WMD HUNT UPDATE….Scott Ritter has a disturbing story to tell in the New York Times today. The Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate at Jadariyah was the repository for every Iraqi government record relating to its weapons programs. As such, even if the records there were nothing more than a collection of Iraqi falsifications, it was still a trove of useful information and protecting it should have been a high priority. But according to directorate officials Ritter has talked to, it wasn’t:

On April 8, they say, the buildings were occupied by soldiers from the Army’s Third Infantry Division. For two weeks, the Iraqi scientists and administrators showed up for work but, according to several I have spoken to, no one from the coalition interviewed them or tried to take control of the archive.

Rather, these staff members have told me, after occupying the facility for two weeks, the American soldiers simply withdrew. Soon after, looters entered the facility and ransacked it. Overnight, every computer was stolen, disks and video records were destroyed, and the carefully organized documents were ripped from their binders and either burned or scattered about. According to the former brigadier general, who went back to the building after the mob had gone, some Iraqi scientists did their best to recover and reconstitute what they could, but for the vast majority of the archive the damage was irreversible.

Why was this allowed to happen? Was it deliberate, or was it part of the “untidyness” that Donald Rumsfeld used to brush off questions after the war was over? Ritter doesn’t know and can’t guess, but maybe somebody ought to ask.

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