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Kctv5 News Investigation: Weapon Of Choice

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allan

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KCTV5 NEWS INVESTIGATION: Weapon Of Choice

POSTED: 9:10 am CDT May 5, 2009

UPDATED: 10:19 pm CDT May 6, 2009

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. -- Since 1991 the U.S. military has admitted to using depleted uranium in armor and ammunition on a large scale. But since then, a debate has raged about its long-term health effects on soldiers and their families.

Could one of the most effective military tools in their arsenal actually be harming soldiers?

Jerry Wheat is one of the hundreds of thousands of American men and women who have enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces.

"I was in the army for 4 years and 10 months. I joined in 1989 as a 19 Delta, which is a cavalry scout," said Wheat. "My job was to go out and look for the enemy."

Wheat was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star after his 1991 deployment in Gulf War I.

Wheat said his unit was in IraqMsgAttachment?msgid=10993&attachno=1, heading toward Basra, when it got caught up in a firefight.

"My Bradley was hit again with another tank round, and that tank round knocked me unconscious," said Wheat.

In an instant flash of fire, smoke and shrapnel, Wheat became a casualty of war. But without knowing it, his battle was just beginning.

"I took shrapnel in the back of my head. I had some second- and third-degree burns, and there was about 25 pieces of shrapnel from my head all the way down my back," said Wheat.

The military initially denied it, but Wheat ultimately learned that the pieces of shrapnel embedded in his head and back were shards from "friendly fire" and some of the fragments contained depleted uranium.

"As a soldier, you know, most of us didn't know what DU was or made aware of to stay away from it," said Wheat.

When uranium is enriched for use as nuclear fuel or for nuclear weapons, a by-product called depleted uranium -- DU, for short -- is made. It is a form of uranium minus the most radioactive isotope.

The military discarded DU until it discovered that its properties as a heavy metal made it perfect to protect U.S. troops as armor and was very effective as ammunition.

Col. Mark Melanson, head of radiation safety at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., is the military's foremost expert on depleted uranium and its combat applications.

"When it encounters armor, it actually sharpens to a fine point as it penetrates into the armor," said Melanson. "DU has been well studied and the health effects are well understood. There are overwhelming international and national consensus in the scientific community of what the risks are."

But many critics aren't convinced.

Dan Fahey, a Navy veteran, has been studying DU and its effects for more than a decade. He points out that the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration have thousands of studies and reams of test data on rats.

"Well, it's clear the military has done a lot of studies on DU, but the question is: are they doing the right studies?" said Fahey. "It's really time that the government does an adequate health study of veterans, and because the rat studies have shown that DU is carcinogenic, it can cause a variety of health problems."

Only 77 soldiers from Gulf War I and just four from Operation Iraqi Freedom are being tracked clinically. Jerry Wheat is one of them.

"I had a tumor removed in the 90s from my left arm that was in the bone, and DU stores in the bone," said Wheat.

Wheat said he has endured a series of health problems.

"I come back from the Gulf and have these abdominal problems and just not feeling well in general, and then my wife miscarriages," said Wheat.

Every two years, Wheat takes part in clinical surveillance headed by Dr. Melissa McDiarmid.

Since 1996, McDiarmid has been Medical Director of the DU Program at the Baltimore VA, responsible for studying and tracking the health effects on exposed soldiers.

"Your health risk is not only determined by your dose but by your duration of exposure. So those two things are working together," said McDiarmid. "It might be surprising for people to know that even the highest in the group that I follow who have retained fragments ... are just approaching what used to be allowable occupational limits for uranium exposure among workers 40 and 50 years ago."

Fahey criticizes the testing methods, characterizing the results as a case of "don't look, don't find."

"So, they have structured their studies, in my opinion, to come out with conclusions that validate their spin, which is that DU is completely harmless," said Fahey.

Fahey suggested that because DU continues to be a critical tactical advantage on the battlefield, the military has a vested interest in keeping it there.

"So, the thing about DU is that it's not always safe and not always dangerous," said Melanson. "As a scientist, my duty is to take a look at what the science says and assess the risks for the Army on what the risks from DU are. I am not an advocate for DU. I am not opposed to DU. I am neutral."

As experts debate the safety and toxicity of DU and the current testing methods for detecting it, Wheat said he lives with it every day and is proof of its effects.

"Prior to being exposed to DU I didn't have this and the tumor, and it's one thing after another," said Wheat.

Copyright 2009 by KCTV5.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Subject: Fwd: Depleted Uranium Piece at Kansas City Area TV Station -

Dan,

Here is info on the KC TV program - Dr Ronald Kathren is the expert on Uranium in the human body in the US and past President of the Health Physics Society.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Doctor XXXXX,

I have sent them two of your articles from Health Physics and strongly recommended that they interview you on camera - they bought the story that local veteran, supposed DU shrapnel patient from the Gulf War who is being followed by VA Baltimore - the part about uranium concentrating in the bone and causing a tumor that he allegedly had to have excised from his arm is bogus - he may have had the tumor, but you know that that DU does not concentrate in bones and it is more than likely that the veteran has no symptoms due to DU exposure at all. Of course, the veteran knows that Dr McDiarmid with the VA can not even confirm or deny - he has all the cards and the TV station never bothered to check them out - this TV piece will rapidly spread throughout the world - the anti-DU crusade is extremely well organized - I eavesdrop on their lists using names that never post back - the minute I post back, I lose my listening post.

Thanks.

Roger

Link to piece on TV from my DU Google Alert

KCTV5 NEWS INVESTIGATION: Weapon Of Choice

KCTV5 News - Kansas City,MO,USA

Since 1991 the US military has admitted to using depleted uranium in armor and ammunition on a large scale. But since then, a debate has raged about its ...

and the widely read Common Dreams site reposting ( I expect this will probably also be picked up by Truthout and OpEdNews, both of which have often posted anti-DU pieces of far more dubious origin than this one from a legitimate major city TV station

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/05/06-2

---------- Forwarded message ----------

I saw the title on Common Dreams and have extensively commented there. Starting with the title, you seem to have done a very poor job of finding the news. It looks to me like you have been suckered in. Depleted Uranium is not the weapon of choice. DU has one purpose as a weapon, kill tanks. The US has not fought a tank since it drove into Baghdad in 2003 and I would expect if DoD would just let us have access to the records that no DU has been used anywhere in the world since then. There are false claims that it is great to use in caves, etc. and by Leuren Moret that it is part of US/UK plan to depopulate the Third World. Before doing your show, you really should have learned more about DU than just found your local hero - who sounds very much like he is somewhat of a phony. Wheat may be one of those survivors of tragic friendly fire attacks on Bradley Fighting Vehicles and he may in fact be one of those that Dr McDiarmid's team is has been watching since 1991 because he may have embedded DU shrapnel, but I assure you that his tumor, if he actually had one, was not due to his being hit by DU. His claim that DU concentrates in the bones is false. Uranium concentrates in the kidneys and anyone who claims to be ill due to DU who has no sign of kidney disease is lying about the DU being the cause of their illness(es). Herbert Reed of the NY National Guard falls into that category. Reed is attempting to (or has been if we actually have been paying him) to defraud the government. If I were in New York City area, I would sue Reed and his fellow Guardsmen plus their attorneys for treble damages under the False Claims Act. Then, under penalty of perjury, they would have to tell the truth and they would be required under subpoena to produce their medical and military records. Did your team see Wheat's medical records? You put Dr McDiarmid at a disadvantage; she can not even confirm or deny that Wheat is one of those who has been exposed to DU through "friendly fire" because of the Privacy Act and other laws that protect Wheat and this information. That allows Wheat to make claims with no real proof that they are genuine. Did you interview a Health Physicist for your story? The best one is former President of the Health Physics Society, Doctor Ronald Kathren in Washington State. He is a genuine expert on what happens to uranium in the human body. Had you interviewed him, you would have known other questions to ask Wheat on camera and you might have done better than just cater to the anti-depleted uranium crusade. I expect that they are now targeting your legislature to pass legislation similar to that which began in Connecticut, but was first passed in Louisiana. I am supposed to get a copy of the materials introduced in the Connecticut hearings, but my mailbox is still empty. They were conned; all of the legislatures that have passed this supposed "for the troops" legislation have been conned because the object is to show that the US is a war criminal. You seem to be near Fort Leavenworth, did you ask anyone there? You are not that far from Rock Island Arsenal near Davenport, Iowa, so you could go interview some of those who actually participated in the decontamination of the Bradleys. Have you read the End Notes in the Gulf Link postings? If not, you have not read all of what is readily available about DU. A popular deliberate misconception is that the Army has not properly studied DU, that it hides the research, etc. If you visit Gulf Link, you will find that is not true. My Message 88 linked to this URL

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/DUStory/message/88

has about 50 or more links to facts about DU and radiation from all over the world. One of those links is to Gulf Link and that can be used to dig even deeper. I look forward to your learning more and then telling your viewers that the first story was far short of the level of excellence that you have as your standard and that there is much more to this story.

I look forward to corresponding with your news staff on this.

Roger

I just sent you two articles from Health Physics by Doctor Kathren

"Keep on, Keepin' on"

Dan Cedusky, Champaign IL "Colonel Dan"

See my web site at:

http://www.angelfire.com/il2/VeteranIssues/

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