Monday, November 28, 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:
SUMMARY: IRAQ HAS POSSIBLY EMPLOYED PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST THE KURDISH POPULATION IN AREAS ALONG THE IRAQI-TURKISH-IRANIAN BORDERS. KURDISH RESISTANCE IS LOSING ITS STRUGGLE AGAINST SADDAM HUSSEIN'S FORCES. KURDISH REBELS AND REFUGEES' PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS AND PERCEPTIONS ARE PROVIDED. (2)
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.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment