Schwarzkopf: No Evidence Of Chemical Exposure During Gulf War

By Jamie McIntyre/CNN

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 29) -- Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War, said today there is no evidence that U.S. troops were exposed to chemical agents "before, during or after hostilities" in the conflict.

Scwarzkopf testified before a U.S. Senate committee investigating mysterious Gulf War ailments. The general kept diaries throughout his stay in the Persian Gulf and shared those logs with members of the committee.

"I never received, before, during or after the hostilities, any report of Iraqi use of chemical weapons, nor the discovery of or destruction of Iraqi chemical weapons," Schwarzkopf said. "I feel sure that had such events knowingly occurred, I would have received reports, since this was the highest intelligence priority in my command."

When there were suspected incidents, survey teams checked them out, he said.

"In every case, survey teams entered the area with the most sophisticated detection devices available and in every case I am aware of, the alarms were declared false alarms. No one showed any symptom of chemical exposure," Schwarzkopf said.

Schwarzkopf said he did not learn that U.S. troops probably destroyed chemical weapons at an Iraqi bunker at Khamisiyah until the Pentagon announced it last summer.

"No one was more surprised that I was, because we were looking for chemical weapons," he said.

Schwarzkopf bristled at some media reports last year that suggested U.S. commanders hid in protective bunkers while exposing troops to risk of chemical exposure and then covering it up.

"Such a statement at best demonstrates an abysmal ignorance of the standards of conduct that we expect of all military leaders in our armed forces today, and at worst it is a blatant lie which strikes at the heart of our armed forces, since it undermines the confidence of the mothers and fathers of America who place the well-being of their sons and daughters in our hands," Schwarzkopf testified.

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