After the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of U.S. veterans suffered toxic reactions, neurological damage, and rare cancers due to exposure to 2,4,5,-D and 2,4,5-T dioxin that was used in the form of the defoliant Agent Orange.
Unfortunately, the U.S. military denied the problem and failed to heed any of the lessons of this chemical butchery. Instead, it expanded its harmful legacy to the current generation of soldiers and civilians exposed to new, more deadly chemical toxins in the Persian Gulf. Join accomplished filmmaker Gary Null, PhD, as he explores the real truth about Gulf War Syndrome and the secrets about chemical and germ warfare that the U.S. government is hiding from its veterans and the public.
Whether you support or challenge the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War, most agree that we should support the brave men and women who have given their time and even their lives in service of their patriotic commitments. However, what we are seeing today is a crisis, and it is a crisis that is not being captured by the American media or by the imbedded journalists. In fact, it is such an important story that I have performed hundreds of interviews over thousands of hours during the last four years investigating the issue of their unexplained and often untreated illnesses. I have traveled throughout the world to get these vets’ stories.
This issue is not dissimilar from the Vietnam War where 2.7 million Americans served. [i] When they came back with very disturbing illnesses, the American government for 20 years refused to acknowledge that these soldiers had been exposed to any serious problem. They said that our vets were suffering from a form of post traumatic stress syndrome. Similar to the Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam, we are now seeing the types of illnesses that were not caused by the enemy combatants: rare and exotic cancers, debilitating fatigue, unremitting depressions, loss of cognition and memory, bleeding body rashes, and muscle and joint pain similar to arthritis and fibromyalgia.
We now know from the Report to Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs on the Association Between the Health Effects and Exposure to Agent Orange May 5, 1990 that, ‘there is adequate evidence for the Secretary to reasonably conclude that it is at least as likely as not that there is a relationship between exposure to Agent Orange and the following health problems: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chloracne and other skin disorders, lip cancer, bone cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, birth defects, skin cancer, porphyria cutanea tarda and other liver disorders, Hodgkin’s disease, hematopoietic diseases, multiple myeloma, neurological defects, auto-immune diseases and disorders, leukemia, lung cancer, kidney cancer, malignant melanoma, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, nasal/pharyngeal/esophageal cancers, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, liver cancer, brain cancer, psychosocial effects and gastrointestinal diseases.’
Although this was an official report of the United States government, it did no good. It would take another 20 years of a concerted effort with individuals like Paul Rudishan, with whom we broadcast more than one hundred programs in the 1970’s and 1980’s, trying to notify the American public that these vets were sick. Their sicknesses were not due to post traumatic stress, but due to the impact of Agent Orange. Finally, the government acknowledged that they deserved some compensation, but without acknowledging that it was really Agent Orange. They gave them a small token reparation.
We are now seeing the same identical scenario play out with nearly 700,000 men and women who have served in the Gulf, in the first and the second wars. Their legacy is a troubling one. Also similar to the Vietnam War, the government has denied all responsibility, choosing instead a psychological definition of post traumatic stress syndrome. Tens of thousands of vets have sought treatment but nobody knows how they got sick. Many of their illnesses are simply unheard of in once young, vital, and healthy individuals. The government took healthy men and women and put them into an area of combat for a very short period of time with many not being in the actual theater of operations; and they are suffering similar conditions. Many of these illnesses simply were not anything we were prepared to deal with. Genetically engineered and weaponized Mycoplasma incognitas has shown up in their bodies. Many of these vets did not serve in the Gulf but were stateside. How then could their Gulf War Syndrome be attributed to post traumatic stress syndrome? It could not. Others were on Aircraft carriers. In neither of these situations was there any PTSD, but the soldiers are still sick. The American media has put its attention to the insurgents, the ongoing civil war between the Shiites and Sunnis, and the progress of the politics of the conflict. However, they have simply with few exceptions, turned away from showing any interest in Gulf War Syndrome.
George Bush Senior, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush have all refused to help them, allowing their hand picked experts to declare in unison that their illness is caused by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This investigation will challenge those assumptions, including the following government organizations, but not limited to: the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Pentagon, the Defense Department, the White House, the NIH, the FDA and the CDC, all of which are complicit in this cover-up.
In 2002, Doug Rokke, researcher on Gulf War Illness and a career military man updated the death figures: He reported that, ‘the total number of US Gulf War I casualties was 760 at the time of redeployment…since the cessation of gulf war hostilities in 1991; an additional 8013 veterans have died from service connected injuries and exposures incurred during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.’ [ii]
In 1995 according H. Lindsey Arison, III, aide to the undersecretary of the U.S. Air Force, stated that there were over 50,000 veterans were suffering from Gulf War syndrome, including about 11,000 still on active duty. [iii]
It is hard to estimate to date how many GIs may have become sick since the first war. Spouses are catching some of these illnesses and babies are being born with health problems. Compounding the horror is the fact that the Department of Veterans Affairs has deliberately chosen not to follow up with this. [iv]
An official report in 2005 from the Gulf War Veterans information System reports the total deaths of 15, 276 deployed veterans from the Persian Gulf War, or Gulf War One. [v] In the same report, 14,228 undiagnosed illness forms were processed, with only 3,573 having their claims granted, with substantiation of their illness having been directly connected to their illness.
Making the vets’ claims even more difficult is a report covering the years from 1990-1997, stating that there is no statistical difference between vets who served in the Gulf, and deployed veterans who did not serve in the Gulf. The report, however, did not cover the data from 1998-2005.
We attempt to show in this report that despite the fact that Gulf War Illness is difficult to prove in the short term, thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of soldiers have suffered over the long term. The government bureaucracies have given these vets the runaround, and thousands of newly deployed vets in our current war in Iraq are put into an arena with the same dangerous ingredients, and ultimately the same dangerous possibility of illness.
Arison outlines the causes of Gulf vets’ health problems. First, they were exposed to non-lethal levels of chemical and biological agents released primarily by direct Iraqi attack via missiles, rockets, artillery, or aircraft munitions and by fallout from allied bombings of Iraqi chemical warfare munitions facilities during the 38-day 1991 air war. The media and the government has unanimously said there were no biological weapons used in the first Gulf War. I will prove that is a lie. I will document and absolutely prove, once and for all, with hard evidence that there were multiple uses of biological and chemical weapons in the first Gulf War. I will also show why it was necessary for our government to hide this. In effect, they meant to destroy records; but they didn’t destroy all the records. We’ll see what a meticulous piecing together of the paper trail will show.
Exposure to chemical and biological agents alone is one thing. But the effects of these chemicals were exacerbated by a whole gamut of other factors to which vets were exposed. Arison enumerates them: nerve agent pretreatment pills, called pyridostigmine bromide, that our service people were ordered to take; investigational botulinum toxoid vaccines; anthrax vaccines; and depleted uranium, used in armor-piercing munitions. Other factors entering into the synergistic mix included oil fire contamination and pesticides, and some people believe that an artificially engineered bacterium/virus cross called a mycoplasma, and, separately, that a vaccine ingredient (the adjuvant squalene), were significant factors too.
Arison emphasizes the point that since different people were exposed to different hazards at different levels, a whole variety of symptomatologies has arisen in Gulf War vets. This variability of symptoms is sometimes taken to mean that Gulf War syndrome is a “mystery illness” or that people are imagining things, when it fact it just shows that the syndrome is a multifactorial problem.
On February 26, 1998, Representative Lane Evans introduced the Persian Gulf Veterans Act of 1998 to the floor of the House: [vi] Representative Evans stated the following: Of the one seventh of the soldiers who have registered with the Department of Defense, 10-25 percent have reported conditions ‘which are not easily treated. Meeting the needs of those suffering from illnesses, including those which defy ready diagnoses and treatments, is a continuing obligation of our nation, an obligation we must honor. With the current buildup of American troops in the Persian Gulf region, the need to enact the Persian Gulf Veterans Act of 1998 is even more compelling.’
A 2006 study at the University of Maryland showed that toxicity of Depleted Uranium in blood of soldiers who experienced friendly fire was not shown to cause direct blood cell changes, or changes in neural markers, but ‘subtle’ genomic changes were noted: ‘genotoxicity measures that continue to show subtle, mixed results’ over a 12 year period. [vii]
Despite the fact that our government has had 12 years to get it right, veterans are still complaining of ill health and lack of adequate treatment: Michael D. Woods, who was deployed to the Gulf War Theater of operations in Sept. 1990 and returned May 1991, spoke to Congress November 15, 2005, on ‘his very difficult experience with the VA,’ even following the Persian Gulf War Act of 1998.
He quotes, ‘as a result of the VA Doctors continuing to deny that illnesses are associated to Veterans service, many veterans will continue to put off applying for benefits until it is their last option.
In doing so it will take them beyond the current 10 years’ reporting limit causing them to no longer be eligible for benefits they have earned and deserve.’ [viii]
On December 21, 2005, in response to the growing numbers of veterans from Gulf One who are not able to receive benefits for their illnesses, Senator Patty Murray, democrat from Washington announced she is submitting a bill to help veterans with MS as a result of their service in Gulf One. [ix]
In 1997, After extensive study of Gulf veterans’ ailments, Dr. Garth Nicolson, a specialist in cell biology and biochemistry and a professor of internal medicine and pathology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, estimated that 100,000 Americans had become sick from Gulf War syndrome. This number included both soldiers and members of their immediate families. He pointed out that although Gulf War syndrome is not a universal disease, there are entire units which have become sick. This suggests that the illness is associated with exact locations within the region, suggesting a vaccine and/or chemical weapon components to the illness.
Nicolson stressed that in addition to affecting Americans, Gulf War syndrome had taken its toll on others who participated in the coalition forces. As of 1997, 27 of the 28 coalition nations had claimed that they have numerous sick veterans, as well as sick members of veterans’ families. This is especially true in England, where at that time, between 1200 and over 3500 Gulf War vets were afflicted with the syndrome, referred to as desert fever in that country. Many Gulf vet families in Britain sued their government after having had deformed children, and it was reported that at least one ex-soldier has requested a vasectomy because he was terrified of having any more children with problems. [x]
France did not report Gulf War illnesses as of 1997, possibly because they did not immunize their troops with experimental vaccines, or because they treated them with the antibiotic doxycycline prior to active service.
An important dimension of Gulf War health legacy is that families of Gulf War veterans have not been spared from the suffering. Unfortunately, many of them haven’t been properly diagnosed, due to the lack of objective clinical findings associated with the syndrome. A survey of 1000 service men and women conducted by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs revealed that an assortment of illnesses associated with Gulf War syndrome are, in fact, contagious. According to Senator Donald Riegle (D., Michigan), who headed the committee’s two-year investigation of Gulf War veterans’ health problems, the survey was designed for maximum reliability by inserting a few “ringer” questions to identify false responses, and the replies were indeed consistent with the pool of common symptoms. In most cases, responses to the poll indicated that spouses and children of Gulf War veterans are experiencing only a few of the indications, whereas the veterans themselves are suffering from up to 20 symptoms. [xi]
It is believed by many vets that the government would be afraid to acknowledge Gulf War Illness if it were shown that Weapons of Mass Destruction were used, such as Botulism or Anthrax. Indeed, American companies did supply these Weapons of Mass Destruction in violation of the Geneva Convention. These were used in the Iran-Iraq war and also against the Kurds. It would be an international embarrassment if our soldiers became sick and died because of weapons that we had sold to Saddam Hussein. Rather than to acknowledge that the more than 12,000 chemical alarms that went off during the Persian Gulf War were significant, they had to say that not a single alarm registered a chemical attack. Thousands of soldiers have contradicted this with testimonies of their exposures and examples of their physical ailments. In addition, they have voiced their outrage with the Defense Department, which knew in advance that Depleted Uranium was not an inert substance and which had low-level toxicity. The reasoning was, ‘how could you use hundreds of tons of Depleted Uranium over Iraq knowing that its half life is 4 billion years?’ It will blow in the sands of the desert forever. It will be in the air that the Iraqi people breathe, it will be in the vegetables that they eat, and it cannot be filtered from the water supply. So the further irony is that in the process of liberating Iraq, we have permanently made Iraq far worse than any Super Fund site in America.
How do you explain this to millions of Iraqis and Kurdish people? The good news is that you can create your own new government. The bad news is you will have the highest rate of birth defects and diseases in your country’s history, and there is no way we can correct the problem.
Both the families and the veterans have suffered because of the government’s lack of curiosity about their service people’s post-war ailments. Until the late 1990’s, the Department of Defense did not acknowledge the existence of any war-caused illnesses; soldiers who claim that they have the syndrome have been denied proper medical attention and have in some cases been instructed to leave the military. In pain, neglected by their country, and mistakenly diagnosed with psychiatric ailments, many veterans have tragically turned to suicide to cope with a problem that no one seemed to understand or care about.
Gulf War Syndrome is not just a compilation of symptoms in our vets who served in Gulf Wars one and two, but Gulf War Syndrome is also the result of a careless attitude that our soldiers’ well being is less important than the purposes for which America spreads its democracy around the world. For example, our government has a history of using chemicals during our military action that can cause harm to citizens and soldiers alike:
In 1968 government scientists spoke of genetic changes caused by Agent Orange responsible for the birth of deformed children. [xii] Herbicides were stopped in 1971 in Vietnam [xiii], but devastating health effects from Agent Orange remaining in the countryside still continue to this day. [xiv]
In the 1990 Gulf War, soldiers were given a drug/pesticide called pyridostigmine [xv] despite the fact that it was given experimentally. The government did this without regard to researching the long-term effects of this drug, or its possible adverse reactions in those more genetically susceptible to its side effects. The government said PB would help counter nerve poison. They did not say that it is a class of a pesticide. It is a nerve poison itself. Many soldiers whom I interviewed said that even before they got on a plane to go to the Gulf after taking this particular PB tablet, they were sick and vomiting, and vomiting blood. ‘While pyridostigmine bromide (P.Y.B.) helps counter nerve poison, it’s also one of a class of agents that are essentially pesticides or nerve poisons themselves.’ [xvi] The Department of Defense had originally stated that such drugs would be given to soldiers on a voluntary basis, but they were actually given out on a mass scale. Every soldier I spoke to said there was no volunteering to take the ‘medicine’. Compliance was demanded. One higher rank soldier reported having taken the drug as an example to his fellow recruits who then followed suit.
One soldier reported the following symptoms: “Since taking pyridostigmine while deployed for Desert Shield, I have been suffering moderate, severe, and intolerable pain, I fatigue easily, and lately have developed one heck of a palsy. I’ve lost my ability to speak because I can’t recall words, I have extreme problems with my short-term memory, and I had a dramatic change in my olfactory system. The last three and a half years have been extremely difficult on my family and me. This brief description by no means enumerates the mental and physical disabilities I’ve had to overcome.” [xvii] That was not the exception. That was the norm of the individuals I’ve interviewed.
Gulf War syndrome is manifested in many ways. Chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome affects over half of syndrome victims, according to Dr. Garth Nicolson, who, with his wife, molecular biophysicist and University of Texas professor Dr. Nancy Nicolson, has examined and evaluated many syndrome patients. Other symptoms include lymphoma, cardiac ailments, memory loss, leukoencephalopathy, and neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis. My own extensive interviews with Gulf War patients indicate that 80-90 % of these vets are plagued with pain in their joints and muscles. Others commonly experience dizziness, nausea, stomach pains, light sensitivity, intense anxiety, breathing difficulty, muscle spasms, diarrhea, blurred vision, inexplicable skin rashes, hives, bleeding gums, eye redness, night sweats, and acute migraine-like headaches. Sexual and urination disorders plague numerous victims, while up to 25 percent of syndrome patients have experienced hair loss, and 25 percent have acquired multiple chemical sensitivities, which means they have become allergic to a wide variety of chemical substances and can consequently have severe reactions to even the most common of household items. [xviii]
According to Drs. Nicolson, the chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) characteristic of sick Gulf vets is induced by an unusual microorganism that seems to be the product of weaponization, that is, human manipulation of germs for the purposes of warfare. The Nicolsons report that the organism present in each of the CFIDS patients is an odd variant of a typical mycoplasma. Ordinarily, mycoplasma is a cross between a bacterium and a virus, and can be effectively combated with antibiotics. But in this case, the organism contains human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) and anthrax genes. Since it is not possible for the typical mycoplasma to naturally mutate into a modified form of anthrax and the alleged AIDS virus, this seems to be an engineered organism. [xix] The Nicolsons contend that the U.S. military created this mycoplasma and sold it to Iraq, which subsequently used it against U.S. troops.
The Nicholsons go on to explain that since the mycoplasma sequence associated with the various Gulf syndrome symptoms is quite infectious, prolonged contact, or even casual contact, with an infected person can facilitate its dissemination. In one instance, the wife and children of a soldier serving in Operation Desert Storm became seriously ill after being exposed to clothing sent back from the Gulf region. Within weeks, the soldier’s wife and two sons were diagnosed with asthma, while the 22-month-old daughter nearly died from gangrenous lesions. In another case recounted before the Riegle Committee, a nurse whose brother had returned from the Gulf with the disease had to rush him to the hospital with an abnormally high fever. His sweat, she reported, had actually left reddish burn marks on her skin. Shortly after this incident, the nurse mysteriously contracted several health conditions that could not be explained by doctors. [xx]
Paul Sullivan … served in the Persian Gulf war as a cavalry scout with the First Armored Division After he became ill, he began to organize the Gulf War vets in the Atlanta area. Recently Sullivan spoke about what he went through, “I first became ill right there in the Gulf, with rashes and what we just considered runny noses. It never went away. I ended up with chronic sinusitis, chronic bronchitis, learned I had a tuberculosis infection. The rashes still haven’t gone away. The V.A. completely blew me off for two years until I went public and talked on your radio station. Before then, the V.A. was in the process, of purging people’s records, denying them service. This denial of the problem by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is absolutely shocking, immoral, and unconscionable, and absolutely outrageous.” [xxi]
“When you finally get into the VA system,” Sullivan continued, “what happens is, they’ll lose your records. I went to appointments, ended up waiting four, five additional hours for the doctor simply to find my medical records or the X rays that they took two or three days earlier. When you do get an exam, the doctor will say, ‘I’ve got five minutes. Tell me your problem.’ Then they won’t record your symptoms. You hear stories about doctors where their stethoscopes were not even in their ears. You hear stories about soldiers going in there like me, with rashes and respiratory problems, and the doctors not even writing it down. Then, even though we’re sick, they don’t do any tests. Lung function tests, sinus X rays, and chest X rays, all normal tests under our circumstances, were not performed. For the few tests they did run, such as blood tests (in my case, they knew I had an immune deficiency) nobody ever looked at the results.” [xxii]
I personally interviewed more than 41 service personnel in one day; all were suffering from Gulf War Syndrome. I met with all of them at one place in Orlando, Florida. All of them said the same thing, and yet they came from all over America. It’s as if the VA had been told, ‘don’t keep the records. Don’t do the tests.’ It’s not as if one doctor or one hospital was making errors. It’s as if this were a systematic campaign to deny these people the tests because then someone would have to say what is in the blood. [xxiii]
A New Generation Affected
Personal testimony and experience from actual gulf vets, and birth defects in Iraq and in the children of soldiers in the Gulf illustrate beyond the shadow of a doubt, the deleterious effects of Depleted Uranium on the human system:
Christopher J. Petherick who writes for the American Free Press stated that nurse Joyce Riley, who served in Gulf War I, and who is currently an advocate for sick Gulf War vets of both conflicts reported birth defects for 67 percent of the children born to vets of the first Gulf War. Mr. Petherick states that the Government still treats complaints of illness by the soldiers as the result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (commonly called PTSD). Birth defects, however, do not lie: [xxiv]
Reed West, daughter of Gulf veteran Dennis West from Waynesboro, Mississippi, was born prematurely with collapsed lungs and a faulty immune system. Joshua Miller, the son of veteran Aimee Miller, constantly suffers from strange colds, pneumonia, and high fevers. These are just a couple of the Persian Gulf War’s second-generation casualties; there are many others, including children who are dying of heart defects, liver diseases, and other rare disorders. [xxv] You do not find these defects in the general population.
As of 1997 it was estimated that 30 percent of Gulf War veterans’ babies were born with deformities; this is ten times higher than the number of birth defects one would expect to find in the general population.
In the same time period, In Waynesboro, Mississippi, the site of the National Guard Quartermasters Corps, 13 out of 15 children born to Gulf veterans suffered from serious disorders. In addition, infant mortality rates dramatically escalated in four counties in Kentucky and Tennessee, where the Army’s 101st Airborne Division was based, in three counties in Georgia, where the Army’s 197th Infantry Division was located, and at Ft. Hood, in Texas.
At a Congressional hearing in 1994, Dr. Ellen Silbergeld, a molecular toxicologist at the University of Maryland, reported that men can pass toxic chemicals on to their unborn children through their semen. Indeed, many wives of ill veterans report urinary tract and vaginal infections after sex, and said that their husband’s semen burns their skin. In Akron, Ohio, environmental pediatrician Dr. Francis J. Waickman reported a 30-percent rate of abnormalities among Gulf vets’ children, which is about 10 times the expected incidence. Waickman reminded us that toxic chemicals can lower immunity and increase susceptibility to infections in newborns, and he speculated that severe chemical exposure could alter genes as well. He offered this advice about our Gulf experience: “To my knowledge, this is the first time we’ve ever had such a large group exposed to a large degree of chemicals, so we better learn from this whole series of events.” [xxvi]
One organization attempting to learn more about birth defects in Gulf vets’ families is the Orlando, Florida-based Association of Birth Defect Children. They maintain a registry for Persian Gulf War families, and are keeping track of babies with Goldenhar syndrome, missing limbs, chronic infections, failure to thrive, cancer, heart problems, and immune problems.
‘Doctors in Iraq have estimated that birth defects have increased by 2-6 times, and 3-12 times as many children have developed cancer and leukemia since 1991. Moreover, a report published in The Lancet in 1998 said that as many as 500 children a day were dying from these sequels to war and sanctions and that the death rate for Iraqi children under 5 years of age increased from 23 per 1000 in 1989 to 166 per thousand in 1993. Overall, cases of lymphoblastic leukemia more than quadrupled with other cancers also increasing ‘at an alarming rate’. In men, lung, bladder, bronchus, skin, and stomach cancers showed the highest increase. In women, the highest increases were in breast and bladder cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.’ [xxvii]
Steve Miller is a Persian Gulf vet who can explain what the rare condition called Goldenhar syndrome involves because his son, conceived soon after Miller’s return from the Gulf, was born with it: “He had hydrocephalus, spinal scoliosis, spina bifida, was missing his left eye and left ear, and the heart was on the right side of the body. For a child to be born completely missing an eye, according to the National Institute of Health, is either hereditary or caused by teratogenic fetal exposure to a substance blocking normal growth. In our case we both tested negative for genetic diseases. The normal occurrence for this type of birth defect is one in 26,500. As of August ’97 we have located 17 children of Gulf War vets with the same birth defect. And there were only 75,000 born after the Persian Gulf War.” [xxviii]
Betty Mekdeci, founder of the Association of Birth Defect Children, confirmed that Goldenhar syndrome has occurred disproportionately in Gulf veterans’ offspring. She cited chronic, serious immune problems as the type of problem most frequently reported to the organization in connection with veterans’ offspring. [xxix]
Garth Nicholson is quoted throughout our paper to the stating that mycoplasma has a role in Gulf war illness. The fact that mycoplasma is transmissible during sex needs to be addressed, and indicates that Gulf War veterans may pose a risk to their spouses at home:
Numerous citations of illnesses associated with mycoplasma from rheumatoid arthritis to childhood joint problems to mononucleosis are mentioned in the medical literature. [xxx] Mycoplasma in the birth canal of mothers has been associated with pre term infants. [xxxi]
The link between increase in mycoplasma in the birth canal of women and contact with their husbands newly returned from the Gulf needs to be more fully examined. A study in Melbourne examining oral to genital sex practices tested the following infectious agents: ‘Chlamydia trachomatis, Mycoplasma genitalium, Ureaplasma parvum, U. urealyticum, herpes simplex virus (HSV)-1, HSV-2, adenoviruses, and Gardnerella vaginalis by polymerase chain reaction.’ ‘Infection with M. genitalium or C. trachomatis was associated with unprotected vaginal sex.’ [xxxii]
If mycoplasma can truly be passed from parent to child, then the spouses and children of Gulf War Vets are truly in danger when their parent returns home.
A Multiplicity of Poisons
As we’ve mentioned, the term Gulf War syndrome is not one, easily defined problem, but it rather encompasses a wide variety of ailments. Congressman Steven Buyer from Indiana, whose Army reserve unit was stationed at a prisoner of war camp in the region, feels that Gulf War syndrome is really a misnomer, explaining that he and other afflicted servicemen have been plagued with a broad spectrum of chronic disorders. Having experienced some of the symptoms firsthand, Representative Buyer attributes the heightened frequency of illnesses among veterans to the wide variety of hazardous substances that they encountered in the Gulf, including poison gases, diesel fumes, petroleum-related pollution, parasites, experimental medications, and biological warfare agents. [xxxiii]
It has been common knowledge that the Gulf War, whatever it did or did not accomplish politically, definitely constituted a terrible environmental assault on the health of the Americans who participated as everyone else living in the region. Fumes from burning oil wells and other toxins, as well as the unsanitary conditions the soldiers lived in, wreaked havoc on the immune system of many of our people there. [xxxiv]
Senators Don Riegle, Jr., of Michigan and Alfonse D’Amato of New York echoed these concerns in a report they issued in Spring 1995. “Our afflicted veterans are sick and suffering, and some have died,” wrote the senators. “Others are now destitute, having spent tens of thousands of dollars, depleting their life savings, in an unsuccessful search for an explanation for their ailments. The veterans of the Gulf War have asked us for nothing more than the assistance they have earned. Our refusal to come to their immediate assistance can only lead others to question the integrity of the nation they serve.”
That was in the spring of 1995. Nothing of any consequence was done to help the vets.
Riegle and D’Amato discussed Iraq’s biological and chemical warfare stockpiles, which were built up with materials that, in some cases, the United States provided to Iraq. They say that the symptomatology of the Gulf War vets is consistent with a “chemical/biological exposure explanation, illustrated by a large body of common symptoms, and distribution of illness that appears related to source exposures, whether by proximity to an explosion, fallout, reaction to pills.” One of Riegle’s and D’Amato’s recommendations was that the impact of pyridostigmine be looked at, particularly with regard to its potential for creating synergistic or even potentiation effects when soldiers are exposed to other hazardous substances, i.e., chemical weapons and other toxins.
The senators also recommended that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs requested that the appeals process be streamlined; they called for presumption of a military-service connection when assessing veterans’ illnesses for the purposes of determining eligibility for benefits and treatment until a diagnostic protocol could be established. They called, too, for government-financed health care for soldiers for whom no other medical insurance was available, to treat spouses and children determined to have contracted a service-connected illness from a Gulf War veteran. [xxxv] This didn’t happen, and that’s especially important because so many vets I spoke to are broke, absolutely destitute. Why? The government wouldn’t pay for their treatment. They said it wasn’t due to any thing in the theater of operations. How do you help yourself if you’re sick and doctors don’t know what you’re sick from? Soldiers have exotic and unusual bacteria and viruses in their bodies. Clearly these bacteria were weaponized, and no one is taking responsibility. The vets have to pay for their treatment themselves. What happens when no one knows how to treat these conditions? Nothing. The vets end up sick and broke; and of course they do not feel very good about the people who have denied them the care they need.
Paul Sullivan, a veteran with Gulf war illness, spoke about the GIs’ exposure to chemical weapons in Iraq. “We actually went into these Iraqi bunker complexes and cataloged their chemical-tipped warheads,” he said. “And they’re denying that the Iraqis ever used them. We were over there counting the stupid things. They’re going to tell us that the Iraqis didn’t use them or that some of them weren’t blown up accidentally when our bombers bombed their positions or when our artillery bombed their positions or when our tanks shot all kinds of rounds into their bunker complexes. Of course some of that stuff had to leak out but we weren’t told to put on our masks. In fact, nobody did. No chemical-detection kits were brought in there with us to detect Chemical warfare. [xxxvi]
In the first Gulf War, one hundred and fifty thousand of our military personnel were given anthrax vaccine, an approved but rarely used drug. Eight thousand people received an experimental vaccine against botulism. And, depending on whose figures are used, more than 400,000 military personnel ingested an experimental nerve agent pretreatment in the form of a series of pills called pyridostigmine bromide. There was nothing voluntary in our service-people’s taking of any of these powerful drugs. [xxxvii]
Dr. Boaz Milner, of the VA hospital in Allen Park, Michigan, has treated over 300 patients claiming to have become ill as a result of their Persian Gulf War experience. Milner agrees with Buyer that the collection of symptoms that have manifested can be attributed to a variety of factors, which he has categorized into five syndromes. Milner’s first category of Gulf War syndrome sufferers consists of soldiers who were exposed to excessive quantities of radiation, possibly from the uranium used in munitions. The second form of the syndrome was induced by the widespread use of experimental vaccines that were designed to protect the troops from the harmful elements they might encounter, while another category encompasses veterans exposed to various environmental pollutants, including the more than 700 burning oil wells that contaminated the region’s air and water. Milner believes that other soldiers may have contracted illnesses due to the presence of toxic chemical compounds such as pesticides, while the fifth form of the syndrome was brought on by the release of biological warfare agents. [xxxviii]
Germs from the Gulf are good travelers, according to members of the medical community who have expressed concern regarding the possibility of infectious microorganisms becoming fastened to equipment and other materials. They cite incidences of Navy personnel on aircraft carriers who never set foot on land, but who mysteriously acquired the syndrome subsequent to active duty in the Gulf region. When aircraft returning from overseas service were unloaded in domestic Air Force bases at the conclusion of the first war, the contaminated equipment aboard the returning planes may have facilitated the disease’s dissemination into the general population. This hypothesis is strengthened by reports of illness in stevedores assigned to unload repatriated transport planes. It is estimated that clothing brought back by soldiers may contain infectious microorganisms that can survive for up to seven years.
In addition, scientists are now showing data that Gulf War Illness that is transmissible as through sexual contact, and also through close contact such as kissing, touching, etc. [xxxix]
Unproven Vaccines, Unmonitored Medicine
What are the ethical ramifications of giving experimental drugs to soldiers in time of war? Arthur L. Caplan was another voice heard at the hearing May 6,1994, when that committee held a hearing on the topic “Is Military Research Hazardous to Veterans’ Health? [xl]; he has a Ph.D. and is the director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. “Some would argue that the entire category of ethically suspect research makes no sense in the context of war. Hot or cold,” Caplan told the group. “When the threat to the nation’s security is immediate, real, and serious, then the prevailing rules of human experimentation requiring the informed consent of subjects and prior review by research review committees must, of necessity, go out the window. The niceties of ethics regarding how to conduct human experimentation are for times of peace, not for the exigencies imposed by the threat or reality of war. But this argument is wrong. [xli]
“The prevailing standards for human experimentation were set down as a direct response to experiments conducted under conditions of war,” Caplan went on. “The Nuremberg trials at the end of the Second World War promulgated a code of research ethics that has been absorbed into both professional ethics and law by many bodies and governments in the years since that war. The Nuremberg Code makes no exception for research conducted in the context of war. The enormously important goal of protecting the nation’s security is not held to be a value that is so overriding as to obliterate the individual subjects’ rights. The code states clearly and unambiguously that everyone involved in research is to be so informed and that they are to have the right to give or withhold their consent to that research.” [xlii]
So much for those who would say that in any war it is okay to do whatever you’re told to do. Does the President have that right? No. The President does not have that right. Congress does not have that right. Every individual who’s to be given anything experimentally must have the right to say no according to the Geneva Code. These soldiers were not given that right. Not one soldier was given this right.
“The situation is unfair from start to finish. It begins with soldiers who are asked to participate in research or take experimental drugs, but are not told what the risks are before, during, or after.
“Then information about the exposures is not included in the soldiers’ medical records, putting them at even greater risk. And when these soldiers leave the service and become veterans, the Veterans Administration lacks information about the exposures and about any resulting illnesses, making it more difficult to help them.
“Finally, when these veterans become ill, they are unable to get the medical records and other information they need in order to prove that their illnesses are related to military service.
‘This situation is unacceptable.”
These strong words sound like they come from a concerned veterans group. But they don’t. They were spoken by John D. Rockefeller IV, senator from West Virginia and the chair of the Senate’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. They were uttered May 6,1994, when that committee held a hearing on the topic “Is Military Research Hazardous to Veterans’ Health?” In the aftermath of America’s Persian Gulf involvement, clearly the answer to that question was yes. Military research has been hazardous to veterans’ health. [xliii]
A more recent study links the use of vaccines directly to the development of autoimmune illness:
An article on 2003 in a French laboratory points out the cause of a specific illness called macrophagic myofascitis noted by ‘diffuse myalgias and chronic fatigue syndrome’. It is noted that an aluminum adjuvant in vaccines is known to cause this condition. One third of these patients develop autoimmune disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis. ‘Multiple vaccinations performed over a short period of time in the Persian Gulf area have been recognized as the main risk factor for Gulf War syndrome. Moreover, the war vaccine against anthrax, which is administered in a 6-shot regimen and seems to be crucially involved, is adjuvanted by aluminum hydroxide and, possibly, squalene, another Th-2 adjuvant.’ [xliv]
But now we’re also learning that the health of most of the 700,000 service people in Gulf I may have been compromised even before the onset of their participation in the conflict, when the Army gave them experimental drugs. What’s more, our service men and women were given these drugs without their informed consent. [xlv]
In the May 1994 hearing The Reverend Dr. Barry Walker, who served as a chaplain in Saudi Arabia and ultimately in Iraq and Kuwait [xlvi] stated the following, ‘To my knowledge, none of the 4,700 troops in my ministry, except maybe the command headquarters, was given any real information about the risks of these drugs or vaccines. We were not shown anything in writing or told anything other than that these would protect us. My chemical officer was asked to find out more about the pills, and she shared some of that information with the group commander and a few staff officers. She said there were no problems with the pills.
‘The fact that we were given the vaccine or drugs was not recorded in our medical records, although I insisted that the vaccine be recorded in my personal record. Many soldiers did not carry a vaccine record, and most wouldn’t have thought to ask that it be recorded. I don’t recall any list being made of who was given the vaccine.”
Chaplain Walker started having back problems after a February 1991 Scud attack and attributed them to his work lifting bodies and debris after the attack. When he returned to the United States a few months later, he was so happy to be home that he ignored his continuing back pain. But by the summer, he knew that something was seriously wrong; tests showed that the nerves in his lower body were impaired. Now, he reported to the committee, his symptoms included headaches, rashes, fatigue, memory loss, sweating, blood in his urine, inability to concentrate, and difficulty sleeping.
‘For the past three years, I have been spending much of my time helping other Gulf War veterans and their families” Walker said. “I have taken over 150 veterans to the hospitals for treatment or helped them in other ways. Many of them have symptoms similar to mine. Some are much more serious. Some just plain get lost for periods of time and do not know how they got where they are, some have blood in their urine. Some have trouble walking, some will pass out and not remember it.” [xlvii]
I’m Gary Null. This concludes Part One of our in-depth, original investigative reporting series, Gulf War Syndrome Killing Our Own.
[i] United States Army Special forces Detachment A-502, The VFW Magazine, the Public Information Office, and the HQ CP Forward Observer 1st Recon April 12, 1997, ‘Vietnam War Statistics.’ 2003, February 2006
[ii] Traprock Peace Center , ‘Gulf War Casualties.’ Dr. Doug Rokke September 30, 2002, January, 2006
[iii] H. Lindsey Arison III, Personal interview, July 14, 1995.
[iv] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author
[v] United States, Department of Veterans Affairs, Gulf War Veterans Information System, November 2005, p. 6
[vi] Representative Lane Evans presentation to Congress, ‘The Persian Gulf Veterans Act of 1998′ February 26, 1998
[vii]MA McDiarmid and SM Engelhardt, ‘Biological monitoring and surveillance results of Gulf War I veterans exposed to depleted uranium,’ Int Arch Occup Environ Health Jan 2006; 79(1): 11-21. Epub 2005 Aug 2.
[viii] Michael D Woods Before the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations, ‘Examining VA Implementation of the Persian Gulf War Veterans Act Of 1998,’ November 15, 2005.
[ix] Alex Glass, ‘Senator Murray Introduces New Bill to Help More Veterans with Multiple Sclerosis’ National Gulf War Resource Center, Inc.
[x] The Guardian, Feb. 1, 1997.
[xi] Marlene Cimons, “Gulf War Syndrome May Be Contagious, Survey Shows,” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 21, 1994, p. A-4.
[xii] United States, Report to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Association Between Adverse Health Effects and Exposure to Agent Orange, May 5, 1990, p.7
[xiii] United States, NAS Press Release, Agent Orange: Report Links Disease to Herbicides; Calls for New Studies of Exposed Vietnam Veterans; Calls for new studies of Exposed Vietnam Veterans, July 28, 1993
[xiv] Phillip Jones Griffiths, author of Agent Orange, and stated on radio program, Monday, November 14, 2005.
[xv] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author
[xvi] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author, pp. 5-6.
[xvii] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author, pp. 4-5
[xviii] Dr. Leonard Horowitz, personal interview.
[xix] Drs. Garth and Nancy Nicolson, Personal interview, May 7, 1996.
[xx] France, David, “The Families Who Are Dying for Our Country,” Redbook, Sept. 1994, p. 114.
[xxi] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author Paragraph 12
[xxii] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author Paragraph 13
[xxiii] Gulf War Veteran Conference, Personal Interviews, May 6-8, 2005
[xxiv] ‘Birth Defects Tied to GWS’ April 12, 2004, January, 2006
[xxv] Serrano, Richard A., “Birth Defects in Gulf Vets’ Babies Stir Fear, Debate,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 14, 1994.
[xxvi] Richard A. Serrano, “Birth Defects in Gulf Vets’ Babies Stir Fear, Debate,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 14, 1994.
[xxvii] James Denver, ‘Horror Of US Depleted Uranium In Iraq Threatens World American Use Of DU is A crime against humanity which may, in the eyes of historians, rank with the worst atrocities of all time.US Iraq Military Vets “are on DU death row, waiting to die.” April 29, 2005, January, 2006
[xxviii] Steve Miller, Personal Interview, Aug. 9, 1997.
[xxix] Betty Mekdeci, ABC TV News Nightline, Dec. 27, 1995.
[xxx] January 2006
[xxxi] S Kataoka, T Yamada, ‘Association between Preterm Birth and Vaginal Colonization by Mycoplasmas in Early Pregnancy’ J Clin Microbiol. Jan 2006; 44(1):51-5.
[xxxii] ‘Etiologies of nongonococcal urethritis: bacteria, viruses, and the association with orogenital exposure,’ J Infect Dis. Feb 1, 2006;193(3):336-45. Epub Dec 28, 2005.
[xxxiii] Peter Cary, and Mike Tharp, “The Gulf War’s Grave Aura,” U.S. News and World Report, July 8, 1996, pp. 33-34.
[xxxiv] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author Paragraph 6
[xxxv] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author Paragraph 47 48 49
[xxxvi] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author Paragraph 15
[xxxvii] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author Paragraph 8
[xxxviii] David France, “The Families Who Are Dying for Our Country,” Redbook, Sept. 1994, p. 114.
[xxxix] Donald S. McAlvaney, Editor, ‘What is Gulf War Illness (GWI)?’ McAlvaney Intelligence Advisor (MIA), August 1996
[xl] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author Paragraph 5
[xli]Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author Paragraph 45
[xlii] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author Paragraph 46
[xliii] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author Paragraphs 1-5
[xliv] RK Gherardi, ‘Lessons from macrophagic myofasciitis: towards definition of a vaccine adjuvant-related syndrome,’ Rev Neurol (Paris), Feb 2003; 159(2):162-4.
[xlv] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author Paragraph 7
[xlvi] Excerpeted from paragraph 40
[xlvii] Gary M. Null, ‘The Gulf War Syndrome: Causes and the Cover-up,’ Penthouse Magazine, September 1994 ed. Reprinted with permission of the author Paragraph 41, 42, 43, 44