October 29, 2004

Deep al qaqaa

I just watched the Pentagon press conference by Army Maj Austin Pearson about the missing high explosives. Sheesh.

This whole story is a bit muddy, to be generous. Various reports put the amount of RDX at 140 tons, or 3 tons, with the consequent total either 380 tons, or 243 tons of combined RDX and HMX presently unaccounted for. Saddam's declarations and the IAEA internal memos apparently disagree on some of the basic facts, like how much was there and how much was sealed, and whether some of the material in question may actually have been at a separate facility 20 miles away. I take the following primary points from the press conference:

1. Maj Pearson indicated his troops were met by Fadayeen Saddam and Special Republican Guard troops already inside the facility when he arrived;
2. We are seeing satellite photos of trucks parked outside several of the compound's bunker in the time before American forces arrived, so only Saddam-loyal elements could have been there;
3. The Major indicated removing some 200+ tons of munitions, some of which was what he termed "plastic explosives."
4. RDX and HMX are plastic explosives.
5. And, don't forget, the Army says it has destroyed some 400,000 tons of munitions in Iraq, suggesting it was neither Michael Moore's paradise of kite-flying children nor John Kerry's non-threat. One doesn't amass such amounts of munitions under a sociopathic dictator without becoming threatening.

Maj Pearson, undoubtably a very competent officer, fumbled a little bit on some of the questions he received, which could generally be described as somewhere between agressive and hostile. I was a little surprised to see the Pentagon have a Major conducting the press conference for an affair of this political magnitude, as officers at that level are generally fairly insulated from civilian politics and hence unaccustomed to dealing with sharply worded questions from reporters trying to get a "gotcha" against the Commander in Chief. He did explicitly say that some of the material he removed was plastic explosive, but did not emphasize this to the reporters fixated on his refusal to say "I removed RDX from the facility."

I counted at least ten instances where the civilian Pentagon spokesman said "we don't know all the facts yet," or something similar. This whole affair is naked politicking by the mainstream media, and for John Kerry to have rushed his own campaign's conclusions to air about the competence of the Army's effort to secure the thousands of weapons depots in the country based on this fragmentary evidence surrounding some 0.1% of the munitions already secured and/or destroyed is frankly very telling. He's trying to say that George Bush botched the effort, without saying that the Army botched the effort too. You can't have it both ways, and he is implicitly insulting the military's conduct of the early phases of the occupation. This latest insult by him against our soldiers will likely not win him the votes of military families in Ohio or anywhere else in our fair republic, where the population as a whole is rightly and tremendously proud of our armed forces in the Iraq war.

Forgive the use of the cheap pun in the title; I couldn't resist even if a google search on this pun probably turns up 451,000 hits before my entry to the fray.

Posted by JKS at October 29, 2004 05:29 PM

400,000 out of 650,000 to one million. Tons.

That's a lot of bang.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at October 31, 2004 07:17 AM

link http://yphbq.oltlac.com

Posted by: yrqjzi at October 15, 2005 11:03 PM
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