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by Jon Palfreman, producer, 'Last Battle of the Gulf War'
The CIA's account of how U.S. authorities failed to realize troops were exposed to chemical agents at Khamisiyah suggests incompetence more than conspiracy. (You can read this report on the internet: "CIA Report on Intelligence Related to Gulf War Illnesses")

The CIA had known about Khamisiyah as a possible chemical weapons site since 1986. Several intelligence warnings in February 1991 that Khamisiyah might contain chemical weapons were not passed on to the commanders of the divisions that subsequently destroyed the site in March, 1991. The CIA account claims that its analysts were:

(1) Confused about the name Khamisiyah (confusing it with Tall al Lham and An Nasiriyah)

(2) Uncertain of Khamisiyah's precise location.

(3) Unsure about which "shape" of Iraqi bunker contained chemical weapons.

In October, 1991, Khamisiyah was visited by United Nations inspectors (UNSCOM) who found the site heavily contaminated with sarin. The Iraqis told UNSCOM officials that they had not destroyed the site; Coalition forces had done it some time after the ground war ended.

The Iraqi story gained credibility after UNSCOM found a box of U.S. explosives at the site. This information was passed on to U.S. authorities, but the CIA and DOD did not believe the story and were unable to confirm it. Subsequent warnings by UNSCOM and others did not lead the CIA and DOD to connect Khamisiyah with U. S. troops.

It wasn't until June, 1996 that DOD officially recognized that (1) the site contained chemical weapons and, (2) US troops had blown it up in March, 1991.


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