Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"Shake & Bake": White Phosphorus & High Explosives

The US did use chemical weapons during its assault on Fallujah. And, according to today's Guardian, the Army is now admitting it:
In the March 2005 edition of Field Artillery [a US Army magazine], officers from the 2nd Infantry's fire support element boast about their role in the attack on Falluja in November last year: "White Phosphorous. WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE [high explosive]. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out." The second [account of WP], in California's North County Times, was by a reporter embedded with the marines in the April 2004 siege of Falluja. "'Gun up!' Millikin yelled ... grabbing a white phosphorus round from a nearby ammo can and holding it over the tube. 'Fire!' Bogert yelled, as Millikin dropped it. The boom kicked dust around the pit as they ran through the drill again and again, sending a mixture of burning white phosphorus and high explosives they call 'shake'n'bake' into... buildings where insurgents have been spotted all week."
Remember, White Phosphorus burns spontaneously on contact with the air and causes severe eye and skin burns--burns "right down to the bone," in some cases. Oh, and about that earlier denial...

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]
Confronted with the new evidence, on Thursday [the US State Dept] changed its position. "We have learned that some of the information we were provided ... is incorrect. White phosphorous shells, which produce smoke, were used in Fallujah not for illumination but for screening purposes, ie obscuring troop movements and, according to... Field Artillery magazine, 'as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes...' The article states that US forces used white phosphorus rounds to flush out enemy fighters so that they could then be killed with high explosive rounds." The US government, in other words, appears to admit that white phosphorus was used in Falluja as a chemical weapon.
As for those reports of napalm use--don't worry! It's only napalm-like:
In August 2003 the Pentagon confirmed that the marines had dropped "mark 77 firebombs". Though the substance these contained was not napalm, its function, the Pentagon's information sheet said, was "remarkably similar". While napalm is made from petrol and polystyrene, the gel in the mark 77 is made from kerosene and polystyrene. I doubt it makes much difference to the people it lands on.
Update [Nov 15, 2005; 11:03 AM]: Monbiot hinted that some blogs had done the truth-squadding on the RAI White Phosphorus claims, but he didn't "name names." I just noticed that Harry Shearer had a post on this subject and indicated that "liberal bloggers" had tracked down this San Francisco Chronicle article that corroborates the use of WP in Fallujah, Nov 10, 2004:
"Usually we keep the gloves on," said Army Capt. Erik Krivda, of Gaithersburg, Md., the senior officer in charge of the 1st Infantry Division's Task Force 2-2 tactical operations command center. "For this operation, we took the gloves off." Some artillery guns fired white phosphorous rounds that create a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water. Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorous burns. Kamal Hadeethi, a physician at a regional hospital, said, "The corpses of the mujahedeen which we received were burned, and some corpses were melted."
[Again with the taking of the "gloves off"] Also, Shearer indicated that this anti-Iraq-war blog found the original Field Artillery article about WP (referred to in the Guardian piece).


Blogger Adam P. Short said...

Behold the Geneva Convention.

Please pass the preceding link around to all antiwar blogs you frequent. The relevant excerpt is as follows:

"Protocol III - Geneva Conventions
Article 2.
2. It is prohibited in all circumstances to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by air-delivered incendiary weapons."

The "White Phosphorous is not a banned munition" meme is already taking root in the print media. We must shame them into telling the truth about this.

The Ape Man

11/15/2005 6:24 PM  

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