The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, October 27, 2004  

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses
It's the Incompetence, Stupid!

More than a week ago I opened the pages of The Rittenhouse Review to readers, inviting undecided voter-readers to explain, as I said at the time, "why you have not yet made a decision between Sen. John F. Kerry and President George W. Bush, what issues are most important to you, what you are waiting to hear from the candidates, and anything else that might elucidate your current stance."

So far, there have been no takers, confirming my suspicion that I'm blogging to the converted and the unconvertable.

Time for a change in tactics.

This post is for the converted. Right now we're in the middle of a major scandal, one the mainstream media already has indicated they have grown tired. Think I'm kidding? On CNN today I heard an anchor call Ammogate "the story that won't go away." Too difficult, too complicated, too hard, not horse-racey. You know what? This story won't go away because it shouldn't go away.

Some of you, the converted, may find yourselves embroiled in debates over the significance of Ammogate. For you I offer the full text of a press release from the Kerry-Edwards campaign. It contains every argument you need to know.

For Immediate Release: October 27, 2004

Bush: No Mistakes, All Excuses. The Bush Administration’s Story on the Missing Explosives

Told only 10 days ago:

“We were informed on October 15th. Condi Rice was informed days after that. This is all in the last, what, 10 days now…. I think that this has all happened in a -- just the last few days. We're talking about the last 10 days.” [White House Spokesman Scott McClellan, 10/25/04]

Not a big deal:

“And the first priority, from our standpoint, was to make sure that this wasn't a nuclear proliferation risk, which it is not. These are conventional high explosives that we are talking about… 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 on line to be destroyed. That puts this all -- that puts this all in context.” [McClellan, 10/25/04]

It’s a big deal:

“Q: This is really dangerous, isn't it? ARMITAGE: No fooling. Q: It's a major breach of security. ARMITAGE: Yeah.” [Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, 10/25/04]

“The U.S. . . . takes this matter with great seriousness. It is a matter of concern obviously. . . . So, yes, certainly and it is important to find out as quickly as possible what happened, when it happened and where these explosives are.” [U.N. Ambassador John Danforth, 10/26/04]

Blame the Iraqis:

“The sites now are the responsibility of the Iraqi government to secure . . . the sites now are really -- my understanding, they're the responsibility of the Iraqi forces.” [McClellan, 10/25/04]

Blame our troops:

“Looks to me like somehow the multinational force didn't stay on top of this. . . . We're shocked.” [Armitage, 10/25/04]

“Our military does not know what happened to those munitions . . . the military does not know what happened to those weapons. . . . I think the military doesn't -- the material -- the military doesn't know -- well, because all during that time period there was the time -- that was the time period when they could have. And that's why I said, the military doesn't know what happened to those explosives.” [McClellan, 10/27/04]

“The Department of Defense can talk to you about -- because they did go in and look at this site and look to see whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction there. So you need to talk to Department of Defense, because I think that would clarify that for you and set that record straight. . . . You might want to direct questions like these to the coalition forces and to the Pentagon, who is looking into it.” [McClellan, 10/25/04]

Wasn’t a priority:

“At the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom there were a number of priorities. It was a priority to make sure that the oil fields were secure, so that there wasn't massive destruction of the oil fields, which we thought would occur. It was a priority to get the reconstruction office up and running. It was a priority to secure the various ministries, so that we could get those ministries working on their priorities.” [McClellan, 10/25/04]

Was a high priority:

“Let's talk to the military and ask them where this falls, in terms of the rest of the munitions. It's a high priority, and it has been a high priority.” [McClellan, 10/27/04]

Went missing after the invasion:

“I said that they reported that it went missing sometime after April 9th, 2003. . . . My understanding is that it went missing sometime after April 9th, 2003. So it's looking more back to that period, that period of time.” [McClellan, 10/25/04]

Went missing before the invasion:

“And now we've learned that these munitions may well have been removed by the regime prior to the military forces coming into -- coming into or arriving at the site.” [McClellan, 10/27/04]

“Although clearly, the Iraqi Survey Group investigated hundreds of sites in Iraq looking for weapons and clearly there were people there who believe that in many instances Saddam Hussein took weapons out of weapons sites and put them in – we found them in hospitals, we found them in schools, we found them all across that country, buried in some instances.” [Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 10/26/04]

Probably not looted:

“Q: But what I'm saying is that there are military reports that looters receive at the site, after the invasion. So doesn't that make it more likely that there were looters? MR. McCLELLAN: Well, no, no, who said that?... What's your source?... Show me the source.” [McClellan, 10/27/04]

Possibly looted

“Remember, early on -- during and at the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, there was some looting. Some of it was organized that was going on in the country.” [McClellan, 10/25/04]

Stored in a safe place

“Go back to the museum. Do you remember when the museum – everyone said the museum was looted? . . . It turns out that I talked to a person who’d been to the museum two weeks before the war started and he said it was almost empty at that moment. Clearly, the curators had gone in and taken much of that and put it into a safe place.” [Rumsfeld, 10/26/04]

Iraqi Survey Group looking into it:

“Now, the Pentagon, upon learning of this, directed the multinational forces and the Iraqi survey group to look into this matter, and that's what they are currently doing.” [McClellan, 10/25/04]

“Our military's now investigating a number of possible scenarios, including that the explosives may have been moved before our troops even arrived at the site. This investigation is important and it's ongoing.” [President George W. Bush, 10/28/04]

“I would say that we agree that it's important to ascertain the facts and to find out as quickly as possible what happened with regard to these explosives, and that the multinational force and the Iraq Survey Group are the appropriate bodies to do that, and indeed that they've been looking into the matter since they were instructed to do so by the Pentagon shortly after October 15th when we received the notice from the IAEA.” [State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher, 10/27/04]

Iraqi Survey Group not looking into it:

Charles Duelfer, the head of that unit [Iraqi Survey Group], told CBS News Tuesday that he has not received any orders to go looking for the missing explosives and doesn't think he should. ‘It's hard for me to get that worked up about it,’ said Duelfer, in a phone interview from Baghdad.” [CBS News, 10/27/04]

Bottom Line: We don’t have a clue.

“We don't know the facts.” [McClellan, 10/27/04]

“Q: How did this happen? ARMITAGE: I have no idea.” [Armitage, 10/25/04]

It's your choice: Excuses or leadership.

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