Nobody paid any attention a couple of weeks ago when I reported last year’s rather startling increase in worldwide terrorism. The data, compiled by the RAND Corporation and available to the public at tkb.org, showed that, worldwide, the sum of “international” and “domestic” terrorist attacks increased by more than 50% between 2004 and 2005. So, I went to the White House today and asked Scott McClellan for his take. This was my question:
According to data currently available at the Department of Homeland Security-funded Terrorism Knowledge Base, the incidence of terrorism increased markedly in 2005. Worldwide, attacks were up 51% from the year before, and the number of people killed in those attacks was up 36%. Since the year 2000, attacks are up 250% and deaths are up 550%.
How do you reconcile those numbers with your claim that you are winning the war on terrorism and putting terrorists out of business?
Well, just look at the facts, Eric. If you look at the facts, many of al-Qaeda’s known leadership have been put out of business. They’ve been brought to justice. They’ve either been captured or killed. No longer is America waiting and responding. We are on the offense; we are taking the fight to the enemy. We are engaged in a war on terrorism. The enemies recognize how high the stakes are, and one of the things that the President will talk about, will continue to talk about in the coming weeks, is that we continue to face a serious threat. This is a deadly and determined enemy. The difference is, now, that we’ve got them on the run. We’ve got them playing defense. We’re taking the fight to them, and all of us in the international community must continue to work together. We’ve been fortunate that we haven’t been hit again since the attacks of September 11th. That’s in no small part thanks to the great work of our men and women in uniform abroad, and because of the great work of our intelligence community, and the great work of our homeland security officials here at home, who have worked together using vital tools like the Patriot Act, and other tools to help disrupt plots and disrupt attacks, and there’s great progress being made. The President made it clear after September 11th that this was going to be a long war, but he’s going to continue acting, and leading, doing everything in his power to win that war so long as he is in office. And we also have to work to continue to advance freedom, and 2006 [sic] was a year of progress when it came to advancing freedom around the world. The Middle East is a dangerous troubled region, and that’s why it’s important that we continue to support the advance of democracy throughout that region.
I wonder, is it really true that “we haven’t been hit again” since 9/11? What would Bob Woodruff’s kids say about that? Or the families of the 19,597 soldiers killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan? What would Jill Carroll say?