Today marks the one year anniversary of the U.S. Siege on Fallujah. American forces attacked the strongholds of Sunni insurgents in an operation that started on November 8, 2004, putting an end to guerilla control of that area.
But two reports from the Italian media today are calling into question what weapons and means were used in that battle, and they are spreading rapidly across the Web, including to the Arabic daily Al Jazeera.
First, the Italian newspaper "La Repubblica" is reporting that U.S. troops used white phosphorous on civilians. The Pentagon admits that the substance has been used for the purpose of illuminating target areas, but not on civilians.
Next, an Italian television station aired a documentary today claiming that a new form of napalm was also used in that siege. That documentary is also available online at RAI's website and on several left leaning blogs, but it contains some disturbing footage.
Bloggers have watched and read the reports and have some strong statements today.
The blogger at "The Next Left" says that like the pro-torture lobby, this accusation further undermines America's credibility in this war.
A similar point is coming from "TPM Cafe." This blogger says that the story will cause an even greater shock to the world than the allegations of torture at Abu Ghraib did.
But at "Environmental Republican," this blogger isn't buying the claims. He says the U.S. has not violated any laws. White phosphorous is not a banned substance, and the U.S. uses it in a legal manner.
Before this story gets any bigger on the blogs I wanted to ask an expert to help me understand it better, and truth squad it a bit. I spoke to retired Army Colonel Jack Jacobs and he shed some light on the story, separating fact from fiction.
First, the documentary by Italian state television claims that Mark77 was used, and calls this chemical a "new and improved form of napalm."
Jack tells me that this is not a new form of napalm and is essentially the same stuff that was used in Vietnam. He also says that by law the U.S. military is not permitted to target civilians with the chemical, nor would they be allowed to do so with white phosphorous.
The chemicals are used for the purpose of illuminating targets and not intended nor permitted to be used on civilians. That said, rounds do go astray. I will talk to Jack today about the matter. It has the potential to be a big story.
And we are very happy to have Ron Reagan here on the East Coast today, in studio with Monica. It should be a great hour.
Journalists Jonathan Alter and John Fund will join us to discuss a report that the President is putting White House staffers through ethics training in light of the CIA leak story. Seems like a big CYA move. I mean, it's been over four years since 9/11--if they don't know how to handle classified information yet, fat chance.
And Brian Williams will join us to talk about launching Nightly News in its entirety online.