8 November 2005
Fallujah White Phosphorus victim
A rain of fire fell on the city, the people struck by this multi-coloured substance started to burn, we found people dead with strange wounds, the bodies burned but the clothes intact – Mohamad Tareq, a Fallujah resident
Although reported by a handful media outlets at the time, the mainstream media took the official US denials at face value — that there had been no use of the illegal white phosphorus weapons on the inhabitants of Fallujah in December 2004. However the newly released movie (35 mb) from Italy’s RAI News 24 television programme blows the lie out of the water. Will we now see the mainstream media report the horrific crimes committed on the inhabitants of Fallujah?
Don’t hold your breath, so far, I have come across only two mainstream media stories in the UK on the subject, one by the Independent’s Peter Popham, ‘US forces ‘used chemical weapons’ during assault on city of Fallujah’ (8/11/05).
A search of the BBC’s Website revealed one article, essentially a defence of the US denial. As of writing it is titled “US ‘uses incendiary arms’ in Iraq”, though as you will see below, this might change. The article reiterates the US position that it only used phosphorus “for illumination purposes”, one clearly refuted by eyewitness accounts (the original story was headlined “US uses ‘chemical weapons’ in Iraq”). The BBC story tells us:
“Rai says this amounts to the illegal use of chemical arms, though the bombs are considered incendiary devices.”
For an illuminating exposé of the Machiavellian workings of the BBC’s alleged news coverage, I recommend reading Gabriele Zamparini’s documentation of his exchange of emails with the BBC to be found at BBC NEWS: “White Phosphorous is not a chemical weapon” BUT THEY ARE WONG!!! where Zamparini reveals the twists and turns the BBC went through in reporting the RAI documentary which in one version says “The Rai report may have at its heart an important truth, but it is factually inaccurate and misleading,” a charge it has now dropped from what seems to be the third or possibly even the fourth rewriting of the story!
Not surprisingly there exists an astounding double standard at work in the Western media on the war crimes being committed by the US and the UK occupation forces in Iraq. Where, for example is Blair’s ‘human rights’ representative in Iraq, Kate Houey MP, who has been at the forefront of campaigning about Saddam’s human rights abuses? The silence is deafening.
White phosphorus, outlawed in 1980 and called ‘Willy Pete’ by US occupation forces in Iraq, literally melts the skin off people, leaving the clothes intact. A US soldier, Jeff Englehart, interviewed in the RAI documentary tells us:
[I]t melts the flesh all the way down to the bone … I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 metres is done for.”
Over 27,000 buildings were destroyed by the US assault on Fallujah. Anyone, man, woman or child, caught on the streets of the city was a target for US troops. There is no official count of the death toll, the media were stopped from entering the city following its destruction, except that is, for the ‘embedded’ ones.
Zamparini’s exchange with the BBC reveals just how sensitive the state-run media outlet is to criticism of its coverage of events in Iraq, eventually crying off further exchanges with Zamparini, telling him that:
I will not be responding to every email commenting on a minute detail of our coverage.
Minute detail? Like accusing the RAI documentary of “being factually inaccurate and misleading” and changing the title from “chemical weapons” to “incendiary arms”? As Zamparini points out, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) says that “any chemical that is used against humans or animals that causes harm… [is] considered chemical weapons… [and] prohibited behavior”, a charge that the BBC has as yet not responded to, no doubt because it considers such a charge to be a mere “detail”, although tellingly, it has at least dropped the accusation from the latest ‘Kremlinised’ version.
I suggest you bombard the BBC Website with letters concerning the craven submission to the official line by the BBC on the war crimes being committed by the US and the UK in Iraq, they really can’t be allowed to get away with such outrageous coverage.
Pete Clifton, BBC news online editor