By Dave Lindorff
Agent Orange, the herbicide used as a weapon by US military forces in Vietnam for nearly a decade to defoliate vast stretches of inhabited forest and jungle in an effort to deprive the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces of both cover and a supportive populace, has long been known to have caused a large number of serious and debilitating diseases, many of them passed on to children of those exposed. But now it also appears to cause a peculiar blindness among American journalists.
This is demonstrably the case at the New York Times, where a report in Saturday's edition on new Agent Orange links being found to Parkinson's Disease and ischemic heart disease noted that it could lead to many more Vietnam War Era veterans being eligible for disability benefits and treatment, but completely failed to mention the significance of the discovery for the millions of Vietnamese who were also exposed to the chemical-and for their descendants.
US Agent Orange spraying in Vietnam
The new link was announced in a report by a 14-member committee of the Institute of Medicine, which had been asked to determine what conditions might be traced to exposure to the chemical that had been "used to clear stretches of the jungle" in Vietnam. As the article noted, since 1994, the Institute of Medicine has to date found 17 medical conditions that can be traced to exposure to Agent Orange, "13 of which qualify veterans for service-connected disability benefits."
There's a lot wrong with this article, as written by Times reporter Janie Lorber (though admittedly we can't know what is her responsibility and what is the handiwork of the newspaper's editors) ...
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DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist. His latest book is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net