More WP Bullshit

The folks at Think Progress, ever eager to smear the Pentagon or the troops in order to attain some margin of domestic political gain (you see- the Pentagon is the administration, and vice versa), find a decrypted intelligence memo that calls Phosphorus a ‘chemical weapon,’ and just like that, our troops are war criminals again:

To downplay the political impact of revelations that U.S. forces used deadly white phosphorus rounds against Iraqi insurgents in Falluja last year, Pentagon officials have insisted that phosphorus munitions are legal since they aren’t technically “chemical weapons.”

The media have helped them. For instance, the New York Times ran a piece today on the phosphorus controversy. On at least three occasions, the Times emphasizes that the phosphorus rounds are “incendiary munitions” that have been “incorrectly called chemical weapons.”

But the distinction is a minor one, and arguably political in nature. A formerly classified 1995 Pentagon intelligence document titled “Possible Use of Phosphorous Chemical” describes the use of white phosphorus by Saddam Hussein on Kurdish fighters:

IRAQ HAS POSSIBLY EMPLOYED PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST THE KURDISH POPULATION IN AREAS ALONG THE IRAQI-TURKISH-IRANIAN BORDERS. […]

IN LATE FEBRUARY 1991, FOLLOWING THE COALITION FORCES’ OVERWHELMING VICTORY OVER IRAQ, KURDISH REBELS STEPPED UP THEIR STRUGGLE AGAINST IRAQI FORCES IN NORTHERN IRAQ. DURING THE BRUTAL CRACKDOWN THAT FOLLOWED THE KURDISH UPRISING, IRAQI FORCES LOYAL TO PRESIDENT SADDAM ((HUSSEIN)) MAY HAVE POSSIBLY USED WHITE PHOSPHOROUS (WP) CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST KURDISH REBELS AND THE POPULACE IN ERBIL (GEOCOORD:3412N/04401E) (VICINITY OF IRANIAN BORDER) AND DOHUK (GEOCOORD:3652N/04301E) (VICINITY OF IRAQI BORDER) PROVINCES, IRAQ.

In other words, the Pentagon does refer to white phosphorus rounds as chemical weapons — at least if they’re used by our enemies.

Let’s look at the hoops the folks at TP have to jump through in order to make it one to smear the troops to get at the White House.

First, you have to discount that no matter how many times Think Progress says it, WP is not a chemical weapon. It is an incendiary weapon, and considered a conventional munition.

Second, you have to believe, completely, that the report is accurate, and that WP was being used as a weapon against Kurdish rebels and civilians. I applaud TP’s new-found faith in all things intelligence.

Third, you have to believe that the report is not some sort of internal agitation designed to, shall we say, make better the case against Saddam.

Fourth, you have to believe that a 10 year old memo somehow lends credibility to the accusations that WP was somehow used against the civilians in Fallujah. It doesn’t.

It boggles the mind what these folks will do to gain domestic political power. I have an idea, though. At my last count, Think Progress has nine posts up about 37 year Marine veteran and American hero Jack Murtha. Why don’t our intrepid reporters ask Rep. Murtha if he thinks WP is a chemical weapon, or if he thinks our troops used chemical weapons on the civilians in Fallujah? And then, when they are done, they can call him a war criminal, because I guaran-fucking-tee it that the salty old marine has used it a number of times himself.

At the end of this pile of dung from Think Progress, we hone in on what this is REALLY all about:

The real point here goes beyond the Pentagon’s legalistic parsings. The use of white phosphorus against enemy fighters is a “terribly ill-conceived method,” demonstrating an Army interested “only in the immediate tactical gain and its felicitous shake and bake fun.” And the dishonest efforts by Bush administration officials to deny and downplay that use only further undermines U.S. credibility abroad.

To paraphrase President Bush, this isn’t a question about what is legal, it’s about what is right.

This isn’t about WP- this is about the Bush administration, and doing what Think Progress can to attack them. If they were merely attacking the White House, it wouldn’t bother me much, even though the silly assertions about ‘chemical weapons’ would still be a lie and offensive. What bothers me is that they are attacking our guys, our troops, in order to attack Bush. They and others think they can pretend they are not smearing the the troops by saying the line units were merely following orders and that they are blameless, which belies the fundamental lack of understanding of the modern battlefield and the use of artillery and mortars.

I have no idea why there were inconsistent statements coming out of the Pentagon and the state Department, and that is puzzling. But make no mistake, Think Progress and others. When you make up claims and redefine what is and is not a chemical weapon in order to accuse our units of using ‘chemical weapons’ on civilians, you are smearing our guys.

Jeff has more.

*** Update ***

Should have fucking guessed. Kos is lapping this shit up, too:

Saddam tortured, we torture. Saddam used WP chemical weapons against insurgents and civilians, we use WP chemical weapons against insurgents and civilians.

Like torture, the apologists try to justify our use of such abhorrent techniques, oblivious to the fact that our moral standing is in tatters and our crediblity beyond repair. We aren’t just losing the war in Iraq, we are losing our credibility in the world.

Goebbels got nothing on the modern left.

*** Update ***

I should probably add what I think this intel memo really is. I would bet my left nut it is unedited raw intelligence (or something similar) from some asset on the ground who has no idea about anything related to the military. He/she was probably told WP was being used, and knowing nothing, simply thought it was a chemical weapon, given the other weapons used on Kurds and Shi’ites. Regardless, it is pretty damned amusing that THIS is the definitive proof that WP is a chemical weapon.

Or maybe it is just pathetic.

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145 replies
  1. 1
    Geek, Esq. says:

    The point could be to point out Pentagon hypocrisy rather than labeling the troops war criminals.

  2. 2
    jg says:

    The point could be to point out Pentagon hypocrisy rather than labeling the troops war criminals.

    What are you? French? Obviously Think Progress is out to harm the troops. They hate Bush and will do anything they can to hurt him.

  3. 3
    John Cole says:

    Geek- It was probably some non-military personnel on the ground who doesn’ know his ass from a hole in the ground who reported it, it got transcribed directly (it was raw intelligence), and VOILA! Kos and Think Progress have PROOF we used chemical weapons in Fallujah.

  4. 4
    KC says:

    I just got back from dkos and there’s a big post on this. Honestly, this whole thing really disgusts me. If one wants to call WP a chemical weapon, fine. It is a chemical, it’s used in war, whatever . . . . The bottom line of it is is that these people are willing to do whatever it takes to trash the administration. I don’t like the Bush administration, I was skeptical of their reasons for going to war, and I certainly don’t like how things are going now. That said, I think this kind of hollering is idiotic and a waste of time. Not just Murtha, but have any Dems in Congress railed on about WP in Congress?

  5. 5
    Gratefulcub says:

    Goebbels got nothing on the modern left.

    Unfortunately, you are probably right. But, no one can claim that the left is better at propoganda than the right. The left doesn’t have Fox, or Rush, or discipline to stay on a message, to stick with talking points.
    -Stay the course
    -Fight them there instead of here
    -yada yada yada, we all knowt them by heart.

    This isn’t just to say, they are worse. My point is, how effing sad. We now have an entire political system made up of two sided propoganda, Crossfire style.

  6. 6
    jg says:

    At the end of this pile of dung from Think Progress, we hone in on what this is REALLY all about:

    The real point here goes beyond the Pentagon’s legalistic parsings. The use of white phosphorus against enemy fighters is a “terribly ill-conceived method,” demonstrating an Army interested “only in the immediate tactical gain and its felicitous shake and bake fun.” And the dishonest efforts by Bush administration officials to deny and downplay that use only further undermines U.S. credibility abroad.

    To paraphrase President Bush, this isn’t a question about what is legal, it’s about what is right.

    This isn’t about WP- this is about the Bush administration, and doing what Think Progress can to attack them.

    I think he’s saying its a shitty way to try to win hearts and minds. You think the average Iraqi knows or gives a shit that it is actually classified as a incendiary conventional munition?

  7. 7
    chefrad says:

    “Goebbels got nothing on the modern left.”

    I suggest you read Bamford (the former NSA guy) in Mother Jones before you pontifiicate on who* is really doing Goebbels proud. The article deals with the hired pros busy selling the war, getting paid hundreds of millions of dollars. That is a little more serious than some squirrely left-wing blog.

    * Hint. They of the bully pulpit.

  8. 8
    SomeCallMeTim says:

    Goebbels got nothing on the modern left.

    I’ve agreed with you on WP, in no small part out of respect for your significantly greater knowledge in this area. I think people hyping this are morons making a big mistake.

    But give me a fucking break. You vote for an Administration that tortured the anti-torture treaty language (see Bybee memo), instituted a torture program (see your blog), tried to take away the right of an American citizen to a trial (see Padilla), is a clear practitioner of secret government (see black site prisons and the Patriot Act), and has consistently claimed that opposition to the state during a time of war is traitorous, and suddenly we’re the Nazis. Spare me.

  9. 9
    Marcus Wellby says:

    All i know about WP is from a MASH episode where Hawkeye bemoaned the damage it was doing to human flesh. Then he went into his tent and mixed a martini with Trapper John. Hilarity ensued!

  10. 10
    Geek, Esq. says:

    I’m not gonna defend the hyperbole here–war is hell.

  11. 11
    BruceR says:

    “I would bet my left nut it is unedited raw intelligence (or something similar) from some asset on the ground who has no idea about anything related to the military…”

    The misspelling of “phosphorus” in the original memo would be one clue to that effect.

  12. 12
    Geek, Esq. says:

    The Goebbels comment is a bit over the line, however.

    You’re dealing with people who are anti-war, and thus more prone to fly off the handle when dealing with the true, nasty character of the beast.

  13. 13
    Steve says:

    I wonder if John Cole gave two seconds’ worth of thought to the veracity of the claim “Saddam used chemical weapons on his own people” before this particular argument got made. But now, it’s time for parsing and nuance, you can’t trust intelligence, it was probably just some flunky on the ground who wrote that, blah blah blah.

    Fine. Maybe all those objections are completely valid. I guarantee you that anyone who said, prior to the war, “hey, intelligence is notoriously unreliable, are we sure all these bad things about Saddam are true,” they would have been instantly smeared for wanting to give Saddam the benefit of the doubt.

    That’s where our government is now. They will build a case for war using whatever dubious intelligence they can lay their hands on, and then when we get accused of doing the exact same thing that’s in all that dubious intelligence, they hide behind all sort of lawyerly parsing and nuance and the technical definition of “chemical weapons.” I don’t understand why thinkprogress.com is held to a higher fact-checking standard than the intelligence-gathering professionals of the United States, but maybe that lack of standards is part of what got us here.

    And I sure hope I’m allowed to say something bad about the Bush Administration without being accused of smearing the fucking switchboard operator at the White House.

  14. 14
    jaime says:

    wait…Tell me if I’m wrong here.

    There were reports that we were using WP as an anti-personnel weapon (some claim it was used on civilians). Strong denials ensued (We didn’t use it, but if we did they were flairs or tracer) followed by a Pentagon admission that we WERE using WP, but it was OK because it was directed at the bad guys and not classified as a chemical weapon (even though it is a “chemical” weapon)

    Now we find out that the Pentagon classified WP as a “Phosphorus CHEMICAL WEAPON” and not a phosphorus incendiary weapon or phosphorus conventional weapon. Some people object to the changing goal posts of existence, classification, and intent.

    Now what is your beef with that Cole?

  15. 15
    Geek, Esq. says:

    I wonder if John Cole gave two seconds’ worth of thought to the veracity of the claim “Saddam used chemical weapons on his own people” before this particular argument got made.

    The case that Saddam gassed the Kurds was air-tight long, long, long, long before this document saw the light of day.

  16. 16
    Mike S says:

    John

    I’ve pretty much stayed out of this whole thing because I still don’t know enough real facts, as opposed to spitting arguments from both sides on this. But I have a question.

    What if you are wrong and this memo was from someone who knew what he was talking about? And what if the charges are true that this is being used as a weapon in Faluja?

    I’m not asking if you would be upset that the enemy is getting this but what about the “collateral damage.”

  17. 17
    Pb says:

    Not again.

    Dear anyone interested in civil discussion (not John Cole): here’s some more information to calmly consider, free of Nazi references.

  18. 18
    Steve says:

    I’m not a Saddam apologist (assuming such beings exist) and I’m not questioning whether Saddam gassed the Kurds. My point was that such claims, when made regarding brutal dictators, are routinely accepted by most of us, and I’m tentatively including John Cole in that group. Yet suddenly, when the exact same claim is turned around and used as a moral yardstick for the actions of the US government, it’s time to quibble with the details.

  19. 19
    Pb says:

    Geek, Esq.,

    So the CIA was lying back then about how the evidence suggested that it could have been Iran? I mean, not that it would necessarily surprise me, but…

  20. 20
    srv says:

    Geek- It was probably some non-military personnel on the ground who doesn’ know his ass from a hole in the ground who reported it, it got transcribed directly (it was raw intelligence), and VOILA! Kos and Think Progress have PROOF we used chemical weapons in Fallujah.

    INC, Chalabi, Curveball, Office of Special Plans, yada yada. If it was good enough for George to invade a country with, then it should be good enough to convict the Pentagon.

    The ends justify the means. Get over it. Absolutism isn’t just the domain of the right anymore. They’re not fighting for Iraq, the ‘truth’, or the troops. They’re fighting for what is going to be left of this country:

    tried to take away the right of an American citizen to a trial (see Padilla)

    Tried? He’s still rotting in the brig! Three years and counting. If the administration wins this when it returns to SCOTUS, there is ABSOLTELY NOTHING that would legally stop GW from putting ANY of you away.

    You fight your fantasies in Iraq. The war is right here. Right now.

  21. 21
    Sam Hutcheson says:

    John, I respect your expertise on military matters and take seriously your criticisms of those who would label US troops war criminals for using an acceptable weapon of war during a brutal urban mission. I do think there is some leeway to ask if WP *should* be used in such a situation, but that’s not a discussion that’s going to get rationally debated and aired out here, unfortunately.

    With all of that said, the idea of labeling the blog-left “Goebbels” while the Ministry of Truth holds the bully pulpit of all three branches of government and shows no pause whatsoever in using that pulpit to bludgeon and distort its way to whatever ends it deems necessary…there’s too much irony there for it to be funny.

  22. 22
    ppGaz says:

    Well, as long as we’re rehashing the last two weeks .. again …

    1) WP is not a chemical weapon AFAIC, I don’t care who calls it that.

    2) Policy is always on the table, but when policy discussion is tying the hands of people in combat, and restricting their ability to use the weapons and training they have bene given to do their jobs, then that discussion is not a good thing. Fashion the policy before, or after, the fighting. Not during.

    3) Do not use military tactics as political footballs while fighting is going on; see #2 for more on this.

    Did I miss anything?

  23. 23
    Steve says:

    I’m confident the repeated cries from the Right that “liberals hate the troops! liberals hate the troops! liberals hate the troops!” are far more akin to Goebbels than anything I could come up with. I’ll say it again, I have no idea what the Bohemian Treaty of 1953 might say about the definition of chemical weapons, but I am quite confident that no one expects the troops on the ground to read that treaty and conduct a legal analysis of it before firing their weapons.

    We don’t even need TallDave in the comments any more. When John is in a mood, it’s like TD has front-page privileges.

  24. 24
    nyrev says:

    Nope, that about covers it.

  25. 25
    ATS says:

    Aw, Think Progress has nothing on Little Green Footballs when the talk is of smears:
    “Has anyone here tried to phone, e-mail, fax, or otherwise contact the political slut, John “the coward” Murtha? You, know, the maggot who is being quoted by Al-Jazeera (see nationalreview.com)? I have attempted to call this creature since last night (phone still busy), fax him (busy yesterday and today), and he does not accept e-mails from people outside of his district. This man is a tumor, a slime, a piece of shit and I don’t give a DAMN that he served in Vietnam! My Dad served in Korea, my father-in-law in Vietnam, and my cousin in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite their courage and service, NONE of them can tell me (who has not served) or any other American citizen that I cannot hold an opinion regarding US-based military operations. Murtha, GO FUCK YOURSELF! “

  26. 26

    Here’s something. The rest of the world believes that using white phosphorus on civilians is a no-no. By the moral codes that govern the rest of humanity we are war criminals. Who cares how we define ourselves?

    The current President is on the same level as his daddy’s buddy, Pinochet, and maybe he’ll get hauled in front of a court to answer for his crimes one day. Unlikely, but we can hope.

  27. 27
    nyrev says:

    (My previous post is referring to ppGaz’s post. I think John’s overreacting, but comparing him to TD’s just nasty.)

  28. 28
    John Cole says:

    Umm, Bob in Pacifica. THe US, everyone on this board, and every soldier I ever met or served with thinks usuing any type of weapon on civilians is bad.

    I don’t know what on earth you are talking about. Really.

  29. 29
    Purple Fury says:

    ATS:

    And LGF has nothing on you, seeing as you’re smearing a blog where the blog posts themselves are predominantly factual, and what you’ve quoted there is an blurb from an unmoderated comment.

    Nice.

  30. 30
    Steve says:

    You’re right, nyrev. I was looking for something that would top a Nazi comparison, but I guess I went too far.

  31. 31
    er says:

    I thought you were trying to insult the left with your Goebbels comparison, but then I went and read some of his speeches and papers:
    http://www.calvin.edu/academic.....ebmain.htm

    I see now you were being complimentary. Sneaky sneaky.

    You really should just delete the Goebbels line and we can all forget that we saw it.

  32. 32
    Mike S says:

    Stryker shows why it is a lie that Republicans support the troops.

    Off the Fence and Off the Cuff
    Posted on Saturday 19 November 2005

    All the talk about Republicans being big supporters of the military is bullshit. If there’s someone insulting a vet and calling him a coward, chances are it’s a Republican who’s never served. If there’s a choice between money for shit people really need or a sexy new weapon system built by a company that donates heavily to the Party, the company will profit.

    I have never seen a Party so full of shit when it comes to supporting the military. They fight wars on the cheap and get people killed unnecessarily, instead of fighting with everything we’ve got under a coherant and cohesive strategy that ensures military victory. They let domestic politics trump military necessity, preferring to lie and shift the blame rather than address the problems and solve them like real men. They care about image rather than substance, empty rhetoric instead of courage, mediocrity instead of excellence, and machiavellian maneuvering instead of strong moral character. They have demonstrated nothing but contempt for us and for those that have served honorably in the past. They play us for suckers and weep crocodile tears at our deaths as their stock values rise. They are strangers to integrity and completely bereft of the basic values that we hold dear. They are without honor. They can go to hell.

    If this is what Republicans mean by “supporting the troops,” then they can by all means support the insurgents. We’d have a free and democratic Iraq by the end of the year.

  33. 33
    John Cole says:

    Might as well post the rest of Stryker’s piece:

    It looks like people are linking to this for some reason. Look, it’s just a boilerplate rant filled with non-sequiters and other crap. It’s not very thoughtful and I don’t think it’s really all that interesting. It provides neither truth nor illumination. The only thing it will do is affirm what you already believe or make you mad because you don’t like it. That’s it. You can get that anywhere from people with better writing skills.

    BTW- I used to write with Stryker at Sgt, Stryker’s Daily Briefing. I was Sgt. Schultz.

    You should probably also note he was talking about that odious bitch Jean Schmidt.

  34. 34
    Geek, Esq. says:

    So the CIA was lying back then about how the evidence suggested that it could have been Iran? I mean, not that it would necessarily surprise me, but…

    Yeah, they lied big time. Remember that Saddam was our ally against Iran during Saddam’s Anfal campagin against the Kurds.

    The eyewitnesses saw Iraqi warplanes drop the chemical munitions, and forensic investigations have found trace elements of nerve gas where Iraq is known to have bombed the Kurds.

  35. 35
    Mike S says:

    Might as well post the rest of Stryker’s piece:

    I didn’t think the update had a lot of relavence to the original post. And note that he may have been talking about the bitch but was pretty clear about calling out Republicans as opposed to just her.

    How many times have you seen a Democrat defame a Republican Veteran? Compare that to the number that have attacked Murtha,

  36. 36
    BumperStickerist says:

    Well, fwiw – a JAG officer writing in an artillery officers magazine gives his legal view on the issue of WP.

    Law of War and Artillery – Page 42 – PDF

    This was written in May/June 2001 – so we can safely assume that Rovian Mind Rays hadn’t affected his work.

    What’s striking about the article is the care and precision used in firing missions.

    The sense from reading Kos/ThinkProgress is that the US goes in and just dumped WP on Fallujah the way the Forestry Service dumps flame retardant on a blaze.

    The US military chose a very specific munition, in combination with another very specific munition to accomplish a specific tactical mission.

    That’s not, I’m guessing, what Saddam did.

    .

  37. 37
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    My favorite quote on this rather tortured (if I can use such a term in this context) thread has to be a rather bizarre statement from “jg”:

    “Obviously Think Progress is out to harm the troops. They hate Bush and will do anything they can do to hurt him.”

    Bush is not “the troops,” and trying to couple these two distinctly different entities is a dishonest act designed to steal from our fighting men and women the kind of dignity Bush is incapable of earning on his own.

    But if the troops were “Bush” we might actually stand a chance of winning something worthwhile in Iraq.

  38. 38
    Ancient Purple says:

    And LGF has nothing on you, seeing as you’re smearing a blog where the blog posts themselves are predominantly factual…

    Now THIS is comedy gold.

  39. 39

    “Goebbels got nothing on the modern left.”

    FYI, the modern left is not monolithic. In fact, its herd-of-cats quality is a regularly recurring source of problems, one of which is that you get some people making much of something like this.

    As this somewhat left of center person said on the last go ’round on WP use and negative reactions from some quarters about it, hostiles on the receiving end had options. They could flee, fight or surrender. War is like that.

  40. 40
    don surber says:

    Is White Phosphorous a legal weapon?
    YES
    Is calling White Phosphorous a chemical weapon deceiving?
    YES
    Is the deception to dicredit the military?
    YES
    Now then, the left can blog themselves into a frenzy but you cannot change the simple fact that the purpose here is to udnermine our military at a time of war.
    Hmm. If gossip about an ambassador’s wife is treason, what do you call this?
    I know, I know, dissent is patriotic.

  41. 41
    ppGaz says:

    I know, I know, dissent is patriotic.

    I don’t think that wrangling over tactics and weaponry while people are in harm’s way with those weapons and employing the training that goes with them is “dissent.”

    The time for setting policy and establishing tactics is before or after the fighting, not during.

    Once you send people into harm’s way you have to let them do their jobs as they are equipped and trained to do them. If you don’t, then you give up the right to ask them to go into harm’s way for you. That’s the way I see it.

  42. 42
    Mike S says:

    “Goebbels got nothing on the modern left.”

    FOX is bassically an organ of which party?

    Donny syrber thinks holding people to account is treason. He will use Treason as a club whenever he can because he is so simple minded that he thinks that questioning policy is wrong. Donny would look very at home in brown.

  43. 43
    Mike S says:

    The time for setting policy and establishing tactics is before or after the fighting, not during.

    Sorry, I have to disagree. If a policy ot yacyic is wrong then it must be changed. By your recconing we should wait until the end of the war to stop torture.

  44. 44
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    This is strictly a leadership issue, and the sad fact is that in this case our leadership has been sadly lacking. Bush told the world that this would be an easy victory and that our troops would be greeted by the Iraqi people as liberators. Which has, of course, turned out to be about as specious a claim as the rest of the nonsense the Bush admin put out at the beginning of this unfortunate mess.

    And as is always the case when a nation goes to war and does not achieve its stated aims, there are lots of recriminations and attempts to assign blame.

    But look at it this way, if Bush had made the right calls at the outset and we had won this war, would this conversation even be taking place?

    I don’t think so.

  45. 45
    Battlepanda says:

    I agree with John Cole in that WP is not a chemical weapon. But the rest of his post is totally out of order, especially when he bought out the Nazi comparison.

    WP is not a chemical weapon, but it is a wicked weapon, especially in the context of Fallujah. I believe our soldiers did not target civilians. But when you are conducting warfare inside a city, how can you pretend that everyone you kill will be an insurgent? You can’t. Especially when you use something that kills over a fair range like WP. I would compare it to the use of napalm in Vietnam.

    On a public relations front, this is a disaster because the gruesome way WP kills — the corpses look like their skin have melted. Yet curiously, the WP often leaves the cloths of its victims intact so it is easy to identify which of the dead were insurgents, which were civilians, which were women. Yes, I watched the Italian documentary. Yes, it was very anti-American in tone. Yet what stayed with me was the image of the dead bodies. They do not lie, and the way they died is seared into my brain forever.

    We did not intend to kill the civilians who died. We did not target them. They were ‘collateral damage’. But surely we must take some responsiblity for their death because we were careless of their lives.

  46. 46
    Otto Man says:

    Donny syrber thinks holding people to account is treason.

    He also thinks Bush gave a Gettysburg Address and thinks the Kerry and Bush campaigns are the same as the DNC and RNC. I wouldn’t pay him much mind.

  47. 47
    Steve says:

    the simple fact that the purpose here is to udnermine our military at a time of war.

    This sort of offhanded accusation of treason shouldn’t surprise me any longer, but it still does. Look, you can argue that the EFFECT of someone’s words is to undermine our military, although it’s really questionable to what extent thinkprogress.org affects the outcome of the Iraq War. But to argue that the PURPOSE is to undermine the troops is just a baseless smear.

  48. 48
    Remfin says:

    Let’s look at the hoops the folks at TP have to jump through in order to make it one to smear the troops to get at the White House.

    The only one jumping through hoops here is your long, long list of “points”. You really gotta go out of your way to read all that crap into such a simple article

    You keep twisting and twisting things that have no logic basis. For instance, “Secondly…” has no rational basis. It does not matter one bit if the allegations are true or not for this report to mean anything, the point is the terminology used to make the accusation to begin with. It shows the Pentagon as hypocrites when they refer to the same weapon in a different manner depending on who uses it under similar conditions (I mean, the Pentagon and soldiers have already ADMITTED to this stuff, why are people still somehow claiming the use of WP is in doubt as in your “Fourth…”?)

    Whether it is or is not actually a chemical weapon is also immaterial to the point of the article – it’s about the hypocricy, stupid! Even the editorial part at the end is not based around it being a chemical weapon, but just it’s brutal effects period. You can substitute “nuclear bomb” in there and make the same exact arguement against using it (well “shake&bake” is kinda artillery dependant, but you could substitute something in like “land denial due to fallout”)

    BTW, how exactly is a chemical, weaponized, that can poison & kill you, NOT a chemical weapon? The distinction you keep arguing seems more like you are saying it’s not a WMD. Except something doesn’t need to be a WMD to be a chemical weapon, it just needs to be a chemical that’s a weapon. I mean I know that is kinda redundant but people still don’t seem to understand that basic point

  49. 49
    Slide says:

    As usual, John misses the point and resorts to his Nazi references to punctuate his being clueless. Whether or not WP is a “chemical” weapon, as defined by some semantic convention, is unimportant. What is important and relevant is that there seems to be a consensus that their use as an anti-personnel weapon is wrong. That is why the Pentagon report talked about it. To discredit Saddam Hussein. To show how immoral and bad he was. To suggest that American citizens should not question what our military POLICY is regarding this weapon is absurd. This is NOT an attack on the troops but an attack on the failure of the military high command to insure that WP was not used in the manner in which it was (shake and bake).

    Just like Abu Gharib, I don’t find fault with the “troops” but with the system that allowed that immoral behavior to happen. We can not, nor should we, put our heads in the sand when something OUR military does in OUR name violates our OUR values.

    Oh, and one other point. The military denied that they used WP initially. Then when presented with evidence that they had, they said, oh yeah, well maybe to illuminate targets but not against combatants until of course they were presented evidence that they had done that as well. So now they admit that they had used it as a weapon but of course not against civilians. Sorry if I don’t just accept what they say. But in light of this record of lies and misstatements, John finds it necessary to characterize those bringing this to light as using Goebbels like tactics. Amazing, simply amazing.

  50. 50
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    Most of the righties on this thread are much more concerned with protecting the reputation of George W. Bush than they are that of our troops.

    The whole premise reeks of hypocrisy.

  51. 51
    ppGaz says:

    If a policy ot yacyic is wrong then it must be changed. By your recconing we should wait until the end of the war to stop torture.

    That’s an inapt comparison. Torture is not something that goes on during combat. It’s generally something that goes on somewhere else. We’re talking about combat here.

    At least, I am.

  52. 52
    demimondian says:

    Actually, don (surber), I realize that you don’t much like facts, but the truth is that white phosphorus is a legal weapon only in certain circumstances. It is, in particular, not legal when used against enemy personnel as an anti-personnel weapon. E.g. From FM 103,

    5-11. FIELD ARTILLERY AMMUNITION

    (4) Burster Type White phosphorus (WP M110A2) rounds burn with intense heat and emit dense white smoke. They may be used as the initial rounds in the smokescreen to rapidly create smoke or against material targets, such as Class V sites or logistic sites. It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets. [emphasis added]

    So the question here is not whether or not WP was used, but the purpose for which it was used. Now, in my opinion, if it was ever used in a prohibited fashion during the battle of Fallujah, we’ll never be able to know, and, in fact, probably don’t need to know.

    The real question here is whether the Pentagon is saying one thing in its field manuals and another thing in its actual orders. If the use of WP against personnel is actual policy, I do want to know.

  53. 53
    ppGaz says:

    The whole premise reeks of hypocrisy.

    Yes it does. But at some point, you have to stand up for the man in combat. You can’t ask people in combat situations to look over their shoulders and walk on eggs because the people at home are arguing like rats.

    If the conduct of the war is not acceptable, then the thing to do is stop the war …. not try to tie the hands of people who are in danger of getting killed.

    If there’s hypocrisy on one side or the other … well, deal with it.

  54. 54
    ppGaz says:

    Amazing, simply amazing.

    You have to allow space for theatrics on both sides. Otherwise people can’t express themselves.

    We all employ theatrics when it suits our purposes, so let’s not pretend to be quite so stuck up.

  55. 55
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    Like I said earlier pp, this is a leadership issue. In this case we have a militarily incompetent administration that sent our people poorly armed into an untenable situation for reasons that turned out to not be true.

    Nobody I know blames the troops, and as I also said this thread is much more about protecting the reputation of the Republican administration than it is our military people.

  56. 56
    John Cole says:

    As usual, John misses the point and resorts to his Nazi references to punctuate his being clueless. Whether or not WP is a “chemical” weapon, as defined by some semantic convention, is unimportant. What is important and relevant is that there seems to be a consensus that their use as an anti-personnel weapon is wrong. That is why the Pentagon report talked about it. To discredit Saddam Hussein. To show how immoral and bad he was. To suggest that American citizens should not question what our military POLICY is regarding this weapon is absurd. This is NOT an attack on the troops but an attack on the failure of the military high command to insure that WP was not used in the manner in which it was (shake and bake).

    LMAO.

    Yes, I completely missed the point.

    The point is that certain individuals are claiming our troops used chemical weapons intentionally and indiscriminately against civilians. Now they are claiming that an intelligence report ‘proves’ that the Pentagon ‘classifies’ WP as a chemical weapon.

    This debate, as it exists now, is not about the ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ of using WP as a weapon against enemy personnel. It is about the bullshit charges people keep leveling about the troops.

  57. 57
    Slide says:

    A point of comparison. Much to John’s credit, John has come out strongly against torture. He think it is wrong. He think it is immoral. Now it is also clear that the CIA and perhaps members of the military special forces have used officially sanctioned torture as a tactic. So why is John smearing our troops? Why is John calling our CIA criminals? I don’t’ see the difference. CIA was led to believe that it was ok to use torture. The military was led to believe that it was ok to use WP as a weapon. Why is it ok for John to attack one policy that he finds objectionable and others don’t have the right to object to the other. Thy hypocrisy is stunning.

  58. 58
    demimondian says:

    John:

    Except for the Italian “documentary”, I don’t know of any allegations of the use of WP against civilians. Clearly, the Italian story is largely made up — guess they got it from the same source as the yellowcake story. Either way, there’s no corroboration of it, and it seems to me to be standard anti-American fare.

    But I’m not so sure of the Pentagon’s changing story. That looks like a tacit admission that WP was used against personnel as an anti-personnel weapon, and that troubles me quite a bit. Not that it happened, but that the policy is unclear.

  59. 59
    ppGaz says:

    I don’t’ see the difference

    Sigh. Okay, last time, then I give up.

    This is a combat situation we’re talking about. The people using these weapons are trained and equipped to go out and carry out their missions in a certain way.

    Arguing over the methods and equipment while the fighting is going on is not a reasonable thing to do. If you cared so much about WP you could have lobbied against it when there wasn’t a war going on. And if this war ever ends, you can lobby against it next time.

    It’s not like torture. Torture isn’t a combat tactic. Stop comparing it to torture.

  60. 60
    Mike S says:

    That’s an inapt comparison. Torture is not something that goes on during combat. It’s generally something that goes on somewhere else. We’re talking about combat here.

    I can see where you’re coming from but still disagree with your over all point. This war is being fought in our name. If we were indescrimanately shelling residential areas with no consern for civilians in that area it would be our duty as citizens to demand an end to it. If we were sumarily executing prisoners as a policy we would also have to put a stop to it.

    I don’t know what is happening with WP. But a charge has been made about it’s use. And considering the fact that we have been lied to, “we don’t torture,” I don’t trust the administration to tell us the truth.

    Maybe if we had a body that had the responsibility to over see the admin and the conduct of the war something could happen. But it seems that the constitution didn’t provide for that or we would have had some investigations.

  61. 61
    Slide says:

    This debate, as it exists now, is not about the ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ of using WP as a weapon against enemy personnel. It is about the bullshit charges people keep leveling about the troops.

    Maybe for some John but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a legitimate debate on the propriety of our using WP as a weapon. You label any discussion of the issue as an attack on our troops and that is a very unfair and transparent smear.

    You mention Kos before but I think he got it exactly right in his conclusion as to the negative ramifications of our use of WP.

    Saddam tortured, we torture. Saddam used WP chemical weapons against insurgents and civilians, we use WP chemical weapons against insurgents and civilians.

    Like torture, the apologists try to justify our use of such abhorrent techniques, oblivious to the fact that our moral standing is in tatters and our credibility beyond repair. We aren’t just losing the war in Iraq, we are losing our credibility in the world.

  62. 62
    rkrider says:

    “Goebbels got nothing on the modern left.”

    Are you fucking kidding me, man? Have you lost your mind?

    The modern right makes Goebbels look like a fucking boy scout.

    Do you think it’s ok to shoot WP into the middle of a city? Would you do it?

  63. 63
    Mike S says:

    Maybe if we had a body that had the responsibility to over see the admin and the conduct of the war something could happen. But it seems that the constitution didn’t provide for that or we would have had some investigations.

    There is a body with oversight responsibility? Then what are they doing?

    An examination of committees’ own reports found that the House Government Reform Committee held just 37 hearings described as ”oversight” or investigative in nature during the last Congress, down from 135 such hearings held by its predecessor, the House Government Operations Committee, in 1993-94, the last year the Democrats controlled the chamber.

    Party loyalty does not account for the difference: In 1993-94, the Democrats were investigating a Democratic administration.

  64. 64
    Slide says:

    Sigh. Okay, last time, then I give up.

    Promise?

    Yeah, ppGAZ, Okay, one last time then I give up, I know YOUR position, I disagree with YOUR position. Just because something happened in combat doesn’t make it off limits to debate. What if they had leveled the whole city of Falluja with civilians dying in thousands, would be able to debate that? What if in combat a unit used what EVERYONE agreed WAS chemical weapons, could we talk about that? Of course we not only could but in a democracy we have an OBLIGATION to debate these issues. So stop getting on your high horse and patronizing us all with your posts suggesting “we don’t get it”. We fuckin get it, but some of us disagree. Got it?

  65. 65
    Brian says:

    If white phosphorous is a chemical weapon then Saddam indeed had WMD and the invasion was justified. I’d like to hear a liberal explain their way out of that one.

    If you are a liberal who believes the WP crap, then here is your thinking in a nutshell. Bush, not Saddam was evil, America has no remorse and uses WMDs but Saddam never would because all he was trying to do was feed his people in spite of the crushing sanctions that America put him under.

  66. 66
    don surber says:

    Goebbels? Come on. Quit watering down evil. You disagree with someone, that is not an excuse to deploy such language
    It shows how small your argument is when you do that
    I do find the situational self-righteousness over torture to be humorous. Where was the anger over Saddam’s actual torture vs. all this sanctimonous nonsense over some PFC mocking the genitalia of an inmate. She was duly punished, BTW, lest we forget
    The US does not torture
    White phosphorous is not a chemical weapon
    And calling people you disagree with “Goebbels” is inexcusable idiocy, because really, you ought to know better

  67. 67
    PotVsKtl says:

    Nice try Brian but you’re full of shit. That’s not a liberal, it’s a strawman.

  68. 68
    don surber says:

    BTW, white phosphorus was used by Medal of Honor recipients in World War II. Please, do some homework

  69. 69
    ppGaz says:

    Just because something happened in combat doesn’t make it off limits to debate.

    I give up.

  70. 70
    Mike S says:

    Brian Says:

    If white phosphorous is a chemical weapon then Saddam indeed had WMD and the invasion was justified. I’d like to hear a liberal explain their way out of that one.

    If you are a liberal who believes the WP crap, then here is your thinking in a nutshell. Bush, not Saddam was evil, America has no remorse and uses WMDs but Saddam never would because all he was trying to do was feed his people in spite of the crushing sanctions that America put him under.

    Why are there so many simple minded Bush backers? I realize that you have to be dumb as a box of rocks to think he’s a good President but when I read a comment like that I can’t help but feel pity for the commenter and fear for the country.

  71. 71
    Mike S says:

    Come on. Quit watering down evil. You disagree with someone, that is not an excuse to deploy such language

    Coming from an asshole that throws around the word “treason” like most people use the word “the,” that is quite funny.

    I do find the situational self-righteousness over torture to be humorous. Where was the anger over Saddam’s actual torture vs. all this sanctimonous nonsense over some PFC mocking the genitalia of an inmate.

    There must be a “dishonest ass anon” meeting somewhere near you. You may want to give it a try.

  72. 72
    Slide says:

    all this sanctimonous nonsense over some PFC mocking the genitalia of an inmate. She was duly punished, BTW, lest we forget The US does not torture

    Yeah.

    * At least 27 detainees died in U.S. custody due to suspected or confirmed criminal homicides.[1] Seven people were tortured to death. At least 141 detainees have died while in U.S. custody in Iraq or Afghanistan;[2]

    * Only 1 of the criminal homicides occurred at Abu Ghraib.[3]

    * At least 73 of the detainees died at locations other than Abu Ghraib.[4]

    * At least 54 detainees have died in U.S. custody since Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was informed of the abuses at Abu Ghraib on January 16, 2004.[5]

    * As of June 2005, 68,000 people have been in U.S. custody, and about 30,000 of those were entered “into the system,” and assigned internment serial numbers in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and Afghanistan;[6]

    * There have been 410 criminal investigations into allegations of detainee abuse; each investigation tends to include more than one U.S. soldier, more than one instance of abuse, and more than one victim. A total of 150 U.S. soldiers have received administrative or non-judicial punishments and 74 soldiers were charged at courts-martial. The highest ranking military member judicially punished is Marine Major Clarke Paulus, who was found guilty of maltreatment and dereliction of duty in connection with the death of an Iraqi prisoner and dismissed from the service.[7]

    * Reportedly 100-150 individuals have been rendered from U.S. custody to a foreign country known to torture prisoners, including to Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Pakistan;[8]

    * There are 6 main acknowledged U.S. detention facilities worldwide–3 in Iraq, 2 in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay; [9]

    * There are also approximately 25 transient facilities – field prisons designed to house detainees only for a short period until they can be released or transferred to a more permanent facility-in Afghanistan and Iraq;[10]

    * There are believed to be at least 9 ‘secret’ detention locations used since September 2001. They are CIA facilities in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and Jordan, detention facilities in Alizai, Kohat and Peshawar in Pakistan, a facility on the U.S. Naval Base on the island of Diego-Garcia, and detentions of prisoners on U.S. ships, particularly the USS Peleliu and USS Bataan.[11]

    * Nearly 13,000 people are currently in U.S. detention in just Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. As of October 3, 2005, in Iraq, there were 11,800 detainees in U.S. custody; as of May 2005, the U.S. was holding approximately 520 detainees in Afghanistan; as of October 1, 2005 there are approximately 505 detainees held at Guantanamo Bay and at least 2 enemy combatants held in the U.S.;[12]

    * 36 prisoners are believed to be held in unknown locations;[13]

    * At least 325 foreign fighters detained in Iraq to whom the Administration says the Geneva Conventions do not apply;[14]

    * There were up to 100 ghost detainees in Iraq;[15]

    * The U.S. transferred at least one dozen prisoners out of Iraq for further interrogation in violation of the Geneva Conventions;[16]

    * At least 247 detainees have been released from Guantanamo Bay since January 2002. 178 were released out right, and 68 were released to their home countries for continued detention;[17]

    * 38 detainees at Guantanamo determined not to be enemy combatants pursuant to CSRT and at least 23 detainees subsequently released.[18].

    * As of October 3, 2005, the military has conducted 299
    Administrative Review Board hearings with 155 decisions, resulting in the release of 6 detainees, the transfer of 47 and the continuing detention of 102 others.[19]

  73. 73
    rkrider says:

    Surber, ya that self-righteousness over torture is humorous, I’ll bet these guys laughed theri asses off:

    Two Afghan prisoners who died in American custody in Afghanistan in December 2002 were chained to the ceiling, kicked and beaten by American soldiers in sustained assaults that caused their deaths, according to Army criminal investigative reports that have not yet been made public.

    One soldier, Pfc. Willie V. Brand, was charged with manslaughter in a closed hearing last month in Texas in connection with one of the deaths, another Army document shows. Private Brand, who acknowledged striking a detainee named Dilawar 37 times, was accused of having maimed and killed him over a five-day period by “destroying his leg muscle tissue with repeated unlawful knee strikes.”

    The attacks on Mr. Dilawar were so severe that “even if he had survived, both legs would have had to be amputated,” the Army report said, citing a medical examiner.

  74. 74
    ppGaz says:

    What if they had leveled the whole city of Falluja with civilians dying in thousands, would be able to debate that?

    But they didn’t.

    So don’t talk as if they did.

  75. 75
    neil says:

    Boy, John, you sure convinced me.. they are a bunch of Nazis, they are!

  76. 76
    demimondian says:

    BTW, white phosphorus was used by Medal of Honor recipients in World War II. Please, do some homework

    So were atomic bombs. Are you suggesting that we should turn Fallujah into a glass lake?

  77. 77
    neil says:

    Third, you have to believe that the report is not some sort of internal agitation designed to, shall we say, make better the case against Saddam.

    Well, no fucking shit. But you’re certainly not going around shrieking that the people who wrote this ‘internal agitation’ are Nazis, even though _they_ started a war of aggression, whereas Kos and the Goebbels left desperately tried to stop it.

  78. 78
    ppGaz says:

    So were atomic bombs. Are you suggesting that we should turn Fallujah into a glass lake?

    You guys have lost all reason.

  79. 79
    Slide says:

    But they didn’t.

    So don’t talk as if they did.

    I give up.

  80. 80
    demimondian says:

    You guys have lost all reason.

    Not at all. I don’t think that it’s rational to nuke Fallujah. I think that it’s dishonest to argue that because WP was used in WWII, it’s necessarily a reasonable weapon now.

  81. 81
    John Cole says:

    Maybe for some John but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a legitimate debate on the propriety of our using WP as a weapon. You label any discussion of the issue as an attack on our troops and that is a very unfair and transparent smear.

    I have no problem with people debating what the US policy should be for the use of WP. None whatsoever. But not in the context of false accusations regarding our troops using chemical weapons intentionally and indiscriminately on civilians, a bullshit charge.

    Would you have any problem with a discussion on Megan’s Laws and sexual predators? Probably not. In the context that I falsely accused you of raping small children?

    You get my point.

    Do you think it’s ok to shoot WP into the middle of a city? Would you do it?

    Depends. But notice in your statement, you just assume they launched WP into the middle of a city, and not a mostly abandon ed city which was now a combat zone. Quit pretending they went in and carpet bombed innocent civilians. They went in and did everything they could do to avoid civilian casualties.

    You armchair generals, I tell you what. But keep repeating that they just went in and indiscriminately dumped chemical weapons all over a populated city. It’s cute, really.

  82. 82
    Mike S says:

    But not in the context of false accusations regarding our troops using chemical weapons intentionally and indiscriminately on civilians, a bullshit charge.

    Agreed.

  83. 83
    Slide says:

    John Cole:

    But not in the context of false accusations regarding our troops using chemical weapons intentionally and indiscriminately on civilians, a bullshit charge.

    John what are you talking about. The Think Progress piece you said, “ever eager to smear the Pentagon or the troops in order to attain some margin of domestic political gain” never even mentions civilians. This is what they said:

    To downplay the political impact of revelations that U.S. forces used deadly white phosphorus rounds against Iraqi insurgents in Falluja last year, Pentagon officials have insisted that phosphorus munitions are legal since they aren’t technically “chemical weapons.”

    The media have helped them. For instance, the New York Times ran a piece today on the phosphorus controversy. On at least three occasions, the Times emphasizes that the phosphorus rounds are “incendiary muntions” that have been “incorrectly called chemical weapons.”

    In other words, the Pentagon does refer to white phosphorus rounds as chemical weapons — at least if they’re used by our enemies.

    The real point here goes beyond the Pentagon’s legalistic parsings. The use of white phosphorus against enemy fighters is a “terribly ill-conceived method,” demonstrating an Army interested “only in the immediate tactical gain and its felicitous shake and bake fun.” And the dishonest efforts by Bush administration officials to deny and downplay that use only further undermines U.S. credibility abroad.

    To paraphrase President Bush, this isn’t a question about what is legal, it’s about what is right.

    No mention of “intentionally targeting civilians” that I can see, but nice smear non the less.

  84. 84
    John Cole says:

    Slide- I am not sure how you missed this, but the point of everything you just blockquoted (really, I linked to the piece, I have read it), is Think Progress’s CONTENTIONK THAT WP IS IN FACT A CHEMICAL WEAPON, AND LOOK HERE AT THIS INTELLIGENCE REPORT FROM THE PENTAGON THAT PROVES IT IS.

    In other words, they are merely refining the initial Italian film crew’s smear. Still, however, they are stating our soldiers used chemical weapons. Whetehr it is ‘just on insurgents’ or indiscriminately on civilians’ as initially charged, they are still asserting, steadfastly, I might add, that our troops are war criminals.

  85. 85
    Hunter says:

    Bluntly, I don’t care if our troops have to use WP, ’77, cheese graters, or anything in between in order to keep themselves alive, since they’re stuck in a quagmire not of their own making. And it’d be nice if this war was easy and “clean” — but it isn’t.

    The rather more central point in ALL OF THIS has been what methods are acceptable to use in the middle of a city with a known remaining civilian population. Incendiaries, chemical shells, 2000lb bombs, whatever — if you’re in a position where you have to use such wide-effect weaponry on top of civilian houses, you are well and truly screwed. Is that acceptable, in time of war? No. Did we do it? Well, after being screwed around with denials, flat lies and and bulbous how-dare-yous, we’ve finally at least got everyone on the same page: yes, the Defense Department has now confirmed it was used.

    At some point during the Fallujah battles, we simply decided that “anyone remaining” was a legitimate military target. (Or at least, that’s what I’ve been told by commenters on this very site and others.) Well, oops, “anyone” turns out to have included men, women and children. Or men, women, and the tiniest damn midget insurgents I’ve ever seen, anyway.

    This entire thing has been don’t smear the troops, don’t smear the troops, don’t smear the troops. Well, if it turns out that the commanders on the ground ordered tactics that were pretty much assured of causing nontrivial civilian casualties — which has been widely reported for a year, at this point — I think it’s OK to have a problem with that. Anyone morally bankrupt enough to disagree, keep it to yourself.

    After all, we’re supposed to be “liberating” these people, not bombing them into a fine paste while they’re hiding in their homes trying not to get shot at by either side. At least, that was the last story of why we were there, rendering the whole mushroom cloud, aluminum tube, sarin gas, anthrax thing non-operational.

    It’s really been remarkable, the stink that has been raised over this. About time people started talking about this as a real live war, and not as some penis-extending role-playing game. Yeah, there are some damn difficult choices to make in a war, especially when you’re trying to convince the civilian population that despite all appearances, you’re on their side.

    People who question those choices aren’t “against out troops”, except according to the new marvelously Republican logic of Shut Up and Clap Louder. And what’s more, that should be patently obvious. It strikes me that the entire wailing about “indiscriminate” depends entirely on the definition of what someone considers “indiscriminate”.

    Define “indiscriminate” and we’ll be getting somewhere. You shoot off something like WP, ’77, or a 2000lb bomb onto a “mostly” evacuated city, how many civilians is it OK to have under it? Apparently, the whole problem is that we all have wildly different answers — and war supporters won’t cop up to what their number is, for fear of letting the rest of the population know how far the supposed morality of this war has slid.

  86. 86
    Slide says:

    John I think you are really hung up on the “war criminals” charge that may be being made by some. Let me say for the record that I disavow any suggestion whatsoever that our troops are war criminals for using WP. Those that have made that charge have their own agenda which is quite different from most of the rest of us that are not quite as sanguine as you about using a weapon such as WP in the context of urban warfare where reportedly tens of thousands of civilians remained.

    The point being not to blame our troops but to voice our outrage at the use of such a weapon under such circumstances. Silence, like ppGaz would suggest, would suggest acquiescence to something I find morally offensive.

  87. 87
    SomeCallMeTim says:

    John, bullshit. One thing that I think has been very clear during this war is that NOBODY serious thinks of our troops as war criminals. Even if the people were making the charge you are alleging that they are making, it is clear from the general tenor of the anti-Iraq war crowd that they would place the blame squarely at Rumsfeld’s (or a political general) feet.

    I’ve actually been pretty impressed by this, because it’s clearly a function of a heartfelt sympathy for the troops over there.

  88. 88
    Hunter says:

    And the entire point of the Think Progress story was that yet again, the U.S. has had its foot in its mouth, REPEATEDLY, over whether or not it was legal to fire WP rounds at human targets. And so has the press, and so has the foreign media. I don’t give a rat’s ass whether someone wants to classify it as a “chemical weapon” or not. But it might behoove the U.S. government to figure it out and give a straight answer either way.

    As I said before, I’m not exactly shocked by the idea that we’re killing insurgents using incendiaries or anything else, but I’ve got a big problem with using such tactics in the middle of a “mostly evacuated”, i.e. “not entirely evacuated” civilian population center. You fire that onto the streets, it’s a smokescreen that just happens to burn like hell. But when parts of those WP airbursts drop through windows, into 10×10 rooms with hiding civilians, what the hell do we think is going to happen? What, you saying the troops are too g-ddamn stupid to figure that part out? ‘Cause there isn’t anyone claiming that all the civilians were out of there.

    The only reason the Think Progress story is a story is because the U.S. repeatedly — and stupidly — lied about W.P. use. So now, lo and behold, people are trying to determine what else they’re lying about.

  89. 89
    John Cole says:

    SomeCallMeTim-

    Whether or not you like it, when you state that our troops used ‘chemical’ weapons, particularly against civilians, by definition you are calling them war criminals.

    Hunter- I understand that some of you are agains the war, and would consider any civilian casualties unacceptable. I would tend to agree, but I also recognixe that civilian casualties are to some extent unavoidable.

    If you are charging that our commanders on the ground, by the very nature of being in Fallujah, were doing something unacceptable (because civilians are going to get killed no matter what), you are not arguing honestly. Attempts to use the avaliable armaments with minimum casualties is not a war crime, nore is it anything to be ashamed of.

    If civilians were killed, that is, of course, horrible as well as bad PR, but an unavoidable aspect of war. I tend to think our troops did the best they could with the weapons they had. I have seen nothing to show otherwise. Simply stating and restating that our troops used chemical weapons is (as Think Progress and Kos have once again- Kos going one farther and putting us on the same moral plane as Saddam Hussein), however, just a smear, and pointing out how ugly that is does not make me a member of the ‘clap louder’ crowd.

  90. 90
    John Cole says:

    The only reason the Think Progress story is a story is because the U.S. repeatedly—and stupidly—lied about W.P. use. So now, lo and behold, people are trying to determine what else they’re lying about.

    Bullshit. The TP piece attempted to show that WP is somehow a chemical weapon and that we used chemical weapons on people.

  91. 91
    Pb says:

    I’m not sure how many allegations of war crimes have actually been investigated or debunked, or if they’re just dismissed out of hand. It seems that even the BBC isn’t interested in investigating some of these allegations, unless someone else breaks the story first. And I somehow doubt that interviews with Iraqis are going to convince many here. However, if there were war crimes (and in war, there sometimes are) I imagine we’ll find out about them sooner or later.

  92. 92
    James C. says:

    Paraphrasing Jeff’s fine post on the subject…to many of the commenters here, there is no difference between US military and the regime of Saddam Hussein – between humiliation and rape rooms ; between the sanctioned use of WP against entrenched terrorists and the use of nerve agents and WP on Kurdish civilians; between fighting to free a people and fighting to keep them subjugated.
    Such moral relativism is not clever or nuanced, though it likes to pretend to be. Instead, it is obfuscatory for the sake of personal aggrandizement: some of the dimwits here and their ilk like to play as the conscience of the country, but what they are, really, are the kinds of intellectually feeble brats who have come to take for granted the very system they hope to tear down.

  93. 93
    John Cole says:

    Hunter, here is an example of the kind of crap your website is helping to spread:

    The troops in the “shake and bake” mission were lobbing WP indiscriminately into populated areas of Fallujah–they couldn’t see what they were aiming at or what they hit. That’s how they reported their actions in their own words. That’s a war crime, and war crimes aren’t a “sideshow.”

    That is what is passing as conventional wisdom among the people I am taking to task, and it comes from a comment to a pretty decent diarist who wrote:

    In 1970-71, I was stationed in Okinawa at the Chibana Ammunition Depot. We were a major repository for both conventional, chemical, and nuclear weapons. As Okinawa was still an American protectorate (from WWII) through 1972, we didn’t violate any treaties we had with Japan at the time about maintaining chemical or nuclear weapons on Japanese soil.

    White Phosphorus, WP, was stored in the conventional weapons section and if kept dry and in original packaging, it was a stable and “safe” munition to work with. WP was used extensively in Vietnam. Hand grenades the shape of a soup can, 88 MM mortar rounds, 105 fixed round artillery shells, and 155 MM artillery shells (howitzer rounds).

    Clearly that veteran and Kos diarist is a member of the ‘Clap louder’ apologista. Comppare his measured comments to the bilge coming from Kos:

    Saddam tortured, we torture. Saddam used WP chemical weapons against insurgents and civilians, we use WP chemical weapons against insurgents and civilians.

    Like torture, the apologists try to justify our use of such abhorrent techniques, oblivious to the fact that our moral standing is in tatters and our crediblity beyond repair. We aren’t just losing the war in Iraq, we are losing our credibility in the world.

    I am off to bed and will deal with all this tomorrow.

  94. 94
    Steve says:

    Paraphrasing Jeff’s fine post on the subject…to many of the commenters here, there is no difference between US military and the regime of Saddam Hussein – between humiliation and rape rooms ; between the sanctioned use of WP against entrenched terrorists and the use of nerve agents and WP on Kurdish civilians; between fighting to free a people and fighting to keep them subjugated.

    And to many of the commenters here, as long as we are better than Saddam, you’re a traitor if you criticize anything we do.

  95. 95
    Slide says:

    The totality of James C’s argument, “we’re not as bad as Saddam Hussein” How proud you must be.

  96. 96
    Andrei says:

    Whether or not you like it, when you state that our troops used ‘chemical’ weapons, particularly against civilians, by definition you are calling them war criminals.

    Which is gonna really matter to that 15 year old boy who lives to watch his family killed in all this mess.

    “Oh… they used INCENDIARY weapons to kill my family… that’s ok. ‘Cause you know… had the used CHEMICAL weapons… well, I might have to grow up and kill them som’s of bitches war criminals.”

    You continue to miss the larger issue at play here John, which has nothing to with what a few people at home insinuate about soldiers actions abroad, instead focusing on a technical detail that in the end is pretty meaningless given the larger picture. And I say this having agreed with the technical aspect of your rant on this subject.

    I would tend to agree, but I also recognixe that civilian casualties are to some extent unavoidable.

    I think Hunter asked you to start citing some numbers. What constituents “avoidable.”. At what point are civilian casualities avoidable (in the sense of not dropping WP on a city) in this sort of circumstance? I think its a safe bet assume that if a town of 50,000 people is filled with 10% of insurgents and 90% civilians, dropping WP on them would be pretty criminal, wouldn’t it?

    Because in reality, collateral damage is measureable, and it’s measureable precisely because there is a threshold of when it becomes untennable.

  97. 97
    Steve S says:

    LOL!

    Obviously irony is lost upon John Cole. When I read the dKos article, it was basically saying…

    “So a few years ago the government was calling WP a chemical weapon when Iraq used it. Now that we’re using it, it’s ok.”

    Cole’s complaints would have had a lot more credibility if I’d seen something complaining about how Republicans whined endlessly about Waco. But then, the government was accused of using jack-booted thugs as well as chemical and incinedary weapons against citizens. By far a more viscious attack than what we are seeing from the left here.

    Yeah, it’s bullshit. But it’s not near as bad as the bullshit Republicans have spewed in the past.

  98. 98
    Pb says:

    James C.,

    there is no difference between US military and the regime of Saddam Hussein – between humiliation and rape rooms

    Unless, you know, some people actually were raped instead of just being “humiliated”. Or is it the name ‘rape room’ that really makes it a bad thing for you? For all we know, it could have been the same room.

  99. 99
    dorkafork says:

    I’d say you’re right on the update, John. You can see near the top of the report it says “WARNING: (U) THIS IS AN INFORMATION REPORT, NOT FINALLY EVALUATED INTELLIGENCE.”

    And the report seems to just be the raw information from an Iraqi source:

    TEXT: 1. DURING APRIL 1991, THE SOURCE TELEPHONED
    BROTHER (SUBSOURCE) [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ][ (b)(7)(D) ]
    . DURING THIS PHONE CONVERSATION,
    THE SOURCE WAS ABLE TO OBTAIN THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION ON THE PRESENT SITUATION IN KURDISH AREAS ALONG THE IRAQI-TURKISH-IRANIAN BORDERS —

    Worth restating that the source probably assumed it was a chemical weapon because Saddam had a habit of dropping chemical weapons Kurds.

  100. 100
    Dennis says:

    WP isn’t bullshit dude, if it was dropped anywhere near your house you wouldn’t be splitting these hairs!

  101. 101
    rkrider says:

    Do you think it’s ok to shoot WP into the middle of a city? Would you do it?

    Depends. But notice in your statement, you just assume they launched WP into the middle of a city, and not a mostly abandon ed city which was now a combat zone. Quit pretending they went in and carpet bombed innocent civilians. They went in and did everything they could do to avoid civilian casualties.

    You armchair generals, I tell you what. But keep repeating that they just went in and indiscriminately dumped chemical weapons all over a populated city. It’s cute, really.

    I didn’t assume or pretend anything, I just read:

    But there is hard evidence that white phosphorus was deployed as a weapon against combatants in Falluja. As this column revealed last Tuesday, US infantry officers confessed that they had used it to flush out insurgents. A Pentagon spokesman told the BBC that white phosphorus “was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants”. He claimed “it is not a chemical weapon. They are not outlawed or illegal.” This denial has been accepted by most of the mainstream media. UN conventions, the Times said, “ban its use on civilian but not military targets”. But the word “civilian” does not occur in the chemical weapons convention. The use of the toxic properties of a chemical as a weapon is illegal, whoever the target is.

    Oh, I get it, your using the Bush defense, I should know better than to believe my governmint.

  102. 102
    rkrider says:

    Forgot the link:

  103. 103
    APF says:

    I wouldn’t be “splitting hairs” because it’s a very effective incindiary and I wouldn’t want to get any on me. But I live in a well-ventilated area and wouldn’t be worried about the toxic effects; I’d be more worried that the building would lose structural integrety and collapse in on me, just as I might be worried about the same thing if the building I lived in were hit by some sort of highly-explosive weapon. The idea that whether this is a chemical weapon or not doesn’t matter to the person whose family dies from it is true but a red herring; they wouldn’t care if it were a bullet or a chemical weapon either, right? But bullets aren’t illegal and soldiers shooting valid targets with bullets aren’t war criminals.

  104. 104
    rkrider says:

    You could be right, maybe there weren’t any insurgents in the middle of the city.

  105. 105
    TallDave says:

    Hey, you righty wingnuts stop crushing their dissent! Calling our troops war criminals is the second-highest form of patriotism, right after lying about prewar intelligence!

  106. 106
    Pb says:

    TallDave,

    Don’t forget smearing veterans and/or cutting their funding, that’s in there somewhere too.

  107. 107
    Hunter says:

    here is an example of the kind of crap your website is helping to spread

    The first one is a commenter. I’m no more going to argue the points of view of our commenters than you would some of yours, but it is certainly a fact that rounds were fired into the city as airbursts, scattering over a wide area. There’s no question that the spotters didn’t know everything — or everyone — it was landing on, they said so themselves.

    The second one is a knowledgeable vet who’s getting good feedback for what he’s written. Unfortunately, you’ll notice that at our site and every other, even the vets are at odds over the details of this, however, which is part of the reason that the story is so damn hard to pin down. The Defense Department seems to have rules against using WP in the manner it was used. So the question becomes, are those rules still in effect? Were they followed? If not, why not?

    And as for the third, from Kos, I’m fairly certain the irony of the statement came through. Yes, yet another thing Saddam’s regime was known for, and now we’re stuck having to defend when we do it. And the entire Arab world knows full well about this stuff — let’s not kid ourselves and say that if we don’t pay attention to the reports over here, they haven’t heard about them over there.

    Torture, Abu Ghraib, turning over captures to Iraqi forces that are taking treatment protocols directly out of Hussein’s old regime, and now we’re seeing the same weapons being used, even being described as “chemical”, and in our case we denied using the stuff completely, until we admitted it — which I think everyone can understand was a fiasco of the highest order, because now nobody in the world is going to believe squat about our further protestations, as if they ever did. We have to putter around about how, well, we didn’t sign that particular part of the Geneva conventions, etc. Great, I’m sure everyone we’re trying to convince of our friendliness is going to be swayed by that.

    No, this is precisely about moral standing.

    There really isn’t any question that we fired it into the city. Not grenades, but airbursts over a wide area. We know the city was not entirely evacuated, nor could it credibly be. Defacto, we chose to use such weapons in places where civilians could reasonably be expected to be hit. And so we’re back to square one — whether we think that’s an acceptable military tactic, especially in this particular city, in this particular war.

    I really find this story remarkable, because it seems to just hit people on both sides with far more passion and venom than anything else. Which I suppose it should, given the subject matter.

    Hmm. Out of honest curiosity — if you take out the word “chemical” from Kos’ sentences, does that solve the problem? Is it really that word, is that the ONLY point of contention in any of this, or is it the larger argument that we’re using “abhorrent techniques”, period, which regardless of WP designation I’d have to agree with, when we’re talking about that particular military operation?

    Because if the only hangup we have, before we can all agree that firing incendiaries over a “mostly” evacuated town is a Bad Idea, is the word “chemical” — I’ll happily concede the word right now, and without hesitation. Unfortunately, I see from plenty of other places that that won’t fly — it’s not the word that’s the problem, it’s the supposedly offensive criticisms of the tactics. And in the end, it boils down to our tactics in getting “rough” with cities like Fallujah, and whether those tactics were effective, or just created more insurgents then we killed.

  108. 108
    stickler says:

    I don’t generally agree with KOS posters, but I have to say that all this crap about whether WP was a “Chemical!” weapon or not totally misses the point. Hunter is right.

    Anyone with any sense who contemplates sending American forces into a city should be aware that our military — since at least 1863 — has preferred to substitute massive firepower for American blood. As an American, I’m fine with this. But the effects can be horrific. Not such a problem if you’re fighting a war of national survival (cf. Hiroshima). A big fucking problem if you’re trying to win hearts and minds in a counter-insurgency campaign.

    SO – who decided that we had to use massive firepower to (re)take Fallujah? Why was that necessary? Why then?

    Think of it this way: our nation has decided to build a military which is extremely proficient at winning battles through massive firepower. That provides huge advantages but also huge (potential) problems. Iraq, like Vietnam, is a case study in the problems. Thus, clever leadership should have been aware of those limitations and acted accordingly.

    Did they? Did they think this through? Did they act accordingly?

  109. 109
    Jason says:

    Battlepanda:

    On a public relations front, this is a disaster because the gruesome way WP kills—the corpses look like their skin have melted. Yet curiously, the WP often leaves the cloths of its victims intact

    No it does not, genius. You are utterly clueless, and you don’t have the foggiest notion what you saw on TV.

  110. 110
    PotVsKtl says:

    No it does not, genius. You are utterly clueless, and you don’t have the foggiest notion what you saw on TV.

    What a succinct and convincing rebuttal. Turdbreath.

  111. 111
    Steve S says:

    stickler – Agreed. It’s sort of a Catch-22, because if we didn’t use the massive firepower, frankly I don’t think the American public would be at all willing to stand behind this war with 10x the number of losses.

    On the other hand, if we fought the way it has to be fought, it may have succeeded by this time.

    I was in London last year, and the brits I spoke to there were pretty pissed about how we were fighting. Saying we were overdoing things. Kind of ironic considering the thousands upon thousands of examples of the British empire doing far worse. (Just read some Revolutionary War history to see hwo they treated “terrorists”)

    But then, another way to look at it, the British have a lot of experience of fucking up occupations so they probably know by now what not to do.

  112. 112
    thehim says:

    Wow, John, I’ve never seen you miss the point by this much. The point is one of both hypocrisy in terms of whether or not WP is really a chemical weapon and of continuing to employ a dangerous and losing strategy in Iraq. It really doesn’t matter much at this point whether our use of WP was within some legal boundary. It’s close enough to the line that the Iraqi’s believe that we are hypocrites. The bottom line is that we can’t be nonchalant about these things in trying to quell an insurgency. It requires an extra amount of restraint and it requires that we leave no doubt in the minds of any Iraq that we are morally superior to Saddam and his thugs.

    Kossacks can sometimes go overboard, but rarely do they make comparisons as silly as comparing people who are complaining about using chemical weapons to Goebbels. I’m surprised you wrote that.

  113. 113
    Jason says:

    Ok, accepting, for the sake of argument, the fundamentally ignorant and moronic position held only by the most ill-informed people in this debate that WP rounds qualify as chemical weapons despite being specifically excepted by international law due to their utility as marking and smoke rounds, the it is settled:

    Saddam Hussein had huge stockpiles of chemical weapons, still being unearthed to this day. The number of Iraqi phosphorus and mortar rounds captured thus far numbers in the hundreds of thousands.

    Case closed.

  114. 114
    Jason says:

    PoTVsKtl:

    Panda made an ignorant assertion. I simply pointed out its falsity. There is no instance where WP will come into contact with normal clothing (cotton, wool, polyester, rayon, whatever) and not burn through it. None. Period. WP will burn right through any of it. If you can’t figure that out, or independently come to that conclusion, you’re just as clueless as Panda.

    The fact that the clothing in the pictures was undamaged is pretty compelling evidence that whatever killed those people, it was decidedly NOT White Phosporus.

  115. 115
    er says:

    The Battle Book Chapter 5, Section III SYSTEM AND WEAPON DATA

    5-II Field Artillery Ammunition

    4) Burster Type White phosphorus (WP M110A2) rounds burn with intense heat and emit dense white smoke. They may be used as the initial rounds in the smokescreen to rapidly create smoke or against material targets, such as Class V sites or logistic sites. It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets.

  116. 116
    Mike S says:

    TallDave Says:

    Hey, you righty wingnuts stop crushing their dissent! Calling our troops war criminals is the second-highest form of patriotism, right after lying about prewar intelligence!
    November 21st, 2005 at 11:25 pm

    Biggest idiot in the blogasphere. Makes Virgin Ven look brilliant.

    I bet your parents are quite embarrassed by you. Any day now they will be taking away your keys to their basement.

  117. 117
    Mike S says:

    I was in London last year, and the brits I spoke to there were pretty pissed about how we were fighting

    I’ll probably be hearing the same thing next week.

  118. 118

    Perhaps Think Progress should be characterizing a brief April 1991 phone call between two brothers as a Pentagon position?

  119. 119
    Midwest Jay says:

    I hope the Marines use lots of WP rounds when fighting Wahhabi jizzbags that are holed up in structures anywhere. A Wahhabi BBQ sounds like something that could jump start some interest by me in the f$#%ed up religion they call Islam. “The only good Muslim fundamentalist is a roasted fundamentalist.” SF

  120. 120
    Slide says:

    Part of the reason we are not winning in Iraq is evidenced by Cole’s thinking. He seems to have little understanding for how you fight a counter-insurgency, which is to win the hearts and minds of the population. Mao said that the population is the ocean in which the fish (insurgents) swim. The use of a weapon like WP, whether legal or not, whether chemical or not, hurts the mission. It is short sighted. It doesn’t take the big picture into view. It is counter productive. It creates more enemies. It therefore kills our troops. I know this is a bit more nuanced that many are willing to think through, but damn this is why we are losing.

    We have this strange idea that because of our superior military and firepower we can win any conflict. Wrong. Viet Nam should have been proof of that. The fact that we haven’t learned our lessons is disheartening. We used to burn whole villages because some VC may have used those villages. All that did was piss off the majority of people that just wanted to plant their rice, to feed their kids, to survive. But after burning down their village they knew for sure who was the enemy. Same with WP. I can only think back to Rummy’s question, “are we creating more terrorists than we are killing?”. Obviously, as we have watched the insurgency grow in strength every month, the answer is yes.

  121. 121
    John S. says:

    He seems to have little understanding for how you fight a counter-insurgency, which is to win the hearts and minds of the population.

    What? You mean you don’t win hearts and minds this way?

    A Wahhabi BBQ sounds like something that could jump start some interest by me in the f$#%ed up religion they call Islam. “The only good Muslim fundamentalist is a roasted fundamentalist.”

    Thankfully, Cole is far more reasonable than this.

    Goebbels got nothing on the modern left.

    Ok, maybe not.

  122. 122

    […] More WP Bullshit […]

  123. 123
    John Cole says:

    Part of the reason we are not winning in Iraq is evidenced by Cole’s thinking. He seems to have little understanding for how you fight a counter-insurgency, which is to win the hearts and minds of the population. Mao said that the population is the ocean in which the fish (insurgents) swim. The use of a weapon like WP, whether legal or not, whether chemical or not, hurts the mission. It is short sighted

    You have been told this repeatedly, so I don’t know why I am bothering again, but there are instances when using WP is a safer alternative than other rounds.

  124. 124
    Michael Pugliese says:

    Saddam did indeed use chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq War.
    http://www.dissentmagazine.org...../casey.htm
    Questioning Halabja
    Genocide and the Expedient Political Lie

    Anti-totalitarian leftist journal Dissent. They disagree a lot with the braindead sectors of the Left.

  125. 125

    Dawn Patrol

    Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics – from the MilBlogs, other blogs, and the mainstream media. If you’re a blogger, you can join the conversation. If you link…

  126. 126
    ppGaz says:

    He seems to have little understanding for how you fight a counter-insurgency, which is to win the hearts and minds of the population. Mao said that the population is the ocean in which the fish (insurgents) swim. The use of a weapon like WP, whether legal or not, whether chemical or not, hurts the mission. It is short sighted. It doesn’t take the big picture into view. It is counter productive. It creates more enemies. It therefore kills our troops. I know this is a bit more nuanced that many are willing to think through, but damn this is why we are losing

    Mostly true. Certainly this government is not in the hearts and minds business … if it were, it might have a clue how to win over Americans. It has lost that battle.

    As for WP, what you say might be true from a PR point of view, but you are simply playing into my argument: The time to decide things like this is before, or after, the relevant combat situations. Not during. The proof that my argument here is sound is that you guys can’t refute it except by drawing ridiculous examples. What if we nuked the town? What if we killed all the civilians?

    Well, we didn’t, so the examples are inapt. Is WP a good weapon choice for the future? I don’t know enough about ordnance to say, but I do know that the Hunter approach is gratuitous and bullshit. Which makes John exactly right, and you wrong, on this topic.

  127. 127

    The proof that my argument here is sound is that you guys can’t refute it except by drawing ridiculous examples.

    Prove to me you’re not queen of the space unicorns.

  128. 128
    ppGaz says:

    Prove to me you’re not queen of the space unicorns.

    Send me your credit card numbers and expiration dates, and I will be happy to honor your request!

  129. 129
    TBone says:

    Intelligence reporting that comes from the field always has the following caveat firmly attached to the top of the report:

    “WARNING: (U) THIS IS AN INFORMATION REPORT, NOT FINALLY EVALUATED INTELLIGENCE”

    The collector will put the information in the report just as it is relayed to him by his source of information. If the source says Saddam contacted aliens from Mars…the collector will say the same thing in his report. This does not make the report writer and expert on aliens or Mars; and his report is certainly not Defense Department doctrine.

    Gun powder is made of chemicals. Are High Explosive rounds considered “chemical weapons”? Phosphorus is a chemical, however white phosphorus rounds have always been considered incendiary munitions NOT chemical weapons…just because one knucklehead put it in a report doesn’t make it gospel.

    Those assholes need to get a grip.

  130. 130
    slide says:

    ppGaz who still doesn’t get it:

    The time to decide things like this is before, or after, the relevant combat situations. Not during

    The “combat situation” is over, is it not? Or are you talking about the whole Iraq conflict, which according to General Casey and past insurgencies, could last a decade or more. So are we all to defer even discussing the appropriate use of a particularly nasty weapon until the war is over? Please give me a break.

    Cole:

    You have been told this repeatedly, so I don’t know why I am bothering again, but there are instances when using WP is a safer alternative than other rounds.

    Safer? Than what? Leveling the neighborhood with HE sure, but is that the only alternative? The harm this type of weapon does is not only measured in the deaths and injuries it inflicts but the psychological and propaganda victories it gives the insurgents. I’ve told you this repeatedly John, I don’t know why I am bothering again but I think down deep somewhere under the knee jerk reflexive responses that you give you might actully realize what I am saying is correct.

  131. 131
    Nicholas says:

    Wow, so many of the commenters here are intellectual featherweights.

    I haven’t seen this being discussed much:

    It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets.

    I would like to know why this is thought to be the case. The CCCW does not say this. The Law of Land Warfare does not say this (and I quote):

    The use of weapons which employ fire, such as tracer ammunition, flamethrowers, napalm and other incendiary agents, against targets requiring their use is not violative of international law. They should not, however, be employed in such a way as to cause unnecessary suffering to individuals.

    So, I would like to know the source of this statement. I have never read any treaty or law which completely bans incendiaries against personnel – only against civilians on purpose, or gross negligence which leads to unnecessary numbers of civilians being hit with it.

    And for god’s sake, can the commenters try to stay on topic?

  132. 132
    ppGaz says:

    So are we all to defer even discussing the appropriate use of a particularly nasty weapon until the war is over? Please give me a break.

    Give us all a break. Please submit your approved list of kindler, gentler weapons that meet your approval.

    Or maybe you think we should wage war with Tasers?

    Or … WTF are you thinking?

  133. 133
    skip says:

    ppGaz: “kindler, gentler”

    Kindler? I thought only Bushes were unaware there is no such word. But then the humanities were never Yale’s strength.

  134. 134
    ATS says:

    “Intelligence reporting that comes from the field always has the following caveat firmly attached to the top of the report:

    “WARNING: (U) THIS IS AN INFORMATION REPORT, NOT FINALLY EVALUATED INTELLIGENCE”

    Unless its for a three-month NIE demanded by the V-P.

  135. 135
    ppGaz says:

    But then the humanities were never Yale’s strength.

    I know. But their door locks are super.

  136. 136
    slide says:

    and ppGAZ wins the Zel Miller spitball award with this beauty:

    Or maybe you think we should wage war with Tasers?

    Ugh… I give up. When you have this kind of moronic thinking there is little else to say. Yep, I want to fight with Tasers. There. Happy now?

  137. 137
    Johnnie Oz says:

    This story continues to gain traction here in Europe, the problem is that it’s the MSM that spews up bile like Kos and co. And I don’t only mean RAI, that ‘documentary’ was low budget, some of the stuff concocted here is far more subtle.
    If you even raise doubts, ie thereby totally debunking the myth, along the lines of the piece in yesterday’s NYT, you are crucified.
    Still, the worst part is the lapping up of the moral equivalency argument…In Germany, this has been going on for years. Recently, it was the A Bomb anniversaries, which are somehow indicative of the US leading up to Iraq. Or sometimes they bait n switch, then it’s Iraq that’s proof that A Bombs were, contrary to prior assessments, war crimes. You know the next step in revisionism. It won’t come to that…

    Now it’s the Berlin Airlift, somehow pulled off by a bunch of cowboys, who seduced the pure innocent women while returning Berlin to the decadent years of the Weimar Republic. That’s the tone sometimes…you would NOT believe it. I guess it helps erase the memory of what Tempelhof Airport in Berlin was used for just 4 years earlier.

    Anyway, have a look at another take on WP.

  138. 138
    Pb says:

    Nicholas,

    Wow, so many of the commenters here are intellectual featherweights.

    Sad, isn’t it? Others are simply morons. Or perhaps just plain lazy.

    I haven’t seen this being discussed much:
    It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets.

    That’s a shame, people should discuss that more.

    So, I would like to know the source of this statement.

    It’s from a US army training manual. Of course, that particular phrase is now found in quite a few places. Have you heard of ‘Google’?

  139. 139
    Jason says:

    Yep. And the U.S. Army training manual is wrong.

    The law of land warfare does not prohibit the use of WP against combatants in any way.

    The U.S. Army training manual is passing on an old wives’ tale. There’s another one that says it’s illegal to use a .50 cal MG against personnel but it’s ok to use it against equipment, such as a pistol belt or a helmet or a uniform.

    That’s wrong, too.

    You see a combatant downrange, you can fire him up with as much WP or .50 cal ordnance as you can fit through the barrel.

  140. 140
    Demosophist says:

    I suggest you read Bamford (the former NSA guy) in Mother Jones before you pontifiicate on who* is really doing Goebbels proud. The article deals with the hired pros busy selling the war, getting paid hundreds of millions of dollars. That is a little more serious than some squirrely left-wing blog.

    So, where do I apply? Getting paid to do what you’d do for free seems like a good gig to me. In addition, just about all of the outright “lies” seem to be coming from the opposition left, right down to and including the meme that the left simply will not let go, that the Bush Administration made some argument at some time that Saddam was an imminent threat. And Bamford has been singing that same Ellsberg song since the Nixon era. Who are you kidding, besides yourself?

  141. 141

    […] Maybe Hunter, another front-pager at Daily Kos, will have the nerve to come back here to this site and state the following again: […]

  142. 142

    […] Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about this blog, but let’s get the facts straight: 1. Balloon Juice says “no matter how many times Think Progress says it, WP is not a chemical weapon.” ThinkProgress never claimed that White Phosphorus is properly categorized as a chemical weapon. The first paragraph of the post that has caused so much controversy states White Phosphorus rounds “aren’t technically ‘chemical weapons.’” […]

  143. 143

    John Cole: Before you go accusing others (including TP) of making claims, it’s in your own best interest to make sure the claim is true in the first place. Otherwise, TP and others would not be in the accurate and just position of demonstrating that it is YOU who are full of "hot air and ill-informed banter".

  144. 144

    […] Think Progress responds, sort of, to the posts I have made taking them to task (here, here, and here) in a piece called ‘The Truth About ThinkProgress’ White Phosphorus Coverage.” […]

  145. 145
    Jack Burton says:

    It’s threads like this that make me wonder how some folks and I share the same planet. The scum of Falluja, in addition to being the Hollywood of beheading video productions, murder, burn, disembow and hang American citizens from bridges in the City. And here we are debating whether or not we did, or should have, used WP in taking the city. There will never be a winning of the hearts of the people of Fulluja, so how about we win the battle by inflicting as much damage on then, and as little on us. Maybe you guys would be happier if we stood across the street from each other and had a good old fashion duel. God forbid we try and win without dying ourselves. That way, the only innocents who die in that Falluja would be the innocents who get their heads cut off for mass video distribution. As for the morons who claim that WP won’t burn clothes, as stated in the documentary, that pretty much voids your right to speak about anything regarding the subject.

    The only error in this whole deal is that the Pentagon did anything other than say “we used the means available to us to clear the city”. Plain and simple.

    It is horrible that civilians died in the battle, but they died because they lived and stayed in a city that was the center of terrorist activities in Iraq. It is tragic, but hardly a surprise – considering the events that were set in motion the day charred corpses hung from the bridge.

    If I had a time machine, I’d love to go back to the mid 90’s and find just one website dedicated to the horrors inflicted on the Kurds or everyday Iraqis by Sadamm and his goons. The torture, chemical weapons, etc. I wouldn’t find a single one of you armchair QBs giving a damn, so spare me the moral outrage. The only thing that matters to you is that you have the US military in your crosshairs and you will spare no expense to humiliate, slander and undermine their efforts until the only thing they’re allowed to do is Katrina relief.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Think Progress responds, sort of, to the posts I have made taking them to task (here, here, and here) in a piece called ‘The Truth About ThinkProgress’ White Phosphorus Coverage.” […]

  2. […] Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about this blog, but let’s get the facts straight: 1. Balloon Juice says “no matter how many times Think Progress says it, WP is not a chemical weapon.” ThinkProgress never claimed that White Phosphorus is properly categorized as a chemical weapon. The first paragraph of the post that has caused so much controversy states White Phosphorus rounds “aren’t technically ‘chemical weapons.’” […]

  3. […] Maybe Hunter, another front-pager at Daily Kos, will have the nerve to come back here to this site and state the following again: […]

  4. Dawn Patrol

    Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics – from the MilBlogs, other blogs, and the mainstream media. If you’re a blogger, you can join the conversation. If you link…

  5. […] More WP Bullshit […]

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