Gulf War Logs on Chemicals Reported Lost in Office Move

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 24, 1997; Page A17
The Washington Post

The Pentagon inspector general has determined that a set of missing chemical weapons logs from the Persian Gulf War -- documents veterans' groups say could provide valuable information about possible chemical exposures -- was wrongfully destroyed by Army officials during an office move after the war. A second set, the report said, is still missing.

But, the inspector general said there is no evidence "to support the theory that any individuals or organization participated in a conspiracy to destroy or conceal the logs."

Rather, one set of logs at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida were "probably destroyed" when the office that kept the chemical weapons-related logs for the Central Command, the military command in charge of U.S. forces during the war, moved. Another computer disk copy of the logs that an officer sent to his office at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland after the war, is missing.

The report, released yesterday by the Pentagon, also said an Army officer who helped keep the logs during the war is under criminal investigation for having taken and kept a classified "log extract" of the original documents at a storage facility where she kept personal belongings. The "log extract" of 223 entries, contains no information that investigators believe directly relates to possible chemical releases.

The "CENTCOM logs" are one of the mysteries in the continuing effort to determine whether Gulf War veterans were exposed to chemicals that could have made them sick years later.

Only 37 pages of the estimated 180 to 210 pages still exist. Among the missing documents are those from March 4 and March 10, 1994, when U.S. troops blew up Iraqi chemical weapons at a storage depot in southern Iraq.

"It certainly doesn't put this issue to rest," said James Tuite III, a leading activist on Gulf War illness. "If you have the simultaneous disappearance of logs from two locations, many questions remain."

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