October 25th, 2004


Bush: keeping us safer. Ok, not so much.

There was a great article in the New York Times this morning about how the US was storing high-powered explosives in Iraq. Yes - in Iraq. Oh, and they were sort of, how you say, oh, um, mostly unguarded. And it seems that a little was stolen. Not much, though, just 380 tons.

To give some perspective on what you can do with 380 tons - aka 760,000 pounds, if my math is right:

"The bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 used less than a pound of the same type of material, and larger amounts were apparently used in the bombing of a housing complex in November 2003 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the blasts in a Moscow apartment complex in September 1999 that killed nearly 300 people."

Now, in all fairness, it doesn't take much of any type of explosive to down a normal airplane, as I understand it. But the point is that 380 tons of any explosive is a lot, and of high-powered explosives is a bit crazy. And, while I don't know that it really means much since it's the easiest component to get, these also happen to be the same types of explosives you use to detonate nuclear weapons. Again, I don't want to over-emphasize that, though, since getting the detonating explosive is the (relatively) easy part of building a nuclear device. Having enough money to buy the rest of the stuff from someplace like Iran or Pakistan, say, is a totally different story.

Anyways. Yet another way Bush is making us safer. Oh wait, nevermind, we're actually less safe - that's right. I wonder if any of the US soldiers killed in ‏Iraq, or US citizens killed anywhere in the world in the past couple of years due to terrorism, were killed by any of that material. Sigh.


Update: Here's a great quote:
"One US government official told Nelson, "this is the most likely primary source of the explosives which have been used to blow up Humvees and in all the deadly car bomb attacks since the Occupation began." Another official told him, "this is the stuff the bad guys have been using to kill our troops."
That was found in TPM.


It'll be interesting to see how the next week plays itself out. Now that pretty much every major newspaper has chosen sides and endorsed one of the candidates, will they feel more free to post more cutting, revealing articles about the candidates?

A lot of fuss has been made by both sides about newspapers and the media in general being biased and having to show both sides of the story, which has led to a lot of sloppy, half-assed reporting about the various controversies out there. The media has often failed to give any intelligent analysis, instead merely parroting whatever talking points the various campaigns have to offer and not even bothering to include much "investigating" in their investigative journalism. Odd, that, huh? I guess it's easier to be a coward and just repeat talking points than it is to actually look into the story, analyze the results of your investigation, and report on the outcome.

(I also wonder if the wonderful world of "blogs" and 24/7 news and everything up-to-the-minute have actually ended up hurting us in some ways - there's this constant push to be the first source for any story, and I wonder if they don't often sacrifice the quality of the content for speed. I suspect that they do, on a regular basis, and it's disappointing.)

So the question I have is this - are the kid gloves now off? If they've chosen sides, shown where their bias lies, can they finally just put out actual stories looking into things and accusing one of both candidates of wrong-doing or mistakes or whatever without fear of being branded as (more) biased? If so, the coming week will be an interesting and tumultuous one, I think - I've already seen a bunch of somewhat damning articles just this morning on the Bush administration, and I wonder if they're all coming out now because of that whole "bias" fear.

As always, two good sources:
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/ (talkngptsmemo)
http://www.prospect.org/weblog/ (tapped_xml)