Saddam’s Nuclear Stockpile…
So it turns out the Butcher of Baghdad did have a nuclear weapons program after all. This article, dated 7/5/2008, on MSNBC describes the completed shipment of 550 metric tons of “yellowcake” from Iraq to Canada. How can it be that such a significant quantity of radioactive material existed in Iraq and this is the first I’ve heard of it? After all, Bush’s political clout has been steadily declining since the insurgency began in Iraq–largely because it was assumed no nuclear stockpile was discovered.
Googling “Iraqi yellowcake” nets 152,000 hits, but I scrolled through the first 10 pages and the only major news outlets linked were the MSNBC article referenced above and a Washington Times piece dated 11/19/2008. The rest are bloggers, commenting on the story. Where were the major news outlets on this story? Had this been front page news, I doubt it would have changed the outcome of the election (in this economy, whichever party occupied the White House was bound to be voted out) but one could certainly argue that the burial of this story could only help Obama through the final months of the campaign.
Even though this material had been in Hussein’s possession since the first Gulf War, and even though its existence was known by the UN prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, releasing the story of its existence to the public would have presented President Bush a major PR victory, yet it was kept secret. The storage facility where these massive quantities of nuclear material were guarded by American troops since shortly after the invasion would have been a prime target of the insurgents. With every detail of the war being scrutinized it’s amazing this story never leaked in the 5-year interim. Or is it?
Apparently, the Bush administration was willing to suffer the PR losses in a self-sacrificing effort to protect the rest of the world by not disclosing the existence of this dangerous material. Especially at the peak of the insurgency’s strength, the possibility this material could have fallen into the wrong hands was huge. By not publicizing its existence, keeping it under the radar and out of the news, Bush may well have prevented attacks on the storage compound to capture the material.
Though the material would require refining to convert it to nuclear weapons, the fact that it was out there in terrorist hands would have caused panic enough. If those terrorist used it in a “dirty bomb” the resulting panic would probably be more destructive than the attack, but still the effects of such an attack would have been horrendous. Now that it’s safely in Canada designated for use in energy-producing reactors, the world is protected from a threat that it didn’t even realize existed.
The question is, did Congress know this stash of yellowcake existed? I have to believe they did since the UN knew and the administration knew. If they did, all their grand-standing “Bush-lied” speeches went unchallenged only because the President wanted to protect the free world from the real threat that existed as long as this material remained in Iraq.
We can also chalk this up as another GOP mistake in the campaign since the material was safely out of reach of the terrorists in July of this year–4 months prior to the general election. Why wasn’t every McCain strategist clamoring to bring this up at every rally and every interview? As I said earlier, I doubt it would have won him the election, but allowing this story to be buried only helped Obama. Breaking the silence on the matter before July would have been irresponsible, but silence after the shipment was safely delivered was just idiotic.
Bush acted honorably throughout in this matter and any politician who knowingly misled the public with the “Bush-lied” rhetoric should be ashamed. The threat of Saddam having nuclear weapons may not have been immediate, but it was real.