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20 lies about the
The Secret Behind the
How the U.S. Intentionally Destroyed Iraq's Water Supply
20 lies about the Iraq war
13 July 2003
By Glen Rangwala and Raymond Whitaker
20 Lies About the War Falsehoods ranging from exaggeration to plain untruth
were used to make the case for war. More lies are being used in the aftermath.
[Actually that makes 21 lies. Any time anyone said anything
critical of going to a war based on lies, they were accused of being a Saddam
1. Iraq was responsible for the 11 September attacks A supposed meeting in
Prague between Mohammed Atta, leader of the 11 September hijackers, and an Iraqi
intelligence official was the main basis for this claim, but Czech intelligence
later conceded that the Iraqi's contact could not have been Atta. This did not
stop the constant stream of assertions that Iraq was involved in 9/11, which was
so successful that at one stage opinion polls showed that two-thirds of
Americans believed the hand of Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks. Almost as
many believed Iraqi hijackers were aboard the crashed airliners; in fact there
2. Iraq and al-Qa'ida were working together Persistent claims by US and
British leaders that Saddam and Osama bin Laden were in league with each other
were contradicted by a leaked British Defence Intelligence Staff report, which
said there were no current links between them. Mr Bin Laden's "aims are in
ideological conflict with present-day Iraq", it added. Another strand to
the claims was that al-Qa'ida members were being sheltered in Iraq, and had set
up a poisons training camp. When US troops reached the camp, they found no
chemical or biological traces.
3. Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa for a "reconstituted"
nuclear weapons programme The head of the CIA has now admitted that documents
purporting to show that Iraq tried to import uranium from Niger in west Africa
were forged, and that the claim should never have been in President Bush's State
of the Union address. Britain sticks by the claim, insisting it has
"separate intelligence". The Foreign Office conceded last week that
this information is now "under review".
4. Iraq was trying to import aluminium tubes to develop nuclear weapons The
US persistently alleged that Baghdad tried to buy high-strength aluminum tubes
whose only use could be in gas centrifuges, needed to enrich uranium for nuclear
weapons. Equally persistently, the International Atomic Energy Agency said the
tubes were being used for artillery rockets. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El
Baradei, told the UN Security Council in January that the tubes were not even
suitable for centrifuges.
5. Iraq still had vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons from the
first Gulf War Iraq possessed enough dangerous substances to kill the whole
world, it was alleged more than once. It had pilotless aircraft which could be
smuggled into the US and used to spray chemical and biological toxins. Experts
pointed out that apart from mustard gas, Iraq never had the technology to
produce materials with a shelf-life of 12 years, the time between the two wars.
All such agents would have deteriorated to the point of uselessness years ago.
6. Iraq retained up to 20 missiles which could carry chemical or biological
warheads, with a range which would threaten British forces in Cyprus Apart from
the fact that there has been no sign of these missiles since the invasion,
Britain downplayed the risk of there being any such weapons in Iraq once the
fighting began. It was also revealed that chemical protection equipment was
removed from British bases in Cyprus last year, indicating that the Government
did not take its own claims seriously.
7. Saddam Hussein had the wherewithal to develop smallpox This allegation was
made by the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in his address to the UN Security
Council in February. The following month the UN said there was nothing to
8. US and British claims were supported by the inspectors According to Jack
Straw, chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix "pointed out" that Iraq
had 10,000 litres of anthrax. Tony Blair said Iraq's chemical, biological and
"indeed the nuclear weapons programme" had been well documented by the
UN. Mr Blix's reply? "This is not the same as saying there are weapons of
mass destruction," he said last September. "If I had solid evidence
that Iraq retained weapons of mass destruction or were constructing such
weapons, I would take it to the Security Council." In May this year he
added: "I am obviously very interested in the question of whether or not
there were weapons of mass destruction, and I am beginning to suspect there
possibly were not."
9. Previous weapons inspections had failed Tony Blair told this newspaper in
March that the UN had "tried unsuccessfully for 12 years to get Saddam to
disarm peacefully". But in 1999 a Security Council panel concluded:
"Although important elements still have to be resolved, the bulk of Iraq's
proscribed weapons programmes has been eliminated." Mr Blair also claimed
UN inspectors "found no trace at all of Saddam's offensive biological
weapons programme" until his son-in-law defected. In fact the UN got the
regime to admit to its biological weapons programme more than a month before the
10. Iraq was obstructing the inspectors Britain's February "dodgy
dossier" claimed inspectors' escorts were "trained to start long
arguments" with other Iraqi officials while evidence was being hidden, and
inspectors' journeys were monitored and notified ahead to remove surprise. Dr
Blix said in February that the UN had conducted more than 400 inspections, all
without notice, covering more than 300 sites. "We note that access to sites
has so far been without problems," he said. : "In no case have we seen
convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew that the inspectors were
11. Iraq could deploy its weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes This
now-notorious claim was based on a single source, said to be a serving Iraqi
military officer. This individual has not been produced since the war, but in
any case Tony Blair contradicted the claim in April. He said Iraq had begun to
conceal its weapons in May 2002, which meant that they could not have been used
within 45 minutes.
12. The "dodgy dossier" Mr Blair told the Commons in February, when
the dossier was issued: "We issued further intelligence over the weekend
about the infrastructure of concealment. It is obviously difficult when we
publish intelligence reports." It soon emerged that most of it was cribbed
without attribution from three articles on the internet. Last month Alastair
Campbell took responsibility for the plagiarism committed by his staff, but
stood by the dossier's accuracy, even though it confused two Iraqi intelligence
organisations, and said one moved to new headquarters in 1990, two years before
it was created.
13. War would be easy Public fears of war in the US and Britain were assuaged
by assurances that oppressed Iraqis would welcome the invading forces; that
"demolishing Saddam Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a
cakewalk", in the words of Kenneth Adelman, a senior Pentagon official in
two previous Republican administrations. Resistance was patchy, but stiffer than
expected, mainly from irregular forces fighting in civilian clothes. "This
wasn't the enemy we war-gamed against," one general complained.
14. Umm Qasr The fall of Iraq's southernmost city and only port was announced
several times before Anglo-American forces gained full control - by Defence
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, among others, and by Admiral Michael Boyce, chief of
Britain's defence staff. "Umm Qasr has been overwhelmed by the US Marines
and is now in coalition hands," the Admiral announced, somewhat
15. Basra rebellion Claims that the Shia Muslim population of Basra, Iraq's
second city, had risen against their oppressors were repeated for days, long
after it became clear to those there that this was little more than wishful
thinking. The defeat of a supposed breakout by Iraqi armour was also announced
by military spokesman in no position to know the truth.
16. The "rescue" of Private Jessica Lynch Private Jessica Lynch's
"rescue" from a hospital in Nasiriya by American special forces was
presented as the major "feel-good" story of the war. She was said to
have fired back at Iraqi troops until her ammunition ran out, and was taken to
hospital suffering bullet and stab wounds. It has since emerged that all her
injuries were sustained in a vehicle crash, which left her incapable of firing
any shot. Local medical staff had tried to return her to the Americans after
Iraqi forces pulled out of the hospital, but the doctors had to turn back when
US troops opened fire on them. The special forces encountered no resistance, but
made sure the whole episode was filmed.
17. Troops would face chemical and biological weapons As US forces approached
Baghdad, there was a rash of reports that they would cross a "red
line", within which Republican Guard units were authorised to use chemical
weapons. But Lieutenant General James Conway, the leading US marine general in
Iraq, conceded afterwards that intelligence reports that chemical weapons had
been deployed around Baghdad before the war were wrong. " It was a surprise
to me ... that we have not uncovered weapons ... in some of the forward
dispersal sites," he said. "We've been to virtually every ammunition
supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not
there. We were simply wrong. Whether or not we're wrong at the national level, I
think still very much remains to be seen."
18. Interrogation of scientists would yield the location of WMD " I have
got absolutely no doubt that those weapons are there ... once we have the
co-operation of the scientists and the experts, I have got no doubt that we will
find them," Tony Blair said in April. Numerous similar assurances were
issued by other leading figures, who said interrogations would provide the WMD
discoveries that searches had failed to supply. But almost all Iraq's leading
scientists are in custody, and claims that lingering fears of Saddam Hussein are
stilling their tongues are beginning to wear thin.
19. Iraq's oil money would go to Iraqis Tony Blair complained in Parliament
that "people falsely claim that we want to seize" Iraq's oil revenues,
adding that they should be put in a trust fund for the Iraqi people administered
through the UN. Britain should seek a Security Council resolution that would
affirm "the use of all oil revenues for the benefit of the Iraqi
people". Instead Britain co-sponsored a Security Council resolution that
gave the US and UK control over Iraq's oil revenues. There is no UN-administered
trust fund. Far from "all oil revenues" being used for the Iraqi
people, the resolution continues to make deductions from Iraq's oil earnings to
pay in compensation for the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
20. WMD were found After repeated false sightings, both Tony Blair and George
Bush proclaimed on 30 May that two trailers found in Iraq were mobile biological
laboratories. "We have already found two trailers, both of which we believe
were used for the production of biological weapons," said Mr Blair. Mr Bush
went further: "Those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing
devices or banned weapons - they're wrong. We found them." It is now almost
certain that the vehicles were for the production of hydrogen for weather
balloons, just as the Iraqis claimed - and that they were exported by Britain.
myths about Iraq
Former U.S. Attorney General Ransey Clark
United States has the right to wage pre-emptive war against Iraq
U.N. Security Council can lawfully authorize pre-emptive
The United Nations Security Council cannot authorize a potential
nuclear U.S. first strike and war of aggression that violates the U.N.
Charter, international law and the law prohibiting war crimes, crimes
against the peace and crimes against humanity. The U.N.
Charter–which creates the Security Council and which grants the
Council its authority–requires the "Security Council to act in
accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the United
Nations." (Article 24)
U.N. Charter requires international disputes or situations that might
lead to a breach of peace to be resolved by peaceful means. (Article 1
and Chapter VI) In other words, a nation may not wage war based on the
claim that it seeks to prevent war. A nation may use force
unilaterally in self-defense only "if an armed attack
occurs" against it. (Article 51)
United States Congress can lawfully authorize pre-emptive
war against Iraq
Article VI of the U.S. Constitution establishes that
ratified treaties, such as the U.N. Charter, are the "supreme law
of the land." The U.N. Charter has been ratified by the United
States, and the Congress may not take actions–including wars of
aggression–in violation of the Charter.
of aggression, and even the making of the threat of a war of
aggression, violates the international humanitarian law to which all
nations are bound. Neither Congress nor the President has the right to
engage the U.S. in a war of aggression and any vote of endorsement,
far from legalizing or legitimizing global war plans, serves only as
U.S. government intends to "liberate" the Iraqi people
October 11, 2002, New York Times revealed the true plans of the United
States: "The White House is developing a detailed plan, modelled
on the postwar occupation of Japan, to install an American-led
military government in Iraq if the United States topples Saddam
Hussein, senior administration officials said today.… In the initial
phase, Iraq would be governed by an American military
commander–perhaps Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of the United
States forces in the Persian Gulf, or one of his subordinates–who
would assume the role that Gen. Douglas MacArthur
served in Japan after its surrender in 1945." ("U.S. has a
plan to occupy Iraq, officials report") The true intention of the
U.S. government is
to recolonize Iraq. Prior to the 1960s, U.S. corporations made 50
percent of their foreign profits from investments in oil from this
region. The Bush administration wants Iraq to denationalize its oil
wealth–10% of the world's supply.
war is an attempt to reconquer Iraq and all of its natural resources.
The Bush administration wants to reshuffle the deck in the Middle East
and undo all of the achievements of the national liberation movements
from the last sixty years. They want to eliminate independence for all
countries in the region and assert their domination and control–not
in the interest of the vast majority of people–but for access to
is a military threat to the world
There is no record to support this
the Gulf War of 1991, while the United States bombed Iraq with a
barrage that included 110,000 sorties, Iraq did not destroy even one
U.S. tank or plane. Desert Storm destroyed, according to U.N. weapons
inspectors, 80% of Iraq's weaponry. As part of the inspections that
followed, 90% of Iraq's remaining military capability was destroyed.
Iraq has been paying indemnities to Kuwait and U.S. oil corporations
since 1991 and has not had the financial capacity to build another
arsenal. In addition, there has not been a threat by Iraq of any kind
against any other country.
threw out the weapons inspectors
Iraq did not tell the
inspectors to leave. The weapons inspectors withdrew in December 1998
because the United States told them to pull out so that the U.S. could
launch a bombing campaign on Baghdad. The next day, on December 16,
the U.S. unleashed Operation Desert Fox, which included dropping 1,100
bombs and Cruise missiles on Iraq. After the bombing campaign, a
Washington Post report confirmed the assertions of Iraq that the
inspections were intelligence-gathering exercises conducted on the
orders of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The Pentagon used the
information collected from the so called inspections to set up
coordinates for its bombing operations. After this revelation, the
Iraqi government quite understandably did not let the inspectors back
are a kinder, gentler way to deal with Iraq
plan for sanctions on Iraq came from the Pentagon, not the Department
of Health and Human Services. It was a central part of the Pentagon's
war strategy against the Iraqi people. Sanctions have been more
devastating than the Gulf War itself.
confirms that five to six thousand Iraqi children are dying
unnecessarily every month due to the impact of the sanctions, and that
figure is probably modest," Denis Halliday told a Congressional
hearing in October 1998.
Iraq, spoke of the "tragic incompatibility of sanctions with the
U.N. Charter and the Convention on Human Rights."
UN allows U.S. and U.K. planes to bomb the "No Fly Zones"
United States agreed to a ceasefire with Iraq in February 1991. The
no-flight zones over two-thirds of Iraq were imposed by the U.S.,
Britain and France 18 months after the Gulf War. The United Nations
has never sanctioned the no-flight zones. France has since condemned
them. The so-called no-flight zones are in violation of international
law. Iraq has every right under international law
and all known laws in the world to defend itself in these
U.S.-declared noflight zones. According to Article 51 of the U.N.
Charter, Iraq has the right of self-defense in all of its country,
including these "no-flight zones."
people support a war on Iraq
even opinion polls support this
demonstrations have been held in Rome and Madrid. The general
sentiment in Europe was summed up by the Greek Development Minister
who said, "We are totally opposed to any military conflict ...
even if there is a UN Resolution."
the world, the sentiment is no different. New Zealand's government
opposes the war. No country in the Middle East supports a war on Iraq.
Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the
United Arab Emirates all oppose a war.
do France, Russia and China.
will be good for the economy
It already costs U.S. taxpayers $50
billion per year to keep U.S. armed forces in the Persian Gulf. The
estimated $200 billion for a war on Iraq will come straight out of
Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and welfare. The
average working-class taxpayer will foot the bill. The upper classes
have already had their taxes greatly reduced so that they pay only a
small part of the bill.
war will be quick and painless
War is rarely quick, never painless. A
new war will be neither. The 4.8 million people in Baghdad face an
invasion by the most modern and lethally equipped military in the
world. Iraq is a nation of 22 million people. They will bear the brunt
the pain and the deaths of the war.
War Syndrome is a myth
The Veterans Benefits Administration Office
noted that 36% of Desert Storm vets have filed claims for
service-related disabilities. A primary reason is because the U.S.
used Depleted Uranium. In July 1990, "The U.S. Army Armaments
Munitions and Chemical Command admitted DU posed long-term risks to
natives and combat veterans.. . . Low doses have been linked to
cancer." Gulf War vets have a 500% greater incidence
of Lou Gehrig's disease than the general population. Desert Storm
female vets have a 300% greater incidence of bearing children with
birth defects. For male vets the figure is 200%.
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Iraq: myths and realities
By Mike Karadjis
Myth 1: The US bombing of Iraq was necessary because all UN
resolutions must be enforced, and Iraq was violating them.
countries violate UN resolutions in much more serious ways than Iraq, but no
action is taken against them. Israel has violated every UN resolution in the
last 26 years demanding withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza and Golan Heights,
occupied since 1967, withdrawal from southern Lebanon, occupied since 1978, and
more recently, the UN resolution against the deportation of 415 Palestinians.
The US ignored UN resolutions which condemned its invasions of Panama and
Grenada and its war against Nicaragua. Indonesia's 18-year occupation of East
Timor and Turkey's 19-year occupation of northern Cyprus were condemned by the
UN. Not even the mildest sanctions (let alone bombings!) have been declared
against these states.
Myth 2: The UN Security Council represents the will of the
Reality: The UN General Assembly is the body in
which all nations are represented. It has passed resolutions against the above
violations by the US, Israel, Turkey and Indonesia, as well as Iraq and many
other countries. No action is taken against any friends of the US, because the
US uses its veto in the Security Council. The Security Council is an
undemocratic club dominated by the five permanent members - the US, Britain,
France, Russia and China - who have the right of veto. It acts unilaterally,
without consulting the General Assembly. For example, the war against Iraq two
years ago was sanctioned by the Security Council, not the General Assembly.
3: The US attacks only military targets in Iraq, and its ``smart bombs'' are
highly accurate, avoiding civilian casualties.
Reality: With relatively few
attacks on Iraqi military targets between January 13 and 18, one bomb hit a
block of flats and another a hotel. Many civilians have already been killed.
Further, in the Gulf War, only 7% of bombs dropped on Iraq were ``smart''. In
any case, in the Gulf War, which involved the highest level of bombing in
history with the most destructive weapons ever, Iraq's civilian infrastructure
was deliberately and systematically destroyed, killing tens of thousands of
civilians in the process.
Myth 4: Iraq was refusing to allow UN weapons
inspection teams to fly into Iraq, hence violating UN resolutions.
fact, all Iraq said was that it could not guarantee the safety of such flights
if they entered Iraq through the US- imposed "no-fly zones'', since Iraq does
not control the skies in these areas. Iraq offered the alternative of UN planes
flying into the country from the west, via Jordan. This perfectly reasonable
offer was rejected by the ``UN'' (i.e. the Security Council club).
Myth 5: Iraq
launched four ``border incursions'' into Kuwaiti territory, again violating UN
Reality: This so-called Kuwaiti territory is in fact Iraqi
territory which is being taken from Iraq and given to Kuwait by the UN as part
of the treaty imposed on Iraq at the end of the Gulf War. The territory being
transferred includes major oil deposits and Iraq's only functioning port, Umm
Qasr, on which Iraq has spent billions of dollars. The so-called incursions
consisted of unarmed workers dismantling sections of the port, which the UN
recognises as Iraqi property, and taking them back to Iraq.
Myth 6: Iraq further
violated UN resolutions by moving military equipment into the no-fly zones in
the north and south of the country.
Reality: The no fly zones (parts of Iraq
patrolled by US planes in which Iraqi planes are banned from flying) were
imposed unilaterally by the US. These zones, which cover nearly half of Iraq and
divide the country into three, are not covered by any UN resolution. There is no
law that states that Iraqi planes can't fly over Iraqi territory. It is, in
fact, the US that is in violation of international law, not Iraq.
Myth 7: The
no-fly zone in the north was established to protect Kurds from massive aerial
attack by the Iraqi regime.
Reality: Following the Gulf War, the Kurds in the
north and the masses in the south (not necessarily Shi'ites) rose up against
Saddam Hussein's regime. The regime brutally suppressed these risings, using
massive aerial bombardment, while the US stood by and declared ``Mr Hussein is
the only person who can guarantee the stability of Iraq''. When Hussein had
completely defeated the Kurds, the US sent in troops to set up ``safe havens''
in parts of Kurdish territory. At the same time it imposed a no-fly zone above
the 36th parallel, an area which includes areas of substantially Arab
population, such as the city of Mosul, and which has important oil reserves. In
this ``safe'' zone, the US-allied Turkish government regularly bombs Kurds who
have fled there from Turkey.
Myth 8: The no-fly zone in the south was
established to protect Shi'ites from massive aerial attack by the Iraqi regime.
Reality: When this zone was declared in August 1992, there was no sign of any
such aerial war (unlike March 1991, when the US stood by). The US cut off this
area as part of its drive to cripple and divide Iraq, because this region
contains most of Iraq's oil reserves. The only evidence of repression of
Shi'ites was the charge that Iraq was draining the swamps inhabited by the
``marsh Arabs'' (which, in fact, have been partially drained by the Turkish
regime's massive diversion of water from Iraq). In any case, drainage of swamps
could hardly be fought through a no-fly zone, and the region inhabited by the
marsh Arabs is only a fraction of the no-fly zone.
Myth 9: Hussein is such a
brutal tyrant that the West must stop him in the name of democracy.
is certainly true that Hussein's regime is a dictatorship which uses repression
against opposition, but this makes Iraq part of the rule rather than the
exception in the capitalist Third World. There are dozens of brutal
dictatorships, nearly all strongly supported by the US and the West: for
example, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Zaire, Indonesia, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Dictatorships better protect the Western corporations that ruthlessly exploit
these countries. Democratic regimes, such as in Nicaragua, are often overthrown
by the US. The US has no intention of bringing democracy to Iraq; in fact it
calls on the Iraqi military to overthrow Hussein. It opposes Hussein only
because he refuses to be a complete puppet; it wants a regime completely
compliant with the interests of Western oil monopolies.
Myth 10: Since Iraq
invaded Kuwait in 1990, it deserves to have very strict conditions imposed upon
it by the UN.
Reality: Any unjust treaty can be imposed by superior military
force, and the treaty imposed on Iraq at the end of the Gulf War was worse then
any imposed on a defeated country in the 20th century. Apart from the totally
arbitrary border changes, the treaty imposes a massive reparations bill to be
paid for by a compulsory 30% deduction from any Iraqi oil sales. These sales are
so limited that after this 30% deduction, the remaining money falls $800 million
short of the sum estimated by the UN special envoy as being the absolute minimum
required to counter starvation. As a result of the UN sanctions on Iraq, which
continue two years after Iraqi troops left Kuwait, some 200,000 people, mostly
children, have died. The Australian government, through the navy, is taking part
in this criminal blockade - which amounts to a crime against humanity.
** End of
text from cdp:mideast.gulf **
Iraq: The Truth, The Whole Truth
Dominican Sister Sharine, Iraqi, lives in Baghad. She went to the
World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where she was heard by
Pravda.Ru contacts, among them Joao Pedro Stedille, who sent us this
report. We thank Senhor Stedille most sincerely for this chilling
Viruses and mice dropped by parachute against Iraqi agriculture
"One of the main causes of the hunger which afflicts the Iraqi
people is the policy adopted by the USA, for more than eight years now,
of sending viruses against Iraqi crops and the policy of dropping
thousands of mice by parachute to destroy what little we have".
Chemical weaponry deployed by the United States of America
"The United States of America used chemical weapons in their
systematic bombings. There is hardly any drinking water left in Iraq,
specially in Baghdad, a result of these bombing raids with chemical
weapons which have contaminated the water",
Depleted Uranium has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths
"Until today the Iraqi people have suffered the consequences of
the Gulf War, due to the use of depleted uranium by the United States of
America, which has caused cancerous diseases in those who survived the
bombing". We can add the statistic that at least 500,000 Iraqi
children have died as a result of the deployment of this illegal
weaponry, which breaches the Geneva Convention and the deployment of
which is therefore a war crime.
UN embargo killed thousands of children
"The United nations, with all its power, until today has still
not allowed the entry of certain medicines into Iraq, a policy which has
caused thousands of deaths due to the lack of basic substances".
Oil, the Bait for the Devil
"The Iraqi people are depressed, they accept their destiny,
resigned, as a people who live sleeping on a mattress of oil and so for
this reason they will attract the greed of the US-based energy companies
and due to their wealth, they will be condemned to poverty and
It will be a massacre
"The people will not react. The people are not armed. This is a
lie of western TV. Worse than this, we all know it will be a massacre,
genocide. Since 1990, the population of Baghdad has increased by eight
times and now the city has a population of eight million inhabitants,
70% of them coming from the countryside, devastated, without jobs,
receiving a basic food basket from the government so as to not starve to
death. Can you imagine how these people will suffer if there is a
massive bombing campaign against the capital?"
|The Secret Behind the
How the U.S. Intentionally Destroyed Iraq's Water Supply
by Thomas J. Nagy
Over the last two years, I've discovered documents of the Defense
Intelligence Agency proving beyond a doubt that, contrary to the Geneva
Convention, the U.S. government intentionally used sanctions against
Iraq to degrade the country's water supply after the Gulf War.
The United States knew the cost that civilian Iraqis, mostly children,
would pay, and it went ahead anyway.
The primary document, "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities,"
is dated January 22, 1991. It spells out how sanctions will prevent Iraq
from supplying clean water to its citizens.
"Iraq depends on importing specialized equipment and some chemicals
to purify its water supply, most of which is heavily mineralized and
frequently brackish to saline," the document states. "With no
domestic sources of both water treatment replacement parts and some
essential chemicals, Iraq will continue attempts to circumvent United
Nations Sanctions to import these vital commodities. Failing to secure
supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of
the population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not
epidemics, of disease."
The document goes into great technical detail about the sources and
quality of Iraq's water supply. The quality of untreated water
"generally is poor," and drinking such water "could
result in diarrhea," the document says. It notes that Iraq's rivers
"contain biological materials, pollutants, and are laden with
bacteria. Unless the water is purified with chlorine, epidemics of such
diseases as cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid could occur."
The document notes that the importation of chlorine "has been
embargoed" by sanctions. "Recent reports indicate the chlorine
supply is critically low."
Food and medicine will also be affected, the document states. "Food
processing, electronic, and particularly, pharmaceutical plants require
extremely pure water that is free from biological contaminants," it
The document addresses possible Iraqi countermeasures to obtain
drinkable water despite sanctions.
"Iraq conceivably could truck water from the mountain reservoirs to
urban areas. But the capability to gain significant quantities is
extremely limited," the document states. "The amount of pipe
on hand and the lack of pumping stations would limit laying pipelines to
these reservoirs. Moreover, without chlorine purification, the water
still would contain biological pollutants. Some affluent Iraqis could
obtain their own minimally adequate supply of good quality water from
Northern Iraqi sources. If boiled, the water could be safely consumed.
Poorer Iraqis and industries requiring large quantities of pure water
would not be able to meet their needs."
The document also discounted the possibility of Iraqis using rainwater.
"Precipitation occurs in Iraq during the winter and spring, but it
falls primarily in the northern mountains," it says. "Sporadic
rains, sometimes heavy, fall over the lower plains. But Iraq could not
rely on rain to provide adequate pure water."
As an alternative, "Iraq could try convincing the United Nations or
individual countries to exempt water treatment supplies from sanctions
for humanitarian reasons," the document says. "It probably
also is attempting to purchase supplies by using some sympathetic
countries as fronts. If such attempts fail, Iraqi alternatives are not
adequate for their national requirements."
In cold language, the document spells out what is in store: "Iraq
will suffer increasing shortages of purified water because of the lack
of required chemicals and desalination membranes. Incidences of disease,
including possible epidemics, will become probable unless the population
were careful to boil water."
The document gives a timetable for the destruction of Iraq's water
supplies. "Iraq's overall water treatment capability will suffer a
slow decline, rather than a precipitous halt," it says.
"Although Iraq is already experiencing a loss of water treatment
capability, it probably will take at least six months (to June 1991)
before the system is fully degraded."
This document, which was partially declassified but unpublicized
in 1995, can be found on the Pentagon's web site at www.gulflink.osd.mil.
(I disclosed this document last fall. But the news media showed little
interest in it. The only reporters I know of who wrote lengthy stories
on it were Felicity Arbuthnot in the Sunday Herald of Scotland, who
broke the story, and Charlie Reese of the Orlando Sentinel, who did a
Recently, I have come across other DIA documents that confirm the
Pentagon's monitoring of the degradation of Iraq's water supply. These
documents have not been publicized until now.
The first one in this batch is called "Disease Information,"
and is also dated January 22, 1991. At the top, it says, "Subject:
Effects of Bombing on Disease Occurrence in Baghdad." The analysis
"Increased incidence of diseases will be attributable to
degradation of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water
purification/distribution, electricity, and decreased ability to control
disease outbreaks. Any urban area in Iraq that has received
infrastructure damage will have similar problems."
The document proceeds to itemize the likely outbreaks. It mentions
"acute diarrhea" brought on by bacteria such as E. coli,
shigella, and salmonella, or by protozoa such as giardia, which will
affect "particularly children," or by rotavirus, which will
also affect "particularly children," a phrase it puts in
parentheses. And it cites the possibilities of typhoid and cholera
The document warns that the Iraqi government may "blame the United
States for public health problems created by the military
The second DIA document, "Disease Outbreaks in Iraq," is dated
February 21, 1990, but the year is clearly a typo and should be 1991.
"Conditions are favorable for communicable disease
outbreaks, particularly in major urban areas affected by coalition
bombing." It adds: "Infectious disease prevalence in major
Iraqi urban areas targeted by coalition bombing (Baghdad, Basrah)
undoubtedly has increased since the beginning of Desert Storm. . . .
Current public health problems are attributable to the reduction of
normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification and
distribution, electricity, and the decreased ability to control disease
This document lists the "most likely diseases during next
sixty-ninety days (descending order): diarrheal diseases (particularly
acute respiratory illnesses (colds and influenza); typhoid; hepatitis A
(particularly children); measles, diphtheria, and pertussis
(particularly children); meningitis, including meningococcal
(particularly children); cholera (possible, but less likely)."
Like the previous document, this one warns that the Iraqi government
might "propagandize increases of endemic diseases."
The third document in this series, "Medical Problems in Iraq,"
is dated March 15, 1991. It says: "Communicable diseases in Baghdad
are more widespread than usually observed during this time of the year
and are linked to the poor sanitary conditions (contaminated water
supplies and improper sewage disposal) resulting from the war.
According to a United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)/World Health
Organization report, the quantity of potable water is less than 5
percent of the original supply, there are no operational water and
sewage treatment plants, and the reported incidence of diarrhea is four
times above normal levels. Additionally, respiratory infections are on
the rise. Children particularly have been affected by these
Perhaps to put a gloss on things, the document states, "There are
indications that the situation is improving and that the population is
coping with the degraded conditions." But it adds: "Conditions
in Baghdad remain favorable for communicable disease outbreaks."
The fourth document, "Status of Disease at Refugee Camps," is
dated May 1991. The summary says, "Cholera and measles have emerged
at refugee camps. Further infectious diseases will spread due to
inadequate water treatment and poor sanitation."
The reason for this outbreak is clearly stated again. "The main
causes of infectious diseases, particularly diarrhea, dysentery, and
upper respiratory problems, are poor sanitation and unclean water.
These diseases primarily afflict the old and young children."
The fifth document, "Health Conditions in Iraq, June 1991," is
still heavily censored. All I can make out is that the DIA sent a source
"to assess health conditions and determine the most critical
medical needs of Iraq. Source observed that Iraqi medical system was in
considerable disarray, medical facilities had been extensively looted,
and almost all medicines were in critically short supply."
In one refugee camp, the document says, "at least 80 percent of the
population" has diarrhea. At this same camp, named Cukurca,
"cholera, hepatitis type B, and measles have broken out."
The protein deficiency disease kwashiorkor was observed in Iraq
"for the first time," the document adds. "Gastroenteritis
was killing children. . . . In the south, 80 percent of the deaths were
children (with the exception of Al Amarah, where 60 percent of deaths
The final document is "Iraq: Assessment of Current Health Threats
and Capabilities," and it is dated November 15, 1991. This one has
a distinct damage-control feel to it. Here is how it begins:
"Restoration of Iraq's public health services and shortages of
major medical materiel remain dominant international concerns. Both
issues apparently are being exploited by Saddam Hussein in an effort to
keep public opinion firmly against the U.S. and its Coalition allies and
to direct blame away from the Iraqi government."
It minimizes the extent of the damage. "Although current
countrywide infectious disease incidence in Iraq is higher than it was
before the Gulf War, it is not at the catastrophic levels that some
groups predicted. The Iraqi regime will continue to exploit disease
incidence data for its own political purposes."
And it places the blame squarely on Saddam Hussein. "Iraq's medical
supply shortages are the result of the central government's stockpiling,
selective distribution, and exploitation of domestic and international
relief medical resources." It adds: "Resumption of public
health programs . . . depends completely on the Iraqi government."
As these documents illustrate, the United States knew sanctions had the
capacity to devastate the water treatment system of Iraq. It knew what
the consequences would be: increased outbreaks of disease and high rates
of child mortality. And it was more concerned about the public relations
nightmare for Washington than the actual nightmare that the sanctions
created for innocent Iraqis.
US in violation of Geneva
The Geneva Convention is absolutely clear. In a 1979 protocol relating
to the "protection of victims of international armed
Article 54, it states:
"It is prohibited to attack, destroy,
remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the
civilian population, such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking
water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, for the specific
purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian
population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in
order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any
But that is precisely what the U.S. government did, with malice
aforethought. It "destroyed, removed, or rendered useless"
Iraq's "drinking water installations and supplies." The
sanctions, imposed for a decade largely at the insistence of the United
States, constitute a violation of the Geneva Convention. They amount to
a systematic effort to, in the DIA's own words, "fully
degrade" Iraq's water sources.
At a House hearing on June 7, Representative Cynthia McKinney, Democrat
of Georgia, referred to the document "Iraq Water Treatment
Vulnerabilities" and said: "Attacking the Iraqi public
drinking water supply flagrantly targets civilians and is a violation of
the Geneva Convention and of the fundamental laws of civilized
Over the last decade, Washington extended the toll by continuing to
withhold approval for Iraq to import the few chemicals and items of
equipment it needed in order to clean up its water supply.
Last summer, Representative Tony Hall, Democrat of Ohio, wrote to
then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright "about the profound
effects of the increasing deterioration of Iraq's water supply and
sanitation systems on its children's health." Hall wrote, "The
prime killer of children under five years of age--diarrheal
diseases--has reached epidemic proportions, and they now strike four
times more often than they did in 1990. . . . Holds on contracts for the
water and sanitation sector are a prime reason for the increases in
sickness and death. Of the eighteen contracts, all but one hold was
placed by the U.S. government. The contracts are for purification
chemicals, chlorinators, chemical dosing pumps, water tankers, and other
equipment. . . . I urge you to weigh your decision against the disease
and death that are the unavoidable result of not having safe drinking
water and minimum levels of sanitation."
For more than ten years, the United States has deliberately pursued a
policy of destroying the water treatment system of Iraq, knowing full
well the cost in Iraqi lives. The United Nations has estimated that more
than 500,000 Iraqi children have died as a result of sanctions, and that
5,000 Iraqi children continue to die every month for this reason.
No one can say that the United States didn't know what it was doing.
See for Yourself
All the DIA documents mentioned in this article were found at the
Department of Defense's Gulflink site.
To read or print documents:
1.go to www.gulflink.osd.mil
2.click on "Declassified Documents" on the left side of the
3.the next page is entitled "Browse Recently Declassified
4.click on "search" under "Declassifed Documents" on
the left side of that page
5.the next page is entitled "Search Recently Declassified
6.enter search terms such as "disease information effects of
7.click on the search button
8.the next page is entitled "Data Sources"
9.click on DIA
10.click on one of the titles
It's not the easiest, best-organized site on the Internet, but I have
found the folks at Gulflink to be helpful and responsive. --
Thomas J. Nagy
Thomas J. Nagy teaches at the School of Business and Public Management
at George Washington University
Page of propaganda lies
Half a Million Children under Five are Dead
and Dying in Iraq - Who is responsible?
According to Unicef, the United Nations Children’s Fund, 4,000 more children
under five are dying every month in Iraq than would have died before Western
sanctions were imposed. Over the eight years that these sanctions have been in
place, 500,000 extra children under five are estimated to have died.
Myths surrounding war with Iraq
13 Myths about
the case for war in Iraq
This factsheet was produced using a
collaborative online process. 13myths.org is a project of Organizers'
Collaborative (OC), a tax-exempt group harnessing the power of technology for
social change. OC also provides, for free: