DoD News Briefing

May 1, 1997 -- 9 a.m.

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen

 

[This media availability follows a ceremony in which Secretary Cohen and Minister of Defense General Colonel Oleksandr Kuzmuk of Ukraine signed an Amendment to Strategic Nuclear Arms Elimination Agreement; a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement; and a Statement of Intent on Future Military Medical Cooperation.]

 

Q: Mr. Secretary, I wonder what you might tell us where and what you will be looking in a replacement for Dr. White, and what specific role Senator Rudman will play in Gulf War Illness?

 

Well with respect to Senator Rudman, as you know there has been a continuing controversy as far as the investigation into the Gulf War Illness situation. I believe that Dr. Bernie Rostker has performed an admirable job. He is doing a very thorough, professional investigation. As I've indicated on many occasions before, I would expect additional bad news to develop. As we dig further into the matter, we're likely to find more missing logs or destroyed computer disks. As I've reiterated time and time again, this was not well handled from the beginning but we're trying to find out the facts, and when your trying to search for the facts, then obviously your bound come across additional information that was not forthcoming or destroyed. So we're trying to piece together the entire story. I think he's doing an outstanding job.

There still continues to be criticism about the level of cooperation that is existing. There's some criticism directed toward the Department. One way, for me at least, to deal with this is to have someone of Senator Rudman's reputation and capabilities to serve as an ombudsman of sorts, to be someone who can coordinate the information that is forthcoming from the CIA and from the DoD and to make sure the story is complete. He will serve in that capacity, as a coordinator essentially, to look at the information forthcoming from the agency, to coordinate that with what we have at DoD to present as full as picture, and serve as an independent overseer as such; so that everyone will be satisfied that this, the information is not be manipulated; information is not being with held. There is no cover-up.

I think someone of Senator Rudman's stature and expertise and background will serve this function very, very well. I know that the White House has great confidence in him as do I and many others in this country. So that will be his function.

 

 

Q: Will he move over here?

 

A: I doubt very much that he'll move over here. He'll have assistance from us and from the agency as well. We'll make sure that he is well staffed and will have an opportunity to come here as often as he needs to.

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