Army docs question DU

In addition to knowing that 548 soldiers have been killed, 9500+ wounded — many missing arms, legs and eyes — and almost 1000 having been treated for psychiatric problems, military personnel will have to worry about the residual effects of depleted uranium and other chemical poisons they have come into contact with. Medical professionals and researchers as yet have no prognosis of what the future holds for our returning troops, but contact with much lower doses and far less exposure time to DU during Gulf War I has already been blamed for many serious and persistant medical complaints. In what appears to be an effort not to sound alarmist, there is almost a ho-hum attitude in today’s Stars & Stripes’ article which leaves you with the impression that if all the Army forms are correctly filled out by returning troops, there will be nothing to worry about. These statements by Army Col. Allen Kraft, director of force health protection for Europe Regional Medical Command and U.S. Army Europe, furthers the feel-good euphoria. You will note that although data collection is barely in its infancy stage, he already “knows” that cigarette smoking is more dangerous than DU:

    … people need to keep things in perspective. Ingesting particles of depleted uranium certainly isn’t desirable, Kraft said, but he noted that people who smoke do their body more harm. In a place such as Iraq, medical officials are just as concerned about other toxicants, from oil field emissions to lead paint. DU, Kraft said, “is on the low end of the totem pole” of things to worry about. The word ‘radiation’ scares people,” Kraft said, “but you are exposed to [levels of] radiation every time you step outside.”

Even back in May 2003, scientists were already debating the dangers of DU exposure to troops and civilians in Iraqi.

    “Depleted uranium is toxic and carcinogenic and it may well be associated with elevated rates of birth defects in babies born to those exposed to it,” said McDermott, who is a physician. Before the current war, Iraqi doctors were blaming high rates of cancer and birth defects in Basra and other southern cities on U.S. munitions fired 12 years ago — when fighting was concentrated along the southern border with Kuwait. Iraqi officials claim their number of cancer patients has risen 50 percent in 10 years, although complete medical surveys have not been conducted. Some U.S. veterans also blame certain mysterious symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome on DU exposure.… read

The British, in December 2003, were also a bit more open about the potential hazards of DU.

    Depleted uranium shells used by British forces in southern Iraqi battlefields are putting civilians at risk from ‘alarmingly high’ levels of radioactivity. Experts are calling for the water and milk being used by locals in Basra to be monitored after analysis of biological and soil samples from battle zones found ‘the highest number, highest levels and highest concentrations of radioactive source points’ in the Basra suburb of Abu Khasib – the centre of the fiercest battles between UK forces and Saddam loyalists. Readings taken from destroyed Iraqi tanks in Basra reveal radiation levels 2,500 times higher than normal. In the surrounding area researchers recorded radioactivity levels 20 times higher than normal. … read

I sincerely hope our young men and women will not have to pay the ultimate “friendly-fire” price for having served. The sooner we bring them home, the less exposure to DU and other toxins they will have. As for the people of Iraqi who will have to permanently live with this nightmare …

Answer Me!

From this week in, seven questions for the warmongers:

1. What is “harassment & interdiction”?

2. How much mustard gas would it take to level a city?

3. Is any nation on earth safe from the president’s new and improved doctrine of preemption?

4. Why do we send this man $3 billion/year?

5. Is Clifford May really defending democracy?

6. What distinguishes a “hero in error” from an ordinary liar?

7. And, oh yeah, what’s cooking in Afghanistan?

Forget the WMD; Show Me the Shredder

Brendan O’Neill plucks some aged Belgian babies off of bayonets in this outstanding piece on Saddam’s fabled people shredder. Among the story’s propagators who have yet to comment on O’Neill’s article are Glenn Reynolds (see also this) and National Review‘s James S. Robbins, Kathryn Jean Lopez, and Clifford May. I’m sure you’re dying to hear their responses as much as I am, so feel free to send them any questions you might have:,,, Let me know if you strike up any interesting correspondence.

Know Respect, Know Peace

Hedy Epstein, 79, of St. Louis, Missouri is a Holocaust survivor, Holocaust educator and longtime civil rights and peace activist. Her story is featured in the Academy Award winning documentary, “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport.”

    In 1939, I left the village of Kippenheim, Germany, on a Kindertransport – a small group of children allowed to go to England – thus surviving the Holocaust. In December, I went to Israel to honor the memory of my parents, Ella and Hugo Wachenheimer, who did not survive the war against the Jews. At a monument near Jerusalem, I lit candles for my parents and for the other 80,000 Jews deported from France to the death camps. It is impossible to visit Israel these days without being aware of the constant threat posed by terrorists. Suicide bombs kill and maim innocent persons riding in buses or taking a meal in a restaurant. We Jews who survived the Shoah know all too well that the intentional targeting of civilians is illegal and immoral. So I grieve the loss of life in Jerusalem from the suicide bombs.

    But I also grieve the loss of life in Palestine, which occurs almost on a daily basis. So I went to Palestine as a member of the International Solidarity Movement to observe the difficult conditions of daily life under military occupation. It would have been enough to reach out and touch just one Palestinian and place my hand on her shoulder and tell her that I was with her in her pain. But I saw and did much more.

Yes, Ms. Epstein did much more … read here

Hermetically Sealed Conquerors – Iraq

Jen Banbury makes a visit to the Green Zone, headquarters of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.

    Hunkered down in their weird security zone, the Americans who run Iraq have almost no contact with the country or its people.

    Though I can see some of Baghdad’s American-occupied Green Zone from the roof of the house I live in — there, just across the river — the vastness of the enclosure, encased by imported barrier walls, means that to reach the public entrance I must drive a crazy labyrinthine loop through the city. With hundreds of thousands of other cars on the road, all forced to circumvent this American-made fortress, the trip can take 20 minutes to two hours, depending on the vagaries of traffic … read more

Traps of Intervention-Haiti

Renaud Girard of Le Figaro (France) comments on the wisdom of miltary intervention in the crisis in Haiti, a former French colony.

    Before invading a country, it is appropriate to answer several questions. What type of social and political organization is to be established? Will the means (intellectual, financial, military, administrative) for this policy be sufficient? How long will it be necessary to remain in the country? How many soldiers are to be sacrificed? What will be the criteria of success? What level of success must be achieved for retreat to appear morally justified? George W. Bush finds himself in big trouble with the American electorate today for having failed to ask these questions about Iraq a year ago (and for having invoked the false pretext of weapons of mass destruction). … read more