Wednesday, October 15, 2014

'NYT' Shocker: Saddam's Chem Weapons Did Harm U.S. Soldiers--and We Covered It Up



Out of the blue, NYT with top story tonight at its site, plus documentary (see below) and links to key docs (and photo, above), by C.J. Chivers reporting what was allegedly "top-secret" until now, but found in FOIA docs: The U.S. and other troops encountered long-abandoned chem weapons, including sarin, in Iraq for years after the 2003 U.S. invasion.

And because of secrecy, troops did not receive proper warning and then medical care.  Chivers notes that the discovery of these largely decrepit weapons, manufactured two decades earlier, "did not support the government’s invasion rationale."  Plus: a worrisome ISIS angle.  UPDATE:  Among the documents posted by the Times is 48-page report that includes info on two U.S. companies, in Maryland and S. Carolina, that made needed precursors for mustard gas for Saddam
The New York Times found 17 American service members and seven Iraqi police officers who were exposed to nerve or mustard agents after 2003. American officials said that the actual tally of exposed troops was slightly higher, but that the government’s official count was classified.
The secrecy fit a pattern. Since the outset of the war, the scale of the United States’ encounters with chemical weapons in Iraq was neither publicly shared nor widely circulated within the military. These encounters carry worrisome implications now that the Islamic State, a Qaeda splinter group, controls much of the territory where the weapons were found.
The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm’s way and from military doctors. The government’s secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war’s most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds....
“I felt more like a guinea pig than a wounded soldier,” said a former Army sergeant who suffered mustard burns in 2007 and was denied hospital treatment and medical evacuation to the United States despite requests from his commander.
Congress, too, was only partly informed, while troops and officers were instructed to be silent or give deceptive accounts of what they had found....
Others pointed to another embarrassment. In five of six incidents in which troops were wounded by chemical agents, the munitions appeared to have been designed in the United States, manufactured in Europe and filled in chemical agent production lines built in Iraq by Western companies....
Nonproliferation officials said the Pentagon’s handling of many of the recovered warheads and shells appeared to violate the Convention on Chemical Weapons. According to this convention, chemical weapons must be secured, reported and destroyed in an exacting and time-consuming fashion.

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