Firebombing Falluja


The United States is using napalm in Falluja. So far, the military has denied the allegations, but the proof is mounting. On Nov. 28 The Daily Mirror’s political editor, Paul Gilfeather filed a report stating: “US troops are secretly using outlawed napalm gas to wipe out remaining insurgents in and around Fallujah. News that President George W. Bush has sanctioned the use of napalm, a deadly cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel banned by the United Nations in 1980, will stun governments around the world.”

For over a week rumors have circulated in the Arab press that both napalm and other chemical weapons were used mainly in the Jolan district of Falluja, a major area of the fighting. Now, despite a US media blackout, more evidence is leaking out and causing a furor in the British Parliament. As Gilfeather reports: “Last night Tony Blair was dragged into the row as furious Labour MPs demanded he face the Commons over it. Reports claim that innocent civilians have died in napalm attacks, which turn victims into human fireballs as the gel bonds flames to flesh.”

Blair is being pressed by furious MP’s to clarify whether or not he knew that the “banned weapon” was being used. He is also being asked to withdraw British troops if the US continues its use of napalm. As of this writing, Blair’s response remains unknown.

The US has already admitted that it used napalm during the siege of Baghdad. The truth was reluctantly confirmed by the Pentagon after news reports corroborated the evidence. The military has tried to conceal the truth by saying that there is a distinction between its new weapon and “traditional napalm”. The “improved” product carries the Pentagon moniker “Mark 77 firebombs” and uses jet fuel to “decrease environmental damage”. The fact that military planner’s even considered “environmental damage” while developing the tools for incinerating human beings, gives us some insight into the deep vein of cynicism that permeates their ranks.

The Pentagon’s hair-splitting has done little to obfuscate the facts. Marines returning from Iraq call the bombs napalm and napalm it is. Journalist Simon Jenkins of the British Sunday Times describes the incidents in Falluja like this: “Some artillery guns fired white phosphorous rounds that create a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water. Insurgents reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorous burns.” It is an excruciatingly painful way to die.

Independent journalists have been reporting for some time now that the US has been using banned weapons in Falluja. Iraqi doctors have noted that many of the bodies they have examined have been “swollen, yellowish and have no smell.” Asia Times online has reported that “Americans used chemical weapons in the bombing of Jolan, ash-Shuhada and al-Jubayl neighborhoods. They also say the neighborhoods were showered with cluster bombs”; an allegation that refutes the Pentagon’s claim of “precision bombing”.

There’s no doubt that the US “embedded” media is being prevented from seeing the vast devastation and carnage of Falluja so they won’t be exposed to the suspicious looking corpses that still litter the city. So far, their collusive wall of silence has provided fairly good cover for American war crimes. Fortunately, the truth is slowly leeching out due to the efforts of the foreign press and independent media. Soon, the world will get a better rendering of Washington’s “moral values” by a full vetting of transgressions in Falluja.

The charges of “war crimes” and use of banned weapons comes on the heels of a confidential report just released by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The report confirms that the US military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion “tantamount to torture” on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.

The report concludes that the military has developed a system to break the will of prisoners through “humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions….The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture.” (New York Times)

The report further clarifies that “doctors and other medical workers at Guantánamo were participating in planning for interrogations, in “a flagrant violation of medical ethics… Doctors and medical personnel conveyed information about prisoners’ mental health and vulnerabilities to interrogators” to assist in the information-gathering regimen established by the Pentagon. (No one should be surprised that General Geoffrey Miller, who has been at the center of the torture scandal, has been quietly removed from duty at Abu Ghraib. The Bush Administration is trying to anticipate the public reaction to this new wave of allegations and act accordingly.) The rationale for eschewing the Geneva Conventions that was developed at the highest levels of the Bush Administration (and which was identified by the exposing of secret memorandum) can now be more easily understood by the ICRC report. The activities at Guantanamo Bay prove beyond a doubt that the administration will not comply with even minimal standards of decency or humanitarian law. The firebombing in Falluja shows that they won’t be constrained by international rules prohibiting the use of banned weapons. With each desperate act, a portrait of the administration as a reckless, criminal enterprise is taking shape. Their inclination to use “whatever means possible” to achieve their objectives is an ominous sign of what’s to come.

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