Disputed Iraq Explosives in Place After Invasion, Video Shows
Truthout.Org Editor's Note | The original link to this KSTP-TV report has a video link at the top which shows the embedded reporters filming the now-disputed explosive materials at the al Qaqaa facility in Iraq. Please go to that page and view the video if you can; bear in mind that it is a Windows Media file and may not play on all computers. You will also have to sit through a short commercial for an SUV. It is well worth your time to do so.
Recall that nearly 400 tons of highly explosive material - the same kind of stuff used to create the Lockerbie airline disaster, and the same kind of stuff used to blow a hole in the USS Cole - went missing after the U.S. invaded Iraq. The explosives have become a campaign issue; John Kerry points to the fact that no troops were used to guard al Qaqaa as an example of Bush administration incompetence in Iraq, while the Bush campaign is attempting to claim that the material had been removed before the invasion. The latest explanation, floated this morning, is that the Russians took it before we came in.
The KSTP video is incredibly important in this context. It shows boxes marked 'al Qaqaa' and 'High Explosives.' It shows 101st Airborne troopers cutting the locks to the facility to get inside. Worse, it shows the KSTP embedded reporters stating flatly that, despite the fact that all these explosives were inside the facility, the place went completely unguarded.
– William Rivers Pitt
Eyewitness News Video May Be Linked
to Missing Explosives in Iraq
KSTP-TV, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Friday 28 October 2004
A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew in Iraq shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein was in the area where tons of explosives disappeared, and may have videotaped some of those weapons.
The missing explosives are now an issue in the presidential debate. Democratic candidate John Kerry is accusing President Bush of not securing the site they allegedly disappeared from. President Bush says no one knows if the ammunition was taken before or after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003 when coalition troops moved in to the area.
Using GPS technology and talking with members of the 101st Airborne Division, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has determined the crew embedded with the troops may have been on the southern edge of the Al Qaqaa installation, where the ammunition disappeared. The news crew was based just south of Al Qaqaa, and drove two or three miles north of there with soldiers on April 18, 2003.
During that trip, members of the 101st Airborne Division showed the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS news crew bunker after bunker of material labelled "explosives." Usually it took just the snap of a bolt cutter to get into the bunkers and see the material identified by the 101st as detonation cords.
4 Iraqis Tell of Looting at Munitions Site in '03
By James Glanz and Jim Dwyer
The New York Times
Thursday 28 October 2004
Baghdad - Looters stormed the weapons site at Al Qaqaa in the days after American troops swept through the area in early April 2003 on their way to Baghdad, gutting office buildings, carrying off munitions and even dismantling heavy machinery, three Iraqi witnesses and a regional security chief said Wednesday.
The Iraqis described an orgy of theft so extensive that enterprising residents rented their trucks to looters. But some looting was clearly indiscriminate, with people grabbing anything they could find and later heaving unwanted items off the trucks.
Two witnesses were employees of Al Qaqaa - one a chemical engineer and the other a mechanic - and the third was a former employee, a chemist, who had come back to retrieve his records, determined to keep them out of American hands. The mechanic, Ahmed Saleh Mezher, said employees asked the Americans to protect the site but were told this was not the soldiers' responsibility.
The accounts do not directly address the question of when 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives vanished from the site sometime after early March, the last time international inspectors checked the seals on the bunkers where the material was stored. It is possible that Iraqi forces removed some explosives before the invasion.