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Khamisiyah Investigation: Operation Bury The Truth

In a report published in April this year, the U.S Department of Defence (DoD) admitted that chemical weapons were present at Khamisiyah, a giant Iraqi munitions bunker destroyed by US troops during the Gulf War.

It also admitted that these troops were ‘unwittingly’ exposed to ‘low levels’ of chemical nerve agents. In the voluminous report, the DoD tries to explain how this happened.

Needless to say, nowhere in the report is the fact that illegal U.S made chemical and biological weapons were reportedly found at Khamisiyah by the demolition crew, as reported by Scoop in “”The Dirty And Deadly Secrets Of Khamisiyah” and alleged by the American Gulf War Veterans Association.

Nor does the report make a connection between this apparent evidence of U.S hypocrisy, and Khamisiyah’s hasty destruction by ill equipped and unwitting troops.

It does report however that the troops involved in the demolition wore no chemical protection clothing, had no training in identifying and disposing of chemical weapons, and notes that many are now dying of the debilitating illnesses associated with Gulf War Syndrome.

16,000 U.S soldiers have perished in the 11 years it has taken for this report to published. Was it worth the wait? Mo Abbas reports.

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Khamisiyah Investigation: Operation Bury The Truth

‘During Operation Desert Shield – US military leaders were acutely aware of the constant threat posed to U.S soldiers by Iraq’s chemical weapons arsenal,’ the “Case Narrative - US Demolition Operations at Khamisiyah - Final Report” baldly states.

Yet, senior officials in the military and DoD testified on Capitol Hill as late as July 1997 that they had found ‘No empirical evidence’ that chemical weapons were present during arms demolitions in Iraq.’

Officials seem to have had a hard time keeping to their lines at around this time as shown most clearly in the testimony of General “Stormin” Norman Schwarzkopf himself.

“In planning our military campaign again Iraq six years ago, we focused on our enemy's strengths and weaknesses. The one area in which they far exceeded our capabilities was in chemical and biological warfare. We knew that they had a very large stockpile of chemical weapons and had embarked upon a program to develop biological weapons. Further, they had demonstrated their willingness to use such weapons both in the war again Iran and in campaigns against the Kurdish population in Northern Iraq.

The measures we took to eliminate the enemy's chemical and biological threat were both active and passive.

The active measures were the destruction of known storage and production sites in the earliest stages of the strategic air campaign and also the systematic destruction of the enemy's chemical delivery systems, which consisted of the air force and artillery. There was always some concern that they could deliver chemical weapons using Scud missiles, although we had been assured repeatedly by the intelligence community that this capability did not exist.”

Interestingly this testimony, which was appended to an earlier version of the Khamisiyah investigation report, was left out of the final narrative published this year.

However the passivity of the other measures taken by the U.S. high command are aptly dealt with in the final narrative.

In the face of Iraq’s identified chemical threat, the report states that, ‘Soldiers had no training in identifying or disposing of chemical weapons.’.

Officially, only soldiers of the specially trained explosive ordinance disposal detachments were authorised to identify and dispose of chemical weapons.

‘Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) detachments had the specific tasks of identifying and destroying munitions in the theater of operations. Unfortunately, the task of destroying the vast quantities of munitions and equipment captured during Desert Storm was too large for the small number of EOD personnel in the KTO [ Kuwaiti Theatre of Operations- where allied ground troops conducted operations] in the time available, and therefore fell to those not fully technically equipped for the task.’

Iraqi arms demolitions have been taking place over much of the last ten years.

Yet in the haste to make sure that Khamisiyah was destroyed less than two weeks after it was captured, senior military personnel resorted to the following measures:

Non EOD soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division were ordered to destroy Khamisiyah, a site strongly suspected by military intelligence of containing chemical weapons.

The soldiers were given a ’16 page manual’ on how to identify and dispose of chemical weapons.

Armed with this manual, soldiers were expected to safely dispose of weapons of mass destruction. Moreover these soldiers, according to the official report, do not remember ever seeing the manual and ‘did not wear chemical protective clothing’.

Perhaps the soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division did not expect to find any chemical weapons in Khamisiyah, which could explain their shockingly lax attitude to their disposal.

To allay fears amongst US troops, prior to the invasion they were assured that Iraq would never use chemical weapons for fear of ‘massive retaliation’. They were also told that the allied attack on Iraq would be so swift and conclusive that Iraq would not have the time to weaponise and mobilise chemical weapons.

This quote comes in the very same report that emphasises Iraq’s ‘constant threat posed to U.S soldiers by chemical weapons.’ Which was it?

In fact two critical warnings should have alerted the 82nd airborne division to the real risks posed by Iraq’s chemical weapons.

The report states that in Feb 1991 the CIA had sent U.S central command a message stating that there may be chemical weapons at Khamisiyah. The official report claims that US central command, and hence the 82nd Airborne Division, never received the message.

Also, another Airborne Division, the XVIII Corps, had reported that there were ‘possible chemicals’ at Khamisiyah. However, the report goes on to say that ‘there is no evidence to date that the 82nd Div received the warning from the XVIII Corps of possible chemicals.’

During a Congressional inquiry into activites at Khamisiyah, undersecretary for Defence, Dr. Theodore M.Prociv is quoted in the report as saying
‘All the chemical agents and related equipment were found stored at locations a great distance from the KTO.’

But Khamisiyah is in the KTO!

Dr. Theodore is later contradicted by another DoD official at the hearing: ‘It is not correct to say that all munitions were found far from the KTO,’ the official stated.

Chairman of the Congressional enquiry: ‘So there were instances then where some of the munitions were found close to where we had troops deployed?’

DoD official: ‘That’s correct.’.

The conflicting information contained in the report and its very late publication is unconvincingly explained away in the official narrative by a claimed confusion over the actual name of Khamisiyah dump.

Despite the fact that Khamisiyah was first identified by the US intelligence agencies as a conventional weapons storage complex in 1976, and then as a chemical weapons storage complex between 1984 and 1985 during the Iran-Iraq war, all of America’s top intelligence agencies were (according to the report) ‘confused’ as to what the 50 square km site at Khamisiyah was actually called.

‘This confusion over names would prevail within the U.S government for years and was one of the main reasons the government did not realise sooner that U.S forces had destroyed chemical weapons at Khamisiyah,’ the narrative states.

Although the DoD withheld information regarding Khamisiyah for 5 years after the Gulf War this ‘confusion’ over names was spotted as early as Nov 1991.

Arms Control Intelligence Staff – according to the report - ‘An interagency organisation that was the Intelligence Community’s focal point supporting US government efforts in Iraq.’, recognised the error in nomenclature but the Department of Defence, ‘Unfortunately, did not make this connection at this time.’.

In September ’96, the DoD and the CIA were instructed by their political masters to ‘aggressively pursue’ the matter of possible chemical release at Khamisiyah.

In finally solving the mystery of which troops were actually present at Khamisiyah, the report would have us believe that a CIA analyst ‘heard a radio talk show on which a 37th Engineer Battalion veteran described demolition activities at a facility the analyst recognized as Khamisiyah.’ Remarkably after the Langley brains trust solved this mystery with the assistance of a radio talk show host, they then discovered that UNSCOM had in fact reported to them the confirmed presence of chemical weapons at Khamisiyah in late 1991.

The 2002 DoD report into events at Khamisiyah is not the first, though it is supposed to be the final report on the matter.

The first report on Khamisiyah was released in 1997 with much fanfare. But contrary to what one might expect, the 2002 report is not an updated and improved version of the 1997 report. Indeed, the differences between them are quite striking.

Like the testimony of “Stormin” Norman quoted above, included in the 97 report, but omitted in the 2002 report, is a transcription of very astute questions put to the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) of the DoD by U.S. Senator Riegle in 1994.

Q41. Is there any classified or unclassified information that would indicate the discovery of any chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear warfare related materials by U S. or Coalition forces before, during, or after the Persian Gulf War?

A41. There is no information, classified or unclassified, that would indicate the discovery of any chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear warfare related materials by the US or Coalition forces before, during or after the Persian Gulf War. See question 19.

Ql9. Were chemical munitions or binary precursor materials capable of being used in chemical warfare discovered in any area of Iraq, Kuwait, or Saudi Arabia before, during, or after the war by US Forces, US civilian personnel or other Coalition participants?

A19: The Kuwaiti Theater of Operations (KTO) included southern Iraq south of 31'00 N, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. This was the area eventually occupied by Coalition ground forces before, during and after Operation Desert Storm. Neither chemlcal munltions, bulk agent, nor binary precursors were discovered in the KTO before, during or after the war by US Forces, civilian personnel, or Coalition participants.

Straight talking, apparently.

Yet the final report contradicts almost every aspect of the testimony of DoD provided to the Senator in 1994. As stated before this question and answer session is conveniently omitted from the apparently exhaustive compendium of material appended to the final report. (To view the full Q&A see… 1994 DoD Q&A On Bio/Chem Weapons In Gulf War

Also interesting in this exchange (questions 1, 37 and 38) is another clear contradiction.

In answer to question 1 the DIA claims to have no knowledge of any US exports of Chemical or Biological Weapons or equipment to Iraq. Yet in answer to questions 37 and 38 the name of an organisation that Senator Riegle obviously suspects of supplying Iraq with chemical weapons and training has been deleted, and the DIA - which earlier claimed to not be informed of such matters – is now confident that whoever they are, they were not involved.

Nowhere in the final report are the complete reversals in sworn testimony on Capitol Hill by senior DoD officials even alluded to, let alone explained.

In its 2002 report, after years of silence on the subject of Khamisiyah, the US administration has in effect deluged those who seek the truth with a sprawling, machiavellian report of dubious credibility.

Only a few of its most blatant discrepancies and less credible statements are recounted here and enthusiastic truth seekers with lots of time on their hands may wish to read the report in its entirety.

So the question begged here is; why would the DoD go to all the trouble of investigating this matter for six years and then publish a report that makes them look so bumblingly incompetent?

To wit:
1. Critical CIA breakthroughs made via radio talk shows?
2. Repeated chemical weapons warnings that fail to materialise?
3. Troops with no chemical weapons training issued with 16 page manuals on chemical weapons destruction (which they do not recall receiving)?
4. The world’s most powerful intelligence agencies confused over the name of a chemical weapons depot for five years at least and possibly two decades?
5. Numerous official congressional and senate committee testimonies, that at best are misinformed, and at worse, blatant lies?

If this report on what happened at Khamisiyah is to be taken at face value, then the world is now being asked, via the United Nations, to give its blessings to a confused and clumsy global super power embarking on another rampage in the Gulf.

But then, maybe “confused and clumsy” is an infinitely better epitaph for the heroes of Gulf War I than “illegal arms dealer to a murderous regime who used the lives of its own soldiers to cover its tracks”.

For the US servicemen who are now dying by the thousands, the DoD’s final analysis of what happened at Khamisiyah was definitely not worth the wait.

They will be glad to know, however, that their government has recently increased funding for their burials.

It must come as cold comfort that this same government is now seeking to bury the secret of its duplicity in the graves of its own troops.

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Anti(c)opyright Scoop 2002

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