U.S. eliminates terrorism report
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 decision, saying the methodology used by the National Counterterrorism Center to generate statistics had flaws, such as the inclusion of incidents that may not have been terrorism.
But other current and former officials charged that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s office ordered the report, “Patterns of Global Terrorism,” eliminated weeks ago because the 2004 statistics raised disturbing questions about the Bush’s administration’s frequent claims of progress in the war against terrorism.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., reacted angrily.
“This is the definitive report on the incidence of terrorism around the world,” Waxman said. “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.”
According to U.S. intelligence officials, 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.
A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue but whose first name rhymes with “hondareeza,” confirmed that the publication was eliminated, but said the allegation that it was done for political reasons was “categorically untrue.”
“The reason we’re not publishing this report is quite simple,” said the official. “We think this whole ‘terrorism’ obsession is overblown. People are getting all bent out of shape about a bunch of scattered attacks here and there, when really, if you think about it, they’re not all that important. And this administration doesn’t want to scare people needlessly.”
A senior National Security Administration official agreed. “Terrorism is so 2004,” the official said, “and this administration has moved on. That’s true even here in the NSA. Why, right now, we’re compiling an in-depth critical analysis of how the shortfall in the Social Security trust fund in 2042 threatens our national security. That’s what people should really be worried about, if you ask me.”
The State Department publishes “Patterns of Global Terrorism” under a law that requires it to submit to the House and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a country-by-country terrorism assessment by April 30 each year.
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.
“It will have illustrations, pop-ups, and – for the first time – a special pull-out maze titled ‘Find Our Way Out of Iraq.’ It’ll be fun and educational – fun ‘with a purpose,’ if you will. It just won’t have all those tedious columns of numbers, that’s all. We see that as a net gain.”
But, the official noted, the State Department does not oppose the use of statistical data in all circumstances. “In future years,” the official noted, “we hope to publish a much more comprehensive edition of the report, with data on all the places in the world where terrorist incidents did not happen. We think that will give Congress and the American people a more upbeat and accurate view of our efforts.”
Even the 2004 statistics didn’t include attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, which President Bush as recently as Tuesday called “a central front in the war on terror.”
“It’s a central front, yes, but not that central,” said the State Department official.
Another G.O.P. lawmaker, this one with very large deltoids, suggested that President Bush was actually fulfilling a campaign promise. “I came to New York last summer to tell the American people that Bush would terminate terrorism,” the official, who speaks with a pronounced accent, said on condition of anonymity. “He is doing the next best thing – he is terminating terrorism statistics. This is the mark of a great leader who does what he thinks is right and stands behind his decisions. I salute him.”
"Now take a look at this Power Point slide. Wait, back up, Fred. OK. You will see that, as national ignorance has gone up, we have also become stronger than anyone could have possibly imagined.”Posted by norbizness on 04/18 at 08:58 AM
What Nietzsche *really* said: “The suppression of the official report on that which does not kill me (but does kill others) makes the current ultra-reactionary establishment stronger.”
That’s why you always see it written, in its abridged-but-official form: “[T]hat which does not kill me . . . makes [me] stronger.”Posted by on 04/18 at 09:09 AM
I just love life in the simulcra. Reality is but a report of reality. Eliminate the report on terrorism and you save a good deal of federal funds, but also the justifications necessary to continue an unjust war and the deterioration of civil liberties. I’m going to guess the administration is really conflicted over this virtual success. It will not work out as well as the way they eliminated global warming by censoring the report.
(Hey, did you make up that last paragraph starting with the guy with huge pectoral muscles or deltoids?)Posted by on 04/18 at 09:17 AM
Chris, this blog doesn’t make stuff up. We’re not that imaginative.Posted by on 04/18 at 09:33 AM
Those chains in Plato’s Cave now come with a special virtual reality goggle attachment.Posted by Roxanne on 04/18 at 09:45 AM
What! “Our” government is still deciding “what” is good for us to know! Or, might it be, what the eyes doesn’t see the heart doesn’t grieve?Posted by on 04/18 at 10:29 AM
Michael, didn’t anyone ever warn you against writing satire when other people are drinking milk or soda near computers?Posted by Sherman Dorn on 04/18 at 10:29 AM
Love the pop-up idea. WMDs popping up where you least expect them, perhaps? Also curious about the “Find your way out of Iraq” maze - will there actually be a path to the exit, or just a series of dead ends? Hope they come up with a catchy title though ("Patterns of Global Terrorism” sounds *so* junior high social studies textbook), otherwise the kids will never read it.Posted by on 04/18 at 11:11 AM
So the new game is to read the post and determine in which paragraph the shift from reality to satire occurs. Sort of like watching Brazil or Barton Fink and figuring out exactly when the fantasy starts. My guess is the satire begins with the ninth paragraph, since everyone knows Social Security will be bankrupt long before 2042.Posted by corndog on 04/18 at 11:43 AM
“It’s a central front, yes, but not that central,” said the State Department official.
[spits coffee all over screen]. Best line.
Those chains in Plato’s Cave now come with a special virtual reality goggle attachment.
I think we’ve all seen The Matrix, Roxanne. But this does raise some interesting new historiographical questions. Such as, to what extent we can attribute the more confusing elements of recent history to glitches caused by attempts to quickly re-program reality. Makes sense to me.Posted by Lee on 04/18 at 11:55 AM
Yeah—at first I thought it was really weird when those two black cats walked by Wolfowitz as he entered the World Bank, but you’re right, Lee, it’s got to be one of those glitches.
But as long as we’re encased in this sticky pink goo, I want to be somebody rich, somebody important . . . like a blogger.Posted by Michael on 04/18 at 12:51 PM
The report doesn’t contain the break down of the terror of the judiciary? How will I know which judge we’re targeting this week?Posted by on 04/18 at 02:22 PM
UPDATE: The State Department has stopped offering a complimentary roll of duct tape and packet of plastic sheeting with their new illustrated, pop-up report on global terrorism after Senator Rick Santorum asphyxiated himself in his Capitol Hill office last night. He is survived by his wife, Karen Garver Santorum, and their six living children--Elizabeth, John, Daniel, Sarah Maria, Peter, and Patrick--none of whom will be receiving survivor’s benefits as a result of their father’s work on Social Security.Posted by on 04/18 at 02:37 PM
hey, i see your blog-post gets a mention in salon.com’s daou report ...Posted by on 04/18 at 05:50 PM
Terence, the citizens of PA should be so lucky. On a related note, do Santorum and Ralph Reed have the same hairdresser, or do they actually share the same hair? Come to think of it, has anyone ever seen Santorum, Ralph Reed, and Commander Data in the same room at the same time? Hmmmm? Hmmmm? Spooky.Posted by on 04/18 at 06:16 PM
What struck me odd was that one of the anonymous explanations given was that when the 2003 report was released it was heavily criticized for officially undereporting incidents. Thus the Reeza rhymed personage surmised that it was better just to not risk being criticized for presenting numbers, but would be better instead to offer glowing optimistic summaries instead.
When the 2003 report was “fixed” it had higher numbers of incidents, by a factor of 4; the State deportment office specifically noted that in neither the 2003 or the new 2004 report would any incidents involving military personnel in Iraq count as part of the patterns. The new “unofficially” released 2004 statistics thus represent a 4 fold increase from the new numbers from 2003. Exponential growth?? There must be a whole lot of wink wink conversation taking place in the mini-strip malls of Foggy Bottom, all by anonymously faced spokespersons.Posted by on 04/18 at 06:19 PM
I am pretty sure that last large-deltoided and accented source is Ann Coulter, except that it described the source as a “lawmaker” when it clearly meant to say “lawbreaker”.Posted by on 04/19 at 01:01 AM
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The terrorism has reached its peak point. It should be controlled. The security should be tightened to control it otherwise it will grasp all of us.Posted by Virtual offices limerick on 10/07 at 08:14 AM
I remember the 11 bombing in Washington a few years ago.I am still praying for those victims.I hope they are now okay.Posted by Noel on 10/14 at 06:45 AM
That’s not good, people have the right to know, specially when it comes to your safety…
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