The New York Times has more details about this stunning piece of incompetence in the keystone kops war on terror.
The explosives could also be used to trigger a nuclear weapon, which was why international nuclear inspectors had kept a watch on the material, and even sealed and locked some of it. But the other components of an atom bomb – the design and the radioactive fuel – are more difficult to obtain. “This is a high explosives risk, but not necessarily a proliferation risk,” one senior Bush administration official said.
“not necessarily” — that means “might or might not be depending on whether they have plutonium” — I feel so much better now given what one hears about the plutonium bazaar in the southern parts of the former Soviet Union….
The International Atomic Energy Agency publicly warned about the danger of these explosives before the war, and after the invasion it specifically told United States officials about the need to keep the explosives secured, European diplomats said in interviews last week. Administration officials say they cannot explain why the explosives were not safeguarded, beyond the fact that the occupation force was overwhelmed by the amount of munitions they found throughout the country.
This translates as “they screwed up bigtime”.
… One senior official noted that the Qaqaa complex where the explosives HMX and RDX were stored was listed as a “medium priority” site on the Central Intelligence Agency's list of more than 500 sites that needed to be searched and secured during the invasion. In the chaos that followed the invasion, many of those sites, even some considered a higher priority, were never secured.
“Should we have gone there? Definitely,” said one senior administration official. “But there are a lot of things we should have done, and didn't.”
And what were the “high priority” sites, pray tell?
The remaining stockpile was no secret. Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the I.A.E.A., frequently talked about it publicly as he investigated, in late 2002 and early 2003, the Bush administration's claims that Iraq was secretly renewing its pursuit of nuclear arms. He ordered his weapons inspectors to conduct an inventory, and publicly reported their findings to the Security Council on Jan. 9, 2003.
So there really is no excuse here.