Former CIA analyst accuses Pentagon, CIA of deception

WASHINGTON (AP) — Records of U.S. military units deployed in the Persian Gulf War contain abundant evidence of exposure to Iraqi chemical weapons, a former CIA analyst said Wednesday. He accused the Pentagon and CIA of engaging in “a pattern of deception and denial.”
“There’s no way you can even begin to get a complete picture of what happened over there unless and until they declassify every single unit log,” said Patrick Eddington, who resigned from the CIA earlier this year.
During the 1991 Gulf War, Eddington analyzed satellite photos of Iraqi troop movements. Later, he and his wife, Robin, also a CIA analyst, began collecting information on their own initiative about the possible use of chemical weapons during that brief conflict. Robin Eddington also resigned from the CIA earlier this year.
“The idea that the Defense Department has engaged in any sort of conspiracy to cover up any information regarding Gulf War illness is simply not true,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. “We have nothing to hide. As we learn new information, we provide it as rapidly as possible.”
“All of the information Mr. Eddington brought forward was looked at by the CIA and provided to the presidential advisory commission,” said Mark Mansfield, a spokesman for the CIA. The commission is reviewing allegations that U.S. troops were exposed to chemical agents during the 1991 Gulf War.
Mansfield said Eddington’s views on the issue “were not suppressed in any way, shape or form.” He said they were given a full review and “agency analysts did not agree with his conclusions.”
In an interview with The Associated Press, Eddington said logs of the 101st Airborne Division from January 1991 showed that during a period of two or three hours “one unit repeatedly detected chemical agents” using kits issued to every soldier.
He also said that top Pentagon officials including Defense Secretary William Perry and Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, falsely denied the existence of evidence of U.S. forces’ exposure to chemical agents during the conflict with Iraq.
Eddington said that in May 1994, Perry and Shalikashvili issued a memorandum that “stated categorically, no caveats on this, that there was no information, classified or otherwise, that indicated that any kind of chemical agent exposures had occurred or that any munitions were in the theater. That was a false statement.”
Eddington alleged a government cover-up in a letter published by The Washington Times on Dec. 7, 1994. He elaborated on his accusations in an interview published Wednesday in The New York Times.
Despite persistent reports of unexplained ailments among Gulf War veterans, the Pentagon has said repeatedly it has found no medical evidence of a so-called Gulf War syndrome or gas poisoning.
In June, when it first announced the possibility that troops may have been affected in the incidents, the Pentagon said only about 300 to 400 Army engineers may have been exposed.
More recently, Pentagon officials have said that thousands of U.S. troops may have been exposed to nerve gas when Iraqi ammunition dumps were blown up in March 1991.
The Pentagon has appealed for information from 20,000 troops who were in the vicinity of one of the ammunition depots.