Internet Hoax Says Discredited “Expert” who Attended, Presented before White Supremacists/Neo-Nazi’s is Slated to Speak at NGWRC Conference for Gulf War Veterans: OF COURSE HE’S NOT
Irrespective of bizarre claims, DU remains a Health Hazard
Written by Anthony Hardie, a Totally and Permanently Disabled Gulf War Veteran who has been serving fellow Gulf War veterans since 1995
(91outcomes.com) – A small controversy has erupted involving the National Gulf War Resource Center’s conference and reunion in Dallas this August related to a previously discredited, self-proclaimed “expert” and whether or not he is slated to speak.
Stories circulating on the Internet, including in an article this week at the web-based “American Free Press,” state that former Army officer Douglas Lind Rokke and so-called Depleted Uranium (DU) “expert” is scheduled to speak. For Gulf War veterans who know Rokke and his storied past, the rumors stirred up anger and emotion.
However, NGWRC President Jim Bunker, quoted in Anderson’s article, disputes these reports. In an email today, Bunker said unequivocally about Rokke attending the NGWRC conference, "He is not on the Agenda.”
About Doug Rokke: “He is not on the Agenda.” -Jim Bunker, President, National Gulf War Resource Center, in a July 16, 2010 email
The NGWRC’s conference agenda, available online on the NGWRC website, also shows that Rokke is not slated to speak.
Failing to fact check, Mark Anderson at American Free Press’s falsely claims, in an article falsely entitled, “Thousands [emphasis added] of Vets to Meet in Dallas,”:
AMERICAN FREE PRESS has also learned that Doug Rokke (U.S. Army, retired) will speak on the Saturday portion of the event. He’s a well-known critic of the use of depleted uranium by the U.S. military. This radioactive metal, a byproduct of uranium processing, is used as both a munitions component for penetrating hardened targets and as armor against enemy fire. But when it’s fragmented or aerosolized during conflict, it gets into food, water and wounds and respiratory systems of soldiers and civilians. It causes cancer, birth defects and other serious health problems.
Rokke also is a critic of America’s interventionist foreign policy, arguing that a string of unjustified wars has produced massive casualties that U.S. authorities barely acknowledge, let alone seek to remedy. This outspoken Vietnam and Desert Storm vet has accused those whose duty it is to help veterans of a constant “delay and deny” stance. The result is a war of attrition against vets who fight to get financial benefits and healthcare, but end up dying or deteriorating beyond help.
Citing Gulf War Veterans Information Systems data, Rokke also points out that war-death statistics commonly reported to the American people are dramatically lower than the real, complete figures. This is because deaths that more or less immediately take place (killed in action) comprise most of the fatalities reported, whereas those soldiers who die later from injuries, illnesses and suicides stemming from their military service are not included in those fatality reports. This, he says, enables the government to hide the real “blood cost” of the current wars.
The Gulf War veterans community generally discredited former Illinois National Guardsman and U.S. Army Reservist Doug Rokke years ago when Rokke’s sharply exaggerated claims and outright falsehoods published about his military service, expertise, and credentials were exposed.
ABOVE: Doug Rokke, self-purported DU “expert,” speaking at a 2008 conference of neo-Nazi’s. Dave Von Kleist, then husband of Joyce Riley, was the Master of Ceremonies and introduced both Rokke and keynote speaker and neo-Nazi “Nordwave"” leader Alec Hassinger at the conference. The American Free Press co-hosted the conference, later publishing Mark Anderson’s false article about Rokke’s participation cited above.
BELOW: Doug Rokke was preceded in his speech at the 2008 conference of neo-Nazi’s by Alec Hassinger, chairman of the neo-Nazi, “racialist”, anti-Semitic, white Supremacist organization “Nordwave,” who is pictured below. The flag of Nazi Germany -- a sworn enemy of the United States, was defeated during WWII by the U.S. and the Allies at a cost of millions of lives -- hangs in the background at left.
Meanwhile, Depleted Uranium has very real health effects, though they bear little resemblance to the wild and terrifying claims made by Rokke over the years. See 91outcomes.com’s “Health Effects of Depleted Uranium (DU): A review of recent research” for a review of recent scientific studies showing the very real health outcomes associated with DU, particularly ingested or inhaled DU.
In 2008, a consensus scientific report of the VA Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses (RACGWVI) has this to say about Gulf War causation and depleted uranium, based on available studies and consistent with the likelihood that only some Gulf War veterans were exposed to DU but not even a majority of the 250,000 (according to the Institute of Medicine) who remain ill with chronic multisymptom illness, popularly known as Gulf War Illness:
Evidence strongly and consistently indicates that two Gulf War neurotoxic exposures are causally associated with Gulf War illness: 1) use of pyridostigmine bromide (PB) pills, given to protect troops from effects of nerve agents, and 2) pesticide use during deployment. Evidence includes the consistent association of Gulf War illness with PB and pesticides across studies of Gulf War veterans, identified dose-response effects, and research findings in other populations and in animal models.
For several Gulf War exposures, an association with Gulf War illness cannot be ruled out. These include low-level exposure to nerve agents, close proximity to oil well fires, receipt of multiple vaccines, and effects of combinations of Gulf War exposures. There is some evidence supporting a possible association between these exposures and Gulf War illness, but that evidence is inconsistent or limited in important ways.
Other wartime exposures are not likely to have caused Gulf War illness for the majority of ill veterans. For remaining exposures, there is little evidence supporting an association with Gulf War illness or a major role is unlikely based on what is known about exposure patterns during the Gulf War and more recent deployments. These include depleted uranium, anthrax vaccine, fuels, solvents, sand and particulates, infectious diseases, and chemical agent resistant coating (CARC).
Even still, the RAC’s scientists and Gulf War veteran members note that few studies have been conducted on inhaled or ingested DU particulate matter, though one was funded in recent years by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program’s Gulf War Illness Research Program.
In the 1990’s, other opportunists also took advantage of Gulf War veterans. Former military nurse Joyce Riley, whose own Gulf War military service has come under question, called Gulf War Syndrome government genocide and linked to items as farfetched as black helicopters and a conspiratorial international governments and the New World Order somehow using Gulf War troops as guinea pigs for evil plans for citizenry of the entire world.
Riley found her way onto numerous television and radio talk shows, and even founded an organization called “American Gulf War Veterans Association”.
Still in existence, AGWVA’s current events revolve not around helping Gulf War veterans, but predictably around publicizing Riley’s public talks – which can be attended, for a price, of course. In fact, Riley’s current events (donations unfailingly encouraged) can go as high as $40 per event to attend, according to her webpage as of the writing of this article, including to view Riley and Rokke’s co-produced, conspiratorial, sensationalist film.
Riley and Rokke have generally avoided legitimate participating in the many dozens of public meetings held by federal government agencies and panels, which in recent years have finally been solidly focused on finding solutions to improve Gulf War veterans’ health and lives. In Riley’s case, however, she has translated her fear-mongering into a lucrative radio talk show, replete with a mall selling DVD’s and other items for profit.
Any reasonable person who opposes Riley or Rokke or asks meaningful questions about their credibility has frequently become part of the conspiracy, and subject to coordinated attacks by Riley, Rokke, and like-minded cohorts.
One of the items hawked by Riley and Rokke are their co-produced DVD, “Beyond Treason,” which purports to discuss the truth about Gulf War Syndrome.
However, the falsehoods, distortions, and breathless, fear-instilling hype begin even in the DVD’s write-up. “The VA has determined that 250,000 troops are now permanently disabled, 15,000 troops are dead and over 425,000 are ill,” proclaims Riley’s and Rokke’s film summary of this 2005 film on Riley’s webpage.
In actuality, only just this year did the Institute of Medicine – not the VA – determine that 250,000 veterans of the 1991 Gulf War suffer from chronic multi-symptom illness. The claim that 250,000 troops are now (in 2005) “permanently disabled” was not factual in 2005, and the claims that of the 696,842 service members who deployed to the Gulf in 1991 that, “over 425,000 are ill,” is another fabrication.
Indeed, the April 2010 Institute of Medicine report was the largest number of ill Gulf War veterans yet cited by science: “There are sufficient numbers of veterans to conduct meaningful comparisons given that nearly 700,000 U.S. personnel were deployed to the region and more than 250,000 of them suffer from persistant, unexplained symptoms.”
Since 2008, the VA’s Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses -- a panel composed of pro-veteran scientists and ill Gulf War veterans – had stated that between 175,000 and 210,000 veterans were ill.
Indeed, demagogues like Riley and Rokke did much in the earlier years of Gulf War Illness to damage the credibility of genuinely ill Gulf War veterans, and soon many policymakers and politicians stopped believing there was a real problem and instead succumbing to the Pentagon’s equally misguided assertions that nothing was wrong with Gulf War veterans, or if there was it was only “stress”, the “same as after every war.”
This year, instead of playing host to self-serving charlatans like Riley and Rokke, the National Gulf War Resource Center (www.ngwrc.org) instead has a meaningful, thought-provoking agenda filled with speakers who have impeccable credibility as leaders in their fields and advocacy for Gulf War veterans, and clearly have the interests of ill Gulf War veterans at heart.
While attendance is highly unlikely to be in the “thousands” as Anderson inflates, or probably even in the many hundreds, it will surely be of great value to all those Gulf War veterans, families, and advocates who do choose to attend.
Dr. Lea Steele, past Scientific Director of the advocacy oriented, Congressionally chartered Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, past Chair of the integration panel of the Gulf War Illness Research Program, part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program conducted at the direction of Congress and housed in the Department of Defense with ill Gulf War veteran consumer advocates and top-notch scientists.
Dr. Robert Haley, director of a formerly Congressionally funded research project on Gulf War illnesses.
VA Chief of Staff John Gingrich, who is personally leading efforts inside VA to “Change the Culture” to improve Gulf War veterans’ health and lives.
And more. See the full list and their bio’s here: http://www.ngwrc.org/2010/2010%20reunion.htm
- 30 Dead or 0 Dead: Military Spokesman Contradicts Fatalities Claim by Doug Rokke
- Australian Member of Parliament Exposes False Information from Doug Rokke
- RAC 2008 Report, Chapter on DU:
Summary. The health of Gulf War veterans in relation to depleted uranium. The 1990-1991 Gulf War was the first conflict in which munitions containing DU were widely used, and the possible role of DU in causing or contributing to Gulf War-related multisymptom illness has long been the subject of debate and controversy. About 320 tons of DU were used during the Gulf War and a substantial number of Gulf War personnel were potentially exposed to DU at lower levels, particularly troops who came into contact with vehicles damaged by DU munitions. The Department of Defense has indicated that at least 900 U.S. personnel were involved in incidents or activities associated with higher-level DU exposures. Health risk assessments indicate that DU exposures at levels encountered by the majority of Gulf War veterans are not likely to result in increased rates of kidney disease or lung cancer, but have not provided insights directly related to questions concerning persistent symptomatic illness.
Recent animal studies indicate that DU exposure, particularly longer term exposure to soluble forms of DU, can have adverse effects on the brain and behavior. Research in animal models has also demonstrated mutagenic and tumorigenic effects of DU that raise concerns, particularly in connection with sustained DU exposures. Studies of Gulf War veterans have provided limited information concerning associations between DU and multisymptom illness and other health outcomes of interest. The extensive use of DU in current Middle East conflicts, in the absence of a widespread “Gulf War illness”-type problem in returning veterans, suggests that DU is not likely a primary cause of Gulf War illness for most Gulf War veterans. Questions remain, however, concerning long-term effects of DU in relation to other health outcomes, particularly among individuals with higher level DU exposures. These questions indicate the need for epidemiologic research to more comprehensively assess effects of DU exposure in Gulf War veterans.
Editor’s note: Bunker should be praised for holding out against those unlearned few inside his own organization who still, after years of experience, try to push to have discredited, self-serving demagogues like Riley and Rokke be given a platform from which to spin and spew more inflammatory, exaggeration and lie-filled, fear mongering garbage.
Preying on fears and suspicion hurts the veterans and their loved ones, and lines the pocketbooks of charlatans like these.
Meanwhile, the real work seeking publicly funded, science-based answers
to help improve the health and lives of the 250,000 veterans left ill from the 1991 Gulf War remains in great need of clear-minded, rational advocates to help their fellow Gulf War veterans. If you’re science-minded and want to help be part of real solutions, post your comments here, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”