The New York Times busily attempts to shore up its sagging reputation by tracking down the commander of the 101st Airborne unit that arrived at the Al Qaqaa weapons bunker in April 2003. Col. Joseph Anderson tells Jim Dwyer and David Sanger that his troops did not inspect the bunkers at Al Qaqaa, but that's no longer the issue:
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 site and had merely stopped there overnight.
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, Al Qaqaa, was considered sensitive, or that international inspectors had visited it before the war began in 2003 to inspect explosives that they had tagged during a decade of monitoring.
First of all, the issue is whether they secured the site and the ingress/egress to it, since the argument from the Times and IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei has been that lax security on the part of Americans led to 380 tons of materiel being looted. Second of all, two contemporaneous reports show that the 3ID had already investigated the Al Qaqaa site and found nothing under IAEA seal. The CBS report the Times' reporting partner on this story makes clear that the 3ID knew that the site had been suspected of WMD production and/or storage; the Fox report confirms the same information and gives even greater detail. Both articles were published on April 4, 2003, six days before Col. Anderson showed up at Al Qaqaa...
It's now clear that Sanger and Dwyer have no clue as to which American military units showed up first at Al Qaqaa, even though the information obviously exists in Lexis-Nexis and probably could be found through Google. Hell, their CBS partners wrote one of the stories, and it still hasn't occured to either to read the earlier reports.
This demonstrates the desperation that the mainstream media CBS and the New York Times in particular feel about the election and their fading impact on it. Journalistic incompetence can't explain all of the elements of this debacle; editors supposedly exist to keep this from happening, but just like Rathergate, the editors appear to be up to their eyeballs in the muck. For instance, 60 Minutes intended to air this bit of yellow journalism two days before the election, interesting timing for a news organization supposedly dedicated to truth. If the danger to America and its military forces is so acute, why wait a full week to report it?
The American media have plenty to answer for at the end of this election cycle. When the Paper of Record and Edward R. Murrow's news organization both reveal themselves as whores for the Democrats, the entire industry that takes their cues from them becomes suspect.
Had to quote almost the whole thing, it's that good and that important. But check out the rest of Captain Ed's blog for more good stuff.