October 28, 2004

I'd say "off message" pretty much sums it up


There was probably no way for Bush to win the al Qa'qaa cock fight. Every excuse he had looks bad, even if it's true. "How could we possibly know if the explosives were taken before or after the regime fell? What did you want us to do, quickly search and secure every site that had been identified in advance of the invasion as a weapons depot? Oh, you did? Um..." Clearly, the administration didn't think it was necessary to keep conventional explosives out of the hands of insurgents, because it was dead sure there wouldn't be any insurgents.

But staking everything on when the weapons went missing was a huge gamble, because it gave the media an incentive to figure that out for itself, and that gamble has now blown up in Bush's face like 380 tons of HMX.

The news crew was based just south of Al Qaqaa, and drove two or three miles north of there with soldiers on April 18, 2003.

During that trip, members of the 101st Airborne Division showed the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS news crew bunker after bunker of material labelled "explosives." Usually it took just the snap of a bolt cutter to get into the bunkers and see the material identified by the 101st as detonation cords....

Once the doors to the bunkers were opened, they weren't secured. They were left open when the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew and the military went back to their base.

"We weren't quite sure what were looking at, but we saw so much of it and it didn't appear that this was being secured in any way," said photojournalist Joe Caffrey. ...Caffrey and reporter Dean Staley, who spent three months together in Iraq, said Iraqis were coming and going freely."

Posted by Daniel Radosh


This story is embarrassing for the administration and yes I think it's a metaphor for how they have botched this thing from the beginning, but this is not the huge story we're all making it out to be. There are 380 tons missing from this depot. Meanwhile the army has destroyed over 400,000 tons of Iraqi explosives in the last eighteen months. Whatever happened to these munitions (and it could be anything from a bold heist to lost paperwork) the insurgents in Iraq are not hamstrung by a shortage of TNT.

I'm not sad to see Bush on the defensive (finally), but the media has generally treated this story with a lack of perspective, I think. When Kerry says things like. "These are exactly the kinds of explosives that could detonate a nuclear bomb" it's like holding up a #10 envelope and saying, "this is exactly the kind of envelope that could be used to deliver anthrax..."

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