Tuesday, April 25, 2006

No Abu Ghraib Scandal for These Victims

The American people have become well educated about where their food comes from in recent years, mainly by the efforts of animal-advocacy groups like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ), though they remain startlingly apathetic, but most have no idea that thousands of animals are tortured and killed every year in military tests.

Hopefully by now everyone knows that the United States uses factory farming to feed the American population—a maniacally cruel production system where animals are penned, maimed, pumped full of hormones, separated from their families (yes, animals have those too), and eventually slaughtered in order that they may fulfill their higher function as your dinner. If you haven’t heard these things before, maybe it’s time to ”meet your meat.”

Unfortunately, animal rights advocates get about the same reception by society as environmentalists, which is a nice diversionary tactic created by the corporate power structure to keep you from thinking for yourselves. I ask you, for the next few minutes, to put away your pre-conceived notions of the rights of man and hear me with an open mind.

Every year in the United States and abroad, there are countless non-human victims of war. While we count casualties in terms of human lives lost or diminished, we remain silent on the thousands of animal murders perpetrated by our own government in order that we might have even more effective ways of murdering other human beings.

The United States military has the good fortune to have the right to label any number of operations “top secret” and keep them from us (for our own good, of course), and it is reasonable to assume that many instances of animal experimentation and murder fall into this category of the unknown. However, those we are aware of are numerous and disturbing.

For instance, the United States military uses animals to further their war-related medical skills in so-called “wound labs”:

The Department of Defense has operated "wound labs" since 1957. At these sites, conscious or semiconscious animals are suspended from slings and shot with high-powered weapons to inflict battlelike injuries for military surgical practice. In 1983, in response to public pressure, Congress limited the use of dogs in these labs, but countless goats, pigs, and sheep are still being shot, and at least one laboratory continues to shoot cats. At the Army's Fort Sam Houston "Goat Lab," goats are hung upside down and shot in their hind legs. After physicians practice excising the wounds, any goat who survives is killed.

Various animals, including rats, rabbits, goats, sheep, pigs and monkeys, are used to test guns, bombs, radiation endurance, biological weapons and other scenarios our soldiers may find themselves facing.

The US military also uses animals in a variety of medical tests, including the following:

To evaluate the effect of temperature on the transmission of the Dengue 2 virus, a mosquito-transmitted disease that causes fever, muscle pain, and rash, experiments conducted by the U.S. Army at Fort Detrick, Md., involved shaving the stomachs of adult rhesus monkeys and then attaching cartons of mosquitoes to their bodies to allow the mosquitoes to feed.

Were our government to treat prisoners of war this way, we would be hauled before the United Nations and a world court and destroyed as a world power. We would find ourselves in the position of captured Nazi leaders and doctors at the Nuremburg Trials, and we deserve it—for what we are doing is no better, is it simply easier to keep quiet, because animals do not, and by their very nature cannot, have human rights.

It is time for our government to understand that the American people do not want animals tortured and murdered so that humans can be easier for us to kill. Animals should be in the wild, supporting our fragile world ecosystems, where they belong, not locked in gas chambers and shot with AK-47s and exposed to toxic levels of radiation.

While we worry about our soldiers being murdered overseas, it is easy to forget or ignore the very human victims of war we are creating abroad—it is even easier to forget or ignore our non-human victims.

For more information, click here.

Katherine Brengle