[ RadSafe ] RE: uranium in the gulf war

Steven Dapra sjd at swcp.com
Sun Jun 25 21:54:43 CDT 2006

June 25

         James Salsman wrote:  “But there is also an active, semi-coordinated
campaign by active and retired military to do public relations
work in support of depleted uranium weaponry -- there is a memo
from Los Alamos about this, which you can read here:

         According to this memo, “It is believed that dU penetrators were 
very effective against Iraqi armor; however, assessments of such will have 
to be made.”  (The memo always uses the form “dU”.)  It also says there is 
a “concern” regarding the effect of DU on the environment, and that if no 
one makes a case for DU’s being an effective weapon, it may “become 
politically unacceptable,” and be removed from the arsenal.  If DU weapons 
prove to be effective “we should assure their future . . . through 
Service/DoD proponency,” and that without this “proponency” “it is possible 
that we stand to lose a valuable combat capability.  I believe we should 
keep this sensitive issue at mind when after action reports are written.”

         Does this really sound like an “active semi-coordinated campaign 
by active and retired military to do public relations work in support of 
depleted uranium weaponry”?

         Keeping something “at mind” when after action reports are written 
doesn’t exactly attain to the level of being a campaign, does it?  There is 
nothing in the memo about “retired military,” and after action reports 
don’t exactly rise to the level of being “public relations work.”  Note 
also that the memo was written by a lieutenant colonel and is addressed to 
a major.  I was once told by a retired colonel that until one rose to the 
level of colonel he didn’t have much chance for having any influence in the 
services.  (For those who may not know, the ranks go major, lieutenant 
colonel, colonel.)  This “campaign” sounds more like histrionics on the 
part of James Salsman.

         Salsman also wrote, “if it was so difficult for the
people in the early 1970s to test the Agent Orange shipments to
which soldiers were being exposed for carcinogens and
teratogens, then the government probably needs someone to
remind them to check the uranium for inhalation risks which may
have been missed, until they do.”

         Was there any reason to test Agent Orange for carcinogens and 
teratogens in the early 1970s?  When was it discovered that Agent Orange 
contained these substances?  As far as that goes, has it ever been 
conclusively shown that Agent Orange had any adverse effects on the 
servicemen who were exposed to it?  With respect to inhalation risks, 
haven’t uranium miners and mill workers been studied to the point of surfeit?

         More Salsman:  “there are now a bunch of state governments which 
mandate urine isotope ratio tests, which I think are completely 
flawed.”  Why do you think the tests are flawed, and what are your 
qualifications for making this claim?  If you are copying from someone 
else, from whom are you copying, where were his claims reported, and what 
are his qualifications?

         Still more Salsman:  “Of all the
symptoms of Gulf War illness, an increase in the cancer rate has
never been confirmed by medical studies except very recently
with respect to brain cancer deaths:

         The Seattle Post-Intelligencer article says, “Brain cancer deaths 
. . . now are recognized by the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments as 
potentially connected to service during the Persian Gulf War.”  POTENTIALLY 
CONNECTED  Note too that Salsman offers no primary source material to 
support this.

         Salsman’s ATSDR report about nerve and mustard gas 
(http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp49-c3.pdf) is a 98 page report that 
is well-larded with qualifiers.  I read a small portion of it and it says 
two rat studies reported no fetal toxicity or gross teratogenic effects, 
and no “excess fetal abnormalities.”  (See p. 43; section

         Salsman also invokes a study by Kang, et al. (2001) ("Pregnancy 
among US Gulf war veterans: a population-based survey of 30,000
veterans;” Annals of Epidemiology, 2001, Volume 11, pages 504­511).

I have a copy of this study and re-read it this afternoon.  It is true that 
Dr. Kang and his colleagues reported a near-doubling of birth defect risk 
in male veterans' offspring and a near-tripling in female veterans' 
offspring.  This was a self-reported study that was conducted via 
mailed-out questionnaires with telephone follow-up.  The study authors made 
some adjustments to compensate for the self-reporting, however in the 
conclusions to their de facto Abstract, they say their observation of 
increased birth defects among children of Gulf War veterans “needs to be 
confirmed by a review of medical records to rule out possible reporting bias.”

         James Salsman and I have already slugged it out once on RADSAFE 
over depleted uranium.  You can see the archives (March 5, 2006) for the 

Steven Dapra
sjd at swcp.com

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