View Full Version : Incompetence?

October 25th, 2004, 10:18 AM
Anyone have an idea at what point Donald Rumsfeld might be held accountable and responsible for this seriously mismanaged war in Iraq?

Huge cache of weapons, 380 tons, were lost after U.S. Iraq invasion
Filed under: General— site admin @ 10:21 pm Email This
A quick excerpt from the Times article (currently still registration-restricted)

The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, produce missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq’s most sensitive former military installations.

The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no-man’s land, still picked over by looters as recently as Saturday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished after the American invasion last year.

The White House said President Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was informed within the past month that the explosives were missing. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed. American officials have never publicly announced the disappearance, but beginning last week they answered questions about it posed by The New York Times and the CBS News program “60 Minutes.”

American weapons experts say their immediate concern is that the explosives could be used in major bombing attacks against American or Iraqi forces: the explosives, mainly HMX and RDX, could be used to produce bombs strong enough to shatter airplanes or tear apart buildings. The bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 used less than a pound of the material of the type stolen from Al Qaqaa, and somewhat larger amounts were apparently used in the bombing of a housing complex in November 2003 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the blasts in a Moscow apartment complex in September 1999 that killed nearly 300 people.

The explosives could also be used to trigger a nuclear weapon, which was why international nuclear inspectors had kept a watch on the material. But the other components of an atom bomb - the design and the radioactive fuel - are more difficult to obtain. “This is a high explosives risk, but not necessarily a proliferation risk,” one senior Bush administration official said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency publicly warned about the danger of these explosives before the war, and after the invasion it specifically told United States officials about the need to keep the explosives secured, European diplomats said in interviews last week. Administration officials say they cannot explain why the explosives were not safeguarded, beyond the fact that the occupation force was overwhelmed by the amount of munitions they found throughout the country.

The Qaqaa facility was well known to American intelligence officials: Saddam Hussein made conventional warheads at the site. In the prelude to the 2003 invasion, Mr. Bush cited a number of other “dual use” items - including tubes that the administration contended could be converted to use for the nuclear program - as a justification for invading Iraq. 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.”

To see the bunkers that makeup the vast Qaqaa complex today, it is hard to recall that just two years ago it was part of Saddam Hussein’s secret military complex. The bunkers are so large that they are reminiscent of pyramids, though with rounded edges and the tops chopped off. Several are blackened and eviscerated as a result of American bombing. Smokestacks rise in the distance.

“It’s like Mars on Earth,” said Maj. Dan Whisnant, an intelligence officer for the Second Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment. “It would take probably 10 battalions 10 years to clear that out.”

What are these explosives? The Associated Press explains:

HMX: High melting explosives, as they are scientifically known, are among the most powerful in use by the world’s militaries today. HMX, also known as octogen, is made from hexamine, ammonium nitrate, nitric acid and acetic acid. Because it detonates at high temperatures, it is used in various kinds of explosives, rocket fuels and burster chargers.

RDX: Also referred to as cyclonite or hexogen, RDX is a white crystalline solid usually used in mixtures with other explosives, oils or waxes. Rarely used alone, it has a high degree of stability in storage and is considered the most powerful of the high explosives used by militaries.

PLASTIC EXPLOSIVES: Experts say both HMX and RDX are key ingredients in plastic explosives such as Semtex and C-4, puttylike military substances that easily can be shaped. Libyan terrorists used just 1 pound of Semtex in 1988 to down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people.

C-4 or its main ingredients were used in the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole (news - web sites) in Yemen that killed 17 U.S. sailors. Traces of RDX were found in an investigation of explosions that crippled two heavily fortified Israeli tanks, indicating Palestinian militants have obtained at least small quantities of the extremely potent material. Just 5 pounds of either plastic explosive would be enough to blow up a dozen jetliners, experts say.

NUCLEAR USE: Experts say HMX can be used to create a highly powerful explosion with enough intensity to ignite the fissile material in an atomic bomb and set off a nuclear chain reaction.

10/25/2004 Rawstory.com

October 25th, 2004, 03:17 PM
In the current climate, there is no accountability because there is no demand for it. If we were able to see the emperor without his clothes we would all get sick. This winter may bring more than a flu outbreak. Don't sit near any large fans.

October 29th, 2004, 07:26 AM
October 29, 2004


It's Not Just Al Qaqaa


Just in case, the right is already explaining away President Bush's defeat: it's all the fault of the "liberal media," particularly The New York Times, which, so the conspiracy theory goes, deliberately timed its report on the looted Al Qaqaa explosives - a report all the more dastardly because it was true - for the week before the election.

It's remarkable that the right-wingers who dominate cable news and talk radio are still complaining about a liberal stranglehold over the media. But, that absurdity aside, they're missing a crucial point: Al Qaqaa is hardly the only tale of incompetence and mendacity to break to the surface in the last few days. Here's a quick look at some of the others:

Letting Osama get away Just before the story about Al Qaqaa broke, the Bush-Cheney campaign was frantically trying to debunk John Kerry's statement that Mr. Bush let Osama bin Laden get away when he was cornered at Tora Bora. That getaway, Mr. Kerry asserts, was possible because the administration "outsourced" the job of closing off escape routes to local Afghan warlords.

In response, Gen. Tommy Franks claimed that we don't know that Osama was at Tora Bora, and, anyway, we didn't outsource the work of catching him. Dick Cheney called Mr. Kerry's claims "absolute garbage." But multiple reports from 2001 and early 2002 confirm Mr. Kerry's version. As Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert, writes, Mr. Kerry's charge is "an accurate reflection of the historical record."

Letting Zarqawi get away On Monday The Wall Street Journal confirmed an earlier report that in 2002 the military drew up plans for a strike on the base of the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in an area of Iraq not under Saddam's control. But civilian officials vetoed the attack - probably because they thought it might undermine political support for the war against Saddam. So Mr. Zarqawi, like Osama, was given the chance to kill another day.

The situation in Iraq Dick Cheney is telling supporters that Iraq is a "remarkable success story." But the news from Iraq just keeps getting worse. After 49 Iraqi National Guard recruits were killed, execution style, even Ayad Allawi, the Iraqi prime minister - who usually acts as a de facto spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign - accused coalition forces of "gross negligence." It's now clear that the insurgency is much larger than U.S. officials initially acknowledged, and that Iraqi security forces have been heavily infiltrated.

$70 billion more Earlier this week The Washington Post reported that administration officials were planning to seek an additional $70 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan after the election. Whatever the precise number, it has long been obvious to knowledgeable observers that this was coming, but the news will come as a shock to many people who still don't realize how deep a quagmire Mr. Bush has gotten us into.

All of these stories would be getting more play right now if it weren't for the Al Qaqaa mess. Still, one can understand why the right is so upset.

After all, Al Qaqaa illustrates in a particularly graphic way the failures of Mr. Bush's national security leadership. U.S. soldiers passed through Al Qaqaa, a crucial munitions dump, but were never told that it was important to secure the site. If administration officials object that they couldn't have spared enough troops to guard the site, they're admitting that they went in without enough troops. And the fact that these explosives fell into unknown hands is a perfect example of how the Iraq war has worsened the terrorist threat.

The story of Al Qaqaa has brought out the worst in a campaign dedicated to the proposition that the president is infallible - and that it's always someone else's fault when things go wrong. Here's what Rudy Giuliani said yesterday: "No matter how you try to blame it on the president, the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough?" Support the troops!

But worst of all from the right's point of view, Al Qaqaa has disrupted the campaign's media strategy. Karl Rove clearly planned to turn the final days of the campaign into a series of "global test" moments - taking something Mr. Kerry said and distorting its meaning, then generating pseudo-controversies that dominate the airwaves. Instead, the news media have spent the last few days discussing substance. And that's very bad news for Mr. Bush.

E-mail: krugman@nytimes.com

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

TLOZ Link5
October 29th, 2004, 04:57 PM
Strangely enough, this has not hurt Bush's polls any. Very strange.

October 29th, 2004, 08:03 PM
The "missing weapons" story, I hear, didn't pan out. Correctamundo?

October 29th, 2004, 11:05 PM
Partially. Some of them were found and destroyed.

October 30th, 2004, 06:55 AM
October 30, 2004

Soldier Tells of Destroying Some Arms


WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 - An Army demolition expert said Friday that his former unit in Iraq destroyed hundreds of tons of ammunition and explosives in a part of the munitions complex at Al Qaqaa in April 2003.

But the Defense Department said it was not clear whether those munitions had anything to do with the nearly 380 tons of high explosives that the Iraqi government and the International Atomic Energy Agency have said are missing from the complex.

Soon afterward, however, Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking at a campaign stop in Dimondale, Mich., cited the Army officer's comments, at a Pentagon news conference, as evidence that some of the missing explosives had been demolished.

"They seized and destroyed some 250 tons of ammunition,'' Mr. Cheney said, "which included in that amount some significant portions of the explosives in question.''

At the news conference, the demolition expert, Maj. Austin Pearson, and the Pentagon spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, were both asked repeatedly whether the material the unit destroyed was the same as that reported missing. They both said they did not know.

Major Pearson, former commander of the 24th Ordnance Company, 24th Corps Support Group, said the munitions destruction that the unit undertook had been part of a routine process of clearing away dangerous explosives that posed an immediate danger to American troops operating in the area beginning in April 2003.

Mr. Di Rita said that while some of what Major Pearson described destroying was a plastic explosive called RDX, similar to some of the material that the International Atomic Energy Agency has said is missing, "I can't say that RDX that was on the list of the I.A.E.A. is in what the major pulled out."

Other explosives that Major Pearson's unit destroyed on April 13, 2003, 10 days after American forces first reached Al Qaqaa, included TNT, detonation cords, initiators and white phosphorous rounds - none of them the type of material that had been inspected and sealed by the agency before the war.

"I did not see any I.A.E.A. seals at the locations that we went into," Major Pearson told reporters. "I was not looking for that. My mission specifically was to go in there and prevent the exposure of U.S. forces and to minimize that by taking out what was easily accessible and putting it back and bringing it in to our captured ammunition holding area."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company