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Friday, October 29, 2004

Pentagon, You don't know JACK!

Weapons Press Briefing as brought to you by Fox News:

First of all, typing – not my forte- 40wpm. I thought I might actually break my TiVo with all the reversing and replaying.

Right before the press conference the Fox News reporter asks: “Who knew we’d be talking about AlQuqaa in the last days leading up to election day?” (Uh, we’ve been watching Bush’s el Ca-Ca throughout this entire campaign.)

One of the other questions Fox News asks has to do with the timing of this report: Exactly who leaked it and why? And was there some political motivation behind that since some of the information was coming from the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) the nuclear (not nu-ku-lar) watchdog affiliated with the United Nations? The Fox News reporter says that ‘some speculate’ the UN is releasing this info because they want to embarrass the Bush Administration. (Like they need the U.N. to do that – He does a pretty good job on his own.)

And the press conference goes a little somethin’ like dis:
Larry DiRita, Pentagon Spokesperson (his actual job is to speak publicly)

There have been, uhh… ("Uhhh" - This will be a main annoyance throughout this briefing just as it is when Bush speaks off the cuff: The use of “uh” in my estimation is a sign that the speaker doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, nor does he believe what he does understand-which is minimal.)

“Uhhh… Recent , uhhh, stories about some information, uh, involving, uh, a particular type of weapons in Iraq, uh, that early reports suggest have been difficult to account for. Um, the early reports, uhh, earlier this week based on information that came to light earlier this month, uh… (Yeah, make sure to emphasize the time frame in the hopes that it makes the report less about what it says and more about when it came out.)

Obviously I don’t have to describe the reaction that people had to these early reports, (Bush’s reaction: “Holy Shit.”) but what is often the case that we have- that we, uh, deal with every day in this department is that early reports often need a lot more information to better understand. (You mean understand it like the White House wants us to?)

It has not been our attempt or, uh, desire to tell a particular story other than to tell the facts that we understand, (Once upon a time, there wasN’T a big, bad cache of weapons…) about this early report about which I think people may have drawn conclusions, absent those facts. (Since when do Republicans worry about facts?) What we’ve tried to do is- eh since this became such an important issue to some, (Actually to most – it’s an important issue to most) uhh, learn more about this. (You mean spin more about this?) and we’ve done that through the course of the last, uh, six or seven days-five or six days- whenever these initial reports surfaced. (Six of one, half dozen of the other…)

Uhh, the initial reports left the impression that there was a particular facility in Iraq that was heavily secured that there was uni- that there was, uh, uh, bunkers at this facility that were themselves inaccessible and that some time after the fall of the Sadaam Hussein regime some question of accountability arose about these facilities. That’s the initial impression left by the reports. (Actually that’s the lingering impression by the video we saw.) What we’ve obviously learned since then, among other things, uhh, is that, for example, the, uh, quantity of explosives of a particular type this, um, uhh, so-called, uhh, RDX, uhh material is actually much different than what was initially reported at that particular facility. On the order of more than a hundred tons difference. (Again – this guy’s job is to speak publicly.)

We’ve learned since the initial reports that there was some apparent movement of, uh, heavy equipment in this facility, uhh, at a time when only Sadaam Hussein was in control of that facility, meaning: after inspectors left the country and before U.S. forces arrived to begin the liberation of the country (Oh, that’s right! You’ve liberated Iraq. How dare we even question this silly RDX thing. Freedom is on the march, and we’re worried about this silly little explosives thing?)

So, we’ve tried to accumulate our understanding. (“Sum up? No, use “accumulate” you’ll sound so much smarter) about this, uhhh, situation. What we’ve also acknowledged, at the time- at- since then is that and what- what- people have become to understand better is that since this, uhh, since the fall of this regime, coalition forces have uncovered, destroyed, or marked for destruction ten-thousand weapons caches spread throughout the country consisting of four hundred-thousand tons, plus or minus, of ammunition of all types (PLUS OR MINUS? Plus or minus what?) The, the ammunition in question consists of a one-thousandth of that. We’ve destroyed, or marked for destruction (You keep saying “marked for destruction,” What the hell does that mean? Like with a Sharpie? And then you'll be back later?) one thousand times more ammunition than the amount of ammunition that has been called into question.

But nonetheless we’ve spent an enormous amount of time in the last week
(in between smearing Kerry and what not…) trying to better understand to this one one-thousanth of, of material that we are aware of, and know about, (I mean don’t you hate it when you’re walking around your house with a pen and you put it somewhere and then you can’t find it, and you walk around the entire house and you just can’t seem to remember where you put it. It’s like that; it’s like a pen as compared to… oh, I don’t know… one thousand pens)

and I caution that there are a lot that we probably don’t know about, (What? Okay, I’ll bet the Administration loves that you just said that.) because this was a country, as the inspectors acknowledged, that was awash in weapons (But no weapons of mass destruction - let’s remember that part, okay?)

So we’ve learned more over time, and we’ve tried as we’ve learned more to produce this information without trying to say that what we have to produce- what we have to discuss is definitive. (Habla Ingles?) We don’t know that anybody can get to the definitive conclusions about this but we’re doing our best for people to understand it. As we’ve learned more (Can you say “Learned more” one more time?) we’ve tried to provide that information to the public through- through- of course through the press corps here. (And through a menacing Dick Cheney speaking through the side of his mouth)

What we have learned in the last day or so is that, um, units arrived at that facility, and we did provide this information, uhhh… Again, uh, uh- a facility, that– uh, the impression of which early, was left that was a facility that was left heavily secured and inaccessible, units arrived there in early April, units of the United States Army, to find-to ehhh- and were met by uh, uh, Iraqi forces inside the complex which was opened. Uh, the Special Republican Guard, uh, Republican Guard and others for whatever purpose were inside the facility before the U.S. forces arrived. (“Whatever purpose”? Who do you think was de-thorning all those rose stems?)

Uhhh, those U.S. forces that did arrive there des-described for you how of- weapons that they had seen throughout the country had been heavily dispersed throughout that country as they moved forward: Again, more facts that have come to light since we’ve applied ourselves to better understanding this initial report , (Donalds a bright kid, Mrs. Rumsfeld, but he needs to apply himself) which appears to have been significantly short of complete. (Do you remember taking an essay test in high school or college and throwing in a bunch of fluffy words to obfuscate the fact that you didn’t know what the hell you were talking about? ‘Significantly short of complete” means “incomplete.”)

Umm, subsequent to understanding U.S. that forces arrived there with Iraqi forces already in place, (carrying roses, of course) we’ve learned that there were, at the request of the U.S., forces that arrived there, some units that were assigned the task of removing some of the weapons that were found at that facility.

Uhh, and-we tried to better understand that. Uhhh, the…what- what I don’t intend to, what I don’t expect anybody will draw from what we’re presenting today is that the weapons we think we identified and destroyed from that facility constitute the universe of weapons that people are concerned about.
(“Universe”? I thought you said it one one-thousandth of four hundred thousand tons.. carry the four…)

It- we believe, it constitutes to some portion of those weapons, we believe that other units later on, uhh, had responsibility, (Responsibility? Did he actually use that exact word? Operation “Shift Blame” at the ready! In ten, nine, eight…) to police weapons of this nature throughout the country and, and went about doing that, and we’re learning more about that and as we learn more about that we’ll provide that information. (oh, the anticipation.)

Uh, but with that kind of summary, (What kind of summary was that again?) what I’d like to do is, is, let uh, Major Austin Pearson, uhh, of the 24th ordinance company 24th whose support group who was in the country during the period in question, who was in the facility during the period in question and who had responsibility for collecting some of these weapons (Pearson, he’s pointing the finger in your direction) of- of interest, to talk a little about how he arrived at that facility, what his responsibilities were, what his actions were, uhhh, and, and again we’ll do our best to provide additional information, uhh… (I’m beginning to think ‘your best” may not be good enough.)

There’ll be more that comes out about this. We know that. We’re learning more (at the same time as Rumsfeld is making it up) Uhh, we have taken this wonderful institution (chuckle) and applied some- no small percentage of it to understanding, uhh, the one one-thousandth of the weapons that we already identified ,b>(with a Sharpie) for destruction, or destroyed, but it’s important that we do that, and we’ve gone about to do that… (For God Sakes, Man - LET THE MAJOR SPEAK!!!)


INTERMISSION. Everybody breathe.


Okay letting Major Pearson speak – big mistake. He rattled off all of his credentials SAPG Maryland…industrial this, 18:00 that… blah, blah “I seen the video,” blah, blah… He makes it clear that he saw the video on TV and noticed the discrepancies and he called the Pentagon and was asked to clarify. He was in Iraq, 24th ordinance company… blah, blah, blah… 3rd infantry division, blah, blah… 24th CSG blah, blah, out of LSA Dogwood, blah, blah, blah …sectors…ammunitions, blah, blah… missions in schools, houses, found hidden munitions…blah, blah… and also says in the middle of it: “Before this, I never heard of AlQaqaa” -blah… (Excuse me?)

Now he points to things and places on a map (sounds like a category on the “50,000 Pyramid” game show.) The map is really detailed, SO easy to see. (What’s that Republican tactic again? Plausible doubt, muddy the waters, bombard them with useless information…)

And lastly Major Pearson says … he understood the weapons were destroyed in a fire in June 2003.

----
Now take back the reigns, Larry!

Before we take a couple of questions, Let me just clarify a couple of points that, uh, give a little bit more, context of what, uh, the Major just said. (Oh, Lord help us.)

The- he thinks his unit removed a couple of hundred- two-hundred and fifty tons of ammunition and, and, it encompasses a variety of ammunition. It encompasses- he has photos, that we’re now-uh-we may provide later - we’re, we’re reviewing those photos, (Shit! I can’t believe I said photos - Fire up that Photoshop, boys!) that reflect the types of uhuhuh- in some cases – the types of ammunition that were – that have been seen on other, uh, (Say it Larry, Say it!!) video that’s has been made available to the public within the last day or two. Uh, large boxes of plastic explosives, those sorts of things, I think commonly referred to by some as RDX by the ordinance handlers themselves.

Uhhh, One of the things that we, I think, we are learning that is, again, we continue to learn more about this, is that the original declaration of, uh, of, some um, uh, a hundred and forty tons of RDX at this particular facility is probably not accurate. And we’re trying to understand this better, and as I said, we’re learning more about what we… are… what we knew at the time and what was in the reports. (And if you learn that those reports say something different, be sure to Ollie North ’em ASAP.)

It was probably, uh, at this particular facility a much smaller number of, of RDX perhaps as low as 3 tons, uhhhh… the Major’s unit pulled, uh, a hundred and- a couple- two hundred and fifty tons of total, uh, equipment out of this facility including a lot of plastic explosives. (Say, I notice when you say a certain number - 100? 200? 250? you kind of ,uh, mess it up. You've done it twice now.)
How much? I don’t think we know. (Then why are we having this damn press conference anyway?) It was a uh, uh, uh, a portion of this kind of things including detonation coordinates- I think- We’ve got some talking points that we’ll provide you, uh some data, some fact sheets, so ehhh- if I- I want to make sure that we’re very clear on a point. (Oh good luck with that, Elmer Fudd.)

There’s, there was some question about ammunition at a particular facility. ("Please don't make me say CaaCaa.") Uhhhhh, the question of those ammunition the, the facts that we’ve learned since then have caused some doubt about the initial report but that’s always the case, (Somehow Bush always seems to find some “facts” that cast doubt on everything negative said about him!) and that’s nobody’s fault, that’s what happens in life. (So forgiving, so UNDERSTANDING) We- ya hear a report and then you go out and try and ful- uh, enrich that report, with knowledge and facts and we’ve tried to do that. (When at first you don't succeed...)

As we’ve gathered these facts, we’ve tried to put them out…uhhh… and people can make their own evaluations. (Really? Thanks for that, because I was sure Bush was going to evaluate it for me, with his new facts and all..) We’ve captured and destroyed, uhhhh, four hundred thousand tons of ammunition of a variety of types, including the types in question. Uhh, the types in question constitute a- quite a small percentage of the total. (I love that 6,000 pounds is a small amount – How many Iraqi civilians or American soldiers can that much poundage kill?)

Some percentage of that total in question was, was, almost certainly, um, (How can something be “almost certain”? Either it’s certain, or it’s not.) removed from bunkers and destroyed by major Pearson’s unit. Uh, there were other units that followed and we’re learning more about that, and as we have more information, (We know, we know: you’ll provide it. Cause this time Bush wants this to be over as soon as possible unlike the 911 Report which he never wanted to get out.) Other units that followed, uh that had the responsibility, task forces that had the responsibility for policing of conventional ordinance, Other units that followed, that had the responsibility of identifying sites of weapons of mass destruction. (That’s it – don’t shift blame – SCATTER IT!)

There’s a perception that I think is unfortunate that’s been left by the initial reports of this, uh, in, uh, weapons, that leave the impression that the military forces there, uhhh, did not have a systematic approach to three priorities: Taking down the regime of Saddam Hussein; Minimizing casualties to U.S. and Coalition forces, and, indeed to Iraqis and identifying and securing weapons throughout that country. (“Unfortunate Perception” : The new movie with Demi Moore from the director of “Indecent Proposal.” - this movie is not yet rated.)

The- uh, and what we have learned since the unfortunate response to the initial report is that as we’ve dealt into this deeper we’ve been able to demonstrate, I think, that, that that planning uh, was- uhh, was, was well-conceived, and it’s being-uh, uh extraordinarily well executed, by forces that are over there ("extraordinarily well executed" - which is the complete opposite of how you’re speaking, by the way.) and with that, I’ll leave it to the Major…

OH. MY GOD.

Can you believe the ineptitude? They wanted to quash this sucker so fast they sent someone out there to try and make sense of nothing. They don’t know anything. They can’t prove anything. They can see a possible slip up- that people may actually listen to, so close to the election and they’re freaking out.
Times the word “initial” was used: 9 Times understand /learn was used: 33. “We’re learning more” is suddenly the new ‘It’s hard work.” Well, I hope it’s going to be hard work to for voters to learn something new about this whole debacle. Times the word 'uh" was uh, uttered: 79 - in less that 10 minutes speaking time.

I’m tired.

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