[ RadSafe ] Jeff Purcell Cornell Article ..

Roger Helbig rhelbig at california.com
Mon Apr 23 04:23:51 CDT 2007

Sorry I sent this is less easy to read form .. I wanted any of you who chose to comment about the innacuracies in this article to know how to address the Editorial Board

The U.S. scares the planet with its arsenal. Right now, we’re sitting on top of almost 10,000 nuclear bombs. One of the byproducts of making these weapons is depleted uranium. U238 is extremely dense, so dense that it can pierce armored tanks. It also bursts into flames while traveling through the armor. UMass and Tufts scientists estimate that between 10 and 35 percent, but sometimes up to 70 percent, of the depleted uranium is aerosolized on impact — it turns into particles 5 microlitres wide, small enough to be inhaled and scatter for miles.

In March 2003, the Army released data on the amount of D.U. dropped on Iraq during the First Gulf War: between 320 and 390 tons. Let’s be conservative — 320 tons at 10 percent is 64,000 lbs.

Radioactive material is all around us — in water, soil, bananas — but in very small quantities. The difference between bananas and Basra, however, is about 1,000 times more radiation. Because U238 doesn’t decay for about 5 billion years, every shell we fire at Iraq will stay there forever. The U.S. isn’t releasing data on the number of shells fired in this war, but consider the amount fired in the First Gulf War (64,000 lbs) at 5 billion years — and America has done more to depopulate Iraq than Saddam Hussein has.

Five years ago, the Seattle Post Intelligencer investigated a highway that was bombed in 1991: they concluded it was still a “radioactive toxic wasteland.” And in May 2003, when Americans were celebrating the Mission Accomplished, Christian Science Monitor writer Scott Peterson recorded radioactive levels 1,900 times the normal background rate in Baghdad.

The effects of aerosolized depleted uranium in your lungs, kidneys and liver are a host of horrors. One of the most frightening, however, is what D.U. can do to your children. Pediatricians and obstetricians in Basra found the rate of serious birth defects more than quadrupled after the city was inundated with D.U. in 1991. These birth defects include multiple congenital malformations, congenital heart diseases, cleft lip and palate, unusual skeletal malformation and hydrocephalus — a condition that prevents cerebrospinal fluid from draining normally, causing comas, dementia, incontinence and a deformed skull.

That this happens to the same newborns whose right to life the President passionately defends should raise overwhelming contradictions. If only Focus on the Family cared our bombs were deforming Iraqi, Afghani and Kosovar children, perhaps the crocodile tears they shed for the unborn would be more credible. A Canadian research team found Afghani residents near Jalalabad, Tora Bora and Mazar-e-Sharif had an average of 315.5 nanograms of radioactive isotopes in their urine; one boy in Kabul had 2,031 nanograms in his urine. Current regulations in America state the maximum safe level is 12 nanograms for a year. It is a bizarre statement of America that poisoned 12-year olds are less interesting than fetuses.

Outside the White House, sanity prevails. In 1999, a U.N. subcommittee decided D.U. was dangerous enough to merit a worldwide ban. Testifying to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in 2003, international lawyer Karen Parker stated that D.U. fails all four humanitarian laws regarding weapons: because D.U. will continue to poison people and cause cancers and birth defects for thousands of years, because of its horrible effects off the battle-field, because it is unduly inhumane, and because it has an unduly negative effect on the environment — D.U. violates the rules of war.

After it’s incinerated on impact, D.U. dust settles in lungs, deserts, rivers and animals. Considering food and water, even the U.S. Army field manual states that anything within 25 meters of D.U. is “unsafe for consumption.” Moreover, affected persons should wear respiratory and skin protection to prevent poisoning. The Pentagon, however, maintains that D.U. is not conclusively proven to cause cancers or birth defects. But this is the same Pentagon that didn’t put armor on Hummers or soldiers and did such a bangup job caring for amputees at Walter Reed.

One Army physician disagrees with his former superiors. Dr. Doug Rokke served in the 12th Preventive Medicine Command and 3rd U.S. Army Medical Command. Rokke was sent to Iraq in 1991 to oversee D.U. cleanup. Now, he says more than 30 members of his team are dead. He told journalists, “Verified diverse health effects from personal experience, physicians and from personal reports from individuals with known D/U. exposures include reactive airway disease, neurological abnormalities … vision degradation … uranium in semen … and birth defects in offspring.”

He continued, “This whole thing is a crime against God and humanity.”

Vets from the first Gulf War still show the isotopic signature in their urine. D.U. swims through their reproductive organs and skeletal tissues, stalking their future and their children’s lives. As if serving under a monstrous commander in an unjust war were not painful enough, current and future vets are haunted by fear of giving birth to children with horrible physical and mental disabilities.

Rokke insists that the Pentagon isn’t honest: “Since 1991, numerous U.S. Department of Defense reports have said that the consequences of D.U. were unknown. That is a lie. We warned them in 1991 after the Gulf War, but because of liability issues, they continue to ignore the problem.”

To recap, then, we know that the U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq to “find WMDs,” but instead, turned the country into an experiment worthy of Auschwitz’s Dr. Mengele. The Association of Birth Defects Children has found that Goldenhar Syndrome — eye, ear, facial and spine malformations in newborns — is more prevalent in 1991 Gulf War veterans. In Iraq, birth defects have risen 10-fold between 1989 and 2001, according to Baghdad University’s Dr. Nawar Ali in a report to the U.N.’s Integrated Regional Information Network. Childhood cancer also rose by 242 percent in the same period. Dr. Janan Hassan of the Basra Maternity and Children’s Hospital told the U.N. that more than 56 percent of cancer patients in Iraq were under 5 years old.

The conditions of life in Iraq are imperiled by American lies and brutality. And the lives and families of servicemembers are, again, wasted by the criminals at the helm.

Jeff Purcell is a graduate student in Africana Studies. He can be reached at jlp56 at cornell.edu. Brutal Honesty appears Mondays.

More information about the RadSafe mailing list