Friday, October 29, 2004

3rd Infantry Division Removed 250 Tons of Materiel from Al Qaqaa

Additional information coming out today has cast further doubt on the NY Times hurried hit piece. In a press conference at the Pentagon today, Major Austin Pearson of the 3ID said that his unit removed almost 250 tons of munitions and other materiel from the Al Qaqaa weapons facility in March, 2003.

Major Pearson, who admitted he was not an explosives expert, said his team's mission in April 2003 was to clear material from the Al-Qaqaa facility in order to secure it for U.S. forces. While this testimony does not definitively answer the question of what happened to the explosives since they were last verified as being Al Qaqaa by the IAEA in January of 2003, it does seriously damage the already questionable Time's story.

A key premise of that story, and the one seized upon by Senator Kerry, was that the Bush administration, in their rush to Baghdad, failed to secure the facility, allowing these deadly explosive to be looted at will, presumably by terrorists or terrorist sympathizers (who else would steal explosives?). That premise was based on interviews with personnel from the 2nd Brigade of the 101st. The 101st passed through Al Qaqaa on their way to Baghdad and were not charged with securing the facility. That task, as extensively reported in contemporaneous accounts, fell to the 3ID; Major Pearson's unit.

The Time's shoddy research (google anyone?) and rush to get the story to print (blamed on pressure from Bloggers - the story was originally intended to break on 60 Minutes two days before the election)can lead one to only two conclusions; either the Times reporting and editorial staffs are grossly incompetent or the piece was intended as an "October surprise" to hurt President Bush in the polls. I tend to believe that both conclusions are true.

More Commentary

Blogs for Bush thinks this latest development will be buried. I tend to agree - expect to hear a lot more about Haliburton.

From INDC Journal:
This news doesn't officially stake the story, but it throws a lot of cold, cold water in the gold-gilded locker room at the New York Times.
From PowerLine:
Is this enough, from President Bush's standpoint? It certainly should be. The obvious conclusion is that the New York Times and John Kerry shot from the hip, accusing the Army of incompetence when they didn't know the facts. They relied on a patently self-serving and anti-Bush letter from Mohammed El Baradei, a less-than-honest U.N. bureaucrat. It is quite likely that the allegedly missing explosives have been accounted for; around half disappeared before January 2003, according to the IAEA's own records, and the remainder was most likely destroyed by American troops. (The total amount at issue, 377 tons, represents less than one-tenth of one percent of the munitions the U.S. Army has destroyed in Iraq.)
From Wizbang! :
If you couple the 194.7 metric tons of HMX with the 3 tons of RDX that that vanished (see this previous Wizbang post about the discrepancy of the RDX stocks from the 377 ton total) it sure sounds like the Major got all of the material in question.