: The biggest lesson of our new news world is that news doesn’t end when it’s printed or aired. That’s when it begins. That’s when we hear other evidence and questions and perspective. News takes time.

So deciding to come out with the “missing” explosives story so close to the election borders on the obviously irresponsible, for there is no way that we are going to get perspective, let alone truth, on this in such a short time. So half-truths end up affected the election.

That’s why it was particularly irresponsible for 60 Minutes to plan to release this story two days before the election. But even a week before does not give enough time to figure out what happened and what matters.

Today, we have video showing explosives in the bunkers. We have pictures of trucks at the bunkers. And we have the Washington Post essentially saying that the “missing” explosives are a nonstory because we’ve known that lots of explosions have been missing.

The 377 tons of Iraqi explosives whose reported disappearance has dominated the past few days of presidential campaigning represent only a tiny fraction of the vast quantities of other munitions unaccounted for since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government 18 months ago….

Against that background, this week’s assertions by Sen. John F. Kerry’s campaign about the few hundred tons said to have vanished from Iraq’s Qaqaa facility have struck some defense experts as exaggerated.

“There is something truly absurd about focusing on 377 tons of rather ordinary explosives, regardless of what actually happened at al Qaqaa,” Anthony H. Cordesman, a senior analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in an assessment yesterday. “The munitions at al Qaqaa were at most around 0.06 percent of the total.”

Retired Army Gen. Wayne A. Downing, who served briefly as President Bush’s adviser on counterterrorism and has criticized some aspects of the administration’s performance, said yesterday he considered the missing-explosives issue “bogus.”

The real issue is whether the “insurgency” was adequately anticipated, whether stray weapons would be used against us, and whether we had enough troops. But that’s not a story of one weapons dump. That’s a bigger story that has already been covered.

Again, the real story here is the story of this story.