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October 25, 2004

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David Frum on the Diane Rehm Show this morning essentially brushed off the news by saying, "Hey, mistakes happen in war."

Meanwhile, Condoleeza Rice is stumping for Bush in the Midwest.

You need to actually be in the game before you can keep your eye on the ball.

Look what showed up in Saudi Arabia last Deecmber!

- source TPM

Anyone recall what the high priority sites that were immediately secured consisted of? Oil fields. Remember? Somehow not very surprising.

Somehow not very surprising.

When looking to put a country on its own two feet, securing its main source of revenue probably doesn't make sense at all, to a certain mindset.

priorities, Slarti...it's a matter of priorities...as well as the supposed reason we invaded in the first place.

priorities, Slarti...it's a matter of priorities...as well as the supposed reason we invaded in the first place.

Well, taking the "it was all for WMDs" tacit assertion as gospel (not that I think it is, but for the purposes of this exchange, and so as not to derail the thread, etc), can you show me how our search for the WMDs has been something other than diligent?

When looking to protect your country and its armed forces and its allies, securing a main source of nuclear-related weaponry, which was the first of 600 excuses for invading in the first place, probably doesn't make sense at all, to a certain mindset.

You have to look at WHY we were looking for the WMD, Slarti, so that they wouldn't be used against us.

If we didn't secure the sites that we knew the IAEA had listed, that would strike me as less than due diligence. It would be interesting for a reporter to request a list of sites from the IAEA that were inspected and seeing what's going on there now.

You have to look at WHY we were looking for the WMD, Slarti, so that they wouldn't be used against us.

I'm confused. So now, WMDs were in Iraq, only we missed them? Help me out, here.

It would be interesting for a reporter to request a list of sites from the IAEA that were inspected and seeing what's going on there now.

Ah, the voice of reason.

Facts seem to be scarce. This particular cache ammunition has dissappeared since the last IAEA inspection taken before the war? And before large convoys of trucks were detected hauling something into Syria. And although this is a sensational number, weren't there far, far greater amounts of munitions scattered all over Iraq? As is usual when Kerry's aides and the media scream the loudest, the rest of the story reflects something less dramatic buried deep and beneath the fold.

Here's a fact that isn't scarce. Hundreds of tons of high explosives go missing from a known site in Iraq on or around the time of our invasion. At what level is that not a problem? The fact that there were plenty of other sites that were also looted hardly mitigates this problem.

Why is it so difficult to admit that some very serious mistakes were made in the initial phases of the occupation of Iraq?

At what level is that not a problem?

No level. It's a problem. It's just a problem that has no solution.

Why is it so difficult to admit that some very serious mistakes were made in the initial phases of the occupation of Iraq?

As I've pointed out, there's not yet enough information available to make that claim, unless you've got access to something I don't.

Why is it so difficult to admit that some very serious mistakes were made in the initial phases of the occupation of Iraq?

As I've pointed out, there's not yet enough information available to make that claim, unless you've got access to something I don't.

I'd submit that this incident, when combined with looting of the Tuwaitha complex, destruction of government offices (and their records), etc. have the makings of a strong circumstantial case for that claim.

".. not yet enough information".

Is this like supply side economics, in which there is some maximum and minimum level of taxation, unknown to the both of us, outside of which disaster may occur?

Or is it like pornography, which we'll both know when we see it?

Or is it like the sound of one hand clapping?

I'd submit that this incident

Let's be a bit more clear. The article doesn't contain enough information to determine that the material was even there, when we invaded. So there's not even circumstantial evidence (AFAIK) that there WAS an incident.

Or is it like the sound of one hand clapping?

It could be like waiting and seeing what sequence things occurred in, so that one might more intelligently decide whether things are amiss.

Ah, I see. While other sources provide more info, I agree that there is still a possibility that the material was removed prior to the invasion. Unfortunately, there seems to be no evidence that we made a serious effort to determine the status of this facility at the time. That, in and of itself, was a mistake.

Sorry about posting twice in a row, but the AP is reporting this:

At the Pentagon, an official who monitors developments in Iraq said US-led coalition troops had searched Al-Qaqaa in the immediate aftermath of the March 2003 invasion and confirmed that the explosives, which had been under IAEA seal since 1991, were intact. Thereafter the site was not secured by U.S. forces, the official said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

I'd say the evidence is mounting.

Phil Carter (by email to TAPPED) calculates as follows:

"OK City = 5,000 pounds/2,300 kg of ammonium-nitrate and nitromethane.

This mix has a TNT equivalent ranging from 3%-10%, i.e. the OK City bomb is the equivalent of 150 - 500 pounds of TNT.

AQQ = 380 tons of RDX, HMX and PETN. RDX and PETN have a TNT equivalent value of 170%. Converted into TNT, the AQQ stockpile equals 646 tons or 1,292,000 pounds of explosives.

Convert this back into my OK City metric, and this means that the lost material at AQQ equals betwen 2,584 - 8613 OK City-size bombs. That's one hell of a lot of material to be on the street -- enough to fuel a car-bomb and IED-based insurgency for years, if not decades."

Well, taking the "it was all for WMDs" tacit assertion as gospel (not that I think it is...

Huh? You maintained in another discussion with me -- don't remember which thread, sorry, only that it was at ObWi about a month or so ago -- that the reason for the invasion was serial non-compliance with UN Resolutions pertaining to the full disclosure of WMD materials. Was that previous position merely Devil's Advocate?

Well, see, you gotta keep up with the Real Reasons for the War.

The "Real Reason" was WMD only insofar as the fear of WMD was useful to scare Americans into supporting an unprovoked invasion of another country.

Once the invasion was accomplished, WMDs were something to joke about (as Bush did so memorably), and we could be encouraged to believe in a new Real Reason: "spreading freedom and liberty." That one came a cropper when Fallujah rebelled, whereupon Iraqis stopped being victims of an oppressive regime and started being ungrateful sods who should simply be bombed to bits.

The latest Real Reason for the war is "flypaper." We would buy our safety by turning Iraq into Terrorist Central. Since there are, as we all know, only a finite number of terrorists in the world, and since law and order have all but completely broken down in Iraq, it is now an irresistable place where all the finite number of terrorists in the world can go to rob, kidnap, and kill to their hearts content.

Seen in this light, the "failure" to secure those 380 tons of high explosives is in fact a strategic master stroke. About the only problem with turning Iraq into a Club Med for terrorists was that said terrorists were eventually going to run out of firepower. Now that's been taken care of: 700,000 pounds of high explosives should be enough to keep buildings, vehicles, and human beings blowing up very satisfactorially for quite some time.

I doubt if we'll hear a lot of apologies today.

Blogbuds: I doubt if we'll hear a lot of apologies today.

Do we ever?

Once, again so many have jumped the gun and are ready to crucify the administration... but as so often has been the case in the past... the analysis is flawed.

I do think some apologies are due from Jes and Hilzoy and some others... but I doubt we will hear it.

As with so many other posts at this site this one also defies belief... yet again. I believe I will be stepping out with Moe after the election.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry about Hilzoy using the NY Times as a reliable source of information...

"It is not credible to me that anyone could have succeeded in making away with that amount of stuff had we been making any effort at all to guard it."

I suppose it isn't... since it didn't happen that way.

"NBC News reported that on April 10, 2003, its crew was embedded with the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division when troops arrived at the Al Qaqaa storage facility south of Baghdad.

While the troops found large stockpiles of conventional explosives, they did not find HMX or RDX, the types of powerful explosives that reportedly went missing, according to NBC."

Let's criticize the Bush administration, but Hussein there's no way a nice guy like him would hide or disperse WMD.

From Hilzoy:

"In that case, not only did someone make a huge mistake in planning for the war, but no one caught that mistake. How did that happen?"

"If no one did, then that seems to me to speak volumes about the quality of the planning for the war."

Volumes are being spoken for sure... but since troops did go there, maybe they did have a plan for the war and the reality is that Hilzoy's critique is consistently unfair and flawed.

Hilzoy, it's not the administrations credibility that has been lost with me... it's yours.

The NY Times isn't a reliable source, but NBC is unimpeachable? I think Josh Marshall drove a stake through that. How was Hussein was able to disperse it between the time that the inspectors left, and the troops arrived and was able to avoid having those 380 tonnes of material get detected by air recon?

I don't think it is a slam dunk case, with the fog of war and all that, but the administration cannot expect any breaks, given the way that it has ran its campaign. Is Kerry et al overhyping this? Perhaps, but the administration should just get used it.

I do think some apologies are due from Jes and Hilzoy and some others... but I doubt we will hear it.

*raises eyebrow*

You know, Blue, I can think of a few people on this site I probably owe an apology to. But you're not one of them.

Nor does it appear, despite all the fast-talk on the part of the administration, that there is any clear excuse why these explosives were not made secure by the US occupation before they could be looted.

Nor does it appear, despite all the fast-talk on the part of the administration, that there is any clear excuse why these explosives were not made secure by the US occupation before they could be looted.

Hell, it's not even clear, despite fast-talking on the part of Jesurgislac, whether there were any explosives there to secure. But don't let that stop you.

Slarti Hell, it's not even clear, despite fast-talking on the part of Jesurgislac, whether there were any explosives there to secure. But don't let that stop you.

Well, you know, I wasn't there (and neither were you, I assume) so we're both going by eyewitness reports. You're assuming (apparently) that Col. John Peabody, engineer brigade commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, was lying or mistaken when he reported on April 5, 2003 that troops found

thousands of five-centimetre by 12-centimetre boxes, each containing three vials of white powder, together with documents written in Arabic that dealt with how to engage in chemical warfare.

A senior U.S. official familiar with initial testing said the powder was believed to be explosives. The finding would be consistent with the plant's stated production capabilities in the field of basic raw materials for explosives and propellants. (cite)">http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2003/030405-chem-readiness01.htm">cite)

No effort was made to secure the site, and those explosives have now been looted. That's what all the fuss is about. Or, if you're that skeptical, Peabody was lying or mistaken or even a very prescient Kerry supporter. Something. Anything, evidently, other than admit a serious mistake was made.

Jes,

I don't think you or Hilzoy owe me an apology... it's the Bush administration you both owe an apology to.

I am not sure what all will come out about this subject... but I didn't wrongly use it to bash the Bush administration.

lib,

"Duelfer agreed that a large amount of material had been transferred by Iraq to Syria before the March 2003 war. "A lot of materials left Iraq and went to Syria," Duelfer said. "There was certainly a lot of traffic across the border points. We've got a lot of data to support that, including people discussing it. But whether in fact in any of these trucks there was WMD-related materials, I cannot say."

Guess there was some recon to indicate alot of activity...

I don't think you or Hilzoy owe me an apology... it's the Bush administration you both owe an apology to.

*raises both eyebrows*

They screwed up - again and again and again - and you think that I or Hilzoy should apologize for it?

Really, no.

I am not sure what all will come out about this subject... but I didn't wrongly use it to bash the Bush administration.

Neither did I, nor did Hilzoy. When the Bush administration screws up, their screw-ups may be used, rightly, to bash them. To assert that no matter what stupid mistakes they make, no one should be allowed to criticize them, is truly, really, unAmerican.

From the NBC story:

At the Pentagon, an official who monitors developments in Iraq said U.S.-led coalition troops had searched Al-Qaqaa in the immediate aftermath of the March 2003 invasion and confirmed that the explosives, which had been under IAEA seal since 1991, were intact. The site was not secured by U.S. forces, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But other Pentagon officials, also speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested that the explosives could have been hidden elsewhere before the war. They also stressed that there is no evidence HMX or RDX have been used against coalition forces in Iraq.

So, within the Pentagon, we have what looks like a "he said"-"she said" story. Except that on closer inspection, we don't. We have one source making a specific claim - the site was inspected and the materiel was determined to be intact immediately after the invasion. We have other sources hypothesizing about alternate realities - suggesting that the materiel might have been moved beforehand. BTW - the first source's statement in not contradicted by the report from the NBC embed, who did not see the site until some time in April.

blue, I think it is a leap to say that Duelfer said that there was a lot of traffic between Syria and Iraq, so it is apparent that the material must have been on those trucks. Making the assumption that the administration actually believed there were WMD, I would think that they would have attempted to track attempts to move them. It should (again assuming that there was an honest belief that there were WMD and that they could have been used against US troops) have rung every alarm bell available if they started moving stuff out of Al Quaqaa.

I'm sure that forensic analysis of the various car bombs should put this to rest, and I'm sure that the army is doing that, so where are the reports assuring us that rather than the insurgents, Syria has it?

There's now a timeline up on this story at Body and Soul.

Too bad it's completely inaccurate. Notably the March 8th event.

Al Qaqaa (is it pronounced "caca"? Just wondering) was in fact visited by weapons inspectors on March 8. To inspect missiles. There's no other recorded inspection that occurred at Al Qaqaa on March 8th. And for Body and Soul to conclude what they did from the material cited is...well, it's exaggerating. Which is a lot nicer than saying what it really is: making things up.

Now, if there's other material to cite, perhaps they ought to consider doing so.

Too bad it's completely inaccurate.

Fine, Slarti. Since you've examined all the available evidence and can show Jeanne exactly where she's got it wrong, why don't you head over to Body and Soul and post your corrections, with citations, there? Rather than just lazily claiming "Oh, it's completely inaccurate" without providing any evidence to show that you have been able to refute every date and every piece of evidence cited in the timeline?

Or admit you're just making stuff up and you don't know for sure it's inaccurate: do you?

The 'q' in arabic is pronounced like a k, except that instead of making it near the front of your mouth, you make it as far back as possible, somewhere around your tonsils.

As for the actual story, Josh Marshall quotes MSNBC:

"Following up on that story from last night, military officials tell NBC News that on April 10, 2003, when the Second Brigade of the 101st Airborne entered the Al QaQaa weapons facility, south of Baghdad, that those troops were actually on their way to Baghdad, that they were not actively involved in the search for any weapons, including the high explosives, HMX and RDX. The troops did observe stock piles of conventional weapons but no HMX or RDX. And because the Al Qaqaa facility is so huge, it's not clear that those troops from the 101st were actually anywhere near the bunkers that reportedly contained the HMX and RDX. Three months earlier, during an inspection of the Al Qaqaa compound, the International Atomic Energy Agency secured and sealed 350 metric tons of HMX and RDX. Then in March, shortly before the war began, the I.A.E.A. conducted another inspection and found that the HMX stockpile was still intact and still under seal. But inspectors were unable to inspect the RDX stockpile and could not verify that the RDX was still at the compound.

Pentagon officials say elements of the 101st airborne did conduct a thorough search of several facilities around the Al QaQaa compound for several weeks during the month of April in search of WMD. They found no WMD. And Pentagon officials say it's not clear at that time whether those other elements of the 101st actually searched the Al QaQaa compound.


Now, Pentagon officials say U.S. troops and members of the Iraq Survey Group did arrive at the Al QaQaa compound on May 27. And when they did, they found no HMX or RDX or any other weapons under seal at the time. Now, the Iraqi government is officially said that the high explosives were stolen by looters. Pentagon officials claim it's possible -- they're not sure, they say, but it's possible that Saddam Hussein himself ordered that these high explosives be removed and hidden before the war. What is clear is that the 350 metric tons of high explosives are still missing, and that the U.S. or Iraqi governments or international inspectors, for that matter, cannot say with any certainty where they are today."

And from CBS:

"The commander of the first unit into the area told CBS he did not search it for explosives or secure it from looters. "We were still in a fight," he said. "our focus was killing bad guys." He added he would have needed four times more troops to search and secure all the ammo dumps he came across."

This was good attempt at a smear job in the closing week of the election... but this dog just didn't hunt.

What's really ironic about it is that they tripped over thier own reporting.

No smear job at all.

This appointed administration's response is telling; you have the State Dept. admitting a major "screw-up." You have several versions coming out of the Pentagon, all of which indicate there was a distinct lack of planning regarding known weapons caches. You have Bush refusing to answer any questions on the matter, but Cheney seems to be indicating it's Kerry's fault.

This is really a two-fer as to why Bush should be retired to Crawford. First, a known weapons cache left unsecured indicates an almost unbelievable lack of planning. Second, it shows once once more the rationale to invade Iraq--securing weapons--wasn't really the rationale at all.

What's really ironic about it is that they tripped over thier own reporting.

It is ironic, isn't it? You'd think that after the White House had had 18 months to sit on this story, they'd have at least got their cover story straight. Instead, they kept putting out different stories. "Er, maybe it all went before we got there!" (er, no) - "Look, Kerry's blaming the army!" (er, no)

Nice to see you've noticed the irony, Blue. Welcome on board.

Or admit you're just making stuff up and you don't know for sure it's inaccurate: do you?

What IAEA was doing on any given day is fairly simple to find. Why some don't bother to look isn't my concern, and I'm not some sort of ombudsman (blogbudsman?), so it's not incumbent on me to set people straight. Still, you could have followed the link and seen for yourself. Could be that allergy to data, though.

Why some don't bother to look isn't my concern, and I'm not some sort of ombudsman (blogbudsman?), so it's not incumbent on me to set people straight.

If you're going to make wild contradictory assertions, Slarti, then you need to back them up with hard data. If you fail to do so, then you may reasonably be assumed to be part of the faith-based community who simply don't want to believe there can be anything at all to be criticized about the Bush administration.

If you're going to make wild contradictory assertions, Slarti, then you need to back them up with hard data.

Well, I guess that rules me out, since I made a distinctly un-wild contradictory offering of data, which you continue to avoid seeing. Maybe it's some sort of compulsive disorder.

Oh intellectual honesty where art thou?


From the NY Post...

"Nobody knows what happened to the stuff. It's theoretically possible that it was looted after the war's conclusion — though, as Ed Morrissey points out at captainsquartersblog.com, it would have taken 100 men working 12 hours a day for two weeks to shlep the stuff away. And that would surely have been spotted by somebody.

It seems far more likely that Saddam had the materiel moved. According to one report, the United Nations last visited the facility on March 8, a week before the war began. But the U.N.'s major report on the facility came out two months earlier. Saddam could have been moving the materiel out over the course of the two months before the war began — maybe into Syria. Who knows? That's the point. Who knows? Certainly not the Times. Certainly not John Kerry."

And I might add certainly not anyone posting here...

Blue bemoans the lack of intellectual honesty and then cites a kooky rightwing blogger *and* the NYPost?

Wow.

On a related note, the Weekly World News reports Bat Boy has a crush on Jenna!

Well, I guess that rules me out, since I made a distinctly un-wild contradictory offering of data, which you continue to avoid seeing.

I must have missed where you managed to prove your wild and contradictory assertion that the whole timeline was completely inaccurate. To do that, you'd have to take each event/date on it and show how it was wrong.

If you're taking "completely" as in each and every item, then no, it may not be completely inaccurate. The March 8 is not supported by IAEA's own reports. There's no indication at all that any of the HE stores under seal were viewed by IAEA on March 8.

Which sort of shoots down the entire premise, does it not? In fact, IAEA itself, in the article linked to in the very next link in the timeline, says it last inspected the seals on March 15. Which is, inexplicably, at odds with what IAEA reported it did that day. And the link on the "Sometime after the invasion" event doesn't support the claim made there at all. Two major errors in a row and I lose interest. So, completely inaccurate retracted; erroneous proposed as replacement.

This whole discussion is yet another case of "A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest."

Absolutely amazing how two different people can look at the same thing and see two totally different events. Just stunning to me. I mean, in theory I know that people work that way, but it's hard to believe how it continues to happen, over and over.

If George Bush were caught getting oral sex from an intern, and then lying about it under oath, I have no doubt that Blue and Slarti would defend him.

If you're a Bush supporter, you are going to spin EVERYTHING pro-Bush. If you're a Kerry supporter, similarly on the other side.

Does anybody among the commenters have a commitment to the truth that supersedes their commitment to "hooray for my team"?

If not, then what's the point of any of this?

I try to. And -- it's always odd dealing with people who don't know me, and can't put this in context, but -- I have always previously thought that the candidate I did not favor had something to be said for him, and that there was some X such that, if I were a single issue voter and X were my single issue, I would vote for the opposition, since they had it right. This is the first time in my adult life that I have not felt that way, and I find it really spooky.

I have no doubt that Blue and Slarti would defend him.

See, this is just exactly the bone I pick with Jesurgislac: the tendency, nay, preference for going with your gut when making an assessment, when the data is right there.

That, and the mind-reading thing. But I get that, I really do. I mean, if you can tell me what I think about a particular issue, then you don't really need to ask me, do you?

the tendency, nay, preference for going with your gut when making an assessment, when the data is right there.

Must... resist... temptation... ;)

Kent,

I can offer up quite a list of things that I wouldn't defend Bush on. At this site, I have even offered to for anyone interested, but they never care to listen.

I only defend Bush against blatant attacks that aren't accurate or don't describe the situtation.

Don't even get me started talking about Bush and the deficit... Bush and illegal aliens... the list goes on...

I only defend Bush against blatant attacks that aren't accurate or don't describe the situtation.

Then why are you trying to defend Bush against this perfectly accurate attack?

Jade,

When it comes to kooky... kettle meet pot.

What part of the post did you find dishonest? Please be detailed.

So, completely inaccurate retracted; erroneous proposed as replacement.

Ah. I only just caught this - okay, I retract comments I made about how you're claiming "completely inaccurate".

Post these comments on Jeanne's blog. She lives in a reality-based universe: if you can prove your point, I think she'll change the timeline.

Blue:

NY Post. Some loser in MN who thinks he's Lord Nelson when he's not handling returns at WalMart. Yup, some pretty powerful sources you have there.

Which part did I find dishonest? The part that began with "Oh" and ended with "here...."

I'll not engage in a discussion of 100 men working 12 hour shifts for two weeks because Captain Eddy has no concept of what he's talking about. Perhaps, the men in Minnesota aren't what they used to be; judging by Cap'n Ed's portly appearance, maybe it would take eight-plus EdYears.

However, Peter W. Galbraith does have a clue; he notes it was very likely the HE was looted over a period of nine months or more. Moreover, it shouldn't be surprising insurgents, terrorists, or garden-variety criminals hoping to turn a buck could muster the wherewithal to pilfer 380 tons of anything from an unsecured site over a nine month period or more.

David Kay, who might be expected to know a tad bit more about these weapons than, say, Cap'n Eddy of HMS WalMart--says it's "implausible" the material was removed in the period from the last IAEA inspection and the arrival of US troops about 4 weeks later.

Plus you have the accounts of the Iraqis who were in charge of the facility saying that not so much as a sheet of paper disappeared from the site prior to Saddam going down the spider hole.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Whatnot


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