Over 600 U.S. Troops Claimed Exposure To Chemical Weapons In Iraq, But Military Failed To Treat Them

More Than 600 U.S. Troops Described Being Exposed To Chemical Eeapons In Iraq But Military Failed To Offer Them Medical Care, Pentagon Admits – Daily Mail

More than 600 American soldiers told military medical staff that they believe they were exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003, but the Pentagon failed to act on that information, it was revealed Thursday.

According to reporting by The New York Times, Pentagon officials said the department will now expand its outreach to veterans and establish a toll-free hotline for reporting potential exposures and seeking medical evaluation or care.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered an internal review of military records after the Times published an article in October about how US troops encountered degraded chemical weapons from the 1980s that had been hidden or used in makeshift bombs.

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Truth comes out: Pentagon acknowledged that more than 600 American soldiers told military medical staff that they believe they were exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003

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US forces came upon hidden caches of warheads, shells and aviation bombs in Iraq between 2004 and 2011. Pictured here are Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians working in Afghanistan in 2002

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The initial newspaper report disclosed that 17 service members had been injured by sarin or sulfur mustard agent, and several more came forward after the story appeared, the Times said Thursday.

The Army’s Public Health Command collects standardized medical-history surveys, known as post-deployment health assessments, which troops fill out as they complete combat tours.

Those who responded ‘yes’ to a question about exposure to such warfare agents – ‘Do you think you were exposed to any chemical, biological and radiological warfare agents during this deployment?’ – were asked to provide a brief explanation.

The review ordered by Hagel showed that 629 people answered ‘yes’ to that question and also filled in a block with information indicating chemical agent exposure, Col. Jerome Buller, a spokesman for the Army surgeon general, told the newspaper.

‘Secretary Hagel ordered the department to examine the medical records for all servicemembers assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Units where exposures were reported to have occurred, as well as the Post-Deployment Health Assessment data for all servicemembers who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘The review has determined thus far that 734 troops reported potential exposure. The actual extent of that exposure is not yet clear,’ Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement to Stars and Stripes.

About 5,000 chemical weapons were recovered or destroyed in Iraq following the 2003 invasion.

A Times investigation last month revealed that US forces came upon hidden caches of warheads, shells and aviation bombs between 2004 and 2011.

But the Bush administration reportedly covered up the existence of the 30-year-old weapons, some of them designed by the US, which did not fit into the narrative that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction.

Most of the warheads were mustard agents in 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets developed by Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war which raged between 1980 and 1988.

Many of the shells recovered by American troops after the 2003 invasion would leak liquid during transportation, exposing the soldiers to the potentially-lethal fumes.

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Hidden: Between 2004 and 2011, soldiers found thousands of rusty chemical munitions throughout Iraq, most of them buried. Pictured on the left are troops handling weapons in Kandahar, Afghanistan

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A U.S. Army Third Infantry Division soldier loads materials discovered in an explosives laboratory hidden in a home April 15, 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq

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Symptoms ranged from disorientation and nausea to blindness and large blisters.

A Navy explosive-ordnance disposal technician, who was not named because he remains on active duty, told the Times this week that he was burned on his left forearm in 2006 when a mustard agent spilled on him as he was carrying shells outside Samarra.

After he went to an Army doctor seeking treatment, an officer in his battalion ordered him to stop talking about the chemical shells.

Cmdr Ryan Perry, a Navy spokesman, told the newspaper that they do not condone the silencing of service members, adding the the sailor had reached out to the Navy about the 2006 chemical episode in recent days.

Each person who answered the health questionnaire would have received a medical consultation at the end of their combat tour, Buller said.

It was not clear why the military did not take further steps, such as including compiling the data as it accumulated over more than a decade, tracking veterans with related medical complaints, or circulating warnings about risks to soldiers and to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans who believe they were exposed can call a Pentagon hotline at 1-800-497-6261, which previously had been used for Gulf War veterans reporting illnesses.

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Obama Suddenly Decides To More Than Double U.S. Troop Presence In Iraq

Iraq War II: Obama Seeks New War Authorization; Will More Than Double U.S. Troops On Ground – CNS

The White House and the Defense Department announced today that President Obama will order an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq, more than doubling the 1,400 who are currently there.

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On Wednesday, in his first post-election press conference, the president said he will be seeking from Congress a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to engage in warfare against the Islamic State, which is now operating out of territory it has seized in Iraq and Sryia.

At the end of 2011, as he headed into the 2012 election year, President Obama removed all U.S. troops from Iraq, and declared the war there over.

That war had been authorized by an AUMF that Congress approved on Oct. 11, 2002.

Since Obama declared that Iraq War over, Iraq has seen the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). ISIS is a terrorist group that sprang from al Qaeda, was expelled from al Qaeda, and then went on to take control of a large territory in Iraq and Syria. Its aim is to create a caliphate in the region that now includes Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced the troop deployment this afternoon. The additional 1,500 personnel he said will be in “a noncombat role to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish forces.”

“U.S. Central Command will establish two expeditionary advise and assist operations centers, in locations outside of Baghdad and Erbil, to provide support for the Iraqis at the brigade headquarters level and above,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman told National Public Radio. “These centers will be supported by an appropriate array of force protection.”

On Dec. 14, 2011, Obama traveled to Fort Bragg to announce that he had brought all troop home from Iraq and that he war was over.

“It’s harder to end a war than begin one,” Obama said then. “Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq–all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering–all of it has led to this moment of success. Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations. And we are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making.”

In his ensuing reelection campaign, the president repeatedly took credit–at rallies–for fulfilling the promise of his first campaign to end the Iraq war.

“I’ve kept the commitment that I’ve made,” Obama said, for example, at an Oct. 24, 2012 rally in Iowa. “I told you we would win the war in Iraq. We did.”

“I mean what I say and I say what I mean,” Obama said on Nov. 5, 2012. “I said I’d end the war in Iraq. I ended it.”

On Jan. 21 of this year, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, issued an audio statement making a direct and unambiguous threat to the United States.

“Our last message is to the Americans,” he said. “Soon we will be in direct confrontation, and the sons of Islam have prepared for such a day.”

On Wednesday, Obama explained why he believed he needed a new war authorization.

“With respect to the AUMF, we’ve already had conversations with members of both parties in Congress, and the idea is to right-size and update whatever authorization Congress provides to suit the current fight, rather than previous fights,” Obama said Wednesday.

“In 2001, after the heartbreaking tragedy of 9/11, we had a very specific set of missions that we had to conduct, and the AUMF was designed to pursue those missions,” said Obama. “With respect to Iraq, there was a very specific AUMF.”

“We now have a different type of enemy,” said Obama. “The strategy is different. How we partner with Iraq and other Gulf countries and the international coalition–that has to be structured differently. So it makes sense for us to make sure that the authorization from Congress reflects what we perceive to be not just our strategy over the next two or three months, but our strategy going forward.”

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White House Did Not Discuss ISIS Strategy With Pentagon Prior To U.S.-Led Campaign – Big Peace

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As of the end of August, there was no communication between the White House and the Pentagon concerning a strategy to fight the Islamic State, the Department of Defense (DoD) said in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Not only did the president not have a strategy, as he candidly admitted on August 28, the White House did not talk about developing a strategy with his Defense Department prior to launching airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq on August 8.

This contradicts comments by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest trying to explain Obama telling reporters on August 28, “We don’t have a strategy yet.”

The White House attempted to blame the Pentagon for delaying the development of a strategy.

On August 29, Earnest insisted that what Obama meant is that he was then-waiting for the Pentagon to make recommendations on what to do.

“The Pentagon is developing plans or military options for the president to consider if he decides that it’s necessary to do so,” he said. “But at this point, the president hasn’t made any decisions and hasn’t ordered any military action in Syria.”

In a response to a FOIA request filed by Dr. Larry Kawa as a concerned private citizen, DOD’s Office of Freedom of Information said that as of the end of August, it could not locate any paper or electronic communication documents between the president and the Pentagon mentioning a strategy to fight the Islamic State (IS, ISIS and ISIL).

The Pentagon searched for communication that would have occurred between the beginning of January thru the end of August.

“On August 28, 2014 President Obama stated in a national press conference that he ‘does not have a strategy yet’ in regards to ISIL/ISIS in Syria,” said Kawa in his FOIA request. “He blamed the Pentagon for the delay. I would like clarification of any correspondences in this regard between the Pentagon and the office of the President or executive branch.”

Kawa told Breitbart News that he spoke to the Pentagon FOIA agent in charge of handling his request in an effort to confirm that before the end of August, there was no communication between Obama and the Pentagon concerning a strategy on ISIS.

“Per DOD FOIA agent Charles Marye, any such documents would have appeared. If there were any meetings that were classified, their existence would also have appeared but did not,” said Kawa.

“In conclusion, the Pentagon is 100 percent certain that there have been no discussions either classified or unclassified regarding strategy on ISIS or ISIL,” he continued.

The Pentagon’s FOIA office searched for communication involving the Secretary of Defense, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the White House, and the National Security Council, according to Kawa.

FOIA Agent Marye did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

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*VIDEO* Flashback: George W. Bush’s Prophetic Iraq Warning Of July, 2007


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Has Obama lost NBC?

First David Gregory has a moment of clarity

NBC’s David Gregory had some unpredictably harsh words for the White House during an interview with Senator Dick Durbin on Sunday, noting that “a big, expansive terrorist threat that has amassed” under President Obama’s watch.

The “Meet the Press” host spoke with the Illinois Democrat over the limited air campaign ordered by the president to blunt the advance of ultra-violent jihadists in northern Iraq. Gregory requested the senator’s insight as to how the United States found itself again involved in the region.

“Is the problem that the Obama administration — wanting to be something other than President Bush – got out of the business of confronting terrorism on a big, global scale and just dealt with it in a more limited way?” he asked. “Is it an underreaction to the terrorist threat?”

Durbin tried to steer the conversation specifically back to Iraq, but Gregory cut him off.  ”I’m talking about the terrorist threat!” he said. “I’m talking about fighting terrorism.”

Durbin tries to deflect, but only exposes himself as clueless about the threat of terrorism. Next, Andrea Mitchell lays into Team Hope and Change

Top NBC reporters Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell turned on President Obama over his excuses for Iraq’s unravelling on Sunday, with Todd claiming he never tried to secure a 2011 troop agreement with the Iraqi government and Mitchell calling the White House’s bad intelligence excuse “a farce.”

The pair unloaded on the Obama administration during Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” calling it aimless and needling its excuses for the sudden surge of ultra-violent jihadis in northern Iraq.

When you are so inept that your biggest cheerleaders start ripping you…………..

Why don’t we allow generals to run our wars?

The politicians always get in the way. Take ISIS for example, General Jack Keane lays it out

Former Army Vice Chief of Staff General Jack Keane told Fox News Tuesday night that the terrorist group ISIS is “the most significant threat to the Middle East that I have ever observed.”

“On the same weekend, they launched a new offensive in Iraq, collapsed a Peshmerga, a much-acclaimed military force that’s part of Kurdistan. Also they took two oil fields, and now threatens the Mosul Dam. They did this on one weekend in two different countries simultaneously. Anybody looking at that knows that this is an organization of consequence, and it must be dealt with,” General Keane said.

The Fox News military analyst provided several solutions to dealing with the Islamic army.

“The way you deal with them is you kill them, and that is the only way that they understand, is force. You have to apply force to deal with it,” Keane told Fox News host Shannon Bream.

Incompetent Obama Finally Decides To Sorta, Kinda Deal With The Iraq Crisis He Caused (Videos)

President Obama Finally Moves Against The “jayvee,” Sort Of – Powerline

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In an interview with the New Yorker’s David Remnick in January, President Obama dismissed ISIS as the “jayvee”:

The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.

Yesterday, with much of Iraq now in the jayvee’s hands, Obama finally recognized it as enough of a threat to warrant the authorization of U.S. military action. Sort of:

To stop the advance on Irbil, I directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move towards the city.

What is magic about Irbil? For one thing, many American diplomats and other U.S. nationals are there. In fact, the State Department relocated staffers from the embassy in Baghdad to the consulate in Irbil on the theory that the Kurds could keep the jayvee out. And then Obama ignored warnings from the Kurds that, without U.S. military supplies, they could not defend their territory.

To this conditional authorization of force, Obama added another conditional one. He authorized airstrikes “if necessary” to help Iraqi forces break the siege of Mount Sinjar.

Here, one assumes, Obama is being disingenuous. How else besides through U.S. military action might the jayvees’ siege of Mount Sinjar be broken. Diplomacy?

Speaking of diplomacy, Obama’s reliance on it is what permitted the situation in Iraq to deteriorate to its current state. Months ago, it became clear that the jayvee was on the march and would not be halted without substantial U.S. assistance.

But Obama conditioned such assistance on the overhaul of Iraq’s government and sought that overhaul through diplomacy. Naturally, Prime Minister Maliki liked his government just fine so, naturally, no overhaul occurred. And then the jayvee continued its bloody march.

Ironically, Obama ended up liking Maliki’s government well enough when it came time to decide whether to grant the Kurds’ request for weapons and ammunition. Obama turned them down on the theory that he didn’t want to bypass the central government – unreformed though it was. And then the jayvee overran the Kurdish border.

Assuming Obama deems his conditions for using force satisfied – and, objectively, they surely will be – the questions become how much force is needed and will Obama authorize that much force.

As to the first question, Fox News’ military expert, Ret. Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney said last night that “pin prick” strikes won’t be enough. He called for round-the-clock sorties.

Other military experts, including active service commanders in Iraq, say that air power won’t be enough. Apparently, the jayvee, having seized all sorts of U.S. military equipment and grown significantly in number off of its successes, has become Kobe Bryant after all. As Army Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek, U.S. chief of the Office of Security and Cooperation-Iraq, put it: “[ISIS] is an army, and it takes an army to defeat an army.”

Gen. Bednarek was talking about “neutralizing” ISIS, though. Obama, presumably recognizing what doing so would entail, described his objectives much more narrowly as protecting Ibril and ending the siege of Mount Sinjar. These objectives can, perhaps, be accomplished without an army, and conceivably even with pin point strikes.

But if this is all Obama accomplishes, he will have accomplished little. And pretty soon, the jayvee’s blitz will produce another crisis that will grab the attention of even our criminally inattentive president.

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Leader: ISIS Is ‘Systematically Beheading Children’ In ‘Christian Genocide’ – CNS

“Christianity in Mosul is dead, and a Christian holocaust is in our midst,” said Mark Arabo, a Californian businessman and Chaldean-American leader. In an interview with CNN’s Jonathan Mann, he called what’s happening in Iraq a “Christian genocide” and said “children are being beheaded, mothers are being raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”

“Right now, three thousand Christians are in Iraq fleeing to neighboring cities,” he told Mann. Arabo is calling on the international community to follow France’s lead and offer the Christians of Iraq asylum.

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“You’re startling me with the severity of what you’re describing,” the CNN host said. “You said they are – beheading children?”

“They are systematically beheading children,” Arabo repeated slowly. “And mothers and fathers. The world hasn’t seen an evil like this for generations.”

“There’s actually a park in Mosul where they actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick… this is crimes against humanity. They are doing the most horrendous, the most heart-breaking crimes that you can think of.”

Mann asked about the ISIS letter sent to Christians in Mosul, demanding that they either convert to Islam, pay a fine or be put to “death by the sword.”

“It’s very clear they are killing people, but are Christians managing to escape by paying a fine?” he asked.

Arabo reports that after Christians pay the fine, the fighters take the Christian wives and children “and make them their wives – so it’s really convert, or die.”

This is a tweet that reportedly shows Yazidi children who escaped the fighters by fleeing to the mountains, but have died from lack of food and water there:

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curdistani
@curdistani

Ezidi Kurdish children are dying of thirst and hunger on Sinjar mountains. No more words for tragedy pic.twitter.com/A6jWKXh3mw @hrw
2:31 PM – 6 Aug 2014

100 Retweets 13 favorites

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A quick scan of Youtube shows the truth of what Arabo is saying – there are gruesome videos of heads on spikes, and many of live beheadings (one poor Christian is forced to say the Shahada ‘there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet’ and then beheaded anyway.)

Warning: don’t google these things unless you have a strong stomach.

“They are absolutely killing every Christian they see,” Arabo said of ISIS. “This is absolutely a genocide in every sense of the word. They want everyone to convert, and they want sharia law to be the law of the land.”

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FLASHBACK:

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Obama: Don’t Stay In Iraq Over Genocide – NBC News

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.

“Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now – where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife – which we haven’t done,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea,” he said.

Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, said it’s likely there would be increased bloodshed if U.S. forces left Iraq.

“Nobody is proposing we leave precipitously. There are still going to be U.S. forces in the region that could intercede, with an international force, on an emergency basis,” Obama said between stops on the first of two days scheduled on the New Hampshire campaign trail. “There’s no doubt there are risks of increased bloodshed in Iraq without a continuing U.S. presence there.”

The greater risk is staying in Iraq, Obama said.

“It is my assessment that those risks are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” he said.

Fierce critic

The senator has been a fierce critic of the war in Iraq, speaking out against it even before he was elected to his post in 2004. He was among the senators who tried unsuccessfully earlier this week to force President Bush’s hand and begin to limit the role of U.S. forces there.

“We have not lost a military battle in Iraq. So when people say if we leave, we will lose, they’re asking the wrong question,” he said. “We cannot achieve a stable Iraq with a military. We could be fighting there for the next decade.”

Obama said the answer to Iraq – and other civil conflicts – lies in diplomacy.

“When you have civil conflict like this, military efforts and protective forces can play an important role, especially if they’re under an international mandate as opposed to simply a U.S. mandate. But you can’t solve the underlying problem at the end of a barrel of a gun,” he said. “There’s got to be a deliberate and constant diplomatic effort to get the various factions to recognize that they are better off arriving at a peaceful resolution of their conflicts.”

GOP: ‘Obama can’t seem to make up his mind’

The Republican National Committee accused Obama of changing his position on the war.

“Barack Obama can’t seem to make up his mind,” said Amber Wilkerson, an RNC spokeswoman. “First he says that a quick withdrawal from Iraq would be ’a slap in the face’ to the troops, and then he votes to cut funding for our soldiers who are still in harm’s way. Americans are looking for principled leadership – not a rookie politician who is pandering to the left wing of his party in an attempt to win an election.”

Obama, who has expressed reservations about capital punishment but does not oppose it, said he would support the death penalty for Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“The first thing I’d support is his capture, which is something this administration has proved incapable of achieving,” Obama said. “I would then, as president, order a trial that observed international standards of due process. At that point, do I think that somebody who killed 3,000 Americans qualifies as someone who has perpetrated heinous crimes, and would qualify for the death penalty. Then yes.”

Sex education for kindergartners?

In response to criticism from Republican Mitt Romney, Obama said the former Massachusetts governor was only trying to “score cheap political points” when he told a Colorado audience that Obama wanted sex education for kindergartners.

Video: Sex education for kindergarteners? “All I said was that I support the same laws that exist in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, in which local communities and parents can make decisions to provide children with the information they need to deal with sexual predators,” Obama said.

Romney on Wednesday targeted Obama for supporting a bill during his term in the Illinois state Senate that would have, among other things, provided age-appropriate sex education for all students.

“How much sex education is age appropriate for a 5-year-old? In my mind, zero is the right number,” Romney said.

Obama said Romney was wrong to take the shot and incorrect on its basis.

“We have to deal with a coarsening of the culture and the over-sexualization of our young people. Look, I’ve got two daughters, 9 and 6 years old,” Obama told the AP. “Of course, part of the coarsening of that culture is when politicians try to demagogue issues to score cheap political points.”

“What we shouldn’t do is to try to play a political football with these issues and express them in ways that are honest and truthful,” Obama said. “Certainly, what we shouldn’t do is engage in hypocrisy.”

Romney himself once indicated support for similar programs that Obama supports.

In 2002, Romney told Planned Parenthood in a questionnaire that he also supported age-appropriate sex education. He checked yes to a question that asked: “Do you support the teaching of responsible, age-appropriate, factually accurate health and sexuality education, including information about both abstinence and contraception, in public schools?”

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Terrorists In Iraq Seize 88 Pounds Of Uranium

Iraq tells U.N. That ‘Terrorist Groups’ Seized Nuclear Materials – Reuters

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Insurgents in Iraq have seized nuclear materials used for scientific research at a university in the country’s north, Iraq told the United Nations in a letter appealing for help to “stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad.”

Nearly 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of uranium compounds were kept at Mosul University, Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the July 8 letter obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

“Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state,” Alhakim wrote, adding that such materials “can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.”

“These nuclear materials, despite the limited amounts mentioned, can enable terrorist groups, with the availability of the required expertise, to use it separate or in combination with other materials in its terrorist acts,” said Alhakim.

He warned that they could also be smuggled out of Iraq.

A U.S. government source familiar with the matter said the materials were not believed to be enriched uranium and therefore would be difficult to use to manufacture into a weapon. Another U.S. official familiar with security matters said he was unaware of this development raising any alarm among U.S. authorities.

A Sunni Muslim group known as the Islamic State is spearheading a patchwork of insurgents who have taken over large swaths of Syria and Iraq. The al Qaeda offshoot until recently called itself the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“The Republic of Iraq is notifying the international community of these dangerous developments and asking for help and the needed support to stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad,” Alhakim wrote.

Iraq acceded to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material on Monday, said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The convention requires states to protect nuclear facilities and material in peaceful domestic use, storage and transport.

“It also provides for expanded cooperation between and among states regarding rapid measures to locate and recover stolen or smuggled nuclear material, mitigate any radiological consequences of sabotage, and prevent and combat related offences,” according to the IAEA.

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