Three Articles on Iraq

Posted: Tue, 19 Sep 2000 02:57:33 EDT

1. Sunday Herald (Scotland) Allies Deliberately Poisoned Iraq Public Water Supply In Gulf War

2. Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting analyses NY Times article of Sept. 12

3. National Day of Silence for the Children of Iraq,Veterans Day, 2000 (November 11), an invitation from The Muslim Student Awareness Network at Stanford

Read it and weap -- and act.
Carolyn Scarr
Sept. 18, 2000


The Sunday Herald (Scotland)
Sunday, September 17, 2000

Allies Deliberately Poisoned Iraq Public Water Supply In Gulf War

                 The US-led allied forces
deliberately destroyed Iraq's water supply during the Gulf War - flagrantly breaking the Geneva Convention and causing thousands of civilian deaths. Since the war ended in 1991 the allied nations have made sure that any attempts to make contaminated water safe have been thwarted.
                 A respected American professor now intends to convene expert hearings in a bid to pursue criminal indictments under international law against those responsible.
                 Professor Thomas J Nagy, Professor of Expert Systems at George Washington University with a doctoral fellowship in public health, told the Sunday Herald: "Those who saw nothing wrong in producing [this plan], those who ordered its production and those who knew about it and have remained silent for 10 years would seem to be in violation of Federal Statute and perhaps have even conspired to commit genocide."
                 Professor Nagy obtained a minutely detailed seven-page document prepared by the US Defence Intelligence Agency, issued the day after the war started, entitled Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities and circulated to all major allied Commands.
                 It states that Iraq had gone to considerable trouble to provide a supply of pure water to its population. It had to depend on importing specialised equipment and purification chemicals, since water is "heavily mineralised and frequently brackish".
                 The report stated: "Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidents, if not epidemics, of disease and certain pure-water dependent industries becoming incapacitated."
                 The report concludes: "Full degradation of the water treatment system probably will take at least another six months."
                 During allied bombing campaigns on Iraq the country's eight multi-purpose dams had been repeatedly hit, simultaneously wrecking flood control, municipal and industrial water storage, irrigation and hydroelectric power. Four of seven major pumping stations were destroyed, as were 31 municipal water and sewerage facilities - 20 in Baghdad, resulting in sewage pouring into the Tigris. Water purification plants were incapacitated throughout Iraq.
                 Article 54 of the Geneva Convention states: "It is prohibited to attack, destroy or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population" and includes foodstuffs, livestock and "drinking water supplies and irrigation works".
                 The results of the allied bombing campaign were obvious when Dr David Levenson visited Iraq immediately after the Gulf War, on behalf of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.
                 He said: "For many weeks people in Baghdad - without television, radio, or newspapers to warn them - brought their drinking water from the Tigris, in buckets.
                 "Dehydrated from nausea and diarrhea, craving liquids, they drank more of the water that made them sick in the first place."
                 Water-borne diseases in Iraq today are both endemic and epidemic. They include typhoid, dysentery, hepatitis, cholera and polio (which had previously been eradicated), along with a litany of others.
                 A child with dysentery in 1990 had a one in 600 chance of dying - in 1999 it was one in 50.
                 The then US Navy Secretary John Lehman estimated that 200,000 Iraqis died in the Gulf War. Dr Levenson estimates many thousands died from polluted water.
                 Chlorine and essential equipment parts needed to repair and clear the water system have been banned from entering the country under the UN "hold" system.
                 Ohio Democrat Representative Tony Hall has written to American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, saying he shares concerns expressed by UNICEF about the "profound effects the deterioration of Iraq's water supply and sanitation systems on children's health". Diarrheal diseases he says are of "epidemic proportions" and are "the prime killer of children under five".
                 "Holds on contracts for water and sanitation are a prime reason for the increase in sickness and death." Of 18 contracts, wrote Hall, all but one on hold were placed by the government in the US.
                 Contracts were for purification chemicals, chlorinators, chemical dosing pumps, water tankers and other water industry related items.
                 "If water remains undrinkable, diseases will continue and mortality rates will rise," said the Iraqi trade minister Muhammed Mahdi Salah. The country's health ministry said that more than 10,000 people died in July of embargo-related causes - 7457 were children, with diarrhoeal diseases one of the prime conditions.
                 In July 1989, the figure was 378. Unicef does not dispute the figures.
                 The problem will not be helped by plans for the giant Ilisu Dam project (to which the British government is to give 200 million in export credit guarantees), which will give Turkey entire control of the water flow to Iraq and Syria.
                 Constructors Balfour Beatty write in their environmental impact report, that for the three years of construction, water flow to Iraq will be reduced by 40%. Iraq has also suffered a three year drought, with the Tigris the lowest in living memory.


Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000 19:47:02 -0400

From: FAIR-L

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and news reports

ACTION ALERT: "Paper of Record" Distorts Record on Iraq Sanctions

September 13, 2000

On September 12, the New York Times ran a blatantly biased front-page article by U.N. correspondent Barbara Crossette about Iraq's decision not to allow two teams of United Nations experts into Iraq to assess the effects of the sanctions. This article is only the latest example of Crossette's alarming willingness to repeat increasingly shrill-- and largely discredited-- charges from the U.S. State Department that the Iraqi government is sabotaging the U.N.'s relief work. (See

Throughout the article, Crossette's reporting aims to give the impression that Iraq does not allow any outside experts to investigate humanitarian conditions inside the country. The headline reads, "Iraq Won't Let Outside Experts Assess Sanctions' Impact on Lives." The lead paragraph reported, "Iraq will not allow independent experts into the country to assess the living conditions of Iraqis a decade after economic sanctions were imposed, Secretary General Kofi Annan told the Security Council today."

Crossette anonymously quotes "a diplomat" who says, "They claim they can't get things done, but won't let anybody come in and fix it." She cites an anonymous "official" as saying that government repression has "made it almost impossible to work there." An anonymous "European diplomat" is quoted as saying that there are "fairly solid reports" that Iraq is exporting its medicines abroad, with no further evidence given. Crossette writes that "concern is growing" that "if no independent collection of information is possible, Iraq can continue to blame outsiders, particularly the United States, for illnesses and deaths from disease or malnutrition."

In fact, there are literally hundreds of outside experts in Iraq who regularly collect such information and have done so for years. They include officials from the World Health Organization, the World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations Development Program, UNESCO, UNICEF and the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator's office in Baghdad. They make thousands of visits each year to water projects, power plants, farms, warehouses, mills, food distributors, schools, hospitals and ordinary homes.

The U.N.'s Baghdad office maintains a 150-person verification team, the Multidisciplinary Observer Unit, to inspect relief distribution. It also employs a Swiss auditing company on contract with the United Nations to verify humanitarian shipments. Not only do the Iraqi ministries cooperate with these groups, but the U.N. requires Iraq to *pay* for the operating expenses of these last two groups out of the proceeds used to buy food and medicine.

All of this is documented in the very same United Nations briefing that is the subject of Crossette's article. For example, the briefing describes a World Food Program study carried out this summer to investigate Iraq's system for transporting food. It "found most of the a deplorable state, owing to age, poor maintenance and lack of spare parts." The investigators were "encouraged to learn, however, that the government of Iraq was already entering into contracts for the gradual replacement" of the aging equipment.

In July, a World Health Organization team visited an Iraqi medicine factory. "The observers reported that the plant would require substantial bring it up to international standards." The factory's Iraqi management "gave assurances that it will cooperate fully with the United Nations and that observation of its facilities can be carried out at any time, with or without prior notification," the Secretary General reported.

Several other examples of Iraq's cooperation with UN humanitarian workers were discussed in the report. Yet Crossette's article, based on the same report, sought to give exactly the opposite impression.

Last year, UNICEF worked with the Iraqi Ministry of Health on a comprehensive nationwide survey of child and maternal mortality. Ironically, the study was reported in the New York Times in an article by Barbara Crossette (8/13/99). It went unmentioned in yesterday's article.

In a December 1998 letter to the London Independent, Michael Stone, the outgoing chief of the U.N.'s Multidisciplinary Observation Unit wrote that British officials, like their American counterparts, "frequently state that the Iraqi leadership have diverted supplies under this [humanitarian] program. This is a serious error. Some 150 international observers, travelling throughout Iraq, reported to the United Nations Multidisciplinary Observer Unit, of which I was the head. At no time was any diversion recorded. I made this clear in our reports to the UN Secretary General, and he reported in writing to the Security Council accordingly."

Other top United Nations officials have also challenged the assertion that Iraq interferes in the relief effort. Former U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Denis Halliday and his successor, Hans von Sponeck have both expressed frustration that the U.S. and British governments were putting out misleading information designed to make it appear that Iraq was sabotaging the U.N.'s relief work. Crossette has refused to cover their criticism (Hans von Sponeck, U.N. Press Briefing, 10/26/99; Denis Halliday, press release, 9/20/99).

Crossette's reporting is astonishingly selective. The Secretary General's briefing, which Crossette's article is based on, is a 90-day progress report that covers all aspects of the oil-for-food program. Typically, the Secretary General notes both improvements and problems in the ongoing program, praising and criticizing the Iraqis as necessary. But Crossette notes only the criticisms, inflating and distorting them out of all recognition.

Out of this week's 50-paragraph briefing, Crossette's entire front-page article is devoted exclusively to paragraphs 11 and 12, which note that Iraq declined to host the newly proposed teams of experts. She fails to mention that elsewhere in the briefing, Secretary General Kofi Annan praised Iraq for improvements in its nutrition program that were made in response to criticism Annan offered in a briefing last year.

In August 1999, Crossette wrote an entire article about that two-paragraph criticism, found in Annan's 104-paragraph briefing, which noted some flaws in Iraq's distribution of food supplies. Crossette trumpeted the comments as an example of the U.N.'s alleged exasperation with Iraq ("Do More to Aid Nourishment of Very Young, U.N. Tells Iraq," 8/24/99).

Since then, Iraq has implemented the changes that the Secretary General recommended. In this week's briefing, Annan praised the government for having followed his suggestions: "I welcome the decision by the Government of Iraq to increase considerably the allocations... to meet the food, nutrition and health requirements of the population.... [The steps taken by Iraq] are both welcome and in line with the recommendation contained in my supplementary report."

The praise went unmentioned in Crossette's September 12 article.

ACTION: Call on the New York Times to publish an editor's note clarifying two points: (1) that Iraq has hundreds of outside inspectors and experts verifying the humanitarian relief programs, contrary to the Times' front-page September 12 story; and (2) that United Nations humanitarian officials who dispute the charge that Iraq sabotages the U.N. aid programs should have been quoted in this story.

As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if you maintain a polite tone. Please cc with your correspondence.


Barbara Crossette
Bureau Chief, United Nations

Joseph Lelyveld
Executive Editor

To read the original New York Times article:

To read the United Nations report discussed in the New York Times article, visit:


Hello All - The Muslim Student Awareness Network at Stanford asked me to forward this to Coalition members, for your consideration to endorse or participate either as the Coalition or on behalf of individual groups in the coalition.

Replies can be sent to Narjes Misherghi.

- Paul

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: National Day of Silence for the Children of Iraq
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 00:58:35 -0700 (PDT)
From: Narjes Misherghi
To: Peninsula Peace & Justice Center


All people of conscience are urged to participate in....


Why a Day of Silence?

Ten years have passed since the U.N.-imposed and U.S.-supported economic sanctions were placed on the people of Iraq. Over one million Iraqi civilians have been killed because of it, and thousands continue to die every month. It is therefore important that people of conscience actively strive to raise awareness about the condition of the Iraqi people as well as work diligently to end the sanctions. To this end, people from all over the country are coming together to participate in the Day of Silence, with the hope to bring the issue of Iraq to the forefront.

How does the Day of Silence work?

Nationally, there will be a recognized hour of silent reflection and prayer for the people of Iraq from 12-1pm Pacific Standard Time (3-4pm Eastern Standard Time). In Los Angeles, the Day of Silence will be observed with an event at the Federal Building in Westwood. Prior to the hour of silence there will be displays and speeches to educate the community about the situation in Iraq and discuss ways in which we can help the Iraqi people.

For more information, please visit, email, or call 310 386 4179

What we need from the community:

                 1) Your support and participation in this program.

                 2) If you represent an organization, we want your organization to sponsor this event, as well as take the lead on the committees that need involvement.

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