GULF WAR COMMANDER DENIES COVER-UP CLAIMS.
Byline: Michael E. Ruane Knight-Ridder Tribune News Wire
Retired Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf told Congress on Wednesday it was a ``blatant lie'' to suggest that he or his commanders knowingly exposed GIs to chemical contamination See: contamination. during the Persian Gulf War Persian Gulf War
or Gulf War
(1990–91) International conflict triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. Though justified by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on grounds that Kuwait was historically part of Iraq, the invasion was presumed to be and then tried to cover it up.
Many Gulf War veterans have come forward since the war, saying they believe they were carelessly exposed to Iraqi chemical weapons that U.S. commanders had to have known were present on the battlefield.
Schwarzkopf, who led the allied coalition to its swift victory over Iraq in 1991, passionately defended his leadership Wednesday at the Senate Veterans Affairs Veterans Affairs is a term of the business that deals with the relation between a government and its veteran communities, usually administered by the designated government agency. Committee, which is looking into Gulf War syndrome Gulf War syndrome, popular name for a variety of ailments experienced by veterans after the Persian Gulf War. Symptoms reported include nausea, cramps, rashes, short-term memory loss, fatigue, difficulty in breathing, headaches, joint and muscle pain, and birth .
``Certain people, for reasons of their own, have charged that I and my commanders knowingly placed our troops at risk to chemical weapons, while we sought protection for ourselves and subsequently engaged in cover-ups of chemical contamination of our troops,'' he said.
``Such a statement at best demonstrates an abysmal a·bys·mal
1. Resembling an abyss in depth; unfathomable.
2. Very profound; limitless: abysmal misery.
3. Very bad: an abysmal performance. ignorance of the standards of conduct that we expect of all military leaders in our armed forces today, and at worst is a blatant lie.
``We went to extraordinary lengths to protect our troops,'' he said. And every one of his top officers would have ``willingly sacrificed his life in order to ensure the safety of the men and women placed under his command. I would not have tolerated anything less.''
Many veterans have reported hearing sophisticated Army chemical alarms going off in the Persian Gulf Persian Gulf, arm of the Arabian Sea, 90,000 sq mi (233,100 sq km), between the Arabian peninsula and Iran, extending c.600 mi (970 km) from the Shatt al Arab delta to the Strait of Hormuz, which links it with the Gulf of Oman. , or seeing what they believed to be unexploded Iraqi chemical munitions mu·ni·tion
War materiel, especially weapons and ammunition. Often used in the plural.
tr.v. mu·ni·tioned, mu·ni·tion·ing, mu·ni·tions
To supply with munitions. , or feeling what they believe to be fallout from overhead chemical weapons explosions.
And many gulf vets believe the mysterious ailments that have been dubbed dub 1
tr.v. dubbed, dub·bing, dubs
1. To tap lightly on the shoulder by way of conferring knighthood.
2. To honor with a new title or description.
3. Gulf War syndrome are the result of exposure to chemical weapons or to the array of medications GIs were issued during the war.
Schwarzkopf, who was several times called a hero at the hearing, said the idea that he or any of his generals would needlessly expose their troops to chemical weapons was absurd.
But Schwarzkopf did acknowledge that it was a ``very real possibility'' that U.S. forces may have bombed chemical-weapons storage facilities that they didn't know about.
Schwarzkopf was drawn into the Gulf War syndrome debate when investigators began looking into personal logs kept for him and into logs tracking nuclear, chemical and biological weapons reports for Central Command, which he headed.
Controversy developed when large sections of the Central Command logs turned up missing - especially sections covering the March 1991 period when an Iraqi ammunition depot at Khamisiyah was blown up by Army engineers after the war.
Photo: Norman Schwarzkopf
Tackles chemical weapons issue