Depleted Uranium and Depleted Democracy

By David Swanson
Remarks at October 27, 2007, rally in Jonesborough, Tenn., preceding march to Aerojet Ordnance, manufacturers of Depleted Uranium weapons.

There are those who think Congress should keep shelling out our grandchildren’s money to continue our occupation of Iraq, and there are those who think Congress should pass a bill opposing the occupation. And they are both wrong. Any decent bill on any issue, much less this one, will be vetoed. The way to stop funding the occupation of Iraq is for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to announce on Monday that they will not bring to the floor any more bills to fund the occupation.

Some House members would try to start a discharge petition to get around Pelosi, but they would fail. Some Senators would demand a war funding bill, but they would not get past a filibuster. The legal funding of the occupation of Iraq would be over.

But Bush would not end the occupation. He would misappropriate funds from the Pentagon to keep it going. I almost said keep it going illegally, but it’s always been illegal. In fact, Bush misappropriated funds to build bases and move troops and equipment to invade Iraq over five years ago. At this time five years ago, weapons factories, like Boeing’s, were working double shifts for Shock and Awe, and our televisions were telling us Bush wanted to resolve everything peacefully.

When General Petraeus betrayed us with his testimony last month, a congress member asked him what he would do if congress were to cut off funding for the occupation of Iraq and Bush were to order him to keep it going. Petraeus said he’d need to ask his lawyer.

But Bush would keep it going, and Congress would have two choices. One would be to surrender and admit that the first and most powerful branch of our government as laid out in our Constitution is no longer part of the government at all. The second option would be to make use of that portion of the Constitution that reads: “The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Impeachment is the one thing the president cannot stop. He cannot veto it. He cannot signing statement it. He cannot spin it. All he can do is crawl back to Crawford with Dick Cheney to await their criminal trials.

You may have heard that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified in Congress this week. You may have seen a photo of Desiree Farooz holding blood covered hands up to Condi’s face in an attempt to show her what she has done. Rice testified on two days before two committees, the second being the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chaired by Congressman Henry Waxman. Months ago, Waxman subpoenaed Rice, and she publicly announced she would not comply because she was not inclined to. When Rice testified on Thursday, Waxman agreed not to ask her about topics she was not inclined to discuss. The subpoena orders Rice to testify about forged documents that were used by the president to claim Iraq had tried to purchase uranium in Africa.

Rice and Bush and Cheney and several other individuals and departments in the Bush administration have refused to comply with subpoenas, an offense for which the House Judiciary Committee passed an article of impeachment against Richard Nixon. And the subpoenas and investigations are not even needed to prove the crimes. Far from establishing that Iraq was any threat to this nation or apologizing for having clearly lied about it, this gang is using almost identical lies to push this nation toward an attack on Iran. And, again, uranium is involved. Cheney’s latest scheme is reportedly to persuade Israel to bomb a uranium enrichment plant in Iran.

The White House has, in fact, just labeled a section of Iran’s military a terrorist group. Up until this point, if the tern “terrorist” meant anything in official U.S. discourse, it meant a non-state group that engages in violence. Now “terrorist” appears to mean any state or non-state group that engages in violence if that violence is not supported by Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.

At other times, though, the word “terrorist” appears to include anyone without white skin who immigrates to the land of the Statue of Liberty. Congressman David Davis, who I believe represents this district, has introduced a total of two bills in Congress. One of them would take the important step of establishing a national Bald Eagle Day. The other would train state and local police officers in how to protect us from immigrants and/or terrorists. Now, tell me if I’m right: I’m guessing that the people of Tennessee are not as ignorant and xenophobic as the honorable David Davis appears to be.

Davis may have just been in Washington too long. A week is too long for most people. The Senate right now is trying to decide whether to make our next top law enforcement official a man who refuses to say whether waterboarding constitutes torture. Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani thinks that’s a topic worth joking about, just as Donald Rumsfeld did. But as of late Thursday Rumsfeld now faces five lawsuits charging him with torture, and the number of countries he cannot safely enter continues to grow.

Meanwhile the White House finally has an answer to global warming: it brings health benefits. Of course, it also does not exist. And Fox News blames the fires in California on “al Qaeda.” But none of these absurdities match the one uttered this week by the Chair of the Democratic Caucus Rahm Emmanuel, who said that what we voted for last year was not an end to the war, but legislative action on lots of issues. The reason only 11 percent of us now support what Congress is doing, Emmanuel said, has nothing to do with the Democrats’ refusal to stop funding the occupation. Rather, he said, we ignorant citizens have too many demands and we’re too impatient.

You’re damn right we’re impatient! This is the same Rahm Emmanuel who in January told the Washington Post that the Democrats would keep the war going until November 2008. That’s two years of killing and dying, to be followed almost certainly by four more years of killing and dying. If we are going to end the occupation of Iraq, we are going to have to do it in the next several months. One way we can do that is by pressuring our Congress Members. But there are other ways as well. We can tell potential military recruits what war looks like. One thing recruiters will never mention is Depleted Uranium.

Last September a group of Iraq Veterans Against the War were arrested during a tour of the Pentagon. Their offense was to have set a stack of brochures on a literature table. The brochures described the possible effects of Depleted Uranium, from which one of the veterans was quite possibly suffering.

Not only are veterans opposing this occupation, but active duty troops are refusing as illegal their orders to deploy. Whistleblowers in the military and in Washington are speaking out. War profiteers are facing charges for corrupt practices. All of these forces help to end the occupation and discourage the next attack.

Those of us who have never refused illegal orders and faced that risk of prison cannot ask anyone to take that step, but we can applaud those who do. Similarly, we have no right to ask someone to give up a job, uncertain of where the next one lies, but I must say I would applaud as loudly as I could and assist in any way I knew how anyone who quit a job manufacturing weapons for the slaughter of Iraqis and Iranians. And I’d pay more to have my clothes and furniture and toys and silverware manufactured in a shutdown weapons factory in Tennessee than what it costs me to buy the products of Chinese slave labor.

Aerojet Ordnance states on its website: “We stress a strong ethical workplace, both in relation to the work we do and the sense of fairness that is extended to all employees, regardless of background.”

An ethical workplace? An ethical workplace manufacturing weapons used in an illegal and aggressive war that has killed nearly 4,000 US service men and women and over 1 million Iraqis? An ethical workplace?

An ethical workplace making weapons with Depleted Uranium, which the United Nations Human Rights Commission listed 10 years ago as a weapon of mass destruction? Yes, there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after all, but they are produced in Tennessee.

Congressman Davis’s website says of Aerojet that “making armor-piercing ‘one-shot one-kill’ munitions for the military is the company’s bread and butter.” An ethical workplace?

Davis’ website says “there’s an armament-producing line worker behind every American soldier.” But are those workers informed about possible risks? Will there be 4,000 workers following 4,000 American soldiers into the ground?

This is not about defense, but wars of aggression that endanger us all. If you want safety, make peace.
This is not about jobs, but the military industrial complex against which Eisenhower warned. If you want jobs, end NAFTA.
This is not about justice, but about whether we will sit by as fascism slowly comes to the land of the free and the home of the brave. If you want justice, impeach Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.

4 thoughts on “Depleted Uranium and Depleted Democracy”

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  3. Pingback: New Study Documents Depleted Uranium Impacts on Children in Iraq | Uprootedpalestinians's Blog

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