More al Qaqaa: fibbing is naughty

An alibi based on an inspection the military commander in charge says his unit never performed.

Yes, it turns out there is something worse than losing hundreds of tons of high explosive by failing to secure a known storage site in terrorist-rich environment: Lying about it by making up facts about military operations is worse.

White House officials reasserted yesterday that 380 tons of powerful explosives may have disappeared from a vast Iraqi military complex while Saddam Hussein controlled Iraq, saying a brigade of American soldiers did not find the explosives when they visited the complex on April 10, 2003, the day after Baghdad fell.

But the unit’s commander said in an interview yesterday that his troops had not searched the facility and had merely stopped there for the night on their way to Baghdad.

The commander, Col. Joseph Anderson, of the Second Brigade of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, said he did not learn until this week that the site, known as Al Qaqaa, was considered highly sensitive, or that international inspectors had visited there shortly before the war began in 2003 to inspect explosives that they had tagged during a decade of monitoring.

Got it? The White House claims that the facility had been inspected after theq conquest and that the explosives were misssing then, in an attempt to prove that it wasn’t responsible for losing the HE. But the commander of the unit says his troops never inspected the facility at all, and that in fact he didn’t know it was considered a sensitive site.

Why do I believe Col. Anderson rather than the White House? Not only because of the White House’s past performance, but because if a Colonel flatly contradicts the White House and isn’t telling the truth, his ass is in a sling. Moreover, the White House has now begun to back away, mumbling about a “mystery.”

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: