The eager beavers over at the New York Post have announced that the Al-Qaqaa story is this election's October Surprise. Here's how they see it:
The lead story in Monday's Times reported breathlessly that "380 tons of powerful conventional explosives...are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations."
"Breathlessly"? Is that really how they reported it? How terribly...effete of them. Of course, print media tend to be literally breathless, but that's by the by. Let's skip a bit further down:
That the story was intended as a last-minute political hit seems undeniable: CBS, which first got the tip and worked together with the Times, admits that it planned to air a piece next Sunday night — just two nights before the start of voting. That would have left precious little time for any response. CBS says that the story only broke in the last two weeks....Maybe so.
Indubitably so...unless you care to call poor little Scotty McClellan a liar. Here he is, courtesy of Holden over at First Draft:
MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I said, we were informed on October 15th. Condi Rice was informed days after that. This is all in the last, what, 10 days now.
Q She was informed days after October 15th?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and she informed the President.
In other words, the story broke on Monday the 25th (perhaps a week after Bush himself learned about it). The "show" to which the Post refers is "60 Minutes," which airs on Sundays and is therefore airing on the Sunday before the election. Pretty sly, huh?
The Post goes on to debate whether the weapons were moved prior to the invasion...or, to put it another way, whether Bush let them be transported - God knows where, and by God knows whom - before he attacked Iraq, or after. Here's how they make their case that this isolate example of Bush's incompetence had more to do with preparing for war than fighting it:
Dana Lewis, the embedded NBC correspondent, reiterated Tuesday that it would have been "pretty tough" to move 380 tons of explosives out of that facility once it came under U.S. control.
Hell yes, it would. Of course, the problem is that the site was not secured, and thus did not come under U.S. control. That little detail, so easy to miss, just happens to be the goddamn substance of these allegations!
Morever, as columnist Charles Krauthammer notes, the notion that the so-called insurgency made off with these weapons doesn't hold water — because there was no insurgency immediately after the fall of Baghdad.
Hark to their cold inexorable logic! If they're correct (and they certainly sound correct), then this leaves us with two possibilities: One, that the explosives were carried away before the war by Saddam loyalists, who went underground and became insurgents later (does the phrase "dead-enders" and "Baathists" ring a bell to anyone at the Post? Anyone at all?); or two, that some unknown parties took the explosives from under our nose, and we don't know what they did with them. These, mind you, are what the Post considers to be glad tidings and a true medicine for melancholy. But all that's nothing, really. As usual, they trot out the elephant only after tempting our palate with a sucession of gnats. Get this, friends:
And the Times-CBS stories also ignore the fact that the missing 380 tons, though troubling, was but a minuscule portion of the 400,000 tons of explosives stockpiled by Saddam Hussein — more than half of which has been destroyed by U.S. troops in the past 18 months.
Do these odd people really live among us, or are they writing this stuff from a bathyscaphe at the bottom of the Marianas Trench? In what conceivable world could this be accepted as reasonable and responsible thinking, let alone as an excuse for shocking negligence? In the first place, how many of those 400,000 tons were brisant plastic explosives (the kind terrorists like), as opposed to blasting caps or what have you? In the second place, how could this news possibly be interpreted as a comfort? The logic seems to be that because the situation was bad, you can't blame Bush for making it worse.
These people have finally driven themselves completely insane.