“No news” isn’t always “good news”

U.S. eliminates annual terrorism report

Just like new schools and increased electrical power in Iraq don’t cease to exist just because the media refuses to report them, terrorist attacks around the world don’t halt simply because the State Department stops making its Patterns of Global Terrorism report public.

This story is from Knight Ridder News, and every story I’ve seen on it since a reader pointed it out to me yesterday is sourced to that same KR release.

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.

First of all, my initial reaction is that ceasing publication of this report is probably not a good thing to do. Sure, the numbers are probably going to look bad. But we’re fighting a war, you know, and the enemy is striking back. Many times those attacks are out of desperation or fear. To simply stop making the numbers public suddenly will probably do more harm than good.

According to [former CIA analyst and State Department terrorism expert Larry] Johnson and 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.

The 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.”

Okay. I’d really like to know what the numbers are for both 2003 and 2004 with and without incidents within Iraq counted. There’s no doubt that attacks in Iraq have been savage. But, again, there’s a war on, folks. A war on terror. That means that the terrorists aren’t going to just sit around. To pretend to be suddenly shocked about heightened violence in Iraq is a little silly.

And attacks against soldiers on duty have never been counted in the report, so I’m not sure what that paragraph is even trying to get at.

And last, I’m wondering why this story hasn’t really taken off yet. Yesterday I wondered (in an email response to the reader who tipped me off) if the big Legacy Media guns were waiting until Monday to spring it on everyone. The Knight Ridder story is from Friday, though it’s not clear if there was an official announcement about the discontinuation of publication at that time or not.

It wouldn’t be unlike the Presidential administration (this one or others) to release this sort of news right before the weekend begins in order to minimize the impact. So I’m wondering if the heavy hitters in the media are sitting on it until they have a bigger audience. We’ll see.


  1. Maybe increased instances of terrorism is related to increased coverage of terrorism? After all, the whole point of it is to get in the news, especially if you can get some free journalistic FUD along with it.

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