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Defense IG to Investigate Missing Gulf War Logs

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 5, 1997 – The DoD inspector general will lead an investigation into missing chemical weapons logs from the Persian Gulf War.

Deputy Secretary of Defense John White directed the IG March 3 to find out what happened to a nuclear, biological and chemical log the U.S. Central Command kept at its forward headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during the war. He asked the IG to immediately begin searching for the original or copies of the missing log, and if a full copy can't be located, explain why.

The IG takes over the search for the missing log from the DoD special assistant for Gulf War illnesses. Bernard Rostker and his staff have sought information about the missing log for several months as part of the department's ongoing investigation of Gulf War illnesses. An earlier search yielded 36 pages of the log in 1994, about a quarter of what officials believe constitutes the entire log. Officials have not been able to locate either a paper or electronic version of the complete log.

Through interviews with Gulf War veterans, Rostker's team determined the log was maintained electronically and a computer virus during the war may have destroyed part of it. Some veterans groups contend the logs were intentionally destroyed to hide evidence U.S. military leaders knew about Iraqi chemical weapons but did not warn service members about possible exposure.

"While our study is incomplete and will now be continued by the IG," Rostker said, "I have seen no evidence thus far that anyone intentionally destroyed the log."

White directed all DoD elements give the IG full access and support throughout the investigation. The IG's findings will be made available to Congress and the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses.

White's directive closely follows declassification of documents suggesting the CIA warned the Army chemical weapons were present at the Khamisiyah ammunition dump in southern Iraq before U.S. service members were sent to destroy the munitions. The CIA and Army inspectors general are now investigating those documents.

On Feb. 26, President Clinton ordered the advisory committee to find out when the Army knew about chemical weapons at Khamisiyah and how it reacted to the information.

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