There’s been chatter on the internet for a while about a dramatic increase in sealed indictments. All sorts of rumors have been flying about thousands of people going to Guantanamo Bay and military tribunals for traitors, hangings for treason, etc., etc. There’s even a Twitter hashtag about it.
I should be clear. I do not believe in the so-called “Deep State”. Nor do I believe in conspiracy theories. They’re always based on unprovable “facts” and therefore, well, unprovable. I do not disagree that there are evil or unethical or greedy people in government. It would be foolish to believe there were not. However, I think it’s important to remember that the people who work in government are your neighbors, family, and friends. Many of them are good people working hard for America and want only the best. Some allow their politics to get in the way of their objectivity. As has become obvious with the recent revelations about the FISA court, that can lead to all sorts of bad outcomes. I may have to write another post about that, but suffice it to say, no one is going to be charged with sedition or treason. If you don’t believe me, look up the laws and read the elements. The actions of the pro-Clinton unethical officials in government do not meet the definition of treason or sedition. Yes, they will be going to prison – for a long time.
But back to the issue at hand. The rumors about indictments caught my attention. So much so, that I repeated them without questioning whether they were true. I did do some research, but not as much as I should have. The story seems to have first surfaced on the Hal Turner Radio Show when he announced 4,289 sealed indictments in the federal court system. Later, that number was increased to 9,000. It’s now been increased to 13,605. So, when someone challenged me on the number, I decided to take the bull by the horns and do the research myself. I created a spreadsheet, and I gathered data from 15 of the 94 federal District Courts. (This is the Excel spreadsheet so you can read it yourself. SealedFederalCases)
I searched for Sealed v. Sealed from 2006 through 2017. Then, I also searched for the period 10/1/ to 2/21 for each year from 2009 to 2018. I looked at the gross change from year to year as well as the percentage change. Before I give you the results, I have to first explain something. Sealed v. Sealed is not only indictments. It includes Magistrate Judge’s orders, wiretaps, pen registers, search warrants, seizure warrants, and other issues before the court. So, to claim that any increase is entirely attributable to sealed indictments is at a minimum misleading. I am not accusing other researchers of lying. It’s entirely possible that they simply misunderstood what Sealed v. Sealed means. I don’t claim to fully understand it. Since they are sealed cases, it’s impossible to know anything about them other than the fact that they are sealed. Keep this in mind when you read my results.
Year to year, from 2006 to 2017, the number of sealed cases in the sample I tested increases. The range of increase is from 10% to 36%. The original stories on this compared 2006 to the October 2017 to February 2018 period. This is very misleading. First of all, they used a 2009 court report that discusses sealed indictments among many other things for 2006. That report studied 1,077 cases. But, my search found 2,904 for 15 courts. So, the report is clearly not comprehensive. Projecting from the 15 I gathered data for, there would likely be in the neighborhood of 18,000 sealed cases nationwide in 2006. (2,907/15) X 94 =18,198.4. So, comparing 2006 to October 2017 to February 2018 gives a false impression about the increase in sealed cases, and calling them sealed indictments misrepresents what they are. Of the 1.077 cases discussed in the report, 284 were sealed indictments. If this is representative of a typical year, ten approximately one quarter (26.36%) of the sealed cases are indictments.
Now for the data. From 2009 to 2017, there has been a steady increase in sealed cases in federal District Courts. I have no idea why. The largest increase was in 2017. Comparing the average from 2009 to 2016, 2017 shows a 71.16% increase. But that’s misleading because the cases have been steadily increasing all along. However, what is notable is that from 2016 to 2017 there was a 36.72% increase, the largest increase in any year to year comparison. Furthermore, the October 2017 to February 2018 increase is notable. Compared to the average of 2009 to 2017, the 2017-2018 increase is 63.12%, but compared to 2016-2017, the 2017-2018 increase is a 26.3%! It should be noted that the number of sealed cases has steadily increased over the years, but the increase in the last quarter of 2017 and the first two months of 2018 is an outlier. The average for the period of Oct through February in the seven previous years is 6%. Adding the last period increases the average by 2.5% to 8.5%.
What does this mean? It’s hard to say. What it indicates is that there is a dramatically increased level of secret activity before the courts, especially in the past five months. It’s entirely possible (but not likely) that this has nothing to do with all the investigations going on right now. It much more likely that, buried in that huge increase in sealed cases, there are indictments for people involved in the FISA warrant cases, the Uranium One cases, the Clinton Foundation cases, and other cases we may not even be aware of.
If you are one of those who thinks Jeff Sessions has been doing nothing for the past year plus, you might want to rethink that. And to answer your question, the media isn’t reporting this because they no longer investigate. They simply regurgitate.
UPDATE: I have made a number of changes, particularly to the percentage statements, based upon the kind suggestions offered to me by Richard, who commented on the article asking me for a discussion of its contents. As he rightly pointed out, the statement “increase is 163.12%” incorrectly stated the increase. Had I stated “this represents 163.12% of the previous number”, that would have been correct. I also, at his suggestion, added a disclaimer indicating that the numbers have been steadily increasing and therefore should not be entirely attributed to unusual activity.
Projecting from the numbers, it’s possible that there were around 1,400 new sealed indictments filed from October 2017 to February 21, 2018. Given the claims that there are now 51,000 sealed indictments, it’s likely that number is closer to 13,443 actual indictments. But all of this is assuming that the 2009 report of 2006 cases are representative of current practice.