Thursday, 29 July 2004
Mike Miles, 51, Green Party congressional candidate for the 7th District in northern Wisconsin, was arrested yesterday at Alliant Techsystems (ATK) in Edina, Minnesota. ATK is at the center of controversy for their production of depleted uranium (DU) munitions. ATK is the largest producer of DU weapons in the world.
Opponents argue that the use of DU shells blurs the line between conventional and nuclear war.
Miles and three others walked up the driveway to ATK corporate headquarters to ask for a meeting with executives about producing munitions that may be in violation of international law regarding poisonous weapons. Other attempts to arrange meetings by phone were ignored by officials at ATK so the group went to ask for a meeting in person.
They were stopped at the visitors parking area by ATK security staff Toni Morrison. Morrison told the group that none of the people they wanted to meet with were available and that it would not be possible to schedule a meeting with anyone at their corporate headquarters.
When asked if she would deliver documents to executives on behalf of the group, Morrison said she could not guarantee that officials would see any of the materials they had brought with them.
Miles said he had video footage with him that he had filmed at a pediatric hospital in Iraq showing severe birth abnormalities in Iraqi children that he wanted ATK executives to see. He also had photographs of deformed children that he tried to show her, at which point Morrison directed two Edina police officers who had been standing quietly by to arrest the group.
The four residents of rural Polk County were taken to the Edina police station where they were booked, given citations for trespass, and assigned a court date of August 25 before being released.
Depleted Uranium weapons were first used during the 1991 Gulf War primarily to destroy Iraqi tanks. When DU shells penetrate their target, they explode leaving a fine residue of dust containing various radioactive isotopes.
During the 1991 war, the US military admits to using 300 tons of DU shells, mostly in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and southern Iraq. DU shells were also used extensively in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and in the current invasion of Iraq. While 147 US soldiers were killed in combat during the fighting in 1991, according to several Gulf War veterans organizations, almost 10,000 troops have since died, and nearly 25% of the 750,000 soldiers deployed have some kind of permanent disability.
Many veterans have referred to DU as the Agent Orange of this generation. Agent Orange was a defoliant used widely during the Vietnam War which has been proven to adversely affect the health of people exposed to it.
The Pentagon denies any link between DU and illness. An early study of possible health effects related to DU exposure was performed by Major Doug Rokke, a medical doctor who served in the first Gulf War. Almost everyone in Rokkes investigative team became contaminated and many have since died. Rokke himself has extremely high levels of uranium in his blood and is severely ill.
Miles is undeterred by those who say getting arrested is not going to help him get elected. Everyone is talking about supporting the troops and yet neither the Democrats nor Republicans are talking about DU contamination as the number one health risk to US troops, said Miles. This issue must be put on the national agenda whatever it takes.
He advised that anyone going to Iraq for prolonged periods use every precaution to protect themselves against the hundreds of tons of DU dust blowing around in the vicinity of tank battles. I dont know what to tell women, but men who are hoping to have healthy families when they return should think about banking sperm before being deployed to Iraq, said Miles.