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Patterico writes on a thought that had occurred to me, but I failed to comment on previously:
(Accepted Wisdom™ is a semi-regular feature of this site, highlighting contradictory viewpoints held by the elite.)
It is Accepted Wisdom™ that: We currently cannot find any significant caches of WMD in Iraq. This means none existed in Iraq when we invaded. The UN said Saddam used to have them, but he must have destroyed them before the invasion. BushLied™ when he said otherwise.
And at the same time: We currently cannot find explosives at Al Qaqaa. This means they existed at Al Qaqaa when we invaded, and we let them get looted. The UN said Saddam used to have such weapons there, but he did not dispose of (or disperse) them before the invasion. BushLies™ when he says otherwise.
Osama Bin Laden has foisted another tape on us:
Osama bin Laden (news - web sites), the man President Bush (news - web sites) vowed to capture "dead or alive," tossed a bombshell into the deadheat U.S. presidential campaign on Friday in a video address to the American people which some political analysts said could actually help Bush. Bin Laden, in his first video in more than a year, threatened new attacks on the United States. "Despite entering the fourth year after Sept. 11, Bush is still deceiving you and hiding the truth from you and therefore the reasons are still there to repeat what happened," he said.
Entire tape transcript here. Will the tape help Bush or Kerry? Perhaps, Dan Rather thinks OBL is stepping on his turf:
Even in the best of times, under the best of circumstances, Americans do not welcome intervention in their democratic affairs, particularly not their presidential elections. In the past, bin Laden and al Qaeda have always payed very close attention to timing, and it seems almost certain that the timing of this tape is in no way an accident. Coming as close to the election as it does, the questions become: Is it an attempt to influence the election’s outcome? Or is it a more general effort to cast al Qaeda’s cloud over Election Day? Or, more daunting still, is bin Laden trying to pass some kind of signal to his followers around the world? No matter what the answer, intervention of this sort in the U.S. presidential campaign, from the man who must be considered the man most reviled and hated by Americans, is as unwelcome as it gets.
Scott Johnson, he of PowerlineBlog fame, writes in National Review of a smoking gun in the form of an email from ACT containing proof of premeditated Democrat efforts of voter fraud in Minnesota:
...This email is a smoking gun of massive premeditated vote fraud. The ACT effort contemplates the prepositioning of registered voters as volunteers at their precincts of residence to provide the "vouching" necessary to get individuals registered to vote on election day in the precinct whether or not the volunteer "personally knows" the residence of the unregistered voter. It is a recipe for illegal voting in every precinct of the state.
George Neumayr in today's TAS:
In an article on Thursday, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz interviews Bill Keller, editor of the New York Times. Within the course of the piece we learn, first, that Keller ran a piece containing the supposed revelation that 377 tons of explosives in Iraq "vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year," then we learn that Keller doesn't know if the explosives went missing after the invasion. Kurtz asked Keller if the explosives could have disappeared while Saddam Hussein controlled the country. "Sure there's a possibility," said Keller, "and I think the original story accounted for that possibility."
What amazing dishonesty. Go back and look at how Keller's editorial page used that story on Tuesday. It did not account for the possibility that Saddam Hussein moved the explosives. No, it declared authoritatively that a blundering U.S. military effort accounted for the lost explosives. "James Glanz, William J. Broad and David E. Sanger reported in The Times yesterday that some 380 tons of the kinds of powerful explosives used to destroy airplanes, demolish buildings, make missile warheads and trigger nuclear weapons have disappeared from one of the many places in Iraq that the United States failed to secure," stated the Times editorial titled "Making Things Worse ." Where in this statement is the "possibility" that the explosives vanished before U.S. troops arrived?
This, predictably, from the woman whom Jonah Goldberg once described as the human equivalent of an old jalopy going slowly in the left lane with its blinker on:
A FEISTY former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has denounced George W. Bush, saying the President's divisive and destructive policies had wreaked havoc on the world and diminished the US. "I am depressed about the standing we have in the world today," Ms Albright said during a brief stop at an American Legion hall. "This president has ruined our reputation and destroyed our credibility and moral authority. To use a diplomatic term of art, the world is a mess."
...Ms Albright described the war in Iraq as a "chaotic disaster." "It was badly planned," she continued. "It was horrible. There was no plan. The president calls it a 'catastrophic success'. Have ever heard those two words together? It's kind of like imposing democracy, another oxymoron." Asked about not securing Iraq's Al-Qaqaa military installation and others, Ms Albright said it was one more misstep by the Bush administration. "It is a sign of all the things that have gone wrong," she said. "I think it is very serious. They knew about it. Why didn't they do something about it?" The confluence of events in North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran had created a "Perfect Storm", she said.
The Al Qaqaa Hits the Fan: More and more is being discovered regarding the Times' hit piece on the missing explosives and it is increasingly difficult to conclude that there was no underlying bias in the story. It has also been discovered that the Times was
conspiring coordinating and working with CBS News on the story. 60 Minutes had planned as Sunday night assault, but was convinced that the story "wouldn't hold" that long. But, as I alluded to yesterday, regardless of the "facts" the damage had already been done. I saw Democrat strategist Bob Bechtel (sp?) on Fox News yesterday afternoon and he had it exactly right. Paraphrasing, he said the story had already generated tremendous coverage and there is not enough time left to correct the perceptions that it has caused. Exactly. I'll attempt to do my part. Here are some of the more salient "facts" that I've garnered around the internet. The good Captain over at Captains Quarters is on top of the story. In this post, he flays the NYT follow-up story:
First of all, the issue is whether they secured the site and the ingress/egress to it, since the argument from the Times and IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei has been that lax security on the part of Americans led to 380 tons of materiel being looted. Second of all, two contemporaneous reports show that the 3ID had already investigated the Al Qaqaa site and found nothing under IAEA seal. The CBS report -- the Times' reporting partner on this story -- makes clear that the 3ID knew that the site had been suspected of WMD production and/or storage; the Fox report confirms the same information and gives even greater detail. Both articles were published on April 4, 2003, six days before Col. Anderson showed up at Al Qaqaa.
The good Captain also noted contemporaneous news stories by CBS News and Fox News which completely debunk the assertions made by the Times. The Captain also notes:
Troops of the 3ID discovered thousands of boxes, each with three vials of white powder, the form in which the explosive agents that the IAEA claim went missing were stored. From this description, it sounds as if the material left at Al Qaqaa would have only been samples or starter materials, as storing 380 tons of powdered explosive in vials would have taken most of Baghdad to store.
Nevertheless, the contemporaneous CBS report showed that the 3ID knew what they had at Al Qaqaa and did more than just a cursory look around the joint to go sightseeing. They suspected that the facility held WMD or chemical-weapons manufacturing capability. A bottle labeled "tabun," a nerve agent, was found with a small amount of the chemical inside. The troops also discovered atropine stored at the bunker, an antidote for nerve agents, making them very suspicious of the shells stored at Al Qaqaa.
A CQ reader makes a few assumptions and does a couple back of the envelope calculations to determine what it would take for insurgents to "loot" this stuff at the end of April or early May:
Bottom line this operation would take the resources of AN ENTIRE COMPANY (approx. 100 men) OVER TWO WEEKS, good Intel to know exactly where the "right" explosives were hidden and a means of breaching huge steel doors and concrete of an ASP.
And all of this would have to be done in an area with numerous intel overflights that would be looking for exactly this kind of activity in the combat zone, and not get noticed at all. Like so much of what the New York Times, CBS, and the Kerry campaign feeds us ... it just doesn't add up.
At least not all of the media are in the bag for Kerry. This op-ed comes from the Boston Herald:
News ``exclusives'' just aren't what they used to be. The New York Times scooped CBS News' ``60 Minutes'' to ``break'' the big story Sunday that 377 tons of powerful explosives had been looted in Iraq after, the Times claimed, the U.S. invasion. Democratic presidential contender John Kerry immediately jumped on the story as more evidence of President Bush's ``incompetence.''
Well, the only incompetence demonstrated here is on the part of these two pre-eminent news organizations. Both CBS and the Times were actually beaten to the story of the missing HMX, RDX and PETN explosives by NBC news . . . some 18 months ago.
...Wild charges are par for the course in the last days of a close election. But normally, it's the candidates who launch them, and the news media which treat such late breaking attacks with the skepticism they deserve. But this time it's the media launching the last-minute desperate attacks and it will be left to the voters to sort through it all - or better yet - ignore it.
Jonah Goldberg, James K. Glassman and George Neumayr also take umbrage at the clear and pervasive bias exhibited at the New York Times and CBS News.
Predictably (in fact, I predicted it just yesterday) the media are completely ignoring actual facts which would hurt John Kerry, as Linda Chavez notes:
The media are too busy repackaging old Iraq news in an October offensive against President George W. Bush's reelection to investigate truly startling evidence unearthed this week that the Communist Party may have been directing John Kerry's anti-war activities in the early 1970s. The evidence, contained in captured communist records on file at the Vietnam Center at Texas Tech University, shows a well-coordinated effort by the Communist Party to recruit American servicemen and officers to become part of the American anti-war movement. The objective was to organize high-profile activities to undermine support for the Vietnam War, including holding hearings on alleged war crimes, lobbying Congress to oppose the war, exploiting the families of American POWs and urging servicemen to return their service medals.
It's been described as a smoking gun document, but I suspect it will have little impact because 1)anyone who is likely to be swayed by John Kerry's nefarious activities during the Vietnam War will have already been swayed and 2) the MSM will mostly ignore this story. Here's the nut graf:
The first documentary evidence that Vietnamese communists were directly steering John Kerry's antiwar group Vietnam Veterans Against the War has been discovered in a U.S. archive, according to a researcher who spoke with WorldNetDaily.
Hey, didn't the Spanish eliminate the terrorist threat to them when they appeased the terrorists and pulled their troops from Iraq? Will they never learn?
Despite dozens of arrests, Spanish police have yet to establish who ultimately ordered the Madrid rail bombings and seven months later are still uncovering new militant threats. Investigators believe nearly all the perpetrators of the March 11 train attacks that killed 191 people have been captured or killed. They also believe they have identified three leaders of the attacks, blamed on Islamic militants linked to al Qaeda. But there is no consensus on whether the bomb suspects acted on their own or took orders from someone. More sleeper cells are presumed to exist.
I've been following the news these past few days as a typical (je suppose) civillian. I've not been reading internet news sites or blogs. Mostly I've heard the top-of-the-hour news on radio and heard a few Kerry clips denouncing Bush and his policies. The missing explosives in Iraq is the biggest story of the past 1.5 days (BIG story judging by my personal barometer--top-of-the-hour news ). Admittedly, I've not been paying particular attention, but this is the information that I've distilled:
we Bush didn't secure the sites in Iraq and mucho ammo was stolen and will now be used by terrorists against us. We Bush didn't have a solid post-war plan and this is what it has wrought. Of course we hear Kerry's clip: "This is one of the great blunders of Iraq". Funny how this story fits perfectly with the Kerry campaign strategy. Bush didn't have a plan. Kerry would have done everything differently. Kerry has a plan. Today's Boston Globe follows this script obediently:
Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry said the looting of the explosives -- known as HMX, RDX, and PETN -- was fresh evidence of the Bush administration's inept handling of the Iraq invasion and its aftermath. His campaign seized on the news, organizing a conference call to reporters with Joe Lockhart, a senior adviser to the campaign, and Susan Rice, who advises Kerry on national security issues.
''Terrorists could use this material to kill our troops and our people, blow up airplanes, and level buildings," Kerry said yesterday to an audience in Dover, N.H. ''And now we know that our country and our troops are less safe because this president failed to do the basics. This is one of the great blunders of the Bush policy in Iraq."
...State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said that securing the site had been ''a priority" but that ''given the number of arms and the number of caches and the extent of militarization of Iraq, it was impossible to provide 100 percent security for 100 percent of the sites, quite frankly."
''There just were not enough troops to guard the number of sites. It was just crazy."
At the time, there was no major insurgency and US military officials felt the war had been won, Kay said, so the Department of Defense did not fear that the weapons that disappeared in widespread looting would be used against US soldiers.
Note the theme, the storyline, the belief. We didn't have enough troops on the ground. We didn't secure the dangerous sites. We didn't have the right plan. This story proves that, right? Not so fast, PETN-breath. Turns out that this particular site had already been cleared out before U.S. troops arrived there. Here's the story from NBC news (hat tip: Belmont Club):
April 10, 2003, only three weeks into the war, NBC News was embedded with troops from the Army's 101st Airborne as they temporarily take over the Al Qakaa weapons installation south of Baghdad. But these troops never found the nearly 380 tons of some of the most powerful conventional explosives, called HMX and RDX, which is now missing. The U.S. troops did find large stockpiles of more conventional weapons, but no HMX or RDX, so powerful less than a pound brought down Pan Am 103 in 1988, and can be used to trigger a nuclear weapon.
Our troops were at this site only three weeks into the war (despite the temporary dust storm-induced quagmire) and didn't find the stuff. Wretchard, at Belmont Club adds this:
The account above shows that the RDX explosive was already gone by the time US forces arrived. Although one may retrospectively find some fault with OIF order of battle, most of the damage had already been inflicted by the dilatory tactics of America's allies which allowed Saddam the time and space -- nearly half a year and undisturbed access to Syria -- necessary to prepare his resistance, transfer money abroad and disperse explosives (as confirmed first hand by reporters). Although it is both desirable and necessary to criticize the mistakes attendant to OIF, much of the really "criminal" neglect may be laid on the diplomatic failure which gave the wily enemy this invaluable opportunity. The price of passing the "Global Test" was very high; and having been gypped once, there are some who are still eager to be taken to the cleaners again.
My guess is that the majority of the electorate have only heard the shouting headlines of this story and haven't appreciated the "nuance"--to the extent that it's even been reported.
Update: Kevin McCullough also has some thoughts on the subject and If large trucks were filled to the gills with the materials described it would take 38 trucks to make off with the full stockpile. Coalition forces have destroyed nearly 40,000 trucks worth of materials. In other words the amount missing is LESS THAN one percent of what has already been or is presently being destroyed.
Update II: Cliff May has this more sinister theory:
Sent to me by a source in the government: “The Iraqi explosives story is a fraud. These weapons were not there when US troops went to this site in 2003. The IAEA and its head, the anti-American Mohammed El Baradei, leaked a false letter on this issue to the media to embarrass the Bush administration. The US is trying to deny El Baradei a second term and we have been on his case for missing the Libyan nuclear weapons program and for weakness on the Iranian nuclear weapons program.”
The Washington Times opines on Kerry's phantom meeting with the U.N. Security Council prior to the war in Iraq:
John Kerry has called truthfulness "the fundamental test of leadership." He told National Guard veterans last month, "As president, I will always be straight with you — on the good days and the bad days." He has repeatedly said President Bush fails the test, especially when it comes to foreign policy. All the richer, then, is yesterday's revelation that, for political purposes, Mr. Kerry fabricated a meeting with the "entire" U.N. Security Council in October 2002 just before the United Nations voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq.
...In all likelihood the reality is that Mr. Kerry chose to trump up the importance of piecemeal meetings with a few delegates as part of his effort to cast the president as disdainful of allies and hasteful as commander in chief. Mr. Kerry had wanted to make himself appear the better on both accounts. It helps, of course, if the acts of diplomatic finesse one ascribes to one's self actually took place. Just as it helps to have a truthful record when trying to cast an opponent as a deceiver. Clearly, Mr. Kerry has some explaining to do.
He doesn't just "talk the talk", our President "walks the walk":
John Klink, a senior Vatican diplomat and negotiator from 1988-2001 who worked under Cardinal Renato Martino at the United Nations, has revealed the extent of President George W. Bush's efforts to defend life and family through the UN. In a letter sent to all U.S. Bishops, Klink describes how the U.S. under previous administrations was hostile to life and family but under President Bush immediately reversed its position to support life and family.
Klink warned that in 1999 abortion would have been enshrined as a fundamental human right at the United Nations "in the space of years, not decades," had there not been a radical shift in political leadership. Klink writes to inform the bishops of the underreported "pro-life/pro-family leadership of President Bush at the United Nations since his inauguration in January 2001."