Saturday, October 30, 2004

Weekend Spin from the Boston Globe

The Boston Globe is attempting some last-minute spin for John Kerry this weekend. Today they relate this piece of old news, that UN weapons inspectors weren't allowed back into Iraq immediately following the fall of Baghdad. But they attempt to connect it to al-Qaqaa.

United Nations weapons inspectors pressed for permission to return to Iraq to help monitor weapons sites on the heels of the US-led invasion but were denied entry by the US-led coalition, according to a former inspector, UN officials, and a letter from the International Atomic Energy Agency obtained by the Globe.

The sites included Al Qaqaa, a sprawling facility about 30 miles south of Baghdad. At least 377 tons of powerful explosives, including the particularly dangerous substance known as HMX, have vanished from that location.

"They wanted to go. They were begging to go," said David Albright, a former weapons inspector who now heads the Institute for Science and International Security and who lobbied in vain for the UN agency in April 2003 to be allowed to resume work in Iraq. "They would have gone to Al Qaqaa and said, 'Here's the HMX. Burn it.' They would have been a driver of efforts to find these things. . . . They would have provided a tremendous service."

Note the way the spin is applied. "The sites included Al Qaqaa . . ." and the quote from Albright, "They would have gone to Al Qaqaa . . ."

Albright also recalls a telephone conversation with an unnamed official that specifically mentioned al-Qaqaa.

Albright said he recalls a phone conversation in May 2003 with a senior IAEA official who wanted to return to Al Qaqaa.

"He talked of the need for inspectors to go back to Iraq because they had an intimate knowledge of Iraqi facilities and felt an obligation to resume monitoring," Albright said. "He then mentioned the explosives at Al Qaqaa in the context of worrying that someone would take it and make truck bombs."

A specific mention by name of one of many weapons facilities, as if al-Qaqaa held some major importance over all the others? That's a pretty convenient recollection. Pardon me if I remain skeptical.

Other than being able to now use the name of a specific facility, there's nothing new about this story. But now that we can put a name on the bogeyman, we can use it to scare the public.


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