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US Violating Chemical Weapons Convention in Iraq


WIKILEAKS analysis release "US violates CWC"

The United States has been caught with at least 2,386 chemical weapons deployed in Iraq. The items appear in a spectacular 2,000 page leak of nearly one million items of US military equipment deployed in Iraq given to the government transparency group Wikileaks. The items are labeled under the military's own NATO supply classification Chemical weapons and equipment.

In the weeks prior to the March 19, 2003 commencement of the Iraq war, the United States received a widely reported rebuke from its primary coalition partner, the United Kingdom, over statements by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld suggesting that the US military might use CS gas in Iraq and Afghanistan. Subsequently Washington has been quiet about whether it has deployed CS gas and other chemical weapons or not, except to deny, then admit, to using white phosphorus, as "an incendiary" during a gruesome 2004 assault on Fallujah -- a use not covered by the Chemical Weapons Convention. [2]

The use of chemical weapons such as CS gas for military operations is illegal. The Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997, drafted by the United Kingdom and ratified by the United States, declares "Each State Party undertakes not to use riot control agents as a method of warfare". Permissible uses are restricted to "law enforcement including domestic riot control."

For the full story, see: http://wikileaks.org/wiki/US_violates_chemical_weapons_convention

STORY DEVELOPMENT NOTES:

Attention given to the US chemical weapons interpretation grab in 2003 a indicates strong public interest. In summary, the US via rumsfeld -- a long term opponent of the CWC -- made noises about wanting to use CW in combat operations and was quickly smacked down to boldness only on border cases surrounding the 'law enforcement' exception (using it for extraordinary rendition an in military prisons). The US has since been conspicuously quiet, probably inorder not to inflame the UK, who drew up the CWC. The situation was left "up in the air" as far as the public record is concerned, not, as far as I can determine, because of a lack of public interest, but because the war intervened before there was a settled public position.

How the story unfolds will be largely dependent on what mistakes the state department and the mod make in their public responses and how much the story is the leaking itself ("digital mutiny by whistleblower soldiers").

The 2005 white phosphorus allegations, Italian media ones at that, over the 2004 falluja assault saw extended public response that was a combination of reporting of a J'accuse against a liberal enemy and public sensitivity to chemical weapons hypocrisy after protracted US WMD hype (weak in the white phosphorus case, since it was used to burn, rather than poison people, which is not covered by the CWC, but the potential for CW violating uses of white phosphorus was enough get interest) but most of all an official denial.. later followed by a qualified recant.

For the CS gas CW weapons, the leak and a few commentators quotes can be framed, psychologically, as the J'accuse event.

The US and the MoD are in a difficult position in making public statements. MoD is either going to have to go with its earlier statements, in which case the US is giving it the finger, or look like it is prevaricating or submissive. The CWC is black and white about CS/OC use in combat -- it is absolutely illegal. The weapons deployments revealed by the leak and 2003 statements are indicative of the US attempting to smash a truck through the spirit, and many say the letter of the CWC CS gas exemption provisions ("law enforcement and 'domestic' riot control"). These and other complexities in the CWC make any US response torturous and liable to gaffs. There are three possible replies:

1) "Yes -- using it in combat". Clear criminality. I don't think they'll admit this, but there is a chance of a screw up. Regardless, there are plenty of notables who will hammer them for an allegation of combat use and say it is illegal, including under domestic US law. Easy to start a fight here and report it.

2) "No -- not using CW at all". A reversal of the 2003 position, unsustainable and likely to result in an embarrassing retraction. There is a possibility of 'We equipped troops with CS/OC weapons, but deny ever employing them'. I doubt this statement will be made, since a single use falsifies it. The CWC also requires that use and possession is reported to the OPWC

3) "Use only for 'law enforcement and riot control' operations in Iraq and Afghanistan". This is the most probable reply, but is a huge can of worms.

Let us look in detail at this last, most probable, unfolding:

The leak reveals CS only weapons in the hands of combat units. The CWC gives provision for governments to possess CWCs for 'law enforcement and DOMESTIC riot control'. Elsewhere the CWC outlaws military use of 'toxic' chemicals entirely, preventing the military using CS/OC for military law enforcement, and although the US dissents from this interpretation, there are plenty of quotable sources who say the US is incorrect. Following earlier statements by rumsfeld, the US will likely state that it is only using CS/OC in iraq on prisoners and transporting prisoners on airplanes. Torturous prevarication is needed to prevent the following claims:

a) planned illegality -- leak shows several combat troops have the weapons

b) deviousness and giving the finger to the UK -- 'law enforcement and domestic riot control' is clearly aimed at home-country use.

c) crushing political dissent -- what riots are they suppressing in iraq?

d) undermining the just preserve of the iraqi national government. "law enforcement and domestic riot control" is the iraqi government's function. So either the iraqi government is not functional (a US failure) or it is being undermined in its policing activities.

e) earlier US claims about (wanting to) use CS gas in prisons and transportation of can be put to Washington. Either they will claim to have aborted this policy (why? more news..), knocking out an excuse for possession, or they'll agree or prevaricate. The latter cases are a PR disaster, because they combine public resonances of previous prevarications about chemical weapons with extraordinary rendition and the conduct of the US military in running prisons such as abu grahib and gitmo...
[edit] Comment from Edmond Hammond, Director of the sunshine-project.org

The US has an idiosyncratic interpretation of the CWC as it apples to RCAs. It also has an idiosyncratic definition of RCA, different tha the CWC's The governing rules are in Executive Order 11850, which was signed by Gerald Ford in the backlash from US use of CS in Vietnam (as a lethal force multiplier). EO11850 is not consistent with the CWC but was nevertheless reaffirmed at the time of US ratification of the CWC. EO11850 restricts US military use of RCAs and essentially requires the authorization of the President or, in certain circumstances, the Secretary of Defense. I actually FOIAed for any such authorizations a few years ago. Surprise.... no response!

The kinds of uses foreseen in EO11850 were to protect nuclear weapons (this is 70s ... image protesting Filipinos getting unruly at Subic Bay, or some crazy hardcore West German protestors trying an unarmed assault on a US nuke) and downed pilot rescue; but the language is squishy.

http://www.sunshine-project.org/publications/pr/pr070203.html

It's up for argument about how sensitive the US CS data is (I would say there is no reason for it to be secret); but it would likely be held in close proximity to stuff that truly is extremely sensitive. OPCW has all sorts of data on location and quantity and security measures for undestroyed Russian, US, South Korean, and other chemical munitions (VX, Sarin, et cet.). As well as all sorts of commercial data. They would take information security extremely seriously. I have no sympathy for the companies; but OPCW does know some things that are probably best left in as few hands as possible. Also, leaks from OPCW might provide ammunition for the bad guys who would like to weaken the treaty regime.

The US declarations to the OPCW, however, would not only be in The Hague. They would of course be in Washington too...

EH

http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Contact

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It would be correct to say that there are WMD's in Iraq...
... American WMD's that is.

after writing very long letters and faxing and mailing them to my reps, none of them would write a reply back when I asked them to clarify or verify the use of white phosphorous and other illegal weapons against the civilians in Fallujah.

when Firebase Falcon got more or less destroyed in October of last year, again, asking them to clarify or verify got no answer.

this government is wholly in bed with this lying, mass murdering, illegal cabal that illegitimately holds power and this is not acceptable. this must end. this has to end.

know it would be much less dramatic, but why not call a spade a spade and use the much more accessible term for CS gas: tear gas. I know "chemical weapon" sounds much more sexy and has a much more sinister connotation.

Also, if you dug deeper you'd see that the primary reason it is banned by the treaty for military use has nothing to do with it's effects. It is because when used it might be immediately mistaken for an actual chemical weapon and result in a retaliatory strike with a true chemical weapon.

And lastly.....

CS gas was used in the Waco siege.

Would you go along with it if I said the Clinton Administration launched a chemical attack against US citizens?

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