Pentagon Briefing on Missing Explosives
I just watched the Larry DiRita host a Pentagon briefing on the issue of the missing explosives at al-Qaqaa.
I was disgusted by the political spin DiRita was putting out. The Pentagon should be serving the military needs of the whole United States, not of the Bush administration.
DiRita kept talking about RDX plastic explosives, when the real issue is what happened to the HMX, which is the stuff that can be used to detonate an atomic bomb. At one point DiRita insisted that the Pentagon refers to it all as RDX and doesn’t distinguish HMX (!) He brought a poor US army major, Austin Pearson, out to talk about how his unit had destroyed over 200 tons Iraqi munitions, including tons of stuff from al-Qaqaa.
But if DiRita thought that this officer would clear the whole thing up, he was clearly disappointed. The major said explicitly that he had not seen any seals of the International Atomic Energy Commission, which means that he cannot testify that his unit destroyed the HMX. Then he was asked if insurgents could have carried off 150 tons of that stuff in a short period of time as a practical matter. He replied that it seems like a lot, but in fact it could be done really quickly.
Then he let it slip that his unit was at al-Qaqaa on April 13, before the KSTP video was shot of US soldiers examining HMX there. So Pearson’s unit could not have removed all the HMX at that time. Since he didn’t see IAEA seals, it seems likely that his unit didn’t remove any HMX.
No one doubts that the US military has blown up enormous amounts of Iraqi ordnance. The point is that they have also not blown up enormous amounts of Iraqi ordnance, and that the country’s 80 major arms depots have gone on being looted throughout the US occupation because the military was not given enough troops by Bush to guard the depots.
Conclusion: The DiRita performance today was embarrassing to Bush. His Pentagon spokesman doesn’t know the difference between RDX and HMX and he hasn’t debriefed his chief witness, Maj. Pearson, so as to avoid being blindsided when the major says he never saw IAEA seals, that looters could have carted off tons of HMX quickly and easily, and that his unit was at al-Qaqaa before the date of the damning KSTP video!