Thursday, April 28, 2005


State Dept., Counterterrorism Center release reports

Due to pressure from various sources (the press, segments of the public, segments of the government and certain elected officials), the National Counterterrorism Center published its chronology and aggregate statistics on terrorist attacks in 2004 (available here in a large pdf file). In fact, Philip Zelikow admitted as much today:
"If we didn't put out these numbers today, you'd say we're withholding data. That's why we're putting them out," said Philip D. Zelikow, counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Awww, thanks Phil. Of course, the statistics don't show good things. In fact, they show "a sharp surge in significant terrorist acts from 175 incidents that killed 625 in 2003 to 651 such attacks that killed 1,907 in 2004." Oh, but that's not because we aren't winning the war on terror. No, no, no, it's a matter of methodology and statistics and some stuff that you stupid people won't understand, says the State Department. Everything's fine, go about your business as if nothing happened at all.

The State Department also released its Country Reports on Terrorism (formerly "Patterns of Global Terrorism" -- but that was back when it had statistics in it, I guess). It's a pretty hefty document, but there was one thing that stood out in my cursory read of the intro to the Middle East and North Africa section:
There was an increase in terrorist groups affiliating themselves with al-Qa’ida or expressing support for al-Qa’ida’s ideology.
Hmmm... that doesn't seem like a good thing to me. In fact, that's exactly what our "global war on terror" was hoping to combat, was it not? If dear president was doing such a good job of forwarding democracy in the Middle East and smashing the terrorists, then why is there an increase of people and groups clamoring to hop on the al-Qa`ida bus? Hmmm... the math just doesn't add up for me. Also, one more sentence that stuck out for me (in the section on Iraq):
Iraq remains the central battleground in the global war on terrorism.
Remains? Well, remains since the U.S. invasion. Because it certainly wasn't the central battleground before. In fact, if we go back to the section on Iraq in the 2001 State Department report, we learn that Iraq's threat was the big trifecta:
(a) supporting some of the smaller Palestinian factions, such as Abu Nidal's Organization and the Palestine Liberation Front. Iraq is hardly alone in the Arab world in this regard, nor was it deeply involved with the larger Palestinian factions.
(b) threatening Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty workers in the Czech Republic.
(c) refusing to extradite to Riyadh two Saudis who hijacked a flight to Baghdad.
Also in the 2001 there is a text box that coincidentally is right by the section on Iraq (how did that get there? what a coincidence!!) about chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons a.k.a. WMD. I don't think we really need to go into that again, do we? In any case, it seems that the State Department is implying in the 2004 report, by saying that Iraq "remains the central battleground in the global war on terrorism," that it has been this way for some time, that this is what brought the U.S. to invade Iraq in the first place, and that it is not a function of U.S. involvement. But that's simply not the case.

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