April 27, 2005
Looks like Bush’s effort to cover up last year’s (awful) global terrorism statistics isn’t going so well. As first reported by The Counterterrorism Blog and discussed on Disinterested Party ten days ago, the administration at first considered scrapping the annual “Patterns of Global Terrorism” report, which is due to Congress this week. Now it appears that the report will be published. It just won’t include the key global statistics.
As the Washington Post reports, the administration’s panic is hardly surprising:
Overall, the number of what the U.S. government considers “significant” attacks grew to about 655 last year, up from the record of around 175 in 2003, according to congressional aides who were briefed on statistics covering incidents including the bloody school seizure in Russia and violence related to the disputed Indian territory of Kashmir.
Terrorist incidents in Iraq also dramatically increased, from 22 attacks to 198, or nine ties the previous year's total – a sensitive subset of the tally, given the Bush administration’s assertion that the situation there had stabilized significantly after the U.S. handover of political authority to an interim Iraqi government last summer.
Translation: Bush is losing the global war on terror, and losing badly. Although it depends who you ask:
After a week of complaints from Congress, top aides from the State Department and the NCTC were dispatched to the Hill on Monday for a private briefing. There they acknowledged for the first time the increase in terrorist incidents, calling it a “dramatic uptick,” according to participants and a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).
The administration aides sought to explain the rise in attacks as the result of more inclusive methodology in counting incidents, which they argued made year-to-year comparisons “increasingly problematic,” sources said.
Impressively, the State Department managed to anger both Republicans and Democrats at the Monday meeting. Waxman’s letter nicely captures the mood:
“The main rationale given by [acting counterterrorism chief] Ms. Aguilar for your decision to exclude the 2004 data from the Patterns of Global Terrorism report is that the terrorism data is not “relevant” to the report itself. With all due respect, this is a ludicrous position.”
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