So The New York Times
reports today, on their front page, that "nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations."
Before you start saying "Hey, that means Iraq DID have WMD," note that these explosives were kept under IAEA seal, meaning they were locked down and used only in construction and other duties that require explosives for nonmilitary purposes. El Baradei and the inspectors knew about these explosives, chronicled them, even gave a report to the UN Security Council about them in January 2003. The only people, it seems, that didn't know about them were the US military, who left them either unguarded or loosely guarded after the fall of Baghdad, allowing anyone to run off with them. A choice quote:
After the invasion, when widespread looting began in Iraq, the international weapons experts grew concerned that the Qaqaa stockpile could fall into unfriendly hands. In May, an internal I.A.E.A. memorandum warned that terrorists might be helping "themselves to the greatest explosives bonanza in history."
Earlier this month, in a letter to the I.A.E.A. in Vienna, a senior official from Iraq's Ministry of Science and Technology wrote that the stockpile disappeared after early April 2003 because of "the theft and looting of the governmental installations due to lack of security."
This is literally a limitless supply. For context, the Times
lets you know that "the bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 used less than a pound of the same type of material." We're talking about 380 TONS.
What's notable about the article is that most of the official Administration replies fall along the lines of "We don't know what happened." Here are some examples:
"We don't know what happened." - Rashad M. Omar, science and technology minister in Iraq
"Officials in Washington said they had no answers to that question."
"Administration officials say they cannot explain why the explosives were not safeguarded."
"It's not an excuse," said one senior administration official. "But a lot of things went by the boards."
Glenn Earhart, manager of an Army Corps of Engineers program that is in charge of rounding up and destroying lost Iraqi munitions, said he and his colleagues knew nothing of the whereabouts of the Qaqaa stockpile.
So, um, they don't know, is what they're saying. But one thing we do know, from Josh Marshall
, is that:
There was a much more concerted effort to keep hidden what had happened here, including pressure on Iraqi officials not to report the disappearance of these materials to the IAEA.
According to Josh (who oughta know), the administration has likely known about this for at least a year. And they've known that the story was going to break for a couple weeks. And they've very deliberately tried to hold back the story until after the election. Well, the dam burst. Sorry.
This is absolutely enormous, especially when you consider this quote (from TPM):
One administration official told Nelson, "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."
Thing is, Kerry has been all over this since BEFORE its release. In the first debate, he made sure to mention that the only building in Iraq that was closely guarded immediately after the fall of Baghdad was the Oil Ministry. With this group of Keystone Kops in the White House, suspicion is typically reality, what you see is what you get: incompetence, followed by dishonesty. Here's some more of the same for y'all.