Sept. 10 — To the Editor:
I am responding to a recent letter to the editor from David Wickham on Sept. 7 that criticized a letter I had previously written on our government's chemical warfare with Agent Orange in Vietnam.
Wickham said the resultant health effects that happened to Vietnamese and our veterans were "unintended consequences" and "certainly not the result of some deliberate attempt to injure or kill humans." I suggest Wickham research further about the tragic history of Agent Orange.
Admiral E.R. Zumwalt submitted a classified report to the Veterans Administration in 1990 concerning associated health effects from Agent Orange exposure. The classified report is now available online at http://www.gulfwarvets.com/ao.html. In this report, it is disclosed the military "dispensed Agent Orange in concentrations six to 25 times the manufacturer's suggested rate." Furthermore, Zumwalt quotes Dr. David Clary, a government scientist who worked with Agent Orange, as saying, "When we (military scientists) initiated the herbicide program in the 1960s, we were aware of the potential for damage due to dioxin contamination in the herbicide. We were even aware that the 'military' formulation had a higher dioxin concentration than the 'civilian' version due to the lower cost and speed of manufacture. However, because the material was to be used on the 'enemy,' none of us were overly concerned."
Wickham also said "the sole purpose" of Agent Orange was "to destroy foliage that provided cover" in jungles. The U.S. military also purposely targeted food crops with Agent Orange. What should we call using chemicals to destroy innocent impoverished people's food crops during war that could lead to mass starvation? I contend (as I wrote in my original letter) that it is a despicable, heinous crime against humanity.
I found estimates of hundreds of thousands to millions killed by Agent Orange in Vietnam and also hundreds of thousands maimed by birth defects. Wickham said the difference between Agent Orange in Vietnam and sarin gas used in Syria is "striking."
Whether you die a quick tortuous death from sarin gas or a slow, painful, cancerous death from Agent Orange, the end result is no different.
Well Stated, Mr. Meinhold!