Monthly Archives: November 2005

Did the Pentagon admit that White Phosphorus is a chemical weapon?

I’ve discussed the used of White Phosphorus by the U.S. military a few times before. A quick recap:

  1. Military uses White Phosphorus as a weapon in Fallujah
  2. Pentagon denies its use
  3. Pentagon admits its use but says it was only used for illumination
  4. Pentagon admits its use as a weapon but says it is used as an incendiary not as a chemical weapon, they also insist it was only used on enemy combatants. Pentagon maintains that it is not a chemical weapon.
  5. Last week a Pentagon document surfaced which indicates that in regards to Saddam Hussein’s use of White Phosphorus, it was a chemical weapon.

Juan Cole has written about it though he maintains that the Pentagon’s document does not quite qualify as proof that the Pentagon considers WP as a chemical weapon. Read his White Phosphorus Round-up.

In response to Cole documentary filmmaker Gabriele Zamparini over at the Cat’s Dream posts an Open letter to Juan Cole. Here’s an excerpt:

Dear Mr. Cole,
On your website I read: Monbiot accepts journalist and film maker Gabriele Zamparini’s characterization of a US Defense Department document he discovered recording a conversation between Kurdish fighters that spoke of Saddam’s own use of white phosphorus as “a chemical weapon.”
(1)I would like to inform you and your readers that I didn’t make any ‘characterization’. The US DoD’s declassified document is titled “POSSIBLE USE OF PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL”.
The summary of the document reads:
You write:[Cole: As many web commentators have pointed out, this document is not a Pentagon-generated report, but simply a Pentagon record of a third-party conversation. No known Pentagon-generated document issuing from the US military characterizes white phosphorus as a chemical weapon.]
A little weak as a rejection of a declassified document, isn’t it? (By the way, I would like to know who the “many web commentators” are.) The point is not how the Pentagon calls the WP in its own official documents. The point is – as I believe even children have understood by now – that the Pentagon’s officials know perfectly well that the WP can be used as a chemical weapon, since not only did they accept that document, not only did they classify it but, more important, the Pentagon had always refused to admit that WP was used as a weapon in Fallujah or in other parts of Iraq by the US forces.

I read Cole’s blog everyday and have come to respect him. In this case though I think he’s wrong and am somewhat surprised at his interpretation. He seems to be cutting the Pentagon some slack that goes against the factual evidence.

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Bush and Al-Jazeera

Thought I’d post a little round up regarding Bush’s desire to bomb Al-Jazeera.

There’s the original story at the Daily Mirror.

Then there is Booman Tribune’s excellent and very detailed history of the Bush administration’s dealings with Al-Jazeera. It ain’t purdy and it paints a picture in which the Mirror article sure seems realistic.

Next we have Juan Cole’s discussion of Bush the Press Assassin.

Of course the good folks over at Irregular News have also written about it.

Read the above and you’ll have a sense of what’s going on. All I’ll say is, based on their track record I don’t doubt this story. Proof would be great but of course those in power are doing their best to ensure we don’t see the memo so, time will tell. Add it to the ever growing list of fuck-ups and crimes perpetrated by George and Co.

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Potential of solar power

A most viable alternative energy solution – solar power

“Installing solar energy on your roof is one of the most meaningful steps an individual can take to reduce our reliance on foreign sources of energy and help declare energy independence,” EnergyBiz Insider cites Rhone Resch, Solar Energy Industries Association President, as stating. “With the new energy law, solar comes with a more affordable price tag, and more consumers will take a step towards energy independence by choosing solar power.”

“It seems that despite the available sunlight, worldwide solar electricity accounts for only one thousandth of the total electricity supply,” says Silverstein. “The US energy bill, signed into law in August, might prove to be a key motivator in exploiting this, particularly important because key players are primed to take advantage of solar power.”

The good news for solar advocates and solar equipment makers is that public opinion polls are saying that a clean environment is a top priority. Solar power plants have almost no carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxide emissions tied to them. They typically produce power during peak demand when it is most needed and displace coal-and-natural-gas fired units in the process. Green energy participants have successfully marketed these ideas and used them to persuade policymakers to enact progressive measures, such as the tax credit for solar panel installation.

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White House Stolen in 2004

Writing for The Free Press, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman discuss the recent Government Accountability Office report that seems to confirm stolen elections in 2004:

As a legal noose appears to be tightening around the Bush/Cheney/Rove inner circle, a shocking government report shows the floor under the legitimacy of their alleged election to the White House is crumbling.

The latest critical confirmation of key indicators that the election of 2004 was stolen comes in an extremely powerful, penetrating report from the Government Accountability Office that has gotten virtually no mainstream media coverage.

The government’s lead investigative agency is known for its general incorruptibility and its thorough, in-depth analyses. Its concurrence with assertions widely dismissed as “conspiracy theories” adds crucial new weight to the case that Team Bush has no legitimate business being in the White House.

Get it straight from the horse’s mouth: GAO Report

So, why did Kerry give up so quickly? This is not a surprise folks. Many of us wrote about it after the November elections though back then we were dismissed. Funny how those in power and those who support the party in power are so quick to dismiss activists and critics as conspiracy theorists.

Hows about we stop playing games with elections in this so-called “democracy” that is, in truth, nothing of the sort. Folks “democracy” is nothing but a facade that hides the truth which is that since it’s inception the U.S. is owned and operated by a wealthy few. So, Bush or Kerry, Republican or Democrat, the system is not ours, the government is not ours. Conspiracy? You bet.

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US admits it used white phosphorus as a weapon in Iraq

Who’s the terrorist using WMD? Of course many of us knew the denials were a lie. Finally the Pentagon admits the truth. The BBC reports that the US used white phosphorus in Iraq:

US troops used white phosphorus as a weapon in last year’s offensive in the Iraqi city of Falluja, the US has said.

“It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants,” spokesman Lt Col Barry Venable told the BBC – though not against civilians, he said.

The US had earlier said the substance – which can cause burning of the flesh – had been used only for illumination.

BBC defence correspondent Paul Wood says having to retract its denial is a public relations disaster for the US.

Col Venable denied that white phosphorous constituted a banned chemical weapon.

Dahr Jamail, in a story for The Independent quoted civilian witnesses:

“They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud,” he said. He had seen “pieces of these bombs explode into large fires that continued to burn on the skin even after people dumped water on the burns”.

As an unembedded journalist, I spent hours talking to residents forced out of the city. A doctor from Fallujah working in Saqlawiyah, on the outskirts of Fallujah, described treating victims during the siege “who had their skin melted”.

You can read more at The Independent: The fog of war: white phosphorus, Fallujah and some burning questions.

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White Phosphorus: Military lies, media omissions

Jonathan over at Irregular Times also takes note that the U.S. media is avoiding the White Phosphorus story. I’ve it mentioned on CNN today though as expected it is given the usual spin by spinboy Blitzer. Amazing how they can frame a story is it not? CNN, the Cleaned-up News Network. Nothing dirty going on here, no sir!

Jonathan also takes note of The Effects of White Phosphorus, correctly suggesting that it is indeed a chemical weapon. As the BBC reports:

“If particles of ignited white phosphorus land on a person’s skin, they can continue to burn right through flesh to the bone. Toxic phosphoric acid can also be released into wounds, risking phosphorus poisoning.

Skin burns must be immersed in water or covered with wet cloths to prevent re-combustion until the particles can be removed.

Exposure to white phosphorus smoke in the air can also cause liver, kidney, heart, lung or bone damage and even death.

Sure sounds like a chemical weapon to me. White Phosphorus is a chemical substance that interacts chemically with the human body. It burns the skin and flesh, if inhaled it chemically burns the lungs and other internal organs. In what world, what language, can this weapon be defined as conventional?

As to the assertion that this is legal as long as the weapon is targeted at enemy combatants and not used indiscriminately, I would like to see proof that the military is telling the truth. Proof and I’d like it to be verified by parties outside of the U.S. government. Further, I’d like to see proof that not a single civilian was murdered by white phosphorus. See the problem with the government’s very specific and careful use of language is that they are not so specific and careful with the actual application of weaponry. No, the military may not target civilians with white phosphorus but you can bet your ass that many of those that endured the agony of this chemical weapon during their last moments of life were indeed civilans.

The web of lies and omissions is never ending and I see no reason at this point to believe anything put forth by the military or the administration.

I’m never surprised by the government’s lies and the complicity of the media in reporting those lies. One might even say that it is the real function of the media is to lie and that it has become nothing more than a mouthpiece of government. Of course there are excellent examples of non-corporate media that function critically and which do so regardless of who is in power. It’s increasingly obvious that independent internet news sites and blogs are filling in the void of information with a more complete version of the “truth”.

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Of Torture and Dictatorship

Jonathan over at Irregular Times has been doing a fantastic job keeping on top of the Senate’s support of torture and dictatorship. Welcome to the New America. Pentagon Bans Torture, Torture to Continue

Conspicuously, the ban on torture does not apply to agents of the American government who work with the Pentagon. The CIA, for example, is exempt from the new ban.

Funny, isn’t it, how President Bush and Vice President Cheney have specifically requested Congress to exempt the CIA from any ban on torture. Why, it’s as if the CIA is already torturing people, isn’t it?

As luck would have it, it is already against the law for any member of the United States government to conduct or order others to conduct torture. There is an American law that makes it illegal for the President to violate the terms of the Geneva Conventions. The new torture ban passed by the Senate and under consideration by the House of Representatives is merely a reiteration. It’s a very useful reiteration of America’s values, but legally speaking, it is not necessary. Torture is already banned.

So, if President Bush knows that the CIA is torturing prisoners, and he’s trying to protect the CIA’s ability to do so, then President Bush is breaking the law. He’s not just breaking any little old law either. He’s breaking federal law, and committing war crimes. That plainly fits into the category of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Republican Senate blocks torture investigation:

You probably didn’t read about it in your newspaper, which spent more space on the season’s new television shows that what was going on up on Capitol Hill. You certainly didn’t see it on Fox News. You probably didn’t get even a whiff of it even on NPR, and it’s hard to find out on the blogosphere.

Yet, two days ago, an historic vote was held on the floor of the United States Senate – and the Senate’s Republicans chose to keep America’s eyes clenched shut.

Senator Carl Levin offered a simple amendment (S.Amdt. 2430) that all America should be able to rally around: To create a commission to investigate the policies and practices in Bush’s system of secret prisons. Was abuse taking place in these secret prisons? Was torture occurring? Senator Levin’s commission would have investigated these important questions.

Of course, George W. Bush says that no torture has taken place, but what evidence has he produced? None, just his word. We all know how much that’s worth. In the meantime, a mountain of evidence has accumulated, all suggesting that a worldwide system of torture prison has been established by the Bush Administration.

We deserve the truth. America needs a commission to uncover the whole truth on what happens in these prisons. Yet, Carl Levin’s amendment to create such a commission was voted down by the Senate Republicans. Not a single Republican voted in favor of the commission. No, not even Senator John McCain.

Lindsey Graham Puts Donald Rumsfeld Beyond the Law

Yesterday, Lindsey Graham successfully introduced an amendment to add the following text to the Defense Authorization Act.

Consider now, what this legislation does:

1. It removes the power of the courts to hear a writ of habeas corpus from any non-citizen who is held prisoner by the Secretary of Defense. That means that no court will have the power to determine the identities of people being held prisoner by the Secretary of Defense, where they are being held prisoner, and why they are being held prisoner.

2. It removes the power of the courts to make any ruling on any aspect of any prisoner’s detention. This includes torture.

3. It makes the changes retroactive. That means that even if torture was done two years ago, the amendment takes away the power of the courts to do anything about it.

In effect, this legislation gives the Secretary of Defense the power to commit war crimes without fear of ever having anyone stop him. In effect, this legislation puts the Secretary of Defense beyond the law. By putting the Secretary of Defense beyond the law, it gives the President of the United States a means to act beyond the reach of the law as well.

Having a President to whom the rule of law does not apply is the definition of a dictatorship. 229 years ago, the 13 American colonies began a revolt against the British monarchy so that the people of America could live in liberty. One of the liberties we gained was freedom from arbitrary imprisonment.

With the passage of Senator Graham’s amendment to the Defense Authorization Act, the United States Senate has undone the American Revolution of 1776. Once the Defense Authorization Act passes Congress, we might as well be the subjects of Queen Elizabeth II.

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Peak Oil round up

Seems that the reality of peak oil continues to seep into the media and of course this is good news though I’m fairly certain this is far too little, too late. In terms of our coming energy crisis and the interconnected problem of climate change, we’ve already passed the point of prevention. We ignored the early symptoms and many continue to ignore even the more obvious signs. At least those of us in the U.S., well, the majority have taken the position that our life style in not negotiable. It’s an arrogance that will see us crying when nature dictates reality to us… in fact, it’s already happening.

John Dillin, writting for the The Christian Science Monitor, asks:
How soon will world’s oil supplies peak?:

The question provokes hot debate among experts, as concerns rise that America isn’t prepared for a dropoff.

WASHINGTON – If world crude-oil production hits its peak and then falls within the next five to 10 years, would America be ready? The answer is, almost certainly not.

A debate unlike anything seen since the oil embargoes of the 1970s has erupted over the future of world petroleum supplies. A chorus of experts claims that the peak in production may be approaching, and that the impact of a peak and subsequent dropoff would be devastating to the world’s economies. Others insist that moment is still distant.

Over at Orion Magazine Bill McKibben discusses Peak Oil:

Mad Max Meets American Gothic: Is there a friendlier option for the post-peak future?

Can you feel the mood shifting? I can. A year of spiking speculation about peak oil and the death of suburbia has rattled lots of Americans. Plenty of people suddenly feel that real, civilization-shaking change might be around the next corner. And plenty of them also feel frozen in the headlights, unsure what, if anything, to do about it. Other than wait.

It reminds me a little of the very early days in the fight over global warming. Appalled at the forecasts of global destruction, some of us demanded immediate and strong action–high taxes on carbon emissions, for instance, and never mind the pain. Others — more moderate or more politically realistic — advocated a suite of what they called “no regrets” policies. They suggested, say, gradual rises in gas mileage, higher efficiency standards for appliances. Even if climate change proved to be overblown hooey, they pointed out, such rational and easy measures would still save us money, reduce conventional pollution, and so on. These steps were like taking out a modest amount of insurance; whatever happened we’d have no regrets about having adopted them.

In actual fact, of course, we took neither the urgent nor the more relaxed steps. Instead we bought Ford Explorers. Now everything that was frozen is melting and soon we will have … regrets.

Amanda Griscom Little, writing for Grist Magazine and posted at Alternet, interviews Matthew Simmons about energy supply and peak oil: Twilight of the Oil Age:

Peak-oil provocateur and energy insider Matthew Simmons is staking his entire career on his prediction that the world is running out of oil.

Matthew Simmons has been stirring up a lot of angst in energy circles this year. This well-connected industry insider has concluded that some of the world’s largest oil beds may be on the verge of production collapse — and he’s willing to bet his much-vaunted career on it.

Author of the recently published Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, Simmons is founder of Simmons & Company International, an investment bank that handles mergers and acquisitions among energy companies, and counts among its clients Halliburton, General Electric, and the World Bank. A graduate of the Harvard Business School, he served as an energy-policy adviser to the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign.

Let’s start with a brief overview of the premise and implications of Twilight.
I believe we are either at or very close to peak oil. If I’m right, then we have to assume that five or 10 years from now we’ll be producing less oil than we are today. And yet we have a society that is expecting, under the most conservative assumptions, that oil usage will grow by at least 30 to 50 percent over the next 25 years. In other words, we would end up with only 70 percent of the oil we have today when we would need to have 150 percent. It’s a problem of staggering economic proportions — far greater than the temporary setback of a terrorist attack on energy infrastructure — that could end up leading to more geopolitical fistfights than you can ever imagine. The fistfights turn into weapon fights and give way to a very ugly society.

And again, over at Alternet, Jan Friel discusses the slowly emerging awareness of peak oil amongst certain conservatives. Neocons Driving Priuses:

The prospect of peak oil has shaken some of the mainstays of the conservative establishment into doing something about America’s energy crises.

The United States holds 2 percent of world oil reserves, contributes 8 percent of world oil production, and consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil production — more than 60 percent of which is imported. Such facts appear with increasing frequency in mainstream newspapers and on television talk shows, often accompanied by handwringing about lack of sustainability and allegations that the chase after foreign oil is the primary cause of our military misadventures in the Middle East.

“The question is this: how do you create a politics that inspires the American people? How do you address their strongest concerns and values? We think addressing the jobs and health crisis of the Midwest — while demanding that the auto industry be held accountable on fuel economy — is the right way forward.”
Will it take a hard winter and $5-a-gallon gas for the appearance of an opposition to the status quo, or graver energy crises or shortages that threaten social order? Let’s hope the emergence of wider political coalitions to deal with energy independence happens before we find out the hard way.

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Documentary Evidence: U.S. used Napalm and White Phosphorus in Fallujah

I discussed this in August 2003 and apparently it has now been released via an Italian documentary. The Bulldog Manifesto has a summary:

In contravention to various international treaties, the United States has used outlawed weapons of mass destruction against Iraqi civilians. Consider the irony.

An Italian New Channel (RAI 24) televised a graphic VIDEO documenting U.S. use of white phosphorus and napalm against Iraqi civilians. I strongly suggest everybody watch the entire production. It is graphic, but people need to see it.

Where the fuck is our own media?

Why do I feel like a German citizen living in Nazi Germany, watching as my countrymen comletely ignore the atrocities being committed under OUR FLAG?

So, the truths begin to surface. Shame will prove to be just the beginning.

As for our media, well, it’s not ours at all is it? Fucking capitalists have no interest in the truth nor will they make any effort to inform the citizenry of the U.S. No folks, it’s all about keeping us misinformed and entertained, keeping us obedient, keeping us in a consumer friendly mood. We’re not even supposed to think of ourselves as citizens because that my lead to thoughts of responsibility and accountability.

And speaking of media, I’ve been wanting to say this for a while: Wolf Blitzer, you are douche bag… and that’s being nice about it.

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