Many electronic bits have been used to decry the alleged use of White Phosphorous (aka Willie Pete) in an attack in Iraq. Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! discussed this recently. I don't know the details as to whether this event actually occured or not. But, as with the Geneva Conventions and their applicability to illegal combatants (aka terrorists), the Left is disingenous when they claim that we're acting in violation of international treaties.
For more information on White Phosphorous and its potential uses (most commonly as a smoke screen), see this WikiPedia entry.
It turns out that White Phosphorous is a banned incendiary under Protocol III of the UN Convention on Conventional Weapons. However, as with Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions which automatically affords terrorists with POW status, the US is not a signatory to the protocol that restricts the use of incendiaries such as Willie Pete and napalm.
In fact, Amy Goodman reads directly from Protocol III of the Convention on Conventional Weapons to describe Willie Pete as a restricted weapon.
LT. COL. STEVE BOYLAN: Well, part of what he was saying was fading in and out, so I'm not clear on everything he said. But again, I would assert that [White Phosphorous] is a legal weapon to use. It is not considered a chemical weapon as chemical weapons are described today. And again, he is again in error. And I would stack up my 21 years of training in the military versus his and what his profession is now. All of our chemical weapons have been declared to the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are being destroyed in the United States in accordance with our obligations under the chemical weapons convention. So he, again, is in error that it is considered a chemical weapon, as are all other individuals asserting that fact.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to read to you from the Geneva Convention on certain conventional weapons, protocol three. “Protocol and Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons. Geneva, October 10, 1980. [aka Protocol III] Article I, definitions for the purpose of this protocol. One, incendiary weapon means any weapon or munition which is primarily designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to persons through the action of flame, heat or combination thereof, produced by a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on the target. (a) Incendiary weapons can take the form of, for example, flame throwers, fougasses, shells, rockets, grenades, mines, bombs and other containers of incendiary substances.” Lieutenant Colonel Boylan?
LT. COL. STEVE BOYLAN: I know of no cases where people were deliberately targeted by the use of white phosphorus. Again, I did not say white phosphorus was used for illumination. White phosphorus is used for obscuration, which white phosphorus produces a heavy thick smoke to shield us or them from view so that they cannot see what we are doing. It is used to destroy equipment, to destroy buildings. That is what white phosphorus shells are used for.
Surely she knows that we are not a signatory to this protocol? Jimmy Carter (and his successors) never signed this protocol... She's either a liar or stupid. I'll let her pick which...
Check out John Cole's Balloon Juice for more info... And the Kossacks are in a tizzy over this, too - even calling White Phosphorous a Chemical Weapon. (Are they really this stupid?)
Tip of the Hat to the "intellectual" insurgent.
Be sure to check out the Daily Ablution and Protein Wisdom as well. Both debunk the claims being made regarding the use of Willie Pete (as opposed to my position which is that it doesn't matter if it was used or not - we're in a friggin' war and all approved weapons should be "on the table". And that isn't to say that White Phosphorous is an offensive weapon - it's primary use is as an obscurant, not to inflict damage on the enemey. But to say that the US military shouldn't be able to use such a tool in warfare is ludicrous.)
ARC: St Wendeler