I’ve never understood the Kerry campaign’s decision to make Al Qaqaa–that is, an attack on the competence of the U.S. Army, based on essentially no evidence–the centerpiece of the last week of the campaign. On the merits, the issue has fizzled. We now know (although it has not been widely reported) that around half of the explosives in question were surreptitiously removed from the site by Saddam Hussein prior to January 2003; this is acknowledged in the IAEA report of that date. We also know that American troops secured the area starting on April 3, 2003, and thereafter it is hard to see how 40 truckloads of explosives could have been spirited away, unbeknownst to the soldiers stationed there.
We got an email today from a member of the 101st Airborne who said that he was at Al Qaqaa from April 10 through May 18, living in the bunkers there, and throughout that time, no munitions were driven away by terrorists. “I was there!” he wrote. No doubt there are another 100 or more soldiers who can say the same thing.
The famous video taken by local TV station KSTP is almost laughable. It was filmed on April 18; it shows soldiers inspecting and opening certain containers; but those containers are irrelevant, as they are not the ones suspected of containing the RDX and HMX at issue. The only possibly relevant footage–we still don’t have confirmation of where the KSTP film was shot–shows the outside of a building with a seal on the door. Neither the troops nor the reporters broke the seal and entered the building, so we have no idea whatsoever what was inside. It is entirely possible that the RDX and HMX were already gone at that time; it is equally possible–assuming this is the right building–that they were there, but were destroyed by Captain Pearson’s unit shortly thereafter. The video, in short, tells us nothing at all.
Despite the complete lack of any evidence to support their position, Kerry and his die-hard backers continue to try to make an issue out of the Al Qaqaa “mystery.” Today, a Bush rally in Manchester, N.H. was apparently infiltrated by Kerry supporters with signs that spelled out “386 tons.”
I’m not sure where they got that number, but, in any event, is this lame, or what? If you put aside everything we know about Al Qaqaa and pretend that our armed forces inadvertently allowed 377 tons of explosives to be trucked away from that facility, it would represent less than one-tenth of one percent of the munitions that have been secured and destroyed (or are on the way to being destroyed) in Iraq. Who on God’s green earth convinced Kerry that it was a good idea to insult our troops over a success rate–at worst–of more than 99.9%?
I don’t see how a campaign this mindless can possibly succeed.
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