Riegle Report

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Riegle Report  (1994) 
by the United States Senate

Note: This document is the unofficial version of the Congressional Record. The printed Congressional Record produced by the Government Printing Office is the only official version.

Congressional Record (Senate) February 9, 1994[edit]


MR. RIEGLE. I thank the Chair, and I thank my colleague from Nebraska and my colleague from Hawaii.


Mr. President, I am here today with some very important information with respect to what may be affecting the health of our gulf war veterans, many of whom have come home with terribly disabling medical problems. I have been meeting with them, both here in Washington, and back in my home State of Michigan. It is hard to describe fully the magnitude of this problem without addressing individual cases and actually having them give first-person accounts as to both what happened to them when they were over in the war zone and also what has happened to them since they have returned.


Back on September 9, here on the Senate floor, I released a lengthy report which suggested that the illnesses which have come to be called gulf war syndrome - a collection of illnesses, serious illnesses, that our veterans are experiencing - could have resulted from exposure to chemical and biological warfare agents in the war zone, either through direct exposure from some kind of weapon, or shellfire; or from the downwind exposure as we bombed these biological and chemical weapons facilities - throwing hazardous debris up into the air which was then carried down over our troops.


There is also a question as to whether some of the medicines that we gave our troops to protect them against exposures of this kind may also have had the result of making some of them sick.


In any event, the symptoms associated with what is called gulf war syndrome are very debilitating and, in fact, have already killed too many of our returning veterans. The symptoms include muscle and joint pain, serious memory loss, intestinal and heart problems, fatigue, runny noses, urinary and intestinal tract problems, twitching, rashes, sores, and emotional and temper problems. There is a whole long list. These are the kinds of things that our research reveals could very readily be caused by exposures to chemical or biological weapons agents.


We started our inquiry by looking at chemical weapons because, after the war was over, the U.N. inspectors found huge stockpiles of chemical weapons held by Saddam Hussein. We also knew that in previous war encounters with the Kurds and the Iranians, they had used chemical weapons and that they had a very advanced capability in that area.


When the U.N. inspectors went in, they found thousands of chemical weapons shells. During the war itself, and this is based on a large number of first-hand accounts by veterans from Michigan and around the country who were in the gulf, that shells exploded, chemical alarms went off and they were told to put on their chemical protective gear. Many got sick at the time. Many remained sick after coming back to the United States.


In one very graphic instance, a Marine officer was running the most sophisticated mechanical chemical detection device deployed in the battle area. A chemical alarm went off and he got a computer reading as to what chemical agents were present in the area in which he was patrolling. It was recorded on a computer tape. He called into his headquarters and they asked him to send it in. He gave it to a courier and, of course, the tape has disappeared and has not been seen since. We do know this happened, and he has so testified before the U.S. Senate.


We also have had other countries come forward in this area. Czechoslovakia has. They documented that they detected chemical agents in areas where their own troops were positioned. We know that this was something that happened.


Now the problem is tracing what the link may be between those kinds of exposures and the problems affecting our returning veterans.


Beyond the very substantial body of data on chemical weapons exposure, including that on the fallout from their plants and the distribution of these toxins in the weather patterns, which we learned of last September, we are now pressing on in the area of biological weapons. We have done that because we have seen more and more cases of a breakdown in the health of veterans that may be consistent with exposure to biological toxins and biological agents.


We have had a number of researchers contact our office since we started with this inquiry, asking for help in tracking down what might have been out there to which our sick veterans could have been exposed.


Some researchers feel that the symptoms may not only be a result of exposure to chemical warfare agents, but also as a result of exposure to biological warfare agents. Now we are pursuing that line of inquiry.


Before laying out the evidence that we have found, I want to emphasize that this is an extremely serious issue with very powerful consequences. These kinds of exposures may begin to explain the alarming and growing evidence that the illnesses some of our gulf war veterans are experiencing appear to be moving through their families, causing health problems in their wives and in their children. Veterans have come to me in Michigan where I met with them and their family members. The wives are describing serious medical problems they did not have before their husbands came back. We have that kind of evidence, that is accumulating and that now has to be explained relative to the kinds of exposures which occurred in the war zone.


I think every institution of our Government, including the Congress, has a responsibility to dig into this and uncover every available lead which might now assist medical researchers in getting to the heart of what is making our Desert Storm veterans sick, and to identify both the nature and the scope of these illnesses. I think the administration and our Government has a sacred obligation to defend the health of our veterans every bit as much when they come back from war service as we do to protect them during the time they are actually wearing the military uniform of our country.


I know this: Since the war ended, we have had a number of veterans who have died as a result of serious medical problems, and we have a great number who are very sick and getting sicker. We had one Army colonel with 30 years of service come before the Senate Veterans` Affairs Committee in his military uniform. He had on his breast a tremendous number of decorations for valor and service. He was in perfect health when he went over to the gulf war. Now he has to walk on two canes. He is stooped over. He can barely get around. He cannot work. He is terribly sick, and I believe that he may have been exposed to items of the kind that we speak about here. That, by the way, is also his belief.


The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, where I serve as chairman, has oversight over the Export Administration Act. Pursuant to that act, I asked my committee staff to contact the Department of Commerce to request information on any biological materials that might have been exported from the United States to Iraq in the years prior to the gulf war. I did this not only to find out if we had done that, but also to get information on what kind of items they might have had to incorporate into their biological weapons program. These materials may have gotten loose. And that, in part, may be a cause of many of these medical problems experienced by returning veterans.


After we finally got the information from the Commerce Department, we then contacted a principal supplier of these materials to determine exactly what materials were exported to Iraq which could have contributed to their biological weapons capability.


The records which we were able to get from the supplier were for the period since 1985. We were not able to get any records prior to 1985. But let me tell you what we have now learned about exports since 1985.


We found that pathogenic, which means disease-producing items, and toxigenic, meaning poisonous items, and other hazardous materials were exported from the United States to Iraq following a licensing and application procedure actually set forth by our own United States Department of Commerce.


That meant our own Government had to approve the shipment of these materials and obviously did so - approving the shipment of these items to Iraq before the war started.


Now, we further learned by talking to the suppliers that these exported biological materials were not weakened when they were shipped over there. In other words, many were full pathogens capable of being reproduced by Iraq once they got there. Between the years of 1985 and 1989, the United States Government approved the sales of quantities of potentially lethal biological agents that could have been cultured and grown in very large quantities in an Iraqi biological warfare program.


I find it especially troubling that according to these supply records, hazardous biological materials were requested by and they were sent to Iraqi Government agencies, including the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education, the State Company for Drug Industries, and the Ministry of Trade.


While there may be some legitimate need for what are called pathogens in medical research, obviously much closer scrutiny should be exercised in approval of exports of materials of this kind to countries known or suspected of having active and aggressive biological warfare programs. Iraq has long been suspected of conducting biological warfare research in addition to its known chemical and biological warfare research programs.


Now, listen to the summary report of the Department of Defense to the Congress on the conduct of the Persian Gulf war which was written in 1992. I am quoting a paragraph out of this report. This is the formal report of the Department of Defense on the war.


By the time of the invasion of Kuwait, Iraq had developed biological weapons. Its advanced and aggressive biological warfare program was the most advanced in the Arab world. . . . The program probably began late in the 1970`s and concentrated on the development of two agents, botulinum toxin and anthrax bacteria. . . . Large scale production of these agents began in 1989 at four facilities near Baghdad. Delivery means for biological agents ranged from simple aerial bombs and artillery rockets to surface-to-surface missiles.


Now, that is our own Department of Defense acknowledging the capability of Iraq`s biological weapons capability after the war. Let us talk about in detail about what we sent Saddam Hussein and his government before the war to help them develop that very capability.


The U.N. inspectors after the war found four facilities that had been involved in biological warfare-related research, but interestingly the inspectors were kept out of those plants for a full year and a half after the war was over - obviously, so they could be cleaned up - so the evidence would be gone by the time the inspectors got in there.


So when they finally got in there a year and a half later, they could find no evidence of biological weapons production, but they did confirm that at least one of these facilities could produce up to 50 gallons of biological agents each week, and, of course, the Defense Department report which I just cited makes it clear that we knew they were doing exactly that.


I think the U.S. Government approving export of these materials to a government like that and to someone like Saddam Hussein violates every standard of logic and common sense. But that is what happened.


Now, included in these Government-approved sales are the following biological materials which have been considered by various nations for use in war with their associated disease symptoms. Let me spell them out, and these are medical terms, but it is important they be on the record - so the people know it, and so researchers can compare the illnesses we are now seeing with the effects of exposure to these particular items.


The first one is bacillus anthracis, or anthrax as it is called, which is a disease-producing bacteria identified by the Department of Defense in `The Conduct of the Persian Gulf War: Final Report to Congress,` as being a major component in the Iraqi biological warfare program.


Anthrax is an often-fatal infectious disease caused by ingestion of anthrax spores. It begins abruptly with high fever, difficulty in breathing, and chest pain. The disease eventually results in septicemia, or blood poisoning, and the mortality is high. Once it is advanced, antibiotic therapy may prove useless, probably because the exotoxins remain, despite the death of the bacteria itself. Next is clostridium botulinum, a bacterial source of botulinum toxin, which causes vomiting, constipation, thirst, general weakness, headache, fever, dizziness, double vision, dilation of the pupils, paralysis of the muscles involving swallowing, and is often fatal.


The next one is histoplasma capsulatum which causes a disease that superficially resembles tuberculosis but may cause pneumonia, enlargement of the liver and spleen, anemia, or an influenza-like illness and acute inflammatory skin disease marked by tender red nodules, usually on the shins. Interestingly, many of the veterans coming back have these kinds of symptoms and the acute skin inflammation is very common. Reactivated infection usually involves the lungs, the brain, spinal membranes, heart, peritoneum, and the adrenals.


Brucella melitensis is a bacteria which can cause chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, profuse sweating when at rest - this is another common symptom - all of these the veterans will tell you they are dealing with these symptoms. Other symptoms include pain in joints and muscles, insomnia, nausea, and can result in damage to major organs.


Clostridium perfringens is a highly toxic bacteria which causes gas gangrene. The bacteria produce toxins that move along muscle bundles in the body killing cells and producing necrotic tissue that is then favorable for further growth of the bacteria itself. Eventually, these toxins and bacteria enter the bloodstream and cause a systemic illness.


Now, I cannot overemphasize the seriousness of any distribution of these kinds of items and the possible exposure of our people to these kinds of toxins in some weapons form.


I wish to just show on the chart when these things were sent over to Iraq. I have listed each one that I just cited here in these blue boxes. Anthrax was shipped from the United States to Iraq back on May 2, 1986, and again in September 1988 - signed, sealed, delivered, and approved by our own Government, our own Department of Commerce.


Clostridium botulinum was shipped on May 22, 1986, and again in September 1988 from the United States to Iraq. Histoplasma capsulatum was shipped in February 1985 and went to the Ministry of Higher Education, so-called, in Iraq.


Clostridium perfringens was shipped in May 1986 and again in September 1988.


In addition, several shipments of E. Coli and genetic materials, human and bacterial DNA, were shipped directly to the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission.


You have to use your head a little bit because oftentimes the Defense Department cannot see these problems. They could not see the agent orange problem for a long time. Even though we had a lot of sick veterans for 20 years with agent orange, they could not see it.


They have had a hard time seeing how these exposures might be contributing to the thousands of sick gulf war veterans that are out there now who desperately need help and in many cases are not getting it. It is bad enough that they may have been exposed, as I believe they were, to some combination of these items, whether from bombing these plants or some other more direct form of trying to infect our people with it; but to not come along after the fact and track this problem and present it is absolutely inexcusable. This should be their job.


You do not just give a veteran a handshake after they have given their service to the country. And if they come home and if they are sick, you respond to their needs. You go to work to try to figure out what is causing it. If they have exotic illnesses that may very well be traceable to chemical and biological exposure, then you go to work to find out how that might have happened. We should have gotten this information from the Department of Defense. We did not. We had to generate it ourselves.


I want to congratulate the researcher who has led this effort on my staff, Jim Tuite, who is seated here on my side on the Senate floor, for pursuing this relentlessly to get to this kind of information.


What ought we do about it? I tell you one thing we ought to do about it. I am sick and tired of watching the Defense Department sidestep this issue with respect to sick Desert Storm veterans. I want those veterans who show these symptoms of severe sickness, who cannot work, who are out of work, unemployed, in many cases uninsurable - I want there to be a disability classification established so they can get disability benefits.


We may not, for the time being, be able to identify precisely what has made them so desperately sick because we do not know an awful lot about how to diagnose and treat these illnesses. But if this is part of the problem - I suspect it is - time is wasting both in getting the answers and in making sure that they can pay their bills and feed their families while many of them are laying in sickbeds at home and cannot even get the strength to get up out of bed to walk across a room.


I have been talking to these veterans in Michigan. I want to bring one into the Democratic policy luncheon within the next month so people can see the Army colonel that I am talking about. With 30 years of distinguished service, he went over to the Desert Storm war in perfect health and has come back. He is so hobbled now. He walks on two canes and he can only go a very short distance before he is out of breath. He is desperately sick, uninsurable, and unemployed.


Frankly, the Defense Department does not have too much interest in him. They are looking ahead to other things. They are not looking back at the large number of sick veterans who are out there.


But it does not take a Ph.D., knowing Saddam Hussein`s record, knowing he had the production facilities, knowing that we went in and bombed some of those production facilities, and knowing that the things that we sent him helped him produce biological weapons, to understand that such exposures may - I underline the word `may` - be causing the problems of a lot of our sick veterans that otherwise are defying explanation.


So let us get cracking on this. We know we sent the stuff. We know our own Government approved it. Why, I will never know - to send it on over to Saddam Hussein. Maybe because at the time the policymakers in the administration thought he would use these weapons on the Iranians. Well, it looks as if they may have gotten used on our people. But that could not have happened if these items had not left our country in the first place, getting into the hands of that diabolical monster and allowing him to develop these kinds of weapons capabilities.


So it is time we see a response from the Pentagon - a lot faster and a lot more to the point than we have seen to date.


Today asking the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a disability compensation rating for gulf war veterans consistent with the true extent of their disability and regardless of the current ability of the medical researchers to determine what is causing it.


But here is a darned good lead right here for a lot of these sick veterans, especially because what we are finding in their sickness are all these symptoms. I do not want to see the military people throw up their hands and say, well, you know, we cannot figure these things out. Yes, they have fevers. They have chest pains. Yes, many are dying. Yes, they are vomiting. Yes, they have general weakness. Yes, they are showing up with toxicity in their systems. Yes, they are sweating when they are at rest, and they have nausea and insomnia, and terrible skin inflammation. But we just cannot figure it out.


Well, maybe this will help. I hope it will help. I hope that it will help in time to save some lives.


I want to just finish on this note. I say this to the Senator from Nebraska, who is an authentic war hero, who has been out there, who knows what it is like to face combat, to risk his life, to see people you serve with killed. Within the last 2 weeks, I had a meeting with a group of Desert Storm veterans from Michigan. They had gone through the war. They brought their spouses; in one case the spouse and a number of small children. The wives were reluctant at first to talk about how sick they are; what has happened to them. They have terrible vaginal problems. They have other problems that they never experienced before. They are in pain. They do not know what to do.


The Defense Department does nothing for them. There is nothing in the VA that says that if a veteran comes back with some kind of exotic illness that makes his family sick that the VA is going to step up and respond to the health needs of the family. There is a line drawn there. I do not think a line should be drawn there in this situation.


I will guarantee you this. This is not just happening to Michigan veterans. It is happening to veterans in each one of the 50 States. You may not have heard all of the cases yet. I hope by the fact we are talking about it today that we will be hearing about a lot more cases, because we need to know about the cases, the times, the places, and the symptoms, so we can put the information together. We will keep after this problem until we get some answers.


I want to get some military research going to work on these problems. What happens if a person is exposed to these items and shows these kinds of symptoms? What do we do about it? How do we fix it? What kind of medicines do we need? What kind of treatment? I do not want to wait until they all die. I say this, around here at one time, when we were talking about giving a special benefit to World War I veterans for their service in the war, they got a token pension of sorts. The understanding was, well, if we delay it long enough, they will all die off, we will not have to give it.


The same thing is true here. We have sick veterans that are not going to survive unless we figure out what is wrong and what the right treatments are and get going on it. I strongly suspect based on common sense and logic, and on the past performance of Iraq, and with the lineup of these symptoms, that this is part of the story. I suppose that there are people around in the establishment who would just as soon not tell this story because it is a very sad and troubling story. There probably are. I am not sure that the people that authorized the shipment of this over in the Commerce Department back in the mideighties want to talk much about it right now, especially if that is what is causing a lot of this sickness among our veterans. I am not sure the people who are the architects of the whole operation and may have underestimated the risk from biological weapons exposure and chemical exposure necessarily want to talk about it now either because it is not a very happy ending to that particular war situation. But when you see these sick veterans and their families face to face, their country has a higher obligation, than to just tidy up the record and to forget about these things. We have an obligation to find out what is going on here and to help these people who desperately need our help.


I ask unanimous consent to have the letters which I am sending to the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Defense, Veterans Affairs, to get cracking on this issue, along with a list of biological materials that were exported to Iraq be printed in the Record.


There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:





Letter to the Secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs[edit]

U.S. Senate
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Washington, DC


February 9, 1994.


Hon. Jesse Brown
Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC. Dear Secretary Brown: After receiving complaints from a number of Michigan veterans who told me they were not receiving appropriate care from Department of Veterans Affairs` hospitals, I initiated an inquiry into the nature and scope of Gulf War Syndrome. This research uncovered a great deal of evidence that U.S. forces may have been exposed to chemical and possibly biological warfare agents as a result of the bombings of 18 chemical, 12 biological, and 4 nuclear facilities within Iraq during the Persian Gulf War.


I have also listened to the compelling accounts by eyewitness, including chemical officers, of events which appear to be best explained as direct chemical agent attacks.


Disturbingly, I also began to receive reports of these illnesses being transmitted to the spouses and children of these veterans. Since I initiated this inquiry, several medical researchers have suggested that the origins of these illnesses might be biological. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, with oversight responsibility for the Export Administration Act, I contacted the Centers of Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Commerce to determine what, if any, biological materials were exported to Iraq prior to the Gulf War.


After receiving the export information from the U.S. Department of Commerce, my staff contacted the principal supplier of these materials, the American Type Culture Collection, to determine the genus, species, strain, and origins of these materials.


Records provided by the supplier show that, from at least 1985 through 1989, the period for which records were available, the United States government approved for sale to Iraq quantities of potentially lethal biological agents that could have been cultured or grown in large volume in an Iraqi biological warfare program. These exported materials were not attenuated or weakened and were capable of reproduction.


Materials shipped included: bacillus anthracis, clostridium botulinum, clostridium perfringens, histoplasma capsulatum, brucella abortus, and brucella melitensis.


(A detailed listing of these materials is attached.)


I find it especially troubling that, according to the supplier`s records, these materials were requested by and sent to Iraqi government agencies, including the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission, the Iraq Ministry of Higher Education, the State Company for Drug Industries, and the Ministry of Trade.


I have released this information to assist medical researchers seeking to diagnose and treat affected veterans and their families. During this session of Congress, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will be reviewing the Export Administration Act, which is due for reauthorization. I have assured the veterans, their families, and the people of the United States that the policy under which these licenses were granted will be examined and strengthened. The defense of the United States should not be undermined by export policies that allow this government to assist any pariah nation, such as Iraq, in the furtherance of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons programs.


While it is extremely important to promote U.S. products and exports in international trade, it is also important to note that the average cost of each of these specimens was less that $60, and they were acquired from a `not-for-profit` organization.


I ask that the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense immediately establish disability rating systems for stricken Gulf War veterans that are dependent on the degree of individual disability rather than using some arbitrary point system. Further, the establishment of this disability rating must not be delayed because of an inability to arrive at a specific medical diagnosis.


I also call upon the newly created Persian Gulf Veterans Coordinating Board and the participating Secretaries of Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Health and Human Services, to expand their research to include the reported transmission of these illnesses to the spouses and children of these veterans, and to assess what, if any, public health hazard might exist.


In order to ensure that no information is being withheld, and consistent with the recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences in their investigation of the exposure of veterans to The Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should widely and publicly announce that personnel who believe they were exposed to chemical or biological warfare agents during the Persian Gulf War or who detected the presence of any chemical or biological warfare agents during the Gulf War are released from any oath of secrecy relative to these exposures or detections.


We must ensure that those men and women who served this country during the Gulf War, on active duty, in the reserves, and those who have since left the military services, receive proper medical attention. The National Achieves has retained many letters, the unheard pleas and appeals of the veterans who returned home after World War I complaining of illnesses as a result of their exposure to mustard gas. Surely, we cannot tolerate turning a deaf ear on the thousands of veterans who served in the Gulf War. Without proper testing and treatment, their conditions will worsen. They cannot wait. Many are now destitute - their savings spent on medical care not being provided by the government. Others, unable to work, receive no pension or compensation because the Department of Veterans Affairs is unable to diagnose their illnesses.


I believe that this issue needs to be resolved, in order to ensure that our Armed Services are properly prepared for future conflicts that might involve the use of these weapons. I know that you share my concerns, both about the well-being of those who wear the uniforms of the United States Armed Forces, and about the preparedness of this nation to protect its forces in future conflicts. I ask you to personally reply to these requests on or before March 31, 1994.


Sincerely,


Donald W. Riegle, Jr.
Chairman





Letter to the Secretary of the Department of Defense[edit]

U.S. Senate
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Washington, DC


February 9, 1994


Hon. William Perry
Secretary, Department of Defense
Pentagon
Washington, DC.


Dear Secretary Perry:


After receiving complaints from a number of Michigan veterans who told me they were not receiving appropriate care from Department of Veterans Affairs` hospitals, I initiated an inquiry into the nature and scope of Gulf War Syndrome. This research uncovered a great deal of evidence that U.S. forces may have been exposed to chemical and possibly biological warfare agents as a result of the bombings of 18 chemical, 12 biological, and 4 nuclear facilities within Iraq during the Persian Gulf War. I have also listened to the compelling accounts by eyewitnesses, including chemical officers, of events which appear to be best explained as direct chemical agent attacks.


Disturbingly, I also began to receive reports of these illnesses being transmitted to the spouses and children of these veterans. Since I initiated this inquiry, several medical researchers have suggested that the origins of these illnesses might be biological. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, with oversight responsibility for the Export Administration Act, I contacted the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Commerce to determine what, if any, biological materials were exported to Iraq prior to the Gulf War. After receiving the export information from the U.S. Department of Commerce, my staff contacted the principal supplier of these materials, the American Type Culture Collection, to determine the genus, species, strain, and origins of these materials.


Records provided by the supplier show that, from at least 1985 through 1989, the period for which records were available, the United States government approved for sale to Iraq quantities of potentially lethal biological agents that could have been cultured or grown in large volume in an Iraqi biological warfare program. These exported materials were not attenuated or weakened and were capable of reproduction.


Materials shipped included: Bacillus anthracis, clostridium botulinum, clostridium perfringens, histoplasma capsulatum, brucella abortus, and brucella melitensis.


(A detailed listing of these materials is attached.)


I find it especially troubling that, according to the supplier`s records, these materials were requested by and sent to Iraqi government agencies, including the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission, the Iraq Ministry of Higher Education, the State Company for Drug Industries, and the Ministry of Trade.


I have released this information to assist medical researchers seeking to diagnose and treat affected veterans and their families. During this session of Congress, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will be reviewing the Export Administration Act, which is due for reauthorization. I have assured the veterans, their families, and the people of the United States that the policy under these licenses were granted will be examined and strengthened. The defense of the United States should not be undermined by export policies that allow this government to assist any pariah nation, such as Iraq, in the furtherance of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons programs.


While it is extremely important to promote U.S. products and exports in international trade, it is also important to note that the average cost of each of these specimens was less than $60, and they were acquired from a `not-from-profit` organization.


I ask that the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense immediately establish disability rating systems for stricken Gulf War veterans that are dependent on the degree of individual disability rather than using some arbitrary point system. Further, the establishment of this disability rating must not be delayed because of an inability to arrive at a specific medical diagnosis.


I also call upon the newly created Persian Gulf Veterans Coordinating Board and the participating Secretaries of Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Health and Human Services, to expand their research to include the reported transmission of these illnesses to the spouses and children of these veterans, and to assess what, if any, public health hazard might exist.


In order to ensure that no information is being withheld, and consistent with the recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences in their investigation of the exposure of veterans to The Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should widely and publicly announce that personnel who believe they were exposed to chemical or biological warfare agents during the Persian Gulf War or who detected the presence of any chemical or biological warfare agents during the Gulf War are released from any oath of secrecy relative to these exposures or detections.


We must ensure that those men and women who served this country during the Gulf War, on active duty, in the reserves, and those who have since left the military services, receive proper medical attention. The National Archives has retained many letters, the unheard pleas and appeals of the veterans who returned home after World War I complaining of illnesses as a result of their exposure to mustard gas. Surely, we cannot tolerate turning a deaf ear on the thousands of veterans who served in the Gulf War. Without proper testing and treatment, their conditions will worsen. They cannot wait. Many are now destitute - their savings spent on medical care not being provided by the government. Others, unable to work, receive no pension or compensation because the Department of Veterans Affairs is unable to diagnose their illnesses.


I believe that this issue needs to be resolved, in order to ensure that our Armed Services are properly prepared for future conflicts that might involve the use of these weapons. I know that you share my concerns, both about the well-being of those who wear the uniforms of the United States Armed Forces, and about the preparedness of this nation to protect its forces in future conflict. I ask to personally reply to these requests on or before March 31, 1994.


Sincerely,


Donald W. Riegle, Jr.
Chairman





Letter to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services[edit]

U.S. Senate, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Washington, DC


February 9, 1994


Hon. Donna Shalala
Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services
Washington, DC Dear Secretary Shalala:


After receiving complaints from a number of Michigan veterans who told me they were not receiving appropriate care from Department of Veterans Affairs` hospitals, I initiated an inquiry into the nature and scope of Gulf War Syndrome. This research uncovered a great deal of evidence that U.S. forces may have been exposed to chemical and possibly biological warfare agents as a result of the bombings of 18 chemical, 12 biological, and 4 nuclear facilities within Iraq during the Persian Gulf War.


I have also listened to the compelling accounts by eyewitnesses, including chemical officers, of events which appear to be best explained as direct chemical agent attacks.


Disturbingly, I also began to receive reports of these illnesses being transmitted to the spouses and children of these veterans. Since I initiated this inquiry, several medical researchers have suggested that the origins of these illnesses might be biological. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, with oversight responsibility for the Export


Administration Act, I contacted the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Commerce to determine what, if any, biological materials were exported to Iraq prior to the Gulf War. After receiving the export information from the U.S. Department of Commerce, my staff contacted the principal supplier of these materials, the American Type Culture Collection, to determine the genus, species, strain, and origins of these materials.


Records provided by the supplier show that, from at least 1985 through 1989, the period for which records were available, the United States government approved for sale to Iraq quantities of potentially lethal biological agents that could have been cultured or grown in large volume in an Iraqi biological warfare program. These exported materials were not attenuated or weakened and were capable of reproduction.


Materials shipped included: bacillus anthracis clostridium botulinum clostridium perfringens histoplasma capsulatum brucella abortus brucella melitensis (A detailed listing of these materials is attached.)


I find it especially troubling that, according to the supplier`s records, these materials were requested by and sent to Iraqi government agencies, including the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission, the Iraq Ministry of Higher Education, the State Company for Drug Industries, and the Ministry of Trade.


I have released this information to assist medical researchers seeking to diagnose and treat affected veterans and their families. During this session of Congress, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will be reviewing the Export Administration Act, which is due for reauthorization. I have assured the veterans, their families, and the people of the United States that the policy under which these licenses were granted will be examined and strengthened. The defense of the United States should not be undermined by export policies that allow this government to assist any pariah nation, such as Iraq, in the furtherance of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons programs.


While it is extremely important to promote U.S. products and exports in international trade, it is also important to note that the average cost of each of these specimens was less than $60, and they were acquired from a `not-for-profit` organization.


I ask that the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense immediately establish disability rating systems for stricken Gulf War veterans that are dependent on the degree of individual disability rather than using some arbitrary point system. Further, the establishment of this disability rating must not be delayed because of an inability to arrive at a specific medical diagnosis.


I also call upon the newly created Persian Gulf Veterans Coordinating Board and the participating Secretaries of Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Health and Human Services, to expand their research to include the reported transmission of these illnesses to the spouses and children of these veterans, and to assess what, if any, public health hazard might exist.


In order to ensure that no information is being withheld, and consistent with the recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences in their investigation of the exposure of veterans to The Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should widely and publicly announce that personnel who believe they were exposed to chemical or biological warfare agents during the Persian Gulf War or who detected the presence of any chemical or biological warfare agents during the Gulf War are released from any oath of secrecy relative to these exposures of detections.


We must ensure that those men and women who served this country during the Gulf War, on active duty, in the reserves, and those who have since left the military services, receive proper medical attention. The National Archives has retained many letters, the unheard pleas and appeals of the veterans who returned home after World War I complaining of illnesses as a result of their exposure to mustard gas. Surely, we cannot tolerate turning a deaf ear on the thousands of veterans who served in the Gulf War. Without proper testing and treatment, their conditions will worsen. They cannot wait. Many are now destitute - their savings spent on medical care not being provided by the government. Others, unable to work, receive no pension or compensation because the Department of Veterans Affairs is unable to disgnose their illnesses.


I believe that this issue needs to be resolved, in order to ensure that our Armed Services are properly prepared for future conflicts that might involve the use of these weapons. I know that you share my concerns, both about the well-being of those who wear the uniforms of the United States Armed Forces, and about the preparedness of this nation to protect its forces in future conflicts. I ask you to personally reply to these requests on or before March 31, 1994.


Sincerely,


Donald W. Riegle, Jr.
Chairman.





Listing of Biological Materials Exported to Iraq[edit]

The following is detailed listing of biological materials, provided by the American Type Culture Collection, which were exported to agencies of the government of Iraq pursuant to the issuance of an export licensed by the U.S. Commerce Department:


Date: February 8, 1985 Sent to: Iraq Atomic Energy Agency
Materials Shipped:


Ustilago nuda (Jensen) Rostrup


Date: February 22, 1985 Sent to: Ministry of Higher Education
Materials Shipped:


Histoplasma capsulatum var. farciminosum (ATCC 32136)
Class III pathogen


Date: July 11, 1985 Sent to: Middle and Near East Regional A
Materials Shipped:


Histoplasma capsulatum var. farciminosum (ATCC 32136)
Class III pathogen


Date: May 2, 1986 Sent to: Ministry of Higher Education
Materials Shipped:


Bacillus Anthracis Cohn (ATCC 10)
Batch ) 08-20-82 (2 each)
Class III pathogen.


Bacillus Subtilis (Ehrenberg) Cohn (ATCC 82)
Batch ) 06-20-84 (2 each)


Clostridium botulinum Type A (ATCC 3502)
Batch) 07-07-81 (3 each)
Class III Pathogen


Clostridium perfringens (Weillon and Zuber) Hauduroy, et al
(ATCC 3624) Batch) 10-85SV (2 each)


Bacillus subtilis (ATCC 6051) Batch) 12-06-84 (2 each)


Francisella tularensis var. tularensis Olsufiev (ATCC 6223)
Batch) 05-14-79 (2 each) Avirulent, suitable for preparations of diagnostic antigens.


Clostridium tetani (ATCC 9441)
Batch) 03-84 (3 each) Highly toxigenic.


Clostridium botulinum Type E (ATCC 9564) Batch) 03-02-79 (2 each)
Class III pathogen


Clostridium tetani (ATCC 10779) Batch) 04-24-84S (3 each)


Clostridium perfringens (ATCC 12916) Batch) 08-14-80 (2 each) Agglutinating type 2.


Clostridium perfringens (ATCC 13124)
Batch) 07-84SV (3 each)
Type A, alpha-toxigenic, produces lecithinase C.J. Appl.


Bacillus Anthracis (ATCC 14185)
Batch) 01-14-80 (3 each)
G.G. Wright (Fort Detrick) V770-NP1-R. Bovine anthrax,
Class III pathogen


Bacillus Anthracis (ATCC 14578)
Batch) 01-06-78 (2 each)
Class III pathogen.


Bacillus megaterium (ATCC 14581)
Batch) 04-18-85 (2 each)


Bacillus megaterium (ATCC 14945)
Batch) 06-21-81 (2 each)


Clostridium botulinum Type E (ATCC 17855)
Batch) 06-21-71
Class III pathogen.


Bacillus megaterium (ATCC 19213)
Batch) 3-84 (2 each)


Clostridium botulinum Type A (ATCC 19397)
Batch) 08-18-81 (2 each)
Class III pathogen


Brucella abortus Biotype 3 (ATCC 23450)
Batch) 08-02-84 (3 each)
Class III pathogen


Brucella abortus Biotype 9 (ATCC 23455)
Batch) 02-05-68 (3 each)
Class III pathogen


Brucella melitensis Biotype 1 (ATCC 23456)
Batch) 03-08-78 (2 each)
Class III pathogen


Brucella melitensis Biotype 3 (ATCC 23458)
Batch) 01-29-68 (2 each)
Class III pathogen


Clostridium botulinum Type A (ATCC 25763)
Batch) 8-83 (2 each)
Class III pathogen


Clostridium botulinum Type F (ATCC 35415)
Batch) 02-02-84 (2 each)
Class III pathogen


Date: August 31, 1987 Sent to: State Company for Drug Industries
Materials Shipped:


Saccharomyces cerevesiae (ATCC 2601)
Batch) 08-28-08 (1 each)


Salmonella choleraesuis subsp. choleraesuis Serotype typhi
(ATCC 6539) Batch) 06-86S (1 each)


Bacillus subtillus (ATCC 6633)
Batch) 10-85 (2 each)


Klebsiella pneumoniae subsp. pneumoniae (ATCC 10031)
Batch) 08-13-80 (1 each)


Escherichia coli (ATCC 10536)
Batch) 04-09-80 (1 each)


Bacillus cereus (11778)
Batch) 05-85SV (2 each)


Staphylococcus epidermidis (ATCC 12228)
Batch) 11-86s (1 each)


Bacillus pumilus (ATCC 14884)
Batch) 09-08-80 (2 each)


Date: July 11, 1988 Sent to: Iraq Atomic Energy Commission
Materials Shipped:


Escherichia coli (ATCC 11303)
Batch) 04-87S
Phage host


Cauliflower Mosaic Caulimovirus (ATCC45031)
Batch) 06-14-85
Plant virus


Plasmid in Agrobacterium Tumefaciens (ATCC37349)
(Ti plasmid for co-cultivation with plant integration vectors in E. Coli) Batch) 05-28-85


Date: April 26, 1988 Sent to: Iraq Atomic Energy Commission
Materials Shipped:


Hulambda4x-8, clone: human hypoxanthine
phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) Chromosome(s) X q26.1 (ATCC 57236) Phage vector; Suggested host: E.coli


Hulambda14-8, clone: human hypoxanthine
phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) Chromosome(s): X q26.1 (ATCC 57240) Phage vector; Suggested host: E.coli


Hulambda15, clone: human hypoxanthine
phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) Chromosome(s) X q26.1 (ATCC 57242) Phage vector; Suggested host: E.coli


Date: August 31, 1987 Sent to: Iraq Atomic Energy Commission
Materials Shipped:


Escherichia coli (ATCC 23846)
Batch) 07-29-83 (1 each)


Escherichia coli (ATCC 33694)
Batch) 05-87 (1 each)


Date: September 29, 1988 Sent to: Ministry of Trade
Materials Shipped:


Bacillus anthracis (ATCC 240)
Batch)05-14-63 (3 each)
Class III pathogen


Bacillus anthracis (ATCC 938)
Batch)1963 (3 each)
Class III pathogen


Clostridium perfringens (ATCC 3629)
Batch)10-23-85 (3 each)


Clostridium perfringens (ATCC 8009)
Batch)03-30-84 (3 each)


Bacillus anthracis (ATCC 8705)
Batch) 06-27-62 (3 each)
Class III pathogen


Brucella abortus (ATCC 9014)
Batch) 05-11-66 (3 each)
Class III pathogen


Clostridium perfringens (ATCC 10388)
Batch) 06-01-73 (3 each)


Bacillus anthracis (ATCC 11966)
Batch) 05-05-70 (3 each)
Class III pathogen


Clostridium botulinum Type A
Batch) 07-86 (3 each)
Class III pathogen


Bacillus cereus (ATCC 33018)
Batch) 04-83 (3 each)


Bacillus ceres (ATCC 33019)
Batch) 03-88 (3 each)


Date: Janaury 31, 1989 Sent to: Iraq Atomic Energy Commission
Materials Shipped:


PHPT31, clone: human hypoxanthine
phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) Chromosome(s) X q26.1 (ATCC 57057)


plambda500, clone: human hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase pseudogene (HPRT) Chromosome(s): 5 p14-p13 (ATCC 57212)


Date: January 17, 1989 Sent to: Iraq Atomic Energy Commission
Materials Shipped:


Hulambda4x-8, clone: human hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) Chromosome(s) X q26.1 (ATCC 57237) Phage vector; Suggested host: E.coli


Hulambda14, clone: human hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) Chromosome(s): X q26.1 (ATCC 57240) Cloned from human lymphoblast Phage vector; Suggested host: E.coli


Hulambda15, clone: human hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) Chromosome(s) X q26.1 (ATCC 57241) Phage vector; Suggested host: E.coli




MR. RIEGLE. Finally, we are going to be reviewing the Export Administration Act reauthorization in the Banking Committee, this year in the months ahead. I am going to be taking testimony and calling in witnesses on this matter. I want to find out what happened here. We now know a lot more than we did know. We know the United States, at the highest levels, authorized these shipments and sent these materials over to Saddam Hussein, and they may now be circling around and coming back to haunt us in the form of a lot of sick veterans, and, increasingly, their family members.


It is time we get the answers. I do not want to hear it said that we do not have money to do this medical research and give these veterans the help. There was no question of money on the way into the war. Anything that was needed, there was money there for it, no matter how many bombing runs, or this, that, or the other thing. There was plenty of money to fight the war. Well, there has to be enough now to heal the wounded who have come back from that war. It is time we get at it.


So I ask the attention of my colleagues on this. I hope you will assign a staff member to it, and I hope you will meet with the veterans of Desert Storm in your State who are sick and talk to them and some of their family members. You will see what I am talking about. Let us force some action on this issue. I think our veterans deserve it.


We dishonor everything about this country if we do not face up to this problem and answer it honestly and fairly and as rapidly as we possibly can. I thank the Senator from Nebraska again. He is a dear friend and is very courteous to let me speak on this. I have a very deep feeling about it. I appreciate his willingness to suspend for that purpose. I also thank the Senator from Hawaii.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).