The Wages of Fear (10/25/04)
December 29, 2006
Just when you think the news from Iraq can’t get any worse, it gets blood-freezingly sinister.
It’s hard to say which story is creepier: the news that several hundred tons of high explosives are now missing from an Iraqi military installation left unguarded during the American invasion, or the discovery of the bodies of 50 newly trained Iraqi soldiers, all forced to lie down in rows and then shot, execution-style.
The mass-murder of the soldiers is a blow to the very quick of any hopes of creating a plausible civil society in Iraq. The soldiers, returning home on leave, were ambushed by killers with complete inside knowledge of their movements. It sent a clear, unmistakable message both to any Iraqis willing to work with Americans, and to the U.S.-led occupation force: You are not safe.
The implications of the Al Qaqaa story are, if anything, even worse. Hundreds of tons of extremely high-grade explosives were essentially left out in the open for anyone who cared to pick them up. The explosives are the sort used to trigger sophisticated nuclear weapons. The Times story offers this particularly spooky graf:
“To see the bunkers that make up the vast Qaqaa complex today, it is hard to recall that just two years ago it was part of Saddam Hussein’s secret military complex. The bunkers are so large that they are reminiscent of pyramids, though with rounded edges and the tops chopped off. Several are blackened and eviscerated as a result of American bombing. Smokestacks rise in the distance. Today, Al Qaqaa has become a no-man’s land that is generally avoided even by the Marines in charge of north Babil Province. Headless bodies are found there. An ammunition dump has been looted, and on Sunday an Iraqi employee of The New York Times who made a furtive visit to the site saw looters tearing out metal fixtures. Bare pipes within the darkened interior of one of the buildings were a tangled mess, zigzagging along charred walls. Someone fired a shot, probably to frighten the visitors off. “It’s like Mars on Earth,” said Maj. Dan Whisnant, an intelligence officer for the Second Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment. “It would take probably 10 battalions 10 years to clear that out.”
Even if the explosives aren’t used for nukes, which would require a great deal of sophisticated engineering, they constitute a virtually limitless supply for insurgents looking to make U.S. soldiers miserable. Whenever a car bombs wipes out another building or convoy, the families of the fallen can thank Bushco once again for combining incompetence and ideological pipe dreams in planning the invasion.
Most shockingly of all, the administration has known about all this for roughly a year. The Bushies have been trying to keep the information under wraps until the election is safely past. Makes you wonder what else they trying to squash, doesn’t it?