10 Apr 97

Q: You talked very briefly on this CIA story. I know it wasn't on your watch, but do you contemplate any changes now in the CIA procedures, and do you have any reaction to that coverup?

MR. MCCURRY: Remember, this all, in a sense, comes about -- these matters relate to events that occurred during the previous administration, but lots of this information is now coming out of the affected agencies, principally Defense and the CIA because the President put the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Illnesses to work pressing the agencies to get a more thorough explanation of whatever exposure or risk Gulf War veterans faced during the conflict. So a lot of this is -- you know, the system itself is disgorging the information, too slowly as the CIA readily indicated yesterday, but disgorging it in part because they're getting a lot of good pressure and necessary pressure from the advisory committee to do so.

Q: What's the practical effect now on the veterans? What happens now?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, if I'm not mistaken, this information was made available yesterday when it was posted up on Gulf Link, which is the network that's available now for the veterans, which is monitored closely by veterans' advocates who are tracking the Gulf War illnesses issue. It was made available to them precisely so they could learn more and understand more about the sequence of events that led to the destruction of that one site, which is, since these documents deal specifically with that, but it's part of the effort to make literally thousands of pages of documents available to them, and will certainly and already has become part of the formal inquiry that the advisory committee is making pursuant to the President's decision to extend the life of the committee.

Q: But do you see it meaning any more money to them in the near future?

MR. MCCURRY: They were -- there was some continuation funding provided. When the President decided to extend the life of the committee, they had to make some type of financing arrangements for it.

Q: Do you know?

MR. JOHNSON: It shouldn't in and of itself mean that, but what it does mean is that the people who are trying to reach out to the veterans and gather more information about exactly what happened now have information that they can use, and it's now unclassified, to try and get more information about the impact on the veterans. So I think that's where the impact on the veterans community is going to come. They've got more information. Therefore, they can gather more data about exactly what happened when this destruction took place.

And that in and of itself could yield information that's helpful to the PAC and to others who are trying to get to the bottom of this.

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