National Counter-Terrorism Center takes over

By order of Secretary Rice, the State Department will stop publishing its annual report “Patterns of Global Terrorism,” ceding responsibility for counting and analyzing worldwide terror attacks to the new National Counter-Terrorism Center. The order comes despite controversy over the Center’s findings, on which the State Department relied for last year’s report. The report found a higher incidence of terror attacks in 2003 than in any year since the State Department began counting them in 1985. This year, the number has again risen dramatically, according to intelligence sources—from 175 “significant” attacks in 2003 to 625 in 2004. The State Department has issued a public version of the report every since 1985, and it is uncertain if the National Counter-Terrorism Center will now do so. The move to halt publication is controversial on Capitol Hill. “This is the definitive report on the incidence of terrorism around the world,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). “It should be unthinkable that there would be an effort to withhold it—or any of the key data —from the public. The Bush administration should stop playing politics with this critical report.” (Knight-Ridder, April 16)

Note: The National Counter-Terrorism Center, created by executive order last August, supercedes the joint CIA-FBI Terrorist Threat Integration Center, launched in February 2003. (See WW4 REPORT #74; Federation of American Scientists fact sheet, December 2004) It was created at the recommendation of the 9-11 Commission. (White House press release, Aug. 2, 2004)