This investigation sought to determine if Iraq might have used chemical warfare agents to suppress the post-war Shiia rebellion, and whether such use exposed US forces to chemical warfare agents. In the process, we hoped to obtain more information that would help us better understand possible causes of the unexplained illnesses of Gulf War veterans. Despite veterans reports of incidents that indicated the possible use of chemical warfare agents, this investigation found no evidence that confirms such use. We interviewed both medical and NBC specialists who had been near the military demarcation line and who were in positions to observe or detect chemical warfare agent use. However, none of the front-line medical unit doctors, whom we interviewed and who treated Iraqi refugees, believe that chemical warfare agents caused the injuries they treated, and we found no other medical evidence that suggests post-war use of these agents. Similarly, our interviews with NBC specialists from front-line units revealed no one who knew of any detections of post-war chemical warfare agent use. Finally, our discussions with intelligence officers and review of US intelligence agency documents yielded similar resultsIraqi post-war chemical warfare agent use is unlikely.
Nevertheless, this information is tempered with a degree of uncertainty that further investigation is not likely to erase. Doctors have stated that their ability to diagnose chemical warfare agent injuries is not foolproof. US forces were limited in their ability to use NBC detection systems because the incidents occurred in territory that Coalition forces did not occupy. In addition, we did not have access to suspected Iraqi victims or their medical records. These limitations prevented us from confirming or refuting allegations of possible Iraqi post-war use of CWA.
This investigation has been unable to obtain definitive evidence to enable us to attain our goals: determine if Iraq used chemical warfare agents to suppress the post-war Shiia rebellion, determine whether such use exposed US forces to chemical warfare agents, and obtain more information that would help us better understand possible causes of the unexplained illnesses of Gulf War veterans. Nor does it appear likely that continued investigation into this area will yield such evidence. Based on this and other considerations, the Presidential Special Oversight Board recommended that we discontinue and close this investigation. This close-out report complies with that recommendation.
This investigation is closed. However, if you believe you have information that would change this report, please contact my office by calling 1-800-497-6261.
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