Thursday, November 10, 2005

White Phosphorus

This is ugly, very ugly.

ROME (Reuters) - U.S. forces in Iraq have used incendiary white phosphorus against civilians and a firebomb similar to napalm against military targets, Italian state-run broadcaster RAI reported on Tuesday.

A RAI documentary showed images of bodies recovered after a November 2004 offensive by U.S. troops on the town of Falluja, which it said proved the use of white phosphorus against men, women and children who were burned to the bone.

"I do know that white phosphorus was used," said Jeff Englehart in the RAI documentary, which identified him as a former soldier in the U.S. 1st Infantry Division in Iraq.

The U.S. military says white phosphorus is a conventional weapon and says it does not use any chemical arms.

"Burned bodies. Burned children and burned women," said Englehart, who RAI said had taken part in the Falluja offensive. "White phosphorus kills indiscriminately."

A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said he did not recall white phosphorus being used in Falluja. "I do not recall the use of white phosphorus during the offensive operations in Falluja in the fall of 2004," Lieutenant Colonel Steven Boylan said.

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.
"Suggestions that U.S. forces targeted civilians with these weapons are simply wrong," U.S. Marine Major Tim Keefe said in an e-mail to Reuters. "Had the producers of the documentary bothered to ask us for comment, we would have certainly told them that the premise of the programme was erroneous."

He said U.S. forces do not use any chemical weapons in Iraq.

Oh good, I'd feel terrible if my country was using weapons that melt the skin off children.
I feel much better, what's that you say?
That's right. Not from Al Jazheera, or Al Arabiya, but the US fucking Army, in their very own publication, from the (WARNING: pdf file) March edition of Field Artillery Magazine in an article entitled "The Fight for Fallujah":
"WP [i.e., white phosphorus rounds] proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."

In other words the claim by the US Government that White Phosphorus was used only for illumination at Fallujah had been pre-emptively debunked by the Army. Indeed, the article goes on to make clear that soldiers would have liked to have saved more WP rounds to use for "lethal missions."

Some days I'm proud to be an American.

Other days not so much.

But the latter feeling will pass only when we finally bring the criminal gang currently running this country to justice.

But it's late, I'm tired. And perhaps this will all turn out to be a silly mistake by the time I wake up tomorrow.


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