U.S. State Department admits to offensive use of white phosphorus in Fallujah.
November 11, 2005 12:05 PM   Subscribe

U.S. State Department admits to use of white phosphorus in Fallujah. In response to video released by Italian television of the use of white phosphorous in Fallujah, and a U.S. Army trade article that specifically cites the use of white phosphorus for "lethal missions", the U.S. State Department has released the following update to their previous denial: "White phosphorous shells, which produce smoke, were used in Fallujah not for illumination but for screening purposes, i.e., obscuring troop movements and, according to an article, "The Fight for Fallujah," in the March-April 2005 issue of Field Artillery magazine, "as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes …." The article states that U.S. forces used white phosphorous rounds to flush out enemy fighters so that they could then be killed with high explosive rounds." But in the Battle Book of the US Army Command and General Staff College, Section 5-11 (b4), it also states: It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets.
posted by insomnia_lj (77 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: we've covered this already this week



 
Cluster bombs, the article continues, are used as a wide area flare for night time ambulances.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 12:08 PM on November 11, 2005


War is hell

I bet there is a page in that battle book of the US Army that says it is more of a guide than a rule book. /sarcasm
posted by a3matrix at 12:12 PM on November 11, 2005


triplepost
posted by puke & cry at 12:18 PM on November 11, 2005 [1 favorite]


I really hope that MeFi's upset over the WP issue is indicative that the general American public is demanding the Administration start behaving better in this world.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:21 PM on November 11, 2005


I can't help but find it a little odd that the State Department had to rely on "Field and Artillery" magazine for getting its facts right.
posted by footnote at 12:24 PM on November 11, 2005


Before someone heavyhandedly debates that this should also be deleted, it should be pointed out that this is a major new revelation worthy of a FPP.

The U.S. has admitted to the use of a weapon in the middle of a major Iraqi city that their own guidelines indicate would be contrary to the law of land warfare.

It should be noted that the methods of how white phosphorus were used in Fallujah have also now been identified, with WP shells fired from mortars as previously noted, and also fired from a helicopter using either a M260 or M261 multiple rocket launcher, firing M156 white phosphorus rockets:

M156 White Phosphorous (Smoke). The M156 (diagram) is primarily used for target marking and incendiary purposes. . . Filler for the M156 is 2,2 pounds of WP with .12-pound bursting charge of composition B. The approximate weight of the fuzed warhead is 9.7 pounds.

This kind of attack would cause several different kinds of effects:
1> An incendiary effect, with possible fires on those areas effected.
2> A white-hot fragmentation effect, with burn wounds that cannot be extinguished under most conditions. (There is some debate whether water can even put weaponized WP out, as it can be mixed with other materials to keep burning even if submurged. Mud is the best way to stop the burning.)
3> A possibly lethal poisoning effect from such wounds, which releases toxins into the blood stream.
4> A possible toxic/caustic smoke effect, which could, depending upon concentration and level of exposure, could cause effects all the way from minor eye irritation, disorientation, and nausea, all the way up to blisters and death, depending upon level of exposure.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:24 PM on November 11, 2005


In other news, the US doesn't torture POW's period but the VP would like an exemption for the CIA anyway.

How are we the good guys again?
When do the war crimes trials begin?
posted by fenriq at 12:43 PM on November 11, 2005


For those of you (like me) who had never heard of the Law of Land Warfare (Field Manual 27-10).

The U.S. Army's Field Manual 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare, is one of the major resources used for educating U.S. military personnel on the law of war. It contains numerous pertinent direct quotations from the various Geneva and Hague Conventions, as well as several official interpretations of these conventions.

The army doesn't seem to be bound by it whatsoever, though. Look at #271.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:47 PM on November 11, 2005


Field Artillery magazine is a military publication that anyone can read. The fact that a denial of the use of WP is citing that magazine is telling. If the State Department wants to really put to rest the idea that WP is not being used against personnel targets, you don't go to some Army rag. You ask Rumsfeld, who asks generals, who then find out the answer. You then get Rummy, with a general at his side, to answer the question. Or at the very least, give a written statement.

The method of this denial is childish, and insults the intelligence of anyone that reads it. Particularly in the light of the evidence now available, some of it straight from US military sources, that seem to completely contradict the claims made here.

But it's not clear that what has been officially admitted (regardless of what reality is) is breach of the laws of land warfare. Would incidental WP use against personnel be illegal, if its supposed primary use was illuminary and incendiary? (Again, assuming use on personnel was actually incidental, and not purposeful).
posted by teece at 12:47 PM on November 11, 2005


fwiw, William Pfaff's article about torture in this month's Harper's (What We've Lost (blog entry, not full text)) is spot on.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:51 PM on November 11, 2005


War is so much better when it's civilized.
posted by MillMan at 12:51 PM on November 11, 2005


The one-line throwaway in the Battle Book is incorrect. The Law of Land Warfare states (and is correct in stating):

"36. Weapons Employing Fire
The use of weapons which employ fire, such as tracer ammunition, flamethrowers, napalm and other incendiary agents, against targets requiring their use is not violative of international law. They should not, however, be employed in such a way as to cause unnecessary suffering to individuals."

As we've noted before, the Geneva convention signed in 1980 binds parties not to use fire weapons indiscriminately against civilian targets. That's it.

So if we can sum up here: the military uses WP (and napalm) wherever it is appropriate. This is not a violation of anything at all. (Putting aside the general fact that the U.S. is waging an aggressive war, which is a war crime of the first order all by itself.) Can we put a hold on the white phosphorus posts for a while?
posted by jellicle at 12:56 PM on November 11, 2005


The State Department retraction and the quotes they chose to share are still an understatement of what the article actually said about white phosphorus in Fallujah, as it conveniently cuts out the mention of "shake and bake" attacks and how they would've loved to save more of their WP ordinance for "lethal missions", but it's probably as close to the truth as those bastards are going to get. Good for them for correcting their misstatement/lie/whatever. We won't have to wait for the historians in order to get the truth.

Negative marks for the U.S. media, however, for not adequately covering and investigating the issue. Once again, they leave all the work to the webloggers, and show us that they're only good for telling us things that the majority of the "informed" public already believe.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:58 PM on November 11, 2005


I'm not aware of the white phosphorus issue, but according to Wikipedia, WP is only a violation of law if used on a civilian target. Is it that it was actually used against civilians? If not, what is the contention?
posted by Bugbread at 1:07 PM on November 11, 2005


Speaking as a former FO, the call for shake 'n' bake was one often made but seldom filled. When you find yourself in the melee of a firefight, I can pretty much guarantee you will want to inflict maximum pain on the opposing side—neutralization is for officers and politicians (redundant?). Then again, I could always count on the mortar guys to play a little looser with the rules of engagement.

Not to be an HE+WP apologist, but it does have a proper place in a unit's arsenal. I would argue, however, that a fire zone in the midst of a hearts and minds mission with a sizable percentage of civilians probably isn't the place to pull that card from the deck.

So, to see it happen is not surprising. To hear the chain of command deny it is also not surprising. To be honest, they were probably unaware that it had happened. These sorts of decisions are [were?] made (especially w/r/t mortar fire) at the platoon level.

That this happened is sad. That the military bureaucrats appear to be laying down a protective line of CYA instead of being blunt about the consequences of military action is sadder still. That troops were put into the position where this kind of calculus needs to be applied on the battlefield is perhaps the saddest thing of all. Well, no, the civilian caualties would take that honor.
posted by Suck Poppet at 1:12 PM on November 11, 2005


I hate to bust insomnia_lj, but WP is not listed as a chemical agent, is not handled as a chemical agent and is not employed as a chemical agent. Matter of fact, it's deployed in shells and grenades as a matter of fact. It is not a banned minution, althought the method in which it's used is um, frowned upon. Sometimes.

I know insomnia_lj is a militaryphobic, and much like a homophobic, he cannot resist the chance to bash someone with the minimum of fact and the disregard for precedent.

His story didn't go all that far the other day on DailyKos, so I guess he's "re-releasing" it. Good luck in whipping a mob up into a frenzy over this.

Yes, the administration is lying to you. They're lying to all of us. On a daily basis. We know already. And a happy Veteran's Day to you as well. Thanks for using this day to bash us as well.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:18 PM on November 11, 2005


So if we can sum up here: the military uses WP (and napalm) wherever it is appropriate. This is not a violation of anything at all.

Catch-22; why would they army do something "inappropriate," with their weapons, much less actually call it inappropriate? So, using white phosphorous illegally is illegal, but using it appropriately is not. Gotcha.

Can we put a hold on the white phosphorus posts for a while?

I have a better idea - let's put a hold on the burning-of-skin-off-children for awhile.
posted by odinsdream at 1:20 PM on November 11, 2005


I will echo the comments made by teece, jellicle, and Suck Poppet (and jsavimbi somewhat) with the exception that I have no problem seeing this posted and updated in that it does expose part of the hypocracy of the administration and there is an utter lack of debate in the media.

Not that any other administration wouldn’t deny the use of WP, but it is irritating that the media is covering such things as: “Country music absent from NYC radio dial” and Bush using the bully pulpit TODAY to attack folks critical of the war - saying they are undercutting American forces on the front lines - most particularly in light of Rush Limbaugh’s comments of late that Iraqi’s/Muslims/whatever - routinely deficate on themselves. Yeah, debating policy harms troops in the field (’cause Bush knows all about that), but Limbaugh’s talk really helps achieve the goal.
More variations on the: First you didn’t want the war, now you want it to stop - make up your mind - position from the White House.
Don't know which is worse, being bashed or being used.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:21 PM on November 11, 2005


jsavimbi: Stop trying to distract readers from the actual issue of the army lying about it and then changing their story. This is not about classifying WP as a "chemical weapon." Nobody is arguing that it is or isn't. That isn't the issue.

(though, of course when saddam was manufacturing it, it was a chemical weapon)
posted by odinsdream at 1:22 PM on November 11, 2005


But hey, did you guys see the post about dogs dressed as bees!?!? It's SOOO Cute!! LOLOMG!!111!!1!!!!1!
posted by AspectRatio at 1:30 PM on November 11, 2005


odinsdream : "Catch-22; why would they army do something 'inappropriate,' with their weapons, much less actually call it inappropriate? So, using white phosphorous illegally is illegal, but using it appropriately is not. Gotcha."

???

There's no Catch 22 there. Saying that's a Catch 22 is like saying "Driving fast is dangerous. Driving above the speed limit is illegal. Why would someone do something dangerous, much less call it dangerous. So, driving over the speed limit illegally is illegal, but not driving dangerously is not. Gotcha." That makes no sense.

odinsdream : "Stop trying to distract readers from the actual issue of the army lying about it and then changing their story."

This comment, however, helped me understand the point of the post. The lying is the issue, not the inaccurate Battle Book section. (Probably would have been good for insomnia_lj to put a derail into his own post, though)
posted by Bugbread at 1:31 PM on November 11, 2005


AspectRatio : "But hey, did you guys see the post about dogs dressed as bees!?!? It's SOOO Cute!! LOLOMG!!111!!1!!!!1!"

What the hell does that have to do with this?
posted by Bugbread at 1:32 PM on November 11, 2005


odinsdream: what is the issue? For insomnia, his major new revelation worthy of a FPP is the use of WP in Fallujah. Ok, WP has been in use for quite some time now in battlefield conditions, and Fallujah being a battlefield, albeit an urban one, got peppered with it. I'm actually surprised that this has come up. I guess it's a matter of opinion. IMHO, landmines are the most insidious weapon of all. But I don't think the US is going to stop using them any time soon, or other nations for that matter.

Guess what? The US Army is a notorious liar. Always has been. Do you think that the troops get fed the same crap that the PR flacks hand out to the press? No, because they've actaully been there, done the work and they know it's bullshit. It's your fault for getting upset that the Army has been caught in a lie, and gawd forbid someone in the administration is trying to cover it up.

What they should've done is either ignore it or put out a statement saying that current military doctrine allows for illumination rounds to fall on the ground or the use of white phosphorus grenades.

Trying to kill someone with WP is like trying to kill rats with those silly sticky thingees.

But that's not the issue, is it? No, it's insomnia_lj's continued sympathy for the enemy and unabashed hatred for the regular troops. He never goes after the bosses, just the workers. Easy targets, I guess.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:35 PM on November 11, 2005


"What the hell does that have to do with this?
posted by bugbread at 1:32 PM PST on November 11 [!]"

Purposeful non sequitur for humor and/or to underscore the seriousness of the issue at hand and/or to illustrate the derails of others.

...just pointing to the deliberateness behind AspectRatio’s comment as opposed to someone making an unintentionally stupid, non-related, remark.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:41 PM on November 11, 2005


Is it that it was actually used against civilians?

Fallujah is (or was) a city, filled with civilians. The US army has now admitted they were shooting White Phosphorous artillery shells into it, at night, partly to provide lighting to help their snipers, and partly to directly kill - the burns go straight through the flesh to the bone, which is why it was considered such an unpleasant chemical weapon that it was banned.

The biggest issue is the insistent, repeated, media denials of this fact, which was first reported in the West by independent journalist Dahr Jamail, to a chorus of silence and denial from the mainstream media.

Finally, the truth is emerging - chemical weapons were indeed used, as Jamail had stated, by the Americans, against civilians. True enough, it's not surprising, not really news. It's what has been happening ever since Agent Orange in Vietnam. But it still deserves to be shouted from the rooftops, because the killing of Iraqis by Americans is still happening, day in, day out, and the US and British media is still denying it and hiding it, day in, day out. Here's the LAST paragraphs from today's typical CNN report, that focuses almost exclusively on the dangers faced by US troops, as though they face dangers greater than those they cause, and then, right at the end, where as few people as possible will actually read it, they show the difference between the words and the actions of the US military:

The U.S. military said it takes "careful and deliberate actions to minimize collateral damage" and uses airstrikes only when it is determined necessary, and does not deliberately bomb buildings if there is hard evidence civilians are inside.

A CNN crew Thursday morning went with the Iraqi soldiers who carried out the grim task of burying the dead from the destroyed houses. In anguish, the Iraqis pulled back shroud after shroud to show the team that the victims were nearly all women and children.

posted by cleardawn at 1:46 PM on November 11, 2005


jsavimbi: I hate to bust it to you jsavimbi , but some peaceniks think that if you want to be coherent you
shouldn't try at one time to use the argument 'it wasn't chemical, so no wrongdoing as by rules' and at
another time inform them that war is hell and there is no rule.

I'll simplify : you either believe that there are NO rule in wars, or you believe there ARE rules, you can't
have it both ways when it better serves you. I'm going to give the benefit of doubt to you that you have some
beef with somebody here and you reacted emotively , that I can understand.

Of course one could say I'm biased because I first posted the link to the italian video here, so I somehow
sympathize with insomnia followup, but if insomnia is homophobic militarophobic etc etc..well then hello pot,
meet kettle , jsavimbi the flip flopping hypocrite.
posted by elpapacito at 1:47 PM on November 11, 2005


Smedleyman: Yeah, that makes sense on reflection.

Still, whether or not this is serious isn't really the issue. Everyone knows war is more serious than dogs in bee costumes. It hardly needs underscoring. (Sorry, I know you weren't the one that made the comment, so I'm not taking you to task here)

I mean, I gather AspectRatio feels strongly about pointing out that this is a serious issue, and other things on MeFi aren't, but I don't get what brings that up. Is it an implicit attack on posting frivolous stuff? Or is it a way of saying that people shouldn't disagree about whether or not laws were broken, because someone has said that they were, and that we should therefore agree with that statement, accurate or inaccurate, because the issue is really serious? Or that the issue is really the military lying point, and we shouldn't discuss the inaccurate accusation of illegality because the issue is really important?

I guess it's one of those "I understand that someone feels strongly about something, but I don't understand what they're trying to say about it" things.
posted by Bugbread at 1:47 PM on November 11, 2005


"What the hell does that have to do with this?

because God forbid that in a time of war a website of allegedly smart people discusses things like, say, war crimes?
if karl or insomnia posted dumb Flash games about flying armadillos nobody in the peanut gallery would have anything bad to say about them.

posting about American war crimes and American torturers in American prisons (some of them secret), instead, will get your ass dragged to MeTa in un momento.

it's a time of war (and the USA, by the way, at the moment is losing). people will post about war. whine about it in the blue and in the grey, but the war (and the war crimes) will still be there when you're done with the whining. deal with it.

posted by matteo at 1:48 PM on November 11, 2005


It's your fault for getting upset that the Army has been caught in a lie, and gawd forbid someone in the administration is trying to cover it up.

This statement is flat-out stupid. If you want your leaders to lie to you, more power to you. Don't expect others to live by that standard.
posted by teece at 1:48 PM on November 11, 2005


On postview: Thanks, cleardawn. That clears up the topic quite a bit (for us dense/ignorant folks).
posted by Bugbread at 1:49 PM on November 11, 2005


matteo : "because God forbid that in a time of war a website of allegedly smart people discusses things like, say, war crimes?"

Was anyone saying that we shouldn't ever discuss things like war crimes?
posted by Bugbread at 1:51 PM on November 11, 2005


This statement is flat-out stupid. If you want your leaders to lie to you, more power to you. Don't expect others to live by that standard.

Your leaders lie to you. Government, church, military, doctors, business, you name it: they lie. They lie so that they can get something out of you or get you to do something for them. It's just the way it is. Sorry :(

If that is news for you, or you were expecting someone with 100% integrity (ok, I'll issue an exception to Jimmy Carter, God bless him), then you're a tad bit too naive for this here internet. I strongly urge you to unplug the computer thingee and go back to the television. It's a little more your speed.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:56 PM on November 11, 2005


/futher derail
“No, it's insomnia_lj's continued sympathy for the enemy and unabashed hatred for the regular troops. He never goes after the bosses, just the workers.”

jsavimbi, I’m not seeing that. He tends to note it’s the state department, etc. that is lying. The fact WP is used “indiscriminantly” (insomnia_lj’s terms) can be interpreted in various ways.
Your’re entitled to your opinion of course, but insomnia_lj doesn’t strike me the way, say, Jatayu das does:
http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/46574#1102944

I agree with much of what you said, but the issue at hand is that the Army is disreguarding it’s own rules.
You and I might say “Well, no f’ing, duh,” but I’d agree that policy interfering with regulations is an issue.
You might well whip out the WP in an “Oh, Shit!” situation, but it does play havoc with acheiving the mission of winning hearts and minds (as Suck Poppet illustrated well). As such it shouldn’t be used without the restrictions already in place (that is - not against personnel) . Which is what I believe insomnia_lj is saying, in part. Whether he’s too ascerbic in doing it, of course, is a matter of opinion.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:58 PM on November 11, 2005


Sorry, on reflection, my comments were metacommentary on metacommentary, and don't deserve to be in the blue. They would go in the grey, but it's not nearly enough of an issue to make a new post about. Sorry for putting commentary in the wrong place
posted by Bugbread at 1:59 PM on November 11, 2005


But that's not the issue, is it? No, it's insomnia_lj's continued sympathy for the enemy and unabashed hatred for the regular troops. He never goes after the bosses, just the workers. Easy targets, I guess.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:35 PM PST on November 11


It's true. Insomnia_lj actually hates the soldiers way more than the rich and powerful men who put them in harm's way. I know because I asked him "who do you hate the most?" and he said "I hate the troops even more than I hate the rich and powerful men who put them in harm's way for reasons no one will ever know, no matter how fucking ridiculous that sounds, or how easy that makes me to marginalize. I just hate me some troops!"
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:01 PM on November 11, 2005


Before I get started with a response, jsavimbi, you should know that you have an unhealthy obsession with anything having "insomnia_lj" attached to it. You need to examine why, and make some kind of peace with yourself about it. There is a war on, as you kindly remind us, and he hardly started it.

odinsdream: what is the issue? For insomnia, his major new revelation worthy of a FPP is the use of WP in Fallujah. Ok, WP has been in use for quite some time now in battlefield conditions, and Fallujah being a battlefield, albeit an urban one, got peppered with it.

Your definition of "peppered" must be different than mine. When I "pepper" my potatoes, the potatoes aren't covered head-to-toe in pepper. Semantics sure are fun, though. Good thing we don't need to rely on words, given that we have horrific images of hundreds of civilians dead as a result of the attack - their skin burned and melted beyond understanding, mostly because their clothes are completely unharmed. This is what phoshorous does - moisture ignites it. Dry clothes will not burn, but skin will - down to the bone. You might have seen these images right here on metafilter, weeks after the attack on Fallujah. You might have remembered the ensuing thread conversation, where people were trying to figure out what the hell would disfigure the bodies in such a fashion. You may have even been paying attention before the attack, to the posts about the city being closed off to food and water, and how civilians were trapped inside unable to leave. Hell, we even had some folks like you, telling us why that didn't matter, and how it was just a fact of war. Thanks for that.

I'm actually surprised that this has come up. I guess it's a matter of opinion. IMHO, landmines are the most insidious weapon of all. But I don't think the US is going to stop using them any time soon, or other nations for that matter.

You're right. We share a place in this list with such fine nations as Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Of course, there are plenty of civilized nations, too.

Guess what? The US Army is a notorious liar. Always has been. Do you think that the troops get fed the same crap that the PR flacks hand out to the press? No, because they've actaully been there, done the work and they know it's bullshit. It's your fault for getting upset that the Army has been caught in a lie, and gawd forbid someone in the administration is trying to cover it up.

It's my fault, that's true. I'm responsible for getting upset that I find it harder every day to respect the people in our military because of lies like this. It is my fault for wanting to be a citizen of a country with a responsible, efficient, and honest military, and for wanting to highlight failures in all of these areas in hopes that in the future, there will be fewer, if any, such incidents. I want this because it dramatically increases the chances that our soldiers can do their job and come home alive to their families, as well as reducing civilian casualties on both sides.

What they should've done is either ignore it or put out a statement saying that current military doctrine allows for illumination rounds to fall on the ground or the use of white phosphorus grenades.

Watch the video of a helicopter launching these rounds and say that again with a straight face.

Trying to kill someone with WP is like trying to kill rats with those silly sticky thingees.

Again, reality is going to argue with you on this one. Go find the photos of the hundreds of bodies of women and children that, unfortunately, can't argue with your position because their fucking skin is melted off.

But that's not the issue, is it? No, it's insomnia_lj's continued sympathy for the enemy and unabashed hatred for the regular troops. He never goes after the bosses, just the workers. Easy targets, I guess.

See above.
posted by odinsdream at 2:04 PM on November 11, 2005


Anyway the State Dep is using non-denial denial , used also by the most liberal of them all, Bill Clinton (oh the irony!)
posted by elpapacito at 2:06 PM on November 11, 2005


bugbread...

Look at my previous post as an attempt to say something along the lines of:

"Yes, it is an atrocious and horrible thing. People are dying tragically for aims that a normal, sane, rational human being can't begin to understand. The US and its allies have possibly killed more Iraqi civilians to rid that country of Hussein than Hussein himself killed (no one really knows for certain)...

Using chemicals of any sort, for any reason, is abhorrent, is repulsive to human nature and shows man for the barbaric beast he can be.

Further, the use of torture is also horrible. The practice of suicide bombings also flies in the face of rationality and human nature.

But, because we have been discussing, arguing, flaming, yelling, cursing, crying, pitying, hating, and loving on this topic for 3 years now while having zero effect on the situation, I have been led to a point where I am becoming numb to everything. I know the horrors, I know the lies, I know the betrayal on both sides of the conflict, and it's so senseless and tragic and I can't find any answers, or justification for anything on this topic any longer.

Letters to Congress don't help, protesting doesn't help, and praying sure doesn't seem to help. God is on no one's side in this conflict, and no resolution is in sight. Muslims are not inherently evil, the Americans aren't evil either. Yet the two sides are stuck in a battle that continues from the time of the Crusades where ignorance, hate and fear have taken the place of rational thought on both sides."

So if you want to get pissed off at me for a frivolous post which just is someone saying "YES WE KNOW" then go ahead.

No answers will be found here, and this discussion on this post is not a real discussion of issues, but an argument over minutia.

If you want to discuss fallacies in logic and what the definition of "illegal" is, go right ahead.

I'm going to go look at dogs dressed up as bees because both courses of action will have the same effect on the situation.
posted by AspectRatio at 2:06 PM on November 11, 2005


No, jsavimbi, I'm not naive. Unlike you however, I don't just shrug when my leaders lie to me. Which is what you are telling insomnia_lj to do. "It's his fault" for getting mad.

You get the government you deserve. If getting mad when a leader lies to you is a problem for you, you need to re-examine your world view. You might want to go ahead and avoid voting, if you really believe that. It'd be better left to the adults.

This is childish, faux-cynnicism on your part. It's really just an excuse for not caring, and trying to brush this issue under the rug. It's bad, bad form.

You make a vapid pronouncement like "Your leaders lie to you" and think it is interesting. No fucking shit our leaders lie to us. As they are human, after all, and humans lie. That "revelation" or bit of "wisdom" in no way absolves you from dealing with the fact that you're being lied to. Unless you'd just rather sit in the dark and let the grown ups run things while you are unaware.

Sorry, this is harsh. But you're deserving it here.
posted by teece at 2:06 PM on November 11, 2005


Optimus Chyme, you're being ridiculous. I believe he said:
"I hate the troops even more than I hate the rich and powerful men who put them in harm's way for reasons man was not meant to know, Cthulu F'tagn! ..."
posted by Smedleyman at 2:07 PM on November 11, 2005


most particularly in light of Rush Limbaugh’s comments of late that Iraqi’s/Muslims/whatever - routinely deficate on themselves.

What?
posted by homunculus at 2:07 PM on November 11, 2005


But that's not the issue, is it? No, it's insomnia_lj's continued sympathy for the enemy and unabashed hatred for the regular troops."

Of course, it was a soldier who served in Fallujah who went public with the initial claims that white phosphorus were used there, in a mixed environment with plenty of civilians still in town.

And, of course, it was a soldier who chose to come to me with the U.S. Army article that I passed on to others which finally got the State Department to correct their lie.

But I hate soldiers, huh? Even though I went out of my time to build a community for them on LJ so they can interact with each other and help each other. Even though I've posted to LJ and MeFi about people I know who died over there for this country.

Let me tell you something. My commitment to critical evaluation of information in order to determine the truth is absolute. It doesn't go away on Veteran's Day. But my respect and friendship for the soldiers I've had the honor to work and interact with is absolute too. They are my friends, and I both love them, admire them, fear for them, and mourn them when they die.

That you would accuse me of this kind of ad hominem shit on today of all days is what is truely sad and pathetic.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:07 PM on November 11, 2005


Before I get started with a response, jsavimbi, you should know that you have an unhealthy obsession with anything having "insomnia_lj" attached to it.

We all have bees in our bonnets, insomnia_lj just happens to be my bee. And I still think that odinsdream and insomnia_lj are one and the same.

And not because of his opinions or thoughts, but because of his insistence that he, and he alone, is the MeFi illuminator of "major new revelation(s) worthy of a FPP", and thus holds the moral highground. Let's not even bother to discuss the where and the how he gets his info, because that would just add validity to them.

It is my fault for wanting to be a citizen of a country with a responsible, efficient, and honest military, and for wanting to highlight failures in all of these areas in hopes that in the future, there will be fewer, if any, such incidents. I want this because it dramatically increases the chances that our soldiers can do their job and come home alive to their families, as well as reducing civilian casualties on both sides.


Sorry, but that's a phallacy, just ask any Marine who happened to be in Beirut. Rules are made to be broken. I know the moralistic crowd tends to not agree with that, but I was there, and as an eyewitness, which I doubt many of you arguers-for-the-truth are, I can testify that once the shit hits the fan the rulebook goes out the window.
posted by jsavimbi at 2:20 PM on November 11, 2005


"but for screening purposes, i.e., obscuring troop movements"

The term screening, as used by the military, has nothing
to with obscuration. That much is clear from the context
in the article cited by insomnia_lj. The WP was used on
people in trenches and spiderholes.

Read about screening missions here.
posted by the Real Dan at 2:22 PM on November 11, 2005


.
posted by Suck Poppet at 2:22 PM on November 11, 2005


odinsdream : "This is what phoshorous does - moisture ignites it. Dry clothes will not burn, but skin will - down to the bone."

Actually, the reverse is true: it ignites easily when dry, so it should be stored underwater to prevent ignition. I don't know about the particulars of weapon usage, but apparently its ignition point is 30℃, so perhaps it is the body heat that ignites it? Just a guess.

AspectRatio: I'm glad you responded, because I totally thought your post was saying pretty much the opposite of what it you intended. I thought it was a comment supporting this topic and poo-pooing silly topics. We're probably pretty close in opinions on this, judging from your explanation.
posted by Bugbread at 2:27 PM on November 11, 2005


jsavimbi : "that's a phallacy"

Lemme guess, you went to a very small liberal arts college?
posted by Bugbread at 2:28 PM on November 11, 2005


I went out of my time, I passed on, I've posted...?

You're back on the me, me, me thing again. Stay on target, this isn't about you. I'll agree that your commitment to critical evaluation of information in order to determine the truth (lol) has improved somewhat, but that's because you're staying away from the tinfoil stories. Boring, IMO, but workable.

They are my friends, and I both love them, admire them, fear for them, and mourn them when they die.

Excuse me, but who's the one with the unhealthy obsession? Veteran's don't give two shites about non-veterans, and less so to those who seem over-eager to um, "involve" themselves with related activities. Sorry, you're just not part of the club. It's kinda creepy, actually.
posted by jsavimbi at 2:29 PM on November 11, 2005


"most particularly in light of Rush Limbaugh’s comments of late that Iraqi’s/Muslims/whatever - routinely deficate on themselves.
'What?
posted by homunculus at 2:07 PM PST on November 11 [!]'"
*spoon feeds homunculus*

“LIMBAUGH: [Reading from AP report] "One detainee wrapped in an Israeli flag, some were shackled hand and foot in fetal positions for 18 to 24 hours, forcing them to soil themselves." Ugh! I thought they did that anyway over there. But this is news to me that this is news.”

http://mediamatters.org/archives/search.html?string=Limbaugh

Although my comment ‘of late’ is misleading. I should have said ‘during this engagement’ to be more precise. But it is still relevant. And he is on AFARTS (Armed forces radio - the acronym redux) a lot. Which anyone in the area can pick up.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:36 PM on November 11, 2005


Incredible, Rush Limbaugh the notorious drug addict incites the extremists to attack U.S. troops ..where's the outrage ?
posted by elpapacito at 2:39 PM on November 11, 2005


<>"his insistence that he, and he alone, is the MeFi illuminator of "major new revelation(s) worthy of a FPP"

I insist no such thing. That said, the State Department denied the militarized use of white phosphorus in Fallujah, as did a Pentagon spokesman just the other day. Surprisingly, I guess they needed someone to point out to them their own goddamn publication to show that they were lying to the public.

"Let's not even bother to discuss the where and the how he gets his info..."

Yeah. Can't trust all the eyewitnesses... they're not military after all, and hate the soldiers! And we certainly can't trust soldiers who were there either. Everyone knows that all soldiers like to do is bitch and complain anyways. Why can't they just shut up, follow orders, and die for their country instead? And, of course, we certainly can't trust military publications, internal memos, etc... especially when they contradict what the top brass are saying.

I'm sorry, but I don't like having smoke blown up my ass... even when it's white phosphorus smoke.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:43 PM on November 11, 2005


I went to Bowdoin College, big deal.
posted by jsavimbi at 2:46 PM on November 11, 2005


Wow, I keep forgetting what a prick Limbaugh is.

Thanks, Smedleyman.
posted by homunculus at 2:50 PM on November 11, 2005


*drools on bib*
posted by homunculus at 2:51 PM on November 11, 2005


It's kinda creepy, actually.
posted by jsavimbi


Look man, insomnia's just trying to save the world. Did you read everything he's done? He's not normally one to toot his own horn *cough*, but you asked for it.

Besides, it's either hurricanes or evil soldiers, and it's november and insomnia is fresh out of hurricanes. Besides, one day, when he can be bothered, he's gonna get a REAL blog!

And he's built communities. COMMUNITIES man! Live Journal! Don't be hatin' (as the kids say).

;-)
posted by justgary at 2:53 PM on November 11, 2005


Yeah, yeah, phallus-y phunny. We’re losing the point of contention.
jsavimbi appears to be approaching this from the context of (as he stated) - “once the shit hits the fan the rulebook goes out the window” with the apparent understanding that this administration - and (I agree) any administration - is lying about that.
insomnia_lj seems to be saying that the lying itself is bad - and by extension - harms the troops - this gets a little nebulous here, so I’ll offer my position: that lying about using WP in a city is bad because it allows greater latitude in it’s usage and runs contrary to the mission of establishing order and peace in the area (and winning hearts and minds).

Both points in some respects are valid. The PR flaks don’t want to admit it’s usage because - perhaps - they don’t want anyone to find out they’ve been using it so as to make the troops look good which maintains support at home and makes sure Iraqis in other areas don’t know about it.
I find that position naive at best.

Anyway, I don’t think the argument is whether to use WP when shit does hit the fan, only whether lying about it and/or endorsing it’s use tacitly or not - is valid.

On that point I can’t say it helps the mission any. Were I prosecuting the war from the upper eschelons I would attempt to forgo area effect weapons as much as possible - HE & WP. Even if it meant sending more body bags home now, because I know that it would save men in the long run.

On the other hand as a Lt. in a combat zone under fire I’d say ‘screw that noise’ and tell the morter guys to dump whatever they had to pull my guys’ ass out of the fire.

But as suck poppet pointed out - those orders don’t always come through.

Anyway, both POVs are valid, it’s just that one is concerned with a bigger picture. Cold comfort though.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:53 PM on November 11, 2005


ahem, mortar. I spelled it right. Spellcheck on this blasted machine!!!
And why is my type small now?
*spins out of control*
posted by Smedleyman at 2:55 PM on November 11, 2005


Willy Peter
Make you a buh-leiver
posted by fixedgear at 2:57 PM on November 11, 2005


"*drools on bib*
posted by homunculus at 2:51 PM PST on November 11 [!]"
no problemo.
*pats head*
Heard it on the radio. I flip from air america to the right wing stations out here occasionally. Kinda like a mental Swedish sauna or being in the 300 club.
http://www.theglobalguy.com/antarctica/the-300-club/
posted by Smedleyman at 3:00 PM on November 11, 2005


jsavimbi : "I went to Bowdoin College, big deal."

Sorry, that wasn't meant as a dig, it was just a guess. The word is spelled "fallacy", but in really politically correct campuses, some teachers have taken to spelling it "phallacy", as a play on "fallacy" and "phallus", with the implicit overtone that deception is a somehow "male" trait. (Similar to calling "history" "herstory", or retitling "seminars" as "ovulars") I realize you didn't use it that way, so I was just guessing that maybe you went to an academic institution where it was spelled that way from time to time and you didn't realize it was a misspelling. Reading the Wikipedia page on Bowdoin, it doesn't seem like a ridiculously PC place (compare to my alma mater, Occidental College), so now I'm going to guess that my initial guess about why you spelled it that way was wrong, and that I have no idea why you did, except that I doubt you were punning off phallus, and it was probably an unintentional misspelling.

Anyway, sorry about the long explanation, just didn't want you to think that my guess about the type of uni you went to was some sort of attack.
posted by Bugbread at 3:02 PM on November 11, 2005


Smedleyman, I agree with you. I think I was more annoyed at the outrage/naivetee being displayed here, but there's one point that I'd like to point out:

The regular Marine or soldier in the combat arms is not a brainless automaton. We break rules or enforce them depending on the gravity of the situation.

Yes, some individuals have piss-poor judgement or simply lack the adequate training, leadership and discipline to be able to operate without undue harm, but that happens in all walks of life. And unfortunately, some people just want to get home in one piece and take the easy way out. I can't blame them, but...
posted by jsavimbi at 3:05 PM on November 11, 2005


bugbread, I took it as a dig.

And that's why I played along. I did not go to Bowdoin (it's way up in Maine, I'm a city kid). I do, however, stand corrected on the spelling. Thanks.

A fallacy it is.
posted by jsavimbi at 3:10 PM on November 11, 2005


Stay on target, this isn't about you."

Indeed it isn't. It's about the State Department admitting that their previous statement was incorrect/in error/a lie/whatever. But wait, didn't you say this too?

"But that's not the issue, is it? No, it's insomnia_lj's continued sympathy..."

Please, have a little self-respect and just shut the hell up. This post is not about me, as much as you might wish it to be. You don't know me, frankly, and have no basis to comment on 99.8% of the crap you spew.

Your actions have reached an unacceptable level.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:15 PM on November 11, 2005


Veteran's don't give two shites about non-veterans
posted by jsavimbi at 2:29 PM PST on November 11


I thought my grandfather loved me, but I guess not. :(
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:17 PM on November 11, 2005


jsavimbi: agreed.

But we should all take a chill pill on the ‘commitment’ etc. front.
Veterans day is tough for a lot of us.

I met a guy today with a DSC (just shy of a medal of honor), a soldiers medal (meaning he saved lives) and, among other decorations in his very LARGE rack of fruit salad, a purple heart with silver oak leaf clusters (wounded more than 5 times). Humbling. I pretty much shut the fuck up around him. I’ve got a nice set of fruit salad myself, but to be honest I think more than a couple of them are chicklets.


“I thought my grandfather loved me, but I guess not. :(
posted by Optimus Chyme”

Why should he? You something special?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:25 PM on November 11, 2005


It is ever so heart-warming to see that there are people who outright support the use of white phosporous as a weapon against a civilian-filled city.

Gosh, I wonder why there are a lot of people that hate the US?
posted by five fresh fish at 3:32 PM on November 11, 2005


In 1962, he warned David Halberstam, then a young reporter for The New York Times, that the wrong strategy had been adopted. "This is a political war, and it calls for the utmost discrimination in killing," he told Halberstam, as recounted in William Prochnau's "Once Upon a Distant War." "The best weapon for killing is a knife, but I'm afraid we can't do it that way. The next best is a rifle. The worst is an airplane, and after that the worst is artillery. You have to know who you are killing."
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:33 PM on November 11, 2005


I think you do a good job of walking the line, Smedleyman. There are more sides to this than the OP et al want to present. jsavimbi is right on as well w/r/t the flexibility of engagement rules when the fighting actually goes down. Thank you both for being more level headed about this than I feel right now because I'm close to a flame bender. Today is the wrong day for me to be reading political-military threads I suppose.

OTOH, I just have to say this. Those of you who are running this flag up the pole over and over again—please don't. In battle, this shit will happen. The tools are there and it is pointless to not use them. This is not a moral statement, but one of fact.

The heat you bring, regardless of whether you're gunning for the actual soldiers or the politicians who put them there, will ultimately be directed on the front-line soldiers. They're there, trying to their job. Trying to survive. They are the ones who will end up in Leavenworth or worse. You may see yourself as bringing the fight to the administration, trying to bring home the troops, but that shit just rolls down hill and the more stink you raise, the more likely some poor E-4 bastard is going to be rotting in Leavenworth as a symbolic gesture to appease your righteous anger.

If you are, instead, gunning for the soldiers who were on the ground and committing these 'war crimes', well, sorry for the derail and taking a dump on the blue and all that happy crappy community shit, but fuck right the fuck off.

That is all.

oh fuck, I really am going to post this... well, fuck me running
posted by Suck Poppet at 3:35 PM on November 11, 2005


ahh, shit. I'm sorry...
posted by Suck Poppet at 3:36 PM on November 11, 2005


ah, we've reached the part of the show where insomnia_lj tries to quell dissent. Fascism, it's a wonderful thing, is it not? He hates anyone that disagrees with him in HIS threads.

At least you're being more mature this time. Usually you lose your bearing and call me a poopy-head or something to that effect. See? In a short time I've actually improved your webness. Kudos to me.

Your actions have reached an unacceptable level.

Do you have a chart? Somewhere to look so I can determine the level and propriety of my "actions"? Is it color-coded? Does it speak Starbucks? And what exactly constitutes an "action"?

Your issue has always remained the same. It's about you yelling fire! in a crowded theater and expecting recognition. You offer neither the cause(s) of the fire, who set it or why. Yet you expect, no, DEMAND recognition for your... ahem, efforts.

People like you become EMT's, volunteer firemen and game wardens. I'll be keeping tabs on you, as usual, but I have some celebrating to do tonight. Till next time. :)
posted by jsavimbi at 3:41 PM on November 11, 2005


"one day, when he can be bothered, he's gonna get a REAL blog!"

I have one, thanks. It's hosted on LiveJournal. It is consistantly in the top 40 most referenced LJ journals out of nearly 9,000,000.

That said, LiveJournal is also the site I helped to create. It's where many of my friends are. It's where I met my love.

I would be the first to admit that I could probably get more readers if I had a blog hosted elsewhere, but it was never my original intent to create a commercially-driven blog. Maybe I'll create one someday, but not today.
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:48 PM on November 11, 2005


W8 w8 our jsavimbi is a rather interesting character (yeah the liberal cabal is after you, hope you're not scared)

That's funny. Looking back, water boarding was taught to me in infantry training, right out of boot camp. On field exercises, if we caught a memeber of the opposing force, we'd put grab a 5 galln water jug and a couple of empty sand bags. The "prisoner" thinking we only had the 5 gallon jug, would get nervous as we put the two bags over his head.

Then, we'd pour water from a canteen over his face. This was enough to elicit thoughts of drowning/suffocation, and thinking that we had a whole 5 gallons to go, they'd inevitably disclose their unit's position or other bullshit we wanted to know.

Beatings and humiliation are commonplace in the military, so anyone captured by the enemy should expect that. It was, in essence, what Parris Island was all about. Everthing combat related, parade drill and militayr knowledge/history could be taught in a different setting. What they really wanted to teach you needed the surroundings of a prison (concentration) camp


Mhhhhkay , christ what do we have hear a conditioned private scumbag ? What's your name fat body ?
posted by elpapacito at 3:56 PM on November 11, 2005


The heat you bring, regardless of whether you're gunning for the actual soldiers or the politicians who put them there, will ultimately be directed on the front-line soldiers.

I really and truly don't understand these kinds of statements. Is absolutely anything fair game in warfare, then? On the one hand, I think it should be. Warfare is the 100% abandonment of civilization, of almost everything that separates men from animals. Why pretend there is anything civil about it? Let's just admit we're being we're reverting to "smart apes" when we go to war and let anything go.

On the other hand, it is certainly NOT the case that modern armies say anything goes. So, when things like white phosphorous are used in a civilian city, what the hell should we do? Do we just sit here with our thumbs up our ass? Do we condone it? Do we ignore it?

If we are willing to abandon all pretense of fighting in a "civilized" way, if we admit that killing civilians in a horrible fashion is not only to be expected, but that it will be condoned when it happens, if we really just quit pretending to be the "good guys," that's one thing. Then we could just ignore this shit and be consistent with our ideals, such as they were.

But America, at least in word, is NOT in that situation, so I really don't see what the hell you are trying to say.
posted by teece at 3:57 PM on November 11, 2005


"ah, we've reached the part of the show where insomnia_lj tries to quell dissent. Fascism, it's a wonderful thing, is it not? He hates anyone that disagrees with him in HIS threads."

Oooohh, Jebus help me!! Insomnia's repressing me! He's stifling my free speech! I'm going Godwin in 3,2,1 ...

Jsavimbi, nobody's taking away your candybar, so you can quit with the whining. I have no problem with you disagreeing with the facts of the thread, or debating them, but that's not what you are doing. Rather, you are once more resulting to ad hominem attacks.

(I know you probably don't know what that means, but I'll give you a minute to look it up.)

If you want to disagree with the actual content of the post and maybe cite a few appropriate references yourself, then cool. If you just want to smear me, however, then that's not cool.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:01 PM on November 11, 2005


“The heat you bring, regardless of whether you're gunning for the actual soldiers or the politicians who put them there, will ultimately be directed on the front-line soldiers.”
Suck Poppet

Indeed. Tailhook. All that shit ran straight down hill. Bunch of flyboys get way way out of line, but they’re too valuable to actually discipline, and the press is dropping all kinds of hell, so everyone else all eat a shit sandwich with command yelling at us: “Stop sexually harrassing people you bastards!!”
Huh? Uh, I was in Scotland sir, training. There wasn’t a woman within...
“Tough shit! You have to attend this seminar so you don’t sexually harrass anyone!”

Yeah. Makes sense.

It’s not hard to walk the line. I stand on principle. No one is really gunning for the soldiers who were on the ground and committing these 'war crimes', neither is anyone actually offering outright support for the use of white phosporous as a weapon against a civilian-filled city.

Lotsa misunderstanding here. We should really give other folks’ the benefit of the doubt on this.
That said, some people do get on their hind legs and get self-righteous about how wonderful they are and I can’t really point out that their shit stinks in that reguard ‘cause mine does too.

But really - has anyone advocated wonton use of WP?
No.

I think it’s well worth discussing - but we have to place the blame more snugly and squarely on the people who actually have power over these events. To reiterate what I posted elsewhere:
It is a moral conundrum that there is perhaps no person more subjectively interested in peace than is the sane person willing to give his life in war.

The issue itself is too important to be eroded by ego.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:01 PM on November 11, 2005


Dismissing the use of WP against civilians as the military equivalent of "shit happens" condones the use of WP against civilians. I do not condone the use of WP against civilians and appreciate as much light being shined on this as possible. As well as prosecuting anyone who authorizes and uses WP against civilians.
posted by fenriq at 4:08 PM on November 11, 2005


Please, have a little self-respect and just shut the hell up. This post is not about me, as much as you might wish it to be. You don't know me, frankly, and have no basis to comment on 99.8% of the crap you spew.

Your actions have reached an unacceptable level.


OH, forgetfull one, please read the rest of your stuff. I called that being Falafel Bill'ed. Oh, and look up the page a little, I referenced.

And for the part about this NOT being about you (because it always is)...:

I have one, thanks. It's hosted on LiveJournal. It is consistantly in the top 40 most referenced LJ journals out of nearly 9,000,000.

That said, LiveJournal is also the site I helped to create. It's where many of my friends are. It's where I met my love.

I would be the first to admit that I could probably get more readers if I had a blog hosted elsewhere, but it was never my original intent to create a commercially-driven blog. Maybe I'll create one someday, but not today.


Thank you, thank you very much for talking about my journal, and my communities and LJ, who even though they want no part of me, I still love them, and I'd like to thank the academy for...

That's shameless self-promotion. Over the dead bodies in Falujah. You really have it down.
posted by jsavimbi at 4:16 PM on November 11, 2005


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