Q: The CIA has apologized for its handling of the investigation concerning the Gulf War Illness, indicating that they apparently had a breakdown in communications. Still, critics are saying what was released indicates what they've been saying all along. This is why we are sick, this is how we got sick. How is this building responding to those claims today?
A: Joe, I'd just point out that we have a very extensive program underway right now to try and get some answers to the many unanswered questions regarding the illnesses which are afflicting Gulf War veterans. The programs that we have underway include medical research, include contacting those who were in various parts of the Kuwaiti theater of operations to get their insights into what may have occurred. But from what was released yesterday, it does not really add to our understanding of the illness itself. It certainly does add to our understanding of the operations that may have gone on, the intelligence assessment of what the environment may have been in connection with Khamisiyah, but it does not relate to the illness itself.
Q: A question regarding Khamisiyah. The report yesterday indicated that an intelligence officer at the Pentagon in 1991 [was asked] to relate to them if there were troops near the area in Khamisiyah, but that there was no response given. Is the Pentagon checking out the accountability of that question?
A: We've actually got two rather large investigations going on regarding some of the aspects of Khamisiyah. The first one is being done by the Army IG, and we expect that that will be done sometime this summer. The Army IG is looking into all of the activities associated with Khamisiyah that Army troops were involved in -- that is destruction of weapons, what units were involved, where they were, all those kinds of things.
The other report that's being done right now is by the intelligence oversight people here in the building. It has to do with what intelligence was at hand in connection with Khamisiyah, when the intelligence information was disseminated, who it was disseminated to, all the kinds of questions that arise as a result of some of the documents that were released yesterday. Dr. Rostker, who is running our Gulf War Illnesses investigations, he has asked the Army IG to look into the matter that you just mentioned there.
The other thing that I want to point out also, I think it's worth noting in connection with Khamisiyah. I think some of you who have talked to unit commanding officers who were there at the time, some of you who attended the hearings where General Schwarzkopf was present, are aware that the number one concern that General Schwarzkopf had with regard to the entire Gulf War, had to do with chemical weapons. And as a result, he had provided very clear guidance to his commanders that this was certainly a threat, and one that the troops should take into consideration any time they encountered Iraqi units or Iraqi facilities, and we know from some of the conversations that we've had with people who were at Khamisiyah, that certainly unit commanders were very much aware of this and had taken steps to protect themselves, both in terms of the MOPP gear that they had troops in, the detectors that they had deployed to determine if there were any evidences of chemical agents in the area at the time. So those kinds of things were being done, despite the fact that not all of the intelligence got down to the unit commanders who were involved in these activities at Khamisiyah.
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