Friday, April 13, 2012

Falluja: The War Crime that refuses to be under rug swept

Karlos Zurutuza (IPS) has an important article entitled "Those Laboratory Mice Were Children:"

At Fallujah hospital they cannot offer any statistics on children born with birth defects – there are just too many. Parents don’t want to talk. "Families bury their newborn babies after they die without telling anyone," says hospital spokesman Nadim al-Hadidi. "It’s all too shameful for them."
"We recorded 672 cases in January but we know there were many more," says Hadidi. He projects pictures on to a wall at his office: children born with no brain, no eyes, or with the intestines out of their body.
Facing a frozen image of a child born without limbs, Hadidi says parents’ feelings usually range between shame and guilt. "They think it’s their fault, that there’s something wrong with them. And it doesn’t help at all when some elder tells them it’s been ‘god’s punishment’."
The pictures are difficult to look at. And, those responsible for all this have closed their eyes.
"In 2004 the Americans tested all kinds of chemicals and explosive devices on us: thermobaric weapons, white phosphorous, depleted uranium...we have all been laboratory mice for them," says Hadidi, turning off the projector.

Though little covered by Western media, the issue of the birth defects from the illegal war of 'liberation' never stops being a story in the Iraqi press. Little covered because they were War Crimes but also because they expose the lie that the US government was ever even remotely concerned about the Iraqi people. Last year, Gene Clancy's "Evidence shows U.S. weapons cause birth defects in Fallujah, Iraq" (Workers World):

Dr. Bassem Allah, the senior obstetrician who is chief custodian of Fallujah’s newborns, finds the cases both perplexing and disturbing. During medical school he had to search Iraq for a case study of an infant with a birth defect. “It was almost impossible during the 80s,” he told the Guardian. “Now, every day in my clinic or elsewhere in the hospital, there are large numbers of congenital abnormalities or cases of chronic tumors. Now, believe me, it’s like we are treating patients immediately after Hiroshima.”
Birth defect rates in Fallujah have become increasingly alarming over the past two years. In the first half of 2010 the number of monthly cases of serious abnormalities rose to unprecedented levels. In Fallujah’s general hospital, 15 percent of the 547 babies born in May had a chronic deformity, such as a neural-tube defect — which affects the brain and lower limbs — cardiac or skeletal abnormalities or cancers. (Guardian, Dec. 30) In addition to these conditions, research has shown startling increases in children born with cleft palates, multiple fingers and toes, encephalitis and leukemia.
The Dec. 30 Guardian reports that no other city in Iraq has anywhere near the same levels of reported abnormalities. Fallujah sees at least 11 times as many major defects in newborns as world averages, research shows.

Martin Chulov was the reporter on the piece
Workers World is noting. He also covered the story in 2009. Dahr Jamail has often covered the birth defects (and the destruction of Falluja). At the start of this year, he reported for Al Jazeera on babies born with congenital abnormalities:

Most of these babies in Fallujah die within 20 to 30 minutes after being born, but not all.
Four-year-old Abdul Jaleel Mohammed was born in October 2007. His clinical diagnosis includes dilation of two heart ventricles, and a growth on his lower back that doctors have not been able to remove.
Abdul has trouble controlling his muscles, struggles to walk, cannot control his bladder, and weakens easily. Doctors told his father, Mohamed Jaleel Abdul Rahim, that his son has severe nervous system problems, and could develop fluid build-up in his brain as he ages, which could prove fatal.
"This is the first instance of something like this in all our family," Rahim told Al Jazeera. "We lived in an area that was heavily bombed by the Americans in 2004, and a missile landed right in front of our home. What else could cause these health problems besides this?"
Dr Alani told Al Jazeera that in the vast majority of cases she has documented, the family had no prior history of congenital abnormalities.

Tim King ( is another journalist whose covered the story many times (such as here). Falluja was assaulted repeatedly, most infamously twice in 2004. The first time was in the spring of that year, the second time was after the 2004 US presidential election. Julian Assange's "Leak: Complex Environments: Battle of Fallujah I, April 2004" (WikiLeaks) reports on the first assault:

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld launched the failed April 2004 assault on the Iraqi town of Fallujah before marines were ready because it had become "a symbol of resistance that dominated international headlines" and similar considerations eventually destroyed the operation — both according to a highly classified U.S. intelligence report into the defeat.
"During the first week of April, insurgents invited a reporter from Al Jazeera, Ahmed Mansour, and his film crew into Fallujah where they filmed scenes of dead babies from the hospital, presumably killed by Coalition air strikes. Comparisons were made to the Palestinian Intifada. Children were shown bespattered with blood; mothers were shown screaming and mourning day after day."
Coalition air strikes were conducted during the three week cease-fire, which was a "bit of a misnomer" and the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal contributed to the politically driven final peace settlement. The settlement left Coalition Provisional Authority chief Paul Bremer "furious".
By the end of April, 600-700 Iraqis and 18 marines had been killed inside the town with 62 marines killed in the broader operational area and 565 wounded in action.
Fallujah's defenders were diverse but united to oppose the U.S. offensive. They included former regime soldiers, "nationalists, local Islamic extremists, foreign fighters and criminals" together comprising not so much a military organization, but "an evil Rotary club".
The revelations come from a highly classified report on the attack released today by the open government group Wikileaks, which has in the past month released a number of sensitive U.S. documents including manuals for Guantanamo Bay, Camp Bucca prison and Department of Defense detainee operations.
The report was penned last year by the U.S Army National Ground Intelligence Center and is classified "SECRET/NOFORN" -- meaning the report was not to be shared with Coalition partners.
The Fallujah assault was initiated when on March 31 2004 four private military personnel from the U.S firm Blackwater were killed in the town and photos of their burnt bodies received international coverage.
The report said the coverage had prompted Rumsfeld, General Abizaid and the then Coalition Provisional Authority Chief Paul Bremer to order an "immediate military response".
The report not only blames media driven political pressures for launching the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force before it was ready, but states similar political considerations led to a cease-fire five days later.
The three week official cease-fire was "a bit of a misnomer", with Coalition air strikes continuing and snipers on both sides making movement hazardous. On the town's resistance, the report claims the number one "enemy strategy" was "to gain media attention and sympathy" in-order to push political pressure "to a boiling point."
Contributing to the peace settlement at the end of the month was British opposition to the battle, an Iraqi Shia uprising over the forced closure of the newspaper "al-Hawza" and Abu Ghraib.
Paul Bremer was "furious when he found out about it, but he was in little position to overturn it since he had insisted on the cease-fire in the first place. Complicating matters was the fact that the Abu Ghraib scandal broke on 29 April, consuming the attention of senior leaders in the U.S. government. Bremer could not organize a consensus to overturn the Fallujah decision."
During the battle U.S. psychological operations loud speakers "blasted rock music or taunted the insurgents into attacking with insults about their marksmanship."
Marines used the M1A1 Abrams tank as bait, to lure defenders out into the open, however this ruse didn't work for long as "The enemy.. would initiate an ambush with small-arms fire on one side of a tank in order to get the tank crew to turn its armor in the direction of fire. They would then fire a coordinated 5 or 6 RPG [rocket propelled grenade] salvo into the exposed rear of the tank".
The report states "Approximately 150 air strikes destroyed 75 buildings, including two mosques" and that the operation "stirred up a hornets nest across the Al Anbar provence".
Concluding, the report states "Information operations are increasingly important in a 21st Century world where cable television runs 24 hours a day..the Iraqi government was nascent and weak and they offered no political cover for U.S. commanders to finish the operation in a reasonable time period... Abu Ghurayb.. and the Shia uprising further enflamed a politically precarious situation and could not have happened at a worse time for Coalition forces."
U.S. forces retook Fallujah during November 2004 in what was to be the most bloody battle of the occupation.

The Falluja story has refused to stay under rug swept. And that's not surprising. The destruction and what has followed was seen by too many and is too well medically documented. Not surprising at all. And at some point, the second assault in 2004 will be as well documented.
And certain stenographers who lied and won prizes for lying? They'll have the shame they deserve. They deserved it in real time but think how much more shameful it'll be a decade or two after their lies made it into print? They've moved on with their lives taken on 'teaching' positions (pseudo motivational, self-referential lectures) and the air of respectability. And that all comes crashing down. It's so much more humiliating than when they were a struggling and whoring 'reporter.' And so much more costly because they've crafted this false image and are now so dependent upon it. They're invested in it. The only woman who really ever knew him left in disgust and now he surrounds himself with women he can fool but it's a little hard to get into bed with the Whore of Falluja, it's a little hard to feel it for a man who lied to cover up the realities of destruction and who enlisted in the cause of destroying generations of children.

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