October 25, 2004

Hey, we were really busy securing oil wells

Reuters reports that a bunch of explosives have gone missing from a former atomic site in Iraq. We knew they were there -- the article points out that "Iraq was permitted to keep some of its explosives for mining purposes after the IAEA completed its dismantling of Saddam's covert nuclear weapons program after the 1991 Gulf war." So if we knew they were there, why weren't we guarding them?

The New York Times report cited White House and Pentagon officials - as well as at least one Iraqi minister - as acknowledging that the explosives vanished from the site shortly after the U.S.-led invasion amid widespread looting.

The minister of science and technology, Rashad M. Omar, confirmed the explosives were missing in an interview with The Times and CBS Television in Baghdad.

A Western diplomat close to the IAEA, who declined to be named, said it was difficult to understand why the U.S. military had failed to secure the facility despite knowing how sensitive the site was.

"This was a very well known site. If you could have picked a few sites that you would have to secure then ... Al Qaqaa would certainly be one of the main ones," the diplomat said

George W. Bush did not then call a press conference to say, "We now know the Iraqis are in possession of 380 tons of explosives. We do not know where those weapons of mass destruction are, but we will find them. I hope this silences all the critics who have said our rationale for invading Iraq was trumped-up. Thank you."

(Update: The same story in cartoon form.)

Posted by Francis at 10:38 AM