Didn’t you know the second you heard about the missing Iraqi explosives that some anonymous official had been sitting on the story for some time, waiting for just the right moment to strike George W. Bush? You can’t do better than a week before the election.

To their credit, NBC reporters embedded with 101st Airborne are raising questions about the story which first appeared in the New York Times. They say that the 380 tons of lethal explosives were already missing when U.S. troops arrived. Oh, drat–you can’t blame Dubya and Rummy.

The Belmont Club has the relevant footage from NBC posted on its web site:

NBC News: [Reporter Jim] Miklaszewski: “April 10, 2003, only three weeks into the war, NBC News was embedded with troops from the Army’s 101st Airborne as they temporarily take over the Al Qakaa weapons installation south of Baghdad. But these troops never found the nearly 380 tons of some of the most powerful conventional explosives, called HMX and RDX, which is now missing. The U.S. troops did find large stockpiles of more conventional weapons, but no HMX or RDX, so powerful less than a pound brought down Pan Am 103 in 1988, and can be used to trigger a nuclear weapon. In a letter this month, the Iraqi interim government told the International Atomic Energy Agency the high explosives were lost to theft and looting due to lack of security. Critics claim there were simply not enough U.S. troops to guard hundreds of weapons stockpiles, weapons now being used by insurgents and terrorists to wage a guerrilla war in Iraq.” (NBC’s “Nightly News,” 10/25/04)

But then the Belmont Club offers some reflections on what the meaning of the missing explosives:

“[T]he loss of 380 tons of RDX is similar to worrying about a toothache after being diagnosed with AIDS and Ebola. Some 600,000 tons of explosive are said to have been dispersed throughout Iraq prior to the conclusion of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The loss of the RDX is serious, but in the overall scheme of things, one of the least worries. But it provides indirect confirmation of the preemptive dispersal of war materiel by the Saddam regime while the US was trying to negotiate UN permission to topple him for six months, compounded by Turkey’s refusal to allow the 4ID to attack south into the Sunni Triangle.”

Thanks to Lucianne for spotting the Belmont Club post.

A great chronology of the New York Times explosives snafu and other links to the story can be found on N. Z. Bear’s Truth Laid Bear.