Johnny Gulf War Syndrome?

On Oct. 28, 2002, Robert Flores Jr., flunking out at the U. of Arizona Nursing School, shot and killed three of his professors, then killed himself. He had also threatened to blow up a school building. He had no prior criminal record. His fellow students had described him as acting “very rude and obnoxious.” He was a Gulf War veteran.

During a two week period in October, 2002, John Allen Williams, a/k/a John Allen Muhammad, allegedly went on a wild killing spree that left ten innocent victims dead, while terrorizing the nation’s capital and its environs. A former intimate friend, who had known him in the 90s back in Washington state, said “John, to me, was a regular guy.” Before leaving that state for the East coast, associates had noticed, however, a sharp change for the worse in his personality. He had become more “belligerent.” Like Flores, he had no prior criminal record. Muhammad, too, had served honorably in the Gulf War theater. Timothy McVeigh admitted setting the bomb in the Oklahoma federal building, that killed 168, including 19 children, and injured 500 others, on April 19, 1995. He was executed for that mad, cowardly crime. Like Flores and Muhammad, he had a clean criminal record before going off the proverbial deep end. In fact, he had been described as a “very shy guy, who liked to drive old beat up cars.” He was a registered Republican, too. McVeigh had also served his country in the Gulf War. In fact, he’d held the rank of sergeant and had received the Bronze Star decoration.

When McVeigh was executed, on June 11, 2001, President George W. Bush Jr. said, ” [He] met the fate that he chose for himself six years ago.” Really? Did McVeigh, alone, willingly choose his fate, or did someone else, more powerful and knowledgeable of the perils that he faced, and, in breach of the public trust, help influence his choices by exposing him to harmful chemicals?

It was George W. Bush Sr., who, in 1991, sent McVeigh, Flores and Muhammad into harm’s way in the first Gulf War. This was a war from which “an estimated 50,000 to 60,000” U.S. troops returned home suffering from the harmful physical and psychological effects of the “Gulf War Syndrome” (Sources, ‘Chemical Reaction;” “Depleted Uranium: Education Projection;” and “Gulf Link” Web Sites).

Soldiers in that conflict, like the cited three, were potentially exposed to enormous levels of toxicity, biological agents, and poisons that included, among other harmful ingredients, “oil smoke, nerve gas, vaccines, depleted uranium, fuel, insecticides, and anti-nerve-gas medicines” (CR site).

Verified adverse health effects from depleted uranium (DU) exposure alone include a medical condition known as “neuro-pyschological disorders,” according to a study by Dr. Doug Rokke, presented to the British House of Commons on Dec. 16, 1999. Some of the possible hazards of the use of DU were known to the administration of Bush Sr., prior to the Gulf War, according to a published U.S. Defense Nuclear Agency memo (DU:EP site). DU is an extremely dense material that makes a shell that can easily penetrate steel. The problem, according to the medical experts, is that people can inhale the tiny particles of burning DU and that this heavy metal is both poisonous and radioactive. Now, Bush Jr. is hell bent on placing yet another generation of idealistic American warriors into that same kind of deadly environment, along with thousands of innocent Iraqis.

Based on the record that we now have before us, could Flores, Muhammad and McVeigh, have been suffering from a “neuro-psychological disorder,” or some debilitating medical condition like it, still unnamed, at the time they went on their criminal rampages? What other rational explanation is there to show how these three men (and probably many more like them) abruptly went from being model patriots, to accused raving homicidal maniacs? During the Gulf War alone, the U.S. left 600,000 pounds of radioactive waste containing DU from its use of these “dirty bombs.” The same kind of weapon is being used as a “bunker bomb” in the conflict in Afghanistan, and was used, too, in the Balkan War. Iraqi children exposed to DU have experienced a “12 fold increase in leukemia and lymphoma.” European veterans of the 1995 Yugoslavian conflict, from nine NATO member countries, have also suffered from DU’s effects. Serious medical complaints are presently pouring in to authorities from soldiers, and civilians, too, who served there and/or who were residents of the impacted areas (DU:EP site).

Israel, too, is suspected of using DU weapons against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza (See, John Catalinotto and Sara Flounders’ investigatory report, International Action Center, Nov. 27, 2000). The authors believe that Israel is “DU-armed and capable and that shielding on Israeli tanks is DU-enforced” (DU:EP site).

Closer to home, there is another shocking development, which is causing the War Party to shake in its collective boots. A month ago, Marylanders supported Bush’s proposal to take military action in Iraq by a 44 percent to 37 percent margin. A poll, dated October 30, reveals that, despite all the warmongering from the likes of: Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), Sen. Trent Lott (R-MI), and the insufferably pompous Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), “only 37 percent now support military action, while 44 percent are opposed” (Baltimore Sun, 10/30/02.)

What kind of support would the Bush-Cheney Gang have, if the American people also knew what chemically toxic dangers its sons and daughters in the military would be facing in Gulf War No. 2? And, even more importantly, if they knew, too, that the chicken hawk politicians, who would be recklessly ordering them into that arena of death, would be doing so, knowing beforehand, of those documented dangers?

WILLIAM HUGHES is the author of “Baltimore Iconoclast” (Writer’s Showcase), which is available online. He can be reached at liamhughes@mindspring.com.



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