Thursday, October 28, 2004

Has Anybody Pressured ABC to Run This Terror Video? 

From the Guardian, courtesy of Zemblan patriots J.D. and B.K.:
A militant Islamist group today claimed to be in possession of a large portion of the explosives that went missing from a munitions depot facility in Iraq.
The group, calling itself Al-Islam's Army Brigades, made the claim in a video broadcast today and warned that it will use the explosives if foreign troops threaten Iraqi cities.

Its video statement said: "Heroic Mujahideen have managed by the grace of God and by coordinating with a . . . number of the officers and the soldiers of the American intelligence to obtain a very huge amount of the explosives that were in the al-Qaqaa facility, which was under the protection of the American forces."

The video was obtained by the Associated Press, but the group's claim could not be independently verified.
And no, we have no idea what that highlighted portion is supposed to mean either.

If you've been following Josh Marshall (here and here), you already know that the administration's "alternative" explanations for the disappearance of 380 tons of explosives are in tatters. Channel 5 in Milwaukee-St. Paul has dug out new footage showing intact IAEA seals on the doors of the facilities their news crew toured at al Qaqaa in April of 2003.

SIDEBAR (via Cursor): Former ambassador Peter Galbraith, a supporter of the war who has since reformed, in the Boston Globe:
IN 2003 I went to tell Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz what I had seen in Baghdad in the days following Saddam Hussein's overthrow. For nearly an hour, I described the catastrophic aftermath of the invasion -- the unchecked looting of every public institution in Baghdad, the devastation of Iraq's cultural heritage, the anger of ordinary Iraqis who couldn't understand why the world's only superpower was letting this happen.

I also described two particularly disturbing incidents -- one I had witnessed and the other I had heard about. On April 16, 2003, a mob attacked and looted the Iraqi equivalent of the Centers for Disease Control, taking live HIV and black fever virus among other potentially lethal materials. US troops were stationed across the street but did not intervene because they didn't know the building was important.

When he found out, the young American lieutenant was devastated. He shook his head and said, "I hope I am not responsible for Armageddon." About the same time, looters entered the warehouses at Iraq's sprawling nuclear facilities at Tuwaitha on Baghdad's outskirts. They took barrels of yellowcake (raw uranium), apparently dumping the uranium and using the barrels to hold water. US troops were at Tuwaitha but did not interfere.

There was nothing secret about the Disease Center or the Tuwaitha warehouses. Inspectors had repeatedly visited the center looking for evidence of a biological weapons program. The Tuwaitha warehouses included materials from Iraq's nuclear program, which had been dismantled after the 1991 Gulf War. The United Nations had sealed the materials, and they remained untouched until the US troops arrived.

The looting that I observed was spontaneous. Quite likely the looters had no idea they were stealing deadly biological agents or radioactive materials or that they were putting themselves in danger. As I pointed out to Wolfowitz, as long as these sites remained unprotected, their deadly materials could end up not with ill-educated slum dwellers but with those who knew exactly what they were doing . . . .

This was a preventable disaster. Iraq's nuclear weapons-related materials were stored in only a few locations, and these were known before the war began. As even L. Paul Bremer III, the US administrator in Iraq, now admits, the United States had far too few troops to secure the country following the fall of Saddam Hussein. But even with the troops we had, the United States could have protected the known nuclear sites. It appears that troops did not receive relevant intelligence about Iraq's WMD facilities, nor was there any plan to secure them. Even after my briefing, the Pentagon leaders did nothing to safeguard Iraq's nuclear sites . . . .

Someone out there has nuclear bomb-making equipment, and they may not be well disposed toward the United States. Much of this could have been avoided with a competent postwar strategy. But without having planned or provided enough troops, we would be a lot safer if we hadn't gone to war.

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