People recovering cannisters in Tahrir and indep news outlets are reporting that the military may be using CR gas, not regular tear gas, on protesters. It’s causing side effects (like spitting blood), unseen in the January wave of protests. [Update: I posted this last night and then took it down because someone Tweeted saying it was something else, a variant of CN gas, which seems to be less carcinogenic. Does anyone have verification?
But I’m putting this post back up: there are still reports from the square that it’s CR gas.] According to Wikipedia this stuff is a suspected carcinogen, one reason its use is banned in the United States.Yet it is made (for export?) in the USA. Further (still from Wikipedia): “The U.S. military classification for this chemical agent is combat class chemical weapon.” And also: if a space is poorly ventilated, a lethal dose can be inhaled in minutes.
Bikyamasr adds: “The company producing the gas being used in Egypt, Combined Tactical Systems of Jamestown, Pennsylvania in the United States, refused to respond to Bikyamasr.com requests for information pertaining to expired canisters and its effects on people.” (Click the link inside the quote to browse CTS’ impressive “non-lethal munitions” catalogue.) An interesting ProPublica backgrounder on U.S. State Department approval of “dual-purpose” (military and civilian) crowd-control gas exports to Egypt, written back in February, is here.
Despite the reports that the cannisters are past their expiration date, Youm7 reports (which may be even more worrying) that they were manufactured in August 2010 for use before 2015. Which means they were sold to Egypt exactly when?
Call your congresspeople, folks! And the White House. In the past, our elected leaders have had strong opinions about a ruler using combat-grade chemical weapons on his own population. There’s also a petition to the company’s CEO circulating online; consider signing, for what it’s worth.
Last night, cartoonist Carlos Latuff was already on the case. More anger than wit here, but that’s understandable: the moment seems to call for direct projectiles.
[This was around 2 or 3am. Meanwhile Naguib Suweiris’ independent station ON-TV, between cheese commercials and interviews with Tahrir veterans and the mother and sister of an Alexandria martyr, was showing nonstop political ads for the elections scheduled for one week from today. Does anyone still think these will happen?]