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Re: [casi] The Sweeney returns: J'accuse .....

This article is true to form for this BBC reporter. From one of his
earlier TV documentaries came the phrase: "Iraqis are better off
under sanctions"!

On 29 Jun 2003 at 10:06, farbuthnot wrote:

>> Goodness me, who rattled his cage. This seems to be the season for
> throwing the toys out of the pram - Campbell, Sweeney ...  best, f.

> 28 June 2003   Frontpag
> Your Problems Solved
> Classified
> The first casualty of Pilger...
> John Sweeney says that John Pilger blames the Americans alone for
> birth defects in Iraq, and overlooks evidence that implicates Saddam
> Hussein The Americans are making a hash of rebuilding Iraq, but one of
> the not so bad things they have done is to give Iraqis the freedom to
> scribble. On the wall outside the Baathist ministry of health the
> other day, a graffiti artist had scrawled in perfect English, ŒWe need
> a health ministry free of corruption.ı
> For years John Pilger ‹ Œone of the worldıs most renowned
> investigative journalistsı, it says on the back of his latest book ‹
> has been insisting that the West, not Saddam, is to blame for the
> crisis in Iraqıs public health; that 5,200 Iraqi children were dying
> every month; that Western depleted-uranium weapons were to blame for
> an epidemic of cancers; that sanctions crippled Iraqıs doctors.
> Funnily enough, Pilgerıs journalism echoed what the Baathist regime
> wanted people to hear.
> But very recently in Baghdad what some might call the Pilger­Baathist
> line was put to a very public test by yet another American blunder.
> They handpicked a new acting health minister, Dr Ali Shenan al-Janabi,
> who was number three at the health ministry under Saddam. According to
> virtually every Iraqi doctor I spoke to, he was an unacceptable
> choice. The Iraqi doctors were not keen to say so to the BBC on
> camera. To criticise the Baath party on the record is, even now,
> something that no Iraqi will do lightly. Then two surgeons at Al Kindi
> teaching hospital in Baghdad, Dr Rahim Ismael and Dlair Omar, mulled
> it over and said, ŒOK, weıll do it.ı They damned the health ministry
> under Saddam as a corrupt and brutal instrument of state oppression.
> They said that many medicines had been held back in warehouses. The
> ministry was trying to make healthcare worse in Iraq, the goal being
> to blacken the name of UN sanctions, which Saddam detested as a brake
> on his power. The fewer drugs, the worse the equipment and the more
> dead babies, the better it was for the regime. Any Iraqi doctors who
> didnıt toe the line were punished.
> At a press conference to launch the new acting health minister, Dr Ali
> Shenan replied that what his critics were really complaining about
> were Western-led United Nations sanctions against Iraq. As the words
> came out of his mouth, I thought to myself, ŒHeıs talking John
> Pilger.ı But Dr Ali Shenan was sacked, thanks to the doctors, while
> John Pilger is still in business.
> In Victorian London the biggest killer was not the absence of
> medicines. It was unclean water, untreated sewage and uncollected
> rubbish. In Saddamıs Iraq dirty water, untreated sewage and
> uncollected rubbish from the Shia slums of Baghdad and Basra were
> state policy for a regime that earned $12 billion in oil revenue every
> year. Yet Pilger makes no mention of Saddamıs neglect of public
> health. Why?
> And then thereıs the ŒHiroshima effectı of depleted uranium. Pilger
> wrote in the Daily Mirror just before the war, ŒDepleted uranium [is]
> a sinister component of tank shells and airborne missiles. In truth,
> it is a form of nuclear warfare, and all the evidence suggests that
> its use in the Gulf war in 1991 has caused an epidemic in southern
> Iraq: what the doctors there call ³the Hiroshima effect², especially
> among children.ı That the cancer rates from 1991 onwards are the fault
> of the Westıs depleted-uranium weapons alone was one of Saddamıs
> central messages.
> In his television documentary film, Paying the Price, broadcast three
> years ago, Pilger did the rounds of a Basra hospital. He spoke to a
> paediatrician, Dr Ginan Ghalib Hassen. He wrote it all up in his book
> The New Rulers of the World: ŒIn the next bed, a child lay in his
> shrouded motherıs arms. One side of his head was severely swollen.
> ³This is neuroplastoma,² said Dr Hassen. ³It is a very unusual tumour.
> Before 1991, we saw only one case of this tumour in two years. Now we
> have many cases. I am a doctor; I am not supposed to cry, but I cry
> every day, because this is torture.²ı Pilger asked her, ŒWhat do you
> say to those in the West who deny the connection between depleted
> uranium and the deformities of these children?ı ŒThat is not true. How
> much proof do they want? There is every relation between congenital
> malformation and depleted uranium. Before 1991, we saw nothing like
> this at all.ı
> Felicity Arbuthnot, Pilgerıs senior researcher for the film, wrote in
> a magazine article published in September 1999, ŒBy early 1992,
> doctors in Iraq were bewildered by the rise in birth deformities ‹
> some so grotesque and unusual that they expected to see them only in
> textbooks and perhaps once or twice in a lifetime. They compared them
> to those recorded in the Pacific Islands after the nuclear testing in
> the 1950s. Cancers, too, were rising, especially among the young, the
> most susceptible to radiation.ı
> Hang on a minute. Cancers donıt happen overnight. They develop after a
> latency period of at least four years. The Iraqis reported a rash of
> cancers in the south from 1992 onwards. The cancers that happened in
> 1992 cannot, scientifically, have been caused in 1992 ‹ or 1991 when
> the depleted uranium was used ‹ but at least four years before that.
> ŒTo say any different is ridiculous; it would deny the evidence from
> Hiroshima and Nagasaki,ı Dr Nick Plowman, the head of oncology at
> Barts, told me.
> In the mid-1980s Iranian human-wave offensives almost took Basra, but
> they were stopped by Saddamıs chemical weapons. The UN found
> incontrovertible evidence that Saddam used mustard gas against the
> Iranians every year between 1984 and 1988. When the Iranians came
> close to Basra, the Iraqis dropped gas on their own people, too.
> Nearly all of the war was fought in Iraq, not Iran, so thatıs where
> Saddam dropped his chemical weapons.
> Mustard gas ‹ sulphur mustard ‹ is carcinogenic and mutagenic. That
> is, sulphur mustard causes cancers, leukaemias and birth defects. The
> children of Iranian soldiers who were gassed by Saddamıs men have
> developed terrible cancers and birth defects. No depleted-uranium
> weapons were used on them. The children of Halabja, the Kurdish town
> gassed by Saddam, have developed cancers and birth defects. Again, no
> depleted uranium was used on them.
> Pilger knows all about chemical weapons. He wrote in the Mirror in
> January, ŒI often came upon terribly deformed Vietnamese children in
> villages where American aircraft had sprayed a herbicide called Agent
> Orange. This terrible chemical weapon was dumped on almost half of
> South Vietnam. Today, as the poison continues to move through water
> and soil and food, children continue to be born without palates and
> chins and scrotums or are stillborn. Many have leukaemia.ı If chemical
> weapons cause cancers in Vietnam, why donıt they do the same in Iraq?
> The answer seems a simple one: chemical weapons cause cancer so long
> as they are dropped by the Americans.
> Shortly after Pilgerıs programme was broadcast in 2000, Arbuthnot
> phoned Gwynne Roberts, the only journalist brave enough to go to Iraq
> in 1988 and dig up soil contaminated by Saddamıs chemical weapons.
> Portland Down found mustard gas in Robertsıs soil samples. Arbuthnot
> was puzzled: how could the cancers in Iraq have started in 1992?
> Robertsıs view, like mine, is that ‹ without letting the West off the
> hook on the question of depleted uranium ‹ the contribution that
> Saddamıs chemical weapons may have made to the Hiroshima Effect should
> be seriously investigated.
> I emailed John Pilger, asking him, ŒYou know about Saddamıs use of
> chemical weapons, so why didnıt you raise the possibility of that
> being the cause of the cancers and birth defects?ı He replied, ŒYou
> apparently think my film was made in 1991. It wasnıt. It was made in
> 1999, eight years after the 1991 Gulf war, or twice the time it takes
> for deformities to develop, according to you. In the film I clearly
> put to one of the doctors the doubts that depleted uranium is the
> cause of the deformities. Her answer was a good one. Another
> specialist himself raises the doubts and addresses them. At no point
> in the film do I say that DU is, on its own, responsible for the
> extraordinary rise in cancers over, I repeat, a period of eight years
> up to when the film was made.ı
> This is artful. If Pilger and Arbuthnot accept that DU cannot have
> caused cancers observed in 1992, why havenıt they made this clear?
> None of the cancers and birth defects that Pilgerıs researcher dates
> back to 1992 can be the fault of depleted uranium. To omit the
> possibility that some of the cancers were caused by Saddamıs chemical
> weapons is to misrepresent the facts. To imply by that omission that
> depleted uranium is solely responsible for the cancers and birth
> defects in Iraq as he does in his book, his film and in the Daily
> Mirror is a disgrace to journalism.
> I accuse John Pilger of cheating the public and favouring a dictator.
> John Sweeney is special correspondent for the BBC.

> · Send comment on this article to the editor of the ·

> İ 2003 The

Mark Parkinson

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