Incensed over incendiary devices

Chicken Yoghurt has posted his thoughts about yesterday’s article in the Independent about the UK government’s response about the use of napalm in Iraq by the US army. (How’s that for a convoluted sentence? In short: the US army used/did-not-use* napalm in Iraq, and lied/did-not-lie* to the UK govt about it. Chicken Yoghurt is not happy about both. Better?) Anyway, read the post and follow through Chicken Yoghurt’s links for the full story.

The wikipedia page for napalm refers to an article as long ago as the 22nd of March, 2003 in the Sydney Morning Herald. An excerpt from the article includes a quote from a potential whistleblower (in italics):

Marine Cobra helicopter gunships firing Hellfire missiles swept in low from the south. Then the marine howitzers, with a range of 30 kilometres, opened a sustained barrage over the next eight hours. They were supported by US Navy aircraft which dropped 40,000 pounds of explosives and napalm, a US officer told the Herald. But a navy spokesman in Washington, Lieutenant Commander Danny Hernandez, denied that napalm – which was banned by a United Nations convention in 1980 – was used.

“We don’t even have that in our arsenal,” he said.

The US military powers-that-be later issued a statement of denial to the SMH:

The Pentagon subsequently issued a statement to the Herald:

Your story (‘Dead bodies everywhere’, by Lindsay Murdoch, March 22, 2003) claiming US forces are using napalm in Iraq, is patently false. The US took napalm out of service in the early 1970s. We completed destruction of our last batch of napalm on April 4, 2001, and no longer maintain any stocks of napalm. – Jeff A. Davis, Lieutenant Commander, US Navy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense.

Another article, highlighted by Chicken Yoghurt, is from the San Diego Herald Tribune, and quotes a Colonel from the US Army:

“We napalmed both those (bridge) approaches,” said Col. Randolph Alles in a recent interview. He commanded Marine Air Group 11, based at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, during the war. “Unfortunately, there were people there because you could see them in the (cockpit) video.

Even more worrying is the following passage:

Apparently the spokesmen were drawing a distinction between the terms “firebomb” and “napalm.” If reporters had asked about firebombs, officials said yesterday they would have confirmed their use.
What the Marines dropped, the spokesmen said yesterday, were “Mark 77 firebombs.” They acknowledged those are incendiary devices with a function “remarkably similar” to napalm weapons.
Rather than using gasoline and benzene as the fuel, the firebombs use kerosene-based jet fuel, which has a smaller concentration of benzene.

So, napalm in all but name. Sure, they’ll admit to Mark 77 firebombs, which don’t have napalm because they use an even more efficient fuel.

I’m not familiar with the San Diego Herald Tribune, but the SMH is a reputable paper, and not one to be sniffed at. I wonder why this was not brought to public consciousness here when the first allegations were made. We got a second chance just before the General Election in May. Follow the exchange of letters in the Guardian: one, two, three.

We probably all missed it first and second time round because there was so much else going on.

* delete as appropriate

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