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Pentagon backtracks on Gulf War chemical weapons report

explosion February 27, 1997
Web posted at: 10:45 p.m. EST

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From Correspondent Jamie McIntyre

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon and the CIA denied Thursday a report made earlier in the week which said that an Iraqi ammunition site destroyed by U.S. troops may have contained chemical weapons.

Pentagon officials told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there was no specific intelligence identifying the Kamisiyah complex as a chemical weapons storage site.

That assertion was backed up Thursday by retired Desert Storm Commander Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf himself.


"We knew they had them," Schwarzkopf said. "We had some very definite locations, particularly the production facilities... As far as the front-line ammo depot and where they might and might not have been located, we didn't know, and therefore we assumed every single one of them had chemical weapons."

Schwartzkopf's testimony contradicts a Pentagon report released Tuesday which said that the Army had been informed that "Kamisiyah was suspected of being a chemical weapons storage site."

Sen. Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, took issue with the backtracking.

CIA says the information was 'raw,' not specific

"You say there was no hard intelligence about chemicals," he said. "This, to me, is hard intelligence when the CIA notifies the 18th Corps of quote 'possible chemicals at objective gold,' which is Kamisiyah. That's a quote right from the log entry of February 26, 1991."

In response to questions from CNN, the CIA said Thursday that the information provided to the Army was "raw," rather than specific. It also said that it did not identify Kamisiyah as a chemical weapons site, but referred instead to a broad region where chemical weapons might be found.


Schwarzkopf said the Army received "tons of unrefined intelligence," and that when it was specific it was passed on to the troops.

Had there been precise information regarding Kamisiyah, he said, the Army units in the area would have been warned. Such information was widely distributed, he said, even if there is no record of it now.

Pentagon says perhaps 160 pages missing from logs

The Pentagon says it expects more accounts of chemical weapons to come to light as it combs through thousands of still unclassified documents.

"I expect that there will be more such discoveries and revelations as our investigation proceeds," Deputy Defense Secretary John White said.

But the Pentagon also told Congress that a search for missing chemical weapons logs revealed that more pages may have been lost than was originally thought, perhaps as many as 160 in all.

Investigators blame the disappearance of the crucial files on a computer virus and mishandling. They said the search continues.


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