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Tom Flocco.com
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Depleted Uranium Symptoms Linked to Soldier's Mysterious Death
Date: Sunday, November 09 @ 04:43:45 EST
Topic: Military


Depleted uranium symptoms linked to
U.S. soldier's mysterious death

Tank Driver’s Death Certificate Consistent With Depleted Uranium Poisoning.  Medical Indications Raise Questions Whether Pentagon Misled Congress and Families of Dead Soldiers by Employing ‘Pneumonia’ and ‘Cigarette-Smoking’ Claims To Cover Up Prior-Knowledge Of DU Safety Issues and Negligence 

by Tom Flocco

Army Sergeant Michael Lee Tosto           
Army Sergeant Michael Lee Tosto died mysteriously in Iraq on June 17, 2003.

Atlantic, North Carolina -- November 9, 2003 (TomFlocco.com) -- “Why couldn’t they just decontaminate his wedding ring and send it back to the family,” Janet Tosto told us in a phone interview.  Her son, Army sergeant Michael Tosto, 24, of Apex, NC, a tank operator with the 35th Regiment, First Armored Division in Baghdad, died mysteriously in Iraq on June 17--just 48 hours after presenting what the surgeon general’s office deemed as “flu-like symptoms exhibiting pneumonia.”  Just prior to death, Tosto’s mother told us he was said to be working guard duty and check-points around Baghdad, adding that “Michael’s military death certificate says he died from pulmonary edema [swelling of the lungs from fluid] and pericardial effusion [failure of cardiac pumping output].” 

A study of these and other symptom presentations related to Tosto’s death via statements from a number of university research medical professionals reveals that his cause of death is also consistent with depleted uranium poisoning. Given parallel symptoms, serious questions arise as to whether the Pentagon is acting as a damage control team--protecting the Defense Department against congressional probes or civil procedure for negligence and prior-knowledge--after years of multiple Gulf War-linked depleted uranium warnings. 

Military officials will not discuss DU ties to ill and dead soldiers.  But parents and spouses with legitimate thoughts of legal action linked to negligent troop deaths recently heard President Bush reiterate his quest for tort reform against  “junk lawsuits.”  Bush was asking aggrieved Americans to “learn to differentiate between politics and reality” in filing their frivolous civil actions. (10-28-2003, Press Conference, White House Rose Garden)  However, growing evidence and cause-of-death symptom interpretations point to a White House strategy to head off inevitable military tort claims against the government.  This, as George W. attempts to convince Congress to provide a shield of  “tort reform” protection around defense industry corporate contractors--key providers of presidential and congressional fiduciary encouragement.  Curiously, around 500 died in Gulf War I; but nearly 10,000 are now dead--in the prime of life--just 12 years later.



SYMPTOMS OF TWO GULF WARS

“He died so fast.  That’s not pneumonia,” Michael Tosto’s father, Daniel, told TomFlocco.com in a phone interview.  After the tanker’s death, the elder Tosto added that “One of his fellow soldiers contacted Michael’s wife Stephanie and revealed that 12 hours after his initial symptoms, Michael started coughing up blood, his lips turned blue--and he died just 36 hours later.”  In 2000, 47 year old Gulf War I vet Michael Ingram officially died from heart disease according to the military, but the Houston, Texas native’s Harris County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Joye Carter said Gulf War Syndrome was a contributing cause of death. (Houston Chronicle, 4-15-2000)  His fellow disabled soldier and friend Paul Lyons revealed that “they said he had a stroke.  I’ve never been able to understand it.  He was coughing up blood.” 

Rich Fales, 44, of Silver Spring, Maryland, and a former member of a Virginia Army National Guard military police unit serving in the elder Bush’s Gulf War still has trouble breathing and also coughs up blood--symptoms he attributes to his 1991 experiences inhaling thick smoke and particles from landfill fires. (Baltimore Sun, 1-13-2003)


Hector Miranda, former Army supply sergeant from Huntington, Long Island, has been coughing up blood for years, even as “military experts stood up [at a Gulf War I military conference] and told us it was ‘all in our minds.’ ”  And a former 1991 Gulf War tank commander, Jeffrey Rawls, 36, from Utica, New York, has central nervous system damage so severe that his brain is disintegrating, cannot walk unassisted, vomits blood, suffers memory loss, and speaks with the slurred speech of a stroke victim. (NY Daily News, 11-11-1996)  But fellow tanker Mike Tosto died before onset of such symptoms.

Experts in depleted uranium poisoning claim that some Iraqi crewmen in tanks hit by DU weapons died not from uranium shrapnel but from depleted uranium poisoning--on the spot.  (“Uranium Symptoms Match U.S. Report as Cancer Fears Spread,” The London Observer, 1-14-2001)
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[ Current Iraqi battlefield reports indicate: 1,800+ soldiers wounded, 400+ dead, 13 GI suicides, 25+ guerilla attacks and 5-6 wounded each day, rationed drinking water in 120+ degree heat, and bullet-proof vests sent to allies before U.S. troops.  But cause-of-death symptoms among 100+ curious cases of “pneumonia” and soldiers “dying in their sleep” in Iraq raise serious questions, particularly in the case of Army sergeant Michael Tosto.   This, as Tosto’s desperate physical condition (coughing up blood just 12 hours after feeling ill) still necessitated the military’s “bumping” him from a possible life-saving medivac flight to a U.S. hospital in Germany. 

Tosto’s medical treatment also raises legal concerns over lack of enough medical planes, problematic prior emergency planning, suspect operating procedures, and poor communication to perform the mission.  Such doubts also suggest misplacement of priorities and possible negligence regarding overall troop emergency medical support, since 24 year-old Michael Tosto died before the next plane could arrive.  And according to veteran decorated UPI war reporter/author Joe Galloway (3 Vietnam tours) and cable TV hosts 4-Star General Barry McCaffery and Bill Press, President Bush--not wishing to draw attention to flag-draped caskets of dead troops--has not attended the funeral of Tosto or any other dead soldier returning home from either Iraq or Afghanistan.  (MSNBC, 8-26-2003 / New York Times, 10-21-2003)

A January 29, 2003 CBS report is especially instructive:  Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said “We cannot track $2.3 trillion in [lost Pentagon funding] transactions [making recent $87 billion in Iraq appropriations a veritable drop in the bucket].  And more recent reports indicate continued Pentagon budget padding even as questions arise regarding whether unaccounted for defense funds were secretly diverted to domestic covert operations instead of needed medical aircraft, drinking water, and body armor to save the lives of U.S. troops.  Some sources say such “off-budget” funding accounts are employed to rig American elections in certain states, to loan-out CIA/FBI agents with intelligence software to manipulate financial markets for Enron-style securities fraud, or for purposes of harassment, phone/email surveillance, and smear campaigns targeting political opposition--all funded by American taxpayers. ]
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Further linking the issue of DU poisoning to sick and deceased troops are a number of recent reports indicating that Pentagon military doctors investigating 100+ battlefield pneumonia cases found elevated white blood cells in cardiovascular systems, even as they are currently blaming Tosto’s and other deaths on recent commencement of cigarette smoking.  Janet Tosto told us that military officials said her son Michael’s military autopsy exhibited elevated white blood cells.

The National Leukemia Society (Leukemia.org) says “The report of an elevated white blood cell count is the most common clue that leads a physician to consider the diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia,” adding that “the marrow cells must be examined.”  And the National Institutes of Health (6-1-2003, MedlinePlus) notes that “high numbers of white blood cells may indicate infectious diseases, [including] leukemia.”

Dr. Daniel Bishop (Ph.D. in Chemistry) relates the following as to exploded munitions:
“Once in the lungs, these relatively insoluble [DU] particles can remain there for many years, dissolving into the blood stream very slowly, as evidenced by the fact that DU is still found in the urine of veterans 9 years after the Gulf War. Once in the blood, much is transferred to the kidneys, where they cause chemical damage by combining with certain essential proteins. But uranium also reacts somewhat like calcium and becomes deposited in the bones. There, located next to bone marrow (a site of rapid cell division), its ionizing radiation can severely effect both white blood cell formation (and thus the immune system) and be responsible for leukemia.”

The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) nursing department website notes that irradiation is a cause of leukemia, and that irradiation exposure to depleted uranium is in the air, in the water in some areas, and in the dust everywhere.  (http://www.nursing.ucla.edu/)
And reporter Amy Worthington of the Idaho Observer has written that "The U.S. and British troops [in Iraq] are the walking dead."

In a report for the Hague Convention Peace Conference in May, 1999, Dr. Rosalie Bertell
Secretary General--International Commission of Health Professionals, and President--International Institute of Concern for Public Health, said “depleted uranium was used extensively in place of tungsten for ordinance [bombs, weapon shells, tank plating, etc.] by the US and UK in Gulf War I.”  Wide reports indicate even more DU is used in Iraq during current military operations.

ANYTHING BUT DEPLETED URANIUM DUST

In an 8-5-2003 Department of Defense news conference addressing the pneumonia outbreak in Iraq, Army Colonel Robert DeFraites, chief of preventative medicine in the Office of the Surgeon General, carefully chose his words when he said “we’ve found no evidence of anthrax, smallpox or any other biological agent attributed--that we can attribute to pneumonia.” [no mention of chemical agent products such as depleted uranium]

DeFraites added....”But the investigation’s not completed yet, so I really can’t say more about what--you know, it’s not 100 percent--we haven’t--....”  Then a reporter asked: “And the last part--I’m sorry--is the non-bacteria thing....there was a lot of anecdotal evidence of troops becoming ill because they were breathing in the dust that had been for years treated with chemicals....”

Colonel DeFraites stepped carefully over Iraq’s DU munitions minefield, never mentioning small, easily inhaled and highly dense radioactive uranium particles which settle onto tanks, trucks, bunkers and sand after munitions, tank, or shell and cartridge explosions.
[ Just one microscopic particle--let alone thousands--trapped in a soldier’s pulmonary system for one year can result in 272 times the annual whole body radiation dose permitted U.S. radiation workers, according to Dr. Garth Nicolson of the Institute for Molecular Medicine, Huntington Beach, CA.]. 

DeFraites continued:
“....the focus of the investigation on the non-infectious causes includes any of the environmental conditions like the dust or, you know, what the soldier might have been doing in his occupation -- you know, it might give us some clues of an exposure he may have experienced that might explain why he got pneumonia. So, the dust -- certainly, everyone's seen the pictures, and whoever has been there understands what -- that the dust is an issue. It's always been an issue. Why it might be contributing to these cases is one of the focus of the investigation, if it does at all.”

When asked about the ages of two young soldiers said to have died from pneumonia, Colonel DeFraites replied:  “But, I mean, they're all active-duty military people. So, it falls in that age range. And I'm not going to--really, in the interest of the patients' family, I'm not going to talk about specifics about those fatal cases.” [ DeFraites had to have known that at least one of the two dead soldiers had been strangely “retired from the U.S. Army” while still in a coma at Germany’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center---while his kidneys and liver totally shut down, ultimately causing his death--from what the Pentagon said was pneumonia. ]  In other words, don’t ever let your son’s kidneys and liver fail--or he will die from pneumonia.

Unlike a somewhat timid White House press corps, the Defense Department reporters did not give up on battlefield chemical products, asking “And biological or chemical--can you definitively rule out a possibility of biological or chemical weapons?"

DeFraites replied: “Based on all the information we have to date, there’s been no positive finding of any anthrax or smallpox or any other biological weapons.  So yeah, I’ve--pretty close to ruling it out.” [ DeFraites was also asked about CHEMICAL toxins, but he deftly diverted any mention of chemical byproducts like depleted uranium, or whether the military had even attempted to investigate DU--and issues of congressional and military prior-knowledge via testimony, conferences and widespread news reports.]

The Defense press corps kept pounding DeFraites as if it were their own sons who had died:  “Were both of these in Iraq -- both of the deaths in Iraq?  DeFraites, never touching issues of mission preparation and lack of medical planes, replied “No.”  Whereupon he was asked: “Where was the other one? Or what--can you tell us what country?  DeFraites answered: “Well, I'd rather not talk about specifics about these-- about the two cases.” 

A relentless reporter continued: “Okay. Can you tell us where the other one was?”  Right away, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s right-hand political man for clinical and program policy, David Tornberg--observing that the Colonel was about to say too much--stepped in to defend DeFraites:  “No, we cannot.  We cannot.  We're trying to accommodate you and reasonably answer your questions.  But there are privacy (elements?)....”

TOSTO’S SYMPTOMS CONSISTENT WITH DEPLETED URANIUM

As to Michael Tosto’s death certificate symptoms, Dr. Bertell’s comments in her report indicate that any current armed services investigation regarding Tosto would be incomplete without thorough “testing for potential depleted uranium [which] includes chemical analysis of uranium in urine, feces, blood and hair; tests of damage to kidneys, including analysis for protein, glucose and non-protein nitrogen in urine; radioactivity counting; or more invasive tests such a surgical biopsy of lung or bone marrow.” No one has indicated that these critical tests were made.

However, according to reports, several families with military victims of “pneumonia” and “cigarette smoking” deaths in Iraq have asked the surgeon general to turn over blood and tissue samples to civilian medical experts since they are concerned about tampering or altering potential evidence in some way. [Bodies of dead soldiers arrive in the U.S. after having been embalmed overseas by the military.] Of particular concern is whether military embalming personnel are “cremating” key liver, kidney, and bone marrow evidence that would be most indicative of DU poisoning--since military bodies are never subject to the scrutiny of civilian autopsy.  And no photos are allowed of flag-draped caskets, ready for burial in the U.S.

Janet Tosto told us that she had talked to the North Carolina state medical examiner, who advised her that “unless [the military embalmers] left Michael’s organs in his abdominal cavity, there would be nothing to check.  Some places replace them and some places incinerate them, and his body would be good for about a year unless the vault leaked; but he had successfully examined bodies that were buried for nine years.”

Curiously--given symptoms consistent with depleted uranium poisoning according to civilian medical professionals--Colonel Robert DeFraites, the surgeon general’s senior preventative-medicine physician, was quoted as saying “We don’t think depleted uranium has anything to do with it,” referring to the element many contend led to “Gulf War Syndrome”--a soldier illness during the first Gulf War, adding “there’s nothing to suggest depleted uranium would cause pneumonia in the soldiers we’ve seen.” (Ozark News-Leader, 7-26-03)

Dr. Bertell joined other contributors from the Dutch LAKA Foundation’s 1999 nuclear research report on health effects after exposure via [battlefield] inhalation of insoluble depleted uranium particles, reporting:  “After 15 days to one year of exposure, symptoms [of depleted uranium] include hemorrhagic [bleeding] lungs, pulmonary edema, general hemorrhaging, bronchial pneumonia....and vomited blood.”  At this time, there are no indications that critical additional tests for depleted uranium poisoning were ever completed.  Moreover, no one has questioned DeFraites about medical evidence leading him to conclude that there is nothing to suggest that Tosto’s symptoms and cause of death had anything to do with depleted uranium.  DU is not publicly discussed or spoken about by high military officials.

According to Dr. Shamai Grossman, MD, MS, Director, The Cardiac Emergency Center, Instructor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Dr. David Brown, MD , Instructor, Department of Medicine, Division of Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Associate Chief, Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, pulmonary edema [ listed on Sgt. Tosto’s military death certificate ] can be caused by inhaled toxins and circulating exogenous toxins.

According to the 2003 Doctors’ Medical Library, “Exogenous toxins are those molecular structures entering the body from the environment for which the body has no use and which may also cause damage. Exogenous toxins are primarily products of the petrochemical and industrial ages; and one of the toxic heavy metals is uranium.  When they enter the human body the only thing they can do is replace the nutritional metals (such as manganese, magnesium, etc.) in enzyme systems. As replacements, toxic heavy metals stop the function of the enzymes with which they are associated and this is their toxic effect.” 

According to Dr. William J. Strimel, Department of Internal Medicine, McDonald Army Community Hospital and Dr. Susan Noe, MD, Chief, Division of Cardiology, Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center and Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Medicine, Medical College of Georgia, “pericardial effusion [ also listed on Sgt. Tosto’s military death certificate] can be caused by radiation, and is the primary or contributory cause of death in 86% of cancer patients with symptomatic cancer effusions such as leukemia.”  [Leukemia was the original diagnosed cause of another of the army’s recently cited “pneumonia” and “cigarette” deaths in Iraq--before leukemia was removed as a cause of death.]  (EMedicine, 10-9-2002)  Current news reports indicate that some parents are not buying the military’s cigarette and pneumonia death claims.

CONTAMINATED BELONGINGS 

Curiously, Janet Tosto told us “our daughter-in-law, Stephanie, had felt her husband’s hand under the gloves the Army embalmers had placed on his hand for the funeral viewing, and noticed his wedding band was not there.  She sent an email asking the military to return the ring along with other personal effects.”  The Tostos emailed us a copy of the Defense Department’s reply from Lt. Commander Stephen J. Franzoni.

Told that the dead soldier’s belongings are possibly contaminated [with depleted uranium?], Fanzoni’s email indicates that the military is concerned enough that “they will not send anything back to you until they can be guaranteed that they [ the military authorities] will not be sending the cause of his illness with the [personal ] belongings.”

“We wondered why the Army sent Michael’s embalmed body over here with gloves on.  The gloves stayed on his hands while we viewed his remains before closing the casket after the public viewing,” said Dan Tosto, the dead soldier’s father, adding “he was dressed in [green] Class A--not the formal dress blue uniform which usually requires white gloves.  We are now concerned that they didn’t want us to see his hands and fingernails.” [On Thursday, 7-17-2003 Saudi Al-Watan newspaper reported: “U.S. Soldiers deployed around Baghdad airport started showing symptoms of mysterious fever, itching, scars and dark brown spots on the skin...”--Telltale brown spots covered up by white gloves?]

The Pentagon and Surgeon General refused to return personal effects in a timely manner, denying military families the opportunity to use them for independent testing by civilian laboratories to corroborate military findings.  Franzoni’s email added that “the service component is....in possession of his personal belongings....It is in the best interest of service members and their families that they [the service component and military authorities] determine exactly what caused his death.”

Curiously, Janet Tosto said her daughter-in-law Stephanie told her that “they returned a set of dog-tags with his name on them--but they were not his original ones; and she also questioned why the Defense Department waited more than 24 hours to notify Stephanie of Michael’s death when his unit had all of his family‘s emergency contact numbers readily at hand.” 

PRIOR KNOWLEDGE DID NOT INFLUENCE MISSION PLANNING

In a letter to their U.S. Senator, Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), obtained from the Tostos by TomFlocco.com, Tosto’s mother revealed that “The doctors told Michael that he had pneumonia while he was coughing up blood during the initial hours of his symptoms [according to one of his military unit members who was not named]; and that he was going to be shipped to a German hospital.” 

Given hours of Gulf War I testimony from sick and dying soldiers, wide news reports, and general awareness of DU munitions usage over the last twelve years, critical legal questions arise as to why military protocol did not require immediate steps to treat Tosto’s similar symptoms of depleted uranium particle poisoning from widespread exploded DU munitions in and around his Baghdad duty area.

According to Janet Tosto, in spite of her son’s critical condition, “he was ‘bumped’ from the first plane to Germany because there were ‘more critical’ patients; and Michael died before the second plane left for the hospital,” adding that “he died less than 48 hours after arrival at his aid station.”  This, while raising legitimate questions about mission capability and planning, operating procedures and prior familiarity of symptoms from Gulf War I. 

More curiously, according to Stephanie and Janet Tosto, “The same military co-worker who saw him cough up blood said he had not seen Michael for the three days prior to his becoming sick,” fueling their speculation that the tank operator’s symptoms, the condition of his work environment, or that he may have participated in a classified and medically threatening mission may have had something to do with his whereabouts.

One report we found said Army First Sergeant Abel Tavera, 36, said Tosto was in his unit and developed what was thought to be a cold.  However, he became so sick that Tavera took him to a medic in Baghdad.  (Associated Press, 8-6-2003)  “Three of four days later, they called me to identify the body in Camp Wolf in Kuwait City,” said Tavera, of New York City--which may help the Tosto family find other witnesses to piece together the circumstances of their young soldier’s mysterious death.

Interestingly, the Tostos say their GI was in excellent health--in his prime of life. And  Stephanie Tosto told United Press International (8-21-2003) “When my husband died, the casualty officer asked me, ‘Is it possible that Michael had heart problems?’ Michael did not have heart problems. One other time they asked me if he had asthma. He was never sick.” 

Given the strange circumstances, it is not known whether casualty officers will be questioned under oath regarding whether they received “instructions” from higher military or civilian authorities in an effort to deflect cause-of-death away from DU or the Anthrax Vaccination Immunization Program [AVIP], which has been linked to numerous deaths and long-term troop illnesses going back to Gulf War I.   Some reports say the combination of DU exposure and anthrax shots totally overwhelms a healthy soldier’s immune system.

Stephanie Tosto said that her husband's medical records show him receiving the first three of six scheduled anthrax shots before leaving Germany, the last on Feb. 26, 2003. She says another soldier from Tosto's 1st Armored Division said soldiers in the division did receive an anthrax shot in Iraq. [ UPI, 8-21-2003]  Tosto arrived there on the first or second day in May. [indicating that he likely received a fourth anthrax shot--and many of the vaccine’s problems occur after the fourth shot, according to Lt. Colonel Thomas Heemstra, author of “Anthrax: A Deadly Shot in the Dark”--Unmasking the Truth Behind a Hazardous Vaccine
Michael’s wife Stephanie added that the last pages of her husband's medical record showed redness and swelling in the arms but that the military would not allow her to see her husband's body until after an autopsy was performed in Germany. He was then in a [green] dress uniform with white gloves, according to the family. [White gloves are not called for with a standard issue green class-A uniform.]

Given such a controversial issue, it is also unknown at this time whether Tosto’s work environment in the uranium-clouded Baghdad vicinity, Army evacuation procedures, and vaccination protocol will be linked to military negligence--since both Congress and the Defense Department were well-aware of heavy depleted uranium munitions usage on the Iraqi battlefield and thousands of anthrax shot complaints, resignations, illnesses, and deaths from Gulf War I.  All this, while the issue of Tosto being “bumped” from an emergency evacuation flight while in critical condition that was progressively growing worse remains uninvestigated.

There are also no indications of a probe into whether the U.S. military has a large enough fleet of C-9 Nightingale aero-medical evacuation planes capable of carrying wounded and sick troops from Iraq to Germany’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center--the largest U.S. hospital in Europe, since there was not enough space to immediately transport the grievously ill Tosto for emergency care.

Having written her senator, Tosto’s mother told us that Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) has still not called for a full House and Senate Armed Services congressional investigation to probe her son’s medical condition prior to death, circumstances surrounding his medical evacuation, flight space available, and total number of sick, dying, and/or wounded soldiers on the first flight which caused his evacuation to be delayed long enough that he died. 

Senator Dole--whose husband and former Republican presidential candidate, Senator Bob Dole, is extremely active in veterans’ affairs--has not mentioned the issues of depleted uranium or anthrax vaccines.  And Stephanie Tosto continues to wonder why Michael’s unit waited so long to contact family members when “emergency” phone numbers were readily available.  She also worries that Congress and the Defense Department are hiding something. 

THE CASE FOR DEPLETED URANIUM EVIDENCE

There are numerous rock-solid examples--meritorious enough to survive courtroom scrutiny-- which indicate evidence of depleted uranium poisoning concerns among soldiers stationed in Iraq.  Consider the following:

British soldiers returning from the Gulf will be offered tests to check levels of depleted uranium in their bodies to assess whether they are in danger of suffering kidney damage and lung cancer as a result of exposure, according to the Ministry of Defense, adding that “It is only by measuring the levels of DU in the urine of soldiers that we can understand the intakes of DU that can occur on the battlefield, which is a requirement for a better assessment of any hazards to health.  And it is vital that this monitoring takes place within a matter of months.”  Experts have calculated that from all sources between 1,000, and 2,000 tons of depleted uranium were used by the coalition during the three-week conflict.  (London Guardian, 4-25-2003)

According to John Pilger of the London New Statesman (4-10-2003), “The British have yet to explain why their troops have to put on protective suits to recover dead and wounded in vehicles hit by American ‘friendly fire.’  The reason is that the Americans are using solid uranium coated on missiles and tank shells.  And when I was in southern Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, doctors estimated a sevenfold increase in cancers in areas where depleted uranium was used.”

Bechtel Corporation, controversial rebuilding contractor in Iraq--but also contractor for the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), reached a settlement in a whistleblower lawsuit on severe deficiencies at the INEEL labs. (The Government Accountability Project--www.whistleblower.org,11-8-03)  20-year depleted uranium worker Clint Jensen took Bechtel to court for retaliating against him after he raised concerns about dangerous working conditions and sick co-workers suffering from Gulf War Syndrome-like symptoms.  Seven witnesses testified regarding Jensen’s classified job fabricating depleted uranium for lining in the U.S. Army’s Abrams battle tanks

Jensen asserted that Bechtel failed to implement many basic safety and industrial hygiene precautions for employees working around DU. [Are the same precautions also necessary on the battlefield?] According to whistleblower.org, Bechtel refused to permit Jensen to speak to the Department of Energy, referred him to psychiatrists numerous times, gagged him from speaking to personal physicians about his occupational health concerns, and denied him the use of a respirator at work, among other concerns.

Christian Science Monitor reporter Scott Peterson (5-15-2003), saw a reporter place a Geiger counter next to a depleted uranium bullet fragment no bigger than a pencil eraser.  It starting singing--registering 1,000 times normal background radiation levels on the digital readout.  Peterson said the Pentagon is really tip-lipped about DU.  And legal clouds loom, as grief-stricken parents and spouses begin to comprehend the extent of congressional and defense department prior-knowledge of past illnesses and deaths.

The Monitor offers concrete proof about DU, as Peterson said an Army sergeant in Baghdad revealed that “After we shoot something with DU, we’re not supposed to go around it, due to the fact that it could cause cancer,” adding “If one of our vehicles burnt with a DU round inside....we wouldn’t go near it, even if it had important documents inside.  We play it safe.”  Six American vehicles struck with DU friendly fire in 1991 were considered too contaminated to take home, and were buried in Saudi Arabia.  16 more [contaminated vehicles] were brought back to South Carolina.  Six were buried in a low-level radioactive waste dump. 

Dr. Mohammed Kamel has been treating “thousands of children in southern Iraq that have fallen victim to the cancer epidemic that has plagued the region since the end of the 1991 Gulf War.”  More symptoms of battlefield tort reform?  Killing U.S. troops and children?  Kamel was treating a one-and-a- half year-old baby “whose bib is covered with the blood that the child is coughing up. Eventually, they all will die,” says Dr. Kamel.  Doctors at the hospital say the cancer is the result of Washington’s use of depleted uranium munitions and the ensuing contamination of southern Iraq’s food and water supply.  (IraqJournal.org, 2-23-2003)

In one of the most hard-hitting pieces on DU, Amy Worthington of the Idaho Observer (4-16-2003) says “The Royal Society of England published data showing that battlefield soldiers who inhale or swallow high levels of DU can suffer kidney damage within days.  (“Depleted Uranium May Stop Kidneys in Days,” Rob Edwards, NewScientist.com, 3-12-2002)  [Failed kidneys was a symptom in at least one of the Pentagon’s pneumonia and cigarette deaths.]

Some sick Gulf War I vets were found to be expressing uranium in their semen; and their sexual partners often complained of a burning sensation during intercourse, followed by their own debilitating illnesses. (“Catastrophe: Ill Gulf Vets Contaminated Partners With DU,” Halifax Herald Limited, Clare Mellor, 2-9-2001--archived at Rense.com) One can only visualize the wives of America’s warriors storming the halls of Congress when such information leaks out.  And implications for military recruiting and retention are evident--let alone America’s national security, given an under-strength and DU-weakened military.

“Depleted Uranium munitions are classified by a United Nations resolution as illegal weapons of mass destruction.  Their use breaches all international laws, treaties and conventions forbidding poisoned weapons calculated to cause unnecessary suffering.”
(Idaho Observer, 4-16-2003)

The Observer also refers to Dr. Asaf Durakovic, former professor of nuclear medicine at Georgetown University and former army medical expert.  He told nuclear scientists in Paris last year that tens of thousands of sick British and American soldiers are now dying from radiation they encountered during Gulf War I.  He found that 62% of sick vets tested have uranium isotopes in their organs, bones, brains and urine. (“Research on Sick Gulf Vets Revisited,” New York Times, 1-29-2001 and “Tests Show Gulf War Victims Have Uranium Poisoning,” Jonathon Carr-Brown and Martin Meissonnier, UK Sunday Times, 9-3-2002) Dr. Durakovic was reportedly told his life was in danger if he continued his research to help American veterans.  He left his prestigious university professorship to continue his research abroad.

When a DU shell is fired, it ignites upon impact.  Uranium, plus traces of plutonium and americium, vaporize into tiny, ceramic particles of radioactive dust.  Once inhaled, uranium oxides lodge in the body and emit radiation indefinitely.  A single piece of depleted uranium lodged in a lymph node can devastate the entire immune system according to British radiation expert Roger Coghill.  (“US Shells Leave Lethal Legacy,” Toronto Star, 7-31-1999 and “Radiation Tests for Peacekeepers in the Balkans Exposed to DU.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
, 12-31-2002)

RECRUITING AND RETENTION

Are you going to re-up?  Only a handful of current congressmen and senators have ever heard such military lingo.  But given the above evidence of past and future heartaches to be suffered by both full-time military and part-time Guardsmen and Reservists who are now pulling big-time battlefield stints, the prospect of future recruiting and retention of America’s warriors may be in trouble, save some major foreign policy adjustments.  DU is the new Agent Orange.

It will now be much more difficult for crafty candidates and slick legislators to bribe young people with educational assistance and other Madison Avenue-style come-ons designed to appeal to their sense of discipline and “service” to the nation.  And once the tragedies of depleted uranium and forced anthrax vaccinations without “informed consent” become ingrained in the consciousness of our youth, congressmen who never wore a uniform will of necessity attempt to reinstate the draft.  This, for the purpose of staffing their armies of “global policemen” to fight America’s pre-emptive wars.  But it won’t be pretty.  There are going to be many bitter young people--let alone parents and spouses.

Given stark and court-proof evidence of “non-combat” debilitating injury and death, one can imagine women refusing to marry and have children unless their husbands “get out of the Guard.” And will they ask, “what if you get poisoned by DU, and what if you pass it on to me--or our babies?” 

Amy Worthington of the Idaho Observer may have said it best:  “The solution?  Americans must stop electing ruthless criminals to rule this nation.  We must convince fellow citizens that villains like Saddam Hussein are made in the U.S. as a rationale for endless corporate war profits.  Saddam was placed in power by the United States Central Intelligence Agency.” (Wall Street Journal, 8-16-90:  CIA supported the Baath Party and installed Hussein as Iraqi dictator in 1968.)

“If America truly supports its troops, it must stop sending them into nuclear holocaust for the enrichment of thugs.  Time is running out.  If the DU-maniacs at the Pentagon [plus congressional co-sponsors] and their coven of nuclear arms peddlers are not harnessed, America will have no able-bodied fighting forces left.”  And families of dead or ill soldiers could use some help from the plaintiff’s bar in their attempts for justice and fair financial restitution.

Click Here to view an old military video about depleted uranium, providing more evidence of congressional and military prior knowledge.

[This story is dedicated to my friend Bob Mendenhall, a faithful Vietnam era veteran and patriot who returned home without 16 comrades-in-arms--but also to the memory of Sergeant Michael Lee Tosto--in the hope that America’s families may ultimately become aware of the depleted uranium and anthrax vaccine fraud being perpetrated upon America’s military by corrupt government officials and their military contractors.]

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