Thursday, October 28, 2004

Will He Admit to a Deadly Mistake?

By now you've probably heard about the candidates sparring over almost 400 tons of missing explosives in Iraq; the same explosives that are now being used against us. Kerry points to this as evidence of the incompetence of the Bush administration and the failure of the president as commander in chief.

The interesting thing to watch has been the president's response. At first he was silent. Next, he went on the attack;

Now the senator is making wild charges about missing explosives when his top foreign policy adviser admits, quote, 'We do not know the facts. Think about that. The senator's denigrating the action of our troops and commanders in the field without knowing the facts.
He even tried to spin this story as evidence that there were WMD in Iraq after all. What kind of twisted logic is that?

Next, the VP is sent after Kerry;

Kerry is "just dead wrong. ... We know ... upwards to 125 tons had been removed" in January 2003 before the invasion, Cheney told supporters at a restaurant coffee session in the battleground state of Wisconsin.

"He's just plain wrong on the facts," Cheney said.
Various explanations were used by the White House in an attempt to dismiss the story. At first, admitting that weapons inspectors did inform them of this stockpile, they claimed they had troops check it out and found nothing there. Even after eyewitnesses were brought forward, including an embedded reporter, who saw the explosives there after the invasion, the Bush administration stuck to their story, and even embellished it further by suggesting the Russians helped cart off the barrels of white powder. You can just imagine how the Russians reacted to being used as scapegoats.

Rumsfeld is now recruited to be the front man, insisting the explosives were already gone by early April when US troops arrived in the area, and, of course, not missing an opportunity to take a swipe at Kerry;

Well, I guess the first thing to say about it is that first reports are almost always wrong. People who use hair-trigger judgment to come to conclusions about things that are fast-moving frequently make mistakes that are awkward and embarrassing.
The Pentagon releases a satellite photo of truck movement around the explosive site just prior to the invasion. Some of the media, such as Fox News, consider the story closed.

But it's not. It turns out that an ABC affiliate, KSTP from Minneapolis/St. Paul, had embedded reporters at the site. And they took pictures. ABC started running this story tonight;

...The barrels were found inside sealed bunkers, which American soldiers are seen on the videotape cutting through. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency sealed the bunkers where the explosives were kept just before the war began.

"The seal's critical," Albright said. "The fact that there's a photo of what looks like an IAEA seal means that what's behind those doors is HMX. They only sealed bunkers that had HMX in them."

After the bunkers were opened, the 101st was not ordered to secure the facility. A senior officer told ABC News the division would not have had nearly enough soldiers to do so.

It remains unclear how much HMX was at the facility, but what does seem clear is that the U.S. military opened the bunkers at Al-Qaqaa and left them unguarded. Since then, the material has disappeared.
Coupled with the NYT's eyewitness reports, I think it's safe to say that the Bush administration is busted, big time.

The Bush administration knew that these explosives were there. They did nothing to secure them, even though troops passed through the site a number of times in early April. Now these explosives are being used to kill our troops and who knows who else.

It is going to be very interesting to watch how the White House responds to this. I tend to think Bush knew all along, and they've all been lying through their teeth from the beginning. They knew that John Kerry's accusations were right on the money, thus the initial silence while they tried to figure out how to spin this one. Now that the evidence is out there, will they continue to lie? As a side note, which members of the media will continue to report false information on this story?

The president has made it clear that he does not make mistakes. Will he stand up this time and take responsibility? I doubt it. If his latest moves are any indication, now he'll blame it on someone else.

The Russians were a bit upset by the attempt to pass the blame off on them. Since pursuing that line seemed less than prudent, the next plan in the blame game was to push it onto the troops. Rudy Giuliani, acting as the unofficial spokesman for the White House, said today that even if the explosives were there after the invasion, it is the troop's fault, not the president's. Sorry Rudy, but the buck stops at the oval office.

What conclusion do I come to in response to all of this? Let me allow John Edwards to say it for me;

Today, George Bush sent his chief surrogate, Rudy Giuliani, out to defend the president's incompetence. And Giuliani blamed the troops. He said they didn't do their jobs. The Republicans couldn't be more wrong.

Our men and women in uniform did their jobs. It's our commander-in-chief, George Bush, who didn't do his.

If George Bush is going to have his friends out there blaming the troops, then he needs to back up his claims with evidence. Mr. President, show America the order that you issued for our troops to secure these dangerous explosives. Show us the order that your friends accuse our troops of ignoring.

George Bush refuses to step up and take responsibility - and now it's time for him to step aside.
A tip of the biretta to the fine folks at DailyKos for keeping this story alive and updated.

J.

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