WASHINGTON IN BRIEF
Report Details Terrorist Attacks
There were nearly 3,200 terrorist attacks worldwide last year, a federal counterterrorism center said yesterday, using a broader definition that increased fivefold the number of attacks the agency had been counting.
John Brennan, the National Counterterrorism Center's interim director, cautioned that comparing the new tally to previous ones was comparing apples to oranges. In 2004, the counterterrorism center reported, 3,192 terror attacks occurred worldwide with 28,433 people wounded or killed.
In government numbers made public in April, using a more stringent definition of terrorism, the State Department and the counterterrorism center had tallied 651 significant international terrorism attacks with more than 9,000 victims.
The government's terrorism numbers have been the subject of repeated controversies. Last year, the State Department withdrew its annual report on global terrorism and said that its initial version vastly understated the number of attacks.
Earlier this year, government analysts determined that the number of attacks had gone up once again. Rather than publish that information, the State Department stripped the annual report of the terrorism numbers and handed responsibility to Brennan's new NCTC, which said the methodology that produced the statistics was so flawed the numbers should not be relied upon to make conclusions.
100 Chemical Plants Near Cities
More than 100 facilities nationwide that store large amounts of lung-melting or other lethal chemicals are near communities of at least 1 million people, congressional researchers say.
Officials are concerned that the plants, in 23 states, are tempting targets for terrorist attacks.
The tally of plants was compiled by the Congressional Research Service, for release today, using Environmental Protection Agency data. It represents one of the first public state-by-state breakdowns of how close potentially deadly facilities are to the nation's largest population centers.
"Chemical facilities are at the top of the terrorists' target list, and I thought it would be helpful for the full picture to be presented," Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said in an interview
The survey provided state-by-state figures but did not specify the names of the facilities or the cities in which they are located.
The EPA refuses to release its own list of detailed locations of the chemical manufacturing plants, oil refineries and storage facilities for fear doing so could aid terrorists' plans. Environmental watchdog groups have compiled incomplete or outdated tallies of chemical facilities.
Deficit Estimate to Be Revised
The White House will offer a fresh estimate of the 2005 budget deficit next week amid expectations from some private economists that the shortfall will be revised downward after hitting a record high last year.
Earlier this year, the White House projected a $427 billion deficit for fiscal 2005, which ends Sept. 30, up from an all-time high of $412 billion in fiscal 2004.
Some private analysts are projecting a deficit of about $350 billion based on figures showing stronger-than-expected tax revenue in the spring.
The White House is likely to tout any improvement as a sign its tax-cut policies are working. But some analysts cautioned that a cooling in the pace of growth and a more subdued stock market could portend a slowing in revenue growth.
-- From News Services and Staff Reports