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Contrary to Bush’s spin, 380 tons of explosives matter

Three hundred and eighty tons of high-grade explosives vanished in Iraq. The U.S. government responded by saying the Bush administration was not at fault and downplayed the massive stash of explosives as inconsequential to the big picture.

The explosives likely vanished shortly after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, even though reports by NBC news Monday night at first suggested otherwise.

Press Secretary Scott McClellan said during a press briefing at the White House Monday, “As of mid-September, more than 243,000 tons of munitions have been destroyed since Operation Iraqi Freedom. Coalition forces have cleared and reviewed a total of 10,033 caches of munitions; another nearly 163,000 tons of munitions have been secured and are online to be destroyed. That puts this all — that puts this all in context.”

Apparently the Bush administration is trying to play this down.

To suggest that a stash of 380 tons of high-grade explosives likely falling into enemy hands is inconsequential shows once more how out of touch the Bush administration has become over the past four years.

If the proper method is chosen, far less material can do devastating harm. The Pan Am flight that crashed in Lockerbie, England in 1988, killing 270 people, was the result of a 300-gram bomb.

More recently, the al-Qaida associate who tried to smuggle explosives across the Canadian border to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on New Year’s Eve of 1999 was using the same kind of explosives that vanished in Iraq.

When asked if the United States had enough troops in Iraq to secure such sites, McClellan said, “See, that’s — now you just hit on what I just said a second ago, that the sites now are really — my understanding, they’re the responsibility of the Iraqi forces.”

United States forces never secured the site and the Bush administration claims it is therefore not responsible for the lost explosives. This of course begs the question of why the site was never secured, but rather left to the largely untrained, unequipped Iraqi soldiers.

As the story broke a little more than a week before the election, it is understandable that the Bush administration is not exactly exhilarated that the blunder occurred. But the simple fact is that this is yet another example of bad planning on the part of our government.

In the end, it does not matter if the Bush administration is prepared to accept responsibility or not; the troops stationed in Iraq are likely to see at least some of the explosives turn up in a fashion they’d rather avoid.

It is also questionable how Bush can still claim “America is safer” while such events occur.