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Six months after the fall of Baghdad, a vast Iraqi weapons depot with tens of thousands of artillery rounds and other explosives remained unguarded, according to two U.S. aid workers who say they reported looting of the site to U.S. military officials.

The aid workers say they informed Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the highest ranking Army officer in Iraq in October 2003 but were told that the United States did not have enough troops to seal off the facility, which included more than 60 bunkers packed with munitions.

"We were outraged," said Wes Hare, city manager of La Grande, who was working in Iraq as part of a rebuilding program. A colleague who also visited the depot, Jerry Kuhaida, said it appeared that the explosives at the Ukhaider Ammunition Storage Area had found their way to insurgents targeting U.S. forces.

"There's no question in my mind that the stuff in Ukhaider was used by terrorists," said Kuhaida.

Originally posted to markmatson on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 08:31 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great Find - RECOMMEND (none)
    This is just what we need -pile it on.  6 months after!

    Not enough troops - that's Bush's FAULT!

    It's time to reject a President that says to the American people 'Ignore my record, forget my failures and fear the future.' - Kerry Campaign

    by Armando on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 08:31:05 AM PDT

  •  Starts with 'R', ends with 'd' (4.00)
  •  Post a tip jar now. (none)
    I have recommended this.  I want to congratulate you on the great find.  

    Now, everyone bombard the Media with this "Confirmation" of Bush Incompetence!

    Destroy him.   Now.  

    The Poster Child for Shame and Hyprocrisy: Lynne Cheney.

    by Delaware Dem on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 08:32:45 AM PDT

  •  No surprise (3.83)
    I don't find this surprising at all.  

    It all goes back to the fundamental problem between Rumsfeld's smaller, lighter, faster army and what several of the generals were talking about.  Many generals were saying you need lots of troops and heavy armor to take and hold land.  They've said the same thing about air campaigns.  Bombing can hit strategic targets and soften up positions, but you need troops if you actually want to take and hold that land.

    Such thinking, however, was seen as old fashioned and was contrary to what Rummy wanted so those generals (you know, the guys that spend a career studying and understanding this kind of stuff) were ignored.

    Now our troops are paying the price because an arrogant civilian leader ignored the advice of trained military strategists.

    •  This is the real implication of the 380 tons (3.66)
      Namely, the Republican wannabe warriors in the Bush administration -- particularly the nitwits at the Pentagon -- simply did not plan for the obvious mission of securing Iraq's arsenal.  And again they have proven they obviously didn't care about WMD's because they would have been all over these storage sites.
    •  This is the real story (none)
      The lost explosives are just (further) proof of Rumsfeld's hubris.  Unfortunately the media seems oblivious to this fact.
    •  This is a good point, and apparently lost on... (4.00)
      ...Donald Rumsfeld. I was a Infantryman in the 3rd Armored Division, stationed in Germany in 1983-1985. There has always been one overriding principle in warfare that armies have known through history, was still present when I served, and I'm sure is still the rule today:

      No matter what kinds of fancy weapons you have to soften or take a objective and kill/drive the enemy away, at some point you're going to have to have your everyday, basic infantry troop to occupy that objective.

      For a country the size of California (or Kuhleefornya, as our intrepid Governor calls it) it takes a huge number of occupation troops to maintain any semblance of security and order.

      The concept of Shock and Awe (also known as a Blitzkrieg in 1939) is not bad for an initial strike but, again, you'll still need to quickly deploy occupation troops as you take real estate. It appears to me that our military failed to do that one basic task, and I'm guessing that it was due to not being able to spare any troops for occupation duty.

      Even with a lack of occupation forces, however, it's inexplicable that we wouldn't secure and guard weapons depots. That one's a real head scratcher for me.

    •  A faster, lighter army (none)
      making a mad dash for Baghdad might work in a game of "capture the flag", but reality is somewhat different.
  •  Let's get this baby out to the the other media. (none)
    This could be the straw that breaks Bush in the final weekend.  The final proof that Bush's policies are making the world a more dangerous place.  

    Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough. - FDR

    by kamosa on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 08:33:55 AM PDT

  •  Recommend & get our PUSH ON! (none)
    As said above, PILE IT ON!!!
  •  Open the floodgates (4.00)
    What we're beginning to see is the fulfillment of my election theory, held since last year: the closer we get to Election Day, the more the seeds sown by Bush will begin to bear fruit--and choke his campaign.

    Between the shady dealings, the incompetence, the mismangement, the people he's pissed off in the intelligence and military communities, and the stubborn insistance on maintaining an image of perfection, it's all coming down now. And it's gaining steam right into November 2.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again:

    Kerry 58, Bush 40, Others 2

  •  Camp Anaconda (4.00)
    Salon has a great article today ( an intelligence officer who knew of a facility south of Camp Anaconda that was also looted.  He reported numerous times to his superiors about the site but was ignored.
  •  I'll Try This Again . . . (none)
    I want to recommend this, but I can't find the recommend button on the right (I'm new).  Where is it (give me landmarks).

    Also, could someone post email addresses for the networks.

  •  Drudge Report (none)
    FLASH 10.29.01 11:36:56 ET / Soldier to brief reporters at Pentagon within the hour that he was tasked with removing explosives from al Qaqaa and he and his unit removed 200+ tons... Developing...
    •  Nothing photoshopped I hope n/t (none)

      Bush is ceding our national defense to the CEOs of Private Military Firms.

      by newsouth on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 08:48:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Uh huh (none)
      And where was this long lost soldier?  

      It's time to reject a President that says to the American people 'Ignore my record, forget my failures and fear the future.' - Kerry Campaign

      by Armando on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 08:48:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So it's THEM who are driving the trucks (none)
      in the satellite photos.

      Bush is ceding our national defense to the CEOs of Private Military Firms.

      by newsouth on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 08:50:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  is Drudge (none)

      jumping the gun again?

    •  Miklacieski (sp) (none)
      On MSNBC low balling it - destroyed something - doesn't know what it was blah blah.

      It's time to reject a President that says to the American people 'Ignore my record, forget my failures and fear the future.' - Kerry Campaign

      by Armando on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 08:55:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Drudgery... (none)
      Nothing cracks me up more than when Drudge posts a report with a timestamp down to the second.

      What a whore.

      •  Not even his (none)
        big "DEVELOPING..." thing? That cracks me up. Like it's some REALLY important story, but it turns out to be about some politician's wife's credit card being declined or something.

        "If a child doesn't have healthcare, he doesn't need a lecture. He needs healthcare." - Barack Obama

        by Worship Your Toaster on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 12:20:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This is bullshit (none)
      This is just Bush covering his ass having some soldier lie for him. The imbedded reporter said the bunkers were opened and then the troops drove off leaving the munitions there for the insurgents to take. Also the Bush admin. said for over 200+ tons of munitions to be driven off they would need tons of giant dump trucks going back and forth for days and this was not seen in satellite photos. So they now need to decide which lie to go with:

      "Yes, there were tons of dump trucks but they were ours and we lied to you saying there were none in the satellite photos"


      "No, there were no dump trucks and the munitions were gone before we first got there and Saddam took them or the Russians took them or the Easter Bunny took them"

      Oops! The second ones been proven a lie with the new video so guess they are going with the first one now. Non-stop lies from this administration and 50% of the country believes them. Sad.

    •  Yeah right (none)
      Where did they put the 200 tons? How long did it take them? Where are the explosives now?
  •  Why (none)
    do the city manager of  La Grande, OR and the mayor of Oak Ridge, TN hate America?
  •  gotta push this hard... (none)
    should be front page..
  •  asdf (none)
    You know the city manager of La Grande doesn't have any political axes to grind with a Republican administration. Thanks for the righteous outrage from a good old Oregonian!

    I must not think bad thoughts. --John Doe

    by Joan McCarter on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 08:59:47 AM PDT

  •  Recommended (none)
    Great find. Let's hope the K-E Team pick up on this.

    Anyone got an email addy for them?

  •  I posted an al Qa Qaa timeline (none)
    and fully referenced. Please help me update it as other info comes to light.

    It's here --

  •  Thank the Oregonian and urge them on (none)
    Please drop a line of thanks for this story to:

    cc: the reporter

    We need to give encouragement and support to the media when they do their job!

  •  New Report Stinks Like Jimmy Hoffa's Body (none)
    The Energy Commission has been screaming about the missing explosives since May 2003...and NOW the Pentagon comes up with this? Guess they think we just fell off the turnip truck, ack.
  •  Posted (none)
    I have posted this diary and all included links at the K-E online BB. Link below:

    Hopefully they will pick it up soon.

  •  Just spoke directly to KE04 'rapid response' ... (4.00)
    ...staffer in DC. They had not seen the Oregonian report. He is going to the site, now, to read the report. I also told him to check this dKos diary.

    Keep pushing everyone

  •  Oh BTW (none)
    I guess the Russians didn't take it.

    It's time to reject a President that says to the American people 'Ignore my record, forget my failures and fear the future.' - Kerry Campaign

    by Armando on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 09:11:14 AM PDT

  •  diRita (none)
    Trying to give a recap, but gets things wrong at the top - on the quantities.

    Now some blather about the Big Picture.

    1/1000th of material - hmm, maybe not a bombshell.  Let's see.  

    It's time to reject a President that says to the American people 'Ignore my record, forget my failures and fear the future.' - Kerry Campaign

    by Armando on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 09:13:59 AM PDT

    •  Hmm (none)
      A real soft sell. Either they are being prudent or this isn't much.

      It's time to reject a President that says to the American people 'Ignore my record, forget my failures and fear the future.' - Kerry Campaign

      by Armando on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 09:16:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Apology due Gen. Shineski? (none)
    A Pentagon official Thursday acknowledged that the United States had been forced to leave many ammunition dumps in Iraq unguarded. The official, who declined to be identified, said the U.S. military had identified about 900 sensitive weapons sites in Iraq but had assigned only "a brigade-sized force" to deal with them. A brigade typically has about 3,500 soldiers.

    "The country was made into a major ammo dump by the Hussein regime as they prepared to fight, and have left cleanup to us," the official said by e-mail. "If that were our only job we could devote more troops to the task, but the majority of our troops are fighting the enemy. When bullets are flying you've got to decide on your priorities, and sending a bullet back is the preferred alternative."

    The official said he could not speak to how Sanchez had handled the report about Ukhaider.

    If we only had 300,00 troops we could have done both, right?

    •  I'd love to see President Kerry.... (none)
      ...offer him either the opportunity to return to active duty as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, or make him Sec of Defense.
    •  Gen. Shinseki slapped down by Rumsfeld (4.00)
      to show his displeasure (and to warn others) Rumsfeld announced Gen. Shinseki's successor a year in advance of Shinseki's scheduled retirement.  This was a slap in the face of a General who told the truth, that hundreds of thousands of troops would be required to secure Iraq after combat operations ended.

      One can only surmise what the situation on the ground would be today had Gen. Shinseki's views prevailed.  Bush-Rumsfeld refused to listen and the cost in human as well as financial terms and the cost to our military has blown out of proportion as a result of hubris and wearing blinders.

      The worst thing one can do is to believe your own propaganda - or - not to factor in opposing views.  This is Rumsfeld at his worst and that of course includes Bush.  

      There can be no greater difference in leadership styles between John Kerry and George W. and that's precisely why Kerry must be elected our next president.


  •  "Munitions Issue Dwarfs the Big Picture" (none)
    WaPo headline is very misleading, but the first two grafs really bring the entire issue into perspective.

    The 377 tons of Iraqi explosives whose reported disappearance has dominated the past few days of presidential campaigning represent only a tiny fraction of the vast quantities of other munitions unaccounted for since the fall of Saddam Hussein's government 18 months ago.

    U.S. military commanders estimated last fall that Iraqi military sites contained 650,000 to 1 million tons of explosives, artillery shells, aviation bombs and other ammunition. The Bush administration cited official figures this week showing about 400,000 tons destroyed or in the process of being eliminated. That leaves the whereabouts of more than 250,000 tons unknown.

    This is (and continues to be) a big story. And we need to keep it out in front of Bush's attempts to muddy the water.

    How many satellite photos and military testimonies can they counter with?  

  •  Earlier Failure to Secure Weapons (none)
    Check out this great column over at laying out, with copious references, a screw-up at the al Tuwaitha nuclear site that parallels the al Qa Qaa business almost perfectly:
    •  Thanks, (none)
      I remember the Al Tuwaitha scandal from a few months ago, and have wondered why it hasn't been brought up. As I recall, the IAEA was alerted that material was being looted when radioactive scrap metal was showing up in European scrap yards. Why this wasn't a bigger story at the time is beyond me.

      I haven't been drinking from the Al Qaa Qaa firehose of information though, so maybe I have just missed it.

      •  Also, (none)
        There was a story about a bunch of Iraqis getting blown up while looting an ammo dump. The Army, not having the troops to guard the dumps, simply warned the Iraqis that it was dangerous to loot ammo.
  •  My new hero (none)
    Wes Hare, La Grande city manager (one of the prettiest little cities on earth, btw). Here's a little bit of what he wrote for the hometown newspaper while in Iraq, and reprinted in Meridian Magazine.

    It is tragic that as most of us struggle to work together toward the common goal of a better world that some will be committed to violence and destruction. This sad fact is no less true in the United States than it is in Iraq. I am optimistic about the future of both places because I believe most of us, Iraqis and Americans, are willing to sacrifice to create peaceful and prosperous communities for our children.

    I must not think bad thoughts. --John Doe

    by Joan McCarter on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 09:40:10 AM PDT

  •  also a great article in salon (none)
    by an intelligence officer saying that his repeated entreaties to superiors to do something about the looting of a site near Anaconda went unheeded.
  •  This thing needs an historical moniker: (none)
    I suggest Rumsfeld's Folly. The man has lots of determination, and by some accounts, personal courage. He clearly lacks any talent for deep thinking.

    Probably a good poker player, but he'd suck at chess.

    November 2: We're hacking up a hairball.

    by perro amarillo on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 09:57:09 AM PDT

  •  Check this outhttp: (none)
    A WaPo article quotes a "senior military official" claiming they knew of MANY sites they didn't have the manpower to secure:
  •  RUMSFAILED (none)


    Mitch Gore

    No one will change America for you. You must work to make it happen.

    by Lestatdelc on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 10:27:23 AM PDT

  •  asfd (none)
    email to every local and national newsource you can think of.

    i have 2 minutes left on my library internet time, so do it for me if nothing else!

  •  380 tons (none)
    of tip of the iceberg

    O it is excellent to have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous To use it like a giant--Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act II

    by ogre on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 11:20:52 AM PDT

  •  The real reason for the Iraqi Adventure (none)
    The Ammo Dumps were in the way of the real reason for the Invasion, Cheap Oil.  100,000 Iraqis and 1,000 + American Soldiers are a small price to pay when Bush & Co want OIL.. The reporters comment was that they stayed at the Ammo Dump long enough to see what was there, but the real prize was to get to the Oil Fields before they were destroyed.  
  •  If the Oregonian's reporting on it... (none)
    Why didn't I hear about it in the Wilamette Week first?

    Kidding!  I'm really glad this is coming out before the election, and that the story is coming out of La Grande.  Maybe this will keep a few Eastern Oregon Bushies at home this year.  Not that Kerry wasn't going to win Oregon, but the more conservatives that get pissed off at this shitty managing of the war, the fewer conservative votes we have for our awful slate of ballot initiatives.

    George Bush... is only for now.

    by boy asunder on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 11:42:48 AM PDT

  •  "smoking gun" video not being reported! (none)
    It disappointed me to see that several media outlets aren't even mentioning the KSTP "game-set-match" video.

    For example, has lead story as of 2:30 EST titled "Photos point to removal of weapons"

    U.S. intelligence agencies have obtained satellite photographs of truck convoys that were at several weapons sites in Iraq in the weeks before U.S. military operations were launched, defense officials said yesterday.

    Nothing about the video in the article, even though this has been in the news for days. has the article "Army Says Some Iraq Ammunition Destroyed"

    Whether Saddam Hussein's forces removed the explosives before U.S. forces arrived on April 3, 2003, or whether they fell into the hands of looters and insurgents afterward -- because the site was not guarded by U.S. troops -- has become a key issue in the campaign.

    Again, nothing in the article about the KSTP video.

    We should give them feedback that not even mentioning the KSTP video is doing their readers a disservice.

  •  Wasn't there some guy from Vermont... (none)
    Wasn't there some guy from Vermont who said something last year about how we weren't any safer with Saddam in jail?

    Whoa, looks like he may have been onto something!!!

    Whatever happened to him, anyway?

    "The high road may be harder, but it leads to a better place." John Kerry

    by scott on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 12:25:01 PM PDT

  •  Another great article (none)
    Apologies, if this has already been linked.

    Got this story through Talkiing Points

    Vast amounts of weapons-related material missing, official says
    By Jonathan S. Landay for Knight Ridder

  •  They're leaving ammo dumps unguarded in Oregon (none)

    When did they invade? Knew it was coming, myself. Portland was first I bet, right?

  •  Witness to looting (none)
    Reporter saw insurgents loot Qaqaa arms depot

    By Katrin Bennhold International Herald Tribune
    Saturday, October 30, 2004

    PARIS "A French journalist who visited the Qaqaa munitions depot south of Baghdad in November last year said she witnessed Islamic insurgents looting vast supplies of explosives more than six months after the demise of Saddam Hussein's regime."

    (Thanks to TPM)

    Theory is when we know everything and nothing works. Practice is when everything works and nobody knows why. (Einstein)

    by CodeTalker on Fri Oct 29, 2004 at 09:51:16 PM PDT

  •  I posted this on DU (none)
    and they put my post on the front page
  •  more footage from KOBTV (none)
    This may be the same footage as the earlier KTSP story, but it's worth repeating >>KOBTV  in Albuquerque had an embedded crew at AlQaQa on April 18th. They filmed a bunker with the intact IAEA seal - this disputes the latest Drudge report / Rumsfeld excuse.

    Soon after Eyewitness News 4 aired exclusive video of Iraqi explosives stockpiles in an area where 377 tons were reported missing, the Pentagon said it's looking into the matter.

    What the Defense Department is not contesting is the date that video was shot. Officials there said they confirm that the Eyewitness News 4 crew embedded with the 101st Airborne Division was in the area of Al-Qaqaa on April 18, 2003.

    At a Pentagon news conference, Army Maj. Austin Pearson said he was in charge of the 24th Ordnance Company in April 2003. He said his unit removed about 250 tons of explosives from the Al-Qaqaa facility. However, he could not give a definitive answer whether he was in the same area seen in the Eyewitness News 4 video.

    ..... Also, Pentagon spokesperson Larry Di Rita said the initial report of 250 tons may be overstated. The official said the actual number may be as low as three tons.

  •  Can we combine this (none)
    with the looting story (above) and get it front and center to all the usual suspects?

    It would be great if this could be the big story on the Sunday talk shows....

    They ask for trust but somehow I've got serious doubts / Open up the window let the bad air out

    by Catriana on Sat Oct 30, 2004 at 06:52:36 AM PDT

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