Former Head Of Pentagon's Depleted Uranium Project Says Thousands Of Troops Are Sick And Dying From Illegal
DU Use And Military's Failure To Admit ResponsibilityAfter Maj. Doug Rokke went public in 1997
exposing the military's flawed DU program, his life has been threatened but he still continues to search for solutions in
order to save the lives of those afflicted.
August 20, 2005
By Greg Szymanski
Army Major Doug
Rokke has been shot at, run off the road, threatened, harassed, black-balled, intimidated, called a liar and treated like
a “hated enemy” not by opposition forces in Iraq, but by ‘secret ops’ in the U.S. government, obviously
acting on orders from top military brass.
And in May 2000 he was subjected to the biggest scare of his life when bullets
rang through his son’s bedroom window while living in Jacksonville, Alabama, in what he calls “another near miss”
by government hit men bound and determined to remove his presence from the planet.
Maj. Rokke, living in Rantoul, Illinois,
and still active in the Army Reserves, has been a government target ever since going public in a May 1997 article in the Nation
Magazine, criticizing the military for failing to clean-up depleted uranium used in Iraq during the first Gulf War.
Maj. Rokke’s accusations have been echoed by many others, what makes his statements so electrifying – so damaging
to the military - is that he was one of the Pentagon’s ‘top boys.’ In fact, he was not only one of the Pentagon’s
elite, he was “the man” so to speak when it came to determining the causes and effects of depleted uranium (DU)
used in the battle field.
Being so well-respected by the Pentagon brass, Maj. Rokke was the military expert assigned
as director of the 1994 U.S. Army Depleted Uranium Project in response to congressional inquiries and direct Department of
Defense (DOD) orders.
The study was commissioned after it was found the military lacked adequate preparation to deal
with the adverse health and environmental effects regarding the use of DU in the battle field. This highly efficient ‘killing
tool,’ which amounts to nothing less than a radioactive nuclear assault, has been extensively used in U.S. weaponry
in the first Gulf War as well as the present Iraqi conflict, even though it is a direct violation of the Geneva Convention
and United Nation regulations.
In simple terms, Maj. Rokke was asked to evaluate the extent of DU used and asked to
advise the military how to adequately comply with its own existing regulations of training, clean-up and medical care involving
soldiers and civilians contaminated.
In his final report, Maj. Rokke, however, didn’t beat around the bush or
provide a technical escape for evading regulations. He simply laid it on the table plain and simple, saying if the military
intended to keep using DU, it needed to address the above problems, as regulations mandated, or simply cease and desist from
And, in hindsight, it was probably the words “cease and desist” or Maj. Rokke’s simple ultimatum
of “clean-up or don’t use” that initially ticked-off military brass, since behind the scenes the ‘big
boys” never really intended to open up a can of worms caused by Maj. Rokke’s report.
But when the implacable
army officer went public about the extent of the DU problems in 1997, letting the cat out of the bag about the military’s
outright refusal to comply with existing regulations, the ‘big boys’ put their boxing gloves on and are still
trying to punch Maj. Rokke into submission today.
“They have been after me ever since I went public,” said
Maj. Rokke in a telephone conversation this week from his country home in the heartland of Illinois. “I’ve been
shot at, run off the road several times, harassed, threatened and whatever else they could think of doing to discredit me
for what I was doing.
“They even shot bullets through my son’s bedroom window. These guys don’t play
around and the first thing I was told when I went public was to keep my 45 loaded at all times.”
Maj. Rokke’s obviously right and the military wrong, the cold and hard truth is that the big brass tried to crucify
him for simply telling the truth. The cold hard truth is that even though the military admits using DU, it never has admitted
to the legal causal connection between its use and its adverse effects on human and environmental health.
contend that such outright contempt for its own regulations and the military’s failure to provide adequate medical care
for those exposed to DU has left hundreds of thousands of military personnel and civilians sick or dying, including Maj. Rokke.
really very simple,” added Maj. Rokke. “I was asked to report on what they needed to do about the DU problem.
Our team of experts then reported and provided our recommendations, plain and simple.
“But when I realized in
1997 we were being ignored and thousands of people, including myself, were sick and possibly slowly dying from DU exposure,
I had to go public and blow the whistle.”
And Maj. Rokke said his warnings as well as warnings from many other
experts were not only dismissed by the military, but also by every other bigwig on Capital Hill, including President Clinton,
Senator John Kerry and every other member of Congress, all very much aware of his position since he even addressed the 2000
Fall Congressional Coalition Leadership at its quarterly breakfast in Washington D.C.
Adding that the DU problem is
even worse today, Maj. Rokke pointed out the military continues to bombard the Iraq and Afghanistan with “increased
levels’ of nuclear weaponry, leaving in its wake even higher levels of nuclear fallout then were present in Gulf War
And like President Clinton, his predecessor, President Bush has failed to address or even recognize the problem,
leaving behind ‘hot zones’ in the Middle East while, at the same time, failing to care for radiation illnesses
in returning troops.
“President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair must acknowledge and must accept responsibility
for the willful use of illegal uranium munitions, their own ‘dirty bombs,’ resulting in adverse health and environmental
effects,” wrote Maj. Rokke in recent open letter, criticizing the two major leaders of the Iraq occupation.
being crystal clear about his demands in compliance with existing military regulations, he added:
Bush and Prime Minister Blair need to immediately order medical care for all DU casualties, order thorough environmental remediation,
issue immediate orders for the cessation and retaliation against all of us who demand compliance with medical care and ban
the further use of depleted radiation munitions.
“They arrogantly refuse to comply with their own regulations,
orders, and directives that require United States Department of Defense officials to provide prompt and effective medical
care all exposed individuals. Look to Medical Management of Unusual Depleted Uranium Casualties, DOD, Pentagon, 10/14/93,
Medical Management of Army personnel Exposed to Depleted Uranium (DU) Headquarters.
"They also refuse to clean up dispersed
radioactive contamination as required by Army Regulation- AR 700-48: Management of Equipment Contaminated With Depleted Uranium
or Radioactive Commodities(Headquarters, Department Of The Army, Washington, D.C., September 2002) and U.S. Army Technical
Bulletin- TB 9-1300-278: Guidelines For Safe Response To Handling, Storage, And Transportation Accidents Involving Army Tank
Munitions Or Armor Which Contain Depleted Uranium" (Headquarters, Department Of The Army, Washington, D.C., JULY 1996)."
further bolster Maj. Rokke’s accusations and his detailed analysis, all of the following regulations are also being
violated, specifically section 2-4 of United States Army Regulation-AR 700-48 dated Sept.16, 2002, requiring:
- "Military personnel "identify, segregate, isolate, secure, and label all RCE" (radiological contaminated equipment).
- "Procedures to minimize the spread of radioactivity will be implemented as soon as possible."
- "Radioactive material and waste will not be locally disposed of through burial, submersion, incineration, destruction
in place, or abandonment" and;
- "All equipment, to include captured or combat RCE, will be surveyed, packaged, retrograded, decontaminated and released
IAW Technical Bulletin 9-1300-278, DA PAM 700-48.”
With the military’s blatant violations placed in the public eye due to Mj. Rokke’s courage to buck the system,
other experts and scientists quickly came to his side, offering startling information and detailed statistics showing the
seriousness of the DU problem and the government’s failure to take responsibility even though it obviously caused the
Radiation experts Leuren Moret and Marion Fulk, along with others like Dennis Kyne, Bob Jones and Mark Zeller,
have provided documentation for an explosive video just released, written and produced by Joyce Riley and William Lewis, called
“Beyond Treason,” providing an in depth look at DU used in the Gulf Wars and its likelihood of causing numerous
civilian and military illnesses.
“It has been determined that the equivalent of more than 400,000 Nagasaki bombs
has been released in the middle east since 1991,” said Moret, citing a report and subsequent speech at a 2000 depleted
uranium conference given by Professor Yagasaki, a physicist and well-respected nuclear radiation expert.
has spent a life time working in the nuclear field, first as a staff scientist at the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory
in California, is now a member of The Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP), a privately funded group studying the devastating
effects of depleted uranium especially in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And the writers of Beyond Treason added more ammunition
to Rokke’s accusations regarding the government’s failure to recognize the DU problem 15 years after it was first
“The ailing Gulf War heroes from all 27 coalition countries slowly die from of “unknown causes,”
they wait for answers from their respective governments, but no satisfying or even credible answers have come forth from the
military establishment. Records that span over a decade point to negligence and even culpability on the part of the U.S. Department
of Defense and their ‘disposable army” mentality.
“The VA has determined that 250,000 troops are
now permanently disabled, 15,000 troops are dead and over 425,000 are ill and slowly dying from what the Department of Defense
still calls a mystery disease. How many more will have to die before action is taken?”
Although Maj. Rokke has
been fighting to save the lives of thousands of afflicted veterans, he is also trying to save his own life as he was originally
exposed to DU in 1990 and 1991 while deployed in Iraq and looking into the hazards of DU.
“First, I remember
experiencing breathing problems, then a rash and then bleeding sores that never go away,” said Rokke, 56, adding DU
exposure is slowly, day by day, turning him into an invalid. “The sad thing is that only several hundred military personnel
have even been tested for DU exposure since the beginning when there are literally hundreds of thousands afflicted.
fact, it took the military more than two years to even tell me that I was ‘hot,’ withholding my urine tests and
hiding the truth. One of the reasons I went public is because so many soldiers are dying from the same symptoms I have and
the military simply still refuses to take medical responsibility and care for them.”
Recently, to keep the DU
issue alive, Maj. Rokke published an article in the Nov. 27, 2004 edition of the popular Vanity Fair magazine, where he updated
his concerns with new information about Gulf War II.
After the article appeared, he said the Pentagon and others in
military circles immediately unleashed another attack on his character, accusing him of lying and even saying he never headed
up the Pentagon’s DU program in the first place.
“I guess if I played their game, I would sitting somewhere
with a cushy $100,000 a year job,” said Mj. Rokke. “But I decided to do what’s right no matter what the
consequences. But, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a peace-nick. I am a military officer and a warrior. I would not
hesitate to use nuclear weapons only, however, if it was a last resort. But I also feel the military should live up to its
responsibilities and follow regulations, which is not the case now and why I am speaking out.”
himself a warrior, Maj. Rokke tempered that statement, writing in September, 2002, what he called a “A Commitment To
Peace.” In this short open letter, however, much is revealed about the inner-man, his obvious choice of peace versus
war and his ultimate fears about the ramifications of the Iraqi invasion, which at the time of his writing was just on the
“As I sit here tonight unable to sleep, my mind is considering the ramifications of potential and ongoing
military actions and economic sanctions. As a disabled warrior with combat experience in two wars, Vietnam and Desert Storm,
I can only hope and pray that the outcomes of these actions do not leave another trail of adverse health and environmental
“I have concluded that we must unite in a concerted effort to prevent additional suffering. Throughout
the history of the world those who make a commitment to peace have endured isolation and retaliation when they challenged
the individuals and governments seeking economic and political advantages. A vision of peace where all nations can live together
for the common good is an ideal dream but may be unrealistic.
“War is the ultimate weapon a nation or leaders
can use to control the allocation and use of food, water, terrain, shelter, and mineral resources. War occurs when nations
or individuals fail to reach a satisfactory compromise on sharing of these limited resources.
"Today we are reaching
another crossroads in history where we must decide which road we follow. We can select peace or go to war. One means life
the other means death! The prevalent modus operandi at this time of those seeking power and control is to threaten economic
sanctions or military attacks in order to achieve their goals and objectives.
“This is unacceptable. We must
act to with a unified and strong voice to prevent nations and leaders from imposing their demands on others. At the same time
we must make sure that those nations and leaders who pose a viable threat to peace are checkmated. But that does not mean
that we result to military force.
“There are many options but only wise persons are willing to discuss and mutually
select the option most beneficial to all. Today information control is used to prevent discussion and debate. If a person
does not have adequate and validated information they will be unable to contribute to the resolution of serious problems.
We must ensure the complete dissemination of information even if that information reveals illegal or disturbing actions by
our own or any other nation.
“These ways to achieve peace will require a commitment of time, financial resources,
knowledge, attitudes, life, liberty, and willingness to endure and retaliation by any person who wishes to contribute towards
the resolution of local, state, national or international problems. The choice is ours. We can select a life as a mushroom
or we can select to act. I select action for if peace is to be achieved then I must let peace begin with me.”
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