October 28, 2004 -- John Kerry's desperation is growing — as is his nose.
Also growing is the body of com pelling evidence of Kerry's unsuitability to serve as America's wartime commander-in-chief.
Over the past few days, Kerry has shown that he'll say and do anything — even, once again, defame U.S. troops in the field — to become president.
But he clearly hasn't a clue about the real dangers involved in this war — either at home or abroad.
After a (now discredited) story Monday in The New York Times reported on missing explosives in Iraq, Kerry rushed headlong to make hay of its central theme: that U.S. troops were too incompetent to safeguard some 380 tons of high explosives, despite knowing about the risk of their being stolen.
"In Iraq," Kerry says — in an ad thrown together just hours after the Times story appeared — "George Bush . . . failed to secure 380 tons of deadly explosives, the kind used for attacks in Iraq, and for terrorist bombings."
Kerry called the disappearance "one of the great blunders of Iraq" and a product of "incredible incompetence."
Just one problem: The "disappearance" scandal appears to be a fabrication.
The Pentagon told Fox News yesterday that troops searched the site where the explosives were stored several times before and after the fall of Baghdad last year — and found no explosives.
Two reporters embedded with the troops at the facility, known as Al Qaqaa, have also said that no evidence of the weapons were found, even as early as April 10 — the day after Baghdad fell.
Yes, the explosives were gone in May. But the most likely conclusion is that they were gone long before U.S. troops arrived. (Retired Army intelligence officer Ralph Peters lays down a compelling timeline on the opposite page.)
Meanwhile, even Kerry national-security adviser Richard Holbrooke has acknowledged that he — and presumably his Kerry colleagues — "don't know what happened" to the weapons.
Which is also what the Times was told by the Iraqi minister whose staffer's letter about the explosives two weeks ago called attention to the issue.
Yet none of this slowed Kerry down one bit. Even yesterday, he was blaming U.S. troops for the missing weapons — and their commander-in-chief, President Bush, for trying to "dodge and bob and weave . . . to avoid responsibility."
Responsibility? Kerry wouldn't know what that was if it hit him in the face.
After all, if Kerry believes these weapons are so dangerous, how could he think Operation Iraqi Freedom is "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time"?
Is he saying he'd be comfortable letting Saddam hold on to these materials?
Despite 9/11? Despite Baghdad's collaboration with terrorists?
Bush himself made that point yesterday. "After repeatedly calling Iraq the 'wrong war' and a diversion, Sen. Kerry this week seemed shocked to learn that Iraq was a dangerous place, full of dangerous weapons," Bush said.
"If Sen. Kerry had his way . . . we would still be taking our 'global test.' Saddam Hussein would still . . . control all those weapons and explosives and could have shared them with our terrorist enemies."
Not that Kerry seems to have the slightest concern about that.
Then, again, 9/11 — he freely admits — "didn't change" him.
At the same time, Kerry's reckless — baseless — attempt to make a mockery of U.S. troops completely obscures their genuinely heroic seizure of more than 400,000 tons of munitions at thousands of sites throughout Iraq.
Taken another way, the missing material amounted to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of what was captured.
This is not the kind of judgment and logic America needs these days.
In these efforts, of course, Kerry is aided materially by his shills in the media.
The Times, for instance, (purposefully?) left the unmistakable impression that the explosives disappeared right under the noses of American soldiers.
And CBS News — fresh from its Rathergate forged-memos adventure — joined the Times in preparing the missing-weapons story.
How dishonorable has CBS become?
Well, "60 Minutes" had planned to air its own version of the weapons story Sunday night — just two days before the election, far too little time for more reputable journalists to sort things out.
As for Kerry, you've got to wonder whether he learned anything from his slander of U.S. troops in Vietnam 33 years ago, when he accused them of war crimes, based on wholly fabricated "testimony."
Which raises the question: How can U.S. soldiers — how can Americans — trust Kerry to lead the nation and its military in a time of war, when he is so clearly reckless in his assumptions, quick to blame the troops and openly hostile to going to war to defend the country?
The answer? They can't.
October 28, 2004 -- SHOULD the United Na tions decide who be comes our president? Sen. John Kerry wouldn't mind. He's shamelessly promoting the lies that the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency is telling about Iraq.
A devious IAEA report suggests that 400 tons of explosives were spirited away by our enemies under the noses of our Keystone-Cops troops after the fall of Baghdad. The document just happened to be released in the closing days of our presidential election. Purely a coincidence, of course. Brought to you by those selfless U.N. bureaucrats who failed in Iraq and are now failing in Iran.
Since Kerry's willing to blame our troops for a scandal invented by America-haters, let's look at the story the military way, by the numbers.
One: The IAEA claims its inspectors visited the ammo dump at Al-Qaqaa on March 9, 2003, and found the agency's seals intact on bunkers containing sensitive munitions. Unverifiable, but let's assume that much is true.
Two: Faced with an impending invasion, Saddam's forces did what any military would do. They began dispersing ammunition stocks from every storage site that might be a Coalition bombing target. If the Iraqis valued it, they tried to move it. Before the war.
Three: Members of our 3rd Infantry Division — the heroes who led the march to Baghdad — reached the site in question in early April. Despite the pressures of combat, they combed the dump. Nothing was found. Al-Qaqaa was a vast junkyard.
Four: Our 101st Airborne Division assumed responsibility for the sector as the 3ID closed on Baghdad. None of the Screaming Eagles found any IAEA markers — even one would have been a red flag to be reported immediately.
Five: At the end of May, military teams searching for key Iraqi weapons scoured Al-Qaqaa. They found plenty of odds and ends — the detritus of war — but no IAEA seals. And no major stockpiles.
Six: Now, just before Election Day, the IAEA, a discredited organization embarrassed by the Bush administration's decision to call it on the carpet, suddenly realizes that 400 tons of phantom explosives went missing from the dump.
Seven: Even if repeated inspections by U.S. troops had somehow missed this deadly elephant on the front porch, and even if the otherwise-incompetent Iraqis had been so skilled and organized they were able to sneak into Al-Qaqaa and load up 400 tons of Saddam's love-powder, it would have taken a Teamsters' convention to get the job done.
Eight: If the Iraqis had used military transport vehicles of five-ton capacity, it would have required 80 trucks for one big lift, or, say, 20 trucks each making four trips. They would have needed special trolleys, forklifts, handling experts and skilled drivers (explosives aren't groceries). This operation could not have happened either during or after the war, while the Al-Qaqaa area was flooded with U.S. troops.
Nine: We owned the skies. And when you own the skies, you own the roads. We were watching for any sign of organized movement. A gaggle of non-Coalition vehicles driving in and out of an ammo dump would have attracted the attention of our surveillance systems immediately.
Ten: And you don't just drive high explosives cross-country, unless you want to hear a very loud bang. Besides, the Iraqis would have needed to hide those 400 tons of explosives somewhere else. Unless the uploaded trucks are still driving around Iraq.
Eleven: Even if the IAEA told the truth and the Iraqis were stealth-logistics geniuses who emptied the site's ammo bunkers under our noses, the entire issue misses a greater point: 400 tons of explosives amounted to a miniscule fraction of the stocks Saddam had built up. Coalition demolition experts spent months destroying more than 400,000 tons of Iraqi war-making materiel.
Our soldiers eliminated more than a thousand tons of packaged death for every ton the United Nations claims they missed. Does that sound like incompetence? Why hasn't our success been mentioned? Can't our troops get credit for anything?
Twelve: The bottom line is that, if the explosives were ever there, the Iraqis moved them before our troops arrived. There is no other plausible scenario.
Sen. Kerry knows this is a bogus issue. And he doesn't care. He's willing to accuse our troops of negligence and incompetence to further his political career. Of course, he did that once before.
Ralph Peters is the author of "Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace."
By Dick Morris
October 28, 2004 -- ONCE again, John Kerry shows his instinct to go for the capillaries, rather than the jugular.
Kerry has embraced the dubious New York Times/CBS accusations about U.S. bungling permitting the theft of explosives from an ammunition dump in Iraq. The senator has chosen to predicate the entire final week of his campaign on the unsolvable mystery of what happened to the bomb-making material in the chaos surrounding the invasion of Iraq.
By stepping up to bat and running an ad in which he speaks directly into the camera in an effort to win votes over the issue, Kerry has made the dubious journalistic accusations his own and bet his credibility and his candidacy on the outcome.
How will we ever know when the explosives were removed from Al-Qaqaa and by whom? How can we tell if they were taken away by Saddam's minions before or after he fell from power, before or after the United States troops had passed by the dump? We can't, any more than we can tell who did what in the jungles of Vietnam 30 years ago.
Because we can't know the final truth of Al-Qaqaa, it was a ridiculous decision by the Kerry campaign to jump with all four feet onto the issue. When Kerry should be scoring aggressive points, he will find himself debating the fine questions of who did what in Iraq in the frenzied days of late March and early April of 2003.
Beyond our inability to determine the truth of the Times story lies the sense of dirty tricks that comes from a last-minute journalistic accusation — made even more heinous by the CBS News' now-exposed plan to break the story 48 hours before the polls opened on "60 Minutes." Voters will easily recall how the same show fell for forged anti-Bush documents and tried to palm them off on us just last month.
Kerry's mistake runs deeper. Right now he should be talking about domestic-policy issues — the ones where he has a lead. To batter futilely at Bush's bastion of strength — foreign policy and the war — is to throw good money after bad in one last failed attempt to replace a sitting commander-in-chief as America's choice to run the war.
On Bush's worst days, voters have consistently told pollsters they trust him more than Kerry to run the war, usually by double-digit margins. What makes Kerry think he can win the point now? He's failed at it all year; now he squanders his final week on one last effort.
In undertaking such a gamble, Kerry ratifies Iraq, the war, terrorism and foreign policy as the key issues in the race at just the moment when he should be downplaying them.
By jumping on the explosive issue as a target of opportunity, Kerry has shown that he has no real campaign strategy, only a series of tactics. He may have a plan for America, but he has none for winning this election.
October 28, 2004 -- And so we finally have the October Surprise — a last-minute live politi cal grenade tossed smack dab into the middle of the campaign by The New York Times and CBS' "60 Minutes," the latter still smarting from its Dan Rather Memogate fiasco.
The lead story in Monday's Times reported breathlessly that "380 tons of powerful conventional explososives . . . are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations."
John Kerry, predictably, went hysterical — charging that President Bush, by his "incredible incompetence," had now placed the lives of U.S. troops in immediate danger.
But there's much more to the story than the Times would have you believe.
That the story was intended as a last-minute political hit seems undeniable: CBS, which first got the tip and worked together with the Times, admits that it planned to air a piece next Sunday night — just two nights before the start of voting. That would have left precious little time for any response.
CBS says that the story only broke in the last two weeks; when other news outlets got wind of it, CBS agreed to let the Times publish its story first.
Maybe so. But more than a month after its blatant attempt to sink President Bush's re-election by relying on forged documents, no heads have rolled at CBS. Dan Rather is still on the air (and pushing this latest story to the hilt). Activist producer Mary Mapes — whose five-year obsession prompted the story — still works for CBS.
And the Times — which backs Kerry in its news columns as well as its editorial pages — can't help but boast about how its story "has roiled the presidential campaign."
The coverage — starting with the initial Times article — has declared flatly that the powerful explosives disappeared after U.S. troops had secured the Al-Qaqaa facility, where they'd been stored. But that's hardly been proven — in fact, NBC News has reported that one of its embedded news crews arrived at Al-Qaqaa with the 101st Airborne — and they'd seen no sign of the explosives.
Dana Lewis, the embedded NBC correspondent, reiterated Tuesday that it would have been "pretty tough" to move 380 tons of explosives out of that facility once it came under U.S. control.
Other evidence support the assertion that the material was gone before U.S. troops arrived: A Washington Post story at the time about the first unit to arrive at Al-Qaqaa — the 3rd Infantry Division — reports no mention of the explosives, although it was clear that an intensive investigation of the facility took place.
Morever, as columnist Charles Krauthammer notes, the notion that the so-called insurgency made off with these weapons doesn't hold water — because there was no insurgency immediately after the fall of Baghdad.
In fact, the insurgency didn't begin until some time after; at the time, Saddam's supporters were all on the run.
And the Times-CBS stories also ignore the fact that the missing 380 tons, though troubling, was but a minuscule portion of the 400,000 tons of explosives stockpiled by Saddam Hussein — more than half of which has been destroyed by U.S. troops in the past 18 months.
Which is why Charles Duelfer, the chief U.S. arms inspector for Iraq, said "it's hard for me to get that worked up about it," since "Iraq is awash in hundreds of thousands of tons of explosives."
Instead, thanks to the CBS-Times double-play combination, the Bush campaign finds itself on the defensive as the election clock winds down. As one John Kerry campaign aide told CBS: "The headlines in this week are in our favor."
Indeed, they are. October Surprise, everyone. — THE EDITORS
Why are these pieces important? One of the most widely read papers in New Jersey... the NY Post... What is NJ right now? TIED!