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The political wars are getting nasty

MadMom's picture

The political wars are getting nasty (post #42793)

I posted earlier about my John Kerry sign being stolen from my front yard.  I replaced it with two more signs, and also made a $50 donation to the Democratic Party while I was there.  I just walked outside and saw the attached...both signs had been defaced.  While I think it was probably kids, it saddens me to think that children have been raised to think this represents "values."

Edited to re-size photo...see next post.

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
Lily Tomlin

Edited 10/14/2004 6:04 pm ET by MadMom

MadMom's picture

(post #42793, reply #1 of 44)

Okay, here's a smaller version of the photo:


Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
Lily Tomlin

kerry_sign.jpg82.92 KB
Bethany's picture

(post #42793, reply #5 of 44)

They couldn't have thought of something more creative than "Kerry Sucks Balls"??? For God's sake, what is wrong with America's youth?


Famous Last Words: Those are the good kind of mushrooms.


Napoleon, don't be jealous that I've been chatting online with babes all day. Besides, we both know that I'm training to be a cage fighter.

MadMom's picture

(post #42793, reply #6 of 44)

Isn't that disgusting!  Frankly, I would feel better if they had shown some intelligence and creativity. 

Edited to say that at least I'm meeting some of my neighbors.  I put flyers in everyone's mailbox (found out when one of my neighbors called the police that it's a federal offense to do so...told the policeman I'd be sure and call him the next time I get a homeowners' picnic invitation stuck in my mailbox) and one of my neighbors just stopped by to apologize.  She's a Bush supporter, but agrees with me that it was extremely juvenile and simply wrong for someone to do this. 

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
Lily Tomlin

Edited 10/14/2004 8:15 pm ET by MadMom

Glenys's picture

(post #42793, reply #9 of 44)

I guess there's a couple ways to fight back and one would be to write below, "at least he knows what they are" and post it again.  Or get a Bush sign and print "This is the kind of voter who knows what she wants and she's voting for Kerr.  Although you'd probably have to keep both up to make the point.

MadMom's picture

(post #42793, reply #10 of 44)

Love it!  Bush neither has any nor does he know what they are...but he's a good drugstore cowboy!

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
Lily Tomlin

moxie's picture

(post #42793, reply #11 of 44)

It is not a problem only for Bush signs.

"I have always relied on the kindness of strangers." - Blanche Dubois

MadMom's picture

(post #42793, reply #12 of 44)

It's simply wrong and ignorant, regardless of who the candidate is.  People have fought and died for our right to express our opinions, and anyone, whether a Bush or Kerry supporter, who tries to infringe upon that right, is WRONG!

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
Lily Tomlin

moxie's picture

(post #42793, reply #13 of 44)

Absolutely. Wrong whichever side it's happening on. Just pointing out it is happening on both.

"I have always relied on the kindness of strangers." - Blanche Dubois

UncleDunc's picture

(post #42793, reply #20 of 44)

>> Bush neither has any nor does he know what they are...

And you're complaining about the political wars getting nasty? That's really funny. You've been posting these nasty, hateful personal attacks against Bush for as long as I've been reading CooksTalk. What goes around comes around, baby.

ashleyd's picture

(post #42793, reply #21 of 44)

Difference is MadMom's attacks don't cost anything and they don't kill anybody.

“In victory, you deserve <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Champagne, in defeat, you need it.”
Napoleon Bonaparte

Edited 10/20/2004 9:37 am ET by ashleyd

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

TracyK's picture

(post #42793, reply #22 of 44)


Last time I checked, Bush doesn't post here, nor do any members of his immediate family. How people can get personally offended when someone slags off their choice of political candidate is a mystery to me.

That's just bad pigs.

MadMom's picture

(post #42793, reply #23 of 44)

Let me make sure I understand your "what goes around comes around, baby" comment.  Since I obviously have no love lost for our President, I deserve to have people come onto my property and vandalize signs which I paid for?  Or does it mean I should just shut up when my DSIL is sent to Iraq for a war which was based on lies?  What exactly did you mean?

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
Lily Tomlin

UncleDunc's picture

(post #42793, reply #24 of 44)

What I meant, exactly, is if you do nastiness, don't be surprised when nastiness happens to you. Buddhists call it karma. Christians call it the Golden Rule.

SallyBR's picture

(post #42793, reply #25 of 44)

I am shocked by your remarks directed at MadMom.

But, if I go along with your own reasoning, let me cut and paste one (just ONE) of the headlines on yahoo today

U.S. Raids Kill Family of 6 in Rebel-Held Iraqi City

How much "nastiness" should we expect from this one? How about from all the thousands of innocent Iraqis who died so far, so many we don t even know a precise number?

 I guess, because the headline involves a "rebel-held Iraqi City", we just label them "collateral damage" and go on with our "mission"

No, terrorism cannot be fought with weapons, because it only grows stronger the more you hit it with bombs and guns.  This is so obvious that I still cannot understand why Americans still support the actions of this President.



MadMom's picture

(post #42793, reply #28 of 44)

Sally, I heard an excerpt from one of Bush's speeches today that absolutely made me sick at my stomach.  Basically, he was saying that so long as the terrorists are in Iraq shooting at our servicemen and women, they're not over here trying to kill us, so that's a good thing.  I guess he thinks it's okay to send our brave military personnel into a foreign land where we have killed thousands of civilians, so the military will provide easy targets for the terrorists?  Maybe that's why he encouraged the insurgents with his swaggering "bring 'em on" comment...the more of our military they kill, the safer we will be? 

Suppose a foreign power invaded the United States without our making any moves to invade them (although frankly, with our stockpiles of WMD and our penchant for invading countries whenever we don't like them, perhaps this isn't the greatest analogy.)  Still, as an American, I would use whatever means I could to try to fight them...even if they were trying to save me from George W. Bush and install a puppet administration that they thought was better for me.  That does not mean that if the invasion had not taken place, I would be flying about the world, wreaking terror on people.  The logic that this administration uses is so out of touch with reality that it is hard to believe that anyone still believes them, but obviously some, like Uncle Dunc, still do.

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
Lily Tomlin

Lword's picture

(post #42793, reply #30 of 44)

>The logic that this administration uses is so out of touch with reality that it is hard to believe that anyone still believes them

Had to chuckle at this. This administration has redefined a lot of words, like truth and reality. Bush's (pre war) reality is that there won't be any casualties (presumably American) in Iraq as told to Pat Robertson. Hughes denies or obfuscates this.

Inasmuch as all Bush appearances save the "debates" are scripted so much that you can't wear an anti-Bush T-shirt, I really have to wonder why he makes so many saying-the-opposite speech blunders, even in his own crowd. Is there anything this character hasn't flip-flopped on?

"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." Mother Teresa
MadMom's picture

(post #42793, reply #32 of 44)

Did you see the one, I think Jon Stewart ran it last night, where he said, "If I am re-elected, we will NOT have an all-volunteer Army."  He sat there with that $hit-eating grin, waiting for the crowd to erupt into applause, and finally some Joe Six-pack sitting in the audience corrected him.  He looked a bit shocked, restated the sentence, then the audience, relieved that he had finally gotten it right, burst into applause.  I understand you have to sign a loyalty oath to get into one of his speeches.  Supposedly this is for "security" but no other president has ever required it...and if he's made us so safe, why does he need it?

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
Lily Tomlin

Lword's picture

(post #42793, reply #33 of 44)

Darn, I don't get Jon Stewart's channel, but I did hear the clip. Someone today on Air America compared him to a Tourettes (sp?) person who blurts out the truth. That's a slur to the Tourettes people but the point is that perhaps he has an inkling of the truth and only corrects himself with prompting from his sheep. Is there anything he promised four years ago that he has fulfilled? All lies except his tax breaks. Oh, but he lied about those too, didn't he. He said most would go to the middle class. Liar! Why do so many of the religious fanatics approve of lies?


"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." Mother Teresa
MadMom's picture

(post #42793, reply #34 of 44)

The sad thing is that I don't believe his supporters realize they are lies.  The "liberal" media has absolutely failed to call him on them, so people just bumble along, believing what they are told by Karl Rove and the rest of Bush's handlers, and that is that he is a "good Christian, steadfast, keeping us safe, lowering taxes, etc., etc."  Who could disagree?  The problem is that taxes have been drastically lowered for the wealthy and for corporations, and only slightly lowered for the rest of us...while we've faced double digit increases in gas prices, a loss of jobs, and a lack of security because of his bull-headed drive into Iraq without any plan for getting our troops out of there.  He is such a fool to think that just because he would like to install a fundamentalist Christian government in the United States, other countries (particularly those whose citizens are primarily of another religion) just might object to his installing such a government there.  As John Kerry said, Bush doesn't even believe there is a problem, so how can he possibly fix it?

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
Lily Tomlin

Lword's picture

(post #42793, reply #35 of 44)

Excellent points all. Sigh. Now the entire Congress and staff get flu shots and the elderly get to stand (not sit) in lines like a lottery. I guess the administration's policy is to take a lie, any lie, and repeat it ad infinitum, use it to deflect a real question, and sooner or later people will believe it. I am astounded that over half this country STILL "thinks" (I use that term loosely) that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. Talk about stem cells, we need some freakin brain cells.

Kerry in a landslide :)

"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." Mother Teresa
gjander's picture

(post #42793, reply #41 of 44)

Actually, I'd argue the tax breaks were a lie too.  No one's taxes have been lowered, they've just been deferred.  It's kind of like when credit card companies send notices out around Christmas time that you can skip your December payment.  Of course, the balance keeps going up and finance charges are added anyway so they haven't really done you any favors.  Bush has dramatically increased government spending and therefore he has increased your taxes.  You just haven't had to pay them--yet.

Lword's picture

(post #42793, reply #42 of 44)

Oooh, you're right. I haven't heard much about that lately. You can pretty much predict that anything he says is a lie. I think they're scared which is why they are throwing away Democratic registrations all over the country. I forget which state it was, but the absentee ballots didn't have Kerry's name. These neocons are afraid of Americans!


"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." Mother Teresa
MadMom's picture

(post #42793, reply #43 of 44)

I'm a bit confused why people who got a $300 tax refund check thought it was a "gift" from Bush, who turned a surplus into a deficit which will cost our children and their children a ton of about taxes...we're all paying a lot more for our driving, and a lot of people have to pay more for commuting to work, plus all of us are paying more for products because of the cost of delivering items. 

On that note...a recent Molly Ivins column just about sums it up:

It's the little things, folks

Creators Syndicate

Four more years?

Seems like every group and its hamster has put out some kind of dossier on the past four years. Top Bush Lies. One Hundred Mistakes Bush Could Admit To. Best Scandals. Biggest Bush Flip-Flops. Iraq. The Economy. The Environment.

Corporate Pork and Payoffs Galore. Homeland Insecurity. The Deficit. On and on it goes.

But I like to remember the little things, those itty-bitty things that really made it special. Those touches of style. The je ne sais quoi of it all.

Like choosing Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday to announce that his administration would oppose affirmative action in the University of Michigan case, calling it "divisive," "unfair" and "unconstitutional." Classy timing.

Of course, George W. Bush (Andover, Yale, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Harvard Business, three failed oil companies rescued by Daddy's friends, set up by Daddy's friends in baseball and given a huge cut for a tiny investment) never experienced affirmative action in his life. Made it all on his own, pulled himself up by his bootstraps. Black people can do it, too.

Timing is kind of a Bush specialty. In February 2001, the day that a major earthquake hit the Northwest, Bush killed a federal program designed to help communities deal with the effects of natural disasters. Of course, Florida in an election year -- different story.

Remember when he went to visit the rescued miners from Quecreek, Pa.? It was a great photo op. Except the year before, Bush had cut the mine safety budget, halted regulatory improvements and reduced enforcement of safety standards. The Department of Labor stopped work on more than a dozen mine safety regulations from the Clinton years. But hey, Bush was really glad that those nine guys made it out alive. And what a photo op it was.

You probably don't remember the time he visited the Youth Opportunity Center, a job training site in Portland, Ore. Hailed it as a model, praised the center and its staff. A month later, he cut it out of the budget.

Here's one of my faves:

In his big State of the Union address of 2002, Bush said: "A good job should lead to security in retirement. I ask Congress to enact new safeguards for 401(k) and pension plans."

The Bush plan allows companies to switch from traditional fixed-benefit plans to what's called cash-balance plans. It saves corporations millions a year -- in the case of large companies, as much as $100 million. Older workers can lose up to 50 percent of their pensions.

The Bush rules not only permit the conversions -- they also give cash-balance plans a tax advantage, as well as protection from age discrimination lawsuits. It's the perfect Bush plan: Corporations get to bilk workers, and they get a tax break for it -- plus, nobody can sue.

Nobody paid any attention to this one except the beneficiaries, since it was during the Iraq war:

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission -- the one that laid the groundwork for Enron and is supposed to protect investors from abusive practices -- passed three new rules in March 2003. According to The New York Times, the rules "reduce the quality of disclosure required in reports of past performance, increase the opportunity for advisers to put some clients' or their own interest ahead of others and curtail the already lax regulation on operators of hedge funds."

Hedge funds are derivatives on steroids, and the near-collapse of one hedge fund, Long Term Capital Management, nearly caused the financial equivalent of "the China syndrome." Alan Greenspan and Fed officials convinced bankers to join the LTCM rescue effort only when they pointed out that failure would result in "chaos" in financial markets and could damage economic growth worldwide. Less regulation, you bet.

Bait-and-switch is a constant Bush tactic. Right after 9-11, Bush went to ground zero, threw his arm around a firefighter and assured him and other rescue workers that he was with them. It was the photo op seen 'round the world and was endlessly resurrected at the Republican convention.

Except in August 2002, Bush pocket-vetoed $150 million in emergency grants for first-responders. The New York firefighters never got their money.

I have so many other favorite moments. Hilarious promises like $15 billion for AIDS in Africa. Those amusing judicial nominations, so bad that even the spineless Democrats finally had to filibuster. All the precious photo ops with the little children of color just before he squashed some other program to help them.

It's been a ball. But I've had enough.

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
Lily Tomlin

MadMom's picture

(post #42793, reply #44 of 44)

I saw this in the Washington Post, also...and our administration claims we are "safer" under their watchful eye? 

Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished From Site in Iraq

New York Times

This article was reported and written by James Glanz, William J. Broad and David E. Sanger

Baghdad, Iraq - The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives - used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons - are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations.

The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year.

The White House said President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was informed within the past month that the explosives were missing. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed. American officials have never publicly announced the disappearance, but beginning last week they answered questions about it posed by The New York Times and the CBS News program "60 Minutes."

Administration officials said Sunday that the Iraq Survey Group, the C.I.A. task force that searched for unconventional weapons, has been ordered to investigate the disappearance of the explosives.

American weapons experts say their immediate concern is that the explosives could be used in major bombing attacks against American or Iraqi forces: the explosives, mainly HMX and RDX, could produce bombs strong enough to shatter airplanes or tear apart buildings.

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.

The explosives could also be used to trigger a nuclear weapon, which was why international nuclear inspectors had kept a watch on the material, and even sealed and locked some of it. The other components of an atom bomb - the design and the radioactive fuel - are more difficult to obtain.

"This is a high explosives risk, but not necessarily a proliferation risk," one senior Bush administration official said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency publicly warned about the danger of these explosives before the war, and after the invasion it specifically told United States officials about the need to keep the explosives secured, European diplomats said in interviews last week. Administration officials say they cannot explain why the explosives were not safeguarded, beyond the fact that the occupation force was overwhelmed by the amount of munitions they found throughout the country.

A Pentagon spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, said Sunday evening that Saddam Hussein's government "stored weapons in mosques, schools, hospitals and countless other locations," and that the allied forces "have discovered and destroyed perhaps thousands of tons of ordnance of all types." A senior military official noted that HMX and RDX were "available around the world" and not on the nuclear nonproliferation list, even though they are used in the nuclear warheads of many nations.

The Qaqaa facility, about 30 miles south of Baghdad, was well known to American intelligence officials: Mr. Hussein made conventional warheads at the site, and the I.A.E.A. dismantled parts of his nuclear program there in the early 1990's after the Persian Gulf war in 1991. In the prelude to the 2003 invasion, Mr. Bush cited a number of other "dual use" items - including tubes that the administration contended could be converted to use for the nuclear program - as a justification for invading Iraq.

After the invasion, when widespread looting began in Iraq, the international weapons experts grew concerned that the Qaqaa stockpile could fall into unfriendly hands. In May, an internal I.A.E.A. memorandum warned that terrorists might be helping "themselves to the greatest explosives bonanza in history."

Earlier this month, in a letter to the I.A.E.A. in Vienna, a senior official from Iraq's Ministry of Science and Technology wrote that the stockpile disappeared after early April 2003 because of "the theft and looting of the governmental installations due to lack of security."

In an interview with The Times and "60 Minutes" in Baghdad, the minister of science and technology, Rashad M. Omar, confirmed the facts described in the letter. "Yes, they are missing," Dr. Omar said. "We don't know what happened." The I.A.E.A. says it also does not know, and has reported that machine tools that can be used for either nuclear or non-nuclear purposes have also been looted.

Dr. Omar said that after the American-led invasion, the sites containing the explosives were under the control of the Coalition Provisional Authority, an American-led entity that was the highest civilian authority in Iraq until it handed sovereignty of the country over to the interim government on June 28.

"After the collapse of the regime, our liberation, everything was under the coalition forces, under their control," Dr. Omar said. "So probably they can answer this question, what happened to the materials."

Officials in Washington said they had no answers to that question. One senior official noted that the Qaqaa complex where the explosives were stored was listed as a "medium priority" site on the Central Intelligence Agency's list of more than 500 sites that needed to be searched and secured during the invasion. "Should we have gone there? Definitely," said one senior administration official.

In the chaos that followed the invasion, however, many of those sites, even some considered a higher priority, were never secured.

A No Man's Land

Seeing the ruined bunkers at the vast Qaqaa complex today, it is hard to recall that just two years ago it was part of Saddam Hussein's secret military complex. The bunkers are so large that they are reminiscent of pyramids, though with rounded edges and the tops chopped off. Several are blackened and eviscerated as a result of American bombing. Smokestacks rise in the distance.

Today, Al Qaqaa has become a wasteland generally avoided even by the marines in charge of northern Babil Province. Headless bodies are found there. An ammunition dump has been looted, and on Sunday an Iraqi employee of The New York Times who made a furtive visit to the site saw looters tearing out metal fixtures. Bare pipes within the darkened interior of one of the buildings were a tangled mess, zigzagging along charred walls. Someone fired a shot, probably to frighten the visitors off.

"It's like Mars on Earth," said Maj. Dan Whisnant, an intelligence officer for the Second Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment. "It would take probably 10 battalions 10 years to clear that out."

Mr. Hussein's engineers acquired HMX and RDX when they embarked on a crash effort to build an atomic bomb in the late 1980's. It did not go smoothly.

In 1989, a huge blast ripped through Al Qaqaa, the boom reportedly heard hundreds of miles away. The explosion, it was later determined, occurred when a stockpile of the high explosives ignited.

After the Persian Gulf war in 1991, the United Nations discovered Iraq's clandestine effort and put the United Nations arms agency in charge of Al Qaqaa's huge stockpile. Weapon inspectors determined that Iraq had bought the explosives from France, China and Yugoslavia, a European diplomat said.

None of the explosives were destroyed, arms experts familiar with the decision recalled, because Iraq argued that it should be allowed to keep them for eventual use in mining and civilian construction. But Al Qaqaa was still under the authority of the Military Industrial Council, which ran Iraq's sensitive weapons programs and was led for a time by Hussein Kamel, Mr. Hussein's son-in-law. He defected to the West, then returned to Iraq and was immediately killed.

In 1996, the United Nations hauled away some of the HMX and used it to blow up Al Hakam, a vast Iraqi factory for making germ weapons.

The Qaqaa stockpile went unmonitored from late 1998, when United Nations inspectors left Iraq, to late 2002, when they came back. Upon their return, the inspectors discovered that about 35 tons of HMX were missing. The Iraqis said they had used the explosive mainly in civilian programs.

The remaining stockpile was no secret. Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the arms agency, frequently talked about it publicly as he investigated - in late 2002 and early 2003 - the Bush administration's claims that Iraq was secretly renewing its pursuit of nuclear arms. He ordered his weapons inspectors to conduct an inventory, and publicly reported their findings to the Security Council on Jan. 9, 2003.

During the following weeks, the I.A.E.A. repeatedly drew public attention to the explosives. In New York on Feb. 14, nine days after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell presented his arms case to the Security Council, Dr. ElBaradei reported that the agency had found no sign of new atom endeavors but "has continued to investigate the relocation and consumption of the high explosive HMX."

A European diplomat reported that Jacques Baute, head of the arms agency's Iraq nuclear inspection team, warned officials at the United States mission in Vienna about the danger of the nuclear sites and materials once under I.A.E.A. supervision, including Al Qaqaa.

But apparently, little was done. A senior Bush administration official said that during the initial race to Baghdad, American forces "went through the bunkers, but saw no materials bearing the I.A.E.A. seal." It is unclear whether troops ever returned.

By late 2003, diplomats said, arms agency experts had obtained commercial satellite photos of Al Qaqaa showing that two of roughly 10 bunkers that contained HMX appeared to have been leveled by titanic blasts, apparently during the war. They presumed some of the HMX had exploded, but that is unclear.

Other HMX bunkers were untouched. Some were damaged but not devastated. I.A.E.A. experts say they assume that just before the invasion the Iraqis followed their standard practice of moving crucial explosives out of buildings, so they would not be tempting targets. If so, the experts say, the Iraqi must have broken seals from the arms agency on bunker doors and moved most of the HMX to nearby fields, where it would have been lightly camouflaged - and ripe for looting.

But the Bush administration would not allow the agency back into the country to verify the status of the stockpile. In May 2004, Iraqi officials say in interviews, they warned L. Paul Bremer III, the American head of the occupation authority, that Al Qaqaa had probably been looted. It is unclear if that warning was passed anywhere. Efforts to reach Mr. Bremer by telephone were unsuccessful.

But by the spring of 2004, the Americans were preoccupied with the transfer of authority to Iraq, and the insurgency was gaining strength. "It's not an excuse," said one senior administration official. "But a lot of things went by the boards."

Early this month, Dr. ElBaradei put public pressure on the interim Iraqi government to start the process of accounting for nuclear-related materials still ostensibly under I.A.E.A. supervision, including the Qaqaa stockpile.

"Iraq is obliged," he wrote to the president of the Security Council on Oct. 1, "to declare semiannually changes that have occurred or are foreseen."

The agency, Dr. ElBaradei added pointedly, "has received no such notifications or declarations from any state since the agency's inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq in March 2003."

A Lost Stockpile

Two weeks ago, on Oct. 10, Dr. Mohammed J. Abbas of the Iraqi Ministry of Science and Technology wrote a letter to the I.A.E.A. to say the Qaqaa stockpile had been lost. He added that his ministry had judged that an "urgent updating of the registered materials is required."

A chart in his letter listed 341.7 metric tons, about 377 American tons, of HMX, RDX and PETN as missing.

The explosives missing from Al Qaqaa are the strongest and fastest in common use by militaries around the globe. The Iraqi letter identified the vanished stockpile as containing 194.7 metric tons of HMX, which stands for "high melting point explosive," 141.2 metric tons of RDX, which stands for "rapid detonation explosive," among other designations, and 5.8 metric tons of PETN, which stands for "pentaerythritol tetranitrate." The total is roughly 340 metric tons or nearly 380 American tons.

Five days later, on Oct. 15, European diplomats said, the arms agency wrote the United States mission in Vienna to forward the Iraqi letter and ask that the American authorities inform the international coalition in Iraq of the missing explosives.

Dr. ElBaradei, a European diplomat said, is "extremely concerned" about the potentially "devastating consequences" of the vanished stockpile.

Its fate remains unknown. Glenn Earhart, manager of an Army Corps of Engineers program in Huntsville, Ala., that is in charge of rounding up and destroying lost Iraqi munitions, said he and his colleagues knew nothing of the whereabouts of the Qaqaa stockpile.

Administration officials say Iraq was awash in munitions, including other stockpiles of exotic explosives.

"The only reason this stockpile was under seal," said one senior administration official, "is because it was located at Al Qaqaa," where nuclear work had gone on years ago.

As a measure of the size of the stockpile, one large truck can carry about 10 tons, meaning that the missing explosives could fill a fleet of almost 40 trucks.

By weight, these explosives pack far more destructive power than TNT, so armies often use them in shells, bombs, mines, mortars and many types of conventional ordinance.

"HMX and RDX have a lot of shattering power," said Dr. Van Romero, vice president for research at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, or New Mexico Tech, which specializes in explosives.

"Getting a large amount is difficult," he added, because most nations carefully regulate who can buy such explosives, though civilian experts can sometimes get licenses to use them for demolition and mining.

An Immediate Danger

A special property of HMX and RDX lends them to smuggling and terrorism, experts said. While violently energetic when detonated, they are insensitive to shock and physical abuse during handling and transport because of their chemical stability. A hammer blow does nothing. It takes a detonator, like a blasting cap, to release the stored energy.

Experts said the insensitivity made them safer to transport than the millions of unexploded shells, mines and pieces of live ammunition that litter Iraq. And its benign appearance makes it easy to disguise as harmless goods, easily slipped across borders.

"The immediate danger" of the lost stockpile, said an expert who recently led a team that searched Iraq for deadly arms, "is its potential use with insurgents in very small and powerful explosive devices. The other danger is that it can easily move into the terrorist web across the Middle East."

More worrisome to the I.A.E.A. - and to some in Washington - is that HMX and RDX are used in standard nuclear weapons design. In a nuclear implosion weapon, the explosives crush a hollow sphere of uranium or plutonium into a critical mass, initiating the nuclear explosion.

A crude implosion device - like the one that the United States tested in 1945 in the New Mexican desert and then dropped on Nagasaki, Japan - needs about a ton of high explosive to crush the core and start the chain reaction.

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
Lily Tomlin

IanDG's picture

(post #42793, reply #29 of 44)

This is a letter from a serving soldier in Iraq -- taken from David Hackworth's site.

He speaks of a 'Precision' 500lb bomb as having a killing circle of almost half a mile. These are regularly used against targets in residential areas.

MEANCHEF's picture

(post #42793, reply #31 of 44)

We don't call him Uncle Dunce for nothing

UncleDunc's picture

(post #42793, reply #36 of 44)

>> I am shocked by your remarks directed at MadMom.

I am saddened but not surprised by your response. My remarks to MM had nothing to do with the war or with any other policy, or with any substantive issue of any kind. They were directed solely at the political process as a process, distinct from the content or the results of the process.

MadMom's picture

(post #42793, reply #38 of 44)

Didn't look to me as though they were directed at the political process...I sort of thought they were aimed straight at me!

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse.
Lily Tomlin

UncleDunc's picture

(post #42793, reply #40 of 44)

>> ... I sort of thought they were aimed straight at me!

Yes, straight at the way you participate in and react to the political process, not at your position on the issues.

JoanneB17's picture

(post #42793, reply #26 of 44)

Not MM but curious: So someone defacing a political sign on your property is merely expressing free speech?