weapons on the loose
October 24, 2004 8:37 PM   Subscribe

The Coalition's lack of preparation left 380 tons of high explosives unprotected in Iraq. Now it looks like the DoD tried to cover it up. Where is your surprise now? (first one is NYT)
posted by jmgorman (66 comments total)
 
bush and crew were spending billions on a wild goose chase to find weapons of mass destruction - while they left this stuff unguarded. our troops and thousand of iraqi's have paid the price with their lives.

yet rumsfeld, feith, and wolfowitz still have jobs - what would the right be saying if this mis-management had happened on the dems watch?

unbelievable.
posted by specialk420 at 8:49 PM on October 24, 2004


Well, you have to admit, it would be pretty difficult to actually have a productive meeting about a place called Al Qaqaa.

I'm just sayin'.
posted by ulotrichous at 8:50 PM on October 24, 2004


380 pounds of HMX and RDX are difficult to "cover up", as we.... what? You mean 380 tons? And it was under watch before the U.S. invasion? Oh... oh crap.
posted by Keyser Soze at 8:51 PM on October 24, 2004


i feel so safe!
posted by quonsar at 8:53 PM on October 24, 2004


HMX is the military's most powerful conventional (non-nuclear) explosive
posted by Keyser Soze at 8:54 PM on October 24, 2004


They couldn't guard them because they were so busy protecting all the museums. What, do you want them to be everywhere at once or something? We're not a country that's going to get involved in "nation-building", shit-for-brains.
posted by interrobang at 8:57 PM on October 24, 2004


Good job Bush. Lost weapons, an insurgency on par with the viet cong, Chalabi taking you for an Iranian ride, "control" of like 5% of Iraq, 50 dead iraqi recruits found today, 1100+ soldiers dead, 15,000 innocent civillians dead (thats 5 9/11's!), torture from Saddam's own handbook, the world hates us, terrorists are recruiting at a record rate, etc.

And they actually said "Cakewalk" and "they would be tossing flowers at us."
posted by skallas at 8:57 PM on October 24, 2004


From Talking Points Memo:
It is apparently widely believed within the US government that those looted explosives are what in many, perhaps most, cases is being used in car bombs and suicide attacks against US troops. That is, according to TPM sources and sources quoted in this evening's Nelson Report, where the story first broke.

One administration official told Nelson, "This is the stuff the bad guys have been using to kill our troops, so you can’t ignore the political implications of this, and you would be correct to suspect that politics, or the fear of politics, played a major role in delaying the release of this information."
Un-fricking-believable.

Actually, no. Entirely believable, given the bottomless perfidy and ceaseless incompetence of this administration.
posted by Vidiot at 10:35 PM on October 24, 2004


god, i wish Canada was hiring.
posted by NationalKato at 10:53 PM on October 24, 2004


I look forward to hearing the wingnut apologists explain why this is a good thing. Or nothing to worry about.
posted by 2sheets at 11:05 PM on October 24, 2004


I look forward to hearing the wingnut apologists explain why this is a good thing. Or nothing to worry about.

Don't you get it? If we'd been guarding this material, the terrorists would be attacking us on our own soil! With these explosives, we have the terrorists pinned down performing car and suicide bombings in Iraq, where we can rout them out little by little.
posted by rafter at 11:15 PM on October 24, 2004


fuck the aplogists and the politics. This is 350+ tons of explosive that can travel easily and discretely. That is over 700000 pounds. Pan Am 103 came down with only one pound of this stuff. How many buildings in your city could this knock down? Is this the explosive used in Madrid? My God, not to get teh crazy here, but this is really, really scary.
posted by jmgorman at 11:17 PM on October 24, 2004


Please vote next week, Americans. I don't care for who, just vote.

I can't believe that if more than the usual 40% of you or so got out there and did your duty as citizens, that we'd have anything but a landslide for The Other Guy.

Please vote. We're beggin' you, out here.

Even so, there's another 349 tons of superduper high explosive out there, which can't be comforting, but. Baby steps. You know.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:38 PM on October 24, 2004


Is this the explosive used in Madrid?

My Googling so far says that the Madrid explosives are thought to have been manufactured in northern Spain.
posted by inksyndicate at 12:17 AM on October 25, 2004


This is good news. Today is a good, perhaps banner, day. I hope tomorrow contains these pieces of good will and human spirit that I can cherish as god slowly roasts my soul.

No, I'm just kidding. There is no god. It's probably aliens.
posted by The God Complex at 12:20 AM on October 25, 2004


380 Tons of RDX/HMX =
760,000 Pan Am explosions over Lockerbie.
At least one I.E.D. for every serviceman in Iraq.
A Madrid-style train bombing, every single day for 41 years.

It's a good thing we were watching the Oil Ministry so carefully.
posted by bashos_frog at 12:26 AM on October 25, 2004


I'll admit, over the past year or so, I have privately rejoiced every time one of this administration's fuck-ups has come to light. This is bad form, I know, because of the lives connected to these often outlandish fuck-ups. Nevertheless, I have rejoiced because I have comforted myself--falsely, I now see--with the belief that the more times these idiots fuck up, the better the odds that they will get the boot this November.

I regret that shameful joy now, because I was wrong to think that the Bush administration's fuck-ups would cost them any part of their political support. As bewildering as it seems, their endless litany of fuck-ups has actually strengthened their base.

So now this. I can't see a silver lining; this will force no change, this will wake up no one except those whose lives it fractures. Than those lives will be plentiful, the loss will be revolting, and those despicable villains who allowed it to happen will never face justice.

America has totally fucked the world. Period.
posted by squirrel at 12:32 AM on October 25, 2004


I'm coming to the same conclusion, squirrel, while I hold out some hope that the American voting public will smarten the fuck up and vote this clown out of office. Then the world will be half safe from American imperialism for another four to eight years before the crazies get back into the white house and start smearing their shit on the walls.
posted by The God Complex at 12:40 AM on October 25, 2004


I'm with Stavros. We're begging you. Please get out and vote.

Unlike the chicken, I do care who you vote for. I'm begging you to vote for Kerry.
posted by dobbs at 12:42 AM on October 25, 2004


If Bush wins I'm crossing down south with a meat hook and there is going to be hell to pay.
posted by The God Complex at 12:48 AM on October 25, 2004


TGC: The meat hook is a neat idea, but I hear there are some Middle-Eastern types looking to fence a shitload of high explosives. It might be more effective, and you could probably get 'em pretty cheap.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:29 AM on October 25, 2004


Is there a Fark tag for "INEVITABLE"?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:51 AM on October 25, 2004


We are in deep QaQaa.
posted by zaelic at 3:03 AM on October 25, 2004


"yet rumsfeld, feith, and wolfowitz still have jobs - what would the right be saying if this mis-management had happened on the dems watch?":

It's not whose watch it is, it's who is watching the watchers.

Rep. Pres. + Rep. Senate + Rep. House. = _____________
posted by Dick Paris at 3:53 AM on October 25, 2004




By the way. HMX has another uses. It's very much on of the explosives of choice for making nuclear weapons.

Why do you think the IAEA was watching it?

So, when we FUCK UP and let it get looted, what do we do? We lean on the "Independent" government of Iraq to not inform the IAEA that this stuff is gone.

I wonder how many people this pile of explosive has killed so far. I wonder how many more it will kill.
posted by eriko at 4:23 AM on October 25, 2004


We can't find Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.

Now we can't find our own weapons of mass destruction.

[bangs head on wall]
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:44 AM on October 25, 2004



If Bush wins I'm crossing down south with a meat hook and there is going to be hell to pay.
posted by stbalbach at 5:17 AM on October 25, 2004


There they are, Civil_Disobedient. stbalbach found them.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:30 AM on October 25, 2004


I would really like to hear from some of the "Terrorism is the only issue that matters" and "Security Mom" warbloggers if they still feel that Bush makes them safer.

Bush isn't directly responsible, but because of the Iraq war Bush chose to start, we very well may have just put 700,000 pounds of explosive into the hands of the people who have been killing American and Iraqi soldiers every day for the last year and a half.

I just don't understand how anyone voting for Bush because of the war could say they believe in his administration's ability at this point.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:33 AM on October 25, 2004


it would be pretty difficult to actually have a productive meeting about a place called Al Qaqaa

Yes. Yes, it would have been. UNTIL YOU REALIZED THERE WERE ENOUGH EXPLOSIVES THERE TO OBLITERATE SEVERAL SMALL NATIONS.
posted by azazello at 6:43 AM on October 25, 2004


These explosives are already being used to make IEDs:
The insurgents probably are using weapons and ammunition looted from the nearby Qa-Qaa complex, a 3-mile by 3-mile weapons-storage facility about 25 miles southwest of Baghdad, said Maj. Brian Neil, operations officer for the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, which initially patrolled the area.

The facility was bombed during last year's invasion and then left unguarded, Neil said. "There's definitely no shortage of weapons around here," he said.
Al Qaeda, Al QaQaa, what's the difference? Weapons, weapons programs, what's the difference? Iraq, Iran, what's the difference?
posted by kirkaracha at 6:45 AM on October 25, 2004


They couldn't guard them because they were so busy protecting all the museums. What, do you want them to be everywhere at once or something? We're not a country that's going to get involved in "nation-building", shit-for-brains.


If you invade a country, dispose of any order that was there and create a vacuum, you are expected to be everywhere at once - Don't take up the challenge if you are not up for it!

Iraq was not part of the war on terror and yet 'the allies' have fucked it up beyond all recognition. It is now home to some of the most volatile terrorists out there.

So, shit-for-brains, The USA, Britain and the rest of the allies are responsible for this fuck up.
posted by twistedonion at 6:46 AM on October 25, 2004


Also, according to the New York Times article, National "Security" Advisor Condoleeza Rice "was informed within the past month that the explosives were missing." Her response? Hitting the campaign trail in battleground states.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:51 AM on October 25, 2004


azazello, twisted onion: I think it's called sarcasm, guys. They do that a lot around here.
posted by fungible at 7:03 AM on October 25, 2004


shit,

I'm normally pretty good at detecting sarcasm. Sign of the times that it's hard to detect sarcasm from plain stupidity though
posted by twistedonion at 7:10 AM on October 25, 2004


From the BBC article :-


It is not yet known whether US President George W Bush has been informed.


Isn't it be cool to be better informed than the leader of the free world.
posted by fullerine at 7:21 AM on October 25, 2004


Lovely.

Guess the "liberators" and their handlers were too busy gathering up all those flowers they were welcomed with, instead of actually taking care of the country they occupy.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 7:34 AM on October 25, 2004


Hey! Can we coin a new phrase? All together now....

WHAT. A. QAQUP!
posted by ulotrichous at 7:59 AM on October 25, 2004


Glad to see Kerry using this today:
"President Bush, presenting himself as the best candidate to keep America safe, was accused by John Kerry on Monday of "unbelievable incompetence" in the disappearance of hundreds of tons of powerful explosives in Iraq."
posted by Outlawyr at 9:12 AM on October 25, 2004


The USA should outsource its President and Administration. Can't hurt, that's for sure.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:30 AM on October 25, 2004


The unbelievable incompetence of letting this happen in the first place is bad enough. But as Josh is pointing out, the indications are that the Bush administration knew about this at least by May of this year, and probably a full year ago, and covered it up in the hope they could squeak through Nov. 2nd before it got out. It's hard to be cynical about such assholes, because your wildest imagination can't even compete with the depths of inhuman venality they traffic in every day.
posted by soyjoy at 10:08 AM on October 25, 2004


Oh, this is rich. Also from TPM, the Bush campaign's response:
"John Kerry has no vision for fighting the and winning the War on Terror [love those caps] so he is basing his attacks on the headlines he wakes up to each day."
So each day the headlines constitute a ready-made attack against the administration. I think the voters should find that fact interesting in itself. In much the same way that apparently showing the returning coffins of our war dead or even saying their names on television constitutes an attack on the Administration; apparently the consequences of the Administration's own actions constitute a scurrilous left wing attack.
Reality-Based Community indeed.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:24 AM on October 25, 2004


I'd like to point out that we still haven't heard a peep from the wingnuts here on mefi. What's the matter, you cowardly scumbags? Surely there's some witty retort, or some kind of linguistic turd polishing that would mitigate this royal fuck-up?
Still waiting...
posted by 2sheets at 10:39 AM on October 25, 2004


"After the collapse of the regime, our liberation, everything was under the coalition forces, under their control," Dr. Omar said. "So probably they can answer this question, what happened to the materials."

Officials in Washington said they had no answers to that question. One senior official noted that the Qaqaa complex where the explosives were stored was listed as a "medium priority" site on the Central Intelligence Agency's list of more than 500 sites that needed to be searched and secured during the invasion. "Should we have gone there? Definitely," said one senior administration official.

In the chaos that followed the invasion, however, many of those sites, even some considered a higher priority, were never secured.


I wonder what else was on those lists of "high priority" and "medium priority" sites?

(and i've come to the conclusion a bunch of slow third graders could have done better in Iraq than the administration.)
posted by amberglow at 10:39 AM on October 25, 2004


Fuck the election. Impeach them now. This is incompetence on such a scale as to not be believed.
posted by solistrato at 11:28 AM on October 25, 2004


I was being sarcastic, twistedonion. I can't imagine how anyone could possibly actually believe what I wrote.
posted by interrobang at 6:10 PM on October 25, 2004


At the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom there were a number of priorities. It was a priority to make sure that the oil fields were secure, so that there wasn't massive destruction of the oil fields, which we thought would occur. It was a priority to get the reconstruction office up and running. It was a priority to secure the various ministries, so that we could get those ministries working on their priorities, whether it was --
--McClellan today at a press briefing.

They actually admit that the oil fields were more important, yet they didn't even secure those, or the pipelines or anything. And they're lying about when they knew about this--Bremer was told last year.
posted by amberglow at 6:48 PM on October 25, 2004




Enough explosives to take down every airline flight in the continental united states, or every humvee in Iraq (according to something I saw on CNN). How fucked up does this have to get before he's voted from office? Why does he still poll at 48%? It absolutely boggles my fucking mind. I just don't get america.
posted by The God Complex at 8:53 PM on October 25, 2004


hm.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:16 PM on October 25, 2004


hm.
posted by mr.marx at 9:24 PM on October 25, 2004


I love how drudge didn't post anything about this story all day until now. Cock.
posted by fungible at 9:26 PM on October 25, 2004


I think you have to take the Drudge report (I mean this one in specific, in general too I guess) with some suspicion. If you really read it, it's somewhat vague. It does sound plausible and it does sound interesting and perhaps even more likely then the NY Times version. But we'll have to wait to see if the NBC embed crew story is the full story, or even the same story. So don't discount it just because it's on the Drudge site, but let's wait a few hours to see what the real deal is.
posted by cell divide at 9:32 PM on October 25, 2004


Suppose, for the sake of argument, that what Drudge is saying is actually true. (Stranger things have happened, I know.)

So wouldn't the Administration still be guilty of knowing this for at least a year and a half without doing a damn thing, or telling anyone? Not least the IAEA, which was, I believe, only recently officially informed?
posted by Vidiot at 10:30 PM on October 25, 2004


Is anyone else creeped out by the fact that Bush campaigns are like cult gatherings, with people finishing his lines for him and cheering and booing appropriately (even more than you'd normally expect)? Everything he says is so trivial and meaningless.
posted by The God Complex at 10:38 PM on October 25, 2004


(and i've come to the conclusion a bunch of slow third graders could have done better in Iraq than the administration.)

If anyone wonders why I've, um, come around, it's pretty much coming to the same conclusion as yours. Liars, fools, and incompetents.

If there's any justice, they've lost the votes of moderates for a generation.
posted by dhartung at 11:16 PM on October 25, 2004


Josh Marshall is all over this story, by the way.

From this post:
So McClellan says that the Pentagon only just learned about this. And that's why they only now assigned the Iraq Survey Group to examine what happened at al Qa Qaa.

But Di Rita says that the US government has known about it for 18 months.

So which is it?

They've known about it since just after the war and kept it a secret? Or they just found out about it ten days ago and now they're on the case?
posted by Vidiot at 11:18 PM on October 25, 2004


October suprise!
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:10 AM on October 26, 2004


Is anyone else creeped out by the fact that Bush campaigns are like cult gatherings, with people finishing his lines for him and cheering and booing appropriately (even more than you'd normally expect)?

If there's anything I've noticed on the conservative chat rooms since yesterday, it's that people aren't concerned that our soldiers might be getting killed by these very same explosives. It's that their team might lose. It's like a big football game to them. And that makes me very sad.
posted by fungible at 6:53 AM on October 26, 2004


According to this Salon article, this stash is just "the tip of the iceberg."

And the new Get Your War On is all about this:
"I guess when Rumsfeld wanted to transform the American military, he meant 'transform it into a bunch of blown-up people.'"
posted by kirkaracha at 3:41 PM on October 26, 2004


fungible: If there's anything I've noticed on the conservative chat rooms since yesterday, it's that people aren't concerned that our soldiers might be getting killed by these very same explosives. It's that their team might lose. It's like a big football game to them. And that makes me very sad.

In fairness to the right, this is without question the way the left sees it as well at this point. I was thinking about this the other day, while arguing with an acqualntance who insists on simply not voting, just as she had in the last election.

I realized that there is simply no way you could convince me to vote for Bush, nor has there been since the election began. I would have voted for any idiot the Dems tossed out there. Politics is or at least has become a team sport, just as you said, and very little of it has to do with convincing partisans. That's why this race is purely about unregistered and undecided voters and swing states - because no one's going to convince anyone of anything.

And unfortunately, the degree to which the media treats constantly updated statistically irrelevant polls - especially given the electoral college's disregard for the popular vote - like a sport only adds to the illusion. Any scientist could demonstrate to you how that perpetual "noise, " valid or otherwise, will contaminate the eventual results of the "experiment" at issue.

It's a spectator sport with the future of the world at stake.
posted by Sinner at 3:51 PM on October 26, 2004


Thank God reason has finally come to Dhartung. Hate to say I told you so, but I distinctly remember arguing in a thread with you that people who managed to bungle the run-up to the war so badly would surely bungle the actual war. They were never interested in the lofty goals that moderates like you thought were good reasons for the war. It really was about pride and avarice.
posted by cell divide at 4:06 PM on October 26, 2004


ditto cell divide. It's nice to have you along dhartung. But, seriously, what did you ever see in these cretins? You trusted them and finally, finally, though it is far too late to turn back, you now see the deadly debacle that this administration has sunk billions of hapless humans into for what it is. That's great and all. And I agree, let bygones be bygones, but we could have used people like you Dan. Three years ago the Bush administration was as clearly corrupt as they are now, but you went along. I'm certainly not blaming anything on you whatsoever, but now do you see how big this thing called "war" really is? It's real. And guess what? ALWAYS unnecessary in the long run.

I know it's neat to wax poetic on history's great battles and in that regard you've always been the top dog here in the blue. You've written many an interesting, if sometimes pedantic post. But, now that your attention has been aroused to this fiasco that threatens to exponetially worsen, can we agree that there can be no poetry in the vicious slaughter of innocents? In the future, will the great battles of the neocon rape of the people and land of Iraq (fuck Saddam) be looked at as a crime against humanity or will conservative "patriotic" historians wax poetic once again at the decimation of Fallujah -- yet another "turning of the corner" that ultimately reveals even more death and destruction?

Really, seriously Dan, I'm asking you, what do you forsee from here? I know that I for one am stumped, this is all well beyond my ken. Personally, it feels like we are only at the beginning of realizing just how gargantuan this astonishingly corrupt blunder is. War is good for big business afterall. Perhaps, it's not so much of a blunder at all. Life gives you lemons. . .

Oh WWIII is going to be so glorious! And the police state and the theocratic fascists and the fact that everywhere you travel from now on, as an American, you will have to make excuses for that which you had no hand in and the incuriousness of our young who will learn no lessons other than might makes right and polarization of our common society by way of pre-meditated duplicitous avarice standing in for empirical evidence. Bush has fucked us all but good.
posted by crasspastor at 6:14 PM on October 26, 2004


And the new Get Your War On is all about this:

It really is excellent this batch--the second one down especially.

crass, maybe be happy he realized in time to vote?
posted by amberglow at 9:24 PM on October 26, 2004


OK, cell divide and crasspastor, I'll respond.

A simple backgrounder is that my political views changed a long time before this week. I was, and largely remain, on a self-imposed MeFi moratorium due to difficult personal and family circumstances. I've continued to post but mainly in non-political threads and rarely more than once a day. (Sometimes people see me and ask where I've been. I never left.)

My opinion of the conduct of the occupation/war (I'm not arguing the semantics, but making a distinction for myself) declined precipitously over the fall of 2003, and I've been flat-out disgusted with the performance of the administration since, oh, Abu Ghraib. Quite simply, they have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. (Especially if you view victory in neo-liberal, hearts-and-minds terms, as I do.) I can't explain away my support; I know how this must seem to you. I haven't repudiated where I stood entirely, because I continue to think that a solution was eventually going to be necessary for the Saddam problem. But absent the WMD justification, it's clear that the risk wasn't worth the reward.

I based my backing of that reasoning as much as I could on documentation and authorities separate from the Bush administration and if possible international or Democratic. Unlike the Bush administration, I don't consider it an excuse for them that other people were "fooled", because unlike you or I, they had a statutory responsibility to be right. I hope you also remember that I was a cynic who understood that the Bush cabal were, optimistically, gambling on a hunch as much as deliberately dissembling. I still think they really believed, deep down, that Saddam would have left a smoking gun around in some basement. (In the end I think the strategy pursued by the regime -- deter Iran, don't expect the US to invade -- has mysteries it will take students years to resolve.) Of course they didn't care, so much as expect that it would eventually provide them political cover.

If you'll remember, I also supported alternative means to the same end; I find it specifically disappointing that France and Europe failed to advance creative solutions to the problem, and suspect it was a rope-a-dope strategy of its own. The New Zealander "Plan C" was, in retrospect, the kind of thing that the Security Council should have spent its time discussing, because at the very least it would have forced both Washington and Baghdad to put their cards on the table. (I believed before the war that enclaves such as Kosovo and Kurdistan, which exist with UN imprimatur as quasi-sovereign non-states, are being gypped by cautious geopolitics.)

wax poetic on history's great battles ... poetry in the vicious slaughter of innocents

Surely you have me confused with Den Beste, here. I know some military history and I endeavor to explain what is not understood, but I don't see the point in Steven's silly triumphalism. I still think we could have done much better than we did, but that's hardly the same thing.

Really, seriously Dan, I'm asking you, what do you forsee from here?

It's a fiasco, and a quagmire, in the sense that the exit strategy is non-existent or depends on goals becoming more impossible by the day. (See Cordesmann at CSIS for that view.) It didn't have to be this way, but it is, and I just hope that President Kerry brings a reality-based approach to the table and can salvage things -- because really, the alternative is too awful to contemplate. I can understand that the present situation is too awful to contemplate for many who oppose war on moral grounds; I don't, but I see the point that war conducted incompetently or toward certain failure is immoral, a view I have long sympathized with regarding Vietnam.

I don't know. I've always smiled at Smedley Butler, even if I thought he was a bit of a crank. It's a Walt Kelly view of geopolitics, and there's nothing really wrong with that, but it doesn't give you much room to make choices in the real world. But yeah, gargantuan corrupt blunder does look right, knowing what we know now. But we can repair things, and I don't think Iraq is beyond repair. But we can't see repair in the terms the Bushies insist on. There was a phrase early on -- maybe evne before the war -- if we're lucky, we'll get an Egypt. I think Egypt is out of the question right now, especially with the tide of civil war lapping at the shore. But we can create a new set of realistic aims for Iraq, short of buzzwords like freedom is on the march, and if we're honest with ourselves and honest with the Iraqis about those aims we stand a far better chance of getting out of there without third degree burns.
posted by dhartung at 10:25 PM on October 26, 2004


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