A long-classified intelligence report shows that the Pentagon, the White House, the CIA and the State Department were alerted in November 1991 that chemical weapons had been stored in an Iraqi ammunition depot that was blown up earlier that year by a group of American troops.
The report was relayed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to American military commanders around the world and then remained hidden in files at the Pentagon and other government agencies even as the Defense Department issued statement after statement suggesting that it had no evidence that large numbers of American troops might have been exposed to chemical weapons.
The November 1991 report, which was marked “priority,” was never shared with the troops themselves.
The estimated 150 American soldiers who participated in the demolition mission in March 1991 in the southern Iraqi desert were informed only this spring that they may have been exposed to a cloud of mustard gas and sarin, a nerve agent.
Many of the soldiers who destroyed the arms depot have since developed debilitating medical problems that they say may be linked to their exposure to chemical weapons, and nearly 60,000 other veterans of the gulf war have asked for health screenings to determine if they are suffering from ailments related to their service in the gulf.