2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: mtptara@ime.net
Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 14:35:20 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Letter to Janet Reno regarding US Marshals intervention in Vieques
April 26, 2000

Hon. Janet Reno
United States Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Janet Reno,

It is with dismay, concern and anger that we learn of plans to dispatch 
federal marshals to Vieques, Puerto Rico.   The people of Vieques are 
determined to protect their homeland.  As we wrote in a letter back in 
February, we urge you to refrain from deploying federal marshals, to 
prevent possible bloodshed.

As was reported in a New York Times article Dec. 4. 1999, you argued 
against sending federal marshals to forcibly remove the protestors. You and 
the Director of the FBI, Louis J. Freeh, strongly objected to the idea. 
  You advised the White House and the Pentagon that any plan that required 
federal agents to clear protestors from the range would present a serious 
risk to agents and demonstrators.  We believe that the conditions, which 
prompted your caution in early December, have not changed.

The Military Toxic Project shares the concerns of local residents regarding 
environmental and cultural impacts of the U.S. Military's misuse of their 

Let us understand the convictions of those Indigenous to Puerto Rico and 
those who now occupy the military training range on Vieques.

Live Firing practices not only hold danger to innocent civilians, as was 
the case with David Sanes Rodriguez killed by errant bombs, but do 
substantial harm to their environment and way of life. Local fishermen have 
been injured both physically and financially; their fishing areas have been 
bombed and fish contaminated.  The military has not added to the local 
economy as they do in other communities, but have been a burden on the 
local economy and a detriment to attracting new business to the island. 
 There is a 50% unemployment rate on Vieques and high incidence of drug and 
alcohol abuse among island residents.

In addition, there are high rates of cancer on Vieques such as that we have 
seen at other live firing sites like Camp Edwards on Cape Cod, MA, Toole 
Army Depot in Utah and Sierra Army Depot in California.  There is a 
correlation with exposure to air-born toxins from open burning of munitions 
and propellant bags to increased cancer rates.

Contamination of the soil, air and water occurs from live fire exercises. 
 Munitions used at the training area and live impact area contain 
hazardous, explosive and radioactive constituents, some of which include; 
white phosphorus, lead, TNT, RDX, and depleted uranium.

 At the Army's Eagle River Flats artillery range in Alaska, there was an 
unusually high mortality rate among waterfowl that feed and nest in this 
area during spring and fall migrations.  After a year long study, 
researchers at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) 
and Dartmouth Medical School determined the deaths were caused from the 
ingestion of white phosphorus particles left from smoke-producing shells 
fired into the range.

Studies conducted at other firing ranges suggest that explosive and 
propellant contaminants migrate to groundwater.  In 1994, a study conducted 
at a firing range at Fort Ord in California found that the impact areas 
were contaminated with residues of high explosives, including HMX, RDX, and 

In 1997, the US EPA Region I ordered the military to cease training 
activities at the Massachusetts Military Range on Cape Cod, MA due to 
concern for drinking water contamination.  Recently, they invoked the Safe 
Drinking Water Act to protect the health of persons and the environment and 
ordered the training ranges and impact areas to be cleaned up.

In 1999, the US Navy admitted to illegally firing depleted uranium (DU) 
munitions on Vieques.  DU is considered both toxic as a heavy metal and 
radioactive upon impact.

The Military Toxics Project implores you and President Clinton to send a 
"peace- keeping task force" to Vieques instead of federal marshals.  We 
would be willing to intervene and form such a task force comprised of 
lawmakers, clergy and environmental justice organizations to go to Vieques 
to meet with your representatives and the Viequenses to work out an 
amicable solution.

In closing, we would like to add that members of our organization are 
shocked that on the heels of the U.S. Marshal raid on a private home in 
this country you would consider sending marshals to Vieques before 
attempting such a negotiation as the one we proposed.

Tara Thornton				Cathy Lemar
National Organizer			Executive Director
Military Toxic Project			Military Toxics Project	

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