You’ve probably read Josh Marshall’s piece slapping around a claim by Pentagon spokesman
Matt Drudge Larry Di Rita (amplified by NBC) that the 380 tons of errant Iraqi explosives were missing when the 101st Airborne visited Al-Qaqaa on April 10th.
However, yesterday Little Scottie emphatically stated that the explosives were removed sometime after April 9, 2003. He was so sure of that date that he repeated it four times.
Q But you’re saying this is the responsibility of the Iraqi forces. But this was our responsibility until just recently, isn’t that right? Weren’t these — there is some U.S. culpability, as far as —
MR. McCLELLAN: You’re trying — I think you’re taking this out of context of what was going on. This was reported missing after — when the interim government informed that these munitions went missing some time after April 9th of 2003, remember, that was when we were still involved in major military action at that point. And there were a number of important priorities at that point. There were munitions, munition caches spread throughout Iraq. There were — there was a concern that there would be massive refugees fleeing the country. There is concern about the devastation that could occur to the oil fields. There was concern about starvation that could happen for the Iraqi people.
Q Go through the tick-tock one more time. Allawi tells the IAEA about it October 10th and then —
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the Iraqi government told the International Atomic Energy Agency on October 10th that these munitions or these high explosives were missing, because of looting that occurred sometime after April 9th, 2003. And these were subject to — some of these were subject to agency monitoring, and that’s why they informed the IAEA.
Q On the tick-tock, do you know if the missing munitions, if they were looted before or after the handover June 30th? Was this — happened when the coalition was in control or when the Allawi government —
MR. McCLELLAN: No, no. First of all, I said that they reported that it went missing sometime after April 9th, 2003. 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. There were munitions caches spread throughout the country. And so — but these are all issues that are being looked into by the multinational forces and the Iraq Survey Group.
Q But you don’t know yet exactly what —
MR. McCLELLAN: You might want to direct that question to the Pentagon. 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.
This leads us to three possibilities. Larry Di Rita and NBC News are wrong, the White House Press Secretary is wrong, or the Munitions Fairy waived her magic wand and made 380 tons of explosives disappear overnight.