By MARC MCDONALD
The recent revelation that U.S. forces used white phosphorus weapons during its assault on Fallujah raises questions about the seizing of Fallujah's general hospital early in the campaign.
U.S. military officials have recently admitted using white phosphorus weapons in Fallujah after long denying it. The devastating chemical weapons melt human flesh and can burn through skin, right down to the bone.
When the U.S. military forces bombarded Fallujah in November 2004, their first act was to seize the city's main hospital and arrest the doctors. U.S. officials claimed at the time that the hospital was selected as an early target because it was a "center of propaganda."
Author Noam Chomsky has pointed out that the hospital seizure was a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions. The treaties state that "medical units and transports shall be respected and protected at all times and shall not be the object of attack."
Chomsky notes that after the U.S. military's seizure of Fallujah's general hospital, "patients were kicked out of their beds and doctors and patients were forced to lie on the floor, handcuffed."
And it raises an interesting question: did the U.S. military seize the hospital to suppress news about the use of its white phosphorus attacks in Fallujah? After all, the U.S. official's stated rationale for seizing the hospital was to control the flow of information. And what better way to conceal reports of civilian casualties bearing telltale white phosphorus burns than to seize Fallujah's hospital?