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Special Report protects Bush, discredits missing explosives reports.

Reported by Chrish - October 27, 2004 -

A big topic on Fox's Special Report with Brit Hume both yesterday and today (10/25 and 10/26) has been the IAEA report in the New York Times about the 377 tons of explosives missing from the Al Qaqaa weapons storage facility.

The tactic to minimize the damage to their candidate Monday was to compare the relatively small amount lost, a mere 380 tons, to the 400,000 tons already destroyed or waiting to be destroyed. The underlying message is that this is not a freakin' disaster, it's much ado about nothing.
During the "All-Stars" segment, Fred Barnes stated bluntly that the NYT did not give the 380:400,000 perspective, and went on to say they are partisan and support Kerry, clearly. (So do 130+ other newspapers across the country, Fred, some 30 of them which supported Bush in 2000.) He claims that by printing this news story they show news bias against Bush, and concludes that this proves that Kerry is behind in the race. Comment: what convoluted logic!

Today there was a minor shift in tactics. The emphasis was on trying to discredit the story entirely, question it and muddy the issue and take all the focus off (so far still silent) campaigner-in-chief Bush and attack, attack, attack...Kerry, the NYT, and Elbaradei of the IAEA. The liberal media is at it again, according to Fox.

According to Bret Baier's report at the top of the hour Tuesday, "senior Pentagon officials believe but can not prove that Saddam Hussein ordered them removed". He insinuates that we're not even sure the weapons were there when we invaded, and says weapons inspectors did not find them there in May 2003. (Yesterday, Bret Baier reported that the weapons inspectors performed over 2 dozen inspections of the facility, looking for WMDs. If the place was empty, why did they keep going back?)

Later in the show Dana Lewis, who was working for NBC embedded with the Army 101st Airborne in spring of 2003, and who now works for Fox, discussed his experience there. Dana and the 101st were headed north to Baghdad and were orderd to stop and spend the night at Al Qaqaa. He describes coming upon the compound, " this amazing wall that seemed to go on forever, about 10 feet tall, it went on a mile or two; I've never seen such a big compound in Iraq". The 101st was to use the compound as a "pit stop" and they were not ordered to search it. Colonel Joe Anderson, (Henderson?) was frustrated they had to spend the night there because he wanted to get on with their mission to Baghdad.
Brit asked him what he saw there, and Dana said it was a "tremendously large facility, all sorts of bunkers inside, and because we spent 24 hours there" (?? I thought he just said they were spending the night and hauling on to Baghdad) he got to walk around with a cameraman. "Most of the bunkers were locked at that point, you could NOT get inside, some appeared to be hit by airstrikes....some of the concrete was split open and you could see munitions in the bunkers, and at one end of the facility I can remember seeing hangars full of rockets, I've never seen so many rockets in one place..."
Brit asks if Dana had seen any IAEA seals on any bunkers? Dana replies he's had them described to him, and he certainly saw wires and locks, but he doesn't recall ever seeing any IAEA seal, but "it doesn't mean there weren't any of them."

Next he was asked if there was any sign that this facility had been looted prior to his and the 101st's arrival. Short answer, no. It might have been AFTER he was there but had not up until that point. (So, if Bret Baier is correct in Tuesday's assertion that the explosives were not there in May 2003, and they were looted in, say, April, they were stolen and/or black-marketed on our watch. Unless we weren't watching at all, which would be incredibly negligent and incompetent. Pick your poison.)
Then Dana was asked by Brit Hume if it would have been easy to "spirit" away the explosives undetected. (Their estimates of 10 tons to a truckload would necessitate 38 trucks to remove the weapons.) Dana said, in essence, it was not feasible at the time because of the military presence and road closures.

Comment: One has to wonder, it being a known enormous weapons storage facility, if it would have been feasible for SH to"spirit away" the weapons right before we invaded? Wasn't this facility under surveillance? Wouldn't a load-out have been noticed?

Comment: There were more contradictions and confusions in the two days of reports on Special Report, too numerous for me to document right now. What was clear was that Fox's plan for the story is to obfuscate the facts, question and discredit the media reporting it (in this case the NYT), assign ulterior motives to the IAEA, accuse John Kerry of getting it wrong, and deflect all attention from the real issue - the weapons were there, inventoried, tagged by weapons inspectors, and now they're gone. Do you feel safer now?
This is disasterous for a man campaigning on his commander-in-chiefiness and on how well he's conducting the war on terror and the war in Iraq.