Beginning early after the Iraq invasion, American military personnel encountered chemical weapons left over from the Iran-Iraq war which lasted from 1980 to 1988.
At least 17 soldiers encountered agents consisting of mustard gas, nerve gas, and sarin; six were reported injured. They were ordered to keep their exposure a secret and never received proper medical care or the Purple Heart, which is awarded to all wounded fighting men and women.
The New York Times is reporting that as many as 5,000 different types of chemical weapons were discovered. The majority were found northwest of Baghdad in the area where they were manufactured. This area is under the control of Islamic State fighters, and Iraqi authorities have informed the United Nations that they believe at least 2,500 remain in the area. They are unsure if ISIS would be able to use the old weaponry or not.
Why would the United States Government censor information about decades old chemical weapons, considering the fact that WMD’s were the reason falsely given for the 2003 invasion? The reasoning is simple; the United States assisted the Iraqis in the production of the illegal weapons while they were in a war with neighboring Iran. Is our government afraid that weapons we helped build could be used against us? It is estimated that over 50,000 Iranians were killed by chemical agents during the eight year war.
A report by a section of American Intelligence completed in 2006, released information that 2,400 rockets, some containing sarin gas, were discovered buried in a compound used by the Republican Guard. It is believed that they were buried before the 1991 gulf war.
Former Vice-President Dick Cheney is famous for initiating fear tactics. He said Sunday that the next attack on the United States by a terrorist group will be far more deadly than 911. He was part of the administration which initiated the cover-up regarding these chemical weapons. Does he know something we do not? Or is he stirring up fear? There is an election coming, and polls show that a small majority of voters believe Republicans are more prepared to handle terrorist attacks.
The American Government has become itself a secret society since the beginning of this century. Facts and events which should have been revealed to the American public were concealed. Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA spies on its own people. Ordering these soldiers not to reveal their exposure to chemical weapons is just another example of a nation which refuses to work for its people; it works against them.
To paraphrase Harry S. Truman: One innocent American who is forced by fear to forget wrongs and keep them secret will result in the peril of all Americans.
John F. Kennedy: In a free society the word secrecy is repugnant. By nature the people of our country are in direct opposition to ‘secret societies, secret oaths, and secret proceedings.’
Many historical occurrences and heroic deeds by those both great and ordinary are the reasons we claim that America is a great country. Hiding the fact that American soldiers in Iraq were exposed to chemical weapons diminishes that greatness, revealing an increasingly failed leadership in Washington.
By James Turnage