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My source--I'll call him Ethan--is dead, and now, having kept our agreement, I'm finally free to write about this horror story.
One day, Ethan had to get some information from the officer about a TAD (Temporary Additional Duty) request that he'd put in for. Ethan was leaving the ship to go ashore and would not see him again, so he wanted to make sure to get his request right because he knew that his friend really wanted to stay. While the officer was in the hold, he was not, under any circumstances, allowed to leave. Ethan couldn't reach him on the phone, so he went below.
"I'd been in most of the holds to talk to other Marines," he told me, "but I'd never been to the one where this officer worked. I went through several guarded vault type doors and finally arrived at a duty station where, for the fifth or sixth time, I was required to show my Top Secret clearance credentials and enter the day's pass code onto a small computer console. When I was cleared, I stated my business and was given a radiation suit--bit space-suit looking' thing."
He asked the Duty NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer), "What the hell's this?" He'd been around nukes before, but was never required to wear a suit. The Duty NCO replied only that the officer is "in with the jackets."
"Need to know." This meant that his station orders forbade him to discuss any details of his post.
Ethan suited up and walked into a triple door sally-port, where he progressed through each airlock via ten-inch thick lead-lined doors. Past the last door, he stepped into a massive room/warehouse, about 60 feet wide by 100 feet length, with a 20-foot ceiling--huge for battleship storage room standards. From the floor to the ceiling, thousands upon thousands of what looked like missiles were stored. It was weird, because he'd never seen missiles stored in such a way where they were on top of one another.
The officer came around a row of missiles and Ethan asked him the question he had for him about his TAD request, and then asked him, "What the hell kind of missiles are these?"
"Those aren't missiles, they're cobalt jackets."
"What are they for?"
"Well, this is need to know, so keep your mouth shut, but they are designed to slide on over most of our conventional ordinance. They're made out of radioactive cobalt, and when the bomb they're wrapped around detonates, they contaminate everything in the blast zone and quite a bit
"So they turn regular ordinance into nukes?"
"No, not exactly. The cobalt doesn't detonate itself. It just scatters everywhere."
"Well, what? Does the radiation kill people?"
"Not immediately. Cobalt jackets will not likely ever be used. They're for a situation where the U.S. Government is crumbling during a time of war, and foreign takeover is imminent. We won't capitulate. We basically have a scorched earth policy. If we are going to lose, we arm everything with cobalt--and I mean everything, we have jackets at nearly every missile magazine in the world, on land or at sea--and contaminate the world. If we can't have it, nobody can."
"Just another example", Ethan told me, "of what treacherous creatures our leadership is made of."
I e-mailed the above--labeling the Subject line, "Yikes!"--to no-nukes activist Harvey Wasserman, author of The Last Energy War and co-author of The Superpower of Peace, available from free press.org. I asked him to comment in a couple of hundred words.
"Yikes is right," he responded. "This nightmare has now essentially come true with the use of depleted uranium on anti-tank and other shells in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. The military rationale is that the super-hard depleted uranium helps shells penetrate tanks and other hard structures. But the long-term effect is that the uranium vaporizes upon explosion and contaminates everything for hundreds of yards, if not miles.
"Thus there are now whole regions that are heavily radioactive. Reports are pouring in from all three countries about soaring cancer rates, infant death rates and more. The mysterious 'Gulf War Syndrome' may have been caused by radiation exposure suffered by U.S. troops. So, though 'off the books,' the last three major U.S. attacks have in fact been nuclear in nature."
Originally published in the New York Press
Paul Krassner is the author of Murder At the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities; paulkrassner.com