THE BLOG

Blair and White Phosphorus, cont.

11/15/2005 11:50 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I'm heartened by the quality of most of the comments responding to the original post by this name, but, more than ever, I wonder where the MSM is on these stories. Re: Blair: yes, Labour isn't going anywhere just quite yet, although there's plenty of talk that the rest of his major reform agenda is now in serious trouble, but the essential point remains: this is the first of the three English-speaking Iraq-War allies to be defeated in his own legislature on an issue explicity involving terrorism, by his own party. By any measure, that's big news.
Re: WP: the back-and-forth just convinces me that, as the old adage has it, the only cure for bad journalism, or not enough journalism, is more journalism. Especially in light of this story on the BBC's website, which would suggest that the thrust of the original story in The Independent last week was right:
The Pentagon has confirmed that US troops used white phosphorus during last year's offensive in the northern Iraqi city of Falluja.
"It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants," spokesman Lt Col Barry Venable told the BBC - though not against civilians, he said.

The US earlier denied it had been used in Falluja at all.

Col Venable denied that the substance - which can cause burning of the flesh - constituted a banned chemical weapon.


White phosphorus is an incendiary weapon, not a chemical weapon
Col Barry Venable
Pentagon spokesman
US military interview

Washington is not a signatory of an international treaty restricting the use of white phosphorus devices.

Col Venable said a statement by the US state department that white phosphorus had not been used was based on "poor information".

The BBC's defence correspondent Paul Wood says having to retract its denial has been a public relations disaster for the US military.
Really? You can't tell that from watching American media.