Jeff Sessions Cooks the Books on Terrorism

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The Jeff Sessions Justice Department released a report last week that sought to frame terrorism as an immigration problem by citing data from the Department of Homeland Security that says two-thirds of foreign terrorists are immigrants, but that data doesn't actually exist.

According to the Daily Beast, which first reported the news last night, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not contributed to Jeff Sessions' report and the data cited by the report isn't recorded by DHS.

According to a government source familiar with the episode, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ office took charge of the report’s assemblage of statistics—which some terrorism analysts consider highly misleading—and sent it to DHS Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen for her imprimatur after it was all but finalized. [...]

Career professional analysts at DHS communicated to the Justice Department that the data sought for the report simply did not exist within their department. DHS, multiple sources said, does not track or correlate international terrorism data by citizenship or country of origin, and have warned the Trump administration that doing so risks a misleading portrait of both terrorism and immigration.

Creating a "misleading portrait of both terrorism and immigration" is clearly the objective of doing something like this. That is not a merely a "risk," it's their unmistakable intent.

Trying to use terrorism to scare people has a very familiar Bush-era feel to it but, at the same time, the Bush administration did not use terrorism to justify the mass deportation of harmless immigrants or to place new limits on legal immigration.

Whether intentional or unintentional, this report could also be used to downplay the threat of homegrown, domestic terrorism which is a much bigger threat that foreign terrorism.

As of this writing, a manhunt is currently underway in Florida for a "middle-aged white male with a heavy build" who planted pipe bombs outside a J.C. Penney near Orlando.

  • Christopher Foxx

    “I believe these are the facts. Therefore, this is what I want to do to deal with the problem. Make me a report that shows the facts justify my position.”
    “But the facts don’t justify your position. The facts show exactly the opposite.”
    “Then write the report with my facts. Because I believe them to be true.”

    It’s obvious that it does happen, but I still find it really hard to understand that mindset of staring reality in the face and simply denying it. Just can’t wrap my mind around that level of self-delusion.

  • Badgerite

    What is going on is a many sided attack on one of the most important checks on power of the money, domestic or foreign, that controls the GOP these days and that is the rule of law. Sessions has backing from the GOP at the Justice Department because he is part of this attack. The other prong is aimed at the court system and that only requires control by the GOP of the Senate to confirm their right wing ideologue nominations. The court system and the Justice Department are key to shutting down voting rights. The GOP has been attempting to turn back the clock on the Voting Rights Act for some time. The administration of Ronald Reagan, with Rehnquist in the lead as a lawyer at Justice , advocated for the Voting Rights Act to be repealed. That, of course, went nowhere legislatively. Reagan later appointed Rehnquist Chief Justice at SCOTUS.
    So the court system is very important to this effort as was seen in the case of Shelby County where the court basically gutted the enforcement provision in the Voting Rights Act that required states with a history of suppressing minority voters to have their laws which affect voting rights pre-screened by the US Justice Department before being allowed to impact elections. Word to those thinking, “well, it isn’t my rights that they are coming after”, Think again. What do they think that fraudulent ‘Voting Commission’ run by Chris Kobach was about. There is a reason a lot of red states as well as blue rebelled at what this ‘commission’ was trying to do in compiling a data base of personal and political information about all of the voters in each state in the union and it was not to ‘prevent voter fraud’ which is statistically non-existent in the US.
    It was clearly designed for other unsavory and undemocratic purposes.

  • Tony Lavely

    Who would have thought Jeff “I lied under oath” Sessions would ever pull this kind of stunt. How did he ever write reports in middle school?

  • muselet

    Two things came immediately to mind on reading this story:

    1) Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III’s Department of Justice—at least those bits responsible for last week’s IT’S FURRINERS WHAT’RE A-GONNA KILL YA! report—is more than happy to do meaningless mashups of data in order to reach a predetermined conclusion, then lie about the source of those data.

    2) Kirstjen Nielsen is the same woman who insisted last week, under oath and before the Senate Judiciary Committee, she didn’t know whether or not Norway has a lot of white people in it. If, for the sake of conversation, we take Nielsen at her word, she is a remarkably incurious person. A person, I suggest, who would sign off on a mendacious report generated by another cabinet department without so much as glancing at its executive summary.

    This is emphatically not the way government is supposed to work.

    Also, that fat, middle-aged white guy turns out to have (allegedly, as he’s a “person of interest” and not a “suspect”) set off a couple of signal flares in PVC pipe. The FBI’s Tampa field office said in a statement, “There is no current indicatiion of any terrorist connection to this incident.”



  • David Greenberg

    A little off topic, but for fellow followers of this site who like to read fiction I would like to recommend a series of eleven books by Karl Hiassen. They focus on the corruption and depravity of Florida. I know whereby I speak as I have been living here for the last twenty four years and these books are spot on and laugh out loud funny. And we all need something to laugh about these days. Hiassen was a columnist for the Fort Lauderdale Sentinel. Like everybody here, he “gets it”.

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  • Aynwrong

    The most powerful nation on earth is run by people who believe information produced by our government should serve no other purpose than a Fox News “report.” Keeping the rubes riled.