October 28, 2004

The Great New York Times al-Qaqaa Rollback...

Let's briefly recap the NYT's handling of the al-Qaqaa chronicles.

1) First, the Times ran a big lead story saying that the explosives were definitely removed after the invasion. It was, of course, a piece that positively reeked of serving Kerry up an issue before the election. Particularly humorous, to a fashion, the language liberally employed through the article so transparently aimed at conjuring up monstrous Dr. Strangelove scenarios so as to herald the coming apocalypse ("greatest explosives bonanza in history,"It's like Mars on Earth," "easily move into the terrorist web across the Middle East", "Nagasaki,"blackened and eviscerated,", "No Man's Land.")

Shit, scared yet? The nuclear winter is here, man!

2) Mere hours after they 'broke' the story--the Times-Kerry axis had this story on tap. It was almost as if John Kerry had been holding his "great blunders" line in reserve once the Times got the piece up! (Oh, and cherub Edwards was mouthing off about the "clueless" Bushies--mining the Valley girl vote when not making sure his hair was comme il faut for the cameras).

3) Next, Krugman dutifully picks up the story. What's his op-ed called? You guessed it, a "Culture of Cover-Ups"! (Someone should tell Krugman that his credibility would be so greatly enhanced if, even just once, he had a single nice thing to say about this Administration. But, I guess, that's asking a little too much since Bush is the devil incarnate and bearded Kruggie plays ennobled dissident so well--garnering so many big awards from easily wowed Euro crowds who think him the new Sakharov or some such).

4) Next, the NYT gets into (somewhat) defensive mode. But, no repentance, just yet:

President Bush's aides told reporters that because the soldiers had found no trace of the missing explosives on April 10, they could have been removed before the invasion. They based their assertions on a report broadcast by NBC News on Monday night that showed video images of the 101st arriving at Al Qaqaa.

By yesterday afternoon Mr. Bush's aides had moderated their view, saying it was a "mystery" when the explosives disappeared and that Mr. Bush did not want to comment on the matter until the facts were known.

But others would be 'moderating' their views soon too, of course.

5) Next, the Times does its level best to distance itself from a story that, it appears, could be crumbling around them. After all, the key to this entire story (in terms of the political damage it could cause Evil Georgie) is that the explosives dissapeared after the invasion. There's quite a bit to mine here, and time is short, but here are some highlights:

President Bush addressed for the first time today the mysterious disappearance of 380 tons of explosives in Iraq, accusing his campaign rival, Senator John Kerry, of exploiting the issue without knowing, or caring about, the truth. Mr. Kerry, meanwhile, continued to hammer away on the issue.

Do me a favor. Substitute, in the graf above, the words "New York Times" where "Senator John Kerry" or "Mr. Kerry" is mentioned. Funny, huh?

Oh, and then there's this:

The very fact that Mr. Bush mentioned the missing explosives, after two days of silence since their disappearance was first reported, signaled that his campaign strategists recognized the issue's political potency in the final week of a presidential race that both sides agree could be exceedingly close.

People in the Kerry campaign clearly think too that the missing explosives may be a powerful issue...

Again, subsitute "the New York Times" for "the Kerry campaign" in the immediately preceding passage. And, note the transparent spinning in the graf above. First, POTUS was hiding for two days! Like, totally silent dude! And, now he's, you know, talking about it. So it must be a big deal! He's feeling the heat! Its got some, er, "political potency" to it...(Yawn. Can't they at least start doing all this boulot Lockhart with more subtletly?)

Then this:

The timing of the disappearance is crucial. The stockpile was found to be intact in March 2003, when United Nations weapons inspectors checked it just days before the American-led invasion. On April 10, one day after Saddam Hussein was toppled, American troops visited the Al Qaqaa depot, not finding any big cache of explosives but apparently not looking very closely either.

The troops' commander has explained that his unit was on its way to Baghdad and had simply paused at Al Qaqaa to plan the next stage of their advance.

If it could ever be established that the explosives disappeared while Mr. Hussein was still in power, Mr. Kerry's assertions that the disappearance illustrates the Bush administration's incompetence would be diluted.

Mr. Bush encouraged the idea today that the timing remained very uncertain. Accusing Mr. Kerry of making "wild charges," the president said American-led forces had seized or destroyed more than 400,000 tons of munitions in Iraq.

Note what the Times is trying to get away with here!?! It's Bush who is encouraging the "idea" that "the timing remained very uncertain." Translation: We at the Times continue to believe the timing is certain, not ambiguous, so that the explosives were removed after the invasion. But, as contrary facts are emerging, we can't say this anymore (at least not without greatly embarrasing ourselves--though we very much did in our initial 'gotcha' piece). Now, rather than accept some responsibility for all this--we are stepping back and distancing ourselves from the entire mess. See, it's now Mr. Kerry's assertions re: the administration's incompetence that "would be diluted." But, bien sur, nary a mention that our assertions (our headlined, hyped, hypebolic reporting) was perhaps innaccurate.

All pretty shameless, no?

6) Next, roll-back mode begins in earnest:

The disappearance of the explosives has roiled the presidential campaign since the report on Monday, by The New York Times and CBS News, that some of them may have been removed from an ammunition dump after American troops passed by and failed to secure the area. Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency had warned American officials before the war began that nearly 380 tons of high explosives were hidden at the stockpile called Al Qaqaa. [emphasis added]

"Some of them may have been removed"? Sorry, but that wasn't how W. 43rd St. copy read. Again, so we don't forget, the initial story read thus: "White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year."

So now the Times is mis-characterizing it's original story. Without, of course, even beginning to broach whether they need to prostrate themseleves into full-blown mea culpa mode. But no, Raines has been expunged, so sky's the limit! Party on folks--get out the vote!

7) Signpost moving time. This story is no longer about Bush's personal responsibility in facilitating the greatest terrorist bonanza since the advent of modern history through grotesque negligence. Now, per this Times piece, the story has become much more, er, sober:

The disappearance of the explosives -- first reported in Monday's New York Times -- has raised questions about why the United States didn't do more to secure the facility and failed to allow full international inspections to resume after the invasion.

Hmmm...

8) Le rollback continu. Buried in this Reuters piece carried on the Times website:

Bush and Pentagon officials said the material might have been moved from the site before U.S. forces arrived.

Perkins also said it was ``very highly improbable'' that enemy forces could have trucked out such a huge amount of explosives in the weeks after U.S. forces first arrived there, considering the high level of U.S. military presence and how clogged the roads around the site were with U.S. convoys.

9) Time to play defense--but rollback now complete!

Looters stormed the weapons site at Al Qaqaa in the days after American troops swept through the area in early April 2003 on their way to Baghdad, gutting office buildings, carrying off munitions and even dismantling heavy machinery, three Iraqi witnesses and a regional security chief said Wednesday.

The Iraqis described an orgy of theft so extensive that enterprising residents rented their trucks to looters. But some looting was clearly indiscriminate, with people grabbing anything they could find and later heaving unwanted items off the trucks.

Two witnesses were employees of Al Qaqaa - one a chemical engineer and the other a mechanic - and the third was a former employee, a chemist, who had come back to retrieve his records, determined to keep them out of American hands. The mechanic, Ahmed Saleh Mezher, said employees asked the Americans to protect the site but were told this was not the soldiers' responsibility.

The accounts do not directly address the question of when 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives vanished from the site sometime after early March, the last time international inspectors checked the seals on the bunkers where the material was stored. It is possible that Iraqi forces removed some explosives before the invasion.

The Times is now busily casting about for Iraqi "witnesses." But, no witness accounts can keep them from now admitting what I've bolded above: that some of the explosives may have gone missing before the invasion. Wowser! And still--not an inkling of a retraction or apology. Hell, not even an ensy weensy clarification or such re: the initial story.

10) MoDo picks up where Krugman left off. She doesn't give one little Qa-Qaa about the facts, of course. Just spin, Cheney is Frankenstein, spin, George is hopelessly dumb, spin etc etc. You've read it all before....

11) Now, of course, and not reported in the NYT at this hour--comes this Bill Gertz bombshell from the Washington Times. Gertz is probably the best reporter at that paper--so I take it seriously (though I've always been dubious that massive amounts of Iraqi weaponry were moved to Syria or Iran).

Money grafs:

John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad. "The Russians brought in, just before the war got started, a whole series of military units," Mr. Shaw said. "Their main job was to shred all evidence of any of the contractual arrangements they had with the Iraqis. The others were transportation units." Mr. Shaw, who was in charge of cataloging the tons of conventional arms provided to Iraq by foreign suppliers, said he recently obtained reliable information on the arms-dispersal program from two European intelligence services that have detailed knowledge of the Russian-Iraqi weapons collaboration....

"That was such a pivotal location, Number 1, that the mere fact of [special explosives] disappearing was impossible," Mr. Shaw said. "And Number 2, if the stuff disappeared, it had to have gone before we got there."

The Pentagon disclosed yesterday that the Al-Qaqaa facility was defended by Fedayeen Saddam, Special Republican Guard and other Iraqi military units during the conflict. U.S. forces defeated the defenders around April 3 and found the gates to the facility open, the Pentagon said in a statement yesterday.

A military unit in charge of searching for weapons, the Army's 75th Exploitation Task Force, then inspected Al-Qaqaa on May 8, May 11 and May 27, 2003, and found no high explosives that had been monitored in the past by the IAEA.

The Pentagon said there was no evidence of large-scale movement of explosives from the facility after April 6.

Look, this version of events ain't airtight either. But, one thing is for sure. The NYT won't give it as much copy as their version of events which, as it turns out, is materially erroneous in terms of any judicious preponderance of the evidence test--as and where we sit today. Just don't look for any corrections or retractions. It's the Times, after all--and they're typically above such messiness. Wild-eyed Kerry ran with their story, you see, and now it's a Bush-Kerry explosives thang.

Meanwhile, the Times regally takes in the passing show--one they erroneously hyped up and published. They could have run a more sober piece--there is still a lot for the Bushies to be embarrassed about here--even in the Gertz piece scenario (why didn't Bush get good buddy Vlado to stop the arms-shuttling out of Iraq). But, instead, the Times tried to score a mega-October surprise style gotcha and hand it over to JFK the Second. And, it looks like, they came up real short.

(thax to reader Chris Jefferson for getting my butt in gear on this story)

UPDATE: The NYT is valianty keeping the story alive! But they are moving the signposts (again) and using lots of weasel verbiage:

A videotape made by a television crew with American troops when they opened bunkers at a sprawling Iraqi munitions complex south of Baghdad shows a huge supply of explosives still there nine days after the fall of Saddam Hussein, apparently including some sealed earlier by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The tape, broadcast on Wednesday night by the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis, appeared to confirm a warning given earlier this month to the agency by Iraqi officials, who said that hundreds of tons of high-grade explosives, powerful enough to bring down buildings or detonate nuclear weapons, had vanished from the site after the invasion of Iraq.

The question of whether the material was removed by Mr. Hussein's forces in the days before the invasion, or looted later because it was unguarded, has become a heated dispute on the campaign trail, with Senator John Kerry accusing President Bush of incompetence, and Mr. Bush saying it is unclear when the material disappeared and rejecting what he calls Mr. Kerry's "wild charges."

Weapons experts familiar with the work of the international inspectors in Iraq say the videotape appears identical to photographs that the inspectors took of the explosives, which were put under seal before the war. One frame shows what the experts say is a seal, with narrow wires that would have to be broken if anyone entered through the main door of the bunker.

The agency said that when it left Iraq in mid-March, only days before the war began, the only bunkers bearing its seals at the huge complex contained the explosive known as HMX, which the agency had monitored because it could be used in a nuclear weapons program. It is now clear that program had ground to a halt.

The New York Times and CBS reported on Monday that Iraqi officials had told the agency earlier this month that the explosives were missing, and that they were looted after April 9, 2003, the day Baghdad fell.

"Apparently." "Appears." Seems the jury's still out. As I said, lots of weasel words. And, critically, note the bolded portion immediately above in the last graf. That's a flat-out mis-statement. The original Monday New York Times story stated that "White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year"--not merely that "Iraqi officials" had so opined.

Again, moving the goal-posts. Look, the point of this post wasn't to argue that whatever went down at al Qaqaa was all just fine and dandy. It, very obviously, wasn't. But it was to showcase, pretty convincingly in my view, that the New York Times--in its so transparent rush to hand Kerry a big issue--1) rushed their copy, 2) given "1", the article in its original form was not factually provable by a preponderance of the evidence standard (especially in that it may have been factually inaccurate with regard to the Administration's reported acknowledgement that explosives vanished after the invasion; or, at best, way too thinly-sourced to convincingly make that claim), and 3) was, in general, evocative more of a NYT that feels simply like a WSJ of the Left than the much ballyhooed even-keeled, wise, ever-judicious 'paper of record.' Don't you think?

UPDATE: The always on the ball Tom Maguire adds more relevant detail. Check it out...

Posted by Gregory at October 28, 2004 01:43 PM
Comments

Interestingly, Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita is not supporting the "Russians ate my homework" theory. Says DiRita: “I am unaware of any particular information on that point.”

Why is that, do you think?

Possibility 1: the Administration knows the Russians did not take the explosives.

Possibility 2: The Russians took the explosives, which the administration knows, but it would be embarrassing or impolitic to admit that.

Possibility 3: The administration does not know whether the Russians took the explosives.

Which of these reflects credit on the Administration's postwar planning? None. Personally, I have my money on Possibility 3, but it's not clear how much the answer matters.

Posted by: mumbles at October 28, 2004 04:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ah, but Greg, you're missing a few crucial points to this story. The claims that the facility was "searched" on the 10th themselves crumbled ... which is evidently why the Bush Administration backed away from its claim that the materials had definitely disappeared prior to the invasion:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/27/politics/27bomb.html?oref=login&oref=login&pagewanted=print&position=

"White House officials reasserted yesterday that 380 tons of powerful explosives may have disappeared from a vast Iraqi military complex while Saddam Hussein controlled Iraq, saying a brigade of American soldiers did not find the explosives when they visited the complex on April 10, 2003, the day after Baghdad fell.

But the unit's commander said in an interview yesterday that his troops had not searched the site and had merely stopped there overnight.

The commander, Col. Joseph Anderson, of the Second Brigade of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, said he did not learn until this week that the site, Al Qaqaa, was considered sensitive, or that international inspectors had visited it before the war began in 2003 to inspect explosives that they had tagged during a decade of monitoring. "

In other words, the "search" by the 101st was not a search at all, but just a cursory stop, and they did not do an exhaustive search. The 3rd Infantry Division did conmduct a brief search, but they also just stopped there on their way to Baghdad, their main objective, but they did find thousands of vials of white powder which later turned out to be explosives --- RDX and HMX are white powders.

Another point is that the original assertion that the weapons disappeared after the invasion came from an assertion by the Iraqi interim government that the explosives were stolen then. If this assertion turns out to be incorrect, I hardly think you can blame the Times for running the story --- those were the facts as reported by the Iraqi interim government at the time.

David Kay says this about the possibility the site was looted (by "the Russians" or anyone else):

"I must say, I find it hard to believe that a convoy of 40 to 60 trucks left that facility prior to or during the war, and we didn't spot it on satellite or UAV. That is, because it is the main road to Baghdad from the south, was a road that was constantly under surveillance. I also don't find it hard to believe that looters could carry it off in the dead of night or during the day and not use the road network."

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0410/27/wbr.01.html

I have to say the "Russians" story really has a "Weekly World News" quality about it. Their only evidence comes from the assertions of one guy, John Shaw.

Anyway, the larger story here is that the US doesn't know what happened to the explosives. They didn't guard it, they didn't monitor it, etc. If it disappeared prior to the invasion, why are we only finding out about it now? It must be that we haven't been paying attention to it, didn't guard it, so it could have disappeared nearly any time over the last year and a half, and apparently we would have had no clue.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 28, 2004 04:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think the search that turned up the white powder which was believed to be explosives was not conducted by the 101st, but rather the 3rd Infantry.

And since when is the fact that they didn't secure the site, therefore nobody is certain when the materials were removed a defense?

I agree with Mitsu. It's like saying, "We were so incompetent that we'll never know where the material was taken, who took it, and when. So there!"

http://tianews.blogspot.com/2004/10/curious-defense.html

Posted by: Eric Martin at October 28, 2004 05:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The larger story here is incompetence: this was not, of course, the only critical site that wasn't secured. For example:

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/
oped/articles/2004/10/27/eyewitness_to_a_failure_in_iraq/

(split into two lines to avoid messing up the comments formatting)

as Peter Galbraith, a supporter of the war, writes, above, many crucial IAEA sites were totally gutted, with entire buildings taken apart, heavy machinery stolen (some of which had been monitored by the IAEA because they were "dual-use", i.e., usable in a nuclear program), biological agents taken, yellowcake stolen (!), etc. There's a huge pattern of incompetence here.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 28, 2004 05:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

An aptly subtle analysis and lucid explication of this Keller/Kerry axis of disinformation, evasions, elisions, casuistries and sophistical b.s. in general. It also demonstrates the lengths one has to go to in order to unmask all the contortionist narrative and vastly more subtle meta-narrative reflected in their logorrhea. Too, this unraveling represents a textbook case for analysing MSM/DNC alliances, even if we may never come to know the degree of overt complicity between all the players and accomplices. (The two hour time frame alone at least lends some degree of probability to a more overt coordination between the Keller/Kerry camps.)

Regarding Krugman and MoDo, your descriptions both in general and more specifically as related to this "explosive" subject matter are apt, if anything you're still far too kind, too reserved. Krugman as poseur/dissenter is particularly deserved as Krugman is well practiced in the art of self-puffery; he seems to sell himself on himself rather well. Much the same for MoDo, the Tammy Faye Baker of the NYT - all cosmetics, little substance or bona fides.

Posted by: Michael B at October 28, 2004 05:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Um, I don't think so, Michael B.

Here's another breaking news story:

http://www.kstp.com/article/stories/S3723.html?cat=1%3E

A television news crew went to Al QaQaa on April 18, after the supposed "Russian looting" occurred. Quote:

[begin quote]

Using GPS technology and talking with members of the 101st Airborne Division, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has determined the crew embedded with the troops may have been on the southern edge of the Al Qaqaa installation, where the ammunition disappeared. The news crew was based just south of Al Qaqaa, and drove two or three miles north of there with soldiers on April 18, 2003.

During that trip, members of the 101st Airborne Division showed the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS news crew bunker after bunker of material labelled "explosives." Usually it took just the snap of a bolt cutter to get into the bunkers and see the material identified by the 101st as detonation cords.

"We can stick it in those and make some good bombs." a soldier told our crew.


Soldiers who took a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew into bunkers on April 18 said some of the boxes uncovered contained proximity fuses.
There were what appeared to be fuses for bombs. They also found bags of material men from the 101st couldn't identify, but box after box was clearly marked "explosive."

In one bunker, there were boxes marked with the name "Al Qaqaa", the munitions plant where tons of explosives allegedly went missing.

Once the doors to the bunkers were opened, they weren't secured. They were left open when the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew and the military went back to their base.

"We weren't quite sure what were looking at, but we saw so much of it and it didn't appear that this was being secured in any way," said photojournalist Joe Caffrey. "It was several miles away from where military people were staying in their tents".

[end quote]

Posted by: Mitsu at October 28, 2004 06:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I believe that in your item 1 you meant to say the weapons were definitely moved *after* the invasion, not *before*, as you have it now. Otherwise nothing makes sense.

The photo which accompanies Krugman's columns is terrifying. You expect him to start rolling his eyes and wheezing like a bad Peter Lorre impersonator. I don't know why there aren't Krugman masks for Halloween.

This story is rapidly going the way of Kerry's non-meetings with the UNSC. It all comes down to spin. One source says this, another says that, another says well partly this and partly that, and yet another says that aliens from the planet Koozbain swooped down and gathered up all the explosives and left the metal husks, plus instructions in Arabic for making scrapple.

At this point the electorate doesn't know who to believe and goes back to wishing the damned election was over with already.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at October 28, 2004 06:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

BREAKING NEWS. Film Crew May have Smoking Gun

Quoted source is earlier on this thread -- ask the original poster.

Meanwhile...

A US film crew has footage of the explosives at al-Qaqaa that later went missing. This development may be the downside of embedding for the US military. It makes things hard to deny later on if you leave a filmed trail. For instance, the Russians can't have absconded with the explosives before the war if a US camera crew still sees them there in April of 2003.

http://kstp.com/article/stories/S3723.html?cat=1

A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew in Iraq shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein was in the area where tons of explosives disappeared, and may have videotaped some of those weapons.

The missing explosives are now an issue in the presidential debate. Democratic candidate John Kerry is accusing President Bush of not securing the site they allegedly disappeared from. President Bush says no one knows if the ammunition was taken before or after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003 when coalition troops moved in to the area.

Using GPS technology and talking with members of the 101st Airborne Division, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has determined the crew embedded with the troops may have been on the southern edge of the Al Qaqaa installation, where the ammunition disappeared. The news crew was based just south of Al Qaqaa, and drove two or three miles north of there with soldiers on April 18, 2003.

During that trip, members of the 101st Airborne Division showed the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS news crew bunker after bunker of material labelled "explosives." Usually it took just the snap of a bolt cutter to get into the bunkers and see the material identified by the 101st as detonation cords.

"We can stick it in those and make some good bombs." a soldier told our crew.


Soldiers who took a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew into bunkers on April 18 said some of the boxes uncovered contained proximity fuses.
There were what appeared to be fuses for bombs. They also found bags of material men from the 101st couldn't identify, but box after box was clearly marked "explosive."

In one bunker, there were boxes marked with the name "Al Qaqaa", the munitions plant where tons of explosives allegedly went missing.

Once the doors to the bunkers were opened, they weren't secured. They were left open when the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew and the military went back to their base.

"We weren't quite sure what were looking at, but we saw so much of it and it didn't appear that this was being secured in any way," said photojournalist Joe Caffrey. "It was several miles away from where military people were staying in their tents".

Officers with the 101st Airborne told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the bunkers were within the U.S. military perimeter and protected. But Caffrey and former 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Reporter Dean Staley, who spent three months together in Iraq, said Iraqis were coming and going freely.

"At one point there was a group of Iraqis driving around in a pick-up truck,"Staley said. "Three or four guys we kept an eye on, worried they might come near us."


On Wednesday, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS e-mailed still images of the footage taken at the site to experts in Washington to see if the items captured on tape are the same kind of high explosives that went missing in Al Qaqaa. Those experts could not make that determination.

The footage is now in the hands of security experts to see if it is indeed the explosives in question.

Posted by: Michael Watkins at October 28, 2004 07:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mitsu,

First, I'd simply note that in addressing me, you failed to address so much as one lone, single, solitary aspect of my post. (The Russian involvement is still being explored - much like the entire story more generally btw - but I did not so much as allude to it. Even BD, in the original post, didn't mention it until the last few graphs of his somewhat lengthy post.)

Secondly I'd note the story, in terms of what is (now) being emphasized for purposes of political gain, is morphing - and decaying - almost perpetually. In other words you've been handed the baton from the prior runner without acknowledging that he ran across the field instead of staying on the track. You can go ahead and do that, even blithely so and affecting a disinterested, above-it-all panache, but everyone in the stands can see through your facade, you're fooling no one. (Even Bill Keller, albeit with a rather disingenuous use of deflection and misdirection, has acknowledged the story is not what it was represented as.)

Third, what exactly is the 5 Eyewitness News story, the one that a second poster does little or nothing more than repeat, telling us about the original RDX and related material? Anything at all? Or is this nothing more than yet another belated attempt to covertly pass the baton and keep the non-story fresh? I'd say that's exactly what it is. After all, the primary criticism is that this, certainly to this point, has been a non-story (at least in terms of what's been substantiated and verifiable) that's been leveraged for purposes of political gain, nothing more. To this point the 5 Eye News thingee is simply a continuation of that very same motif and little if anything more than that. Fact remains some 400,000 tons of explosives have been destroyed or accounted for, we also know there's been looting and some accounted for - but none of that is terribly surprising in post-Saddam/Uday/Qusay Iraq, nor is it terribly newsworthy in and of itself.

The most basic point being, if the NYT (or 5 Eye News, or whomever) has an authentic story, fine, run with it. But if so, if you do run with it, stay on the track; don't pretend a story is something more than that simply because Bill Keller, Joe Lockhart and company can make political use of it.

Posted by: Michael B at October 28, 2004 08:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Guys and Gals,

BD is saying we don't know the truth. Nothing you are pointing out changes that. The kstp story doesn't mean anything unless someone says that what we are seeing is definitely HMX or RDX. Some reasons to be a skeptic? First of all IAEA documents now say the RDX was all but gone by then anyway.

http://www.abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=204304&page=1

In addition we don't know the HMX was there in March either. According to the same report from ABC that identified the IAEA documents about the previously removed RDX the HMX was not even checked, the seals were just checked. Unfortunately the buildings were easy to penetrate due to easily removed ventilation slats. Does this mean the HMX was gone as well? No. We do not know.

As for the pictures, nobody is denying that there was ordinance there. Is that the HMX? The pictures do not resemble the unmanufactured powdered form we are told we are looking for, but I am not an expert. Still I would spend more time being sketical rather than just indicting the military on this one. Also since there were fuses I am really suspicious as the HMX wasn't supposed to be ready to use with a fuse yet. Guess we should wait for more info. as should the Kerry campaign.

Posted by: Lance at October 28, 2004 08:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

angie--yes "after," not "before". how embarrassing given my emphasis in that intro portion. thanks for the correction--this was written in great haste. now corrected for clarity. best,gd

Posted by: greg at October 28, 2004 08:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Alright then, let's look a little closer at what is known at this point in time.

The last time that international inspectors saw the explosives was in early March 2003, days before the American-led invasion.

Then on April 3rd, the 2nd Brigade of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division came to Al Qaqqa. The commander of those troops, Col. Dave Perkins, said the immediate concern when his troops reached the Al Qaqaa site was to defeat a couple of hundred Iraqi troops who were firing from the compound as the Americans surged toward Baghdad.

While there, Perkins' group came across thousands of vials of white powder, packed three to a box. They tested these materials for chem and bio agents, but the tests were negative. The substance was believed to be explosives, according to US officials.

The explosives in question, RDX and HMX, are most commonly in white powder form.

Then on April 9th, a brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, with an embedded NBC reporter present, went to Al Qaqaa on their way to Baghdad.

The commander of the troops that went into the Al Qaqaa facility on the way to Baghdad in early April, Col. Joseph Anderson, of the Second Brigade of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, has said he was never told the site was considered sensitive, or that international inspectors had visited it before the war began.

They did not search the expansive facilities at that time, nor did they secure them or leave behind a force to monitor them.

On April 18th, a news crew met the 101st at Al Qaqaa and were shown numerous barrels, drums and other materials labeled "explosives." There is photographic evidence of the exterior of these containers. There were also what appeared to be fuses in the same facility. The site was not secured when the new team and the Army group left to return to the nearby base.

Dr. Mohammed Sharra, who leads Iraq's science monitoring department, denies that the 380 tons of high explosives that has gone missing could have been moved in spring of 2003 before or during the war.

"It is impossible that these materials could have been taken from this site before the regime's fall," Mohammed al-Sharaa, who heads the Science Ministry's site monitoring department, said.

"The officials that were inside this facility (Al-Qaqaa) beforehand confirm that not even a shred of paper left it before the fall.

"I spoke to them about it and they even issued certified statements to this effect which the US-led coalition was aware of."

Still, it is ultimately uncertain when, how, and to where the materials were removed. That in itself is a condemnation of the Bush administration's lack of planning. The reason we don’t know the details surrounding the disappearance of the explosives is precisely because we were not securing or monitoring the site in as thorough a fashion as necessary.

It is possible that the material was removed beforehand by Saddam, or the even less likely option of the Russians, but we don't know because of the Bush team's blunder. Similarly, it is also likely that the material was looted after the fall of Saddam, but again absolute certainty is forestalled by our lack of adequate monitoring. Either way, this is pretty damning for Bush and Rumsfeld, and it once again raises the specter of adequate troop strength (especially considering that other sensitive sites were leeft unguarded and subsequently looted of potentially dangerous material - like the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center ).

Posted by: Eric Martin at October 28, 2004 10:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Eric,

There are several problems with your analysis. Here are a few. First you ignore that it is highly likely that some was moved earlier since ABC says the IAEA already says the RDX was for the most part removed. Also you assume the 3rd didn't do a thorough enough search to at least determine if the seals were there. The vials are prima facia evidence, if they were HMX, that the seals were no longer in place and the store compromised. More importantly is the spin that if the Bush administration cannot account for them then it shows Bush administration incompetence even if they were not there. I don't know that it shows incompetence even if they were looted after the war. However, if our planning called for an assessment of a sites importance then moving on, and if that site did not in fact seem important due to a lack of IAEA seals or evidence of large stocks of said material, then a better use of man power may have been quite wise and even smack of competence. That is a decision the military must make, not Bush. So saying that no matter what it shows Bush's incompetence is pure spin, not constructive criticism.

Posted by: Lance at October 28, 2004 11:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Lance,

Since this story is still emerging, many details come to light in real time. Thus, could you provide a link to ABC's contention regarding the IAEA and the RDX so I can read that myself? Thanks in advance.

As far as the 3rd and the vials, I'm not sure we have their position on whether seals were in place. Even if they weren't, and that suggests the site was compromised, that doesn't mean that it wasn't further compromised post the 3rd's inspection.

The question of whether there was an assessment of the site's importance is interesting. We knew before the war that the site was important because of the material present. We know that the news reports contains photographic evidence of materials, and we know the 3rd found something there in the form of white powder. We also know that the commander of the 101st did not know the significance of the sight because he was not instructed as to its nature. We know Al Qaqaa has since been picked clean.

We also know that other sites were left unguarded and picked clean of dangerous material, including nuclear sites. This denotes a pattern indicating a shortage of the needed troops to maintain monitoring of important sites. That would be a problem of Bush and Rumsfeld's leadership.

Again, we don't know how this stuff disappeared because we weren't monitoring the situation. That is a breakdown of leadership because these sites needed full, thorough, and total inspection, as well as safeguarding. That should have been arranged beforehand.

Posted by: Eric Martin at October 28, 2004 11:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In the final analysis, if there was a tatical error or mistake made on the battlefield, it may have happened "on George Bush's watch", but the president of the United States isn't personally responsible for every thing that happens at the combat level, any more that he has a right to personally claim credit for the acts valor and courage by individual soldiers in battle. The fact that Kerry has signed on to this theory, and his failure to admit these simple facts, and his willingness to exploit them for political purposes confirms that he is not ready to assume command, of anything.

Posted by: David A. Crossman at October 29, 2004 12:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The ABC News story is pretty compelling. You can see a summary of the story here:
http://tinyurl.com/5jwqo

But to view the video you have to belong to some RealNetworks package deal, that I don't have.

But I am amused by the idea that the President is not personally responsible for anything on the battlefield. When did this happen? The incompetence here is that war planning (or aftermath planning) did not even take into account the data we had (locations of known stockpiles) to, you know, not give these weapons to terrorists.

Posted by: cassandra at October 29, 2004 02:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I do not understand how the Bush adminstration could have overlooked the presence of 480 tons of some extremely powerful explosives (powerful enough that one pound can bring down an entire commercial aircraft). We knew that they existed. Something this powerful SHOULD HAVE been kept under close supervision. Even the possibility that this stuff has been used to kill and attack US soldiers is horrendous.

Whatever the detail flaws in the story, the fact that we did not contains these weapons is a huge huge problem. It indicates a big flaw in the administration's organization, if not directly Bush. None of the arguments I have heard by conservatives have adequately addressed this issue.

Posted by: MFM at October 29, 2004 02:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I find it amusing that Eric and Casssandra think that A) we've either isolated or destroyed 99.9% of the munitions in Iraq, leaving 240-380 tons of stuff, therefore, B) Bush is incompetent and the mission is a failure.

Typical trolls.

Jimbo

Posted by: JImbo at October 29, 2004 03:07 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think it's rather silly to call Eric Martin's cogent summary of the state of the facts of this case the writings of a "troll." A troll is someone who posts deliberately inflammatory exaggerations that he doesn't really believe in order to provoke a response. Obviously Eric Martin is posting his own sincerely-held views.

The video from KTSP does appear to show the HMX:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/29/politics/29bomb.html?hp&ex=1099022400&en=3386d85551d694e2&ei=5094&partner=homepage

according to experts, including David Kay.

Of course a commander-in-chief should not be held responsible for every tactical decision made on the battlefield. But this should not have been a tactical decision made on the battlefield. The IAEA had informed the Bush Administration about these sites long in advance of the war, and they specifically identified this site as among the few that really needed to be guarded. But they didn't do it. This isn't just a failing of commanders on the ground --- it is a failing of strategic planning.

Remember, this is not the first or only major IAEA site that has been discovered to be looted:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2004-10-12-iraq-looting_x.htm

A number of sites have been looted --- not only IAEA sites but others. This is a failure of planning, not of tactical decisions of battlefield commanders. It is an unforgivable lapse.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 29, 2004 04:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Eric,

Here is the URL:

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=204304

As I said, we don't have the facts and many are jumping to conclusions.

I also disagree with the competence issue. Let us assume a daring group of Iraqi's made like Kelly's Heroes and organized an effort to remove the remaining explosives against all odds from this dump before the May 8th inspection. Unlikely, but unlikely things happen. So what? The enemy is successful sometimes. It wasn't logistically possible to have that many more troops in the area in the early days regardless of the quality of planning, which was not Bush's responsibility, the roads were jammed if you remember. I trust Franks and friends had a better idea of what initially was the best use of men and material. At least a better idea than you, me or any of us back here. While these explosives were more important than many, they were not especially so. Their importance was less because of any use after the invasion than what Saddam might have used them for before the invasion. Given the 10,000 other sites we have to get some perspective here. Had we slowed our advance to lock these down we ran the risk of other deadlier weapons being used. Remember at that time we thought they had actual weapons to capture far more deadly than unprocessed explosives. The "we should have had more troops" argument doesn't wash either. First of all logistics meant that at least early on there were only so many troops we could have deployed. That criticism is more valid for later events. More importantly it shows a lack of appreciation for what it would have taken to lock down all the potential depots at one time.

Do the math: 10,000 sites x 150 men at each=1.5 million men just to garrison and secure ordinance and sensitive weapons sites. I don't know if 150 men is the right number to use, but whatever it was it was far more than under any conceivable scenario we could have devoted to the task. In the end these are high explosives which at the time would have been far down the list of top priorities given the more fearsome weapons we thought we were looking for.

Finally we have destroyed or secured the vast majority of the ordinance and removed the man who was busy stockpiling them.

Posted by: lance at October 29, 2004 05:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Displaying the combination of breathtaking arrogance and utter ignorance that characterises todays left, mitsu deigns to inform us that it is "an unforgivable lapse" that some of the hundreds of ammuntion dumps which littered Iraq have been looted.

It seems, we are to understand, that anything untoward which happens in Iraq is the result of "poor planning" on the part of the Bush administration.

Mitsu has a touching faith in the ability of government planning to ensure that nothing, anywhere, ever goes even slightly amiss.

Given this mentality, I find the obsession with these explosives peculiar. Surely the deaths of the American soldiers who have died in Iraq are also an example of "poor planning", using this thinking? Surely the deaths of every person who has died in Iraq, period, are a result of "poor planning"?

Of course, like any good leftest, mitsu is utterly convinced that he is a centerist. He even seems to fancy himself something of a libertarian. Although one with supreme confidence in the ability of the state to micromanage every aspect of existance. An odd libertarian, surely?

Thanks anyway, mitsu, but we can decide for ourselves what is and what is not "unforgivable".

That after twelve years of "disarming" under UN "supervision", Iraq was one vast munitions dump; that is unforgivable.

That a flap is being raised about these munitions, which are less powerful than the widely available Semtex, and which have not been used to kill anyone, and whose quantity and whereabouts is unknown; that is unforgivable.

That some so-called "Americans", and I use the term loosely here, would feign outrage over this nonsense issue in a desperate attempt to win an election; that is unforgivable.

The Democratic party has lost it's collective mind. All it has left is hate and resentment and impotent fury.

Well, thats not quite all. They also have money. Lots and lots of money. I see Soros and Lewis have so far chipped in $23 million each to try to buy the presidency for John Kerry.

If we had a working media in America, that would be the major story of this election. Instead, we find ourselves obsessing about a few tons of explosives out of the several hundred thousand tons that were littered across Iraq, and which may not have existed in the first place.

Well, they say that a people gets the leadership they deserve. We will see soon enough if there are enough intellectual and moral eunuchs of mitsu's stripe in America to give Soros and Lewis what they want.

Posted by: flenser at October 29, 2004 06:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Flenser, let's put this into perspective here. Explosives such as HMX and RDX have been used by terrorists in the past --- Pan Am flight 103, for example. The whole point of the war in Iraq was to prevent Saddam from helping terrorists --- looks like we just helped them a great deal.

HMX and RDX aren't any ordinary explosives. As David Kay put it on Aaron Brown last night, "Al Qaqaa ... was one of the most well-documented explosive sites in all of Iraq. The other 80 or so major ammunition storage points were also well documented." Even had we gone in with sufficient numbers of troops (the army wanted several hundred thousand, and we only went in with 140,000) we still probably couldn't have secured every weapons depot, but we sure as hell could have done a better job of it and secured these sites. Consider this: it's not only that we didn't secure those sites in the first days of the war --- we didn't secure them for months and months, and not just this site, but many others. And now the insurgents have those weapons.

This is not just my opinion. It's the opinion of David Kay, Bush's former chief weapons inspector:

[quote]

And quite frankly, to me the most frightening thing is not only was the seal broken, lock broken, but the soldiers left after opening it up. I mean, to rephrase the so-called pottery barn rule. If you open an arms bunker, you own it. You have to provide security.

AB: I'm -- that raises a number of questions. Let me throw out one. It suggests that maybe they just didn't know what they had?

DK: I think you're quite likely they didn't know they had HMX, which speaks to lack of intelligence given troops moving through that area, but they certainly knew they had explosives. And to put this in context, I think it's important, this loss of 360 tons, but Iraq is awash with tens of thousands of tons of explosives right now in the hands of insurgents because we did not provide the security when we took over the country.

[end quote]

It's really quite amazing that you guys aren't willing to see what is plainly in front of your face: this guy, Bush, has been a disastrously weak president when it comes to national security. We need a stronger man in office.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 29, 2004 06:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"It is an unforgivable lapse." Mitsu

Yea, whatever you say.

Fact is though we don't know if the material is the infamously well publicized material or not. If it is, is it three (3) tons of it, or is it the much more trumpeted three hundred seventy seven (377) tons?

http://www.abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=204304&page=1

Excerpt:

"But the confidential IAEA documents obtained by ABC News show that on Jan. 14, 2003, the agency's inspectors recorded that just over three tons of RDX were stored at the facility — a considerable discrepancy from what the Iraqis reported."

Then there appears to be a problem with a NYT interview. (Who'd a thunk it, the vaunted NYT?) Specifically the interview with Col David Perkins:

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/008355.php

Read the whole thing, but a somewhat lengthy excerpt:

"The infantry commander whose troops first captured the Iraqi weapons depot where 377 tons of explosives disappeared said Wednesday it is 'very highly improbable' that someone could have trucked out so much material once U.S. forces arrived in the area.

"Two major roads that pass near the Al-Qaqaa installation were filled with U.S. military traffic in the weeks after April 3, 2003, when U.S. troops first reached the area, said Col. David Perkins.

"Perkins' description seemed to point toward the possibility that the explosives were removed before the U.S.-led invasion to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, rather than during the chaos afterward.

"[T]he Pentagon said in a statement, 'The movement of 377 tons of heavy ordnance would have required dozens of heavy trucks and equipment moving along the same roadways as U.S. combat divisions occupied continually for weeks prior to and subsequent to the 3rd I.D.'s arrival at the facility.'"

And as Tommy Franks noted today in Pennsylvania:

"[coalition forces have] destroyed 240,000 tons of munitions in Iraq.... [and] they have under control another 162,000 tons of munitions in Iraq."

Too, all that is on top of the fact that Bill Keller, executive editor of the NYT, admitted he went with the story Monday before they had done their homework:

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/008348.php

Posted by: Michael B at October 29, 2004 06:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Flenser, I wanted to say ... well what you said.

And you say it so well, I just may link to it from my blog.

Mitsui: "The larger story here is incompetence"
NO THE LARGE STORY IS THAT MIND-NUMBED ROBOTS THINK A 17 MONTH OLD STORY IS A STORY AT ALL!

There is no incompetence AT ALL involved in our victory in April 2003, our ability to do it WITHOUT REFUGEE CRISIS, nor starvation, nor civilian disasters at large level. And to do it in 3 weeks so the regime was toppled. And to quickly follow up with humanitarian aid and assistance. It was difficult but done well.

Defeating Saddam the way we did was the best generalship in war that we have ever seen. IT WAS SUPERB.

But not everything goes perfectly. That is not 'incompetence' nor a failure to plan, that is "life". looting happened and was suppressed over a few weeks time and ended by May 2003 . The US military didnt make anybody do it, and if we cracked down by shooting people on the street it would have made things much much worse. BFD. Move on. 101st made al Qaqaa an HQ for most of April, so I dont even beliieve stuff was taken, but if it was back then, a simple point: Any story on it know is old news, packaged soley as a partisan last-minute poke-in-eye of bush. It is shameless. The breathless reporting of this missed the bigger picture that Saddam himself was a WMD! - and IRAQ as a whole was an ammo dump!

Seriously, we found
- hundreds of killing fields
- thousands of ammo dumps

That tells you a lot about the state Iraq was in before we came.

And justified not just liberating Iraq but how we did it.

Today - What is harming us in Iraq are insurgents and terrorists. They are the problem, not 1 of 1,000s of ammo stores that were (maybe, maybe not) looted 17 months ago.

Posted by: Patrick at October 29, 2004 06:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>(3) tons or 377 tons

If you'd actually bothered to read to the bottom of that story, it clearly states that regardless of how much RDX might have been stored there, there were at least 194 tons of HMX there which is not in dispute. In any event, the real story isn't merely Al Qaqaa, as I've said, but the whole spectrum of critical sites left unprotected due to insufficient forces on the ground and inadequate planning (see below)

>That is not 'incompetence' nor a failure to plan, that is "life".

I fail to see your reasoning. Many people urged the Bush Administration to plan for the possibility of insurgency, etc. --- they did not do so. They insisted that it would go fine, there would be dancing in the streets, etc. The lack of planning was and is appalling. Even after they were notified that things were going badly, they still didn't shift their strategy enough. And it is not only me, a centrist, who says this --- it is Republicans who supported the war who say it, as Galbraith said (see link in earlier comment):

[quote]

According to an International Atomic Energy Agency report issued earlier this month, there was "widespread and apparently systematic dismantlement that has taken place at sites previously relevant to Iraq's nuclear program." This includes nearly 380 tons of high explosives suitable for detonating nuclear weapons or killing American troops. Some of the looting continued for many months -- possibly into 2004. Using heavy machinery, organized gangs took apart, according to the IAEA, "entire buildings that housed high-precision equipment."

This equipment could be anywhere. But one good bet is Iran, which has had allies and agents in Iraq since shortly after the US-led forces arrived.

This was a preventable disaster. Iraq's nuclear weapons-related materials were stored in only a few locations, and these were known before the war began. As even L. Paul Bremer III, the US administrator in Iraq, now admits, the United States had far too few troops to secure the country following the fall of Saddam Hussein. But even with the troops we had, the United States could have protected the known nuclear sites. It appears that troops did not receive relevant intelligence about Iraq's WMD facilities, nor was there any plan to secure them. Even after my briefing, the Pentagon leaders did nothing to safeguard Iraq's nuclear sites.

[end quote]

I stand by my assessment: Unforgivable.

Yes, we won the initial phase of the war quickly. Sure, I predicted as much at the outset of the war, as did many military thinkers at the time. But most of them, like Thomas White, former Secretary of the Army, knew we would need far more troops to secure the peace than we needed to win the war. This administration didn't listen to those people, and we're now in the situation we're in.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 29, 2004 07:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I find this whole discussion depressing. All participants appear to be ignorant. First, an explosive does not have to be exceptionally powerful so that one pound of it brings down an airplane. One pound of virtually any exlosive military or industrial would bring an airplane down. Secondly, these were conventional - i.e. not nuclear explosives. What made them unique that their characteristics made them particularly suitable as a building block for a nuclear weapon. This is why they received special attention of the weapon inspectors. By themselves, they are merely necessary, but not sufficient to build a nuclear weapon. Other, far more difficult to obtain components like shaped charges of U235 or plutonium plus precision firing circuitry is needed,to build a nuclear weapon. By themselves they are merely conventional explosives, probably no better or worse than others of the kind. The focus immediately after the war to locate WMD's. These explosives by themselves, even though may be needed for nuclear weapons, cannot be considered WMD's. To fault for the military and political leadership for not providing enough manpower to guard conventional explosive sites immediately after the fighting, especially when they could not even bring the 4thID in a timely manner, is the worst kind of second guessing and Monday morning quarterbacking that I have seen. And I have seen plenty of those recently.

Posted by: Tom at October 29, 2004 07:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Flenser, let's put this into perspective here. Explosives such as HMX and RDX have been used by terrorists in the past --- Pan Am flight 103, for example. The whole point of the war in Iraq was to prevent Saddam from helping terrorists --- looks like we just helped them a great deal."

NONSENSE.

There were estimated 600,000 TONS OF ARMAMENTS in Iraq. A HUGE STOCKPILE. Controlled by Saddam.

Saddam was aiding groups like Ansar Al-Islam, paying off Palie suicide bombers, and using his oil-for-corruption money to buy illicit arms and pay off / bribe western politicians to fight against the sanctions.

He had a huge

"HMX and RDX aren't any ordinary explosives. "

VERY MISLEADING STATEMENT. RDX is a raw material, not a complete weapon. they need processing mixing, etc. are only special because they make good 'shaping' charges for implosion devices. no better than the farm fertilizer than Tim mcVeigh used for making a 'boom' (higher density exposive thought)...
There is NO evidence this material was taken let alone used by terrorists. Most of the IEDs that kill US soldiers are based on artillery shells. why? they have the fuses.
t is less useful than simply getting an RPG and firing it, etc.

"the army wanted several hundred thousand, and we only went in with 140,000)"

FALSE. The plan was General Franks' plan - he's ARMY, CentCom cmdr - HIS PLAN. It was a GREAT PLAN ... WE WON. QUICKLY. FEW CASUALTIES. Read his book and get educated and corrected on this point!

"t's really quite amazing that you guys aren't willing to see what is plainly in front of your face: this guy, Bush, has been a disastrously weak president when it comes to national security."

pathetic! He takes out the Taliban, Saddam, gets 3/4 of Al Qaeda, gets the AQ Khan nuclear weapons trading network, gets Libya to quit WMDs, gets S.A. and Pakistan on board fighting terrorists, gets trade pacts passed, stands up to knuckleheads in the UN ... and stays firm when terrorists try to shake us off the path in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and pakistan ... and you call that 'weak'. Pathetic.

We are much safer thanks to president Bush and we dont need the man who missed most of his intelligence commitee meeting to monday-morning QB, when he cant even asnwer for months and months the basic question - would you have gone to war in Iraq .... it took Kerry 9 positions and 18 months to be as decisive as Bush was in March 2003.


"We need a stronger man in office."

A man who met three times with the Vietcong in 1971 and conspired with them? No thanks!

The stonger man by far is President Bush and so I appreciate your endorsement of him.

Posted by: Patrick at October 29, 2004 07:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Michael B., nice job on your response to mitsu. If we are simply talking about the journalistic professionalism of the New York Times running the story, and portraying it as they did then if, as Mitsu says, we don't know when the explosives went missing, surely the New York Times didn't either when it reported the story. To now be searching for arguments to prove that It might be possible that the weapons were taken after we arrived - as a justification for the Times original story is missing the point. The original Times story expressed no such uncertainty. But then again that doesn't matter to people like Mitsu because it was right in the general sense that Bush is incompetent. Therefore for the Times to claim a certainty about events that were uncertain doesn't matter. After all, it's just one specific fact being sacrificed to prove the more important truth, that Bush is incompetant. If you're uncertain about that then you'll just have to take Mitsu's word on it.

Mitsu also talks about the dual use weapons that were apparantly at that site. Maybe he has not been one of the many to call Bush incompetant for believing Saddam was working on WMD, but if he has been, I wonder if he's softened his position on that.

One final point to all those who are so quick to accuse Bush of the "I" word (incompetance), I wonder if they've ever run a business. This naive idea that a president is somehow directly responsible for every action that occurs under his watch is ridiculous. A head of state is a manager. There is no way he can directly supervise all the things that are being performed throughout the government. Does that mean a president is powerless and unimportant? Not by a long shot, but like any manager, the way he influences things is by chosing good subordinates, having open lines of communication, and being able to step in and have a more direct involvement to correct certain matters under his watch when the time calls for it. Was Bush incompetant because he didn't immediately respond to this story? Unlike Kerry who had no problem responding in short order as if he knew all the facts, Bush made an honest answer, that essentially he didn't know and would look into it. Can you imagine being a High School principal and having a parent ask you what you thought about their kid's progress this year. You could lie and give some kind of answer like "Oh Johnny's doing a great job. He's done really well in art class. I think he may have the potential to be a great painter one day", or you might ask who his teacher is and suggest they make an appointment to come in and meet with you and the teacher to discuss Johnny's progress. If you chose the former option, just hope that Johnny doesn't turn out to be blind.

Posted by: Mike R at October 29, 2004 07:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

" I find this whole discussion depressing. All participants appear to be ignorant. First, an explosive does not have to be exceptionally powerful so that one pound of it brings down an airplane. One pound of virtually any exlosive military or industrial would bring an airplane down."

Well said... I seem to recall that box cutters were enough to cause great damage ... enough to

I stand by my statement that our problem in Iraq is not excess weapons, but insurgents and terrorists.

"econdly, these were conventional - i.e. not nuclear explosives. What made them unique that their characteristics made them particularly suitable as a building block for a nuclear weapon. This is why they received special attention of the weapon inspectors. By themselves, they are merely necessary, but not sufficient to build a nuclear weapon. Other, far more difficult to obtain components like shaped charges of U235 or plutonium plus precision firing circuitry is needed,to build a nuclear weapon. By themselves they are merely conventional explosives, probably no better or worse than others of the kind."

RIGHT. exactly.

Posted by: Patrick at October 29, 2004 07:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>To fault for the military and political leadership for not providing enough manpower

You seem to be unaware of the history surrounding the deployment. The Army initially wanted to go in with several hundred thousand troops, and take 8 months to build up a force. Rumsfeld initially wanted a lighting strike force of about 50,000 with a quick drive to Baghdad. After a lot of debate, they finally compromised on a force of 140,000.

The quick drive to Baghdad worked --- but Shinseki, White, and others in the Army leadership were proven correct, later. It is not a matter of Monday morning quarterbacking --- these debates were happening on Sunday morning, and this Administration chose wrong, very wrong.

What's worse is that they clearly were slow to change their strategy, later. Yes, they adapted a little (as Greg is fond of pointing out), but to me, it's far too little, way, way too late. I mean come now: they didn't even realize the RDX and HMX was gone until the IAEA told them about it just recently.

I predicted from a very early stage that these guys would screw up the postwar --- and it happened. No Monday morning quarterbacking here. It's just that as time goes on the evidence is simply rolling in that I was right all along, as were many other people.

This is not a case of an unpreventable disaster. Many people predicted it, but this Administration chose to ignore them. Why should we continue to entrust them with our national security?

Posted by: Mitsu at October 29, 2004 07:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A comment slipped in, above. Regarding "dual use weapons" --- I assume you mean dual-use equipment, and no, they weren't at this site, but at other sites. The point was they were dual-use, i.e., not being used for a nuclear program, but they could be used for one. They were under monitoring by the IAEA, and frequently inspected. Our own government has concluded that Iraq was not using them for a nuclear program. This does not mean that this equipment should not have been guarded. Before the war, we knew where that equipment was and were monitoring it --- now we have no idea where it went.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 29, 2004 07:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>There is NO evidence this material was taken

I have no idea what you mean by this. There is plenty of evidence it was taken --- it was there when the IAEA last inspected, it is gone now, no one knows for certain where it went. So what are you trying to say? It just flew off by itself into the sun?

>The plan was General Franks' plan

It was not his original plan. Franks initially wanted several hundred thousand, just as Shinseki and White did. Rumsfeld wore him down over a long period, and when he finally caved, one general commented about that, "he's drunk the Kool-Aid." Franks caved in to Rumsfeld's pressure, much to our detriment.

>GREAT PLAN

Great, if you're only talking about the first weeks of the war. And, like I said, I always thought that Rumsfeld was right that the initial war would not require a huge number of troops.

>you call that 'weak'

Absolutely. He's been weak. Did you know that Wolfowitz wanted to attack Iraq first, before Afghanistan, but it was only because Powell argued strenuously against this idea that we in fact hit Afghanistan (a good target) first? Wolfowitz thought Iraq would be a cakewalk and we needed to get in a victory "quickly." Imagine how bad it would have been had Powell not been there!

As I argued in Greg's "Bush endorsement" topic, I believe we should have focused on North Korea and contained Iraq. The strategy we are following will only help the terrorists in the long run, in my view (except in Afghanistan, where we more or less ran things fairly well, with the exception of not enough military and financial support recently).

Posted by: Mitsu at October 29, 2004 07:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Yes, we won the initial phase of the war quickly. Sure, I predicted as much at the outset of the war, "

Well, I'll be sure to put you up for a MacAurthur genius grant then! I was off by 5% - I thought 22 days, and it took 21.

The war plan btw, had 125 days as contingent plan. went much better than planned!

"But most of them, like Thomas White, former Secretary of the Army, knew we would need far more troops to secure the peace than we needed to win the war. This administration didn't listen to those people, and we're now in the situation we're in."

Again, this statement is talking-point BS. Franks was running the show, and had the numbers he wanted. This was true in BOTH Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Many people urged the Bush Administration to plan for the possibility of insurgency, etc. "

not that lie again - of course they planned for insurgency - what do you think the 'deck of cards' and the 100,000 troops

"They insisted that it would go fine, there would be dancing in the streets, etc. "

"The lack of planning was and is appalling"

What is appalling is the martinet attitude that any wartime setback is a 'lack of planning' that's idiotic and simply does not comport with the facts... they DID plan, and they DID execute according to those plans, and as I stated, a HOST of ILLS THEY PLANNED FOR DID NOT OCCUR.
They had THOUSANDS OF BODY BAGS that didnt get filled;
They had REFUGEE TENT CITIES that were left empty;
They had tens of thousands of MREs given to Iraqis;
They had fears and planned for hundreds of oil fires, dams being blown up, and chemical attacks (That genl Franks believed based on statements from Egyptians and Jordanians would surely occur) - didn't happen, even thought it was in the plan;
They had water pumped from Kuwait to Basra;
They had (yes) protection of facilities, etc.

They planned governing institutions and set up city councils and elections, had a conference - within 6 weeks of the fall of Saddam. etc.

ALL THIS THEY PLANNED. Dont say they didnt plan. They planned plenty; they worked it through and had a very successful operation.

One thing they didnt have in mid April was the 4th ID already in-country, so they were short on troops for a few weeks post fall of Saddam. You can blame Turkey and not poor planning for that. We had a setback and went ahead and did well anyway.

Now, the claim is that it is 'unfogivable' that despite the US military winning a victory at lost cost in lives in 3 weeks, we should have not let things get out of hand.
We lost much in the looting of schools, hospitals, etc. Looters also took stuff from Saddam's palaces, businesses, hotels, and, yes, ammunition dumps. RPGs, mines, and artillery shells were taken from one of thousands of weapons caches. Part of this was deliberate Saddam policy that turned hospitals and schools into armories, and weapons were in every nook and cranny of the country. The military was wrongly blamed for the fact that fresh out of defeating Saddam with low casualties we didn't end the looting pronto (it took a few weeks to calm things down). What would have ended it would have been if we started shooting looters left and right.

But we did shoot a few rioters in one town in April 2003. In a town called Fallujah. Ten Fallujah citizens were killed while protesting and rioting against U.S. military action in late April 2003; we were taking over a school or some such innocuous but provocative activity. That event set Fallujah on a course that was more unstable than the rest of Iraq. Should we have started shooting looters in Baghdad, Basra, Karbala, and Mosul? While the remnants of fighting remained? Would that have helped? Saddam's security melted away rather than stay on the job, so a populace eager to be "Ali Baba" had no police force and no tyranny to hold them back. This was the heday time when an Iraqi wrote a sign "Sexy Whiskey Freedom" - the breath of freedom. Would it have helped to choke that off that anarchic freedom with brute violence against looters?

I won't convince the hand-wringers, but it is certainly clear to any balanced observer that this is pretty nitpicky problem in a post-totalitarian post-war environment. Far far worse conditions were avoided.

What is remarkable about the 'no planning' myth is how we plan, then hit a target or miss a target, the same lie comes back. E.g. we planned last november the roadmap to elections by January 2005. we hit our first target - interim constitution; we hit the second target, an Interim Government and sovereignty handover by June 30th; we are ontrack to hit the next target, elections in January 2005. Yet throughout, the whining about 'no planning', while the roadmap moves forward.

Another example, we plannedextensively on reconstruction, both pre-war and then post-war Bremer came up with his plans. Due to security, the execution has been slow. but we did plan, and we have executed on the plans as best we can. on electrictiy for example, it took longer to get that up to speed than planned, but today Iraq is generating more than 20% above the pre-war levels and almost double where they were after the war in the summer of 2003. And it is increasing.

There is only one benchmark that in the end matters strategically or not, though, and that is the success of democracy and the defeat of the terrorists and insurgents.
Defeat those enemies and secure democratic rule and freedom in Iraq and the rest become historical footnotes.

Posted by: Patrick at October 29, 2004 07:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"You seem to be unaware of the history surrounding the deployment. The Army initially wanted to go in with several hundred thousand troops, and take 8 months to build up a force. Rumsfeld initially wanted a lighting strike force of about 50,000 with a quick drive to Baghdad. After a lot of debate, they finally compromised on a force of 140,000.

The quick drive to Baghdad worked --- but Shinseki, White, and others in the Army leadership were proven correct, later. It is not a matter of Monday morning quarterbacking --- these debates were happening on Sunday morning, and this Administration chose wrong, very wrong."

THIS NONSENSE IS COMPLETELY DEBUNKED BYGENERAL TOMMY FRANKS IN HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY "AMERICAN SOLDIER".

The plan in Iraq was the Franks plan - HE SOLD RUMSFELD - not the other way round. History proved Franks correct.

Posted by: Patrick at October 29, 2004 07:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Look, we're simply not going to agree, Patrick. You think 100,000 troops were suffcient --- I don't think so. Our experience in Bosnia and elsewhere meant that we should have had several hundred thousand.

In any event, we can agree on one thing: if we can put Iraq on the path to stable democracy, that will be the best outcome of this affair. I just think there is little evidence Bush can do it. Perhaps Kerry can't, either, but I am willing to go with someone I think has a chance of doing it over someone with a proven record of mistakes.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 29, 2004 08:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mitsu, yes I meant dual use equipment not weapons. When you say that this was not an unavoidable disaster I assume you're talking about the postwar problems in general, and not this specific incident which by your own admission, we still don't know when the weapons went missing - before we arrived or after. While you certainly have a right to criticize the administrations handling of the postwar period, those criticisms in themselves don't justify not voting for Bush. It's important to compare him with the alternative. In doing so, it might be worth asking whether Kerry would have even gone into Iraq. Perhaps you would have preferred that he not, but if you think it was wise to topple Sadam, what makes you think that a Kerry handling of the occupation would have been better?

Posted by: Mike R at October 29, 2004 08:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

">The plan was General Franks' plan

It was not his original plan. Franks initially wanted several hundred thousand, just as Shinseki and White did. Rumsfeld wore him down over a long period, and when he finally caved, one general commented about that, "he's drunk the Kool-Aid." Franks caved in to Rumsfeld's pressure, much to our detriment."

UTTER NONSENSE. Again, if you look at Franks' Afghanistan plan and Iraq plan they shared the same them - mobility and battlefield intelligence instead of mass. THIS IS NOT NEW CONCEPTS. This is blitzkrieg for the 21st century. Franks explains in detail in his autobiography how and whiy SINCE THE MID 1990s he believed they could fight a 'gulf war' style war with far far fewer men. Franks put the first plan together in early 2002. It was vetted the the JCoS, but he didnt appreciate their intrusions and felt the Army was the WORST at trying to think more about their silo than thinking "jointness" . The final plan ended up larger than HIS original plan.

Franks was looking at new technologies for DoD in an earlier post, and realized how much it could change battlefield speed and awareness. He believes as Patton did that a mobile division on the move has far more power than one not moving or moving slowly. Speed can defeat mass. That is what Operation Iraqi Freedom was about... they went around cities and mopped them up later. They managed to brilliantly create tactical surprise CONSTANTLY despite having a war telegraphed prior for 6 months.

All this was how Franks planned it from the get go.
Except for one thing: They we to have TWO fronts, north
and south. But the one front was a contingency and they had a plan to bring in via Peshmerge/Kurdish territory some forces.

.. Anyway, the nonsense that Rumsfeld made Franks do anything is thoroughly and totally debunked in his book. It was telling that Franks believed in his Afghanistan plan, which relied on Special Ops (Kerry's critique on Tora Bora - a total lie - is in fact a critique of our special ops and their ability to be effective at calling in air strikes and work with local allies), and Rumsfeld was getting nervous and kept asking 'where are the results' 3 weeks into the war about it.

You are mistaken if you think Rumsfeld pushed CentCom. the opposite. Franks pushed the CentCom envelope.

This has little to do with long-term post-war ops, but much to do with why Rumsfeld is on the RIGHT side on transformation of DoD.

Final question: Do you think we should have 'planned' in our diplomacy for France to stab us in the back like they did?

Posted by: Patrick at October 29, 2004 08:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

All right, Patrick, I will accept your point there since I haven't read that book. In any event, I agree with Shinseki and White, and not with Franks, if Franks is the one who came up with that plan.

I argued at great length about my feelings regarding the overall strategy elsewhere, and I don't really want to get into that here. In short I think, as I said above, that we should have focused on North Korea. I felt that we should have used Afghanistan as our democratic experiment. I also felt that if we were going to go into Iraq (which I thought would be more costly than it was worth) we should have gone in with overwhelming force.

In any event others have argued these points, including many pro-war bloggers and publications that Greg has referenced, I will let them argue these matters further and stop here for now and go to bed.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 29, 2004 08:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Look, we're simply not going to agree, Patrick. You think 100,000 troops were suffcient "

I think only this - General Tommy Franks and our fine military proved that we had enough troops in his plan to liberate Iraq from Saddam..... BECAUSE WE DID IT. In 3 weeks.

"In any event, we can agree on one thing: if we can put Iraq on the path to stable democracy, that will be the best outcome of this affair. I just think there is little evidence Bush can do it."

Well, we are already winning in Iraq in many ways. Not just the reduction in losses in October compared with previous 2 months, but the direction is right:

Victory is in our grasp

"Perhaps Kerry can't, either,"

Kerry will almost certainly abandon Iraq, for the simple reason that his core of supporter are 'anti-war' people who will NOT TOLERATE THE COST of our perseverence - the terrorists will test him and will HAVE TO FOLD or prove his whole campaign is a lie. ("I can get troops home.") He has NO clue of what he'll do differently, this is proven by his own plan, which flattered Bush by PLAGARIZING FROM BUSH'S PLANS.

Frankly, Kerry's is grasping at whatever will get him elected, and the transition will kill off the hope for Iraq, because it will embolden the terrorists. Kerry has the poor instincts of a Jimmy Carter on these matters, and is indecisive to boot.

HE WOULDNT EVEN ANSWER WOODWARD"S 22 QUESTIONS ON IRAQ!

"but I am willing to go with someone I think has a chance of doing it over someone with a proven record of mistakes."

Oh please. Kerry has a proven record of mistakes!!!
He was against everything Ronald Reagan did to win the Cold War. He voted againt the first Gulf War, he wants a 'global test' yet when we had allies to kick Saddam out of Kuwait we punted, he voted against the $87 billion for the most craven of political reasons, he tried to cut intelligence spending in the mid-1990s after the first WTC attack, he wants to GIVE nuclear fuel to Iran (shades of the mistake we made with RPNK in 1994) and bilaterally talk to RPNK (wny? whats wrong with multilateral front to get RPNK to disarm?) ... Kerry has been "weak, wobbly and wrong" on national defense and national security, as Zell Miller said.

Bush's record: We got Khalid Sheik Muhammed, and 100s more like him. We got the Taliban. we got Saddam and most of his minions (more TBD). we got Libya off of WMDs.

What Kerry did in his 20 years in the Senate for this country ... nothing good.

Posted by: Patrick at October 29, 2004 08:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ah, links dont work ...

More of my commentary on conditions for victory in Iraq are here:

http://freedomstruth.blogspot.com

http://freedomstruth.blogspot.com/2004/10/victory-in-iraq-is-in-our-grasp.html

I have comments on the exploding Qaqaa story as well.

Posted by: Patrick at October 29, 2004 08:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"All right, Patrick, I will accept your point there since I haven't read that book. In any event, I agree with Shinseki and White, and not with Franks, if Franks is the one who came up with that plan."

See my above point. yes, Franks though the Army brats were wrong.

"I felt that we should have used Afghanistan as our democratic experiment. "

More than an experiment now. democracy is advancing there and elsewhere (next up, Iraq).

"I also felt that if we were going to go into Iraq (which I thought would be more costly than it was worth) we should have gone in with overwhelming force."

Again, history has decisively proven Franks right. We decisvely defeated an army and a regime in 3 weeks with about 200,000 troops in theatre.
Franks was right.

There's really not an argument for us to have on it, as long as we separate out your point and narrow it to OCCUPATION. The post-war occupation issue can be treated separately from the Army's false belief that invasions themselves required far more troops than we had in the plan.

You cant argue with Frank's 21 day Thunder Run.

"I argued at great length about my feelings regarding the overall strategy elsewhere, and I don't really want to get into that here. In short I think, as I said above, that we should have focused on North Korea. "

OOH, A LEFT HOOK. That is at a different level and very off the wall ... "focussed" ... hmmm ... so you think we should have invaded North Korea? Sent in a B2? or just sat in a panelled conference room and "focussed" by gabbing with diplomats? (hint: we are already doing the latter)

Since we have applied every pressure short of invasion, we had the proliferation security initiative, we had the talks with China and 5 -power talks and attempt to get RPNK to the table, and interdicted WMDs shipments, etc. ... or do you advocate that we should have bombed their nuke plant?

I find that "focussed" argument really curious because it imagines that our State Dept of tens of thousands of people and our DoD of 1 million + cant walk and chew gum at the same time. We have to focus on one threat at a time in a presidential term or in a year? We have deftly handled diplomacy there while managing other theatres and issues. Short of an invasion force, we have all the tools we need 'on the table' even with our occupation/liberation of Iraq ongoing.

Nevertheless, Saddam Hussein offered Osama Bin laden safe haven in 1998, according to the 9/11 report, so IMHO that tips the balance towards Iraq, the country we already had under nofly zones, sanctions and who was on our terrorist sponsoring list for 20+ years. Deposing the man responsible for the genocide of 100,000 kurds and killing hundreds of thousands of his own people didnt hurt either. I still despise RPNK's dictator too, but the whiners who talk about 'we should have dealt with North Korea' rarely propose the kind of operation that would really do any good (one's involving JDAMs, B2s, snipers, or SEAL teams :-) ). Just more gabbing, is there usual answer (eg Kerry's typical useless answer) as if talking to lying murdering communist creeps like Kim Jung Il will do any good.


Posted by: Patrick at October 29, 2004 08:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Did you know that Wolfowitz wanted to attack Iraq first, before Afghanistan, "

I am SHOCKED to find bold thinking and differences of opinion in an administration!!

Um, did you know that Bush and his advisors made the decision within 10 days of 9/11 that target #1 was the Taliban?

Did it occur to you that maybe it was *appropriate* to put different options on the table at that critical time? And at least consider them?

Did it also occur to you that your example, far from showing Bush as weak, shows him as a good executive, who takes input, but then takes the OTHER inputs - like from Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld and others - all good advisors - and ended up making his final decision, the correct one?

Wolfowitz did his job by putting the idea out there.
Bush did his job by shooting it down and focussing on Afghanistan and the Taliban and OBL's training camps first ... (ah, that FOCUS thing).

Good for both of them.

"Imagine how bad it would have been had Powell not been there!"

Um, YOU WANT POWELL, VOTE BUSH!

Posted by: Patrick at October 29, 2004 09:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Patrick:

Dang it, just about to go to bed and I couldn't resist reading here again. Suffice it to say that I've had lots of discussions of North Korea already with others, and I believe there was another strategy we could have pursued with North Korea other than the one Bush pursued (which in my mind amounts to basically doing almost nothing).

http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/movabletype/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=4095

Read it there if you wish to --- I don't have time to discuss it yet again right now.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 29, 2004 09:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You guys Mitsu and Patrick are the best debaters I have come across the web. You put together very good arguments, you listen to ( or rather read ) one another and I find you are making more sense than most people.
This is why I raise the a point to you that both of you take it for granted - no shame as it represents conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom that we would have avoided post-war problem by having more troops on the ground. I maintain that we would have been worse off with more troops. First, defeting insurgents in face to face fight, we never had a problem. We always had enough people to defeat them in direct confrontation. So from that point of view, they were not needed. What we missed for a long time and still do is good intelligence and arabic speaking intelligence officers. More troops do not help here. Secondly, most of our casualties were suffered by roadside bombs targeting travelling U.S. troops. More troops, more need for logistical support, more travel on the road, more casualties. Thirdly, and this may be the most important, more troops, more occupiers, the Iraqis would have just sit and watch us do the heavy lifting. If there was trouble, they would bitch and would have never taken ownership of running their own country. Now that they have some, almost if not total ownership in running the country and being the prime target of insurgency, maybe they realize that if they do not put their shit together, they will never have a chance for decent peaceful life.
Tom

Posted by: Tom at October 29, 2004 09:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Great post, Greg. I have linked to it at my blog.

It is incredible that the IAEA would stand around pretending that Saddam had some right to possess these types of explosives. If one of their applications was for use in a nuclear bomb, why did he have them, why did Blix and el-Baradei even think he should have them, and what is the effective difference between such materials and the weapons of mass murder that Saddam supposedly didn't have?

It's like all the chem suits we came across early on in the war. Did Saddam have them around because he thought we were going to use chemical weapons with the world's media riding along with the troops? Nonsense. Saddam had every hope of resuming his weapons programs. That's why he had the yellowcake and the special explosives and the people to put them to use.

Posted by: Toby Petzold at October 29, 2004 10:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mitsu:

Here's an exam question for you.

HMX, RDX, and PETN are ordinary military high explosives, nearly unusable in their raw form. They are far less useful then the shaped and fused explosives in bombs and shells. From any terrorist's point of view, they are at best no more useful than any of the other 600,000 to 1,000,000 tons of high explosives loose in the country. Of course you should know this, since you're a military demolitions expert. At most, 380 tons of high explosives may have went missing after the start of hostilities on March 20, 2003, although this seems unlikely. Regardless, your requirement for the success of Operation Iraqi Freedom is that greater than 99.95% of Iraq's conventional munitions stores be captured and secured within 14 days of the initiation of hostilities, say, by the time the 3 Infantry Division arrives at the site on D+14. That this is your requirement is not debatable; it is the inescapable, logical conclusion to your argument.

Please explain how many troops are necessary to accomplish such a task. You may round to the nearest division. Provide your operational plan showing objectives, timetables, and deployments for this 14-day period. Since you seem to know at least as much as any graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College, this should be a breeze for you.

Go!

Posted by: Armin Tamzarian at October 29, 2004 11:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>At most, 380 tons of high explosives

First of all, as David Kay and the IAEA and others have pointed out, this site was a high-value site that the IAEA specifically warned the Bush Administration about; it was not one of tens of thousands, but perhaps one of 80 or so major, well-documented sites, according to David Kay. The issue here isn't perfection, it is at least safeguarding the most important sites within a reasonable timeframe. And, as I keep saying, the issue isn't merely Al Qaqaa, but the combination of numerous high-value sites that were left unguarded for many months, even a year or more.

With respect to Toby's point --- the reason you want overwhelming force is to prevent a large-scale insurgency from getting off the ground in the first place --- it's preventive. By leaving so many gaps in our deployment, we allowed insurgents to gain access to a vast supply of weapons, which means they have weapons and ammunition which could last them a hell of a long time.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 29, 2004 12:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Incorrect response.

The issue is the explosives, or at least, it was your issue originally. You complained about 0.05% of Iraq's high explosives being unaccounted for. Therefore, your demand is that greater than 99.95% of the high explosives in Iraq be accounted for and secured within some short period following D-Day - 14 days, 21 days, or something in that range.

You did not answer the question. You did not provide your operational plan.

Zero credit.

Posted by: Armin Tamzarian at October 29, 2004 12:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let's hypothetically assume that all the most extreme, unfounded, asinine assumptions are correct. Let's say the Russians took it. Hell, let's say it was never there, that the miserable UN girlie-men were in cahoots with Saddam all along, and they helped Saddam hide the stuff ages ago, long before the war. Let's assume that all our dandy satellites, which, we were told before the war, supposedly even had the ability to tell us that a truck was no ordinary truck, but rather a "mobile decontamination unit," nevertheless were blind when it came to spotting Saddam moving all this stuff.

Let's also say that our Iraqi allies, the hand-picked people who we currently trust to help us run the country, are all fools and liars (since they are the first to testify that the joint was intact until we showed up, and then it got thoroughly ripped apart only after we unlocked the door, literally, and walked away, literally; see http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/iraq_us_explosives). In connection with this, let's also put aside the way Kerry got castigated after he dared to criticize Allawi. Let's assume it's now open season as far as smearing our allies. If it's OK for Guiliani to now try to blame it all on the troops, then surely it's OK to also try to pin the blame on the current Iraqi government, which we recently installed. Whatever it takes. Time is short.

Let's also put aside the named eyewitnesses who said "employees asked the Americans to protect the site but were told this was not the soldiers' responsibility" and that "it took the looters about two weeks to disassemble heavy machinery at the site and carry that off after the smaller items were gone." Let's put aside eyewitness reports of "an orgy of theft so extensive that enterprising residents rented their trucks to looters." (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/28/international/middleeast/28bomb.html)

Let's also dismiss the KSTP video showing an IAEA seal on a bunker at Al Qaqaa (http://kstp.com/article/stories/S3741.html?cat=64). Let's also dismiss the words of various experts, including David Kay, our former chief weapons inspector, who all assert that the KSTP video shows our troops entering one or more bunkers containing large stockpiles of HMX, and then walking away without even so much as closing the door behind them (David Kay recently speaking with Aaron Brown, http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0410/28/asb.01.html).

Let's also dismiss the multiple eyewitness accounts that "make clear that what set off much if not all of the looting was the arrival and swift departure of American troops, who did not secure the site after inducing the Iraqi forces to abandon it" (NYT, ibid.).

Let's also dismiss Bremer's report of 4/15/04 which said that 85% of Al Qaqaa had been looted. Let's also ignore the words of Col. Anderson, who said that on 4/10/03 he saw "no signs of looting" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/27/politics/27bomb.html).

Even if you drink all that Kool-Aid, this still remains: we conquered what the AP has called "Iraq's largest military industrial complex" (http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2003/030405-chem-readiness01.htm). We chased away Saddam's troops who were guarding the joint. And then we turned our back and drove on to Baghdad. We left the place unguarded. We didn't even put up a no-trespassing sign.

Note that amid all the outrageous claims being made to defend Bush, no one has claimed that any remotely serious and/or continuous effort was ever made to guard the joint, even until this very day. On the contrary, military people have said we just never had enough troops to do that.

Aside from leaving the door wide open, we didn't lift a finger (until May) to check for the presence of the HE. Even if we didn't trust the UN, even if we thought the HE had never even been there, it's impossible to defend the fact that (until May) we didn't bother to check up on it (which would have been ridiculously simple to do, since the IAEA had been trying to tell us exactly where to look, since they knew exactly where the stuff was).

Note that amid all the outrageous claims being made to defend Bush, no one has claimed that any remotely serious effort was made to even check up on the HE, prior to May.

Again, note that it wasn't a question of blindly searching this massive site to see if there might be some unknown HE hidden away somewhere. It was simply a question of looking exactly where the IAEA had sealed it away. I think our ideological hostility toward the UN got in the way of us doing that. (I think that same attitude also played a role in this recent embarrasment: http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iraq/al_qa_qaa-imagery4.htm, which proves that even now, our government still has no idea where the HMX was once stored.)

By the way, even putting aside the disastrous implications of the missing HE, Al Qaqaa is a vast complex that undoubtedly once contained many, many other dangerous items that are now in the wrong hands.

Even in the absence of the KSTP report, we already had enough information to understand that after Saddam fell, we failed to provide security for the largest military-industrial installation in the country. (The KSTP report mostly just serves the secondary purpose of proving that our leaders have been bamboozling us when they suggest that the HE disappeared before we got there.)

To understand the scale of the debacle, it's helpful to consider how massive this place is. According to the Bremer memo, Al Qaqaa had 5,365 employees. The site had 1,100 buildings (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,83252,00.html), in an area of roughly 9 sq miles. For comparison, note that Manhattan is 23 sq. miles. Aerial photos show how sprawling and massive this place is (see http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iraq/al_qa_qaa-imagery.htm). It's on the scale of a small city.

These photos help show that looters and smugglers could have taken any number of escape routes into the desert. So much for the utterly specious argument that the looters would have been deterred by our troops traveling on the major roads. Also, by all accounts, major looting took place all across the country and there's no sign that we ever lifted a finger to deter or intervene (aside from certain exceptions such as our placing 50 tanks around the Oil Ministry).

Among the stunning claims currently being made by desperate Bush surrogates, one stands out: the idea that items looted from Al Qaqaa have not been used against us. On the contrary. The town adjacent to Al Qaqaa is called Latifiyah. "The streets around Latifiyah have become so laced with ... IEDs - that military officials here call it the 'IED capital of Iraq.' ... The insurgents probably are using weapons and ammunition looted from the nearby Qa-Qaa complex ..., said Maj. Brian Neil, operations officer for the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment ... 'Right now, Latifiyah is more dangerous than Fallujah,' said Sgt. Devon Hawkins, another platoon sergeant with the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines. 'Every day we have an IED. Everyday someone who is seen working with Americans gets killed here. It's complete lawlessness' ... The facility was bombed during last year's invasion and then left unguarded, Neil said. 'There's definitely no shortage of weapons around here,' he said." (http://www.centredaily.com/mld/centredaily/news/world/9849036.htm)

Aside from the question of shells and other similar munitions being used to make IEDs, there's little doubt that the huge stockpile of HE once there has since played a major role in the ubiquitous car bombings.

Distributing arms to our enemies is a spectacular outrage, even for Bush, who has done an amazing number of witless things. Securing weapons to keep them out of the hands of terrorists was supposedly one of the main reasons we were there to begin with, if not the main reason. Yet when it came time to secure the single largest weapons site in the country, instead of securing it we unlocked the door and put out a welcome mat, turning the joint into perhaps the largest arms giveaway in the history of the world.

The only thing we didn't do was home delivery. We did require that customers come down and pick up the stuff. It was sort of cash-and-carry, except without the cash.

Our government is trying to suggest that the Al Qaqaa disaster is both trivial and exceptional. It's neither. Al Qaqaa is just one major example of a very broad pattern. The Bremer memo indicates extensive looting at numerous other military sites. Tawaitha is another example that has been largely ignored. We knew more than a year ago that seven nuclear sites were looted. (See also http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A36985-2003May9?language=printer, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/05/05/iraq/main552369.shtml, http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/10/12/iraq.nuclear/, http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0618/p09s01-coop.html, http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1013/p06s01-woiq.html, http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20041013/a_iaea13.art.htm)

The fact that we now find ourselves hoping that the missing nuke-related material is in Iran rather than with Al Qaeda is a pretty stunning indication of what a mess we made.

In a desperate effort to trivialize Al Qaqaa (not unlike Rummy calling massive looting and mayhem a form of "untidiness," and Limbaugh suggesting Abu Ghraib is merely a fraternity prank) our government tells us we should sleep well because they've captured so many thousands of of tons of weapons (although I've never seen an attempt to document or fact-check those numbers). What our government doesn't tell us is how many more thousands of tons of weapons have been obtained by looters on account of our open-door approach to arsenal security. (Various people perform their analysis based on the ludicrous assumption that the answer to that question is zero.)

It should actually be pretty easy to figure that out. David Kay recently told Aaron Brown "Iraq had, and it's a frightening number, two-thirds of the total conventional explosives that the US has in its entire inventory." What's the size of the US explosives inventory? Someone must know. Then we can simply derive the size of Iraq's explosives inventory, pre-invasion. Our government tells us it's dealt with roughly 400,000 tons of munitions. (Then again, what's a "munition?" Is a rusted hulk of a tank a "munition?") Subtract that number (if you trust it) from the size of Iraq's pre-invasion inventory. The remainder, we can safely assume (although maybe "safely" isn't the right word), is currently in unfriendly hands. And then if we assume the war cost $200 billion (I hope liberals and other unpatriots are not going to split hairs about the next $70 billion request lurking around the corner), we can say that we spent x dollars for each y tons of explosives that we transfered to our enemies. Neat.

By now it's amply clear that we sent a fraction of the troops required to properly disarm Iraq. Instead we've merely achieved a form of perverse democratization. Instead of a vast arsenal under the control of one madman (who was declining in power and closely monitored by us, the UN and others) we are now dealing with a vast arsenal under the control of countless madmen who are monitored by no one. (This formula is sort of the opposite of the way we're redistributing wealth here at home.) But at least it only cost 1100 lives and $200 billion to achieve that dubious result. And our president tells us we're safer now, so we must be, right? "Catastrophic success," indeed (or "remarkable success story," to use Cheney's latest Orwellian euphemism for "quagmire"). Makes me wonder about his idea of a catastrophic failure. Maybe he's saving that for his second term.

And then in the aftermath of all this, we have massive coverup and denial. We're now told we need to reserve judgment until after Bush has a chance to investigate. One question. As of 5/27/03, when ISG finally did a thorough search, we knew the HE was missing. Why is the investigation starting now, instead of 18 months ago?

I long for the days when the worst thing a president did was lie about a blowjob. Hell, I'm even nostalgic for the days when the worst thing a president did was setup a dirty-tricks burglary. Those were the days.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at October 29, 2004 12:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Lie about a blowjob?

How about bomb the Chinese embassy! How does that help America's reputation in China?

And certainly there were far fewer mass graves in Kosovo than Iraq.

How about bomb an aspirin factory? Does that make America look good?

The fact is the President doesn't make these calls...

And this whole explosives story is not clear at all...unless you think detonation cord is HMX and a half empty bunker is all of the stock that was there.

Posted by: Aaron at October 29, 2004 01:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh jukie, you never did respond to my post on rogerlsimon.com. Shouldn't you finish old business before starting new business?

Hi again jukie.

"You mean by the time we got around to paying attention to something we never should have ignored to begin with?"

I thought we were supposed to be paying attention to nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons? And, you know, fighting the enemy.

"This is from a press briefing dated 3/24/03: 'our forces are operating through Iraq, on the ground and in the air ... we are now more than 200 miles into Iraqi territory.' On 3/25, we were told 'on the ground, our forces are nearing Baghdad.'

Do those ellipses perhaps include the part where the briefer said "at the Al Qaqaa facility?" Looked at a map lately? Here's a hint: how far is Baghdad from Kuwait? You're allowed to use a ruler. You also need to include the part of that second brief that says "our forces are at the Al Qaqaa facility" and that they weren't doing anything else at the time, like, you know, fighting the enemy.

"In other words, days or weeks before we bothered to check the place, our generals had been bragging that our forces were in that vicinity."

Wow, nothing gets by you. I mean, the Germans were 30 miles from Moscow in December 1941. Hmm, yeah, but they were, you know, busy. Fighting. War. And Moscow didn't even have 6 million people in it at the time.

"Also, we had complete air superiority, flying 1,000 sorties a day."

That's 345 more than 655. What's your point?

"This was a known major weapons site, with high potential for hidden WMD."

That's why our guys checked in, didn't find any chemical or biological or nuclear weapons, then downgraded the site's importance. That's how military plans work, you know, that whole adaptation to changing circumstances thing.

"But somehow we looked the other way while the joint was looted?"

We did? You tell me. Come on, why aren't you drawing on your 20 years of experience at the NRO and your eight years as chief of staff in an army corps headquarters? Wait, you *do* know what the NRO is, right?

"You haven't explained why this is anything other than criminal negligence."

Burden, meet proof. Do you even know what "criminal negligence" is? Don't you feel even sillier? Is that possible?

"Also, this is a massive complex. According to Fox News, the site includes 1,100 buildings. It's true there are reports of troops who say the stuff wasn't there on 4/4 and/or 4/10. But these weren't WMD experts, and there's no indication they did a thorough search. It seems entirely possible they just didn't look carefully enough. And it seems clear they didn't stick around to make sure, and to secure the site."

So you wanted a division to stick around this massive site for days or weeks to do a thorough search before the end of hostilities? Hot damn, why aren't you the next Army Chief of Staff? You clearly know more about this than anyone here.

"Negroponte saw fit to mention HMX to the Senate, and it was part of a long paragraph that strictly discussed numerous nuke-related items. In other words, when it was politically helpful to beat the nuke-scare drum, HMX was treated as scary. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and McClellan tells us 'move along here, nothing to see, it's just conventional.' This is hypocrisy."

Machine tools can be "nuke-related." Copper wire can be "nuke-related." And "nuke-related" things can be used for non-"nuke-related" activities. Consider, for example, the case of common military high explosives. Their primary use is highly exploding. Use in nuclear weapons is somewhere down the list, possibly tied with imitation cocaine. You *do* know how implosion trigger fusion devices work, right?

"Geraghty doesn't bother explaining this: UN inspectors were on the ground until approximately 3/18. If we suddenly saw suspicious activity at this site, and we didn't want to drop bombs, why didn't we ask the UN to send some inspectors to take a look? Surely it would have been a great opportunity to prove to the world that Saddam was trying to cheat. We would have been happy to have one more reason to pull the trigger."

Yep, because ordinary military high explosives are obviously chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. And because Saddam didn't move around identical explosives at the same site under IAEA seal years before. And because we didn't have plenty of other instances of Saddam's cheating, like banned ballistic missiles developed at the same site. Sure. I forgot you're also a FSO at the embassy in Paris and that you know all about what and how to "prove to the world."

"Geraghty thinks it's implausible that the stuff got moved after we showed up. Really? They had weeks or months to do it, in the post-invasion chaos. By all accounts, our troops passed through roughly 4/4 and/or 4/10, but they didn't stay. After all, they had an oil ministry to guard. The country was in utter disorder after Baghdad fell (and of course it still is). Lots of opportunity for enterprising Iragis with a truck to haul this stuff around. We know this: looting was rampant, everywhere. Why shouldn't this site have also been looted? Again, by all accounts, we made no effort to secure it during this period."

I guess you never bothered to explain how easy it would be to move 380 tons (and about 250 cubic meters) of a fine white powder without any resources to do so. I suppose a million guys could have each put a handful in their pockets, but that seems a little far-fetched, even for you, doesn't it?

"The whole country was being looted. Why not this site too?"

Didn't one of those reports you've been whining about say that road access to the site was very difficult? Or did guys in Baghdad decide to drop their TVs and just hop over to Al Qaqaa, 30 miles away, to pick up some cornstarch that they didn't know what to do with?

"Please refer me to information concerning any other location that had 377 tons of MDX et al."

What the f*** is "MDX?" Oh, I forgot that you're a demolitions expert too.

"Because the IAEA repeatedly warned us about this site, both before and after the invasion."

Would this be what ElBaradei said last week once he decided he needed Kerry to win to keep his job? Just checking.

"You mean they had to take time to put a story together about why they've been covering this up for 18 months?"

A "coverup" assumes anyone was asking about this 18 months ago, which they weren't, because it isn't news.

"The bottom line is that if political and/or military contraints existed to prevent getting the job done right, those contraints should have been addressed before we jumped headfirst into the manure pile. Either do the job right or don't do it at all. And be big enough to take the blame when you screw up. We're less safe now, and we're tired of being lied to."

You didn't answer. How many troops would have been necessary to secure over 99.95% of Iraq's conventional munitions within a week of the initiation of hostilities? Please provide a number. You may round to the nearest division. While you're at it, please identify instances of "being lied to." You may NOT include instances in which you just thought you were being lied to because you're too ignorant to know what's going on.

"I thought we had invaded the country specifically for the purpose of securing its weapons and keeping them out of unfriendly hands. If we weren't equipped to get that job done, we had no business being there."

Did you pay attention to anything at all that I wrote? Obviously not, since you're not capable of doing more than parroting Joshua Micah Marshall. You can't secure anything in a country until you defeat its armed forces. And besides, we were concerned about chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, not ordinary military high explosives, so your point is not only stupid and irrelevant, but wrong too.

"As far as 0.05%,' please call my attention to at least one other weapons site that was several square miles in area, with 1,100 buildings, and with known nuke-related materials that were under IAEA surveillance. This place was huge, and important, and we still looked the other way. Please explain why this isn't unacceptable negligence."

But I just said soldiers went in, did a quick survey for chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, didn't find any, and moved on to the more pressing task of, you know, fighting the enemy . . . oh never mind.

"I guess you must have been tuned to some other channel the scores of times the Administration reminded us that we had to go specifically to make sure his scary weapons didn't end up in the hands of terrorists. Now, as a result of poor planning by Bush and Rummy, Iraq is a stunning bonanza for arms smugglers. Stuff that was locked up by Saddam, and also monitored by the UN, is now being dispersed all over the Middle East and probably beyond. I'm glad this makes you feel safer. I'm not drinking that Kool-Aid."

It's abundantly clear that you can't actually read. Yes, the sole purpose of sending in 200,000 troops to Iraq was to get Saddam's "scary weapons," which apparently now include his 1,000,000 tons of ordinary military high explosives. I guess they weren't supposed to worry about, you know, getting shot at by the Iraqi Army. Nope, wouldn't be prudent.

"IEAE inspectors checked the seals on 3/8/03. Look it up."

I can make stickers too. Yep. And you've still not yet explained why you're so certain this stuff was not moved before March 24 or March 17. That will be due tomorrow. 500 words or less. Do your own work. Stop plagiarising talkingpointsmemo.com.

"Also, we had the country under constant satellite surveillance. 40 big trucks are hard to miss."

Of course, you would know, what with your 20 years at the NRO.

"Another attempt to trivialize something that's far from trivial."

No, it really is trivial. Had you been paying attention at BUDS, you'd know these really are just conventional military high explosives, like the other 999,620 tons in Iraq, only far less dangerous, since they are fine white powders in their raw form and nearly impossible to detonate. An artillery shell has explosive packaged in a usable form with a detonator and is much more readily convertible to an improvised bomb. Please, enlighten us and tell us why this stuff is so dangerous, since none of the terrorist in Iraq have actually used it against us. Surely your SEAL training taught you that much.

"Again, please call my attention to at least one other weapons site that was this large. Until and unless you do, your specious trivialization is disingenuous."

I thought we were talking about why these explosives are so dangerous? Now we're talking about Iraq's weapons manufacturing infrastructure? Golly, I just can't compete.

"No one was expecting perfection. No one was expecting us to be able to collect every hand grenade, spitball and fireworks, to use your asinine examples. But this site is huge, certainly one of the biggest single weapons sites, if not the biggest. The fact that we looked the other way is mind-boggling. Remember that even after we dropped in on 4/4 and 4/10, we couldn't be bothered to stay. We had more pressing business at the oil ministry."

Yes, you were. The logical conclusion is that you demand that greater than 99.95% of the military explosives in Iraq be secured within one week of the invasion. That's the simple truth. Again, please state precisely how many divisions were necessary for this. Also include your operation plan for doing so. Surely your course at the Army Command and General Staff College taught you how to do this? It should be a breeze for you.

"David Kay is the CIA's former chief weapons hunter in Iraq. Is he a source you dismiss? If so, please explain how your credentials compare with his. According to the LA Times Kay said 'HMX and RDX were "superb explosives for terrorists' because they were stable compounds that could be transported safely and used for large-scale attacks."' More valuable to terrorists than ordinary shells, in other words."

Yes, when such a statement conflicts with what military explosives experts and basic chemistry say. Like I said, those explosives are far less useful than ordinary shells since it would be extremely difficult for some terrorist to make any use of them. You could prove me wrong by cataloging the number of attacks against American or Iraqi government forces using RDX, HXM, or PETN. Should be a simple task for you.

I'll repeat the same question I asked you, which you never answered, and which Mitsu failed miserably.

Here's an exam question for you.

HMX, RDX, and PETN are ordinary military high explosives, nearly unusable in their raw form. They are far less useful then the shaped and fused explosives in bombs and shells. From any terrorist's point of view, they are at best no more useful than any of the other 600,000 to 1,000,000 tons of high explosives loose in the country. Of course you should know this, since you're a military demolitions expert. At most, 380 tons of high explosives may have went missing after the start of hostilities on March 20, 2003, although this seems unlikely. Regardless, your requirement for the success of Operation Iraqi Freedom is that greater than 99.95% of Iraq's conventional munitions stores be captured and secured within 14 days of the initiation of hostilities, say, by the time the 3 Infantry Division arrives at the site on D+14. That this is your requirement is not debatable; it is the inescapable, logical conclusion to your argument.

Please explain how many troops are necessary to accomplish such a task. You may round to the nearest division. Provide your operational plan showing objectives, timetables, and deployments for this 14-day period. Since you seem to know at least as much as any graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College, this should be a breeze for you.

Go!

Posted by: Armin Tamzarian at October 29, 2004 02:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well, after finding jukeboxgrad on just about every blog under the sun, pushing this bogus story with long fact-free but pointed essays, I seems to me that it is becoming clear who the 'source' (or perhaps I should say "architect") of this story is...

Posted by: CERDIP at October 29, 2004 02:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is anyone looking in the right place? Seems the RDX hadn't been at what we think of as alQQ for, possibly, YEARS. The HMX? Who knows, really, if what an IAEA spokesperson blurted out to Australia's ABC holds for the HMX.
----------------
?RDX never at alQQ? And never sealed?
IAEA spokeswoman Melissa interview on ABC (Australia) - "IAEA inspectors visited Al-Mahaweel on Jan. 15, 2003, and verified the RDX inventory by weighing sampling," Fleming said. She said the RDX at Al-Mahaweel was not under seal [emphasis added - JSA] but was subject to IAEA monitoring."

Al-Mahaweel?
"The bulk of the RDX was stored at another site that was under Al Qaqaa's jurisdiction," IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.
She says that the report seen by ABC only covers the Al Qaqaa site itself.
The second site, Al Mahaweel, is roughly 45 kilometres from Al Qaqaa.

Well, so much for about 140 of the 372 tons? Or what?

Posted by: John Anderson at October 29, 2004 03:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Um, what Armin said. (And remind me never to get on his bad side.)

Given the revelations about the large ventilation openings on the bunker, the IAEA's vaunted "seals" were apparently about as secure as a bicycle lock on a screen door. With a removable screen.

I'm also a little confused about why these explosives are so critical now, when they weren't even worth worrying about prior to the war. Particularly when the same folks would have freaked out if Bush had claimed that conventional explosives were equivalent to WMD as justification for, well, just about anything.

Posted by: Bryan C at October 29, 2004 04:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

First and foremost, I believe the issue of when they disappeared is being investigated. The President has not been saying much about it because a smart man is going to tell the pentagon to investigate and get him some details of the situation. Action reports, satellite pictures, etc. Until it is investigated, all else is speculation.

Secondly, it is without a doubt true that the military was not tasked with securing these suspected WMD sites during "major combat mission" which everyone is so handy to pick on the President for saying. During major combat missions, your job is to fight and kill the enemy. Clear combatants from an area and go to the next objective. So the officer who points out that he was not directed to secure these potential sites is probably correct. Why would somebody split up their combat units to guard potential WMD sites when the first objective was to clear the enemy?

Further, when reviewing objectives and military actions, having found explosives and other ammunition at the site, why would a commander leave them unguarded even if he did not have "direct orders"? Logically, it is because he did not feel that leaving the site unguarded posed a threat to his main objective which was to destroy enemy forces and take baghdad. He would have been unconcerned about their status because he was driving the enemy before him and he had forces bringing up the rear which would insure that the base would not be retaken by enemy forces, his main concern.

Why would the Pentagon and General Staff planners not direct the combatant forces to secure these sites? I already gave you one reason, it was not their major objective. The second would be, of course, the planning of the war. In this case, it seems that it was to complete the major objectives of vanquishing the enemy and then, when the country was secured, send in the search teams, which appeared to happen in May.

Only two things can point to whether this plan was inappropriate or not: how much RDX/HMX was actually at the site during the last IAEA visit? If the known amount is less than the 380 tons originally reported then the story falls apart (particularly if it far less). Whether that is actually the RDX/HMX in the film of the officers investigating the bunkers.

which, by the way, if it was, then the two officers and their command structure will most likely see the end of their careers. Even if it was not part of their "major combat objectives", failing to recognize and secure a site with materials that could be used by the enemy will be hammered into them and on their records forever.

As for the President, he sets the goals of the operation and the military plans on how to implement them. These goals are usally very general:
1) take out saddam and his sons if you can
2) destroy the enemy and take baghdad
3) Secure prisoners for interrogation
4) Secure WMD sites

That would mean that the order of importance of securing objectives was set by the President and therefore, is the President's responsibility.

But I will add here that it is awfully convenient to be a four star armchair general a year and a half after the major battles were fought.

Posted by: kat-missouri at October 29, 2004 04:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Again, just a brief comment due to lack of time. I'm not sure where this 99.95% number comes from. Are you literally asserting that we secured everything BUT this cache of HMX and RMX? Because all the reports I have read indicate that this is merely one example of a vast failure to guard munitions sites all over Iraq.

Regarding the war plan; again, the whole point here is that the Administration was pushing this new "rapid" approach to warfare. The idea was that we could go in and secure the country with a minimum of troops (one proposal had it at 50,000). Again, the primary objections to this plan bt Shinseki, White, and many, many others in the Army were not that this could not be done for the initial phase of the war, but that there would be insufficient troops to secure the country afterwards. This was part of the "transformation" plan pushed by Rumsfeld and others.

How difficult would it be to guard every single munitions depot? Very difficult, even with several hundred thousand troops. But to guard the 80 major ammunitions dumps? Easily doable with the forces envisioned in Shinseki's plan.

The main failing here is that the Administration's "transformation" war plan was based on the assumption that after the fall of the Iraqi forces, things would just sort of stay peaceful. There would not be widespread looting, etc. Even while the looting occurred, the Administration made light of it. It took quite a while for them to change course and do something.

I'd like to make one general philosophical point here. The main problem I see with this administration is that they tend not to think through cascading side-effects of their policies. I.e., defeat the Iraqi Army? They don't fully think through the side effects --- the Army was oppressing the Iraqi people but also keeping order. With no one guarding the munitions depots, of course they're going to get looted. But they didn't think that through.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 29, 2004 04:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Nope, not gonna work Mitsu. The entire complaint is that 380 tons of ordinary military high explosives, ones that are not very useful to terrorists, are not at present accounted for, and that it's possible they were taken after American forces arrived at the facility where they were allegedly stored. Let me repeat: the story is 380 tons of missing explosives. The complaint would be the same if 380 tons of explosives had been taken from some other location, or if they wre 380 tons of TNT, dynamite, mines, bombs, picric acid, gunpowder, or fertilizer.

You complain that American forces did not secure an ammo dump and that resulted in the disappearance of 380 tons of explosives. Let's assume they did vanish sometime after April 3, and that some enterprising young Ba'athists from Baghdad strolled in with 40 large trucks, loaded the stuff up without forklifts, drove away with it, and found a convenient but hidden large warehouse in which to stash it. Let's assume all that. If any 380 tons, or 0.05% of Iraq's explosives were not guarded, it would of course have been possible for this elite terrorist Teamster squad to take such explosives. The only way to guarantee 380 tons of explosives could not have been stolen was to guard greater than 99.95% of the explosives stockpiles in the country. Understand?

Forget the "80 major ammunitions dumps," each of which would have required at least a company, or it like al Qa Qaa, more like a battallion to guard. Forget that that would have required between 3 and 9 full Army divisions, out of 10 active divisions total. What about the 9,999 other sites that had varying quantities of explosives and munitions? Say they're on average very small (only 100 tons each!) and that only a squad of infantrymen are required to guard each one. To do that you'd only need a very reasonable 41 infantry divisions to secure Iraq's convential munitions stockpiles. Surely Bush should have thought of that!

Posted by: AT at October 29, 2004 05:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

That's a straw man. When I first read about this story I told my friends, "this is an old story --- it's just one example of a slew of things that we didn't guard." Since I've been paying attention to the news I already had heard about another IAEA site that had been dismantled sometime after the invasion, and many other reports of unguarded facilities (not only munitions dumps, but the Iraqi equivalent of the CDC, nuclear facilties --- I mean, yellowcake was looted, fer chrissakes!) This story is just one of many such stories; though it does serve as an illustrative example. The IAEA specifically warned the Bush Administration about this particular site because HMX can be useful in the construction of a nuclear weapon. Naturally, by itself it doesn't constitute a significant proliferation risk --- nevertheless as one of the high-priority items, it should have been guarded. Others have pointed this out, but the fact is this site was obviously never secured properly by us --- the fact that, even today, we don't know what happened to the HMX is testament to that. Why wasn't it guarded, even a year after the war?

Posted by: Mitsu at October 29, 2004 05:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

AT:military high explosives ... are not very useful to terrorists

How do you figure?


Since the CIA called al-Qa'qa'a the heart of "Iraq’s extensive munitions industries," and the IAEA called it "the main high explosives storage facility in Iraq" why do you think that the complaint would be the same in the various scenarious you mentioned?

Posted by: Simon W. Moon at October 29, 2004 06:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The complaint is "380 tons of SUPER POWERFUL SCARY EXPLOSIVES THAT CAN BE USED TO MAKE NUKES (just add plutonium, sophisticated electronics, and team of scientists and engineers)!!!" Didn't you read the New York Times?

They're not. They're ordinary high explosives used for many different things and easily synthesizable in terrorist quantities (i.e., the ONE POUND THAT CAN DESTROY AN AIRPLANE) in a high school chemistry lab.

They're LESS useful than assembled munitions like bombs and shells because they are, in their raw form, a light and fluffy white powder that you can hit with a hammer and light on fire without making it go BOOM. You have to mix it with other substances to shape it, put it in a fragmenting case, and find a detonator and fuse. Or you can just get all of that ready-made in an artillery shell.

Posted by: AT at October 29, 2004 06:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well now, as I thought, the Pres wasn't saying much because he could get all the details he wanted and the Pentagon has detailed that the 3rd army, having relieved the 101 (which was the unit on the KSTP film) came behind and destroyed some 200 plus tons of munitions, etc at the site.

Non issue. We stole it for outselves and played bang bang in the desert with it. LOL

Care for another try at stabbing the CINC in the back?

Posted by: kat-missouri at October 29, 2004 07:10 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

No, that Army major from the 3rd said he arrived in early April, prior to the news crew arriving, and he didn't see any IAEA seals when he took stuff out. Mystery is still unsolved.

However, again, as I and others have pointed out on numerous occasions, this is only one of many, many similar stories. The total picture is the problem, not one isolated incident.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 29, 2004 07:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Better info re: RDX and HMX --

Both are pretty stable in raw form (HMX slightly less so since small amounts will evaporate in air). RDX especially is a key ingredient of many typical military explosives, including C4 and many of the Compositions explosives. It is also a basis for SEMTEX. There are others that I can't remember. HMX is often used as a component in plastic-bonded explosives and in rocket propellants.

The discussion here has been pretty interesting, largely because the elephant in the room here is still the administration's planning effort. One of the admin's many shifting reasons for going to Iraq had to do with stopping the transfer of weapons from Saddam to terrorists. Certainly they meant WMD, but would anyone here want to argue that they were simply unconcerned about KNOWN stockpiles of stuff like this? And to be clear -- you don't need a lot of technical background to convert your share of RDX to something useful in hurting others. And if you can’t manage the work, there is plenty of this expertise to be had on the cheap everywhere. Your biggest challenge is how to detonate the stuff, and that is not so hard either. While RDX and HMX (or even finished explosives) are not rare on the black markets for this kind of thing, knowingly adding to that stockpile for terrorists seems awfully counterintuitive to me

Asking people here how many troops were needed to secure the known stuff is a waste of time. The administration has to answer these questions and we've seen that once again they can’t account for either their thinking or (the bigger problem) admit that their actions had consequences they did not plan for. In the runup to the war, the admin made the point over and over again that Saddam had bad weapons that he would not hesitate to use against us. Or to give to others to use against us. Now, the admin needs to answer why they did not heed their own precautions. And remember that you don't necessarily need troops to secure this stuff. Known stockpiles could have just been destroyed on the fly.

Posted by: cassandra at October 29, 2004 08:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm having a little trouble wrapping my mind around one detail of this 'missing explosives' story. Perhaps someone can enlighten me.

According to the _Washington Post_, there were 650,000 to 1,000,000 tons of explosive munitions in Iraq when we invaded, which means between 65,000 to 500,000 tons total of High Explosives (depending on how much was artillery shells, mortar shells, gravity bombs, etc.). We've destroyed or captured 400,000 tons of munitions, leaving 25,000 to 300,000 tons H.E. still in Iraq someplace, unless they were smuggled out of the country. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A7418-2004Oct28.html, http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20041028-122637-6257r.htm)

Of this 65,000 to 500,000 tons H.E. that was originally in Iraq, 377 (or maybe only 225) were stored at al-Qaqaa (by the way, if al-Qaqaa's amounts were typical, that leaves 171 to 2200 other munitions dumps in Iraq). The U.S. wanted the explosives destroyed in 1995, but the UN said "NO!" (http://www.nysun.com/article/3826). Instead, in January 2003, they were sealed in bunkers, where they remained till Mar. 15, 2003, unless they didn't. (http://www.boston.com/dailynews/299/world/Timeline_on_missing_explosives:.shtml, Timedispatch.com, http://powerlineblog.com/archives/008337.php,
http://fatsteve.blogspot.com/2004/10/desperately-seeking-surprise-october.html).

Then, on March 19th, 2003 we attacked Iraq, and on April 4th, we captured al-Qaqaa, at which time the explosives might or might not have been there. By May 27th, though, they were definitely gone.

All that, I'm clear on. Now, the part I don't get: what makes this 225 to 377 tons (.08% to 1.5%) of unaccounted for H.E. so much more important than the other 24,775 to 299,623 tons (98.5% to 99.92%) still missing? Is there a refund if we find it before next Tuesday? Did the UN sprinkle pixie dust on it? What? I'm at a loss here.

Posted by: Stephen M. St. Onge at October 29, 2004 09:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The elephant in the living room here seems to be the bad faith of many of those attempting to make arguments.

Coming to your conclusion and then casting about for arguments to support it is not the sign of intellectual honesty. Yet that is clearly what the critics of the Bush administration are doing, with their feigned outrage that the terrorists in Iraq have (gasp) gotten their hands on some of the several hundreds of thousands of tons of munitions that were strewn about that country.

If you cast your mind back, these same people were terribly exercised in the past about other issues, which they also pretended to believe reflected badly on Bush.

I seem to recall the constant refrain not too long ago was that the war in Iraq was a "mistake" because it was a distraction from the important business in Afghanistan. Some actually claimed that Afghanistan was slipping back into the Taliban's clutches, and that the US sphere of influence was a small area around Kabul.

Now that this has been exposed for the nonsense is always was, and Afghanistan has had successful elections, you might think that some of these people would pause to reflect, to consider that they were mistaken, then and might be mistaken now.

But that would be to assume that they are remotely interested in the truth. Instead, the same culprits appear peddling similar lies on a different topic, but with the same thrust; Bush is incompetent, he does not know what he is doing, the war has been bungled, etc.

It would seem rather apparent at this point that the chief fear of these partisans is not that Bush will fail; it is that he will succeed. The thought that Iraq may make the successful transition to democracy that Afghanistan has done is anathema to these people. I doubt very much that the actual flesh and blood Iraqi people impinge at all on their thoughts. Rather, their concern is purely and simply the defeat of president Bush. In the pursuit of this goal they will apparently stop at nothing. John Kerry, the alleged master diplomat who intends to make America loved, campaigned to defeat the government of Australia and subtract them from our coalition of allies. This action was taken purely out of crass political expediency, and with utter contempt for Americas place in the world and for the goals we are currently working to achieve.

You people do not believe what you are saying. You do not even care about the matters on which you spend expend so much time. You do not oppose Bush because you oppose his policies, you oppose his policies (regardless of what they are) because you oppose Bush.

By any historical measure, the overthrow of Afghanistan and Iraq and the establishment of democratic regimes there has been a stunning success. The Soviets spent years in a bloody war attempting to subdue the former, the Iranians fought a war of attrition with the latter that resulted in a million dead. The rapid, effortless, virtually bloodless overthrow of these two outlaw states, and the subsequent incorporation of them into the modern civilized world, is an accomplishment that by rights should result in a Nobel prize for president Bush. That this is not what is happening, that instead Bush finds himself assaulted by powerful forces from both within and without the United States, is because his actions are stepping on some very influential toes.

George Soros, a multi-billionaire who is bankrolling the effort to defeat Bush, is a member of the Carlyle group and has considerable interests in the Middle East. The UN was receiving kickbacks from Saddam Hussein for many years, as were the French and Russian governments.

Some extremely wealthy and influential people have a vested interest in preventing what America is attempting to do in the Middle East. That these people are accurately described as reactionaries seems undeniable.

Their supporters on this page seem determined to display their ignorance to the world, as they mindlessly repeat their talking points. Whether they act out of stupidity, malice, or avarice, is for the reader to judge.

Posted by: flenser at October 29, 2004 09:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Asking people here how many troops were needed to secure the known stuff is a waste of time. The administration has to answer these questions and we've seen that once again they can’t account for either their thinking or (the bigger problem) admit that their actions had consequences they did not plan for. In the runup to the war, the admin made the point over and over again that Saddam had bad weapons that he would not hesitate to use against us. Or to give to others to use against us. Now, the admin needs to answer why they did not heed their own precautions. And remember that you don't necessarily need troops to secure this stuff. Known stockpiles could have just been destroyed on the fly."

Translation: I am an expert in military tactics from the company to the corps level, so I don't actually have to say what anyone should have done, just that it wasn't as good as I could have done with my secret plan.

Posted by: AT at October 29, 2004 09:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Flenser, you're doing a good job having a debate with somebody else, and if that's what you enjoy doing, hey, knock yourself out. But you're not having a debate with me.

As far as I am concerned, I couldn't care less if it is Bush, Kerry, Gore, Clinton, an alien from the Crab Nebula, or a small cute dog who is president as long as they get the job done. I supported Bush Sr. when he invaded Iraq in 1991, and I was a strong supporter of the war in Afghanistan, which seemed to me to be precisely what we needed. Although I feel the Administration hasn't done enough to help stabilize that country, I don't have doom and gloom assessments there and I never have.

If Bush succeeded, great. I would be the first to cheer, be relieved, etc. I just don't think it is going to happen. That is based on the evidence I see before me, not based on partisan cheerleading or bias. By contrast, I'm not convinced you would be able to see a Democrat doing a good job at much of anything --- perhaps you're projecting? Not everyone is driven by partisanship.

I think it's rather odd that you think that all criticism of Bush comes from some sort of deep-seated desire to see Bush lose or fail (why? Because he went to Yale and I went to Harvard? Hell, Kerry went to Yale too. I don't hold it against him). Many prominent people who supported Bush in 2000 have turned against him this time --- sometimes after a lot of anguish. They couldn't ignore the failures: Andrew Sullivan, Dan Drezner, Josh Chafetz, David Adesnik, John Mearsheimer, Christopher Hitchens (yes, in Slate he recently endorsed Kerry --- very weakly), The Economist. Criticism of Bush does not all comes from some sort of rabid hatred of all things Republican. It comes from looking at this particular Republican and finding him and his team sorely wanting.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 29, 2004 11:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

ummm, I just searched for "wars with exit plans on winning the peace and rebuilding prior to combat beginning" and came up with nothing.

Can anyone help with this? Kerry claims, I surmise from his speeches, there has been one we should all be aware of....

BTW, Mitsu, reagarding your first post, what is your experience in securing enemy munitions with multiple units during combat? Just curious, I could tell you about my from over a decade ago.

The guys trying to answer the questions the press demand are doing a great job. You should try it someday.

Posted by: jcrue at October 30, 2004 12:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think Cassandra's post sums the argument up pretty well. I see no reason to repeat it.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 30, 2004 12:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Things should calm down now that one elephant has left the living room. It seems that the KSTP video shows a seal with a number which was not on the I.A.E.A. documents and drums labelled with the U.N. inspectors' number for Nitrostarch, a low pressure industrial explosive. The number of drums shown would not hold nearly the weight under discussion. Details at Powerline and elsewhere.

Oh, yes. As for the I.A.E.A. claim to have warned the U.S. about Al QaQaa. Reportedly they had blocked UNSCOM's request that the HMX be destroyed back in '95.

Posted by: triticale at October 30, 2004 01:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If I can comment on the Times reporting for a moment:

(1) Re: Gregory's UPDATE: the latest Time story about what the video shows deals entirely with HMX that may or may not have been there. 140 tons of RDX has disappeared from the Times story - maybe they could investigate that.

(2) The Times cited ElBaradei as an objective, neutral authority. However, it was reported at the end of September that the US opposed his bid for a third term; the IAEA letter that initiated this story was sent Oct. 1. A lesser paper might have been intrigued by that coincidence.

(3) The Times was *for* the planned dispersal of munitions before they were against it: in an Oct. 20 story about intel failures before the war, the Times said that:

"In a major misreading of Iraq's strategy, the C.I.A. failed to predict the role played by Saddam Hussein's paramilitary forces, which mounted the main attacks on American troops in southern Iraq and surprised them in bloody battles.

The agency was aware that Iraq was awash in arms but failed to identify the huge caches of weapons that were hidden in mosques and schools to supply enemy fighters."

As of Oct. 20, Saddam planned to disperse and hide useful stuff. But on Oct. 25, the only place those explosives could possibly have been is right where the IAEA last saw them. Why does that make sense?

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/20/international/20war.html?ex=1255924800&en=57acdac4dc595f07&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland

http://www.spacewar.com/2004/040927105109.rrmuiluz.html

Posted by: Tom Maguire at October 30, 2004 02:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It appears that this idiotic story has already spent itself, having done what it was intended to do. The useful idiots will now move on to feigning outrage over whatever their masters have lined up next. Perhaps that Lancet "study" claiming 100, 000 dead in Iraq from the war.

So everyone can cease pretending to be experts in explosives, and stop banding about terms like "HDX" as if they have any idea what they are talking about.

Realism - "I think that if we hope to win the war on terrorism, or to put it in more modest terms, to ameliorate the problem, what we have to do is win hearts and minds in the Arab and Islamic world."
John Mearsheimer.

How profound.

The idea that replacing and reforming the brutal dictatorships in the Arab world might in some way help to win hearts and minds is appearently too complex for the self-styled "Realists" to grasp. No, what we need are conferences, summits, diplomacy. And John Kerry has shown us his mettle in these areas, has he not?

Posted by: flenser at October 30, 2004 04:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>Nitrostarch

Please. This hypothesis comes from here:

http://wizbangblog.com/archives/004107.php

in which the poster makes the huge leap that the number "239" scrawled on one of the barrels corresponds to some random "1991 Australian regulations" that list that number as Nitrostarch. If you actually look at the picture I think you would have to conclude that it's quite a leap from that scrawled number through some 1991 Australian document to Nitrostarch. The poster makes much of the fact that the barrels are labelled 1.1D explosives and Nitrostarch is a 1.1D explosive. Well, yeah, but, guess what --- HMX is also a 1.1D explosive.

Further, the IAEA took photographs of the barrels used to store the HMX --- and they match the video perfectly.

Let's get real, folks. A little more care in researching this stuff, please! I am always open to cogent arguments from the other side, but come on. "Nitrostarch"?

Posted by: Mitsu at October 30, 2004 06:09 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

OK, Let me see if I have this down in terms I can understand:

1) The President PERSONALLY bears responsibility for every action undetaken by our armed forces;

2) American troop commanders ONLY follow precribed routines and projections when they encounter unexpected, or even expected, but fluid, situations;

3) Every combat action is, therefore, well-defined before the shooting starts; and field leaders are given neither flexibility in tactics, nor responsibility for outcomes;

4) By this (non)logic, Lyndon Johnson should be exhumed, then impeached for allowing a Lieutenant in the Navy to gun down a wounded, fleeing enemy combatant in Viet Nam in early 1969. Not to mention that little mess at My Lai...

Posted by: pnraider at October 30, 2004 06:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I find all these postings especially interesting. It seems like the Kerry camp and his rabidly loyal supporters, and the violent thugs who storm Bush/Cheney headquarters and injure innocent people (no apology from the Kerry camp about those, by the way) are out of touch with reality or history, for that matter.

As for the slogan "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time", and that the iraq war is a "diversion" on the war on terror, strikes me as pathetically ignorant. Let's remember our history lessons, shall we?

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, we had to respond and enter the war. While I'm sure lots of people opposed it in the US, FDR made the decision anyway, because he could see the horriffic spectors rising in the distance if the Axis of Evil was not vanquished. Millions of people had already been slaughtered BEFORE we entered the war. FDR and Churchill recognized that Hitler was truly evil, and wanted to impose his own personal philosphy on the whole world. If millions died, so what?? He was intelligent, but insane. He also had many blind followers. Gee, sound familiar?? UBL anyone?

The first country the US invaded when they got into the war was not Germany or Japan, was it? Even though Japan technically was the one who bombed us. No, it was Morocco, because tactically, that was a foothold/launching pad for their future long range plans (years long plans, I might add).

Afghanistan and Iraq are footholds in the middle east, and are merely stepping stones to launch more strikes against terrorists. And if you think the war on terror is over when Iraq has elections, think again! There are lots of other terrorists out there who want to kill us and create another 9/11 or worse. However, there are some who are reading the tea leaves for the future, such as Quadaffi, who told the Italian Prime Minister " I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid." Now Libya is dismantling its WMD program. Hmm, do you think others might be next? I'll bet Syria and Iran are doing some thinking too, with 200,000 American soldiers breathing down their necks. North Korea's dictator is making noises about a summit, too.

Afghanistan had it's first free elections. Women are not being slaughtered in the streets anymore, they are voting instead! THe naysayers said it couldn't be done in Afghanistan either, but they were proved wrong again.

The point is that all this Monday morning quarterbacking by the liberals is ridiculous. Some of the things that have been said about the president in the war now would have been, in WW11, downright treasonous, especially during a time of war.

Wake up! War is not pretty! Mistakes happen!! People die! If we're lucky, not that many. Unfortunately War is nothing but chaos, occasionally controlled. Could any of you possibly be ignorant enough to think that there weren't mistakes or misjudgments in ANY of the wars of the past?? Do you think all war is civilized and orderly and neat and all goes according to plan? Then you don't have a clue about living in the real world.

Pick up a history book sometime. 20 MILLION russians were slaughtered in WW11.....6 MILLION Jews....how about all the US guys killed in the Normany invasion? I don't know the exact figure of US casualties in WW11, but I would guess at least 500,000. The Battle of Gettysburg claimed 50,000 soldiers in the span of a few DAYS, much of it hand to hand combat. And the newspapers are now shrieking about "quagmires" after a year and 1000 soldiers dead. How many YEARS did all those other wars take, hmmmm? After Germany fell, the Allied troops stayed there another 10 YEARS, mainly to fight the Nazi resistance (of which were many), who also tried many of the same terrorist tactics that are being used in Iraq. More troops were killed during that time. The point is that WAR is hell, and some of you need to realize that we ARE in WW111. Do you think the terrorists in 60 countries who are bent on killing america for some insane "religious" reason are just going to leave us alone?? That's what the appeasers in Europe and Britain thought about Hitler for many years, until it was almost too late, and Germany/Japan had control of much of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and were pounding the Britons into dust.

SO excuse me for thinking that a miniscule percentage of weapons might or might not be missing. I think we have more IMPORTANT things to worry about, like chemical, biological and those nuclear weapons suitcases that have never been found. If one of those goes off, you're going to feel pretty stupid, if you're still alive, that is.

And if you think for one minute that John Kerry will have the guts, fortitude and unbending resolve to handle this war, you are seriously deluded. Go back to his 20 years in the senate, and his votes to WEAKEN defense, WEAKEN intelligence; calling for a nuclear freeze. The man is an antiwar activist, for Pete's sake! A leopard does not change it's spots just because it runs for president. It may SAY it will, but it doesn't!

Posted by: ginny at October 30, 2004 06:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Christopher Hitchens (yes, in Slate he recently endorsed Kerry --- very weakly)"

It was Bush he endorsed, "slightly".

Posted by: steve at October 30, 2004 08:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

jcrue:

I've only been trying for the past week to get these guys to give me their operational plan for securing greater than 99.95% of high explosives in Iraq by D+14. If they can't answer such a simple question, what with their extensive training in ordnance disposal and their courses at the CGSC, why would they be able to answer yours?

Posted by: AT at October 30, 2004 09:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Excellent point...one I was going to bring up. Even more damning to the whole story is WHY the IAEA did not see that the HMX and RDX was NOT destroyed after our request in 1995 AND also the reason the IAEA left the high explosives at Al QaQaa well into 2003....That is because when the the explosives were mentioned to the Hussain regime, the Iraqi's asked that the explosive be left alone because of the numerous civilian uses for which the material could uses, i.e. civilian construction, quarrying and mining.

So we are led to believe that serious arms inspectors (IAEA) left potentially the most dangerous high explosives available....explosives that could trigger a nuclear device and one pound of which could bring down a single airplane because the Iraqi government wanted the opportunity to use the material (377 tons worth) to knock down buildings, mine minerals and quarry rock???

Posted by: Horsehead at October 30, 2004 12:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

That is the whole point Mitsu...therre are a number of high explosives that are list as 1.1D. So in a court of law this film would not be very damning evidence because NOONE is able to make the claim that the material being seen in the film is HMX. Are you accepting that it is on faith alone? or merely trying to defend what little argument you have left....oh by the way...the GPS position of the Minnesota News crew placed them 2-3 miles south of Al QaQaa.....not "IN" Al QaQaa!

Posted by: Horsehead at October 30, 2004 12:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I apologize to those who have noticed some cross-posting.

I appreciate all the spiritied responses. I wish I could take the time to respond to each point, but at the moment what follows will have to suffice.

Al Qaqaa is just the tip of the iceberg.

This "0.1%" business is utter nonsense, blatant deception, and stunning innumeracy. It's not just that 377 tons are missing due to utter incompetence. It's that 425,000 tons are missing due to utter incompetence.

Here's the central question I think is emerging. I think this question transcends any question about 377 tons of this or that: did we do a reasonable job, in general, of securing major weapons sites, or were we, in generable, grossly underprepared to manage that crucial task, resulting in a massive arms giveaway to our enemies?

To answer this question we need to attempt an overview of the arms situation, and we need to attempt an overview of the looting situation.

First, the arms situation. Recent WaPo has some helpful data (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A7418-2004Oct28.html).

How much was there when we got there? "U.S. military commanders estimated last fall that Iraqi military sites contained 650,000 to 1 million tons of explosives, artillery shells, aviation bombs and other ammunition." Let's split the difference and call that 825,000 tons.

Of that, how much have we captured? "The Bush administration cited official figures this week showing about 400,000 tons destroyed or in the process of being eliminated."

So how much is still out there? "That leaves the whereabouts of more than 250,000 tons unknown." Using the 825K figure above (for the total), I think it's reasonable to say the unknown category is 425K. In other words, the amount we've captured is roughly equal to the amount still missing.

Now let's consider what Rummy said recently: "By our count, we have destroyed over 240,000 tons of weapons. And we have captured another 160,000 for a total of over 400,000 … There are hundreds of weapons sites that exist in that country that we’ve either emptied or guarded ... the 380 tons ... mathematically is less than 1/10th of 1 percent of what you’re talking about 400,000 is as to 380 is less than 1/10th of 1 percent." (http://www.dod.gov/transcripts/2004/tr20041026-secdef1501.html)

Now what's that supposed to mean? Those figures (380/400,000=0.1%) are being mentioned very, very frequently by a variety of people. I think this is intended to suggest (and indeed I think many people are being fooled along these lines) that we've found 99.9% of what there is to find. Indeed, if that were true, making a fuss about the last 0.1% would be a case of whining.

Most people using those numbers (including Rummy) consistently fail to mention that there is still about 425,000 tons out there that we can't account for. In other words, our performance rate isn't 99.9%. It's more like 50%. The 0.1% figure that's being touted is virtually meaningless and simply intended to mislead. This is blatant innumeracy. The 377 missing tons are simply one example of the 425,000 tons that are still unaccounted for.

The logic of this is utterly basic, but the WaPo article is the only one I've seen that even bothers to mention that a quarter of a million (or more) tons are still missing (Now I notice a KR reporter who also gets it right: http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/10042037.htm). Virtually every other report conveys the misleading impression that only 377 tons are missing.

This is an outrageous distortion. Consider this example (which uses exactly the same ratios). Let's say that half the cars sold by GM were certain to burst into flames at random intervals. Let's say they sold 2000 cars. Let's say that one owner went to the newspaper and complained "my car is bursting into flames." Now imagine that GM lines up the owners of the 1000 cars that work and then proclaims "what a crybaby, he's only one in a thousand, why is he making a big deal; his situation is only 0.1% of the whole." Of course this is completely dishonest, because exactly half the picture is being concealed. But that's exactly what's happening now every time that "0.1%" figure is repeated.

Now let's consider the looting situation. Bremer's report indicates that as of 4/15/04, the level of "Machines Destruction and Looting" at Al Qaqaa was 85%. Is that an aberration? Apparently not. This memo lists 32 major military/industrial facilities, representing a total employment of almost 50,000 people, that suffered looting damage at an average level of roughly 73%.

Is this our only offical indication of looting? No. Senior figures in our ally, the new Iraqi government, have expressed dire concern about wholesale, widespread looting of military sites (http://www.turkishpress.com/news.asp?id=31993).

Anyway, the history of massive looting across the country is well-documented (WaPo 4/8/03, "Rampant Looting Sweeps Iraq," http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&contentId=A10475-2003Apr11¬Found=true/). So is Rummy's famous comment about ostensibly inevitable "untidiness."

So what does Rummy say now about looting? "U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he doubts hundreds of tons of Iraqi explosives were looted after U.S. forces invaded the nation ... 'We would have seen anything like that ... The idea that it was suddenly looted and moved out, all these tons of equipment, I think that is at least debatable.'" (http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20041029-104704-4552r.htm and http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/10042037.htm)

This is staggering. Then how did Al Qaqaa reach a status (by 4/15/04) of 85% looted? Or is Rummy saying Bremer is a liar? Also, if it's doubtful that "hundreds of tons of Iraqi explosives were looted after U.S. forces invaded the nation," then how did it come to pass that 425,000 tons of munitions are missing? It's not just that hundreds of "tons of Iraqi explosives were looted after U.S. forces invaded the nation." It's that almost half a million "tons of Iraqi explosives were looted after U.S. forces invaded the nation."

Hmm, let's see. 425,000 tons of munitions are missing. Bremer himself documents that Al Qaqaa and other major sites became (roughly) 73% looted, within the first twelve months. Am I the only one that thinks that perhaps these two facts are connected? Why is our government doing everything it can to obscure the fact that for every ton we've captured, there's another ton out there that we can't find (until it finds us, in the form of an IED or car bomb)? Why is our government doing everything it can to hide the fact that we failed to prevent rampant looting at major weapons sites?

Rummy often asserts that "in many instances Saddam Hussein took weapons out of weapons sites and put them in – we found them in hospitals, we found them in schools, we found them all across that country, buried in some instances" (ibid.). Without saying so directly, Rummy is trying to explain why we still can't find 425,000 tons. The implication here is that before we showed up, Saddam covertly (despite extensive satellite surveillance and scores of UN inspectors) took half his massive arsenal and hid it under someone's bed, and that's why we still can't find it. That's absurd. Aside from the fact that we would have noticed and screamed bloody murder, did Saddam trust his people enough to hand them half his munitions? I doubt it. It makes much more sense to understand that the reason we're currently finding ammo in all sorts of funny places is that the looters had to put it somewhere, after we let them steal it.

Here's the simple truth, as shown by the facts: after we chased his troops into the hills, we left Saddam's arsenals unguarded (simply because we were unprepared to do otherwise; we were counting on flowers and kisses). As a result, half that stuff is now in our hands, and the other half is in the hands of our enemies. Someone please show me why some other interpretation of the facts is more parsimonious than this one.

By the way, making a mistake like this is bad enough. But it's much, much worse to deny reality and avoid taking responsibility.

By the way, note that the best the Pentagon can do at this point is trot out someone (Pearson) who was there five days before ABC shot video of IAEA seals. Pearson admits he made no attempt to even look for (let alone remove) IAEA-sealed material.

Incidentally, this is the same moment we discover that not only is Bush a failure at hiring a competent Secretary of Defense, but he is also a failure at hiring competent Photoshop artists, and even the guy who tailors his shirts can't manage to avoid the Quasimodo effect.

It's also comforting to note this development: a crowd of Americans is asked to swear an oath of loyalty. Not to the flag, not to the country, not to the constitution, but to George Bush. Stunning.

Meanwhile, we find out that (as aptly put by WR Pitt) "Mr. Wanted-Dead-Or-Alive is still upright and breathing," and thanks Bush for continuing to read the goat story, so that the bad guys would have plenty of time to get their work done. Nice to know how our staunch CinC felt about all this: "... I don't know where he is ... I just don't spend that much time on him ... I truly am not that concerned about him."

One more thing. On 10/27/2000, a CNN poll gave Bush a 13-point lead.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at October 30, 2004 02:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You just don't get it, do you jukie.

"I wish I could take the time to respond to each point . . ."

But instead, you'll just ignore all the ones that have you squirming and will depart on an entirely new line of attack. Pretty soon you'll be arguing against yourself and calling it "nuance."

"This "0.1%" business is utter nonsense, blatant deception, and stunning innumeracy."

Wowzers, not just nonsense, deception, and innumeracy, but UTTER nonsense, BLATANT deception, and STUNNING innumeracy. Did you have to crack open the thesaurus for that one? The only innumerate one here seems to be you. See, 380/600,000 = 0.06%. 380/1,000,000 = 0.04%. Are you always off by a factor of two? One wonders how you managed 17 years as an artilleryman with that record.

"It's not just that 377 tons are missing due to utter incompetence. It's that 425,000 tons are missing due to utter incompetence."

Whoa, hold the presses! Where's the New York Times article claiming that HALF A MEGATON OF EXPLOSIVES WERE LOOTED??? HOLY FARKING CRAP!!! I mean, my good, it wasn't just a dozen semi trucks' worth of explosives that were looted, but 17,000 truck loads of the stuff! Our forces were so incompetent that Iraqi terrorists in the space of under a month organized and executed a logistical feat so great that it rivals in scale Overlord or Barbarossa! And all this with pickup trucks and shovels! Great horseradish Beelzebub, all 25,000,000 men, women, and children in the country each walked off with 30 pounds of explosives in their pockets and we didn't even notice! Well that's it, the entire US Army should just be court martialed and shot RIGHT NOW! I thought we were just worried about 380 tons of SCARY EVIL DEADLY high explosives that are basically NUCLEAR WEAPONS (minus plutonium, sophisticated electronics, and scientists and engineers), one pound of which can VAPORIZE ENTIRE AIRPLANES (more or less)! But I guess every bomb, shell, and stick of dynamite is just as important as HMX/RDX/PETN, so now EVERY PERSON IN THE COUNTRY can VAPORIZE 30 AIRPLANES!!! It's a wonder they haven't already taken over the entire world!

"Here's the central question I think is emerging. I think this question transcends any question about 377 tons of this or that: did we do a reasonable job, in general, of securing major weapons sites, or were we, in generable, grossly underprepared to manage that crucial task, resulting in a massive arms giveaway to our enemies?"

I don't know. You never answered my question. Obviously this question is meaningless without comparing it to some theoretical ideal, like making sure that 377 tons of explosives can't fall into enemy hands, meaning 99.95% of the explosives stock had to be secured within 21 days/14 days/30 seconds of the initiation of hostilities. What's the answer? Tell us! WHAT PERCENTAGE OF MUNITIONS IN IRAQ NEEDED TO BE SECURED? BY WHAT DATE? HOW MANY DIVISIONS WERE NECESSARY TO DO THIS? WHAT IS YOUR OPERATIONAL PLAN? Until you answer these questions, it's impossible to have any sort of serious discussion about whether or not there was any "utter incompetence."

"How much was there when we got there? 'U.S. military commanders estimated last fall that Iraqi military sites contained 650,000 to 1 million tons of explosives, artillery shells, aviation bombs and other ammunition.' Let's split the difference and call that 825,000 tons. Of that, how much have we captured? 'The Bush administration cited official figures this week showing about 400,000 tons destroyed or in the process of being eliminated.'

Why don't you know? You're accusing the Army and Marines of UTTER INCOMPETENCE in planning and operations, so don't you think you should have a damn good idea of exactly why, how, and to what extent they were utterly incompetent? How much if Iraq's munitions were consumed by the old Iraqi army during combat? What's your estimate? It's not that hard to figure out. Seriously, don't know know what the daily ammunition requirements are of a division in prepared defense? A corps in hasty defense? A brigade in a meeting engagement? Come up with your estimate of Iraqi ammunition consumption between, say, March 20 and April 30. That should help us. Your estimates should also help us figure out how much of the munitions are to be kept to supply the new Iraqi army. Just provide us with your projection of its eventual establishment strength, figure out how much ammunition it needs for, say, 30 days of combat, plus a reserve, and tell us. Mmmkay?

"So how much is still out there? 'That leaves the whereabouts of more than 250,000 tons unknown.' Using the 825K figure above (for the total), I think it's reasonable to say the unknown category is 425K. In other words, the amount we've captured is roughly equal to the amount still missing."

Except that you don't actually know that. "The Bush administration cited official figures this week showing about 400,000 tons destroyed or in the process of being eliminated." Now then, unless you have copies of the orders that all ammunition in the country be "destroyed" or "eliminated," and that not a single bullet should remain for, oh I don't know, the Iraqi army, you really don't know squat, do you? And let's not forget that the Army's estimate is only accurate to a factor of 2. Isn't that yet more evidence of UTTER INCOMPETENCE? Hey, maybe they're so UTTERLY INCOMPETENT that if 600,000 or 1,000,000 is all the same, maybe it was really only 300,000 and they've been blowing up their own ammunition for the past four months? How can we possibly trust anything that these so UTTERLY INCOMPETENT folks say?

"Most people using those numbers (including Rummy) consistently fail to mention that there is still about 425,000 tons out there that we can't account for. In other words, our performance rate isn't 99.9%. It's more like 50%. The 0.1% figure that's being touted is virtually meaningless and simply intended to mislead. This is blatant innumeracy. The 377 missing tons are simply one example of the 425,000 tons that are still unaccounted for."

But I thought we were concerned about SCARY DEADLY DANGEROUS EVIL NUCLEAR CONVENTIONAL HIGH EXPLOSIVES that the IAEA SEALED AND WARNED US ABOUT 291 TIMES that WE IGNORED OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Hmm, so then just securing the evil scary stuff wouldn't have been good enough for you. This yet again reinforces my original question: how much of Iraq's munitions needed to be secured? By what date? How many troops were needed? What is your operational plan for doing so, while also defeating the Iraqi army, securing important government buildings, oil fields, the Iraqi National Museum, preventing any and all civil disorder, and disarming the entire civilian population? Come on, I want to know! Hell, Tommy Franks wants to know, since your plan must obviously be better than anything any American general has come up with in the history of warfare.

"The logic of this is utterly basic, but the WaPo article is the only one I've seen that even bothers to mention that a quarter of a million (or more) tons are still missing (Now I notice a KR reporter who also gets it right: http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/10042037.htm). Virtually every other report conveys the misleading impression that only 377 tons are missing."

But I thought we were worried about this stuff in particular because it was EVIL DANGEROUS SCARY NUCLEAR PLANE-DESTROYING, IAEA-MONITORED EXPLOSIVES. Hmm? Make up your mind!

"This is an outrageous distortion."

You can clarify the issue very easily by answering my simple questions.

1. What is your requirement of the percentage of Iraqi munitions that needed to be secured to avoid the label of UTTER INCOMPETENCE?

2. By what date did this need to be done?

3. How many troops were needed to do this?

4. How would you rearrange the priorities of Operation Iraqi Freedom? What should they have been?

5. What should the operational plan have been? Provide one that is satisfactory for achieving all your goals.

"Now let's consider the looting situation. Bremer's report indicates that as of 4/15/04, the level of 'Machines Destruction and Looting' at Al Qaqaa was 85%. Is that an aberration? Apparently not. This memo lists 32 major military/industrial facilities, representing a total employment of almost 50,000 people, that suffered looting damage at an average level of roughly 73%."

Okay, so where's the column for "Explosives Looting?" You were Bremer's top aide, why didn't you put it on there? Or just tell us. But this, of course, confuses me even more. I thought the problem was that there are so many of hundreds of thousands of tons of explosives looted before our very eyes. Now you're back to complaining that certain important military-industrial facilities weren't secured immediately? My head is spinning.

"Anyway, the history of massive looting across the country is well-documented"

If it's so well documented, why doesn't it explain what happened to your 3,204 megatons of explosives? Don't you know this? Why didn't you bloody tell Rummy if you knew? Are you a traitor?

"So what does Rummy say now about looting? 'U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he doubts hundreds of tons of Iraqi explosives were looted after U.S. forces invaded the nation ... "We would have seen anything like that ... The idea that it was suddenly looted and moved out, all these tons of equipment, I think that is at least debatable."'"

Yeah, of course he's wrong. You've already proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that any rag-tag terrorist organization could have easily looted 17,000 semi truckloads of explosives because our security was so lax.

"This is staggering. Then how did Al Qaqaa reach a status (by 4/15/04) of 85% looted? Or is Rummy saying Bremer is a liar? Also, if it's doubtful that 'hundreds of tons of Iraqi explosives were looted after U.S. forces invaded the nation,' then how did it come to pass that 425,000 tons of munitions are missing? It's not just that hundreds of 'tons of Iraqi explosives were looted after U.S. forces invaded the nation.' It's that almost half a million 'tons of Iraqi explosives were looted after U.S. forces invaded the nation.'"

Like I said, you've already demonstrated how easy it was for Iraqi looters to steal those 4,239,302 trillion megatons of explosives. Sure, it would have taken Major Pearson's ammunition supply company, with its nine large, specialized cargo trucks almost 5 years to move all those explosives just 30 miles away, but clearly Iraqi looters could have done it.

Forget it. I'm not considering any more of this horseshit until you answer some questions.

1. What is your requirement of the percentage of Iraqi munitions that needed to be secured to avoid the label of UTTER INCOMPETENCE?

2. By what date did this need to be done?

3. How many troops were needed to do this?

4. How would you rearrange the priorities of Operation Iraqi Freedom? What should they have been?

5. What should the operational plan have been? Provide one that is satisfactory for achieving all your goals.

6. Maj. Pearson's ammunition supply company, with nine large tractor-trailers, forklifts, and a hundred guys, took a day to move 250 tons of munitions from Al Qaqaa to its base 30 miles away. You say 425,000 tons of explosives were looted. Maj. Pierson's company would have needed almost five years to do the same task. How did the Iraqis do it?

Put up or shut up.

Posted by: AT at October 30, 2004 03:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Times has their big rowback piece on Saturday, p. A12. Not quite as prominent as the Monday front-pager, but there it is.

Posted by: Tom Maguire at October 30, 2004 04:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>It was Bush he endorsed, "slightly"

Yes, he did write a slight Bush endorsement in the Nation, but in Slate, at least according to the article, he switches and endorses Kerry. It was quite a shocker to me. You can read it here:

http://www.slate.com/id/2108714/

It's not much of an endorsement as endorsements go ... but there it is.

>NOONE is able to make the claim

The IAEA, David Kay, and a number of other people confirm that the only explosives stored in barrels like that at Al Qaqaa were HMX and RDX. The IAEA has photographs of barrels that look precisely the same as those in the video. David Kay himself confirmed that those barrels appear to be exactly the same as the barrels that contained the HMX and RDX. How much more evidence do you need?

>GPS

Yes, they were a couple miles south of Al Qaqaa, but they drove north a couple miles to get to the facility they filmed.

Posted by: Mitsu at October 30, 2004 05:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>NOONE is able to make the claim

The IAEA, David Kay, and a number of other people confirm that the only explosives stored in barrels like that at Al Qaqaa were HMX and RDX. The IAEA has photographs of barrels that look precisely the same as those in the video. David Kay himself confirmed that those barrels appear to be exactly the same as the barrels that contained the HMX and RDX. How much more evidence do you need?>

Thanks for taking my statement out of context...I DIDN'T say "NOONE could make the claim", I said NOONE could make the claim that could stand up in court. It would be a case of countering experts and I don't think the evidence is there for EITHER to win....yet.

Posted by: Horsehead at October 30, 2004 11:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bottom line: the NYT's non-story failed to change anyone's opinion of the Bush admin.

Nice try, Pinch. But you'll have to wait until 2008.

Posted by: lex at October 31, 2004 04:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Back-up the truck.

There is a tremendous volume of baseless speculation going on here.

[Quote]

Even had we gone in with sufficient numbers of troops (the army wanted several hundred thousand, and we only went in with 140,000) we still probably couldn't have secured every weapons depot, but we sure as hell could have done a better job of it and secured these sites. Consider this: it's not only that we didn't secure those sites in the first days of the war --- we didn't secure them for months and months, and not just this site, but many others. And now the insurgents have those weapons.

This is not just my opinion.

[/Quote]

1. On what basis do you claim that the Army requested "several hundred thousand" troops? Please identify the verifiable source of that claim and quantify a bit more precisely the number of troops requested.

2. And on what basis do you claim that such a request, if made, was part of an assessment of the forces needed to secure and inspect "these sites" (i.e. those at Al Quaquaa) during the first days of the war?

3. On what basis do you claim that our forces did not secure "those sites" for months and months? And could that claim be quatified more precisely in terms of both number of sites unsecured and length of time in days, weeks, or months?

4. Please quantify more precisely, using verifiable sources, "many others" (weapons depots), that were comprimised by the enemy, if every, and please be more specific about the type and quantity of weapons now in the hands of the enemy.

Suppose the UN Inspectors had a list of weapons depots worth securing. Why would that list take top priority over the other things that were being done by Coaltion forces in the openning days and subsequent few months? What portion of the total munitions that have in fact been found were on the UN's list?

If the Coaltion forces had taken the UN's list and slowly went one depot at a time, how many troops would have been needed? How much time? Do you really think that this list was the highest priority on the ground?

If yes, then, please list the second, third, fourth, and fifth priorities at the start of the Iraq campaign. How recently did you come to such a list of priorities? Kerry appears to not have given much thought, or word, to planning such a list -- not until the latter stages of this presidential race -- if at all.

For those who claim to have predicted the occupation would be a disaster, please link to your predictions. And to your plan for securing weapons depots -- both those listed by the UN and those the Coaliton forces would discover unpredictably. Also, point to your plan for deploying a specific quantity of troops to perform the specific task of inspecting weapons depots.

Presumably your pre-war plan can be compared with the efforts of the Coaliton forces and your wisdom will be demonstrated. I doubt you'll find that Kerry had given any of this very much thought until his very, very recent attempt to craft a message in sync with the NYT and CBS. That's where the real planning, such as it is, has taken place among the Kerry defenders.

Posted by: Where's The Beef/ at October 31, 2004 05:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yadda yadda yadda. This one's over. Bush by at least 5, probably 6, in the popular vote; at least 290, probably 300, electoral votes.

The polls are BS. They fail to capture the most likely voters of all: busy professionals who never answer their home phones. By trying to adjust their poll samples acc to party registration figures, Zogby et al compound the original sampling error. It's precisely the unreachable-except-by-cell, well-educated, affluent voters who are likely to break from the Dem party and vote for Bush. Quietly, very quietly, of course. Like those Closet Arnold voters in liberal California.

Ain't gonna be close, folks.

Posted by: lex at October 31, 2004 05:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As of the 30th, there is no proof that a single pound of high explosive was ever secreted away after our invasion. Yet this is Kerry's last big campaign claim on the eve of the election? When exactly is it that he is going to start telling only the truth to the American public? Next Wednesday, one hopes, without any real hope.


Posted by: Archer Burke at October 31, 2004 06:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Beefy: "3. On what basis do you claim that our forces did not secure "those sites" for months and months? And could that claim be quatified more precisely in terms of both number of sites unsecured and length of time in days, weeks, or months?"

Bremer's memo indicates 32 military/industrial sites (including Al Qaqaa), representing total employment of about 50,000 people, that were looted to a level of roughly 73%.

As far as how long they were unsecured, I think the answer is "long enough for them to be so thoroughly ransacked that securing them subsequently became completely pointless."

Also, seven nuclear sites were ransacked. This has been known for more than a year.

Also, the major chemical weapons site was ransacked.

Do you know of any major weapons site that wasn't ransacked? I don't.

"4. Please quantify more precisely, using verifiable sources, "many others" (weapons depots), that were comprimised by the enemy, if every, and please be more specific about the type and quantity of weapons now in the hands of the enemy."

I consider Bremer a "verifiable source." Do you? As far as what is currently in unfriendly hands, the problem is we don't know, because we politely let them find the stuff before we did. We even thoughtfully applied some bolt-cutters so they could leave their own at home.

The best we can do is estimate, though, based on the widely-accepted understanding that there was at least 650,000 tons of conventional munitions when we showed up. We've supposedly accounted for 400,000. Where are the other 250,000 tons (at least)? I think we're finding it (or, rather, it's finding us), one IED and car bomb at a time.

"Suppose the UN Inspectors had a list of weapons depots worth securing."

We don't have to suppose. They did. They gave it to us. We ignored it. We trusted Chalabi instead. Remember him? He told us Al Qaqaa was no big deal. The result? Our troops now call the town next to Al Qaqaa "the IED capital of Iraq."

I realize your theory of how it got that way is that after the Russians took all this stuff, they Fedexed it to Dan Rather who then worked out a deal with Kerry to smuggle it all back inside Iraq inside a giant surfboard.

"Why would that list take top priority over the other things that were being done by Coaltion forces in the openning days and subsequent few months?"

You mean like protecting the Oil Ministry?

Because if we didn't give that list top priority it would come back to haunt us. Exhibit A: 8 Marines just died in a car bombing.

"What portion of the total munitions that have in fact been found were on the UN's list?"

The UN list focused special attention on special items, especially dual-use machines and substances. Because we largely ignored the UN warnings, large amounts of that stuff is missing.

The UN did not particularly concern itself with warning us about conventional items. We didn't need the UN to tell us that Al Qaqaa had a huge amount of garden-variety shells. But we left it unguarded anyway.

"If the Coaltion forces had taken the UN's list and slowly went one depot at a time, how many troops would have been needed?

More than we had, that's for sure. But if we weren't prepared to do the job properly, we should have figured that out before we dove headfirst into the manure pile.

"Do you really think that this list was the highest priority on the ground?"

Obviously it wasn't. But it seems like it wasn't even the lowest priority. It seems like it wasn't even on the list. That's the problem.

"If yes, then, please list the second, third, fourth, and fifth priorities at the start of the Iraq campaign."

As I said elsewhere, Franks announced his priorities. He said disarmament was number 2, right after regime change. Protecting oil wells was number 7. Too bad he switched the 2 and the 7 when we weren't looking. Shame on us if we let him get away with this.

Archer: "As of the 30th, there is no proof that a single pound of high explosive was ever secreted away after our invasion"

Kay says the stuff in the video is HMX. Tell us what you know that he doesn't.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at October 31, 2004 10:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

AT,

I said: "This was a known major weapons site, with high potential for hidden WMD."

You said: "That's why our guys checked in, didn't find any chemical or biological or nuclear weapons, then downgraded the site's importance"

We're all well aware that they didn't find any WMD, but did they actually look? "Checked in," indeed. This place has 1100 buildings. 5000 people used to work there. It's the size of a small city. No proper search of Al Qaqaa happened until ISG showed up in May. Please point me to information indicating otherwise. The scary part is this: at that time we didn't know that no WMD would be found at Al Qaqaa. Nevertheless, we didn't thoroughly search it until May, and we left it unguarded in the interim. Why?

"So you wanted a division to stick around this massive site for days or weeks to do a thorough search before the end of hostilities?"

If we were going to wait until the "end of hostilities," we'd clearly still be waiting. Anyway, let's assume we couldn't spare a division. Then how about one Pinkertons guard? How about a Boy Scout with a BB gun? Please refer me to information indicating that Al Qaqaa or any other major weapons site was ever secured by even a token contingent of troops. Bremer's memo (describing massive looting) indicates otherwise.

"Machine tools can be 'nuke-related.' Copper wire can be 'nuke-related.'"

Negroponte didn't go to the Senate and try to scare us by claiming Saddam was going to use machine tools and copper wire to build nukes. Negroponte went to the Senate and tried to scare us by mentioning HMX, though. Our govermenment is trying to have it both ways (HMX is scary only when it's politically useful to describe it that way) and so are you.

"Didn't one of those reports you've been whining about say that road access to the site was very difficult?"

If that was a sufficient barrier to looting, how is it that the site (within 12 months) became 85% looted? Or is Bremer a liar?

"we were concerned about chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, not ordinary military high explosives"

In other words, we were putting so much energy into looking for the stuff that wasn't there, that we couldn't be bothered to provide proper security for hundreds of thousands of tons of munitions that were there? Also, if we were so concerned about nuclear weapons, how did it happen that seven nuclear sites were thoroughly looted? If we were so concerned about chemical weapons, how is it that the country's biggest chemical weapons site was thoroughly looted?

"you've still not yet explained why you're so certain this stuff was not moved before March 24 or March 17"

According to David Kay, videotape dated 4/18 shows HMX, and an IAEA seal. There's more evidence than that, but that's more than enough for me. Anyway, the overarching point is that even if the stuff wasn't there, even if the stuff never existed, there's no excuse for the fact that we didn't bother to check, and we didn't bother to secure the joint.

"An artillery shell has explosive packaged in a usable form with a detonator and is much more readily convertible to an improvised bomb. Please, enlighten us and tell us why this stuff is so dangerous..."

Kay calls this stuff "superb explosives for terrorists." Please advise my how your credentials dwarf his.

"... since none of the terrorist in Iraq have actually used it against us."

Proof, please.

"You could prove me wrong by cataloging the number of attacks against American or Iraqi government forces using RDX, HXM, or PETN."

Consider your self proven wrong: "Insurgents targeting coalition forces in Iraq have made widespread use of plastic explosives in a bloody spate of car bomb attacks." (http://www.startribune.com/stories/722/5049882.html)

Like the attack yesterday that killed 8 Marines, for example.

Incidentally, I'm glad you understand that looted artillery shells are a hazard to us. When Bremer tells us that Al Qaqaa is 85% looted, do you have some reason to believe that a vast number of artillery shells weren't taken from this place?

Along those lines, I notice you've completely ignored this: "The streets around Latifiyah [adjacent to Al Qaqaa] have become so laced with ... IEDs - that military officials here call it the 'IED capital of Iraq.' ... The insurgents probably are using weapons and ammunition looted from the nearby Qa-Qaa complex ..., said Maj. Brian Neil, operations officer for the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment ... 'Right now, Latifiyah is more dangerous than Fallujah,' said Sgt. Devon Hawkins, another platoon sergeant with the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines. 'Every day we have an IED. Everyday someone who is seen working with Americans gets killed here. It's complete lawlessness' ... The facility was bombed during last year's invasion and then left unguarded, Neil said. 'There's definitely no shortage of weapons around here,' he said."

You said, "From any terrorist's point of view, they are at best no more useful than any of the other 600,000 to 1,000,000 tons of high explosives loose in the country. Of course you should know this, since you're a military demolitions expert"

For someone with an exceptionally condescending attitude, you sure are doing a good job of making a fool of yourself. Who ever said there were "600,000 to 1,000,000 tons of high explosives loose in the country?" Those figures are for total munitions, not explosives, and certainly not high explosives. Let me know if you'd like a short tutorial on the difference between "munition" and "explosive." Also, most people are giving Rummy the benefit of the doubt (although I'm not sure we should) when he claims that 400,000 tons of munitions have been captured, so where do you get "loose in the country?"

Anyway, as I said, please explain how it is that you know more than Kay. Also, I don't recall any cases of a terrorist putting an artillery shell in his carry-on luggage. Or using a shell to make a shoe bomb. C4 (derived from the HE we're discussing) is preferred for that sort of thing. Incidentally, RDX was used bring down two Russian airliners not long ago.

"Where's the New York Times article claiming that HALF A MEGATON OF EXPLOSIVES WERE LOOTED?"

You have a habit of exagerrating and misquoting. If you keep doing that, I'll ignore you. Likewise if the only tone you have available is hysterical ranting. Likewise regarding your gratuituous use of profanity and sarcasm.

I didn't say "looted." I said "missing." What percent of the missing material has been looted? I don't know, but it's probably a number greater than zero.

Also, I didn't say 425,000 tons of _explosives_ are missing. I said 425,000 tons are missing. Tons of what? That's the trouble, we don't know. Rummy has no trouble comparing the 377 tons of _explosives_ that are missing, with the 400,000 tons of _munitions_ that he's allegedly captured, as if munitions=explosives, and as if it's fair to avoid mentioning all the stuff (munitions _and_ explosives) that's still missing. That's very misleading, but he doesn't mind doing that. That misleading and incomplete comparison is at the heart of the equation he tosses around (380/400,000=0.1%).

I realize most of that is probably over your head because you also think that "munition" and "explosive" are interchangeable terminology. In Rummy's case, I'm sure he knows the difference and is just being intentionally disingenuous. In your case, I'm not so sure.

I said: "Also, we had the country under constant satellite surveillance. 40 big trucks are hard to miss."

You said: "Of course, you would know, what with your 20 years at the NRO."

This is one example (of many) of how you resort to gratuitous sarcasm as a way to avoid dealing with a factual challenge. I don't have time for that. This is your last warning.

With regard to your questions about what my expectations are: the way I evaluate the job the President is doing is no different, fundamentally, from the way I evaluate anyone else who works for me. Call it the ABC approach.

A) Did you get the job done? How were the results?

B) If the results were questionable, was it mostly because of factors out of your control, or did you also contribute to failure by making serious mistakes?

C) If you made serious mistakes, are you owning them and learning, or are you stuck in denial?

Bush fails on all three. Fired.

"1. What is your requirement of the percentage of Iraqi munitions that needed to be secured to avoid the label of UTTER INCOMPETENCE?"

Your question implies that you're only taking into account my point A above. I think B and C are just as important. In other words, it's not just that roughly 50% of Saddam's arsenal is currently still unsecured (18 months after our CinC pulled his "Mission Accomplished" flyboy-with-a-codpiece photo op). What's even more offensive to me it that it looks like we simply weren't paying attention.

I've heard no one even attempt to explain why we had 50 tanks surrounding a building full of desks and file cabinets (the Oil MInistry), at the same moment we had zero tanks surrounding the largest weapons site in the country. Do you think it might have something to do with the fact that Cheney and Bush have a lot of experience in the oil business, and no experience in war?

I've heard no one even attempt to explain why it is that when Pearson went over there on 4/13 and moved 250 tons of something, that he hadn't been advised to stroll over to the HMX bunkers just to glance at those seals, to make sure that HMX was still safe and sound. As far as I can tell, the first time any Americans paid any attention at all to those bunkers is when a couple of guys from the 101st went on a joyride with a couple of reporters and decided they needed some shade, so the bolt-cutters came in handy. And they didn't even shut the door when they left. As far as I can tell, no Americans checked on those bunkers again until May (5/27, I think), when ISG showed up. And found empty bunkers. They sure weren't empty on 4/18.

Some things, like completely securing all weapons in Iraq, are hard or impossible to do. But no one is expecting that. The stupendous shock is that even the most basic, easy things weren't even attempted.

So now all sorts of conventional weapons are missing, high-explosives are missing, nuclear-related equipment and materials are missing, old chemical weapons are missing, and live stocks of HIV and black fever virus are missing. Nice results for $200 billion and 1100 lives. Sooner or later, a lot of that missing stuff is bound to show up again, and probably not in ways that will please us. Some of it maybe showed up yesterday (Saturday) when a suicide car bomb blew up 8 Marines.

"2. By what date did this need to be done?"

It needed to be done when we showed up. In other words, when we booted out the UN, and then chased Saddam's troops out of these major weapons sites, this stuff became our responsibility. We needed to leave someone there (either us or trusted locals, or some combination) to secure these locations. We didn't do that. We were unprepared to do that. That was a major error with regard to post-war planning.

"3. How many troops were needed to do this?"

It's not my job to know that. It's the job of the CinC and his brass to know that. My job is to evaluate the outcome, using the ABC approach I described above. I've done that, and on Tuesday I'll act accordingly.

Some jobs should either be done right or not at all. If we didn't have enough troops, that problem needed to be solved before we fired the first shot. And now that's it's pretty clear to almost everyone that a larger force was needed, Bush is trying to blame that problem on his brass (not unlike Guiliani and Kristol saying it's the troops fault that weapons sites weren't secured). I think that's disgraceful.

By the way, I don't appreciate your similarly sleazy effort to suggest that I'm blaming the troops, too. I'm not.

"4. How would you rearrange the priorities of Operation Iraqi Freedom? What should they have been?"

I don't necessarily have a problem with the priorities as they were described up-front. Your hero Franks said his highest priority (second only to regime change) was to secure Saddam's arsenal. Securing the oil industry was way down on his list, number seven. But he sent 50 tanks to encircle the Oil Ministry, and zero tanks to encircle Al Qaqaa (as far as I can tell), and likewise for other major weapons sites. In other words, as far I can tell he lied to me. I never rehire someone who lies to me.

"5. What should the operational plan have been? Provide one that is satisfactory for achieving all your goals."

It's never possible to achieve "all your goals." But it's crucial to distinguish between what's more important and what's less important. I think there was a failure to do that. I think it's also important to distinguish between things that are hard to accomplish and things that are easy to accomplish. In other words, there's no excuse for missing low-hanging fruit. Checking up on those HMX bunkers did not require excessive manpower, courage, or intelligence. Since troops were on-site anyway (and had time to go on joy-rides with reporters), all it required was one guy with a jeep, an IAEA map, and an hour or two. It was a no-brainer. When an employee can't even handle the no-brainers, that's a big red flag. By the way, the employee who dropped the ball is not those boots over there. It's the guy who needs to be sent home so he can spend the next few years clearing brush. If he messes that up, it won't harm so many people.

"6. Maj. Pearson's ammunition supply company, with nine large tractor-trailers, forklifts, and a hundred guys, took a day to move 250 tons of munitions from Al Qaqaa to its base 30 miles away. You say 425,000 tons of explosives were looted. Maj. Pierson's company would have needed almost five years to do the same task. How did the Iraqis do it?"

Again, I didn't say "425,000 tons of explosives were looted." I said 425,000 tons of munitions are missing. Those distinctions are important. If you don't start paying attention to my words I will stop paying attention to yours.

Anyway, consider this. When we showed up, Saddam's army was roughly 400,000 men. What happened when Saddam fell? We fired these guys. Some people think that wasn't such a smart move. Suddenly here are all these unemployed guys with families to feed. And guess what, these guys know a lot about where weapons are stored.

Let's use your numbers (100 guys moved 250 tons in a day). That's 2.5 tons per man/day. Let's say 10% of Saddam's former troops decided to go to work as looters (keep in mind there were also millions of other people suddenly looking for work). At that rate, how long would it take 40,000 guys to move 425,000 tons of munitions? Answer: about 4 days. Did they have that much time? You bet. Looting was rampant all over the country for months, at least. Probably the only thing that slowed it down was when there was nothing left to loot.

Anyway, probably lots of the looters were people who worked in these places. Al Qaqaa used to have 5,000 employees. When we showed up, they sudddenly stopped receiving a paycheck. What makes you think they wouldn't want to go back into the factory/warehouse and come up with a new way to put bread on the table? Also keep in mind they are exactly the folks who knew where all the good stuff was. They wouldn't even have to use bolt-cutters, like we did. These are the folks with the keys.

As far as "nine large, specialized cargo trucks ... [and] forklifts," consider this. Remember that Pentagon photo showing a couple of big trucks? Guess what. Iraq has big trucks. What do you think the employees at Al Qaqaa were using to move stuff around before we got there, wheelbarrows? When all that stuff got loaded into those bunkers, do you think they were hauling it with oxcarts? Not only did the guys who used to work there know where the good stuff was stored, and knew where the boss kept the keys, they were also the guys who used to make a living driving around in trucks and forklifts (until they lost their jobs, thanks to us).

Maybe you think we would have noticed, and intervened. We should have, but there isn't a shred of evidence that we ever did, anywhere in the country, to prevent looting (with certain exceptions that aligned with Bush's interests, like oil wells).

Anyway, let's say they didn't use heavy equipment for looting. I've shown (using your numbers re Pearson) that 10% of Saddam's army (now unemployed and with nothing better to do) could have moved half of Saddam's arsenal in about 4 days, using heavy equipment. But let's say they were shy, and decided to do the job with small vehicles, at night. I'll make a rough guess that the job would take 40 days, instead of 4 days. Did they have 40 days? As far as I can tell, yes. As far as I can tell, they had a year or more. As far as I can tell, it's still happening today.

Anyway, your point is "I don't see how it's possible, therefore I don't believe it happened." Well, I've shown you how it's possible. But even if we don't know how it was possible, the fact remains that it happened ("it" meaning massive looting of military installations). There's ample proof of this, including Bremer's memo.

By the way, there's no reason to assume the looting was done by a "rag-tag terrorist organization." As I said, it was probably done, to a great extent, by the guys who worked there. They had all the resources to go straight to where the good stuff was and grab it. They had all sorts of motivations: anger at Saddam, anger at us, a desire to make a few bucks, a pressing need to feed their kids. Sure, the stuff eventually got sold to all sorts of "rag-tag terrorist organizations." But OBL didn't have to drive into Al Qaqaa himself.

People with hungry kids are really clever at figuring out ways to make some money. Consider the economics. If a couple of guys with a pickup could drive into Al Qaqaa and haul away a few hundreds pounds of stuff, how much could they get for it? Maybe a decent amount. Maybe a huge amount, in fact, if they got there in a hurry and took the good stuff before someone else did. Were we providing a more attractive work opportunity, now that large masses of people didn't have a job anymore? I don't think so.

"Now you're back to complaining that certain important military-industrial facilities weren't secured immediately?"

The weasel-words in that sentence are "certain" and "immediately." It's not just that "certain" facilities were looted. It's that apparently _every_ major facility has been looted. And it's not that we didn't provide security "immediately." It's that we apparently didn't provide security _at all_, _ever_. It seems pretty clear that the only thing that eventually slowed down the looting is that there was nothing left to loot.

"The only innumerate one here seems to be you. See, 380/600,000 = 0.06%. 380/1,000,000 = 0.04%. Are you always off by a factor of two?"

You're babbling incoherently. I made clear that I was referring to this equation: 380/400,000=0.1%, because these are the numbers being thrown around by Rummy and his ilk. I didn't construct that equation, they did. I pointed out that it's a way to use numbers to mislead. How does that make me "innumerate?" And where do your irrelevant equations come in?

I've tried my best to answer your questions. Here are some for you.

1) Do you believe Bremer's memo indicating that Al Qaqaa was 85% looted? Is this OK with you? Do you think it was a wise choice to put 50 tanks around the Oil MInistry and zero tanks around Al Qaqaa, seven nuke-related sites, and Iraq's major chemical-weapons site, all places that have now been thoroughly ransacked?

2) You haven't addressed (at least not in a way I can comprehend) one of my main points, that Rummy's equation (380/400,000=0.1%) is duplicitous nonsense. Would you please do so?

3) Please explain why Pearson wasn't instructed to check and see if the HMX that was supposed to be there was actually there. Should he have been advised to do that? Why didn't it happen? (This question also applies to the other unit that preceded his unit.) It's not as if he had to go far out of his way. And he had a hundred guys. He could have spared one for an hour or two. Also, why was the place unguarded when he showed up, and why was it unguarded when he left? Does that look proper to you?

4) Do you have any evidence indicating that _any_ major weapons site was _ever_ properly secured and protected from looting? Note that your belief that this _should_ have happened and _must_ have happened does not constitute proof that it actually _did_ happen. And there is a pile of contrary evidence, such as Bremer's memo.

5) ISG knew, no later than 5/27, that the stuff was missing. Why is our government acting like it just found out? Why is the investigation just starting now, and not 18 months ago?

You've sidestepped many other aspects of what I've posted, but for now let's leave it at that.

"Put up or shut up"

Your turn.

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at October 31, 2004 10:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>Yet this is Kerry's last big campaign claim on the eve of the election? When exactly is it that he is going to start telling only the truth to the American public? Next Wednesday, one hopes, without any real hope.


Not even then! Regardless of the voting, Kerry intends on claim victory about 9PM Tuesday night and since he is already selecting his cabinet, I believe he intends to start governing on Wednesday and not even wait for the Inaugeration. All the while waiting for his teams of ambuance chasing lawyers to try to pull the thing out in the courts...

Sounds like a coup d'etat to me.

Posted by: Horsehead at October 31, 2004 11:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The misrepresentations of jukeboxgrad are not worth the effort. They self-implode anyway. Whatever bits of valid info this particular person might provide, or useful opinion offered, are lost in the flood of spinning shite that is piled on and on and on.

For my part, and FWIW, the comments of this person are not worth the consideration and will be skipped as an irrelevant waste of bandwidth.

Posted by: Where's The Beef? at October 31, 2004 09:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Nice to see how you cut and run when confronted with facts. You're in good company, right up to the very top.

"The misrepresentations of jukeboxgrad..."

Prove it. In the immortal words of your pal AT (who has suddenly gone curiously silent), "put up or shut up."

Posted by: jukeboxgrad at November 1, 2004 04:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

2363 http://www.e-online-poker.info
online poker

Posted by: online poker at November 5, 2004 03:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

4000 http://www.top-online-poker.info
poker online

Posted by: poker online at November 6, 2004 08:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

7024 online poker
http://online-poker.ownsthis.com

Posted by: online poker at November 6, 2004 10:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

1818 http://www.real-online-poker.net

poker online

Posted by: online poker at November 8, 2004 03:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

5931 count sheep or use ambien for your
sleeping pill needs. Cialis and Adipex also
Butalbital and Tramadol and
Soma and Direct tv

Posted by: ambien at November 9, 2004 10:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

7400 lose weight with phentermine the best diet pills available online
523853 phentermine
255288 purchase phentermine
30709 phentermine prescription
26102 cheap phentermine
25858 phentermine online
20805 phentermine diet pill
19940 order phentermine
19329 buy phentermine online
18588 buy phentermine
6196 phentermine 37.5
4703 phentermine side effects
4234 cheapest phentermine
2552 phentermine cod
2425 discount phentermine
2194 phentermine information
1963 phentermine adipex
1640 phentermine free shipping
1562 phentermine pharmacy
1442 phentermine on line
1431 phentermine sale
1399 phentermine hcl
1390 order phentermine online
1215 buy cheap phentermine
1119 phentermine forum
988 lowest price phentermine
907 cheap phentermine free shipping
905 no prescription phentermine
888 phentermine online pharmacy
864 phentermine overnight
775 experience phentermine
755 phentermine pill
753 phentermine hydrochloride
750 cheap phentermine online
724 phentermine weight loss
688 phentermine 37.5mg
688 phentermine diet
678 generic phentermine
640 phentermine 37.5 mg
590 cheapest phentermine online
556 phentermine price
455 phentermine florida
446 cheap phentermine diet pill
445 phentermine yellow
432 low price phentermine
419 buy line phentermine
408 compare phentermine price
403 phentermine ingredient
399 phentermine saturday delivery
383 phentermine prescription online
364 buy cheap phentermine online
350 phentermine phentermine
343 cheap phentermine cod
339 phentermine crohns
325 phentermine success story
318 best price phentermine
308 phentermine canada
304 phentermine next day
299 low cost phentermine
297 phentermine 30mg
289 phentermine and pregnancy
286 phentermine review
273 phentermine health risk
266 buy phentermine cod
262 phentermine info
260 how does phentermine work
252 purchase phentermine online
250 phentermine blue
246 phentermine effects
242 fact about phentermine
240 cheapest and prices and for and phentermine
238 phentermine 37.5 free shipping
235 phentermine 99
227 phentermine 15mg
223 phentermine tablet
219 cheap phentermine 37.5
217 phentermine drug
215 phentermine weight loss pill
211 phentermine prozac
210 compare phenermine
210 pay pal phentermine
207 free phentermine
207 phentermine rx
202 wholesale phentermine
193 phentermine risk
188 phentermine result
187 phentermine mexico
180 cod order phentermine
178 phentermine addiction
176 diet loss phentermine pill weight
174 buy phentermine diet pill
172 phentermine price comparison
171 phentermine 90

Posted by: phentermine at November 10, 2004 12:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

7277 http://www.all-texas-holdem.info
texas holdem poker

Posted by: texas holdem poker at November 12, 2004 04:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

6111 http://www.all-texas-holdem.info
texas holdem poker

Posted by: texas holdem at November 12, 2004 11:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

8150 http://www.top-texas-holdem.com
texas holdem
texas holdem

Posted by: texas holdem at November 13, 2004 09:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

1987 count sheep or use ambien for your
sleeping pill needs.

Posted by: ambien at November 14, 2004 07:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

4379 http://www.texas-holdem-play.net
play texas holdem

texas holdem

online poker

Posted by: play texas holdem at November 15, 2004 05:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
Reviews of Belgravia Dispatch
"Awake"
--New York Times
"Must-read list"
--Washington Times
"Always Thoughtful"
--Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit
"Pompous Ass"
--an anonymous blogospheric commenter
Recent Entries
Search
English Language Media
Foreign Affairs Commentariat
Non-English Language Press
U.S. Blogs
Western Europe
France
United Kingdom
Germany
Italy
Netherlands
Spain
Central and Eastern Europe
CIS/FSU
Russia
Armenia
East Asia
China
Japan
South Korea
Middle East
Egypt
Israel
Lebanon
Syria
Columnists
Think Tanks
Security
Books
B.D. In the Press
Archives
Categories
Syndicate this site:
XML RSS RDF

G2E

Powered by