

Thousands of Americans have had their phones tapped without a warrant, but none has been charged with supporting or conspiring with Al Qaeda.

Federal officials have charged 10 times as many people in terrorist investigations as they convicted on terrorist-related charges. Bush declared a year ago that "federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been convicted." But only 39 people were convicted on crimes tied to terrorism or national security...

As for the use of military tribunals to try so-called "enemy combatants", the news that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that they were illegal—violating both the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice—left me feeling elated. This feeling was quickly dashed, however, on news that Sen. Arlen Specter, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, (and others) had announced plans to introduce legislation that would legalize these tribunals.

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