Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Joe Conason at WorkingForChange, on the looting of Iraq's nuclear plants:

According to The Washington Post, a newspaper that fervently supported the war, the Pentagon utterly failed to secure Iraq’s nuclear facilities at Kut and al Tuwaitha. The result has been wholesale looting, with unknown losses of such potentially dangerous radioactive materials as cesium, cobalt and partially enriched uranium. So far, Special Forces detachments have found at least two nuclear caches that were "plundered extensively enough that authorities could not rule out the possibility that deadly materials had been stolen."

Now Mr. Rumsfeld might regard this as yet another stupid question, but wasn’t the purpose of this invasion to secure and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction? The biological and chemical weapons that the Defense Secretary and the President warned us were in Saddam Hussein’s possession have not been found so far. Teams of soldiers and technicians are scouring the countryside in vain, turning up barrels of pesticides and empty tractor-trailers. Looters have recently been seen running in and out of the Iraqi nuclear facilities, and they represent a deadly serious problem. Although the radioactive materials at those sites were useless to construct an atomic bomb, they would be more than adequate for a so-called dirty bomb. In theory, such a primitive weapon could be detonated in a major American city, spreading deadly isotopes over dozens of blocks.

Those boys at the Pentagon are really on the ball. They can keep the Ministry of Oil from being looted but can't keep the really important stuff from disappearing. I guess "important" is all relative.