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Film premiere

'Poison DUst' features vets exposed to DU

Published Feb 23, 2005 10:53 AM

The premiere showing on Feb. 15 of "Poison DUst"--a documentary highlighting the effects of Depleted Uranium [DU] on veterans returning from the Iraq war--attracted a large and engaged crowd at the New School theater. Filmmaker Sue Harris was on hand to introduce the film and take questions afterward. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Sara Flounders, national co-director of the International Action Center, also spoke at the event.

DU refers to that portion of uranium left over after the enrichment process that makes natural metallic uranium suitable for nuclear uses. DU has limited civilian applications in the development of medical radiation therapy machines.

However, the military has found
a more sinister use for DU in its operations. Because of its high density, DU is used in armor-penetrating munitions. DU munitions were used extensively by United States forces in both the first and current Iraq wars, putting soldiers and civilians at risk of exposure.

DU is both radioactive and toxic to the human body. Exposure to DU can cause a host of ailments associated with the kidneys, lungs and immune system. An increased risk of lung tissue damage and lung cancer has been documented among uranium miners.

The film features soldiers whose health has been affected by DU exposure, along with the wives of military personnel discussing genetic disabilities faced by their children as a result of a parent's exposure to DU. An increased risk of miscarriages, maternal mortality and congenital disabilities is associated with DU contamination.

It's a weapon of mass destruction.

The top U.S. military brass are complicit in the cover-up of DU's harmful effects on civilians and soldiers. The current attitude of the U.S. military leadership is similar to the approach taken during the Vietnam War, when military leaders ignored the health risks connected to the use of Agent Orange as a defoliant.

Several military servicemembers and their families, including veterans featured in the film, were in attendance at the premiere of "Poison Dust." The anger these individuals harbor toward the government that disregarded their health and safety was apparent during the open discussion that followed the film.

It is up to the anti-war movement to channel this anger into an active resistance of the U.S. war of occupation in Iraq.

As the Troops Out Now Coalition organizes for a mass demonstration in New York City's Central Park on March 19, "Poison DUst" helps demonstrate why soldiers have both a right and a duty to resist serving in a military that disregards the lives of GIs and Iraqis.


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