The Nelson Report, via Josh Marshall, reports that in April 2003, 350 tons of extremely high explosives were looted from a site in Iraq that had been secured by the IAEA prior to the invasion. This has only come out now because the administration kept it secret and pressured Iraq not to disclose the fact that the explosives had been taken to the IAEA. The particular kinds of explosives are apparently the ones used to trigger nuclear weapons: "several highly informed sources were careful to hint, the “implications” of RDX and HMX, singly, and in combination, “are also an extremely serious issue, which is why they were under IAEA-seal”. One expert pointedly added, “and that’s all I can say on that, even on background.”"
Moreover, "administration officials privately admit this material is likely a primary source of the lethal car bomb attacks which cause so many US and Iraqi casualties. (...) A highly informed official offered the assessment that, “this is the stuff the bad guys have been using to kill our troops, so you can’t ignore the political implications of this, and you would be correct to suspect that politics, or the fear of politics, played a major role in delaying the release of this information.”" Also: "experts were reluctant to say exactly how much of this stuff it takes for a successful road side bomb, for example, but the guesstimates were “a few pounds, at most.” In other words, “with 350 tons out there, the bombing can go on for years...”"
Who took the explosives, and what has happened to them? "Our sources were unanimous in thinking that for reasons noted below, “it’s still in Iraq, and this is the most likely primary source of the explosives which have been used to blow up Humvees and in all the deadly car bomb attacks since the Occupation began.” Sources also discount any possibility except that “this was a highly organized operation using heavy equipment, and it was done right under our noses.”"
Read the rest at Talking Points Memo.
Since this was an IAEA site, its location, and what was there, was known to us before we invaded. What, exactly, were our troops doing that was more important than making sure terrorists didn't make off with 350 tons of very high explosives that can be used either to trigger a nuclear weapon or to kill our troops? I honestly can't think of any way at all that we could have let this happen. If it had been one guy sneaking in and making off with a document, maybe, but I would have thought that it would be impossible for people using heavy equipment to make off with 350 tons of stuff had we been making any serious effort to secure this site. So why didn't we? What could we possibly have been thinking?
And is there any point at which those of you who support Bush will conclude that his administration has screwed too many things up too badly to be left in charge?