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.