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Friday, March 7, 2008

 

The Fear Factory

‘For law enforcement, fear and the politics of fear have entwined to create a radical new paradigm. Even the term “law enforcement” has been rendered quaint by the Bush administration. These days, the term of art is “lawfare” — the confluence of police work and military tactics. With Joint Terrorism Task Forces set up across the country to coordinate the work of federal agencies and local cops, the FBI now devotes nearly two-thirds of its resources — some $4 billion — to waging war on terrorism. The approach today is not the traditional police work of investigating actual crimes but the far more slippery goal of preventing terrorist attacks before they occur.

To hear the Bush administration tell it, the JTTFs have been an unqualified success. [..]

But a closer inspection of the cases brought by JTTFs reveals that most of the prosecutions had one thing in common: The defendants posed little if any demonstrable threat to anyone or anything. According to a study by the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law, only ten percent of the 619 “terrorist” cases brought by the federal government have resulted in convictions on “terrorism-related” charges — a category so broad as to be meaningless. In the past year, none of the convictions involved jihadist terror plots targeting America. “The government releases selective figures,” says Karen Greenberg, director of the center. “They have never even defined ‘terrorism.’ They keep us in the dark over statistics.”‘




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