Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Agent Orange Review: A government newsletter devoted to its own war crimes

The United States Government Printing Office (USGPO) is the largest publisher in the world. It publishes almost everything the federal government does – with the exception of “classified” information, which isn’t published immediately, but is declassified and published after about a 30-year delay.
Although USGPO may seem like a triumph of free speech, the fact is, hardly any Americans take advantage of it – or even know about it.
The United States Veterans Administration, for instance, has been publishing a newsletter called Agent Orange Review since 1982. America must be the only country where the government publishes a newsletter devoted to its own crimes! Unfortunately, probably only a tiny fraction of US veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange are even aware of the Agent Orange Review.
From issues of this newsletter, it’s possible to determine how the VA’s Agent Orange policy evolved. All the issues are archived online here.
Here’s an excerpt from the first issue, published in 1982:
Q. Will the VA treat Vietnam veterans who have health problems that they believe may have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange? A. Under Public Law 97-72, approved on November 3, 1981, the VA can treat eligible veterans for certain disabilities that may have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Guidelines have been issued to all VA medical centers in order to implement this legislation. Individual veterans should contact the nearest VA medical center to determine their eligibility.
Q. Has any evidence been found that medical problems were actually caused by exposure to Agent Orange? A. At present, the best available scientific evidence fails to indicate that exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides used in Vietnam has caused any long-term health problems for veterans or their children. One effect sometimes observed after dioxin exposure is a skin disorder, called chloracne, which in appearance resembles some common forms of acne. While some of the people exposed to dioxin in industrial accidents developed chloracne almost immediately, this reaction has not been firmly established among Vietnam veterans.
Translation: As of 1982, the government was willing to admit that Agent Orange “may have” poisoned US troops, but still denied that there was evidence to prove it.

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