Thursday, November 04, 2004
Via Cursor: Voters love a man of his word. In that steely, decisive, downright mannish way of his, the President vowed that he would never let Saddam Hussein share his deadly arsenals with America's terrorist enemies -- and technically, that's a promise kept, because Saddam Hussein never did:
In the weeks after the fall of Baghdad, Iraqi looters loaded powerful explosives into pickup trucks and drove the material away from the Al Qaqaa ammunition site, according to a group of U.S. Army reservists and National Guardsmen who said they witnessed the looting.Before you criticize: It may be true that Mr. Bush in essence donated to our enemies the means to create several thousand Oklahoma Cities or 760,000 Lockerbies. But has any President done more to stem the equally horrifying threat of queer matrimony?
The soldiers said about a dozen U.S. troops guarding the sprawling facility could not prevent the theft because they were outnumbered by looters. Soldiers with one unit — the 317th Support Center based in Wiesbaden, Germany — said they sent a message to commanders in Baghdad requesting help to secure the site but received no reply.
The witnesses' accounts of the looting, the first provided by U.S. soldiers, support claims that the American military failed to safeguard the munitions. Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency — the U.N. nuclear watchdog — and the interim Iraqi government reported that about 380 tons of high-grade explosives had been taken from the Al Qaqaa facility after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003. The explosives are powerful enough to detonate a nuclear weapon . . . .
"We were running from one side of the compound to the other side, trying to kick people out," said one senior noncommissioned officer who was at the site in late April 2003.
"On our last day there, there were at least 100 vehicles waiting at the site for us to leave" so looters could come in and take munitions.
"It was complete chaos. It was looting like L.A. during the Rodney King riots," another officer said.
He and other soldiers who spoke to The Times asked not to be named, saying they feared retaliation from the Pentagon . . . .
One soldier said U.S. forces watched the looters' trucks loaded with bags marked "hexamine" — a key ingredient for HMX — being driven away from the facility. Unsure what hexamine was, the troops later did an Internet search and learned of its explosive power.
"We found out this was stuff you don't smoke around," the soldier said.
According to a list of "talking points" circulated by the Pentagon last week, when U.S. military weapons hunters visited Al Qaqaa on May 8, 2003, they found that the facility "had been looted and stripped and vandalized." No IAEA-monitored material was found, the "talking points" stated.