Tuesday, January 13, 2009

White Phosphorus in Iraq - The Burning Truth

More knowledge about Willy Pete, Whiskey Pete, white phosphorus, WP. An ex-GI who took part in the siege of Fallujah in December of 2004 in Iraq at the hands of the US military and Coalition forces describes what WP does and what he saw.

Let us not forget about America's war crimes in Iraq while everyone is discussing Gaza. Modern warfare pretty much is a war crime, period, but the use of WP makes war infinitely more garish. Only cultures suffering from moral insanity would even contemplate using WP AS A WEAPON. Better to ban its use completely than to give armies the temptation to use it on their enemies


Cargosquid said...

This is a discredited source from the IVAW. Here he is at Newsbusters:

An Italian film crew claims that the US military indiscriminantly blanketed civilians in Fallujah with the white phosphorus during last year's assault on the city. The Denver Post picks up the Colorado angle on the white phosphorus non-story, and while it impeaches the credibility of the film's star witness, it buries the lead, and leaves most of the background fabrications intact.

Here's the big news. The "witness," Jeff Englehart, can only claim to know that 1) white phosphorus was used in the attack, and 2) someone inside the city got caught in it:

Englehart said Thursday that some of his statements were taken out of context. He maintained that he believes white phosphorus killed civilians, though he never saw anyone burned by it while in Fallujah.

"I never personally did," he said. "That's where the ... documentary misquoted me. They took that out of context."


"I know I heard it being called for on the radio. That's the only proof that I have, and I talked to a reconnaissance scout after the siege while we were still in Fallujah. He said they called in for white phosphorus on human targets," Englehart said.

Englehart said an Italian reporter asked him during a five-hour interview in August whether he had seen innocent civilians killed in Iraq. Englehart said he had. Englehart said the producers of the Italian documentary took his answer to that question and edited it in after a question from a reporter about whether he had seen women and children killed by white phosphorus.

At most he can say that he heard someone calling for WP on the radio. His description about WP is contradictory. He has absolutely no knowledge of the effect of smoke rounds apparently, nor the incendiary rounds.

If you are going to use a source about WP in Iraq get a credible source.

I know that you mean well, but, you guys are just parroting foreign based propaganda.

Cargosquid said...

Here is a better description of WP and its symptoms.


White phosphorus results in painful chemical burn injuries. The resultant burn typically appears as a necrotic area with a yellowish color and characteristic garliclike odor. White phosphorus is highly lipid soluble and as such, is believed to have rapid dermal penetration once particles are embedded under the skin. Because of its enhanced lipid solubility, many have believed that these injuries result in delayed wound healing. This has not been well studied; therefore, all that can be stated is that white phosphorus burns represent a small subsegment of chemical burns, all of which typically result in delayed wound healing.

Incandescent particles of WP may produce extensive burns. Phosphorus burns on the skin are deep and painful; a firm eschar is produced and is surrounded by vesiculation. The burns usually are multiple, deep, and variable in size. The solid in the eye produces severe injury. The particles continue to burn unless deprived of atmospheric oxygen. Contact with these particles can cause local burns. These weapons are particularly nasty because white phosphorus continues to burn until it disappears. If service members are hit by pieces of white phosphorus, it could burn right down to the bone. Burns usually are limited to areas of exposed skin (upper extremities, face). Burns frequently are second and third degree because of the rapid ignition and highly lipophilic properties of white phosphorus.

If burning particles of WP strike and stick to the clothing, take off the contaminated clothing quickly before the WP burns through to the skin. Remove quickly all clothing affected by phosphorus to prevent phosphorus burning through to skin. If this is impossible, plunge skin or clothing affected by phosphorus in cold water or moisten strongly to extinguish or prevent fire. Then immediately remove affected clothing and rinse affected skin areas with cold sodium bicarbonate solution or with cold water. Moisten skin and remove visible phosphorus (preferably under water) with squared object (knife-back etc.) or tweezers. Do not touch phosphorus with fingers! Throw removed phosphorus or clothing affected by phosphorus into water or allow to bum in suitable location.

As you can see, Mr. Englehart does not know what he is talking about.

Mac said...

I don’t think you read all my comment replies from other posts about WP, Cargosquid, or you wouldn’t be trying to call the WP story in Fallujah a non-story. Apologists and propagandists for the Pentagon would like to make it a non-story, but even the military’s field artillery journal admitted they were using WP to “flush out insurgents.”

From videos I have seen, particularly at night, it looks like massive amounts of WP were being fired into Fallujah. And flushing out anyone with WP is internationally banned, so the US military was engaging in war crimes.

It would be unfortunate if some of Englehart’s interview was taken out of context, if that is indeed what happened, and I would have to see the Italian News Agency’s reply to the charge, but no one is disputing that Englehart heard the orders to use WP. The dispute is over whether he himself actually saw burned bodies. The Italian documentary, however, does not depend on that to make its case. It has scores of photographs of WP-burned bodies, carmelized to a dark brown glossy texture, that were destined for transportation to the Fallujah cemetery. To quote from my own article, “Provided by the Studies Centre of Human Rights in Fallujah, dozens of high-quality, colour close-ups show bodies of Fallujah residents, some still in their beds, whose clothes remain largely intact but whose skin has been dissolved or caramelised or turned the consistency of leather by the shells.

"A biologist in Fallujah, Mohamad Tareq, interviewed for the film, says: 'A rain of fire fell on the city, the people struck by this multi-coloured substance started to burn, we found people dead with strange wounds, the bodies burned but the clothes intact.’

Nor are the Italians the only ones making the charges. Dr Khalid ash Shaykhli, an Iraqi health ministry official, ran the medical team that first made the gruesome discovery of melted corpses, not just of humans, but of animals and birds. If you want to risk getting nauseated, you can go to this site and look at all the grisly photos of human bodies burned alive: http://www.rainews24.rai.it/ran24/inchiesta/en/records.asp

It also seems you are treating the effects of WP as if they are kitchen-cooking burns, that you just have to run a little water over and douse with sodium bicarbonate, which I know everyone cariires in their back pocket. If a single stray speck of the stuff hits you, that might be the case, but if you are inundated with WP you are screwed, the same as if you are nailed with napalm. First of all, white phosphorus attracts water molecules and feeds off them, so the only way water can put out a white phosphorus fire is after some sort of molecular equilibrium has been reached with H2O molecules. So unless you have a nearby lake to jump into and can stay submerged for who knows how many minutes, you are in deep, deep trouble.

That is why a white phosphorus flare fire on a navel vessel years ago, I forget which one, became a dangerous near-catastrophe, because the cooked-off flares were melting through each deck and could not be put out with water or even AFFF. I can’t recall how they eventually stopped the flares from melting all the way through the ship.

Cargosquid said...

As much as you want it to be illegal, WP use against insurgents, is legal. WP used to "flush them out" is perfectly ok.

No, I am not treating it as minor. I am saying that the pic that you are using do not show the effects of WP. The effects of exposure of the corpses is more likely. WP burns of that magnitude would have burned any clothes. Even a little research finds that out. The treatment of water is used to dowse the flame. You must still remove any fragments. WP reacts to air as a flammable. It will still burn under water, but as a chemical. See the description above.

Your sources had no experience, apparently, with WP. Their descriptions do not match WP effects.

Personally, I think that since the terrorists/insurgents had barricaded in Fallujah, we should have used arclight strikes. Its hard to hide in rubble. The houses and building still came down during the assault. The military had removed as many non-combatants as possible from the city.

If you are going to fight a war, fight to win.

Star Womanspirit said...


You are wrong about it being legal for white phosphorous to be used against enemy soldiers, terrorists, or civilians. It is ILLEGAL to use White Phosphorous against anyone.,,,even if they are an enemy combatant. It is definitely illegal to use White Phosphorous in a densely populated civilian area. What about this do you not grasp?

From the Christian Science Monitor:
"The usage of white phosphorus is not illegal under international law if it's used in military operations as a smoke screen to cover troop movements or against bunkers, armored vehicles, and ammunition dumps. But its use is forbidden against people – civilians and soldiers alike – under nearly all military codes and laws."

Maybe you should consider what it would be like to have your neighborhood suffer demolition, death, and destruction b/c a terrorist or two maybe living or visiting your neighborhood...try thinking about the fact that the same gov that is going to bomb your neighborhood will NOT let you or your family flee....YIKES. Is it possible for you to give the innocent victims some thought? You are presenting your argument like some people don't have the right to be secure and safe in their own homes and neighborhoods. I always thought that was a "given" here in America. Are you arguing that the right to be safe and secure is only valid if you are an American or an Israeli and the rest of the people in the world are expendable?

I believe all civilians--Israeli, American, Palestinian, Mexican, Canadian, Russian, Tibetan, Chinese....etc.etc should have the right to live safely and peacefully.

Mac said...

Cargosquid, don't make me upload a whole bunch of these morgue photos to prove my point. Exposure to the elements does not make bodies look like skinless, glossy chocolate brown horror stories that have been shellacked.

White phosphorus, when it is still attached to remnants of its casing, may be in flames. But he white cloud of WP released on its own is not on fire until a certain chemical reaction happens.

When white phosphorus hits an object, it is looking for moisture, and when it finds it, this chemical reaction occurs:

P4 + 5 O2 → 2 P2O5

When it hits an organic body, like a human, this phosphorus pentoxide absorbs water from your tissues and quickly converts into phosphoric acid which then burns your skin:

P2O5 + 3 H2O → 2 H3PO4

Consequently, one of the properties of WP is that is does not necessarily burn clothes, often going right through fabric and onto the skin. Clothes don't have the moisture or fat content that WP feeds on. Anything with oxygen and moisture keeps WP going.

Furthermore, these bodies were still fresh and had not putrefied enough for the organs and subcutaneous tissue to dry up because there are maggot larvae all over the place in these morgue photos. Larvae feed off of wounded, moist tissue or organs, not dried out or petrified tissue.

I will state again that it is illegal to use this stuff against humans or animals, period. If you yourself want to use it against another human, then that is your spiritual problem and karma.

Cargosquid said...

Perhaps we are speaking at cross purposes. Are you saying that this effect was caused by WP screening smoke? All the sources that I can find on the net show that WP screening smoke does not kill. Nor burn bodies.

WP burns with a flame. The flame is the primary burn source. WP that is not in contact with air will still cause chemical burns.

So, while you may upload more morgue pics, you don't have to. I've seen them. And I've seen the effects of WP. It doesn't look like your uploaded pics, no matter what the Iraqi's put out.

So, is this a new effect? This is why I am arguing about the pics and your statement of WP in Fallujah.

And StarWoman, in a combat zone, no one is safe. The military got as many non-combatants out of Fallujah as possible. For weeks, noncombatants were allowed to leave, including possible unarmed insurgents. IF there were insurgents in my neighborhood, either I would leave or get him targeted. That's assuming I'm not his ally. The Fallujahans were allies of the insurgents.

While I'm sure that you don't believe that we should have entered Iraq, the fact is, we did. And we are at war there. And this is what you do in war. Kill the enemy and safeguard your own troops. Israel is the only other nation that warns the locals "here we come". If Israel really did not care about civilian casualties, there would have been no ground assault. Israel has total control of the battle space from the air and artillery. They have tanks. The only reason to use infantry is to find and target combantants precisely. Which is also why the Army and Marines were forced to fight room to room in Fallujah. Instead of just turning the city to rubble.

If you want peace in the Middle East, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Fatah, etc need to renounce violence and lay down their arms.

Poisoned thanks Sam destoyer said...

GOTCHA!!!! Boom there it is- chemical warfare in Mosquitos that explains all of the strange bumps on our neck and head that we got while deployed that decided to stay with us forever...