FBI Won’t Explain Its Bizarre New Way of Measuring Its Success Fighting Terror

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has quietly developed a new way to measure its success in the war on terror: counting the number of terror threats it has “disrupted” in a year.

But good luck trying to figure out what that number means, how it was derived, or why it doesn’t jibe with any other law enforcement statistic, most notably, the number of terror suspects actually charged or arrested.

In the section on “Performance Measures” in the FBI’s latest financial statement, the bureau reports 440 “terror disruptions” in the 12-month period ending on September 30, 2015. That’s compared to 214 in fiscal year 2014. And it’s more than three times the 2015 “target” of 125.

In a vacuum, that would appear to suggest that the FBI’s terror-fighting mission — which sucked up $5.3 billion, or 54 percent of the bureau’s $9.8 billion budget in 2015 — is exceeding expectations.

But that number — 440 — is much higher than the number of arrests reported by the FBI. The Washington Post counted about 60 terror-related arrests in 2015; a study by George Washington University found 71 arrests related to the Islamic State from March 2014 to the end of 2015.

Of those arrests, many were of people trying to travel abroad or trying to help others do so. Many more involved people planning attacks that were essentially imaginary, often goaded by FBI informants...


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