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Saturday, November 13, 2004

The US Uses Napalm in Iraq

According to this August 8, 2003 report the US used napalm against the Iraqi forces during the 2003 invasion in contravention of an international ban against the use of such weaponry:
The use of napalm was banned by a United Nations convention in 1980 although, as with many such international agreements, the US refused to sign.
While the invasion was underway there already were reports, such as this one by the CNN, stating that napalm was used during the battle of Safwan Hill. Those reports were initially denied by the Pentagon. However, should much credence be given to those denials given that months later, in August 2003, the UK Indymedia had received multiple statements to the effect that napalm (or napalm-like substances) were in fact used? Quoting from the above-mentioned August 8, 2003 report:
However, quoted today in the Sydney Morning Herald, Colonel Mike Daily of the US Marine Corps said:
I can confirm that Mark-77 firebombs were used in that general area.

While there may be technical differences between the Napalm-B used in the Vietnam war and the chemical in the Mark-77, the effects are very similar. Both consist of inflammable fuel thickened into a gel; the main difference is simply the thickening agent used.

The German TV program Monitor got a different response when they inquired about the use of napalm on Iraqis. In the report, you can hear one US soldier say:

We only used 30 canisters [of Napalm] in 30 days of war.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

In The USA Today...

Government officials will deny me right to counsel, due process of law, and habeas corpus by simply labeling me an “enemy combatant” before executing me. Just like in North Korea. But I’m free because I voted, right?
Asks Jacob Hornberger in his article titled I’m Free Because I Voted, Right?. How poignant. No further comment.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

They Put Their Lives On The Line. And Now...

These US soldiers fought in a war. Now they are back home. And how are we welcoming them back home?

We organize parades and spread "WELCOME HOME" banners across streets and on bridges. But that is not enough. A soldier who returned from a war carries his wounds, both physical and mental, and he needs help,- and that help can be awfully slow in coming. According to this Detroit News Online article,

Soldiers from Michigan who risked their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan are returning home to a veterans' benefit system that is overwhelmed, causing delays in medical and mental health treatment.

"I'm very frustrated I can't get the treatment I need," said Nathaniel Ganzeveld, 22, of Dearborn, a discharged lance corporal in the Marine Reserves who fought in Iraq and who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Ganzeveld says he has waited five months for any determination on most of his claim.

The problems in Michigan are part of a national logjam of 334,611 veterans from across the country who awaited approval of benefits at the end of October, according to statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs. That is 40 percent more than the VA says it deems optimal, and far beyond what members of Congress and veterans' groups consider justified.

Since the end of October 2003, the number of pending cases has jumped 14 percent.

Many veterans are waiting for nearly six months. From October 2003 to October 2004, the number of cases pending nationally for more than 180 days increased by about 25 percent, from 57,414 to 71,406.

The VA seems to think there is not a systemic problem. Clearly, the vets who need its services opine differently.

"We've treated about 30,000 or 35,000 veterans of the war against terrorism, and they are in the network that is going to be taking care of about 5 million veterans," said Phil Budahn, a spokesman for the VA in Washington. "That should not strain the system."

But veterans say it does.

Ganzeveld says he cannot work and his condition puts pressure on his marriage and young family.

"My wife is at her wits' end dealing with me and dealing with the VA,' Ganzeveld said. "I mean, let's do something about my problems. They won't do anything without being kicked in the rear and scooted along."

Veterans groups are outraged. A presidential campaign event at the American Legion Fort Dearborn Post on Oct. 18 was interrupted by veterans who shouted questions at Dingell about when they would receive necessary medical services.

In Metro Detroit, the backlog of claims is 6,984, and 1,400 new cases are filed each month. There are two VA hospitals in southeast Michigan, one in Detroit and one in Ann Arbor.

"They are treated like dogs when they get home," said Dingell, who had already sent an official letter of inquiry to the secretary of the Army before he was confronted.

"I am trying to get the numbers on how much the VA is short of money. There is some claim that the entire VA has been underfunded in recent years by $9 billion. The two hospitals in Michigan are $2 million and $9 million short."

Treatment delayed

As Nate Ganzeveld marched along the road to Baghdad, witnessing the carnage of war, he said he had no idea his welcome home would be anything like this.

It would also be a mistake to think that the VA is merely failing to properly process the incoming enemies of the ongoing wars. I have an acquaintance whose step-father recently died of lung cancer. The man was a Vietnam veteran with multiple tours of duty under his belt. When he showed up at a VA hospital with an advanced form of cancer he was advised not to wait for help as the line was long and he should not expect to live long enough; that assessment turned out to be correct.

They put their lives on the line, in our name. This is what they get from us in their hour of need.

Monday, November 08, 2004

John Ashcroft's Record: 0 out of 5,000

Since September 11, 2001, the US Justice Department skippered by Attorney General John Ashcroft has ordered the detention of over 5,000 people suspected of being involved in terror activities. Not a single one of them has been tried, found guilty and convicted in the court of law for the offenses they were originally accused of. The following is a nice summary of this spectacular performance.

Saddam Sure Did Have a Lot of Toys...

No, it is not the missing WMD's I was talking about. It is conventional weapons and materiel,- stuff that the former regime was allowed to have, and which it did have,- in significant quantities, I might add.

When the Coalition forces occupied Iraq, it appeared that those weapons were not all that important to the occupation authorities. Which must be why hundreds of tons of high-power explosives went missing from Qaqaa and other storage facilities. The US soldiers assigned to guard those facilities were, according to some reports, so badly outnumbered that they could not possibly stop the looting.

Now it turns out that not only did explosives go missing in Iraq, but also so did up to 4,000 shoulder-fired missiles. Looks like pilots worldwide had better brush up on their emergency landing and fire suppression procedures.

Bush supporters in the US almost unanimously site his aptitude to fight the "War on Terror" as one of the key reasons for their support. That must mean they support such unorthodox ways of fighting that war as allowing the terror groups easy access to the weaponry they might need. To those Bush supporters, I would like to suggest the following idea: let us fight crime by giving criminals access to military warehouses. Personally, I do not believe that doing this will make our life any safer,- but with street gangs using .50 machine guns and mortars instead of knives and handguns we are certainly going to get some entertainment value out of it. We might not be safe,- but sure as hell ain't gonna' be bored.

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