Thursday, November 17, 2005

White Heat

White Devils

What is White Phosphorous (WP/Whiskey Pete/Willie Pete)?
Globalsecurity.org article, Wikipedia article

Is it specifically banned by any treaty? No.
Is it banned as a chemical weapon? No.
Is it an incendiary weapon? Yes.
Is it therefore banned by a treaty?

Against combatants? No.
Against non-combatants? Yes! Protocol III of Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons prohibits targeting non-combatants with incediary weapons...but then, that would be a war crime anyway under the Geneva Convention, wouldn't it?
And that is probably an important reason that the US did not sign Protocol III.

Also, Protocol III "restricts the use of incendiary weapons against military targets adjacent to concentrations of civilians, but it only applies to bombs dropped from airplanes, not shells fired by artillery as was done in Fallujeh".

Did the US target non-combatants with WP? Again that BBC article:

Col Venable told the BBC's PM radio program that the US army used white phosphorus incendiary munitions "primarily as obscurants, for smokescreens or target marking in some cases. However it is an incendiary weapon and may be used against enemy combatants." And he said it had been used in Fallujah, but it was a "conventional munition", not a chemical weapon. It is not "outlawed or illegal", Col Venable said. He said US forces could use white phosphorus rounds to flush enemy troops out of covered positions. "The combined effects of the fire and smoke - and in some case the terror brought about by the explosion on the ground - will drive them out of the holes so that you can kill them with high explosives", he said.

San Diego journalist Darrin Mortenson, who was embedded with US marines during the assault on Fallujah, told the BBC's Today radio program he had seen white phosphorous used "as an incendiary weapon" against insurgents. However, he "never saw anybody intentionally use any weapon against civilians", he said.

It is significant to point out here that the battle for Fallujeh is arguably the most photographed and journalistically documented battle in history.

What's the difference between incindiary and chemical weapons?

Chemical weapons kill with their toxic properties, such as nerve agents that kill by preventing the victim from being able to breathe.

Incindiary weapons kill by burning. Naturally, incendiary weapons use chemicals, so do high explosives, but they are not chemical weapons.

But isn't a WP cloud the same thing? No. WP as it is used by the US is not at all like Halabja. Apparently, many people imagine a giant cloud of burning poison gas enveloping a city block. That's not the way it works nor how it is used according to expert reports. For example, a WP cloud would be useless against forces inside a building (WP expert: "If the enemy was inside a building WP would be wholly ineffective as a weapon employed to neutralize/kill him."

What is the origin of the accusation that the US used "outlawed" weapons in Fallujeh (11/04)? Well, the US has been charged with using chemical and biological weapons in every war since Korea. So in a sense, this is an elaboration on a charge now a half-century old. In this case, the charge is ironic since the terrorists in Fallujeh themselves claimed to have munitions armed with chemical weapons that they were going to use against Coalition and ING forces.

- During the Fallujeh operation? According to Globalsecurity.org:

"Qatar-based Internet site Islam Online was one of the first to spread the false chemical weapons claim. On November 10, 2004, it reported that U.S. troops were allegedly using "chemical weapons and poisonous gas" in Fallujah. ("US Troops Reportedly Gassing Fallujah") It sourced this claim to Al-Quds Press, which cited only anonymous sources for its allegation. [...] There is a great deal of misinformation feeding on itself about U.S. forces allegedly using "outlawed" weapons in Fallujah."

- Currently? An Italian communist news channel released a documentary entitled "Fallujeh: The Hidden Massacre".

Who were their experts? What is their evidence? Via Confederate Yankee:

  • Kidnapped Italian journalist for communist daily newspaper Il Manifesto, Guiliana Sgrena gave her opinion and explained inexplicably "that the terrorists who took her hostage for several months did not want videotaped evidence of U.S. atrocities to leak out."
    Uh huh. /sarcasm
    -
  • "Jeff Englehardt former soldier and left-wing political blogger who has been roundly debunked for his erroneous claims about the physical properties of white phosphorus". He "has now apparently retracted his claims...claiming that the Rai film team (that let him go on at length) misquoted him." CY's WP expert calls him "a liar".
    -
  • Mark Manning (deep sea diver), who had "his videotapes of alleged atrocities...stolen before another living soul could view them, apparently by a cash rich street bum with ties to George W. Bush himself."
    -
  • U.S. helicopter video that "has been exposed as fraudulently edited footage taken from another battle entirely."
    -
  • Lots of footage of burned bodies fully clothed and carmelized, and claims that this is proof that the dead were killed by WP. Jeff Englehardt says "It doesn't necessarily burn clothes, but it will burn the skin underneath the clothes."
    This is not true, in fact, the presence of clothing is pretty much a guarantee that they were NOT killed by WP. WP in concentrations that burn skin, will also burn clothes. It will burn through any military protective gear as well. Furthermore, carmelization of the skin is not indicative of WP burns but of dessication in a dry climate.
    source 1, source 2: ("This Italian news story is nothing but a lie")

CY also provides expert testimony on WP and the documentary who was "pleased to announce that it is junk". This is a detailed debunking of the video and testimonial evidence, and I strongly recommend it.

Confederate Yankee is racking up an impressive number of cogent posts debunking Fallujeh: The Hidden Massacre as a careless fraud. Check out this post and the hyperlinked list of posts and the bottom. Also, here here here here here.

Jason at CounterColumn has been whipping the media for their bone-headedness on this issue like a muttawa surrounded by young women in public without a male relative. here here here here here

Mudville Gazette has an excellent timeline of the Fallujeh operation.



White Zombie

Salam Pax (post 1, post 2) has posted about the US Army's discovery of an civilian bomb shelter devoted to Iraqi police abuse, torture, and apparent murder of prisoners. Salam naturally cannot bypass a shot at the US military:

It is slightly ironic that Americans are trying to stop a case of prisoner abuse considering Abu Ghraib and all but I guess they already blocked that memory.

Well, it's not exactly the same thing. US Army personnel reported the Abu Ghraib crimes, the US Army investigated those crimes, and the US Army prosecuted those crimes for three months outside of the spotlight of the media. Then the father of one of the soldiers who thought his precious dumpling wasn't being treated fairly delivered pictures to CBS News (he had previously tried to get leniency for said dumpling by threatening to do so). Not only did this act not help Junior, it guaranteed he would get the maximum for any crime he was found guilty of. No one had to step in and rescue the Abu Ghraib inmates from the US Army.

But, look, I know how Salam Pax feels about this. Okay. Fine. Whatever.

While Salam seems to be taking some righteous pleasure in reporting incontrovertible evidence that the hands of the Shi'a Arabs are not so squeaky clean as with Sunni Arabs, he does at least give the initial skeptics their due:

The Shi'a were always taking the moral high ground and for obvious reasons it is the Sunnis who are always blamed for crying Wolf! Just to distract from the atrocities they commit.

I admire that. Then he moves on venting justified indignation against the perps. They're good posts and good updates on the situation. Check it out.



White Lies

Here is the core of Christopher Hitchens's take on the Milbank and Pincus article in the Washington Post and for the unrealists' penchant for splitting nano-threads in the Iraq debate:

[Milbank & Pincus said:] The October 2002 joint resolution authorized the use of force in Iraq, but it did not directly mention the removal of Hussein from power.

A prize, then, for investigative courage, to Milbank and Pincus. They have identified the same problem, though this time upside down, as that which arose from the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act, during the Clinton-Gore administration, in 1998. That legislation which passed the Senate without a dissenting vote did expressly call for the removal of Saddam Hussein but did not actually mention the use of direct U.S. military force.

Let us suppose, then, that we can find a senator who voted for the 1998 act to remove Saddam Hussein yet did not anticipate that it might entail the use of force, and who later voted for the 2002 resolution and did not appreciate that the authorization of force would entail the removal of Saddam Hussein! Would this senator kindly stand up and take a bow? He or she embodies all the moral and intellectual force of the anti-war movement. And don't be bashful, ladies and gentlemen of the "shocked, shocked" faction, we already know who you are.
[...]
Hans Blix, the see-no-evil expert who had managed to certify Iraq and North Korea as kosher in his time, has said in print that he fully expected a coalition intervention to uncover hidden weaponry.

And this, of course, it actually has done. We did not know and could not know, until after the invasion, of Saddam's plan to buy long-range missiles off the shelf from Pyongyang, or of the centrifuge components buried on the property of his chief scientist, Dr. Mahdi Obeidi. The Duelfer report disclosed large latent facilities that were only waiting for the collapse of sanctions to resume activity. Ah, but that's not what you said you were looking for. Could pedantry be pushed any further?

UPDATE
This one goes in the "About Time" file. The RNC website is hosting
a video on the "The President Lied About Saddam" crowd declaring that war and deposing Saddam was necessary.
Starring Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, etc.

UPDATE
Hammorabi Sam blogs on Bill Clinton's declaration that deposing Saddam in 2003 was a "big mistake".




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