Fat Steve's Blatherings

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Desperately Seeking Surprise, October or Can't relax for a minute II

      I take a day or so off from the web, and it happens again, namely the press has another anti-Bush hit piece.

      To review the history of all this:

      1991, Saddam invaded Kuwait; later that year, the UN Coalition (read, the U.S., 90%, plus others, 10%) invaded Kuwait and Iraq, forcing Saddam out; as a condition for peace, Saddam agreed to give up all Weapons of Mass Destruction, and prove he had done so to the UN; UN inspectors find explosives at al Qaqaa.

      1995, Hussein Kamel defects, reveals Saddam's WMD program much larger than previously thought; the U.S. wants the al Qaqaa explosives destroyed, but the UN refuses.

      In 1996, Saddam stops co-operating with inspections; 1998 the inspectors are been tossed out of the country; U.S. policy becomes 'regime change.'

      Sept. 11, 2001.

      2002, Saddam, under pressure, allows UN inspectors back into Iraq, but doesn't co-operate fully; during the inspections, the UN team frequently went to al Qaqaa.

      2003, January, UN inventories explosives (380 U.S. tons), and seals buildingsat al Qaqaa containing them; visits in March, finds seals intact; hostilities begin, March 19; U.S. troops arrive at al Qaqaa April 4, find suspicious chemicals; place is "still being searched;"

      Now that we're caught up: when the Coalition forces got set to invade, Saddam ordered munitions dispersed throughout Iraq.  The stuff was everywhere, including "mosques, schools, hospitals and countless other locations".  The Iraqis had a "standard practice of moving crucial explosives out of buildings, so they would not be tempting targets," and the UN inspectors think they moved them "just before the invasion."  They would have been moved to "nearby fields, where it would have been lightly camouflaged."  A lot of stuff seems to have been shipped to Syria.  The amounts Saddam dispersed were immense, estimated to be 600,000 tons (six hundred thousand tons).  It's been known for months that there were thousand of munitions dumps in the country, with the U.S. trying to track them down and destroy them as fast as possible.

      So, when did the explosives disappear from al Qaqaa?  That's the point where the story breaks down.  There was a sixteen day interval between the attack and the arival at al Qaqaa, including periods of extreme dust storms.

      The working assumption of the Times seems to be that the explosives were moved out doors, they sat there, the U.S. troops came by al Qaqaa, and only after that were any explosives looted.  Given that there were U.S. troops in the area until a comprehensive search on May 27th, this appears unlikely.

      But of course, if the explosives disappeared before the U.S. got there, the only thing that we can accuse Bush of doing is waiting too long to invade.  This would not help get Kerry elected, so the possibility is not even mentioned.

      And why does this story come to light now?  The head of the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency is Mohamed ElBaredi.  He's been head of the IAEA since 1997.  His second term is drawing to a close, and he wants a third term as IAEA head.  The Bush administration opposes this, both because they favor a general policy of two terms only, and because the disagree with his judgement on recent non-proliferation issues.  And early this month, ElBaredi began putting pressure on the new Iraqi govt. to account for the explosives.  Suddenly, a month before the election, ElBaredi is extremely concerned.  And after getting a letter from Iraq on Oct. 10th, saying that the explosives are missing, someone goes to "60 Minutes" and The New York Times with the story, and CBS decides they'll have the story ready to go the Sunday before the election.  Then they found out that somebody else might break the story first, so CBS reluctantly allows the Times to go first, with CBS News also airing a report.  Of course, at no time does the Times or CBS News suggest that ElBaredi might be trying to affect the election.  And CBS doesn't bother to look at its own archives, where it would find that U.S. troops were looking at the al Qaqaa complex as soon as they arrive.

      Apparently, the MSM didn't learn anything from the Rathergate debacle.

      Update, 1830, 10/27: Apparently, Fox News is reporting "heavy truck activity" at al Qaqaa in late March.  What a shock.

      Update, 2042, 10/27: When I was writing the above, it occured to me that 'Hey, the UN last saw "the explosives" was in January, when they sealed the bunkers (or did they? perhaps they saw boxes labeled "explosive?" the news reports were rather vague).  Gee, maybe Saddam smuggled them out somehow afterwards, while the seals were left intact?'  But it seemed too speculative, so I didn't put it in.

      Now along comes Powerline, to report:
A Power Line reader writes from a .mil address:

I am a reservist stationed at CENTCOM. I did a search on SIPRNET the other day and I came up with a document with the following (unclassified) subject:


Other parts of the document are classified.

The subject pretty much tells it all but I do not know the final validity of the report. Perhaps you have access to people with more information. In any case, if the UN "inspectors" only checked the seals in March, then the materials could have been moved as early as January.

      Hmmm, do you think the UN could really be that incompentent?  Yes, you do.



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