Saturday, November 12, 2005Hmmmmmm...
Well, I guess that settles that.
"We do not torture,'' President Bush said on Monday. Never mind all those torture pictures from Abu Ghraib. Never mind all those torture stories from Guantanamo Bay. Never mind the 2002 Justice Department memo that sought to justify torture. Never mind reports of U.S. officials sending detainees to other countries for torture. Never mind Dick Cheney lobbying to exempt the CIA from rules prohibiting torture. ''We do not torture,'' said the president. And that's that, right? I mean, if you can't believe the Bush administration, who can you believe? No torture. Period, end of sentence.
But . . . What does it say to you that the claim even has to be made?
We were the nation of moral authority, the nation of moral high ground, the nation that lectured other nations about human rights. And you know what? People believed us. They rush to our shores because there is freedom here, yes; because there is opportunity here, yes; but also because we stood for something, which was more than the tin-pot tyrants who ran their countries could ever say.
What a difference a presidency makes. "We do not torture," he says.
In related news, we also don't use chemical or incendiary weapons...
In a documentary to be broadcast by RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, this morning, a former American soldier who fought at Fallujah says: "I heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it's known as Willy Pete.
"Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone ... I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 metres is done for."
The Iraqis in one observation post attempted to flee but were fixed with white phosphorus fires. As they attempted to flee again, white phosphorus rounds impacted the vehicle and set it on fire. The section continued to fire a mix of high explosive and white phosphorus rounds into the objective area. The section fired more than 80 rounds in support of the mission. Upon receiving the order to displace and reorganize for the movement back to the battalion assembly area, the 105s, 120s and 60s quickly broke their systems down and moved out. The rifle companies continued to provide suppressive fire onto the objectives.
Shake 'n' bake
Joking and rousting each other like boys just seconds before, the men were instantly all business. With fellow Marines between them and their targets, a lot was at stake.
Bogert received coordinates of the target, plotted them on a map and called out the settings for the gun they call "Sarah Lee."
Millikin, 21, from Reno, Nev., and Alexander, 23, from Wetumpka, Ala., quickly made the adjustments. They are good at what they do.
"Gun up!" Millikin yelled when they finished a few seconds later, grabbing a white phosphorus round from a nearby ammo can and holding it over the tube.
"Fire!" Bogert yelled, as Millikin dropped it.
The boom kicked dust around the pit as they ran through the drill again and again, sending a mixture of burning white phosphorus and high explosives they call "shake 'n' bake" into a cluster of buildings where insurgents have been spotted all week.
They say they have never seen what they've hit, nor did they talk about it as they dusted off their breakfast and continued their hilarious routine of personal insults and name-calling.
(North County Times)
"WP [i.e., white phosphorus rounds] proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."
(Field Artillery Magazine)(pdf file)
Jeff Englehart, described as a former US soldier who served in Falluja, tells of how he heard orders for white phosphorus to be deployed over military radio - and saw the results.
"Burned bodies, burned women, burned children; white phosphorus kills indiscriminately... When it makes contact with skin, then it's absolutely irreversible damage, burning flesh to the bone," he says.
You can see the Italian documentary here. |