HIGHTOWER: Pentagon Whitewashers

An ad for a laundry service promised, "We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand."Likewise, the Pentagon is ever so carefully shredding the truth when it comes to dealing with Gulf War Syndrome. This debilitating, deadly condition afflicts hundreds-of-thousands of Gulf War veterans, yet the brass that sent these men and women to war are now lying to them about the chemicals that engulfed them there, denying them medical service and insulting them by implying that their suffering is all in their heads.For five years, the Pentagon flat stonewalled these sick soldiers. Then, pressured by vets and a few investigative reporters, the Brass said in June 1996, "OK, we now concede that 400 U.S. troops might have been exposed." A month later, they said, "OK it's 1,100." Then, with public outrage growing, they raised their count to 5,000. Then to 10,000. Then to 20,000. Finally, last month, the Pentagon issued a report saying "now we've got it, it's about 100,000."Now, however, a United Nations report documents a second exposure for U.S. troops that likely sent a poisonous plume over thousands more of our soldiers. The U.S. authorities had been informed about this UN finding last winter ... but -- shhhhh -- had kept it quiet. One CIA official said, "You don't want to end up alarming people." Not, apparently, informing them either. After all, it's only a life or death matter to those exposed.Now comes word that the Pentagon has been covering-up yet another study. This one found that the first and second Marine divisions also were exposed to chemicals in another incident in that war. This is in a $2 million study commissioned by -- guess who? -- the Pentagon itself! But the Brass didn't like the results, so they tried to bury the report and badmouth its authors.This is Jim Hightower saying ... Isn't it time to take the investigation of Gulf War Syndrome out of the hands of the Pentagon Whitewashers?Source:"Pentagon dismisses report it sought on gas in Gulf War" by Philip Shenon. New York Times: July 31, 1997. "Pentagon misinformation, denials betray gulf vets." Editorial. USA Today: July 29, 1997. "UN reveals new evidence of gas from 2d Iraqi depot" by Philip Shenon. New York Times: July 30, 1997.

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