Tuesday, May 02, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, April 2, 2006 "Where is my son? Where is my son?": Look at this picture. Now look at the grimace on the woman's face. The pieces of paper she is holding read: "Where is my son, O Government? Where is my son?" (Keep reading in “’Lost’ in the system” below) Bring 'em on: The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died in Baghdad, Iraq, on April 28, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV during combat operations. The soldiers were assigned to the 10th Cavalry, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. (CENTCOM] Bring 'em on: The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines, who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Both Marines died April 28 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar province, Iraq. (CENTCOM) [The death of one of these Marines was reported in yesterday's post --- zig] Bring 'em on: Roadside bomb kills U.S. soldier Monday night about 40 miles south of Baghdad in the Sunni-dominated "Triangle of Death." U.S. soldier assigned to the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team dies in Iraq from cardiac arrest. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: American security contractors shot dead an Iraqi ambulance crewman, when they opened fire on his vehicle after a roadside bomb blasted their convoy. Two American civilians were wounded in the incident in north Baghdad, the US military said. Clearly marked with a red crescent symbol, its windows had been shattered by bullets. Bomb hidden in parked minibus explodes in Baghdad's main wholesale market, killing two Iraqis and wounding five. Roadside bomb misses U.S. convoy in Waziriyah, northern Baghdad, but kills an Iraqi pedestrian. Roadside bomb targeting Iraqi police patrol in western Baghdad kills one civilian and wounds another. Bodies of four Iraqi men found on the streets of Kazimiyah, a neighborhood in northern Baghdad. The legs and hands of the men were bound with rope, and each had been shot in the head and chest before being dumped on a street Bodies of more bullet-riddled kidnap victims have found, eight so far Tuesday. In the southern Baghdad neighbourhood of Al-Bayaa, a roadside bomb kills one civilian and wounds four. An official at Yarmouk hospital in Baghdad says its morgue was full after receiving 65 corpses over the past three days of people who mostly died from gunshot wounds. Some others were beheaded. The victims included three schoolteachers who were gunned down in the capital. Two civilians killed and one wounded in two drive-by shootings in two areas of the capital. In Dora, one of the capital's most violent neighborhoods, a roadside bomb wounds three Iraqi soldiers in a convoy. Baqubah: North of Baqouba, gunmen attack a stone quarry, killing the guard and kidnapping the quarry owner's son. Policemen at Baquba's police headquarters say they shot and killed two civilians who were suspected of being car bombers as they approached the headquarters on Monday evening. Two others were wounded. Iraqi private security guard shot dead near Baquba, just north of the capital. West of Baquba, gunmen attack family travelling in a car. One man was killed and two others were wounded in the attack. Yusufiya: Bodies of three people found, tortured and shot dead, in Yusufiya, 15 km (9 miles) south of Baghdad. Ramadi: U.S. and Iraqi forces killed more than 100 insurgents last week in the town of Ramadi in the rebel heartland of Anbar province, the U.S. military said on Tuesday. Two Iraqi soldiers died in the fighting and no Americans were killed, the military said in a written response, confirming a media report. It did not provide more details. Reuters witnesses in Ramadi, 110 km (68 miles) west of Baghdad, said there were heavy clashes last week between U.S. forces and insurgents inside Ramadi but could not independently confirm such a high number of insurgents killed. Major General Abdul-Aziz Mohammed, a spokesman for the Iraqi Defence Ministry, said he was unaware of any major battles in Ramadi recently: "This is the first I have heard of heavy clashes. The security situation in Ramadi has been good," he told a news conference. Two civilians killed and seven wounded during severe clashes between U.S. troops and insurgents, a source in the Ramadi hospital said. Suicide car bomber attacks motorcade of the governor of the restive Iraqi province of Anbar on Tuesday, killing three bodyguards, hospital sources and local residents in the regional capital Ramadi said. A local government official said there was no word on the fate of governor Maamoun Sami Rasheed after the attack in the centre of the city Buhriz: Gunmen kidnap two residents of Buhriz, 35 miles north of Baghdad. Balad (S.W. of): U.S. military says it killed 10 insurgents, including three wearing suicide vests, and wounded another at a house while searching for al Qaeda leaders 40 km (24 miles) southwest of Balad, north of Baghdad. No casualties were reported among U.S. forces. NEWS Two German engineers held hostage in Iraq have been released: "Based on initial information, both men are unharmed and in stable condition," [Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter] Steinmeier said in a statement. Fire erupts in Iraq's Ministry of Oil and badly damages two floors. The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear. Four British soldiers deny charges they forced an Iraqi teenager into a canal where he drowned: If convicted at the court martial, the soldiers would be the first British troops punished for the death of an Iraqi and could face a maximum sentence of life in jail. Karheem, 15, was among a group of four young Iraqis that the soldiers captured as suspected looters while on patrol in Basra in May 2003. On the final day of their tour in Iraq, the soldiers drove the Iraqis in their Warrior armoured vehicle to a bridge outside town and made them swim, prosecutor Orlando Pownall told a seven-man military panel acting as jury. Karheem, an asthmatic who could not so much as tread water, panicked and drowned in swirling currents. The soldiers drove away without doing anything to save him. His body was found near the bridge two days later. Senior Iraqi Defence Ministry official says Iranian forces breached the Iraqi border in Kurdistan twice in the past two weeks, a day after Tehran denied such allegations. REPORTS "In some places they hide the fact that they don't like you. They don't hide it here": A city of about 40,000, Hawijah is nestled in the verdant pastures that straddle the Zab River, about 175 miles north of Baghdad. Its streets are pockmarked with craters from roadside bombs and lined with canals of pungent, green sewage. Graffiti on walls and sidewalks hails the exploits of the group known as Hawijah's Heroes, the local insurgents whose videotaped attacks on U.S. troops are bestsellers in the city's markets. Since the 1st Brigade Combat team arrived six months ago to police the Kirkuk region, 11 of its soldiers have been killed. Ten were assigned to the battalion based in Hawijah. At least 64 of the battalion's soldiers have been wounded, nearly 1 in 10 stationed here. And Hutson, the battalion commander, has had his convoy struck by roadside bombs 10 times, including six times on his own Humvee, a remarkable number for a senior officer. "In some places they hide the fact that they don't like you. They don't hide it here," said Hutson, who stops by his base's medical station periodically for a shot of Toradol to soothe a shoulder injured when his vehicle flipped during one of the attacks. Army Times offers Zarqawi lieutenants captured/killed tally: A slide published by the Defense Department in May 2005 shows 21 senior Zarqawi lieutenants, seven of whom were listed as killed, 13 as captured and only one as "wanted." By August, the special operations source said, JSOC forces had captured or killed "upwards of 200" Zarqawi leaders senior enough to have contact with the man himself. "Can't whip the insurgents? Whip Grannies!": Three years after the start of the Iraq war, one thing New York police do not lack is experience in dealing with protesters - so when they were called to a disturbance at the military recruitment centre in Times Square last October, it sounded like just another routine demonstration. Instead, they found 18 elderly women, many in their 80s and one aged 90, blocking the entrance and demanding to enlist in place of young men. They called themselves Grandmothers Against The War, and after they ignored polite requests to move on, police had no option but to arrest them, making sure the handcuffs weren't too tight, and cart them off - complete with canes and walking frames - to the holding cells. They were finally acquitted yesterday [April 29], after a trial that caught New Yorkers' imagination, even as it seemed to agonise the prosecutors saddled with the job of arguing that the "peace grannies", as they became known, should be jailed. The women are part of a growing network of American anti-war groups made up of senior citizens, including the Raging Grannies of Tucson, Arizona, and Grandmothers for Peace International, who use the positive social stereotype attaching to grandmothers - and the reluctance of the authorities to come down too hard on them - to further their cause. Banners held by sympathisers outside the Manhattan courtroom read "Arrest Bush, Free the Grannies" and "Can't whip the insurgents? Whip Grannies!" "I'm very happy," Joan Wiles, 74, who founded Grandmothers Against The War two years ago, said yesterday. "Our goal was to put the war on trial, and I think we did that. Mission accomplished." Prosecutors insisted that the case was a simple public order matter that should not have been turned into a civil liberties issue. But Mr Siegel was blunt: "Once they decided they were going to put the grannies on trial," he told the Guardian, "I said: 'Look. Let's put the war on trial.'" It was a matter of some frustration for Ms Wile that the women had technically won their case, which was tried without a jury, not on arguments connected to the right to protest, but on whether or not they had been blocking the recruiting-centre door. She refused to be drawn on what other factors might have swayed his decision. "The judge was charming and funny," Ms Wile said. "Whether he was influenced by the fact that we were grandmothers, I couldn't say." COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Bush's hand in the Terror War, as Told by Robert Fisk:
"'Unknown Americans' are provoking civil war" Robert Fisk, UK Independent "The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned." William Butler Yeats; "The Second Coming"
Robert Fisk has pulled the shroud off Bush's Iraq policy and exposed the rotting corpse below. In his latest article "Seen through a Syrian Lens" (UK Independent 4-29-06) Fisk fingers the US as the driving force behind the present "alleged" sectarian violence in Iraq. He's produced information from a trusted "security source" that America is "desperately trying to provoke a civil war around Baghdad in order to reduce its own military casualties". It is a charge we've heard before but never quite as persuasively as from a veteran journalist who his relied on for "getting it right". "I swear to you that we have very good information," Fisk recounts, "One young Iraqi man told us that he was trained by the Americans as a policeman in Baghdad and he spent 70 per cent of his time learning to drive and 30 per cent in weapons training. They said to him: 'Come back in a week.' When he went back, they gave him a mobile phone and told him to drive into a crowded area near a mosque and phone them. He waited in the car but couldn't get the right mobile signal. So he got out of the car to where he received a better signal. Then his car blew up." Americans are sending unsuspecting Iraqis in vehicles to crowded areas, detonating the explosives, and then pinning it on Zarqawi or some other racist invention. Can we believe Fisk? As incredible as it seems, Fisk assures us that he's heard the same story many times from different sources. Again:
"There was another man, trained by the Americans for the police. He too was given a mobile and told to drive to an area where there was a crowd - maybe a protest - and to call them and tell them what was happening. Again, his new mobile was not working. So he went to a landline phone and called the Americans and told them: 'Here I am, in the place you sent me and I can tell you what's happening here.' And at that moment there was a big explosion in his car."
There's been a great deal of speculation on whether the US is directly involved in the massive terror campaign that is sweeping through the Sunni heartland. Max Fuller has made a valuable contribution to the topic in his article "Crying Wolf: Media disinformation and Deaths squads in Occupied Iraq". Fuller has documented CIA involvement in training Iraqi death squads operating in the Interior ministry. So far, there have been at least three separate incidents where occupation forces have been either caught or connected to bombings in Iraq. The most famous of these was an incident in Basra where two British paramilitaries were caught disguised as Arabs with a truck-full of explosives in their vehicle. Panicky British forces destroyed the Basra jail to release the two captured SAS soldiers apparently afraid that their cover would be blown and Blair would be implicated in attacks on civilians. The bombing of the Golden-domed mosque has also produced a number of suspicious leads which point to US involvement. The AFP reported that the bombing "was the work of specialists" and the "placing of explosives must have taken at least 12 hours". The report continues: "Construction Minister Jassem Mohammed Jaafar said, "Holes were dug into the mausoleum's four main pillars and packed with explosives. Then charges were connected together and linked to another charge placed just under the dome. The wires were then linked to a detonator which was triggered at a distance." Clearly the bombing was not carried out by rogue elements in the disparate Iraqi resistance but highly trained saboteurs executing a precision demolition to incite sectarian violence. The blast bears all the hallmarks of an Intelligence agency operation. Eyewitness accounts verify that American troops and Iraqi National Guard were active in the area throughout the night and that their cars could be heard running "the whole night until next morning". People living around the mosque were told "to stay in your shop and don't leave the area". At 6:30 AM the American troops left, just 10 minutes before the bombs went off. So far, there's been no independent investigation of the bombing even though the media has used the incident as proof of the growing sectarian divide. But, perhaps, there is no divide. Perhaps, as Fisk implies Bush is conducting a massive "dirty war" similar to earlier operations in El Salvador and Nicaragua. After all, that's where Negroponte, Cheney and Rumsfeld "cut their teeth" in the intricacies of clandestine warfare; learning the ropes of destabilizing regimes through the "application of extreme violence." The implications of Fisk's article are shocking. The war on terror is the rickety scaffolding upon which the entire Bush presidency rests; there are no other accomplishments or programs. If the present allegations are true, then Bush and his cadres can be placed in the same category as Bin Laden and al Zarqawi; although those "alleged" villains could be just scratchy shreds of celluloid produced in the Pentagon basement. There is no civil war in Iraq; it's all been fabricated to split the country apart. The violence we see is emanating in waves from its ultimate point of origin...1600 Pennsylvania Ave; the epicenter of global terrorism. Fisk's article just punctuates that point. ’Lost’ in the system: The woman [in this post’s opening photo] is looking for her son, one of tens of thousands detained by Iraq's new security forces and "lost" in the system. The three groups who researched what they called "widespread" torture and detainee abuse by US personnel said many abuses were never investigated, or inquiries were often concluded or stalled without further action. This is not the first time we have heard of "disappearances". In fact, Iraqi mothers, sisters, and fathers have complained of their disappeared sons, brothers, fathers, and uncles. The Sunday Times of London cites witnesses who said on Aug. 8, 40 police and Interior Ministry vehicles lined a street in the Iskan neighborhood and escorted masked members of a controversial militia as they rounded up 22 men. The 22 were found later in the desert more than 70 miles from home, blindfolded, bound and dead from one or two gunshots. But the world tells them to shut up. And one misguided professor tells them they would be safer if their country was divided into five sectors. Prof, tell that to this distraught woman, if you please. The top United Nations envoy in Iraq today voiced serious concern over the human rights situation in the war-torn country, including allegations of extra-judicial executions, consistent reports of excessive use of force and mass detentions of people without warrants, and the displacement of populations in security operations... Freedom. Democracy. Liberty. Pluralism. Federalism. Community of nations. International law. Geneva conventions. Waste of paper ... And I still hear from some pitiful souls who say "Hey, it happened under Saddam, so it's okay if it happens now". Gianni Magazzeni said that of the 15,000 people held under Iraqi control, little more than half were under the jurisdiction of the justice ministry.This is the only body with the right to detain suspects for more than 72 hours.But he said thousands were also being detained by the interior ministry and hundreds by the defence ministry, in clear breach of Iraqi law. But this poor woman's words ring louder than any paper written by lawyers, think tanks, and political pundits. Depleted Uranium - Far Worse than 9/11: In 1979, depleted uranium (DU) particles escaped from the National Lead Industries factory near Albany, N.Y.,which was manufacturing DU weapons for the U.S military. The particles traveled 26 miles and were discovered in a laboratory filter by Dr. Leonard Dietz, a nuclear physicist. This discovery led to a shut down of the factory in 1980, for releasing morethan 0.85 pounds of DU dust into the atmosphere every month, and involved a cleanup of contaminated properties costing over 100 million dollars. Imagine a far worse scenario. Terrorists acquire a million pounds of the deadly dust and scatter it in populated areas throughout the U.S. Hundreds of children report symptoms. Many acquire cancer and leukemia, suffering an early and painful death. Huge increases in severe birth defects are reported. Oncologists are overwhelmed. Soccer fields, sand lots and parks, traditional play areas for kids, are no longer safe. People lose their most basic freedom, the ability to go outside and safely breathe. Sounds worse than 9/11? Welcome to Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Jawad Al-Ali (55), director of the Oncology Center at the largest hospital in Basra, Iraq stated, at a recent ( 2003) conference in Japan:
"Two strange phenomena have come about in Basra which I have never seen before. The first is double and triple cancers in one patient. For example, leukemia and cancer of the stomach. We had one patient with 2 cancers - one in his stomach and kidney. Months later, primary cancer was developing in his other kidney--he had three different cancer types. The second is the clustering of cancer in families. We have 58 families here with more than one person affected by cancer. Dr Yasin, a general Surgeon here has two uncles, a sister and cousin affected with cancer. Dr Mazen, another specialist, has six family members suffering from cancer. My wife has nine members of her family with cancer". "Children in particular are susceptible to DU poisoning. They have a much higher absorption rate as their blood is being used to build and nourish their bones and they have a lot of soft tissues. Bone cancer and leukemia used to be diseases affecting them the most, however, cancer of the lymph system which can develop anywhere on the body, and has rarely been seen before the age of 12 is now also common."
(…) As a special advisor to the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and the Iraqi Ministry of Health, Dr. Ahmad Hardan has documented the effects of DU in Iraq between 1991 and 2002.
"American forces admit to using over 300 tons of DU weapons in 1991. The actual figure is closer to 800. This has caused a health crisis that has affected almost a third of a million people. As if that was not enough, America went on and used 200 tons more in Bagdad alone during the recent invasion. I don't know about other parts of Iraq, it will take me years to document that. "In Basra, it took us two years to obtain conclusive proof of what DU does, but we now know what to look for and the results are terrifying."
By far the most devastating effect is on unborn children. Nothing can prepare anyone for the sight of hundreds of preserved fetuses - scarcely human in appearance. Iraq is now seeing babies with terribly foreshortened limbs, with their intestines outside their bodies, with huge bulging tumors where their eyes should be, or with a single eye-like Cyclops, or without eyes, or without limbs, and even without heads. Significantly, some of the defects are almost unknown outside textbooks showing the babies born near A-bomb test sites in the Pacific. Dr. Hardan also states:
"I arranged for a delegation from Japan's Hiroshima Hospital to come and share their expertise in the radiological diseases we are likely to face over time. The delegation told me the Americans had objected and they decided not to come. Similarly, a world famous German cancer specialist agreed to come, only to be told later that he would not be given permission to enter Iraq."
Not only are we poisoning the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, but we are making a concerted effort to keep out specialists from other countries who can help. The U.S. Military doesn't want the rest of the world to find out what we have done. Such relatively swift development of cancers has been reported by doctors in hospitals treating civilians following NATO bombing with DU in Yugoslavia in 1998-1999 and the US military invasion of Iraq using DU for the first time in 1991. Medical experts report that this phenomenon of multiple malignancies from unrelated causes has been unknown until now and is a new syndrome associated with internal DU exposure. Just 467 US personnel were wounded in the three-week Persian Gulf War in 1990-1991. Out of 580,400 soldiers who served in Gulf War I, 11,000 are dead, and by 2000 there were 325,000 on permanent medical disability. This astounding number of disabled vets means that a decade later, 56 percent of those soldiers who served in the first Gulf War now have medical problems. Troops involved in actual combat are not the only servicemen reporting symptoms. Four soldiers from a New York Army National Guard company serving in Iraq are among several members of the same company, the 442nd Military Police, who say they have been battling persistent physical ailments that began last summer in the Iraqi town of Samawah. "I got sick instantly in June," said Staff Sgt. Ray Ramos, a Brooklyn housing cop. "My health kept going downhill with daily headaches, constant numbness in my hands and rashes on my stomach." Dr. Asaf Durakovic, UMRC [Uranium Medical Research Center] founder, and nuclear medicine expert examined and tested nine soldiers from the company says that four "almost certainly" inhaled radioactive dust from exploded American shells manufactured with depleted uranium. Laboratory tests revealed traces of two manmade forms of uranium in urine samples from four of the soldiers. If so, the men - Sgt. Hector Vega, Sgt. Ray Ramos, Sgt. Agustin Matos and Cpl. Anthony Yonnone - are the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict. The 442nd, made up for the most part of New York cops, firefighters and correction officers, is based in Orangeburg, Rockland County. Dispatched to Iraq in Easter of 2003, the unit's members had been providing guard duty for convoys, running jails and training Iraqi police. The entire company is due to return home later this month. "These are amazing results, especially since these soldiers were military police not exposed to the heat of battle," said Dr. Asaf Duracovic, who examined the G.I.s and performed the testing. Dr. Durakovic's UMRC research team also conducted a three-week field trip to Iraq in October of 2003. It collected about 100 samples of substances such as soil, civilian urine and the tissue from the corpses of Iraqi soldiers in 10 cities, including Baghdad, Basra and Najaf. Durakovic said preliminary tests show that the air, soil and water samples contained "hundreds to thousands of times" the normal levels of radiation. "This high level of contamination is because much more depleted uranium was used this year than in (the Gulf War of) 1991," Durakovic told The Japan Times. (…) (NOTE ABOUT DR. DURAKOVIC; First, he was warned to stop his work, then he was fired from his position, then his house was ransacked, and he has also reported receiving death threats. Evidently the U.S. D.O.D is very keen on censoring DU whistle-blowers!) Dr. Durakovic, UMRC research associates Patricia Horan and Leonard Dietz, published a unique study in the August 2002 issue of Military Medicine Medical Journal. The study is believed to be the first to look at inhaled DU among Gulf War veterans, using the ultrasensitive technique of thermal ionization mass spectrometry, which enabled them to easily distinguish between natural uranium and DU. The study, which examined British, Canadian and U.S. veterans, all suffering typical Gulf War Syndrome ailments, found that, nine years after the war, 14 of 27 veterans studied had DU in their urine. DU also was found in the lung and bone of a deceased Gulf War veteran. That no governmental study has been done on inhaled DU "amounts to a massive malpractice," Dietz said in an interview. The Japanese began studying DU effects in the southern Iraq in the summer of 2003. They had a Geiger counter which they watched go off the scale on many occasions. During their visit,a local hospital was treating upwards of 600 children per day, many of which suffered symptoms of internal poisoning by radiation. 600 children per day? How many of these children will get cancer and suffer and early and painful death? "Ingested DU particles can cause up to 1,000 times the damage of an X-ray", said Mary Olson, a nuclear waste specialist and biologist at the Nuclear Information and Resource Service in Washington D.C. It is this difference in particle size as well as the dust's crystalline structure that make the presence of DU dust in the environment such an extreme hazard, and which differentiates its properties from that of the natural uranium dust that is ubiquitous and to which we all are exposed every day, which seldom reaches such a small size. This point is being stressed, as comparing DU particles to much larger natural ones is misleading. The U.S. Military and its supporters regularly quote a Rand Corp. Study which uses the natural uranium inhaled by miners. Particles smaller than 10 microns can access the innermost recesses of lung tissue where they become permanently lodged. Furthermore, if the substance is relatively insoluble, such as the ceramic DU-oxide dust produced from burning DU, it will remain in place for decades, dissolving very slowly into the bloodstream and lymphatic fluids through the course of time. Studies have identified DU in the urine of Gulf War veterans nine years after that conflict, testifying to the permanence of ceramic DU-oxide in the lungs. Thus the effects are far different from natural uranium dust, whose coarse particles are almost entirely excreted by the body within 24 hours. (…) Studies have shown that inhaled nano-particles are far more toxic than micro-sized particles of the same basic chemical composition. British toxicopathologist Vyvyan Howard has reported that the increased toxicity of the nano-particle is due to its size. For example, when mice were exposed to virus-size particles of Teflon (0.13 microns) in a University of Rochester study, there were no ill effects. But when mice were exposed to nano-particles of Teflon for 15 minutes, nearly all the mice died within 4 hours. (…) Based on dissolution and excretion rate data, it is possible to approximate the amount of DU initially inhaled by these veterans. For the handful of veterans studied, this amount averaged 0.34 milligrams. Knowing the specific activity (radiation rate) for DU allows one to determine that the total radiation (alpha, beta and gamma) occurring from DU and its radioactive decay products within their bodies comes to about 26 radiation events every second, or 800 million events each year. At .34 milligrams per dose, there are over 10 trillion doses floating around Iraq and Afghanistan. How many additional deaths are we talking about? In the aftermath of the first Gulf War, the UK Atomic Energy Authority came up with estimates for the potential effects of the DU contamination left by the conflict. It calculated that "this could cause "500,000 potential deaths". This was "a theoretical figure", it stressed, that indicated "a significant problem". (…) The high number of potential deaths was dismissed as "very far from realistic" by a British defense minister, Lord Gilbert. "Since the rounds were fired in the desert, many miles from the nearest village, it is highly unlikely that the local population would have been exposed to any significant amount of respirable oxide," he said. These remarks were made prior to the more recent invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, where DU munitions were used on a larger scale in and near many of the most populated areas. If the amount of DU ordinance used in the first Gulf War was sufficient to cause 500,000 potential deaths, (had it been used near the populated areas), then what of the nearly six times that amount used in operation Iraqi Freedom, which was used in and near the major towns and cities? (…) Dr. Alim Yacoub of Basra University conducted an epidemiological study into incidences of malignancies in children under fifteen years old, in the Basra area (an area bombed with DU during the first Gulf War). They found over the 1990 to 1999 period, there was a 242% rise. That was before the recent invasion. FIELD STUDY RESULTS FROM AFGHANISTAN (…) How widespread and extensive is the exposure [in Afghanistan]? A quote from the UMRC field report reads:
"The UMRC field team was shocked by the breadth of public health impacts coincident with the bombing. Without exception, at every bombsite investigated, people are ill. A significant portion of the civilian population presents symptoms consistent with internal contamination by uranium."
In Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, UMRC lab results indicated high concentrations of NON-DEPLETED URANIUM, with the concentrations being much higher than in DU victims from Iraq. Afghanistan was used as a testing ground for a new generation of "bunker buster" bombs containing high concentrations of other uranium alloys. "A significant portion of the civilian population"? It appears that by going after a handful of terrorists in Afghanistan we have poisoned a huge number of innocent civilians, with a disproportionate number of them being children. (…) According to an October 2004 Dispatch from the Italian Military Health Observatory, a total of 109 Italian soldiers have died thus far due to exposure to depleted uranium. A spokesman at the Military Health Observatory, Domenico Leggiero, states "The total of 109 casualties exceeds the total number of persons dying as a consequence of road accidents. Anyone denying the significance of such data is purely acting out of ill faith, and the truth is that our soldiers are dying out there due to a lack of adequate protection against depleted uranium". Members of the Observatory have petitioned for an urgent hearing "in order to study effective prevention and safeguard measures aimed at reducing the death-toll amongst our serving soldiers". There were only 3,000 Italian soldiers sent to Iraq, and they were there for a short time. The number of 109 represents about 3.6% of the total. If the same percentage of Iraqis get a similar exposure, that would amount to 936,000. As Iraqis are permanently living in the same contaminated environment, their percentage will be higher. (…) Yet the first thing that comes up on Internet searches are these supposed "studies repeatedly showing DU to be harmless." The technique is to approach the story as a debate between government and independent experts in which public interest is stimulated by polarizing the issues rather than telling the scientific and medical truth. The issues are systematically confused and misinformed by government, UN regulatory agencies (WHO, UNEP, IAEA, CDC, DOE, etc) and defense sector (military and the weapons developers and manufacturers). Dr. Yuko Fujita, an assistant professor at Keio University, Japan who examined the effects of radioactivity in Iraq from May to June, 2003, said : "I doubt that Iraq is fabricating data because in fact there are many children suffering from leukemia in hospitals," Fujita said. "As a result of the Iraq war, the situation will be desperate in some five to 10 years." (…) CONCLUSIONS: If terrorists succeeded in spreading something throughout the U.S. that ended up causing hundreds of thousands of cancer cases and birth defects over a period of many years, they would be guilty of a crime against humanity that far surpasses the Sept. 11th attacks in scope and severity. Although not deliberate, with our military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have done just that. If the physical environment is so unsafe and unhealthy that one cannot safely breath, then the outer trappings of democracy have little meaning. At least under Saddam, the Iraqi people could stay healthy and conceive normal children. Few Americans are aware that in getting rid of Saddam, we left something much worse in his place. Mind Games: When the United States launched Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003, Sam Gardiner, a sixty-four-year-old retired Air Force colonel, was a regular on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS, where it was his job to place the day's events in context. As the campaign wore on, and he monitored the press coverage and parsed the public statements of military and administration officials, he at first became uneasy, then deeply concerned. A longtime Defense Department consultant who has taught strategy at three of the military's top war colleges, Gardiner had participated throughout the 1990s in a series of war games that simulated attacks on Iraq. He was familiar with Iraq's military and was therefore surprised to hear officials, such as the Army Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, the deputy director of operations of Central Command's headquarters in Qatar, tell the press of ongoing operations to eliminate "terrorist death squads." The allegation struck Gardiner as odd. Matter-of-fact and precise in their speech, military officers would not typically refer to irregulars as "death squads." More important, as far as Gardiner knew, in 2003, when the invasion began, Iraq had no "terrorist death squads." Gardiner believes that this formulation, which first entered the official vernacular a week after the invasion began, was a skillful execution of a classic propaganda technique known as the "excluded middle." The excluded middle is premised on the idea that people, provided with incomplete but suggestive information, will draw false assumptions - in this case that Saddam Hussein had ties to terrorism and therefore to Al Qaeda (a connection that administration officials actively pushed during the run-up to the war). As Gardiner further analyzed the coverage in the early days of the invasion, he saw what he believed was a pattern of misinformation being fed to the press. There was the report, carried by The Associated Press, CNN, and The New York Times, among many other news outlets, that Iraq was seeking uniforms worn by U.S. and British troops ("identical down to the last detail") so that atrocities carried out on Iraqis by Saddam's Fedayeen could be blamed on the coalition. There was the claim that prisoners of war had been executed by their Iraqi captors, and there was the announced surrender of Iraq's entire Fifty-first Division. Government officials eventually eased off the POW assertion, and the story of the uniforms was never corroborated and soon disappeared. As for the Fifty-first Division, on March 21 a cascade of news stories, citing anonymous British and American military officials, reported its mass surrender. "Hordes of Iraqi soldiers, underfed and overwhelmed, surrendered Friday in the face of a state-of-the-art allied assault," the AP reported. "An entire division gave itself up to the advancing allied forces, U.S. military officials said." Unnamed "officials in Washington" told The Washington Post that the division had been taken "out of the fight for Basra." Days later, however, coalition troops were still clashing with units of the Fifty-first there. And two days after it was reported that General Khaled Saleh al-Hashimi and the 8,000 men under his command had surrendered, the general was interviewed in Basra by Al Jazeera. "I am with my men . . . . We continue to defend the people and riches" of this city, he told the network. Was this the fog of war or was something else at play? Gardiner believes that the story of the Fifty-first's mass capitulation may have been part of a psychological operation, its goal to "broadcast to the other units in Iraq that troops were giving up en masse and very quickly, so there was no reason to resist," he said. "That's a valid psychological operation. But it was directly entered into a press briefing." Gardiner eventually concluded that the flow of misinformation to the press was no accident. It was a well-coordinated campaign, intended not only to confound Iraqi combatants but to shape perceptions of the war back home. Throughout the summer of 2003, Gardiner documented incidents that he saw as information-warfare campaigns directed both at targeted foreign populations and the American public. By the fall, he had collected his analysis into a lengthy treatise, called "Truth from These Podia," which concluded that "the war was handled like a political campaign," in which the emphasis was not on the truth but on the message. As his paper circulated among government and military officials that fall, Gardiner says he received a call at home one night from a spokesman for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He told Gardiner that his conclusions were on target. "But I want you to know," the spokesman added, "that it was civilians who did this." BEYOND IRAQ This century will see the end of the US empire, said Hugo Chavez on Saturday during a rally in Havana, where he highlighted the progress of Latin American integration efforts. Addressing thousands of youth present at a rally, Chavez proclaimed "you will witness the fall of the US empire, since this century will see the birth of our common homeland." Saturday's rally marked the first anniversary of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas agreement (ALBA), a regional integration initiative initiated by President Chavez. "Cuba and Venezuela have jointly promoted ALBA, an effort against the US-led Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement (FTAA)," said Hugo Chavez, as he expressed his government's determination to support Bolivia in its development efforts. The Venezuelan president announced a joint project between La Paz and Venezuela in the oil sector with the setting up of an oil processing plant in Bolivia. QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The occupation is responsible for everything that happens. What happens are the symptoms. The occupation is the disease. The occupation works on division. The issue they are working on now is civil war." --- Eman Khamas, Iraqi journalist, author and human rights advocate quoted by Sarah Meyer, a researcher living in Sussex, UK.


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