Panel to stand by early findings on Gulf War illnesses
September 5, 1997
Web posted at: 10:51 p.m. EDT (0251 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Presidential Advisory Committee on
Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses will stand by its earlier findings that chemical exposure is an "unlikely" cause of the ailments, CNN has learned.
The independent oversight committee held its last public meeting Friday and discussed what it will say in its concluding report, due at the White House by October 31.
Committee officials told CNN the panel will recommend that the Pentagon not be allowed lead the investigation of illnesses because it lacks credibility and the confidence of Gulf War veterans groups.
Instead, sources said, the committee will recommend the White House develop a plan for continued oversight of the Pentagon. It will propose that the National Academy of Science or another appropriate scientific organization be contracted to conduct periodic reviews of benefits and research projects.
Nevertheless, sources told CNN that the commission will make no significant changes to its earlier findings that: "Current scientific evidence does not support a causal link between the symptoms and illnesses reported today by Gulf War veterans and exposures while in the Gulf region."
While the December 1996 report found exposure to extremely low levels of nerve gas is a "risk factor," it concluded it "is unlikely to be associated with health problems of Gulf War veterans".
The panel will also not change its assessment that stress is likely to be an important contributing factor to the health problems experienced by Gulf War veterans.