Breaking Political Stories and Commentary. "We're at the height of the Roman Empire for the Republican Party, but the tide slowly but surely goes out." --Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham, South Carolina
The news has been percolating all day that ABC affiliate KSTP had video, from an imbedded reporter, that show the presence of explosives at what is probably the Al-Qaqaa storage facility, immediately after the invasion -- when the site was under American control.

Reuters is now reporting that this video shows the presence of the dangerous explosive HMX, with IAEA and UN markings that show this site was inspected immediately before the war.

In other words, the explosives were looted while under American control, under Bush's watch.

After a long initial silence, the Bush campaign is now furiously spinning, first denying that the explosives disappeared after the invasion, then suggesting the troops were to blame. Don't let your surrogates blame the troops, Mr. President... take responsibility for something.

Bush supporters continue to push increasingly complex conspiracy theories to deny this news. I think that at this point, that conspiracy would have to involve ABC, Reuters, the NY Times, CBS, the Iraqi government, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Bush isn't worthy of his loyal supporters.

Comments (Page 2)
on Oct 29, 2004
Thanks, T B,


Welcome Daiwa (I'm sure it won't matter to some, it's amazing to me the ability to filter out only what they want to see and discard the rest, significant events get glossed over and debate rages about the minutiae)

I would imagine that the US military has better equipment


12 years ago I was designing some of this stuff. We had the sort of capability shown in that photo probably around the early 80's and that was for civilian use. You can't even imagine what we were able to do.
on Oct 30, 2004

Reply #16 By: T B - 10/29/2004 10:49:29 PM
Thanks, T B,
12 years ago I was designing some of this stuff. We had the sort of capability shown in that photo probably around the early 80's and that was for civilian use. You can't even imagine what we were able to do.


What little I saw on Discovery channel simply *AMAZED* me.
on Oct 30, 2004
BTW Arab News reports this (site is REALLY slow, might take a re-load or two)
Link

snip

Maj. Austin Pearson, speaking at a press conference at the Pentagon, said his team removed 250 tons of TNT, plastic explosives, detonation cords, and white phosphorous rounds on April13 ,2003 , - 10 days after US forces first reached the Al-Qaqaa site. “I did not see any IAEA seals at any of the locations we went into. I was not looking for that,” Pearson said.

snip
on Oct 30, 2004
Thanks, Solitaire, for helping me clarify things. I'm happy to reply & hope you get back here to review it.

I believe I have been quite consistent in objecting to people stating hypotheses & theories as either factual conclusions or evidence. Much of the stuff tossed out there goes like this: An unsubstantiated theory or accusation is published in such a way as to suggest that it is confirmed or true, often citing references which themselves offer no factual evidence in support. The accusers then challenge the accused to prove their published theory is wrong. No logical person should accept this tactic for what I would hope are obvious reasons. If someone is going to make an allegation, they should have the burden of providing proof. I won't belabor the point further, but get to your specific examples.

you now seem to accept/believe that maybe SOME high explosives were looted. Why do you believe this means nothing?


That's not what I said, actually. The video suggests, and may turn out to confirm, that at least some high explosive material was present on April 18, 2003. That would be evidence that some high explosives remained at Al Qaqaa on April 18, 2003, but that's as far as you can take it. What that is NOT evidence of is that explosives were looted by anyone. Evidence is by definition affirmative of the theory put forth, except in the case of "negative" evidence which excludes all other possibilities. The information we have on hand does is not affirmative of the looting theory, only that looting of some explosives was possible. I have never held that no looting could have happened, only that no proof yet exists that it did indeed happen. And since my initial reply here, a soldier in charge of a munitions disposal unit has claimed that his unit destroyed some 250 tons of munitions & explosives at Al Qaqaa after April 18 & before the arrival of our inspectors in May.

you contest that this site was not inspected just before the war. There is indeed a big difference between an inventory and an inspection, but do you have any proof that seals could be successfully tampered with? If not why do you not accept the checking of seals as an acceptabel form of inspection? This is the exact form of inspection that was standard practice and acceptable to the US, why is it not acceptable to you?


It is not my job to prove that the seals could have been tampered with. It is the job of the accuser to offer proof. I've seen no evidence that the verification of the presence of seals is or ever was "acceptable to the US" and never claimed so. As far as I know, the US has been consistent in its criticism of the international inspections as inadequate and ineffective. This "standard practice" apparently wasn't even acceptable to the IAEA, which in its own report indicated that they just "sealed" the front door, in effect merely identifying the bunker as containing explosive munitions, and that the IAEA was fully aware that the material in those bunkers could easily be removed without disturbing those seals.

you don't believe that 300 tons of material oculd be looted.


I have said I don't believe that 219 tons (that's the correct amount at Al Qaqaa, BTW) were looted by terrorists & the insurgency after the depot came under US control & before the arrival of the US WMD inspectors in May of 2003 who confirmed they were gone. Rememer, the accusation by the NYT & CBS is that 377 tons of high explosives were stolen from out from under our noses by virtue of our incompentence after the invasion, are now in the hands of the terrorists & insurgents, and are now being used against our troops. Once again, it is incumbent on them to offer proof. They've offered NONE. And while thumbing their noses at us for demanding proof, they have the gall to demand that their detractors prove the accusers' wild-ass guess is wrong.

I welcome evidence in support of the NYT/CBS theory, if it exists. So far, no one has provided any & what evidence presently exists favors another explanation.

Cheers,
Daiwa
on Oct 30, 2004
Daiwa,
Thanks for your response,. and I don't mean to sound rude or critical, I just get annoyed when I know someone disagrees with something and I can't actually grasp the precise issue they have. You're last post was clear.

You seem to be unwilling to make any conclusions until a proper investigation has obtained proof of what was there, when it was there, when it went missing and by who. That is fair enough, but many will not be so patient when they don't see any clear investigation occurring and don't trust the authorities to be honest with one. What is known is that at some point a large quantity of WMD component material went missing. At the very least the government needs to acknowledge the seriousness of this and announce an inquiry that people can trust.

The IAEA has used seals for the past twelve years in Iraq and no report critises this approach. In numerous reports to the UN the IAEA lists which facilities and materials had been sealed. Never once did the US or any other country question the wisdom of this or suggest this was unacceptable. 12 years is standard practice and unless any evidence exists that this was unacceptable practice then I take the IAEA statement that the seals cannot be tampered with as fact. This method of controlling such stockpiles was chosen for a reason. It works and in my opinion any burden of proof of otherwise lies with those now after 12 years implying that it doesn't. Circumventing seals through other methods is a different issue and one that would need to be examined in determining when material was removed and when.

Again I point out that as a European I use different ton units here so lets ignore the 'actual' amount, as it depends on the report you read and the units used. The facts are that this material is missing. No proof required about that. The US does not know where it is. Again no proof required on that as the administration has admitted this. This material was flagged by the IAEA before the war as WMD component material. The war happened over 1.5 years ago, yet only now is the government even trying to find out where the material is. So who's problem is it? Who's not doing their job?

In my mind opinion it should not be possible for anyone to make accusations about WMD against the government without the government instantly being able to respond with the facts. These are WMD components that are missing for over 1.5 years and it looks like no one in the administration even noticed or cared. Worst case scenario is that the entire batch of components is sitting in some terrorist lab being assembled into a dirty bomb. Best case scenario is that Saddam moved them before the war and that 377 tons of a WMD component material is still missing. I don't like either scenario or anything in the middle. WMD components should have been top of the list of items to be secured and destroyed during the invasion (not after).

Paul.
on Oct 30, 2004
Hay guys, why are we still on this point?

The US Army explosives disposal team is saying that they destroyed 250 tons of the stuff from that site.

Link

For me the issue is dead. You guys can stop beating a dead horse now.

That's My Two Cents
on Oct 30, 2004
You guys can stop beating a dead horse now.


You don't know how fun a game that is until you try it!!

Another favorite game of mine is poking the roadkill with a stick, hours of good wholesome fun to be had there!

SPLAT PLINKO!!
on Oct 30, 2004
Forgive me, horse...

Solitair -

many will not be so patient when they don't see any clear investigation occurring and don't trust the authorities to be honest with one. What is known is that at some point a large quantity of WMD component material went missing. At the very least the government needs to acknowledge the seriousness of this and announce an inquiry that people can trust.


This is one point that does get under my skin. We had inspection teams at Al Qaqaa and hundreds of other sites as long ago as May of 2003. We knew that a large amount of high explosives previously inventoried as present at Al Qaqaa in January 2003 were not present in May of 2003. We now know that a significant amount of the "absent" high explosives were apparently destroyed by a munitions demolition team before May of 2003, something the military chain of command presumably knew about, but not something that would have been rocketed straight to Bush's desk. At that point, who had a reason to believe those explosives had been looted by loose terrorists? At that point, the logical assumption would have been Saddam had moved them, as he had dispersed munitions before. The accusation that they were looted from under our noses was made 6 days ago and the Administration has announced an investigation - how in the world can you say "they don't see any clear investigation" occurring? How can you say they aren't taking the accusation seriously? That just indicates a prejudicial mindset - you believe in your gut that the Iraq war was wrong and you're perfectly willing to uncritically accept as probable any allegation that reinforces that mindset. Further, the media are all over this story like a hair shirt and if the NYT had their hands on any real proof it would be page one the instant they got it.

As for the inspections process, I don't know what else to say. The Bush Administration has repeatedly and publicly expressed the firm conviction that the inspections were inadequate. Maybe those expressions were never reported in your country, but the inadequacy of the inspections process was one of the principle reasons for the invasion. If the US had any faith in those inspections accomplishing the objective of disarming Saddam, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

The war happened over 1.5 years ago, yet only now is the government even trying to find out where the material is. So who's problem is it? Who's not doing their job?


What in God's name was Duelfer doing over there, then? Have you forgotten we sent him? See my first paragraph - much of it applies here. The fact that the explosives are at the present unequivocally unaccounted for is not and has never been in dispute. What I've been objecting to all along is the leap of irrational logic that their absence is evidence of anything other than their absence. And your claim that "only now is the government even trying" to find out where the material is shows you simply have not been paying attention. There was an inventory from before the war. The US has accounted for and taken possession of more than 99% of the inventory by some estimates and destroyed about half of that inventory already. You think that happened in just the past 6 days?

In my mind opinion it should not be possible for anyone to make accusations about WMD against the government without the government instantly being able to respond with the facts. These are WMD components that are missing for over 1.5 years and it looks like no one in the administration even noticed or cared.


Well, first of all, there were no WMD's in Iraq - remember? I'm being sarcastic, but we're talking about components that could be utilized in WMD's, not WMD's themselves. And I refer you again to my first paragraph - your time frame is simply wrong as the "administration" had no reason at the time to believe the explosives had been looted, in fact had reason to believe that what hadn't been removed before the war by Saddam had been destroyed by an Army munitions demolition unit, not that that specific bit of information, concerning 0.6% or so of the munitions known to be in Iraq, would be expected to percolate all the way up to Rumsfeld & Bush. And they have been actively searching for and securing such material all over Iraq ever since the invasion. Did you think they did all that in the first couple of weeks after Baghdad fell? And as for the expectation that our government should be in a position to instantly respond with facts about a single munitions dump out of thousands in a country the size of California, one that was hardly unique, out of the reams of information collected in the chaos of war is just silly. You know perfectly well your government, and I don't even know which European country you're in, can't instantly respond with facts about anything.

You have to ask yourself how you would have been in a position 18 months ago to do anything differently. And I haven't even touched on the crass political motives related to the timing of the accusation, which all by itself screams for everyone to take a deep breath and give the government and the press an opportunity to sort all this out.

Thanks for listening. And peace, dear horse.

Cheers,
Daiwa
on Oct 30, 2004

Reply #20 By: Solitair - 10/30/2004 6:37:24 PM
Daiwa,
BR>Again I point out that as a European I use different ton units here so lets ignore the 'actual' amount, as it depends on the report you read and the units used. The facts are that this material is missing. No proof required about that. The US does not know where it is. Again no proof required on that as the administration has admitted this. This material was flagged by the IAEA before the war as WMD component material. The war happened over 1.5 years ago, yet only now is the government even trying to find out where the material is. So who's problem is it? Who's not doing their job?



Solitair...You seem to be overlooking a small but important detail. Why is it only "NOW" that the questions are being asked?
on Oct 31, 2004
The timing of the issue is indeed suspicious, but as a non American I try not to get too caught up in partisan politics (such as accusations on the timing). To be fair to the IAEA though, they have never been let back into Iraq and so could not have known about this issue until the Iraqi government informed them at the start of October. Why did the Iraqi government inform them? Because they knew the material was missing and the US obviously never told them that they had destroyed it. So any accusation of timing needs to be made at the Iraqi government itself and not the IAEA or UN.

It's yet again worth stressing that I support the Iraqi war and the efforts at bringing democracy. My focus on this issue is therefore anything but
you believe in your gut that the Iraq war was wrong and you're perfectly willing to uncritically accept as probable any allegation that reinforces that mindset
.

Now the latest twist seems to be that the pentagon is saying that despite earlier releasing satellite photos suggesting the explosives could have been removed pre war, they now KNOW that they destroyed the explosives AFTER the war. While this may indeed be true (despite some issues with the information that the pentagon admit to), the whole handling of this issue is farcical. It should never take 6 days for the US administration to answer a question as to where WMD component material went.

The bottom line for me is not so much about when or where but about why. This WMD component material is serious enough that if more of it had been found undeclared the US would have been justified by article 1441 in invading Iraq. Yet now this material is just a fraction of the normal munitions. This is such a two faced arguement. Either the material is a WMD component and therefore subject to the strictest control in Iraq (which is the case) or it is not. You cannot have both. It is for Iraq but it's not for the US.

Paul.
on Oct 31, 2004
Solitair -

I take you at your word and I apologize for misreading your general view on the war and withdraw the quote.

As for the before/after confusion - BOTH could easily have happened, and at least one did. Time will tell the full story, if we're lucky.

Your expectations of instantaneous knowledge of every kilo of WMD component material are simply unrealistic and fail to acknowledge the scope and scale of the problem. That possibilty would have required as a prerequisite that NONE of the declared material be moved by Saddam, something we don't yet know, and clairvoyance about where his undeclared material was stashed. Further, you seem to forget the heat the administration was under to "find the WMD's." Every day in every paper was another article headlined "NO WMD'S YET" and the left was pounding them relentlessly on it. The focus was on locating WMD's, not on high explosives.

The explosives in question may have been "subject to the strictest control" in Iraq, but the IAEA itself said that that control was as porous as Swiss cheese. So we have to pull ourselves away from the baseless assumption that all this stuff is "missing" because right now, it may not be missing at all, just unaccounted for. We have reasonable evidence that at least a sizable portion of the 219 tons at Al Qaqaa was indeed destroyed by a US munitions demolition unit.

You can argue that we should have had better accounting, but the chaos of a hot war doesn't lend itself to tidy accounting and you should acknowledge that. I just find the standard to which you appear to holding the US to be unrealistic and one your government, whichever one it is, could not even come close to satisfying.

And the timing issue is purely political. If you read elBaradei's statement closely, you'll note that the Iraqi WMD chief was responding to a "reminder" from the IAEA that just happened to be sent in September and responded to in record time by early October. So it wasn't just a matter of the Iraqi government giving ole' el a ring and saying, "By the way, did you know...." There is ample reason to suspect impure motives on the part of Mr. elBaradei.

Cheers,
Daiwa
on Oct 31, 2004
Daiwa,
I don't and didn't expect instant knowledge, and I did indeed state that Bush's initial reaction of remaining quiet while the information was located was very politically savy. Commenting before having facts looks bad as can be seen by the numerous political oppertunistic comments levelled at Kerry over this issue. Six days and still no one seems to know is not a good sign though. My big issue here is that these were WMD components, held in known locations, that had been flagged as important sites to secure. Bush should have been able to pick up the phone, ask for a clear answer and get one within forty eight hours if not sooner.

I do acknowledge that in a war situation accounting is not the most important issue, but these weren't just explosives they were a crucial part of nuclear bombs. George Bush lists nuclear proliferation as the single greatest threat facing mankind yet both this nuclear bomb material and even more dangerous material from a nuclear site have gone missing. This material must be accounted for and if necessary traced and found.

It is very sad that partisan politics can actually be used to hide the enormity of this situation on both sides. Neither side actully seems to care that a dirty nuclear bomb could now be assembled by terrorists, they are too focussed on how they can spin this to gain votes.

Paul.
on Oct 31, 2004
It is very sad that partisan politics can actually be used to hide the enormity of this situation on both sides. Neither side actully seems to care that a dirty nuclear bomb could now be assembled by terrorists, they are too focussed on how they can spin this to gain votes.


You are quite wrong, there, Solitair, but I can see how you might think so.

We absolutely must get it sorted out. My comments, and objections, relate to the political hatchet job perpetrated using unsubstantiated allegations of dereliction of duty, not the as-yet unknown details. The "You f****d your mother. Now prove you didn't." school of political tactics makes me want to puke. Unlike the NYT, I'll wait to pass judgement until we have some data, and I'm perfectly willing to let the chips fall where they may.

Cheers,
Daiwa
on Nov 01, 2004
I really do hope I am wrong on that Daiwa. I hope the military does succeed in confirming that it did destroy this material and manages to recover the nuclear material that went missing from the other site.

The terrible fact is that all the crucial material required for making dirty nuclear bombs (both the high explosives and the uranium and process equipment) is unaccounted for. That's worrying. Just imaging if a suicide bomber drove a truck filled with this stuff at a US or British army base.

Paul.
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