DU Cover-up Saga – PART III
Piotr Bein, email@example.com
January 19, 2001
Peterson of “The Christian Science Monitor” wrote on January 11th,
2001, “The most bitter scientific debates usually play out in little-read
academic and specialty journals. But the dispute over the lingering health risks
of radioactive bullets fired by the US in the Balkans is sparking demands for
answers from leaders across Europe.”
DU issue exploded as more and more of the former European peacekeepers in the
Balkans became ill in the last few weeks. Portugal, Italy, Sweden, France,
Germany, Finland, Belgium, Holland, Turkey, Norway, Canada, Ukraine, Slovakia,
Russia, Czech Republic, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Azerbaijan
decided to examine their soldiers and launched investigations into DU ammunition
hazards. Turkey was the first country to announce it had detected contamination
in two of its soldiers. Britain on January 9th, 2001, became the latest European
nation to begin testing soldiers for Balkan syndrome.
did not feel the need to study DU effects, more so that “33 American survivors
of friendly fire DU attacks [in the Gulf] in an ongoing monitoring program
exhibit few signs of cancers now reported in Europe.” A standard line at the
end of mainstream media news and stories about DU repeats, like a parrot,
Pentagon position, “Numerous studies into the effects of depleted uranium, a
heavy metal used in anti-armour munitions because of its high penetrating power,
have not revealed any connection between the metal and cancer.” How big a lie
it is, the reader can see in the next chapter.
of the national investigations are run by the military and, like in America, are
designed to calm down the public outrage rather than find the truth, while
continuing the cover-ups. For example, the Portuguese government refused to hand
over the body of a soldier who died from leukemia. The defense ministry
deliberately camouflaged Hugo Paulino’s death, citing "herpes of the
brain” and refused to allow his family to commission a post-mortem
among European nations have intensified since Italy began studying the illnesses
of 30 Balkans veterans, six of whom died of cancer, including five cases of
leukaemia. The European Commission asked a group of experts for a scientific
opinion on whether "hundreds, if not thousands" of EU personnel and
contract employees who have worked in the Balkans might face health risks from
exposure to depleted uranium's “slight radioactivity.”
mid-January 2001, NATO special commission was being set up to gather information
on the effect of using DU weapons. NATO continued to deny the existence of any
scientific proof between DU and serious health problems suffered by soldiers and
civilians in the last decade. The present “investigations” should not make
anybody hold their breaths, knowing that NATO consistently used the wrong
testing on veterans to escape responsibility for their well being and to hide
its crimes against humanity.
was also negligent about post-combat exposure of civilians and peacekeepers. A
NATO document warned member countries participating in KFOR about the toxicity
from DU weapons in July 1999. The KFOR troops and UN aid workers entered Kosovo
in the second week of June 1999. Were they supposed to stay in hermetic rooms in
the meantime? Even if the warning was issued well in advance, whose
responsibility was it to clean up after their own mess?
the DU scandal broke out in Europe, Lord Robertson stated that this document was
distributed to all the NATO countries involved in Kosovo "without
exception". An official source from the Portuguese army headquarters stated
categorically that NATO did not issue a copy of the document to Portugal's
military representative at NATO at the time. NATO did not distribute the
document to the Portuguese army and the Portuguese contingent in Kosovo was
never officially warned against the dangers of DU weapons, even though they were
placed in one of the worst affected areas.
peace keeping in Kosovo was arranged in such a way that US troops were kept out
of contaminated areas while European troops were sent in - without adequate
Leaks and Suits
countries whose military claimed they received the July 1999 NATO warning, rank
and file soldiers protested. In Germany, the chairman of the Soldiers’ League
reproached defence minister Scharping of having made untrue statements about the
preparation of soldiers to deal with DU before they left for Kosovo.
ministry announced protective measures only on July 2nd, 1999. By
then German troops had already entered Kosovo. According to Scharping the use of
uranium in the war had been made public in May. Did he instruct his troops from
that time on and in advance to take necessary measures at DU-contaminated sites?
Who warned Kosovo Albanians, for whom Germany stood under arms for the first
time since WW2?
how NATO disrespects their life and health, many troops mutinee and volunteers
withdraw. By mid-January 2001, a quarter of Greek KFOR contingent of 1500 had
asked to leave because of the perceived risk. 200 of the 375 volunteers resigned
from joining the next rotation. A few days earlier, 400 soldiers from the
Norwegian KFOR battalion held off signing contracts for service starting in
June, after two Norwegian officers developed cancer from service in Bosnia.
news of a cancer death of a 23-year old Bosnian interpreter working for the
Italian military in Kosovo also made many soldiers re-think allegiance to their
country and forces. However, the British soldiers and public were hit with the
biggest DU revelation when on January 14th, 2001, “The Telegraph”
published secret documents that leaked from the Ministry of Defense. The
ministry was so concerned about the leak that it raided the houses of two Gulf
War veterans who they thought had stolen them.
new leak revealed that the British ministry was secretly testing for radiation
poisoning among British soldiers just months before it sent troops to Kosovo. At
the time the ministry was refusing to start a screening program for Gulf War
veterans. The disclosure went much further than an earlier leak that showed only
that officers knew 4 years earlier about the risk of developing lung, lymph and
brain cancers from DU shells.
leaked document listed five hitherto classified files held in the ministry
database. The Tories demanded the release of these documents to the public. This
move was expected to add momentum to a dramatic U-turn of the British government
who relented to pressure for a full-scale medical screening program for soldiers
who had served in the Gulf or the Balkans. Good news for the British public was
also that the Royal Navy, like US Navy, was phasing out DU ammunition after the
US supplier ended production for safety reasons.
perhaps a suitable test in the battle against DU in the UK will come with a test
court case of 100 veterans exposed to DU, against the Ministry of Defense, who
had full knowledge of the risks of DU.
second week of January 2001, was also a leaky time in the USA. The National Gulf
War Resource Center (NGWRC) obtained previously undisclosed correspondence of
Presidential Special Oversight Board (PSOB) and a resignation letter from one
PSOB staff scientist. The documents implicate former Republican Senator Warren
Rudman and retired Rear Admiral Paul Steinman as key figures who biased and
censored a serious inquiry into the Pentagon’s handling of Gulf War illness,
run by Dr. Bernard Rostker. “We will explore all legal avenues available to
determine the full extent of this cover-up,” said NGWRC executive director
Portugal, Army Chief of Staff, General Barrento, accused the anti-DU journalists
and the father of dead KFOR soldier, Hugo Paulino, of being on the payroll of
the pro-Milosevic forces and of betraying their fatherland. The public was
unswayed in condemnation of NATO for DU casualties in the Balkans. The visit of
three Portuguese ministers to Kosovo in the second week of January sped up
delivery to Lisbon of DU contamination samples for a press conference. It was a
political rather than a scientific move, calculated to appease the public and to
win presidential elections.
science minister Dr. Mariano Gago stated in front of the reporters that the DU
was a "false problem" and that the scientific team had not found the
smallest shred of radioactivity in any part of Kosovo, including soldiers'
barracks, vehicles, local streams and food. Together with this definitive
statement came an assurance of rigorous tests of the samples collected before
three weeks are over. Dr. Fernando Carvalho, waving his Geiger counter like a
magic wand, kept telling the journalists that they found no radiation at all.
who thought Portugal's vocal concerns about DU were a fresh hope of pressuring
NATO, are disappointed. The politicians spoke before scientific results were on
the table. Was it a pre-taste of things to come from NATO and UN investigations?
the Truth and be Damned
Siegwart-Horst Günther was one of the first scientists who travelled to the
Gulf battlefields to independently study DU effects on human health. In a March
3rd, 2000, interview for Junge Welt, he predicted that a
visible rise in DU casualty cases from Kosovo would start in March 2001. In the
meantime, a message was circulated on the Internet that German authorities
denied him medical help with his cancer.
Günther also travelled to Libya, where in 1986 A-10 aircraft attacked the
residence of Qadhafi and a coastal town – the site of an alleged chemical
weapons plant. In both areas Günther observed cases of leukemia and deformed
babies. The same symptoms plus skin sickness and miscarriages were observed in
the vicinity of the crash sites of A-10 at Ramscheid in Germany in 1988 and
El-Al cargo plane in Amsterdam suburbs in 1992. In the latter case, NGOs found
DU contamination in soil samples from the crash site. “Der Spiegel” of
January 13th, 2001, confirmed to date 6 leukemia and 2 cancer deaths,
including a child and a journalist who spent one day reporting from the crash
site, as well as numerous cases of illness. All cases occurred within a few
hundred-metre radius around the Ramscheid crash.
doctors and scientists who have voiced concern about DU lost their jobs in North
America. Professor Asaf Durakovic, former chief of nuclear medicine at the US
government Veterans Affairs medical facility in Delaware and now clinical
professor of radiology and nuclear medicine at Georgetown University in
Washington DC, was forced to quit his post for refusing to end his research into
one of the TV programs in which he appeared recently, Durakovic confirmed that
sick veterans could have been helped by treatment if governments had admitted
years ago that they were at risk from exposure to DU. "It is amazing that
we see the levels of DU in the urine of veterans nine years after the war. I am
not implying that all the symptoms of Gulf War syndrome are due to DU, but a
large part of the sickness of the patients that I have been following is due to
the contamination with radioactive isotopes."
why the military has not supported his previous warnings about DU, he said,
"We are talking about the embarrassment of the governments of Britain,
Canada and the US, and the other reason is it's a multi-billion-dollar industry
which has to be cautious about litigation and compensation claims."
in urine may not prove anything, however. Professor Dudley Goodhead of the
British Medical Research Council is the most senior radiation biologist in the
UK and a member of the Royal Society. In January 13th, 2001, issue of
“New Scientist” he made a point identical to those made earlier also by Dr.
Rosalie Bertell and Professor Günther. Local dose of chronic low-level
radioactivity to lymph nodes from incorporated radioactive particles can cause
genetic mutations leading to disease. The radiation risk agencies insist on
averaging the radiation dose across the entire lung or the whole body, thus
making the lymph node burden appear trivial.
emergence of leukaemia and immune system disease after Desert Storm and the
other uses of DU undermines the already non-existent scientific case for
absorbed dose, relative biological effectiveness. A question arises about the
implication of such a fraud for all aspects of nuclear regulation. "The
true extent of contamination with cancer-causing uranium in soldiers who served
in Bosnia and Kosovo may never be known, because the test government officials
are planning to use to screen veterans will not pick up metal lodged deep in the
governments are planning to test their veterans' urine for uranium. But the most
dangerous contamination might not show up in urine,” warned Goodhead. Ingested
microscopic particles of uranium oxides are removed from lungs by white blood
cells, which deposit them in the lymph nodes. Because they are insoluble, they
might not show up at all in urine, while still emitting local alpha and beta
radiation. That could damage blood stem cells, causing leukaemia.
levels of uranium in urine do not mean absence of danger and disease, either.
Only chemical analysis of lymph nodes from the soldiers who died could confirm
the lymphatic cause, but, not surprisingly, there had been no government reports
of such autopsies.
scientists did not agree with Pentagon and NATO line that there was no link
between leukemia and DU. Gro Harlem Brundtland, director general of World Health
Organization, said more honestly on January 14th, 2001, that she
could not rule out the possibility of a link, but more research would be needed
to answer the question.
response to US defence secretary Cohen’s statement about no DU-leukemia
connection, Professor Malcolm Hooper of medicinal chemistry and a member of an
independent panel assessing the research of the British Ministry of Defense, was
quite sceptical. To Hooper, the DU left behind in Bosnia and Kosovo remains
toxic and not doing tests is “criminal negligence, horrendous and
expert Leonard Dietz, who worked for 25 years at the US Knolls Atomic Power
Laboratory, and in 1979 found that DU particles had been carried over 40 km by
the wind, was not too happy with A-10 ammunition in Kosovo. Many DU bullets
missed their target or hit wood, cardboard and plastic decoys without turning
into powder, "They would be in the ground, and it would be a very slow
process to break it down chemically, and move it around.”
Busby, a low-level radiation specialist who has examined leukemia in Ireland,
pointed out to a darth of data on the subject, "The trouble is that you've
got to have numbers, and nobody has done any decent epidemiology [on DU].” He
went to the Iraqi battlefields in fall 2000; his soil samples showed less
radioactivity than he expected, but air samples he took indicated that alpha
radiation levels from DU dust were 20 times higher in battle areas than in
Baghdad. During the Kosovo campaign, scientists in Macedonia detected 8 times
higher than normal alpha activity in the air.