Thursday, June 10, 2004


Did they really think they were the only people who might be counting?

WASHINGTON — The State Department is scrambling to revise its annual report on global terrorism to acknowledge that it understated the number of deadly attacks in 2003, amid charges that the document is inaccurate and was politically manipulated by the Bush administration.

Politically manipulated? No way. Just because the Bush administration hailed it as objective proof that "we're" winning the war on terror? (Was there ever a less winnable war, as opposed to, say, confronting the issue of international terrorism with an eye to protecting ourselves against it, combating it, and most of all, looking at what might just be causing it?) Of course the State Department knows better than to use a word like "winning."

"Indeed, you will find in these pages clear evidence that we are prevailing in the fight" against global terrorism, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage said during a celebratory rollout of the report.

Not so fast, even with the "prevailing," Richard. At least one other person was countring.

On Tuesday, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) applauded the State Department for deciding to reissue the report, a step he requested in a letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell three weeks ago. But Waxman said the Bush administration so far had refused to address his allegation that it manipulated the terrorism data to claim victory in the U.S.-declared war on terrorism.

"This manipulation may serve the Administration's political interests," Waxman wrote in his May 17 letter to Powell, "but it calls into serious doubt the integrity of the report."

Several State Department officials vehemently denied their report was swayed by politics. "That's not the way we do things here," said one senior official.

Another senior official characterized the errors as clerical, and blamed them mostly on the fact responsibility for the report recently shifted from the CIA (news - web sites) to the administration's new Terrorist Threat Integration Center.

No wonder the National Review folks refer to Representative Waxman as "despicable."

Several U.S. officials and terrorism experts familiar with that revision effort said the new report will show that the number of significant terrorist incidents increased last year, perhaps to its highest level in 20 years.

Read more about how and what Waxman noticed here.

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