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  Gustav
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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

No Search At Al Qaqaa

NBC Pulls Story

After reporting yesterday that an embedded reporter had witnessed an unsuccessful search of the now-famous and looted Al Qaqaa weapons housing facility, NBC has retracted the story, now reporting that there had been no such search. Speculation had it that Saddam's troops had spirited the explosives away to an unknown location. CNN.com- Report: Explosives could not be found when U.S. troops arrived

MSNBC - Timing of theft of Iraqi explosives remains a mystery

Reporter Lai Ling Jew, who was embedded with the Army’s 101st Airborne, Second Brigade, said Tuesday on MSNBC TV that the news team stayed at the Al-Qaqaa base for about 24 hours.


“There wasn’t a search,” she said. “The mission that the brigade had was to get to Baghdad. That was more of a pit stop there for us. And, you know, the searching, I mean certainly some of the soldiers headed off on their own, looked through the bunkers just to look at the vast amount of ordnance lying around.


And here comes the best part:

“But as far as we could tell, there was no move to secure the weapons, nothing to keep looters away.”


Even as the flawed NBC story was circulating, Pentagon and Iraqi Government officials were contradicting it. (Emphasis mine)


In reporting the theft on Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (who got their information from the Iraqi Government) said that the explosives had been looted from the sprawling Al-Qaqaa military base, about 30 miles south of Baghdad, since January 2003 due to a “lack of security” at the former Iraqi military facility.

At the Pentagon, an official who monitors developments in Iraq said U.S.-led coalition troops had searched Al-Qaqaa in the immediate aftermath of the March 2003 invasion and confirmed that the explosives, which had been under IAEA seal since 1991, were intact. The site was not secured by U.S. forces, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. MSNBC


And here is what Bush supporters respond with:

"But other Pentagon officials, also speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested that the explosives could have been hidden elsewhere before the war."

Are you telling me that just before the war we watched Saddam's forces load 380 tons of high-explosives (that we knew were there thanks to the IAEA) onto trucks and ship it across the country-- and we didn't shoot at them? And we didn't follow them? And we don't know where they are now?

That makes Bush an idiot and a bastard.

I suppose we didn't see it?

Difficult to believe-- What were all those satellites doing before the war?

Bush is unfit for command.

Keep the faith.

6 Comments:



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you telling me that just before the war we watched Saddam's forces load 308 tons of high-explosives (that we knew were there thanks to the IAEA) onto trucks and ship it across the country-- and we didn't shoot at them?quite the analysis gus. how about this though?

are you telling me that we knew that saddam had 380 tons of high explosives sitting in a warehouse -- and we didn't level the place in 1991?

isn't having it bad enough? or do they have to move it before we blast em?

look at the anonymous pentagon dude again. suggests that the explosives could have been hidden. iraq could have had wmd before the war too. should we have blasted every suspected site without declaring war?

say a government official, say a senator from mass., suggests that the norks could have nukes. should we be blasting away now?

That makes Bush an idiot and a bastard.you're a long way from impressing me.
wafflestomper

10/27/2004 05:01:00 PM  


Blogger Gustav said...

Thanks for the comment wafflestomper. Glad you came.

Ok, let's have some fun:

[A]re you telling me that we knew that saddam had 380 tons of high explosives sitting in a warehouse -- and we didn't level the place in 1991?

[I]sn't having it bad enough? or do they have to move it before we blast em?
Good point Stomper. I don't know why we didn't bomb it in 1991 when Bush I was President. My guess is it has something to do with it not being necessary to winning the Iraq/Kuwait War (Iraq War I?-- jeez, what's the proper name for it anyways?). Having it is bad enough, so once we decided we were going to overthrow Saddam, I don't know why it wasn't one of the first targets bombed. It's a big place and not far from Bagdad, so the logistics don't seem too daunting . . .

If your statement is somehow meant to imply that Clinton should have eliminated this facility, I beg to differ. While he was President, it was being monitored routinely by the IAEA, and if I understand correctly, it wasn't located in either of the No-Fly zones.

I guess I just thought that if we saw them moving these 380 tons of high grade explosives we might take a bigger interest-- But now that I think about it, you're right. Since the Bush administration was informed about these explosives prior to the war, they should have taken them out at the beginning and not waited for it to be looted or hidden, whichever happened.

look at the anonymous pentagon dude again. suggests that the explosives could have been hidden. iraq could have had wmd before the war too. should we have blasted every suspected site without declaring war?So, without a gigantic convoy which would have been seen by our satellites, hidden how? And Stomper, the whole basis of the war, was that Saddam did have WMD. To eliminate those WMD at the beginning of the war would have been very smart, considering all the worry that Saddam would have used them against our troops. Why blast all of them without declaring war, when we could have done it as soon as the war started? I also take issue with you calling this a "suspected site." This was a "for sure site." Remember Shock and Awe? Why couldn't we have taken out those "suspected WMD sites" during that, along with this "for-sure-huge-pile-of-conventional-weapons site?"

Look, I don't know why somebody didn't take care of it, but as soon as the Pentagon got wind of it, it should have been eliminated, secured, something. Instead it was left wide open-- both during the invasion and during the occupation.

say a government official, say a senator from mass., suggests that the norks could have nukes. should we be blasting away now?Well, it's the Norks suggesting that the Norks have nukes. But no, we shouldn't be blasting away now. However, if we decide to start a war with them, I would highly recommend blasting those sites first-- Just seems like good sense to take away the enemy's weapons when you're fighting him.

If the suggestion is then that the explosives were hidden sometime between when the inspectors left and when the first bomb was dropped, I just find it very hard to believe. Does that mean that they were paying so much attention to where Saddam was that they just happened to miss this convoy? Wow, now that's an idiot bastard.

you're a long way from impressing me.Likewise stomper. I suspect I'll never impress you, but that's not what this blog is for. It's for heated but civil political discussion. Thanks for participating. If you want more, please return.

10/28/2004 02:54:00 AM  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

let me preface my comments tonight by noting that my writing style on the net typically includes a bit of sarcasm and a lot of rhetorical questions. i think you see both of these and have chosen to respond to me with a similar degree of sarcasm. i guess to make our discussion more clear, i ask that you limit your sarcasm in response to where i'm playing the straight man, and i'll do likewise. otherwise it leaves doubts in my head whether or not i've conveyed my original point.

i made an error in that first post by intending to write 2001 instead of 1991. in retrospect, i should have written 1995 when the u.s. asked the the iaea to destroy the explosives. the iaea said 'no, we'll let saddam keep them'. the u.s. said that it was nuke parts and had to be destroyed, the u.n. said it was nothing more than high-grade tnt. allowed portions of it to be converted to civilian applications. considering that nothing was done to it from 1995 to 2003, that should tell you something about the severity of the loss. two admins chose not to raise a stink about its continued existence. this even during the ramped up inspections preceding the war (remember them destorying rockets that in theory exceeded the approved flight distance?)

that's my first point - i don't think the explosives justify your level of freaking out. it is an explosive. like tnt, only a bit more sophisticated and having more zip but still not as much as nitroglycerine. the u.s. made 8,000 tons of rdx in 1984 alone, and 7,500 tons per month during the peak of the vietnam war. also made 15000 tons of hmx a year during the vietnam war. (suppose every ounce has been accounted for?) the crap is hard to work with. its like you or i having a jdam - amazing destructive power and can't do a thing with it. 1 pound can take down an airliner. 380 tons = 760,000 planes. yet not a single pound has been used in the insurgency. are the current holders afraid they might use it all up? read up on the stuff, it'll do you good, maybe even talk you in off the ledge you're on.

once we decided we were going to overthrow Saddam, I don't know why it wasn't one of the first targets bombed._

we'll make sure foggy bottom and the pentagon give you a call next war so we can properly prioritize the sortees, 'kay? i can only wonder how much faster we could have taken baghdad had we only diverted resources to that ammo dump (this is an example of me being facetious. unless you have an actual point, skip this in your rebuttal)

i had no intention of discussing clinton's actions. regarding that ammo dump, i will defend his actions to the same extent i defend gwb's or ghwb's. this is why your discussion here lacks credibility - its founded in partisanship rather than objectivity. you want it to be so bad for gwb that you're unwilling to allow in any perspective.

to clarify another point now. you say: ... we watched Saddam's forces load 380 tons of high-explosives ... onto trucks and ship it across the country-- and we didn't shoot at them?. they were explosives for cripes sakes! not wmd! get it?

my comment: iraq could have had wmd before the war too. should we have blasted every suspected site without declaring war? take this slow now. say its january 2003. war is yet on the horizon. inspectors are visiting various sites still. satellite pics show a convoy of trucks leaving an ammo dump. a huge ammo dump. you as cic say bomb the convoy - start the war before pieces are in place - because we know that the ammo dump had high grade explosives? wow. i lent a little more creedance to your example by at least bumping the convoy up to hauling actual wmd. the u.s. was confident that saddam had wmd. gave lists of sites for the inspectors to observe. if a convoy were to leave one of those sites prior to being inspected, should they take it out? you say this was a "for-sure site" - yeah, a for-sure ammo dump having for-sure explosives, and ak-47's, and grenades, and lots of other headache makers.

now perhaps you would let me in on your credentials as a military planner that you should be in position to offer reprimanding critique to our military regarding taking out a conventional arms ammo dump that they were able to take intact save the possibility of some 380 tons of rdx/hmx. really, i can barely wait for kerry to execute that perfect war. lord knows he should be able to do it after fucking up three in a row prior to gwii...

that's enough for now - it'll take a manifesto on your part if you choose to respond to every sentence again.

wafflestomper (maybe i'll log in next time)

10/28/2004 06:42:00 AM  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

abc news is now suggesting that only three tons of rdx was kept at al qaqaa. that's still 6,000 airplanes... what do you think - should we divert the bombers from destroying radar installations, softening iraqi defense, and supporting the advancing troops and instead take out some explosives at the onset of the war? still think it was a mistake to send the first bomb to saddams command center rather than the ammo dump?

http://www.abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=204304&page=1

wafflestomper

10/28/2004 04:26:00 PM  


Blogger Gustav said...

Hi stomper.

Sorry about the "manifesto" on my part. Just ask Red about my responses to some of his comments-- they border on theses. . .

I'll try to be shorter this time. Here are the sentences in your response I take the most issue with.

considering that nothing was done to it from 1995 to 2003, that should tell you something about the severity of the loss. two admins chose not to raise a stink about its continued existence.Actually, it was checked, inventoried, monitored and sealed during that time. That's why a "stink" wasn't raised by two administrations. Once the war started, all of the monitoring went out the window, allowing the seals to be broken and the site to be opened without our knowledge. Knowing that these explosives were vulnerable and could have been used not only against us during the invasion (not so much of a problem, as you say), but also during the occupation (a huge problem, as we have seen), this site should have at least been watched.

the u.s. made 8,000 tons of rdx in 1984 alone. . .So we knew exactly how dangerous it was, and how it could be used as a military weapon-- and we still paid absolutely no attention to it.

the crap is hard to work with. . . yet not a single pound of it has been used in the insurgencyNot so fast, stomper. Here's what's being said now:

----HMX and RDX are key components in plastic explosives, which insurgents in Iraq have used in bomb attacks. It is unclear whether the military is able to trace any of the missing explosives to specific attacks.

HMX is also a “dual use” substance powerful enough to ignite the fissile material in an atomic bomb and set off a nuclear chain reaction.MSNBC----

It seems pretty plausible to me that the insurgents have used these explosives against our troops already. If indeed you are right, and it hasn't yet been used against our troops, it's even scarier because it means that there's 380 tons of this stuff sitting around waiting to be found and/or used by insurgents. You ask: "are the current holders afraid they might use it all up?" Maybe they've been so damn effective so far at killing our troops that they haven't needed to use it yet. Maybe they've got so much they haven't needed to use it yet. Perhaps small amounts are being shipped to other fronts on the War on Terror. If it was looted, then that suggests that many many groups and individuals have smaller amounts, so maybe they are saving it. Maybe nobody has it, and it's waiting out there to be found-- if so, I sure hope we find it before the insurgents do, but 380 tons of high-grade explosives has to stick out like a sore thumb.

You say that eliminating this site would have amounted to "diverting resources." Tell me, how many of those bunker-busters, cruise missles or smart bombs would have been needed to take out this site? Is that too big a cost to make sure our troops trying to stabilize Iraq after the invasion aren't blown up in car bombs?

Oh, that's right. The administration wasn't thinking about after the invasion. They had get-rid-of-Saddam and find-WMD tunnel vision: groupthink that prevented them from making the after-invasion planning.

They were probably thinking the same thoughts you were when you wrote:

they were explosives for cripes sakes! not wmd! get it?Oh I get it. All too well. The Bush administration was so fixated on finding imaginary WMD that it assumed were there (on the basis of faulty intelligence that wasn't questioned) that they thought when the IAEA told them that they really ought to look after this site, they were making a mountain out of a molehill-- like you think I'm doing. Just goes to show you that they were thinking about proving themselves right, and not protecting our troops from a post-war insurgency. Well, that was probably because Wolfowitz was busy telling everyone that we would be greeted with rose petals on the streets of Bagdad.

take this slow, imagine it's january 2003 . . .No thanks, I'll imagine this:

----The inspectors visited Al-Qaqaa for the last time on March 15, 2003, and reported that the seals were not broken; therefore, the weapons were still there at the time. The team then pulled out of the country before the invasion, which started on March 20.----

Five days Stomper, five days. The "pieces" were "in place." At that time Bush was just waiting till he had a good shot at Saddam. Could Saddam have moved those explosives in those 5 days without us knowing about it? Aw hell, what if it had been in January, when the "pieces" were not "in place?" At least we could have watched where it was going. But that's moot, cause in January it wasn't going anywhere. And no matter when it was, we weren't watching where it was going 'cause the administration has admitted it didn't know the damn explosives were missing until 2 weeks ago. Either it was looted or it was "moved and hidden" earlier-- either way, the administration just found out about it, meaning they weren't watching and/or didn't care.

You call this site full of only "headache makers."

Are you calling 1,251 coalition deaths, not to mention the hundreds of Iraqis who signed up to help us (and other civilians) killed a headache? The majority of these deaths were caused by carbombs and other explosions which very possibly could have come from the very "headache makers" we neglected to guard or destroy. How many is a migraine? How much is a brain tumor? This was not some shack with a bunch of old AK-47's, this was a highly important and very large site which the administration had been advised to make a priority.

i don't think the explosives justify your level of freaking outAnd the Republicans are saying that the Dems are denegrating our troops? Exactly how important are their lives to you? You seem to think that 380 tons of explosives that could be used against our troops are no big deal. What a lack of respect for the lives of our brave men and women. It's your willingness to excuse Bush's complete overlooking of these dangerous weapons that shows your bias. You're right, I'm no military expert, but there are plenty of them out there criticizing Bush for this terrible lack of insight and planning.

All this goes to show that the administration was focused on winning the war, but not on winning the peace. That attitude has put the lives of our troops in grave danger. Maybe a strong leader would make such a mistake, but an intelligent one would not. Kerry wouldn't fight the perfect war, but he would fight a better one.

---------------------
In response to your other comment. I just wish it had been taken out before the insurgents got their hands on it man. Supporting our troops during the invasion is great, but having some foresight is important too. Please see the "diverting resources" comment above. How many cruise missles would it have taken? What information did the administration have, and why weren't they paying any attention to it? My guess is that nobody in the administration will be able to tell you the answer to either of those questions.

10/28/2004 07:14:00 PM  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, it was checked, inventoried, monitored and sealed during that time. _
and if it were against u.n. resolutions, it would have had to been destroyed.

. . .So we knew exactly how dangerous it (rdx) was, and how it could be used as a military weapon-- and we still paid absolutely no attention to it. _
even excusing the decomposition fallacy in your argument, you have a serious hangup on these explosives. what's more dangerous a t-72 tank or a ton of rdx in the back of a truck? is it more dangerous than a single iraqi rifleman?

It seems pretty plausible to me that the insurgents have used these explosives against our troops already. _
plausible and yet totally unsubstantiated.

If indeed you are right, and it hasn't yet been used against our troops, it's even scarier because it means that there's 380 tons of this stuff sitting around waiting to be found and/or used by insurgents. _
can't think of another explanation?
If it was looted, then that suggests that many many groups and individuals have smaller amounts, so maybe they are saving it._
baseless

Is that too big a cost to make sure our troops trying to stabilize Iraq after the invasion aren't blown up in car bombs?_
satellites, cruise missiles, and 24 hours and you'll take the world, huh? your appreciation for the art of war is staggering.

The administration wasn't thinking about after the invasion._
unestablished assertion

The Bush administration was so fixated on finding imaginary WMD..._
you'd think the iraqis wouldn't have declared imaginary wmd, wouldn't ya?
...that it assumed were there (on the basis of faulty intelligence that wasn't questioned)_
baseless accusation
Just goes to show you that they were thinking about proving themselves right, and not protecting our troops from a post-war insurgency. _
another error of logic - false analogy

Five days Stomper, five days... _
i could bicker about that date only to have it be inconsequential to your point. i note that you avoid my hypotheticals. i presume its because you don't like the conclusions that you arrive at. this is the way kerry operates too, have you noticed? Mr. kerry, was the u.s. correct in taking out saddams regime? mr kerry: "waffle waffle waffle only if we know the outcome in advance" what would you have done differently? "waffle waffle france germany waffle waffle make less mistakes than w admits to waffle waffle". at least you got a role model, i guess.

...the administration just found out about it, meaning they weren't watching and/or didn't care. _
gee, what could be more important than those explosives? hmmmm. let me guess, you're worried that the insurgents are going to start up a nuclear weapons program now that the sanctions have been lifted on the country.

You call this site full of only "headache makers."_
scoring points off my sarcasm again? you knew that i wasn't writing in a literal sense when you went off on your little sensationalistic tangent, right? Apparently my earlier preface was wasted breath

Exactly how important are their lives to you?_
my, we are feeling a tad bit holy today, aren't we?

It's your willingness to excuse Bush's complete overlooking of these dangerous weapons that shows your bias._
ahh, shades of a true liberal debater employing the ‘i'm rubber you're glue' tactic. nicely done.

All this goes to show that the administration was focused on winning the war, but not on winning the peace._
still unsupported. perhaps if you were to write that a few more times without making a proper argument you'll convince me. give it a try.

finally friend, i'd feel bad if i'd didn't try at least one more time at providing you some perspective here on what's missing and what you're willing to reprioritize the war over. do you want some rdx? how about hmx?

just contact your friendly sales associate at:
Island Pyrochemical Industries
267 East Jericho Turnpike
Mineola, New York 11501
Telephone: 516-746-2100

http://www.islandgroup.com/ExplosiveChemistry.html

i told you that a little research on this stuff would do you some good... this was fun. i'll be back :-)
wafflestomper

10/29/2004 06:41:00 AM  

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