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A call to the pajamhadeen (channeling buckhead)

[read this slowly, especially the bottom]

OK guys and gals, I have a theory.

I could work it alone and win all sorts or praise if I blew the story sky high... But I'm far more interested in proving it/disproving this theory. A bottle of Champaign for anyone proving it and a big attaboy for disproving it. I'd love to bust this before before the big media even thinks about it.

The Background
Link from my post below, I'm going to highlight some things so nobody gets confused. (Spoons you can stop reading now ;-)

The information on which the Iraqi Science Ministry based an Oct. 10 memo in which it reported that 377 tons of RDX explosives were missing — presumably stolen due to a lack of security — was based on "declaration" from July 15, 2002. At that time, the Iraqis said there were 141 tons of RDX explosives at the facility.

But the confidential IAEA documents obtained by ABC News show that on Jan. 14, 2003, the agency's inspectors recorded that just over 3 tons of RDX was stored at the facility — a considerable discrepancy from what the Iraqis reported.

If this was written right -- and I'm reading it right-- this is not only a smoking gun but a smoking shotgun that hit multiple targets.

This sounds inspectors went to the facility and found 141 tons of RDX on July 15, 2002. That is supported by this pdf from the IAEA website.

iaea_chart.gif

The problem is that "declared" is in scare quotes in the ABC piece. I need to verify this.

I obviously can't provide you with the confidential memo that says Iraq declared only 3 tons just 6 months later in Jan 14, 2003. But since both Fox News and ABC news are running it, for the sake of this discussion it is legit. (update before I even post, I'm working on it)

The Theory:
If (big if)

a) IAEA inspectors actually physically went there and inspected and found 141 tons of material in July 2002 AND

b) they physically went there in Jan 2003 and inspected and found 3 tons of material AND

c) and these facts were never given to the UN Security Council. THEN,

2 things are true.

1) The Iraqis moved a mountain of the stuff somewhere in that 6 months and well before the start of the war.

and more importantly

2) During all of ElBaradei's testimony before the U.N., as the Security Council debated Iraq's fate, he never once mentioned that they moved explosives critical to making nuclear weapons. (we are a long way from proving this) But that fact clearly would have impacted the debate and even the implication that he might withhold the evidence is mind-boggling.

If I'm putting the cart before the horse, Spoons is sure to tell me but I don't think my theory is too far out there from reading this report.

I think it is a safe bet the IAEA never told the UN that some RDX was missing-- that is probably self evident. That would have been a major talking point for the right and it would have come up this week obviously. (but we can check it anyway)

Here is what we need

I need proof that an IAEA inspector went to the site on July 15, 2002 and counted 141 tons of RDX. Ideally this would be in the form of a declaration from the IAEA website. Contemporaneous news reports would do but an IAEA doc is what would really put this over the top.

I working on getting some info from the Jan 2003 document. If we get the first one, it will get here quicker.

If someone wanted to take the time to search all the IAEA testimony (before the UN Sec Coun) between Jan 2003 and the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom for any mention of RDX or Al Qa Qaa, there might be a gold mine in there.

Let me say AGAIN- This is a THEORY from reading the ABC report. The web probably can be used to prove/disprove it quickly. This is sort of an experiment. Rather than me working it by myself, I'm doing the "open source journalism" thing and enlisting a team of people.

The results, no matter the results, will be compiled and posted here at Wizbang and I'm sure at the blog of the person who gets the lucky google hit. LOL

And if you don't have a blog, you can join in too, just leave your findings in the comments.

BTW we try to leave the comments pretty open at Wizbang, but let's try to keep comments on point and preferably used as a way to pass information that we are working on.

OK you proud pajama wearers, whatchya got?

1 Update below fold.

P.S. I never beg for links, but links spreading the word on this appreciated. I think it would be interesting to see how fast we can prove/disprove this.

Update 1: Boyd reminds be that I wanted to address something. It was my understanding (prior to this story) the IAEA SAID there was 141 tons there. This story, which is not worded as clearly as if could be, said "Iraq declared."

If Iraq could self declare, did they inflate the number or did some truly get moved before Jan???

Can anyone find if the "inspected country" can self declare? Seems almost worthless if they can.

Update 2: placeholder


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Comments (72)

Im on it!Spreading... (Below threshold)

Im on it!

Spreading the word and the truth.

Boy, is Rather going to be pissed!

Just subscribed to this com... (Below threshold)
JEW:

Just subscribed to this comment thread.

OOPs, Just subscribed to th... (Below threshold)
JEW:

OOPs, Just subscribed to this comment thread.

<a href="http://news.bbc.co... (Below threshold)
Mike:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2167933.stm

No inspectors present in Iraq until September of 2002.

I haven't finished reading ... (Below threshold)
Boyd:

I haven't finished reading your entire post yet, Paul, but I believe you're starting from a misconception. Even when I first read the ABC piece, what I got from it was that the 141 tons were in one of the declarations that Iraq provided IAEA periodically.

So the IAEA didn't inspect them in July 2002. In fact, there were no inspectors in Iraq at that time, remember? They didn't return until late that year.

Okay, now I'll go back and finish reading.

I haven't finished readi... (Below threshold)
Paul:

I haven't finished reading your entire post yet,

Grrrr Don't make me hurt you

Before I forget, your ABC q... (Below threshold)
Boyd:

Before I forget, your ABC quote actually says the declaration was from the Iraqis:

At that time, the Iraqis said there were 141 tons of RDX explosives at the facility.

Okay, now that I've finished reading the post, I don't think the source of the July 2002 report matters. The important point is that in January 2003, IAEA inspectors reported only 3 tons of RDX were present.

That alone blows this whole thing out of the water, in my opinion.

---------------------------... (Below threshold)
conelrad:

-------------------------------

and these facts were never given to the UN Security Council

That might be the most difficult item to prove.

Were IAEA reports ever presented in SC executive session? How do you get the minutes or copies of the reports?
--------------------------------

Hey, I ain't afraid a nobod... (Below threshold)
Boyd:

Hey, I ain't afraid a nobody fum Loseriana.

Regardless of the outcome o... (Below threshold)
jbmeisterswife:

Regardless of the outcome of this experiment, I give you guys/gals credit for asking the questions and asking for answers. A very good reason I now look to you bloggers for my news and information

wget -m, grep, find, |, are... (Below threshold)
wget:

wget -m, grep, find, |, are your friends in this search.

Mirror their site locally, (rate limit it if necessary, use googlebot as the agent if necessary) then search through the site locally, much faster than searching the site over the web, and you can customize the searches many ways. And you can search google at the same time. Come up empty? Don't forget the way back when machine, and other site archiving projects in case the material or articles have been removed. And don't forget the BBC has a lot of archives online, for those without lexis nexxus accounts to burn someone else's money on.

I posted the request over a... (Below threshold)

I posted the request over at LGF, and at Suite101. Hopefully something will come of it shortly.

IAEA reported in <a href="h... (Below threshold)
Varuth:

IAEA reported in S/2003/95 that it inspected and verified 196 tons of HMX. This inspection took place sometime between the resumption of inspections on Nov 27 2002 and the release of this report on Jan 27 2003.

The report also indicates that the IAEA got the backlogged semi-annual reports from 1998 to 2002 in December of 2002. One of them, probably the starting point document, would have been the July 15 2002 Semi-Annual Declaration.

My guess (only a guess now) is that the IAEA took the Iraqi's word for it that they had 141 tons of RDX and never inspected it because no one was raising hell about RDX, just HMX. The Iraqis could very well have used all that RDX and then reported in their next Semi-Annual Declaration due on Jan 15 2003 that they only had 3 tons left.

First, a big thanks! Blogg... (Below threshold)
Wendi Sue:

First, a big thanks! Bloggers are a terrific check and balance system for the Legacy Media.
Wizbang is one of my favorites.

Second- a question about something that may need correcting. I am reading the IAEA report as saying that at one point there were nearly 195 tons of HMX, which I think most people have agreed are not so worrisome as the other stuff, and 147 tons of RDX.

Then they went back later and found only 3 tons of of the RDX. - and this is where I am seeing something different.

The majority of bloggers seem to be reading this as saying only 3 tons of RDX and nothing else. I am reading this as the other stuff was there in the same amounts, but the RDX had been tampered with and only 3 tons was left of *it*- not only 3 tons of all explosives.

Frankly, this is mainly important for credibility and the tenacious sticking to the facts that bloggers not supported by Soros are noted for. But those assets are valuable enough to protect.

<a href="http://www.iraqwat... (Below threshold)

http://www.iraqwatch.org/profiles/nuclear.html

"Iraq also started working on spherical lenses as early as 1988, and experimented with various kinds of explosives, including Baratol, PETN, COM-B, TNT, RDX and HMX. Iraq revealed to IAEA-4 that hundreds of tons of HMX had been imported, and that Iraq had gained "considerable experience in casting such material." The HMX was used to make improved explosive lenses for the Iraqi bomb. The Al Qaqaa team also mastered the design of dedicated exploding bridge wire (EBW) detonators, after experimenting with several types. In fact, the U.S. Departments of Defense and Energy helped train three Iraqi scientists from Al Qaqaa at a quadrennial international detonation conference in Portland, Oregon, where nuclear weapon detonation technology and flyer plate technology were presented. The latter is used to control the force and shape of implosive shock waves."
1988. That far back they were ID'ing it

"If I'm putting the cart be... (Below threshold)
Sean:

"If I'm putting the cart before the horse, Spoons is sure to tell me but I don't think my theory is too far out there from reading this report. "

How can I, when you told me several paragraphs above to stop reading?!? :-)

But anyway, I think this is mostly right, with a couple of reservations. One, I'm a little concerned about the issue Wendi Sue raises, which I had tried to figure out last night and this morning, but couldn't. Two (and this is a really minor point), I think you may be making too much of the fact that the SC was not notified of the movement of this stuff way back when. As I understand it, this is not particularly exotic material we're talking about here -- certainly not WMDs. IT doesn't surprise me that ther wouldn't have been much focus on it.

lawhawk thanks... (Below threshold)
Paul:

lawhawk thanks

Varuth you rock

Wendi Sue- "Legacy Media" OUCH! -

Spoons, you have a real name? And that was a test, I knew you would ignore it. lol

But lemme wring out your point- Remember all the debate before the war- everyday somebody testified before the SC. IF IF IF 138 tons of explosives used to detonate nuclear weapons turned up missing in that time frame and it was ignored?????? Big story.

Update 1: Boyd reminds b... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

Update 1: Boyd reminds be that I wanted to address something. It was my understanding (prior to this story) the IAEA SAID there was 141 tons there. This story, which is not worded as clearly as if could be, said "Iraq declared."

If Iraq could self declare, did they inflate the number or did some truly get moved before Jan???

Can anyone find if the "inspected country" can self declare? Seems almost worthless if they can.

On the issue of self-declaration, if you recall, one of the sticking points during the rigamarole prior to the war was the fact that Iraq was required to present a report detailing what and where all the inspected items were. If I recall correctly, they ultimately turned in a 12,000-page document that was total gibberish.

I point that out because there are apparently provisions in the inspection regime that required Iraq to report on certain things. Recall that when Hans Blix issued his famous report, there was page after page of "Iraq has no documentation on this".

Now, on to the conjecture. It sounds as if Iraq was required to periodically verify that the IAEA seals were in place and that the quantities were correct. On July 15, 2002, they "verified" the 141-ton figure in a report. Come January 2003, when the inspectors arrived, they found only 3 tons. The only thing we know for sure is that between the last inspections previously (1997 or 1998) and January 2003, 138 tons of explosives disappeared. Those are the last two times that any eyes other than Iraqi eyes saw the material.

excellent point steve... (Below threshold)
Paul:

excellent point steve

<a href="http://www.iraqwat... (Below threshold)

http://www.iraqwatch.org/un/IAEA/S-1995-1003.htm

Don't forget Steve that in 1991 supposedly at the Al Qaqaa facility much of the equipment and weapons machination hardware was removed in the begining of 1991.

But I can't seem to find via tracking where the stuff went. Anyone want to take a guess as to wether or not the expolsives where as well?

I E-mailed Kevin on the Self Declaration.

Iraq was told to declare their own munitions in total. Basicaly an attempt to 'Come Clean" in part of UN Ressolution 687/1991.

They had till April 15th to step to the plate and show their cards.

Ok... quick timeline summar... (Below threshold)
Varuth:

Ok... quick timeline summary of IAEA activity at Al Qa Qaa. Begins here

Nov 30 2002 - An IAEA team completed some work at the Al Qa Qaa Company, specifically the removal of the last of four air samplers previously installed and planned to be refurbished, upgraded and reinstalled in the near future.

Dec 8 2002 - IAEA receives Iraqi declarations at its Vienna HQ. (ref. S/2003/95)

Dec 9 2002 - An IAEA team at Al Qa Qaa began inventorying known explosive materials from the past nuclear programme that were previously under the control of the IAEA. Other tasks involved inspecting a number of key buildings and outdoor sites within the huge Al Qa Qaa complex.

Dec 10 2002 - Another team investigated an outlying site of the Al Qa Qaa explosives plant. The outlying site, called Sumood-4, is near the city of Mussayib and was associated with a past program. Sumood-4 is co-located with the Sadda Cement Factory. The cement plant was also inspected for dual-use capabilities.

Dec 16 2002 - Another IAEA team visited four sites: Al Qa Qaa, Mussayib Army Munitions Depot, Al Motaseem Factory, and the Hatteen Establishment's testing range. The team monitored the production of small rockets. These sites work as a unit in the Iraqi military armaments structure to produce and test munitions.

Dec 25 2002 - In a cooperative venture, the IAEA team joined with Iraqi auditors at the Al Qa Qaa explosives plant. They together made item counts of important dual-use materials and compared results. Hundreds of items were counted. The results will be used as part of a verification of Iraq's use of special metals.

Jan 24 2003 - An UNMOVIC chemical team returned to the Al Qa Qaa complex for the seventh day. The team inspected the Research and Development Centre and a waste treatment facility.

Feb 4 2003 - Two IAEA teams conducted two inspections. One team inspected the Al Mamoun plant of the Al Qa Qaa Establishment south of Baghdad. A second IAEA team, with support from UNMOVIC, inspected the former site of the Al Salam Company, formerly associated with biological weapons development, in the Salman Pak area south of Baghdad.

Perhaps the real question h... (Below threshold)
Mike:

Perhaps the real question here should be whether John Kerry overheard anything about the Al Qaqaa munitions stash during his super-secret meetings with the UN Security Council ...

Also, may I suggest a new name for this scandal, with a hat-tip to the unbelievably sloppy work done by the NYT:

"Failure-To-Investi-Gate"

The IAEA has come forward s... (Below threshold)
Rock:

The IAEA has come forward saying there is no discrpency. Only 3 tons of RDX was at that location. The rest was at another location 45 km away, that they considered part of Al QaQaa as far as reporting is concerned. Sounds pretty strange to me.

So now, either the IAEA is lying, or there was never more than 3 tons of RDX at the specific location that troops were at. I haven't heard anything about anyone confirming that RDX was or was not at the location 45 km away, but if it was gone it is just more circumstantial evidence that the stuff was moved prior to the war rather than looted after the war. It was tough enough to beleive that looters could sneak into one location with dozens of tractor-trailers to steal explosives without being seen. It is impossible to believe that they could have snuck into 2 locations 45 km apart with dozens of trucks in each location, and not be seen.

OK. Iraq had to make semi-... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

OK. Iraq had to make semi-annual reports to the UN. From Hons Blix's report prior to the war (Page 14):

Although there have been some inconsistencies and discrepancies in Iraq’s semi-annual declarations...

I still have a copy of the report and I am reading it again to see if there is any mention of this. There may not be since it was an IAEA thing.

- As an aside FOX is now re... (Below threshold)

- As an aside FOX is now reporting that serious questions are being raised by industry insiders into the possibility that NY Times "leaked" the upcoming news release to the Kerry campaign ahead of time...

- The spark in the hey pile is the speed that the Kerry people were able to air an Ad citing information contained in Sangers article so quickly and comments Kerry made back some time ago where he mentions several NYT reporters by name, Sanger being one of them, who "[think] it would take a change in presidency to move America back on track"....

- developing.....

- The "Companies of the Isl... (Below threshold)

- The "Companies of the Islamic armies", yet another group of terrorists are now saying in a video on Al Zazerra, that they have the explosives all 340 tons, and they will use them on Coalition forces, (never mind they would require advaned processing to be usable in conventional weapons)....

- Does that asshole Kerry either know or give a flying f*** that what he's doing is yet another traitorous anti-American act and playing into the hands of the insurgents? Its going beyond wanting to see that elitist scum bag lose...I'm starting to loath the SOB.....

has anyone here looked at t... (Below threshold)

has anyone here looked at the footage from the minneapolis tv station supposedly embedded with the 101st? they're showing video which they claim was shot onsite at qaqaa showing huge amounts of stuff labeled explosives. now my query would be why is all of this iraqi stuff labeled in english, but this might be worth looking into.

http://www.kstp.com/article/stories/S3723.html?cat=1

The IAEA and UN are useless... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

The IAEA and UN are useless (REDUNDANCY ALERT), but I did find a couple of things:

1. Inspections restarted on 25 November 2002 and continued until 17 March 2003.

2. IAEA inspected Al Qa Qaa three times: 9 December, 28 December (this may have been an UNMOVIC inspection) and 14 January. UNMOVIC inspected there several times, but for rocket motor production issues.

3. On December 10, IAEA inspected Sumood-4 which may be the mythical "outlying" facility which is described as:

A team investigated an outlying site of the Al Qa Qaa explosives plant. (The main Al Qa Qaa complex was inspected on Monday.) The outlying site, called Sumood-4, is near the city of Mussayib and was associated with a past program. Sumood-4 is co-located with the Sadda Cement Factory.

I did find this interesting tidbit from a December 1997 letter from the IAEA to the UN:

In accordance with its notification to IAEA, Iraq removed IAEA seals from five of the six high-explosive bunkers at the Al Qa Qaa facility and dispersed approximately 50 tons out of the total of 228 tons of high explosives (HMX) stored in the bunkers to other locations at Al Qa Qaa. IAEA inspectors have witnessed the return of this material to its original storage location and have taken measures to account for the original inventory. There are no indications that any of this material has been diverted.

Clearly, Iraq had no problem removing IAEA seals in the past.

Clearly, Iraq had no pro... (Below threshold)
julie:

Clearly, Iraq had no problem removing IAEA seals in the past.

I sure wouldn't. What are these seals, anyway? Are we talking about little stick'ums?

Hunter and all,Rem... (Below threshold)
Schwerv:

Hunter and all,

Remember, Kerry brought up the idea of un-secured ammo dumps in the second debate.

http://www.debates.org/pages/trans2004c.html

This debate happened on October 8th.

Varuth you are going to bus... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Varuth you are going to bust this

Bret Baier of Fox News repo... (Below threshold)
Jim:

Bret Baier of Fox News reporting at 2:15 PM today stated that the satellite images of the explosives being moved prior to our invasion may be released to the media by this evening. Bret continues to maintain a fair and balanced posture while making his on-camera report, but in essence he's saying the explosives story by the NY Times, CBS and the Kerry assclowns is bullshit. The Dems in response are left having to say, "Well, we don't know when the explosives were taken or how much of it was stolen and whether there was 388 tons or 3 tons or 150 tons (as stated in a UN report)."

BTW, as with Rathergate, th... (Below threshold)
Jim:

BTW, as with Rathergate, the media are left having to practically say they know the NY Times story is accurate because George W. Bush sucks.

You know how to get Kerry to stop lying that Bush fired that army general (Sinenski?)? Bush should tell the media that he fired that general for not securing ammo dumps properly. Then Kerry will say, "Bush didn't fire the general. The general's time was up and he left the joint chiefs." LOL

a couple of points...... (Below threshold)

a couple of points...

although RDX is a very dangerous explosive, the IAEA was much less concerned with it than with HDX, whose properties make it idea for use in the creation of the explosive lens needed to detonate a nuclear bomb.

But more important is the fact that the administration has been covering up the fact that this material has been missing for EIGHTEEN MONTHS.

Remember, it was the job of the Iraq Survey Group to inventory and account for everything having to do, or possibly having to do, with Iraq's WMD programs. An army unit working with the ISG went to al QaQaa at least three times in May 2003 (although MSNBC is now reporting that each visit was less than six hours in length, the ISG voa the IAEA doubtless knew the exact locations where the HGX was stored, and could have verified its presence, or loss, in far less than six hours.).

In other words, Kay and Duelfer (and the Bush administration) KNEW 18 months ago that there was an excellent possibility that these MAJOR explosives, useful in fabricating nukes, had gone missing....but only NOW, once that information has been made public, is the administration bothering to try and figure out where the stuff went.

This is called dereliction of duty, folks. If they had "checked the tapes" as soon as they discovered that the HTX was missing, they MIGHT have been able to find some, or most, of it before it was dispersed to terrorists. But trying to track it down now, 18 months after the fact, is going to be impossible.

And face it, it is BECAUSE of Bush's decisions that this stuff is now missing. He was warned that it would take hundreds of thousands of troops to secure Iraq properly, and he ignored that advice, assuming instead that we would be greeted with flowers, and that there would be no significant resistance after the fall of Baghdad.

Even an idiot would have realized that Saddam might choose a "guerrilla" campaign---its obvious that is what the Taliban did, and Saddam may have been insane, but he also knew his military was no match for the USA. Bush's failure to plan for what did happen---his assumption that the ONLY course of action that Saddam would pursue would be a fight to the death in Baghdad---and his continued REFUSAL to admit that he made a mistake, is all the reason you need to fire Bush, and bring in a new CEO.

From the NYT:Howev... (Below threshold)
andre3000:

From the NYT:

However, a United Nations agency has called the ABC news report into question, saying that it cited an inspection report of a single day and that most of the explosives were kept at another site that the United Nations agency considered part of the overall storage area, the A.P. said. Reuters, quoting a spokeswoman for the nuclear agency, said the two sites were about 28 miles apart.

-- What are these seals, an... (Below threshold)
andre3000:

-- What are these seals, anyway?

Baradei wears a special ring. When he wants to seal something, a lackey fetches a red candle and a match, melts some wax over the lock and Mohamad presses his ring into the hardening wax.

That's security, UN style.

UPDATEJust ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

UPDATE

Just wanted you guys to know that my buddy who works for AP is watching the thread. He reads the blog anyway just to mock me. But he called about 30 minutes ago to say he was watching to see if we fit the pieces together.

I also some to another news person since then, but more on that another time.

I'm dramatically late, I should have been out the door 40 minutes ago, so I'm outta here. But about 6 eastern, I hope to make a summation post of what we learned.

Regarding the Kerry ammo du... (Below threshold)
Trickster:

Regarding the Kerry ammo dump comment from above... Kerry said: "Didn't even guard the ammo dumps. And now our kids are being killed with ammos right out of that dump."

I heard a sound bite from him yesterday where he said virtually the same thing in almost the identical language.

From reading the mind-numbi... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

From reading the mind-numbingy stupid reports from the IAEA to the UN during that time, I found the following tidbit from January 9, 2002:

The relocation and consumption of some dual use materials has been among the questions raised in connection with Iraq's backlog of semi-annual declarations. The high explosive "HMX" is a prime example of such material....The Iraqi declarations indicate that out, of the 228 tonnes of HMX available in Iraq at the end of 1998, 196 remained at the facility where the HMX was previously under IAEA seal....The material balance, current stock, whereabouts and final use of such material are currently being investigated.

There are at least two more mentions of HMX in subsequent reports but no mention of the "material balance, current stock, whereabouts, and final use" of the HMX. Both reports say that it has been very difficult to determine the facts.

I think paul lukasiak brin... (Below threshold)
chadeo:

I think paul lukasiak brings up some obvious points even if he does it in a rather abrasive way.

I do not know the imaging capabilities of our military but I am assuming that we would have had 24 hour sat coverage of Iraq in the period leading up to the war. I also assume that we would have paid special attention to the major suspected sites in Iraq.

As paul points out we would have been able to verify that these explosives were missing shortly after we took over power in the country.

So why are we only hearing about it now?

1. The administration, including the military commanders on the ground, and the ISG did not see these explosives as a big deal. They were focused on other issues, and were not surprised in the least that there was some inconsistency with the prior IAEA reports.

2. The administration, including the military commanders on the ground and the ISG are rather incompetent and failed to notice, or bother to compare their findings with the IAEA reports.

3. The administration found out the material was missing only after the invasion, but then was unable to track down how exactly it went missing, either because they had no surveillance of the area, or any such surveillance was inconclusive.

4. The administration knew right away (or even before the invasion) that stuff was missing, and further had clear evidence of the trucks needed to move such material going into the facility and leaving to some new location.

5. other possibilities?

In regards to 1 I suppose it is possible that out of the hundreds of thousands of tons of explosives in Iraq that these particular explosives were just seen as nothing much to worry about. This is contradicted in part by the special attention the IAEA played in investigating them, and the well known application that some of this material had in the construction of a nuclear weapon. Further it seems odd that such clear “duel purpose” material would not be highlighted, at least internally, for the potential positive PR that could come from it. Thus I will say that this is not very likely.

Case two is also doubtful in my mind because again I feel it very unlikely that the administration would overlook materials that had if not a central place in the WMD augment, at least a very strong supporting role. I would need to see some very clear cut documentation that showed such incompetence, and I have yet to read anything that meets such a test.

Cases three and four strike me as the most likely possibilities.
If case three was correct, I can easily see the administration doing their best not to talk about the issue for fear of being accused of exactly what they are being accused of right now and having no real response to it. Clearly looters are not going to make off with 300 tons of anything, let alone some high tech powder which would be very hard to transport. Thus if the administration had admitted that it knew that this material was missing, but had no way to explain how such a massive logistical undertaking escaped their notice, it would look very bad for them. If this turns out to be the case it is going to hurt Bush. I can think of a few ways that Bush could justify why the military had no way to track down the material, but such an admission of weakness is just not going to come from Bush (and on a side note I happen to agree with this attitude. The last thing I want in a conflict is for my side to admit weakness and incompetence to the enemy. That’s not to say that I don’t think the media should highlight such things if they find it, only that I do not expect the administration to respond to it directly. I only expect them to quietly fix the issue and then we should never hear about it again. For example I don’t think we will have any more issues with prison guards being allowed to run amok again, and if such a thing did happen I would rightly expect the administration to get positively burned by it. But I digress).

Case four actually strikes me as the most likely scenario. If Bret Baier of Fox News (thanks Jim!) is right about satellite photos being shown to back up claims that the Iraq government did some kind of large scale logistical movement of material away from those bunkers and to a new location this is going to get very interesting. The obvious question is if we had such intel why did Bush not make a bigger deal about it? My pajamhadeen speculation is that such intel will show the material heading to some other country. If this is true, then I could see why Bush would want to hold off on making a big deal about such things. The reason being the fact that all of the logic for going into Iraq would apply to going into this new country. At this point in time I suspect that talk of any such action would just sever to elevate the frothing at the mouth that both sides in this election seem to have to an even greater level. The cries of warmonger would increase by about a thousand percent. This does not even take into account the issue with trust. It would have to be some damn air tight evidence to convince people after all the talk of the “sure thing” on Iraq and WMD’s.

A final thought on this as well. Sadam might have underestimated Bush’s will to go against the UN, but he is not an idiot. If he was planning to move stuff out of the country before the war I am sure he would have done so in a manner to make it very hard to track. Instead of a two week massive convoy effort, I could easily see a multi-month effort involving only a handful of trucks at a time. This would make any surveillance photos very hard to use as proof that any large scale effort was underway. This is why I suspect the evidence that the stuff is missing is very clear cut, but the evidence to show how it was missing is not so good, and thus it is a politically dangerous issue.

All I can say is that I am very glad I am not Bush, or anyone in his administration responsible for such things. This is a very classic damned if you do damned if you don’t situation. If you don’t show all the evidence for why it is a very difficult task, even for the mighty US to track tons of dual use explosives, you will be accused of being incompetent and allowing the stuff to slip out of your hands. If you do show why such things are very hard to track down then you are admitting weakness and giving other countries, oh like I don’t know Iran or North Korea, clear evidence for how to slip stuff by the supposedly all seeing eyes of the US. Or you make a clear cut case for where the stuff went and then get one group screaming that you are using it as a flimsy justification to continue to increase the reach of the Empire Amerika while the other side starts screaming about pushing dangerous stuff from one known bad guys hands into who knows how many unknown bad guys hands.

Anyhow, this is all very interesting last minuet stuff to occupy ourselves with. I have a feeling though that the general American voter will either not care because their mind is already made up, or will not understand any of the underling complexities in this story and just form some knee jerk reaction to support or condemn Bush.

-chadeo

P.S. *waves to the lurking press*

But that fact clearly wo... (Below threshold)

But that fact clearly would have impacted the debate and even the implication that he might withhold the evidence is mind-boggling.

If we're looking to get the IAEA on something shouldn't the fact that they "lost" 32 tons of HMX be sufficient? ElBardei reported to Hans Blix back in January 2003 that they were unable to verfiy what happened to a large stash of the explosive material yet no one raised an eyebrow over that report.

http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com/archives/000935.html

Kevin, my apologies if this... (Below threshold)
msl:

Kevin, my apologies if this is old news, but I just came across it mixed in with some other CBS news on this story.
Not really to do with your search, but bears on the explosives.

CBS NEWS STORY

(CBS/AP) An armed group claimed in a video Thursday to have obtained a large amount of explosives missing from a munitions depot facility in Iraq and threatened to use them against foreign troops.

A group calling itself Al-Islam's Army Brigades, Al-Karar Brigade, said it had coordinated with officers and soldiers of "the American intelligence" to obtain a "huge amount of the explosives that were in the al-Qaqaa facility."

The claim couldn't be independently verified. The speaker was surrounded by masked, armed men standing in front of a black banner with the group's name on it in the tape obtained by Associated Press Television News.

"We promise God and the Iraqi people that we will use it against the occupation forces and those who cooperate with them in the event of these forces threatening any Iraqi city," the man added.


Chadeo, don't overestimate ... (Below threshold)
Boyd:

Chadeo, don't overestimate our ability to surveil the many sites of interest throughout Iraq. There are several difficulties.

1) You have a fixed amount of surveillance assets, in this case, satellites.

2) You have to prioritize your surveillance targets, because due to #1 above, you can't watch everything.

3) Photographic satellite surveillance doesn't work at night.

4) Photographic satellite surveillance doesn't work when it's cloudy.

5) Many, if not most, photographic surveillance satellites are not geostationary, so you look as you pass overhead a target area. When you don't have an asset in range, you can't see anything.

Even technical means of intelligence aren't omniscient.

Interesting linkFo... (Below threshold)
msl:

Interesting link

Found this link
AL QAQAA INFO
Had some company names and more detailed info.
Thought it may help the researchers that are better than me.

Entities at this facility include:
Aqaba Ibn Nafa'a Gen. Est. -- metal casings for Project 946
Khalid factory -- Production of Al Hussein class missiles (warheads)
Project 144/7 -- Production of Al Hussein class missiles (liquid propellants)
Project 144/5 (Farooq project) -- Production of Al Hussein class missiles (launchers) Facility abandoned in 1988 after destruction during an industrial accident at the site
Saddam Gen. Est. -- nuclear parts, lasers and optical equipment, Tamouz missile
Umm Al Marik Est. -- missile fuel and warheads
Al Yarmouk Gen. Est. -- missile parts, ammunition with special specifications

Link to Iraq Weapons Inspec... (Below threshold)
msl:

Link to Iraq Weapons Inspection Database and Reports

IAEA

Link directly to IAEA Data on Al QaQaa Inpections

msl

Last one sorry.Lin... (Below threshold)
msl:

Last one sorry.

Link to documents page, includes testimony, other reports...

FAS DOCUMENTS PAGE

msl

Hope any of that may help you guys...
Google is so cool

Other Related links for the... (Below threshold)
msl:

Other Related links for the pajama clad.

Sorry no time to make this pretty on way out door.
Some other interesting links that bear on inspections and the facility.

Tracking inspections
http://www.rferl.org/specials/iraq-inspec/

Global Security
http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iraq/al_qa_qaa.htm

A really warped site that came up in the search. Not to do with inspections, but Geez, who are these ass****?
http://www.nadeshda.org/foren/cl.regionen.irak/p1189s1197a20.html


msl

Boyd thanks for the clarifi... (Below threshold)
chadeo:

Boyd thanks for the clarification.

Like I said, I have no idea what kind of surveillance assets we had over Iraq during the time this stuff could have been moved, nor do I know what kind of capability they had.

I tend to agree with you though that there is defiantly not a clear cut case that if the stuff was moved we would have been able to detect it.

This is basically scenario number three in my first post. We verified that the stuff was missing right away, but were not able to come up with any kind of conclusive intelligence as to when it was moved, or where it went to.

If this is in fact that case I just do not see the Bush administration making a big deal out of it. In order to disprove any claims of incompetence they would have to show in some amount of detail why exactly our satellites were not able to catch a rather large scale logistics operation. Such a detailed explanation would be damaging to US interests even if by doing such a thing it might benefit Bush politically.

On the other hand I really hope we have some satellites up there that can monitor inferred during the night and during heavy cloud cover. Such monitoring should be able to pick up a truck convoy.

There have been multiple media accounts of material moving into Syria. I am sure at least some of them have a bit of truth behind them. For example:

http://www.insightmag.com/main.cfm?include=detail&storyid=670123

“In October 2003, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, head of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, revealed that vehicle traffic photographed by U.S. spy satellites indicated that material and documents related to Saddam's forbidden WMD programs had been shipped to Syria before the war. It was no surprise that the United States and its allies had not found stockpiles of forbidden weapons in Iraq, Clapper told a breakfast briefing given to reporters in Washington. "Those below the senior leadership saw what was coming, and I think they went to extraordinary lengths to dispose of the evidence," he said.”


Has anyone checked the Duelfer report yet for anything related to this? Unfortunately I am not in a position to be able to download that massive thing and run a search on it. It would seem like a likely place to put some official comments on any evidence about material being moved around.

http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004/

Then again if such evidence existed in the report I would be amazed that no one from the media has reported on it yet.

My conclusion is still that either the administration knows where this stuff most likely went to, or only knows that it was missing and does not have clear evidence to show where or when. In both cased though this stuff was missing before we got there. The logistics just don’t allow for anything else (well unless we moved it ourselves which would make no sense).
-chadeo

I think MOHAMMED al-Baradei... (Below threshold)
joey:

I think MOHAMMED al-Baradei probably posses the same irrational biases of many Muslims and was trying to influence the US elections knowing that Kerry would be no threat to Iran:

On Monday, a spokesman for the American mission at the United Nations questioned the timing of the release of the material on the part of Mr. ElBaradei. Rick Grenell told the Sun's Benny Avni the "timing seems puzzling."

After a behind-the-scenes battle inside the State Department this summer, the Bush administration opted to reject Mr. ElBaradei's bid for a third term as director general of the atomic energy agency.

At the time, Washington was collecting intelligence - disputed by some agencies - that Mr. ElBaradei was providing advice to Iran on how to avoid sanction from his organization for its previously undisclosed uranium enrichment programs.

Mr. al-Baradei has publicly urged the Iranians to heed an earlier pledge to suspend enrichment, but he has also opposed America's policy of taking Iranian violations to the U.N. Security Council. Mr. al-Baradei has announced he will nonetheless seek a third term. Nominations for the director general position close on December 31.

Gentlemen, the fox is guarding the henhouse.
al-Baradei doesn't want to punish the mullahs while the filthy Jews are sitting on nuclear weapons and he knows if Kerry is elected the only threat to Iran is Israel which Kerry is prepared to sell out for a chance to spoon with Chirac.

A few notes regarding surve... (Below threshold)
Jem:

A few notes regarding surveillance and intelligence in this case:

- Satellites are VERY expensive and complicated, and require an extensive infrastructure to operate. They are therefore a fairly scarce and precious asset.

- The laws of physical optics are immutable--if you want a high-resolution image of something (and it's difficult to make any assessment of activity at a military facility unless you have high-resolution coverage), you must be reasonably close. Geostationary imaging satellites would be completely useless for intelligence collection.

- The laws of orbital mechanics (which Hollywood can ignore with impunity in movies like Enemy of the State and Patriot Games) are similarly rigid. Any satellite operating at an altitude anywhere near that required by the laws of optics (see above) will have minutes, vice hours or days, of high-resolution imaging access to a given location at a given time.

- Al QaQaa was one of roughly 500 facilities associated with Iraq's special weapons (WMD, missiles, high-explosives, etc.) programs, and was rated as a "medium" priority because there were a large number of sites associated with deadlier capabilities.

Also, here are a few military realities that pertain...

Even if there really are 380 tons of this stuff "missing", it amounts to about seven hundredths of one percent of the 600,000 tons of explosives estimated to be in Iraq at the time of the invasion (over a third of which has been destroyed by Coalition forces).

- This stuff is not the most conducive to use in Improvized Explosive Devices (IEDs). Especially when there are hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of artillery shells and grenades of various types which are better suited and readily available--either due to (extensive) pre-war dispersal of such supplies by the Husayn government or by entering one of the several thousand ammunition storage locations.

- Husayn didn't just wake up one morning in early March and decide maybe he ought to start thinking about what he'd do if Bush (who, remember, had recently eliminated the Taliban government of Afghanistan for refusing to turn over Bin Laden) actually decided to use the 100,000+ troops he had in Kuwait. He gave medals to a couple of Russian generals (retired, I believe) for their assistance to the Baathist state. One of those generals was ostensibly an expert in "guerrilla warfare". You don't suppose maybe he might actually have included forming guerrila-style units and training some of their members in IED construction, do you? And maybe he might have considered the possibility these guys might have the capability to build more than one bomb each, and thus might need a "stash" of explosives?

Amateurs talk tactics...professionals talk logistics!

Here is a summary of inspec... (Below threshold)

Here is a summary of inspections from Nov 2002 to March 2003. http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/newswires/2003_3_19.html
From the menu on the right click on "Iraq III: Summary of Inspections."

The news media, a group we ... (Below threshold)
Jim:

The news media, a group we can always count on to use a minimum amount of intelligence, are using terms such as weapons, bombs, etc. when we are talking about military-grade explosives. That alone should alert anyone with half a brain (which excludes most Liberals) that they don't know what they're talking about. Also, even if we go with the UN figure of 141 tons, that is a drop in the bucket of what existed in Iraq. The US military, I understand, destroyed thousands upon thousands of tons of explosives, weapons, etc. And the Libs are squawking about a few tons? They weren't worried about all those explosives when Saddam was in power. If Kerry were president, Saddam would still be in power and the weapons and explosives still under his control. What a bunch of freaking wash women? The Libs conjure up visions of a fat, ugly housewife with a wooden rolling pin haranguing her husband.

BTW, here's how underhanded... (Below threshold)
Jim:

BTW, here's how underhanded the Dems are: They looked about the tracking polls in Pennsylvania and find they may be in trouble. So now, the governor of PA has sent a memo to prison wardens asking them to look into having inmates vote. Is that a bitch or what: the Dems want the criminal vote. And why shouldn't they -- many are criminal-enablers from way back. An appropriate constituency for the Democrat Party.

BTW, here's how underhanded... (Below threshold)
Jim:

BTW, here's how underhanded the Dems are: They looked at the tracking polls in Pennsylvania and find they may be in trouble. So now, the governor of PA has sent a memo to prison wardens asking them to look into having inmates vote. Is that a bitch or what: the Dems want the criminal vote. And why shouldn't they -- many are criminal-enablers from way back. An appropriate constituency for the Democrat Party.

PS: This is the same PA gov... (Below threshold)
Jim:

PS: This is the same PA governor who's trying to suppress the military vote because of his work to eliminate Ralph Nader from the ballots. So let me see if I get this right: In the wacky world of the Democrat party it's okay to discount votes by the men and women who protect us (because of the governor and his party hacks), but it's perfectly alright to include votes by convicts who prey upon us? I'm getting angrier by the minute.

Use of HMXRaw Data: ... (Below threshold)

Use of HMX
Raw Data: Text of Blix's Report
Friday, February 14, 2003

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,78632,00.html


The IAEA has continued to investigate the relocation and consumption of the high explosive HMX. As I reported earlier, Iraq has declared that 32 tonnes of the HMX previously under IAEA seal had been transferred for use in the production of industrial explosives, primarily to cement plants as a booster for explosives used in quarrying.

Great find, Bruce.... (Below threshold)
Jim:

Great find, Bruce.

?RDX never at alQQ? And ... (Below threshold)
John Anderson:

?RDX never at alQQ? And never sealed?
IAEA spokeswoman Melissa interview on ABC (Australia - ) - "IAEA inspectors visited Al-Mahaweel on Jan. 15, 2003, and verified the RDX inventory by weighing sampling," Fleming said. She said the RDX at Al-Mahaweel was not under seal [emphasis added - JSA] but was subject to IAEA monitoring."

Al-Mahaweel?
"The bulk of the RDX was stored at another site that was under Al Qaqaa's jurisdiction," IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.
She says that the report seen by ABC only covers the Al Qaqaa site itself.
The second site, Al Mahaweel, is roughly 45 kilometres from Al Qaqaa.

Inspectors did not return t... (Below threshold)

Inspectors did not return to Iraq until November 2002, so the July 2002 declaration is clearly Saddam's declaration.

Fox News has released the confidential IAEA report from January 2003 which gives the total of HMX and RDX explosives as 221 tons, not 377 tons. The bunkers containing the explosives were sealed in January 2003, but it was noted that "the sealing on the bunkers was only partially effective because each bunker had ventilation shafts on the sides of the buildings. These shafts were not sealed, and could provide removal routes for the HMX while leaving the front door locked." When the inspectors returned in March 2003 they observed the seals still on the bunkers but did not open them to verify the contents.

Personally I find the October 10 letter from Abbas highly suspicious for the following reasons:

1) He states that the materials were lost after 4/9/2003. Since the last inspectors were at the Al Qa Qaa facility on March 15, 2003 HOW DOES HE KNOW THEY WERE LOST AFTER 4/9?

2) How does he know they were lost through "theft and looting?" To state such an assumption as fact is irresponsible at best.

3) He uses Saddam's declaration as the difinitive source of the amount of material at the facility in spite of the fact that the IAEA reported a different amount in January 2003. At best that's very sloppy. At worst...well, connect the dots.

Just saw a Satellite photo ... (Below threshold)
ModelFlyer:

Just saw a Satellite photo on Fox from Bret Baier. According to the Pentagon, it was taken, I believe a few days before the start of the war. Shows 2-3 Semis, forklifts, etc parked in front of 2 of the bunkers. Bunkers were obviously not "sealed" anymore, and obviously things were being moved. Whats NYT gonna say about this?

Wednesday on Rush Limbaugh'... (Below threshold)
joey:

Wednesday on Rush Limbaugh's show he said that Saddam had told the UN that 35? tons of the rdx or hmx had been "transferred" to civillian use in a near by quarry. I can't find the link but I think he said that was from a New York Times story several years ago. If anyone has a lexisnexis account they could probably find the story. The UN inspectors had found 35 or so tons missing.

From the January 27, 2003 r... (Below threshold)
joey:

From the January 27, 2003 report by the IAEA to the UN Security Council:


53. The relocation and consumption of HMX [has been investigated by the IAEA]. Iraq stated that, between 1998 and 2002, it had transferred 32 of the 228 tonnes of HMX which had been under IAEA seal as of December 1998 to other locations. In addition, Iraq stated that a very small quantity (46 kg) of HMX had been used at munitions factories for research and development. At the request of the IAEA, Iraq has provided further clarification on the movement and use of the HMX. In that clarification, Iraq indicated that the 32 tonnes of HMX had been blended with sulphur to produce industrial explosives and provided mainly to cement plants for quarrying, and that the research and development using the small quantity of HMX had been in the areas of personnel mines, explosives in civilian use, missile warhead filling and research on tanks.

IAEA inspectors have been able to verify and re-seal the remaining balance of approximately 196 tonnes of HMX, most of which has remained at the original storage location. The movement of the blended HMX and the other small quantity of HMX has also been documented by Iraq. However, it has not been possible to verify the use of those materials, as all of it is said to have been consumed through explosions and there are no immediately available technical means for verifying such uses. The IAEA will continue to investigate means of verifying the Iraqi statements about the use of the HMX and blended HMX.

that's from the daily kos

"IAEA inspectors visited Al... (Below threshold)

"IAEA inspectors visited Al-Mahaweel on Jan. 15, 2003..."

All sources that I can find indicate that the ONLY time IAEA inspectors visited Al-Mahaweel between Nov. 2002 and March 2003 was on December 14, 2002. From the IAEA website regarding that visit, "An inspection of a military site south of Baghdad turned out to be an after dark inspection. The Mahaweel military base stores certain high explosives requiring verification by the IAEA. The team also inspected bunkers holding small ground-to-ground rockets to verify their intended use. "

http://www.iaea.or.at/search97cgi/s97_cgi?action=View&VdkVgwKey=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eiaea%2Eorg%2FNewsCenter%2FFocus%2FIaeaIraq%2Fchrono%5Fdec%5Fi%2Eshtml&QueryZip=mahaweel&&viewTemplate=Iaea%2Fiaeacvw_smpl.hts&collection=IaeaSite

The IAEA press statement for activities on January 15, 2003, states: "The IAEA inspected three sites: the Isakandariya State Enterprise for Mechanical Industries, the Al Mutaz Technical Institute, both approximately 70 km south of Baghdad and the Hatteen State Company approximately 80 km southeast of Baghdad. The Isakandariya State Enterprise is a general-purpose heavy equipment engineering plant. The Al Mutaz Technical Institute specializes in mechanical engineering, and the Hatteen State Company is an ammunitions and armourments organization."

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/un/unmovic-030115.htm

This, of course, is not PROOF that the claim that the IAEA inspected Al-Mahaweel on Jan. 15 is wrong, it just means that it can't be verified by the websites carrying the logs of their inspection activities.

<a href="http://instapundit... (Below threshold)

Instapundit:
THEN AGAIN, those explosives at al Qa Qaa may have gone missing after Saddam's regime fell. Here are some screen shots of videotape taken April 18, 2003, which may show the cache of explosives in question.

Let me know if you think that an IBM Selectric stamped IAEA on those seals. Otherwise get used to Springstein being the headliner at the Inauguration Ball.

as noted elsewhere on wizba... (Below threshold)
msl:

as noted elsewhere on wizbang

As reported on FOX
The bunkers containing the explosives were sealed in January 2003, but it was noted that "the sealing on the bunkers was only partially effective because each bunker had ventilation shafts on the sides of the buildings. These shafts were not sealed, and could provide removal routes for the HMX while leaving the front door locked." When the inspectors returned in March 2003 they observed the seals still on the bunkers but did not open them to verify the contents.

That would render intact seals a non issue.

msl

Woops, that was Elisa that ... (Below threshold)
msl:

Woops, that was Elisa that offered that just above...
I was reading the .pda page thinking it was another thread.

Well, if anyone is still re... (Below threshold)
sean:

Well, if anyone is still reading this far down in the thread, the following may explain all the mysterious arithmetic: from the associated press:

Middle East - AP


IAEA Says It Warned U.S. About Explosives

2 minutes ago Middle East - AP

By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer

VIENNA, Austria - U.S. officials were warned about the vulnerability of explosives stored at Iraq (news - web sites)'s Al-Qaqaa military installation after another facility — the country's main nuclear complex — was looted in April 2003, the U.N. nuclear agency said Thursday.


AP Photo


Reuters
Slideshow: Iraq



Latest headlines:
· Insurgents Slaughter 11 Iraqi Soldiers
AP - 1 minute ago
· IAEA Says It Warned U.S. About Explosives
AP - 2 minutes ago
· Household Survey Sees 100,000 Iraqi Deaths
AP - 21 minutes ago
Special Coverage

The International Atomic Energy Agency cautioned American officials directly about what was kept at Al-Qaqaa, the main storage facility in Iraq for so-called high explosives, spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.


The disclosure shed new light on what the United States knew about Al-Qaqaa, which held 377 tons of high explosives that have vanished — an issue that has become a flashpoint in the final days of the U.S. presidential campaign.


The explosives can be used to make car bombs that insurgents have used to target U.S.-led forces in Iraq. On Thursday, an armed group in Iraq claimed in a video to have obtained a large amount of the missing material — HMX, RDX and PETN — and threatened to use it against foreign troops.


Iraqi officials say the materials were taken amid looting sometime after the fall of Baghdad to U.S. forces on April 9, 2003, though the Pentagon (news - web sites) and President Bush (news - web sites) are suggesting the ordnance could have been moved before the United States invaded on March 20, 2003.


An IAEA official told The Associated Press the explosives were stored in hundreds of large, heavy cardboard drums that probably would have required trucks and forklifts to handle. The U.S. military has said it would be difficult to haul away so much material unnoticed once troops reached the area.


Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld agreed.


"We would have seen anything like that," he said Thursday in a radio interview at the Pentagon. "The idea it was suddenly looted and moved out, all of these tons of equipment, I think is at least debatable."


Fleming did not say which officials were notified or when, but she said the IAEA — which had put storage bunkers at the site under seal two months before the war — alerted the United States about Al-Qaqaa after the Tuwaitha nuclear complex was looted. The IAEA said it informed U.S. officials separately of the Tuwaitha looting on April 10.


"After we heard reports of looting at the Tuwaitha site in April 2003, the agency's chief Iraq inspector alerted American officials that we were concerned about the security of the high explosives stored at Al-Qaqaa," she said.


"It is also important to note that this was the main high explosives storage facility in Iraq, and it was well-known through IAEA reports to the Security Council," Fleming said.


IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei informed the United Nations (news - web sites) in February 2003, and again in April of that year, that he was concerned about HMX explosives, which were stored at Al-Qaqaa, some 30 miles south of Baghdad.


The explosives' disappearance recently has dominated the presidential campaign, with Democratic nominee John Kerry (news - web sites) saying the Bush administration's poor planning led to the loss of the dangerous material. The Pentagon contends Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s regime may have removed the explosives before the war.


The IAEA also sought Thursday to clarify reports that the amount of missing explosives may have been far less than what the Iraqis said in an Oct. 10 report to the nuclear agency.


ABC News, citing IAEA inspection documents, reported Wednesday that the Iraqis had declared 141 tons of RDX explosives at Al-Qaqaa in July 2002, but that the site held only three tons when it was checked in January 2003. The network said that could suggest that 138 tons were removed from the facility long before the March 2003 invasion.


Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) seized upon the ABC report Thursday, telling supporters in Wisconsin that Kerry had gotten the facts wrong in criticizing the Bush administration for the disappearance of the explosives.


Kerry is "just dead wrong. ... We know ... upwards to 125 tons had been removed" in January 2003 before the invasion, Cheney said. "He's just plain wrong on the facts."

But Fleming said most of the RDX — about 125 tons — was kept at Al-Mahaweel, a storage site under Al-Qaqaa's jurisdiction located about 30 miles outside the main Al-Qaqaa site. She also said about 10 tons already had been reported by Iraq as having been used for non-prohibited purposes between July 2002 and January 2003.

"IAEA inspectors visited Al-Mahaweel on Jan. 15, 2003, and verified the RDX inventory by weighing sampling," Fleming said. She said the RDX at Al-Mahaweel was not under seal but was subject to IAEA monitoring.


There's little mystery, it turns out, other than why it is so hard to believe that this site was looted. Thousands of OTHER arms sites, with large drums and small bombs, tanks and chemicals, were looted. So were museums. The actual generators at several power stations were taken in Bagdad! Picture that. And yes, our troops were there at the time.

Why is it so hard to believe the obvious in this case?

It appears that the facts a... (Below threshold)

It appears that the facts are coming into view on the explosives. I wanted to comment on two points:

1. Why didn't the US stop the trucks when they were moving the explosives?

Assuming the US saw the trucks (and I'll leave the questionable nature of that assumption to those who posted earlier and who know far more than me about satellites), there was at least one immediate reason: If the trucks were there 48 hours prior to the invasion, then the US would have held off because the President very publicly told the world that Saddam had 48 hours to relent. I think it would have been very bad to renege on the 48 hours. If the trucks were there before 48 hours, it still would have been politically difficult, particularly in early 2003, to take action because of the tense international politics going on. Finally, if the stories that some of the explosives weren't even there in January are true, then obviously we're not talking a convoy, but probably discreet shipments over time, which would be hard to detect. I suspect this last thought is closest to the truth.

2. Why didn't the administration tell the public about the missing explosives? Two reasons. First, the administration probably had some national security reasons for this. Potentially (and I doubt this one) if the story about Russia aiding the movement of the explosives is true, the admin. didn't want to cause an ugly international incident. Finally, the facts likely are not clear and the admin. felt it was better not to talk about it until they got the facts together first. One other point, there's a heck of a lot of news and information about Iraq. It's possible the admin. didn't talk about it because it wasn't deemed important enough. Recall the post above saying that even the amount of material that the Times alleges was pilfered was just a drop in the bucket.

Great thread and great job.

Mark S.

>1. Why didn't the US stop ... (Below threshold)
zozo:

>1. Why didn't the US stop the trucks
>when they were moving the explosives?

I think this appears reasonable to ask only because many, especially some media, are approaching this in the context of what is known now, not at the time.

Less than 400 tons of explosives was strategically unimportant compared to the actual amount of explosives and weapons inside the country. The primary concerns were chemical and biological weapons being used on the troops and securing the oil facilities. Secondary concerns were conventional weapons. Way down on the list of concerns were explosives that could possibly be converted into weapons, which means they weren't going to launch the invasion early because of this. It was likely happening all over the country anyway.

The media seems to look at this in the context of how easy major operations ended up being, not in the context of how it was expected to go. Yes, the US would win, but there were expectations of chemical and biological weapons casualties and higher conventional weapons casualties. Only in the context of how easy it appears to have gone can the media analyze 400 tons of explosives and call not securing it an operational failure.

The US went in planning to secure chemicals and biologicals, and the possibility of nuclear. Just imagine if they had left units along the way to secure this facility and others like it, and then troops on the front lines were killed in chemical attacks. The media would then be questioning, and rightly so, why vital troops were in the rear guarding mere construction explosives when there were chemical weapons that needed securing. And they would be at least positing that had those vital troops been available, would the chemical attacks have succeeded?

Given how the invasion was expected to proceed, I can only see incompetence in the hypothetical situation where units were dispatched in the rear to secure explosives that were clearly unimportant in context.

<a href="http://www.foxnews... (Below threshold)

http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/alqaqaa_documents.pdf
Somewhat transcribed from the PDF for clarity

HMX was stored in bunkers 34, 35, 37, 38, 41, 49, 50, 51, and 59.
RDX and PETN were stored in bunker 47. Neither bunker had a seal.

The storage containers for HMX came in 25, 30, and 35 kg boxes/catons and 50 kg drums. No record for PETN storage containers beyond that they are wooden boxes (Chinese). RDX was stored in 40 kg drums

Aside: The pictures of the 40kg boxes and those of the plastic cases from the KTSP video (I've only seen stills) are not HMX or RDX. No knowledge if the drums in the video stills are HMX or RDX. The wooden boxes may still be PETN, but doubtful as the Iraqi PETN was of Chinese manufacture.

Total inventories: HMX 194741kg, RDX 3080kg, PETN 3500kg. A total of 201.321 metric tons of stuff catelogued on 14.1.2003.

Disposition of PETN: Visual observation only no item counting - no knowledge of storage medium

Disposition of RDX: 77 Drums from Yugoslavia

Disposition of HMX: (all sealed)

Bunker 34: 24,950 kg - 499 drums
Bunker 35: 24,815 kg - 20 drums - 508 30kg & 245 35 kg boxes
Bunker 37: 19,668 kg - 627 25 kg & 1 3 kg (?) & 114 35 kg boxes
Bunker 38: 25,075 kg - 842 25 kg & 115 35 kg boxes
Bunker 50: 20,715 kg - 394 drums - 29 35 kg boxes
Bunker 41: 25,030 kg - 200 drums - 501 30 kg boxes
Bunker 49: 23,488 kg - 450 drums - 28 35 kg & 1 8kg (?) boxes
Bunker 51: 27,000 kg - 500 drums - 80 25 kg boxes
Bunker 59: 4,000 kg - 80 drums (sample was taken of white powder on floor)


http://globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iraq/al_qa_qaa-imagery4.htm
Shows that the DOD picture was Site 2 Bunker 45. Bunker 41 (HMX) would be the top left bunker. So yes, they were operating in the area - no it's not conclusive.

Though it should be said that at a rough 20-25 metric tons per bunker that emptying any given bunker would be relatively trivial with tractors as shown in the DOD picture. Ask any trucker how long it takes him to hump his load solo to get an idea of the time involved (Don't know specifically, but it's a pretty short amount of time).

On July 15, 2002, there wer... (Below threshold)

On July 15, 2002, there were no inspectors in Iraq. We, the USA, were building up our forces, we had a vote in Congress Aug.-Sept. 2002, we had our forces building up after that, and it wasn't until Dec. 8, 2002 that SH allowed any inspectors back into his ex-country! The link to the UN is http://www.un.org/Depts/unmovic/documents/1441.pdf here-go to page 6 of 8. It is dated Oct. 8, 2002. They have not yet entered Iraq. They are still meeting in Vienna! I may be wrong, but I seriously doubt it! That's what they all say, right?! LOL You can find it there. If my link didn't work, I can be reached at http://MyNewznIdeas.blogspot.com. Thanks.

<a href="http://www.iaea.or... (Below threshold)

http://www.iaea.org/OurWork/SV/Invo/statements.html#onsite. This is where the IAEA is hiding. http://www.iaea.org/OurWork/SV/Invo/reports/s_2002_367.pdf. Page 3 of 4 should be the one of most importance. There has been NO inspection of Iraq. Where did IAEA get there info. from, you ask? Try the people of Fallujah. That would be my guess.




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