Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Empire and the Independent Island - Reflection by Cuban President Fidel Castro

The history of Cuba during the last 140 years is one of struggle to preserve national identity and independence, and the history of the evolution of the American empire, its constant craving to appropriate Cuba and of the horrendous methods that it uses today to hold on to world domination.

Cuban News Agency

Prominent Cuban historians have dealt in depth with these subjects in different periods and in various excellent books which deserve to be readily available to our compatriots. These reflections are addressed especially to the new generations with the aim of helping them learn about very important and decisive events in the destiny of our homeland.

Part I: The Imposition of the Platt Amendment as an appendix to the Neocolonial Cuban Constitution of 1901.

The "ripe fruit doctrine" was formulated in 1823 by Secretary of State and later President John Quincy Adams. The United States would inevitably achieve taking over our country, by the law of political influence, once colonial subordination to Spain had ended.

Under the pretext of blowing up the "Maine" -a still unraveled event of which it took advantage to wage war against Spain, like the Gulf of Tonkin incident, an event which was demonstrably prefabricated in order to attack North Vietnam -President William McKinley signed the Joint Resolution of April 20, 1898, stating "...that the people on the island of Cuba are and by right ought to be free and independent", "... that the United States herewith declare that they have no desire or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over said island, except for pacification thereof, and they affirm their determination, after this has been accomplished, to leave the government and control of the island to its people." The Joint Resolution entitled the President to use force to remove the Spanish government from Cuba.

Colonel Leonard Wood, chief commander of the Rough Riders, and Theodore Roosevelt, second in command of the expansionist volunteers who landed in our country on the beaches close to Santiago de Cuba, after the brave but poorly utilized Spanish squadron and their Marine infantry on board had been destroyed by the American battleships, requested the support of Cuban insurrectionists who had weakened and defeated the Spanish Colonial Army after enormous sacrifices. The Rough Riders had landed without horses.

Following the defeat of Spain, representatives of the Queen Regent of Spain and of the President of the United States signed the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898 and, without consulting of the Cuban people, agreed that Spain should relinquish all claim of sovereignty over and title to the island and would evacuate it. Cuba would then be occupied by the United States on a temporary basis.

Already appointed U.S. military governor, Army Major General Leonard Wood, issued Military Order 301 of July 25, 1900, which called for a general election to choose delegates to a Constitutional Assembly that would be held in the city of Havana at twelve noon on the first Monday of November in 1900, with the purpose of drafting and adopting a Constitution for the people of Cuba.

On September 15, 1900, elections took place and 31 delegates from the National, Republican and Democratic Union parties were elected. On November 5, 1900, the Constitutional Convention held its opening session at the Irijoa Theatre of Havana which on that occasion received the name of Martí Theatre.

General Wood, representing the President of the United States, declared the Assembly officially installed. Wood advanced the intention of the United States government: "After you have drawn up the relations which, in your opinion, ought to exist between Cuba and the United States, the government of the United States will undoubtedly adopt the measures conducive to a final and authorized treaty between the peoples of both nations, aimed at promoting the growth of their common interests."

The 1901 Constitution provided in its Article 2 that "the territory of the Republic is composed of the Island of Cuba, as well as the islands and neighboring keys which together were under Spanish sovereignty until the ratification of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898".

Once the Constitution was drafted, the time had come to define political relations between Cuba and the United States. To that end, on February 12, 1901, a committee of five members was appointed and charged with studying and proposing a procedure that would lead to the stated goal.

On February 15, Governor Wood invited the members of the committee to go fishing and hosted a banquet in Batabanó, the main access route to the Isle of Pines, as it was known then, also occupied at that time by the U.S. troops which had intervened in the Cuban War of Independence. It was there in Batabanó that he revealed to them a letter from the Secretary of War, Elihu Root, containing the basic aspects of the future Platt Amendment. According to instructions from Washington, relations between Cuba and the United States were to abide by several aspects. The fifth of these was that, in order to make it easier for the United States to fulfill such tasks as were placed under its responsibility by the above mentioned provisions, and for its own defense, the United States could acquire title, and preserve it, for lands to be used for naval bases and maintain these in certain specific points.

Upon learning of the conditions demanded by the U.S. government, the Cuban Constitutional Assembly, on February 27, 1901, passed a position that was opposed to that of the U.S. Executive, eliminating therein the establishment of naval bases.

The U.S. government made an agreement with Orville H. Platt, Republican Senator from Connecticut, to present an amendment to the proposed Army Appropriations Bill which would make the establishment of American naval bases on Cuban soil a fait accompli.

In the Amendment, passed by the U.S. Senate on February 27, 1901 and by the House of Representatives on March 1, and sanctioned by President McKinley the following day, as a rider attached to the "Bill granting credit to the Army for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 1902," the article mentioning the naval bases was drafted as follows:

"Art. VII.- That to enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own defense, the government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations at certain specified points to be agreed upon with the President of the United States."

Article VIII adds: "...the government of Cuba will embody the foregoing provisions in a permanent treaty with the United States."

The speedy passage of the Amendment by the U.S. Congress was due to the circumstance of it coming close to the conclusion of the legislative term and to the fact that President McKinley had a clear majority in both Houses so that the Amendment could be passed without any problem. It became a United States Law when, on March 4, McKinley was sworn in for his second presidential term in office.

Some members of the Constitutional Convention maintained the view that they were not empowered to adopt the Amendment requested by the United States since this implied limitations on the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba. Thus, the military governor Leonard Wood hastened to issue a new Military Order on March 12, 1901 where it was declared that the Convention was empowered to adopt the measures whose constitutionality was in question.

Other Convention members, such as Manuel Sanguily, held the opinion that the Assembly should be dissolved rather than adopt measures that so drastically offended the dignity and sovereignty of the people of Cuba. But during the session of March 7, 1901, a committee was appointed yet again in order to draft an answer to Governor Wood; the presentation of this was entrusted to Juan Gualberto Gómez who recommended, among other things, rejecting the clause concerning the leasing of coaling or naval stations.

Juan Gualberto Gómez maintained the most severe criticism of the Platt Amendment. On April 1, he tabled a debate of the presentation where he challenged the document on the grounds that it contravened the principles of the Treaty of Paris and of the Joint Resolution. But the Convention suspended the debate on Juan Gualberto Gómez's presentation and decided to send another committee "to ascertain the motives and intentions of the government of the United States about any and all details referring to the establishment of a definitive order to relations, both political and economic, between Cuba and the United States, and to negotiate with the government itself, the bases for agreement on those extremes that would be proposed to the Convention for a final solution."

Subsequently, a committee was elected that would travel to Washington, made up of Domingo Méndez Capote, Diego Tamayo, Pedro González Llorente, Rafael Portuondo Tamayo and Pedro Betancourt; they arrived in the United States on April 24, 1901. The next day, they met with Root and Wood who had earlier traveled back to his country for this purpose.

The American government hastened to publicly declare that the committee would be visiting Washington on their own initiative, with no invitation or official status.

Root, Secretary of War, met with the committee on April 25 and 26, 1901 and categorically informed them that "the United States' right to impose the much debated clauses had been proclaimed for three-quarters of a century in the face of the American and European world and they were not willing to give it up to the point of putting their own safety in jeopardy."

United States officials reiterated that none of the Platt Amendment clauses undermined the sovereignty and independence of Cuba; on the contrary, they would preserve them, and it was clarified that intervention would only occur in the case of severe disturbances, and only with the objective of maintaining order and internal peace.

The committee presented its report in a secret session on May 7, 1901. Within the committee there were severe discrepancies about the Platt Amendment.

On May 28, a paper drafted by Villuendas, Tamayo and Quesada was tabled for debate; it accepted the Amendment with some clarifications and recommended the signing of a treaty on trade reciprocity.

This paper was approved by a vote of 15 to 14, but the United States government didn't accept that solution. It informed through Governor Wood that it would only accept the Amendment without qualifiers, and warned the Convention with an ultimatum that, since the Platt Amendment was "a statute passed by the Legislature of the United States, the President is obliged to carry it out as it is. He cannot change or alter it, add or take anything out. The executive action demanded by the statute is the withdrawal of the American Army from Cuba, and the statute authorizes this action when, and only when, a Constitutional government has been established which contains, either in its body or in appendices, certain categorical provisions, specified in the statute (...) Then if these provisions are found in the Constitution, the President will be authorized to withdraw the Army; if he does not find them there, then he will not be authorized to withdraw the Army..."

The United States Secretary of War sent a letter to the Cuban Constitutional Assembly where he stated that the Platt Amendment should be passed in its entirety with no clarifications, because in that way it would appear as a rider to the Army Appropriations Bill; he indicated that, otherwise, his country's military forces would not be pulled out of Cuba.

On June 12, 1901, during another secret session of the Constitutional Assembly, the incorporation of the Platt Amendment as an appendix to the Constitution of the Republic passed on February 21 was put to the vote: 16 delegates voted aye and 11 voted nay. Bravo Correoso, Robau, Gener and Rius Rivera were absent from the session, abstaining from voting in favor of such a monstrosity.

The worst thing about the Amendment was the hypocrisy, the deceit, the Machiavellianism and the cynicism with which they concocted the plan to take over Cuba, to the lengths of publicly proclaiming the same arguments made by John Quincy Adams in 1823, about the apple which would fall because of gravity. This apple finally did fall, but it was rotten, just as many Cuban intellectuals had foreseen for almost half a century, from José Martí in the 1880's right up to Julio Antonio Mella, assassinated in January of 1929.

Nobody better than Leonard Wood himself to describe what the Platt Amendment would mean for Cuba in two sections of a confidential letter to his fellow in the adventure, Theodore Roosevelt, dated on October 28, 1901:

"There is, of course, little or no independence left Cuba under the Platt Amendment. (...) the only consistent thing to do now is to seek annexation. This, however, will take some time, and during the period which Cuba maintains her own government, it is most desirable that she should be able to maintain such a one as will tend to her advancement and betterment. She cannot make certain treaties without our consent (...) and must maintain certain sanitary conditions (...), from all of which it is quite apparent that she is absolutely in our hands, and I believe that no European government for a moment considers that she is otherwise than a practical dependency of the United States, and as such is certainly entitled to our consideration. (...) With the control which we have over Cuba, a control which will soon undoubtedly become possession, (...) we shall soon practically control the sugar trade of the world. (...) the island will (...) gradually become Americanized and we shall have in time one of the richest and most desirable possessions in the world."

Part II: The Application of the Platt Amendment and the Establishing of the Guantanamo Naval Base as a Framework for Relations between Cuba and the United States.

By the end of 1901, the electoral process which resulted in the triumph of Tomás Estrada Palma, without opposition and with the support of 47 percent of the electorate, had begun. On April 17, 1902, the President-elect in absentia left the United States for Cuba where he arrived three days later. The inauguration of the new President took place on May 20, 1902 at 12 noon. The Congress of the Republic had already been constituted. Leonard Wood set sail for his country in the battleship "Brooklyn".

In 1902, shortly before the proclamation of the Republic, the United States government informed the newly elected President of the Island about the four sites selected for the establishing of naval bases -Cienfuegos, Bahía Honda, Guantanamo and Nipe - as provided by the Platt Amendment. Not even the Port of Havana escaped consideration since it was contemplated as "the most favorable for the fourth naval base".

From the beginning, despite its spurious origins, the Government of Cuba, in which many of those who fought for independence participated, was opposed to the concession of four naval bases since it considered two to be more than enough. The situation grew tenser when the Cuban government toughened its stand and demanded the final drafting of the Permanent Agreement on Relations, with the goal of "determining at the same time and not in parts, all the details that were the object of the Platt Amendment and setting the range of their precepts".

President McKinley had died in September 14, 1901 as a result of gunshot wounds he had sustained on the 6th of that month. Theodore Roosevelt had advanced to such a degree in his political career that he was already Vice President of the United States and so he had assumed the presidency after the shooting of his predecessor. Roosevelt, at that time did not deem it to be convenient to specify the scope of the Platt Amendment, so as not to delay the military installation of the Guantanamo Base, given what that would mean for the defense of the Canal whose construction France had begun and later abandoned in the Central American Isthmus, and which the voracious government of the empire intended to complete at all costs. Nor was he interested in defining the legal status of the Isle of Pines. Therefore, he abruptly reduced the number of naval bases under discussion, removed the Port of Havana suggestion and finally agreed to the concession of two bases: Guantanamo and Bahía Honda.

Subsequently, in compliance with Article VII of the constitutional appendix imposed on the Constitutional Convention, the Agreement was signed by the Presidents of Cuba and the United States on February 16 and 23, 1903, respectively:

"Article I. - The Republic of Cuba hereby leases to the United States, for the time required for the purposes of coaling and naval stations, the following described areas of land and water situated in the Island of Cuba:

"1st. In Guantanamo"...(A complete description of the bay and neighboring territory is made.)

"2nd. In Bahia Honda..." (Another similar description is made.)

This Agreement establishes:

"Article III. -While on the one hand the United States recognizes the continuance of the ultimate sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba over the above described areas of land and water, on the other hand the Republic of Cuba consents that during the period of the occupation by the United States of said areas under the terms of this agreement the United States shall exercise complete jurisdiction and control over and within said areas with the right to acquire for the public purposes of the United States any land or other property therein by purchase or by exercise of eminent domain with full compensation to the owners thereof."

On May 28, 1903, surveying began to establish the boundaries of the Guantanamo Naval Station.

In the Agreement of July 2, 1903, dealing with the same subject, the "Regulations for the Lease of Naval and Coaling Stations" was passed:

"Article I.- The United States of America agrees and covenants to pay the Republic of Cuba the annual sum of two thousand dollars, in gold coin of the United States, as long as the former shall occupy and use said areas of land by virtue of said agreement."

"All private lands and other real property within said areas shall be acquired forthwith by the Republic of Cuba."

"The United States of America agrees to furnish to the Republic of Cuba the sums necessary for the purchase of said private lands and properties and such sums shall be accepted by the Republic of Cuba as advance payment on account of rental due by virtue of said Agreement."

The Agreement which governed this lease, signed in Havana by representatives of the Presidents of Cuba and the United States respectively, was passed by the Cuban Senate on July 16, 1903, ratified by the President of Cuba a month later on August 16, and by the President of the United States on October 2, and after exchanging ratifications in Washington on October 6, it was published in the Gazette of Cuba on the 12th of the same month and year.

Dated on December 14, 1903, it was informed that four days earlier on the 10th of the same month, the United States had been given possession of the areas of water and land for the establishing of a naval station in Guantanamo.

For the United States Government and Navy, the transfer of part of the territory of the largest island in the Antilles was a source of great rejoicing and they intended to celebrate the event. Vessels belonging to the Caribbean Squadron and some battleships from the North Atlantic Fleet converged on Guantanamo.

The Cuban government appointed the Head of Public Works of Santiago de Cuba to deliver that part of the territory over which it technically exercised sovereignty on December 10, 1903, the date chosen by the United States. He would be the only Cuban present at the ceremony and just for a brief time since, once his mission was accomplished, without any toasts or handshakes, he left for the neighboring town of Caimanera.

The Head of Public Works had boarded the battleship "Kearsage", which was the U.S. flagship, where he met Rear Admiral Barker. At 12:00 hours a 21-gun-salute was given and along with the notes of the Cuban National Anthem, the Cuban flag which had been flying on board that vessel was lowered, and immediately the United States flag was hoisted on land, at the point called Playa del Este, with an equal number of salvos, thus concluding the ceremony.

According to the articles of the Agreement, the United States was to dedicate the leased lands exclusively for public use, not being able to establish any type of business or industry.

The U.S. authorities in said territories and the Cuban authorities mutually agreed to surrender fugitives from justice charged with crimes or misdemeanors subject to the laws of each party, as long as it was required by the authorities who would be judging them.

Materials imported into the areas belonging to said naval stations for their own use and consumption would be exempt from customs duties, or any other kind of fees, to the Republic of Cuba.

The lease of these naval stations included the right to use and occupy the waters adjacent to said areas of land and water, to improve and deepen the entrances to them and their anchorages and for anything else that would be necessary for the exclusive use to which they were dedicated.

Even though the United States acknowledged the continuation of Cuba's definitive sovereignty over those areas of water and land, it would exercise, with Cuba's consent, "complete jurisdiction and domain" over said areas while they occupied them according to the other already quoted stipulations.

In the so-called Permanent Treaty of May 22, 1903, signed by the governments of the Republic of Cuba and the United States, future relations between both nations were detailed: in other words, what Manuel Márquez Sterling would call "the intolerable yoke of the Platt Amendment" was thus put firmly in place.

The Permanent Treaty, signed by both countries, was approved by the United States Senate on March 22, 1904 and by the Cuban Senate on June 8 of that year, and the ratifications were exchanged in Washington on June 1st, 1904. Therefore, the Platt Amendment is an amendment to an American law, an appendix to the Cuban Constitution of 1901 and a permanent treaty between both countries.

The experiences acquired with the Guantanamo Naval Base were useful to apply measures in Panama that were equal or worse, in the case of the Canal.

In the United States Congress, it is customary to introduce amendments, whenever a law which is of urgent necessity for its content and importance is being debated. This frequently obliges legislators to put aside or sacrifice any conflicting criteria. Such amendments have more than once affected the sovereignty for which our people tirelessly struggle.

In 1912, the Cuban Secretary of State, Manuel Sanguily, negotiated a new treaty with the U.S. State Department whereby the United States would relinquish its rights over Bahia Honda in exchange for enlarging the boundaries of the Guantanamo station.

That same year, when the uprising of the Partido de los Independientes de Color (Independent Colored Party) took place, which the Liberal Party government of President José Miguel Gómez brutally repressed, American troops came out of the Guantanamo Naval Base and occupied several towns in the former Oriente Province, near the cities of Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba, with the pretext of "protecting the lives and properties of U.S. citizens".

In 1917, because of the uprising known as "La Chambelona" carried out by the elements of the Liberal Party in Oriente who were opposed to the electoral fraud that had re-elected President Mario García Menocal of the Conservative Party, Yankee regiments from the Base headed for various points in that province of Cuba, under the pretext of "protecting the Base water supply".

Part III: The Formal Repeal of the Platt Amendment and Continued Presence of the Guantanamo Naval Base.

The advent of the Democratic administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the United States in 1933 opened the way to a necessary accommodation of the relationship of domination that the U.S. exercised over Cuba. The fall of the Gerardo Machado's tyranny under the pressure of a powerful popular movement, and the subsequent installation of a provisional government headed by the university professor of physiology, Ramón Grau San Martin, were a serious obstacle to the achievement of the program demanded by the people.

On November 24, 1933, U.S. President Roosevelt issued an official statement encouraging the intrigues of Batista and Sumner Welles, the Ambassador to Havana, against Grau's government. These included the offer to sign a new commercial treaty and repeal the Platt Amendment. Roosevelt explained that "...any Provisional Government in Cuba in which the Cuban people show their confidence would be welcome". The impatience of the U.S, administration to get rid of Grau was growing, as from mid-November the influence of a young anti-imperialist, Antonio Guiteras, was increasing in the government, which would take many of its more radical steps in the weeks to come. It was necessary to swiftly overthrow that government.

On December 13, 1933, Ambassador Sumner Welles returned definitively to Washington and was substituted five days later by Jefferson Caffery.

On January 13-14, 1934, Batista convened and presided over a military meeting at Columbia, where he proposed to oust Grau and appoint Colonel Carlos Mendieta y Montefur, which was agreed to by the so-called Columbia Military Junta. Grau San Martin presented his resignation at dawn on January 15, 1934 and left for exile in Mexico on the 20th of the same month. Thus, on January 18, 1934, Mendieta was installed as President after the coup d'état. Although the Mendieta administration had been recognized by the United States on January 23rd of that year, actually the fate of the country was in the hands of Ambassador Caffery and Batista.

The overthrow of the Grau San Martin provisional government in January 1934, as a result of internal contradictions and a whole series of pressures, maneuvers and aggressions wielded against it by imperialism and its local allies, meant a first and indispensable step towards the imposition of an oligarchic-imperialistic alternative to solve the Cuban national crisis.

The government headed by Mendieta would take on the task of adjusting the bonds of the country's neo-colonial dependency.

Neither the oligarchy reinstated in power, nor the Washington government, were in position to ignore the feelings of the Cuban people towards neocolonialism and its instruments. Nor was the United States unaware of the importance of the support of Latin American governments -Cuba among them- in the already foreseeable confrontation with other emerging imperialist powers such as Germany and Japan.

The new process would include formulae to ensure the renewed functioning of the neocolonial system. The "Good Neighbor" policy was very mindful of Latin American opposition to Washington's open interventionism in the hemisphere. The aim of Roosevelt's policy was to portray a new image in its hemispheric relations through the "good neighbor" diplomatic formula.

As one of the adjustment measures, on May 29, 1934 a new U.S.-Cuba Relations Treaty, modifying the one of May 22, 1903, was signed by the other Roosevelt, perhaps a distant relative of he who had landed in Cuba with the Rough Riders.

Two days earlier, on May 27, at 10:30 a.m., when United States Ambassador Jefferson Caffery was getting ready, as was his custom, to leave his residence in the Alturas de Almendares, he was the target of an assassination attempt; three shots were fired by several unidentified individuals from a car. The next day, May 28th, at noon, as it was driving along Quinta Avenida in the Miramar district, the car assigned to the First Secretary of the United States Embassy, H. Freeman Matthews, after having dropped off the diplomat at the Embassy, was attacked by several individuals traveling in a car and armed with machine guns. One of them approached the chauffeur and told him that he should let Matthews know that he was giving him one week to get out of Cuba: then he smashed the windshield of the car and sped off.

These acts that revealed a general climate of anti-United States hostility could have precipitated the signing of the new Relations Treaty that proposed the alleged end of the unpopular Platt Amendment.

The new Relations Treaty provided for the suppression of the right of the United States to intervene in Cuba and that:

"The United States of America and the Republic of Cuba, being animated by the desire to fortify the relations of friendship between the two countries and to modify, with this purpose, the relations established between them by the Treaty of Relations signed in Havana, May 22, 1903, (...) have agreed upon the following articles:


"Article 3.- Until the two contracting parties agree to the modifications or abrogation of the stipulations of the agreement in regard to the lease to the United States of America of lands in Cuba for coaling and naval stations signed by the President of the Republic of Cuba on February 16, 1903, and by the President of the United States of America on the 23rd day of the same month and year, the stipulations of that agreement with regard to the naval stations of Guantanamo shall continue in effect in the same form and conditions with respect to the naval station at Guantanamo. So long as the United States of America shall not abandon the said naval station of Guantanamo or the two Governments shall not agree to a modification of its present limits, the station shall continue to have territorial area that it now has, with the limits that it has on the date of the signature of the present Treaty."

The United States Senate ratified the new Relations Treaty on June 1, 1934, and Cuba on June 4. Five days later, on June 9, ratifications of the Relations Treaty of May 29th of the same year were exchanged, and with that the Platt Amendment was formally repealed, but the Guantanamo Naval Base remained.

The new Treaty legalized the de facto situation of the Guantanamo naval station, thus rescinding the part of the agreements of February 16 and 23 and July 2 of 1903 between the two countries relating to the lands and waters in Bahia Honda, and the part that referred to the waters and lands of the Guantanamo station was amended, in the sense that they were enlarged.

The United States maintained its naval station in Guantanamo as a strategic surveillance and control site, in order to ensure its political and economic predominance in the Caribbean and Central America and to defend the Panama Canal.

Part IV: The Guantanamo Naval Base from the formal end of the Platt Amendment until the Triumph of the Revolution.

After the signing of the Treaty of Relations of 1934, the territory of the "naval station" underwent a gradual fortifying and equipping process until, in the spring of 1941, the Base became established as an operational naval station with the following structure: naval station, air naval station and Marines Corps Base and warehouse facilities.

On June 6, 1934 the United States Senate had passed a bill which would authorize the Secretary of the Navy to sign a long-term contract with a company that would undertake to supply adequate water to the Naval Base in Guantanamo; however, prior to this, American plans already existed for the construction of an aqueduct which would bring in water from the Yateras River.

Expansion continued, and by 1943 other facilities were constructed by contracting the Frederick Snare Company. This hired 9,000 civilian workers, many of them Cubans.

Another year of tremendous expansion of the military and civilian facilities on the Base was 1951. In 1952, the United States Secretary of the Navy decided to change the name of the U.S. Naval Operating Base to "U.S. Naval Base"; by that time its structure already included a Training Center.

The Constitution of 1940, the Revolutionary Struggle and Guantanamo Naval Base until December 1958.

The period between the end of 1937 and 1940 was characterized, from a political point of view, by the adoption of measures that allowed for elections for the Constitutional Assembly to be called and for them to take place. The reason why Batista agreed to these democratizing measures was that it was in his interest to move towards the establishment of formulae that would allow him to remain at the center of political decisions, and thus ensure the continuity of his power within the new order arising under the formulae that he had implemented. At the beginning of 1938 the agreement between Batista and Grau to install a Constitutional Assembly was made public. The Constitutional Convention, inaugurated on February 9, 1940, concluded its sessions on June 8 of that same year.

The Constitution was signed on July 1st, 1940 and promulgated on July 5 that same year. The new Law of Laws established that "the territory of the Republic consists of the Island of Cuba, the Isle of Pines and other adjacent islands and keys, which were under the sovereignty of Spain until the ratification of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. The Republic of Cuba shall not conclude or ratify pacts or treaties that in any form limit or undermine national sovereignty or the integrity of the territory".

The oligarchy would strive to prevent the materialization of the more advanced principles in this Constitution or at least to restrict their application to a maximum.

Part V: The Guantanamo Naval Base since the Triumph of the Revolution.

Since the triumph of the Revolution, the Revolutionary Government has denounced the illegal occupation of that portion of our territory.

On the other hand, since January 1st, 1959, the United States turned the usurped territory of the Guantanamo Naval Base into a permanent source of threats, provocation and violation of Cuba's sovereignty, with the aim of creating trouble for the victorious revolutionary process. Said Base has always been present in the plans and operations conceived by Washington to overthrow the Revolutionary Government.

All kinds of aggressions have come from the Naval Base:

Dropping of inflammable materials over free territory from planes flying out of the Base. Provocations by American soldiers, including insults, the throwing of stones and cans filled with inflammable materials and the firing of pistols and automatic weapons. Violations of Cuban jurisdictional waters and Cuban territory by American military vessels and aircraft from the Base. Plans for self-aggression on the Base that would provoke a large-scale armed struggle between Cuba and the United States. Registering the radio frequencies used at the Base in the International Frequency Registry in the space corresponding to Cuba.

On January 12, 1961, the worker Manuel Prieto Gómez who had been employed at the Base for more than 3 years was savagely tortured by Yankee soldiers on the Guantanamo Naval Base, for the "crime" of being a revolutionary.

On October 15 of that same year, the Cuban worker Rubén López Sabariego was tortured and subsequently murdered.

On June 24, 1962, Rodolfo Rosell Salas, a fisherman from Caimanera, was murdered by soldiers at the Base.

Likewise, the devious intent of fabricating a self-provocation and deploying American troops in a "justified" punitive invasion of Cuba has always been a volatile element at Guantanamo Base. We can find an example of this in one of the actions included in the so-called "Operation Mongoose", when on September 3, 1962 American soldiers stationed in Guantanamo would shoot at Cuban sentries.

During the Missile Crisis, the Base was reinforced in terms of military technology and troops; manpower grew to more than 16,000 Marines. Given the decision of Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev to withdraw the nuclear missiles stationed in Cuba without previously either consulting or informing the Revolutionary Government, Cuba defined the unshakeable position of the Revolution in what came to be known as the "Five Points". The fifth point demanded withdrawal from the Guantanamo Naval Base. We were on the brink of a thermonuclear war, where we would be the prime target as a consequence of the imperial policy of taking over Cuba.

On February 11, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson reduced the number of Cuban personnel working at the Base by approximately 700 workers. They also confiscated the accumulated retirement funds of hundreds of Cuban workers who had been employed on the Base and illegally suspended payments of pensions to retired Cuban workers.

On July 19, 1964, in a blatant provocation made by American border guards against the Cuban border patrol sentries, Ramón López Peña, a young 17-year-old soldier, was murdered at close range while he was on guard in the sentry-box.

On May 21, 1966, and in similar circumstances, soldier Luis Ramírez was murdered by shots from the Base.

In hardly three weeks of the month of May in 1980, more than 80,000 men, 24 vessels and some 350 combat aircraft took part in Solid Shield-80 exercises; as part of its dynamic, this included the landing of 2,000 Marines at the Naval Base and the reinforcement of the facility with an additional 1200 troops.

In October 1991, during the 4th Communist Party Congress in Santiago de Cuba, planes and helicopters from the Base violated Cuban air space over the city.

In 1994, the Base served as a support station for the invasion of Haiti: American air force planes used Base airports for this. More than 45,000 Haitian emigrants were kept on the Base until mid-1995.

Also in 1994, the well-known migration crisis was produced as a result of the tightening up of the blockade and the tough years of the Special Period, the non-compliance with the Migratory Agreement of 1984 signed with the Reagan Administration, the considerable reduction in the number of visas granted and the encouragement of illegal emigration, including the Cuban Adjustment Act signed by President Johnson more than four decades ago.

As a result of the crisis created, a declaration made by President Clinton on August 19, 1994 transformed the Base into a migratory concentration camp for the Cuban rafters, in numbers close to 30,000.

Finally, on September 9, 1994 a Joint Communiqué was signed by the Clinton administration and the Cuban government. This saw the United States committing to prevent the entry into its territory of intercepted illegal emigrants and to issue a minimum of 20,000 annual visas for safety travel to the United States.

On May 2, 1995, as part of the migratory negotiations, the governments of Cuba and the United States also agreed what on this occasion was called a Joint Declaration establishing the procedure for returning to Cuba all those who continued trying to illegally migrate to the United States and were intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Notice the specific reference to the illegal emigrants intercepted by the Coast Guards. Thus the basis had been laid of a sinister business: the traffic of persons. The Murderous Act was maintained, thus turning Cuba into the only country in the world subjected to such harassment. While approximately 250 thousand people have safely traveled to that country, an incalculable number of women, children and people of all ages have lost their lives as a result of the prosperous traffic of emigrants.

Following an agreement by the two governments, as from the migratory crisis of 1994, regular meetings between the military commands of each side were initiated. A strip of mined territory would sometimes be flooded by tropical rainstorms and overflowing rivers. On many occasions our sappers had put their lives in danger to save persons who were crossing the restricted military zone in that area, even with children.

The Guantanamo Naval Base since the enactment of the Helms-Burton Act.

This Act, signed by President William Clinton on March 12, 1996, in its Title II about "Assistance to a Free and Independent Cuba", Section 201 related to the "policy toward a transition government and a democratically elected government in Cuba", establishes in its Point 12 that the United States must "be prepared to enter into negotiations with a democratically elected government in Cuba either to return the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo to Cuba or to renegotiate the present agreement under mutually agreeable terms". Something worse than what was planned by military governor Leonard Wood, who had landed on foot along with Theodore Roosevelt in the proximity of Santiago de Cuba: the idea of having an annexationist of Cuban descent administrating our country.

The War in Kosovo in 1999 resulted in a great number of Kosovar refugees. The Clinton government, embroiled in that NATO war against Serbia, made the decision to use the Base to accommodate a number of them, and on this occasion, for the first time, with no previous consultation whatsoever as usual, it informed Cuba of the decision made. Our answer was constructive. Even though we were opposed to the unjust and illegal conflict, we had no grounds on which to oppose the humanitarian aid needed by the Kosovar refugees. We even offered our country's cooperation, if it should be needed, in terms of medical care or any other service they might need. Finally, the Kosovar refugees were never sent to the Guantanamo Naval Base.

The manifesto called "The Oath of Baraguá" of February 19, 2000 expressed that "in due time, since it no longer constitutes a prioritized objective at this moment even though the right of our people is very just and cannot be waived; the illegally occupied territory of Guantanamo must be returned to Cuba." At that time, we were involved in the struggle for the return of the kidnapped boy and the economic consequences of the brutal blockade.

The Guantanamo Naval Base since September 11.

On September 18, 2001, President Bush signed United States Congress legislation authorizing the use of force as a response to the September 11 attacks. Bush used this legislation as a basis to sign a Military Order on November 13 of that same year which would establish the legal bases for arrests and trials by military tribunals of individuals who didn't hold U.S. citizenship, as part of the "war on terrorism".

On January 8, 2002 the United States officially informed Cuba that they would be using the Guantanamo Naval Base as a detention center for Afghan war prisoners.

Three days later, on January 11, 2002, the first 20 detainees arrived, and the figure reached the number of 776 prisoners coming from 48 countries. Of course none of these data were mentioned. We assumed they were Afghan war prisoners. The first planes were landing full of prisoners, and many more guards than prisoners. On the same day, the government of Cuba issued a public declaration indicating its willingness to cooperate with medical assistance services as required, clean-up programs and a fight against mosquitoes and pests in the area surrounding the base which is under our control, or any other useful, constructive and humane measure that might come up. I remember the data because I was personally involved in details concerning the Note presented by the MINREX in response to the United States Note. We were very far from imagining at that moment that the U.S. government was getting ready to create a horrendous torture center at that base.

The Socialist Constitution proclaimed on February 24, 1976 had set forth in its Article 11, section c) that "the Republic of Cuba repudiates and considers as null and illegal those treaties, pacts or concessions concerted under conditions of inequality or which disregard or diminish her sovereignty and territorial integrity."

On June 10, 2002, the people of Cuba, in an unprecedented process of popular referendum, ratified the socialist content of that Constitution of 1976 as a response to the meddling and offensive expressions of the President of the United States. Likewise, it mandated the National People's Power Assembly to amend it so that it would expressly state, inter alia, the irrevocable principle which must govern the economic, diplomatic and political relations of our country with other states, by adding to the same Article 11, section c): "Economic, diplomatic and political relations with any other State may never be negotiated under aggression, threat or coercion by a foreign power."

After the Proclamation to the People of Cuba was made public on July 31, 2006, the U.S. authorities have declared that they do not hope for a migration crisis but that they are pre-emptively preparing to face one, with the use of the Guantanamo Naval Base as a concentration camp for illegal migrants intercepted in the high seas being a consideration. In public declarations, information reveals that the United States is expanding its civilian buildings on the Base with the aim of increasing their capacity to receive the illegal emigrants.

Cuba, for her part, has taken all possible measures to avoid incidents between the armed forces of both countries, and has declared that she is abiding by the commitments contained in the Joint Declaration on migratory issues signed with the Clinton administration. Why is there so much talking, threats and brouhaha?

The symbolic annual payment of $3,386.25 for the lease of the territory occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base was maintained until 1972 when the Americans adjusted it themselves to $3,676. In 1973, a new adjustment was made for the value of the old U.S. Gold dollar, and for that reason the cheque issued by the Treasury Department was since then increased to $4,085.00 each year. That cheque is charged to the United States Navy, the party responsible for operations at the Naval Base.

The cheques issued by the government of the United States, as payment for the lease, are in the name of the "Treasurer General of the Republic of Cuba", an institution and official who, many years ago, have ceased to function within the structure of the Government of Cuba. This cheque is sent on a yearly basis, through diplomatic channels. The one for 1959, due to a mere confusion, was entered into the national budget. Since 1960 until today these cheques have not been cashed and they are proof of the lease that has been imposed for more than 107 years. I would imagine, conservatively, that this is ten times less than what the United States government spends on the salary of a schoolteacher each year.

Both the Platt Amendment and the Guantanamo Naval Base were unnecessary. History has shown that in a great number of countries in this hemisphere where there has not been a revolution, their entire territory, governed by the multinationals and the oligarchies, needs neither one nor the other. Advertising took care of their mostly ill-trained and poverty-stricken populations by creating reflexes.

From the military point of view, a nuclear aircraft carrier, with so many fast fighter-bombers and escort ships supported by technology and satellites, is several times more powerful and can move to any point on the globe, wherever the empire needs it the most.

The Base is needed to humiliate and to carry out the filthy deeds that take place there. If we must await the downfall of the system, we shall wait. The suffering and danger for all humanity shall be great, like today's stock market crisis, and a growing number of people forecast it. Cuba shall always be waiting in a state of combat readiness.

Fidel Castro Ruz

August 14, 2007.

6:00 p.m.


“If the world is upside down the way it is now, wouldn’t we have to turn it over to get it to stand up straight?” - Eduardo Galeano

Peace Movement Overthrows Government, Cheney Dies

(PU) Former Vice President Richard B. Cheney was found dead today at the Daniel Ellsberg Reeducation Center for War Criminals and the Psychopathically Challenged. Using twine he had pilfered from a macramé class, Mr. Cheney apparently hanged himself after a particularly grueling group therapy session in which participants were asked to go deep within themselves and explore their feelings about the phrase, "Give Peace a Chance."

Mr. Cheney's suicide is one more in a distressingly long line of self-inflicted deaths of Republican politicians, military contractors, army officers, and rightwing pundits following the recent nationwide, nonviolent Revolution. For some as yet unknown reason, many free market neoconservatives seem unwilling to go on living, now that all forms of racial and ethnic discrimination have ceased, gay marriage is legal, U.S. troops are coming home to full employment and psychological counseling, and the end of global warming appears possible within 1-2 weeks.

"Dick's with Jesus, now," wept James Dobson, chairman of the rightwing evangelical group, Focus on the Family. Mr. Dobson was recently sentenced to 2,500 years of community service at an HIV/AIDS clinic for his part in cutting off government funding to sex education programs that did not promote abstinence-only. "If you ask me, Dick Cheney didn't kill himself," Dobson continued. "He was murdered -- murdered by those tree-hugging, all-you-need-is-love, daisy-sniffing goons who took over our government. Death to the fascist hippies that prey on the life of Christian conservatives!"

From his cell at the Reeducation Center, ex-President George W. Bush reflected on his years with Mr. Cheney. "Me and Dick had some good times. But after those peace-mongering terrorists stormed the White House and took away our ability to torture Arabs and dismantle the Constitution, life lost its meaning for Dick. He got depressed, seeing the children of illegal immigrants get adequate health care. He was also upset that the Che Guevara t-shirt they forced him to wear made him look paunchy. Oh, Dick, Dick!" wailed Mr. Bush, smashing a lava-lamp against the wall and throwing himself on his government-issued waterbed with the floral-printed, contoured sheets. "Why did it have to be YOU? Why couldn't it have been 500,000 more Iraqis?"

Newly elected President and Maximum Leader, Cindy Sheehan, also expressed regret at hearing of Mr. Cheney's demise. "That is a real bummer," she lamented. "Hey, does anybody know if I have to dial '011' to call South Korea? I'd like to get our troops out of there, too."

It is foreign policy like this that has probably motivated right-wingers such as Rupert Murdoch, Ann Coulter, and Alberto Gonzalez to take their own lives. Mr. Murdoch, who drank nine quarts of toner from a color printer, and Mr. Gonzalez, who water-boarded himself to death, selected quiet, almost humble, ways to shuffle off their mortal coils.

Ms. Coulter, in contrast, chose to dress in the traditional garb of a devout Muslim woman and blow herself up at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, in order to demonstrate, her suicide note read, "the terrorist faggotry embedded in Enlightenment values." These deaths, say remaining conservative pundits, might have been avoided, had the Bush Administration taken firmer control of the Internet.

"If millions of people hadn't been allowed to click on all those goddamned Web petitions to stop the war," remarked Rush Limbaugh, "Cindy Sheehan would be salted away in some FEMA detention camp by now. Every day, it gets worse. Just a minute ago, I heard that that death-row guy, Mumia Abu-Jamal, was appointed Attorney General. You'll pardon me, now, while I take an overdose of OxyContin."

President Sheehan's Cabinet appointments have, at times, stirred controversy, as when she tapped singer Harry Belafonte for Secretary of State, and anti-globalization activist Naomi Klein for Chair of the Federal Reserve Board. Public outcry, however, was quickly assuaged by the new Secretary of Defense the Dalai Lama, and by White House Press Secretary Amy Goodman who gave out free Democracy Now! tote bags at a Washington press conference.

Politically, President Sheehan has had few rivals, except, for a brief time, Representative John Conyers (D-MI), who held a sit-in outside the Oval Office to "pay her back" for Ms. Sheehan's own pre-Revolutionary protest outside Conyers' office in support of Bush's impeachment. All ended happily in laughter, tears, and warm hugs, however, when Ms. Sheehan admitted that she had been "an idiot."

Surprisingly, the most serious criticism of the current Revolutionary administration has come from the sectarian Left. "I guess I miss the hatred," observed Cyrus Prolehammer, founder of the Laborers Work Party, whose motto, "We Never Met a Leftwing Dictator We Didn't Like," has garnered the organization at least two-dozen members. "A hundred years ago," Mr. Prolehammer sighed, "Cheney wouldn't have had the white, upper-class privilege of suicide. We would have taken him down to the cellar and shot him, just like with the Czar. Sadly, those days are gone. I never realized the draconian repression that can come from a truly egalitarian, anti-capitalist, peace-loving Revolution -- they just won't let you do anything mean."

Mr. Cheney's body is presently on view in the Capitol Rotunda, where nobody is lined up to see it. His family would like to give him a decent burial. However, in light of the government's radical emphasis on preserving the environment, newly appointed Secretary of the Interior Daniel McGowan has suggested that Mr. Cheney's body be thrown to an endangered species of wolves.

Whatever the outcome of this thorny issue, it is sure to be decided harmoniously and fairly, with an eye to the Greater Good of All.

Susie Day lives in New York City where she writes a humor column for feminist and gay publications. She has also written on U.S. political prisoners and labor issues and thinks her girlfriend, Laura Whitehorn, is hot stuff.


War Psychiatry and Iraq Atrocities: How Killing Becomes a Reflex By Penny Coleman

In 1971, Lt. William Calley was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the massacre of some 500 civilians in the Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai. In response to Calley's conviction, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) convened the "Winter Soldier Investigation." Over a three-day period, more than a hundred veterans testified to atrocities they had witnessed committed by U.S. troops against Vietnamese civilians. Their expressed intention was to demonstrate that My Lai was not unique, that it was instead the inevitable result of U.S. policy. It was a travesty of justice, they claimed, to focus blame on the soldiers when it was the policy makers, McNamara, Bundy, Rostow, Johnson, LeMay, Nixon and the others who were truly responsible for the war crimes that had been committed.

In 2004, the release of the Abu Grahib photographs broke the unforgivable silence in the mainstream press about atrocities committed by American soldiers in Iraq. Haditha followed, then Mahmoudiyah, Ishaqi, and at this writing, countless other instances of savage, homicidal violence directed at civilians have been reported. The July 30 issue of the Nation included an article, "The Other War," by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian, which used interviews with 50 combat veterans to make the case that American soldiers are using indiscriminate and often lethal force in their dealings with Iraqi civilians. These veterans, the authors report, have "returned home deeply disturbed by the disparity between the reality of the war and the way it is portrayed by the U.S. government and American media." I would wager that they are more deeply disturbed by the reality itself than the way the media reports it, but certainly government and media distortions are another layer of betrayal. In a letter protesting that article, Paul Rieckhoff, president of the anti-war organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, made an argument parallel to that of VVAW, namely that "(a)nyone who wants to write a serious piece about the ethical lapses of the U.S. troops should start and end the article by putting blame where it belongs -- on the politicians who sent our troops to war unprepared and without a clear mission" (the Nation, 7/13/07).

I'm not suggesting that American soldiers take no responsibility for their actions. Like Rieckhoff, I would argue that we must balance outrage at criminal and sadistic acts with the insistence that we "guard against blaming this new generation of veterans for the terrible and tragic circumstances" that led to those acts. And I agree that, once again, the architects have been given a free pass and that the soldiers, who are doing exactly what they have been trained to do, are taking the blame. But I want to focus on an aspect of the situation that is never addressed in the mainstream media, and not often enough elsewhere: specifically that American troops are trained to act in criminal and sadistic ways.

Military training has been part of the experience of millions of young American men since the Revolutionary War. Prior to the Vietnam era, however, that training consisted largely of practicing military skills and learning to manage military equipment. It is only in the last half century that training has evolved into an entirely new phenomenon that makes use of the principles of operant conditioning to overcome what studies done over the last century have consistently demonstrated, namely, that healthy human beings have an inherent aversion to killing others of their own species.

Operant conditioning holds that organisms, including human beings, move through their environment rather haphazardly until they encounter a reinforcing stimulus. The experience of that stimulus becomes associated in memory with the behavior that immediately preceded it. In other words, a behavior is followed by a consequence, and the nature of the consequence, reward or punishment, modifies the organism's tendency to repeat the behavior. Today's recruits are intentionally and methodically subjected to a training regimen that is explicitly designed to turn them into reflexive killers. And it is very effective. It is also carefully concealed. The military would prefer to keep their methods out of sight because of the moral and ethical discussions, not to mention the legal restraints, which public scrutiny and constitutional debate might impose. Or so I would like to believe.

War Psychiatry, the army's textbook on combat trauma, notes that "pseudospeciation, the ability of humans and some other primates to classify certain members of their own species as 'other,' can neutralize the threshold of inhibition so they can kill conspecifics." Modern military training has developed carefully sequenced and choreographed elements of what many would call brainwashing to disconnect recruits from their civilian identities. The values, standards and behaviors they have absorbed over a lifetime from their families, schools, religions and communities are scorned and punished. Using cruelty, humiliation, degradation and cognitive disorientation, recruits are reprogrammed with an entirely new set of learned responses. Every aspect of combat behavior is rehearsed until response becomes reflexive. Operant conditioning has vastly improved the efficacy of American soldiers, at least by military standards. It has proven to be a reliable way to turn off the switch that controls a soldier's inherent aversion to killing. American soldiers do kill more often and more efficiently. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of On Killing, calls this form of training "psychological warfare, [but] psychological warfare conducted not upon the enemy, but upon one's own troops."

The psychological warfare that is being conducted on today's recruits is a truly disturbing indication of the worldview of our leadership, both military and political. The group identity they are drilling into these kids, the "insider" identity, is based on explicit contempt not only for the declared enemy of the week, but for the entire civilian population, with a special emphasis on women and homosexuals. In an army that is now 15 percent female and who knows (don't ask, don't tell) what percentage gay, drill instructors still rely on labels like "girl" or "pussy," "lady" or "fairy" to humiliate, degrade and ultimately exact conformity. Recruits are drilled with marching chants that privilege their relationships with their weapons over their relationships with women ("you used to be my beauty queen, now I love my M-16"), or that overtly conflate sex and violence ("this is my rifle, this is my gun; this is for fighting, this is for fun."). Aside from teaching these kids to quash their innate feelings about killing in general, they are being programmed with a distorted version of not only what it means to be a man, but of what it means to be a citizen. To ascend to the warrior class, one must learn to despise and distrust all that is not military. Chaim Shatan, a psychiatrist who worked with Vietnam-era veterans, described this transformative process as deliberate, as opposed to capricious, sadism, "whose purpose is to inculcate obedience to command."

There are any number of ways that modern training methods both support violence, aggression and obedience and help to disconnect a reflex action from its moral, ethical, spiritual or social implications, but one of the best illustrations of this process is the marching chants, or "jodies," as they are known in the services. "Jody" is the derivative of an African-American work song about Joe de Grinder, a devilish ladies' man who is at home making time with the soldier's girlfriend while the soldier is stuck in the war ("ain't no use in going home; Jody's on your telephone"). According to the military, jodies build morale while distracting attention from monotonous, often strenuous, exertion. The following, originally a product of the Vietnam era, has been resurrected for training purposes in every war since and is an example of the kind of morale building that has been judged appropriate to the formation of an American soldier:

Shell the town and kill the people.
Drop the napalm in the square.
Do it on a Sunday morning
While they're on their way to prayer.

Aim your missiles at the schoolhouse.
See the teacher ring the bell.
See the children's smiling faces
As their schoolhouse burns to hell

Throw some candy to the children.
Wait till they all gather round.
Then you take your M-16 now
And mow the little fuckers down.

Thankfully, the brainwashing has not yet been developed that will override the humanity of most American soldiers. According to the troops interviewed in the Nation, the kind of psychotic brutality described in the marching cadence above is indulged by only a minority. Still, they described atrocities committed against civilians as "common" -- and almost never punished. As multiple deployments become the norm, however, and as more scrambled psyches are sent back into combat instead of into treatment, it is frightening to consider that the brainwashing may yet prevail. Given the training to which these soldiers have been subjected and the chaotic conditions in which they find themselves, it is inevitable that more will succumb to fear and rage and frustration. They will inevitably be overwhelmed by cumulative doses of horror, and they will lose control of their judgment and their compassion. Thirty-six years ago, American veterans tried to cut through the smoke and mirrors of the official response to civilian atrocities, the version that scapegoated soldiers and ignored those who gave the orders. As then Lt. John Kerry put it, "We could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel (that it is) not reds, and not redcoats (that threaten this country), but the crimes which we are committing." The soldiers who, following orders, have run over children in the road rather than slow down their convoy will never be the same again, regardless of whether government and the media tell the truth. Nor will the soldiers manning checkpoints who shoot, as ordered, and kill entire families who failed to stop, only to learn later that no one had bothered to share with them that the American signal to stop -- a hand held up, palm towards the oncoming vehicle -- to an Iraqi means, "Hello, come here." I have heard a number of the men cited in the Nation article speak about their combat experiences, and they are tormented by what they saw and did. They want to tell their stories, not because they are looking for absolution, but because they want to believe that Americans want to know. But neither are they willing to take the blame.

They have already carried home the psychic wounds and the dangerous reflexive habits of violence that will always diminish their lives and their relationships. In return, they are hoping we will listen to them this time when they ask us to look a little harder, dig a little deeper, use a little more discernment. Or have we already arrived at a point in our collective moral development when, as Shatan predicted, "Like Eichmann, we … consider evil to be banal and routine?"

Penny Coleman is the widow of a Vietnam veteran who took his own life after coming home. Her latest book, Flashback: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide and the Lessons of War, was released on Memorial Day, 2006.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Beating Louder on Iran - Bush's War Drums

Former CIA Analyst

It is as though I'm back as an analyst at the CIA, trying to estimate the chances of an attack on Iran. The putative attacker, though, happens to be our own president.

It is precisely the kind of work we analysts used to do. And, while it is still a bit jarring to be turning our analytical tools on the U.S. leadership, it is by no means entirely new. For, of necessity, we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) have been doing that for almost six years now-ever since 9/11, when "everything changed."

Of necessity? Yes, because, with very few exceptions, American journalists put their jobs at grave risk if they expose things like fraudulent wars.

The craft of CIA analysis was designed to be an all-source operation, meaning that we analysts were responsible-and held accountable-for assimilating information from all sources and coming to judgments on what it all meant. We used data of various kinds, from the most sophisticated technical collection platforms, to spies, to-not least-open media.

Here I must reveal a trade secret and risk puncturing the mystique of intelligence analysis. Generally speaking, 80 percent of the information one needs to form judgments on key intelligence targets or issues is available in open media. It helps to have been trained-as my contemporaries and I had the good fortune to be trained-by past masters of the discipline of media analysis, which began in a structured way in targeting Japanese and German media in the 1940s. But, truth be told, anyone with a high school education can do it. It is not rocket science.

Reporting From Informants

The above is in no way intended to minimize the value of intelligence collection by CIA case officers recruiting and running clandestine agents. For, though small in percentage of the whole nine yards available to be analyzed, information from such sources can often make a crucial contribution. Consider, for example, the daring recruitment in mid-2002 of Saddam Hussein's foreign minister, Naji Sabri, who was successfully "turned" into working for the CIA and quickly established his credibility. Sabri told us there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

My former colleagues, perhaps a bit naively, were quite sure this would come as a welcome relief to President George W. Bush and his advisers. Instead, they were told that the White House had no further interest in reporting from Sabri; rather, that the issue was not really WMD, it was "regime change." (Don't feel embarrassed if you did not know this; although it is publicly available, our corporate- owned, war profiteering media has largely suppressed this key story.)

One former colleague, operations officer-par-excellence Robert Baer, now reports (in this week's Time) that, according to his sources, the Bush/Cheney administration is winding up for a strike on Iran;" that the administration's plan to put Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the terrorism list points in the direction of such a strike; and that the delusional "neo-conservative" thinking that still guides White House policy concludes that such an attack would lead to the fall of the clerics and the rise of a more friendly Iran.

Hold on, it gets even worse: Baer's sources tell him that administration officials are thinking "as long as we have bombers and missiles in the air, we will hit Iran's nuclear facilities."

Rove and Snow: Going Wobbly?

Our VIPS colleague Phil Geraldi, writing in The American Conservative, earlier noted that in the past Karl Rove has served as a counterweight to Vice President Dick Cheney, and may have tried to put the brakes on Cheney's death wish to expand the Middle East quagmire to Iran. And former Pentagon officer, retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the most devoted neo-cons just before the attack on Iraq, has put into words (on speculation several of us have been indulging in with respect to Rove's departure.

In short, it seems possible that Rove, who is no one's dummy and would not want to be required to "spin" an unnecessary war on Iran, may have lost the battle with Cheney over the merits of a military strike on Iran, and only then decided-or was urged-to spend more time with his family. As for administration spokesperson Tony Snow, it seems equally possible that, before deciding he had to leave the White House to make more money, he concluded that his stomach could not withstand the challenge of conjuring up yet another Snow job to explain why Bush/Cheney needed to attack Iran. There is recent precedent for this kind of thing.

We now know that it was because former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld went wobbly on the Iraq war-as can be seen in his Nov. 6, 2006 memo to the president-that Rumsfeld was canned. (That was the day BEFORE the election.) In that memo, Rumsfeld called for a "major adjustment" in war policy. And so, Robert Gates, who had been waiting in the wings, was called to Crawford, given the test for malleability, hired, and dispatched by the president immediately to Iraq to weigh in heavily with the most senior U.S. generals (Abizaid and Casey). They had been saying, quite openly, Please, please; no more troops; a surge would simply give the Iraqis still more time and opportunity to diddle us while American troops continue to die. So much for the president always listening to his senior military commanders. And the bug of reality was infecting even Rumsfeld.

In his memo to the president, Rumsfeld suggested that U.S. generals "withdraw U.S. forces from vulnerable positions-cities, patrolling, etc.," and move troops to Kuwait to serve as a Quick Reaction Force. Bush, of course, chose to do just the opposite.

Our domesticated press has not yet been able to put two and two together on this story, so it has been left to investigative reporters like Robert Parry to do so. In his Aug. 17 essay, "Rumsfeld's Mysterious Resignation", Parry closes with this:

"The touchy secret about Rumsfeld's departure seems to have been that Bush didn't want the American people to know that one of the chief Iraq War architects had turned against the idea of an open-ended military commitment and that Bush had found himself with no choice but to oust Rumsfeld for his loss of faith in the neoconservative cause."

Granted, it is speculative that similar factors, this time with respect to war planning for Iran, were at work in the decisions on the departure of Rove and Snow. Someone ought to ask them.

Surgical Strikes First?

With the propaganda buildup we have seen so far on Iran, what seems most likely, at least initially, is an attack on Revolutionary Guard training facilities inside Iran. That can be done with cruise missiles. With some twenty targets already identified by anti-Iranian groups, there are enough assets already in place to do that job. But the "while-we're-at-it" neo-con logic referred to above may well be applied after, or even in conjunction with, that kind of limited cruise missile attack.

Cheerleading in the Domesticated Media

Yes, it is happening again.

The lead editorial in yesterday's Washington Post regurgitates the allegations that Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps is "supplying the weapons that are killing a growing number of American soldiers in Iraq;" that it is "waging war against the United States and trying to kill as many American soldiers as possible." Designating Iran a "specially designated global terrorist" organization, says the Post, "seems to be the least the United States should be doing, giving the soaring number of Iranian-sponsored bomb attacks in Iraq."

It's as though Dick Cheney and friends are again writing the Post's editorials. And not only that: arch neo-con James Woolsey told Lou Dobbs on Aug. 14 that the US may have no choice but to bomb Iran in order to halt its nuclear weapons program. As Woolsey puts it, "I'm afraid within, well, at worst, a few months; at best, a few years; they could have the bomb."

Woolsey, self-described "anchor of the Presbyterian wing of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs," has long been out in front plumbing for wars, like Iraq, that he and other neo-cons myopically see as being in Israel's, as well as America's, interest. On the evening of 9/11, Woolsey was already raising with Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings the notion that Iraq was a leading candidate for state sponsorship of the attacks. A day later, Woolsey told journalist James Fallows that, no matter who proved responsible for 9/11, the solution had to include removing Saddam Hussein because he was so likely to be involved the next time (sic).

The latest media hype is also rubbish. And Woolsey knows it. And so do reporters for the Washington Post, who are aware of, but have been forbidden to tell, a highly interesting story about waiting for a key National Intelligence Estimate-as if for Godot.

The NIE That Didn't Bark

The latest National Intelligence Estimate regarding if and when Iran is likely to have the bomb has been ready since February. It has been sent back four times-no doubt because its conclusions do not support what Cheney and Woolsey are telling the president and, through the domesticated press, telling the rest of us as well.

The conclusion of the most recent published NIE (early 2005) was that Iran probably could not acquire a nuclear weapon until "early to mid-next decade," a formula memorized and restated by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell at his confirmation hearing in February. One can safely assume that McConnell had been fully briefed on the first "final draft" of the new estimate, which has now been in limbo for half a year. And I would wager that the conclusions of the new estimate resemble those of the NIE of 2005 far too closely to suit Cheney.

It is a scandal that the congressional oversight committees have not been briefed on the conclusions of the new estimate, even though it cannot pass Cheney's smell test. For it is a safe bet it would give the lie to the claims of Cheney, Woolsey, and other cheerleaders for war with Iran and provide powerful ammunition to those arguing for a more sensible approach to Iran.

But Attacking Iran Would Be Crazy

Despite the administration's war-like record, many Americans may still cling to the belief that attacking Iran won't happen because it would be crazy; that Bush is a lame-duck president who wouldn't dare undertake yet another reckless adventure when the last one went so badly.

But rationality and common sense have not exactly been the strong suit of this administration. Bush has placed himself in a neoconservative bubble that operates with its own false sense of reality. Worse still: as psychiatrist Justin Frank pointed out in the July 27 VIPS memo "Dangers of a Cornered Bush," updating his book, Bush on the Couch:"

"We are left with a president who cannot actually govern, because he is incapable of reasoned thought in coping with events outside his control, like those in the Middle East.

"This makes it a monumental challenge-as urgent as it is difficult-not only to get him to stop the carnage in the Middle East, but also to prevent him from undertaking a new, perhaps even more disastrous adventure-like going to war with Iran, in order to embellish the image he so proudly created for himself after 9/11 as the commander in chief of 'the first war of the 21st century.'"


Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990 and Robert Gates' branch chief in the early 1970s. McGovern now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). He is a contributor to Imperial Crusades, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. He can be reached at:

An earlier, shorter version of this piece appeared on


Not So Fast, Christian Soldiers. You are the real terrorists.

Maybe what the war in Iraq needs is not more troops but more religion. At least that’s the message the Department of Defense seems to be sending.

Last week, after an investigation spurred by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Pentagon abruptly announced that it would not be delivering “freedom packages” to our soldiers in Iraq, as it had originally intended.

What were the packages to contain? Not body armor or home-baked cookies. Rather, they held Bibles, proselytizing material in English and Arabic and the apocalyptic computer game “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” (derived from the series of post-Rapture novels), in which “soldiers for Christ” hunt down enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers.

The packages were put together by a fundamentalist Christian ministry called Operation Straight Up, or OSU. Headed by former kickboxer Jonathan Spinks, OSU is an official member of the Defense Department’s “America Supports You” program. The group has staged a number of Christian-themed shows at military bases, featuring athletes, strongmen and actor-turned-evangelist Stephen Baldwin. But thanks in part to the support of the Pentagon, Operation Straight Up has now begun focusing on Iraq, where, according to its website (on pages taken down last week), it planned an entertainment tour called the “Military Crusade.”

Apparently the wonks at the Pentagon forgot that Muslims tend to bristle at the word “crusade” and thought that what the Iraq war lacked was a dose of end-times theology.

In the end, the Defense Department realized the folly of participating in any Operation Straight Up crusade. But the episode is just another example of increasingly disturbing, and indeed unconstitutional, relationships being forged between the U.S. military and private evangelical groups.

Take, for instance, the recent scandal involving Christian Embassy, a group whose expressed purpose is to proselytize to military personnel, diplomats, Capitol Hill staffers and political appointees. In a shocking breach of security, Defense Department officials allowed a Christian Embassy film crew to roam the corridors of the Pentagon unescorted while making a promotional video featuring high-ranking officers and political appointees. (Christian Embassy, which holds prayer meetings weekly at the Pentagon, is so entrenched that Air Force Maj. Gen. John J. Catton Jr. said he’d assumed the organization was a “quasi-federal entity.”)

The Pentagon’s inspector general recently released a report recommending unspecified “corrective action” for those officers who appeared in the video for violating Defense Department regulations. But, in a telling gesture, the report avoided any discussion of how allowing an evangelical group to function within the Defense Department is an obvious violation of the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment.

The extent to which such relationships have damaged international goodwill toward the U.S. is beyond measure. As the inspector general noted, a leading Turkish newspaper, Sabah, published an article on Air Force Maj. Gen. Peter Sutton, who is the U.S. liaison to the Turkish military — and who appeared in the Christian Embassy video. The article described Christian Embassy as a “radical fundamentalist sect,” perhaps irreparably damaging Sutton’s primary job objective of building closer ties to the Turkish General Staff, which has expressed alarm at the influence of fundamentalist Christian groups inside the U.S. military.

Our military personnel swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not the Bible. Yet by turning a blind eye to OSU and Christian Embassy activities, the Pentagon is, in essence, endorsing their proselytizing. And sometimes it’s more explicit than that.

That certainly was the case with Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence. The Pentagon put him in charge of the hunt for Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in 2003. The same year, Boykin was found to be touring American churches, where he gave speeches — in uniform — casting the Iraq war in end-times terms. “We’re in is a spiritual battle,” he told one congregation in Oregon. “Satan wants to destroy this nation . . . and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army.” The story wound up in newspapers, magazines and on “60 Minutes.” And, of course, it was reported all over the Muslim world. The Pentagon reacted with a collective shrug.

American military and political officials must, at the very least, have the foresight not to promote crusade rhetoric in the midst of an already religion-tinged war. Many of our enemies in the Mideast already believe that the world is locked in a contest between Christianity and Islam. Why are our military officials validating this ludicrous claim with their own fiery religious rhetoric?

It’s time to actively strip the so-called war on terror of its religious connotations, not add to them. Because religious wars are not just ugly, they are unwinnable. And despite what Operation Straight Up and its supporters in the Pentagon may think is taking place in Iraq, the Rapture is not a viable exit strategy.

Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times

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U.S. Use of Radiological Weapons - Calls for an International Tribunal

By Mark H. Gaffney

08/23/07 "ICH" -- - In 1991 the US military introduced a new weapon that the people of the world–––with hindsight–––will probably come to view as symbolic of America’s failed leadership after the Cold War. The introduced weapon was a new kind of munition: shells and bullets made from depleted uranium (DU). It turned out to be extremely effective in the first Gulf War against the forces of Saddam Hussein. Unfortunately, the DU weapons also proved nearly as dangerous to our own troops and to Iraqi civilians. The military alliance cobbled together by George Bush Sr. won a decisive victory in that war. But since its conclusion at least 13,000 American veterans have died from DU-related causes, far more than the 148 who died in combat; and of the nearly 700,000 who served in the war at least 250,000 are now (in 2007) permanently disabled; a percentage far higher than in any previous war.[1] Despite this, Pentagon generals continue to insist that DU munitions pose no danger, and remain committed to their use. Even as I write, the Department of Defense (DoD) moves ahead with research that could lead to the deployment of DU weapons in space.[2]

Yet, a UN Sub-Committee has declared DU weapons illegal, and last November the European Union (EU) issued its fourth call for a DU moratorium. More and more frequently, one hears the charge that America’s use of these weapons in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia was a war crime. In 2004, for example, a citizen’s tribunal in Japan convicted George W. Bush in absentia for crimes against humanity.[3] Is America headed for a showdown with the world over depleted uranium?

Although hyperbole has muddied the issue, the bare facts are shocking and need no amplification. Depleted Uranium (DU) is primarily U-238, the isotope of uranium that remains after the fissionable isotope, U-235, has been extracted from natural uranium ore. When enriched to 3% the preferred isotope, U-235, is used to fuel nuclear reactors. When further enriched to 90% or more it becomes “weapons grade” and is suitable for use in nuclear weapons. Enrichment thus “depletes” the natural uranium of its isotopic fraction of U-235. Depleted uranium (99.8% pure U-238) is the by-product of this separation process and was long viewed as a waste. Over the years hundreds of thousands of tons of the stuff accumulated on US military reservations. In fact, because of its low-level radioactivity and 4.5 billion-year half-life, DU presents a long-term storage headache.

In the 1970s the US military got serious about utilizing this waste after the Soviets introduced a superior kind of armor. Quite suddenly, the Pentagon found itself in need of a new penetrating weapon. DU offered attractive possibilities because it is extremely dense–––uranium is 1.7 times as heavy as lead. For this reason, tank shells made of U-238 have formidable kinetic energy: they will slice through the heaviest steel armor like the proverbial hot knife through butter. Quite simply, nothing can withstand them. Although uranium is very soft, when alloyed with titanium it becomes tough enough to retain its shape when fired out of a tank barrel. Today, several companies make DU shells for the US military. These include Starmet Corporation, based in Concord, Massachusetts, and Aerojet, with plants in California and Tennessee. In the 1990s Alliant Techsystems (formerly Honeywell), based in Minneapolis, also produced millions of DU rounds for the US Air Force. In 2006 Alliant also received new orders worth $77 million to produce 120mm tank shells.[4]

In addition to being an extremely effective penetrator, U-238 is pyrophoric, meaning that it ignites at high velocity. When a ten-pound uranium shell slices through a target vehicle it sheds a part of its mass, causing a firestorm of burning and non-burning uranium fragments. These, in turn, cause catastrophic secondary fires and explosions. In war footage of Desert Storm the flaming DU shells can be seen arcing like tracers across the night sky. The slender rounds are solid DU–––no explosive charge is needed. Each has a plastic outer casing known as a sabot, which centers the round in the bore and which falls away after the shell exits the gun tube. The war footage is graphic. It shows that targeted Iraqi vehicles stood no chance. Pity the poor Iraqi soldiers who came under DU attack. Very few lived to tell about it. Within seconds, most were charred beyond recognition in an incendiary fireball. US military jargon even coined a new term, “crispy critters,” to describe the grisly Iraqi corpses of war.

When DU burns it oxidizes, reaching extreme temperatures (i.e., 3,000-5,000 C). On impact, between 40-70% of the depleted uranium is transformed into an aerosol of extremely fine U-238 particles which contaminate the battlefield long after the war. Geiger counter measurements confirm that even years later, burned-out Iraqi tanks were still hot: 1,000-2,000 times as radioactive as background, with the surrounding desert contaminated to a lesser degree.[5] Continuous exposure to this level of irradiation would be like having a chest X-ray every few minutes.[6] U-238 produces high energy gamma and beta radiation (which are electrons). But most of the emission is in the form of alpha particles, which are charged helium nuclei (i.e., He++). The alpha particles cannot penetrate human skin and for this reason the Pentagon claims that DU is harmless. The claim is false, however. As we will see, the dangers have been understated. Artillery and tank crews who handled DU shells were exposed to continuous alpha, beta and gamma radiation over weeks and months. But they probably had less exposure than soldiers who inhaled DU-laden smoke and dust, whether in combat or during clean-up operations after the war. Most US troops were unaware–––no one bothered to inform them–––that the use of DU rounds had spread low-level radioactive waste across the battlefield. After the fighting, tens of thousands of American soldiers frolicked among the burned-out Iraqi tanks, gathering souvenirs and posing for photographs like curious tourists. Others scavenged spare parts from US vehicles contaminated by “friendly fire,” oblivious that they were endangering themselves with every breath.

The fire at Doha

The contaminated zones were not limited to Iraq. Large parts of Kuwait were also affected, including the infamous “highway of death” where the US destroyed Saddam’s army as it retreated north out of Kuwait City. Several areas in Saudi Arabia were contaminated before the war during training exercises. There was even a major accidental release after the fighting ended, which I’m going to recount in detail because it illustrates the problems. In July 1991 a fire broke out in a motor-pool at the US base at Doha, north of Kuwait City. The fire started during refueling, and was caused by static electricity. It spread first to parked vehicles and then to a nearby ammunition dump.[7] Witnesses later said that explosions rocked the compound for six hours, scattering unexploded ordnance and debris over much of the 500-acre base. The raging fires destroyed or damaged dozens of buildings and more than 100 vehicles, including several M-1 Abrams tanks fully loaded with DU shells.

The fire consumed an estimated $14 million in munitions, including 660 120mm DU rounds, about half of which were completely oxidized. A thick fume of black and white smoke reportedly billowed hundreds of feet above the base and drifted east-southeast toward Kuwait City. No warning was ever issued about the toxic danger posed by the DU-laden smoke and ash.[8] After the fire, soldiers worked on the clean up without even face masks or the standard protective clothing required by military regulations.[9]

The scene must have been surreal. Witnesses later reported seeing hundreds of GIs sweeping up the compound with brooms. A team with the equipment used to test for alpha radiation was dispatched to the base, but for reasons that are still unclear no monitoring was ever done. During a December 26, 1999 broadcast of the CBS weekly news show 60 Minutes, Morley Safer reported that CBS had obtained copies of military communications and incident log books which proved that the military was aware of the hazards, yet, failed to follow its own safety protocols. The base remained open despite DU contamination. Many thousands of US soldiers who transited through Doha in the months and years after the fire suffered exposure, as Kuwait’s seasonal wind storms remobilized the DU ash and dust. In fact, the contaminated base remains in operation to this day.

Clean-up? Or Cover-up?

But even if the military had issued respirators at Doha, it’s doubtful they would have protected our soldiers, given the lessons learned during a limited clean-up operation after the war; whose purpose was to dispose of about three-dozen DU-contaminated tanks and vehicles destroyed during “friendly fire” incidents. This limited operation was led by a reservist, Maj. Doug Rokke, a physicist in private life, who says his orders were signed by the field commander, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf.[10]

There were no field manuals. Rokke’s team had to develop the procedures on their own, through trial-and-error. Their first chore was the ticklish one of manually removing the unexploded DU ordnance still on-board the contaminated Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting vehicles. To accomplish this Rokke’s men had to enter and work inside the contaminated vehicles. There was no way to avoid stirring up the DU ash and dust that covered every surface. The men wore standard military-issue face masks, but according to Rokke they were useless. The problem was that the dust came right through the filters. The men lived with the constant metallic taste and smell of uranium oxide. The masks were of the cheapest design, and did not even meet the HEPA standard current in US industry. (HEPA, or High Efficiency Particulate Air filters, remove 99% of dust particles down to .3 microns in size.) Particles of 5 microns or less are breathable. But not even HEPA filters would have afforded full protection because the aerosols produced on impact by DU rounds are loaded with 0.1 micron-sized DU particles, as well as smaller nanoparticles ranging down to .01 microns. No known filter can prevent inhalation of particles of this size. Within 72 hours everyone on Rokke’s team developed skin rashes and began to complain of respiratory problems.

Although sick, his men persisted. But it took them more than three months just to package 24 contaminated/destroyed vehicles for shipment back to the states. This included 15 Abrams tanks and 9 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The team left behind a number of more badly contaminated vehicles: buried in a large hole in the desert. The Army spent $4 million to expand a facility in South Carolina for the purpose of decontaminating the returned equipment, but what the Army ended up with was an expensive holding facility: all for a mere 24 vehicles.[11] The US military had no plans at the time, and has no plans today, to clean up the thousands of Iraqi tanks, armored personnel carriers, trucks and other vehicles destroyed in the 1991 war. Later, the Kuwaiti government hired a private contractor, the Halliburton Corporation, to move most of the burned-out hulks in the vicinity of Kuwait City to a dump in the western desert, according to a plan prepared by Rokke and his colleagues. The site became known as the “Bone yard.” Nothing was done for Iraq, however. Untold numbers of contaminated tanks and vehicles still litter the southern part of the country, to this day.

In 1994 Maj. Rokke was named director of the Army’s Depleted Uranium Project, and was tasked to develop a training program to prepare US soldiers to handle DU weapons. Rokke was also assigned to develop environmental clean up procedures. After extensive research, including field trials at the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) nuclear test site in Nevada, Rokke put together a comprehensive three-tier 40-hour educational program that employed videos and was based on the best available science, including work done by the DoD’s own scientists. Rokke and his team also prepared the reports and documents that became standard Army regulations about how to handle DU.[12] The Pentagon even saw fit to award Rokke two medals for this work. One citation commended him for "meritorious service while assigned as the depleted uranium project leader...Your outstanding achievements have prepared our soldiers for hazards and will have a vast payoff in the health, safety, and protection of all soldiers."[13]

But the Pentagon never used Rokke’s training program and videos, not even during the run-up to the second Gulf War.[14] Instead, in 1996 Maj. Doug Rokke was fired. Why? Simple: His training program and validating research acknowledged a plain truth that the general staff found politically unacceptable: that once DU is released as an aerosol into the environment it is virtually impossible to clean up. The Pentagon feared and probably still fears that such an admission will fuel opposition to its continued use of DU weapons. As Rokke put it: "They'd wanted 'proponency' [sic] for DU weapons, and I was giving them the opposite."[15]

A notorious 1991 memorandum by Lt. Col. M.V. Ziehmn of the Los Alamos Lab had cautioned the Department of Defense (DoD) that “if no one [i.e., at the Pentagon] makes the case for the effectiveness for DU on the battlefield, DU rounds may become politically unacceptable and thus, be deleted from the arsenal...I believe we should keep this sensitive issue in mind when after-action reports are being written.”[16] Rokke interpreted the memo as an instruction to be less than candid about DU’s health and environmental impact. When he refused, he was terminated.

Rokke and his men paid a heavy price for the service they rendered to the nation trying to clean up the DU mess created during Desert Storm. According to Rokke, almost every member of his 100-man team is now either sick or dead from various diseases, including lymphoma and other cancers. It’s a charge the Pentagon has denied,[17] but which the affected veterans and their families can easily confirm. Rokke also claims the Veteran’s Administration (VA) refused medical care to his men, even while they were dying; and he further accuses the military of willfully destroying medical records and personnel files to avoid liability. Rokke’s own health was seriously impaired. When the VA finally tested him he learned that he has 5,000 times the permissible level of uranium in his body. Rokke, currently retired/disabled, has endured 18 kidney operations, as well as eye and gastrointestinal surgery, and he continues to have medical problems directly related to his exposure to DU.

The 1999 RAND Study

Even as tens of thousands of veterans became sick after the Gulf War, the Department of Defense stubbornly denied that DU was responsible. Many vets were told they were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The Pentagon took the position that because DU is only 60% as radioactive as natural uranium, it is harmless. After 1999, military spokespersons also frequently cited a study completed that year by the RAND Corporation, which found no evidence of harmful DU exposure during Desert Storm. The RAND team conducted no research of its own. It merely reviewed the peer-reviewed scientific literature on uranium toxicity. As RAND conceded, there were few published DU studies, as most of the early research was driven by the need to establish standards for the uranium milling/mining industry; for which reason most of the literature deals with exposure to natural or enriched uranium. While all uranium is hazardous inside the human body, dust particles of natural unprocessed uranium tend to be less invasive because they are relatively large in size; hence, are not inhaled as easily.[18] Moreover, the tiny cilia in the bronchial passages are efficient at removing particles of this size during breathing. When swallowed in food or water, natural uranium also tends to pass through the GI tract attached to organic matter without much absorption.[19]

Critics countered that the Pentagon itself funded and even partly staffed the RAND study, for which reason it cannot be regarded as an independent assessment. Critics also pointed out that the RAND report is far from comprehensive. A peace activist named Gretel Munroe identified 70 pertinent scientific papers that RAND failed to consider.[20]

Some of these were DU studies conducted under contract to various branches of the US military, including a comprehensive DU investigation completed just six months before Desert Storm by none other than the Army itself.[21] This latter study accurately foresaw that the use of DU penetrators in combat would release large amounts of depleted uranium oxides. It noted that DU is a “low-level alpha radiation emitter which is linked to cancer when exposures are internal.” The Army study warned that aerosol exposures to both soldiers and civilians “could be significant with potential radiological and toxicological effects.” It also correctly predicted that exposed soldiers would suffer cancers and kidney problems. The Army’s prescient report acknowledged that “some form of remedial action in a post-combat environment” would be needed after the war, in other words, a clean up. It even warned that the long-term health risks could make the continued use of DU weapons socially and politically unacceptable. How did the Pentagon react to its own study? Simple. By ignoring it; and RAND did likewise. Both also ignored a 1993 study by the US Government Accounting Office (GAO), which concluded that “the health hazards [from DU] occur primarily due to internal exposures. Soluble forms present chemical hazards to the kidneys, while insoluble forms present hazards to the lungs from ionizing radiation, with particle size being an important factor.”[22] Importantly, these studies also acknowledged that exposure to DU particulates is very different from exposure to natural uranium dust, for which reason RAND’s reliance on studies of natural uranium was inappropriate, and its conclusions dubious.

According to the Pentagon, DU is so inert you can eat the stuff without harm. Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Cohen made a statement to this effect in 1996. And while it’s probably true that U-238, if ingested, will pass through the gut like natural uranium, without much absorption, nonetheless, Cohen’s statement ignored the fact that when high-velocity DU shells impact hard objects the DU is transformed into a much more invasive substance. Once aerosolized, DU is loose in the environment and it’s only a matter of time before it finds its way into water and food; in which case, DU particles, due to their small size, are easily absorbable through the intestinal lining. They are even more easily inhaled, and will even pass through the skin, making exposure unavoidable in contaminated areas. Submicron-sized DU particles behave like a gas. They are too small to be removed by the cilia in the bronchioles and have no trouble reaching the tiny alveolar sacs in the lungs. In fact, particles of this size can pass directly into the blood and will cross every blood-barrier in the body. Naomi Harley, one of the authors of the RAND study, demonstrated her ignorance of the serious implications of this size factor in her July 1999 testimony before the Presidential Special Oversight Board, where she stated that DU will not cross the blood-brain barrier.[23] Nonsense. Aerosolized DU particles move with ease into the brain, which, no doubt, explains the many neurological problems reported by Gulf War veterans.[24] DU particles also cross the placenta into the unborn child, which is extremely serious because the fetus is especially vulnerable to both radiological and chemical toxicity. No doubt, this explains the increased level of birth abnormalities reported in the children of Gulf War vets, and the even higher incidence in Iraq, where mothers no longer ask, “Is it a boy, or a girl?, but rather: “Is my baby normal?”[25]

Aerosolized DU is also different from unprocessed natural uranium in another important respect. Under the conditions of extreme temperature and high velocity impact, DU particles are rendered ceramic-like, which makes them insoluble. The body has trouble excreting them, for which reason they tend to persist. This explains why 8-10 years after the war veterans of Desert Storm were still excreting DU in their urine, semen, and even in their sweat.[26] This retention of DU poses serious health risks for a number of reasons: firstly, because radiation, even low-level radiation, is cumulative. In fact, the term “low-level radiation” is a misnomer. It is misleading because it wrongly suggests that low-level radiation is not dangerous. Recent studies show just the opposite: that a low-level alpha source inside the body is even more dangerous per unit of exposure than higher levels of radiation. While it is true that an alpha particle, due to its vastly greater size and mass, does not travel nearly as far as an X-ray, the new research indicates that a single alpha particle can cause 1,000 times as much damage.[27]

Low-level alpha emission in the lung causes scar tissue and greatly increases the risk of lung cancer. Some of the insoluble DU is also scavenged from the lung into the thoracic lymph nodes, where it damages the immune system and also causes lymphoma and leukemia. Many DU nano-particles are also absorbed into the blood and transported via cholesterol and lipids throughout the body. Some DU is excreted by the kidneys, but not all. Much of it accumulates in organs, tissues and bones, and even in human semen. In fact, DU’s affinity for the sexual organs is an especially serious problem because DU is known to cause chromosomal damage, thus burdening future generations with birth abnormalities. The problem is a double whammy: DU is a mutagen due to its radiological properties, and also due to its chemical properties because it is a heavy metal. It turns out that uranium has a chemical affinity for phosphate. Diane Stearns, a biochemist at Northern Arizona University, recently showed that when living cells are exposed to uranium the uranium binds to the phosphate structure in the DNA and causes mutations from chemical effects, quite apart from the radioactive properties.[28]

Finally, new research indicates that DU’s radiological and chemical effects are not additive, but act in synergy. The combination of the two is much worse than the sum of both. A 2002 paper by Dr. Alexandra C. Miller, a chemist at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFRRI), described an in vivo study that found DU to be much more damaging to DNA than would be expected solely on the basis of U-238’s radiolytic properties. Miller attributed this to a synergistic multiplier effect.[29]

In a 2003 interview she told the Guardian: “you can get more than an eight-fold greater effect than you’d expect.”[30] Miller’s findings are potentially explosive because they flatly contradict the official position of the Department of Defense (her boss) that DU presents no serious dangers. This probably explains why the Pentagon subsequently muzzled one of their top scientists. In 2006 the DoD refused to allow the BBC to interview Dr. Miller.[31] The BBC reported that the Pentagon also turned down Miller’s repeated requests for funding to continue her DU research (in 2004, 2005 and 2006). Obviously, if you don’t look, you won’t discover unpleasant facts.

Gulf War Sickness: a progressive wasting condition

All of the above helps to explain why Gulf War sickness is not a single malady, but a progressive wasting condition. One physician defined it as “a complex incapacitating multi-organ system disorder.”[32[ The many symptoms and associated conditions read like a litany of horrors: fatigue, shortness of breath, joint pain, bleeding gums and lesions, headaches and neurological problems, memory loss, kidney dysfunction, bloody stools, flu-like symptoms, pneumonia, gynecological infections in female soldiers, unsteady gait, rashes and, ultimately, cancer and premature death. Nor is this a comprehensive list. Put simply: DU trashes the body.

Although nearly 700,000 American soldiers served in the first Gulf War, we still don’t know how many were exposed to DU because the Pentagon refused to screen and test our veterans. Although Army regulations require the testing/treatment for GIs wounded by, or exposed to, radioactive materials, including DU, not even one of the hundreds of thousand of soldiers with known or suspected exposure to DU was tested or treated after the war. The Pentagon obviously shrank from a full accounting because it feared the fiscal liability of caring for so many sick vets. The Veteran’s Administration (VA) even dragged its feet caring for the most obviously affected, i.e., the unfortunate troops exposed to large amounts of DU in so-called “friendly fire” incidents. Seven years after the war the Pentagon was still grossly under-reporting the actual number of US soldiers who had come under DU attack by our own side. Why fudge the numbers? Well, probably because the many self-inflicted casualties were an embarrassment.

But fiscal liability and public embarrassment were not the only, nor even the primary, reasons why the Pentagon sought to conceal the facts about DU weapons. The main reason is that the generals fully intended to use them again. Certainly the Pentagon was not keen on giving them up. Let us remember: During the 1990s Iraq was a free-fire zone. No doubt, the US military continued using DU weapons through this period, in which case the actual expenditure was much greater than the officially acknowledged 340 tons. During the 1994-95 Bosnian War the US used DU weapons again, some 10 tons, and another 3 tons in Kosovo in 1999. The US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt, nicknamed the “Warthog,” accounted for most of the DU expended in these wars, as in Desert Storm. The attack plane’s main weapon is an advanced Gatling gun, the GAU-8 Avenger, mounted in the nose of the plane. The gun is so enormous that the plane literally had to be designed around it. This accounts for its ungainly appearance, and the nickname. But the Warthog was never designed for good looks. Its rotating cannon is all business, and lays down a devastating barrage of thousands of 30mm DU rounds per minute.

Horror in Basra

Beginning in 1993, Iraqi doctors reported a disturbing increase in the incidence of malignancies around Basra, in southern Iraq. Basra is Iraq’s second largest city and is located near the battlefields where most of the DU was expended in the first Gulf War. An epidemiological study conducted by Dr. Alim Yacoub, a British-educated trained doctor and dean of the medical school at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, and his colleague, Dr. Jenan Hassan from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Basra, found that between 1990-2001 all types of malignancies quadrupled. During this same period the number of birth defects increased six-fold. Moreover, the incidence of childhood leukemia jumped from just 2 cases in 1990 to 41 in 2001, a shocking twenty-fold increase. Even more disturbing was a further spike to 53 cases of leukemia in 2002, a 22% increase in a single year; which suggested that an acceleration was underway.[33]

The observed onset in 1993 jibes with the known latency period of leukemia, which can be as short as 2-3 years. The cancer epidemic was exacerbated by the UN embargo, which prevented urgently needed medicines from reaching the victims. Although the Iraqi doctors did not have access to western medical journals, Dr. Thomas Fasy of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine presented their research at a 2003 health conference in New York City. Dr. Fasy had traveled to Basra some months before. Although the Iraqi physicians lacked the necessary scientific equipment to establish a firm link to inhaled or ingested DU, Dr. Hari Sharma, a Canadian radio-chemist, later confirmed the link. When Dr. Sharma examined tissue samples of 38 dead Iraqis from Basra using a supersensitive instrument known as a mass spectrometer, he found DU in the lungs, thoracic lymph nodes and kidneys. Some of the cadavers also had DU in their livers.[34] In a 2003 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle Dr. Yacoub complained that international sanctions prevented the Iraqi doctors from from importing the necessary medical technology.[35] According to Yacoub, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) refused to approve the equipment on the excuse that Saddam Hussein might divert it for military use. Once again, the children of Iraq were the principal victims of the US-led embargo.

Most disturbing of all were reports from Basra of extreme birth deformities, as well as a new phenomenon: multiple cancers. By now (in 2007), photos of the Iraqi birth defects have been widely posted around the internet, and the pictures must be seen to be believed.[36] As for the multiple cancers, they were first reported in 2003 at a medical conference in Japan by Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, an oncologist at Basra’s largest hospital. Dr. Al-Ali told the conference: “Two strange phenomena have come about in Basra which I have never seen before. The first is double and triple cancers in one patient: for example, leukemia and cancer of the stomach. The second is the clustering of cancers in families. We have 58 families here with more than one person affected with cancer.”[37] The reports from Basra were alarming, but the Pentagon dismissed them as Iraqi propaganda. The Kuwaiti government did likewise, and even banned Dr. Al-Ali from crossing the border. Other skeptics cast doubt in a different way. They pointed out that southern Iraq suffered contamination by numerous toxic agents during the 1991 war. DU, after all, was only one among many possible causes. In the absence of compelling evidence linking DU to the leukemias and birth defects it was more likely that some other agent was responsible. The cynics even suggested that Saddam Hussein had poisoned his own people by his past use of chemical weapons.

The skeptics had a point. It’s certainly true that the first Gulf War unleashed numerous toxic substances. The 1991 battlefield was probably the most polluted in history. In addition to DU, soldiers contended with experimental and/or impure vaccines. Soldiers and Iraqis alike breathed acrid black smoke from burning oil wells and were exposed to a wide array of chemical emissions due to the bombing of Iraqi infrastructure. Destroyed factories and industries can spew large amounts of toxic substances. Moreover, after the war US units destroyed at least 100 Iraqi munitions dumps, including an enormous complex at Khamisiyah which according to eyewitnesses included stores of chemical and biological agents (some supplied by the US and other western nations).[38] It was even reported that the US command ordered the bombing of Iraqi nuclear research reactors.[39] This evidently occurred during the “Shock and Awe” phase of the war. The Pentagon has since released few details, but assuming the reports are correct the order to blow up these sites was incredibly stupid, arguably even insane, as it no doubt had the effect of dispersing dangerous chemicals and possibly radioactive materials across the Iraqi landscape. All of these factors surely increased the level of toxic exposure; and for some years this caveat allowed the US military to deflect some of the criticism regarding its use of DU weapons.

Transuranic elements and fission by-products

The Pentagon’s case was not helped in 1999 when the Department of Energy (DoE) was forced to admit that America’s DU weapons were not pure U-238, but were laced with small amounts of U-236, plutonium, neptunium, americium, and nearly 200 other unstable transuranic elements and fission by-products, including strontium-90 and Cesium-137.[40] It seems that for many years Union Carbide, Martin Marietta, and Lockheed Martin, the companies that produced the enriched uranium for Uncle Sam, made a practice of recycling spent reactor fuel back into the enrichment process. They did so for purely economic reasons. When the price of U-235 rose enough, it became profitable to recover more of the preferred U-235 fraction in this way. As a result, the DU waste stream became a witches brew of unstable isotopes and daughter products, none of them naturally-occurring. All are created in reactors and every one is thousands of times more radioactive than U-238.

The Pentagon took pains to emphasize that the presence of plutonium and the other transuranics presented no additional health risk, since the amounts were tiny. Only trace amounts were involved. What the Pentagon failed to mention is that there is no safe level of exposure. For instance, consider plutonium: the most toxic substance known to man. The element was discovered by the chemist Glenn Seaborg, who named it after “Pluto,” the Greek god of death (or hell). And for good reason: unlike uranium, plutonium is not found in Nature. It is produced only in the irradiated bowels of nuclear reactors by neutron bombardment of U-238; and it is 200,000 more radioactive than uranium. In fact, it is so nasty that the tiniest speck in the lung is a death sentence. A pound of plutonium, if uniformly distributed, could wipe out the entire human race. Plutonium is the preferred fissile material for nuclear weapons because so little of it is needed. A mere ten pounds, a lump the size of a grapefruit, is enough to make a hydrogen bomb.

But the dangers are not limited to nuclear weapons. For many years both the US and Russian governments, as well as the former Soviet regime, utilized one of the isotopes of plutonium, Pu-238, in their space programs. Plutonium-238 is 280 times more radioactive than the more common isotope, plutonium-239, and is used in small reactors to generate electrical power for space probes. Though controversial, the practice has continued in recent years. NASA, for example, powered the 1997 Cassini Saturn probe with a U-238-fueled reactor. This use faced considerable scientific opposition at the time because the lengthy mission required 72 pounds of U-238 fuel, by far the largest amount NASA had ever sent into space. The launch involved a Titan-4 military rocket, an old and unreliable design with a less than reassuring history of 10% failed launches. Fortunately, the Cassini lift-off was successful; but the risks were not limited to the launch phase. After first circling Venus, Cassini returned and made a second dangerous pass around earth to gain the necessary momentum to “slingshot” the probe in the direction of Saturn. Again, we were lucky and there was no disastrous spillage of plutonium. The mission went according to plan; however, other space shots have amply demonstrated the principle that if something can go wrong, it will. Since 1964 several plutonium-powered satellites have crashed to earth, spreading a total of a few pounds of plutonium-238 around the planet. The amount seems trivial, but it was enough, according to Dr. John Gofman, to cause a small but measurable increase in the world-wide rate of lung cancer.[41] This sobering fact gives some idea of plutonium’s extreme toxicity.

Gofman is a leading authority on radiation. While still a graduate student at UC Berkeley he codiscovered U-233, one of the isotopes of uranium. During World War II Gofman assisted the Manhattan Project at the behest of J. Robert Oppenheimer. He was the first to extract significant amounts of plutonium, then needed for the Bomb program. Many years later, as Biomedical Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Gofman ran afoul of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) when his research on low-level radiation became an inconvenience to the nuclear establishment. In 1969, building on the work of British radiation expert Alice Stewart, as well as the American scientist E.B. Lewis, Gofman, estimated that the cancer risk to the general population from America’s nuclear programs was much greater than most physicists believed at the time.[42] Gofman charged that the AEC had underestimated the number of cancers by a factor of at least twenty times, which meant an excess of 32,000 cancers. Even though he had provided crucial assistance to the Manhattan Project and was regarded as a nuclear loyalist–––Gofman supported weapons development–––he was sacked because the government disapproved of his conclusions about low-level radiation. Gofman lost his research staff and funding and had to go back to teaching.

The case is no exception. Other top scientists have endured similar treatment. The list is long, and includes Linus Pauling, the famous chemist whose 1957-58 petition, signed by thousands of scientists world-wide, helped to bring about a moratorium on atmospheric nuclear testing. In 1962 Pauling won a second Nobel Prize for his peace work; but, thereafter, was shunned by the US government, which repeatedly refused Pauling’s requests for federal grant money.[43] This went on for many years. Not even J. Robert Oppenheimer was above attack. Indeed, the former director of the Manhattan Project suffered an even worse fate when he opposed Edward Teller’s H-Bomb program in the 1950s. Oppenheimer became the target of a McCarthy-era witch-hunt, which ended his career, tarnished his reputation, and brought about his early death. It is of interest that Andrei Sakharov, the leading Soviet nuclear scientist, was similarly humiliated by Nikita Khrushchev for speaking out against the arms race. Even after Sakharov won the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize, he was placed under house arrest when he spoke out against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The lesson is clear: East or West, the War Machine brooks no deviation from its central aims. When great scientists speak out or cease to be useful, they are punished and discarded.

But time proved Gofman correct about low-level radiation. Over the years the accepted standards have become more stringent, not less. On three separate occasions the International Commission for Radiation Protection (ICRP), which draws up the rules for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has tightened up the standards. The ICRP did this in 1965, in 1986 (the year of the Chernobyl disaster), and again in 1990, when it cut the maximum safe dose by a factor of five. Incidentally, the US did not accept the latest revision and today, as a result, has a standard five times less stringent than in the rest of the world. But even the international trend toward an increasingly strict “permissible dose” misses the point. In 2005 Gofman was finally vindicated in full when the National Academy of Sciences, after a five-year comprehensive investigation, released a 700-page report that endorsed what he and a few other brave scientists have been saying for many years, namely, that all radiation exposure is cumulative and adds to the risk of cancer.[44] The notion of a safe dose is an oxymoron.

The Standard Risk Model

But what led AEC scientists to seriously underestimate the radiation dangers in the 1950s and 1960s? The question is important because it bears on the depleted uranium issue. At the time there were no studies of the internal effects of low-level radiation. The presumed risk was an extrapolation from studies of the incidence of cancer and leukemia in the atomic survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In both cases the primary source of exposure was assumed to be external: a brief but intense shower of neutrons and gamma radiation. The burst was extremely penetrating and distributed over the human body as a whole, for which reason physicists calculated cancer risk as an average whole-body dose. This approach led them to estimate zero-risk for low-level radiation, i.e., radioactive fallout. Why? Because when a low-level dose is averaged over the body, or even over an organ, the calculated risk is vanishingly small. This is why many scientists in government and industry insist, even today, that something other than leaked radiation must be causing the cancer clusters frequently reported downwind from nuclear plants. The same approach led Frank von Hippel, an authority on nuclear weapons, to conclude that the health risks from depleted uranium are “statistically undetectable,” except in cases of embedded DU shrapnel wounds.[45]

This standard method of determining radiation risk is flawed, however. In the first place, because the explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unmonitored, the calculated release of radiation was not based on firm numbers, but on estimates; and by 1981 it was clear that the estimates were in error. In fact, physicists had over-estimated the release of neutrons by as much as ten times.[46] This meant that the impact per unit of radiation was actually worse, since a much lower level of radiation had caused the cancers and leukemias. This was not good news for nuclear advocates. Furthermore, the follow-up studies of atomic survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts were not designed to capture information about low-level effects. The sampling was geared to screen for burst effects, hence, was much too limited. One 30-year study, for example, tracked only those survivors who happened to be within 2,000 yards of the epicenter. This guaranteed that many of the subsequent cancers and birth defects due to fallout would go undetected.[47]

The more fundamental problem is that the standard risk model was developed before the discovery of DNA. It’s interesting that in his memoirs Andrei Sakharov mentions the tremendous impact that Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double helix had on him. In the mid-1950s Sakharov began to worry that nuclear fallout was causing genetic damage and killing babies. In 1957 he warned that nuclear testing up to that point had already caused 500,000 deaths from “non-threshold,” i.e., low-level effects, and this was a conservative estimate.[48] Linus Pauling’s estimates were even higher. On this basis Sakharov, Pauling and others began to call for an end to atmospheric testing. This was finally realized in 1963 with the signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty; after which, interestingly, the world infant mortality rate began to drop again, after leveling off from 1950-1963. Indeed, after studying the figures on infant mortality an American scientist, Dr. Ernest Sternglass, shocked the scientific community when he announced in 1968 that atmospheric testing had caused the deaths of 375,000 babies in the US alone, mainly from the effects of radioactive iodine-131.[49] His estimate triggered a fierce debate that sunk to the level of personal attacks against Sternglass. However, in retrospect, his estimate may well have been correct.

It is a fact of biology, not physics, that living cells are variably sensitive to radiation. This is why continuous emission from a radioactive source within the body, even a low-level source, can have a comparable or even greater impact than a brief burst of high-level radiation. When cells are quiescent, the usual state in an adult, cells are much more resistant to radiation than when undergoing cell division or repair, both of which involve DNA replication. In fact, during DNA replication cells are 600 times more sensitive.[50] This explains why continuous internal low-level radiation caused by nuclear fallout or DU is so serious. It’s no wonder that infants and children are so vulnerable. Their rapidly growing bodies are adding many new cells, hence, are replicating DNA at a much faster rate. Photomicrographs of “hot particles” in lung tissue also illustrate why the standard approach of averaging a low-level dose over the whole body is wrong.[51] In the photos the particles assume a characteristic star pattern. The rays are the many tracks of alpha particles in process of irradiating nearby cells. Compared with x-rays and gamma rays, alpha particles are large and massive, hence, do not travel far in the body. Yet, for this very reason all of their energy is deposited near the point of emission. Over time, the local impact of low-level radiation is more than enough to account for the mutagenic effects of fallout–––and DU.

Leukemia in the Balkans

In 2001, news reports of cancer clusters in the Balkans were not so easily dismissed as nothing but Serbian propaganda; and when twenty-four NATO peacekeepers died from leukemia that same year a wave of concern swept across Europe. Portugal accused NATO of a DU cover-up and pulled its troops out of Kosovo. Italy called for a moratorium on the use of DU weapons; and this was echoed by France, Germany, Norway and Greece.[52] Some nations began to screen their soldiers for DU exposure. In Kosovo a UN a team sent to investigate found low-level beta radiation at eight of eleven sites where DU weapons had been used. According to Pekka Havisto, the former Finnish minister of the environment who headed up the team, the sites included villages where children were seen playing.[53] In Bosnia-Herzegovina the UN team detected airborne DU particles at two sites, and confirmed DU contamination of a local water supply. They also discovered that spent DU rounds were corroding rapidly in the soil. Seven years after the Bosnian war, the fragments had already lost 25% of their mass. The team estimated that within 25-35 years the shells would disintegrate completely, and thus posed a serious threat to ground water.[54] The UN team prudently recommended that all the fragments be promptly collected and removed. They also urged precautionary measures, such as the monitoring of air and water supplies. In 2003 Britain’s most prestigious scientific body, the Royal Society, repeated their advice when it called on the US and UK to clean up the DU fragments scattered across Iraq during the two Gulf wars.[55] But Washington refused. During a BBC interview the Pentagon’s spokesperson, Lt. Col. David Lapan, reiterated the by-now familiar position that “there are no long-term effects from DU;” hence, no need for a clean-up.[56]

In August 2001, after many invitations by the Iraqi government, the World Health Organization (WHO) sent a delegation to Baghdad to investigate the reported increase in cancer rates and birth defects.[57] The initial WHO visit prompted discussions at the United Nations, and proposals for continued monitoring and research in order to confirm whether DU was responsible. The result was a UN resolution, which came before the General Assembly in November 2001.[58] However, in the emotionally charged aftermath of the September 11 attack, the US used its considerable influence to defeat the resolution. Soon after, the Bush administration launched a round-the-clock media blitz to persuade the American people that Saddam Hussein was linked to Al Qaeda, hence, to the events of 9/11. This media circus had the unfortunate effect of diverting attention from the growing concerns about the use of DU. Even though the Bush administration offered not a scrap of evidence, only rhetoric and innuendo, by the onset of the second Gulf War in March 2003, polls showed that a majority of Americans stood firmly behind the president. A shocked international community looked on in disbelief, and who can blame them, for the world knew better. The US mass media’s spectacular success in persuading a free society of this blatant lie was a propaganda triumph far beyond the dubious achievements of the Nazi Third Reich. Indeed, the episode is sufficiently horrifying that it should motivate all of us who care about our country to take sober stock of what America has become.

It’s likely that the Bush administration also had a hand in blocking the release of a 2001 World Health Organization (WHO) paper on the effects of DU. The monograph was the work of Dr. Keith Baverstock, the WHO’s top radiation expert for 11 years. In 2004, after his retirement, Baverstock charged that the WHO had suppressed his study. He told the London Sunday Herald that “...the widespread use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq could pose a unique health hazard to the civilian population. There is increasing scientific evidence that radioactivity and the chemical toxicity of DU causes more damage to human cells than is assumed.”[59] Later, in a BBC interview Baverstock described DU as “a potentially dangerous carcinogen.” He also hinted that political interference had prevented his paper from being released in 2001.[60] The doctor emphasized that his report, had it not been suppressed, would have increased pressure on the US and its UK ally to sharply limit their use of DU weapons in Afghanistan and Iraq.

DU health crisis in Afghanistan?

This begs the question: Just how much DU has the US expended since the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001? The estimates range from 100-200 tons[61] to 2,200 tons, or more.[62] Unfortunately, today the actual amount is unknown because the Pentagon has refused to release this information, no doubt, because of mounting criticism. Yet, there are indications that the upper DU estimates may be closer to the true figure. A medical team dispatched to Afghanistan in May 2002 found “astonishing levels” of uranium in the urine of everyone they tested.

Dr. Asaf Durakovic, who organized this monitoring effort, is a former professor of medicine at Georgetown University. Years earlier, in 1999, he had reported DU in the urine of US Gulf War veterans. Eight years after Desert Storm the vets were still excreting copious amounts of uranium. However, the level in the samples from Afghanistan was many times higher, in fact, an astounding 100-400 times higher.[63] Durakovic concluded on this basis that the US military used even greater quantities of DU weapons in Afghanistan than during the first Gulf War, perhaps including a new class of DU penetrators. His team gathered the samples in Nangarhar province, a strategically important area that includes Kabul, Jalalabad and also Tora Bora, where the US probably used bunker-buster and seismic shock weapons. A second batch of samples taken in September 2002 confirmed the first survey, and also demonstrated contamination over a “potentially much broader area.” The team found sick Afghanis everywhere US bombing had occurred, and the sick displayed the by-now familiar symptoms of Gulf War illness. Durakovic told the BBC he was “stunned” by the results. He made it clear he believes DU is implicated, since “in Afghanistan there were no oil fires, no pesticides, and nobody had been vaccinated.” Then, he added, “if [the lab’s] Nangarhar findings are corroborated in other communities across Afghanistan, the country faces a severe public health disaster. Every subsequent generation is at risk.”

At the time of the first Gulf War Dr. Durakovic headed up a nuclear medicine program at a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital in Wilmington, Delaware. Then an Army Colonel, Durakovic only learned after the war that DU weapons had been used. “I was horrified,” he said. “I was a soldier, but above all, I am a doctor.”[64] When sick veterans approached him in 1993 Durakovic attempted to care for them, but soon got into trouble with his superiors and lost his job. He says two other doctors, Dr. Burroughs and Dr. Slingerland at a VA facility in Boston, also ran into trouble when they tried to order the medical equipment needed to test for DU in the body.

Durakovic eventually had to leave the United States after warnings that his life was in danger because of his work on behalf of sick veterans. In September 2000 Durakovic told a conference of nuclear scientists in Paris that tens of thousands of American and British soldiers were dying from their exposure to depleted uranium.[65] He presented evidence obtained with a mass spectrometer, documenting the presence of DU in the lungs, bones and other organs of dead veterans.[66] The findings confirmed his suspicion that inhaled particles of DU move throughout the human body. Durakovic has not minced words about DU. He says these are radiological weapons that kill indiscriminately.[67] He also emphasizes that infants and children are the most affected because their developing bodies are especially sensitive to the effects of ionizing radiation.

An Indiscriminate Weapon?

Recent evidence that aerosolized DU particles can travel long distances supports Durakovic’s assertion that DU has indiscriminate effects. In February 2006 the London Sunday Times reported that within days of the Shock and Awe phase of the second Gulf War radiation detectors in the UK recorded a four-fold spike in air-born uranium.[68]

Since the 1980s Britain’s Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) has been required to monitor air samples at five nuclear plants (Aldermaston, Green Audit, Castle Cottage, Sea View Place, and Aberystwyth) following the discovery of a child-leukemia cluster near one of the facilities. The samples are regularly collected by special high-volume air filters. After the second Gulf War Dr. Chris Busby, a professor at Liverpool University, sought to obtain the sampling data for analysis, in order to scrutinize the government’s position that depleted uranium used in combat does not travel more than a few tens of meters before falling out of the air. Busby, a well-known government advisor on low-level radiation, eventually did obtain the samples, but only after a lengthy freedom-of-information battle. Although the Halliburton Corporation, which currently manages the UK’s nuclear plants for the British government, refused to release the data, in the end Busby obtained the recordings from a separate government agency. Laboratory analyses of the samples then showed that within nine days of the start of the March 2003 bombing of Iraq all five sites in the UK registered a sudden rise in the level of uranium. On two occasions the levels exceeded the threshold requiring notification of the UK’s Environmental Agency. In March 2006 Busby’s research was published in a European science journal.[69] In his paper Busby and co-author Saoirse Morgan also presented meteorological data supporting their contention that the prevailing winds had carried the DU-laden dust/ash first northward from Iraq, then westward across Europe.

Their charge that the use of DU shells during the war exposed much of Europe to breathable uranium dust touched a raw political nerve in the UK. Negative reaction was swift. Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) summarily dismissed the charge. A number of experts agreed with the MoD, and insisted that the uranium had to be of local origin. However, no one was able to identify a source in the UK. One of the experts who took issue with Busby’s paper, Brian Spratt, offered a different hypothesis. Spratt, who had chaired a DU study for the Royal Society, conceded that the uranium might have come from Iraq on the wind. He argued, however, that the probable source was not DU but natural uranium from the Iraqi desert: stirred up by the US-UK invasion force.[70] Spratt’s hypothesis was absurd, since Iraq has no significant deposits of natural uranium. Yet, it was typical of the hasty responses occasioned by Busby’s controversial paper, as officials and experts scurried about frantically trying to explain why the highest levels of uranium ever detected in the atmosphere over Britain just happened to coincide with the March 2003 attack on Saddam Hussein. Busby was not the first, however, to present hard evidence that DU dust is highly mobile. Air monitors in Hungary and Greece detected a similar spike in airborne uranium in the 1990s after the NATO bombing of Kosovo and Bosnia; and, like Busby they too concluded it had arrived on the wind, an ill omen.[71]

Genetic Mutilation?

It is well-known that smoke and dust can travel long distances. Dust from the Gobi desert frequently blows across the Pacific to the American West, and ice cores taken from glaciers and ice sheets provide a historical record of global volcanic activity. Certainly DU particles in the soil can be re-suspended by desert wind-storms, which are common in the Mideast. But re-suspension is not the only concern. According to Leuren Moret, a geologist and former employee of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, DU particles less than a micron in size can remain suspended in the atmosphere for long periods.[72] Moret has studied wind transport systems and she says Busby is quite correct. DU particles can circle the globe within a matter of weeks, hence, are likely to contaminate food and water supplies thousands of miles from the point of origin, just as nuclear fallout did in the era of atmospheric testing.[73] Moret warns that the long-term consequences of DU dispersal are likely to be similar. The effects may also mimic the Chernobyl disaster, by now well-documented despite a Russian cover-up and continuing efforts by the IAEA to downplay the extent of the tragedy. In Belarus, even districts not in the direct path of the radioactive plume later suffered a disturbing increase in cancers, birth defects, infant mortality, and a drop in IQ scores and life expectancy. Diseases formerly seen only in the elderly are now commonplace in younger age groups. In fact, by every measure the health of the population has declined.[74] Moret calls this “genetic mutilation” and she warns that because of DU’s 4.5 billion year half-life, the impacts will only grow more serious over time. Five-hundred years from now, assuming the human race survives, no one will remember why the first and second Gulf Wars were fought, but depleted uranium will still be wreaking havoc with the human gene pool and in the wider biosphere. Moret points out that shortly after America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted a doubling of world cancer rates by 2020.[75] What prompted the dire prognostication? Did the US military’s expenditure of DU weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan have something to do with it? Moret thinks the timing was not just a coincidence.

Obviously, the US general staff is blind to the simple truth that nothing, certainly not short-term military expedience, can justify the long-term consequences of using DU weapons. The Pentagon cannot plead ignorance, because, in addition to the sources already mentioned, a leaked official document proves that the general staff was informed about DU’s toxic effects as early as 1943, when three top US scientists sent a report to Brigadier Gen. Leslie R. Groves, director of the Manhattan Project.[76] Their report was titled the "Use of Radioactive Materials as a Military Weapon" and it was signed by Drs. James B. Conant, Arthur. H. Compton, and Harold C. Urey. Dr. Conant chaired the Chemistry department at Harvard and went on to become president of that prestigious university. During World War I he helped to develop mustard gas for the US Army. Compton, even more famous, discovered Compton scattering of electromagnetic radiation by electrons, also known as the Compton effect, for which he won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1927. Harold Urey discovered deuterium, one of the isotopes of hydrogen, and demonstrated the existence of “heavy” water, for which he won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1934. During the Manhattan Project, Urey also helped to develop the gaseous diffusion method of enriching uranium, the preferred method still in use today. In short, all three men were extremely capable scientists, and in their 1943 report to Groves they described how depleted uranium could be made into a gas warfare agent by grinding the substance into particles of microscopic size. Their report explained that DU weapons would be delivered using “ground-fired projectiles” and ”distributed in a dust or smoke form so finely powdered that it will permeate a standard gas mask filter in quantities large enough to be extremely damaging.” The report mentioned that such weapons could be used as a “terrain contaminant,” that is, to deny the enemy access to large areas of territory. It even predicted the kinds of respiratory problems experienced by Doug Rokke’s team. In short, the 1943 report described in chilling detail the very weapon later developed by the US Department of Defense.


A number of disturbing conclusions follow from all of this. They are unpleasant but must be faced squarely. In recent years, White House spokespersons and national security advisers have repeatedly warned that Islamic terrorists could strike cities in the US with radiological weapons.[77] In recent days we've heard these same warnings repeated, again, this time in especially shrill tones. Based on the above evidence, however, it’s clear that America’s leaders have already done what we’ve accused terrorists of only planning to do. Worse, our leaders have done it on a greater scale. America’s use of DU weapons has already caused the deaths of hundreds of times more Iraqi and Afghani civilians, including women and children, than died in the 9/11 attack. Moreover, it is likely that the DU particles already released into the environment, given their insidious effects and 4.5 billion year half-life, will go on killing innocent people for a very long time, indeed, perhaps for the rest of human history, essentially for all of time. In short, our leaders have permanently fouled our nest, surely the ultimate atrocity. They cannot plead ignorance. As I have shown, the toxic effects of DU were understood even at the time of the Manhattan Project. Our leaders knew the facts, but used the weapons anyway, probably because they just didn’t care–––a breach of trust with the American people so odious it can only be compared with an earlier US government policy of utilizing American GIs as guinea pigs during the period of atmospheric testing. We know that at least 300,000 American soldiers were willfully exposed to high levels of radiation during dozens of nuclear tests; not to mention the millions of American civilians who were also exposed to the fallout.[78]

In short, our leaders are guilty of not merely incompetence, nor even malfeasance, but of outright terrorism. Indeed, if the use of DU weapons is not terrorism, the word has no meaning. No doubt, for this reason, in June 2007, at a conference in Vancouver, BC, a gathering of 9/11 scholars and peace activists called for the creation of an international tribunal to hold America’s leaders accountable for crimes against humanity and the environment. Their brave initiative deserves our support, because it is absurd to think the US government will police itself. Thus far, the US Congress has shown no sign of providing the necessary leadership. What is clear is that if we fail to end the use of these weapons and bring the guilty to justice, the people of the world will hold all Americans collectively responsible; and rightly so. Our leaders’ reckless and immoral use of DU weapons in the name of freedom has seriously undermined not only America’s standing in the world, but also her security. Far from enhancing our security, DU weapons have made us much more vulnerable. When the peoples of the earth learn the terrible truth about what we’ve done, they will hate us more than ever; and if they insist on retribution we will be lucky to escape retaliatory strikes against American cities.

With regard to 9/11, a further conclusion also appears inescapable. Given that our leaders knowingly used weapons certain to kill, injure and maim tens of thousands of our own soldiers, is it not likely they are also capable of murdering a smaller number of American civilians on 9/11 for similar reasons, i.e., out of political expedience? Given the naked facts, it would be hard to conclude anything else.

Mark H. Gaffney’s latest book, Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes, was a finalist for the 2004 Narcissus Book Award. Mark can be reached for comment at Visit his web site at


1 Beyond Treason, a film by William Lewis, American Gulf War Vets.

2 The DoD program is known as “Rods from God,” and would involve the deployment in earth orbit of 20-foot long DU penetrator rods, which could be fired at targets on earth, reaching 7,000 mph before impact. Helen Caldicott and Craig Eisendrath, War in Heaven, The New Press, New York, 2007, p. 82.

3 Nao Shimoyachi, “Citizens find Bush guilty of Afghan war crimes,” Japan Times, March 14, 2004. posted at

4 John Byrne, “US signs $38 million deal for depleted uranium tank shells,” The Raw Story, March 2, 3006. posted at

5 Scott Peterson, “The Monitor finds high levels of radiation left by US armor-piercing shells,” Christian Science Monitor, May 15, 2003.

6 Interview with physicist Michio Kaku, in Poison Dust, a 2005 film by Sara Flounders and Sue Harris, available from the Peoples Rights Fund Poison Dust Project, 212-633-6646, or at

7 email from Doug Rokke, July 14, 2007.

8 According to Maj. Doug Rokke, former director of the Army’s Depleted Uranium Project, at the time of the fire the 3rd U.S. Army Materiel Command’s (AMC) DU assessment recovery team was well aware of the hazards. So were the commanding officers on the scene who, unfortunately, failed to implement the safety procedures specified in US Army Technical Bulletin 9-1300-2378. Email from Doug Rokke, July 14, 2007.

9 The pertinent document is U.S. Army Technical Bulletin 9-1300-278, Guidelines for Safe Response to Handling, Storage and Transportation Accidents Involving Army Tank Munitions or Armor Which Contain Depleted Uranium, July 21, 1996.

10 email from Doug Rokke, July 14, 2007.

11 “Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium Use in the US Army,” US Army Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI), June, 1995, p. 87.

12 Roke’s team also prepared several reports and documents, including: US Army Regulation 700-48, US Army PAM 700-48, and the DU CTT: Task number: 031-503-1017 “RESPOND TO DEPLETED URANIUM/LOW LEVEL RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS (DULLRAM) HAZARDS”, STP 21-1-SMCT: Soldiers Manual of Common Tasks, Headquarters Department of the Army, Washington, D.C.

13 David Rose, “Weapons of Self-Destruction,” Vanity Fair, November, 2004.

14 David Edwards, “Army made video warning about dangers of depleted uranium but never showed it to troops, February 6, 2007. posted at

15 David Rose, “Weapons of Self-Destruction,” Vanity Fair, November, 2004.

16 Lt. Col. M.V. Ziehmn, “The Effectiveness of Depleted Uranium Penetrators,” Los Alamos National Laboratory memorandum, March 1, 1991.

17 In April 2003 Assistant Secretary of Defense William Winkenwerder claimed that only two members of Rokke’s team had died. See his letter “Depleted uranium poses no risks to troops,” Miami Herald, April 14, 2003.

18 Harley, N., Foulkes, E., Hilborne, L., Hudson, A., Anthony, C.R., “A Review of the Scientific Literature as it Pertains to Gulf War Illnesses: Vol. 7 Depleted Uranium,” National Defense Research Institute (RAND), 1999. Also see Berlin, M., and B. Rudell, "Uranium," in L. Friberg, G. F. Nordberg, V. B. Vouk, eds., Handbook on the Toxicology of Metals, 2nd ed., New York: Elsevier, 1986, pp. 617-637.

19 Spencer, H. S., D. Osis, I. M. Fisenne, P. Perry, N. H. Harley, "Measured Intake and Excretion Patterns of Naturally Occurring 238U and Calcium in Humans," Radiation Res, 24, 1990, pp. 90-95. The RAND team conceded, however, that in studies of rats GI absorption was greater in juvenile rats, compared with adults, which suggests that children are more vulnerable than adults. Foulkes, E. C., and D. Bergman, "Inorganic Mercury Absorption and Mature and Immature Rat Jejunum: Transcellular and Intercellular Pathways in Vivo and in Everted Sacs," Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 120, 1993, pp. 89-95.

20 Gretel Munroe, “Health Effects of Depleted Uranium,” Grassroots Actions for Peace, Military Toxics Project, October 2004.

21 “US Army Kinetic Energy Penetrator Long Term Strategy Study,” AMCCOM, 1990: D(1); also see J.A. Glissmeyer et al., Characterization Of Airborne Uranium From Test Firings Of XM774 Ammunition. This study may be viewed on line at; also see J.A. Glissmeyer, J. Mishima, and J.A. Bamberger, “Prototype Firing Range Air Cleaning System,” 19th DOE Nuclear Airborne Waste Management and Air Cleaning Confer., Baltimore, Maryland 12-16 August, 1984, pp. 846-872.

22 “Army not Adequately Prepared to Deal with Depleted Uranium Contamination,” US General Accounting Office , GAO/NSIAD-93-90, January 1993.

23 Hearing of the Presidential Special Oversight Board, George Washington University, July 13, 1999, posted at

24 Pelmar, et al, “Distribution of uranium in rats implanted with depleted uranium fragments,” Toxicological Sciences, Vol. 49, pp.2-39, 1999; McDiarmid, et al, “Health effects of depleted uranium on exposed Gulf War veterans,” Environmental Research, Vol. 82 (2) February, 2000, pp. 168-80.

25 Elizabeth Neuffer, “Iraqis Trace Surge in Cancer to US Bombings,” Boston Globe, January 26, 2003.

26 Larry Johnson, “Iraqi cancers, birth defects blamed on US depleted uranium,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 12, 2002.

27 This is the work of Dr, Eric Wright, professor of Experimental Haematology at the University of Dundee. For an overview of his work go to

28 “When Cells are exposed to uranium they acquire mutations,” Medical News Today, April 9, 2006. Strearn’s research was published in the journals Mutagenesis and Molecular Carcinogenesis.

29 Alexandra C. Miller, et al, “Depleted uranium-catalyzed oxidative DNA damage: absence of significant alpha particle decay,” Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, Vol. 91 (2002), pp. 246-252.

30 Ian Sample and Nic Fleming, “When the dust settles,” The Guardian, April 17, 2003.

31 BBC Press Release: US and UK military continued to use depleted uranium weapons despite cancer warnings, October 10, 2006.

32 Asaf Durakovic, “Undiagnosed Illnesses and Radioactive Warfare,” Croatian Medical Journal, 2003, Vol. 44, pp. 526.

33 Dr Thomas Fasy presented the results of the Basra study on June 14, 2003 at the NPRI conference on “The Health Effects of DU” at the New York Academy of Medicine. Dr. Fasy is an Associate Professor of Pathology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and had traveled to Basra some months before where he met with the Iraqi doctors. The title of his talk was “The Recent Epidemic of Malignancies and Congenital Malformations in Southern Iraq: the biological plausibility of DU as a carcinogen and teratogen.”

34 Dr. Hari Sharma, “Investigations of Environmental Impacts from the Deployment of Depleted Uranium-Based Munitions, December 2003. The paper is available through the Military Toxics Project at

35 Robert Collier, “Iraq Links Cancers to Uranium Weapons,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 13, 2003.

36 Some shocking photos are posted at

37 Doug Westerman, “Depleted Uranium - Far Worse Than 9/11,” Global Research, May 3, 2006.

38 Beyond Treason, a film by William Lewis, available from Gulf War Vets.

39 Rick Atkinson and Ann Devroy, “US Claims Iraqi Nuclear Reactors Hit Hard,” Washington Post, January 21, 1991.

40 DoE press release: Past Recycled Uranium Programs Under Review as Energy Department Investigation Continues (provides updated information on Cold War era operations), September 29, 1999. NATO was forced to make a similar admission in 2001 after the UNEP team independently assayed DU fragments from Kosovo. NATO press release, January 18, 2001

41 Karl Grossman, “US Plans to Wage War in Space,” presentation in Toronto, Canada, October, 2000.

42 For an excellent discussion see Harvey Wasserman and Norman Solomon, Killing Our Own, The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation, New York, Delta, 1982, pp. 94-101.

43 Ibid.

44 Press release: July 7, 2005: Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER). Cancer Risks for Women and Children Due to Radiation Exposure Far HIgher Than for Men. New National Academy of Sciences Report Raises Major Issues for Radiation Protection, Independent Institute Claims. The title of the report: The Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation.

45 Steve Fetter and Frank von Hippel, “After the dust settles,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November-December 1999, pp. 42-45.

46 Eliot Marshall, “New A-Bomb Studies Alter Radiation Estimates,” Science, Vol. 212, May 22, 1981; also see Eliot Marshall, New A-Bomb Data Shown to Experts,” Science, Vol. 212, June 19, 1981.

47 William J Schull et al, “Genetic Effects of the Atomic Bombs: A Reappraisal,” Science, Vol. 213, September, 1981, pp.1220-1227.

48 Andrei Sakharov, Memoirs, New York, Alfred Knopf, 1990, p. 202.

49 Ernest J. Sternglass, “Infant Mortality and Nuclear Tests,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 25, 1969, pp. 26-28.

50 For an excellent discussion see the paper that Dr. Chris Busby presented to the Royal Society in 2000: Science on Trial, posted at

51 For an example go to

52 Dr. Ali Ahmed Rind, “Clear and Present Danger: The Balkan Syndrome,” Baltimore Chronicle, December 5, 2001.

53 Helen Caldicott MD., The New Nuclear Danger, The New Press, New York, 2002, p. 159.

54 “Depleted Uranium Contaminates Bosnia-Herzegovina,” ens-newswire, March 25, 2003.

55 Paul Brown, “Scientists urge shell clean-up to protect civilians,” The Guardian, April 17, 2003.

56 Alex Kirby, “US rejects Iraq DU clean-up,” BBC News Online, April 14, 2003. In February 2002 the Pentagon formally appealed to Congress for relief from environmental regulations that it claimed was impeding crucial exercises and combat readiness. The military’s concerns were not limited to relief from protecting endangered habitat and threatened species. Although the request made no mention of DU, its list of complaints included a case on a gunnery range at the Massachusetts Military Reservation on Cape Cod where a live-fire training exercises were terminated after munitions contaminated ground water. Vernon Loeb, “Rules on Environment Concern Pentagon: Military Says Laws Inhibit Training,” Washington Post, January 13, 2002.

57 WHO to probe Depleted Uranium in Iraq, WHO press release, September 5, 2001.

58 Irwin Arieff, “US Wins Defeat of Deleted Uranium Study,” Reuters, November 30, 2001.

59 Rob Edwards, “WHO suppressed scientific study into depleted uranium cancer fears in Iraq,” Sunday Herald, February 22, 2004.

60 BBC Press Release: US and UK military continued to use depleted uranium weapons despite cancer warnings, October 10, 2006.

61 Dan Fahey, “he Use of Depleted Uranium in the 2003 Iraq War: An Initial Assessment of Information and Policies,” June 24, 2003.

62 “The use of Depleted Uranium in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, August 4, 2003.

63 Alex Kirby, “Afghans’ uranium levels spark alert,” BBC News Online, May 22, 2003.

64 Felicity Arbuthnot, “Depleted Uranium - A Way Out? Compensation to those affected by this poisoned legacy,” Global Research, June 3, 2007.

65 Jonathan Carr-Brown and Martin Meissonnier, “Tests show Gulf war victims have uranium poisoning,” London Sunday Times, September 3, 2000.

66 Horan P., Dietz L., and Durakovic A., “The quantitative Analysis of depleted uranium isotopes in British, Canadian, and US Gulf War veterans,” Military Medicine, Vol. 167, 2002, pp. 620-627; also see Mil. Med. Vol. 168, 2003, p. 474.

67 Asaf Durakovic, “Undiagnosed Illnesses and Radioactive Warfare,” Croatian Medical Journal, Vl. 44 (5)2003, pp. 52-523.

68 Mark Gould and Jon Ungoed-Thomas, “UK radiation jump blamed on Iraq shells,” The Sunday Times (London), February 19, 2006.

69 Christopher Busby and Saoirse Morgan, “Did the use of Uranium weapons in Gulf War 2 result in contamination of Europe?”, European Biology and Bioelectromagnetics, March 2006.

70 Mark Gould and Jon Ungoed-Thomas, “UK radiation jump blamed on Iraq shells,” The Sunday Times (London), February 19, 2006.

71 A. Kerekes et. al, “Did NATO Attacks in Yugoslavia Cause a Detectable Environmental Effect in Hungary?”, Health Physics, Vol. 80 (2), February 2001, pp. 177-178.

72 talk by Leuren Moret, “Depleted Uranium: Nuclear Holocaust and The Politics of Radiation, Los Altos, California, sponsored by the Women’s Solidarity Movement, April 21, 2003, posted at

73 conversation with Leuren Moret, January 12, 2007.

74 C.C.Busby and A.V. Yablokov, editors, Chernobyl 20 Years On: Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident, published on behalf of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) by Green Audit, Brussels, 2006. For a summary and free download go to

75 Press release, “Concerted action is the only answer to rising cancer deaths: Two million lives could be saved by 2020 and 6.5 million lives by 2040 according to a new WHO/UICC cancer booklet,” June 3, 2003.

76 Memorandum to Brigadier General L. R. Groves, posted at

77 Bill Gertz, “Reports reveal Zarqawi nuclear threat,” The Washington Times, April 20, 2005.

78 Harvey Wasserman and Norman Solomon, Killing Our Own, Dell Publishing, New York, 1981, see especially chapter two, p. 31.