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Al Qa Qaa reality

Yes, it's true, ladies and gentlemen! I've decided to join Atrios in the "Reality-Based" community.

The precipitating event is the continuance of this non-story involving missing RDX stockpiles at al Qa Qaa. It seems the New York Times ruined CBS's nice little "October Surprise" piece (why is it, by the way, that the Democrats are always so paranoid about Republican October Surprises, when it's their side that has elevated the tactic to an art form?)

Breaking the story early allowed ample time for its substance to be analyzed and addressed well before the elections on November 3. Unfortunately for CBS and others, the story was stillborn, despite the best efforts of Josh Marshall and others to keep it alive (I have this mental image of Josh Marshall pounding furiously on the story's lifeless chest, just like in that old TV show "Emergency", while shouting, "Breathe, dammit, breathe!" through clenched teeth.)

The problem is, there is little more than the fervent wishes of Kerry partisans to suggest that the vanishing stockpile was in any way a function of American negligence. The RDX was not found by either the 101st Airborne or the Third Infantry Division when they arrived on the scene.

In fact, according to NBC's Jim Miklaszewski (via Josh Marshall himself, emphasis mine):

Then in March, shortly before the war began, the I.A.E.A. conducted another inspection and found that the HMX stockpile was still intact and still under seal. But inspectors were unable to inspect the RDX stockpile and could not verify that the RDX was still at the compound.

In short, there's no reason to believe the RDX stockpiles were still at the facility when the war began.

And why would they be? Saddam certainly had ample opportunity to move his munitions during the fourteen-month "rush" to war. Why wouldn't he? Why in God's name would we expect Saddam, in the midst of planning for a post-war insurgency campaign, to leave huge stockpiles of powerful explosives in the one place he could be sure we would inspect?

Far more likely that the RDX disappeared before the 3ID ever got there. If anything, this "story" undercuts those critics who scoff at the notion that Saddam hid his weapons prior to hostilities. None of this has stopped the Kerry campaign from pouncing on this issue, however, but the facts just don't seem to support them on this one. Still, if you're prepared to believe that a contaminated batch of British flu vaccine is Bush's fault, I guess some missing RDX in Iraq is not that much of a stretch.


This is not proving to be a "non-story."

I stand corrected, PE. It's a "story" about whether (at most) 0.06% of the known explosives in Iraq were moved from a storage facility before, during or after the U.S.-led invasion, with no compelling evidence either way.


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