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U.S. Doubles Its Count of 2003 Terrorism Casualties

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posted on Jun, 22 2004 @ 06:34 PM
US Government admits that April report on casualies of terrorism was badly flawed.

U.S. Doubles Its Count of 2003 Terrorism Casualties
Tue Jun 22, 2004 06:03 PM ET

By Arshad Mohammed
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration on Tuesday more than doubled its count of people killed and injured by international terrorism in 2003 as it revised a faulty report used to argue it was winning a war on terrorism.

The administration said international terrorism killed 625 people last year, up from the 307 it reported on April 29 but below 2002's 725 fatalities. It found 3,646 were wounded last year, above the 1,593 initially cited and the 2,013 in 2002.

The errors in the annual "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report have embarrassed the administration and dented its claim to be prevailing in the war on terrorism, a key part of President Bush's re-election strategy.

Secretary of State Colin Powell blamed "computational and accounting errors." Other officials said they had failed to count many terrorist attacks in November and December, double-counted others and misclassified still others.

The original count omitted a Nov. 9 car bombing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia that killed at least 17 people and bombings in Istanbul that killed at least 61 people on Nov. 15 and Nov. 20, officials said.

The number of international terrorist attacks last year was revised up to 208 from the 190 the State Department initially reported, and the number of 2002 attacks was also revised up to 205 from the 198 originally reported.

U.S. officials said the number of "significant" terrorist attacks -- those that kill or seriously injure someone, cause more than $10,000 in damage or attempt to do either of those things -- rose to 175 last year, the most since 1982.

The primary source of the errors was the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC), an independent interagency group set up last year to address U.S. intelligence agencies' failure to prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"I assume personal responsibility for any shortcomings in TTIC's performance," said John Brennan, director of the center. The center last year took over from the CIA the job of assembling the terrorism data. "I regret any embarrassment this issue has caused," he said.

U.S. officials have denied skewing the numbers for political gain amid this year's presidential election campaign, in which Bush has cast himself as a "war president" who has made the country safer.

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