Wednesday, October 27, 2004
ElBaradei and Bush
It was the Third Infantry Division that first searched Al Qaqaa "with the intent of discovering dangerous materials," almost a week before the 101st arrived.
If the 3ID had found tons of HMX and RMX, we'd have heard about it. On April 5, the Washington Post reported on their discoveries at "Al QaQa," including "vials of white powder, packed three to a box," and stocks of "atropine and pralidoxime, also known as 2-PAM chloride, which can be used to treat exposure to nerve agents...."
If the 3ID got so close and personal that they were counting the vials in boxes, how likely is it that they would have missed 380 tons of HMX and RMX?
At this point, Times editors ought to be asking who got their story rolling and to what end?
Here's one theory: It was Mohammed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Why would he do that? "The U.S. is trying to deny ElBaradei a second term," a high U.S. government official told me. "We have been on his case for missing the Libyan nuclear weapons program and for weakness on the Iranian nuclear weapons program."
ElBaradei also opposed the liberation of Iraq. And he would like nothing better than to see President Bush be defeated next week.
If all this is true it would amount to a major scandal: It would mean that a senior U.N. official may be changing the outcome of an American election by spreading false information. And major U.S. media outlets are allowing themselves to be manipulated in pursuit of that goal.
The Times and other news organizations also have ignored this pertinent question: Why did Saddam Hussein have the kinds of explosives favored by terrorists — and why was he permitted to keep them? Such explosives, according to the Times, also "are used in standard nuclear weapons design," and were acquired by Saddam when he "embarked on a crash effort to build an atomic bomb in the late 1980s."
Writing in The Corner, former federal terrorism prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy pointed out that U.N. Security Council Resolution 687, which imposed the terms of 1991 Gulf War ceasefire, required Iraq to "unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of . . . [a]ll ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometres and related major parts, and repair and production facilities[.]"
Yet the IAEA made no attempt to force Saddam to comply with his obligations to destroy these "related major parts" of its ballistic missiles.
In addition, McCarthy noted, Iraq was required "not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapons-usable material or any subsystems or components[,]" and, to the extent it had such items, present them for "urgent on-site inspection and the destruction, removal or rendering harmless as appropriate of all items specified above."
It shouldn't require a rocket scientist to understand that a detonator is a key component of a nuclear bomb. But according to the Times, Saddam persuaded ElBaradei that he wanted to hold on to the explosives in case they were needed "for eventual use in mining and civilian construction" — and ElBaradai agreed.
It gets worse: The U.N. weapons inspectors led by Rolf Ekéus asked the IAEA to dispose of these explosives back in 1995. The IAEA did not do so — and between 1998, when Saddam forced the U.N. inspectors out of Iraq, and late 2002 when U.S. pressure caused him to allow inspectors to return, 35 tons of HMX went missing. Saddam claimed he used it in Iraq's cement industry. Evidently, ElBaradei saw no reason to doubt Saddam who — as noted — was working hand-in-globe with the U.N. on the Food for Oil program, an enterprise which, we now know, stole billions of dollars from the Iraqi people.
So when all the dots are connected what we see revealed is Bomb-gate — a controversy that should be about foreign interests that may be improperly influencing the U.S. media to affect the outcome of an American election.
But that story will be written after the elections. For now, the question is who voters will believe.
If they are persuaded that the dangerous weapons went missing because of Bush's incompetence, he is likely to lose (and ElBaradei will be breaking out the cigars and bongos this time next week). On the other hand, if voters come to believe that this is another instance of Kerry shooting from the hip, basing charges on flawed information, saying anything in order to win, they will almost certainly abandon him.