HIGHTOWER: Pentagon Lies About Gulf War Syndrome

War is hell, they say, but peacetime isn't exactly heavenly either -- not for a lot of war veterans.Consider the 60,000-plus vets of 1991's "Desert Storm" operation. They came back wracked with mysterious pains, memory loss, cancers and reproductive problems. "Gulf War Syndrome," it's called, but the Pentagon callously keeps claiming that whatever is ailing these people was not caused by anything that happened in the war.Tell that to the members of the 24th Naval Mobile Construction Battalion. On the third day of the war, they were in Saudi Arabia when something exploded in the air above their camp. They say a yellow-green, chemical cloud quickly settled over them and, within minutes, many say, their skin began to burn, their lips turned numb and they could barely breathe.Battalion commanders rushed-out to tell the troops not to worry, that what they heard was just "a sonic boom." but the men knew better, for many of them soon came down with debilitating ailments that they still have not been able to shake. Still, to this day, the Pentagon says it has found no evidence of unusual illnesses among the troops of this battalion. But The New York Times interviewed 152 veterans who were there that morning, and 114 of them suffer from Gulf War Syndrome, including dozens who have been hospitalized repeatedly and are too sick to hold jobs.One of the vets, Harold Edwards, says he knows what happened because, when the boom hit, he quickly broke out three chemical-detection kits that are considered highly precise. Two of the three registered mustard gas, a chemical weapon that causes the very symptoms so many in the 24th Battalion are suffering. Edwards immediately reported this to his superiors, but was told: "Nothing happened, forget it, don't say anything."Time for the Pentagon to come clean and stand-up for the soldiers who stood-up for America.

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