Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Yet More Post-War Incompetence

Take a look at this article by Peter Galbraith, a former ambassador who reported to Paul Wolfowitz. He reports on more post-war looting and how dangerous it was to our troops:

IN 2003 I went to tell Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz what I had seen in Baghdad in the days following Saddam Hussein’s overthrow. For nearly an hour, I described the catastrophic aftermath of the invasion — the unchecked looting of every public institution in Baghdad, the devastation of Iraq’s cultural heritage, the anger of ordinary Iraqis who couldn’t understand why the world’s only superpower was letting this happen.

I also described two particularly disturbing incidents — one I had witnessed and the other I had heard about. On April 16, 2003, a mob attacked and looted the Iraqi equivalent of the Centers for Disease Control, taking live HIV and black fever virus among other potentially lethal materials. US troops were stationed across the street but did not intervene because they didn’t know the building was important.

When he found out, the young American lieutenant was devastated. He shook his head and said, “I hope I am not responsible for Armageddon.” About the same time, looters entered the warehouses at Iraq’s sprawling nuclear facilities at Tuwaitha on Baghdad’s outskirts. They took barrels of yellowcake (raw uranium), apparently dumping the uranium and using the barrels to hold water. US troops were at Tuwaitha but did not interfere.

There was nothing secret about the Disease Center or the Tuwaitha warehouses. Inspectors had repeatedly visited the center looking for evidence of a biological weapons program. The Tuwaitha warehouses included materials from Iraq’s nuclear program, which had been dismantled after the 1991 Gulf War. The United Nations had sealed the materials, and they remained untouched until the US troops arrived.

The looting that I observed was spontaneous. Quite likely the looters had no idea they were stealing deadly biological agents or radioactive materials or that they were putting themselves in danger. As I pointed out to Wolfowitz, as long as these sites remained unprotected, their deadly materials could end up not with ill-educated slum dwellers but with those who knew exactly what they were doing…

This was a preventable disaster. Iraq’s nuclear weapons-related materials were stored in only a few locations, and these were known before the war began. As even L. Paul Bremer III, the US administrator in Iraq, now admits, the United States had far too few troops to secure the country following the fall of Saddam Hussein. But even with the troops we had, the United States could have protected the known nuclear sites. It appears that troops did not receive relevant intelligence about Iraq’s WMD facilities, nor was there any plan to secure them. Even after my briefing, the Pentagon leaders did nothing to safeguard Iraq’s nuclear sites…Much of this could have been avoided with a competent postwar strategy…

How many first hand accounts by supporters of the war have to come out and tell this same story before the administration’s defenders admit that this entire thing has been royally screwed up, regardless of the justification for the war itself? Christopher Hitchens, a vehement supporter of the war, calls it a “flabbergasting failure”. But those of us who have made what I think is an undeniable case for the utter incompetence of the administration in this situation are accused of “latching on” to things out of bias. It really is starting to reach the point of being surreal.

Comments

  1. #1 Adam Marczyk
    October 28, 2004

    Someone here isn’t living in the “reality-based community”, and it’s not Bush’s opponents…

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