November 13, 2005

Rai's White Phosphorus Fraud

Rai News24, an offshoot of communist-dominated channel Rai 3, recently released a film titled Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre accusing the United States military of using chemical weapons against civilians in the 2004 battle of Fallujah in Iraq. Immediately, and without question in most instances, left of center media outlets and political blogs trumpeted the "fact" that white phosphorus was used to create deadly clouds of poison gas, killing unknown scores of Iraqi civilans as they slept in their beds.

But who are the documentary's experts, and can they be trusted?

The Documentary "Experts"
Noted anti-American communist and serial fabricator Guiliana Sgrena was one "expert" who came armed with her opinion, but without any actual evidence. In the film she explains that the terrorists who took her hostage for several months did not want videotaped evidence of U.S. attrocities to leak out.

Jeff Englehardt, a former soldiers and left-wing poltical blogger has been roundly debunked for his erroneous claims about the physical properties of white phosphorus, has now apparently retracted his claims, while claiming that the Rai film team (that let him go on at length) misquoted him.

Another "expert witness" journalist mentioned in the video is actually Mark Manning a retired deep sea diver (not Mark Manning, the acid-tripping lead singer of Zodiac Mindwarp and The Love Reaction), who coincidentally, has his videotapes of alledged atrocities conveniently stolen before another living soul could view them, apparently by a cash rich street bum with ties to George W. Bush himself.

Even the U.S. helicopter video that the documentary presents as evidence of U.S. brutality has been exposed as fraudulently edited footage taken from another battle entirely.

One might begin to question the credibility of Rai's experts...

A Real Expert Speaks
But some experts are rather difficult to refute, and former U.S. Captain Robison (full name and current employment have been witheld for security reasons), a Confederate Yankee reader, is such an expert.

Captain Robison has over ten years of military service as an officer and enlisted soldier in the Medical Branch, Field Artillery and Signal Corp including the Gulf War and Kosovo operations. Most recently he worked as a contractor for DIA with the Iraqi Survey Group.

He had this to say:

I am a former fire support officer, who was trained to travel with infantry and armor units and be the eyes of the artillery to call for fire.

I read the article from the Italian news source, and let me state unequivocally that what it claims is physically impossible. A white phosphorous round used for illumination is a base ejecting projectile that "opens" in the air and floats down under a parachute. The projectile casing does continue down range, but fire direction officers and fire support officers along with the maneuver commanders clear this impact area as part of the calculations. The projectile casing itself could kill a person, as any bullet would, but it is not possible to use it as a chemical warfare attack.

The flare itself floats down and you would pretty much have to chase after it and position yourself under where you project it will land to even get burned. It is possible although very unlikely that this flare could hit a building and could cause a fire, but the injury wouldn't be a chemical burn, but a burn from the building fire. I have never seen anything close to this happen.

The flares come down slowly and usually burn out first, but since they are the brightest thing in the sky, it would be easy to avoid one if it landed while burning. I have seen a few flares land on the ground while burning, but this is much different than a chemical attack.

The only way you could purposely harm anyone with this is if you direct fired at a short range. The projectile most likely wouldn't eject the flare (it has a timed fuse) and it really wouldn't matter if you fired Cheetohs at someone at that range, the concussion would kill them.

An artillery unit wouldn't use direct fire unless it was being attacked. And even then it would use their organic direct fire weapons and if necessary, another type of projectile. To use a WP for direct fire would be entirely counterproductive to the security of the battery even in self defense.

This Italian news story is nothing but a lie.

I hasten to add that Captain Robison is a perhaps the single most qualified person to examine this documentary so far.

He graduated with a B.S. Biology (pre-medicine) from the University of Tampa, and has graduted the U.S. Army Field Artillery Officer Basic Course, Signal Officer Adanced Course, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, and Airborne and Air Assault.

Further, in addition to his outstanding artillery and medical background, he is also a video expert, contracted under DIA to provide analysis of captured Saddam regime video, documentation, audio, and computer media. Later, his team analyzed captured insurgent media, and analyzed thousands of videos to determine intelligence value. His team provided support that assisted in the capture of Saddam Hussein and later provided intelligence of insurgent activities.

He had this to say in specific about the video itself:

I analyzed the video and am pleased to announce that it is junk. There are many things I could point out, but here is what sticks out.
  1. The “fire raining down from the helicopter” was the part that concerned me...

    Contrary to the documentary claim that hellicopters were shooting fire, there are no helicopters in that video segment. There is a split second airbust and if you freeze the picture at the right instant, the airburst lights up the sky. There are no helicopters present. This proves a false claim by the documentary creators in what may be the most significant portion of the video...

    ...I had to watch it repeatedly to figure it out. At first I thought it was the backblast from a missile being fired the other direction. After a more thorough analysis, I realize it was an air burst of WP artillery rounds. Those are basically small rags that looked like balls of fire. This is because it is night and it is hard to get perspective at night, with or without night vision equipment. Taken out of context, it is easy to make it look like fire raining down on the city. The rag would certainly burn, but it would be like a cigarette and you would just need to brush it off, maybe take off clothes, and get away from it.

  2. The voice over states "contrary to the claim by the state department that WP was used in open fields, this was not true because tracer rounds were used to illuminate the enemy" Nothing could have spelled out liar any bigger than that one statement. Tracy rounds are never used to illuminate the enemy. The glow from a tracer round lasts tenths of a second and travels hundreds of miles an hour; it could not possibly be used for this function, again a claim that defies all practicality. Tracer rounds are used to see where your bullets are going so your fire can be adjusted, flat out. And quoting the State Department about a military function?
  3. The pictures of dead bodies while hideous provide no analytical value. Contrast the opening from Vietnam, with the burned little girl, running from a napalmed village. That is conclusive evidence. Nothing about these dead bodies looked any different to the many dead bodies I have seen analyzing other videos (of dead bodies) that were all made that way (dead) by Saddam's regime and then by Jihadists. There is no way to determine what killed these people by looking at pictures, except maybe by a forensics expert.

The soldiers in the video , however were a bit more complicated for the fomer Captain:

I find the taller guy, I think his name was Garret, credible. His story rang true and is tragically repeated. [Note: his story was about a civilian car traveling at soldiers at a high rate of speed, and the soldiers firing on the vehicle. --ed.] But this is not a war crime or a chemical attack, but bad target identification and a complete human tragedy, assuming the "civilians" were indeed non combatants, it is very hard for the soldiers to tell. Although I do question his motives that is irrelevant to this analysis since he provides no “evidence” of chemical weapons.

The other guy Jeff was a liar, to the point I would need to see his orders to believe he was in Iraq. He states, (paraphrasing) "the orders unequivocally came from the pentagon to wait until after the election".

How does he know this? Was he CENTCOM commander at the time? Did the CENTCOM commander call him up and tell him that? Even if it was true, that fact in itself is not nefarious.

The re-election of Bush would be a crushing blow to the Jihadists in Fallujah, and let me tell you, I have seen their own videos recovered from there and the place was crawling with them. It would make tactical sense to wait, if you were pretty confident that Bush would win. They call this tactical patience.

Also, the timing of the attack was heavily influenced by the Iraqi Provisional Authority. The U.S. had just helped them form and wanted to get them involved with running their country as soon as possible. That is why the first battle of Fallujah was ended, because the new Iraqi government wanted more time to talk with the Jihadists. That is until the new Iraqi government officials figured out that they were now the primary target of the Jihadists and told the U.S. effectively, go get them (the Jihadists in Fallujah) as soon as you can.

Jeff states (paraphrasing), that the U.S. was using chemical weapons because we used WP.


Furthermore about Jeff Englehardt (and for the record, I noticed this too):

He states (paraphrasing) when they used the stuff (WP) they would come over the net and say the WP is coming or "commence bombing" or something.

Commence bombing? Who was on the net giving this sitrep, Clark Gable? That's about the last time anybody used this term. This guy is a clown.

But for Captain Robison, perhaps the most damning evidence of fraud comes from contradictions in the very video itself:

The real tip off about the credibility of this “news story” is the pictures of dead animals.

The voice over said, paraphrasing: that several animals were found dead with no visible sign of trauma.

First off, did they examine the animals? If so, they didn't show it. Sure something is not visible, if you don't look! Animals die everyday from natural causes, hunger, disease, or even getting hit by cars or possibly by conventional weapons.

And get this, they show people who appear burned and claim this to be a sign of a chemical weapon, then they show animals with no injuries in the context of this discussion to imply they died of a mysterious chemical weapon. Their “facts” not only fail to support each other, but they directly conflict with each other.

After reviewing all of this evidence, he states:

By introducing these “facts” in the context of a chemical weapons discussion, yet not having any supporting evidence, I can only conclude that not only are these charges false, but this was done with the documentary creator's full knowledge that they were baseless charges. In other words, they purposely lied, which goes to their credibility.

Captain Robison then floored me with this firsthand experience as he reacts to reading this story at Daily Kos, regarding Marines talking about using white phosphorus in screening missions:

The kind of projectile they are speaking about here creates smoke. It is widely, commonly, and legally used by every army to conceal their men. Usually, if an obstacle needs to be breeched, the smoke is delivered by artillery in between the obstacle and the enemy observer. It can also be placed on the enemy to confuse and scare them. The smoke itself is uncomfortable, but not dangerous, unless you want to sit on top of the projectile and breathe it. I know because I have experienced it. [my bold]

Unless someone at Daily Kos or Rai News24 can present me with convincing evidence that Captain Robison died due to his exposure and is now a zombie, then I think this "crockumentary" can now be listed as thoroughly debunked.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 13, 2005 02:09 AM | TrackBack

My husband is a grunt. When we heard this, I think I finally saw him get really really mad at the liberal media.

Posted by: Jo at November 13, 2005 07:51 AM

When I reviewed the Englehardt film, I came to the same conclusions; that there was no helicopter; that the source of the showering fire balls was an air burst of WP. The one floating down was an old artillery flare used for illumination only - no antipersonnel value whatsoever; just makes it easier to see the enemy with the naked eye. Since the advent of night vision goggles (NVGs), we own the night. We rarely employ flares anymore because the brightness shuts down the NVGs. It would certainly have been counterproductive for us to emply flares at Fallujah and shut down our own troops NVGs.

Englehardt told me where he was in the fight when he made the comment about the radio speakers. He was in a Commo HMMWV (a communications vehicle used to command the fight) which is not at the forefront in any battle, rather it remains close to the rear to ensure communications are not lost.

I’ll reiterate this one more time; doctrinally our US Army Field Artillery employs WP for three purposes; smoke to screen the movement of troops and equipment, to destroy enemy fuel and ammo storage areas, and to destroy equipment (usually unarmored equipment like trucks, trailers, tentage, etc.)

In the film clip; the air-bursting WP would be a classic employment against fuel, ammo or equipment. WP whether an air burst or ground burst is just not an effective antipersonnel weapon. If it were, it would be doctrinally employed as such. We have far superior weapons for antipersonnel; like artillery shells that burst in the air dispersing many miniature grenades which in turn burst at waist height above the ground. Just a couple such shells can decimate a whole battalion of troops in the open. It would take hundreds of WP shells to get the same kind of killing result. I guarantee the military will employ munitions in the most effective manner possible.

Posted by: Old Soldier at November 13, 2005 05:45 PM

Call those multiple stage weapons "grid killers", old soldier

Posted by: Chase at November 13, 2005 08:47 PM

If this Robison guy is so qualified, how come he doesn't know the difference between illum and WP?

Just quibbling. Overall, he's correct in my view. But WP is not an illum round. It's a marking and obscuration round. It's also used to scuttle vehicles and guns when they must be abandoned on the field of battle.

Posted by: Jason Van Steenwyk at November 13, 2005 11:23 PM

Here's a picture of tracer fire (time elapsed). The only thing a tracer round illuminates is the path the bullet takes, not the surroundings.

Posted by: dorkafork at November 14, 2005 02:01 AM

I was in the US Army Infantry for 18 years and trained with 81mm and 4.2in mortars, so I know a bit about WP. There are two types of WP round- the illumination round mentioned by CPT Robison and an obscurant (smoke) round. CPT Robison dealt properly with the both rounds. The smoke round does not produce a toxic smoke, but the round is extremely dangerous when it burns. It will burn completely through just about anything, so the bodies shown would be, at best, horribly burned.
This whole thing is a put-up job by ignorant people for ignorant people.

Posted by: olddawg at November 14, 2005 10:38 AM

Jason, that was my question as well. I'm now thoroughly confused. Are we talking about WP rounds or illumination rounds. I can't believe anyone would be objecting to the use of illumination flares. Of course, I don't understand people's objection to WP rounds either.

Posted by: Tony B at November 14, 2005 11:13 PM

Tony B,

Don't get too bogged down in the details, but just to clarify, we are talking about WP as the most common (obscurant, or smoke)loading.

WP can apparently loaded into different kinds of shells for different uses. Most are used for screening, but some weapons still seem to have WP availible as a kind of illumination round.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at November 14, 2005 11:26 PM

Old Dawg,

Thank you. That cleared it up for me. I wasn't aware that there were WP illumination rounds. I wish I'd read your comment before confessing my ignorance. I feel a bit stupid about this. I'm a former artillery officer myself.

Posted by: Tony B at November 15, 2005 12:03 AM

Tony, I must admit, that was a nagging question in my mind about mag vs. wp for illum. I researched it and didn't find a source for mag so I went with what I thought. Some are supporting each opinion, but just for illum, not smoke which is the real heart of the matter. If anyone has a source for mag, please post. If necessary, insert mag for WP in the illum talk and leave WP for smoke and it still applies, thanks

Posted by: Ray Robison at November 15, 2005 12:34 AM

My father was hit with white phosphorous in Korea where it was used for anti-personnel situations by both the North Koreans and the Chinese. It was NOT used as a gas weapon, instead, it was meant to inflict burns/wounds almost like a shrapnel weapon. This kind of half-truth or outright lie posing as reporting truly makes my blood boil, especially when it is simply not challenged. Is this a nation of sheep or lemmings?

Posted by: Richard M at November 15, 2005 06:23 AM

I'm not sure what I think about this. I believed the documentary when I saw it; now I can see a bit more clearly the propaganda behind it. Nevertheless, the government started out by denying the use of WP, and now it changed its stance to "yes, we use it, but only on combatants, and we never signed an agreement saying WP is a chemical weapon" (see CNN's story on the web).

It just seems that we are undermining ourselves by lying about what we do. I would actually be fine with the use of WP as a weapon. It's war, for crying out loud. Everyone dies a horrible death in a war, some faster than others, some more painful, but in the end if you're fighting someone to the death, there's gonna be suffering involved. If using WP makes us win the war more easily, then buy a ton or two on me. But this illusion of "civilized" conflict is just cowardly. There is nothing civilized about blowing someone's head off. We all wish it wasn't necessary, but it is. Sorry to get off on a rant, but for the love of God, stop lying about it.

Posted by: Peter Campbell at November 16, 2005 04:53 PM

This is just one more example of American double-standards:


And the Republicans want to find who blew the whistle.



The US used chemical weapons in Iraq - and then lied about it,12271,1642989,00.html

Posted by: Jason Kaynes at November 18, 2005 11:32 AM

A lot of people are claiming that WP is a chemical and a weapon therefore it is a chemical weapon. My desire is to clear up this misconception by analyzing the differences between WP as it was used in Fallujah and a chemical weapon. It is not an attempt to dehumanize the event or pass morale judgment either way. I leave that to the reader. But I think it is important for people to have easy to understand, informal analysis to make judgments.

Compare and contrast the use of WP in Fallujah to a generic chemical weapon.

A chemical weapon when deployed will retain its toxicity in vapor or liquid form for a variable length of time usually measurable in hours, depending on the agent. This is to create wide and indiscriminate dispersal.

WP oxidizes spontaneously and does not exist in a residual form when exposed to oxygen other than smoke, which is no more harmful than any smoke because it is no longer "white phosphorous" having oxidized. In addition, the military application in question uses WP embedded on felt wedges to allow a more controlled dispersion versus indiscriminate.

Chemical weapons require protective equipment and decontamination to operate in the affected area.

WP requires none after it oxidizes.

Chemical weapons attack the body in a variety of ways including inhalation and absorption through the skin to produce a toxic effect.

Though you can replicate a scenario in a controlled environment that may demonstrate this for WP, such as forced ingestion, the practical application of WP weapons causes injury by the heat generated by oxidation. The injury is localized to the exposed area and does spread through the body, but it would take massive amounts of exposure to become toxic, which is impractical to this application. It continues until the WP is removed, oxidized, or removed from oxygen. This is a burn, not a toxic reaction.

If you are in a location attacked with a chemical weapon, there is no way to avoid it without protective equipment.

Falling WP can be avoided easily with cover. The WP may cause secondary fires and associated smoke, but fire and smoke are not chemical weapons.

The lethality is what really shows the difference:

If you deployed a chemical weapon against a building containing 20 enemy soldiers, they would probably all die and any one near the building, down the street, around the corner….

If you deployed this application (base-ejecting, artillery 155mm projectile with WP embedded on 116 felt wedges with a total payload about the size of a coffee can) against a building you would have a very low probability of killing any of the soldiers. You would even have a low probability of injury, since in this scenario the enemy has cover. You may get secondary effects from fire and concentrated smoke, but this is not a chemical attack.

Chemical weapons have one function: kill everything in the affected area.

WP has other functionality such as obscuration, incendiary, and marking a target.

Posted by: Ray Robison at November 18, 2005 11:37 AM


Want to play dueling newspapers? Who should we beleive, ther fiercely left-wing, traitorous tabloid Guardian, or teh word-respected Times?,,19269-1877455,00.html

Posted by: hiya at November 18, 2005 12:03 PM

liberals not stupid. chickenhawks stupid. read on, chickenhawks.
phosphorus is a chemical.
chemicals are packed into shell casings.

casings are 1) launched, 2) dropped, 3) shot out of guns.
sometimes these casings have parachutes attached to them.

sometimes not.

using soft wadding, many chemicals can be shot out of guns into buildings containing civilians or freedom fighters or pink elephants and when the chemical gets on the (all the above) they burn as.if.they.were.attacked.with.a.chemical.weapon.

when i was in the service, we called it cbw (chemical biological warfare), or cnbw if you want to go nuclear.
chickenhawks can call it whatever they want, it's a free country, but a chemical is a chemical and burnt people are still crispy critters. see these pictures here. warning: not pretty.

Posted by: fazzaz31 at November 21, 2005 10:41 PM


so your logic is:

WP is a chemical
a chemical can be used on people
your experience in the service indicates WP is a chemical weapon

Bad logic, bad reasoning, bad conclusions, bad data on your experience. In my over ten years of U.S. army training on the application of and how to react to chemical weapons, WP was never even mentioned. I defy you to find a US army training manual that deals with chemical weapons that even mentions it. I am waiting, blameocrat....

Posted by: Ray Robison at November 22, 2005 04:41 PM