Kerry Blames Bush for Attacks on 'Our Kids'

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:30 PM EDT

( - Sen. John F. Kerry on Tuesday told American voters that "our kids [U.S. troops] are being shot at from weapons stolen from the ammo dumps that this president didn't think were important enough to guard."

There is no proof that weapons taken from Iraq's al-Qaqaa compound have been used against U.S. troops, although that's the suggestion raised by the New York Times and CBS -- and seized on by the Kerry campaign.

The New York Times reported Monday that 380 tons of high explosives vanished from an Iraq military compound, but other reports say no one has been able to pin down when the HMX and RDX disappeared -- or who took them -- or whether those explosives have in fact been used against U.S. troops.

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirms the explosives were at Iraq's al-Qaqaa compound in January 2003 -- and gone by May 2003. The rest is up in the air -- including questions about whether the explosives were still there when U.S. troops arrived in April 2003.

U.S. troops didn't find the explosives -- but that doesn't mean they weren't there, various media reports said. Those reports note the vast size of the al-Qaqaa complex -- which was just one of many weapons storage sites located throughout Iraq.

NBC News said Tuesday night "it's possible" that Saddam Hussein had the explosives removed and hidden before the war began. Speaking Wednesday on NBC's Today show, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), a Kerry defender, agreed that such a scenario was "possible" -- but not "probable."

The Kerry campaign, as of Wednesday, was framing the story as President Bush's failure to secure the compound -- despite warnings from the IAEA to do so.

NBC's Katie Couric noted on Wednesday morning that the commander of U.S. troops who went to the al-Qaqaa facility right after Baghdad fell "has said he was never even told about the explosives -- or to look for them." (suggesting a U.S. government foul-up).

NBC News also reported Wednesday morning that the Kerry campaign wants to make the story about the "missing explosives/ Bush failures" the issue that everyone is talking about on their way to voting booth.

With that in mind, the Kerry campaign has put together a last-minute political ad:

"The obligation of a commander-in-chief is to keep our country safe," Sen. John F. Kerry says in the ad. "In Iraq, George Bush has overextended our troops and now failed to secure 380 tons of deadly explosives -- the kind used for attacks in Iraq, and for terrorist bombings. His Iraq misjudgments put our soldiers at risk, and make our country less secure. And all he offers is more of the same. As president, I'll bring a fresh start to protect our troops and our nation. I'm John Kerry and I approved this message."

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