Stephen Lendman – 2006-05-31 23:36:20
The Threat of DU Exposure
It’s Real, Deadly and Covered up by the Pentagon and VA
by Stephen Lendman
The Pentagon must surely believe the old but very foolish saying that what you don’t know won’t hurt you. To prove it they nearly always go to great lengths to conceal what they do know so we won’t find out. That’s especially true when what they know is bad news or hazardous to our health or that of our troops.
That’s certainly the case regarding the real and deadly threat from exposure to the toxic effects of depleted uranium (DU) poisoning. The public has precious little information about this crucial issue because it’s been willfully and deliberately suppressed to conceal just how potentially great and irreversible a threat it is.
Is it any wonder then that most of those people who’ve heard about DU have been seduced by the Pentagon cover-up and stream of lies and are taken in enough by them to believe what little information they hear and read in the mainstream. I know those individuals never heard of one of the two greatest and most highly esteemed US print journalists of the last century.
His name was I.F. Stone, and I’ve read nearly all his important books. Stone once told a class of aspiring journalists always to remember “All governments are run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.” Another time he simply said “All governments lie.” If I were asked to address a group of students, I’d be even more emphatic than Stone and say governments only lie and never tell the public the truth, especially about the most important issues affecting us all. I’d also quote Stone and recommend the students paste his maxim to their bathroom mirrors so they never forget it.
Government propaganda, lies and deception are more extreme and sophisticated now than in Stone’s day. Those unaware of it remind me of a poker player looking around the table to assess the competition. He doesn’t realize when he can’t find who the mark is it’s him. But in a real life game of high stakes poker when it’s you against the “power structure” and their corporate media allies, unless you know how the game is played, you surely are their mark and they’ll eat you alive.
I know of nothing more dangerous to a free society than a deficit of real information on the most vital issues affecting everyone. It’s impossible getting it from government sources or the dominant corporate media in league with them because supplying us with it would subvert their interests. It’s true on all important issues without exception.
So, if the public knew the full truth about the potentially nightmarish effects of exposure to DU munitions that will only likely get worse unless exposed and stopped, it would be impossible for the Pentagon to continue using them. Only their cover-up has allowed them to be able to recklessly and criminally use them in four wars since 1991 including the two of them ongoing now.
And they couldn’t possibly ever consider raising the stakes further, as they now have claimed the exclusive right to do, to fight future wars with industrial strength nuclear weapons that could lead to a nuclear holocaust.
What we already know about the deadly effects of DU munitions use alone is clear and growing, unreported in the dominant media, and thus largely concealed from the public. Those unaware of it, taken in by Pentagon propaganda, or choosing to ignore the few facts about it they do know should welcome and praise the impressive work done on this issue by Irving Wesley Hall. He’s a man I personally know and have had contact with. I’ve also collaborated with him as he was preparing his extremely important series of articles on this growing menace that may eventually affect everyone.
Irving has made an important contribution, and I respect and admire him greatly for it. His articles should be widely read and those doing it should encourage others to read them as well for their own safety and welfare. Having written on this subject myself, I know from my own research how valuable Irving’s work is to expanding the knowledge base about DU and its harmful effects.
What DU Is and How It’s Being Used
Depleted uranium is a derivative of the uranium enrichment process required to produce fuel for commercial reactors. This process is then followed by gaseous diffusion in two streams — one is enriched and the other depleted. Before a use was found for it, DU was just stored in vast amounts as a byproduct.
All that changed when it was discovered that solid “dense metal” DU projectiles (in all forms) greatly increased their ability to penetrate and destroy a target. That was irresistible to the Pentagon that wanted to use them in bullets, bombs, shells and missiles and now has done so freely in four wars since they were first used in the Gulf war in 1991 (except for one test in the 1973 Yom Kippur war).
There’s a problem with these weapons, however – a serious downside never discussed and which great pains are taken to conceal. These weapons in all their forms leave in their wake an irremediable irradiated and chemically toxic landscape far more deadly than the death and destruction to the targets struck. How deadly and toxic the fallout is varies only with the amount of these weapons used. Hundreds of tons of them were used beginning for the first time in the Gulf war in 1991.
A likely similar amount was used again in Yugoslavia in 1999 and up to 1,000 or more tons so far in Afghanistan since 2001. Any use of these weapons is reckless and was effectively banned by common consent (and common sense) and never used until 1991 in Iraq (except for that one test). However, their usage ballooned in successive wars to over 3,000 tons so far since the US introduced them on a large and sustained scale again in Iraq in March, 2003.
Put in perspective, since first used in 1991, the US military has willfully and criminally spread deadly toxic radiation across a vast area of three countries as well as everywhere else affected by the fallout. It’s caused permanent irremediable contamination with a half-life of 4.5 billion years or forever by my reckoning.
One more important fact is these numbers increase daily as since last December US forces have been conducting four to six daily bombings of target sites in Iraq alone that we know about using DU munitions and an unknown likely less frequent number in Afghanistan. We also have a new terror weapon we claim the right to use routinely called “bunker-buster mini nukes” that aren’t mini but sure are nukes.
These are industrial-strength nuclear bombs that can be produced to any desired potency but are likely to be used in strengths of between one-third to two-thirds the destructive force of a Hiroshima bomb. Pentagon propaganda falsely says these are little more than king-sized hand grenades that are perfectly safe when used as designed. They’re supposed to penetrate a target site deeply before exploding on the false theory that their radiation will be contained underground and thus are environmentally safe.
Testing of these bombs are planned in the Nevada desert and may be now underway, but at least one already carried out and observed proves otherwise. What was seen on explosion is hardly reassuring that the toxic fallout will be contained when used in combat. Clearly visible was a huge black mushroom-shaped cloud (sound familiar) that rose thousands of feet in the air and was shown to be deadly and toxic when ground radiation measurements were taken following at least this one test. There may have been others as well we haven’t heard about.
The Pentagon always deliberately spreads false and misleading information on its controversial activities, but especially something as outrageous as the lingering, spreading and deadly effects from DU contamination which never end. Those exposed to it and their loved ones with whom they have intimate contact and their offspring are henceforth vulnerable to a vast menu of virtually any illness, disease or disability imaginable often leading to early death or at the least a lifetime of pain, suffering and great expense. It’s no exaggeration to say that DU is the deadly and unwelcome gift that keeps on giving, disabling and killing.
DU weapons aren’t just toxic and deadly, they’re illegal according to the standards and binding international law under the Hague Convention of 1907 and 1925 Geneva Protocol and other succeeding Geneva Weapons Conventions that specifically outlaw the use of any chemical and biological agents in any form for any reason in war as well as any poison or poisoned weapons.
DU weapons in all their forms are radioactive and chemically toxic and clearly fit the definition of poisonous weapons banned under these binding international laws to which we are signatories. As such, the US, having used them in four wars, has violated our sacred treaty obligations which are the supreme law of the land and is guilty of repeated war crimes. That minor detail doesn’t bother the Bush administration that considers the Geneva Conventions and all other international laws inconvenient to its plans just “quaint” and “obsolete.”
The Public Is Largely Unaware of the DU Threat
Or Prefers to Believe Pentagon Propaganda Instead of Scientific Fact
Most people get their so-called news and information from the dominant corporate media mostly on TV which, as everyone by now should know, never gives them what they tune in for. Instead they get state approved propaganda, lies and deception cleverly disguised as the real thing. It’s almost always true that what they don’t report is lots more important than what they do. Of course, the reason this goes on is that if the public knew and understood what our government was up to, they’d never stand for it. So it’s all kept under wraps, and most people are never the wiser.
It’s very easy to be influenced by the slick state and corporate-friendly messages because they’re transmitted effectively ad nauseam round the clock on air and in print. The repetition has a powerful effect. It clouds the mind, blocks out the truth and distracts enough to prevent those mesmerized by it from seeking it. Why would you not want to believe the friendly news anchors you’ve grown to know and love over the years. Would they ever lie to you? Darned right they would if they want to keep their high-paying jobs.
I comment on this often for one reason. It’s the most important of all issues I know. Unless people know and understand the truth about what’s happening around them on the vital issues affecting their lives, they’re defenseless against the onslaught of fraud and deceit delivered through the dominant media. It allows government to get away with the most egregious acts as agents for giant corporations and the “money changers” who buy and pay for their services.
This alliance is hostile to the public interest as it allows these corporations and financial institutions (including the US Federal Reserve which is a private for-profit entity and not a government run one as commonly believed) free reign to pursue their predatory quest for greater profits and world dominance and do it at our expense.
The Disturbing Truths about DU the
Pentagon and VA Are Taking Great Pains to Conceal
Those truths are emerging slowly and convincingly, but emerging they are. It’s quite true we don’t have all the answers yet, and there’s still much more to be learned before we know for certain just how harmful DU is in all respects and how widespread its contamination has spread.
However, all the new evidence coming out points in one direction and leads to an increasingly clear conclusion. It’s the same one I first heard told me by an eminent man in a required college natural science course I took in 1953. The man was George Wald, distinguished professor of biology and later a nobel laureate in 1967.
Dr. Wald had many admirable qualities I admired greatly, but I still remember verbatim the dramatic statement he made one day in class. He told his young students that “there is no such thing as a safe amount of radiation.” He understood what Albert Einstein did even earlier, and both these men spoke out forcefully against the genie out of the bottle that emerged once the atom was first split in 1938 in a Berlin laboratory.
From that time to now, it’s been known beyond dispute how dangerous and deadly radiation is in all its forms and in any amount to all those coming in contact with it even for short periods of time. However, for those exposed to it daily like our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan where it’s contaminated a vast area, it’s a possible death sentence or at the least a lifetime of likely misery from the poisoning that increases each day.
Some Documented Facts On the Effects of DU Poisoning
The greatest damage from DU comes from the radiation residue after its use. When a DU weapon strikes a target, it penetrates deeply and aerosolizes into a fine spray which then contaminates the air, soil and water around the target area. The residue is permanent, and its microscopic and submicroscopic particles are then swept into the air from the tainted soil and are carried by winds to distant areas as a radioactive component of atmospheric dust. That dust falls indiscriminately everywhere over the area it reaches.
It causes radiation contamination that affects every living thing and cannot be remediated. As mentioned above, the poisoning from the contamination causes every imaginable illness and disease from severe headaches, muscle pain and general fatigue, to major birth defects, infection, depression, cardiovascular disease, many types of cancer and brain tumors. It also causes permanent disability and death. Months ago I personally alerted my own medical providers to be on the lookout for any unexplainable symptoms in their patients, especially if they had served in the military in the Middle East, Afghanistan or Yugoslavia.
I reported all this in a major, detailed article I wrote on this subject a few months ago and available on my blog site – sjlendman.blogspot.com. In it I went on to explain that all military and civilian personnel at or near target areas were and are most adversely affected by DU contamination, especially if they remained in those areas for an extended time. During the six week Gulf war about 150 of our forces were killed and 467 were reported injured. However, the real effects of that war weren’t apparent until years later. We’re beginning to get lots of information on it now but not without great difficulty to make it as complete and accurate as possible.
Because of that problem, there’s great variance in the numbers I’ve seen. But somewhere between about 30 – 75% of the 696,841 military personnel who served in the Gulf from August 2, 1990 to end of July, 1991 have filed claims for or have been reported by the Veteran’s Administration (VA) to be on some form of disability in 2004. It’s likely the true number is closer to the lower percentage, but I’ve chosen to report the range in case later on we learn things were far worse than we now can imagine. We do know an additional 11,910 vets have died as of early this year.
There’s a problem compiling accurate data because the VA has been complicit with the Pentagon in the cover-up about DU and has said very little about the true number disabled or how many of the disability total were the result of DU poisoning. They could easily find out by administering blood tests and doing other proper examinations. Instead they’ve done as little as possible just as for years in the 1990s they denied the existence of “Gulf war” syndrome (most likely from DU poisoning) and told suffering vets it was all in their heads. They certainly were there if any of those heads were afflicted with brain tumors or their early stages.
We can only speculate about how many of our military personnel post 2001 are now the victims of DU poisoning, but it’s likely the number is large and growing with more coming down with disturbing symptoms daily. We know many returning vets are already seeking treatment for health problems, and that medical professionals in hospitals and other facilities providing it have been threatened with $10,000 fines and even jail if they speak out about what those problems are.
Think how outrageous this is – that a nation that sent hundreds of thousands of its young men and women to fight in two illegal wars of aggression, then turns its back on them when they return home with serious illnesses they may never recover from or that may kill them. And making matters even worse, the Pentagon and VA are complicit in a cover-up and denial a problem even exists. They might as well be saying “let ’em suffer and die.” So think of it. This is the “model democracy” we hold up to the world to emulate. In fact, it’s a deadly and sinister model all nations should reject and condemn.
Documented Evidence On Recent DU Fallout
In February, 2006, after I wrote my article on DU, Irving Wesley Hall wrote his carefully researched and extremely important series on DU and its harmful effects. His findings were widely posted, and all of it is available on his web site – notinkansas.us. Irving’s work is so important, readers should visit his site, review his series carefully and likely learn for the first time how serious and deadly a threat DU contamination is to everyone coming in contact with it.
Here’s a sample of the information included in the series which needs as much resonance as possible. I’ve added some of my own comments to it. Irving has made an important contribution, and I’m proud to be associated with him and his work. He wrote that Dr. Chris Busby, scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, reported on official UK radiation levels in the wake of the “shock and awe” assault against Iraq in 2003.
Dr. Busby documented that uranium particles traveled 2,400 miles in nine days from Iraq to Aldermaston, England. The invisible cloud quadrupled Europe’s atmospheric radiation clearly showing that despite Pentagon denials, DU contamination spreads far beyond the target sites struck. Once again the Pentagon’s mendacity and indifference to its forces and the rest of us is revealed in plain sight for all to see if they’ll bother to look.
The widespread contamination is even more dangerous and deadly than formerly believed. But apparently one emailer in particular, with little knowledge to support what he wrote, attacked Irving’s findings and shamed and embarrassed himself in the process. I read his response and know the facts. They clearly contradict virtually everything he said and his conclusions overwhelmingly. The emailer not only put his ignorance on public display, but he also arrogantly and insolently attacked the honesty, honor and integrity of a man of the highest stature.
His shameless act reminded me of a “show-stopping” moment I saw on US TV in June, 1954. It was during the so-called Army-McCarthy hearings when chief Army counsel Joseph Welch gave his famous retort to the soon to be disgraced US senator, who became infamous from his witch-hunting, self-serving search for communists in government without ever finding any. Welch and his reply are still remembered to this day, and I clearly recall him making it. In defense of his client under McCarthy’s malicious attack he asked the senator on national TV: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you no sense of decency.”
Not long after that memorable moment, the McCarthy hearings ended inconclusively, the senator’s reputation was shattered, he was censured by the Senate, and he died a disgraced man a few years later. We can only hope for a similar denouement for the band of rogues in charge of US policy today who are making so many people around the world the worst for it.
I won’t try to match Joe Welch, but I’ll just ask the emailer: aren’t you ashamed enough to flaunt your ignorance to a world audience without compounding it by shamelessly attacking a distinguished man of the highest integrity and honor. Like “Tail-Gunner” Joe (a moniker referring to one more dark side of the tainted senator), have you no sense of dignity, or just plain no sense at all?
Additional Expert Scientific Commentary
Reported by Irving Wesley Hall
Here’s more from Irving’s articles on the DU threat. He learned about the work of Leonard Dietz who’s a retired physicist from the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in New York state. Dietz pioneered the technology to measure uranium isotopes, and Irving quoted what he said: “Anyone, civilian or soldier, who breathes these particles has a permanent dose, and it’s not going to decrease very much over time….In the long run….veterans exposed to ceramic uranium oxide have a major problem.”
Irving reported an even more dire assessment that came from another study of the materials currently in the DU munitions used in Iraq and Afghanistan. The study found that in addition to U-238, today’s DU weapons contain plutonium (the most toxic of all known substances), neptunium, and the highly radioactive uranium isotope U-236. According to a 1991 study by the UK Atomic Energy Authority, these elements are 100,000 times more dangerous than the U-238 in DU. It only takes the most minute, nearly unmeasurable amount of this substance in one’s body to be fatal.
One other expert must be mentioned as well. His name is Dr. Doug Rokke who was the director of the Pentagon’s Depleted Uranium Project. He was assigned by the US Army to be their chief biological, chemical and nuclear weapons safety officer and expert in the Gulf war. Irving interviewed Doug, and I, too, spoke to and corresponded with him. Doug’s extensive work as director of the project led him to conclude that “Uranium munitions must be banned from the planet, for eternity, and medical care must be provided for everyone — those on the firing end and those on the receiving end.”
Rokke understands the problem well from his extensive study of it and his own personal and tragic experience. He and his staff of 100 were all devastated by exposure to DU contaminated dust. Thirty of them have since died, and Rokke now suffers from serious health problems including brain lesions, lung and kidney damage, reactive airway disease, permanent skin rashes, neurological damage and cataracts. It’s quite clear Dr. Rokke didn’t contract this nightmarish stew of mostly very serious health problems from an unhealthy life style, bad diet or lack of exercise.
See Part 2
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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