September 5, 1997
Dr. Joyce Lashof
Presidential Advisory Committee
on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses
1411 K Street, N.W., Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20005
Dear Dr. Lashof :
Per your request, Mr. Jajko is forwarding to you, under separate cover, the declassified version of Chapter 11 of the recent MITRE draft report. As Mr. Jajko explains, Chapter 11 was judged to be "incomplete" and he made the decision to forward the draft Chapter and supporting material to me for inclusion in our case narratives, as appropriate, and to focus MITRE on their core assignment. We have reviewed that material and incorporated it into various narratives together with the full set of information developed from other sources. In addition, we shared with MITRE the drafts of our narratives, reviewed their comments and incorporated their suggestions, as appropriate.
I am concerned, however, that you understand the present declassified chapter, even with the changes MITRE indicated were made in response to suggestions by reviewers, is still "incomplete" and does not, in our judgment, present an accurate picture of what went on before, during, or after the Gulf War. The chapter basically presents a series of unsubstantiated claims and speculations which, as we have discussed with you before, are only one of many pieces of information needed to meet the internationally recognized standards for chemical incident assessments. MITRE put much weight on the 1991 Manley study, "Marine Corps NBC Defense in Southwest Asia," both in the chapter and in their newly written introduction. We also appreciate the Manley study, especially his admonition not to treat the issue categorically. Our detailed case narratives are exactly the opposite of categorical; the facts associated with each case narrative are fully explored and assessments are made on the specific facts as presented. MITRE, in both Chapter 11 and the newly prepared introduction, go to great length to present the results of the Manley survey question, " Did you encounter any chemical munitions or agent threat?" Unfortunately, the issue of use of chemical weapons on the battlefield is not a subject we can vote upon, but has to be determined based on hard and solid investigations, which was beyond the scope of MITRE efforts. This was the reason Mr. Jajko refocused them on their main task and turned the material they had developed over to me.
The PAC, or any other reader of this chapter, must understand that this chapter is not a definitive treatment of any of the incidents they report on. The MITRE Chapter 11, as presented, does not bring together all available information associated with each event, as the case narratives do, and thus, the material presented is not by itself useful to make any conclusions about the presence of chemical weapons on the battlefield. For example, MITRE cites the CENTCOM Chemical Log reporting the discovery of a chemical weapons supply on February 28, 1991. Clearly, if true, this is a major event. Unfortunately, they do not tell the reader that the following day's CENTCOM logs also shows that the same reporting officers determined, based on a thorough survey of the site, that no chemical weapons were present; nor does MITRE mention that each member of the EOD unit that examined the bunkers had also testified that no chemical weapons were found. The full accounting of this incident is in the ASP/Orchard case narrative that will be released shortly, and is available to the PAC in draft form now. Unfortunately, this is just one example of many where the information presented in Chapter 11 is incomplete and where a reading of Chapter 11 alone would result in an incomplete picture and possible erroneous conclusions being drawn.
Similarly, Chapter 11 continues to speculate about the existence of chemical mines (p14). Without any evidence, the chapter speculates the possibility that the contractors who cleared over 300,000 land mines from Kuwait might not have known if they were clearing chemical mines. In fact, the cataloging and destruction of munitions in the US sector of Kuwait was carried out methodically over a three year period and no chemical mines were found. Moreover, you asked the UNSCOM about this at your last meeting in Buffalo:
DR LASHOF (PAC): Do you have any evidence that they've deployed any land mines that had chemical weapons that could have been . . . .
MR. MITROKHIN (UNSCOM): We have seen nothing, absolutely nothing.
MAJOR CROSS (PAC): Do you see any evidence where any weapons were moved from the three lower depots (the southern most being Khamisiyah), actually down to Kuwait, maybe brought back at some time?
MR. DUELFER (UNSCOM): We have seen no evidence of that and Iraqis have said that no movements took place other than what is described here (e.g. no movement south of Khamisiyah).
To reiterate, DoD is providing MITRE's Chapter 11, as you requested. It is, however, not a complete picture of any of the events it reports on. The material presented is largely uncorroborated accounts of and speculations about possible chemical events. A full investigation was beyond MITRE's tasking and was left to my office. That full accounting is in the form of the case narratives, some of which were already presented to you and the public and more of which will be delivered in the weeks and months ahead.
Original Copy Signed
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