The Agent Orange Review: A government newsletter devoted to its own war crimes

Friday, November 13, 2015 by

The United States Government Printing Office (USGPO) is the largest publisher in the world. It publishes almost everything the federal government does – with the exception of “classified” information, which isn’t published immediately, but is declassified and published after about a 30-year delay.

Although USGPO may seem like a triumph of free speech, the fact is, hardly any Americans take advantage of it – or even know about it.

The United States Veterans Administration, for instance, has been publishing a newsletter called Agent Orange Review since 1982. America must be the only country where the government publishes a newsletter devoted to its own crimes! Unfortunately, probably only a tiny fraction of US veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange are even aware of the Agent Orange Review.

From issues of this newsletter, it’s possible to determine how the VA’s Agent Orange policy evolved. All the issues are archived online here.

Here’s an excerpt from the first issue, published in 1982:

Q. Will the VA treat Vietnam veterans who have health problems that they believe may have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange?
A. Under Public Law 97-72, approved on November 3, 1981, the VA can treat eligible veterans for certain disabilities that may have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Guidelines have been issued to all VA medical centers in order to implement this legislation. Individual veterans should contact the nearest VA medical center to determine their eligibility.

Q. Has any evidence been found that medical problems were actually caused by exposure to Agent Orange?
A. At present, the best available scientific evidence fails to indicate that exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides used in Vietnam has caused any long-term health problems for veterans or their children. One effect sometimes observed after dioxin exposure is a skin disorder, called chloracne, which in appearance resembles some common forms of acne. While some of the people exposed to dioxin in industrial accidents developed chloracne almost immediately, this reaction has not been firmly established among Vietnam veterans.

Translation: As of 1982, the government was willing to admit that Agent Orange “may have” poisoned US troops, but still denied that there was evidence to prove it.

By the early 1990s, however, the US government had acknowledged that Agent Orange did indeed poison US veterans. As a result, the VA adopted a “presumptive policy,” which created a list of a few diseases that were presumed to have been caused by Agent Orange. By now, that list includes about 15 diseases. The presumptive policy states:

The VA presumes that Veterans were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides if they served:

  • In Vietnam anytime between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975, including brief visits ashore or service aboard a ship that operated on the inland waterways of Vietnam
  • In or near the Korean demilitarized zone anytime between April 1, 1968 and August 31, 1971

If you fall into either category listed above, you do not have to show that you were exposed to Agent Orange to be eligible for disability compensation for diseases VA presumes are associated with it.[1]

However, the US government has not acknowledged that Agent Orange poisoned Vietnamese, despite an overwhelming amount of gruesome evidence, not to mention common sense. After all, if US troops were harmed by passive exposure, then it obviously follows that Vietnamese must have been harmed far worse by direct exposure — i.e., by the US government spraying it directly on them and their land.

The hideous Agent Orange-related deformities and birth defects which have plagued Vietnam for decades are graphically documented by the renowned photojournalist Philip Jones Griffiths in his book Agent Orange.[2] For details on Monsanto’s culpability in these atrocities, see this article on

Another part of Agent Orange’s history that deserves more attention is the fact that the US government has never acknowledged that its use of Agent Orange constituted chemical warfare, because they don’t admit to war crimes. Meanwhile, our leaders in Washington are quick to accuse others of precisely the same crime (e.g., Saddam Hussein and, more recently, Syria’s Assad). Those accusations are valid, of course, but the hypocrisy is mind-boggling.

Also, though the US government did stop using Agent Orange, it never stopped using White Phosphorus, aka “Willie Peter”— another truly diabolical Monsanto chemical that was used extensively against the Vietnamese. The use of Willie Peter in Iraq by the US military caused the now-familiar epidemic of miscarriages and birth defects, among others.

Given fact that these weapons of mass destruction take such a horrific toll on fetuses in particular, pro-life movements should definitely take more interest in it.





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