Friday, October 29, 2004

A Bear in the Desert, Part II

Bill Gertz has a follow-up today on the "missing weapons" story. The Pentagon released photos showing large trucks in front of the bunkers at al-Qa Qaa, Iraq just prior to the war, indicating they were moving some of their caches. The story also delves further into the issue of Russian assistance in removing the weapons.

The Pentagon is still investigating the fate of the explosives and possible Russian involvement:

Officials said numerous intelligence reports in the past two years indicate Saddam used trucks and aircraft to withdraw weapons from Iraq before March 2003.
However, the new information indicates that Russian troops were directly involved in assisting the Iraqi military and intelligence services to secure and move the arms.

Documents reviewed by one defense official include specific Russian military unit
itineraries for the truck convoys.

The arms that were taken out of the country included missile parts, nuclear-related equipment, tank and aircraft parts, and chemicals used in making poison gas weapons, the official said.

Regarding the satellite photographs, defense officials said the photographs bolster the information obtained from the European intelligence services on the Russian arms-removal program.

The Russian special forces troops were housed at a computer center near the Russian Embassy in Baghdad and left the country shortly before the U.S. invasion was launched March 20, 2003.

Harold Hough, a satellite photographic specialist, said commercial satellite images taken shortly before U.S. forces reached Baghdad revealed Russian transport aircraft at Baghdad's international airport near a warehouse.

"My thought was that the Russians were eager to get something out of Iraq quickly," Mr. Hough said. "But it is quite possible that the aircraft was used to transport the Russian forces."
This story has spilled over into the campaign with John Kerry saying Bush didn't protect the depot and Bush saying Kerry shouldn't jump to conclusions before learning the facts. I said in my last post on this, I thought this would backfire on Kerry. Dick Morris thinks so too: "All of a sudden, Kerry seems just not ready for prime time. The backfire is amplified by the involvement of CBS and The New York Times."

In the last week, in addition to this Iraq story, which doesn't seem to be holding up, I've seen resurrected stories on Abu Ghraib and Halliburton. Kerry and his media lackeys are desperately grasping at straws at this point. Morris predicts a Bush win. Let's hope he's right.

UPDATE: An Army major, at a news conference today at the Pentagon, said that shortly after the fall of Saddam he and his team from the 3rd ID removed some 250 tons of munitions from the site in question.

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