Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Rice squashes terrorism report

Joel Wendland has an article at CommonDreams.org about the latest State Department's annual report called "Patterns of Global Terrorism."

The annual publication tries to provide the definitive international picture on terrorism. It is mandated by law to be a full and complete annual report on terrorism to Congress. It is supposed to be specific. The law requires the report be published before April 30th.

But this year, regardless of legal mandate, political squabbling in the administration and fears that continued increases in terrorist activity might undermine Bush's claim to have made the world safer caused the report to be scrapped.

Bush officials blamed faulty methodology by the National Counterterrorism Center. Others in the department hinted that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ordered the report scrapped because 2004 statistics continued to show growth in terrorist activity.

This development follows hard on the heels of the experience with last year’s report on global terrorism. When it was first published, the 2003 report appeared to show a drop in terrorist activity, bolstering Bush's claim that war had reduced terrorist activity.

Bush took the report on the road to boast as part of his campaign stump.

Unfortunately for him, his glee was short-lived. Weeks later the report had to be revised showing that terrorist activity had actually increased dramatically.

Independent analysis of the report and of terrorist activity showed that terrorism had reached a 20-year high, as Rep. Henry Waxman (CA) charged in a letter to then-Secretary Colin Powell.

Revisions were made and the report was buried.

The 2004 report is said to have contained documentation of as many as 675 "significant" terrorist attacks, not including attacks made on US troops in the main front of the war on terrorism (Iraq), says a Knight-Ridder story.

This is about 5 times more than in 2003, which recorded terrorist activity at a 20-year high.

As Wendland also points out, the Bush administration used the war on terror as part of his campaing to win reelection in November. Bush boasted of the war on terrorism having made the world safer.

The 2003 State Department report contradicted that claim. And the 2004 report evidently contained enough damning evidence of the fallacy of Bush's claims that it can't be released.

The Bush administration claims the methodology was faulty. From the Knight-Ridder story:

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.

So I guess if you don't like the way the numbers come out, find a different way of counting. And make sure no one is allowed to see the original numbers to decide for themselves whether the numbers represent anything.

Add this to the continuing staged and fully orchestrated "town hall" meetings and it is evident Bush and company are not open to alternative viewpoints. A sad attitude for our government to have.