- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The State Department yesterday added 318 dead and 2,053 injured to the number of casualties of international terrorism initially published two months ago in a report it conceded was “marred by significant errors.”

The flawed figures had been cited by the Bush administration as evidence that it was winning the fight against terrorism. Yesterday, officials said that assessment was “overly positive.”

The total number of attacks was revised slightly from 190 to 208, but that of the dead and injured jumped from 307 to 625 and from 1,593 to 3,646, respectively.

“This report is inaccurate in the sense that the numbers were off,” Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told reporters.

He attributed the mistakes to a new data system that ignored attacks after Nov. 10. Officials involved in the preparation of the report later said they were using a “flawed” statistical database that is more than a decade old.

“Events were left out, some were mislabeled and counted in the wrong categories. Some events were counted twice and some portions of the year were omitted entirely,” said Cofer Black, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism.

But Mr. Powell, who earlier this month called the report “embarrassing,” insisted yesterday that the errors were not deliberate.

“We have only one goal with this report, and that is to accurately reflect the pattern of terrorism that existed throughout the world during the period of the report,” he said. “The report is not designed to make our efforts look better or worse, or terrorism look better or worse, but to provide the facts to the American people.”

The document is based on data assembled by the interagency Terrorism Threat Integration Center, which answers to the CIA. An attack is considered an act of terrorism only if it targets civilians — or military personnel not engaged in action at the time of the incident — but not active combatants.

When the report was first released on April 28, officials said the number of attacks last year was the smallest since 1969. They attributed it partly to the close cooperation among almost 100 countries in the U.S.-led fight against terrorism.

“Indeed, you will find in these pages clear evidence that we are prevailing in the fight,” Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in reference to the original report, titled “Patterns of Global Terrorism” and mandated by Congress.

Mr. Powell said yesterday that conclusion is no longer valid.

“His characterization obviously was based on a report that had errors in it,” the secretary said of his deputy. “The data in the report gave it a trend interpretation that is not accurate, because the report at that time was not accurate.”

The State Department first acknowledged the mistakes in the report on June 10, after being alerted by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, whose staff discovered the miscalculations.

Yesterday, Mr. Waxman said he was pleased that officials “have now recognized that they have a report that has been inaccurate, and based on the inaccurate information they tried to take self-serving political credit for the results that were wrong.”

But Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat, was more critical.

“Funny things happened on the way to the printer,” he said. “Unfortunately, this is not the first, second, or third instance, for that matter, of a Bush Cabinet secretary having to rewrite a report from their own department.”

Mr. Emanuel cited other reports he said were inaccurate, such as one on racial disparities in health care, misleading cost estimates of the Medicare prescription-drug bill and the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed mercury-emissions rules.

“The first draft reflects the administration’s ideology and political objectives, and the rewrite reflects the facts,” he said on the House floor.

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