Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Terrorism Statistics

Both CNN and Fox News had articles about a new estimate of the number of terrorist attacks in 2004. The National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) broadened its definition of terrorism so the new estimate is five times higher than previous. Both articles have the same basic facts but there are a few differences which may indicate an anti-administration bias by CNN or a pro-administration bias by Fox. CNN adds some mention of past criticism of the State Department. Fox adds information that seemingly supports the administration’s reasons for action in Iraq. Here are some specific examples:

In CNN’s article but not in Fox’s article:

The preliminary NCTC statistics on global terrorism were released simultaneously with the State Department's annual terrorism report. The State Department drew criticism from Democrats when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice decided not to have her department release the statistics -- which had previously been part of the report -- and to allow intelligence officials to decide about their release. … The State Department had to revise its report covering 2003 because it had underreported the number of attacks.

In Fox’s article but not in CNN’s article:

Nineteen percent of the attacks were committed by Islamic extremists.

Brennan said that the apparent surge should not suggest to people that the United States is losing the War on Terror. Instead, he said more analysts are counting the attacks and the criteria for what constitutes an attack has broadened. The different methodology for counting events makes comparison of prior records-keeping impossible, he said.

But the increase, no matter how it's defined or explained, may provide fodder for critics who argue that Iraq, which under the new data experienced 866 attacks in 2004, has become a breeding ground for Islamic extremists, who take the training and skills honed there to launch attacks outside the country.

Links to the articles:


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