Saturday, April 16, 2005

More Terrorist Attacks in 2004 Than in Any Year since 1985. Bush Admin. Eliminating Report now.

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.

read more at KR Washington Bureau | 04/15/2005 | Bush administration eliminating 19-year-old international terrorism report

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President George W. Bush's statement in March 2006 after 3 yrs of war "a future President will have to resolve war in Iraq"


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