Persian Gulf War veterans say the mystery of missing paperwork shows why the investigation of Gulf War illnesses should be taken away from the Department of Defense.
At issue are written logs kept by U.S. nuclear, chemical and biological warfare officers before and during the Gulf War.
Veterans think the logs could help determine whether they were exposed to Iraqi chemical or biological weapons.
On Thursday, the Pentagon released an inspector general's report that concluded the missing logs - estimated at more than 180 pages - probably were destroyed in October 1994.
The report said a second copy of the logs apparently was shipped to a chemical warfare office at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., but could not be located.
But veterans advocates who have looked at the report, which is posted on the Pentagon's Internet Web site, said it still doesn't explain the discrepancies they have noted in the logs.
"There are three separate versions of the logs, and they appear to come from three separate sources," said Jim Brown, director of GulfWatch, who received one version of the logs in 1995 after filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Central Command, which ran the Gulf War.
"All three versions are printouts of computer versions, but they have different (declassification) stamps and markings and different sections blacked out," he said.
Brown's version differed from the 11 heavily edited pages received by Paul Sullivan, who then headed a veterans group in Georgia, after his request was filtered through the Pentagon.
"When they released the logs to the Gulf War Veterans of Georgia, they said they had them all," Sullivan said. "They said they couldn't release the rest of them because of national security. That was in January 1995."
Pat Eddington, a former CIA analyst who quit in a dispute over the agency's handling of Gulf War documents, said the answer might be in the Pentagon's office for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, or C3I.
"If you look at the documents, there clearly were at least three copies of the log and the releasing authority was C3I," he said.
"That's where they need to look."
James Tuite III, then a Senate investigator, requested the logs in 1993 and was told they didn't exist.
"The findings of this report still fall far short of explaining the multiple locations from which the logs disappeared and the entire pattern of misleading and lying to Congress on nearly every aspect of this issue that has permeated DoD actions," Tuite said.
"The content of the report only serves to strengthen the evidence that the Department of Defense should be removed from the investigation in favor of an independent investigative body."
Sullivan thinks the missing logs still exist somewhere. "The Pentagon should be stripped of their investigation," he said. "The National Gulf War Resource Center has previously called for the appointment of an independent counsel, and we're renewing that call."
Brown has another answer. "I personally think the IG (inspector general)
went as far as they were
allowed to go, and that proves the military cannot police itself," he said.
"We need to get this investigation out of the hands of the military and give it to the people who have proven they can do it - and that's the veterans."
Originally Published, October 26, 1997, Belleville News Democrat,
(c) 1997, Belleville News-Democrat, Belleville, Ill
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