Blackwater Gassed US Troops

Gordon, an ex-Marine who blogs at Alternate Brain, writes:

From NYT:

Blackwater teams in the air and on the ground were preparing a secure route near a checkpoint to provide passage for a motorcade,” Ms. Tyrrell said in an e-mail message. “It seems a CS gas canister was mistaken for a smoke canister and released near an intersection and checkpoint.

"Mistaken' my ass. I went and looked up the markings for CS grenades in an old (1979, still about 20 years newer than the one they sold me! Heh.) Guidebook for Marines. CS grenades are marked 'RIOT CS' and smoke grenades are marked 'SMOKE' with the top and bottom of the device the same color as the smoke it will produce. I'm assuming, and yes I know that's dangerous, that larger canisters are similarly marked.

I've experienced CS gas in the 'gas chamber' training in the Marine Corps. At best, it's very unpleasant. The contents of your sinuses void all over your shirt front, your eyes water, it makes anything moist or mucus-y sting like the blazes, and any moisture you may encounter for hours afterward will reactivate any residue and it will happen all over again. Also, the version of The Marines Hymn that they make you sing while all this is going on is not exactly on par with that of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

At worst, depending on concentration and length of exposure, it can be fatal.

It is not allowed as a method or means of warfare,” said Michael Schmitt, professor of international law at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. “There are very, very strict restrictions on the use of CS gas in a war zone.”

Except for Blackwater, of course. They are above any and all laws they choose to ignore by presidential fiat, it seems, just like him.

[Click to read more: Alternate Brain: Blackwater Used CS Gas on US Troops ]

Amazingly, Blackwater is still expanding their government contracts. In a just world, they'd instead be fighting off legal challenges on their way to prison.

More on the topic from the NYT:

About 20 to 25 American soldiers were at the checkpoint at the time of the incident, and at least 10 were exposed to the CS gas after “rotor wash” from the hovering helicopter pushed it toward them, according to officers who were there. A number of Iraqi civilians, both on foot and in cars waiting to go through the checkpoint, were also exposed. The gas can cause burning and watering eyes, skin irritation and coughing and difficulty breathing. Nausea and vomiting can also result.

Blackwater says it was permitted to carry CS gas under its contract at the time with the State Department. According to a State Department official, the contract did not specifically authorize Blackwater personnel to carry or use CS, but it did not prohibit it.

The military, however, tightly controls use of riot control agents in war zones. They are banned by an international convention on chemical weapons endorsed by the United States, although a 1975 presidential order allows their use by the United States military in war zones under limited defensive circumstances and only with the approval of the president or a senior officer designated by the president.

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This page contains a single entry by swanksalot published on January 10, 2008 8:38 PM.

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