In the weeks after Baghdad fell in April 2003, looters systematically dismantled and removed tons of machinery from Saddam Hussein's most important weapons installations, including some with high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear arms, a senior Iraqi official said this week in the government's first extensive comments on the looting.
Hear that? US forces were not ordered to secure sites that included equipment capable of making parts for nuclear arms!
But wait, isn't this a dilemma for the Bush Lied crowd? Well I suppose it is. Hitchens notes:
The overall pattern of the plundered sites was summarized thus, by reporters James Glanz and William J. Broad:
"The kinds of machinery at the various sites included equipment that could be used to make missile parts, chemical weapons or centrifuges essential for enriching uranium for atom bombs."
My first question is this: How can it be that, on every page of every other edition for months now, the New York Times has been stating categorically that Iraq harbored no weapons of mass destruction? And there can hardly be a comedy-club third-rater or MoveOn.org activist in the entire country who hasn't stated with sarcastic certainty that the whole WMD fuss was a way of lying the American people into war. So now what? Maybe we should have taken Saddam's propaganda seriously, when his newspaper proudly described Iraq's physicists as "our nuclear mujahideen."
My second question is: What's all this about "looting"? The word is used throughout the long report, but here's what it's used to describe. "In four weeks from mid-April to mid-May of 2003 … teams with flatbed trucks and other heavy equipment moved systematically from site to site. … 'The first wave came for the machines,' Dr Araji said. 'The second wave, cables and cranes.' " Perhaps hedging the bet, the Times authors at this point refer to "organized looting."
Somebody was calm and collected enough--and organized enough--to carry out this mission even as the Baathist regime crumbled. Who did it? And where is the stuff?
I do want to know why our forces didn't secure this stuff. Perhaps when no weaponized WMD were found, nobody figured the manufacturing machinery would walk off so it was not a priority. Perhaps. I do want to know. This was a mistake in securing Iraq after defeating Saddam's military.
But I can still ask this question without it interfering with my support for the war.
How can those who think the US lied to go to war manage to complain about this lapse without undermining one of their main reasons given for opposing the war?
I have to admit I'm enjoying this part.
But enough pleasure, back to business. Once again we have indications that Iraq had WMD programs. Where is that stuff and why didn't we guard it?
And if this WMD machinery could be moved out, is it really so hard to think that actual WMD could have been spirited away to be hidden inside Iraq or sent to another country?