Al Qaqaa

We lost 380 tons of HE. That’s too bad.
We were warned. That makes it worse.
Our top decision-makers didn’t learn about it for eighteen months. That’s intolerable.

Losing 380 tons of high explosive into a terrorist-rich environment: bad, but not necesarily negligent.

Doing so by failing to secure a known sit for such material: clearly an error by someone, but understandable in the fog of war.

An information flow so constrained by the fear of delivering bad news that the loss happened in the spring of 2003 and the White House only finds out about it in 2004, and even then based only on anIraqi government report to a UN agency: intolerable.

Note how lame the Bush responses are:

1. There were lots of munitions we didn’t lose.

2. Lots of stuff was going on then.

3. Since this wasn’t nuclear material, it isn’t such a big deal.

4. The New York Times is picking on us by publishing the story now.

5. John Kerry is a bad person for criticizing the President on this.

In a just world, this would be game, set, match to Kerry. The claim that invading Iraq made us safer from terrorism sits poorly with the new evidence. And the fact that the Bush Administration has been sitting on this for at least two weeks raises the question: how much other bad news are they sitting on? For example, what do we know about the factories full of stuff useful for making nuclear weapons that seem to have disappeared since the war?

Can the Kerry forces keep the focus on this story for another news cycle or two? (Apparently 60 Minutes is looking at it.) And how many more land mines are out there? I don’t believe for a second that the Times cheated on the timing of this story, but I can easily believe that there are lots of reality-basers out there who will pick this week to make public evidence of BushCo malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com