This sounds absolutely awful. A curse to live with until he dies — but every day he lives he must wish for death.
It takes at least 10 minutes and a large glass of orange juice to wash down all the pills – morphine, methadone, a muscle relaxant, an antidepressant, a stool softener. Viagra for sexual dysfunction. Valium for his nerves.
Four hours later, Herbert Reed will swallow another 15 mg of morphine to cut the pain clenching every part of his body. He will do it twice more before the day is done.
Since he left a bombed-out train depot in Iraq, his gums bleed. There is more blood in his urine, and still more in his stool. Bright light hurts his eyes. A tumor has been removed from his thyroid. Rashes erupt everywhere, itching so badly they seem to live inside his skin. Migraines cleave his skull. His joints ache, grating like door hinges in need of oil.
There is something massively wrong with Herbert Reed, though no one is sure what it is. He believes he knows the cause, but he cannot convince anyone caring for him that the military’s new favorite weapon has made him terrifyingly sick.
Can somebody tell me why we use depleted uranium? Yes, it’s extremely dense material, but there are some major drawbacks. Foremost among them is the radioactivity part, coupled with a half-life of 4.5 billion years (which is approximately the current age of our planet).
Reed believes depleted uranium has contaminated him and his life. He now walks point in a vitriolic war over the Pentagon’s arsenal of it – thousands of shells and hundreds of tanks coated with the metal that is radioactive, chemically toxic, and nearly twice as dense as lead.
A shell coated with depleted uranium pierces a tank like a hot knife through butter, exploding on impact into a charring inferno. As tank armor, it repels artillery assaults. It also leaves behind a fine radioactive dust with a half-life of 4.5 billion years.
Depleted uranium is the garbage left from producing enriched uranium for nuclear weapons and energy plants. It is 60 percent as radioactive as natural uranium. The U.S. has an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of it, sitting in hazardous waste storage sites across the country. Meaning it is plentiful and cheap as well as highly effective.
Reed says he unknowingly breathed DU dust while living with his unit in Samawah, Iraq. He was med-evaced out in July 2003, nearly unable to walk because of lightning-strike pains from herniated discs in his spine. Then began a strange series of symptoms he’d never experienced in his previously healthy life.
The article goes on to reveal how he found out about the DU poisoning. He started meeting other people from his unit with the exact same symptoms. Then the Dutch took over their old camp:
Dutch marines had taken over the abandoned train depot dubbed Camp Smitty, which was surrounded by tank skeletons, unexploded ordnance and shell casings. They’d brought radiation-detection devices. The readings were so hot, the Dutch set up camp in the middle of the desert rather than live in the station ruins.
The Dutch were smart. Their lives would be a hellish nightmare like Reed’s if they had used Camp Smitty.
The veterans, using their positive results as evidence, have sued the U.S. Army, claiming officials knew the hazards of depleted uranium, but concealed the risks.
The Department of Defense says depleted uranium is powerful and safe, and not that worrisome.
Oh, the DoD says the depleted uranium is safe, eh? Okay, then they won’t mind if we store a couple thousand tons of it throughout the Pentagon. Hey, it’s safe, right? So why don’t we put a few hundred pounds of it the offices of everybody in the Pentagon — including the generals and Rumsfeld. I wonder how that would go over. Suddenly, they might just change their tune.
It’s pretty sick, but the DoD under Rumsfeld simply does not care. He’s willing to condemn these soldiers to a shitty lifetime of hell and suffering to achieve his war aims. That’s the only thing that matters to the neocons. Soldiers are merely pawns to them.
The term depleted uranium is linguistically radioactive. Simply uttering the words can prompt a reaction akin to preaching atheism at tent revival. Heads shake, eyes roll, opinions are yelled from all sides.
“The Department of Defense takes the position that you can eat it for breakfast and it poses no threat at all,” said Steve Robinson of the National Gulf War Resource Center, which helps veterans with various problems, including navigating the labyrinth of VA health care. “Then you have far-left groups that … declare it a crime against humanity.”
I’d like to see Rumsfeld eat a big chunk of DU for breakfast. That would be fucking funny. He already looks like some sort of undead skeleton creature… hmmm…. now that I think about it, maybe I shouldn’t encourage him — he might gain more unholy powers and start shooting lightning bolts out of his empty eye sockets, throwing cars at people and generally scaring the living shit out of all of us.
I think the people who deny the danger of DU must be part of Rumsfeld’s Undead Zombie Army — they know it’s dangerous, but they don’t give a fuck. It’s not like they could honestly believe it’s safe and friendly — we use it in war after all. And what part of “depleted uranium” don’t they understand? They know what uranium is, don’t they? The depleted part only makes it slightly less radioactive. There are many well-known dangers associated with DU:
There are several studies on how it affects animals, though their results are not, of course, directly applicable to humans. Military research on mice shows that depleted uranium can enter the bloodstream and come to rest in bones, the brain, kidneys and lymph nodes. Other research in rats shows that DU can result in cancerous tumors and genetic mutations, and pass from mother to unborn child, resulting in birth defects.
Iraqi doctors reported significant increases in birth defects and childhood cancers after the 1991 invasion.
Iraqi authorities “found that uranium, which affected the blood cells, had a serious impact on health: The number of cases of leukemia had increased considerably, as had the incidence of fetal deformities,” the U.N. reported.
Depleted uranium can also contaminate soil and water, and coat buildings with radioactive dust, which can by carried by wind and sandstorms.
Oh, well good thing there are no sandstorms in Iraq–…. uh, wait a minute. There are! In fact it’s a fucking desert!
Man, don’t you ever get tired of them lying to us? The neocons pretend to love the soldiers soooo much, but when you turn around and look at how they treat them you see that that can hardly be the case. They love having soldiers at their command. They love using soldiers to conquer their enemies. But do they just love soldiers? Clearly, the answer is “no.”
About 30 percent of the 700,000 men and women who served in the first Gulf War still suffer a baffling array of symptoms very similar to those reported by Reed’s unit.
Depleted uranium has long been suspected as a possible contributor to Gulf War Syndrome, and in the mid-90s, veterans helped push the military into tracking soldiers exposed to it.
But for all their efforts, what they got in the end was a questionnaire dispensed to homeward-bound soldiers asking about mental health, nightmares, losing control, exposure to dangerous and radioactive chemicals.
But, the veterans persisted, how would soldiers know they’d been exposed? Radiation is invisible, tasteless, and has no smell. And what exhausted, homesick, war-addled soldier would check a box that would only send him or her to a military medical center to be poked and prodded and questioned and tested?
It will take years to determine how depleted uranium affected soldiers from this war. After Vietnam, veterans, in numbers that grew with the passage of time, complained of joint aches, night sweats, bloody feces, migraine headaches, unexplained rashes and violent behavior; some developed cancers.
It took more than 25 years for the Pentagon to acknowledge that Agent Orange – a corrosive defoliant used to melt the jungles of Vietnam and flush out the enemy – was linked to those sufferings.
When the Pentagon’s track record is this great, how could I possibly question their motives or their truthfulness?! [/sarcasm]
It almost seems as if the Pentagon wants to have an Agent Orange-type chemical/munition in order to increase the suffering of their own. Hopefully they’re not that sick in the head, but I think there is a case to be made for not using a munition on your enemy if there’s a good chance that your own forces will be contaminated simply by being in the neighborhood. The military puts a lot of money into training and outfitting these soldiers; it seems reckless and stupid to treat them so poorly.
The Pentagon is like the kid who treats his toys like shit and then complains to Congress/mommy that he needs more money to buy more so he can treat those like shit, too. Let’s hope, for the sake of all those soldiers suffering from DU-related ailments, that Congress doesn’t bend over backwards for the little brat. But it always does.