Beware of Radioactive Showers!
By Irving Wesley
28 April, 2006
Bush's impending, insane nuclear
attack on Iran has provoked an unprecedented rebellion within the top
leadership of the United States military. At the same time, depleted
uranium (DU) is steadily taking down our troops in Iraq
and Afghanistan. It's time for the soldiers to follow the lead of their
commanders in order to end the war.
Was Army Sergeant Michael
Lee Tosto the first American victim of the Bush Administration's March
2003 "Shock and Awe" attack on Iraq? The 24-year old North
Carolina tank operator died "mysteriously" in Baghdad on June
The Iraqi capital was saturated
with radioactive dust from the initial explosions of 1,500 American
bombs and missiles, many of them made from solid depleted uranium. After
the saturation bombing, the city was the scene of street battles with
M-1 Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, A-10 Warthog attack jets
and Apache helicopters, all firing DU munitions.
The army told Sergeant Tosto's
family that he died from pulmonary edema and pericardial effusion, or
cardiac failure, after showing flu-like symptoms.
Young Michael Tosto believed
George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice. He believed he had
been deployed to Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein from nuking the United
States. Michael died before we all learned that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld
are nuking the world.
Michael Tosto died, young and innocent, when they nuked him.
After Michael 's funeral,
a fellow soldier contacted Michael’s wife Stephanie and told her
that his buddy started coughing up blood, his lips turned blue, and
he was dead within 48 hours after the first symptoms.
According to Tom Flocco,
upon whose story this account is based,
". . . the Tostos say their GI was in excellent health--in his
prime of life. And Stephanie Tosto told United Press International,
'When my husband died, the casualty officer asked me, ‘Is it possible
that Michael had heart problems?’ Michael did not have heart problems.
One other time they asked me if he had asthma. He was never sick.”
Inhaling depleted uranium causes pulmonary edema. Symptoms include bleeding
lungs, bronchial pneumonia, and vomited blood. Pericardial effusion
is a common cause of death among leukemia patients. Michael's mother,
Janet Tosto, reported that military officials told her that her son
Michael’s military autopsy exhibited elevated levels of white
blood cells. Exposure to depleted uranium can cause Lymphocytic leukemia.
Tom Flocco consulted Dr.
Garth Nicolson of the Institute for Molecular Medicine in Huntington
Beach, California who said, "Just one microscopic particle--let
alone thousands--trapped in a soldier’s pulmonary system for one
year can result in 272 times the annual whole body radiation dose permitted
U.S. radiation workers."
Gulf War Illness:
It is happening again to
a new generation of veterans. Some of today's soldiers were in day care
centers in 1991 when Dick Cheney first authorized the wholesale use
of radioactive munitions. It is happening again despite the fact that
70% of all Gulf War I veterans are on medical disability fifteen years
after the end of the first war against Saddam Hussein.
We are witnessing the same symptoms of radioactive poisoning today as
fifteen years ago. We are hearing the same denial of reality from Donald
Rumsfeld's Department of Defense (DoD).
The government spokesman
in Michael's death claimed, “We don’t think depleted uranium
has anything to do with it."
After the publication of
"Depleted Uranium For Dummies" last month, a reader emailed
me with a demand. "You claim that half million soldiers are sick
because of the tons of depleted uranium used in 1991. I'd like to hear
the government's side of the story."
Well, the Department of Defense's estimate, as you might expect, is
lower. Much lower.
According to the Pentagon,
depleted uranium hasn't caused even one GI's illness or a single veteran's
If you still believe that
the Bush Administration doesn’t lie to its citizens or Rumsfeld's
Department of Defense doesn’t lie to the troops, please click
to another website. I don't want to be the first to break the news to
Soon you might begin to doubt
Condoleezza Rice's warning about Saddam Hussein's imminent nuclear attack
on America or Dick Cheney's claim that Hussein was responsible for taking
down the Twin Towers. You might question why on 9/11 acting Commander-in-Chief
Dick Cheney couldn’t find one available U.S. fighter jet to send
aloft during the hour that, allegedly, nineteen Saudis and Egyptians
with box cutters were crisscrossing the East Coast in hijacked commercial
These are the stories Sergeant
Tosto took to his grave. But no one ever told him that the depleted
uranium munitions packed into his tank could kill him.
That's right. As far as the
Department of Defense is concerned, depleted uranium is "40 percent
less radioactive than natural uranium," is "not a serious
external radiation hazard," and thus is not considered dangerous
According to the military's pamphlet, "Depleted Uranium Information
for Clinicians"revised on September 17, 2004, a year and a half
after Michael Tosto's death, "Findings have shown no kidney damage,
leukemia, bone or lung cancer, or other uranium-related adverse health
The Pentagon commissioned
several studies in the 'nineties as hundreds of thousands of Gulf War
vets were becoming "mysteriously" sick. One published in 2000,
concluded that DU "could pose a chemical hazard" but that
Gulf War veterans "did not experience intakes high enough to affect
According to Pentagon spokesman
Austin Camacho, the only soldiers meriting the military's concern are
those wounded by depleted uranium shrapnel or those who were inside
tanks during an explosion, and "studies of about 70 such cases
from the first Gulf War showed no long-term health problems."
This stupefying— vets
call it criminal—DoD denial helps explain the military's reaction
to Michael Tosto's death. They would not allow Stephanie Tosto to see
her husband's body until after the autopsy in Germany and after he was
packed in a casket for burial.
Dan Tosto, the dead soldier’s father, wondered why Michael was
wearing white gloves, appropriate for dress blues but not for Michael's
green burial uniform. At the funeral, Stephanie reached under a glove
and found Michael's wedding ring missing. The army later explained that
the dead soldier’s belongings were possibly contaminated.
Wedding Ring Contaminated
Perhaps the mysterious metal
"contamination" explains why the Army sent the family brand-new
dog tags, rather than Michael's original set, and why they didn’t
immediately call his wife at the emergency phone number he was carrying.
After the tank driver was
buried, Stephanie received her husband's medical records. They described
his arms as red and swollen, classic signs of exposure to depleted uranium
Dr. Rosalie Bertell, Secretary General of the International Commission
of Health Professionals, and President of the International Institute
of Concern for Public Health, commented on Michael Tosto’s symptoms.
She said that the armed services investigation was incomplete without
a thorough “testing for potential depleted uranium [which] includes
chemical analysis of uranium in urine, feces, blood and hair; tests
of damage to kidneys, including analysis for protein, glucose and non-protein
nitrogen in urine; radioactivity counting; or more invasive tests such
a surgical biopsy of lung or bone marrow.”
As you will read in the
next installment, according to the DoD's own Regulation #700-48, such
tests are mandatory. Surprised? Wait until you read next time how the
government responds to living contaminated soldiers who request tests
for radiation poisoning.
We cited Dr. Doug Rokke in
previous installments of the "Over the Rainbow" blog. He was
the military's top expert on all aspects of depleted uranium, until
he was fired for telling the truth. He was the chief biological, chemical,
and nuclear weapons safety officer in the first Gulf War, and he reports
that many American deaths were from "friendly-fire" DU weapons.
The Tosto family will never know if this was Michael's fate.
According to Gay Alcorn of The Age, "Rokke was ordered to decontaminate
shot-up vehicles and tanks and to investigate health effects on troops.
Dressed in protective gear and masks, he and his team crawled over tanks
and other vehicles, sending some back to the US. Those considered too
radioactive to move were buried in a giant hole in the ground.
"The US Army made me
their expert," Rokke told reporter Julie Flint. "I went into
the project with the total intent to ensure they could use uranium munitions
in war, because I'm a warrior. What I saw as director of the project
led me to one conclusion: uranium munitions must be banned from the
planet, for eternity, and medical care must be provided for everyone
- those on the firing end and those on the receiving end."
According to Flint, Rokke
"suffers from serious health problems including brain lesions and
lung and kidney damage. When government doctors finally agreed to test
him in November 1994, three-and-a-half years after he fell ill, while
he was director of the Pentagon's Depleted Uranium Project, he was found
to have 5,000 times the permissible level of radiation in his body -
enough to light up a small village."
Rokke's crew -- 100 employees
-- was devastated by exposure to the fine dust. "When we went to
the Gulf, we were all really healthy," Rokke said. "However,
after performing clean-up operations in the desert. . .30 staff members
died, and most others -- including Rokke himself --developed serious
health problems. Rokke now has reactive airway disease, neurological
damage, cataracts, and kidney problems."
I conducted a telephone interview
with Doug Rokke last month, after sending him "Dummies" to
fact-check. He described the permanent rashes on his arms. "They're
weeping as we speak," he said. I recalled Michael Tosto's autopsy
report. What was hidden under the white gloves?
The papers Rokke wrote describing
his findings are sobering. He recorded levels of contamination that
were 15 times the army's permissible levels in tanks hit by DU, and
up to 4.5 times such levels in clothing exposed to DU.
Rokke told Alcorn, "After
everything I've seen, everything I've done, it became very clear to
me that you just can't take radioactive wastes from one nation and just
throw it into another nation. It's wrong. It's simply wrong. . ."One
way or another, the Pentagon will pay a price. DU is a war crime. It's
that simple. Once you've scattered all this stuff around, and then refuse
to clean it up, you've committed a war crime."
According to Gulf War vet
and retired Air Force Major, Denise Nichols, there are many reasons
why Rumsfeld's Department of Defense won’t admit that DU is harmful.
"They don’t want to assume responsibility for the astronomical
healthcare costs of so many poisoned veterans. . .and they don’t
want the rest of the world to know that they have essentially poisoned
two entire nations."
If They Admit It's
Killing Our Troops, They Can't Use It
Doug Rokke gave journalist
Vince Guarisco another reason. "We warned the Department of Defense
in 1991 after the Gulf War. Their arrogance is beyond comprehension.
Once they acknowledge that there are actual health effects of depleted
uranium munitions, then they can't use them any more; the house of cards
Now, can you understand the
DoD's secrecy about the details of Michael Tosto's death? Can you understand
the strange silence last month of Maj. Richard J. McNorton, the CENTCOM's
special officer in charge of helping bloggers obtain accurate information?
He is still ignoring my requests to confirm or to allow me to disprove
the following account in "Dummies":
"An official June 2005
United States Central Command communiqué reported that soldiers
of the 62nd Quartermaster Company from Fort Hood, Texas were supplying
Camp Forward Danger's water from the Tigris River. . .it seems that
it is not tested for radioactivity.
"Our men and women of
the New York State National Guard have just spent six months taking
radioactive showers and washing small open wounds in a depleted uranium
broth. They've eaten over 500 meals with food, plates, and silverware
washed with hot water, in two senses of the word. . . without knowing
Given the serious implications
for my neighbors in the Rainbow Division, they expected a prompt response
from McNorton. Not a word.
Does it still seem strange
to you that the Pentagon maintains that, from 1991 to 2005, only 7,035
Gulf War vets—were "wounded" in the conflict?
In the opinion of those now
responsible for defending our country, the discrepancy between 7,000
and 518,000 vets on disability (many with Gulf War Illness's "ill
defined symptoms") is just a "mystery."
What is no mystery is that,
within the last month, seven high-ranking retired military officers
have publicly called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld. Most are immediate retirees high in the chain of command in
the Middle East deeply involved in Cheney and Rumsfeld's war.
On Democracy Now! April
17, 2006, retired Col. Sam Gardiner, respected lecturer at several United
States military war colleges, called these denunciations "unprecedented
in United States history."
The military revolt against
the Bush Administration's catastrophic Middle East policies surfaced
last November when previously hawkish Pennsylvania congressman John
Murtha channeled the top brass's opposition to the war. Col. Gardiner
suggested that the seven recently retired officers were being encouraged
to speak out by those still in service. The brass is horrified by the
military consequences of bringing Iran into a war we've already lost.
Nothing like this happened even during the military's darkest days when
Nixon secretly invaded neighboring Cambodia during the Vietnam War.
In another first, a group
of West Point graduates, has denounced the war. The graduates pledged
to refuse to serve in Iraq. Additional reports suggest that the Joint
Chiefs have made clear that they oppose an attack on Iran. Another group
of officers has threatened to resign if the United States continues
its plans to expand the war in the Middle East to a second major oil
producer. Think about that next time you pump gas.
It's time for the troops
to seize this brief opportunity to transform American history. Why?
Let's examine the price our brave citizen-soldiers are paying for the
arrogance of the Bush Administration and Donald Rumsfeld's DoD. In future
articles we'll show in detail what the troops in Iraq can do legally
when we review the recent documentary, "Sir! No Sir!" It shows
the critical role of Vietnam GIs in ending that earlier war of aggression
against a people who posed no threat to the United States.
Last February, Juan Gonzales
of the New York Daily News reported that "nearly 120,000 veterans
- more than one of every four who served in Iraq and Afghanistan - have
already sought treatment at Veterans Health Administration hospitals
for a wide range of illnesses, according to an internal study the VHA
completed late last year.
"An additional 35,000
- more than 29% of the total - were diagnosed with 'ill-defined conditions,'
according to the study, which was prepared in October by VHA epidemiologist
Dr. Han Kang but has yet to be publicly released."
"'Those numbers are
way higher than during the Persian Gulf War for 'ill-defined' symptoms,'"
said one Department of Veterans Affairs official who asked not to be
As we detailed in "Dummies,"
depleted uranium contamination causes virtually every known illness
from acute skin rashes, severe headaches, muscle and joint pain, and
general fatigue, to major birth defects, liver infection, kidney failure,
depression, cardiovascular disease, brain tumors, and almost every type
of cancer. In fact, the figure of 35,000 sick vets coming home from
Iraq and Afghanistan with "ill-defined conditions" may be
Gonzalez reported that, "more
than 30% of those sick veterans are afflicted with some type of mental
disorder, mostly post-traumatic stress and depression. . . a far higher
rate of mental problems among our troops than during the Persian Gulf
War, and levels comparable to what was found among U.S. troops during
the Vietnam War."
Two previous military studies
of combat troops in Iraq found that 17% to 25% of U.S. soldiers suffer
from major depression or combat stress."
Post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) is defined as a debilitating change in the brain's chemistry
that includes flashbacks, sleep disorders, panic attacks, acute anxiety,
emotional numbness, and violent outbursts. Dozens of soldiers have committed
suicide or murdered their spouses, Can PTSD, in some cases, be another
phrase for Gulf War Illness?
Sara Flounders reported in
August 2003, shortly after Michael Tosto's death, "For years the
government described Gulf War Syndrome as a post-traumatic stress disorder.
It was labeled a psychological problem or simply dismissed as mysterious
unrelated ailments. In this same way the Pentagon and the Veterans Administration
treated the health problems of Vietnam vets suffering from Agent Orange
Dr. Leuren Moret reports
that a medical doctor in Northern California told her that he and other
doctors, trained by the Pentagon before the 2003 war, were advised to
diagnose and treat soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq for
mental problems only.
What's Going To Happen
To All These Sick Vets?
How can so many get the specialized
care they need? The half million Gulf War vets who are already on medical
disability have never received adequate care from the VA.
Paul Rieckhoff is a former lieutenant with the 1st Infantry Division
in Iraq and founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
of America. Juan Gonzalez quoted him as saying, "With numbers this
high, the problem is going to grow fast. We're seeing system wide there
are major problems. Most local VAs [Veterans Administration centers]
just aren't prepared for the influx of sick veterans."
In February the U.S. General
Accounting Office reported that the Department of Veterans Affairs "does
not have sufficient capacity to meet the needs of new combat veterans
while still providing for veterans of past wars."
What's worse is that, since 1998, veterans are eligible for free health
care for only the first two years after being demobilized. After that,
an ailing veteran has to prove his or her illness is service-connected.
In the next article we'll describe what that burden has meant to ailing
Medical professionals in
hospitals and facilities treating returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan
have been threatened with $10,000 fines and jail if they talk about
the soldiers or their medical problems.
Reporters have been prevented
access to more than 14,000 medically evacuated soldiers flown nightly
from Germany to Walter Reed Hospital near Washington, D.C. What is the
As you know from reading
"Depleted Uranium For Dummies," all of us may eventually become
victims of Bush's "Shock and Awe" campaign against the Iraqi
people, because the radioactive fallout has already permeated the world's
atmosphere. We reported the February findings of Dr. Chris Busby, scientific
secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, who was able
to obtain official UK readings of the astounding spike in European radiation
levels after the massive bombings in Iraq.
Depleted uranium particles
traveled 2400 miles in nine days from Iraq to Aldermaston England. The
invisible cloud quadrupled Europe's atmospheric radiation. According
to Dr. Busby, "This research shows that rather than remaining near
the target, as claimed by the military, depleted uranium weapons contaminate
both locals and whole populations hundreds to thousands of miles away."
Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld's
"time-release poison" from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
took only a year to mix completely into the world's atmosphere. Take
a deep breath, and recall your initial reaction to the stunning TV images
of a city of five million people engulfed in a firestorm, with mushroom-shaped
clouds of radioactive debris illuminating the skyline.
Take a minute to check on
your kids playing outside the window in the fresh spring air. Dr. Katsuma
Yagasaki, a Japanese physicist, has estimated that depleted uranium
munitions since Cheney's 1991 Gulf War has contaminated the global atmosphere
with radiation equivalent of 400,000 Nagasaki bombs. Greenpeace has
just estimated that 93,000 deaths occurred because of the 1986 meltdown
at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine.
UK environmental scientist
Busby was quoted as saying, "To my mind, it’s a human rights
issue. Originally, it was an issue relating to whether or not it should
be used in Iraq and if the population of Iraq is being contaminated
and possibly the Gulf War veterans being contaminated, but now we are
seeing that everybody is being contaminated. We are all Gulf War veterans."
Soldier Says Bush
Worse Than Bin Laden
Veterans and soldiers have
been contacting "Over the Rainbow" after we guaranteed anonymity.
A soldier serving in Iraq, already showing the symptoms of Gulf War
Illness, expressed his bitterness.
"I came over here thinking
I was fighting to protect our freedoms. It was all bullshit. I'm sick
and probably dying. I want to come home. But, that's really scary because
I'm contagious. If I come home I'll give this shit to my wife and kids.
"This was a suicide mission for all of us. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld,
and the bunch of them are no better than Osama bin Laden and those sleezebags.
The government took patriots and turned us into terrorists.
"It's just like Osama
bin Laden and 9/11. They sent us over here on a suicide mission to murder
"Actually our government
is worse than bin Laden. At least when a car bomber volunteers, they
tell the guy the truth. He knows he will die quickly and painlessly.
When he's blown to bits, he knows his people will take care of his wife
"Nobody told me I was volunteering to be nuked by DU. The recruiter
never said I was going die slowly and painfully. And when I'm dead they'll
dump on my family just like they're dumping on the people over here."
The soldier asked if I had
heard from public relations officer, Maj. Richard J. McNorton, about
the radioactive showers at Camp Forward Danger.
I wonder if the major thinks he lives a charmed life. He's sucking up
depleted uranium particles from Iraq whether he's stationed downwind
in CentCom headquarters in Qatar or across the Atlantic in Florida.
Right now GI's in Iraq and Afghanistan are hunkered down as Cheney's
bloody adventure collapses around them. Our men and women are primarily
concerned about looking out for each other. Who is McNorton looking
Obviously Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wants to keep depleted
uranium and the radioactive showers a secret from the officers and troops.
If the Jews of Europe had known the Nazi shower rooms were poison gas
chambers, it would have been much harder to get them to board the trains.
DU must be the stuff of nightmares
for Bush, Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Rumsfeld. Can you imagine the
four of them trying to corral United States Army, Reserves and National
Guard troops into transport planes bound for Iraq after they find out
about depleted uranium?
This is the fourth in a comprehensive series on depleted uranium dedicated
to the New York National Guard to appear on the website We're Not in
Kansas Anymore, where you will find sources, a bibliography, and suggestions
for citizen action to eliminate DU munitions. www.notinkansas.us.
Copyright 2006 Irving Wesley