Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Update on Al-Qaqaa Fiasco

There are two news articles that, in my view, give a good description of the story as it now stands.

First, MSNBC has this story explaining that at most, there is a three-week period where the explosives--all 770,000 pounds of them--could have been taken from the site. That story quotes one of NBC's journalists who was embedded with the 101st Airborne when they arrived at the site. Lai Ling Jew describes the scene and explains that “there wasn’t a search.... The mission that the brigade had was to get to Baghdad. That was more of a pit stop there for us."

Second, CSM provides this summary of various news coverage on the topic. In a Salon article that CSM references, Joseph Cirincione, director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is quoted as saying: "This is thousands and thousands of potential terrorist attacks.... It's like they knocked off the Fort Knox of explosives."

The media coverage is missing what I find to be the most important question here. If troops did search the Al-Qaqaa facility in Spring of 2003 and discovered that the explosives were gone, why did the US Government not report that to the IAEA? And how does that fit with the Bush Administration's position that the Pentagon did not learn of these missing explosives until after October 15, when the IAEA passed along the information it learned from the interim Iraqi government?

Of course, other questions remain unanswered too. For instance, what did the 3rd Infantry find when they got there on April 4th? According to this AP report, the troops found the explosives still under IAEA seal. And of course, where are the explosives now? Have they been used in the insurgency? And last, doesn't this demonstrate that there were not enough troops on the ground at the time of the invasion?

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