Thursday, October 28, 2004

Missing: Arms and a Brain

The issue of the missing explosives should be a negative for Bush, no matter what. The fact that there were ever questions about something so important is damning.
It won't be enough to sway many people but, there you have it. Many people are stupid.
This includes the people at The Washington Times (as if we didn't all know that already).

"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."
Urm, ok?
"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"."
Oh, well as long as the Washington Times says that this guy says his information is reliable . . .
I'm not even denying that this maybe, could be true. But this type of reporting is pathetic. It is especially pathetic that my AZ ABC show from last night mentioned this story (due to come out today) - and mentioned it as if it dispelled any lingering questions.
"Al-Qaqaa, a known Iraqi weapons site, was monitored closely, Mr. Shaw said.
"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.""
It was impossible! It could not possibly have happened. Ok then as long as we all agree to shut our eyes and forget everything. . .
According to the article, the UN had sealed the facility in January of 2003. The Pentagon says there was no "evidence of movement of explosives from the facility after April 6." The Army's 75th Exploitation Task Force (what kind of name is that?) inspected the area in early May.
The article has no mention of the 2nd Brigade of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which apparently did not inspect the site when they arrived April 3rd. Trusted Iraqis have also claimed that "it is impossible that these materials could have been taken from this site before the regime's fall." (See Daily Kos for more on this).

The Washington Times believes that the Russians were supplying arms to Saddam Hussein, but began an arms-removal program when "Yevgeny Primakov, the former Russian intelligence chief, could not persuade Saddam to give in to U.S. and Western demands, this official said."
". Shaw said he believes that the withdrawal of Russian-made weapons and explosives from Iraq was part of plan by Saddam to set up a "redoubt" in Syria that could be used as a base for launching pro-Saddam insurgency operations in Iraq.
[. . .]
Documents reviewed by the official included itineraries of military units involved in the truck shipments to Syria. The materials outlined in the documents included missile components, MiG jet parts, tank parts and chemicals used to make chemical weapons, the official said.
[. . .]
Defense officials said the Russians can provide information on what happened to the Iraqi weapons and explosives that were transported out of the country. Officials believe the Russians also can explain what happened to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs."
How does that first point even seem like a reasonable hypothesis? And isn't it difficult to move chemical weapons without leaving some kind of trace? And, again, if we were so sure that Saddam Hussein had these weapons, why weren't we monitoring these kinds of movements more closely? Wasn't the whole point to avoid the explosives falling into the wrong hands?
Someone help me before my head explodes.

UPDATE: From the New York Times.
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.