In July 2009 Human Rights First, a “non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C.” released a report entitled In Pursuit of Justice: Prosecuting Terrorism Cases in the Federal Courts (2009 Update and Recent Developments) (pdf here). On pages 6-7 of the report (12-13 of the pdf) we find the following interesting facts:
As shown in Figure 1, we have identified 119 cases filed since September 11, 2001 … there were 289 defendants charged in those cases.
Of the 289 defendants in our data set, 45 have yet to be brought into custody because they are fugitives, currently are subject to extradition proceedings or cannot be extradited, are deceased, or for some other reason. Another 7 defendants are legal entities rather than individuals, and bail information was not available for 10 individuals. Thus, 227 individual defendants have been arrested and have had a bail determination made by the court.
Of these 227 defendants, 157 were ordered detained without bail and 82 were released on conditions. These figures reflect a detention rate of approximately 69% (emphasis added).
The only breakdown of the charges in the report is found on page 12 (pdf page 18). That figure is reproduced here in its entirety, with the caveat that the report says it “shows the statutes most commonly charged against defendants in cases within our data set. A single defendant may be counted multiple times in this chart, once for each statute that he is alleged to have violated.”
We also learn on page 12 that from 12 September 2001 to 2 June 2009 there has been a 92.1% rate of conviction (of at least one charge), with 8.9% of cases resulting in full acquittal or dismissal.
I’d like to do a more thorough analysis of these numbers but I don’t have the time. However, I know for certain that when 31% of the “terrorists” brought before Article 3 courts since 2001 managed to get released into the community with some or no conditions, I’m not entirely satisfied with the definition “terrorist” in the context of Article 3 prosecutions. I suspect this has something to do with the number of controlled substances, RICO, and money laundering cases lumped in with the others.
On the other hand, Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty Monday in the Eastern District of New York to a three-count superseding information charging him with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction (explosive bombs) against persons or property in the United States, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support to al-Qaeda. Among other things, Zazi admitted that he brought TATP [Triacetone Triperoxide] explosives to New York on Sept. 10, 2009, as part of plan to attack the New York subway system. Zazi is a legal permanent resident of the United States from Afghanistan.