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U. S. Military Acknowledges Use of "Whiskey Pete" (White Phosphorus) in Fallujah

Reported by Marie Therese - November 16, 2005

Last week I reported on an Italian documentary that claimed white phosphorus, code named "Whiskey Pete" by the American military, killed residents of Fallujah a year ago in our offensive against that city. At the time many of our most dedicated readers expressed skepticism at that possibility. Sadly, the story appears to be true. Forbes Online reported this about 6 hours ago:

WASHINGTON (AFX) - The US today defended the use of white phosphorus munitions against insurgents in Iraq last year but denied civilians were targeted. The toxic agent was used during what a US army journal called 'shake and bake' missions against insurgents in the battle for Fallujah last year. "
"It's part of our conventional weapons inventory. We use it like we use any other conventional weapon,' said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman.

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'We don't target civilian populations. We go to great lengths to do everything possible to prevent civilian casualties, and collateral damage to property,' he said.

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Incandescent particles of white phosphorus can cause deep, painful chemical burns, said GlobalSecurity.Org, a Washington group that gathers information on military subjects.

A report on the battle of Fallujah published in April in the army journal Field Artillery said white phosphorous 'proved to be an effective and versatile munition' in Fallujah.

'We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE (high explosives),' said the report.

'We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out,' it said.

'We used improved WP for screening missions when HC smoke would have been more effective and saved our WP for lethal missions,' it said.

Whitman said US forces used the munition mainly to create smoke screens in battle and to mark targets, but he acknowledged they were used against insurgents as well.

Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable, another Pentagon spokesman, said the white phosphorus also was used as an incendiary weapon.

'It has been used in armies the world over for most the past century, I believe. It was used by US forces in Operation Al Fajr, specifically to target enemy combatants so we could defeat them,' he said.

COMMENT

This story was first reported by RAINews in Italy last week.

To see their original report in Italian, English or Arabic, go to RAINews.

POST AMENDED 2:40 AM EST, 11-17-05

First paragraph changed to remove implicaton that civilians were targeted deliberately.

I'd like to apologize to our readers - especially those in the military - for the clumsy way in which this was first worded. I wrote the post in haste and should have proof-read it more carefully.

Thanks to regular reader Ebonius for pointing this out.

A rather red-faced,

Marie Therese

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