More than three-quarters of the chemical weapons logs kept during the Persian Gulf War are missing, far more than the eight days' worth previously disclosed, the Pentagon reported yesterday.
A computer virus imported by an officer who brought some computer games to Gulf War headquarters may have wiped out half the logs, the report said. Two sets of the logs on disk and a paper copy shipped to U.S. Central Command headquarters in Florida after the war appear to have been lost from a safe in an office move. A third disk set and another hard copy were lost from a safe at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
Gulf War veterans concerned about their unexplained illnesses are eager to know whether the logs mention the release of chemical weapons. Many say they believe that chemical weapons -- which the Pentagon says were not used by Iraq during the war -- caused their illnesses. And some veterans charge the Pentagon with covering up the full release of records.
"The Pentagon has botched not only the handling of the records but also the investigation of the handling of the records," said Paul Sullivan of the National Gulf War Resource Council, a veterans' group.
Matt Puglisi, director of Gulf War issues for the American Legion and a veteran of the 1991 conflict, said that having been in the military he can understand the bureaucratic foul-ups that could lead to the loss of records.
"But there's certainly the appearance of a coverup, and that needs to be investigated aggressively," Puglisi said.
The new Pentagon report, disclosed at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, concludes that only 36 out of about 200 pages of the logs can be found. "This expectation is based on an assumption that one page of log was written for each day in theater from August 1990 to March 1991," the report said.
© Copyright 1997 The Associated Press