Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Lisa Goldman Makes a Technical Error ...

One of the left leaning bloggers that I have been reading regarding the Jawaher Abu Rahmah case is Lisa Goldman. She wrote a long post on her site about the incident which you can read here.

She made some claims, or at least repeated claims made by others, that appear to be factually incorrect. I'm focusing specifically on this.
According to the website MySay, the army uses a type of tear gas that is the most toxic and dangerous type available. The gas, known by the acronym CS, was outlawed in the UK as far back as 1964 due to concerns over its many side effects – one of which is the potentially deadly accumulation of fluids in the lungs several hours after exposure to the gas.
In her post she links to this report to back up her claims. However, it seems that report doesn't confirm her statements and actually contradicts one of them.

First, it seems that CS is not currently banned in the UK. The Wikipedia article on CS contains numerous references to the use of CS in the UK. It does imply that there were calls to ban CS in 2006 after this incident, in which a man was scarred after he was directly sprayed in the face with CS.

Secondly, the report states that CS is not the most toxic form of tear gas. In a table on the "Factors influencing the effect of exposure to tear gas" that reports states the following:
Potent toxicity of the product (chloroacetophenone is more toxic than chlorobenzylidene-malononitrile)
Just to clarify, chloroacetophenone is known as CN and chlorobenzylidene-malononitrile is known as CS.

Additionally, the report backs up the IDF claims in some way, that CS has never killed anyone when used outdoors. The report specifically mentions that deaths resulted when the gas was used in a confined space:
Several cases of death have been attributed to the use of chloroacetophenone in confined spaces. Some of the deaths in the 1993 siege on the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, were attributed to the use of large amounts of chlorobenzylidene-malononitrile in a confined space.
Also the report lists the following in the same table I referenced earlier:
Environmental factors
  • Confined space
  • Poor ventilation
Again, there is nothing to support the idea that a normal, healthy woman could be killed by tear gas while standing in an open area. Also, the report Goldman linked to shows that CS is NOT the most toxic form of tear gas.

There are serious questions to be asked about this case and they need to be asked.

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