El Baradei and the Al Qaqaa Affair

by Clifford D. May

I’d all but forgotten this — but Powerline remembered:

El Baradei achieved his greatest renown in connection with the pre-war weapons inspections in Iraq, which he headed on behalf of the IAEA. One particularly discreditable moment in his tenure, which sheds considerable light on El Baradei, requires a walk down memory lane.

You probably don’t remember the Al Qaqaa affair, but it dominated the last days of the 2004 presidential campaign. In a last-ditch effort to pull out the race, John Kerry and the Democrats fabricated a story that was intended to undermine President Bush’s national-security credentials: They claimed that the U.S. Army had failed to secure 377 tons of explosives at a weapons depot near Baghdad (Al Qaqaa) that subsequently disappeared, presumably into the hands of terrorists. The story turned out to be a lie, and the day after the election it was completely forgotten — having failed to serve its purpose — but in the last week before the election, the liberal media gave it all the play they could. The Washington Post reported on October 27, 2004:

The disappearance of nearly 400 tons of explosives in Iraq dominated the presidential race for a third straight day on Wednesday, as Democratic nominee John F. Kerry accused President Bush of evading responsibility and the Republican said Kerry was making unsubstantiated charges.

Kerry, traveling in Iowa, scrapped plans to talk about domestic policy to accuse Bush of trying to cover up the failure to secure the explosives in Iraq. “This is a growing scandal and the American people deserve a full and honest explanation of how it happened and what the president is going to do about it,” Kerry told supporters in Sioux City. Instead, he said, “we’re seeing this White House dodging and bobbing and weaving . . . just as they’ve done each step of the way in our involvement in Iraq.” …

Bush’s remarks produced a furious response from Democrats. In a conference call arranged by the Kerry campaign, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) issued an extraordinary rebuke of the administration. Because of missing explosives, “my kid and a lot of other kids might get their ass over there and get blown up by these because of their civilian incompetence,” he said, his voice rising to a shout.

Campaigning in Florida, Kerry’s running mate, Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), kept the emphasis on the missing explosives.

The whole Al Qaqaa issue was a complete fraud; the explosives, if they ever existed, were gone by the time U.S. forces captured the depot. Once the election was over, not a single moment was wasted by anyone, worrying about the “missing” weapons. But here is the point: who started the Al Qaqaa fraud? Mohammed El Baradei. The Democrats’ claim was based on a letter from the IAEA that was leaked. We noted in 2004:

Clifford May at the NRO corner says that the New York Times story on the missing explosives was ginned up by the IAEA to undermine the administration, which wants to deny IAEA head, the anti-American Mohammed El Baradei, a second term. May relies on this message from an unamed government source:

The Iraqi explosives story is a fraud. These weapons were not there when US troops went to this site in 2003. The IAEA and its head, the anti-American Mohammed El Baradei, leaked a false letter on this issue to the media to embarrass the Bush administration. The US is trying to deny El Baradei a second term and we have been on his case for missing the Libyan nuclear weapons program and for weakness on the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

The combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed El Baradei in control of Egypt would be deadly indeed.