'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Star Wars in Iraq 

Journalists Maurizio Torrealta and Sigfrido Ranucci produced a short report for RAI, an Italian TV station, arguing that the US has used direct energy weapons in Iraq -- specifically, they interview eyewitnesses who claim exotic weapons were used in the battle for the Baghdad airport in 2003. Here's the video and Amy Goodman has a transcript excerpt here.

According to Torrealta and Ranucci, the Pentagon is on record about "military vehicles equipped with this laser device" that "have been used in Afghanistan to explode mines" which lends credibility to Star Wars in Iraq if true, although I haven't found the statement. Torrealta and Ranucci seem to be alleging use of so-called Vehicle-Mounted Active Denial Systems, which certainly aren't fiction, but have nothing to do with lasers and wouldn't result in the sort of effects cited by the eyewitnesses ... but who knows?

Anyway, I report you decide, yada yada yada, but generally I'm skeptical of these sorts of claims. In the Academy Award winning documentary The Panama Deception several witnesses made similar allegations regarding Operation Just Cause way back in 1989. More recently I remember there were reports of exotic weapons during the second Fallujah campaign all over the Arab press; however, the reports sounded to me like descriptions of the devastating effects of white phosphorus rounds, which the Pentagon was on record about, so I never saw the need to speculate about anything more mysterious. Maybe not so coincidentally, Italian TV also aired a documentary focusing on the use of white phosphorus in Iraq: it seems exotic weapons play well in Italy...

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