Democrats & Liberals Archives

Tale Of The Timeline

Overnight, we got the opening salvo from the Right in response to the New York Times exclusive story on missing explosives in Iraq. However, it was not from the usually efficient White House rapid response team, but from cyber surrogate Matt Drudge, by way of NBC News.

Network correspondent Jim Miklaszewski happened to be embedded with the Army unit that arrived at the Al Qaaqaa site on April 10, 2003, one day after the fall of Baghdad. In his report for NBC’s Nightly News on Monday (video), he details how the search and inventory of the site found no quantities of the deadly explosives HMX and RDX, however large stockpiles of conventional weapons were found.

Subsequently, the very simplistic, black and white spin now flooding the Conservative echo chambers claims this is proof that all ‘380 tons of explosives were already missing’, when Coalition troops arrived on the scene on April 10. Drudge is already attempting to Rather-ize the New York Times for claiming the Bush administration failed to secure this particular weapons site. However, a closer read of the Times’ article reveals no such claim was made, reporting only the confirmation from the White House and Pentagon that the explosives went missing shortly after the Iraq invasion began.

Drudge & Co. may demand a retraction (unlikely) or opt for calling John Kerry a desperate, dirty tricks liar (surprised?), for going so far as to indict the administration in the extremist read of the story. At the very least the Kerry camp should’ve digested the full NYTimes’ piece before rushing towards the first available microphone. However, by assessing all that has been reported, documented and confirmed, we are looking at the same spin game applied to the Duelfer Report.

And still, there is a down side for the Bush administration. Even before the invasion, Mohamed ElBaradei and the IAEA warned that the specific Al Qaaqaa site, which had been inspected, cataloged and tagged by the weapons inspectors, should be immediately secured by Coalition forces and given the highest priority. Shortly after the fall of Baghdad, they again offered to go back in to Iraq and secure these sites themselves, and they were again rebuffed.

However, something about the details of the NBC report, sent me Googling for a timeline of the Iraqi Invasion and a map. Miklaszwski’s report states, that only after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, did he and members of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division arrive at the Al Qaaqaa site, the very next day April 10. In fact, this map of Iraqi weapons sites shows the Al Qaaqaa site location (#3) – which is 30 miles south of Baghdad – apparently in the direct path of the Coalition Forces’ invasion from the South!

But, according to this timeline of the invasion, on April 2 U.S. forces had already reached the outskirts of Baghdad and the next day April 3, had secured control of Saddam International Airport – both approached from the south. Does this mean, that for at least 8 days the Al Qaaqaa site was not secured, given the likelihood it was now an area controlled by Coalition forces? Were the number of soldiers required to secure and guard this site seen as a waste of troops strength, better utilized in the final push into Baghdad? According to this timeline, the first confirmed report of any Coalition forces securing a documented weapons site is the discoveries at Al Qaaqaa, on April 10. As indicated then by the weapons site map, that puts 5 such sites in the wake of the Baghdad liberating Coalition forces’ path.

Even if this scenario is dismissed, there still remains the fact that the substantial amount of explosives found on April 10 at Al Qaaqaa were not secured, destroyed or moved to prevent looting. That means, that for almost 17 months, this site was a free, open-air market supplying an arsenal surely used against our soldiers. The IAEA kept pestering the administration, to no avail – another group stiff-armed for telling the unwanted truth. Condi Rice was finally alerted earlier this month, and promptly hit the campaign trail for BC04.

Not a surprise.

Posted by Bert M. Caradine at October 26, 2004 7:01 AM