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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Losing the war on terror?

Last summer, the Bush administration had to acknowledge that data included in the State Department's annual report "2003 Patterns of Global Terrorism" was wrong. Though claiming in April 2004 that terror attacks were decreasing in 2003, terror attacks were actually at their highest level in twenty years. The Department issued a correction in June.

Recently, Paul Kerr of Arms Control Wonk noted that the State Department's 2004 release, due on April 30, will now exclude statistical analysis of terror attacks. It will focus on various countries, which is apparently the congressional mandate for the report.

The Department claims that the job of counting attacks belongs now to someone else, the National Counterterrorism Center.

California Representative Henry Waxman (D) thinks something else is behind this shift. Terror attacks tripled during the fourth year of the Bush administration. From the BBC story:
Mr Waxman accused the state department of concealing an increase in terror attacks.

He said congressional briefings by federal officials pointed to a dramatic rise in the number of "significant" terrorist attacks - those that result in loss of life, serious injury or major damage.

There were about 650 such attacks last year, the congressman said - up from 175 in 2003, a record number at the time.
Waxman says the State Department and the Bush administration are playing politics. Since they can no longer tout their anti-terror record, why say anything at all?
"The large increases in terrorist attacks reported in 2004 may undermine administration claims of success in the war on terror, but political inconvenience has never been a legitimate basis for withholding facts from the American people," the letter added.
Last year, by the way, Secretary of State Colin Powell blamed the undercounting on clerical mistakes.

All this misdirection emanates from the people who so like to talk about accountability.

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