Friday, June 17, 2005

Another Bush Lie Revealed

The U.S. military used napalm-type weapons in Iraq, and lied about their use to the British Defense Minister, Adam Ingram. Furthermore, Ingram himself knew back in January that these weapons had been used, but withheld the information until now.

American officials lied to British ministers over the use of "internationally reviled" napalm-type firebombs in Iraq.

Yesterday's disclosure led to calls by MPs for a full statement to the Commons and opened ministers to allegations that they held back the facts until after the general election.

Despite persistent rumours of injuries among Iraqis consistent with the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, Adam Ingram, the Defence minister, assured Labour MPs in January that US forces had not used a new generation of incendiary weapons, codenamed MK77, in Iraq.
Mr Ingram said 30 MK77 firebombs were used by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in the invasion of Iraq between 31 March and 2 April 2003. They were used against military targets "away from civilian targets", he said. This avoids breaching the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which permits their use only against military targets.

Britain, which has no stockpiles of the weapons, ratified the convention, but the US did not.

The last sentence of the Independent article notes that, although the Pentagon insisted MK77's were only used on military targets, "...the bombs lack stabilising fins, making them far from precise." Stabilizing fins are projections on the end of a bomb that are shaped like the fins of a fish, and that keep the bomb on course and prevent it from tumbling around. Below is a graphic showing the stabilizing fins on a cluster bomb.

Firebombs, which are the class of weapons that includes napalm, have no stabilizing fins. The flammable gel is inside a lightweight aluminum container that is "nonstabilized (will tumble end over end when released from the aircraft)."

So the United States refused to commit itself to not using weapons that coat human skin with burning gasoline in gel form (i.e., they burn people alive). That's awful enough. But Britain did ratify the convention; which means that, by telling Ingram that napalm was not used, the Bush administration knowingly opened the only consistently loyal ally Bush has to charges of having violated international law. Truly admirable, eh?

The confirmation that incendiary weapons were used at the start of the war makes it even more credible that the U.S. military also used napalm-type bombs in Fallujah, which has been rumored since the assault on that city last year. The Bush administration says they weren't used, but of what value are such assurances now?

More information on the MK77 and other napalm-type weapons is here.

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