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.

After following our methodology and accumulating anecdotal, documentary, and physical evidence; after interviewing witnesses and key specialists; 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.

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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.

As mentioned above, this methodology is adaptable to individual case requirements. Most of our case narratives rely on collecting and analyzing of information developed at the time of the Gulf War. However, we did not know the events that occurred at Muhammadiyat until well after the war ended. Therefore, investigating events at Muhammadiyat relied on analysis conducted by several organizations over the last eight years. This case narrative is the result of close coordination between our investigators and analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. The United Nations’ Special Commission on Iraq also provided information supporting this case. Since this case is the result of air strikes deep in Iraq before the ground war started, no known eyewitnesses were available for interview.

This investigation made use of work done and information available throughout the intelligence community, including imagery analysis, gun camera footage reviews, hazard area modeling, mission data sheets, and weather information. In addition, investigators reviewed public United Nations’ Special Commission reports and testimony presented to the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses. The Commission’s inspectors discovered what physical evidence there is in this case during inspections conducted under the auspices of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687. Although only the Commission’s inspectors have access to this physical evidence, the Commission provided information on the results of their inspections. Our investigators interpreted the physical evidence through this information.

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