DU in the US
May 2002 report
shows that out of the 700,000 odd servicemen who deployed to the Gulf theatre in the 12 months from August 1990, 206,681 had since filed disability claims, 159,238 of which were granted, 24,011 denied and 23,612 were still pending. 8,013 had died (from whatever causes). Another 100,000 US troops have sought treatment from the VA.
If this is how the US regime treats its own troops, then its extreme
callousness towards others is hardly surprising.
Initially, the Pentagon claimed that a grand total of 35 US vets had been exposed to DU !! This number then rose to thousands, and it is now believed to number over half the 700,000 troops who served in the Gulf (400,000 of whom actually entered Iraq).
Much of this denial and obstruction has already been covered on the
US servicemen now suffering from GWS were allowed to scramble over destroyed Iraqi armour collecting souvenirs, and camped unprotected on the desert battlefield for up to two months. Not surprisingly, their commanding officer Gen Barry McCaffrey, wore full nuclear-biological-chemical protective clothing, when he visited them in the desert.
In July 1991, a massive fire broke out at a US army base in Doha, Kuwait, and raged for 24 hours, as ammunition stores exploded. It is estimated that 4 tonnes of DU were oxidised by this fire, and the plume drifted several miles downwind. Once again, US troops involved in the recovery operation did not wear protective clothing, and the DU contamination was never cleaned up.
A March 1994 article in the Nation Magazine reported that the Veterans Administration had conducted a state-wide survey of 251 Gulf War veterans families in McGann, Mississippi. Of their children conceived and born since the war, 67% have illnesses rated as severe, or have missing eyes, missing ears, blood infections, respiratory problems and fused fingers.
Another DU victim within the US is the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, where the US military has extensive firing ranges. Vieques reports a large increase in cancers over the past 20 years, well over the Puerto Rican average.
In 1999, after a local was accidentally killed by the Navy, and in the wake of the post-Kosovo DU controversy in Europe, the People's Assembly of Vieques issued an ultimatum, with the unanimous support of all of Puerto Rico's community sectors and its Government, which demanded the immediate departure of the US Navy. They also condemned the use of DU, napalm bombs and other chemical and toxic weapons condemned by international public opinion because of their adverse impact on health and the environment.
The islanders have since engaged in a widespread civil disobedience campaign to get the firing ranges closed, including break-ins to the targetting areas. Threats (including that of 10-year prison sentences) and intimidation have recently dampened the protests, and one protestor Robert Rabin, was sentenced to six months for trespassing in April 2002, and then moved to a solitary cell as punishment for writing a newspaper article.
In January 2003, the US finally announced that it would withdraw from Vieques by May, and use sites on the US mainland (esp. Florida) instead.
There are three main plants in the US which produce depleted uranium. Paducah in Kentucky, Portsmouth in Ohio and Oak Ridge in Tennessee.
In September 1999, past and present workers at Paducah filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the government of exposing them to radioactive and toxic hazards. This was trigerred by the realisation that the recycled uranium they were working with contained traces of plutonium and other dangerous radioactive metals that the plant was not equipped to handle.
There is also a litany of recorded
at Paducah, and the cleanup of the entire complex is expected to cost $240 billion and take at least 75 years.
Around all these plants, there is a high rate of chronic fatigue, immune dysfunction and other frequently reported GWS symptons. Forty years after the wives of some Oak Ridge workers complained of their husbands' burning semen, the wives of Gulf War veterans now make the same complaint.
Michelle Mairesse in The New Enlightenment
The Halifax Herald, 11th February 2001
In another illustration of the cleanup nightmare posed by DU, the US recently closed down its 500-acre firing range, Jefferson Proving Grounds in Indiana, which is littered with 70 tonnes of DU. They abandoned plans to clean it up when faced with the $8 billion cost, and decided instead to fence it off - forever.
In November 2002, the US Army made public its plans to stop monitoring the groundwater for DU seepage.
Causes other than DU have been suggested for GWS, such as the cocktail of vaccines taken by US soldiers before the war, possible chemical attacks by Iraq, "accidental" release of nerve agents due to the US bombing of Iraqi facilities (particularly the
Khamisiyah chemical depot
in Southern Iraq which US forces blew up after the war in a controlled (sic) explosion, exposing over 100,000 of their own men to the resulting toxic plume),
insecticides used by the US army, and the toxic fallout from the oil fires.
Indeed, GWS may be a catch-all term for multiple illnesses, some of which are due to the above factors. However, there is a high correlation between the symptons of Gulf Vets and others exposed to DU (from Iraqis to US nuclear workers), and most independent researchers certainly believe that DU is the prime culprit.
25,000 French troops also served in the Gulf, and they too are suffering death and illness from GWS, and have experienced similar stonewalling by their government. Their representative body, Avigolfe, has not even been able to obtain full lists of those who served -
John Catalinotto, 29th July 2002
Perhaps significantly, French troops did not take the controversial NBC vaccines, or use organophosphate pesticides.