Posted by Laura Miller on March 05, 2003

In an effort to "preserve Iraq's oil for the Iraqi people," the Pentagon plans to prevent the destruction of Iraq's oil fields by "securing" them as quickly as possible. "In light of past acts of eco-terrorism by the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Department of Defense has developed plans to extinguish oil well fires and to assess damage to oil facilities that might occur in Iraq in the event of hostilities," a DoD release states.
Reports exist, however, that U.S. troops and allies were responsible for the oil field fires and spills during the first Gulf War. The New Internationalist reported in October 1992, "When, on 24 January 1991, Baghdad Radio announced that the US-led forces had bombed two oil tankers in Kuwait harbour, releasing large quantities of oil, the US military was quick to dismiss these claims as entirely false.

Two days later they announced that Iraqi forces had opened the valves on several pipelines, allowing oil to spill directly into the Gulf. Cries of outrage and accusations of 'environmental terrorism' filled the press. Pictures of oil-soaked, panic-stricken cormorants splashed across the front page of every newspaper.

Several days afterwards - in a minor briefing note - the US admitted that the slick caused by the Iraqis had not yet hit land. The dying birds were in fact being killed by the slick from earlier attacks on installations - including the US bombing of the tankers."