Bush Administration Counted ‘300′ Terrorism Convictions First
By Andrew Ramonas | February 9, 2022 5:00 pm

The confusion over the number of terrorism suspects who have been tried in civilian courts is now a little clearer, thanks to a George W. Bush-era funding request unearthed by Newsweek.

Attorney General Eric Holder angered conservatives in a letter to Senate Republicans last week that said the Bush administration tried “more than 300 individuals” in the criminal justice system. Republicans — including Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Jon Kyl of Arizona — have questioned the accuracy of the statistic and demanded proof for the number.

Yesterday, Fox News reported that the statistic came from a funding request submitted by the Justice Department in 2008. The request said the DOJ had won “319 convictions or guilty pleas in terrorism or terrorism-related cases” since Sept. 11, 2001.

“So those who say we just made up the number just need to go look at the old documents that were presented by the prior administration,” a Justice Department spokesman told Fox News.

That figure seems in line with numbers released earlier in the Bush administration.

The Justice Department said in a 2006 “Terror Fact Sheet” that “288 defendants have been convicted or have pleaded guilty in terrorism or terrorism-related cases” since 9/11. And Bush said in a 2003 speech that “more than 260 suspected terrorists have been charged in the United States courts, [and] more than 140 have already been convicted,” according to Fox News.

President Obama has recently cited a different number: He said on CBS last weekend that the Bush administration “prosecuted 190 folks in these [civilian] courts, got convictions, and those folks are in maximum security prisons right now,” according to Fox News.

Holder is expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next month for a DOJ oversight hearing. Senators will likely ask him to address the DOJ’s handling of terrorism suspects.

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