grassrootspeace.org

November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website, traprockpeace.org, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.

THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to PeaceJournal.org, a multimedia blog and resource center.

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Contents - Archives - War Crimes - GI Special - Student Activism - Links

War on Truth  From Warriors to Resisters
Books of the Month

The War on Truth

From Warriors to Resisters

Army of None

Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

See Buffalo News and Springfield Republican stories below

This is a sampling of media accounts. The stories are not in chronological order; the first two focus more on DU as an issue. The local NPR affiliate in Rochester covered the DU issue in depth with an interview with Rokke while he was there for the talk.


August 8, 2003

The Calesonian-Record, St. Johnsbury, VT (front page story)

Military Scientist: Depleted Uranium Killing Soldiers And Civilians

BY KIM ACHILLES, Staff Writer

Doug Rokke is a walking contradiction: He jokes easily about being a warrior involved in the peace movement.

In the same breath Rokke talks amicably about acting in his community theater and then shows his calf, peppered with a rash he says was caused by exposure to depleted uranium at least 10 years ago.

Rokke, a lifelong military man and scientist, took the stage at the South Congregational Church in St. Johnsbury Wednesday evening, addressing an audience of about 100 people. He was invited by the North Country Coalition, to talk about the role of the government in using depleted uranium in foreign wars as well as the effects of depleted uranium on soldiers and civilians.

Depleted uranium is a radioactive nuclear waste product. The Army has been using the uranium in ammunition weapons in combat since 1973.

Rokke maintains that exposure to depleted uranium can cause a myriad of illnesses including reactive airway disease, numbness, kidney stones, rashes, bleeding sores, vision loss, cataracts, gum tissue problems, lymphoma, skin and organ cancer, neuro-psychological disorders, memory loss, sexual dysfunction and severe birth defects.

Rokke makes the contradiction of him fighting the military clear from the start.

“I am a warrior,” he said. “Two years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed I’d have one foot in the peace movement.”

Rokke also lays out another basic premise. “The purpose of war is to kill and destroy,” he said.

Rokke, a Vietnam and Gulf War veteran, is a health physicist and the former director of the Army's Depleted Uranium Project. A lifelong military man, he was asked in 1991 to be the Army's technical expert in developing training to protect soldiers from chemical and biological weapons.

He now is working to educate the public about the dangers of depleted uranium munitions. Rokke says he stepped away from the military’s code of silence because he was ordered to protect people from DU and plans on completing that mission.

“I won’t lie ladies and gentlemen, I don’t answer to the president of the United States, I answer to the man who owns this house, I answer to God.”

While working in the project, Rokke said he found inconsistencies in government treatment of depleted uranium munitions.

According to Rokke, when a uranium weapon explodes, it sends a shower of contaminated shrapnel out over a massive area. Also, anything that has touched the uranium, like the place it’s fired from and the shell casing left behind afterward, are all contaminated.

Uranium has a half-life of 4.5 billion years.

The Army has known since 1943 that there is no way to protect against contamination, Rokke said, citing a memo from Brigadier General L.R. Groves ordering the use of radioactive weapons because there is was no known treatment or protection.

Because there is no effective protection, American soldiers, as well as foreign women, children and soldiers, are getting sick and dying from exposure to depleted uranium, Rokke said.

An example is Vieques, Puerto Rico, where uranium munitions were tested, in the late 1990s, before the United States’ involvement in Kosovo. According to Rokke, the government has finally pulled out of Vieques but is still refusing to provide medical care to residents or clean up the environment.

That cleanup effort, Rokke said, would include pushing contaminated rubble and soil for a 1,000-meter radius into a deep hole

According to Rokke. the Army used roughly 320 tons of depleted uranium in the Gulf War and used more than 1,000 tons in the recent war in Iraq.

Rokke himself was tested for exposure to depleted uranium. He showed to be excreting more than six times the safe limits of uranium but has been refused treatment through the VA. Several of Rokke’s counterparts who did field work with him have died from diseases Rokke believes resulted from depleted uranium exposure. Many more, he said, are sick and being denied medical care.

Uranium munitions should be banned from use in any context, he added

“War is obsolete, peace has got to reign on earth,” he said.


Warning of Toxic Aftermath from Uranium Munitions

Published on Tuesday, July 22, 2003 by the Buffalo News (New York) http://www.buffalonews.com
Reprinted by CommonDreams

by Anthony Cardinale

The American use of depleted uranium munitions in both Persian Gulf wars has unleashed a toxic disaster that will eclipse the Agent Orange tragedy of the Vietnam War, a former top Army official said Monday evening.

Former Maj. Douglas Rokke, who was director of the Army's depleted uranium project, spoke to 125 people at the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society. The Champaign, Ill., science professor was brought here by the Western New York Peace Center.

"I am a warrior," the 54-year-old Vietnam War veteran began. "The sole purpose of war is to kill and destroy. There are no winners."

Dressed in sneakers, blue jeans and a red polo shirt, Rokke fit the image of an animated science professor, hair tousled, adjusting his glasses and eager to impart his findings to the next generation.

If what he says is true, students will soon have yet another chapter of heartbreaking history to study in the schools. If he is wrong, it will take years to disprove.

Called to active duty in 1990, Rokke said, he was assigned to develop procedures for cleaning up uranium contamination after "they decided to use depleted uranium munitions" in the war to expel Iraq from Kuwait.

"They didn't tell anybody what they were doing. Why would they? Depleted uranium munitions are the ultimate weapon. Each round fired by an Abrams tank (represents) 10 pounds of solid uranium-238. The purpose of war is to kill and destroy."

Rokke said his team in the gulf blew up vehicles and structures with these munitions and then tested the wreckage for radioactive contamination. He said they found that uranium dust is so fine that it acts like a gas, seeping through the tiny pores of protective masks.

The United States blew up Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in Kuwait and on the Saudi Arabian border in the first gulf war, Rokke said. As a precaution, American personnel were inoculated before entering the field, but "we were told not to record it, and it's not in the soldiers' medical records."

Uranium munitions were also used during the recent war in Iraq, he added.

"It's like playing darts," he said, "except you're playing with 10 pounds of solid uranium and it catches fire immediately. You lose nearly 40 percent of the round in uranium dust. It contaminates air, water and soil for all eternity."

Rokke said an "infamous memo" from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico on March 1, 1991, warned of the "impact on the environment" of depleted uranium rounds and suggested that they "may become politically unacceptable." Today he interprets the memo as "a direct order to lie."

The memo from Los Alamos - where the first atomic bombs were developed and tested during World War II - prevented the military from acknowledging the danger of these munitions, Rokke said.

"The United States used 375 tons in Gulf War I," Rokke said. "My orders were to take care of U.S. casualties and vehicles" that had been hit by "friendly fire.'

"Myself and my team members started to get sick almost immediately. It started with respiratory problems, then rashes."

But the procedures developed by his team were never implemented, Rokke said, despite a military order of June 1991 to treat these personnel. Recalling a wounded friend who suffered tumors where uranium shrapnel had been left in his body, he said the authorities found "no compelling evidence" of a connection and refused to authorize removal of the shrapnel or special treatment.

In his own case, Rokke added, his body has six times the amount of uranium that usually requires medical care but has received no help or advice from the government.

"The technology of war is out of control," Rokke concluded. "We don't have the ability to clean it up (or) treat it. I'm a warrior, but my conclusion is that war is obsolete. A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs report says over 221,000 of our sons and daughters are on permanent disability and over 10,000 dead - one-third of our Gulf War I force. And they're coming back sick right now."

Copyright 1999 - 2003 - The Buffalo News


Groups protest use of A-bomb in Japan

http://www.masslive.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news-2/1060500732149641.xml?nnae

08/10/2003

By CHRIS HAMEL Staff writer

SPRINGFIELD - On the 58th anniversary yesterday of the atomic bombing in World War II of Nagasaki, Japan, about 50 people rallied for pro-peace activities at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

Sponsored by 10 area organizations, the second annual "Hiroshima Nagasaki Commemoration" included a community forum, a keynote speech and a late-afternoon vigil outside the center at State and Rutland streets. The vigil's participants posted signs and banners, including a protest of American involvement in Iraq.

Nagasaki was bombed by American B-29s on Aug. 9, 1945, an event preceded three days before by the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, which marked the only use of atomic bombs as weapons. The two assaults killed almost 145,000 Japanese, and thousands more died later from radiation exposure.

The late President Harry S. Truman ordered the attacks for several reasons, including to hasten the war's end and protect the lives of 1 million allied troops that would have been jeopardized by an invasion of Japan.

Participants in the event here drew links between the bombings in Japan, weapons used in subsequent wars, and domestic issues. "People need to see that the money going into the military is the people's; that it's being taken away from (government) services," said Mary-Elizabeth C. Bewsee of Springfield, outreach coordinator for Arise for Social Justice, one of the event's sponsors.

She said that while taxpayers' money is being pumped into the armed services, the public is facing government cuts in such areas as health care and education. She also cited hunger in America as a concern.

Douglas L. Rokke, who identified himself as a U.S. Army reservist and health physicist, who, after the Persian Gulf War, directed the Army's Depleted Uranium Project, was the main speaker indoors. Rokke, 54, of Rantoul, Ill., said he is making a New England speaking tour, but is not representing the military.

He said at the vigil that he later planned to speak, in general, about warfare's negative health and environmental effects, and specifically about the harm caused by depleted uranium. The military in many countries, including the United States and Iraq, uses depleted uranium metal as an ingredient in such weapons as tank shells, machine gun rounds and a variety of bombs, including bunker and tank "busters."

The density of depleted uranium is its weapon appeal, along with its penetration ability and the velocity at which it can be fired. Depleted uranium is the vast majority of what remains after fissionable uranium is taken from natural uranium for use in nuclear bombs and as reactor fuel.

Rokke said, citing its use in the first Gulf War and this year's Operation Iraqi Freedom, that depleted uranium damages not only the health of American and allied troops, but also that of enemy forces, civilians and the environment.

He said although he was commended for his work in setting in place plans for post-Gulf War medical care and environmental cleanup, the military hasn't followed through with the plans. He said he now is working outside the military to see that the plans bear fruit.

He said the military continues to use depleted uranium, which he acknowledged is effective in combat. But, he said, its use is at the peril of American and other troops; civilians, including those who manufacture depleted uranium; and the environment.

"Our government, right now, is out of control," he said.

Chris Hamel can be reached at chamel@ repub.com

 

Page created July 22, 2003 by Charlie Jenks

 



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