Powell Says Terror Report Statistics Now Reviewed, Revised
New figures note changes in significant, non-significant
Secretary of State Colin Powell said statistics in a 2003 report
on global terrorism released in April were inaccurate and the Department
of State and the Terrorist Threat Incident Center (TTIC) have revised
them after a two-week review.
Powell said the revised report shows that there were 208 international
terrorist attacks in 2003, up slightly from the revised 205 in
2002. These numbers reflected changes in how significant and non-significant
incidents are recorded, he said.
"But the numbers don't tell the full story, the number of incidents," Powell
said during a Washington briefing. "You also have to look at the
number of individuals who were killed or injured as a result of
these terrorist attacks. And, as we look at those numbers, we find
that the number of killed going from 2002 to 2003 has dropped on
an annual basis, but the number of injured have gone up quite a
The number of people killed in terrorist incidents in 2003 were
625, fewer than the 725 reported in the previous year, the report
said. In contrast, the number of people injured in terrorist attacks
rose to 3,646 in 2003, from 2,013 in 2002.
"Why? In some cases, a particular instance gives rise to more
casualties than another instance, and so you can't expect a direct
correlation between the number of incidents and the number of casualties.
But we also found computational and accounting errors as we went
through the data over the last several weeks," Powell said.
Powell also said there was no effort on the part of the State
Department or TTIC to alter the statistics to make it appear the
U.S. counterterrorism efforts were better or worse.
Following is the text of Powell's remarks:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
June 22, 2004
Remarks by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
On the Release of the Revised "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003" Annual
June 22, 2004
POWELL: Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Sorry I'm a
few minutes late. Before getting into the subject of our first
briefing this afternoon on our corrected Global Terrorism Report
for 2003, let me talk about another issue, and that is the tragedy
that we see on our screens this afternoon indicating that the
South Korean hostage in Iraq, Mr. Kim Sun-il, was beheaded by
the evil terrorists who kidnapped him.
He was an innocent man there to help the people of Iraq, cut down
by senseless barbarism. We condemn such acts of terrorism against
civilians who are there to build a peaceful and democratic Iraq.
We offer our sympathy and condolences to his family and we stand
with the people of South Korea at this time. As the president said
a few moments ago, these evildoers will not stop us from our work.
I am pleased that the South Korean Government has been steadfast
over the last several days and remains steadfast in the face of
this kind of terrorism.
I am here today to brief you on the corrections that we have made
to our Patterns of Global Terrorism Report for 2003. Let me start
out with an observation about the report. The report is mostly
a narrative document, which goes through patterns and trends of
terrorist activities in countries throughout the world, and what
progress those countries have made, and what the pattern looks
like within that country. On balance, it is a good report. The
narrative is sound and we're not changing any of the narrative.
Shortly after the report was issued in late April, it came to
our attention, principally through the efforts of Congressman Henry
Waxman and his staff, that they saw data errors in some of the
tables that were in the report, and some of the trends that were
divined from those data tables.
When I asked my staff about it and we began looking into it, we
discovered that Congressman Waxman and his staff was correct; there
For the past two weeks now, we have had a major effort underway
within the State Department and within the Terrorist Threat Information
Center, the Center which accumulates this data, a new organization
created last year, an independent organization that reports directly
to the Director of Central Intelligence. And in earlier years,
it was accumulated in a different manner within the CIA.
But the Terrorist Threat Information Center, the TTIC, and my
staff have been hard at work for the past two weeks to get to the
bottom of the data error and determine what corrections were appropriate,
and to make those corrections so we could show those corrections
to the American people.
The State Department and the TC -- TTIC, and, of course, all of
us in the administration and the president take seriously our responsibility
to provide the Congress and the American people with the best information
and analysis available, and therefore I welcome this opportunity
to correct the record.
The results of our review, which will be spelled out to you in
greater detail in a moment or two, shows that from 2002 to 2003,
using the rules that have been in place to analyze incidents and
categorize them one way or another, the number of incidents as
categorized by our system went up from 198 in 2002 to a corrected
number in 2003 that will be explained to you momentarily of 208,
a slight rise in the overall number of incidents both in what are
called significant events or significant incidents and non-significant
incidents that arrive at this total.
But the numbers don't tell the full story, the number of incidents.
You also have to look at the number of individuals who were killed
or injured as a result of these terrorist attacks. And, as we look
at those numbers, we find that the number of killed going from
2002 to 2003 has dropped on an annual basis, but the number of
injured have gone up quite a bit. And you will see that in a moment.
Why? In some cases, a particular instance gives rise to more casualties
than another instance, and so you can't expect a direct correlation
between the number of incidents and the number of casualties. But
we also found computational and accounting errors as we went through
the data over the last several weeks, and that also will be explained
to you in a moment.
Our effort is to put out the most accurate information we can.
And as we go forward from this position, I think, as a result of
the last two weeks' work, we have identified how we have to do
this in the future, in order to make sure that we don't run into
this kind of problem again.
We have shared the results of our analysis with Mr. Waxman's staff
yesterday, and I'm sure the congressman will be making a statement
of his own. Additional questions were presented to us by Mr. Waxman
and his staff as to how we should go forward with this process
in the future, and we look forward to working with that committee
and other committees of Congress to make sure that we all have
a common understanding of what we are trying to accumulate in the
way of data from the Terrorist Threat Information Center, and how
we use that data when it comes over to the State Department so
we can put together this annual report.
The annual report is based on what we get from the TTIC in the
form of data, but it also depends upon analyses that are done at
our embassies around the world. The information we get from them,
from other government agencies, resulting in this annual report,
was a combination of narrative discussions of the pattern of terrorism
around the world as well as the actual numbers of incidents and
casualties reported under the reporting system.
We recognize that terrorism is a danger that is not going away
soon, and even if you looked at the report that was issued on the
29th of April, before we found that there were data errors in it,
that report makes it clear that terrorism is alive, it is affecting
the entire civilized world, it makes us more determined to go after
the perpetrators of terrorism, and I don't think there's any question
that that was the import of the original report. The corrected
report narrative remains the same, and the numbers you will be
able to see for yourself in a few moments.
And so now it is my pleasure to turn the briefing over to the
experts on this matter, Ambassador Cofer Black, my coordinator
in the State Department for counterterrorism, and Mr. John Brennan,
who is the director of the Terrorism Threat Information Center
reporting directly to the Director of Central Intelligence.
With that, I will turn it over to Cofer and John. Thank you.
QUESTION: Sir, before you --
Q: Can you take a question on --
Q: Can you take one question? Why should the American people have
confidence in the Terrorist Threat Information Center, which was
created to help the government prevent attacks like the September
11th attacks? Why should the American people have confidence it
can do that when it was unable to accurately count what happened
POWELL: Well, you will hear in a moment what the problem was.
TTIC is a new organization, and when we found out there was a problem
in the data -- and frankly, we have spent the last two weeks going
back through years and years of data, and assembling not only the
data, but how were things categorized, what system was in place,
so to see if we could have solid trend analysis over time. And
we discovered gaps in the data. We discovered errors in the way
the data was being added up.
And over the last two weeks, and this is working seven days a
week, all of the analysts have come together and agreed on what
you are about to -- what you're about to receive from these two
gentlemen, and this will be the basis upon which the TTIC and the
State Department will be doing our work in the future. And we will
be also consulting with Congress and any other experts who can
help us do a better job.
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. 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.
And I think the way in which we have responded to this challenge
to the report, by coming straight out and saying, you're right,
it needs correction, and it has been corrected, and as soon as
this briefing is over, before the afternoon is over, I expect that
the corrected information will be on our websites and then we'll
figure out how to put out errata sheets or additional information
that will correct the hard-copy versions of the report.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
POWELL: But the American people can have confidence in what we
are doing and what we have done. This report is inaccurate in the
sense that the numbers were off. When you hear the briefing, you
will see that they were off, but not off by wild amounts. The number
of wounded is off quite a bit, which is a function of, as I said,
some calculating errors, as well as the nature of the particular
Thank you. I've got to get to the White House.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Q: Sir, just a couple of questions.
POWELL: I've got to get --
Q: On another subject --
POWELL: I've got to the get to the White House.
Q: I'll be very quick.
POWELL: Be very quick, please.
Q: Interrogation documents, the practice, the procedures used
for interrogating prisoners are coming out, apparently, today.
As a former Chief of Staff, do you have any observations on the
Pentagon's system of interrogating prisoners?
POWELL: I'm going to let the Pentagon present whatever information
it's going to present. All I know is that the president has made
it clear, and it has always been my position as well, and a code
that I've lived with for 35 years and four months, that we don't
torture people who are in our care.
Q: Sir, a question about your characterization of the report on
terrorism. Last time, Secretary -- Mr. Armitage did it and I wonder
if you could --
POWELL: I'm aware of what Mr. Armitage said, and what Mr. Armitage
said reflected the report as he received it on the 29th of April,
and he honestly presented the information that was in here. And
if I had been given the report, as he was and as Cofer was, I would
have said what the report said at that time. We have subsequently
found errors in the report, and I'm sure that if all of us had
been aware of these errors and had the corrected copy of the report
at that time, the statements that were made at that time would
have reflected the corrected report. It was --
Q: Would you amend how he characterized this report?
POWELL: His characterization, obviously, was based on a report
that had errors in it. I don't know how I can go beyond that. He
characterized the report, the data in the report, gave it a trend
interpretation that is not accurate because the report at that
time was not accurate.
Now, the narrative -- we're not changing the narrative with respect
to the different countr[ies]. We will change the narrative wherever
the narrative relates to the data. The corrected data will be in
the report and that portion of the report that describes that data
will also be corrected.
Q: But how --
Q: Is the U.S. still prevailing in the war on terrorism?
Q: Are we winning the war on terrorism?
POWELL: Why don't you listen to it and then you can have a better
understanding. It is still a war on terror. I don't think even
Mr. Armitage said that it is won. It is not won. It continues.
Q: He said you're prevailing.
POWELL: Yeah. It continues. He said something at a time when he
had incorrect information in front of him. And now we have correct
Q: And you're not prevailing?
Q: Mr. Secretary --
POWELL: I didn't say that. Why don't you listen to the briefing
and then we can -- they will have more than enough time for questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
POWELL: No, I have got to get a meeting, I'm sorry.
Q: Will you be updating the --
Q: -- you have the final report?
POWELL: Here are the experts. They will tell you.