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Report: No politics behind low terrorism figures

Administrative problems, not politics, led to a report that wrongly showed a decline in terrorist attacks last year, the State Department said Tuesday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Administrative problems, not politics, led to a report that falsely showed a decline in worldwide terrorist attacks last year, the State Department inspector general’s office said Tuesday.

In its annual terrorism report, released in April, the State Department cited declining numbers as proof of success in the U.S. fight against terrorism. Two months later, it issued a revised report showing that major terrorist acts actually had reached a 21-year high.

Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign accused the Bush administration of trying to inflate its success against terrorism.

A review by the inspector general found errors and omissions but “nothing surreptitious involved,” said Patricia Yorkman, a spokeswoman for the office.

She said the problems stemmed from the following factors:

  • The database used to prepare the report was changed. The CIA had been responsible for the database in the past, but this year it became the responsibility of the new nationwide terrorism analysis office, the Terrorist Threat Integration Center.
  • Changes in staffing resulted in a lack of trained personnel working on the report.
  • Coordination and oversight by the department were inadequate.

The inspector general’s report was sent last week to six Democratic senators who had requested the examination, Yorkman said. A version with sensitive material blacked out will be released after the report is reviewed to protect employee privacy and remove any classified information.

The annual Patterns of Global Terrorism Report has long been considered one of the government’s most important public documents in measuring the fight against terrorism. It provides a country-by-country review of terror and examines international cooperation.