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SECRETARY COHEN'S MEDIA ENCOUNTER WITH CNN OUTSIDE OF THE US CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
June 08, 1998

Q: Mr. Secretary, last night CNN reported on the show News Stand that U.S. Special Forces during Vietnam when doing a secret operation used sarin nerve gas in certain situations. During operations intended to hunt down American defectors and kill them. Can you tell us what you know about this and whether anything has been done to look into it?

A: I don't know of any information that we currently have that would validate those charges. My understanding is that would, of course, have violated our policy at the time, that President Nixon declared an end to use of any kind of biological [and no first use of lethal chemical] weapons. And I'm not aware of any information that would substantiate that, but I think they are serious charges and I think we've seen Adm. Moorer who was quoted also, as saying there's some substance to these allegations, and that I am going to ask the Secretary of the Air Force and also the Army and the service chiefs to look back and produce information, if they have it, to examine this with the kind of seriousness that it warrants.

Q: Do you believe that it warrants an investigation by the IG or calling in Adm. Moorer or Gen. Singlaub and so on to get their accounts?

A: I think we need to have an inquiry on call from the services initially to produce information so that we can start to look at this.

Q: But, as of now, you are not aware of any documentation to support this?

A: I'm not aware of any, but again, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. But I'm not aware that there's any such information. Again, that would be contrary to our policy. This happened 28 years ago and we'll go back and try to find as much information as we can.

Q: And you have not heard anything about any of these operations in the past.

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