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Khamisiyah: A Historical Perspective on Related Intelligence

Persian Gulf War Illnesses Task Force
April 9, 1997

Introductory Note from the Acting Director of Central Intelligence, George J. Tenet

On February 27, in response to President Clinton's tasking to his Advisory Committee (PAC) on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, I appointed Robert Walpole to be my Special Assistant for this issue. I asked him to have a Persian Gulf War Illnesses Task Force running by 3 March. One of its first tasks was to determine what the Intelligence Community knew about the Khamisiyah storage facility, when we knew it, and what we did with that information. Former task forces had focused on identifying areas of potential exposure to chemical agents and on assessing what had happened in March 1991 at Khamisiyah.

This paper and the accompanying documents do not contradict previous intelligence warnings before Desert Shield/Desert Storm: that Iraq was likely to have chemical warfare (CW) munitions in the theater of operations and that Iraqi CW munitions might not be marked. It also does not change our judgment that Iraq did not use chemical weapons during Desert Storm.

The paper does, however, illustrate that intelligence support associated with Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm--particularly in the areas of information distribution and analysis--should have been better. Key issues include problems with multiple databases; limited sharing of "sensitive" but vital information; and incomplete searches of files while preparing lists of known or suspect CW facilities. This Task Force is preparing recommendations to address these problems and will continue to assess how we can improve. We will move aggressively to implement those recommendations.

Finally, I would like to thank the United Nations Special Commission for its part in this public release of information. I also want to reiterate my commitment to the men and women who served this country in the Persian Gulf. We owe them a full and accurate accounting of what happened. This paper is a part of that commitment. But this commitment also extends to enhancing intelligence support to men and women who will serve in the future.

 

Khamisiyah: A Historical Perspective on Related Intelligence

The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) [1] has assessed that Iraq did not use chemical weapons during the Gulf War. However, based on a comprehensive review of intelligence information and relevant information made available by the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), we conclude that chemical warfare (CW) agent was released as a result of US postwar demolition of rockets with chemical warheads in a bunker (called Bunker 73 by Iraq) and a pit in an area known as Khamisiyah.

Iraq's Chemical Warfare Program

 

Intelligence Chronology of the Khamisiyah Depot

 

The Intelligence Record: 1976-90

 

Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm: August 1990 - February 1991

 

The Postwar Period: March-April 1991

 

Supporting UNSCOM: May 1991-93

 

Gulf War Illnesses Concerns: 1993-Present

 

Efforts To Help Address Gulf War Illnesses Issues

 

Some Lessons Learned

 

References

 

Footnotes

Last Updated: July 11, 2023
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