Presidential Special Oversight Board
For Department of Defense Investigations
of Gulf War Chemical and Biological Incidents
September 16, 1999
1401 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 401
Arlington, Virginia 22209
P A R T I C I P A N T S
The Honorable Warren B. Rudman, Chair
The Honorable Jesse Brown, Vice Chair
Dr. Vinh Cam
Rear Admiral Alan M. Steinman
Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr.
Dr. Bernard Rostker
Lieutenant General Dale Vesser
Colonel Michael Abreu
Captain Brian Peterman
C O N T E N T S
Dr. Bernard Rostker
P R O C E E D I N G S
CAPT PETERMAN: As the federally designated officer, I now declare this meeting open and I turn it over to SEN RUDMAN.
SEN RUDMAN: Why can't I get a job like yours?
Well, we will convene. Secretary Brown has a little conflict but he's going to try to be here possibly late. General Cisneros and David Moore are unable to attend. The Board is ably represented today by Dr. Vinh Cam and by Admiral Steinman [ADM Zumwalt is also present]. This is a very important meeting and we welcome you, Dr. Rostker and your staff. This, of course, is the first chance we've had to publicly discuss our interim report.
We at the very end of that hearing had suggested some things that we'd like you to look at, respond to and one of the reasons for this meeting is to have a public forum in which to respond to that. So I am going to make a few announcements here for anybody in the audience who's interested. My understanding is that if your testimony will not be available for everyone in print form today, but if anybody at the end of the meeting wants copies of your slides or report or anything, that they will simply give a member of your staff their name and mailing address, they will furnish that.
We will have a verbatim transcript of this meeting on our web site in about three to four weeks. For those who need to use the facilities, the code of the men's room is 412 and the ladies room is 421. Now 421 and 412, it appears to me those numbers are easy to transpose, so I suggest you write them down.
I would hope that at the end of this meeting we're going to have a pretty good sense of where you're going over the next few months and how the panel can be of assistance. I know there have been discussions and correspondence on this subject. We are aware that you did not agree with all of the conclusions that we had reached in our report and that's fine. I think a little creative tension is always good. In this kind of engagement, we're all trying to reach the same conclusion and get to the same answers.
But as you know, as I expressed in my remarks at the last meeting, and I know the panel here concurs with me, we would like to be able to look ahead to some point when the new administration comes in. And we've got a whole new establishment that could be more of an institutionalization within the structure that exists or structures that have been suggested and how we're going to get there. I make no apology for the fact that I'm a little concerned about something open-ended that consulting firms essentially can work on ad infinitum. And having had some experience with this government, I could just see someone reading a report in the year 2035 that the OSAGWI consultants have just finished another information paper.
I'm not trying to be sarcastic, but I guess I am. That's not meant as a criticism, everyone is doing good work. But there's got to be some way to finally get this back into the institution of the Department of Defense. I met with Secretary Cohen yesterday on another matter, and I would be very happy to tell you what I said to him. I said, you know at some point here, I think your OSAGWI group has done a phenomenal job, and we are very supportive of what they do. We have got some problems with some things, and we have a dialogue about that.
I said, but it seems to me that if there is some part of DOD that should be doing something, and they're either not doing it or doing it so poorly or so reluctantly that OSAGWI has to step in and do that for them, then from my point of view the solution from a management point of view was not to keep OSAGWI in business forever but to replace whoever commands that unit and get them to do what they're supposed to do. And I know the secretary agrees that. So that's where we are, and we would pretty much now turn it over to you, and I think I've covered everything that I was suppose to have covered.
DR. ROSTKER: Well, first let me thank you all for the support that you have provided the organization. I truly concur with the fact that you've done an outstanding job, and you don't always agree with us, and we don't always agree with you but you have a very important function to provide the department and the American people. We are in a particularly poor position to know when the end of this activity is. It can be not only open-ended from the producer's point of view, but it's also open ended from the demander's point of view, from the American public's point of view.
We constantly are asked a series of questions, and we need some frankly cover in terms of when is it legitimate to say no. And this is not to put off any of our veterans, but there are diminishing returns from our investment. And as I've said to you before, having gotten it wrong in the early '90s, it's imperative that we have a dialogue with you, and I believe also with the veterans in Congress and the American people as to what the road ahead holds for us.
I did send the Board a letter last week with two comments on the interim report. And I did take exception to the notion that lessons learned or information papers constituted mission creep. As I pointed out in the letter, lessons learned was an integral part of the original charter. We formed up a separate directorate rather late. But frankly, we didn't have many lessons we had developed to then push forward with learning.
And we continue to do that, most notably in the area of chemical doctrine, and we will be doing our pesticides, but on depleted uranium training--which has been an area which has been a failure in the department, having had two GAO reports and numerous programs in the services and our initial activities starting slowly and requiring us to bring before the deputy secretary a strong memoRANDum to empower us to force the issue through--does talk to one of the important lessons learned and some of the issues of where the department needs often some additional push. There was one additional comment in the paper -- let me back up for a moment. I want to make clear also the role of information papers. It was our intent to create an information paper in areas that helped illuminate the case narratives which are the prime product in a way that didn't require us to repeat the material after each or as part of each case narrative. The most important case narrative [sic] we have produced is that of the Fox vehicle. Because before we critically examined and brought the characteristics of the vehicle before the American public, it was argued that this was a vehicle incapable of false alarming, which is absolutely not the case.
And that so clouded much of the testimony and much of the concerns of the veterans, that it was important that that was thoroughly reviewed. I would concur that some of the later case narratives are less compelling. And we're going to recommend in a moment that they be terminated, consistent with the views of the Board I believe. There was a comment about having been [in] existence for several years wasn't a time to transition from a contractor force to a civil service force.
I would just say that that view runs counter to actually statute and certainly the policy and practices in the department. We are engaged heavily in programs to identify non-governmental critical tasks, tasks that don't have to be performed by civil servants and putting those tasks out for competition. To the extent that the organization has been able to demonstrate that we can get qualified analysts in work in this environment, we are almost compelled by law and the policies of the administration to move towards a contractor-based rather than a civil service-based force.
We've been very careful to insure that all of the management functions are handled by the military or the civil service people. But the actual meeting task work is and has been carried out by contractors. And frankly, that is the way this department and this government is operating. As an aside, I just took a briefing this morning on the Army's program to meet OMB guidance in coding every single position in the Department of the Army as to whether it was to be reserved for civil service or to be contracted out.
And there is a process in the government where people who believe functions should be contracted out can challenge that listing. The presumption is if we can't demonstrate that it has to be government, that it should be on contract. And that has strengths and has weaknesses, but that's the state of plight.
With your indulgence I'd like to go through a briefing that we've prepared. And if you would like, we can put it up on the screen. But copies are in the books, and I prefer to work off the books.
SEN RUDMAN: Yeah, I just want to just respond to one thing because I don't think we disagree. But on the lessons learned and particularly on the Fox vehicle, you know, it seems to me -- and I think it's shared by some of the panel -- in that type of a situation, at some point after OSAGWI lays out those areas that there are lessons to be learned from, that there are institutions within the Armed Services that really ought to be spending time on that themselves. Now I see you shaking your head but, you know, I'm an old infantry guy, so I don't understand some of this very complicated stuff.
But I will tell you this much, that if a -- when I served in combat if a machine gun didn't work, I wouldn't call a consultant, I'd call the ordnance guy. If he didn't give me satisfaction, he would have heard about it, and I would have gone to somebody who could tell me why that thing kept malfunctioning. I wouldn't certainly go to some consultant and say I want you to go back to the drawing Board and figure it out. I don't understand why we don't have institutions within DoD who can help figure this out or are they protecting their turf or what's going on here?
I mean, now let's have frank discussion.
DR. ROSTKER: Yes, yes and yes. Every one of the -- I guess this is where you'd want to be off of the record but we're on.
SEN RUDMAN: We're on the record. They always say, you know, who was it, Justice Frankfurter or Justice BRANDeis, said that sunshine is the best disinfectant.
DR. ROSTKER: Every one of the services has a lessons learned capability. And they are repositories for lessons. They are not action organizations to enforce the implementation of a lesson. We don't have to have an organization to tell us that we need depleted uranium training. We had a responsibility to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, we had two GAO reports that found us deficient, we have two letters signed by the Secretary of Defense, Bill Perry, telling the services to get on with it. And nothing happened.
And it gets down to the willingness to take an organization that has a stake in the outcome because we have defined the stake, backed by the deputy secretary of defense to call the services together and hold their feet to the fire and set guidelines. I can tell you as under secretary of the Army -- and one of the things that I've found extremely useful and you've commented quite favorably on -- was the dual hatting to be the under secretary of the Army, particularly the Army because we have responsibility for chemical doctrine, we have the most troops on the ground, we have a lot of executive agencies.
And one of the things I did when I got there as under secretary was call the leadership of -- I won't name names --but the leadership of the TRADOC in and said I want you to take on the issue of reforms in chemical doctrine and go forth. And after many months I got a sheet of paper that said here's what the program is. And it said please send $500,000 and six billets. And I wrote back to the senior leadership of the uniformed Army and I will quote what I wrote. I said, "I can't believe the Army is not going to try to learn the lessons of the Gulf War. That's not acceptable, try again."
SEN RUDMAN: What was it the next time, two and a half people, three?
DR. ROSTKER: Tomorrow I'm supposed to get -- literally tomorrow I'm supposed to get the answer to that question. But if I didn't have both the knowledge of the subject as well as the bureaucratic position, nothing would get done.
SEN RUDMAN: So I think I do understand that, but certainly this suggests to me that as part of our report we will probably at some point make some pretty pointed references to the fact that people who are charged with responsibilities and don't discharge them properly ought to have that recognized in their efficiency reports.
DR. ROSTKER: Well, the question is whether or not an issue like what we're talking about rises to the level that given everything else that's going on, that it needs to be done. One of the things we'll talk about here in the next few minutes is a program to bring the organization to close within the life of this administration. Right, well I understand. I do not object to the point.
SEN RUDMAN: But let me tell you what's not in this briefing because it is an issue of some discussion within the department, and that is, is there a successor organization to OSAGWI in the form of an office to the special assistant for mobilization or deployment oversight, military deployment oversight, an organization that is veteran focused, that is charged with making sure that we have both learned the lessons and equally as important implemented what we have learned for the next deployments.
Why focus on deployments because they tend to be noteworthy situations that have proven themselves to create nontraditional problems, whether it's going back to World War I, we were dealing with chemical exposures into the '20s and '30s, whether it's Vietnam with agent orange, whether it's the Gulf War, there seems to need a organization that can focus on this and is not part of the existing bureaucracy. That's why in the recommendations from the American Legion -- and I've only referred to what they've written -- they talked about an organization independent of the services and the Joint Staff.
And frankly in discussions with them, they would add independent of health affairs also, OSD Health Affairs. It is that check and balance, that tension that we spoke about that insures that we move forward, in my judgment. Now that's not universally yet accepted in the department and we'll be able to share with you some other ideas in this regard. But I feel that maybe the ultimate lesson to be learned from this experience is that we need to prepare for the next experience.
And if you think the next one isn't going to come, I would refer you to an article just this week on which Canada has produced a Board of inquiry to worry about what soldiers in Croatia are concerned about in terms of health effects because they believe they were contaminated by industrial pollutants. It's the same situation developing again. I have great sympathy because when you become sick later on, you look to experiences that are unusual and deployments to strange lands kind of fit that bill.
DR. CAM: Dr. Rostker, I would like to take this opportunity to restate the point that whatever that organization may be, it's very important that organization have some kind of enforcement authority. You mentioned independent and that's important also to make sure that whatever has to be done.
DR. ROSTKER: I think the enforcement authority comes by being a special assistant to the deputy secretary. The one view expressed by one of my colleagues is, well, that's too high a level. My take is if it's not at that level, it's not worth doing. The enforcement that I enjoy has been in law or regulation, it's that I have complete access to the deputy secretary. He will enforce it. And that's what happened in depleted uranium. We played around for and finally put a memo out with teeth, the second memo. The first one was "try," the second one was "you will do."
DR. CAM: There's a deadline by X date.
DR. ROSTKER: And in that memo it's a matter of using that as our authority, yes. It gives us the authority, but all authority is derivative from the deputy secretary and that comes by the nature of the position. With that if I might start. The binder in front of you has a briefing of some criteria for continuation which is part of the briefing, a summary of the ongoing work and then a page on each of the projects with a recommendation. And I believe that's what you --
SEN RUDMAN: That's exactly what we asked for.
DR. ROSTKER: The first -- I guess the second slide we took the liberty of quoting the distinguished Chairman, and I think this is what you asked that we do and we tried to do that. Our response on the next slide is that I believe we can complete our mission within the life of this administration and produce quality products in terms of chem-bio, environmental investigations, complete a limited number of information papers and produce a close-out report that will summarize our knowledge of events, not to the level of an interim report but to lay the information, if you will an expansion of these one-pagers, so that people who are concerned that we have not completed an investigation will have our best sense of why we have not completed that investigation.
It says in the next that this is contingent on cooperation of external organizations. And if I might, that includes the Board. As you review our work, I believe that you have to make a judgment as to what is critical and what is nice to have. And I can use the oil well fires paper as an example. We commissioned CHPPM to do a risk assessment on 12 of the most critical chemical contaminants. The 12 were those contaminants that are monitored by the EPA. In an initial report from the Board we were criticized for not doing all contaminants.
That's the Board's judgment, fine, but you'd better add a year or two years as we chase down every one of the contaminants. And we have opportunities in each one of these. That's not to say we're not proud of and stand by the job we have done. But there is always another question, there is always a different view of how you present the material. And if we're going to be required to redo things for style, for detail, that is not in any way germane to the conclusion as best we can tell, then we will not meet this goal of being finished before the end of the administration.
The criteria that we would like to discuss with you today for continuing or not continuing is summarized in these four bullets. First of all, based on the information at hand, is it likely that we will break new ground or shed new light on an incident or on a particular hazard?
Second, I feel it's very important that we correct any information that is out there in the form of interim reports. We wrote them as interim reports to encourage a dialogue. We have feedback from the Board, we have feedback from the General Accounting Office and in some cases veterans. And I think the record that we leave must be as clean as possible. And so I think we need to re-publish or finalize all of the reports.
SEN RUDMAN: How many are there right now? I'm just trying to think.
DR. ROSTKER: There are 14 case narratives and you're committed to review all of them. And so I think this is part of the process. I think there are a number of case narratives that have reached a level of importance in the eyes of the public, reinforced by the discussions with the VSOs, that even though the outcome of these case narratives are fairly clear, it is important that there be a record established. And we'll highlight which ones and discuss with you why we believe that they've reached that level.
It's almost in many cases a folk legend that needs to be illuminated. And finally there is issues of direction from oversight organizations. We have some suggestions from the Congress, particularly the Senate investigative report. We clearly mean to be responsive to the Board and the GAO. There are some troubling issues with recommendations from the PAC. The PAC, while they have found that chemicals were unlikely to have contributed anything, for example, wanted us to trace down every single Fox vehicle alarm in theater, every single 256 kit along in theater.
We need relief from that requirement or to balance that promise against the issue of whether it is likely in our and your opinion that we are breaking new ground here. If we were to literally follow what the PAC said, there's no end to this process. I'm going to discuss the workload that we currently have on the books in terms of the criteria. We'll first talk about cases to continue, cases to discontinue and then the organization we have for case investigation. The magnitude of the current work is illustrated or shown on this slide in terms of case narratives, information papers, final reports to the Board, follow-up investigations, environmental medical and the issue of our preliminary analysis group. I might start on the next slide. For every one of these cases there is a page write-up in your folder. I mentioned the PAC's desire that we follow through on every single 256 case. Two fifty-six is the litmus test kit or the kit for determining nerve agents. It's the one that's often described as chem lab on a card.
There are entries in various logs of a positive 256. There were rumors about it. It's a wide range of ways this became known to the PAC. There was very little information on the 256 kits that would allow for an analysis. We might have a time and place without a unit or we might have a unit but we have no name. And so where we could associate a 256 kit report with a unit, we went to the log -- sorry. We went to the personnel roster for that unit and mailed a post card to everyone in the unit, asking if they had any information about the 256 kits.
In all of the responses we looked for was there a clustering in time and space. And we found one clustering. And that's represented here in the 256 kit detection at Rafha. And we're recommending that we continue that since it was one of the few places where we had not one but a number of corroborating reports, and we needed to see what was happening at Rafha. Let me ask the head of our analysis section, COL Abreu, if he wants to add anything.
COL ABREU: Sure. Of the 107 reports that are there, there are 30 eyewitness reports of a veteran saying I personally witnessed a positive test. What confounds this issue is there was nothing we've checked against the air tasking order for any strikes of known chemical weapons sites or chemical weapons storage sites at that time. We compared the weather from around the time frame of the 25th to the 30th of January to check weather patterns.
And so we are continuing to investigate. The nearest installation was Al Salman, it's an air defense installation. No intelligence reports during the war indicate during the war indicates Al Salman was a chemical weapons storage site. And no subsequent reports after the war found any chemical weapons stored at Al Salman. But we are continuing to look because, as Dr. Rostker said, this is the only place where there was a temporal clustering of positive detection.
DR. ROSTKER: How many post cards have we sent totally?
COL ABREU: Sir, I'm not sure. I don't know exactly.
DR. ROSTKER: There are a number of cases in terms of setting the record straight and that's dealt with on the next slide. Many of these like the 11th Marines and Al Jubayl have been reviewed by the GAO. And so we're meeting also the criteria of responding to our oversight organizations. These will be published over the next several months. Some of these are still awaiting reviews by the Board. I'm not going to go into detail of these unless there are specific questions.
The next slide shows An Nasiriyah and Camp Monterey. In Camp Monterey, a very straightforward case. Although soldiers have told us that we've got one of two days worth of readings and there's some additional information on a second day, that needs to be incorporated in the finalization of the case. The Board has directed that we finalize the Czech-French. Two new pieces of information here, one the French have informed us they believed that they did not have any positive readings. Subsequent testing of Czech equipment has shown some deficiencies in the equipment that were not known at the time of the initial assessment that could result in false alarm readings. We need to put that information forward.
A major effort will be in Khamisiyah. At the last Board meeting, the CIA told you that they were revising downward the release of chemical agents. We're in the process of remodeling that release together with better information as to where individual soldiers were or units were, down to company level, to allow us to make a more definitive assessment. We need to let people know whether or not their initial assessment stands or whether or not some may now be assessed as being under a cloud. More likely people will be assessed as not having been under a cloud.
Kuwaiti Girls School, the British have provided some additional comments. This was a joint American-British paper and we will incorporate those comments. Marine breaching is one of three cases that the GAO asked us to reassess. That is completed and in our internal review. We expect to re-publish that in December. The so-called Fisher case is frankly one where the GAO raised concerns about the presence or absence of a test that had been widely attributed to the case but was never fully documented.
And we have gone back to reconsider their concerns and to re-interview the attending physician. So we only have your recommendations in incorporating them. We think we need to expand on the description of the Fox vehicles to make sure that that is as clear as we possibly can. Dee, do you want to comment on what is the additional information on the Fox?
MS. MORRIS: Well, what we have found out over time is that an awful lot of people in the force were operating under some misconceptions of how the Fox actually operated too. And our investigation sort of brought all that out and highlighted it. And so we want to make sure that we're clearly conveying information and at the same time we are aggressively working with the folks to change their doctrine so that they're teaching people how it actually operates because it's some of these misconceptions that led people to make conclusions or show some initiative that was perhaps ill advised because they thought that they were doing the right thing.
RADM STEINMAN: This was the case you referred to earlier where the troops were literally told that the Fox vehicle was incapable of making an error.
DR. ROSTKER: And when we sent the tapes to the lab at, to, to Bruker that produced the material, they are insistent in relaying each time, you can't trust the warning. There is an issue of how many ions, where in some it's a four ion test, the three ion test. And so we need to bring the best information we can in closing out the Fox.
SEN RUDMAN: I'd like to let the record show that SECRETARY BROWN has joined us.
SECRETARY BROWN: Thank you, sir.
MR. ROSTKER: In terms of continuing in chem-bio investigations, I'd like to now move to the area where we have assessed there is a high level of public interest. As the Board knows, we asked for comments and had a meeting before the last Board meeting with veterans service organizations to get their sense of what they felt was important and not. They asked us unanimously as a group to continue the air campaign.
Now I must tell you, I don't think this is going to show anything, but this was the cause celebre during Senator Riegle's hearings and was postulated in detail by the staff director that this was the source of the leaks or the French-Czech detections. Moreover, there have been concerns that the leadership of the department ignored hazard modeling and put our troops in harm's way cavalierly.
It's been our inquiry in trying to search down any computer simulation models that those, in fact, did not exist, and what occurred was a degree of confusion over general weather briefings and general statements about cloud direction and discussions of bomb damage assessments which was heavily modeled. And the specifics of bio-chemical contamination which we find no record was modeled. There were generic presentations about capability that was presented [by] Lawrence Livermore but that never was, as best we can tell, translated into actual weather specific, date specific, air campaign specific assessments.
We're almost ready to publish that. We have one interview to go with GEN Horner that the Air Force has asked us to incorporate. And that paper will be published next month.
RADM STEINMAN: This is one of the ramifications of this particular issue that I think it goes just beyond the veterans organizations requesting to carry on this investigation, and that is on the medical front, the research front. We heard extensively from Dr. Haley at a public hearing on this development. Some of his hypotheses on his positive findings hang on chemical weapons exposure to some troops, some air campaigns. He got a time and date and location of some of the troops that thought they were exposed to chemical weapons that falls out from this. So it would be important from that aspect too.
DR. ROSTKER: And if you press Dr. Haley, his reasoning is that his proof that there were chemicals on the battlefield were that he has sick veterans who have shown certain signs, not that we had chemical weapons and now we have -- the cause goes in the opposite direction. But this has clearly reached the level of folk hero, and we have much better information in terms of what the chemical dumpings were at various sites, and we have much more sophisticated weather modeling consistent with the Khamisiyah models. This has dragged out much longer than it should and the problem is getting a firm set of what's called source terms from the CIA.
I don't want to pick on them, but they've had to work with UNSCOM. So this has been a moving target, and I think we are getting close to wrapping this up and hope to be able to complete this within the term of the next year.
The next page deals with two of the air campaign sites, and Mr. Wolfe will discuss that with you at your next public meeting. The next page, and I'm on page 16 now, deals with an area called the Edgewood, which was originally known as the Edgewood tapes.
This was a cause celebre with the PAC. It was some tapes which were turned over to the PAC which reportedly showed chemical contamination on the battlefield. Let me ask COL Abreu to just summarize where we are on those tapes.
COL ABREU: Certainly. The tapes were two sets of tapes sent to the 3rd U.S. Army, Army component of Central Command. They were all sent to the PAC. The PAC insisted that this was evidence of chemical weapons. We had both the manufacturer of the Fox and CBDCOM [now SBCCOM] review the tapes and found that in several cases incorrect procedures were used, recall that the Fox was thrown into the fray very rapidly, very quick training. Incorrect procedures were used and that this was indeed not a verification of the presence of chemical weapons, chemical warfare agents.
Right now we're at the point where we probably will publish that probably in December of this year.
DR. ROSTKER: We were severely criticized because the PAC came up with these tapes and we didn't, and that was proof that we had an inferior investigative process. The fact of the matter is the individual who had the tapes sought out the PAC, and that's how they became known to the PAC.
DR. CAM: Who made those tapes?
COL ABREU: The Fox vehicle.
DR. CAM: But how did they get those tapes?
COL ABREU: One of the operators kept them.
DR. CAM: Was he allowed to do that?
COL ABREU: Yes, well, we have no policy about what to do with the Fox vehicle tapes.
DR. ROSTKER: We had no doctrine.
COL ABREU: We had no doctrine about what to do with the Fox vehicle tapes.
DR. CAM: I thought that's government property?
COL ABREU: Well, it should have been.
DR. ROSTKER: The same thing happened with the Camp Monterey tapes, that's why we have tapes of Camp Monterey. The only tapes that have been preserved in a government file -- I think this is right -- is the tape for the Girls' School.
MS. MORRIS: And that was maintained in a British government file.
DR. ROSTKER: We've never found the U.S. copy of the tape. I'll give you an example, if I might. One of the officers in my office was on the team that went to the Gulf immediately after the war and worked on the contaminated DU vehicles. And he remembers having readings of the level of radiation in those vehicles as they were being wrapped for shipping back several days after the war. He traced those records to Edgewood. And those records were archived, and the archives were destroyed in 1995.
DR. CAM: Why was it destroyed?
DR. ROSTKER: Because there was no adequate follow-up to insure that records were -- it was in a filing cabinet and the filing cabinet, we needed it. The same thing happened within chem logs. And one of the things we worked on with the Joint Staff is the whole issue of record keeping.
RADM STEINMAN: What did the records show though?
DR. ROSTKER: We don't have them.
RADM STEINMAN: Well, does he remember?
DR. ROSTKER: He remembers that they were brought back, but he doesn't remember how much they were about background.
DR. CAM: This wasn't one of those machines that had a simultaneous recording in the center computer room?
DR. ROSTKER: This was hand notes from the guys working around, and we've gone back. And we found the reports to deal with the retrograde equipment, but there was no mention of levels of reading in the chem log.
SECRETARY BROWN: In your investigation, did you raise during the investigation the issue of trying to locate the tapes? So you went through that whole process, and you just simply couldn't find them?
COL ABREU: Well, on the Edgewood tapes, we do have the copies of those tapes. They were sent to the PAC. They were sent by the individual that kept them. They were sent to the PAC and they were sent to --
SECRETARY BROWN: I'm talking about before all of this. During your initial investigation before the individual sent them to the PAC, before that, was the question of location raised by your investigators?
DR. ROSTKER: Well, we've tried to locate all -- as we've gone through a case where we've had a reading, one of the things we've tried to get is any of the preserved tapes. So if we have an alarm and we interview the operators, one of the things we always ask them is do you have, did you know, did you save any of the tapes. And we tried to trace that through the channels, up the channels to see if any of those tapes have been preserved.
We've had teams that have gone to Edgewood and worked through their filing cabinets to see if there is material that would be of importance. And the answer is, we have not been able to contact. Here in the case of this officer I was mentioning, we worked backwards. He knew exactly where the material was and was able to ascertain that those materials were destroyed in 1995.
LTG VESSER: This individual in the case of the Edgewood tapes contributed the tapes anonymously to the PAC. It was only through our own investigation, once we got the tapes, we were able to make the contact -- connection rather, with the 24th Infantry Division. And then we were able to identify which Fox vehicles were there. We have never identified the actual individuals who gave us the tapes.
SECRETARY BROWN: I guess my question is before these tapes were made available to the PAC, did you go through this investigative process of trying to locate them?
COL ABREU: We didn't have a case. The tapes provided the reason for setting up an investigation. When the tapes were given to the PAC, we then had an incident that given the guidance --
SECRETARY BROWN: So you didn't know about the incident?
COL ABREU: But the incident had never been reported.
SECRETARY BROWN : I see.
COL ABREU: And so it was not under investigation. Suddenly these tapes I got anonymously. And they say wait a minute, we've got a new case here.
SECRETARY BROWN: I understand.
COL ABREU: Then they started an investigation.
DR. ROSTKER: The next case we call the injured Marine. If you read the one-pager, you will come to the conclusion -- I came to the conclusion -- why don't we handle this is as close-out. It's a thorough situation, we can explain the whole thing. The problem is this has risen to a folk legend within the Marine Corps. And we believe that closing it out as a case narrative is called for in this particular case.
COL ABREU: The instance of this case was a Fox vehicle crew with at an EPW holding center. They have the EPW personal equipment there. No one was in MOPP. In fact, the individual had surgeon's gloves on and not the rubber gloves, holding out pieces of Iraqi gear to the probes to test it. One set of gear he's holding up, and he starts getting irritation on his hand, on his forearm, doesn't know what it's from, doesn't know what it is. The Fox operator doesn't recall what was going on. He thinks that he was exposed to blister agent.
There's no verification, there's no Fox tape of the incident that he was subject to a blister agent. He goes to the aide station about eight and a half hours later. People look at it, the corpsman looks at it and says that may have been a blister agent. We don't know what the initial cause was. We don't have any proof that there was blister agent present. There were no other casualties, no one was involved, no alarms were sounded. We do know that the individual, thinking his arm had been contaminated with a blister agent, used the M258 skin decontamination kit, which is toxic in itself when not used in the presence of an agent, on his arm and then to make doubly sure, put chlorine bleach on it.
So we do know that. We don't know what caused the initial irritation. But this has become mythical in the Marine Corps. Everybody knows that this guy was a chemical agent casualty, and he should have been awarded a purple heart and why hasn't this came out. So that's the summation of the case.
RADM STEINMAN: If there were blister agents, is it chemically and medically feasible that it would have lasted long enough to get on his arm and cause --
COL ABREU: Blister agent is highly persistent but, as I said, none of MPs that gathered the equipment from the EPWs and piled it up in this pile were casualties. And again, no one was involved. No other people that handled the equipment showed any signs, so, what was the initial cause? I don't know.
DR. CAM: He was the only one?
COL ABREU: Yes.
DR. ROSTKER: And if he was irritated immediately, that's not characteristic of mustard.
SECRETARY BROWN: What happened to the equipment?
COL ABREU: The Iraqi equipment, I'm not sure. MS. MORRIS: We never went back and really followed up with that?
DR. ROSTKER: We have.
SEN RUDMAN: How long after the hostilities did this incident come to your attention?
DR. ROSTKER: Five years, six years.
SECRETARY BROWN: So much for equipment.
DR. ROSTKER: We tried.
LTG VESSER: The individual was assessed by the Corps. They made an assessment themselves that this was not such an exposure at the time that was contemporaneous and did not award this individual the purple heart when the issue was raised.
SECRETARY BROWN: On what basis, in general, did they make that determination?
LTG VESSER: I can't address that.
COL ABREU: The initial corpsman, the enlisted man that looked at it, told the soldier this may have been a chemical weapons exposure. When it was further reviewed by medical corps personnel, they said it wasn't. It didn't have the characteristic symptomology nor did it have the characteristic pattern of a chemical agent.
SECRETARY BROWN: And that was done by a doctor.
COL ABREU: Yes. And again, it was followed up by a dermatologist in San Diego as well. But among the enlisted men, among the soldiers that were with him and among that corpsman, this is a casualty.
DR. ROSTKER: We have, from time to time, actually tried to actually find individual pieces of equipment, most notably the tank at the Girls' School. And we think we know what happened to it, but we have not been able to document it. But where there was a main piece of equipment, where there was a chance to actually following it, we have made that attempt.
SECRETARY BROWN: What's the life cycle of a lesion like that. Could you, for instance, five years later look at it and tell that there's a residue that's --
DR. ROSTKER: There's our chemical expert.
MS. MORRIS: The answer is that it depends. When you're dealing with a textile product, if it's been exposed to the heat and weathering that you're going to get in the desert, you might be able to find it a year to two years later. I mean, we dig stuff up from the first world war in Flanders every now and then and it's still potent. And I brought some stuff back from the southern Pacific theater in 1991 from World War II that was still potent.
DR. ROSTKER: This is what's known as persistent agents, and the most notable would be mustard. Sarin is highly volatile and hydrolizes and is gone.
MS. MORRIS: The mustard could have been there for a few years but It would just depend upon how the weathering occurred with that particular item.
DR. ROSTKER: If the Fisher case is a mustard exposure, it was likely -- he was crawling around in a bunker inside Iraq. It was likely a mustard residual from the Iran-Iraq war. There was no other explanation why he could have rubbed against the wall of a bunker and raised a blister that arguably is related to a mustard exposure.
DR. CAM: I have a question about the tape. Is it possible to change the tape somehow?
COL ABREU: A Fox tape?
DR. CAM: Yeah.
COL ABREU: No, I don't believe it is. It's a continuous tape with a dot matrix printing, and so you would have to be erasing it. Now in some cases we have a Xerox of the tape. The case of the Girls' School actually is a Xerox of the tape; isn't it or is it the tape?
MS. MORRIS: It was a Xerox, but we were able to fax that particular Xerox because of everything that was with it, the fact that it was faxed and it had more things on it.
COL ABREU: So unless it came out of the computer, we clearly are not looking for culpability in doing an investigation, a forensic investigation.
DR. ROSTKER: We're going to talk about things we would like to discontinue. We were producing a summary paper on biological warfare. I don't believe that we should continue with this paper. I think the topic is broadly open-ended, and I think the CIA and UNSCOM have discussed biological agents. We've discussed it in the area of the forward labs which tested for biological agents. I'm concerned that if we continue with the paper, it is such an open-ended discussion that it will clearly drag on and I don't believe that we really will make a unique contribution.
I must say some of my staff disagrees with that. They would like to see us continue, but I've made that judgment. Similarly, possible post-war use of chemical weapons by Iraq. This has been an area where Iraqis have come to American check points after the war with some kind of burns.
We suspect it may have been that they were sprayed with red fuming nitric acid. None of our troops are claiming they were exposed. I think that this has become less important in terms of trying to explain illness among our troops. Again, some of my staff would argue that this has been a major issue by some, and we should continue.
SEN RUDMAN: The issue being what, they used it against their own troops, their own people?
DR. ROSTKER: Yeah. And that we were in the vicinity, and we could have some residual. Some of these things become so isolated that they will never explain the overall pattern of unexplained illnesses. It has no geographic content.
SEN RUDMAN: You don't have evidence, you have surmised. But you don't have the evidence.
LTG VESSER: We have a lot of eyewitness reports that the Iraqis were spraying something. There's no way that we would ever be able to tell now what they might have been spraying during the Shiite rebellion.
DR. ROSTKER: And with your concurrence, we'll write a several page summary of what we know.
SEN RUDMAN: And a justification as to why you discontinue them.
DR. ROSTKER: Exactly. It won't just reach the level of a report.
SEN RUDMAN: Right.
DR. ROSTKER: Another set of -- I'm on page 18 now. There was a message after the war instructing military forces to investigate a number of sites for possible chemical weapons. There was a great deal of controversy in the first case of why these sites? And we never satisfactorily answered from the intelligence community why these particular sites. Some were clearly on the chemical watch list. Others may well have just been, well, if you're going to do this air base, why don't you do that air base.
We have no adequate explanation of why a site was there or was not there. Moreover, we have only fragmented reports of the results of these investigations. I believe that if there had been a positive confirmation, we would have heard about it just as we heard about the Fisher case. One of the things remarkable about the Fisher case is as it was viewed to be credible by Dr. Dunn, it made it all the way back to the Joint Staff in record time.
And so there's clear demonstration that these people in the theater at the time were key to finding this and having not found it, it became no big deal. We see that behavior again and again. We don't believe, except answering the PAC's question, that a detailed answer to each one of the 17 possible sites is warranted at this point.
SEN RUDMAN: Any time you have a remote possibility of gathering evidence which will be reliable, they just cannot gather evidence from both sites eight years later unless there are records. And I assume if there were, you would have them by now.
DR. ROSTKER: Let me also point out that the Mitre Corporation had been charged with looking at intelligence records. They are, I think, nearing completion. They particularly were charged with seeing if there were any others. That was the particular charge from Secretary White.
SEN RUDMAN: And to your understanding, there are not.
DR. ROSTKER: That's correct, sir.
LTG VESSER: The Army IG as well, sir.
DR. ROSTKER: So we believe that it's time to stop this. Again, we'll violate the PAC guidance. The Second Marines [Recon Battalion] is similar to the others in terms of an individual charge. We to date have not been able to find evidence to support that charge.
COL ABREU: Sir, this was before the Marine reconnaissance teams up near the mine fields tried to scout breaching. These were multi-day missions, Marine recon battalions. Several of the marines complained of itching and blistering on their hands. When they returned from their missions, they reported back. There were several logs that indicate that these marines were treated for blister agents. We did not discover this case until a few years ago when the Fleet Marine Hospital 15 said there were some records of Marines being treated.
One of our problems here is much like the case of the marine with the EPW gear. We do know for a fact that there were no chemical land mines, that Iraq had no chemical land mines in their inventory. This is before the hostilities started in the ground war, so there is no delivery capability of chemical agents. So trying to link a credible exposure with a delivery means with an agent becomes problematic. So it becomes impossible to explain.
RADM STEINMAN: This one I'm having a problem with. I've spent most of the day going through this book. My compliments to you and your staff. This is an excellent piece of work. It's very useful, these summaries of your work. This one -- and I concur with almost all of your recommendations -- this one I'm struggling with because here you have medical personnel reporting possible blister agents on patients, 15 to 20 of them. So it seems to be a little different from a soldier or marine himself reporting exposure. So this one may not be so easily dismissed, at least in my mind.
LTG VESSER: May I ask a question? As we have worked hard struggling with the other injured marine case, trying to get medical experts to look at all the evidence and assess that evidence several years after, what do you think the possibility is, just on the basis of record examination, to be able to make the determination you're talking about because we've had contradictory opinions? We've worked the other issues, and we found it very difficult to get two medical experts to agree on what the evidence, such as it is, means in this case. We've got very little, much less than we have in the case of the injured.
COL ABREU: And the other question to look at is the records that were brought forth by Fleet Marine Hospital 15 in 1998 are the only records. No unit histories reflect it, no unit logs reflect it. The unit chronologies do not reflect it. They were not reported through their chains of command, so we have a very difficult time reconciling.
SEN RUDMAN: The injuries were not reported?
COL ABREU: Not in the unit logs, sir. The only place we have them is in the Fleet Marine Hospital.
DR. ROSTKER: I think what's before the Board is the issue of should we continue and fully document this in an interim report or in effectively a short form of a close-out report. We need to -- one of the ratings in our five point rating scheme is indeterminate. And I'm going to frankly put more scrutiny as we go to final publication as to whether or not we might more correctly use that. I think there are a couple of cases on reflection that we might not have the level of information.
But the purpose of producing a full interim report would be to lay out the information, give the public the opportunity to comment on it as we have with the other interim reports. So I'd rely on the Board's judgment in advising us.
RADM STEINMAN: Is it possible to identify who those medical personnel claim to have treated?
COL ABREU: Yes, sir. The claim didn't come up until 1998 in an interview with a Navy doctor. Now it was, as I said, and interviewing other people from Fleet Hospital 15 they remember something, no names. We can go back to the 2nd Marine Recon Battalion but their unit histories and their unit chronologies and their incident reports, as well as injury reports, report nothing. So we'd have to go through a roster and find the reconnaissance elements that Fleet Hospital 15 and these doctors from Fleet Hospital 15 recall.
DR. ROSTKER: Do we have social security numbers for the soldiers?
COL ABREU: I'm going to produce those so we can continue that. Now as I said, this is very early in the stage of this investigation. It was an offshoot of the Marine breaching investigation. We're going through one. In fact in our preliminary analysis, we thought it was one and the same case. When the doctors were interviewed is when we decided to separate it out.
SEN RUDMAN: Here's the question I would have. I mean, let's assume we tell them to go back and do that. I find the doctors who remember, get their records. I thought what I looked at was such and so. So they confirmed that's what they thought they were looking at. Now you find a few of the actual Marines who are still on active duty or retiring. And you go and interview them and they say yeah, I did such and such and this happened to me. Let's assume they actually establish that. The question I ask is where are you?
RADM STEINMAN: Then you're at a dead end at that point.
SEN RUDMAN: Yeah, that's the problem, that's what I see. A lot of investigations where you have a lot of information but you're missing that one pin that will connect them. And that's just not there.
DR. ROSTKER: In this case, the facts you've presented, I would argue for a judgment of indeterminate. I just don't know.
SEN RUDMAN: I think that's right. I don't think you can say it didn't happen, but you surely can't say that it did.
RADM STEINMAN: Wouldn't that be contributory to the whole issue of chemical weapons in the Gulf in that again thinking that it will leave no stone unturned, but they'll counter with how big is the stone. Here, you have some reports of possible blister agents on quite a few marines reported. In my mind it seems to elevate a little bit of it.
DR. ROSTKER: This was cascading. I think there's a mark on the wall at this point in terms of global statement and that's UNSCOM's statement and the CIA's statement. And the question is would that rise to the level of drawing a different conclusion at UNSCOM.
I put a lot of weight on this because fundamentally the process that we're in here looking at cases, we can't generate a global because I can't look at every moment every place. So I have 14, 13, 14, 15 snapshots at times. And that really has value only to the extent as things have developed that it becomes the basis of challenging UNSCOM's conclusion that these chemical weapons were not introduced into Kuwait.
UNSCOM is technically within the Kuwait theater but not into Kuwait. These are marines that are in the southern boundary of Kuwait before the war, actually in Saudi Arabia. If it's not going to reach that level to change that global conclusion, it may have in some people's minds, so what, I told you there were chemicals there.
RADM STEINMAN: From a person wearing a green uniform, I look at it as if it was a chemical exposure, how was it delivered? We know Iraq didn't have chemical mines. We know there was not an aircraft overflight. Even taking the global statement about no chemical weapons south of Khamisiyah, let's assume just for the case of argument that within an Iraqi artillery battalion's organic basic load of ammunition somebody had chemical weapons. Just look in their ammunition carriers. No artillery was fired, no mortar was required. So I cannot equate an exposure incident with --
SEN RUDMAN: That's the problem I have with this case.
DR. ROSTKER: Dr. Haley would argue that to be fair, that on the self-reported assessments, that those who were near the Kuwait border at about this time were those who think they were exposed to chemical weapons. And this may be proved that yeah, there may have been chemical weapons there, and he may be able to tie that together.
SEN RUDMAN: Yeah, but may isn't good enough. There's got to be something.
DR. ROSTKER: May is the best we have.
RADM STEINMAN: It gets us back to the reasonable man philosophy which I endorse. My comment on that is on one side you have UNSCOM; U.S. says there's no chemical weapons there, there is no way of delivering chemical weapons. And on the other side you have blister patients' docs saying this could have been a blister agent.
SEN RUDMAN: But is it a reasonable usage of your time and personnel to pursue that when you may come up with indeterminate at best?
DR. ROSTKER: I have taken a firm position we can't rely on UNSCOM's comments at the individual case level. The case has to stand on its own. It's in the global judgment that UNSCOM has to come in, and we can play with various cases. At the individual case level, the information has to stand by itself. Given the U.N. criteria that we follow and we believe in -- it's not slavishly followed -- without a delivery mechanism, without corroborating reports, we would have to say without hard medical records, tests, swatches of clothes or pictures of blisters, we would have to declare this to be indeterminate.
I couldn't go any further. I couldn't say it's likely.
SEN RUDMAN: The question then is, it's unsure.
RADM STEINMAN: This issue, this issue.
DR. ROSTKER: Let me, if I might, we may come up with more information that says there's a breakthrough that we haven't talked to the right person.
SEN RUDMAN: If that happens, that's different.
DR. ROSTKER: And we'll never know unless we do some of this whether or not the other evidence -- when we go to some of these others, the circumstantial evidence we've been able to get so far is so substantial that if we got one piece of corroborating evidence, it might not change it. This is, as you say, we have professional medical people here and we have not interviewed them to see if they all agree and have not interviewed the soldiers.
There are some characteristics of what would have happened if it was mustard agent and if it was a blister that went away in an hour. So there's more that can be done here. I think we need just your guidance to go forward.
SEN RUDMAN: Can I ask one corollary question aside from this case? Have you in your tenure of investigations searched medical records for reports of blisters consistent with --
DR. ROSTKER: Well, we don't have in-patient records -- out-patient records. We have found a large number of in-patient records. They have not frankly been formed yet. And a task that will take time is to put a team, probably a contractor team -- put a team into building that into a data base and doing some data mining of that. We've got a data base of 24,000 names, not 24,000 diagnoses, so it is somewhat problematic. But that could be a residual effort for a later organization. I would not like to hold the whole organization in abeyance while we do something like that.
Let me just comment. We had a very productive meeting with your staff over the issue of criteria. And I think it was very instructive for me and my people. The fundamental question came when you have two eye witnesses, how do you believe one versus the another? And I think the answer is that you look for corroborating information. And if in the case of one there is no corroborating information and in the case of the other there is, then you have a right to disregard the testimony, no matter how well and heartfelt it was from the first individual.
And we find ourselves in that, in a number of cases, where there is a claim and a direct counterclaim. If the claim is correct, we would expect to see the shells themselves, we could go on to what has been retrieved. The fact that we didn't find that is consistent with the statement by a second individual that there was nothing there to find.
And so without getting into he said, she said, we're going to add that to a general statement of our methodology that we don't ever want to question the veracity of individuals. But we do look for corroborating information. I think that may go a ways to hopefully meeting the Board's concern for more specificity in our methodology section.
RADM STEINMAN: It's very difficult to prove a negative, to prove that something didn't happen, something wasn't there.
DR. ROSTKER: Except that if it was there, we would expect some trace to it. And this gets back to was there a conspiracy or not a conspiracy. It's like the issue of chem mines. Mitre at one point raised how can you be sure that there were no chem mines? And when you talk to the people who removed the mines, they laugh at you and say, we would have gotten a hell of a lot more money if we could have found the chem mine because then we would have charged them more for the clean up. And in fact, they said we were looking for them.
And so to say that's the kind of corroboration --
SEN RUDMAN: Those mines were cleaned up by outside contractors, were they?
DR. ROSTKER: Not government employees. Yes, by outside engineering firms.
SEN RUDMAN: Really, really?
DR. CAM: Do they report any disease?
DR. ROSTKER: No.
SEN RUDMAN: So I really don't understand.
LTG VESSER: I think they were under contract to the Kuwaiti government.
DR. ROSTKER: They were a British company.
MS. MORRIS: It was divided up along national sectors where each country provided either contractors or their own forces to do the work, but they were being paid by the Kuwaitis. It's all part of the clean up.
SEN RUDMAN: Guys in that kind of uniform, they weren't getting paid a lot either.
COL ABREU: Who would have paid them?
DR. ROSTKER: You may be surprised and distressed to the extent that in today's Army that we bring contractors forward. In Tuzla, for example, the people who laid the crushed stone to build the -- or to root, to build the base for the tents were Brown and Root contractors, not servicemen. It's very interesting. In fact, we have occupational specialists who are there as an occupation to work for the contractors.
DR. ROSTKER: Tallil, if we might move on. A similar kind of an operator reported something we don't believe there's any way of corroborating the information.
COL ABREU: There's no Fox vehicle. There's no other piece of evidence, there's no Fox tapes. There's no MM1 run. It's just an operator saying I had a positive detection.
DR. ROSTKER: Slide 20 talks about a Marine RSCAAL. This was an experimental piece of equipment. Mike.
COL ABREU: Sir, the RSCAAL is an experimental piece of equipment that was supposed to be able to detect chemicals at a distance. There are two detections on two separate days. The first day they detected something three to five kilometers forward of their position. Of course that was forward of the front line of troops. So again, if there was something there, there's no corroborating evidence on that. No Fox was deployed. On the second detection it was locally. A Fox vehicle was brought forward. The Fox could not replicate the alert at the present point. It wouldn't even alert.
SEN RUDMAN: Was this piece of equipment eventually incorporated into the equipment?
DR. ROSTKER: No.
COL ABREU: No sir, it wasn't.
SEN RUDMAN: Because?
COL ABREU: Some of the detection capability is now incorporated in the Fox.
SEN RUDMAN: All right.
DR. ROSTKER: We now will move with your indulgence to information papers we'd like to discontinue. Without conceding the point, I would agree with the Board that the utility of these papers are less than would warrant continuation. And we'd ask for your approval to take them down. The first one has to do with providing additional back-up on how we transported some of the contaminated equipment from theater. Several times we've noted that the things that were taken back from theater were not properly wrapped and didn't follow procedures. And this would be more on, well, what was the procedures they are supposed to follow, and the like.
The SCUD information paper in some veteran's eyes, we've never fully accounted for all of the SCUDs. This is an attempt to provide a comprehensive list. There could be some classification problems here that I can't go into in terms of what our detection capability is and the like would not be compromised by it. End of this discussion.
SEN RUDMAN: That would be fine.
DR. ROSTKER: It would not be fully complete because a complete accounting would have to talk about what our capabilities are and how did we know whatever number we reported was the number. And that portion, without hesitation, I would tell you would not be compromised.
LTG VESSER: I would also note in our published work we have a number. It is within plus or minus one of the best numbers we've been able to come up with in preliminary work. So we do have published work out there that is accurate. They can be challenged, of course, because it is not a paper that addresses that by itself.
SEN RUDMAN: Well, there was substantial information out there, public information as to the estimates of various parts of this government, including the command there at the time, as to how many SCUDs were fired and approximately where they landed.
And, you know, that may not be good enough for some people, but I seriously question the feasibility of trying to go back and find out if that's right or wrong. If it's wrong, it's not wrong by very much.
RADM STEINMAN: This was the only one that I had disagreement with and proposed discontinuing it. And my note was if it can be demonstrated, even using classified material, which you don't have to cite, that no SCUDs contained chemical biological weapons, I think that would be a valuable contribution.
SEN RUDMAN: That's different.
COL ABREU: So it doesn't bother me that it would be a leap of faith, as you describe it here, not to be able to cite how you know that the -- because it's classified material and you can't discuss it. But if in fact that classified material proves that the SCUDs didn't contain those --
LTG VESSER: I may address that. You may be aware that we have done a case narrative in which we tested a SCUD, a piece of a SCUD provided by a veteran and can find no evidence. That particular piece, which he alleged had chemical warfare agent on it that caused a burn, was tested and found not to have any. The kind of thing you're talking about would require really an assessment not probably by us but by the CIA doing what's called a mass balanced approach, to here is what they had or with respect to the number of warheads, here's what we know about that.
We're into highly sensitive intelligence areas because they have warheads that were filled with chemical warfare agents and were later destroyed.
DR. ROSTKER: I think the definitive statement here is not just what was fired, but what was in the arsenal and weaponized is UNSCOM's. We certainly have no indication that there was any chemicals released from that. The closest in any claims was the whole saga of Al Jubayl. And in that case the SCUD actually was retrieved and it was not a chemical SCUD.
RADM STEINMAN: Here is an issue which you may able to shed some very valuable light because SCUDs have also achieved the sort of mythical thing in a lot of the veteran's eyes that they were deliberate chemical weapons, and they were exposed to them. And if we just drop this because there is classified information --
DR. ROSTKER: That's not the reason to drop it.
RADM STEINMAN: Maybe we shouldn't call it [an] information paper. Maybe you should call it something else. But it looks like you've developed enough information here that might make a contribution.
COL ABREU: Sir, this is also one of the reasons why we generated the IRFNA information paper. And red fuming nitric acid is the oxidized re-use of the SCUD missile by Iraq. IRFNA will set off an eight bar alarm on a chemical agent monitor and it will show up as a positive for an agent, which is some of the mythical proportions that the SCUD has taken on in the delivery of chemical weapons. When people have come up to SCUD wreckage or saw a SCUD a Patriot intercepted and there was this red cloud when it struck, to clear up some of that mythology is why we did the IRFNA paper because IRFNA will set off the CAM monitor.
DR. ROSTKER: We're prepared. I mean, this isn't a big deal. We're prepared to continue. It's not going to change the conclusion of when we can stop and start.
SEN RUDMAN: If you both feel you'd like to see it done, go ahead and do it.
DR. CAM: I think maybe we can mention it without jeopardizing the security of the material.
SEN RUDMAN: Well, they can do that.
DR. ROSTKER: We're already on the record here discussing this, so there's no problem. I mean, we can cite the CIA and the UNSCOM findings in terms of this would be a summary of what we know.
SEN RUDMAN: My understanding -- you may want to check this or you may know Colonel -- is that every tactical unit that reported daily had a report, all incoming, and particularly had a report on SCUDs that were incoming. In fact, my understanding was those SCUD sites were investigated. So you may want to comment on that.
DR. ROSTKER: We also have visited and talked extensively with the Israelis. And they confirmed the same problem with red fuming nitric acid.
SEN RUDMAN: Which is propellant?
DR. ROSTKER: Oxidizer. You go to Al Jubayl, they talk about a reddish cloud and burning sensation consistent with being sprayed with red fuming nitric acid.
SEN RUDMAN: It may not be a potent chemical agent but if you get it on you, you wouldn't like it very much.
DR. CAM: Do you know if that paper or whatever you write up on this issue will have, like, an indication piece explaining the limits on the SCUD and what it can do and cannot do.
DR. ROSTKER: Right.
SEN RUDMAN: All right. Do you want to move on?
DR. ROSTKER: The last one is the issue of paper, information paper on munitions markings. You remember this was an area of great confusion.
SEN RUDMAN: Right.
DR. ROSTKER: It's been talked about in a number of areas. It's not just come together as a paper itself. You can give me your views about whether these information papers are important enough. We've done without it, we can continue to do without it.
SEN RUDMAN: I see no need for it unless anybody else on the panel does.
DR. ROSTKER: Now we're on slide 23, continuing environmental investigations. And let's set the record straight. We have provided the Board and your staff with our comments on the oil well fire. I mentioned this at the beginning of our discussion.
We've relied on CHPPM to do the health assessments. I think the Board will support that as you've asked that we resort to ongoing institutions and not create our own capability. This is going to be a year plus. And I don't believe -- it may be true for completeness but we've got the main contaminants. And I believe ours and RAND's really stands at this point. And I would ask you to consider our views in your direction to us.
DR. CAM: Are you going to work with EPA also on this issue?
DR. ROSTKER: We have been working with the EPA and we have covered those chemicals which they monitor. There were issues about other chemicals that clearly can be in petroleum and why we didn't look for them. And the answer is we didn't for a hundred percent of the chemicals, only 90 percent of them. And so I think I'd ask you just to consider your initial response and our recommendation.
LTG VESSER: Well, I think there's something else that you may wish to consider as well. It's my understanding that CHPPM is having -- that draft report that they did, this health risk assessment is based on peer review. So there should be available shortly information from other subject matter experts as to whether or not what CHPPM did is sufficient to come up with a valid cost risk assessment. That's the issue, at least as I understand the concern of the Board, I mean the concern of your staff.
DR. ROSTKER: If I might move on to slide 24, depleted uranium. Let me first say that I greatly appreciate the care that you wrote on the depleted uranium issue. I think it was extremely helpful in clearing up our dialogue and putting it correctly in the public domain. We are in the process of re-writing this. I think given the public controversy, we will issue it again as an interim report and then the final in shorter term.
SEN RUDMAN: I think we would all agree that it's one that requires all of the effort it takes to get it done.
ADM ZUMWALT: Where do you expect to get the IOM report?
DR. ROSTKER: The Institute of Medicine. ADM ZUMWALT: Yeah.
DR. ROSTKER: I can't talk on depleted uranium?
ADM ZUMWALT: Yeah.
DR. ROSTKER: I don't know whether those sets of commissions were through the VA or through us.
ADM ZUMWALT: That's if he supposed to keep an interim until they come into there, so that may not be too long.
DR. ROSTKER: Well, I'd like to get another interim out but then we certainly could hold that to finalize. Let's look the timing if that's all right, Admiral, to see where we go.
RADM STEINMAN: It's interesting on this topic the press has sort of gone the other way now. They looked at our interim report and said that the government, we have closed the door on depleted uranium. Basically, the evidence doesn't look like it's -- because there's a lot of research going. We'll see what happens.
DR. ROSTKER: Our British colleagues are quite mired in this and this is -- the BBC seems to endorse the conclusion.
SEN RUDMAN: I want to just make a comment here. I'm responding to something that Admiral Zumwalt said. Although the presidential directive establishing this Board only gives us direct jurisdiction to oversee DOD, there was ample language in there, I'm sure you will agree with me, that says other agencies when requested should cooperate with this. And whether it said it or not, that's the way it's going to be.
So I am going to ask you to informally talk to the staff about the question that the admiral raised because I think it's a very important question.
And I think we have every right to inquire of the VA, for the purpose of our work, what they're doing there and they give us an answer. So we will do it formally, probably through you, if you prefer, or we can do it direct. In the meantime, the question Admiral Zumwalt raises, I think it's critical in terms of the work that we're doing.
And I think Admiral Steinman's comment is right on target. I mean, you may get it done but I certainly think that -- my own sense of being able to have some experience with things that the public gets deeply interested in that this is kind of maybe never end. It's going to be Yogi Berra kind of thing, it's never going to be over. But I think the best that we can do is to get the best evidence we have as to whether it does or it doesn't cause problems by the time you close up shop and we close up shop.
DR. ROSTKER: And if there's a successor organization this is something they might deal with. I would like to point out to the Board two things. One is there is a controversy under way on how to interpret some early test data concerning the exposure in a tank in the seconds after a round might hit.
SEN RUDMAN: In terms of the inhalation of dust and so forth?
DR. ROSTKER: In terms of the creation of material that could be inhaled.
UNKNOWN SPEAKER: Right, right.
DR. ROSTKER: This is, it turns out, a discussion between CHPPM and their interpretation of the results and Picatinny Arsenal who did the test firings. The particular problem is some of the test equipment was destroyed when the projectile entered the tank, which I don't think takes a rocket scientist to understand when a catastrophic event meant to destroy the tank occurs, it might really destroy the equipment inside the tank. That was in the turret. The equipment in the driver's compartment was not destroyed. That's where the readings were taken. But it is not strictly in every part of the tank.
My understanding is CHPPM extrapolated they insured us this had been solved with Picatinny. It apparently had not been solved with Picatinny. I don't know where this discussion will come out. I don't believe the discussion will change the ultimate conclusions. The main concern is for those not in the tank that was hit because they are largely going to be dead but for those who are working around the tank afterwards, and that's what we are trying to do with the level two analysis.
SEN RUDMAN: Well, let me ask you a question. What set of circumstances during the Gulf War have led us to this investigation? I mean, we didn't have any people inside of American Army vehicles that were disabled by the usual --
DR. ROSTKER: Yes, we did by friendly fire.
SEN RUDMAN: Oh, the friendly fire incident. That's the one, okay.
DR. ROSTKER: But these are tests that were done beforehand and it goes to an important issue. And that is the extent to which the government did do testing to understand DU before the Gulf War. That's really an extensive amount of testing. We'll have to see how this sorts out. We are in effect not a party to the outcome, to the technical determination of this. We're users of that information. And if it turns out to be that the technical people can't agree on how to use the information, we will so report and draw the conclusion.
SEN RUDMAN: Then the VA-sponsored study is something quite different from that, the one that Admiral Zumwalt refers to; am I correct, sir?
ADM ZUMWALT: I'm sorry.
SEN RUDMAN: The study you're referring to is being done for the VA, is it?
ADM ZUMWALT: Yes, by the IOM.
DR. ROSTKER: The IOM was asked by Congress basically --
SEN RUDMAN: Right, survey all the literature.
DR. ROSTKER: Exactly, all the literature again between symptoms and possible causes.
SEN RUDMAN: Right.
ADM ZUMWALT: And delivering the possible chairman's statement. The IOM has to consider this statement. And there's a study going on in all the departments too.
SEN RUDMAN: Well, let's make sure, Mike, that they understand that we are very interested in that.
RADM STEINMAN: One other thing on depleted uranium, we have kicked around possibly asking Dr. McDermott -- to invite her to come to the public hearing in October.
SEN RUDMAN: Where would you want Dr. McDiarmid?
RADM STEINMAN: Johns Hopkins actually.
SEN RUDMAN: She's a lady?
DR. CAM: She's a lady.
RADM STEINMAN: She's the one. Last time she was very good. I mean, she was very good.
SEN RUDMAN: Well, fine.
RADM STEINMAN: I don't know whether she would want to do it or not.
SEN RUDMAN: I have no idea but certainly if you think that's something you might want to do since you're going to be chairing I expect. I don't whether Jesse's going up there or not.
RADM STEINMAN: Yes, he is.
SEN RUDMAN: Is Jesse going up?
RADM STEINMAN: Sure.
SEN RUDMAN: Okay. I will not be able to make it up to Ft. Lewis in October but yeah, we'll do that.
DR. ROSTKER: One additional thing on depleted uranium. The GAO which was the one to uncover this agreement between CHPPM and Picatinny had indicated to the department that they were going to do their own health assessment of depleted uranium. They subsequently have indicated to my staff that no, they were going to focus strictly on whether my organization unduly influenced the RAND Corporation in the preparation of their report. I have written to the divisional head of the GAO requesting that they return to their original assessment.
I have no problem looking at what we've done with RAND or RAND with us but that they need to go back to their original assessment and review the medical literature or make a judgment. And I don't know whether the Board wants to take a position with GAO in this. But I think it would be a disservice to our veterans who are concerned about this issue if they ducked the concerns, especially since they promised the department that they would take that on as part of the DU inquiry.
SEN RUDMAN: All right. We'll take that under some consideration.
DR. ROSTKER: The next issue, pesticides. This is an area where we're engaged in some survey work. We'd like to bring this fully to completion in terms of pesticides. In addition to the issue of the oil well fires, issues have been raised about particulate matter. This is sand-coated with hydrocarbons and the like. And we know this is an area of the world where they -- a high degree of respiratory problems associated with the sandy environment.
Similarly, an area that has risen to mythical proportions, I'm afraid, is CARC paint. I'm concerned that this universally, this is an area that affects a small number of people involved in spraying the paint. The paint was on vehicles throughout the theater, and I think we would recommend to the Board that we continue that paper on CARC paint.
DR. CAM: Excuse me, Dr. Rostker. May I come back to the particulate matter? Are you going to try and look at how many members were exposed to this issue, like they got this because of pulmonary problems and that kind of thing?
DR. ROSTKER: We'll try but I think the answer is everyone was exposed to them.
DR. CAM: Right. But how many really were in critical condition?
COL ABREU: We have a paper being produced. I hate to use the term, but a subject matter expert paper has been produced that looks at the particulates as well as the oil well fires. It's being scientifically peer reviewed right now. They are looking at the paper and we have two reviews. The paper is looking at the 95 percentile of inhalation of those -- the 95 percentile of injuries and disease caused by inhalation of those particulates, comparing it to what we have experienced so far. Now it won't go on to say that it's a cause but it will address for example the particulates that are lacking in the oil well fires.
DR. CAM: Right.
DR. ROSTKER: Well, I understand that CHPPM will do a separate health risk assessment on the particulate matter from the oil well fires.
DR. CAM: That is correct.
SEN RUDMAN: Do you want to go ahead.
DR. ROSTKER: I'd like to go back for just a moment on depleted uranium. The Board requested that we consider submitting the next depleted uranium paper to outside peer review. In general, I have resisted this because these are not scientific papers. They are largely our accounting what happened in the Gulf. But given the public controversy, I applaud the Board's action. We have written to all of the people that have been named by the Board. I think all have indicated that they would be willing to -- is it all?
COL ABREU: Two of them, it's a matter of timing. It depends upon when the thing will be published. They are reticent about committing because of the timing of the report but the others are in favor.
DR. ROSTKER: Okay. It has come to my attention that one of those on the list that said that she would be willing to has been contacted by Mr. Sullivan who has charged that she is biased and she should be allowed. This e-mail has been in his web site and was provided.
SEN RUDMAN: Biased for what reason?
COL ABREU: Sir, that she works for the Department of Energy, and the Department of Energy has a stake in seeing the depleted uranium stocks of this country being used by the Department of Defense. And she has co-authored papers with Dr. Harley that did the RAND paper. Dr. Harley, in their opinion, is not credible and therefore, she is not credible. That she is, in essence, a government employee and therefore is not independent assessor.
SEN RUDMAN: And how many people are there on this list because I don't recall?
DR. ROSTKER: Seven.
COL ABREU: I think it's nine. Seven, eight or nine. Yes, sir. Seven have agreed favorably, yes, sir.
SEN RUDMAN: Including this one?
COL ABREU: Yes, sir.
SEN RUDMAN: Well, of course, I will speak for myself. I do not believe that what is outlined here -- and I now recollect the staff briefed me on this -- amounts to a conflict in any way, shape or manner. That's not a conflict. It might give the appearance of a conflict if you had two people going, but you've got seven people going. And you've got one of seven, I don't have a problem with that. I don't like to see people who are qualified disqualified because they work for some agency that has some remote relationship to DOD. I mean, I could probably find a way to allege a conflict against everybody.
DR. ROSTKER: I'm concerned that the individual may feel that she has been harassed by being so charged directly. The name was obtained through the public disclosure that she was required to --
SEN RUDMAN: Does she still want to do it?
DR. ROSTKER: We have not heard from her.
SEN RUDMAN: Well, I appreciate your attitude and I think it's helpful, although I understand fully the position you took originally. I think because of all the public interest in this issue, the more experts that we can get to comment on these things, the better we all are going to be. That's about it.
DR. ROSTKER: Okay. Let me deal with papers we believe we would like to terminate and not do. I think the most controversial, page 26 please. The most controversial will be the issue of retrograde equipment. There are a number of people, generally not veterans, generally people who've worked in our depots who believe that they were contaminated with equipment that is moved back, not necessarily equipment that was damaged in the war, just equipment that was moved back.
DR. CAM: Were they in charge of the cleaning of the equipment?
DR. ROSTKER: Yes. We have a standing offer to test any equipment. We have tested several pieces of tents I believe. We have found one piece of equipment that unexplainedly at least at this point has some chromium in it. And we're continuing that investigation. I would ask the Board to consider this. Now this is as contemporary as a request from Senator Feinstein we received today, sir, asking us to deal with a constituent complaint. I'm going to make that letter available.
SEN RUDMAN: About this sort of an issue?
DR. ROSTKER: Exactly, sir.
SEN RUDMAN: You don't think that ought to be continued?
DR. ROSTKER: We don't think there's anything here to continue. But it certainly is among workers who were at a variety of plants. We've heard this two or three times in our town hall meetings. In our preliminary review we don't see this rising to that level. We are prepared to do what is needed.
SEN RUDMAN: Have there been complaints filed by any of these people for disability, for medical coverage, compensation type coverage?
COL ABREU: The claims are that they just became ill. What we can't find are any patterns. We've been to all the major sites where equipment came in for re-processing and we can't find any consistency. And the numbers are very small.
DR. CAM: How many?
COL ABREU: I think we've gotten -- I can't say for sure.
DR. ROSTKER: One in San Francisco.
CAPT WELLOCK: Some of the claims represent like, you know, everybody who worked at the base. Like the one in San Francisco is the Alameda shipyard. And, of course, the shipyard is closed down so that's part of the issue is that the base is closed down.
SEN RUDMAN: Well, there are remedies for those folks.
LTG VESSER: We had a public affairs officer at Ft. Knox where we were in a town hall meeting raise the subject most recently. In addition we've had an individual whose wife was a postmistress who was ill at Ft. Sill who was trying to find out whether there was any possibility that mail was received from that theater during the war could have contributed to these. But they have been very scattered.
SEN RUDMAN: I would agree with your conclusion here. If someone on the Board disagrees, speak up.
RADM STEINMAN: Scientifically, it's a bizarre concept.
DR. CAM: Yeah.
SEN RUDMAN: A lot of contamination.
DR. ROSTKER: Similarly, we've had food, water. We don't believe this is worth continuing. We're doing a study of Saudi national guard records.
SEN RUDMAN: For comparative purposes.
DR. ROSTKER: For comparative purposes.
SEN RUDMAN: I don't think we need to spend much time on that, Bernie. I think we would agree that makes good sense.
DR. ROSTKER: And we are doing the companion paper on vaccinations, how we used it. We're waiting to publish with the RAND paper so we put them out together, which is what we did not do in the depleted uranium case. Asking for your guidance on discontinuing a medical information paper. Frankly, I have reviewed our paper and it does not come up to the standards we have. This is really a book, if you wanted to do it right. And what we have is a primer, which is not critical assessment.
It might be useful to have a primer of what the policies were but it in no way rises to the level of practice. I don't think continuing it makes much sense at this point.
SEN RUDMAN: Right.
DR. ROSTKER: We're going to keep the preliminary analysis unit reduced together because we always have to have the possibility that a complaint by a veteran needs to have at least a critical look to determine if there's something there. And that's what this group does. And that needs to be there as long as there is an organization and frankly as long as we have even a successor organization, an 800 number. We have to be able to take a complaint and treat it with respect or we shouldn't be advertising call us.
SEN RUDMAN: You should keep that unit in whatever size you think is necessary.
DR. ROSTKER: We're going to reduce some of the data management outreach, particularly streamline the 800 number and the people we have working with veterans. The number of people calling us that our truly self concerned has fallen off greatly. Most of the activity of our people here now is responding to people who are falling through the outreach from town hall meeting or were listed and asked for help in identifying the people. But the kind of cold calls from 800 numbers are minuscule. So we will bring all of that in house and appropriately size that staff.
DR. CAM: What kind of numbers are we getting now, like how many per week? Because I remember when we first started --
DR. ROSTKER: People actually just calling in. And a lot of those are requests for a map or someone else got a map with a detailed location. And so they are not "Hey, I found a smoking gun, I need you to go and investigate this." Some are responsive to a release that's our case narrative, and they'd like to get a copy of the case narrative.
SEN RUDMAN: We're going to continue with your current outreach visits.
Question. What kind of attendance are you getting at these outreaches these days?
COL ABREU: Well, the last one we did at Ft. Knox, and we had good attendance. I was ready to pull the plug.
SEN RUDMAN: Like how many people?
COL ABREU: Over 7,000 of the 7,800 troop population.
DR. ROSTKER: You've got to do it two ways. In terms of us going out to talk to the troops, we are talking reasonably to a good portion of the base population. In terms of the town hall meeting --
SEN RUDMAN: Less than a hundred.
DR. ROSTKER: We probably had 75.
SEN RUDMAN: The reason I asked the question is because, you know, I would have thought that our hearings would have generated much more attendance than they have. One of the reasons we're holding the next one in Ft. Lewis is because we thought that might engender more attendance.
LTG VESSER: Well, the Seattle area is one we have identified has a large number of folks.
SEN RUDMAN: But as far as your outreach, I don't think anyone on this panel disagrees with that. I also think it's important and, of course, we have the VA. And the VA has --
DR. ROSTKER: We've had in this round of meetings with our bases, the VA has been at every one, Bill?
LTG VESSER: Well, we've only had difficulty in two, and these were legitimate concerns like the doctor, the medical person they had was pregnant herself and was experiencing some difficulty. So they only had compensation experts.
SEN RUDMAN: Well, I'm just going to say that the VA goes to these I'm sure, but certainly to the extent that they are a successor organization.
LTG VESSER: I think in the future it's probably good for the Defense Department to have a continuing outreach program in this area.
DR. ROSTKER: And we've moved a lot of this message to general concerns of medical force protection. We've talked about anthrax. And so about once every month, every six weeks, we'll get another hit, another military base. We've streamlined the staff, so that we've substantially reduced the number of people that we're taking with us. But the response at Ft. Knox was frankly very good and we were very encouraged by the attitude of the command section.
This is one area you don't quite know whether they're talking to the head of OSAGWI or the under secretary of the Army. That bleeds together.
RADM STEINMAN: One of the first questions that they asked at Ft. Lewis was whether you were coming or not. So that gives you a hint.
DR. ROSTKER: In this term we expect to have completed largely these amounts of work. My strong sense is if there is a successor organization, we need to create it within this term and any residual work would pass to that. If we don't do that, I think we still need to terminate the organization and not let it be confused in the next administration.
I would recommend to the Board that you consider asking for an extension of your life to the end of the term also so that we can stay in concert because you really are extremely valuable to us.
DR. CAM: Dr. Rostker, since you've mentioned that, it kind of contradicts with the fact that we stay longer, expire the same time with you, if we need to create that successor organization.
DR. ROSTKER: We will expect to -- my recommendation will be that we terminate this organization maybe next summer. And then whatever residual work we get in place, the successor organization. So it wouldn't be that we will disappear the last day. I'd like to see through some kind of administrative transfer of the function.
SEN RUDMAN: It seems to me if this is going to be done, there are two ways it can be done. Of course it can be done as a OSAGWI set up by order from the secretary of defense. It can be set up by executive order of the President. I have a natural prejudice but in this particular case, I think it's a very substantial prejudice that I would rather see something done by the Congress next year because if you get the Congress committed to something like that, they intend to have a much better working relationship with it rather than if it's created without their consultation.
So one of the things I intend to talk to both the secretary and the President about is if we are going to go along this route, then we ought to think about what we're going to do and how we're going to do it and how it ought to be set up.
DR. CAM: And the funds would be there too.
SEN RUDMAN: Yeah, exactly. So I haven't thought it all out yet but I just believe that however it's going to be set up, there ought to be some legislative involvement. If there isn't, I can guarantee you where it's the greatest desire in the world, there will be people up there who won't like it because it will not have been invented up there. So I just think that we ought to be thinking.
I don't have any problem with having this organization go to the end of the term. That's an easy thing to have done if the President chooses to do it. And I expect with these reasons, there is no reason he would not. I'm sure this Board is willing to serve an additional that would be what --
DR. ROSTKER: That would be an additional about seven or eight months.
SEN RUDMAN: Seven or eight months of which much of our activity at that point would be devoted to making sure that whatever followed after the first of the year was something that we were all happy about.
DR. ROSTKER: And we may have to come back again if we find delays in the paper and put our heads together and see again is it likely or what we want to do.
SEN RUDMAN: We're speaking openly here. There's not a problem speaking openly about this. There's no question in my mind I don't know what the right answer is. I don't have enough expertise in the area yet to really understand it but I am sure that health affairs within DOD is going to say we're your successor organization and we can do all of this. And I'm sure there are a lot of people over there that are going to say well, you're not.
And then there are going to be some people who are going to say, well, not so fast. And that's when you're going to have the tension as to what finally comes out of this. And so I've been around this town just a few years but I learned a lot very quickly.
DR. CAM: Would there be support for the successor organizations in Congress?
SEN RUDMAN: It all depends on who has the most effective lobby. It also depends to some extent on how the secretary of defense feels about it. I mean a lot of the attention will be paid to how the secretary feels, which to a large extent will be determinate of how the deputy secretary feels because he is the one that has direct cognizance of your organization.
So that is a hurdle because the people in health affairs will say that's our jurisdiction and we don't want anyone else monkeying around in that. That's what's going to happen.
DR. ROSTKER: I would make two points. First of all, I think the VSOs are important players. They are legitimate representatives of veterans' communities.
And I think we should listen with a great deal of respect to how best we can serve them as they serve the veterans' communities. We have provided, I believe, an enhanced access to the department. I just think the Gulf will go away but deployment concerns will not. And that's where I see us going.
DR. CAM: And also the issue of health care delivery is very important. We don't address that but maybe the next organization.
SEN RUDMAN: The major VSOs have already made it clear what they have done. We will obviously want a hearing just on that subject.
DR. ROSTKER: And then the second thing I would say and reiterate, as we have all along. Sadly even a successor organization does not set health policy for the Department of Defense. That is unambiguously with the assistant secretary for health affairs. I believe we have been and any future organization could be complimentary and helpful.
I've often argued that it's another vote at the table for insuring that the veteran's and our servicemen's interest are listened to as we place on our commanders requirements that are protective and sometimes bureaucratic and not necessarily worth fighting.
SEN RUDMAN: So these are the issues we're going to have to talk about.
DR. ROSTKER: Exactly. The Congress did try to eliminate the controversy with agent orange by statutorily setting up the requirement every two years. And they also had the power, if they exercised it, to request specific studies be done. And that has really eliminated the controversy in agent orange.
SEN RUDMAN: We'll have to talk about that.
DR. ROSTKER: I would also point out to the Board that deployment issues are not strictly medical issues. There's a lot of operational issues. Most of our unique product dealt with reporting on operationally what happened. And I know the former assistant secretary for health care, Steve Josephs, was infinitely frustrated when he had the whole investigative form because he did not feel he could capture the purpose of the services nor did he feel that he had the full expertise that he needed.
I will most likely be recommending that a successor organization be headed by a dual hat to the under secretary of the Army. I think that it's tremendous leverage.
SEN RUDMAN: Can we move on to page 34? I'm trying to finish this up.
DR. ROSTKER: Following these plans these are some of the things we will not be able to do. Slide 35 is a repeat of an earlier slide which says this is what we are geared to do based upon what we believe has been your guidance. Complete before the end of the term, turn out credible products, including an omnibus close-out report volume and just a reminder this is contingent upon external organizations.
SEN RUDMAN: Right. I would point out that on page 34 under all cases directed by the PAC, I want staff to get together with OSAGWI people, whoever the people should be, maybe LTG VESSER, possibly COL Abreu. And we are going to have to at some point here issue -- you're going to find out something new, staff. We're going to issue a report that we're not called on to issue. We have a right to issue as many reports as we want after certain reports but that's a minimum, not a maximum.
And I want a report, an interim report which is going to clear up some of these PAC issues and some of these other things that we're aiming at in the interim, so nobody comes as a big surprise at the end of this. And that's going to be a very simple report to do. We are essentially now the organization that the President has named to oversee this. We think that some of the PAC recommendations now are unnecessary or duplicative or based on factors which have changed.
We want to just bring closure to those things. And that's part of the thing that we want to get done here. I want this thing in a neat package with a bow on it when we finish. I don't want any loose ends.
DR. ROSTKER: Thank you very much, sir. That completes my presentation.
SEN RUDMAN : Thank you very much. Do any members of the panel have any questions at all?
ADM ZUMWALT: Very good piece of work.
DR. ROSTKER: Thank you.
SEN RUDMAN: I think you've done very good work here today. May I suggest, Mike, that you and Dr. Rostker's designated staff get this all together so we have just essentially an agreed statement of what we agreed on today? I'd just like to have a record of that.
DR. ROSTKER: Yes, sir.
SEN RUDMAN: Are there any other comments by anybody?
Well, we want to thank you very much. As usual it's been a worthwhile, a very good couple of hours. And I want to thank the panel and we will be adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 4:15 p.m., the meeting was adjourned.)
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