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War on Truth  From Warriors to Resisters
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The War on Truth

From Warriors to Resisters

Army of None

Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Staff Report on U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq and The Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the War


In October 1992, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, which has Senate oversight responsibility for the Export Administration Act (EAA), held an inquiry into the U.S. export policy to Iraq prior to the Persian Gulf War. During that hearing it was learned that U.N. inspectors identified many U.S.- manufactured items exported pursuant to licenses issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce that were used to further Iraq's chemical and nuclear weapons development and missile delivery system development programs.

On June 30, 1993, several veterans testified at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. There, they related details of unexplained events that took place during the Persian Gulf War which they believed to be chemical warfare agent attacks. After these unexplained events, many of the veterans present reported symptoms consistent with exposure to a mixed agent attack. Then, on July 29, 1993, the Czech Minister of Defense announced that a Czechoslovak chemical decontamination unit had detected the chemical warfare agent Sarin in areas of northern Saudi Arabia during the early phases of the Gulf War. They had attributed the detections to fallout from coalition bombing of Iraqi chemical warfare agent production facilities.

In August 1993, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Donald W. Riegle Jr. began to research the possibility that there may be a connection between the Iraqi chemical, biological, and radiological warfare research and development programs and a mysterious illness which was then being reported by thousands of returning Gulf War veterans. In September 1993, Senator Riegle released a staff report on this issue and introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 1994 National Defense Authorization Act that provided preliminary funding for research of the illnesses and investigation of reported exposures.

When this first staff report was released by Senator Riegle, the estimates of the number of veterans suffering from these unexplained illnesses varied from hundreds, according to the Department of Defense, to thousands, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is now believed that tens of thousands of U.S. Gulf War veterans are suffering from a myriad of symptoms collectively labeled either Gulf War Syndrome, Persian Gulf Syndrome, or Desert War Syndrome. Hundreds and possibly thousands of servicemen and women still on active duty are reluctant to come forward for fear of losing their jobs and medical care. These Gulf War veterans are reporting muscle and joint pain, memory loss, intestinal and heart problems, fatigue, nasal congestion, urinary urgency, diarrhea, twitching, rashes, sores, and a number of other symptoms.

They began experiencing these multiple symptoms during and after -- often many months after -- their tour of duty in the Gulf. A number of the veterans who initially exhibited these symptoms have died since returning from the Gulf. Perhaps most disturbingly, members of veteran's families are now suffering these symptoms to a debilitating degree. The scope and urgency of this crisis demands an appropriate response.

This investigation into Gulf War Syndrome, which was initiated by the Banking Committee under the direction of Chairman Riegle, has uncovered a large body of evidence linking the symptoms of the syndrome to the exposure of Gulf War participants to chemical and biological warfare agents, chemical and biological warfare pre-treatment drugs, and other hazardous materials and substances. Since the release of the first staff report on September 9, 1993, this inquiry has continued. Thousands of government officials, scientists, and veterans have been interviewed or consulted, and additional evidence has been compiled. This report will detail the findings of this ongoing investigation.

Since the Banking Committee began its inquiry, the position of the Department of Defense regarding the possible causes of Gulf War Syndrome has altered only when challenged with evidence that is difficult to dispute. Yet, despite the vast resources of the Department of Defense, several independent and congressional inquiries with limited resources continue to uncover additional evidence of hazardous exposures and suspicious events.

The Department of Defense, when first approached regarding this issue by Committee staff, contended that there was no evidence that U.S. forces were exposed to chemical warfare agents. However, during a telephone interview on September 7, 1993 with Walter Reed Army Medical Center commander Major General Ronald Blanck, Committee staff was informed that the issue of chemical and biological warfare agent exposure had not been explored because it was the position of "military intelligence" that such exposures never occurred.

Then, during a November 10, 1993 press briefing at the Pentagon, the Department of Defense acknowledged that the Czech government did detect chemical agents in the Southwest Asia theater of operations. After analyzing the results of the Czech report, the Department of Defense concluded that the detections were unrelated to the "mysterious health problems that have victimized some of our veterans." According to former Secretary of Defense Les Aspin, in some cases the wind was wrong and the distances too great to suggest a link. For instance, Seabees serving to the south and east of the detection site have complained of persistent health problems; but according to the Pentagon, the wind was blowing in the other direction at the time of the detections and the concentrations were too low to do harm over that kind of a distance.

The fact is, no one has ever suggested that there was a link between the Czech detections and what occurred during the early morning hours of January 19, 1991 near the Port of Jubayl. (These two events will be described in detail in Chapter 2.) Former Defense Secretary Aspin said at the briefing that this incident could not have been from the Coalition bombings of the Iraqi chemical weapons facilities because the winds were blowing to the northwest. Yet according to available Soviet documents, the dispersal of chemical agents and other hazardous substances is controlled by other factors in addition to surface wind direction and velocity, such as topography, temperature, precipitation, vertical temperature gradient, and atmospheric humidity. These factors all contribute to the size and type of dispersal that will be observed.(1)

Unclassified visual and thermal satellite imagery confirms that the fallout from the bombings of Iraqi targets during the air and ground war moved to the southeast, with the weather patterns and upper atmospheric wind currents, towards Coalition force positions. (See Chapter 3.)

According to a knowledgeable source, the Czechs believed that the detections were caused by the weather inversion which occurred that day (January 19, 1991) as the weather front moved southward. The Czechoslovak chemical detection unit reported this information to U.S. command officials immediately, but the responding units were unable to confirm their findings when they arrived, according to the Pentagon. Nonetheless, at the November 10, 1993 briefing, the Department of Defense admitted that the Czech detections were believed to be valid. The Department of Defense failed to disclose that the Czechoslovak chemical detection team also detected yperite (HD) that morning. The presence of both of these agents in such close proximity could only reasonably be the result of one of two possibilities: (1) direct Iraqi mixed agent attack, or (2) fallout from the Coalition bombings of Iraqi weapons facilities and storage bunkers.

Defense Department officials, having had possession of the Czech report for over a month, were at a loss to explain the chemical mustard agent detected by the Czechoslovak chemical detection team in the Saudi desert near King Khalid Military City on January 24, 1991. This despite the fact that both the Czechs and French claim that this detection was reported to U.S. command authorities during the Persian Gulf War. (2)

Additionally, during the Gulf War, the Czechs claimed that they detected chemical nerve agent after a Scud missile attack. These statements, heretofore only reported in the press, have been confirmed by a member of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division and by an entire platoon of a U.S. Army chemical detection unit who trained with the Czechoslovak chemical detection unit near King Khalid Military City. These reports have not been addressed publicly by the Department of Defense and will be addressed in this report in Chapter 3.

The theory laid out in the first staff report continues to withstand the scrutiny of the facts which have surfaced since its release. The contents of this report establishes convincingly that U.S. forces were exposed to some level of chemical and possibly biological warfare agents during their service in the Gulf War. Any review conducted by the Pentagon must extend far beyond the information being reported by the Czech Ministry of Defense. The Czech information, while important, represents just a small fraction of the evidence currently available, only some of which will be detailed in this report.

It is now the position of the Department of Defense that it has no other evidence that U.S. forces were exposed to chemical agents. Yet this report contains descriptions and direct eyewitness accounts that provide evidence which suggests that gas was detected, along with many other events which may have been actual attacks on U.S. forces.

This report will leave little doubt that U.S. forces were exposed to chemical agents. Further, it will raise questions, based on eyewitness evidence, as to whether they were exposed to biological, radiological, or other mixed agent hazards. The Department of Defense's Health Assessment, released during the November 10, 1993 briefing, is flawed. The health assessment in that report is based only on an exposure limited to the concentrations of the Sarin (GB) detected by the Czechoslovak chemical detection unit (0.05 mg/cubic meter for 40 minutes). Senator Richard Shelby has released information obtained from the Czech Republic which reveals that the Czechoslovak teams detected chemical warfare agents on five occasions. The material safety data sheets (MSDS) for Sarin (GB) disclose that the permissible exposure limit for Sarin over time is less than 0.0001 mg/cubic meter. (See appendix A) The alarms did sound suggesting exposure to trace amounts of chemical nerve agent, U.S. forces failed to don their chemical protection gear because they were repeatedly told the alarms were false or that the exposure was "not enough to hurt you."

The findings of this report prepared at the request of Chairman Riegle detail many other events reported by U.S. servicemen and women that in some cases confirm the detection of chemical agents by U.S. forces. In other cases these reports indicate the need for further detailed investigation. But still the question remains: Is exposure to these and other chemical agents the cause of Gulf War Syndrome? We now know that these disorders, in many cases, are being spread to family members. Numerous developments have taken place over the last several months which suggest that, while chemical agents and other environmental hazards may have contributed to the Gulf War illnesses, bacteriological, fungal, and possibly other biological illnesses may be the fundamental cause. This position is supported by the following:

First, Dr. Edward S. Hyman, a New Orleans bacteriologist, has treated a small number of the sick veterans and several of their wives for bacteriological infections, and has developed a protocol of treatment that has resulted in symptom abatement in many of his patients.

Second, during the November 10, 1993 unclassified briefing for Members of the U.S. Senate, in response to direct questioning, then Undersecretary of Defense John Deutch alluded to the fact that the Department of Defense is withholding information on the exposure of U.S. forces to biological agents or other biological hazards. In a Department of Defense-sponsored conference on counterproliferation, held at Los Alamos National Laboratory on 6-7 May, 1994, Dr. Deutch admitted that biological agent detection is a priority development area for the Department of Defense, since there currently is no biological agent detection system fielded with any U.S. forces anywhere in the world.

Third, the Department of Defense has named Dr. Joshua Lederberg to head its research team into the causes of Gulf War illnesses. Dr. Lederberg, among his other credits, is a Nobel Laureate and an expert in the fields of bacteriology, genetics, and biological warfare defenses.

Fourth, in detailed informational interviews conducted of 325 Gulf War veterans, it has been learned that over 3/4 of their spouses complain that they have begun to suffer from many of the same debilitating symptoms. (See Chapter 4.)

Nothing the Pentagon does or says can change what happened to the veterans of the Persian Gulf War. This has become a serious issue with serious consequences, especially as there is growing evidence that the illnesses are being spread to the spouses and children of the affected veterans. The time for Pentagon studies and delays has passed. It has been nearly three years since these men and women began suffering. Some have died. Others have committed suicide in their anguish and pain. No longer can we accept incomplete answers, half truths and deceptions.

This report, like the one which preceded it, will discuss the relationship between the high rate of Gulf War illnesses among both Group I individuals (those possibly exposed to a direct mixed agent event), and the lower rates among those in Group II (individuals exposed to the indirect fallout from coalition bombings of Iraqi chemical, biological, and nuclear targets) and Group III (individuals who suffered severe adverse reactions to the nerve agent pre-treatment pills). Despite the varying rates of illness between the groups, however, the symptoms are similar. While other possible causes of the Gulf War Syndrome such as petrochemical poisoning, depleted uranium exposure, and regionally prevalent diseases, have been discussed elsewhere and must be pursued, there is a great deal of compelling evidence which indicates that all of these possibilities must now be seriously considered. We believe, however, that no other explanations prove as compelling as the ones which will be presented in this report.

This report includes a great number of first-hand accounts and other documentary evidence in addition to the anecdotal information that appeared in the print and electronic media during the Gulf War. It establishes convincingly that the Department of Defense assertions are not only inaccurate, but also misleading. We believe there is reliable evidence that U.S. forces were exposed to chemical and possibly biological agents. But regardless of whether U.S. forces were exposed or not, the entire official body of information, including all classified or heretofore unpublished information, available research data sets, case histories, and diagnostic breakdown information must be made available to independent civilian medical researchers in order to further the research into the causes of and treatments for these illnesses. Absent a release of information by the Department of Defense of the science which forms the bases for their theories, the Department of Defense position must be viewed by qualified scientists as anecdotal and unsubstantiated.

Given that there is also a growing body of evidence which suggests that spouses and children of Gulf War veterans are vulnerable to similar illnesses, the Department of Defense must now share all of its information with civilian, non-governmental researchers. These family members are civilians who may be at risk. This illness was first reported over three years ago. If no data sets exist those involved in directing the research must be replaced, since this would suggest that no serious effort is underway to determine the cause of the illnesses or its mode of transmission.

On February 9, 1994, Chairman Riegle sent a letter to Secretary of Defense William Perry asking that he release all U.S. military personnel from any oath of secrecy they may have taken regarding classified information specifically pertaining to chemical or biological warfare agent exposure in the Persian Gulf theater. This request was based on a recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences, National Institute of Medicine in their 1993 publication Veterans at Risk: The Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite. (3) On May 4, 1994, the Secretaries of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Veterans Affairs responded to the Chairman's letter stating that there was no classified information on chemical or biological detections or exposures. This directly contradicts the statement of Deputy Director Deutch in his November 10, 1993 unclassified briefing to Members and staff.

Why might the Department of Defense be so committed to downplaying the nature of the events which may have caused illnesses being suffered by many Gulf War veterans? One possible explanation lies in a 1982 article.(4) Then Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Tower wrote, "Chemical training in the United States armed forces is, at best, perfunctory. It is rarely conducted in a simulated contaminated environment and stocks of individual protective equipment are too limited, and therefore too valuable, to risk them in the numbers necessary to allow troops to operate in them for realistic training. As a result, most U.S. personnel are relegated to a minimal and highly artificial exposure to the problems and hardships entailed in performing their respective combat missions should they have to 'button up'." As numerous U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) reports have noted, the U.S. was not much better prepared prior to the Gulf War than it was when Senator Tower wrote his article.(5)

According to Senator Tower, "Our greatest casualties will not be caused by direct exposure to chemical agents, but by the physical and mental disruption their use will cause our tactical planning and deployment. Certainly, physical on-the-ground contamination and casualties will exist, but their most decisive effect will be their mental intimidation and our unwillingness to operate in the chemical environment. This lack of confidence in our ability to operate in such conditions could be rapidly exploited by Soviet units having no such qualms." This lack of confidence could also have been exploited by the Soviet-trained Iraqi forces, who have an extensive history in the use of chemical and biological warfare.

If the Department of Defense intended to conceal these exposures during the Gulf War to avoid the physical and mental disruption their use would have caused to our tactical planning and deployment, their actions would have been understandable. Hoping to avoid responsibility for the casualties of this conflict, however, is quite another matter. Our afflicted veterans are sick and suffering, and some have died. Others are now destitute, having spent tens of thousands of dollars, depleting their life savings, in an unsuccessful search for an explanation for their ailments. Our enemies surely know the extent of our vulnerabilities. They would not hesitate to exploit them, nor would they hesitate to reveal them to others. The veterans of the Gulf War have asked us for nothing more than the assistance they have earned. Our refusal to come to their immediate assistance can only lead others to question the integrity of the nation they serve.

The following is a summary of the findings and recommendations of this report:


1. Iraq had a highly-developed chemical warfare program with:

numerous large production facilities;  binary (precursor chemical/solvent) capabilities, stockpiled agents and weapons; multiple and varied delivery systems; and, a documented history of chemical warfare agent use.

2. Iraq had an offensive biological weapons program with:

multiple research/production facilities; evidence of weaponization experimentation; and, a history of reported but unconfirmed use.

3. The United States provided the Government of Iraq with "dual use" licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological, and missile- system programs, including:(6) chemical warfare agent precursors; chemical warfare agent production facility plans and technical drawings (provided as pesticide production facility plans); chemical warhead filling equipment; biological warfare related materials; missile fabrication equipment; and, missile-system guidance equipment.

4. The United States military planned for the use of chemical and biological weapons
by Iraq by
: discussing the chemical/biological threat in pre-war threat assessments; designating chemical/biological production facilities priority bombing targets; assigning a very high priority to SCUD missile units; and, conferring with the U.S. national laboratories about the hazards associated with the bombings of the chemical, biological, nuclear weapons facilities.

5. The United States military made preparations for the expected use of chemical /biological weapons by Iraq, including: acquiring German-made FOX NBC detection surveillance vehicles shortly before the war; deploying as part of standard operating procedure, automatic chemical agent alarms, chemical agent detection equipment, chemical decontamination equipment, and chemical agent protection suits, gloves, boots, and masks; administering anthrax vaccines, an experimental botulinum toxin vaccine, and pyridostigmine bromide as a nerve agent pretreatment pill; and, preparing and using personnel medical questionnaires asking soldiers departing the theater about their health and whether or not they believed they were exposed to chemical or germ warfare.

U.S. General Accounting Office reports issued after the war noted deficiencies in U.S. military medical preparations for chemical/biological warfare, including potential shortages of vaccines, NBC equipment, and NBC capability.

6. United States and Coalition Forces did detect chemical warfare agents in conjunction with definable events, including: multiple chemical alarms sounding repeatedly with the onset of the air war, and directly attributed by multiple official and unofficial sources to the fallout from the bombings of Iraqi chemical facilities; multiple chemical agent alarm soundings and chemical detections after both missile attacks or otherwise unexplained explosions; Czechoslovak, French, and British unit detections and reporting of chemical/biological agents in the air, in puddles on the ground, after SCUD attacks, and from artillery or chemical mine explosions; U.S. units detected and/or reported chemical agents in the air, as a result of SCUD missile attacks, after artillery or mine explosions, and from Iraqi munitions bunkers; multiple eyewitness reporting and corroboration of a number of direct attacks as well as ongoing alarms due to fallout from the Coalition bombings; and, news reports during the war confirming that U.S. units made detections of chemical agents which they believed were the result of Coalition bombings.

7. U.S. and Coalition Forces were exposed to fallout from Coalition bombings of Iraqi chemical, biological, and nuclear facilities, as evidenced by: pre-war assessments made by the U.S. national laboratories of the fallout to be expected >from the bombings; post-war assessments of the degree of damage to these facilities and the quantities of agents which survived the Coalition attacks; official weather documents showing a continual movement from Iraq of weather patterns down across Coalition troop emplacements throughout the air and ground wars; chemical alarms that began sounding nearly contemporaneous with the initiation of the air war, and actual chemical detections confirming the reasons for the alarm soundings; and, then Secretary of Defense Aspin's December 1993 comments that the U.S. needed to develop bombs that could target chemical and biological warfare facilities without releasing large amounts of agent into the air.

8. Wartime and post-war discoveries support the conclusion that Iraq had chemical and possibly biological weapons deployed with front line units and was prepared to and did use them, as evidenced by:

UNSCOM findings of large and well-financed chemical and biological warfare programs, including large stocks of missiles, artillery, aerial bombs, rockets, and mines; U.S. military unit reports of finding chemical munitions in the forward area, including artillery, mines, and bulk agents; captured Iraqi documents purportedly containing orders to use chemical weapons (documents currently being independently verified); reported British intercepts of Iraqi communications giving orders to use chemical weapons at the onset of the ground war; and, UNSCOM reports of the discovery and subsequent destruction of 28 Scuds with chemical agent warheads -- obtained from the Soviet Union.

9. Use of biological weapons during the war can only be inferred at this time because: no biological agent detectors are available for or fielded with any U.S. or Coalition forces, no samples are known to have been collected in situ or from sick military personnel or animals for testing for the presence of biological agents, current test results from sick veterans and contaminated equipment are not yet publicly available.

10. The symptomology of the Gulf War veterans is consistent with exposure to a chemical/biological exposure explanation, illustrated by: large body of common symptoms; and, distribution of illness that appear related to source of exposures, whether by proximity to an explosion, fallout, reaction to pills, contact with EPWs, contact with contaminated vehicles and equipment, or prolonged exposure to sick veterans.


1. All classified information regarding events before, during, and after the war relating to: the nature of Iraqi chemical and biological warfare development programs, the deployment of these materials, the location of Iraqi chemical/biological forces, equipment and weapons; and, the intentional use of, inadvertent dispersal of, and destruction of Iraqi chemical and biological warfare agents should be immediately declassified and released by the Department of Defense.

2. The massive amounts of testing data already collected by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs relating to the complaints of Persian Gulf War veterans should be made available to medical researchers and physicians treating these veterans and their family members.

3. A thorough and detailed epidemiological study should be conducted by the Department of Defense to determine the origins and causes of the illnesses and the reported transmission of the symptoms to family members.

4. Testing of samples is needed from: ground sites in Iraq and Kuwait; sick veterans and affected family members; and, contaminated equipment.

5. A post-conflict assessment of the impact of administration of cholinesterase inhibitors in a nerve agent pre-treatment program should be conducted. Particular attention should be focused on the potential synergistic or even potentiation effects administration of these drugs might produce when combined with other hazardous exposures.

6. Presumption of service-connection for the purposes of medical treatment and determining disability, compensation and vocational rehabilitation eligibility (until a diagnostic protocol can be established).

7. The Department of Veterans Affairs claims and appeals process should be streamlined.

8. Government financed health care (when no other medical insurance is available) for spouses and children determined to have contracted a service-connected illness from a Gulf War veteran .

9. Development of appropriate diagnostic and treatment protocols both on the battlefield and in identifying post- conflict casualties.

10. Greater efforts to develop NBC detectors, vaccines, personnel protective equipment, and decontamination equipment.

11. For greater accountability of military intelligence leadership to Congress, make the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency a presidentially appointed position subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.

1. United States, Department of the Army, Field Manual 100-5, Operations (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army, August 1982), 7-13;Joachim Krause and Charles K. Mallory, Chemical Weapons in Soviet Military Doctrine: Military and Historical Experience, 1915-1991, (Boulder, Co.: Westview Press, 1992), 142-143.

2. Congressional Record, 103d Congress, Second Session,

Vol. 140, No. 30, "Senator Shelby's Conclusions on the Persian Gulf Syndrome (March 17, 1994), S3098-S3106;

3. Constance M. Pechura and David P. Rall, eds., Veterans at Risk: The Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite, (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1993), 8.

4. Senator John G. Tower, "The Politics of Chemical Deterrence," The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 2, (Spring 1982).

5. For further information see the following General Accounting Office (GAO) reports:

Chemical Warfare: Soldiers Inadequately Equipped and Trained to Conduct Chemical Operations, GAO/NSIAD-91-197 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, May 1991).

Operation Desert Storm: DOD Met Need for Chemical Suits and Masks, but Longer Term Action Needed, GAO/NSIAD-92-116 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, April 7, 1992).

Operation Desert Storm: Army Not Adequately Prepared too Deal with Depleted Uranium Contamination, GAO/NSIAD-93-90 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, January 29, 1993).

Operation Desert Storm: Problems with Air Force Medical Readiness, GAO/NSIAD-94-58, (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, December 30, 1993).

Operation Desert Storm: Army Medical Supply Issues, GAO/NSIAD-93-206, (Washington,D.C.: Government Printing Office, August 11, 1993).

Operation Desert Storm: Improvements Required in the Navy's Wartime Medical Care Program, GAO/NSIAD-93-189 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, July 28, 1993).

Operation Desert Storm: Full Army Medical Capability not Achieved, GAO/NSIAD-92-175 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, August 18, 1992;GAO/NSIAD-92-8 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, February 5, 1992.

6. See "United States Export Policy Toward Iraq Prior to Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait," Senate Report 102-996, Senate Committee on Banking Housing and Urban Affairs, 102d Congress, Second Session (October 27, 1992).

See Ban 'Depleted' Uranium Campaign with Doug Rokke