Okay, I know it’s premature, but it is also easy to laud writing and exposé such as this in the Guardian:

How the US let al-Qaida get its hands on an Iraqi weapons factory. Dominic Streatfeild explains how despite expert warnings, the US let al-Qaida buy an arsenal of deadly weapons – then tried to cover it up

In short, US forces failed to secure Qa’qaa, Iraq’s largest and deadliest munitions complex. The IAEA warned them of its extreme hazard prior to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Looted explosives were used for attacks against US and coalition troops. The Bush administration covered all this up in the two weeks before the 2004 election, Al-Qaida took control of the site and promptly murdered hundreds if not thousands of local Iraqis.

Excerpts:

In 1991, following the Iraqi rout in Kuwait, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gained access to Qa’qaa, where they found 145 tonnes of pure RDX and PETN … [and] hundreds of drums of an off-white, crystalline powder. About as highly explosive as high explosive gets, High Melt Explosive (HMX) is used to detonate nuclear warheads. Qa’qaa had nearly 200 tonnes of it. The IAEA moved all the explosives to secure bunkers on the south-west corner of the facility, then closed the doors with tamper-proof seals. And there the 341 tonnes sat for more than a decade.

Two weeks after the start of the war, Jacques Baute, the head of the Iraq nuclear inspection teams, visited the US mission to advise, again, that the weapons sites needed protection. He specifically mentioned Qa’qaa. Just days before the invasion, he told officials, inspectors had inventoried the facility’s HMX, RDX and PETN stores and ensured that the seals were still intact. This kind of materiel, the Frenchman suggested, should be kept out of the hands of looters. There was no reaction.

By 8 May 2003, when the Pentagon’s Exploratory Task Force arrived at Qa’qaa to search for WMDs, all of the PETN, RDX and HMX was gone.

In 2004, al-Qaida established a camp inside the Qa’qaa complex itself. “We had a firing range, like a tunnel. It was used to shoot small-calibre bullets,” says Ali. “It became a training camp for terrorists.”

Anyone entering the facility without permission was killed. Al-Qaida spread horror stories about its activities, intimidating locals into collaborating. An execution room was set up with a makeshift gallows. Yusuf was part of the operation. “We used to kill people in terrible ways, torturing them to give al-Qaida more influence.” Mutilations, murders and decapitations were filmed and copies were distributed around [the local area] Yusifiyah to discourage dissent.

Read the full piece here.

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This catastrophic turn of events began in the first hours of the invasion of Iraq and conituned as the West gawked and applauded the staged toppling of Saddam’s statue.

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