Friday, June 22, 2007

Willy Pete makes an appearance in Baqubah

Last night Michael Gordon was on ATC talking about the battle in western Baqubah. Gordon is currently embedded with the 1st Batallion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. What you would have missed if you had sneezed was the part about civilians being injured by White Phosphorus.

The interviewer asked Gordon, almost as an afterthought, whether there were any civilian casualties. (What a question!) Gordon said, 'Oh yes. 'In fact,' he says, his photographer had seen civilians who had been injured by "phosphorus shells."

Yes, you heard right, civilians in Baqubah injured by Willy Pete.

Naurally, the interviewer didn't follow up on that line of questioning and moved on. So all we have is that little slip of the tongue by Gordon. But judging by what went on in Fallujah in Nov. 04, and the resulting collective yawn by the American media, there isn't any reason to believe the military wouldn't just go along using WP against humans with impunity.

The thing about WP is that, according to an Iraq vet I used to work with, the stuff gets on your skin and it doesn't stop burning. It's basically a crueder nother form of napalm.

Willy Pete in the Battle of Fallujah II:

A little refresher; back in Nov. 2004, during the Battle of Second Fallujah, the Marines hit the city of 300,000 with everything they had -- including White Phosphorus. In April of '05 I posted about Willy Pete (what the Marines call WP) and cited eyewitness accounts:

1st Lt. Neil Prakash writes that on November 8th 2004:

In preparation for the assault, artillery guns dropped white phosphorus or 'Willy Pete' on the city. The FA guys later told us this was the newest WP in the way it deployed. Whatever it was, it was incredible. As the rounds came in, they burst in the air several hundred feet above the ground. They streaked towards the ground in little spider trails burning bright orange. The WP hit the ground creating a thick white smoke screen but it still burned bright orange on the ground. This lit up the battlefield for the main effort, and created a smoke screen."

The technique of dropping WP on insurgents is called Shake and Bake.

Choice America Network reported back in Nov. 2005:

"[In] a story on artillery use in Fallujah from the March/April edition of the US Army’s 'Field Artillery Magazine' states that 'The munitions we brought to this fight were illumination and white phosphorous (WP, M110 and M825), with point-detonating (PD), delay, time and variable-time (VT) fuses. WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with High Explosives (HE). We fired ’shake and bake’ missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out.'”

Initially when news came out about the military using WP and as an anti-personnel weapon they claimed WP was used only for illumination. On Nov 16 2005 the BBC reported:

"US troops used white phosphorus as a weapon in last year's offensive in the Iraqi city of Falluja, the US has said. 'It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants,' spokesman Lt Col Barry Venable told the BBC - though not against civilians, he said."

Right, it's another one of those high-tech precision guided weapons that have worked so well in Afghanistan.

Don't hold your breath waiting for NPR or anyone else to really look into this.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice Baquba catch

This is a working paper on the illegality of American White Phosphorus use in iraq

check it out

what do you think?


6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More Info on Illegal use of White Phosphorus in Iraq

NH Vets Speak Out: Local Public Television:

12:03 PM  
Blogger bushmeister0 said...

Thanks for the great links. These are both very useful.

In case you missed this:

In October of '06 the BBC reported that after many denials an Israeli cabinet minister "Confirmed the bombs [WP] were dropped 'against military targets in open ground. . . The Israeli army made use of phosphorus shells during the war against Hezbollah in attacks against military targets in open ground."

See the entire post at:

And also during last year's summer war -- besides the fact that the IDF used Willy Pete -- the NYT reported that at the hospital in Nabatiye, a doctor said he treated civilians whose skin "dissolved like wet paper when he began to stitch."

Now, what is that?

Read my entire post on this at:

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

**Willey-Pete goes to Somalia**

Consider this:

On July 27, 2007 an article by Jeffery Gentleman NYT “A U.N. Report on Somalia Accuses Eritrea of Adding to the Chaos” cites a UN report that accuses the Ethiopian military of “using white phosphorous bombs to kill 15 insurgents and 35 civilians in Mogadishu in April; residents said the bombs literally melted people.” I applaud the reporting of this war crime.


On June 22, 2007 New York Times correspondent Michael Gordon was interviewed on National Public Radio in a story called “Baquba Residents Displaced by Insurgents” by Melissa Block and Michele Norris. In this interview, Gordon was asked about civilian casualties in Baquba, Iraq. He responded by saying “Yeah, there have been civilian casualties. I was just talking to our photographer and he had seen people who are hurt by phosphorus shells.” [from previous post]

Perhaps the New York Times should turn over evidence of Iraqi civilians harmed by White Phosphorus to the United Nations as well.

[see NY TImes Public Editor Blog Post at


7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Willey-Pete was used in Lebanon in 1996. Check out this Human Rights watch report:

Also, see specifically this line:

"U.S. military experts consulted on the possible use of phosphorus by Israeli forces noted the apparent high incidence of the firing of illuminating and incendiary rounds during the July 1993 artillery assault on Lebanese villages, which they deemedunusual. One possible explanation for this, in their view, was that such rounds lessen civilian casualties, and their use would therefore have made good sense in any attempt to compel people to leave their homes."

--These cited "U.S. Millitary Experts" are from the National Ground Intelligence Center, Charlottesville, VA. It sounds like if you drop enough phosphorus on a city that the persistent choking smoke will drive the civilians out. This tactic sounds like what was done in Fallujah. What do you think?


I never heard of a WP wound described as wet paper-- but what else could it be?

7:42 PM  
Blogger bushmeister0 said...

I don't think WP is wet paper. It must be some other type of chemical weapon the Israelis are using. I remember years ago during the first intifada when the IDF was accused of using some sort of weird crowd control gas in the West Bank that landed a bunch of Palestinians in the hospital. Naturally, the Israelis wouldn't come clean on what it was so the medical folks couldn't treat it.

As far as I know, according to a guy I worked with who had been an MP in Iraq, Willy Pete just burns skin, and doesn't stop burning.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any ideas on how this Baquba thing can be picked up by the media?

Regarding non-lethal gas;

In April 2003, President Bush authorized the U.S. military to use non-lethal gas in Iraq.


Kerry Boyd., Rumsfeld Wants to Use Riot Control Agents in Combat., Arms Control Today., March 2003. Available at:

Nicholas Wade., U.S. Use of Tear Gas Could Violate Treaty, Critics Say., New York Times, April 5, 2003.

Paul Richter., Treaty Complicates Crowd Control; The 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention Allows the Use of Riot-Control Agents for Law Enforcement but Forbids Their Use in War., Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2003.

I am suprised "Bush gassing Iraqis" doesnt make bigger headlines.


8:25 PM  

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