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.