The “RAD ALERT Conference: Nuclear Dollars versus the Common Good” was held in Columbus on September 25, complete with national and international level speakers. The central intent of the conference was to provide the necessary information to understand several current nuclear issues.

What is most interesting is the coverage given to the conference by the Columbus Dispatch. In an article published on Sunday, September 26th, in response to facts and documents provided by Dr. Doug Rokke, health physicist, former Army Medical Corps, and former head of a team to clean-up uranium weapon damaged equipment, the Dispatch contacted a Robert G. Williscroft, a former Navy submarine officer who supposedly specialized in nuclear weapons.

Williscroft immediately attacked Rokke’s character and accused Rokke of “lying through his teeth.” Williscroft also attempted to dismiss the hazards of uranium weapons by saying that “uranium is abundant in the Earth’s crust and is not harmful to soldiers or their families. He’s (Rokke) absolutely lying through his teeth when he says it will hurt children, cause cancers and deformities,” Williscroft said. “That’s total malarkey. It’s not dangerous, and no credible scientist would admit to it.” The question now turns to the Columbus Dispatch as a willing participant in a blatant disinformation campaign. The controversy of the use of so called “depleted” uranium weapons is in the denial of the long-term effects of exposure to their dust, not in the well-established science. Posing a disinformation specialist such as Williscroft to Rokke’s facts and documents might also indicate a higher priority being placed upon the political implications, rather than the physics involved both in a controlled laboratory or in a combat field situation.

The term “depleted” applied to uranium weapons is conspicuously spin-friendly for disinformation specialists. The word “depleted” is a result of uranium 238 being produced as a waste product from the enrichment process which produces the fissionable material for nuclear bombs and nuclear reactors. Uranium-238 in its 4.5 billion year half life of decay toward lead produces a series of sister elements which are also radioactive in different ways. Uranium-238 is what is described as an alpha particle emitter. An alpha particle is a proton and neutron pair which is also the equivalent of a helium nucleus. Alpha particle radiation is the slowest and weakest in terms of the distance these particles are able to be projected, compared to beta and gamma forms of radiation. This makes it more difficult to detect unless the Geiger counter is very close to the source. However, if Uranium-238 is turned to a fine dust which is then inhaled or penetrates through open wounds, when the particles are embedded in living tissue, it can do considerable damage to the adjacent cells and their molecular components including the genetic codes of the nucleic acids which will release cancers and cause birth defects. The military tests for determining uranium poisoning are intentionally poorly conceived because they have known for decades that there is no known way to successfully treat a person for uranium dust exposure.

One property that makes it attractive to the U.S. military is that it is pyrophorric. This means that it ignites on use and burns through most hard materials, and projectiles made from it are “self sharpening.” Another attraction is that as an uranium enrichment process by-product it is relatively inexpensive to produce, particularly when there is no responsibility taken for the very long-term contamination of the environment or the very long-term damage to the health of the people manufacturing these weapons, or for our combat troops, or for civilians occupying the invaded territories.

The only case where the U.S. military has shown concern about the toxic and radioactive contamination resulting in Iraq by its use of uranium weapons was in issuing a command to provide Cheney’s Halliburton with a strategy to more safely extract profits from the Iraq invasions in one of its many no-bid, mega-million dollar contracts. Contrast that with the continuing denial of the VA administration in recognizing the claims by U.S. soldiers who have been medically harmed by their exposure to “depleted” uranium weapon contamination, have contributed to medical harm to their partners, and have by their contamination experienced a high level of genetic birth defects among their children . Contrast that with the enormous increase in leukemia, other cancers, and birth defects among the civilians in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq and among U.S. military combat personnel who served in those areas.

The DOD wants very much to continue using uranium weapons, and to deny emphatically any liability for their use which would establish that they are routinely committing crimes against humanity and the rest of the community of life. Please, also remember that the U.S. has just recently sold Israel $153 million dollars worth of “depleted” uranium weapons, some known as “Bunker Busters,” to apparently be used against the Palestineans and Iranians.

The cynicism behind these policies and in the use of uranium weapons is deadly in itself. Openly questioning these policies and priorities has to begin with getting educated about the related issues. See these websites: and

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