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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 > FEATURES > 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, We need > a health ministry free of corruption.ı > > > For years John Pilger one 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, OK, 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, Heıs 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 Hiroshima effectı of depleted uranium. Pilger > wrote in the Daily Mirror just before the war, Depleted 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: In 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, What do you > say to those in the West who deny the connection between depleted > uranium and the deformities of these children?ı That 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, By 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. > To 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, I 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, You 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, You > 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 Spectator.co.uk · > İ 2003 The Spectator.co.uk Mark Parkinson Bodmin Cornwall _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk