Saturday, April 16, 2005

What's better than a flawed report? NO report!

Larry C. Johnson, whom I saw speak at the Woodrow Wilson School's colloquium, Rethinking the War on Terror, last weekend first posted this little tidbit on The Counterterrorism Blog. It seems that because the new methodology that the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) used for the 2004 year caused the number of significant terrorist attacks to go from 172 in 2003 to 655 for 2004, the State Department has decided that they'd be better off just not issuing their annual "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report.

This is the report that, for the year 2003, was not even complete and was riddled with arithmetic errors, which Alan Krueger first pointed out on June 10th, 2004, in the Washington Post and later in Foreign Affairs with David D. Laitin, and which Jon Stewart later ripped apart. I don't have that link, but if you go to Alan Krueger's lecture, "Misunderestimating Terrorism," at 1:00:00, you can see it there. The talk is good in its own right.

This is fairly ridiculous. You would think that the State Department would not resort to not issuing the report entirely, but evidently it is so afraid of the backlash that might come if the Democrats can now cite that terrorism is clearly and sharply on the rise. Well, the backlash that it can expect now is even worse, since the numbers are out and it also looks like they are trying to push them under the rug. Larry C. Johnson was a good speaker when I saw him, and he puts it well in his post, calling for an "apolitical assessment."

Just publish the thing and explain that the definitions have changed over the past year. This should not be a big deal.


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