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Terrorism hits new high under Bush

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  • Robert V. Schmidt
    http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/11407689.htm Posted on Fri, Apr. 15, 2005 Bush administration eliminating 19-year-old international terrorism report
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 18, 2005
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      http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/11407689.htm

      Posted on Fri, Apr. 15, 2005

      Bush administration eliminating 19-year-old international terrorism report

      By Jonathan S. Landay

      Knight Ridder Newspapers

      WASHINGTON - The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual
      report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism
      center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any
      year since 1985, the first year the publication covered.

      Several U.S. officials defended the abrupt decision, saying the methodology
      the National Counterterrorism Center used to generate statistics for the
      report may have been faulty, such as the inclusion of incidents that may
      not have been terrorism.

      Last year, the number of incidents in 2003 was undercounted, forcing a
      revision of the report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism."

      But other current and former officials charged that Secretary of State
      Condoleezza Rice's office ordered "Patterns of Global Terrorism" eliminated
      several weeks ago because the 2004 statistics raised disturbing questions
      about the Bush's administration's frequent claims of progress in the war
      against terrorism.

      "Instead of dealing with the facts and dealing with them in an intelligent
      fashion, they try to hide their facts from the American public," charged
      Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department terrorism
      expert who first disclosed the decision to eliminate the report in The
      Counterterrorism Blog, an online journal.

      Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who was among the leading critics of last
      year's mix-up, reacted angrily to the decision.

      "This is the definitive report on the incidence of terrorism around the
      world. It should be unthinkable that there would be an effort to withhold
      it - or any of the key data - from the public. The Bush administration
      should stop playing politics with this critical report."

      A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity
      because of the sensitivity of the issue, confirmed that the publication was
      being eliminated, but said the allegation that it was being done for
      political reasons was "categorically untrue."

      According to Johnson and U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the
      issue, statistics that the National Counterterrorism Center provided to the
      State Department reported 625 "significant" terrorist attacks in 2004.

      That compared with 175 such incidents in 2003, the highest number in two
      decades.

      The statistics didn't include attacks on American troops in Iraq, which
      President Bush as recently as Tuesday called "a central front in the war on
      terror."

      The intelligence officials requested anonymity because the information is
      classified and because, they said, they feared White House retribution.
      Johnson declined to say how he obtained the figures.

      Another U.S. official, who also requested anonymity, said analysts from the
      counterterrorism center were especially careful in amassing and reviewing
      the data because of the political turmoil created by last year's errors.

      Last June, the administration was forced to issue a revised version of the
      report for 2003 that showed a higher number of significant terrorist
      attacks and more than twice the number of fatalities than had been
      presented in the original report two months earlier.

      The snafu was embarrassing for the White House, which had used the original
      version to bolster President Bush's election-campaign claim that the war in
      Iraq had advanced the fight against terrorism.

      U.S. officials blamed last year's mix-up on bureaucratic mistakes involving
      the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, the forerunner of the National
      Counterterrorism Center.

      Created last year on the recommendation of the independent commission that
      investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the center is the
      government's primary organization for analyzing and integrating all U.S.
      government intelligence on terrorism.

      The State Department published "Patterns of Global Terrorism" under a law
      that requires it to submit to the House of Representatives and the Senate
      Foreign Relations Committee a country-by-country terrorism assessment by
      April 30 each year.

      A declassified version of the report has been made public since 1986 in the
      form of a glossy booklet, even though there was no legal requirement to
      produce one.

      The senior State Department official said a report on global terrorism
      would be sent this year to lawmakers and made available to the public in
      place of "Patterns of Global Terrorism," but that it wouldn't contain
      statistical data.

      He said that decision was taken because the State Department believed that
      the National Counterterrorism Center "is now the authoritative government
      agency for the analysis of global terrorism. We believe that the NCTC
      should compile and publish the relevant data on that subject."

      He didn't answer questions about whether the data would be made available
      to the public, saying, "We will be consulting (with Congress) ... on who
      should publish and in what form."

      Another U.S. official said Rice's office was leery of the methodology the
      National Counterterrorism Center used to generate the data for 2004,
      believing that analysts anxious to avoid a repetition of last year's
      undercount included incidents that may not have been terrorist attacks.

      But the U.S. intelligence officials said Rice's office decided to eliminate
      "Patterns of Global Terrorism" when the counterterrorism center declined to
      use alternative methodology that would have reported fewer significant
      attacks.

      The officials said they interpreted Rice's action as an attempt to avoid
      releasing statistics that would contradict the administration's claims that
      it's winning the war against terrorism.

      To read past "Patterns of Global Terrorism" reports online, go to
      www.mipt.org/Patterns-of-Global-Terrorism.asp
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