quasi in rem

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I think it's in Syria...

"MCINTYRE (voice-over): The Pentagon acknowledges there was a window of about six weeks after the invasion of Iraq when it's possible the stockpile of high explosives could have been stolen from the sprawling al Qa Qaa facility south of Baghdad.

But Pentagon officials argue it's more likely the explosives were moved as part of the prewar dispersal ordered by Saddam Hussein. That would have come sometime after March 3, 2003, the last time the International Atomic Energy Agency checked that security seals placed on the bunkers were in tact and before the war actually began March 20.

"On April 10 of 2003, the day after the fall of Baghdad, troops from the 2nd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division reached the site. No weapons under IAEA seal were found, but the soldiers were advancing on Baghdad and officials acknowledge they didn't conduct a thorough inspection.

Sometime in the next month, May 2003, the IAEA says it relayed concerns to the U.S. government about the stockpile falling into the wrong hands.

Finally, on May 27, more than six weeks after the April visit, a special U.S. exploitation team looking for weapons of mass destruction searched all 32 bunkers and 87 buildings. Again, the stockpile was not found.

While Pentagon officials admit the facility was not completely secured between April 10 and May 27, they say many U.S. troops remained in the general area, and, although small-scale looting was certainly possible, officials scoff at the idea the large number of heavy trucks that would have been required to transport the 380 tons of missing explosives could have been moved into and out of the facility unnoticed during that time."

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