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A new report that raises questions about the effectiveness of the FBI’s anti-terrorism efforts has spurred a sharp response from the bureau. The report, circulated to reporters last week and released publicly Nov. 6, shows that Justice Department prosecutors declined to prosecute 87 percent of international terrorism cases referred to them by the FBI in the first nine months of the 2006 fiscal year. That’s a jump from 2001, when prosecutors declined to prosecute just 33 percent of FBI referrals. That and other data “raise troubling questions about the bureau’s investigation of criminal matters involving individuals the government has identified as international terrorists,” write the report’s authors from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, known as TRAC. FBI headquarters fired a countershot Nov. 3 with a lengthy statement questioning TRAC’s figures and arguing that the report relies on the “faulty assumption that every referral from an investigative agency should result in a criminal prosecution.” The report also notes that in the first nine months of 2006, the government won just 12 convictions in what the DOJ classifies as international terrorism cases, and that 10 of those resulted in sentences of a year or less. In a written statement, DOJ spokesman Brian Roehrkasse pointed out that shorter sentences in terrorism cases since Sept. 11, 2001, may actually be a reflection of success, as the DOJ seeks to disrupt threats by bringing lesser charges earlier in an investigation.
Jason McLure can be contacted at [email protected].

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