Thursday, October 28, 2004

Did Russian Troops Move the Explosives?

The Washington Times quotes a Defense Department official on possible Russian involvement in the disappearance of 380 tons of high explosives from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad (hat tip Blogs For Bush):


John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad.
The web-page with the story went down while I was posting this, but the story details allegations that Russian Special Forces were hired by Saddam as early as January, 2003 to move tons of materiel into Syria in advance of a U.S. invasion. The story also quotes a second anonymous Defense Department official who collaborates.

The "missing explosives" story, originally intended to air as a 60 Minutes piece two days before the election, was instead published in the NY Times and seized upon by the Kerry campaign, both as part of their candidate's stump speech and as the basis of a commercial. Unfortunately for Senator Kerry, the Times story was immediately questioned on several different fronts and now seems as baseless as CBS' Texas ANG story. The alleged complicity of Russia, a country who's support Kerry naively claims his diplomatic skills would have won to the U.S. side, could make the blowback even bigger.

Update

More from the Washington Times story (link fixed):

Defense Department official John Shaw alleges that the missing explosives reported by the NY Times may have been moved as part of a systematic arms dispersal prgram undertaken by the Russians on Saddam's behalf:
"The Russians brought in, just before the war got started, a whole series of military units," Mr. Shaw said. "Their main job was to shred all evidence of any of the contractual arrangements they had with the Iraqis. The others were transportation units."
Mr. Shaw, who was in charge of cataloging the tons of conventional arms provided to Iraq by foreign suppliers, said he recently obtained reliable information on the arms-dispersal program from two European intelligence services that have detailed knowledge of the Russian-Iraqi weapons collaboration.
The Times collaborates Mr. Shaw's story with additional testimony from a second Defense Department source:
A second defense official said documents on the Russian support to Iraq reveal that Saddam's government paid the Kremlin for the special forces to provide security for Iraq's Russian arms and to conduct counterintelligence activities designed to prevent U.S. and Western intelligence services from learning about the arms pipeline through Syria.
The Russian arms-removal program was initiated after Yevgeny Primakov, the former Russian intelligence chief, could not persuade Saddam to give in to U.S. and Western demands, this official said.

More Commentary

Blogs for Bush

This story debunks TWO of John Kerry's campaign pillars. First, it destroys any notion that Russia would've been a willing ally in the coalition to disarm Saddam Hussein. They were cooperating with him in the months leading up to the invasion. The article says "Russia was Iraq's largest foreign supplier of weaponry" and it appears they were helping Saddam hide those weapons to cover their own illegal dealings with the ousted dictator.

Second, it casts even more doubt on the attempted coordinated attack on the Bush administration by the New York Times, cBS and the Kerry Campaign. The information contained in this Washington Times article is likely one reason the coordinated attack was supposed to be launched about 24 hours before election day - to prevent time for the truth to reach the voters prior to their casting of ballots.
INDC Journal provides a wealth of background on Russian involvement in Iraq before the war.

Michele Malkin has a good roundup and recommends Bill Gertz's (author of the Times article) book Treachery.

Deacon at Powerline comments:
If Shaw's version, as reported by the Washington Times, holds up and (as importantly) gets heard, the consequences for Kerry could be serious. The Senator will have (a) jumped to a conclusion that wasn't supported by the facts, (b) assumed the incompetence of our troops, (c) confirmed President Bush's position that Iraq had weapons worth worrying about, and (d) unleashed evidence that, as Rocket Man notes, suggests that chemical and biological weapons could easily have been moved out of Iraq just before we invaded.
Wizbang! weighs in with links to additional reportage on the Russian link at The Financial times and Fox News and comments:
Things are moving fast on the missing explosives story. Drudge has the siren out and he is behind.

The Russians probably moved the explosives, the Department of Defense has satellite images that might prove it AND Mohamed ElBaradei might have mislead the United Nations Security council about the amount of explosives missing. And for good measure we learn the bunkers were never really sealed!