Al Qaqaa Chronology and Key Facts

I appreciate Ronan's diversion into trans-Atlantic sporting issues, and I'll get there shortly. First I need to correct a couple of date-related factual claims of my own from yesterday. Here is the official chronology.

April 10, 2003--The 101st comes to Al Qaqaa. It's mandate is to move on into Baghdad and it makes only a cursory check of storage bunker, makes no record of seeing any explosives.

May 8, 2003--The 75th arrives at the site and makes a thorough inspection. NOTHING is found. NBC's embedded reporter confirms the date and the search.

October 24, 2004--The New York Times pre-empts CBS in recycling the story as if it was only recently discovered that the explosives were missing. Their front-page story contains no references to the on-record NBC reports from Al Qaqaa nearly 18 months earlier.

Other Key Information:

  • The 380 tons of explosive material would have taken 38 industrial truckloads to remove.
  • The likelihood of this happening between April 10 and May 8 of 2003 is, according to the military personnel present, nil. Al Qaqaa sits on a heavily trafficked stretch of road with US military caravans coming and going regularly in that period and always engaging any unauthorized vehicles.
  • The obvious conclusion is that the materials were removed before US soldiers ever arrived.
  • The US has confiscated 400,000 tons of explosive materials in the last 18 months, making the Al Qaqaa cache 1/10 of a percent of the total taken. However careful your planning has been, you're likely to miss on .001.

I think that the Bush administration has badly mismanaged many aspects of the post-war environment. But as long as the emphasis is constantly diverted to hysterical claims like "Bush lied!!!!" and "Bush let the terrorists steal explosives" we will be unable to have a serious discussion about those problems and what they mean.

There was a time, about three months ago, where John Kerry could have won my vote. If he had seriously engaged the real issues facing us in Iraq, and veered away from the cheap opportunism that has characterized most of his campaign. But his response to this piece of flagrant misinformation is all-too-telling--even as his head FP man, Richard Holbrooke, is on TV saying 'actually we don't know the real situation with the Al Qaqaa materials', JK and his team have no shame in running manipulative TV ads featuring the now discredited claims. If the claims are not discredited, they are at the VERY least totally uncertain. For Kerry to use them at this stage is utterly dishonest. But he doesn't mind.