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Biological Warfare Investigation: Oct. 23, 2000

Case Narrative Close-Out Reports are summaries of discontinued investigations into possible exposures of U.S. servicemembers to chemical or biological warfare agents during the Gulf War. The Office of the Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Gulf War Illnesses began this investigation of biological warfare agents in response to concerns Iraq may have used biological warfare agents against Coalition forces and agents may be a cause of unexplained illnesses seen in Gulf War veterans.

The Presidential Special Oversight Board requested that we provide a summary of this investigation, which we did at a public hearing on Sept. 16, 1999. Based on that summary, the Board concluded that information obtained to date in this investigation, the emerging results, and the anticipated outcomes from continued investigation are not likely to improve our understanding of any unexplained illnesses. Consequently, the Presidential Special Oversight Board recommended terminating further investigation. In addition, to bring the investigation to closure, the Board requested that we complete a close-out report to present the data, documentary evidence, and findings compiled during the course of the investigation. The close-out report that follows complies with the Board’s recommendation, but if you believe you have additional information related to biological warfare during the Gulf War, please contact my office by calling 1-800-497-6261

 

I. Overview

Read Overview

 

II. Investigation

A. Methodology

 

B. Iraq’s Biological Threat

 

C. Post-War Findings

 

D. U.S. Biological Warfare Defense

 

E. Gulf War Biological Warfare Medical Preparedness

 

F. Detecting, Evaluating and Reporting Biological Agents

 

G. Desert Shield and Desert Storm Biological Warfare Agent Detection Capabilities

 

H. Biological Sampling

 

III. Significant Findings

The result of reviewing many Gulf-War-era documents and interviewing veterans corroborated a common Gulf War theme—total absence of disease patterns or even a single disease occurrence associated with biological warfare agents. On the other hand, because of the flawed chain of custody and absence of tracking data for the collected samples, we cannot determine whether all the samples returned to the United States for analysis were harmless or even whether all the samples scheduled for return were shipped. Further, the 9th Chemical Detachment did not continuously conduct biological air sampling and were only in 12 select areas, not throughout the KTO. Therefore, however remote, the possibility exists biological warfare agents were present during periods when the detachment did not monitor or in areas not covered by the detectors.

A. General

 

B. Lessons Learned

IV. Discussion

This investigation attempted to determine whether Iraq used biological warfare agents during the Gulf War and if such use contributed to the causes of undiagnosed illnesses seen in Gulf War veterans. Although reports have indicated incidents of Iraq’s possible use of biological warfare agents, as far as this investigation proceeded, we found no evidence confirming such use.

In response to the Presidential Special Oversight Board’s request, we provided a summary of this investigation at a public hearing on Sept. 16, 1999. Based on that summary, the Board concluded that the information obtained to date, the emerging results, and the anticipated outcomes from continued investigation are not likely to improve our understanding of any unexplained illnesses. Consequently, the Presidential Special Oversight Board recommended terminating this investigation. With this report, we terminate this investigation because it is unlikely further evidence will emerge to determine if Iraq used biological warfare agents.

This investigation is closed. However, if you have information that would change this report, please contact my office by calling 1-800-497-6261.

 

Tab A. Acronyms, Abbreviations, and Glossary

This tab lists acronyms and abbreviations found in this report. Additionally, the glossary defines selected technical terms not found in common usage.

Acronyms & Abbreviations

 

Glossary

 

Tab B. Bibliography

View Bibliography

 

Tab C. Anthrax

Overview

 

Signs & Symptoms

 

Desert Shield & Desert Storm Anthrax Prophylaxis

 

Anthrax Vaccine Efficacy

 

Tab D. Botulism

Overview

 

Signs & Symptoms

 

Desert Shield/Desert Storm Botulinum Toxin Prophylaxis

 

Tab E. Trichothecene Mycotoxin (T-2)

Overview

 

Signs & Symptoms

 

Prophylaxis & Treatment

 

Tab F. Aflatoxin

Overview

 

Tab G. Plague

Overview

 

Signs & Symptoms

 

End Notes

View the End Notes

Last Updated: June 13, 2023
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