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Justice Department Terror Statistics Incorrect, Report Says

The U.S. Justice Department inaccurately reported terrorism-related statistics, understating the number of people charged with crimes linked to terrorism and overstating how many cases had been resolved favorably, according to an inspector general report.

The department said that 512 people were charged from the Sept. 11 attacks through September 2007, while the number was actually 544, according to the report released today.

The department’s National Security Division said the number of counterterrorism cases resolved favorably to the government was 59 in fiscal year 2009, two more than the actual count, according to the report.

“Although it appears that the statistics were not significantly overstated or understated, the inaccurate reporting indicates a need for the NSD to strengthen further its application of controls for gathering, verifying, and reporting its terrorism-related statistics,” the report from Michael E. Horowitz, the department’s inspector general, said.

This is the second report since 2007 faulting the department’s terrorism data. That year, an inspector general’s audit found some of the data were “significantly overstated or understated.” The most recent report reviewed statistics in budget submissions and other documents from fiscal years 2009 through 2012.

Today’s report also found that the department understated the number of convictions or guilty pleas in terrorism cases.

The Justice Department agrees with the inspector general’s recommendations for improving internal controls to prevent the inaccuracies, said Dean Boyd, a spokesman.

“The audit made no finding that any of the discrepancies were intentional,” Boyd said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Mattingly in Washington at pmattingly@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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