Another shocker: only a tiny fraction of cases filed by DHS are terror-related.

Despite repeated claims by high officials of the Bush Administration that fighting terrorism has been the central mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since it began operating, the data show that in the last three years a claim of terrorism was made against only 12 (0.0015%) out of 814,073 individuals against whom the DHS has filed charges in the immigration courts.

Government rhetoric is about how the threat of terrorism requires vigilance in monitoring our borders. In fact, that canard is often thrown about by anti-immigration wingnuts.

Yes, preventing terrorists from entering the US is a noble goal. But it’s hardly the primary reason for DHS’s existence, and overstating the threat of terrorism is not healthy for a democracy (exhibit 1: George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection, and the continued erosion of civil rights for American citizens). Perhaps the most interesting thing about the report is not the disparity between the number of terrorism charges brought and the government rhetoric, but the fact that there is little discernible difference between pre- and post-9/11 numbers when it comes to terrorism and homeland security charges.

In other words, the rhetoric is meant to scare the citizenry. There is no other reasonable explanation.

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