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Re: "Allies deliberately poisoned Iraq public water supply in Gulf Wa r"

Even if the rebuttal below holds with respect to U.S. conduct in the Gulf
War, war crimes still apply (do they not?), for under the sanctions siege
warfare such a document reveals knowledge of the consequences of sanctions.

Andrew Loucks

The Global Movement to End the War against Iraq - Hamilton Chapter
Box 1013, McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada   L8S 1C0
Phone: 905-525-9140 ext. 27289
Fax: 905-523-0107 ("ATTN: OPIRG - Iraq Working Group")

Check out our Iraq Activist Guide at

----- Original Message -----
From: "Eric Herring" <>
To: "Hamre, Drew" <>; "Tom Nagy" <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Sunday, September 24, 2000 7:46 AM
Subject: Re: "Allies deliberately poisoned Iraq public water supply in Gulf
Wa r"

> Dear all:
> I passed on the Glasgow Herald article and the document on
> to a senior USAF contact of mine who was able to contact
> someone involved in the drafting of the document. Here are
> his comments, stripped of identifying detail. Whether or
> not you agree with his comments, any rebuttal needs to be
> careful.
> I am willing to pass on responses (measured ones, as is
> usually the case with CASI's high standards).
> Best wishes
> Eric
> 1.
> 'Oh. . .quick glance mentions NOTHING about targeting the
> water purification
> plants nor of a specific intent to harm civilians.  We did
> NOT bomb water
> treatment plants.
> What is notable and noble, is the DIA was conducting an
> assessment of the
> impact the sanctions were having on Iraq--beyond the
> military affect.
> Many of the chemicals mentioned are used in the manufacture
> and maintenance
> of weapons and weapon support.  The UN, and I emphasize
> "UN," sanctions were
> comprehensive--meaning any "dual use" products would be
> banned.
> However, I will read in more detail and get back to you.
> Again, as I mentioned, I see nothing in the message stating
> the US/Coalition
> deliberately attacked a specific public health facility
> (water treatment),
> only that the DIA was making an assessment of the affect of
> the
> sanctions--in the usual matter-of-fact unbiased impersonal
> style in formal
> message format.'
> 2. 'Please note the following:
> "
> and
> The "(U)" means the message's initial classification was
> UNCLASSIFIED.  Thisis significant!!
> UNCLASSIFIED means this report was not EVER classified and
> as such was never"hidden" and never had a requirement to be
> "declassified." In deed, the message is on a DoD web-site!
> It is obvious to me that the message was NOT prepared to
> support of any military operation, targeting policy or plan
> to conduct an attack.  (Any such communication would have
> been at least "SECRET."  It was merely what
> the title said:  an assessment of how vulnerable the Iraqi
> water system was.
> My opinion is that some people may be reading into this
> much, much more than what it really is---if you read the
> message with an unbiased and unemotional eye and you will
> see it is a cold-hearted assessment of the effect of
> sanctions and NOT a "BDA" of the effect of a specific
> targeting action or policy.
> In addition, as I said in earlier email--many of the
> chemicals (Chlorine for example) are used in the
> manufacture of weapons and are considered "dual
> use" and subject to sanctions.  If you read the message
> again, you might detect a tone that suggests the
> UN/Coalition re-evaluate that portion of the
> sanction because of the Law of Unintended Consequences.
> You write: "The coalition, led by the US, deliberately
> destroyed Iraq's drinking water (and sanitation) system,"
> Indeed we did lead, but we never deliberately destroyed
> such targets.  It would be folly to risk aircrew and
> aircraft to destroy such targets that offer no tactical or
> strategic advantage.
> "in the full expectation that this would cause many
> civilian casualties."
> No sir, nothing of the kind, and I see nothing in this
> assessment that demonstrates an intent to do such a thing.
> Where, oh where in the report does it imply or state we
> deliberately attacked and  targeted their water
> purification system--what it does say is the effect of
> sanctions related to
> specific dual-use chemicals are having an affect on the
> water system.  I am
> not splitting hairs here, I am reading the message for what
> it is, and only
> Simply put, we did NOT go after the water plants to, in
> your words, to
> "cause many civilian casualties."  No, never went to war
> with Iraq to cause
> civilian casualties and this report is speaking to the
> effects of sanctions
> on dual use items.
> Keep in mind that of the few water facilities hit were hit
> because of two
> reasons; 1) they were misidentified and bombed by an
> aircrew under combat
> conditions and while being shot at (which brings to fore an
> argument AGAINST
> the ICC--imagine bringing a case against an aircrew who
> misidentified a
> target under combat conditions--how silly!  A mistake is
> NOT a crime.  The
> 2nd reason is simply because the target was part of a small
> grid system
> supporting a significant military target and the rule of
> proportionality was
> assessed and accounted for.'
> 3. 'I spoke with a principle associated with the
> drafting of the
> original message. . .just as I suspected. . .it was an
> estimate/assessment
> of the impact of sanctions beyond what was originally
> intended
> (double-effect/unintended consequences).'
> ----------------------
> Dr. Eric Herring
> Department of Politics
> University of Bristol
> 10 Priory Road
> Bristol BS8 1TU
> England, UK
> Tel. +44-(0)117-928-8582
> Fax +44-(0)117-973-2133
> --
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
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