Monday, February 28, 2005

Implausible denial on secret fumigation

My search is function is broken so I can't link to it but we talked about a mysterious nighttime herbicide bombing in Afghanistan last fall and now another one has just occurred in a remote village there.
Abdullah, a black-turbaned shepherd, said he was watching over his sheep one night in early February when he heard a plane pass low overhead three times. By morning his eyes were so swollen he could not open them and the sheep around him were dying in convulsions.

Although farmers had noticed a white powder on their crops, they cut grass and clover for their animals and picked spinach to eat anyway. Within hours the animals were severely ill, people here said, and the villagers complained of fevers, skin rashes and bloody diarrhea. The children were particularly affected. A week later, the crops - wheat, vegetables and poppies - were dying, and a dozen dead animals, including newborn lambs, lay tossed in a heap.
Incredibly, despite the material evidence, the official response from Kabul, London and DC has been denial that the spraying even occurred. The sick villagers who lost their livestock are incredulous and angry. "We gave our vote to Karzai so he would bring us help and now he is killing our animals," said one after describing the unnatural demise of his sheep. They blame the US, a natural assumption when it has complete control of the airspace. I think they're right.

This administration, is determined to import Plan Colombia style environmental devastation to Afghanistan. They lobbied hard for it, both in Congress where the funding was shot down and with Karzai who asked them to wait. Given Bush's prior disregard for rules or consensus, a sneaky little test run of the scheme does not seem at all out of character.


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