In November of 2005 I wrote this on the use of white phosphorus by American forces in Iraq:
The US Used Chemical Weapons In Iraq?
In November 2004 the U.S. used a chemical weapon in Iraq: White Phosphorus; Whiskey Pete.
While a list of grievances were made against Saddam Hussein before and during the war, we seem to have managed to achieve every one of them within 3 years of our occupation: massive arbitrary arrests, torture, violation of international law, use of terrorism and chemical weapons.
According to the Chemical Weapons Convention Article II Definitions and Criteria a chemical weapon is:
"Chemical Weapons" means the following, together or separately:
(a) Toxic chemicals and their precursors, except where intended for purposes not prohibited under this Convention, as long as the types and quantities are consistent with such purposes;
(b) Munitions and devices, specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals specified in subparagraph(a), which would be released as a result of the employment of such munitions and devices;
(c) Any equipment specifically designed for use directly in connection with the employment of munitions and devices specified in subparagraph (b).
And a toxic chemical:
"Toxic Chemical" means:
Any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals. This includes all such chemicals, regardless of their origin or of their method of production, and regardless of whether they are produced in facilities, in munitions or elsewhere.
There is also a part thatdefines the "Purposes Not Prohibited Under this Convention":
"Purposes Not Prohibited Under this Convention" means:
(a) Industrial, agricultural, research, medical, pharmaceutical or other peaceful purposes;
(b) Protective purposes, namely those purposes directly related to protection against toxic chemicals and to protection against chemical weapons;
(c) Military purposes not connected with the use of chemical weapons and not dependent on the use of the toxic properties of chemicals as a method of warfare;
(d) Law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes
So there we have it. We know what a chemical weapon is, what a toxic chemical is and what use of toxic chemicals are not prohibited. We also can see that the Preamble clearly states that there is a "prohibition of the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer and use of chemical weapons."
Let’s see how Whiskey Pete classifies as a chemical weapon.
According to Field Artillery Magazine, an Army publication:
WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes where we could not get effects on them with HE [High Explosive]. We fired "shake and bake" missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out.
White Phosphorus was used as a chemical weapon – the US Army publication described it as "an effective and versatile munition" – where its chemical property is used to harm people in order to kill them easier. The "method of warfare" even has a name: "shake and bake." When Iraqi guerillas got into " trench lines and spider holes where we could not get effects on them with HE" the Marines would use Whiskey Pete to "shake" them out so they could "bake" them with HE.
To expose the fact that we have long known WP is used as a chemical weapon we can turn to a 1995 DIA document titled "POSSIBLE USE OF PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL" that was about Saddam Hussein’s alleged use of Whiskey Pete against Kurds in 1991. In this document we clearly acknowledge WP as a chemical weapon:
IRAQ’S POSSIBLE EMPLOYMENT OF PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICALWEAPONS — IN LATE FEBRUARY 1991, FOLLOWING THE COALITION FORCES’OVERWHELMING VICTORY OVER IRAQ, KURDISH REBELS STEPPED UP THEIRSTRUGGLE AGAINST IRAQI FORCES IN NORTHERN IRAQ. DURING THE BRUTALCRACKDOWN THAT FOLLOWED THE KURDISH UPRISING, IRAQI FORCES LOYAL TOPRESIDENT SADDAM (HUSSEIN) MAY HAVE POSSIBLY USED WHITEPHOSPHOROUS (WP) CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST KURDISH REBELS AND THEPOPULACE IN ERBIL (GEOCOORD:3412N/04401E) (VICINITY OF IRANIANBORDER) AND DOHUK (GEOCOORD:3652N/04301E) (VICINITY OF IRAQIBORDER) PROVINCES, IRAQ. THE WP CHEMICAL WAS DELIVERED BYARTILLERY ROUNDS AND HELICOPTER GUNSHIPS (NO FURTHER INFORMATION ATTHIS TIME). APPARENTLY, THIS TIME IRAQ DID NOT USE NERVE GAS ASTHEY DID IN 1988, IN HALABJA (GEOCOORD:3511N/04559E), IRAQ, BECAUSETHEY WERE AFRAID OF POSSIBLE RETALIATION FROM THE UNITED STATES(U.S.) LED COALITION. THESE REPORTS OF POSSIBLE WP CHEMICAL WEAPONATTACKS SPREAD QUICKLY AMONG THE KURDISH POPULACE IN ERBIL ANDDOHUK. AS A RESULT, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF KURDS FLED FROM THESETWO AREAS AND CROSSED THE IRAQI BORDER INTO TURKEY. IN RESPONSE TOTHIS, TURKISH AUTHORITIES ESTABLISHED SEVERAL REFUGEE CENTERS ALONGTHE TURKISH-IRAQI BORDER. THE SITUATION OF KURDISH REFUGEES INTHESE CENTERS IS DESPERATE — THEY HAVE NO SHELTERS, FOOD, WATER,AND MEDICAL FACILITIES (NO FURTHER INFORMATION AT THIS TIME).
This reads almost like the siege on Fallujah. This time it was Kurdish insurgents who received a brutal suppression by Saddam with WP and in which hundreds of thousands fled to live in horrid shelters. That was precisely what happened to Fallujah.
It is clear that white phosphorus is used as a weapon where its toxic properties are "specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals." Furthermore, it fails to meet the criteria to not be prohibited since it is "dependent on the use of the toxic properties of chemicals as a method of warfare" by forcing the guerilla to "shake" from their cover so that high explosives can be used to "bake" them. However, guerillas and civilians were killed by the direct use of a weapon that by definition of a treaty we are a signatory of, is a chemical weapon. Which is a violation of the treaty and any treaty signed by the US government is the "supreme law of the land."
While Lt Col Venable admits that WP was used for its toxic properties as a "method of warfare" he incorrectly claims that its usage is legal. It is not. Even according to a section from an instruction manual used by the US Army Command and General Staff School (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, it is clear that "it is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets."
What defines the weapon is not a military official, press pundit, blogger or anyone in the Bush administration; the Chemical Weapons Convention itself defines the weapon and it clearly has been demonstrated by our own admission that Whiskey Pete is a chemical weapon.
War crimes are piling up.
Here we are in 2009 and it looks like the US sold Israel white phosphorus shells the latter used in their aggression in Gaza:
AP: U.S. Sold Phosphorus Shells Used in Gaza to Israel
The United States sold phosphorus artillery shells made at the Pine Bluff Arsenal to Israel — the same kind of rounds allegedly used against civilians during the recent fighting in Gaza.
A State Department official told The Associated Press that the rounds — typically used to light up darkened battlefields or provide smoke cover for combat troops — were most recently shipped to Israel in 2007. International human rights groups accuse the Israeli military of firing the chemical rounds into civilian homes, causing severe burns to those inside and killing at least one woman.
International law allows for the use of the phosphorus shells, but not in areas where civilians could be harmed by the burning rounds….
That last comment is not true. The Chemical Weapons Convention as quoted above in my essay says no such thing. It says nothing about separating from "areas where civilians could be harmed by the burning rounds" nor does it say that the person harmed has to be a civilian.
As the field manual for the US Army Command and General Staff School (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, said: "it is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets."
What we need to know is how the shells were employed.