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Pentagon: US Used White Phosphorous in Iraq as a Weapon

On the 8th of this month I wrote They’re Not WMDs When We Use Them, which detailed Italian and British media reports of the US use of white phosphorous, usually used for illuminating dark battlefields, as a burning chemical weapon against Iraqis, both civilian and hostile.

A commenter named Confederate Yankee steadfastly refused to believe it:

White phosphorous is not a chemical weapon.

White phosporous may been used in Fallujah consistent with its primary purpose, illumination of targets, but exactly zero evidence is presented for the claims that is was used widely and purposefully, as a weapon…. Do you really think Marines would have poured hundreds of rounds of such an agent into an area that they would then immediate occupy? The story shows a complete ignorance of tactics or even a shred of logic….

You have a simple choice: do you believe a story that provides no direct evidence, or do you trust your lying eyes?

… The laws of physics are just that: LAWS.

White phosphorous simply does not have the capablity to do what your “experts” say that is does.

So you can disbelieve the evil military if you like, but you can’t argue with science with any sort of credibility.

Oh. So, then, what should I make of this… is the evil military lying to me?

(BBC News) US troops used white phosphorus as a weapon in last year’s offensive in the Iraqi city of Falluja, the US has said.

“It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants,” spokesman Lt Col Barry Venable told the BBC – though not against civilians, he said.

The US had earlier said the substance – which can cause burning of the flesh – had been used only for illumination.

BBC defence correspondent Paul Wood says having to retract its denial is a public relations disaster for the US.

Col Venable told the BBC’s PM radio programme that the US army used white phosphorus incendiary munitions “primarily as obscurants, for smokescreens or target marking in some cases.

“However it is an incendiary weapon and may be used against enemy combatants.”

And he said it had been used in Falluja, but it was a “conventional munition”, not a chemical weapon.

Ah, I see. Just because it is a flammable chemical that ignites on contact with oxygen and is contained in a munition and contact with its particles causes burning of skin and flesh, and as notes, “Phosphorus burns on the skin are deep and painful… These weapons are particularly nasty because white phosphorus continues to burn until it disappears… it could burn right down to the bone”, that’s no reason to call it a chemical weapon. And lying to a grand jury about outing a CIA agent in a time of war, why that’s just a technicality. And we don’t torture people, we use extreme interrogation methods. And George W. Bush is a Compassionate Christian Conservative who’s left no child behind, cleaned the skies, revived the forests, and is a intelligent, wise leader with impeccable ethical credentials…. OW! My keyboard just bit me!

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