Gulf War Syndrome Defined: Evidence, Conclusions, and Reasons for the Cover-Up
1st Edition: 1993
Uploaded: 27 Sep 96
Updated: 28 Aug 97

THE COVER-UP OF GULF WAR SYNDROME --

A QUESTION OF NATIONAL INTEGRITY

Read by over 17,000 people in 60 countries.

H. Lindsey Arison III
arison@gslink.com

Dedicated to Gulf War Veterans - The Victims of Patriotism


CONTENTS

I. CREDENTIALS

II. PRIMARY SOURCES

The primary source document for this paper is the May 25, 1994, 198-page, U. S. Senate Report "U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq and Their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War" Link to May 25, 1994 Senate Report -- A Report of Chairman Donald W. Riegle, Jr. and Ranking Member Alfonse M. D'Amato of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs with Respect to Export Administration. James J. Tuite, III, Professional Staff Member and Special Assistant to the Chairman for National Security Issues and Dual-Use Export Policies.

The May 25, 1994 Committee report and the subsequent October 7, 1994 report are contained in the document S.Hrg. 103-900, Hearing before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on United States Dual-Use Exports to Iraq and Their Impact on the Health of the Persian Gulf Veterans, May 25, 1994.

"Report on the Fallout from the Destruction of Iraqi Chemical Warfare Agent Research, Production, and Storage Facilities into Areas Occupied by U.S. Military Personnel During the 1991 Persian Gulf War." James J. Tuite III, International Security Consultant and Director, Gulf War Research Foundation, September 19, 1996.

 

III. INTRODUCTION

(Endnotes are in brackets [ ] )

Since the Gulf War ended in 1991, the leadership of the Department of Defense has affirmed to veterans and sworn to the U.S. Congress that "there is no information, classified or unclassified, that indicates that chemical or biological weapons were used in the Persian Gulf" and that "there were no confirmed detections of any chemical or biological agents at any time during the entire conflict."

Caving in to Congressional pressure, most recently imposed by the Honorable Chris Shays of Connecticut, late on the evening before Rep. Shays' September 19, 1996 hearing on the exposure of troops to chemical and biological agents, now five years after the war ended, DoD admitted that more than 5,000 troops "may" have been exposed to chemical weapons when a battalion of U.S. soldiers blew up an Iraqi ammunition depot.

One month later, at the Pentagon's October 22, 1996 Background News Briefing, this number was increased to 20,867. "That's not an exact number, of course, but that's the best approximation we have right now."

On June 26, 1997, the Pentagon increased the number to 27,000.

On July 24, 1997, the Pentagon increased the number to 98,900. "An estimated 98,900 troops were in the path of a plume of nerve gas unleashed when U.S. combat engineers blew up the Kamisiyah ammunition depot in southern Iraq in March 1991, shortly after the war. That represents almost one-seventh of all Americans who served in the war.

The truth is:

IV. BOTTOM LINE

The Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Veterans Affairs have been lying to the U.S. Congress, Gulf War veterans, and the American people about coalition forces' exposure to chemical and biological agents during the war.

This criminal, reprehensible, shameful, dishonorable, and egregious act on their part has caused incalculable pain and suffering, caused many who risked their lives for our flag to die, inflicted severe financial hardships, caused many veterans' children to be born deformed and disabled, caused many veterans' children to become diseased, destroyed marriages and families, and eroded the trust of the American people in the institutions they once revered.

Gulf War veterans are truly the victims of patriotism. What they have suffered is the great American tragedy.

Those who have perpetrated and perpetuated this lie must be held fully accountable.

As summarized by former U.S. Senator Donald W. Riegle:

Link to the Missing GulfLink Files

V. CONCLUSIONS

Gulf War Syndrome is not about a small group of veterans who simply have muscle cramps, joint pain, headaches, and sleep disorders -- which have been cavalierly dismissed as psychological or PTSD-related. It was not caused, in part, by the "very fine sand" or "lack of recreation" or "alcohol deprivation" -- as Dr. Joshua Lederberg, Chairman of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Gulf War Health has suggested.

Gulf War Syndrome is the direct health consequence of prolonged (chronic) exposure to low (non-lethal) levels of chemical and biological agents released by direct Iraqi attack via missiles, rockets, artillery, or aircraft munitions; fallout from the destruction of Iraqi ammunition bunkers [such as Kamasiyah (the CIA has known about chemical munitions at this site since 1984)]; and by fallout from allied bombings of Iraqi chemical warfare munitions facilities during the 38-day air war.

 

The effects of these exposures were exacerbated by the deleterious and synergistic side-effects of the unproven, experimental, and toxicity-enhancing pyridostigmine bromide (PB) pills (nerve agent pre-treatment pills which were administered involuntarily), the investigational botulinum toxoid vaccines (which were also involuntary), anthrax vaccines, depleted uranium residues principally from battlefield vehicles damaged by depleted uranium-tipped armor-penetrating munitions, the pesticide DEET, and to a much lesser extent, other environmental hazards such as oil fire contamination, other pesticides (with the exception of DEET which increased its toxicity significantly when used in combinaton with PB), petrochemicals, and electromagnetic radiation from radars and communications equipment.

The infinite number of combinations and permutations of the effects of chronic exposure to low, non-lethal levels of cumulatively-effecting chemical nerve agents, to blister agents, biological agents and "cocktails," coupled with the effects of nerve agent pills, botulinum and anthrax vaccines, depleted uranium (DU) dusts, DEET, and other environmental contaminants, has produced the infinite variations in symptomatologies in Gulf War veterans. Therefore, the "mystery illness." There is, however, one principal cause.

NOTES:

The chronic and delayed physiological effects of toxic chemical warfare agents were well known and documented long before the Gulf War.

For additional information concerning the effects of depleted uranium (DU):

 

VI. EVIDENCE

1. Before the Gulf War, Iraq had a highly developed chemical warfare program with numerous production facilities, stockpiled agents and weapons, binary capabilities (utilizing two harmless ingredients that upon combining form a lethal substance), multiple and varied delivery systems, and a documented history of chemical warfare agent use. [4]

A month before the war began, then CIA Director William Woolsey estimated that Iraq possessed 1,000 tons of poisonous chemical agents, much of it capable of being loaded into two types of missiles: the FROG (Free Rocket Over Ground) and the SCUD B (SS-1). [5]

On July 30, 1991, Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, Director of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (the organization charged with overseeing the elimination of Iraq's chemical and nuclear arsenals), told the Security Council that U.N. inspectors found chemical warheads armed with nerve gas and that some warheads were already fitted onto SCUD missiles. [6]

Between 17 January and 21 February 1991, coalition forces bombed at least 24 Iraqi chemical weapons storage, research, and/or production sites. 17 tons of sarin were destroyed at the Muthanna State Establishment (Samarra) facility alone. [7]

Chemical warfare munitions and agents which either survived the allied bombings or were inventoried and returned to the Muthanna facility for destruction included:

U.N. inspectors concluded the Muthanna plant was capable of producing two tons of Sarin (GB) and five tons of mustard gas (H) daily. [9]

Chemical rounds were deployed to the front with the Iraqi forces and Iraqi commanders had limited or pre-designated authority to use them. [10]

There is substantial evidence to suggest that in the use of chemical weapons, the Iraqi military adhered to, at least in part, Soviet military doctrine. Soviet military doctrine suggested that chemical warfare should be conducted with mixed agents. Mixed agents, often referred to as "cocktails" are intended to enhance the capabilities of nerve agents and defeat the precautions taken by the enemy. Cocktails can be made by combining a wide variety of biotoxins [11], nerve agents, vesicants [12], and some biological agents -- such as bacteria and fungi. [13]

Iraq may have also acquired any one of a number of the Soviet binary "Novichok" series of ultra-lethal toxins that, even in microdoses, can be debilitating. In addition to inducing myosis, vomiting, memory loss, involuntary motions, and internal organ dysfunction, these toxins can have mutagenic [14] effects and have no known antidotes. [15]

2. Iraq also had an offensive biological weapons program with multiple research and production facilities, evidence of weaponization experimentation, and a history of reported use. [16]

According to the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq, the Iraqi biological warfare program was initiated in mid-1986. [17] U.N. inspectors specifically uncovered evidence the government of Iraq was conducting research on pathogen [18] enhancement on biological warfare-related materials to include:

Iraq admitted to making and storing nearly 5,300 gallons of the bacterium, theoretically enough to kill 15 billion people. Inhalation of one microgram (or about as much as would fit on a pinhead) is enough to cause death by paralysis within hours.

Iraq said it made about 158 gallons of the anthrax bacteria in concentrated form, an amount U.N. officials say is enough to be packed inside 40 to 50 bombs that could each kill tens of thousands of people. The organism multiplies within the body after inhalation and kills within a day or so by halting breathing.

In addition, U.N. inspectors revealed that biological warfare-related stimulant research was being conducted on:

This suggests that the Iraqi government may have been experimenting with e.coli [24] and recombinant DNA (rDNA) [25] to create genetically altered microorganisms (novel [26] biological warfare agents). [27]

Novel biological warfare agents, created by altering DNA plasmids [28] and vectors [29], are specifically intended to avoid detection. Several shipments of biological materials that may have been used to carry out such a program were licensed for export from the United States to the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission. In such a program, common intestinal flora such as e.coli could be altered to produce viral, bacterial, or other toxins, and would be difficult to treat. If Iraq was successful in developing such agents, diagnosis will continue to elude physicians testing for traditional illnesses. [30]

3. We, the United States, provided the government of Iraq with so-called "dual use" licensed materials to develop their chemical and biological programs. [31] These materials included chemical warfare agent production facility plans and technical drawings (provided as pesticide production facility plans), chemical warhead filling equipment, chemical warfare agent precursors, and biological warfare-related materials.

4. U.S. chemical masks and chemical protection suits were ineffective (MOPP gear -- Mission Oriented Protective Posture). [32] It has been fully documented by the Inspector General of the Department of Defense; the National Security and International Affairs Division (NSIAD) of the General Accounting Office, U.S. Congress; and by independent Senate investigation, that U.S. soldiers were not adequately equipped to conduct chemical operations during Desert Storm and are not adequately equipped now.

 

5. U.S. chemical detection alarms were ineffective. [33] The principal chemical agent detection alarm used during the war, the M8A1, was not sufficiently sensitive to detect sustained low levels of chemical agent and to monitor personnel for contamination.

U.S. Army Material Safety Data Sheets indicate that chronic exposure to levels of over one-ten-thousandth of a milligram per cubic meter (.0001 mg/m3) to nerve agent Sarin (GB) is hazardous and requires the use of protective equipment. It takes 1000 times this danger level to activate the M8A1 automatic chemical agent detection alarm commonly used during the war.

In spite of this fact, 14,000 chemical alarms in theater were going off 3 times each per day, on average, during the air and ground wars according to sworn DoD testimony before the U.S. Senate. And, despite the fact that M8A1 alarms do not detect blister agents such as mustard gas, during the air war, alarms were sounding so frequently, many were simply turned off. [34]

Note: Claims were never made by DoD against the manufacturers of the "faulty" chemical alarms and our troops are still using the same "faulty" equipment today.

6. U.S. anti-nerve agent pills were investigational, not approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), unethically administered, tactically ineffective, and potentially very hazardous to soldiers' health.

Pyridostigmine Bromide (PB) does not protect against warfare nerve agents when taken alone; it only works in combination with other drugs. Similiarly, pyridostigmine administered after exposure to a warfare agent is not effective. [35] Two antidotes to nerve agents, atropine and pyridine-2-aldoxime methochloride (2-PAM), are enhanced if PB has already been given. Atropine and 2-PAM were included in he nerve agent antidote kits (Mark 1) which were given to U.S. troops.

The Pentagon believes that all 695,000 U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf War were issued PB and officials estimate that approximately two thirds took the drug for varying periods of time.

DoD scientists who studied pyridostigmine and nerve agent sarin (GB) concluded that PB should only be used when the chemical warfare threat is nerve agent soman (GD). [36] Defense intelligence knew well before the war that Iraq did not manufacture, stockpile, or use GD. Iraq did, however, manufacture and weaponize large quantities of sarin (GB). Pyridostigmine pre-treatment unfortunately makes individuals more vulnerable to other nerve agents such as sarin and VX. [37]

Moreover, Dr. James Moss, a former scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that when used in combination with PB, a common pesticide called DEET became 10 times more toxic than when used alone. Dr. Moss was fired from the USDA because of his research.

In August of 1990, DoD scientists requested approval for a study of four men to evaluate the effects of pyridostigmine on vision. This study was deemed urgent because of the situation in Kuwait, and it was approved quickly. It is important to note that this study, to be conducted just prior to the Gulf War, gave medical exmas to the men before giving the pyridostigmine. The researchers indicated that PB should not be given to individuals who had bronchial asthma, peptic ulcer, liver, kidney, heart disease, or hypersensitivity to PB or related drugs. They informed study volunteers that possible adverse side effects included nausea, increased salivation, increased bronchial secretions, and pupil constriction. Other side effects are weakness, muscle cramps, and muscle twitches. Because of these potential side effects, all four subjects were admitted to Lyster Army Hospital as in-patients so they could be closely monitored.

In sharp contrast to the extensive precautions taken before giving PB every 8 hours for 3 days to four volunteers, a few months later, the same dosage was given for longer periods of time to over 400,000 U.S. soldiers, none of whom had been screened for any of the diseases mentioned in the informed consent form given to the four men, none of whom were warned about the risks associated with the drug, and none of whom were given a choice of whether or not to take it. Additionally, approximately 28,000 of the over 400,000 receiving PB were women, who were forced to take an investigational drug that had never been tested on healthy women. [38]

7. The United States did not have any biological agent detection capability whatsoever during the Gulf War. [39]

8. After the air war started on January 17, 1991:

Iraqi fatalities incident to the bombing of a biological warfare agent production facility near Baghdad were reported in the international press. As revealed in the CIA/Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) translation of an article in the 10 Feb 91 Moscow TASS:

Chemical warfare agents were even discovered in Kuwait after the war. In August 1991, British and American forces confirmed mustard gas leaking from a metal storage tank abandoned by Iraqi forces. Mustard was confirmed in 21 consecutive tests, 8 of the tests using mass spectrometers in two separate FOX vehicles. Soldiers were injured and evacuated immediately for chemical agent exposure.

In considering the consequences of the placement of troops in areas downwind (where non-lethal exposure to chemical warfare agents might be expected), it must be remembered that chemical nerve agents, such as Sarin (GB) and Soman (GD), have CUMULATIVE effects. After a single exposure, daily exposure to concentrations of a nerve agent insufficient to produce symptoms may result in the onset of symptoms after several days. Continued daily exposure may be followed by increasingly severe effects. [41]

9. During the November 10, 1993 unclassified briefing for Members of the U.S. Senate, in response to direct questioning, then Under Secretary of Defense, and now Director of Central Intelligence, (Chemical Engineer and Physical Chemist) Dr. John M. Deutch said that the Department of Defense was withholding classified information on the exposure of U.S. forces to biological materials during the Gulf War. [42]

10. For five years, the Department of Defense has continued to publicly claim, however, "there were no confirmed detections of any chemical or biological agents at any time during the entire conflict." [43]

In a letter to all Persian Gulf War Veterans (dated May 25, 1994 -- the same day as the Senate hearing), General John M. Shalikashvili (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and William J. Perry (Secretary of Defense) also directly contradicted what then Under Secretary of Defense Dr. John M. Deutch told U.S. Senators on November 10, 1993. Both affirm: "There is no information, classified or unclassified, that indicates that chemical or biological weapons were used in the Persian Gulf."

VII. POSSIBLE REASONS FOR THE COVER-UP

1. THE INCALCULABLE COST OF TREATMENT AND COMPENSATION. The cost of providing compensation and appropriate medical care to all afflicted veterans and (because of the syndrome's apparent transmissibility, in many cases) to their families, would be prohibitive. It would be impossible to determine exactly where the government's liability ends.

2. TO PROTECT POWELL. Admission now would cause serious embarrassment for ("the darling of the Republican and Democratic parties") General (retired) Colin L. Powell. If the National Command Authorities did, in fact, "order" General Powell to deny the occurrence of the Iraqi attacks, why didn't he stand up for his soldiers? He knew of their vulnerability. This could be a very serious question of personal integrity and loyalty.

3. TO PROTECT SCHWARZKOPF.  Admission now would cause serious embarrassment for war "hero" General (retired) H. Norman Schwarzkopf, West Point, Class of 1956. "Duty, Honor, Country" is the Military Academy's motto.

4. TO PROTECT BUSH. Admission now would cause embarrassment for the Bush Presidency. At the time of the attacks, the decision to deny the occurrence of (and in effect cover up) Iraqi use of chemical and biological weapons, would have to be made by the National Command Authorities (The President and the Secretary of Defense, Richard B. Cheney).

5. TO PREVENT ESCALATION OF THE WAR. In his letter to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq on January 5, 1991, President Bush wrote:

Official acknowledgment of Iraqi use of chemical and biological agents during the campaign would have ignited public outrage and "forced" the United States to follow through. The National Command Authorities obviously decided not to put us in the situation where we had to do what was threatened. In other words: No need to follow through on a threat if the attack is unacknowledged.

Official acknowledgment could also have seriously threatened the Middle East peace process. At 5 am, January 18, 1991, Iraq attacked Israel with nerve gas. Israeli police confirmed the nerve agent, at least three Israeli citizens were killed in the attack, and Marine Corps General R. I. Neal authenticated this fact in a military log which is now a public document. Official announcement in the Israeli media of the fact that Iraq attacked Israel with nerve gas during the Gulf War would have escalated the war. It is believed by many that the billions of dollars the U.S. paid to Israel immediately after the war was the "deal" struck to keep them from retaliating and to cover up the attack.

6. TO PROTECT CLINTON. The GWS cover-up started during a Republican Administration (Bush) and is being continued under a Democratic Administration (Clinton). Therefore, both major political parties stand to lose if the truth is revealed. In this case, with the truth there are no winners. And the biggest losers, of course, are the veterans and their families.

The reason why Clinton will not expose Bush is because it was Bush who paved the way for Clinton to seek the Presidency.

7. MILITARY NECESSITY AT THE TIME. Official acknowledgment of Iraqi use of chemical and biological agents during the campaign would have created panic among coalition forces (the basic purpose and precisely the desired effect of chemical warfare). We chose not to acknowledge.

8. TO NOT REVEAL A MAJOR READINESS VULNERABILITY. Exposing the fact that our chemical suits and chemical detection alarms are ineffective would reveal a critical military readiness problem. DoD did not want Iraq (then) and does not want any potential adversaries now (such as North Korea which is also both chemically and biologically capable) to know just how gravely vulnerable we are. Notwithstanding this very perilous risk, U.S. troops were deployed to the Gulf.

9. TO NOT ERODE SOLDIERS' TRUST. Admission would seriously erode soldiers' trust in their leadership. If soldiers learn that their leaders will deliberately send them into battle with worthless protection against chemical and biological warfare and then turn their backs on them as soon as the fight's over, there will be no one willing to fight -- especially when they know that whatever biological agents they're exposed to will, because of their communicability, injure their loved ones as well, once home.

10. TO AVOID SERIOUS POLITICAL EMBARRASSMENT. There is increasing concern that before the Gulf War, the U.S. secretly provided Iraq with chemical weapons AND the technology and materials to manufacture their own -- to use against Iran. A Marine Corps EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) specialist discovered and photographed chemical munitions with U.S. markings and lot numbers in an Iraqi bunker. (Note: Five United Nations reports have confirmed the use of chemical warfare agents in the Iran-Iraq War.)

There is also concern that we, the United States, the principal signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), had chemical weapons in the Gulf and used them.

In his January 28, 1991 interview with Saddam Hussein, CNN's Peter Arnett asked specifically about chemical weapons. (Note that many attacks and confirmed detections made by Czech, French, British, and U.S. forces occurred before this interview. The air war started on January 16, 1991.)

This is the text verbatim from the CIA translation:

11. TO AVOID CONDEMNATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. DoD's failure to permit soldiers to refuse the unapproved, experimental, and investigational pyridostigmine bromide (PB) anti-nerve agent pills and the botulinum toxoid vaccine during Desert Shield/Desert Storm is a criminal violation of the Nuremberg Code. Did not any of the Hippocratically-sworn military physicians administering the unapproved vaccine, for example, find it unethical? "Following orders" is no excuse for unethical conduct, even in combat. And how can the United States be the self-proclaimed global champion of human rights if it is so willing to conduct "research" on competent adults without their informed consent?

VIII. SELECTED TESTIMONIES OF GULF WAR VETERANS BEFORE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES

NOTE: These testimonies were given in 1993, 4 years ago.

Excerpts from the testimony of Sterling Syms, Petty Officer First Class, U.S. Naval Reserve, before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Subcommittee on Force Requirements and Personnel, 30 June 1993: (At the time of the attack, Petty Officer First Class Syms was assigned to Naval Reserve Mobile Construction Battalion 24 at Camp 13 in Al Jubayl.)

Excerpts from the testimony of Nick Roberts, U.S. Navy Reserve, before a special hearing of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, 9 November 1993: (At the time of the attack, Nick Roberts was assigned to Naval Reserve Mobile Construction Battalion 24 at Camp 13 in Al Jubayl.)

NOTE: Lewisite vapors cause stinging and burning and irritation to the eyes and upper respiratory tract. Its smell could be confused with ammonia. The injurious effect of mustard gas is associated with its ability to inhibit many enzyme systems of the body. This, in turn, prevents the intra-cell exchange of chemicals and leads to necrosis (death) of the tissue. Death is associated mainly with necrosis of the tissue of the central nervous system. Mustard gas has a period of latent effect (the first signs of injury appear after 2-12 hours.)

Excerpts from the certified statement of Chief Warrant Officer 3 J. P. Cottrell, U.S. Marine Corps, September 1993: Chief Cottrell was Officer-in-Charge of one of the German-made FOX Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) detection vehicles deployed in the Gulf. The FOX accurately detects 60 known chemical agents simultaneously using a highly sophisticated, laboratory-quality mass spectrometer.

Excerpts from the statement of Sergeant Robert S. Maison, U.S. Marine Corps, 22 September 1993:

Excerpts from the testimony of Willie Hicks, Staff Sergeant E-6, U.S. Army, before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Subcommittee on Force Requirements and Personnel, 30 June 1993: At the time of the attack, SSG Hicks was serving as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of ammunition movement, 644th Ordnance Company.

Excerpts from the testimony of Mrs. Hester Adcock, before a special hearing of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, 9 November 1993. Mrs. Adcock's son, Army Specialist Michael Adcock, died at the age of 22 of multiple cancers. He was stationed at Al-Jubayl on 20 January 1991, when his unit was chemically attacked.

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