State Department Releases Revised Version of 2003 "Patterns of Global Terrorism"

Roundup: Talking About History

From the Federal News Service (June 22, 2004):



SEC. POWELL: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Sorry I'm a few minutes late....

I'm here today to brief you on the corrections that we have made to our"Patterns of Global Terrorism" report for 2003.

Let me start out with an observation about the report. The report is mostly a narrative document which goes through patterns and trends of terrorist activities in countries throughout the world and what progress those countries have made and what the pattern looks like within that country.

On balance, it is a good report. The narrative is sound, and we're not changing any of the narrative.

Shortly after the report was issued in late April, it came to our attention, principally through the efforts of Congressman Henry Waxman and his staff, that they saw data errors in some of the tables that were in the report and some of the trends that were divined from those data tables. When I asked my staff about it and we began looking into it, we discovered that Congressman Waxman and his staff was correct; there were errors.

For the past two weeks now, we have had a major effort under way within the State Department and within the Terrorist Threat Information Center, the center which accumulates this data, a new organization created last year, an independent organization that reports directly to the director of Central Intelligence. And in earlier years it was accumulated in a different manner within the CIA.

But the Terrorist Threat Information Center, the TTIC, and my staff have been hard at work for the past two weeks to get to the bottom of the data error, determine what corrections were appropriate, and to make those corrections so we could show those corrections to the American people.

The State Department and the TTIC and, of course, all of us in the administration and the president, take seriously our responsibility to provide the Congress and the American people with the best information and analysis available, and therefore, I welcome this opportunity to correct the record.

The results of our review, which will be spelled out to you in greater detail in a moment or two, shows that from 2002 to 2003, using the rules that have been in place to analyze incidents and categorize them one way or another, the number of incidents, as categorized by our system, went up from 198 in 2002 to a corrected number in 2003, that will be explained to you momentarily, of 208, a slight rise in the overall number of incidents, both what are called significant events or significant incidents, and non-significant incidents that arrive at this total.

But the numbers don't tell the full story, the number of incidents. You also have to look at the number of individuals who were killed or injured as a result of these terrorist attacks. And as we look at those numbers we find that the number of killed going from 2002 to 2003 has dropped on an annual basis, but the number of injured has gone up quite a bit, and you'll see that in a moment. Why? In some cases, a particular instance gives rise to more casualties than another instance, and so you can't expect a direct correlation between number of incidents and number of casualties. But we also found computational and accounting errors as we went through the data over the last several weeks, and that also will be explained to you in a moment.

Our effort is to put out the most accurate information we can. And as we go forward from this position, I think as a result of the last two weeks' work, we have identified how we have to do this in the future in order to make sure that we don't run into this kind of problem again....

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