I have made my decision in the upcoming election fairly clear to anyone who has asked me anything about the election. I’m not shy about stating who I’m planning to vote for or why. But the recent allegations around al Qaaqaa, and the attempted spin by the White House to deny their own responsibility in the matter is simply galling. More info on the Fox spin attempts are available here.
The timeline, as I understand it is relatively well-established, although it may be necessary to wade through multiple stories to see the full picture.
The IAEA had more than 350 metric tonnes of explosives under seal in Iraq, which they monitored over a several year period leading up to the US invasion. These explosives were considered dual-use items, with both non-military (and more specifically, non-WMD) and military purposes. Prior to the invasion, the IAEA pulled out its staff, although they made one last check to ensure that the weapons remained in place under seal up to a week before the invasion. The IAEA also informed the US about the weapons under seal there, and in fact, this had been included in Colin Powell’s UN presentation prior the commencement of the war. Long and short, the US was AWARE of the contents of the facility, meaning ignorance was not an excuse.
On April 3rd to April 4th, US forces passed through al Qaaqaa, but no attempts were made to secure the facility. Some testing was done to attempt to identify if chemical weapons were present, but only more “run-of-the-mill” explosives were found. Offhand reports indicate that the seals were still intact, although no thorough accounting of the inventory was done, to the best of the public’s knowledge.
On April 10th, additional US forces passed through the facility, but again no attempt was made to secure the facility, nor was a thorough accounting of the explosives made at this time. In fact, no real search was carried out, and one of the commanders has publically admitted that to have secured the facility would have required four times the number of troops provided. Additional evidence indicates that the explosives were under seal as late as April 18th, 2003.
Sometime after this, the explosives went missing. Once the Bush Administration was the de facto head of the Iraqi state. And, as far as anyone has admitted publically, no significant effort was made to locate or secure the explosives.
What’s more, the US-run government in Iraq received warning about the missing explosives long before the loss of the explosives was reported to the IAEA. And yet they either informed no one in the White House or no one in the White House card until the Iraqi government informed the IAEA directly, which triggered a process of its own. Furthermore, there was in fact pressure on the Iraqis to not even report the incident at all.
The loss of the explosives is disturbing, as they could be anywhere now, in just about anyone’s hands. But this simply didn’t have to be the case. The Bush Administration KNEW that the weapons were there. They knew before the invasion, they knew during the invasion, and they knew after the invasion. And they did absolutely nothing about it. Until mid-October, 2004, a year and a half later, when the cat was finally let out of the bag. And the weapons had long since vanished.
How anyone could vote for an administration this incompetent is beyond me.