Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Alright, I'll bite: missing explosives pseudo-scandal redux
Written by: Beck

If you haven't yet heard about the missing Iraqi explosives flap which the NYT first reported on Monday, you might want to think about leaving your bomb shelter for fresh air a little more often.

I ignored the story at first because, well, it was bad for my candidate of choice. Then I ignored the news from NBC the very same day that the Times story was a load of hooey (and yes, I have a permit for use of the word "hooey"). I've only decided to finally rise and take the bait of this non-story because the WSJ has a very good article today neatly summarizing everything. So, helpful guy that I am, I thought I'd share.
Kudos to the Kerry-Edwards campaign for responding on a dime to the news that some 380 tons of high-grade explosives have gone missing from the Qaqaa munitions depot near Baghdad.

The story was first reported on Monday by The New York Times and CBS News; by Tuesday, the Times headline was the featured visual in a new Kerry campaign ad damning President Bush for having "failed to secure" the cache. "This is one of the great blunders, one of the great blunders of this Administration," says the junior Senator from Massachusetts.

But here's something our Democratic friends might keep in mind: The next time you try to set a land-speed record for demagoguing an issue, first check if the story has wheels. In this case, it doesn't.

[...] Following the first Gulf War, the International Atomic Energy Agency put the Qaqaa cache under seal, where it remained until U.N. inspectors were kicked out in 1998. Upon the inspectors' return in late 2002, some 35 tons of HMX were found to be missing; the Iraqis claimed some of it had been removed for civilian use.

That's the last we know of their whereabouts. According to a Times source, U.S. troops "went through the bunkers, but saw no items bearing the IAEA seal." NBC News, which was embedded with the 101st Airborne when it arrived at Al-Qaqaa on April 10, 2003--the day after the fall of Baghdad--also reports this week that back then it found no sign of the explosives either. Stands to reason: Of course Saddam would remove his precious HMX from its last known location before U.S. cruise missiles could find it.
But wait, there's more! Ed over at Captain's Quarters has done something no one else bothered too--the math on what it would take to abscond with 380 tons of, well, anything. Have a look at the calculations yourself if you like, here are his conclusions:
Total = 19-20 trucks, 90 men working continuously for two weeks to "loot" facility.

Bottom line this operation would take the resources of AN ENTIRE COMPANY (approx. 100 men) OVER TWO WEEKS, good Intel to know exactly where the "right" explosives were hidden and a means of breaching huge steel doors and concrete of an ASP.
Naturally, no modern politics news story would be complete without a conspiracy to discredit the sitting president at its heart. CBS has already shown their colors in seeking to toss the election to Kerry in any way they can. They did the same in 2000 when they reported, at the last possible second, on Bush's DWI (which really did nearly cost him the election). Ed researches the various conspirators with much aplomb.
In a story rich with irony, the Los Angeles Times reported last night -- before NBC made the Al-Qaqaa story moot -- that CBS had the story first but couldn't nail it down before the New York Times published it...

Unnoticed in all of the attention given to the NY Times was CBS's broadcast of essentially the same story, based on its own reporting, which turned out to be just as incomplete as the NYT. The Gray Lady graciously gave its partner some of the credit/blame.
James Taranto in today's Best of the Web has more to add, linking the IAEA--which has already made itself rather a nuisance to the Bush administration--to this whole mess. He summarizes from a New York Sun article:
The New York Sun notes that the Times/CBS report was based on a letter from Mohamed ElBaradei, who is seeking a third term as head of the International Atomic Energy Commission. The Bush administration opposes ElBaradei's reappointment, so one suspects that this was a foreign effort to influence the outcome of America's presidential election, aided by our domestic partisan liberal media.

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