Today the U.S. government released its 2005 report on worldwide terrorism. It reveals that, compared to the 2004 figures, the number of terrorist attacks more than tripled and the number of people killed in those attacks more than doubled. The hard data: last year saw 14,602 killed in 11,111 attacks.
Those are startling increases. Earlier this year, I reported on a different data set, compiled by the RAND Corporation, which showed much lower, but still substantial, increases of 36% in the number of deaths and 51% in the number of attacks.
Why the big differences? Essentially, what the Bush administration has been doing, ever since terrorism numbers started to shoot up after the invasion of Iraq, is try to obfuscate and spin the numbers in order to disguise the increases.
In 2004, they omitted almost two months of data from the 2003 report, so that it showed a decline in terrorism when actually there had been an increase. The Bush campaign started bragging about how great their War on Terror? was going, and they probably would've gotten away with it if a couple of college professors hadn't complained. The State Department had to issue a corrected report a month later.
In 2005, Condoleezza Rice deleted all data from the 2004 report. After an outcry, some data was released by the National Counterterrorism Center, to whom the responsibility for deciding whether or not to release the data had been transferred. The numbers were high (significant attacks had tripled), but John Brennan, head of the NCTC, said that the increase was meaningless:
Later that year, the NCTC released a full report. But now, the numbers were so shockingly high (thanks to a change in methodology) that it was impossible to compare 2004 data with any previous year's:
You see the strategy? If life hands you a lemon, make unsweetened lemonade. Preferably spiked with cyanide. Nobody will complain about how bad it tastes.
Now, in 2006, they're still playing the same game. From today's report:
And the "apples to oranges" line has already reappeared. What will they come up with next year?
Meanwhile, if you want to know what's really happening with terrorism, ask the RAND Corporation, or The BRAD BLOG.