The mainstream media has been breathlessly hyping a story about 300 tons of high explosives that could not be found from the al-Qaqaa weapons depot in Iraq – and of course, the instant reaction is to blame Bush. The usual fellow travelers in the leftie blogosphere have been decrying the story with typical hyperbole as well.
However, not everyone in the media was asleep at the switch – NBC news had reporters embedded with the 101st Airborne at al-Qaqaa and they know that those weapons were long gone before the Americans even got close:
NBC News: Miklaszewski: â€œApril 10, 2003, only three weeks into the war, NBC News was embedded with troops from the Army’s 101st Airborne as they temporarily take over the Al Qakaa weapons installation south of Baghdad. But these troops never found the nearly 380 tons of some of the most powerful conventional explosives, called HMX and RDX, which is now missing. The U.S. troops did find large stockpiles of more conventional weapons, but no HMX or RDX, so powerful less than a pound brought down Pan Am 103 in 1988, and can be used to trigger a nuclear weapon. In a letter this month, the Iraqi interim government told the International Atomic Energy Agency the high explosives were lost to theft and looting due to lack of security. Critics claim there were simply not enough U.S. troops to guard hundreds of weapons stockpiles, weapons now being used by insurgents and terrorists to wage a guerrilla war in Iraq.â€ (NBCâ€™s â€œNightly News,â€ 10/25/04)
The Iraqis more likely than not took the weapons before the coalition could get near the site – those explosives would be evidence of an active Iraqi nuclear and/or ballistic missile program in violation of the Gulf War cease-fire.
But furthermore, this raises a whole host of new questions. The liberal media is blaming Bush for not securing 300 tons of explosives out of 600,000 tons – a fact that Belmont Club snarkily notes “is similar to worrying about a toothache after being diagnosed with AIDS and Ebola.” However, at the same time it’s clear that “BUSH LIED!” about weapons of mass destruction according to the left.
So it’s entirely possible for the Iraqis to steal away 300 tons of high explosives, but anyone who says that an amount of anthrax or chemical munitions could be spirited away in a similar manner is crazy. Does anyone else note a double standard here?
Sadly, I think Roger L. Simon’s prediction that this story will have serious reprecussions for The New York Times. The Times doesnt’t care much about the blogosphere or flyover country. Despite the blogosphere’s help in taking out Howell Raines and Jayson Blair, it hasn’t done much to dent the institutional arrogance of the Times‘ editorial staff. In fact, if Stephen Green is right (and he usually is), this was all a political smear attack by NYT editor Jill Abramson, one of the many anti-Bush hacks employed by the Times. The culture of liberal arrogance permeates the Times and always has. That seems highly unlikely to change any time soon.
It’s clear that the mainstream media is desperate to bring down President Bush, credibility and honesty be damned. What they don’t understand is that the ones they’re doing the most damage to isn’t the President – it’s themselves.