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Pentagon Covers UP Nuclear Poisoning of US Troops
(Democracy Now, April 5, 2004)
A special investigation by Democracy Now! Co-host Juan Gonzalez of the New York Daily News has found four of nine soldiers of the 442nd Military Police Company of the New York Army National Guard returning from Iraq tested positive for depleted uranium contamination. They are the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict. . . . After repeatedly being denied testing for depleted uranium from Army doctors, the soldiers contacted The News who paid to have them tested as part of their investigation. . . . Testing for uranium isotopes in 24 hours' worth of urine samples can cost as much as $1,000 each. . . . Army officials at Fort Dix and Walter Reed Army Medical Center are now rushing to test all returning members of the 442nd. More than a dozen members are back in the U.S. but the rest of the company, mostly comprised of New York City cops, firefighters and correction officers, is not due to return from Iraq until later this month.
Shocking report reveals local troops may be victims of America's high-tech weapons
"I got sick instantly in June," said Staff Sgt. Ray Ramos, a Brooklyn housing cop. "My health kept going downhill with daily headaches, constant numbness in my hands and rashes on my stomach." . . . A nuclear medicine expert who examined and tested nine soldiers from the company says that four "almost certainly" inhaled radioactive dust from exploded American shells manufactured with depleted uranium. . . . Laboratory tests conducted at the request of The News revealed traces of two man made forms of uranium in urine samples from four of the soldiers. . . . If so, the men - Sgt. Hector Vega, Sgt. Ray Ramos, Sgt. Agustin Matos and Cpl. Anthony Yonnone - are the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict. . . . "These are amazing results, especially since these soldiers were military police not exposed to the heat of battle," said Dr. Asaf Duracovic, who examined the G.I.s and performed the testing that was funded by The News. . . . "Other American soldiers who were in combat must have more depleted uranium exposure," said Duracovic, a colonel in the Army Reserves who served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. . . . While working at a military hospital in Delaware, he was one of the first doctors to discover unusual radiation levels in Gulf War veterans. He has since become a leading critic of the use of depleted uranium in warfare. . . . the test results for the New York guardsmen - four of nine positives for DU - suggest the potential for more extensive radiation exposure among coalition troops and Iraqi civilians. . . . In January 2003, the European Parliament called for a moratorium on their use after reports of an unusual number of leukemia deaths among Italian soldiers who served in Kosovo, where DU weapons were used. .. . . Before the 1991 Persian Gulf War, a 1990 Army report noted that depleted uranium is "linked to cancer when exposures are internal, [and] chemical toxicity causing kidney damage." . . . It was during the Gulf War that U.S. A-10 Warthog "tank buster" planes and Abrams tanks first used DU artillery on a mass scale. The Pentagon says it fired about 320 tons of DU in that war and that smaller amounts were also used in the Serbian province of Kosovo. . . . In the Gulf War, Army brass did not warn soldiers about any risks from exploding DU shells. An unknown number of G.I.s were exposed by shrapnel, inhalation or handling battlefield debris. . . . Some veterans groups blame DU contamination as a factor in Gulf War syndrome, the term for a host of ailments that afflicted thousands of vets from that war. . . . "A large number of American soldiers [in Iraq] may have had significant exposure to uranium oxide dust," said Dr. Thomas Fasey, a pathologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center and an expert on depleted uranium. "And the health impact is worrisome for the future." . . . As for the soldiers of the 442nd, they're sick, frustrated and confused. They say when they arrived in Iraq no one warned them about depleted uranium and no one gave them dust masks.
[COMMENT: During the Democracy Now program, Dr. Asaf Duracovic, the nuclear medicine expert who examined the soldiers, told the audience that he had to send the soldiers' urine samples to Germany to be examined. The reason for this is that when he had conducted an earlier test, and sent the samples to a lab in Canada, the laboratory was shut down and it's employees fired for conducting tests that the US Government didn't approve of. As a former US serviceman, I find it abhorrent that our own government has again abandonedd our veterans (as it did in the case of Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome). Perhaps we need to organize permanent information booths outside every US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine recruiting office and tell these unsuspecting volunteers that if they sign up they are no better than lab rats in the eyes of the Cheney-Bush junta.]
posted by Lorenzo 11:55 AM