Wednesday, October 27, 2004

‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’



As the New York Times story about the missing explosives in Iraq was released Monday and covered by the wire services I thought everyone would be arguing this week as to who was to blame. Instead, the argument has been about when it happened.

One NBC reporter, imbedded with the 101st Airborne, as our troops surrounded and entered Baghdad, amidst general chaos, claimed yesterday that the troops found no munitions at the al-Qaqaa facility, the place near Baghdad where the munitions were known to have been stored.

This same statement was later clarified by NBC to say, also, that the troops did not search for any munitions at the facility.

This makes a bit of sense… you can’t find something if you’re not searching for it.

No matter if the details are murky… the Bush team has been saying the weapons were gone before our troops arrived and the Kerry campaign has been hitting Bush hard for the “incompetence” of our occupation.

At first, yesterday and the day before, the Bush Administration issued strong denials about the mishap. They’ve since had to back off because it’s becoming clear that they simply don’t know what happened to the high-grade explosives that the IAEA documented before the war.

Now we hear, this morning, that the Bush campaign has no plans to engage in the debate about the missing weapons and will not be issuing any more denials about them. They now say they are “investigating” the situation.

Bush is saying that Kerry is “making statements without all the facts.”

Is anybody besides me troubled that Bush doesn’t have “all the facts” about the missing material? Why am I still concerned even when Bush – the guy in charge right now – promises he will “investigate” what happened?

Weren’t Saddam’s weapons THE REASON we invaded in the first place?

Apparently, the munitions WERE at the facility at one time. Whether Saddam or somebody else moved them before we arrived or whether they were removed during the ensuing bedlam – or even afterward – now seems to be the question.

What cannot be disputed is the mayhem that ensued after Baghdad was liberated. We all remember that. I remember seeing one guy loading a refrigerator onto the back of a flatbed on live TV. While the cameras focused on everyone looting office furniture, televisions and food, some more enterprising Iraqis were robbing Saddam’s money vault across town.

The Bush Administration was asked about “control” and “the looting problem” in Baghdad. They were asked how they planned to deal with it. Donald Rumsfeld took a ho-hum attitude about the looting and it soon became clear that the administration had no plans to deal with it at all.

This struck me as strange even then considering that Iraq was full of “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” Dick Cheney had even claimed, “we know where they are.”

The Bush team must have still been expecting that parade with all the flowers being tossed at our troops by the happy Iraqis.

But, the Iraqis were too busy taking everything that wasn’t nailed down.

Were the munitions at the al-Qaqaa facility taken around the same time, to be used against our troops in the now never-ending insurgency? Were they taken before the invasion? More frightening… have they been taken since then?

There’s no way to know.

Apparently, we never bothered to check.

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