The missing explosives, today, updated
Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily said, flat out, “There’s no polite way to put it: This story was a lie, apparently cooked up to serve the Times’ partisan ends.”
The Iraqi interim government has told the United States and international weapons inspectors that 377 tons of conventional explosives are missing from the Al-Qaqaa installation, which was supposed to be under U.S. military control.
But International Atomic Energy Agency documents obtained by ABC News and first reported on “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings” indicate the amount of missing explosives may be substantially less than the Iraqis reported.
The information on which the Iraqi Science Ministry based an Oct. 10 memo in which it reported that 377 tons of RDX explosives were missing — presumably stolen due to a lack of security — was based on “declaration” from July 15, 2002. At that time, the Iraqis said there were 141 tons of RDX explosives at the facility.
But the confidential IAEA documents obtained by ABC News show that on Jan. 14, 2003, the agency’s inspectors recorded that just over 3 tons of RDX was stored at the facility — a considerable discrepancy from what the Iraqis reported.
The IAEA documents could mean that 138 tons of explosives were removed from the facility long before the start of the United States launched “Operation Iraqi Freedom” in March 2003.
Today The Washington Times story Russia tied to Iraq’s missing arms states
Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein’s weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation, The Washington Times has learned.
. . .
“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.”
. . .
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.
“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 Infantry Division’s arrival at the facility,” the statement said.
The statement also said that the material may have been removed from the site by Saddam’s regime.
According to the Pentagon, U.N. arms inspectors sealed the explosives at Al-Qaqaa in January 2003 and revisited the site in March and noted that the seals were not broken.
It is not known whether the inspectors saw the explosives in March. The U.N. team left the country before the U.S.-led invasion began March 20, 2003.
Even Slate, that arm of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, by now is asking “I’d like to hear the IAEA explain what logic it used in deciding that hundreds of tons of high explosives could be trusted to the custodianship of Saddam Hussein”, the implications of which Paul and Robertowere pondering yesterday: “This is the same UN that John Kerry wants to entrust with our safety”.
(Obviously Slate couldn’t resist the headline, “Al-Qaqaa hits the fan”, but then, who am I to talk?)
Power Line Blog explains,
DEACON adds: If Shaw’s version, as reported by the Washington Times, holds up and (as importantly) gets heard, the consequences for Kerry could be serious. The Senator will have
(a) jumped to a conclusion that wasn’t supported by the facts,
(b) assumed the incompetence of our troops,
(c) confirmed President Bush’s position that Iraq had weapons worth worrying about, and
(d) unleashed evidence that, as Rocket Man notes, suggests that chemical and biological weapons could easily have been moved out of Iraq just before we invaded. One question that arises, though, is why, if the Defense Department has evidence that the Russians helped clean out Al Qaqaa, we haven’t heard about this before. The answer, apparently is that Shaw recently obtained the information about the Russian arms-dispersal program from two European intelligence services. According to these sources, the Russians were in Iraq mainly to destroy evidence of their weapons collaboration with Saddam’s regime.
Roger L. Simon points out that
I saw Paul Bremer being interviewed by Brit Hume tonight. This was evidently Bremer’s first appearance of this nature since returning and he made it to refute the Times’ explosives story. He said it would have been impossible for the dozens of trucks necessary to remove 380 tons of explosives at that time to have done so without having been noticed by US forces (well, maybe it was only 3 tons… then, who knows?). The roads were apparently empty then. I guess the Times didn’t want to ask about that either.
As for the Kerry campaign (a campaign which in my eyes has been in the panic mode for a while now, and whose advisor Richard Holbrooke said on Fox News last Tuesday that he didn’t know the truth about the explosives), Edward Dailey of Men’s News Daily sees it this way,
What should also be glaringly obvious to anyone paying attention is that these people will stoop to any depths necessary to assure a Democrat victory on election day. That they continue to believe in the premise that the end justifies the means, no matter how malicious and deceitful those means may prove to be, is all any undecided voter needs to understand as we go to the polls on November the 2nd.