Two things to note from this CNN story. One is how the GOP is trying to find almost any excuse for Bush’s incompetence as far as securing the HMX and RDX explosives:
But in the wake of the NBC report, the Bush campaign fired off a statement saying that Kerry’s criticism of the president over the missing material has “been proven false before the day is over.” “John Kerry’s attacks today were baseless,” Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said. “He said American troops did not secure the explosives, when the explosives were already missing.” Schmidt also said that Kerry “neglects to mention the 400,000 tons of weapons and explosives that are either destroyed or in the process of being destroyed” in Iraq.
Joe Lockhardt’s response is included and is spot on. But has this story undermined the New York Times story in any way? What is the new information?
NBC News reported that on April 10, 2003, its crew was embedded with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division when troops arrived at the Al Qaqaa storage facility south of Baghdad. While the troops found large stockpiles of conventional explosives, they did not find HMX or RDX, the types of powerful explosives that reportedly went missing, according to NBC… Baghdad fell on April 9, 2003. According to NBC, troops from the 101st Airborne arrived the next day and could not the material. At the Pentagon, officials said that the site had been repeatedly searched but the high explosives the IAEA described were never found.
Maybe Schmidt is confused as to where the blame lies. The blame does not lie with the troops who did everything they could given their orders from the civilian commanders. The blame goes to the lack of planning from Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. They are the ones who decided on when to invade. They are the ones who decided not to send more forces. They are the ones who put a priority of toppling the statute of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad over securing these weapon cites.
And did not the IAEA know these explosive were there? Did the Administration bother to consult with them? Or did they only listen to Rumsfeld who pretended to know where all the dangerous weapons were?
Why didn’t we simply bomb these facilities in March rather than waiting for the troops to reach Baghdad. Oh wait, I’m assuming this war was about security rather than partisan politics and photo opportunities. After all, had our bombers destroyed these explosives – they would not be very useful in Karl Rove’s war against American Democrats.
Update: Josh Marshall is suggesting CNN was duped into running this story by Drudge. Even if this story were true, it speaks badly for the lack of planning by the Administration, but maybe this was another bit of Bush-Cheney dishonesty in a feeble attempt to cover-up their incompetence.