My transcript of the "Weapons Controversy"
report - video may be available at this
November 21, 22
On the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams on November 16,
2005, they ran a report "Weapons Controversy." While it is excellent
that the issue of the use of chemical weapons - particularly white phosphorus -
in the attack on Fallujah make the corporate press, the report contained
inaccuracies and spin.
I made my own transcript of the report, which you can find in
full at the end of this article.
Miklaszewski starts off the report with the statement: The
accusations first aired by Italian television claimed the U.S. military used
chemical weapons - specifically incendiary white phosphorus munitions- against
Iraqi civilians in the battle of Fallujah one year ago. This is patently not
true. There were reports
in June 2005 that the U.S. used chemical weapons in its assault on the city.
Miklaszewski goes on to state: The documentary showed
images of badly burned bodies, it claims were civilians, who had been attacked
and killed by the fiery weapons. If you watch the
then goes on to extract from an article "The Fight for Fallujah" in
Field Artillery magazine, which clearly depicts the deliberate offensive use of
white phosphorus in Fallujah.
an article from the Independent/UK - US
Forces Used 'Chemical Weapon' in Iraq, the Pentagon admits that it used
white phosphorus as an offensive weapon, and that it is apparently a common
practice. The Independent article quote Col. Veneable
"We use them primarily as obscurants, for smokescreens
or target marking in some cases. However it is an incendiary weapon and may be
used against enemy combatants."
Asked directly if it was used as an offensive weapon
during the siege of Fallujah, he replied: "Yes, it was used as an
incendiary weapon against enemy combatants".
He added: "When you have enemy forces that are in
covered positions that your high explosive artillery rounds are not having an
impact on and you wish to get them out of those positions, one technique is to
fire a white phosphorus round into the position because the combined effects
of the fire and smoke - and in some case the terror brought about the
explosion on the ground - will drive them out of the holes so that you can
kill them with high explosives," he said. "
However, Professor Rodgers of the Bradford department of peace
... white phosphorus would be considered as a chemical
weapon under international conventions if it was "deliberately aimed at
people to have a chemical effect".
He told PM: "It is not counted under the chemical
weapons convention in its normal use but, although it is a matter of legal
niceties, it probably does fall into the category of chemical weapons if it is
used for this kind of purpose directly against people."
Miklaszewski then diverted to Vietnam and the use of napalm.
Then he states:"That has since been removed from the US arsenal."
This is also a lie (at least technically). Napalm has been replaced in the U.S.
arsenal by Mark-77
Mod 5. The United States has made wide use of this new and improved napalm
in Iraq (i.e. US
defends use of napalm-like firebombs, U.S.
Broadcast Exclusive - "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre" on the U.S. Use
of Napalm-Like White Phosphorus Bombs)
Some might say that the report was substantively accurate,
however it is the spin (especially when added together with related information)
that sticks in people's brains. If it is against international law to use
chemical weapons against human beings, then whether one calls them civilians or
"enemy combatants" makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. The fact
that the Pentagon now claims that offensive use of chemical weapons against
"enemy combatants" or "insurgents" is only acknowledgement
that they are being used illegally.
To report that the U.S. arsenal has purged napalm form the
inventory is "technically" correct, but it leads one to assume that
nothing of that sort is in the arsenal (or in use). This is clearly
not true. Napalm was replaced by a new and improved
"napalm-like" substance known as MK-77. Further, it is not only in the
arsenal, it is being widely used in Iraq against human populations.
Lies of omission, lies of commission, "stretching the
truth" all add up to spinning a report. NBC is certainly not the only
culprit, but they got caught this time.
Williams: Controversy is just now emerging over one of the
weapons U.S. forces used in that assault (...) white phosphorus.
Miklaszewski: The accusations first aired by Italian
television claimed the U.S. military used chemical weapons - specifically
incendiary white phosphorus munitions- against Iraqi civilians in the battle of
Fallujah one year ago. But the U.S. ordered civilians to leave Fallujah before
the offensive. An estimated 40,000 remained in the densely packed city.
The documentary showed images of badly burned bodies, it
claims were civilians, who had been attacked and killed by the fiery weapons.
Former Army Specialist Jeff Englehardt was at Fallujah:
Englehardt: I do know that white phosphorus was used which is
definitely without a shadow of a doubt a chemical weapon.
Miklaszewski: Pentagon spokesman Brian Whitman acknowledged
today that white phosphorus was used in Fallujah, and is legal when used against
enemy combatants. Whitman denied the military was targeting civilians.
White phosphorus rounds are normally used to mark targets or
lay down a smokescreen. But in Fallujah, the U.S. military used them as
In a report on the battle of Fallujah ("The Fight For
Fallujah") in Field Artillery Magazine, U.S. soldiers said the white
phosphorus was used in a "shake and bake' mission and proved to be a
"potent psychological weapon against insurgents" in trench lines and
spider holes. The phosphorus rounds were used to "flush them out" so
that other bombs could "take them out."
During Vietnam, American forces made wide use of napalm. That
has since been removed from the US arsenal. But white phosphorus can produce
even more devastating injuries.
Robert Musil, PhD (Physicians for Social Responsibility):
White phosphorus is very different than things even like napalm. It goes
straight down to the bone, and it burns through any flesh that's in the way...
Miklaszewski: White phosphorus is illegal if used
intentionally against civilians. And while the U.S. military claims it was aimed
only at insurgents, it's put the Pentagon on the defensive, and brought the
overall use of the incendiary weapons under renewed scrutiny.
Williams: Thanks for that Jim.
<>Rowan Wolf is a columnist for Project
for the Old American Century,
and the editor of Radical
Noesis and Uncommon
Thought Journal .
Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org