Condi Crushes Counters

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Government statistics in the news:

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 abrupt decision, saying the methodology the National Counterterrorism Center used to generate statistics for the report may have been faulty, 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 "Patterns of Global Terrorism" eliminated several weeks ago because the 2004 statistics raised disturbing questions about the Bush's administration's frequent claims of progress in the war against terrorism.

According to Knight-Ridder, the suppressed report counted 625 significant terrorist incidents in 2004, a figure that does not include attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. The total for 2003 was 175.

I don't know if the methodology is genuinely screwy—though I doubt it—but I do suspect there might be better ways to deal with an allegedly dubious count than to stop the counting altogether. Either way, I assume the same hawks who spent the last three and a half years seeing an Islamist hand behind everything from the D.C. sniper shootings to the big blackout of ought-three will be outraged that the government is ignoring incidents that "may not have been terrorism."

Update: The L.A. Times has a more detailed story on the change. The good news is that the government hasn't stopped the count altogether—the numbers will now be computed by a different agency. The bad news is the possibility that the new agency, like Doug Feith's stovepiping operation, isn't more accurate so much as it's more pliable.

NEXT: Find the Pope In the Pizza

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  1. Nice to know that the administration is finally being more carefully with the methodology that it uses to assess threats from the Middle East ;->

  2. and, thoreau, “kerry would have…”
    etc.

    does anybody remember when the militia-bit was the fraak-out-du-jour (JB can translate, right thoreau)?

    there were accounts of domestic terrorism out the wazoo. might there have been cherry picking involved by an agency that would either benefit from an increased count => more funding or a decreased count => indications of success and justification for more funding?

    whether it’s simple government incompetence or evil plot by the same people who framed roger rabbit and pete rose, these are questions worth asking.

    i know that jesse will get jumped on by apologists and others who would refuse to acknowledge that accountability and decent strategy are important in this “war”. jesse – even though you’re a michigan guy, keep it up 🙂

    cheerio,
    drf

  3. So, if we can agree that an accurate count is valuable to our knowing if we are safer or less safe since last whatever do we know if:

    1. There is a generally agreed upon definition of a terrorist incident

    2. Do we have enough analysts to accurately and appropriately classify the total of “violent episodes” that happen around the world?

    To DRF’s point – there were lots of alleged (presumably counted) domestic terrorist incidents around ’85, not to mention all the Irish bombings and killings and such. Are the current crop of attacks that occur on Iraqi soil by the insurgents considered terror attacks?

    And how hard can it be to determine if an incident should be classified as terrorism? Are their hundreds, thousands, hundred thousands, or millions of attacks per year?

  4. too many:

    exactly. this is why those who are knee-jerk apologists for everything this administration does should chill out and examine what the claims really are. ditto for those who are knee-jerk BUSHITLER types (friggin dildos).

    remember that the claim that SH supported terrorism was such a broad statement, that anything that bozo did was “terrorism”. was that justification? terror against the US? against israel? against kosher salami vendors? what? who? manufacturers of quality dairy products? the laws of germany?

    “it’s where you point your finger at them and go *bang*”

    (time to stop drinking for a few minutes)

  5. drf,

    Funny you should reminisce about our militia freakout.

  6. The impression I got from this announcement was that the job was being turned over to the new intelligence directorate. It’s not that the statistics are no longer being kept; it’s that they are being kept elsewhere. I’m not sure that this is true, but if it is, someone is clearly just playing politics with the announcement.

  7. Erik’s a Bush apologist!

  8. …such as the inclusion of incidents that may not have been terrorism….

    Like equating pot smoking to terrorism? Serves them right!

  9. There’s a tension here. They want to say terrorism is going down because that means the War on Terror is successful. On the other hand, they want to engage in terrorist inflation: all those “sleeper cells” that were busted that weren’t, acts of vandalism labled terrorism, and so on, because keeping us in fear makes us long for the Strong Hand of the Leader. Looks like the first way won this round. . .

  10. What acts of vandalism were labelled “terrorist” and by whom?

  11. What acts of vandalism were labelled “terrorist” and by whom?

    A lot of “eco-terrorism” is really just vandalism (albeit incredibly expensive vandalism). Destroying crops, that sort of thing.

  12. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,122290,00.html

    There are already laws against vandalism and arson and destruction of property and I don’t know what is added by calling them terrorism.

  13. In its place, the State Department has produced a graph showing a positive correlation between ignorance (X axis) and strength (Y axis).

  14. I think some clarification here is needed. I have been researching the State Dept. recently and when I looked for info on this report, it appears that the report is compiled under a Congressional Directive. I don’t think Condi can override such, so my guess is that the report still exists, it just isn’t being published *publicly*, which State was never required to do.

  15. There are already laws against vandalism and arson and destruction of property and I don’t know what is added by calling them terrorism.

    It means they’re doing something. You are obviously with the the terrorists.

    Don’t you care ABOUT THE CHILDREN?

  16. ….which State was never required to do.

    But apparently at one time someone thought that publishing the report would make someone look good.

    It’s not “playing politics” to wonder if someone’s scared someone might look bad if they publish this. It’s simple curiosity.

  17. I don’t know… if “terrorism” is destruction of people or property to intimidate someone in to changing their lifestyle, then fucking up Starbucks and McDonalds (not to mention destroying those mondo expensive SUVs) probably qualifies as terrorism.

  18. Linguist: Now that I reread the article, it’s not clear whether they’ve stopped producing the report altogether or merely stopped publishing it for the public. Do you have a link with more info?

  19. … if “terrorism” is destruction of people or property to intimidate someone in to changing their lifestyle,….

    Then “terrorism” is a motive.

    But then, we live under a government that’s waging a “war on terrorism”, so I guess a motive can be a crime.

  20. Right you are, Isaac… I guess “terrorism” is a lot like “hate crimes” if you go with the definition I put up…

  21. “if “terrorism” is destruction of people or property to intimidate someone in to changing their lifestyle, then fucking up Starbucks and McDonalds (not to mention destroying those mondo expensive SUVs) probably qualifies as terrorism.”

    In each of the cases you cite, the motive and effect were to harm the targets’ financially. There have actually been animal rights actions in Britain that could be called terrorism – some scientists received letters with razor blades, inserted to cut them when they opened the envelopes. (I manage to do that half the time even without the razor blades, but still, the purpose was to put fear into the victims – hence, terrorism).

    But the Colorado fire, the SUV torches in dealerships, and the destruction of GM crops didn’t hurt anybody, because the actions were designed with the goal of not hurting anybody, and because harming people is both contrary to the the vandals’ philosophy, and harmful to their cause.

    But still, between the desire of some parties to make environmentalists look bad, and the irrefutable coolness of the word “ecoterrorism,” there are some powerful trends working to keep ELF vandalism linked with Al Qaeda in the public’s mind.

  22. “But the Colorado fire, the SUV torches in dealerships, and the destruction of GM crops didn’t hurt anybody, because the actions were designed with the goal of not hurting anybody, and because harming people is both contrary to the the vandals’ philosophy, and harmful to their cause.” So if I come and torch your house it won’t “harm” you as long as you’re not at home.

    You’re as full of shit as “the vandals’ philosophy”.

  23. joe, I can’t believe that you really believe that burning down someone’s house or livelihood doesn’t hurt them, yea, even terrorize them.

    What if I threaten someone, with a gun in their face, but don’t pull the trigger? Should they feel terrorized, grateful, or just neutral about the whole experience?

    What if I kidnap them and hold them hostage, but release them physically unharmed after their business is sold and the proceeds paid to me (or just burned, whatever). Terrorized, yes or no?

    Every time I start to think you’re not some squishy Marxoid apologist, you uncork a post like your last one.

  24. Hey y’all lay off Joe. He’s absolutely right – when me and the boys used to burn crosses on people’s lawn’s, it never hurt nobody, just put the fear of ghosts in ’em.

  25. But the Colorado fire, the SUV torches in dealerships, and the destruction of GM crops didn’t hurt anybody, because the actions were designed with the goal of not hurting anybody, and because harming people is both contrary to the the vandals’ philosophy, and harmful to their cause.

    Yes, and ELF put out this statement after claiming to spike hundreds of trees: “We ask that this action be widely publicized in order to prevent injury to any timber workers who might be working in the area. It is not our intention to cause harm to anyone.”

    Sounds like terrorism to me.

  26. “And how hard can it be to determine if an incident should be classified as terrorism?”

    I’ve got my own definition and it’s not about motive per se: Terrorism is when you target civilians.

    …This doesn’t mean that terrorists can’t also target soldiers; it’s just that when they do, it’s not an example of terrorism.

  27. I believe that joe meant “hurt” in the physical sense, meaning that while these actions were taken without the intent to maim or kill civilians, which is the definition of true terrorism. That said, all of these actions did have the potential to kill. There’s always the chance that bombs could go off prematurely or a night watchman could walk by at the wrong moment.

  28. “But still, between the desire of some parties to make environmentalists look bad, and the irrefutable coolness of the word “ecoterrorism,” there are some powerful trends working to keep ELF vandalism linked with Al Qaeda in the public’s mind.”-joe

    If eneviromentalists think these examples of “vandalism” are laudable then they do not just look bad, they are evil. The fact that they do not intend to harm anyone only mitigates their evil slightly. These actions at least still amount to to theft on a major scale.

    Also, “vandalism” is such a mild term, conjuring images of dumb teenagers taking out windows and spraypainting walls. Not major property damage which could easily result in injury or death.

  29. I don’t know that there is a good definition of terrorism. I mean, we could write one down and make it all rigorous and air-tight, but I don’t know whether it would be very compatible with common usage. The term is thrown around quite a bit. Some of the uses are careless, and other uses are more excusable.

    A lot of people try to restrict the definition of terrorism to acts against civilians. The thing is, there are people who target civilians in some of their attacks but also sometimes target soldiers. We could draw an artificial line between those 2 types of attacks by the same group, but in the minds of the attackers they are part and parcel of the same cause.

    The best definition I can think of is acts of indiscriminate violence with the goal of sowing fear rather than a concrete military objective.

    So, for instance, attacking the Pentagon to show how much you hate America is terrorism. Firing at soldiers in an attempt to drive them away is warfare. Setting off a bomb on a base to sow fear is an act of terrorism. Bombing the base’s radar station to blind the soldiers in preparation for an attack is warfare.

    Of course, even then, there’s a continuum of acts. What about attacks that have a terror objective as well as a more concrete objective?

    In the end, terrorism is probably destined to be a somewhat amorphous term. There are things that are clearly terrorism and things that clearly aren’t, but there are acts that will fall in the gray area no matter how you define it, and there will be people whose violent campaigns include different acts at different points on that spectrum.

    Part of the ambiguity comes from the fact that terrorism is defined, at least in part, by the attacker’s goals. An attacker might only want to kill a single person that he hates, but his attack could send shock waves through a community. Another attacker might hope to sow fear but fail miserably at it.

    I know I haven’t resolved anything, but I’ve tried to at least outline the issues as I see them.

  30. greetings matty- yup ten years ago…

    and my associates who were scared shitless about government power and government policing and government snooping back then are the most gung ho patriot act supporters i’ve encountered (including sen. santorum’s dog and my uncle bob)

    does this mean that we have to cancel our celebration of the boston tea party??? that was obviously terrorism.

    “terrorism is the act by anybody that is something kinda violent that my side disagrees with.”

    how about that for a def? ask an operation RESCUE person about murdering an abortion doc. they’re not terrorists to themselves or their supporters.

    ask our environmental activist about their krap. same answer, as mentioned above.

    as for thoreau’s continuum, combine that with the good thought above about “hate crimes” and “terrorism” definitions.

    it comes back to rule of men and the eye of the beholder. we’ve abandoned our constitution and our Liberal principles to the extent that we wish to have a state where the “innocent have nothing to fear”. just toe the appropriate party line.

    (this message was sponsored by our friend gaius, and was boycotted by the ‘shift’ key, grin)

  31. “So if I come and torch your house it won’t “harm” you as long as you’re not at home.”

    No, I’d classify that as an act of terror. The point is, torching empty construction sites or the cars in a dealership’s lot isn’t an aggressive act against persons the way torching someone’s home or the car in their driveway would be. The former are property crimes, while the latter are violent crimes. It’s the difference between hacking a bank’s computer, and sticking a gun in a clerk’s face. Both involve the theft of money, but the robbery has an element of violence as well.

  32. an Islamist hand behind everything from the D.C. sniper shootings

    But their motive was Islamist even if they were freelancers.

    Guerilla warfare doesn’t follow the usual rules. There is not always a chain of command. What there is is a chain of ideas. Motivation.

    I know we are losing the war, and the world situation is getting worse, and some Iranians are calling for Bush to attack Iran.

    Still it seems that you could get at least one of your no terrorist here among the terrorists examples correct.

    Unless you define terrorism as only those acts having state sponsorship. Like perhaps the Oklahoma city bombing. Or the first attack on the towers.

    Perhaps Saddam did have it coming.

  33. “…torching empty construction sites or the cars in a dealership’s lot isn’t an aggressive act against persons the way torching someone’s home or the car in their driveway would be. The former are property crimes, while the latter are violent crimes.”-joe

    Both are crimes against property, both are acts of violence. Making a distinction based on location is a deeply nonsensical rationalization.

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