Oh, dear ... and who didn't see this coming?
NEW YORK --It takes at least 10 minutes and a large glass of orange juice to wash down all the pills -- morphine, methadone, a muscle relaxant, an antidepressant, a stool softener. Viagra for sexual dysfunction. Valium for his nerves.
Four hours later, Herbert Reed will swallow another 15 mg of morphine to cut the pain clenching every part of his body. He will do it twice more before the day is done.
Since he left a bombed-out train depot in Iraq, his gums bleed. There is more blood in his urine, and still more in his stool. Bright light hurts his eyes. A tumor has been removed from his thyroid. Rashes erupt everywhere, itching so badly they seem to live inside his skin. Migraines cleave his skull. His joints ache, grating like door hinges in need of oil.
So what's the problem, Herb?
Reed believes depleted uranium has contaminated him and his life. He now walks point in a vitriolic war over the Pentagon's arsenal of it -- thousands of shells and hundreds of tanks coated with the metal that is radioactive, chemically toxic, and nearly twice as dense as lead.
And where did all this nasty shit come from? Oh, right:
Colonel James Naughton of US Army Materiel Command said Iraqi complaints about depleted uranium (DU) shells had no medical basis.
"They want it to go away because we kicked the crap out of them," he told a Pentagon briefing.
If war starts, tonnes of depleted uranium (DU) weapons are likely to be used by British and American tanks and by ground attack aircraft.
There's a certain savage irony to the U.S. having howled ceaselessly about the danger of Saddam Hussein's biological and chemical weapons programs, then contaminating their own troops with massive amounts of DU.
Look on the bright side, though. Depleted uranium and these folks. Yeah, that combination works for me nicely.