Friday, October 29, 2004

"Al-Qaqaa-gate" continues to plague President Bush just days before the election. While the Administration tries to claim that the explosives that disappeared from Al-Qaqaa were either removed by Iraqis before the war, or were smuggled out by the Russians (which they flatly deny), ABC news ran a videotape shot by an embedded news crew from Minnesota which shows the explosives still in place in April of 2003.
Videotape shot by a Minnesota television crew traveling with U.S. troops in Iraq when they first opened the bunkers at the Al-Qaqaa munitions base nine days after the fall of Saddam Hussein shows what appeared to be high explosives still in barrels and bearing the markings of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The video taken by KSTP of St. Paul on April 18, 2003, could reinforce suggestions that tons of explosives missing from a munitions installation in Iraq were looted after the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. The video was broadcast nationally Thursday on ABC.

"The photographs are consistent with what I know of Al-Qaqaa," David A. Kay, a former American official who directed the hunt in Iraq for unconventional weapons and visited the site, told The New York Times. "The damning thing is the seals. The Iraqis didn't use seals on anything. So I'm absolutely sure that's an IAEA seal."
The video, along with statements from the IAEA that they had warned top US officials about the vulnerability of Al-Qaqaa in the wake of the looting of the al-Tuwaitha nuclear complex, are pretty damning. They indicate that the Administration knew of the existence and vulnerability of the site, that the explosives were indeed still present after the US invasion, and the Administration did not issue orders for the facility to be secured. In his statement condemning Rudy Giuliani for blaming the troops for the debacle, General Wesley Clark points out that mission priorities and objectives are issued by the President, orders are issued from the top down. Troops left the site unsecured because they were ordered to do so.

There is a pattern here of incompetence and apathy of monstrous proportions. A war was started based on the premise that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, yet none have been found and the intelligence that premise was based on has since been disproven. During the course of this war based on a false premise, there was a failure to secure the al-Tuwaitha nuclear facility which resulted in its looting, which was first uncovered in May, 2003. This week we learn that there was also a failure to secure hundreds of tons of explosives at Al-Qaqaa. How ironic it is that the Administration started a war based on WMD's, yet failed to secure nuclear materials, and explosives that, according to the IAEA, could be used to detonate nuclear divices. Even more ironic is the fact that the latest revelation comes barely a week after our Vice President attempted to use the specter of nuclear detonation in US cities as a political ploy.
"The biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us -- biological agents or a nuclear weapon or a chemical weapon of some kind to be able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans," Cheney said.

"That's the ultimate threat. For us to have a strategy that's capable of defeating that threat, you've got to get your mind around that concept," Cheney said.
Clearly Mr. Vice President, you can't get your mind around the concept that you have a responsibility to insure the security of sites that house materials that could be used to make such weapons. Your administration has proven it can't be trusted with our security.