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Re: [casi] "non-lethal" gases

Re: "non-lethal" gas considered by Rumsfeld

Thursday, 06-Feb-2003 3:30AM      Story from AFP /
Copyright 2003 by Agence France-Presse

"WASHINGTON, Feb 5 (AFP) - The Pentagon is writing rules of engagement to
allow US forces to use non-lethal riot control agents to minimize civilian
casualties if the United States goes to war in Iraq, US Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday.

But Rumsfeld said treaty restrictions and other laws that bar the use of
riot control agents in warfare without a presidential waiver have made the
process "very complex."

"We are doing our best to live within the straitjacket that has been imposed
on us on this subject," he said at a hearing of the House Armed Services

US military planners fear that US forces may have to contend with massive
movements of panic-stricken civilians if Iraq uses of chemical or biological
weapons, or hostile crowds if an invading force meets popular resistance.

Army General Tommy Franks, the commander of US forces in the region, has
drawn up a plan that seeks to achieve US military objectives with the least
interference with civilians, Rumsfeld said.

The plan deals with "a host of very unpleasant contingencies," he said.

"Absent a presidential waiver, in many cases our forces are allowed to shoot
somebody and kill them but they are not allowed to use a non-lethal riot
control agent under the law," he said. "It is a very awkward situation.

The 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention bars the use of riot control agents as
a method of warfare, and the Geneva Conventions place other restrictions on
the military's treatment of civilians.

A 1975 US executive order, however, says the use of riot control agents
would be permissible in certain situations, for instance when civilians are
used to mask or screen attacks and civilian casualties can be avoided.

Although intended to save civilian lives, the use of non-lethal agents is

Russian authorities discovered that last November when they tried to end a
Chechen hostage-taking at a Moscow theater by pumping in opiate gas to put
the hostagetakers to sleep. The gas killed 129 captives. President George W.
Bush, however, defended the Russian action.

Rumsfeld said the use of non-lethal agents was "perfectly appropriate" in
some situations encountered by US forces in Afghansitan: transporting
dangerous prisoners on airplanes, or flushing out caves where fighters were
hiding with women and children.

But he said writing simple rules for what were often complex and stressful
situations has proven difficult.

"We have tangled ourselves up so badly on this issue," he said.

He and General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
wrestled for more than hour last week trying to fashion rules that were
clear enough that a soldier on the front line could "in a second or two make
a decision about what they can do, what they can't do."

Myers said military commanders also were working out ways of dealing with
the potential use of civilians as human shields at Iraqi targets, or Iraqi
civilians taking up arms against US forces.

"If the regime were to use civilians as human shields and so forth it's a
different matter and you would have to address that differently. If they
take up arms, they are combatants. They will be treated as such," he said."

The reason this is alarming is that we are hearing today a great deal about
Iraqi fedayeen use of "HUMAN SHIELDS" -all over the news.. THIS IS PRECISELY
Pay attention.  pg

----- Original Message -----
From: "Voices UK" <>
To: "CASI discussion list" <>
Sent: Monday, March 31, 2003 9:00 AM
Subject: [casi] "non-lethal" gases

> Dear List Members,
> Friday's Independent reported that 'in Washington, the Pentagon confirmed
> was authorising use of "non-lethal" gases of the type used in last
> disastrous Moscow theatre siege - a move that has already provoked
> accusations of hypocrisy by a country that claims to be at war to prevent
> chemical weapons being used.'
> (
> Haven't seen much coverage - or any wire agency reports - on this. Does
> anyone know anymore?
> Best wishes,
> Gabriel
> _______________________________________________
> Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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