By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Randy Brown, the father of a Columbine student, presented the diagrams to a commission reviewing evidence last month. He and other parents had discovered them on a CD-ROM they obtained through a Freedom of Information request. It is his contention that the cops are hiding evidence at least in part to cover their asses.
The diagrams suggest that the police fired into rooms that even the authorities admit Klebold and Harris were never in. And the cops didn't enter the school until after Harris and Klebold had allegedly committed suicide.
Information has dribbled out only in bits and pieces. Several parents filed suit for damages and to obtain information from the authorities, but the courts threw out the case. A year after the killings, the local police issued a report, and subsequently Governor Bill Owens appointed a commission to inquire into what happenedbut it had no subpoena power. The state legislature recently voted down a request to set up an investigation.
Last December, a Denver paper reports, five Columbine families asked a federal district court to reinstate their suits because of a "pattern of obstruction and falsification." The families also alleged that a Denver SWAT team member killed one of the students. The suits were thrown out of federal court, but the families have appealed. The police officer has denied any wrongdoing.
Jefferson County district attorney Dave Thomas has not only failed to convene a grand jury since the shootings, but he also signed off on the behavior of some of the cops before any serious investigation could have been put together.
"The use of reprocessed nuclear waste in the U.S. air strikes against the Taliban poses a serious risk of radiation poisoning to the human lives in Afghanistan and Pakistan," said the Pakistan Weekly Independent last November. Added Dawn, Pakistan's big English-language paper, on November 12: "A leading military expert told Dawn that since October 7 the United States Air Force has been raining down depleted uranium shells at targets inside Afghanistan, especially against the Taliban front lines in the north. . . . 'There is widespread radiation in many areas that could adversely affect tens and thousands of people in the two countries for generations to come,' he said."
The U.S. reportedly employed munitions containing depleted uranium during the Gulf War in 1991 and more recently during NATO's campaign in the Balkans and in Vieques, as part of military exercises. In Afghanistan, there have been reports of DU in bunker bombs and other munitions; some contain a "mystery" metal, either tungsten (most of which comes from China) or depleted uranium.
A 1994 report to Congress by the secretary of the army said, "Like naturally occurring uranium, DU has toxicological and radiological health risks." The report goes on to say that "in combat, DU wound contamination and fragment implantation become more significant pathways of entry. Based on the lessons learned in Desert Storm, the army is developing procedures to better manage the internal exposure potential for DU during combat."
Carl Conetta, co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives in Washington, told the Voicethat while experts argue, it seems possible that depleted uranium inhaled by a child could result in cancers later in life. He, too, suspected that hundreds of DU bombs are being used. He noted that chances are that depleted uranium is being used, if only because it's cheaper than tungsten.
But who's using it? In January 2001, a French TV documentary reported that the DU in munitions may come from a contaminated reprocessing plant in Paducah, Kentucky. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told a French publication in January that the U.S. had found radiation in Afghanistanbut that it was from DU warheads belonging to Al Qaeda. On Monday a spokesperson for the U.S. Central Command said that it has "not used depleted uranium in Afghanistan." Dai Williams, a DU researcher, has told reporters that if Al Qaeda is responsible, there may be even more of a risk: That could mean the DU might have come from Russia, and it could be even dirtier than that from Paducah.
Over Ma Bush's Knee "I spanked," former first lady Barbara Bush told a Tallahassee, Florida, audience last week. "I didnt whip, but I spanked. Thank heaven no one knew it, or Id be in jail." Additional reporting: Gabrielle Jackson, Meritxell Mir, and Michael Ridley