One prominent hypothesis about illnesses among Gulf War veterans is that some of the reported symptoms are the result of exposure to chemical warfare agents. During and after the Gulf War, some veterans reported that they had been exposed to chemical warfare agents. To investigate these incidents, and to assess the likelihood that chemical warfare agents were present in the Gulf, the Department of Defense developed a methodology for investigation and validation based on work done by the United Nations and the international community. The criteria include:
While the methodology (Tab D) used to investigate suspected chemical warfare agent incidents is based on these protocols, the passage of time since the Gulf War makes it difficult to obtain certain types of documentary evidence, and physical evidence was often not collected at the time of an event. Therefore, we cannot apply a rigid template to all incidents, and each investigation must be tailored to its unique circumstances. Accordingly, we designed our methodology to provide a thorough, investigative process to define the circumstances of each incident and to determine what happened. Alarms alone are not considered to be certain evidence of chemical warfare agent presence, nor is a single observation sufficient to validate the presence of a chemical warfare agent.
The thoroughness and enormity of the investigation into the events in and around the Khamisiyah Ammunition Storage Point in March 1991 are reflected in thousands of hours of research; declassification of several thousand documents; hundreds of personal interviews; and testimony to committees and subcommittees of both houses of Congress; town hall meetings throughout the United States; conducting field demolition tests at Dugway Proving Ground; and fact-finding trips to London, Prague, Paris, Kuwait City, Riyadh, Cairo, and Tel Aviv.
The DoD Khamisiyah team sought information and conducted its investigation in various locations:
The Khamisiyah investigative methodology depended heavily on locating and interviewing veterans who had directly participated in the destruction of the facility. Investigators interviewed members and former members of more than forty military units. These units included:
The methodology particularly emphasized interviewing the policy makers, as well as those directly involved in the demolitions at Khamisiyah. Commanders of engineer and explosive ordnance disposal units, operations officers of engineer and infantry units, intelligence officers at all levels of command, noncommissioned officers who supervised the bunker and warehouse inventory, and the soldiers who placed the demolition charges on munitions formed the core of the interviews. We interviewed more than 800 veterans who either participated in the demolitions, were believed to be on-site at the time of the demolitions, or responded to the survey distributed to soldiers believed to be within 50 kilometers of Khamisiyah. We interviewed some veterans on more than one occasion to clarify conflicting information. We also reviewed over 15 reports regarding Khamisiyah prepared by other Department of Defense and US government agencies, such as the Department of the Army Inspector General's "Inquiry into Demolition of Iraq Ammunition;" the Central Intelligencec Agency's "Khamisiyah: a Historical Perspective on Related intelligence;" and the Senate Investigative Unit's "Report of the Special Investigative Unit on Gulf War Illnesses." Without the information provided by the veterans and agencies, the investigation would not have succeeded in recreating day-to-day activities that occurred more than six years before the publication of the initial case narrative.
Close coordination between the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency significantly aided the investigation and ultimately provided the answers to what happened at Khamisiyah in March 1991.
After following our methodology and accumulating anecdotal, documentary, and physical evidence; after interviewing witnesses and key servicemembers; and after analyzing the results of all available information, the investigator assesses the validity of the presence of chemical warfare agents on the battlefield. Because we do not expect to always have conclusive evidence, we have developed an assessment scale (Figure 1) ranging from Definitely Not to Definitely, with intermediate assessments of Unlikely, Indeterminate, and Likely. This assessment is tentative, based on facts available as of the date of the report publication; each case is reassessed over time based on new information and feedback.
Figure 1. Assessment of chemical warfare agent presence
The standard for making the assessment is based on common sense: Do the available facts lead a reasonable person to conclude that chemical warfare agents were or were not present? When insufficient information is available, the assessment is Indeterminate until more evidence can be found.
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