April 17, 2005
Bush defeats terrorism
If you can’t beat ’em, keep quiet about ’em. The Bush administration has decided to scrap the State Department’s annual “Patterns of Global Terrorism” report, 19 years after it was first published. The official reason, says Knight Ridder, is concern about the accuracy of the National Counterterrorism Center statistics used to generate the report.
Well, the 2003 report was certainly a fiasco: last June, the Bush administration was forced to issue a revised version that showed a higher number of major terrorist attacks, and more than twice the number of fatalities, than the first edition had listed.
But the real reason the administration killed the 2004 report is to hide what it would have shown—that despite Bush’s much-vaunted global war on terror, the number of significant attacks apparently soared to at least 655 last year. That’s almost four times as many as in 2003, and the highest number in the report’s history. Worse, the number doesn’t even include attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq.
The irony, according to Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department terrorism expert whose Counterterrorism Blog first disclosed the decision to scrap the report, is that the 2004 numbers probably are flawed:
…the sharp jump in numbers has more to do with a change in methodology of counting rather that an actual surge in Islamic extremist activity. In fact, if you take time to parse the numbers, the actual scope of terrorism by Islamic extremists in 2004 appeared to decline relative to the attacks during 2003 (except for Iraq).
Rather than take the opportunity to address the issue (and in the process actually provide the public with useful data), Bush and Rice simply ran from the numbers.
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