Part 2 of 3
The CHAIRMAN. Well, I've got to make sure that I understand every single word in your sentence here. I want to make sure because you're putting your professional reputation on the line, and you're doing it under oath. Meanwhile, I've got a lot of sick veterans all across the country, some in the room today, who heard the chemical alarms going off all the time, even though the chemical alarms were set at a much higher level than we know can cause a problem if there's extended exposure. You know that as well.
But you're telling us, in your testimony today, that it is your best professional belief that we don't have a single veteran coming back from the Gulf War who had an exposure to chemical agents or biological agents in that war zone. And you're here today under oath with your professional reputation on the line.
Dr. PROCIV. Sir, again, I'm here to say that, knowing what I know and what I've reviewed, I do not understand how any of our veterans could have been exposed-
The CHAIRMAN. I didn't ask-
Dr. PROCIV. I have to say it this way because I'm not a medical doctor, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Maybe we need a medical doctor to answer the question.
Let me ask the same question of you, Dr. Kriese.
Dr. KRIESE. Sir, in the intelligence community, one of our, if you will, reminders is that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. So I cannot say absolutely, categorically, that there was no chemical or biological use and nobody was affected. I can tell you that, based on all the evidence I've seen, my judgment is that it was not used. But as a professional, I cannot tell you-
The CHAIRMAN. Now when you say, not used, you mean by not used, you mean, what? That there was an offensive use of these weapons?
Dr. KRIESE. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. You've not been able to validate in your own mind an incident or instances where they would have been used in an offensive way.
Dr. KRIESE. That's correct, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. But you also make the point that you're not prepared to rule out the possibility that these agents got loose in some way and may in fact have had an effect on some people. You can't comment on one way or the other on that.
Dr. KRIESE. I think it's impossible to prove a negative. I don't mean that lightly, sir. This is a very difficult issue, with low levels, many people involved.
The CHAIRMAN. You see, it's difficult, when you have hundreds, and now thousands, of eyewitness accounts of people who are in the theater of operations and the chemical alarms go off. The chemical alarms sound.
Now the chemical alarms were not just sitting out there waiting. We designed them. We sent them out there. We put them there because we were worried that this might happen. That's why the chemical alarms were there in the first place. That's why all the gear was there in the first place.
That’s why we have job titles that some of you carry that talk about biological and chemical warfare, because this is a real issue and it's not somebody's invention. Saddam Hussein has done this in the past, killed his own people with these kinds of weapons. This isn't science fiction or fantasy.
So we understood that there might very well be a problem. We Put all the monitors out there and then the monitors kept sounding and people keep taking their MOPP gear on and off. There's no question in your mind about that having happened, is there?
Dr. KRIESE. No.
The CHAIRMAN. OK. How many times, to your knowledge, would you say the chemical alarms went off throughout the whole theater of operation where they were placed to try to detect the chemicals?
Dr. KRIESE. I think Dr. Prociv probably has a better estimate than I do.
Dr. PRociv. I can't quote an exact number, but there are times when those alarms are deliberately set off. For instance, in the regiment, the NBC platoons are required to, in fact, test those alarms. What may have fallen apart is that they may not have notified the soldiers they were testing the alarms. So, as a minimum, twice a day, they would have tested.
The CHAIRMAN. Let's have order.
Dr. PROCIV. I also will admit that they are prone to false alarms. They are prone-
The CHAIRMAN. But you can see all the possibilities. It's amazing to me how clear your mind is on all the reasons why the alarms could go off-how it could be an accident or mistake or faulty equipment.
So now we have a new question-why are we buying faulty equipment? Why are we putting faulty alarms out there? In fact, I don't understand why we're putting alarms out there that detect a level 1,000 times higher than what we know can cause a problem over a period of time.
Dr. PROCIV. I could quote some numbers there, also.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me ask you this question. I'm going to ask you for the record. Again, I would urge you to measure your answer. Was the M8A1 automatic chemical agent detection alarm which was deployed during the war sufficiently sensitive to detect harmful exposure levels of chemical nerve agents?
Dr. PROCIV. The M8-yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you saying, then, that there could be an exposure level harmful to somebody that could come in beneath the level that device was scheduled to measure? If there were chronic exposures that went on for a period of time below those levels, couldn't those cause medical problems in people?
Dr. PROCIV. I believe that there is data that shows that chronic levels at very low levels do cause problems. But I believe it's only with-
The CHAIRMAN. But the machines weren't designed to pick that up, were they?
Dr. PROCIV. It was only with mustard, is my understanding.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, we'll get to that. But the machines were not designed to pick up low levels on a chronic level, were they?
Dr. PROCIV. No. The M8 detection, the range of 0.1 to 0.5. You can get myosis, which are the initial symptoms, at 0.005. But the first time that you get a runny nose is at 0.5. That's the second symptom. And 0.5 is well within the detection range of the M8.
The CHAIRMAN. We can go back and forth on this. The fact is-
Mr. DORN. Senator.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me just finish. He and I are having a discussion. I'd be happy to call on you in a minute.
I'm distressed about the fact that we've got a million reasons why we can't find the problem. We can't get to the root of this thing. We have all these sick veterans out there, wives and kids getting sick, and we just can't find out what's causing it.
Now, we're going to stay on this trail because I think it's quite clear what is causing part of it, and it falls into this zone. Not just the exposure to chemical items. I'm convinced that's part of it. you're not convinced that's part of it. We have a difference of opinion on that issue.
When you talk to the sick veterans who were in the theater of operation where the alarms were going off, the ones who are now sick are overwhelmingly convinced that there is a relationship. Now maybe you're smarter than they are and maybe they're smarter than you are. The consequences for them are a lot higher than they are for you because you're not sitting here sick, with all due respect.
Dr. PROCIV. Sir, if I can just go on the record. I don't disagree that there are sick veterans. I was a veteran myself. I'm very sympathetic toward the veterans. I wouldn't be working for the Department of Defense-I just left a 20-year career in industry to work for the Department of Defense because I believe in this cause.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me give you another example of how powerfully real it is in the lives of real people.
Col. Smith over here who's sitting in the wheelchair spent 30 years in the military himself. He was in excellent health when he went over to the Persian Gulf, actually had prior training as a veterinarian, so he knows something about what causes people to get sick and die, and animals to get sick and die.
He's no longer in the service. I'm doing this from memory, but after a long struggle, he finally received a 20 percent, I think it is, service disability related to his problems, although he can hardly get up out of the wheelchair and walk.
When he was invited to go on the Phil Donahue Show to talk about this problem, as a guy with a background in this area who is very, very sick, he was told by somebody in the military, it would be a good idea for him not to wear his uniform and all those ribbons on his chest.
I've got to tell you, I'm much more concerned right now with sick veterans than I am with veterans like yourself who I respect very much who are not sick. I think if you were sick, if you were sitting in his wheelchair, your feeling about this would be dramatically different.
I think part of the problem here is that the people who ran the operation during the Gulf War are not sick because they were not the ones out into the area of exposure and who have not come back with these problems. And so, I think it's very hard sometimes for us to put ourselves in the other person's shoes. That's why it would be very healthy for some of these interviews to be conducted directly. I'm going to ask, and we're going to bring the witnesses in here, if I have to bring in 500 witnesses and we have to do this hour by hour by hour, we're going to get the Defense Department to pay sufficient attention to this problem.
I don't think that's happened yet, with all due respect. As Senator Bennett points out, with the atomic exposure problem years ago, and as I mentioned with the Agent Orange exposure, I think there's an enormous institutional difficulty for a bureaucracy, whether it's the Defense Department or some other agency of the Government, to ever come to terms with perhaps some grievance decision errors about equipment, about exposure, about things that maybe weren't properly planned for that happened after the fact. We have some of that here, and we're going to have to deal with it because you have a problem here that's a lot bigger than you understand right now.
You have wives and children that are sick. I don't know how many of them you've talked to. I'm going to give you some names of spouses that are sick, whose reproductive situation has been knocked completely haywire since their husbands have come back from the Persian Gulf, and some women veterans who have come back and whose reproductive situation is completely haywire.
They think, and I believe that they're right in thinking it, that they were exposed to agents out there that have caused this to happen. They had a perfect health profile before they went. In fact, they couldn't have gone without a good health profile.
You need to talk to them, not through intermediaries and the chain of command where everybody understands that if there's a line that we're going to follow here that there were no exposures and we're all going to hue to that point of view, it gets very easy to start to tailor what's being beard into that sort of channel. I've seen it too many times and I think it's happening here.
I want you to talk to some of these people. I want you to sit down and get right up close to them because if there is a problem where this thing is moving through families, as we now have enough anecdotal evidence for me to believe that it is, you ought to get up close to it. You ought to look at it. You ought to look at the sick kids, not just Col. Smith and the others that are here right now who have given as much or more time in uniform as you have and who are now sick and are being tossed out the side door, quite frankly.
That's what's happening because, in effect, there's a problem but we don't know what caused the problem. It couldn't be chemical. It couldn't be biological because we can't find any evidence of that. Therefore, we're not going to aim our treatment regime down that track because if it never happened, then that can't be the cause of the problem. So let's look for other things. Let's look for mental problems. Let's look for this. Let's look for that.
This is not a mental problem. It is a mental problem, I think, in the Defense Department. I think it's fair to say that because the defense establishment has decided that this problem has to be outside certain boundaries. Yet, all of the evidence is accumulating, and we're going to go through it here today. We've gotten sidetracked here, which is a little bit regrettable because I want to nail down specific things here and we're going to do that.
But I think what is happening here is that the Defense Department almost cannot allow itself to come to any conclusion that there could have been or was any significant amount of chemical or biological exposure. I can see a lot of reasons why that could be the conclusion that the Department would find itself backed into thinking that it had to reach.
I would like an assurance-and I don't know if you can give it, Secretary Dorn, or not-I'd like an assurance today, an iron-clad assurance that every active-duty military service person who served in the Gulf who now is sick and who is afraid to come forward, as many are because they're afraid that they're going to get drummed out of the service. It's tough to find jobs on the outside, especially if you're sick, if you're leaving the military because you've got a health problem. And it's very tough to remain in the Military if you’ve got a health problem, and especially if it's in this area that the Defense Department I don't think is very comfortable with.
We've got to have an assurance, and I'd like it stated explicitly by the Secretary, that no active-duty person will be sent out of the military if they come forward and indicate that they have these problems and that they won't be off-loaded for some other reason that's a fake reason. And that, in fact, if they have to leave the service because they are so sick coming off the service in the Gulf War, that they will get service-connected disability and so they're not just going to go out and land on the scrap heap and find they can't get a job and they're uninsurable.
I think we have to have that assurance, or you're never going to know how many people you have in the active-duty force that are sick. Can you give me at today or can you within the next few days give me a commitment that you'll get that from the Secretary?
Mr. DORN. I certainly can, Senator. I can say that we want people to come forward. We recently fashioned a new program, as you may know, for encouraging people to come forward and for giving them a systematic treatment protocol so that we can ensure that we are searching for everything we possibly can search for and so that we can assure that they're being given the best treatment. We also are working on the appropriate disability compensation rules.
There was an earlier mention by a Member of your Committee that the legislation needs to be changed so that we do not insist on proof of a service connection. That legislation has been proposed b Mr. Montgomery, the Chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. We have been given an opportunity to comment on it.
But let me say further, Senator, if I can broaden this a little, we are trying not to close our eyes to things. This is one of the reasons we have asked the Lederberg group to look at the possible long-term effects of low levels of exposure to chemical agent. And this is why we have a range of research programs that look at a variety of possibilities from infectious agents to the possibility of environmental exposures.
Senator BENNETT. Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. I might just say that there already has been research done on that, as a matter of record, we've included it in our report. It's toward the end in an appendix, having to do with information developed by the U.S. Army Chemical Research Development Engineering Center, indicating the problems that do exist with prolonged low-level exposure. So-
Mr. DORN. I believe Mr. Tuite shared that information with the Lederberg panel.
He did not? OK.
The CHAIRMAN. Presumably, they would know about this.
Mr. DORN. They'll find it.
The CHAIRMAN. It's all the same operation. You see, if this is an issue that everybody really wants to understand, work that's al ready been done within the apparatus of the defense establishment ought to be the first thing that comes to the surface.
I would think that if the Defense Secretary turned around and said to the next person in command, I want every scrap of information that we have, anything that we've done. I want to know everything that there is to know that's in our files, records, research on chemical and biological testing, information of any and all sorts. I would assume that within a matter of days, if not hours, people could go like this and all the information he asked for would surface. Or am I wrong in that assumption?
Mr. DORN. We thought so, too. And you may recall that last November, in response to a request from another Senate Committee, we tried in the course of a week or two to produce definitive answers to questions such as those we are discussing today. We think we got pretty close, but it turned out that there was simply more information out there than we could reasonably digest in the course of a few days.
This is one of the reasons the Lederberg group has spent several months looking at this matter. On that panel are people who have spent many years studying a variety of issues that may be related to these illnesses and to possible exposures to a variety of environmental or chemical or biological agents in the Gulf. They are still hard at work producing their findings. But there is a lot of literature here.
The CHAIRMAN. I really don't want anybody else sent out into the field of battle where we're likely to run into chemical and biological weapons, where we know we've got a bad guy on the other side who has been developing these weapons, been using these weapons on his own people, and we say to our service men and women, look, suit up. We re going to send you in there. But we're not quite sure what we're likely to run into. We don't necessarily have the kind of gear we might like to have. We're not necessarily able to measure effectively biological exposures, even though we know this guy's been working on that. But we'd like you, in the name of the American Government and Uncle Sam, to get right on in there.
Here we are facing a situation with the North Koreans. In my mind ' the North Koreans may be as entirely capable of diabolical activities of any and all kinds as Saddam Hussein.
I can see why, if you were concerned about biological and chemical weapons activity on the part of the North Koreans, why there might a reluctance to even want to talk about the issue, so you didn't have a panic with our troops who are up on the front line who might be concerned that 3 years from now, if they're engaged in a fracas over there, they might end up like Col. Smith in a wheelchair.
And so, I would hope that we would never get to the point where the thinking is, let's get the mission done and then we'll treat the walking wounded, maybe, later on down the line or we'll figure out what that problem is at a later time.
I would hope that we would never get into a frame of mind where the objective in the immediate military sense puts the health and safety of our own forces in a secondary situation. Even though that's happened before in your lifetime and mine. It happened in Vietnam, in my opinion, and I think the evidence bears it out and the Vietnam veterans clearly feel that way. So you don't have to s stretch your imagination to imagine scenarios like that because we re living with the after-effects of that right now.
Mr. DORN. May 1, Mr. Chairman, associate myself with something Senator Bond said earlier?
The CHAIRMAN. Then I want to call on Senator Bennett, who has been waiting patiently to get in here.
Mr. DORN. Our effort here is, first and foremost, of course, to treat the sick veterans. That we are trying to do. Second, to find out what the underlying causes are and to deal with those.
The CHAIRMAN. But-
Mr. DORN. Senator Bond said something else. He said we have to prepare for the future.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, just one second. Just one second, Mr. Dorn. I think the problem, and the reason you got a murmur out of the veterans who are here, is that so many of them feel that their problem is in the chemical/biological exposure zone. And if the Department feels that that can't be the cause of their problem and therefore, the research efforts are really directed down other channels in any serious way, they feel like they're likely to continue to stay sick and get sicker and die in the meantime because you're going down divergent tracks.
Mr. DORN. If that is the impression I left, please give me an opportunity to clarify it.
One of the reasons we focused in my opening statement on chemical and biological weapons is, it was our understanding that that was this Committee's concern, how those weapons got into the hands of the Iraqis and whether they were used.
However, I want to make absolutely clear that we are exploring every possible or every plausible cause for these illnesses, including the possibility of exposure to some type of chemical agent, the possibility of exposure to various environmental pollutants, the possible long-term health effects of the Kuwaiti oil fires, infectious diseases such as leishmaniasis. There may be others. We are looking at a full range of possibilities.
One of the frustrations for some of the people who are vitally concerned with this is that there are strong proponents of each of those theories. We spend a lot of time explaining why we are trying to develop a program that looks at all of the possibilities rather than honing in solely on multiple chemical sensitivity or the Kuwaiti oil fires. We are examining a full range of possibilities here. Now, bow soon will the results come out? This is difficult. This is research. We are not confident bow soon the results will-
The CHAIRMAN. How much are we spending at the present time? Do you know offhand?
Mr. DORN. I'll have to get back to you on that because I cannot give you a total. Keep in mind that this research is being done under a lot of auspices. DoD is sponsoring some of it. VA is sponsoring some of it. Some of it is being done through Health and Human Services, their Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I will try to put together some numbers for you.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Bennett.
Senator BENNETT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'll spare the editorial comment that I was about to make. Let me go back to the issue.
The Chairman asked a specific question to which he did not get an answer. I'm interested in the answer. The question was how many times did the alarms go off? The answer was, well, we don't really know, and so on.
All right. I used to give that kind of an answer to a boss that was not sympathetic to that kind of an answer and he would always say to me when I'd say, well, I can't give you an exact number. He'd say, how many would you be surprised if it were more than? Can you give us a ballpark figure? How many would you be surprised if it were more than or less than, and give us kind of a bracket?
Then as you investigate this, and you probably can't answer it here, and I would be surprised if you could, I would like an answer for the record, how many times was the gear replaced after the alarms went off. And to focus exactly on what I'm talking about, I'll direct you to page 65 of the report provided by the Chairman and the Ranking Member.
There, by coincidence, seems to be two occasions here where the alarms went off and the gear was replaced.
The first one, quoting a Mr. Fred Willoughby of Columbus, Georgia, who was with the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion. He has reported that on January 20, 1991, at about 3:00 to 4:00 a.m., he was hanging out outside his tent when he heard a long, loud explosion. Shortly thereafter, a siren sounded and he went inside the tent to get his gas mask. By the time he came out, people were yelling, MOPP 4, MOPP 4, not a drill. Immediately, his mouth, lips, and face became numb all over, a sensation he likened to novocaine at the dentist's office. He was in the bunker for about an hour or an hour and a half. When he came out of the bunker, he and others in his unit were told by the officers and chiefs that what they had heard was just a sonic boom. The next day, the unit was told not to talk about it.
Here's the operative sentence-but the unit's MOPP gear was collected and replaced the next morning. I want to know how many times that happened, where an alarm went off and subsequently to the alarm going off, someone had the MOPP gear collected and replaced.
Go down to the next one just below it. Roy Morrow of Phenix City, Alabama, assigned to the Air Detachment, King Abdul Aziz Stadium.
On January 20, 1991, be beard two explosions between 3:00 and 3:30 a.m. He was awakened, went to the bunker. The unit went to MOPP 2 level for 25 to 30 minutes. The all-clear was then given. When he exited the bunker, Mr. Morrow noticed the Marines running and screaming, MOPP level 4. The siren sounded again. He began to feel a burning sensation on his arms, legs, the back of his neck, his ears, and his face, his lips felt numb. His unit went to full MOPP level 4. Right before he went to the bunker the second time, Mr. Morrow saw a flash in the commercial port of Al-Jubayl. He had a radio in the bunker, so on and so forth.
When they began to discuss it, down in the next paragraph, he's talking with the head of the decontamination team in his unit. And when they began to discuss it, according to Mr. Morrow, the unit was told that the two explosions were a sonic boom and they were ordered not to talk about it any more. The next day, all of their chemical gear was collected and replaced with new equipment.
I am sure in the logs of those units, the sounding of the alarms, the going to MOPP 4 level, and the collecting and replacing of the equipment is recorded. If there's one thing our military does well, it is multiply paper and record things that went on, and people keep logs.
I would like to know how many times the alarms went off, and after the alarms going off, regardless of the explanation as to why, someone felt it necessary to collect and replace all of the MOPP equipment, because, certainly on its face, it would appear that somebody on the scene at the time was convinced that the gear was contaminated or would not have had it replaced.
Finally, just as another footnote, as I browsed through this-
The CHAIRMAN. I'm wondering, do you have a response?
[No response provided.]
Senator BENNETT. Do you have a response on that? I'm assuming that you don't have that statistic. But if you do, I'd be glad to-
The CHAIRMAN. There ought to be somebody here that knows. There are a lot of people here that are experts in this area. Who can get the closest to an answer?
Dr. PROCIV. I guess the difficulty of coming up with a number, and we will try. We will try to provide one for the record. The only time that a record is made of an alarm is if it's a verified alarm. An NBC 1 report is prepared and that's sent upstairs.
The CHAIRMAN. Now what is a verified alarm?
Dr. PROCIV. An alarm goes off and the M256 kit is used to verify it.
The CHAIRMAN. So when the alarm goes off, if there isn't that kind of a verification, you wouldn't count it, anyway.
Dr. PROCIV. No.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you then kind of switch back to the other point, that maybe it was a faulty alarm or-
Dr. PROCIV. I'm trying to be open-minded here.
We probably wouldn't bear about it, but it may be that the company would keep records, that Central Command would keep records. And so, we will try to get the number.
Senator BENNETT. I find it inconceivable that the alarm would go off and the unit would be on alert, and in their MOPP gear for hours, and then the gear would be collected and disposed of and there would be no record of the incident on the ground that it wasn't verified. That's incredible to me.
Dr. PROCIV. Let me try to explain that, also. Typically, the gear is not changed after an alarm.
Senator BENNETT. I understand that.
Dr. PROCIV. Typically, the gear is changed after a certain number of days of wear life. For instance, the British suit has a 5-day wear life. On the fifth day, everybody changes out of the suit and gets a new one. I'd have to look into each of these cases and see why those change-outs were made. I'm not sure I understand that, other than by coincidence, it may have hit that fifth day.
Senator BENNETT. I can understand that it would be by coincidence. But the Chairman asked the question, how many times did the alarm go off, because the testimony here has said that every single time that the alarm went off, it was because of some nonchemical reason. It was a false alarm. It was in reaction to diesel fuel in the air. It was testing. In every single instance, the testimony is the alarm was not an alarm of actual chemical presence. His question was, how many times did we have those nonchemical stimuli creating an alarm going off? I think that’s an answer we ought to get an approximation for.
The second question that I'm asking is, how many times was there a replacement of the gear following the alarm going off? If you say it only happened twice and in both cases, the 5 days were up, I'll accept that. But I want to know how many times it actually happened, whether or not we can put it down to coincidence of the 5 days being up, or if somebody on the ground came to the conclusion that there was in fact contamination there and the gear had to be replaced as a safety measure for his troops. I can see a conscientious commander making that decision and having a record of it somewhere. I want to know if, indeed, that happened.
Finally, just as I was browsing through here, I'd point out to you on page 77, there is another case of an M256 giving a positive reading. William Brady, Battalion Logistics NCO with the 217th Maintenance Battalion.
Deafening sound, a flash of light, everything shook. That does not sound like a sonic boom to me. He remembered the chemical litmus paper turning red and a positive reading from an M256 kit. His nose began to run. He smelled and tasted sulfur and he began coughing up blood a couple of days after the attack.
Once again, you may have an explanation for the M256 working, but I come back to the earlier statement that there is never a verified case.
We do have a pattern here of alarms going off and now individual reports of even the M256 being activated I don't think there's a lot of credibility, unless you've got an answer for every one of these, for the statement that there was no presence of these things. To a layman, it just seems overwhelming that there's got to be a presumption of presence if these kinds of things kept happening.
Dr. PROCIV. Our conclusions are also base on not just the alarms. It's also the absence of the types of symptoms that we expect to see from nerve agents. We talked to our allies. We have not seen the symptoms there.
Typically, an attack will cause a lot of people to get exposed. So I will take these questions for the record, however, sir, and I will provide you the answers to those.
Senator BENNETT. Let me pursue what you just said because it fits with the line that I was on earlier.
You say, typically, we can expect. Let's hold the possibility that these particular agents were not typical. Let's hold the possibility that, indeed, something happened out there that doesn't meet the typical norm. Back to my earlier question to the Secretary-isn't there a possibility that the confirmation pattern is flawed?
You say, we can't get confirmation of it. Maybe we're dealing with something new here that we weren't previously thinking about that can produce a different kind of reaction than we were expecting.
With that thought in mind, go back and review everything we've talked about. Our confirmation pattern doesn't confirm.
I'm willing to accept that. I don't think you're sitting here lying to The on that issue. I'll accept that you've done the confirmation and the confirmation doesn't confirm. But how do I explain all of the people with Gulf War Syndrome. Just because it doesn't fit the typical pattern does not mean it didn't happen. Start thinking in those terms and maybe this whole thing will be a little different.
I thank the Chair.
The CHAIRMAN. I think, Senator Bennett, that that's an enormously constructive point you've just made.
We know that Saddam Hussein was experimenting with mixing up these cocktails, these so-called chemical cocktails and maybe mixing biologicals in with the chemical cocktails. We don't know what he was finally doing. We just know at the end of the war, even though we bombed the daylights out of every storage place we knew about, and I think in the process threw a lot of this stuff up in the air, which then blew down over our troops, that even after all the bombing, the massive bombing, he still had a huge stockpile of this stuff. That's what the U.N. inspectors found. And we're still destroying it, still getting rid of it. It's not easy to get rid of.
One of the great ironies is that we helped put it together because we sent him the materials in the beginning to get him going, with these licenses that were approved by our own Government to send the biological specimens and so forth.
But I think Senator Bennett is onto something. I think we may in fact be dealing with something here where, when he was threatening us with these kinds of doomsday weapons and other things, that he may have been experimenting with weapons that were different and outside the norm, and at we were not necessarily read to deal with that.
I think, quite frankly, it's a stunning statement. I know you may not think about it that way, when you say that when these alarms were going off all the time, it's probably because the alarms were faulty or that they were registering the wrong things.
To the people out in the real world that go to work everyday and pay the bills for the defense establishment and everything else, that will have them marching on Washington, if they think that what we were doing is buying alarm systems to protect their sons and daughters that basically weren't any good.
And so, yes, they kept going off all the time, but they were going off for the wrong reasons,
That's like asking people to believe something that's just so unbelievable, that to say it, makes a person sound like a fool, I think to a citizen.
Senator BENNETT. Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
Senator BENNETT. Could I comment on that because you've triggered a thought here that I'd like to share with the Department of Defense.
We're in a Catch-22. If we say, on the one hand, the alarms going off in every instance was due to malfunction or misreading or diesel oil, or whatever, and then we turn around and say, on the other hand, we have absolutely no confirmation from anywhere that these agents were present.
It's the second conclusion that's driving the first. If you say, just one alarm functioned properly, and what are the statistical chances that that's true, just one of these M256 readings was accurate, then we do have confirmation.
You've got yourself into a logic box here. If you say they all failed, the M256 all came from people who didn't understand what they were doing. We've checked everyone of them. You then can validate, no, there's no confirmation.
But the overwhelming inference on the part, again, of somebody looking at it from the outside who's not involved, is that it is the second conclusion that is driving the first and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy once you get there.
You can't prove a negative, but just think about it for just a minute logically and use the phrase, fuzzy logic, that allows you to go with probabilities, even if you can't pin it down. Is it really logical to assume that every single one of those events was faulty!
Mr. DORN. Senator, let me perhaps Dr. Prociv can address another dilemma here which has to do with the way one designs the systems and the way one sets them so that one has the maximum possible warning.
It is a system which, unfortunately, is likely to yield some false alarms. But perhaps we can discuss that technology because it does raise an interesting question about how much advanced warning we want in these circumstances and it may guide the way in which this technology is refined in the future.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, before we get off into a long, technical discourse that eats up more time, I want to stay on the point that he's just raised. If you can invent a better system, I'll all for it. Go and do it. If you want the money, I'll vote for the money to do it.
I'm concerned about a lot of sick people right now because the last system didn't work right and we're having a very hard time, I still think, getting an honest understanding, of what happened.
I think Senator Bennett is exactly right, that it's the second conclusion that in a sense is driving the first conclusion, that backs you into the notion that you've come in here with a truly unbelievable assertion that every single one of these alarms going off was faulty and didn't mean anything.
I think that that's clearly not the case and I would hope at the end of the day, not just today, but at the end of this you wouldn't force yourself into believing something that is patently unbelievable.
But there's a more serious and sinister part of it. And that is that that kind of logic also drives the effort to get to the bottom of the medical problems because if you're working off the premise that it can't be chemical exposure or biological weapons exposure, then you don't aim the bulk of your medical research effort with real urgency into that area of exposure.
You look at other things. You can spend a long time looking at everything else that it might be. Meanwhile, you've got very sick people that in many instances, are getting sicker. In other words, their sickness isn't standing still. Their sickness in many cases is progressive.
The thing that alarms me the most right now is that by, in a sense, ruling out the notion that it could be chemical and biological exposure causing a lot of this difficulty, maybe in a mixture with the pretreatment pills and so forth, we are losing very valuable time and causing perhaps an immense amount of grief.
If you've got a biological issue working in all of this, you may have even a bigger threat on your bands than we're accustomed to even thinking about. And so, that kind of logic or illogic, in this case, I think is what people can't accept who look at this.
And to your question, how many times did the alarms go off, I can assert to you right now, based on lust the first person accounts that we have had, with discussions with people who have come forward, for whom we have names, places, times, and so forth, that there would be thousands of events of alarms going off. Would any of you dispute that? You would not dispute that.
Dr. PROCIV. We have no data.
Senator BENNETT. That goes back to my question-what would you be surprised if it were fewer than? Does 1,000 strike you as much too high? You say you have no data, but you obviously-
Dr. PROCIV. I think that I would agree to per-alarm, perhaps 2 to 3 a day. I could see that happening.
The CHAIRMAN. How many alarms were out there?
Dr. PROCIV. We had 14,000 alarms out there.
The CHAIRMAN. So 14,000 alarms going off 3 times a day.
Dr. PROCIV. Big number.
The CHAIRMAN. That's a pretty big number.
Senator BENNETT. Yes. Let me pursue another aspect of the thought that I'm laying down here, that just because it doesn't fit the norm doesn't mean that it didn't happen.
As I understood, Mr. Secretary, your comments were' that you found no evidence of the presence of these weapons, let alone the trace of the gases or agents, but no evidence of the presence of these weapons in the theater. Is that correct?
Mr. DORN. That is correct.
Senator BENNETT. OK I believe, from the first-person reports contained in this document, that most of the instances reported were not in the theater. They were behind the lines back in the maintenance area, subject to SCUD attacks that were later dismissed as sonic booms and not, in fact, SCUD attacks in some cases, but not necessarily in the theater where the tank battle and those other things took place. Is that correct?
Mr. DORN. Those portions of southern Iraq and Kuwait that constituted the battlefield. So you are correct in the way we've defined the Kuwait theater of operations. However, I believe that statement is intended to cover, and I will verify it, but I believe that is intended to cover everything that we found on the battlefields, short of a certain parallel into Iraq.
Now I will confirm that.
Senator BENNETT. You see where I'm going.
Mr. DORN. It obviously would be very important-
Senator BENNETT. Yes.
Mr. DORN. -If this were cleverly worded to obscure that point. It is my sincere hope that it has not obscured that important point.
The CHAIRMAN. We have more than a hope, though.
Senator BENNETT. I don't accuse anybody of cleverly wording it to obscure it. But I have had enough dealings with some military minds, I won't say all, by any means, to suggest that it would never occur to them to go beyond the battlefield as to what the theater would be.
We are dealing now, if we accept these first-person witnesses at face value, with people who are behind the lines, who are subjected to SCUD attacks launched from areas we know not where. That is prima facie obvious because if we knew where the SCUD's were, we would have destroyed them. We were out looking for them. That was the number-one priority of the war, as far as our relationship with the Israelis was concerned.
These are attacks being launched from some area that we may very well have never reconnoitered that took place in an area outside of the theater. So that the information that you gave us here, very conceivably, could be exactly correct and still have missed the point.
Mr. DORN. I will double check the information. However, as you know, a number of these SCUD's landed in populated areas or were destroyed over populated areas. We know that when they were destroyed, they sometimes spewed forth rocket fuel and lots of other debris. I have seen no information suggesting that the debris contained evidence of a chemical or a biological agent.
I will double check that information for you, sir.
Senator BENNETT. I think it would be a useful exercise.
The other comment I would make-
Mr. DORN. Dr. Kriese has a comment on that.
Dr. KRIESE. May I comment, sir?
Senator BENNETT. Surely.
Dr. KRIESE. My understanding is that, after every SCUD attack, we checked for CW and none was found. That was of great concern to our forces.
I think you brought up a very important point as you talk about delivery of agents. You referred to an incident on January 19, or perhaps January 20, this is event 3 on page 64.
This area, we believe, was outside the range of any Iraqi delivery systems, except for SCUD's. And on January 20, there were four SCUD's that landed near Al-Jubayl, two of them about 35 miles away and two about 58 miles away.
I think as we discuss chemical agents, and I don't want to give an, appearance that I'm trying to rule something out or in circular logic, but, in my mind, one of the issues is the question of how those agents were inplaced, how they got there.
As we look at the installations that were deep behind the lines, like Al-Jubayl, SCUD is the only way to get there. I'm not saying that they're not there because I don't know how else to explain them. But I think delivery is a very important issue that we've looked at as we've tried to make an assessment of the use of CW and BW weapons.
We've also asked ourselves questions about if there are low levels of CW or BW, why do we never find high levels? Distribution of material is a very difficult problem. Usually, you start from a small canister and release it. Close to the canister, you have high levels of CW or BW agents. Further away, you find low levels. So this is, again, a puzzle to us. And I don't want to say that I'm ruling anything out.
Senator BENNETT. Yes.
Dr. KRIESE. But as we try to understand how the Iraqis may have used CW or BW agents, these are things that we try to address.
Senator BENNETT. And I think it's appropriate that you try to address them. I think that that's a legitimate question.
I go back to my earlier comment that maybe we're dealing with something here that does not fit our expectations because we're dealing with an individual who has pursued this weaponry far beyond the levels that we have, I think, in our own arsenal. We've decided to pull back from this a long time ago and he has decided to go forward.
Dr. KRIESE. Yes, sir, and I would add that, certainly, one of the things that the intelligence community worries about a lot is the question of technological surprise. So, across the board, we look at unexpected developments in technologies that may be a threat to U.S. forces or the forces of our allies.
This is something that we've looked for and, again, I can't say that it's not there because we haven't seen it, but we certainly pursue those leads whenever we have them.