Boom Goes the Last Shred of Bush’s Reputation as a Terrorism-Fighter

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.

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10 Responses to Boom Goes the Last Shred of Bush’s Reputation as a Terrorism-Fighter

  1. Brad DeLong says:

    We’re really lucky that Saddam Hussein didn’t have a functioning nuclear program. If he had, Al Qaeda would have picked up enough stuff at the end of April 2003 for us to have lost New York by now…

  2. Charles V says:

    And what were the “high priority” sites, pray tell?

    That’s an easy one.

    Oil ministry an untouched building in ravaged Baghdad

  3. Barsk says:

    Whether or not they can make a nuke is a much further cry then whether they have managed to pick up some Pu-239 on the market or not. To make a Pu-239 bomb you still need a complex structure (to use the explosives, it’s a controled circular shockwave) and beryllium/polonium (to generate neutrons…either of which are probably pretty easy to get). The thing is, with how dangerous these materials are the terrorists would need a pretty sophisticated lab. My guess is that the Iranian nuclear program probably has a few more materials today thanks to the US.

  4. Chris says:

    What the F***!

    Why isn’t this story splashed all over the headlines and editorial writers screaming for Bush’s head?! Bush’s one platform–“I can keep you safe”–just went up in a mushroom cloud (or a car bomb explosion). Just throwing this precious clacque of fools out of office won’t be enough. There should be an option on my ballot to damn these idiots to hell, too. I wish I could do the same with the media, who is asleep yet again at the switch.

  5. Altoid says:

    Two possible meanings here: 1) They really were concerned about WMD and Iraqi nukes, and were totally incompetent at taking and securing sites that mattered; or 2) they never really were concerned about WMD and nukes at all. Which one is *your* money on?

    This is so mind-bogglingly unbelievable that the mind just can’t comprehend it. It could only have happened under this administration. Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce were far too professional to let anything like this happen on their watches.

  6. Mojo says:

    The fact that there has been no indication of these explosives being used in IEDs in Iraq leads me to believe that Barsk probably has it right. Administration policy is now directly contributing to the Iranian nuclear weapons program rather than just helping it along by distracting the international community.

  7. Neil Waelder says:

    Regarding the missing explosives, disclosed by the Iraqi government to the IAEA, I noticed the Bush administration has been quoting that the 300-400 Tons missing is a fraction of the
    243,000 tons of munitions destroyed. (A tank weighs 25 ton, a dump truck 5 tons)

    The White House rationalization:

    MR. ERELI: 10/25/2004
    “…something that is included in the Duelfer report, as of mid-September 2004, coalition forces had reviewed and cleared a total of 10,033 caches, weapons caches throughout Iraq, destroying a total of 243,000 tons of munitions..”
    Ref: US State Department –

    Mr. McClellan – 10/25/2004
    “…according to the Duelfer report, as of mid-September, more than 243,000 tons of munitions have been destroyed since Operation Iraqi Freedom. Coalition forces have cleared and reviewed a total of 10,033 caches of munitions; another nearly 163,000 tons of munitions have been secured and are on line to be destroyed. That puts this all — that puts this all in context.”
    Ref: White House Press Briefing –

    However, the National Security Web site – 4/19/2004 ( indicated by the meta content):
    ” 3. More than 8,200 tons of ammunition, thousands of AK-47s, grenades, and other weapons have been seized throughout Iraq — much of which was stored by the Hussein regime in hospitals, schools, and mosques.”

    Ref: NSC –

    What is it, 8,200 tons or 163,000 tons?

    Neil Waelder
    Syracuse, NY

  8. Yeah, Mary Matalin was on the radio the other night handing out this party line…so what if 300 tons are missing, look how many tons have been destroyed?

    As in hey, nobody’s perfect, its only 70,000 pounds of explosive…

    Btw, I’m now hearing reports saying PETN was also an explosive in the missing stockpile…the three cover pretty much every explosive possibility with the exception of ammonium nitrate, which evidently anyone can buy. I can’t seem to find a single explosive used on wide scale other than fertilizer that isn’t made out of one or more of these three explosives….

  9. Chris says:

    Latest example of Bush’s habit of opening himself up for a bodyslam by making a stupid-ass comment, er, a faith-based soundbite, and then getting a smackdown faster than you can blink an eye (off of Atrios):

    Statement from Wesley Clark

    Today George W. Bush made a very compelling and thoughtful argument for why he should not be reelected. In his own words, he told the American people that “…a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your Commander in Chief.

    President Bush couldn’t be more right. He jumped to conclusions about any connection between Saddam Hussein and 911. He jumped to conclusions about weapons of mass destruction. He jumped to conclusions about the mission being accomplished. He jumped to conclusions about how we had enough troops on the ground to win the peace. And because he jumped to conclusions, terrorists and insurgents in Iraq may very well have their hands on powerful explosives to attack our troops, we are stuck in Iraq without a plan to win the peace, and Americans are less safe both at home and abroad.

    By doing all these things, he broke faith with our men and women in uniform. He has let them down. George W. Bush is unfit to be our Commander in Chief.

  10. Chris says:

    For your reading and viewing pleasure, the now irrefutable proof that Bush LIED about the explosives:

    As for, “we didn’t know anything about it, and couldn’t keep track of it all anyway”…

    As for, “who knows when it all disappeared?”…

    This story isn’t going to die, and these liars are going DOWN!

    Oh yes, and Rudy Guiliani just denigrated the troops who were on the scene:
    Go to Eschaton, under “Saint Rudy”

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