A Crass Footnote Re: The Supposed Anti-Depleted Uranium Conspiracy

Tungsten?Well, it’s been roughly half a month since Aaron Dames posted a link to the reductionist new Conspiracy Theories page over at America.gov. Within about a week, astute reader 5by5 would comment that the State Department is now deliberately downplaying the effects of depleted uranium, or at least equating its effects with those of tungsten. Of course, the healthy distrust so imbues Disinformation‘s readership that 5by5′s comment became quite popular.

As posted at The Buffalo Beast, a new article about how the State Department’s newest claims stand up against medical experts, the EPA, and those working closest with victims of heavy-metal poisoning:

Late this May, America.gov sought to clear the air on a wide variety of topics: aliens, anti-Semitism, Islam, fake moon landing stories, various 9/11 theories, government synthesized AIDS and more. The page is produced by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs and, as expected, they endorse none of their cataloged conspiracies. The Grassy Knoll was as obviously bunk as the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, and that’s just as crazy as depleted uranium being more of a health risk than low-toxicity tungsten. With all the ideas given equal weight, the vibe is somewhere between Ted Kaczynski and Howard Hughes.

It reminded me of Cass Sunstein, now administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and his tone in a 1998 co-authored research paper called Conspiracy Theories. Sunstein is fascinated by how conspiracy theorists are led astray, and consequently Sunstein and co-author Adrian Vermeule repeatedly emphasize how peer pressure, concern for reputation and group dynamics produce beliefs that should not fall within normal consideration. Toward the beginning of the essay, the authors are willing to acknowledge some conspiracy theories’ essential truth. (The authors cite adults’ obvious conspiracy regarding Santa Claus’ existence.) But by the end of the essay, they consider conspiracy theories exclusively in the framework of a false belief that governments may or may not have some reason to subvert through various means. Too conveniently, the authors provide no rubric by which “the government” decides which conspiracy theories in question are false and require subversion.

An incessant consternation with conspiracy theories’ “self-sealing” nature influences Sunstein’s entire advisory study. And this consternation would seem almost naïve if the essay did not largely conclude with a tedious rumination on the meaning of the Freedom of Information Act, the selective necessity of government agencies disclosing information and Judicial Watch’s long attempt to get the entirety of the Pentagon 9/11 surveillance footage released to the public. The essay parrots the cliché that governments have enormous trouble keeping big secrets, but seems to spend an awfully long time contradicting that claim by evidencing how footage so sensational could and even should have been kept from the public for years on end…

[continues at The Buffalo Beast.

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  • AD

    Nice Post.
    There's a great documentary called Beyond Treason, which explores the effects of DU and other military experiments on servicemen. Check it out: http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/category/educ

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  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Good article. There are endless 'theories' I disagree with, not because Nothing happened, but because people with a pre set anger toward an already chosen target tend to write that targets name into whatever event they perceive. (IE. the Jews are behind it, the Masons are behind it, Islam is behind it, Vaccuum Cleaner salesmen are behind it). The names change depending on what some fears or hates, but the core events stay pretty solid. Its what people do with those core events that leads to the whackiness that makes debunking them dangerously easy.

    But DU rounds are a perfect one trick pony. They absolutely exist, in decades past and now, they were used in recent conflicts and people were widely trained in their use. Their existence and origin aren't even in question…the government of the US and its various military branches (Pentagon, DOD, contractors etc) all jumped on the bandwagon…

    …and used a deadly radioactive poison to make munitions that toxified battlefields worldwide. The part the government has trouble with is accepting that the incalculable costs of treating areas afflicted with this garbage may take a dozen lifetimes to pay. I especially agree with the title word “Crass” at the header of the article. Using a website that is meant to debunk conspiracy theories to spread further disinfo regarding a non-theory, unquestioned fact to avoid the blame and expense that come from wrongdoing is the very definition of crass.

  • ES

    I have to say that I am a little skeptical of the U.S.G. claims about DU; and, I think it was foolish of them to lump DU claims into the same category as “faked moon landings'', etc. We of course know very little about the possible health effects of DU on HUMANS for the simple fact that the necessary, large-scale experiments are unethical. We DO KNOW that such compounds as lead, from shot or bullets, can cause a whole range of health problems if taken into the body, even in low quantities; and lead isn't even radioactive (or at least the isotopes commonly used are not unstable). Is U238 much worse than lead?

    Troubling, very very troubling…

  • Vlad

    There are somewhat plausible conspiracy theories and then there are ludicrous conspiracy theories. By putting “Elvis is alive” types in the same category as effects of depleted uranium the government effectively kills two birds with one stone, elevating paranoid schizophrenics and downplaying measurable effects of proven use of radioactive substances. Elvis lunatics will just get more ammunition (pun intended) for their delusion if they can say “government says uranium is harmless too!”.

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  • Guest

    Depleted Uranium are not more toxic than lead or tungsten! The more toxic form of it it is when it burn, releasing poisonous gas and dust. But if you are hit with it, that is the least of your concern!

    • Vlad

      So the fact that people that are not the intended target and are not even the area at the time of conflict also suffer is OK with you? Tell that to kids born with terrible birth defects years after these weapons are used.

  • Vlad

    So the fact that people that are not the intended target and are not even the area at the time of conflict also suffer is OK with you? Tell that to kids born with terrible birth defects years after these weapons are used.

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