oversight

Gulf War Illnesses: Public and Private Efforts Relating to Exposures of U.S. Personnel to Chemical Agents

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-10-15.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                  United States General Accounting Office

GAO               Report to the Ranking Minority Member,
                  Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, House
                  of Representatives


October 1997
                  GULF WAR
                  ILLNESSES
                  Public and Private
                  Efforts Relating to
                  Exposures of U.S.
                  Personnel to Chemical
                  Agents




GAO/NSIAD-98-27
             United States
GAO          General Accounting Office
             Washington, D.C. 20548

             National Security and
             International Affairs Division

             B-278006

             October 15, 1997

             The Honorable Lane Evans
             Ranking Minority Member
             Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
             House of Representatives

             Dear Mr. Evans:

             As you requested, we have developed information related to the
             Department of Defense’s (DOD) custody and disposition of information on
             the possible use of chemical weapons by Iraq during the Persian Gulf War.
             Specifically, this report provides information as of September 1997 on the
             extent to which federal government agencies and private organizations are
             examining (1) the potential exposure of U.S. military personnel to
             chemical warfare agents in the Persian Gulf and (2) the circumstances
             surrounding gaps in the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) Desk Log
             maintained by the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) during the war.


             Approximately 700,000 U.S. servicemembers served in the Persian Gulf
Background   during some point from August 1990 to June 1991. According to DOD, the
             majority of these personnel returned from the war healthy and remain fit
             for duty today. However, many of these servicemembers are reporting a
             wide array of health complaints and disabling conditions, including
             fatigue, muscle and joint pain, memory loss, and severe headaches. In
             response to concerns about the servicemembers with these symptoms and
             the potential health effects resulting from Gulf War service, both DOD and
             the Department of Veterans’ Affairs established programs through which
             Gulf War veterans could receive medical examinations and diagnostic
             services. Nearly 100,000 of these servicemembers have participated in
             clinical evaluation programs established by these two agencies after the
             war. According to DOD officials, medical research studies with comparison
             groups of both deployed and non-deployed Gulf War veterans are designed
             to clarify whether certain medical conditions may be more common
             among Gulf War veterans. In addition, DOD and several federal agencies, as
             well as a number of private organizations, are studying whether
             servicemembers may have been exposed to chemical agents during the
             war.

             According to CENTCOM headquarters staff, the Command began maintaining
             operational logs upon its arrival in the Persian Gulf on August 8, 1990, until




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                   B-278006




                   April 13, 1991, when the last major element of CENTCOM headquarters left
                   the Persian Gulf, for a total of 249 days. The purpose of these logs was to
                   provide a chronological record of key events that occurred each day. In
                   addition to the operational logs, the Command’s Nuclear, Biological, and
                   Chemical officer began maintaining an NBC Desk Log in late August 1990.
                   We were told that the NBC Desk Log was maintained on a daily basis
                   except for the periods at the beginning and the end of the deployment. The
                   officials said that it is not known with certainty how many daily entries
                   were made in the NBC Desk Log.


                   As of September 1997, 14 federal and private organizations had efforts
Results in Brief   underway examining potential exposure of U.S. servicemembers to
                   chemical agents and 1 federal organization was examining gaps in the NBC
                   Desk Log maintained by the U.S. Central Command. Relative to potential
                   exposures to chemical agents, 8 federal and 6 nonfederal organizations
                   were involved in this effort.1 Concerning gaps in the NBC Desk Log,
                   officials from DOD’s Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses
                   said that about 200 pages of log entries may have been produced during
                   the Gulf War. However, thus far, that office has only been able to locate 37
                   pages. Officials from that office believe the remaining log pages were
                   destroyed as part of an office clean out. Nevertheless, the DOD Inspector
                   General’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service has an investigation
                   underway to examine these gaps. Five veterans’ organizations have also
                   been tracking this log issue as part of their overall efforts to gather data on
                   Gulf War illnesses. Table 1 summarizes the efforts various organizations
                   have underway to address these issues.




                   1
                    Numerous other federal and private organizations have conducted medical research into the potential
                   causes of the symptoms being reported by Gulf War Veterans. Many of these organizations are
                   identified in our report entitled Gulf War Illnesses: Improved Monitoring of Clinical Progress and
                   Reexamination of Research Emphasis Are Needed (GAO/NSIAD-97-163, June 23, 1997).



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Table 1: Organizations Studying Gulf War Illnesses
                                                                Federal groupsa
                                                                                                      CIA PGW
                                           Senate Veterans’                                       Illness Task
Issues                       OSAGWI   PAC Affairs Committee   GAO ATSD(IO)    Army IG CIA IG             Force   DOD IG
Identifying chemical
exposure incidents
Identifying incidents in
which U.S. personnel were
exposed                           X      X               X      X         X        X        X                X
Examining methods for
identifying and reporting
such incidents                    X      X               X      X         X        X        X
Disclosing chemical
exposure incidents to the
public                            X      X                      X                           X                X
Complying with laws
governing classified
information
Analyzing laws governing
the handling of classified
information                              X               X
Assessing responsibility
for any legal violations                                 X                                                             X
Custody of information
Examining the custody of
information concerning
chemical weapons                  X      X               X
Assessing changes to
improve the custody                      X               X
Investigating gaps in
chemical logs
Disclosing CENTCOM
procedures in place to
record incidents in NBC
logs                                                            X                                                      X
Identifying instances of
noncompliance with
procedures
Determining changes for
reporting NBC incidents
Contacting personnel
responsible for
maintaining records on
chemical weapon incidents         X                             X                                                      X




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                              B-278006




                                           Private groupsa
                          Desert
National Gulf War   Shield/Storm                     Northwest Vets for   Desert Storm Justice
 Resource Center    Association b        VetCenter              Peace              Foundation        GulfWatch

                               X


               X                                X                    X                       X                X


               X                                X                                            X                X


               X                                X                    X                       X                X




                               X                X

                               X                X




               X                                X                                            X                X

               X                                                                             X                X

                               X



                                                                                             X                X


               X                                X                                            X                X

               X                                                                             X                X



               X                                X                                            X                X
                                                                                                     (continued)




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                                           B-278006




                                                                 Federal groupsa
                                                                                                          CIA PGW
                                            Senate Veterans’                                          Illness Task
Issues                        OSAGWI   PAC Affairs Committee   GAO ATSD(IO)    Army IG CIA IG                Force   DOD IG
Analyzing procedures for
archiving information on
possible exposure to
chemical agents                                                                                                            X
Identifying lessons
learned for reporting and
archiving information on
chemical incidents
Reconstructing gaps in
chemical incident reporting
Expected Reporting Date          TBDc 10/97             3/98   TBD      TBD        10/97    10/97             TBD       TBD




                                           Page 6                                          GAO/NSIAD-98-27 Gulf War Illnesses
                                  B-278006




                                                    Private groupsa
                              Desert
    National Gulf War   Shield/Storm                           Northwest Vets for            Desert Storm Justice
     Resource Center    Association b           VetCenter                 Peace                       Foundation              GulfWatch



                                                                                                                     X                   X



                   X                                                                                                 X                   X

                   X                                       X                                                         X                   X
                                        d
                 TBD             N/A                    TBD                      TBD                             TBD                  TBD
                                  Note: OSAGWI, Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses; PAC, Presidential Advisory
                                  Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses; GAO, General Accounting Office; ATSD(IO), Assistant
                                  to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight; IG, Inspector General; CIA, Central
                                  Intelligence Agency; PGW, Persian Gulf War; CENTCOM, U.S. Central Command; NBC, nuclear,
                                  biological, and chemical.
                                  a
                                   The level of effort among the various groups studying Gulf War illnesses issues varies. Federal
                                  organizations, for the most part, have studies or investigations of these issues. For the most part,
                                  veterans groups are collecting and analyzing information, making Freedom of Information Act
                                  requests, and collecting media information in their role of keeping veterans informed of pertinent
                                  developments.
                                  b
                                      The Association did not provide detailed information on the specific issues it was reviewing.
                                  c
                                  To be determined.
                                  d
                                      The Association does not plan to issue a report.




                                  Eight federal entities and six veterans organizations have been involved in
Examinations of the               examining the potential exposure of U.S. service personnel to chemical
Potential Exposure of             warfare agents. In the federal sector, examinations are underway by DOD’s
U.S. Service                      Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, the Assistant to the
                                  Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight, the U.S. Army Inspector
Personnel to                      General, and Director of the Central Intelligence’s Persian Gulf War
Chemical Warfare                  Illnesses Task Force. Some of the activities of these federal organizations
                                  are being monitored by four additional organizations: the Presidential
Agents                            Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans Illnesses, the Central
                                  Intelligence Agency Inspector General, the Senate Committee on Veterans’
                                  Affairs Investigative Team, and the General Accounting Office. Some of
                                  these efforts are scheduled to be completed in 1997 while others will take
                                  longer. The efforts included reviews of records maintained during the Gulf
                                  War to identify potential chemical exposure incidents; evaluations of the



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                       adequacy of the federal government’s response to information on potential
                       exposures to chemical agents, assessments of the models being used for
                       studies of chemical incidents, and evaluations of any reported differences
                       in exposures and illnesses between U.S. and other allied forces that
                       participated in the Gulf War.

                       Of the 26 organizations representing veterans we contacted, 6 veteran
                       organizations were conducting examinations as a part of their efforts to
                       represent the best interests of veterans. As such, these examinations are
                       done on a continuing basis with no established completion dates and
                       generally include the collection and analysis of information from a variety
                       of sources such as contacts with individual Gulf War veterans
                       experiencing health problems, Freedom of Information Act requests made
                       to DOD agencies from other organizations, and media information on the
                       exposure of veterans to chemical weapons.


                       In March 1997, the DOD Inspector General’s Defense Criminal Investigative
Examinations Related   Service was tasked by the Deputy Secretary of Defense to lead the effort
to Gaps in             to determine the circumstances related to gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk Log.
CENTCOM’s NBC          The Service was directed to follow all leads that can be developed on the
                       location of the original log or copies of it. If the Service cannot locate a full
Desk Log               copy of the log, it was expected to determine the reasons. The Service’s
                       study had not yet been completed, and the DOD Inspector General declined
                       to comment on the details of this investigation to avoid jeopardizing the
                       investigative effort and protect the privacy of the parties involved.

                       DOD’s Army Inspector General and the Office of the Special Assistant for
                       Gulf War Illnesses (OSAGWI) began efforts to determine the status of the log
                       but discontinued their work once the Defense Criminal Investigative
                       Service took responsibility for this matter. Five veterans organizations are
                       also examining gaps in the NBC Desk Log as part of their overall efforts to
                       gather Gulf War illness information.

                       To date, OSAGWI has located 37 pages of the NBC Desk Log covering 26
                       nonconsecutive days from January 17, 1991, through March 12, 1991.
                       OSAGWI officials said that it is not known with certainty how many daily
                       entries were made in the NBC Desk Log. OSAGWI officials stated that, in their
                       opinion, about 200 pages of log entries might have been prepared. Thus,
                       DOD has a hard copy of less than 20 percent of the log pages that may have
                       been prepared to record reported nuclear, biological, or chemical events
                       occurring during the Gulf War. Based on discussions with CENTCOM



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                  officials, OSAGWI officials believe that the remaining pages might have been
                  destroyed as part of an office clean out.


                  We obtained oral comments on a draft of this report from DOD and the
Agency Comments   federal and private groups that provided information contained in the
                  report. While DOD concurred with our findings, it provided several
                  technical comments, including that we clarify DOD’s position on the
                  number of Gulf War veterans experiencing health problems and on the
                  maintenance and disposition of NBC Desk Log pages. We revised the draft
                  to reflect DOD’s comments. The groups also provided technical comments
                  which we incorporated as appropriate.


                  To develop a list of examinations of possible exposures to chemical agents
Scope and         and gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk Log as well as obtain information on each
Methodology       examination’s objectives and scope, we focused our search for ongoing
                  examinations on three types of organizations located in the United States:
                  federal entities, research organizations such as RAND, and veterans
                  organizations. We did not attempt to evaluate the quality or cost of the
                  examinations being conducted or to identify gaps in or duplication of,
                  efforts among the examinations. To avoid jeopardizing the Defense
                  Criminal Investigative Service’s ongoing investigation related to the NBC
                  Desk Log, we limited our examination to general discussions with Service
                  personnel on the objectives of their investigation.

                  We searched Internet databases, contacted organizations with highly
                  publicized efforts, and asked their representatives about other
                  organizations potentially doing examinations.

                  We obtained information from the following 18 federal entities about their
                  efforts, if any, in conducting examinations: the Presidential Advisory
                  Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses; DOD’s Office of the Special
                  Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses; the Senate Committee on Veterans’
                  Affairs; the General Accounting Office; the Department of Veterans Affairs;
                  the Department of Health and Human Services; the Central Intelligence
                  Agency Persian Gulf War Illness Task Force; the Defense Intelligence
                  Agency Persian Gulf Focus Group; the Assistant to the Secretary of
                  Defense for Intelligence and Oversight; the Institute of Medicine; and the
                  Gulf War Illness Directorate of the National Security Council. We also
                  contacted the Inspector General offices at the Departments of Defense,
                  the Army, Navy, and the Air Force; the Marine Corps; the Joint Chiefs of



                  Page 9                                        GAO/NSIAD-98-27 Gulf War Illnesses
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Staff; and the Central Intelligence Agency to determine if they were
performing active examinations or other activities. In addition, we
contacted the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq, which has been
conducting on-site investigations of Iraq’s chemical and biological
capabilities.

We also contacted 10 research organizations that have previously done
analyses of defense policy and national security issues to determine
whether they had any efforts in the two areas of interest. We contacted the
MITRE Corporation; the American Enterprise Institute; the Brookings
Institution; the Army War College Strategic Studies Institute; the Cato
Institute; the Center for Defense Information; the Center for National
Policy; the Center for Strategic and International Studies; the Heritage
Foundation; and the RAND Corporation.

To identify veterans organizations examining chemical exposures and the
gaps in the NBC Desk Log, we searched several Internet databases,
obtained a list of national veterans’ service organizations from the
Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and identified additional veterans
organizations by asking representatives of organizations we contacted
about other organizations that might be doing examinations. We also
asked officials in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the military
services, the DOD legislative liaison offices, and defense agencies that
administer Freedom of Information Act requests to identify organizations
receiving documents pertinent to these topics under the act. We
subsequently contacted 26 veterans organizations that we identified and
inquired about any examinations that they were conducting regarding the
possible exposure of personnel to chemical weapons and/or gaps in
CENTCOM’s the NBC Desk Log.


We conducted our work from May to September 1997.


As agreed with your staff, unless you publicly announce this report’s
contents earlier, we plan no further distribution until 7 days after its issue
date. At that time, we will send copies of this report to the Chairman,
House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Chairmen and Ranking Minority
Members, Senate and House Committees on Appropriations; the
Secretaries of Defense, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force; and the
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Copies will also be made available to
others on request.




Page 10                                        GAO/NSIAD-98-27 Gulf War Illnesses
B-278006




Please contact me at (202) 512-5140 if you or your staff have any questions
concerning this report. Major contributors to this report are listed in
appendix II.

Sincerely yours,




Mark E. Gebicke
Director, Military Operations
  and Capabilities Issues




Page 11                                      GAO/NSIAD-98-27 Gulf War Illnesses
Contents



Letter                                                                                               1


Appendix I                                                                                          14
                        Examinations Conducted by Federal Entities                                  14
Examinations of         Examinations Conducted by Veterans Organizations                            23
Exposure of U.S.
Personnel to
Chemical Warfare
Agents During the
Gulf War and Gaps in
CENTCOM’s NBC
Desk Log
Appendix II                                                                                         28

Major Contributors to
This Report
Table                   Table 1: Organizations Studying Gulf War Illnesses                           4




                        Abbreviations

                        ATSD(IO)     Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Intelligence
                                          Oversight)
                        CENTCOM      U.S. Central Command
                        CIA          Central Intelligence Agency
                        DOD          Department of Defense
                        NBC          nuclear, biological, and chemical
                        OSAGWI       Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses


                        Page 12                                      GAO/NSIAD-98-27 Gulf War Illnesses
Page 13   GAO/NSIAD-98-27 Gulf War Illnesses
Appendix I

Examinations of Exposure of U.S. Personnel
to Chemical Warfare Agents During the Gulf
War and Gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk Log
                         A total of 15 federal and private organizations were examining the
                         potential exposure of U.S. personnel to chemical or biological warfare
                         agents and the gaps in U.S. Central Command’s (CENTCOM) Nuclear,
                         Biological, and Chemical (NBC) Desk Log. The objectives, methodology,
                         and completion dates for each examination are described below.


                         Nine federal entities had efforts underway either involving the potential
Examinations             exposure of U.S. personnel and/or were examining gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC
Conducted by Federal     Desk Log. Two of these organizations (the Office of the Special Assistant
Entities                 for Gulf War Illnesses and the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee) were
                         examining both issues.


Office of the Special    The Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses was established
Assistant for Gulf War   by the Deputy Secretary of Defense in November 1996. The Office’s
Illnesses                mission is to ensure that (1) Gulf War veterans are appropriately cared for,
                         (2) the Department of Defense (DOD) is doing everything possible to
                         understand and explain Gulf War illnesses, and (3) DOD puts into place all
                         required military doctrine and personnel and medical policies and
                         procedures to minimize any future problem from exposure to biological
                         and chemical agents and other environmental hazards. As the scope of the
                         Office’s tasks became more defined and the amount and complexity of
                         work increased, the Office’s original staff of 20 employees was increased
                         to its present level of 190. The 190 staff members consist of 18 DOD
                         servicemembers, 9 DOD civilians, and 163 contractor personnel. Almost
                         one-half of the staff members are part of the Investigation and Analysis
                         Directorate, whose mission is to identify what happened before, during,
                         and after the Gulf War as it relates to various potential causes of illnesses
                         and to potential future force impacts. The remainder provide
                         administrative, analytic, and automation support; technical management
                         and administration of the website GulfLINK; database and security
                         management; public affairs services; document control and archiving;
                         support to the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’
                         Illnesses; legal services, legislative affairs, veterans liaison, and health and
                         medical benefits support; correspondence and electronic mail response
                         services; and notification of potential exposure mailings.

                         The Office is, among other things, encouraging veterans to participate in
                         DOD’s Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Program and the Department of
                         Veterans’ Affairs Gulf War Registry Examination Program. To satisfy its
                         other missions, the Office receives information on potential exposure



                         Page 14                                         GAO/NSIAD-98-27 Gulf War Illnesses
Appendix I
Examinations of Exposure of U.S. Personnel
to Chemical Warfare Agents During the Gulf
War and Gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk
Log




incidents from a variety of sources, including the military services, the
intelligence community, and unified commands such as CENTCOM and the
Special Operations Command. The Office also conducts searches of
archives and record depositories and conducts interviews with subject
matter experts, military and civilian officials, and veterans. The Office
participates in government interagency deliberations and oversight of
government research of Gulf War illnesses to ensure information sharing
and coordination of activities across the executive branch. We did not
evaluate the effectiveness of this activity.

At the time we completed our fieldwork, the Office was examining 44
incidents. Of these incidents, 22 involved potential exposures to chemical
and biological warfare agents, and 22 concerned potential environmental
and occupational exposures and medical issues relating to immunizations,
preventive drug treatment, stress, infectious agents, and other potential
causes of illness. The Office has issued 10 reports—8 case narratives, 1
information paper, and 1 status report. Of the eight narratives, five are
associated with potential chemical exposures at the Khamisiyah
ammunition site in Iraq, the port of Al Jubayl in Saudi Arabia, and Camp
Kuwait. The other narratives discuss the analysis of a piece of metal
alleged to be from a Scud missile, Marine Corps’ forces movement through
minefields on the Iraqi border, and suspected exposure of a veteran to a
mustard agent. The information paper deals with the capabilities and
performance of the Fox chemical and biological agent detection vehicle. A
status report was provided to the DOD Inspector General that discusses the
generation, transportation, storage, and disposition of CENTCOM’s NBC Desk
Log. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Institute for Defense
Analysis have issued companion reports to the Office’s case narratives on
the Khamisiyah incident.

The Office views case narratives as interim reports that contain
information about the incidents. The narratives are not final products; as
the Office receives additional information on an incident, it intends to
refine the respective narratives. As an example of its ongoing investigative
process, the Office has issued two separate versions of its case narrative
on the Khamisiyah incident in February and July 1997. During April, the
February narrative was refined to facilitate retrieval of supporting
documents through GulfLINK. Work is still underway, and there is no
scheduled completion date for the Office’s operations.




Page 15                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-27 Gulf War Illnesses
                        Appendix I
                        Examinations of Exposure of U.S. Personnel
                        to Chemical Warfare Agents During the Gulf
                        War and Gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk
                        Log




Presidential Advisory   In December 1996, the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War
Committee on Gulf War   Veterans’ Illnesses issued its final report, culminating 16 months of work.1
Veterans’ Illnesses     The Committee’s study covered a wide range of Gulf War illness issues,
                        including medical care being provided to veterans of the Gulf War;
                        chemical and biological warfare agent examinations; and coordination of
                        research programs for Gulf War illnesses among government agencies. In
                        January 1997, the President extended the duration of the Committee for an
                        additional 10 months. One of the two principal roles assigned to the
                        Committee at that time was to oversee the ongoing Office of the Special
                        Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses (OSAGWI) examination into possible
                        chemical or biological warfare agent exposures during the Gulf War. In
                        February 1997, the President tasked the Committee to evaluate the
                        adequacy of the government’s response to the implications of recently
                        declassified documents associated with chemical munitions at the
                        Khamisiyah storage depot. Specifically, the President asked the Committee
                        to concentrate on (1) when the U. S. intelligence and military communities
                        knew that chemical munitions were present at Khamisiyah and that U.S.
                        forces may have been exposed to chemical agents and (2) whether the
                        government’s response was sufficient once this information was known.

                        The Committee issued its Supplemental Letter Report in April 1997. The
                        letter report reiterated a conclusion made in the final report that the
                        evidence of a chemical agent release at Khamisiyah was overwhelming.
                        The letter report also stated that (1) substantial mismanagement and lack
                        of communication among elements of the military and intelligence
                        committees existed, (2) evidence existed before the initiation of war
                        fighting that constituted reasonable cause for concern that Khamisiyah
                        was an ammunition storage facility that contained chemical munitions,
                        (3) executive branch departments and agencies made no serious effort to
                        examine the possibility of chemical warfare agent exposure to U.S. troops
                        at Khamisiyah until late 1995, and (4) DOD’s consistent denials until
                        June 1996 of the possibility of exposure of U.S. troops to chemical warfare
                        agents cannot be justified.

                        Regarding its oversight of OSAGWI’s examination into possible chemical or
                        biological warfare agent exposures during the Persian Gulf War, the
                        Committee’s supplemental letter report addressed three issues: (1) the
                        modeling used for plume analysis of chemical agents and other debris
                        released into the atmosphere after destruction of the Khamisiyah

                        1
                          Final Report: Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses (December 31, 1996).
                        We reviewed the work of the Committee in a recent report: Gulf War Illnesses: Improved Monitoring of
                        Clinical Progress and Reexamination of Research Emphasis Are Needed (GAO/NSIAD-97-163, June 23,
                        1997).



                        Page 16                                                     GAO/NSIAD-98-27 Gulf War Illnesses
                             Appendix I
                             Examinations of Exposure of U.S. Personnel
                             to Chemical Warfare Agents During the Gulf
                             War and Gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk
                             Log




                             ammunition storage area, (2) the Committee’s access to information held
                             by DOD, and (3) standards for evaluating detection or exposure incidents.
                             In its April 1997 Supplemental Letter Report, the Committee stated that
                             there were no insurmountable obstacles to completing the modeling for
                             the Khamisiyah site and barriers raised to date by CIA and DOD did not
                             warrant continued delays in completing this project.

                             The letter report also criticized the criteria used by OSAGWI for determining
                             the credibility of reported detection or exposure incidents, stating that
                             OSAGWI used an inappropriately high standard of proof for these matters.
                             The Committee stated that DOD should move quickly toward making
                             conclusions about the incidents under examination.

                             Since the time of its extension, the Committee has convened public
                             hearings in Salt Lake City, Utah; Charleston, South Carolina; Memphis,
                             Tennessee; Buffalo, New York; and Alexandria, Virginia. The Committee’s
                             final report is due to the President in October 1997.


Senate Committee on          The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, created its Special
Veterans’ Affairs Special    Investigative Unit in February 1997. The Unit’s work is focusing on three
Investigative Unit on        major areas: (1) DOD and other agency actions taken before, during, and
                             after the Gulf War that may relate to the current health problems of Gulf
Persian Gulf War Illnesses   War veterans; (2) Department of Veterans’ Affairs compensation, claims
                             processing, and health treatment issues; and (3) review of current
                             scientific research, environmental risks, treatment options, and potential
                             preventive actions connected with veterans’ health.

                             The Unit is assessing such efforts as the adequacy of DOD’s preparedness
                             for and intelligence on Iraqi nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare
                             capabilities; the models being used for plume analyses of potential
                             chemical exposures incidents, such as the destruction of the Khamisiyah
                             storage facility; and its record-keeping activities during and after the Gulf
                             War, including chemical weapons logs and medical records. In carrying
                             out these tasks, the Unit is assessing the efforts of DOD, the Department of
                             Veterans’ Affairs, the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War
                             Veterans’ Illnesses, and others.

                             The Unit has about 20 full-time personnel, including detailees from other
                             federal agencies, as well as a number of consultants. The Unit expects to
                             complete its work and issue a Committee report in March 1998.




                             Page 17                                        GAO/NSIAD-98-27 Gulf War Illnesses
                              Appendix I
                              Examinations of Exposure of U.S. Personnel
                              to Chemical Warfare Agents During the Gulf
                              War and Gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk
                              Log




General Accounting Office     Including this report, we have issued six reports since 1995 on DOD’s ability
                              to protect and treat its forces from chemical and biological agents and
                              operate its facilities should they become contaminated by agents.2 In
                              March 1996, we reported that DOD’s emphasis given to chemical and
                              biological defense matters was insufficient to correct problems that
                              surfaced during the Gulf War. We reported that equipment, training, and
                              medical shortcomings persisted and were likely to result in needless
                              casualties and a degradation of U.S. war-fighting capabilities. In May 1997,
                              we reported that while DOD’s medical surveillance capabilities had
                              improved somewhat since the Gulf War, DOD continued to experience
                              problems in the Bosnia deployment. Specifically, DOD had not
                              (1) established an accurate system to track all personnel who deployed,
                              (2) given required postdeployment medical assessments to all personnel,
                              and (3) maintained accurate medical records to identify medical visits
                              during deployment and documentation of personnel receiving the
                              tick-borne encephalitis vaccine. We have also issued three classified
                              reports involving chemical and biological agent defense.

                              Besides our completed work, we recently began two efforts involving
                              potential exposures of personnel to chemical and other agents during the
                              Gulf War that may be contributing to Gulf War illnesses. In one effort, we
                              are evaluating the experiences of allied forces that participated in the Gulf
                              War and their reported incidence of illnesses, if any. In the second effort,
                              we are evaluating the adequacy of current U.S. policies, procedures, and
                              technologies to (1) defend against single, repeated, or sustained exposure
                              to low levels of chemical warfare agents and (2) identify, prepare for, and
                              defend against the possible adverse effects of chemical warfare agent
                              exposure in combination with other compounds found on the battlefield.
                              We have not established a timefame for completing this work.


Assistant to the Secretary    In September 1996, the Deputy Secretary of Defense directed the Assistant
of Defense for Intelligence   to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight to (1) investigate
Oversight                     what information concerning Khamisiyah and similar chemical warfare
                              sites in Iraq was available to DOD prior to the destruction of the
                              Khamisiyah facility by U.S. forces, (2) ascertain what DOD did with that
                              information, and (3) determine whether any procedure for handling such
                              information should be changed.

                              2
                               In addition to this report, also see Chemical and Biological Defense: Emphasis Remains Insufficient to
                              Resolve Continuing Problems (GAO/NSIAD-96-103, Mar. 29, 1996); Defense Health Care: Medical
                              Surveillance Improved Since Gulf War, but Mixed Results in Bosnia (GAO/NSIAD-97-136, May 13,
                              1997); and three classified reports on the defense of Korea, biological agent defense, and protection of
                              critical ports and airfields.



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                         Examinations of Exposure of U.S. Personnel
                         to Chemical Warfare Agents During the Gulf
                         War and Gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk
                         Log




                         Because of the large number of documents relevant to the examination,
                         DOD awarded a $2.5 million contract to the MITRE Corporation in
                         December 1996 to organize and analyze the documents and produce an
                         independent study. The purpose of the study was to determine what
                         information concerning Iraqi chemical warfare weapons, doctrine, units,
                         sites, intentions, uses, and events was known or not known within DOD and
                         how the information was used or not used during the period from the Iraq
                         invasion of Kuwait to the withdrawal of all forces from Iraq and Kuwait.

                         MITRE staff are reviewing millions of documents at all security
                         classifications from several government sources, including the Defense
                         Intelligence Agency; National Security Agency; Departments of State, the
                         Army, the Navy, and the Air Force; CIA; DOD’s Gulf War Declassification
                         Project; and CENTCOM. In addition, MITRE conducted about 30 interviews
                         with individuals from DOD and the national security and intelligence
                         communities to obtain information. MITRE’s final report will be classified.
                         A final report will be provided to the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense
                         for Intelligence Oversight, who will then provide it and his own findings
                         and recommendations to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.


Army Inspector General   In September 1996, the Secretary of the Army directed the Army Inspector
                         General to determine the facts surrounding the demolition of ammunition
                         at Khamisiyah, Iraq in March 1991 by U.S. Army forces. The Inspector
                         General’s inquiry was to focus on whether (1) the presence of chemical
                         munitions was detected at the time the ammunition was destroyed,
                         (2) such information was reported, and to what level, and (3) appropriate
                         force protection measures were taken during demolition operations.

                         In October 1996, the Secretary of the Army issued a supplemental directive
                         to the Army Inspector General. The Inspector General was directed to
                         determine (1) the weapons that were destroyed; (2) the personnel who
                         participated in the destruction; (3) the potential exposure of those
                         personnel to chemical agents; (4) other personnel who may have been
                         exposed to chemical agents due to the possible chemical agent release,
                         considering applicable weather patterns at the time; (5) any other
                         significant events pertaining to this incident; and (6) whether similar
                         operations were conducted elsewhere.

                         For the inquiry, a team of four Army Inspector General officers gathered
                         information and documents from the Gulf War Declassification Project (on
                         intelligence, health policy, and operations); the Investigation and Analysis



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                        Log




                        Directorate, Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses; various
                        Army commands and agencies; CIA; the Defense Intelligence Agency; and
                        individual soldiers, veterans, and civilians. The team collected over 2,000
                        documents, 300 photographs, 4 video tapes, and 1 audio tape. In addition,
                        the team conducted approximately 700 interviews with active duty
                        servicemembers, veterans, retirees, and civilians. About one-half of the
                        interviews were sworn and recorded. The remainder were documented
                        with memoranda for the record.

                        The Army Inspector General team has completed the inquiry and is
                        currently in the final stages of writing the report, analyzing and
                        cross-referencing available data, and coordinating possible results and
                        conclusions with the appropriate agencies and individuals. It is anticipated
                        that a report will be approved for release in October 1997.


CIA Inspector General   In October 1996, the Director of Central Intelligence requested that the CIA
                        Inspector General assess the allegations made by two former CIA
                        employees concerning the handling of information about the possible
                        exposure of U.S. forces to chemical weapons during the Persian Gulf War.
                        The allegations were that (1) the CIA had hidden, and continues to hide,
                        evidence of the exposure of U.S. forces to chemical weapons during the
                        Gulf War; (2) CIA officials tried to hinder the former employees’ inquiry
                        about this exposure; (3) CIA employees avoided reviewing the evidence
                        uncovered concerning the exposure; and (4) the careers of the two former
                        employees were effectively destroyed because of their insistence on
                        pursuing an inquiry about the exposure of U.S. forces to chemical
                        weapons during the Gulf War. The allegation that CIA hid information
                        related to Gulf War Illnesses was based on three specific concerns: (1) that
                        the CIA was not releasing relevant documents in a timely fashion, (2) that
                        CIA managers had directed the removal of documents from an Internet
                        website on Gulf War illnesses run by DOD, and (3) that the CIA had not
                        provided one of the former employees with documents requested under
                        the Freedom of Information Act.

                        In addition, in February 1997, the President asked the Presidential
                        Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses to address several
                        questions regarding the Khamisiyah ammunition storage depot. As a result
                        of the President’s directive to the Committee to take full account of
                        evidence disclosed by the CIA Inspector General’s ongoing review, a CIA
                        Inspector General assessment team specifically focused on CIA’s handling




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                            Examinations of Exposure of U.S. Personnel
                            to Chemical Warfare Agents During the Gulf
                            War and Gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk
                            Log




                            of information related to Khamisiyah in order to contribute to resolution
                            of the President’s questions.

                            A nine-person assessment team has reviewed over 6,000 documents and
                            interviewed over 175 individuals. As of September 1, 1997, two draft
                            reports, one concerning the allegations of the two former employees and
                            another on the handling of information related to Khamisiyah, had been
                            distributed to CIA components so that they may provide comments. Final
                            reports are expected to be issued by October 31, 1997.


Director of Central         The Task Force, established in February 1997 by the Acting Director of
Intelligence Persian Gulf   Central Intelligence, was chartered to provide intelligence support to the
War Illnesses Task Force    various U.S. government entities that are examining Gulf War illnesses.
                            The Task Force staff of 50 personnel are from the intelligence
                            community—the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National
                            Security Agency, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, and DOD’s
                            Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses. As the Task Force
                            completed some of its initial efforts, many intelligence community
                            personnel returned to their respective components; however, they
                            continue to be principal points of contact to the Task Force for specific
                            issues. The Task Force is now composed of personnel from CIA, the
                            National Imagery and Mapping Agency, and the Office of the Special
                            Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses. Responsibilities of the Task Force include
                            (1) reviewing previous search criteria and conducting additional searches
                            as required; (2) managing and accelerating current and ongoing document
                            declassification efforts; (3) ensuring that DOD and others can retrieve
                            related classified information quickly; (4) supporting ongoing CIA modeling
                            efforts; (5) providing analyses of relevant information; and (6) developing
                            a comprehensive strategy for communications with DOD, the National
                            Security Council, the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War
                            Veterans’ Illnesses, appropriate congressional committees, the media, and
                            the public.

                            According to the Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence
                            for Persian Gulf War Illnesses Issues, to meet its responsibilities, the Task
                            Force has reviewed previous search criteria on Gulf War illnesses,
                            conducted broader searches, and ensured that classified material was
                            passed to DOD and others. The broader approach was designed, in part, to
                            discover any evidence about the potential exposure of U.S. forces to
                            chemical weapons and other hazards. The Task Force’s search efforts
                            captured over 1 million documents. The Task Force used an analytical



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                        War and Gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk
                        Log




                        team to prepare three public papers: Khamisiyah: A Historical Perspective
                        on Related Intelligence, April 1997;” Update on Potential Mustard Agent
                        Release at Ukhaydir Ammunition Storage Depot, September 1997; and
                        Modeling the Chemical Warfare Agent Release at the Khamisiyah Pit,
                        September 1997.

                        In its April 1997 paper, the Task Force focused on determining what the
                        intelligence community knew about Iraqi storage of chemical weapons,
                        particularly the storage of such weapons at the Khamisiyah ammunition
                        site. Questions pursued included (1) what and when did the intelligence
                        community know about the possibility of chemical weapons at this site
                        and (2) what did the intelligence community, and when, do internally and
                        externally, with the information collected and analyzed. Its paper provides
                        details about the intelligence community’s knowledge of Khamisiyah
                        before, during, and after the war. Key issues include problems with
                        multiple databases; limited sharing of sensitive, but vital, information; and
                        incomplete searches of files while preparing lists of known or suspected
                        chemical warfare facilities. The Task Force is also conducting analyses
                        related to potential causes of Gulf War illnesses, including biological,
                        chemical, radiological, environmental factors, and foreign-reported
                        illnesses.

                        The Task Force has been working with DOD to produce the
                        plume-modeling results. The Task Force was expected to complete its
                        work by April 1997; however, as of October 1997, its work was still
                        ongoing.


DOD Inspector General   In its efforts to identify the causes of a number of illnesses being suffered
                        by Gulf War veterans, the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War
                        Illnesses learned that not all of the pages of the NBC Desk Log maintained
                        in CENTCOM’s J-3 Operations Center during the war could be found. The
                        Office has located 37 pages of the log, covering 26 nonconsecutive days of
                        operations from January 17 to March 12, 1991. DOD estimated that
                        approximately 200 pages of the log could be expected to exist. Thus, DOD
                        has paper copies of only a small portion (less than 20 percent) of the pages
                        of the Central Command NBC Desk Log that could have been generated
                        during the Gulf War.

                        On March 3, 1997, the Deputy Secretary of Defense directed the DOD
                        Inspector General to take over this inquiry and carry it to conclusion.
                        Specifically, the Deputy Secretary directed the Inspector General’s office



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                        to follow all leads that could be developed on the location of the original
                        log or copies, in either electronic or hard copy versions, and gather all
                        originals and copies that can be located. If a full copy of the log cannot be
                        located, the Inspector General is to explain why.

                        The Defense Criminal Investigative Service of DOD’s Inspector General’s
                        office is currently examining this issue. The examination is being directed
                        by headquarters staff, and the examination team consists of senior
                        investigators supported by a staff of auditors and investigative support
                        personnel. The team’s efforts generally included collecting and analyzing
                        the investigative record created by the Office of the Special Assistant for
                        Gulf War Illnesses, including numerous transcribed interviews with watch
                        officers assigned to man the headquarters NBC Desk during the war;
                        interviews of other persons who may have had access to the log after the
                        war; and many telephone and written requests for information from
                        sources throughout DOD. The team also conducted over 185 interviews
                        with available witnesses who were involved in the creation of the CENTCOM
                        NBC Desk Log in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and those in possession of the log at
                        CENTCOM in Tampa, Florida, after the conclusion of the Gulf War. The team
                        also reviewed over 700,000 pages of documents at the National Archives,
                        22,000 pages at CENTCOM, and over 100 computer disks.

                        This effort was designated as the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s
                        top priority and was to be completed as quickly as possible without
                        sacrificing the thoroughness of the examination.


                        We identified six veterans organizations that were reviewing issues
Examinations            relating to the exposure of U.S. military personnel to chemical agents or
Conducted by            gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk Log. Five groups were reviewing both issues.
Veterans                While the federal organizations have performed extensive studies or
                        inquires, the veterans organizations for the most part are collecting and
Organizations           analyzing information, making Freedom of Information Act requests, and
                        collecting media information in their role of keeping veterans informed of
                        pertinent developments.


National Gulf War       In 1995, the National Gulf War Resource Center, a nonprofit organization
Resource Center, Inc.   located in Washington, D.C., was founded to support the efforts of 24 grass
                        roots Gulf War veterans organizations in the United States and Great
                        Britain working to assist veterans affected by the war. The Center serves
                        as a clearinghouse receiving information from veterans; the Center’s



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                      to Chemical Warfare Agents During the Gulf
                      War and Gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk
                      Log




                      member and veteran service organizations; government agencies; and the
                      media. It then disseminates the information to member organizations and
                      interested groups to assist them in their efforts to assist veterans.

                      Starting in 1995, the Center began researching and documenting chemical
                      warfare agent detection, exposure, and injury incidents during the Gulf
                      War as well as the issue of the missing, misplaced, or destroyed chemical
                      logs. The Center’s objectives are to locate, obtain, and review documents,
                      such as chemical logs, relevant to the exposure of U.S. service personnel
                      to chemical warfare agents. This work was intended to provide Gulf War
                      veterans with evidence of chemical agent exposure, if any, so that they
                      could obtain appropriate health care and compensation and offer
                      suggestions on how to improve chemical warfare agent detection and
                      protection.

                      To achieve these objectives, the Center receives eyewitness accounts from
                      veterans to determine which units may have been exposed to chemical
                      warfare agents and then sends requests for relevant documentation under
                      the Freedom of Information Act to the appropriate commands and units.
                      In addition, the Center reviews other documentation obtained from
                      Congress, the media, DOD, and other sources to obtain additional
                      information about potential exposures and the location of relevant
                      corroborating documentation.

                      According to a representative of the Center, its work has resulted in the
                      public release of previously classified information that contradicted
                      information previously released by DOD. The representative also said that,
                      as a result of the Center’s work, (1) DOD confirmed that Gulf War
                      personnel were potentially exposed to chemical warfare agents, (2) DOD
                      and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs have begun to offer some limited
                      medical screening for potential toxic exposures experienced during the
                      Gulf War, and (3) DOD and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs have
                      launched new medical studies following up on private sector studies
                      showing a causal link between chemical exposures and illnesses among
                      Gulf War veterans. The Center’s examination is an ongoing effort with no
                      established completion date.


Operation Desert      The Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm Association, located in Odessa,
Shield/Desert Storm   Texas, was formed in November 1990 to collect and archive any and all
Association           information related to the Gulf War, including the exposure of service
                      personnel to chemical warfare agents and the circumstances surrounding



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                War and Gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk
                Log




                gaps in the CENTCOM NBC Desk Log. The Association was formed to attempt
                to prevent a recurrence of the problems that occurred during the Vietnam
                War with the government’s handling of exposures of military personnel to
                Agent Orange. The founding members believed that the major problem
                with the Agent Orange situation was that no entity outside the government
                kept any documentation during the Vietnam War.

                The Association’s mission is accomplished through obtaining government
                and private documents from worldwide sources, identifying and collecting
                newspaper and magazine articles, and recording television and radio
                presentations related to the Gulf War. The Association plans to continue
                its examination into all Gulf War issues, including the use of, and exposure
                to chemical and biological weapons in the Persian Gulf and gaps in
                CENTCOM’s NBC Desk Log. Negotiations are underway to build a permanent
                archival, research, and museum facility to provide information resources
                on all aspects of the Persian Gulf War to anyone requesting such
                information.

                In 1991, from its contacts with sick veterans, the Association determined
                that there were five areas of concern affecting the health of service
                personnel: human changes to the normal environment in the Gulf,
                chemical and biological weapons exposure, radiation exposure, parasitic
                infections, and the use of investigational drugs and vaccines. Since 1992,
                Association representatives have testified at U.S. and overseas meetings
                and hearings pertaining to the Gulf War illnesses. Also, in January 1992,
                the Association co-sponsored the first “mystery illnesses” conference.


The VetCenter   In February 1994, the VetCenter located in Patchogue, New York, was
                formed to determine why many Gulf War veterans became ill after the war.
                More specifically, the VetCenter is examining the possible exposure of
                U.S. personnel to chemical warfare agents, including identifying incidents
                where personnel were exposed and disclosing this information to the
                public.

                With respect to CENTCOM’s NBC Desk Log, the VetCenter has been
                examining the chain of custody and instances of noncompliance with
                incident recording procedures. This is being accomplished through the
                correlation of units, locations, and the extent of illnesses experienced by
                veterans in various areas. Information is collected primarily from veterans
                who served in the Gulf War through the use of surveys posted on the
                VetCenter’s Internet site and through mailings. This information is



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                         Examinations of Exposure of U.S. Personnel
                         to Chemical Warfare Agents During the Gulf
                         War and Gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk
                         Log




                         subsequently reviewed and followed up on through telephone calls,
                         electronic mail, and letters for validation. Veterans are asked to back up
                         their statements by submitting photos and other documentation. This
                         information is made available to organizations such as congressional
                         committees and individuals who are examining the issue. This work is an
                         ongoing effort with no established completion date.


The Northwest Veterans   The Northwest Veterans for Peace, located in Portland, Oregon, began
for Peace                helping Gulf War veterans and their families obtain medical care because
                         the organization believed that the government was not promptly attending
                         to veterans returning to the United States. In 1993, as a result of a
                         congressional request, the organization began testing saliva and urine of
                         veterans and their families from an Oregon National Guard unit that
                         deployed to the Gulf. In addition, the organization asked veterans and their
                         families to complete a questionnaire covering their illnesses and their jobs,
                         locations, and time periods in the Gulf. The questionnaire also asked about
                         any incident occurring in the Gulf that they believed was either a chemical
                         or biological incident. In the summer of 1997, the organization sent
                         follow-up questionnaires to the veterans to identify any changes in their
                         health or the health of their families. The organization is still receiving
                         questionnaire responses from the veterans. The organization has not
                         established a completion date for this effort.


Desert Storm Justice     In February 1994, the Desert Storm Justice Foundation, located in
Foundation               Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was created as a nonprofit organization to
                         provide support to sick veterans and their families. The Foundation also
                         serves as a clearinghouse for information from both government and
                         private sources about the possible exposure of U.S. personnel to nuclear,
                         biological, and chemical warfare agents during the war, widely
                         disseminating the information to interested groups and individuals. The
                         Foundation’s efforts also include gathering information on gaps in
                         CENTCOM’s NBC Desk Log. This is an ongoing examination with no
                         established completion date.


GulfWatch                In March 1991, GulfWatch, located in Hannibal, Missouri, was created to
                         provide information and documentation to the public regarding what
                         happened before, during, and after the war on a variety of topics, including
                         the possible exposure to U.S. personnel to nuclear, biological, and
                         chemical warfare agents and gaps in CENTCOM’s NBC Desk Log. The



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Log




organization received information from sources in intelligence agencies,
from interviews with individuals who served in the war, radio call-in
programs, and filing requests for documents under the Freedom of
Information Act. The organization disseminates the information obtained
to researchers and the media with the objective of providing information
on what actually happened during the Gulf War. The overall goal of the
organization is to obtain medical care for sick Gulf War veterans and to
prevent a recurrence of such problems. The investigative efforts of
GulfWatch are ongoing with no established completion date.




Page 27                                      GAO/NSIAD-98-27 Gulf War Illnesses
Appendix II

Major Contributors to This Report


                        Carol R. Schuster
National Security and   Donald L. Patton
International Affairs   Rodney E. Ragan
Division, Washington,   William J. Rigazio
                        Raymond G. Bickert
D.C.                    Karen S. Blum



                        Steve J. Fox
Norfolk Field Office    William L. Mathers




(703200)                Page 28              GAO/NSIAD-98-27 Gulf War Illnesses
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