Hypotheses about illnesses among Gulf War veterans include that some reported physical symptoms may have resulted from exposure to chemical warfare agents. During and after the Gulf War, some veterans reported they had been exposed to chemical warfare agents. To investigate these incidents and assess the likelihood of chemical warfare agents’ presence in the Gulf, the Department of Defense developed a methodology for investigation and validation based on work of the United Nations and international community. The investigation examines these factors:

While our investigative methodology (more fully described in Tab D) is based on these factors, the passage of time since the Gulf War makes it difficult to obtain certain types of documentary evidence, and physical evidence often was not collected when an event occurred. Therefore, we cannot apply a rigid template to all incidents and must tailor each investigation to its unique circumstances. Accordingly, we designed our investigative methodology to thoroughly define each incident’s circumstances and determine what happened. Alarms alone are not certain evidence of chemical warfare agent presence, nor is a single observation sufficient to validate the presence of a chemical warfare agent.

Following our methodology, we accumulate anecdotal, documentary, and physical evidence; interview witnesses and key servicemembers; and analyze the results of all available information. We then assess the possibility of the presence of chemical warfare agents on the battlefield. Because we do not expect to always have conclusive evidence, we developed an assessment scale (Figure 1) ranging from Definitely Not to Definitely, with intermediate assessments of Unlikely, Indeterminate, and Likely. This assessment is our best judgment, based on facts available on the report publication date; we reassess each case 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 present or not? If insufficient information is available, the assessment is Indeterminate until more evidence emerges.

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 had 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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