Yesterday President Bush accused John Kerry of making “wild charges” about explosives missing from the Al Qaqaa munitions dump, and the right-wing media echo chamber has been working overtime to suggest that the explosives disappeared before the start of the Iraq War.
But video footage has emerged from a Minneapolis TV news crew embedded with the 101st Airborne Division, showing bunker after bunker of material labeled “explosives” on April 18, nine days after the fall of Baghdad. KSTP-5 Eyewitness News reports that GPS data confirmed the crew was on the southern edge of the facility, and their footage shows crates of explosives clearly marked “Al Qaqaa.”
Soldiers are shown opening bunkers with bolt cutters, but KSTP reports that once the doors were opened, they weren’t secured, and remained open after the news crew and military went back to their base.
“We weren’t quite sure what were looking at, but we saw so much of it and it didn’t appear that this was being secured in any way,” said photojournalist Joe Caffrey.
Fertile ground for looting? That’s exactly what The NY Times reports under the self-explanatory headline: “4 Iraqis Tell of Looting at Munitions Site in ‘03“.
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.
Two of the witnesses, employees of Al Qaqaa, said they asked the Americans to protect the site “but were told it was not the soldiers’ responsibility.”
No. As Commander-in-Chief, the responsibility to keep these weapons out of the hands of terrorists and insurgents was President Bush’s. He was one the one who sent away the international arms inspectors who had monitored the site and noted seals were in place as late as a month before the war. He was the one who didn’t put enough troops on the ground to secure the peace.
And ultimately, he is the one who is responsible if these looted weapons are used to kill and maim American troops.