Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Shake and Bake

Back in November of 2004, Islam Online reported that US forces had used chemical weapons during the assault on Falluja and further claimed that some Fallujah residents had been burnt beyond treatment by poisonous gases. The US government immediately repudiated those charges in a release that, amusingly enough, can be found on a page entitled Identifying Misinformation:
The fighting in Fallujah, Iraq has led to a number of widespread myths including false charges that the United States is using chemical weapons such napalm and poison gas. None of these allegations are true.On November 12, 2004, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a denial of the chemical weapons charge, stating:

"The United States categorically denies the use of chemical weapons at anytime in Iraq, which includes the ongoing Fallujah operation."
And so this story went into hybernation, the western press never bothering to look into it. At least until now. A few days ago, Italian newpaper, La Repubblica, reported that RAI satellite television was going to broadcast evidence that the US Army had used white phosphorous mortars on its attack of Falluja. It also claimed that evidence existed that showed Mark 77 shells dispensing so-called "napalm lite" had been launched against the city.

The US government danced around this and announced that phosphorus shells are not outlawed. Not that they had not used them, mind you, only that WP is not outlawed. Well, this is technically true but its use is governed by international treaty and white phosphorous and napalm are strictly prohibited from being used on human targets. As the Army claims:
U.S. forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes. They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters.
This, too, now appears to be a lie. According the Army's own Field Artillery Magazine , The Fight For Falluja relates that white phosophorous was indeed an effective weapon and was used much more than to simply "illuminate enemy positions":
WP [white phosphorus] 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 [high explosive]. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out.
A psychological weapon, indeed. Watching the skin melt off your body must really fuck with your head.

Not only this, but a report from April, 2004, describes the use of white phosphorous during the battle and its purpose is clearly unrelated to illumination:
Bogert is a mortar team leader who directed his men to fire round after round of high explosives and white phosphorus charges into the city Friday and Saturday, never knowing what the targets were or what damage the resulting explosions caused.
The reports describe the use of white phosphorous, willy pete as its known, as a weapon. The described indiscriminate use of this compound is at serious odds with what the Army initially claimed. And if you want to see the kind of result willy pete has on it victims, well, be warned, it doesn't look like it was a pleasant way to go.

I also have to report that I was rather stunned by some of the quibbling commentary by a mob over at dKos. Mounds of verbiage were dispensed in some half-assed defense of this insanity, much of it arguing, as the Army does, that white phosphorous isn't technically outlawed. Others cautioned light treading on the subject and how it must be just as bad to get shot or shredded by shrapnel. But the topper had to be the nincompoop who was arguing that, well, steel is a chemical so aren't all munitions, therefore, "chemical weapons." What a brain trust over there.

My head hangs heavy at this news. I am torn between disbelief, shock and utter fucking rage, not only at the increasingly exposed behaviour of the White House in deliberately getting into this mess and not just at the behaviour of the US military once they were there, but at the larger inability of this country to recognise what a monumental travesty has been conducted in the name of "freedom and democracy." How much more madness is going to be revealed in the ensuing months? It seems boundless at this point.


Blogger Phillybits said...

Absolutely gruesome. I'm echoing a comment of another Kossack that if I read anymore shit about this WP story tonight, I'm gonna barf.

Trust me...I cringe looking at the images on my own site.

10:11 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...

Yeah, I hear ya. I finally saw that RAI story. Geesuz, what ARE we doing?

Thanks for popping in.

11:14 AM  

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