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What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

You Can't Handle The Truth!

Question: what do you do when statistics show that something that should be on the decline is actually on the rise, and at a rate much worse than you've said? Well, if you're the Bush Administration, and the State Department's Patterns of Global Terrorism shows an increase in terrorist activity overall since George W. Bush took office, you simply stop publishing the report. That'll teach 'em!

Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst who also served as the deputy director of the State Department's Office of Counter Terrorism from 1989 - 1993 (and has been seen on cable news as an expert guest) broke the Patterns of Global Terrorism story on the Counterterrorism Blog.

According to Johnson:

Just when you thought the Department of State could not top last year's debacle in failing accurately to count the number of international terrorist incidents, it appears that the State Department is going one step better--they reportedly have decided to not issue a report to the public. This move has been prompted by the Department's discovery that the new methodology used by the recently formed National Counter Terrorism Center has produced statistics that shows an enormous jump in the number of international terrorist attacks. For example, in 2003 there were about 172 significant attacks. The numbers for 2004 have jumped to at least 655.

It is tough to argue we are winning the war on terrorism when the numbers in the official Government report will show the largest number of incidents ever recorded since the State Department started reporting on terrorist incidents.

The Seattle Times also ran a piece on Johnson's column on Sat., April 16. Quoting Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman:

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.

Also from the Seattle Times:

Another U.S. official said (Secretary of State Condolezza ) Rice's office was leery of the center's methodology, believing that analysts eager to avoid a repetition of last year's undercount included incidents that may not have been terrorist attacks. The U.S. intelligence officials said Rice's office eliminated Patterns of Global Terrorism when the counterterrorism center declined to use alternative methodology that would have reported fewer significant attacks.

So much for the fiction that the world is safer from terrorism due to our role in the war on terror. Also: the fact that Al-Qaeda hasn't attacked us since 9/11 doesn't necessarily mean that domestic anti-terrorism programs are preventing those attacks. We do know that Al-Qaeda is willing to wait years before launching an attack. Hopefully if they do strike again here we'll actually be ready for them.

One last quick note: blogger MoxieGrrrl's (she's angry) fabulous blog was featured on CNN on April 15. And while I am happy for Mox I am also intensely jealous. How can I get on CNN? If someone knows how let me know. I want that sweet taste of fame.

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