October 27, 2004

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Elizabeth Bumiller and Jodi Wilgoren Take Another Dive Department)

Another swan dive for the Bushies by the New York Times:

The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > Bush Hits Back at Kerry Charge Over Explosives: The missing explosives were first reported Monday by The New York Times and CBS News, and since then the issue and the possibility that American troops in Iraq let the explosives slip into terrorist hands have dominated the presidential campaign. "Our military is now investigating a number of possible scenarios, including that the explosives may have been moved before our troops even arrived at the site," Mr. Bush told thousands of Republicans at an airport rally in Lancaster County, Pa., his first stop of a day that took him through three states....

The exact timing of the disappearance of the explosives is critical to the political arguments of each campaign. Mr. Kerry's contention that the administration did not adequately secure the country and was unprepared for the war's aftermath presumes that the explosives disappeared after the fall of Saddam Hussein on April 9, 2003, as officials of the interim Iraqi government say. If the explosives disappeared before Mr. Hussein fell, as Mr. Bush now says is possible, that would undercut Mr. Kerry's argument and bolster Mr. Bush's contention that his opponent is making charges without all the facts.

No. Simply no. The fact that the Bush administration does not have a clue about when or where the 380 tons of explosives were moved demonstrates that the administration "did not adequately secure the country and was unprepared for the war's aftermath."

Posted by DeLong at October 27, 2004 10:15 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Kerry's huge mistake is that he keeps saying 'Bush screwed up. I have a plan.' He is going after the protest vote. Guess what - protest vote does not vote. In his heart of hearts nobody thinks his vote will unseat Bush. On the other hand everybody wants to feel good about themselves. So Kerry needs to talk about an image, a vision of America strong and beautiful, fair and generous. Kerry's campaign advisors are a bunch of incompetent assholes.

Posted by: juju at October 27, 2004 10:49 PM

As Bob Somerby, apparently never tires of pointing out to us, the elite press corps is none too long on logic.

I recently saw Judith Miller, interviewed on CNN about the prospect of going to jail to protect a source, and about all I could discern was that Ms. Miller, although a pushy broad, is really not very smart.

Posted by: Bruce Wilder at October 27, 2004 11:26 PM

I hope you've been following Matt Taibbi's "Wimblehack" countdown where he is competing various members of the campaign coverage press corps for their hack-ness and doing a Wimbledon-style elimination tournament. Right now in the finals it is Howard Fineman against Elisabeth Bumiller. I think it should be Bumiller on general principles. All 4 of the articles written over the past 4 weeks were hilarious and very thoughtful as commentary over how our press corps handles presidential elections. They are on line at the NY Press.

Posted by: Anna in Cairo at October 28, 2004 02:21 AM

There's no need to be speculating based on haphazard accounts from U.S. forces or embedded journalists who happened to be in the area at various times. Both the White House and the Pentagon know precisely when the facility's buildings were looted - they monitor them via satellite all the time.

See this Kos diary for details:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/10/28/1378/0488

Posted by: Big Guy at October 28, 2004 06:29 AM

Yeah, you're right. The NYT is so bad they should probably just shut down. Would make everybody on both sides happy, n'est-ce pas?

Posted by: paulo at October 28, 2004 07:30 AM

juju, I must disagree. The protest vote will vote the bums out. Always has always will.

I don't see how the timing of the disappearance has a thing to do with the facts that:
a) before the invasion, the material was secure and not in the black market or in the hands of terrorists
b) after the invasion, we don't know where it is, we made no plans to secure it during or after the invasion, and apparently did not even to document whether or not it was there.

Given that this is the material that puts the "bomb" in "car bomb" and "suicide bomb" it constitutes a major SNAFU. An insurgency with tons of plastics explosives is far more capable and dangerous than an insurgency that lacks plastic explosives. We certainly trained plenty of Arab militants on the use of plastics explosives during our proxy war against the FSU in Afghanistan.

The Israelis have been quiet, but they cannot be happy to know that material for making hundreds of thousands of suicide bombs is somewhere in the Iraq black market across leaky borders with Jordan and Syria.

Posted by: bakho at October 28, 2004 07:30 AM

The last time anyone claims to have seen these explosives was January 2003. Roughly three months BEFORE U.S. troops arrived and searched the compound.

No one has come forward and claimed to have seen them at the compound then. NO ONE.

No reports of having even seen a looter carrying any of it away, much less having stopped someone and found it. Though we have plenty of eyewitnesses to looted furniture and equipment.

What is evidence though. You BELIEVE.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan at October 28, 2004 07:56 AM

Patrick -

You make Brad's point better than he did.

In a war (supposedly) fought to control the spread of weapons to terrorist groups, was it not a mistake of major proportions not to know more then and now about the status of one of the larger ammo dumps in Irag?

Posted by: otey at October 28, 2004 08:13 AM

Patrick Sullivan has his facts wrong: the international team visited the site in mid-March. Plus, we now appear to have Minneapolis imbeds who were shown around the site on 18 April and took pictures of the stuff still there.

Posted by: Brian Boru at October 28, 2004 08:25 AM

Read it and weep, Patrick:

http://kstp.com/article/stories/S3723.html?cat=1

Using GPS technology and talking with members of the 101st Airborne Division, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has determined the crew embedded with the troops may have been on the southern edge of the Al Qaqaa installation, where the ammunition disappeared. The news crew was based just south of Al Qaqaa, and drove two or three miles north of there with soldiers on April 18, 2003.


During that trip, members of the 101st Airborne Division showed the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS news crew bunker after bunker of material labelled "explosives." Usually it took just the snap of a bolt cutter to get into the bunkers and see the material identified by the 101st as detonation cords.


"We can stick it in those and make some good bombs." a soldier told our crew.

Posted by: Big Guy at October 28, 2004 08:36 AM

What is it with Patrick R. Sullivan? Some type of organic brain disorder?

Posted by: A Tiny at October 28, 2004 08:56 AM

This is SO COOL! Billy and I took a day off from our jobs as Journalists at the New York Times, and when we got back, Billy put MY NAME on another story -- but I had to share with that Sanger guy. Oh, well. He wrote it while I was, well, I'm not going to tell you what I was doing. With Billy!

And today I get MY NAME on ANOTHER story right there in the New York Times. Being a Journalist is SO COOL.

Did I mention that I work at the New York Times? In New York, darling!

What comes after "A"? In the -- you know -- like, the Alphabet? "B," right? I knew that! I'm a Journalist. And anyway, what does "reasoning" have to do with "from A to B"? Everybody knows "reasoning" uses Letters! From the Alphabet! And I know, as a Journalist, that "B" comes pretty much right after "A".

So what is this incredible SHIT about "reasoning from A to B"? It makes no sense to me. And I'm a Journalist, and I work at the New York Times! In New York!

Anyway it's not News until the RNC faxes it over.

So there!

Posted by: Jodi Wilgoren, Girl Journalist at October 28, 2004 08:58 AM

BigGuy, it's admirable that you are willing to present the evidence to Patrick Sullivan.

But just because KSTP has film footage of crates labeled "Al Qaa Qa" and barrels full of white powder labeled "Explosivs," not to mention material identified as proximity fuses, that will hardly cause a tremor to Mr. Sullivan's faith in the perfect truthfulness of the Bush Administration. Because, well, the Russian convoy of eight cars could have carried off all 380 tons and replaced the explosives with flour and sugar. Or maybe there was a flying saucer.

Any explanation is more credible than that the Bush Administration screwed up and lied about it.

Posted by: Charles at October 28, 2004 10:11 AM

BigGuy, it's admirable that you are willing to present the evidence to Patrick Sullivan.

But just because KSTP has film footage of crates labeled "Al Qaa Qa" and barrels full of white powder labeled "Explosivs," not to mention material identified as proximity fuses, that will hardly cause a tremor to Mr. Sullivan's faith in the perfect truthfulness of the Bush Administration. Because, well, the Russian convoy of eight cars could have carried off all 380 tons and replaced the explosives with flour and sugar. Or maybe there was a flying saucer.

Any explanation is more credible than that the Bush Administration screwed up and lied about it.

Posted by: Charles at October 28, 2004 10:14 AM

bakho, this is another example of the Bush Administration saying and doing anything to get re-elected. Al Qaa qa is, as was published in Salon, just the tip of the iceberg. The resistance has been getting explosives for its attacks on American troops from somewhere, right? There are hundreds of articles from a year and more ago about unsecured ammo dumps as the source for these attacks.

Al Qaa qa is simply the first case to hit public consciousness.

The incompetence is stunning, both on the part of the Administration and the elite press. For KSTP in Minneapolis to be breaking this story is absolutely incredible.

Posted by: Charles at October 28, 2004 10:23 AM

bakho, this is another example of the Bush Administration saying and doing anything to get re-elected. Al Qaa qa is, as was published in Salon, just the tip of the iceberg. The resistance has been getting explosives for its attacks on American troops from somewhere, right? There are hundreds of articles from a year and more ago about unsecured ammo dumps as the source for these attacks.

Al Qaa qa is simply the first case to hit public consciousness.

The incompetence is stunning, both on the part of the Administration and the elite press. For KSTP in Minneapolis to be breaking this story is absolutely incredible.

Posted by: Charles at October 28, 2004 10:25 AM