Put down those Corn Flakes, you terrorists!

The Bush administration has been fudging the numbers on terrorism investigations. Bush was quoted as saying, “federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been convicted.” The Washington Post reports that “the numbers are misleading at best.”

Out of those 400 investigations, only 39 people were convicted of terrorism or national security related crimes. That’s far from half. What’s going on here?

Well, it seems that stealing cereal counts as a terrorism investigation, too. The story goes like this: Three men were caught by the FBI in 2000 for stealing boxes of Corn Flakes. Because it wasn’t a federal crime, they were immediately released. Shortly after the 11 September 2001 attacks, the FBI then decides to arrest them on conspiracy charges–conspiracy to receive stolen Corn Flakes. Somehow this counted as a “terrorism investigation.”

Alex Tabarrok over at Marginal Revolution comments, “For this we need the Patriot Act?”