Is White Phosphorus a Chemical Weapon ?
Date: Thursday, November 10 2005
DemocracrayNow! -- Tuesday, November 8th, 2005
A Debate: Did the U.S. Military Attack Iraqi Civilians With White Phosphorus Bombs in Violation of the Geneva Conventions?
We speak with a former U.S. soldier who witnessed orders being given to drop white phosphorous bombs over Fallujah; a Pentagon spokesperson in Baghdad who admits such bombs were used but denied they were used as a chemical weapon; and the news director of RAI TV, the Italian TV network that produced Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre. [includes rush transcript]
* MAURIZIO TORREALTA, News Editor for the Italian television RAI and co-producer of the film "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre."
* JEFF ENGLEHART, former army Specialist in Iraq. He maintains a weblog called Fight to Survive
* LIEUTENANT COLONEL STEVE BOYLAN, spokesperson for the U.S.
military in Iraq.
AMY GOODMAN: We have just aired the North American exclusive broadcast of the Italian state broadcaster RAI that today on this first anniversary of the siege of Fallujah broadcasts this documentary. It is called Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre. Here to discuss chemical weapons allegations, we're joined on the telephone by Maurizio Torrealta. He is news editor for the Italian state broadcaster RAI, co-producer of this documentary. He joins us from Italy. Jeff Englehart is with us. He served as an army specialist in Iraq in Fallujah, interviewed in the film. He is joining us from Colorado, maintains the weblog, "Fight to Survive." You can find it at www.FTSSoldier.blogspot.com, on the line with us from Colorado Springs.
And on the phone from Baghdad is Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan,
spokesperson for the U.S. military in Iraq.
We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Let us begin with our spokesperson on the phone with us from Iraq, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan of the U.S. military.
Your response to the documentary, Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre?
LT. COL. STEVE BOYLAN: Well, I did not get a chance to view it. I have
heard what was played over your program. And I would say, for the most
part, the elements that I heard, for the most part, are tantamount to
propaganda, falsehoods and rumors.
To address some of that, they're calling white phosphorus an illegal
weapon. And that is an error. It's a perfectly legal weapon to use by all conventions of land warfare.
The soldier that is stating that it is a chemical weapon and illegal is in error, as is his assertions that elements were waiting for elections and all other types of things about when the attacks were to happen. Again, he's completely in error, and based on his position he would not have any knowledge of the decisions that were made at the national strategic level or at the headquarters of multinational forces of Iraq. So again, he is basing his assumptions off of rumor and hearsay.
AMY GOODMAN: So are you confirming that you used white phosphorus in
Fallujah, but saying that it's simply not illegal?
LT. COL. STEVE BOYLAN: White phosphorus has been used. I do not recall it was used as an offensive weapon. White phosphorus is used for marking targets for both air and ground forces. White phosphorus is used to destroy equipment and other types of things. It is used to destroy weapons caches. And it is used to produce a white smoke which can obscure the enemy's vision of what we are doing.
AMY GOODMAN: And you're using it in Iraq?
LT. COL. STEVE BOYLAN: We have used it in the past. It is a perfectly
legal weapon to use.
AMY GOODMAN: Maurizio Torrealta, news editor for the Italian state
broadcaster, RAI 24. Your response?
MAURIZIO TORREALTA: Well, the United States, as the UK and Italy, signed the convention about prohibition of chemical weapons. And the convention define precisely that what make forbidden an agent, a chemical agent, is not the chemical agent itself. Because as Lieutenant said, the white phosphorus can be used to light the scene of a battle. And in that case, it's acceptable. But what make a chemical agent forbidden is the use that is done with it. If you use white phosphorus to kill the people, to burn and to block them, people and animals, even animals say the convention that we all sign, Italy, United States and UK, this is a forbidden chemical agent.
And we are full of picture that show bodies of young people, of children, of women which have strange -- particular, they are dead with a big corruption of the skin and show even the bone. And the clothes are intact, untouched. And that shows there has been an aggressive agent like white phosphorus that has done that. And we have all the number of those bodies and the place where they have been buried. So any international organization that wanted to inquire about that has all the tools and information to do it. And even the witness -- the U.S. military that we interview confirmed that the use of white phosphorus was against the population. And we have even picture of the fact that has been told by the helicopter down to the city, not by the ground up in the air to light the scene. Also the images, they spoke by themselves.
Tuesday, November 8th, 2005
U.S. Broadcast Exclusive - "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre" on the U.S. Use of Napalm-Like White Phosphorus Bombs
- Download the full documentary: "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre" - Rai 24 News website