Iraq says 'impossible' explosives taken before regime fall
October 27, 2004 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Iraq says 'impossible' explosives taken before regime fall Bush: wrong before. Wrong again..."A top Iraqi science official said it was impossible that 350 tonnes of high explosives could have been smuggled out of a military site south of Baghdad before the regime fell last year...."
posted by Postroad (42 comments total)

 
"It is impossible that these materials could have been taken from this site before the regime's fall," said Mohammed al-Sharaa, who heads the science ministry's site monitoring department and previously worked with UN weapons inspectors under Saddam. "The officials that were inside this facility (Al-Qaqaa) beforehand confirm that not even a shred of paper left it before the fall and I spoke to them about it and they even issued certified statements to this effect which the US-led coalition was aware of."
Oh, well I guess this guy disproves what the 101st Airborne saw with their own eyes.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:30 PM on October 27, 2004


Jim Miklaszewski came on to explain that indeed there had been no search and that what the NBC News crew saw didn't tell us much of anything about whether explosives were still there at the time the news crew arrived with the 101st Airborne on April 10th. (1)
the NBC crew embedded with the 101st Airborne wasn't with the first US troops to get there. That actually happened a week earlier, on April 4th 2003 (2)
First, military and non-proliferation analysts say that a detachment of soldiers not specifically trained in weapons inspections work and certainly an NBC news crew simply wouldn't be in a position to make such a determination. We're not talking about a storage unit with a few boxes in it, but a massive weapons complex made up of almost a hundred buildings and bunkers. (3)
Sorry for all of the TPM links, but JMM has been all over this story. Steve, please read the above links thoroughly. I believe you'll find TPM has done a good job of pulling together a lot of different sources on this issue.
posted by sequential at 1:46 PM on October 27, 2004


Daily Show (as usual) had a great bit on this last night. If it's not gross incompetance then it's unacceptable ignorance. How is either explanation reasonable?
posted by The God Complex at 1:48 PM on October 27, 2004


Steve_at_Linnwood

What did they see?

" No Check of Bunker, Unit Commander Says

The good bit:

"...the unit's commander said in an interview yesterday that his troops had not searched the site and had merely stopped there overnight.

The commander, Col. Joseph Anderson, of the Second Brigade of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, said he did not learn until this week that the site, Al Qaqaa, was considered sensitive, or that international inspectors had visited it before the war began in 2003 to inspect explosives that they had tagged during a decade of monitoring.

Colonel Anderson, who is now the chief of staff for the division and who spoke by telephone from Fort Campbell, Ky., said his troops had been driving north toward Baghdad and had paused at Al Qaqaa to make plans for their next push.

"We happened to stumble on it,'' he said. "I didn't know what the place was supposed to be. We did not get involved in any of the bunkers. It was not our mission. It was not our focus. We were just stopping there on our way to Baghdad. The plan was to leave that very same day. The plan was not to go in there and start searching. It looked like all the other ammunition supply points we had seen already."


Steve, welcome to the "reality based community". I bet you're gonna hate it here.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 1:51 PM on October 27, 2004


Quotes of the day:

Bush: "For a political candidate to jump to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief."

Wesley Clark: "President Bush couldn't be more right. He jumped to conclusions about any connection between Saddam Hussein and 911. He jumped to conclusions about weapons of mass destruction. He jumped to conclusions about the mission being accomplished. He jumped to conclusions about how we had enough troops on the ground to win the peace. And because he jumped to conclusions, terrorists and insurgents in Iraq may very well have their hands on powerful explosives to attack our troops, we are stuck in Iraq without a plan to win the peace, and Americans are less safe both at home and abroad. By doing all these things, he broke faith with our men and women in uniform. He has let them down. George W. Bush is unfit to be our Commander in Chief."

OH SNAP!!1!1!
posted by fungible at 2:14 PM on October 27, 2004


fungible, I saw that this morning, it was brilliant. The only thing is that it applies to Bush so completely that I doubt he even knows how ironic he's being.

Nice to know Wesley's still got some fire in him.

So does that mean that Bush is going to gracefully withdraw from next week's election because he is, by his own words, not the man we want as the CiC? That would be mighty big of him.
posted by fenriq at 2:25 PM on October 27, 2004


Oh, well I guess this guy disproves what the 101st Fighting Keyboarders read on some wingnut website somewhere. WITH THEIR OWN EYES!
posted by mr.marx at 3:24 PM on October 27, 2004


Steve, welcome to the "reality based community". I bet you're gonna hate it here.

Nah, he's too busy creating his own reality...
posted by y2karl at 3:36 PM on October 27, 2004


Eyewitness to a failure in Iraq

This was a preventable disaster. Iraq's nuclear weapons-related materials were stored in only a few locations, and these were known before the war began. As even L. Paul Bremer III, the US administrator in Iraq, now admits, the United States had far too few troops to secure the country following the fall of Saddam Hussein. But even with the troops we had, the United States could have protected the known nuclear sites. It appears that troops did not receive relevant intelligence about Iraq's WMD facilities, nor was there any plan to secure them. Even after my briefing, the Pentagon leaders did nothing to safeguard Iraq's nuclear sites.

I supported President Bush's decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein. At Wolfowitz's request, I helped advance the case for war, drawing on my work in previous years in documenting Saddam's atrocities, including the use of chemical weapons on the Kurds. In spite of the chaos that followed the war, I am sure that Iraq is better off without Saddam Hussein.

It is my own country that is worse off -- 1,100 dead soldiers, billions added to the deficit, and the enmity of much of the world. Someone out there has nuclear bomb-making equipment, and they may not be well disposed toward the United States. Much of this could have been avoided with a competent postwar strategy. But without having planned or provided enough troops, we would be a lot safer if we hadn't gone to war.

Peter W. Galbraith, a former US ambassador to Croatia, is a fellow at the Center For Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. In the 1980s, he documented Iraqi atrocities against the Kurds for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

posted by y2karl at 3:55 PM on October 27, 2004


Is it too late to invade Iraq again and topple the Allawi government?
posted by gyc at 4:19 PM on October 27, 2004


" Is it too late to invade Iraq again and topple the Allawi government?"

Nope. Never too late. I mean, it's not as if we've got a track record of needing to have a legitimate reason, have we?
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 4:57 PM on October 27, 2004


Oh well, Reverend....guess little things like facts keep disproving the ideas of people like Steve@Linnwood and the rest of the 101st From Behind the Keyboard Air Assault Brigade.

Then there's this from the Department of Famous Last Words: "For a political candidate to jump to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief," Bush said.

Still no word on those pesky weapons of mass destruction and other "facts" Bush and the 101st Fighting Keyboarders went into hysterical panic over.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 6:05 PM on October 27, 2004


"For a political candidate to jump to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief"

Jesus Christ, the guy really does have the self-awareness of a house pet.

No offense to your dog/cat and/or gerbil.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 6:52 PM on October 27, 2004


of a houseplant
posted by amberglow at 7:31 PM on October 27, 2004


Even that may be a bit generous.
posted by soyjoy at 7:55 PM on October 27, 2004


Ficus for President!
posted by mr.marx at 8:13 PM on October 27, 2004


George W....BUSH.

Too perfect. Really.

By the way, what happened to the 101st Fighting Keyboarders? It's not like them to be this quiet when there's a full frontal assault on the inerrency of the Unelected Fraud.

They must be regrouping.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 8:31 PM on October 27, 2004


The Russians did it.
posted by republican at 8:37 PM on October 27, 2004


The Russians did it.

From Talking Points Memo:

As of late Wednesday evening, Drudge is reporting that the Russians carted it off just before the war. I kid you not.

Here we go again.

Late Update: Drudge's 'the Russians did it' story is up now at the Washington Times, all based it seems on the say-so of John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, whose theory about Russian involvement even Di Rita seems to be distancing himself from.

Shaw does at least provide the administration's 9th or 10th theory of what happened. It had to have been taken out before the war because the US watched the place so closely no other explanation is possible. "That was such a pivotal location, Number 1, that the mere fact of [special explosives] disappearing was impossible," Shaw told the Times. "And Number 2, if the stuff disappeared, it had to have gone before we got there."

You can't make this stuff up.

Or, I guess, actually you can.

posted by y2karl at 9:36 PM on October 27, 2004


What Happened to Missing Iraq Explosives

Q. Did U.S. troops ever search the facility for the high explosives?

A. It appears that the first time U.S. troops searched specifically for high explosives was on May 27, 2003, after visits by American site survey teams on May 8 and May 11 and a purported request by the U.N. nuclear agency on May 3. The troops found that the seals had been broken. It's not clear whether they did a further accounting of the materials themselves.

Q. If the U.S. found the seals broken, did they inform the nuclear agency?

A. That's not clear. The nuclear agency says it first learned of the disappearance of the explosives from the Iraqi government on Oct. 10, 2004. The Pentagon would not say whether it had informed the nuclear agency that the high explosives were not where they were supposed to be.

Q. Why didn't U.S. troops make an effort earlier than May 27, 2003 to secure the explosives?

A. It appears that there were no orders for them to search for high explosives - only for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Saddam's alleged hidden stockpiles of these weapons of mass destruction were the Bush administration's justification for the war. The nuclear agency had warned about HMX in a report to the United Nations in February 2003 but did not specifically mention Al-Qaqaa.

posted by y2karl at 9:46 PM on October 27, 2004


Sounds to me like they are really panicking, clutching at straws to make a story stick. If that was the case, wouldn't they have known about it right away and not have been caught off guard?
posted by cell divide at 9:57 PM on October 27, 2004


These explosives were long gone before the US troops arrived but for the sake of argument let's assume they were there. John Q. Voter is just going to write this off as a typical military SNAFU. Some general will get an "early retirement" and the story ends. This is a very weak October surprise.
posted by republican at 10:01 PM on October 27, 2004


It's not an October Surprise at all, being that it didn't come from one of the parties. It's actually just more evidence of the massive fuckups and terrible planning regarding Iraq. Our soldiers are being killed by this stuff, and the insurgents have many tons of it to use. By not guarding this kind of stuff, we effectively gave it to them to use, either against us there, or against us here.
posted by amberglow at 10:05 PM on October 27, 2004


And the NY Times got the amount wrong... it was 3 tons and not 180 tons.
posted by republican at 10:06 PM on October 27, 2004


even just 6000 pounds of this stuff could bring down 6000 jumbo jets, or whole cities' worth of buildings, and God only knows how many soldiers.
posted by amberglow at 10:09 PM on October 27, 2004


Fox News says 380 tons.

We're already blaming the "liberal media" for this? Where were the "activist judges" when this was happening?
posted by swell at 1:00 AM on October 28, 2004


Hey republican, can you add?:

posted by bashos_frog at 1:01 AM on October 28, 2004


the typeface used in that letter was designed well after 10/10 2004.
posted by mr.marx at 2:00 AM on October 28, 2004


By the way, what happened to the 101st Fighting Keyboarders? It's not like them to be this quiet when there's a full frontal assault on the inerrency of the Unelected Fraud.

Yeah, I'll never forget the tongue lashing I got here at MeFi when I dared to be the first to use the word "quagmire."

Great link to the cartoon y2karl! So accurate and funny!
posted by nofundy at 5:43 AM on October 28, 2004


**urgent and confidential**

dear sir or madam:

first I must impress on you the utter secrecy nature of this transaction. i am write to you in hopes you provide most noble and confidential assistance in prosecuting a transaction of great magnitude and security. we are top officials of the exiled iraqi government who wish to secure transport of certain sensitive materiels out of our country. in order to facilitate this business we solicit your assistance in enable us to transfer to you 380 tonnes of high explosives. please reply to this missive with your name, personal telephone number, bank account number, and key to your peersonal missile storage bunker.
posted by casarkos at 6:29 AM on October 28, 2004


&orefNew York Times, 4 Iraqis Tell of Looting at Munitions Site in '03 [emphasis added]
Looters stormed the weapons site at Al Qaqaa in the days after American troops swept through the area in early April 2003 on their way to Baghdad, gutting office buildings, carrying off munitions and even dismantling heavy machinery, three Iraqi witnesses and a regional security chief said Wednesday.

The mechanic, Ahmed Saleh Mezher, said employees asked the Americans to protect the site but were told this was not the soldiers' responsibility.

The accounts do not directly address the question of when 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives vanished from the site sometime after early March, the last time international inspectors checked the seals on the bunkers where the material was stored. It is possible that Iraqi forces removed some explosives before the invasion.

But the accounts make clear that what set off much if not all of the looting was the arrival and swift departure of American troops, who did not secure the site after inducing the Iraqi forces to abandon it.

"The looting started after the collapse of the regime," said Wathiq al-Dulaimi, a regional security chief, who was based nearby in Latifiya. But once it had begun, he said, the booty streamed toward Baghdad.
...

Col. David Perkins, who commanded the Second Brigade of the Third Infantry Division, called it "very highly improbable" that 380 tons of explosives could have been trucked out of Al Qaqaa in the weeks after American troops arrived.

Moving that much material, said Colonel Perkins, who spoke Wednesday to news agencies and cable television, "would have required dozens of heavy trucks and equipment moving along the same roadways as U.S. combat divisions occupied continually for weeks."
Also, a Minneapolis TV news station had a crew embedded with the 101st Airborne at Al Qaqaa on April 18, 2003, and has video of "bunker after bunker of material labelled explosives."
posted by kirkaracha at 7:02 AM on October 28, 2004


kirkaracha, that has to be the most damning video (albeit, in stills form) I've ever seen. The box even says "QAQAA" on the side! If only we had a shot of Bush standing next to it, flipping the bird at the camera.
posted by fungible at 7:59 AM on October 28, 2004


As of late Wednesday evening, Drudge is reporting that the Russians carted it off just before the war. I kid you not.
Why? after reading this post; Anyone with a suitable end user certificate could obtain the stuff,it is used extensively in demolition and widely available to all the worlds military,including Syria,And Iran.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:00 PM on October 28, 2004


Meanwhile, scientists estimate that 100,000 Iraqis have been killed as a direct result of the war/occupation.

but the debate in the US is over some missing explosives.
posted by cell divide at 1:36 PM on October 28, 2004


I don't think even Saddam was ever able to kill 100,000 Iraqis in 18 months time.
His numbers were something like 300,000 over 20 years, right?

USA #1!
*retches*
posted by bashos_frog at 8:25 PM on October 28, 2004


Munitions Issue Dwarfs the Big Picture

U.S. military commanders estimated last fall that Iraqi military sites contained 650,000 to 1 million tons of explosives, artillery shells, aviation bombs and other ammunition. The Bush administration cited official figures this week showing about 400,000 tons destroyed or in the process of being eliminated. That leaves the whereabouts of more than 250,000 tons unknown.

Against that background, this week's assertions by Sen. John F. Kerry's campaign about the few hundred tons said to have vanished from Iraq's Qaqaa facility have struck some defense experts as exaggerated...

Several defense analysts said Kerry's focus on Qaqaa has resonated mainly because the explosives issue has become symbolic of the Bush administration's handling of Iraq, especially its long-running insistence that it has a sufficient number of U.S. forces there.

"The issue has been out there for a long time," said James Bodner, who helped formulate Iraq policy in the Clinton-era Pentagon. "Are we properly manned to carry out the specific military tasks that need to be accomplished? If the answer is, 'Yes, we have enough troops,' then why are these facilities unguarded?"...

Matthew Bunn, a Harvard University expert in nuclear weapons and terrorism, said that although he is concerned by the removal of the explosives, he is far more worried by IAEA reports that large quantities of sophisticated equipment, such as electron beam welders, were looted and removed from Iraq's nuclear weapons program. "That material, which would be quite useful to a nuclear weapons program, was also well known to the United States, was not guarded and today is probably in hostile hands," with Iran being a likely recipient, said Bunn, who noted that he has been advising the Kerry campaign but does not speak for it.


Video Shows G.I.'s at Weapon Cache

The question of whether the material was removed by Mr. Hussein's forces in the days before the invasion, or looted later because it was unguarded, has become a heated dispute on the campaign trail, with Senator John Kerry accusing President Bush of incompetence, and Mr. Bush saying it is unclear when the material disappeared and rejecting what he calls Mr. Kerry's "wild charges."

Weapons experts familiar with the work of the international inspectors in Iraq say the videotape appears identical to photographs that the inspectors took of the explosives, which were put under seal before the war. One frame shows what the experts say is a seal, with narrow wires that would have to be broken if anyone entered through the main door of the bunker.

posted by y2karl at 1:40 AM on October 29, 2004


Talking Points Memo

Aaron Brown: I don't know how better to do this than to show you some pictures have you explain to me what they are or are not. Okay? First what I’ll just call the seal. And tell me if this is an IAEA seal on that bunker at that munitions dump?

David Kay: Aaron, about as certain as I can be looking at a picture, not physically holding it which, obviously, I would have preferred to have been there, that is an IAEA seal. I've never seen anything else in Iraq in about 15 years of being in Iraq and around Iraq that was other than an IAEA seal of that shape.

Aaron Brown: Was there anything else at the facility that would have been under IAEA seal?

David Kay: Absolutely nothing. It was the HMX, RDX, the two high explosives.

Aaron Brown: OK now, I’ll take a look at barrels here for a second. You can tell me what they tell you. They, obviously, to us just show us a bunch of barrels. You'll see it somewhat differently.

David Kay: Well, it's interesting. There were three foreign suppliers to Iraq of this explosive in the 1980s. One of them used barrels like this, and inside the barrels a bag. HMX is in powder form because you actually use it to shape a spherical lens that is used to create the triggering device for nuclear weapons. And particularly on the videotape, which is actually better than the still photos, as the soldier dips into it, that's either HMX or RDX. I don't know of anything else in al Qaqaa that was in that form.

Aaron Brown: Let me ask you then, David, the question I asked Jamie. In regard to the dispute about whether that stuff was there when the Americans arrived, is it game, set, match? Is that part of the argument now over?

David Kay: Well, at least with regard to this one bunker, and the film shows one seal, one bunker, one group of soldiers going through, and there were others there that were sealed. With this one, I think it is game, set, and match. There was HMX, RDX in there. The seal was broken. And quite frankly, to me the most frightening thing is not only was the seal broken, lock broken, but the soldiers left after opening it up. I mean, to rephrase the so-called pottery barn rule. If you open an arms bunker, you own it. You have to provide security.

Aaron Brown: I'm -- that raises a number of questions. Let me throw out one. It suggests that maybe they just didn't know what they had?

David Kay: I think you're quite likely they didn't know they had HMX, which speaks to lack of intelligence given troops moving through that area, but they certainly knew they had explosives. And to put this in context, I think it's important, this loss of 360 tons, but Iraq is awash with tens of thousands of tons of explosives right now in the hands of insurgents because we did not provide the security when we took over the country.

Aaron Brown: Could you -- I’m trying to stay out of the realm of politics. I'm not sure you can.

David Kay: So am I.

Aaron Brown: I know. It's a little tricky here. But, is there any -- is there any reason not to have anticipated the fact that there would be bunkers like this, explosives like this, and a need to secure them?

David Kay: Absolutely not. For example, al Qaqaa was a site of Gerald Bull's super gun project. It was a team of mine that discovered the HMX originally in 1991. That was one of the most well-documented explosive sites in all of Iraq. The other 80 or so major ammunition storage points were also well documented. Iraq had, and it's a frightening number, two-thirds of the total conventional explosives that the US has in its entire inventory. The country was an armed camp.

posted by y2karl at 2:11 AM on October 29, 2004


The IAEA documents could mean that 138 tons of explosives were removed from the facility long before the United States launched "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in March 2003.

>Weapons experts familiar with the work of the international inspectors in Iraq say the videotape appears identical to photographs that the inspectors took of the explosives, which were put under seal before the war. One frame shows what the experts say is a seal, with narrow wires that would have to be broken if anyone entered through the main door of the bunker.

"The documents show IAEA inspectors looked at nine bunkers containing more than 194 tons of HMX at the facility. Although these bunkers were still under IAEA seal, the inspectors said the seals may be potentially ineffective because they had ventilation slats on the sides. These slats could be easily removed to remove the materials inside the bunkers without breaking the seals, the inspectors noted."
posted by thomcatspike at 11:13 AM on October 29, 2004


but we're still talking tons, thomcat--and you only need one pound to bring down a plane.
posted by amberglow at 11:31 AM on October 29, 2004


Vast amounts of weapons-related material missing, official says

In a new disclosure, the senior U.S. military officer and another U.S. official, who also spoke on condition he not be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that an Iraqi working for U.S. intelligence alerted U.S. troops stationed near the al Qaqaa weapons facility that the installation was being looted shortly after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003.

But, they said, the troops took no apparent action to halt the pillaging.

"That was one of numerous times when Iraqis warned us that ammo dumps and other places were being looted and we weren't able to respond because we didn't have anyone to send," said a senior U.S. military officer who served in Iraq.

posted by y2karl at 1:33 PM on October 29, 2004


The looting of Iraq's arsenal

Sometime in early May 2003, several local walk-ins came to the base and told me that there was a large weapons storage facility located about two or three kilometers to the south that was abandoned after the Iraqi forces fled the area following the collapse of the Saddam regime on April 9, 2003. The facility, they said, was still unguarded. The Iraqi guards had simply deserted their posts and disappeared. The storage facility, I was told, was an annex to the main base at Anaconda and was used by the Iraqi Air Force to store bombs, missiles and other ordnance. These same people said that they were concerned that their children might pick up some of the explosives or landmines that were stored there and blow themselves up. I was also told that local "Ali Babbas" or thieves were looting the site daily and word in the local communities was that they were selling the weapons and explosives to ex-Baath party members for use in attacking U.S forces.

My team and I immediately went out to the location, finding a huge facility perhaps 5 square miles or more in size. It was composed of dozens of both underground bunkers and above-ground storage buildings. I was stunned to see vast amounts of weapons simply lying around on the ground littering the base. Some of these weapons included surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles, land mines, rocket-propelled grenades, small arms ammunition, hand grenades, detonator caps, plastic explosives and other assorted ammunition and weaponry. It was quite a frightening sight...

For the next several weeks I continued to receive reports from my sources in the community that the weapons were still at the storage facility, there were still no guards, and the looting was continuing. I made three or four more trips to the site between May and August and confirmed that the facility was in fact unsecured and that weapons and ammunition were still exposed. On one such visit I actually saw some Iraqis in the distance driving a pickup truck and stopping at bunkers inside the storage facility, no doubt helping themselves. During one visit that summer, I took note of some land mines that were stored in an above-ground building at the site. The next time I visited the site, the land mines were gone...

While working on this story, I called another member of the unit who served in Iraq with me at Anaconda, Sgt. Greg Ford. Ford was also a counterintelligence agent and is now retired from the National Guard and lives in California. Ford also remembers the vast weapons stockpiles lying open to looters just outside Anaconda. He advised me that he had also filed at least one written report about the problem and verbally advised Lt. Col. Ryan as well. Ford told me, "No one seemed too interested in what I said about that stuff. I went out there several times after I told them and the place was still unguarded. The more times I went out there, the more stuff was missing. It really sucked." Ford went on to say that his sources had also told him that local insurgents, ex-Baath party members as they were known then, were going to use the weapons as roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In fact, Ford told me, one of his sources in Samarra, a tribal sheik, told him that an Iraqi expatriate living in Syria had been sending drivers across the porous border between the two countries and systematically looting weapons storage facilities, including Al Qaqaa, for material to be used in making IEDs. Until that time, late spring of 2003, IEDs were virtually unknown in Iraq. But beginning around June, they became a common threat to U.S. forces around Anaconda and elsewhere.

Ford also told me of a warehouse outside the city of al Khalis, located about 15 kilometers south of Anaconda. During a visit there in May or June 2003, his intelligence team discovered a huge cache of weapons, including heavy machine guns, ammunition, missiles and large chemical drums with Russian insignia. The local people he spoke with told him it had been abandoned right after the regime fell and had been looted ever since. Ford said he filed a written report and verbally briefed his unit upon his return to base. He requested an EOD team to remove the weapons and chemicals. When he returned two days later, almost all of the weapons and chemical drums were gone. When he asked his local sources if the American soldiers had removed them, he was told "No, Ali Babba took them!" The warehouse had been looted and the weapons were now on the street.

Michael Marciello, another ex-counterintelligence agent from the 223rd, told me a similar story on Thursday. He said that he too informed his unit chain of command about the unguarded storage facility outside of Anaconda, but got no response. Marciello told me that he saw many such unsecured storage sites all over Iraq that were full of weapons and ammunition. "They were commonplace," he told me. "Nobody really cared about them."

An Army civilian interpreter who worked with the 223rd last year had a blunter assessment of the U.S. military command's vigilance. "They just didn't give a shit," said Abdullah Khalil, a Kurdish-American who served in Iraq last year with several Army units, including the 223rd. "I told Ryan many times about those weapons and that they were being stolen. People in the villages asked me all the time when are we (the Americans) going to move them? I asked Ryan what is he going to do? He never even answered me. Because I am Iraqi, he treated me like an animal. What happened in Al Qaqaa is no surprise."

posted by y2karl at 2:07 PM on October 29, 2004


How many Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the war?
posted by homunculus at 1:54 AM on October 30, 2004


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