Myth of the Missing Explosives

Ralph Peters outlines a dozen reasons why the “400 tons” of explosives could not plausibly have gone missing once U.S. troops arrived, and lambasts the UN, the US media, and John Kerry for what he terms “A shameless lie.”

Eight: If the Iraqis had used military transport vehicles of five-ton capacity, it would have required 80 trucks for one big lift, or, say, 20 trucks each making four trips. They would have needed special trolleys, forklifts, handling experts and skilled drivers (explosives aren’t groceries). This operation could not have happened either during or after the war, while the Al-Qaqaa area was flooded with U.S. troops.

Nine: We owned the skies. And when you own the skies, you own the roads. We were watching for any sign of organized movement. A gaggle of non-Coalition vehicles driving in and out of an ammo dump would have attracted the attention of our surveillance systems immediately.

Ten: And you don’t just drive high explosives cross-country, unless you want to hear a very loud bang. Besides, the Iraqis would have needed to hide those 400 tons of explosives somewhere else. Unless the uploaded trucks are still driving around Iraq.

Peters’ conclusion is rather pointed:

Sen. Kerry knows this is a bogus issue. And he doesn’t care. He’s willing to accuse our troops of negligence and incompetence to further his political career. Of course, he did that once before.

Ouch.

Of course, with his accomplices at the NYT and CBS, he may well get away with it. Certainly, the coverage of the unravelling of this story is not getting anywhere near the attention of the story itself. Certainly, Kerry is still acting as if there is no shadow of a doubt that the weapons went missing under our watch and that it’s George Bush’s fault.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004, Intelligence, Iraq War, Media
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. ken says:

    “Of course, with his accomplices at the NYT and CBS, he may well get away with it.”

    James, That kind of commentary I would expect from a radical nutcase. I would never have put you in that category but this gets you close.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Ken: There’s very little doubt that CBS and the NYT have been working on a series of stories for weeks, in some cases months, that they have purposely timed for just before the election. They’re accomplices of Kerry in the sense that they’re rather clearly working to help him, not in the sense that Kerry is in on it.

    This is yet another in a now long string of cases where the press–especially those two outlets–have put out stories that cast a negative light on Bush only to have them implode within hours of contact with the blogosphere. Either CBS and the NYT are so incredibly incompetent that no one should take them seriously, or they’ve moved well beyond objectivity and into active partisanship.

  3. ken says:

    James, your argument should be taken up with the facts instead of with the newpaper that reports them. There is a national election coming up so you have no grounds to complain when issues that affect the election get reported.

    If your argument is that the facts are being misrepresented by the NYT, CBS and others I think you need to investigate a little further before you make that charge. Having done so myself I find Kerry’s charge against Bush accurate.

    BTW what does factcheck.com say on this? Anything there yet?

  4. Tim says:

    The story has hardly imploded. In fact, I think today’s KSTP story out of Minneapolis probably implodes the White House’s contention that a)our guys actively searched for the explosives in early April and b) the stuff was already gone by the time we took over.

    Peters’s case is actually even more damning, not exonerating, of the intelligence (read: lack thereof) before the war. If it takes that much effort to move the explosives – and we were so certain that Saddam was bent on blowing us all up – why the hell didn’t we see them moving it and take action prior to the actual commencement of the war?

  5. Pray tell how all this:

    Iraqis used 80 trucks for one big lift (or 20 trucks X 4). They would have needed special trolleys, forklifts, handling experts and skilled drivers (explosives aren’t groceries). This operation could not have happened either during or after the war, while the Al-Qaqaa area was flooded with U.S. troops.

    managed to elude U.S. Satellite surveillence?

    Powell went to the UN with intelsat photos of 1 truck — and claimed it was a bio weapon facilitiy.

    80 trucks, trolleys, forklifts moving 400 tonnes of dangerous explosives — and NOBODY NOTICED IT? WAS THE EYE IN THE SKY ASLEEP THAT NIGHT?

    Puh-leeze. I’m all in favor of vigorous debate . . . but there must be some correllation to reality.

    So unless you can explain how all this material slipped away without being captured by SATELLITES, I have to declare it hollowly futile sophistry . . .

  6. ken says:

    Well James, it looks like the explosives were indeed present after the fall of Baghdad.

    KSTV had an embedded tv crew with a unit that arrived at the site and took film of the IAEA seals on the barrels of high grade explosives stored at the depot.

    You can see pictures for yourself of the seals at dailykos.com

    Another Bush blunder exposed.

  7. ken says:

    Actually here is the original source material. It has more detail than provided by kos.

    Ihttp://kstp.com/article/stories/S3741.html?cat=1