Iraqi Infliction

October 16, 2014

iraq-war-childOne of the sadly-prolific and ironically-evolving tragedies of these modern times has to be Iraq.

The invasion 11 years ago could-be most-easily “the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history,” but for sure, that one single event also marked day one of a fucked-up, immoral, man-made calamity.

Flashback dream at right: A frightened child flees Basra, southern Iraq, 2003.

After all this time, I wonder at the life of that little girl, who’d now be in her early teens, but since her land is Iraq, and her daily narrative way-most-likely, the ultimate horror-nightmare story in which there’s no awakening, there’s really no telling. I started this blog in April 2007, when Iraq was getting fine and dandy, just full of the surge, shit had way-hit the fan everywhere, and that scared, pretty-little face in the photo above always touched/illustrated suffering reality in that ongoing disaster.

George Jr. opened the gates of a boiling furnace. Two major events in which President Obama failed horribly, miserably, shamefully were not going after the Wall Street shitheads, and nearly redacting the entire eight-year scenario of George Jr. and his co-horted war criminals. An incredibly dark stain on American history just history-rigged out of existence.

Yet ugly shit still surfaces — just last Sunday, it was reported $1.2 to $1.6 billion dollars, earmarked in 2003 for Iraqi reconstruction, had been found in a bunker in Lebanon, where it had been stashed after being stolen. Billions uncounted:

The disclosure of the bunker shines a light on one of the occupation’s murkier puzzles: the fate of pallets of shrink-wrapped $100 bills which the Bush administration loaded on to Air Force C-17 transport planes in order to prop up the occupation of post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.
About $12bn to $14bn was sent in the airlift and another $5bn via electronic transfer.

I remember that story from those glory days, Iraq “…an environment awash in $100 bills,” with a shitload grafted/corrupted away, some to a bunker under Lebanon cedars.
Now even worse — yesterday an expose from the New York Times:

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.
In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program.
Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.
The New York Times found 17 American service members and seven Iraqi police officers who were exposed to nerve or mustard agents after 2003.
American officials said that the actual tally of exposed troops was slightly higher, but that the government’s official count was classified.
The secrecy fit a pattern.
Since the outset of the war, the scale of the United States’ encounters with chemical weapons in Iraq was neither publicly shared nor widely circulated within the military.
These encounters carry worrisome implications now that the Islamic State, a Qaeda splinter group, controls much of the territory where the weapons were found.
The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm’s way and from military doctors.
The government’s secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war’s most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds.

Then, during the long occupation, American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs.
Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.
All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said.
Filthy, rusty or corroded, a large fraction of them could not be readily identified as chemical weapons at all.
Some were empty, though many of them still contained potent mustard agent or residual sarin.
Most could not have been used as designed, and when they ruptured dispersed the chemical agents over a limited area, according to those who collected the majority of them.
In case after case, participants said, analysis of these warheads and shells reaffirmed intelligence failures.
First, the American government did not find what it had been looking for at the war’s outset, then it failed to prepare its troops and medical corps for the aged weapons it did find.

And a current knot in this twisted tale:

Since June, the compound has been held by the Islamic State, the world’s most radical and violent jihadist group.
In a letter sent to the United Nations this summer, the Iraqi government said that about 2,500 corroded chemical rockets remained on the grounds, and that Iraqi officials had witnessed intruders looting equipment before militants shut down the surveillance cameras.

Hence, back around to the nowadays. Self-evolving horror.
And the details in the Times story of how US soldiers were treated is despicable and maddening. Exposed to all these chemical weapons in such shitty condition, you don’t have to be anywhere-near a brain surgeon to see health problems arising. But all covered up, as in just one instance:

“They put a gag order on all of us — the security detail, us, the clinic, everyone,” Lieutenant Burns said.
“We were briefed to tell family members that we were exposed to ‘industrial chemicals,’ because our case was classified top secret.”

And:

All the while secrecy prevailed.
The military determined the soldiers had been burned by an M110 shell.
Both victims said word of their exposure was purposefully squelched.
“We were absolutely told not to talk about it” by a colonel, the former sergeant said.
The order, he added, included prohibitions against mentioning mustard agent when writing home.
The secrecy was so extensive that Dr. Lounsbury said he suspected officials hid the cases even from him and two other Army doctors assigned to prepare an official textbook on treating battlefield wounds.

Mr. Klibenski said an officer visited the other five exposed Marines at Balad and urged them not to talk about what had happened.
“They told us that this was something that was going to be kept confidential for a long time,” he said.

On and on — read the whole asshole story, seems really exhaustively researched and detail written. In digesting such shit, hard to fathom how shitty the US is to its own people.
And the real perpetrators, George Jr., The Dick, Rummy, the ‘Wolfman,’ just a few off a nefarious list from a ‘wretched hive of scum and villainy.’

(Photo above found here).

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