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November 21, 2005

Pentagon Described White Phosphorus as a CHEMICAL Weapon

-- by Dave Johnson

Note - see the recent A Challenge to Dave and my reply.

The Pentagon was recently forced to admit - after denying - that it had used White Phosphoros (WP) as a weapon in Iraq. So the right-wing defense changed from "we didn't do it" to "it's not a chemical weapon." (See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and how many more?)

It turns out that when convenient the Pentagon does describe WP as a chemical weapon.

Think Progress has the goods:

A formerly classified 1995 Pentagon intelligence document titled “Possible Use of Phosphorous Chemical” describes the use of white phosphorus by Saddam Hussein on Kurdish fighters:
IRAQ HAS POSSIBLY EMPLOYED PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST THE KURDISH POPULATION IN AREAS ALONG THE IRAQI-TURKISH-IRANIAN BORDERS. […]
In other words, the Pentagon does refer to white phosphorus rounds as chemical weapons — at least if they’re used by our enemies.
Go to Think Progress for the links and the rest.

Update - More at The Reaction.

Posted by Dave Johnson at November 21, 2005 1:27 PM

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Comments

The Pentagon denied using White Phosphorus in Falluajh? I don't think so, or at least you can't quote yourself properly if that is the case.

As for the intelligence document linked to by Think Progress, it was again, another example of a desk jockey quoting a front line intelligence operative, neither one an expert, passing along what they've been told.

No matter how many times actual white phosphorus experts debunk you, you keep coming back.

Why do you have such a hard-on for attacking our troops?

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at November 21, 2005 3:18 PM

"The Pentagon" does not refer to "our troops." It means the political leadership of the military-industrial complex, appointed by Bush.

"The Pentagon" as used here is the chickenhawk Republican Party leadership, every single one of whom hid out during Vietnam - advocating FOR that war, as long as others served in their place. Similarly, they advocate for war again, as long as none of THEIR families, neighbors, etc. have to serve.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2005 3:42 PM

Again Dave, you don't answer the question: experts both military and scientific have throughly refuted all charges that white phophorus is a chemical weapon.

But you insist on re-releasing the patently false charge that American soldiers are using chemical weapons. How can you keep spreading falsehoods about what our soldiers do, and still deny that you are attacking them?

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at November 21, 2005 3:54 PM

Posted here is a link to a document in which the Pentagon describes White Phosphorus as a "chemical weapon."

This is about the Bush Administration and the Republican Party, and you know it. Trying to deflect this by claiming that criticism of Bush is criticism of "the troops" or soldiers insults your and my readers.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2005 4:05 PM

Dave, as I have explained that document at think progress is not written by experts. It was a first draft of a field report, not something yet vetted by experts.

Speaking of experts, Dave, how many experts have you interviewed for your stories on white phosphorus?

How many combined years of experience do your experts have?

What expert texts or fiedl manuals have you cited?

Your "white phosphorus is a chemical weapon" story is a proven lie you are pushing, you claim, to go after Bush and the Republican Party.

Bull.

You aren't accusing Bush and the Republican Party of using chemical weapons, you are accusing our soldiers on the ground of using them, with no evidence at all.

That is low, Dave.

Snake in the grass low.

Posted by: Anonymous at November 21, 2005 4:18 PM

Oh Dave. I think that old document doesn't count because we didn't have the new and improved Pentagram yet.

I think the old thing must have been written in the days that the United States could successfully manage any old third world country they wanted after they learned the lessons of VietNam.

Where are the new expertson this now, have they been locked in the AEI without a microphone?

Posted by: grannyinsanity [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2005 4:19 PM

My response is here.

Very quickly, if you read further down in the document, you'll see that the writer notes Saddam used WP because had he used nerve gas he was worried the US-led coalition would retaliate.

Why? Because one is an incendiary device (misused by Saddam), and the other -- nerve gas -- is an actual chemical weapon.

Posted by: Jeff G at November 21, 2005 4:32 PM

You know you've got them when they start with the "attacking the troops" shit.

Posted by: richard [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2005 6:30 PM

liberals not stupid. chickenhawks stupid. read on, chickenhawks.
phosphorus is a chemical.
chemicals are packed into shell casings.

casings are 1) launched, 2) dropped, 3)shot out of guns.
sometimes these casings have parachutes attached to them.

sometimes not.

using soft wadding, many chemicals can be shot out of guns into buildings containing civilians or freedom fighters or pink elephants and when the chemical gets on the (all the former) they burn as.if.they.were.attacked.with.a.chemical.weapon.

when i was in the service, we called it cbw (chemical biological warfare), or cnbw if you want to go nuclear.
chickenhawks can call it whatever they want, it's a free country, but a chemical is a chemical and burnt people are still crispy critters. see these pictures here. warning: not pretty.

Posted by: fazzaz31 [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2005 7:29 PM

Fazzaz31, that's probably the stupidest post I have read all day. "Chemical" as referrred to a "chemical weapon" specifically refers to a chemical agent used as a toxin, not as an incindiary device. Pull your head out.

Posted by: Agent_Provocateur [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2005 7:56 PM

read this:
"Ordinary phosphorus is a waxy white solid; when pure it is colorless and transparent. It is insoluble in water, but soluble in carbon disulfide. It takes fire spontaneously in air, burning to the pentoxide. It is very poisonous, 50 mg constituting an approximate fatal dose. Exposure to white phosphorus should not exceed 0.1 mg/m^3 (8-hour time-weighted average - 40-hour work week). White phosphorus should be kept under water, as it is dangerously reactive in air, and it should be handled with forceps, as contact with the skin may cause severe burns."

happy?

Posted by: fazzaz31 [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2005 8:19 PM

I know!

Let's have a national townhall!

Let every American have a good look at all the evidence, everything from what Confederate Yankee&Protien Wisdom have to the carmlelized babies.


Let's have at it. Let the people know and then decide.

Posted by: grannyinsanity [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2005 8:24 PM

link broke.

try this.

Posted by: fazzaz31 [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2005 8:39 PM

one more thought and then i'll stop.
mustard gas is listed as a "chemical" weapons by all the cbw manuals i have read. mustard is poisonous and burns.when inhaled, it burns the lungs.
phosphorus is a chemiical that is both poisonous and flammable, so what exactly is agent_provocateur's problem? does he not have access to a dictionary? the internet?
and why didn't he provide any links?

Posted by: fazzaz31 [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2005 8:50 PM

Fazzaz31,

What was your MOS, dates of service, and unit(s)?

Two of the experts I interviewed in my articles thus far are former artillerymen, another was a master pilot, and yet another was an infantry officer.

All of them have direct experience calling for, firing, breathing the smoke of, or seeing the results of white phosphorus firsthand.

What firsthand experience do you have?

Better yet, can you cite any evidence proving your points that come from military or medical experts, not political pundits?

Granny, if you can hold on about 48 hours, I'm going to try to get to DIA video intelligence expert I know or a pathologist to critique the bodies in the film, bucause I find it quite intersting than NONE (not a single body) of the bodies shown in the Rai film have wounds consistant to the kind of through-and-though, penetrating burn wounds caused by white phosphorus.

Instead, I'd wager they show bodies that are not burned at all, but are severely decomposed. The maggots swarming the bodies in several shots should be you first clue.

WP burns do not turn the bodies uniformly black, nor do they "carmelize." Carmelizing tends to be a trait of your typical high explosive rounds, not white phosphorus.

I'm having a ball debunking the Rai video and their "experts," having caught them in three blatant falsifications already.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at November 21, 2005 8:54 PM

And kids, you might want to read that document Think Progress links to...

A rough transcription of a brief phone call between two Kurdish brothers IS NOT evidence of the Pentagon deciding white phosphorus is a chemical weapon.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at November 21, 2005 11:38 PM

Gentlemen,
Whilst I am not a fan of the Bush administration nor of the fact we're now in a counter-insurgency war in Iraq nor of how the occupation was conducted nor of the rationale behind the war, especially given the practical difficulties and how much was put at risk...
While furthermore, I have an automatic issue with anyone whose signature is 'liberalism is a persistent vegetative state' (as opposed to dogmatism, my dear)...
I have to say that the overwhelming weight of fact and logic is with Confederate Yankee on this issue. I would still like to hear a more detailed explanation from the Pentagon of just how WP was used as a weapon in Fallujah, but it does not appear that in any case a 'war crime' was committed.
The Italian report strikes me as extremely dodgy, the ThinkProgress report insignificant.
You are making fools of yourselves, believing unreliable materials because they fit your own preconceptions. Think Niger forgery, think 'CURVEBALL'--you think you're immune?
There are plenty of substantive things to be upset about in Iraq. This is not one of them. Please move on (no pun intended) before you embarrass yourselves further.

Posted by: Antiquated Tory at November 22, 2005 5:11 AM

First, it seems pretty silly to deny that using chemicals as weapons is something other than chemcial weapons. They're not bullets, they're not bombs, they're chemicals that are used to hurt people, right?

Second, you can try to conflate the two all you want but criticizing the Pentagon or the people in charge for ordering the use of certain tactics or weapons is not the same as blaming the soldiers for using them. We understand full well that soldiers follow orders from their higher ups. Leave the soldiers following orders out of this.

Posted by: zoe kentucky at November 22, 2005 12:29 PM

technically, repeat, technically, wp is not a banned chemical weapon, as the army lists it as an incidiary device, similar to the incindiary bombs we dropped on dresden and tokyo. bad acts, but not technically illegal.
but a weapon is a weapon, the argument is stupid, iraq didn't have wmd any more, chickenhawks are chickenhawks and as i type this i am sitting in the computer facitlity of us vets westside, a housing complex of 450 veterans with many mos, ratings, etc. and they all agree with me that a chemical weapon can be whatever you want it to be if it gets the job done, i.e., kills people, even if horribly.
i have 5 years in the us navy, during many of which i used esoteric weaponry, so blow it out, yankee.

Posted by: fazzaz31 at November 22, 2005 2:47 PM

a snippet from the uk guardian:

"The Pentagon argues that white phosphorus burns people, rather than poisoning them, and is covered only by the protocol on incendiary weapons, which the US has not signed. But white phosphorus is both incendiary and toxic. The gas it produces attacks the mucous membranes, the eyes and the lungs. As Peter Kaiser of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons told the BBC last week: "If ... the toxic properties of white phosphorus, the caustic properties, are specifically intended to be used as a weapon, that of course is prohibited, because ... any chemicals used against humans or animals that cause harm or death through the toxic properties of the chemical are considered chemical weapons."

The US army knows that its use as a weapon is illegal. In the Battle Book, published by the US Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, my correspondent David Traynier found the following sentence: "It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets."

Posted by: fazzaz31 [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 23, 2005 8:06 PM

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