Once Thought Neutralized, Chemical Weapons Resurface to Cause Casualties in Iraq War | Law Firm Newswire

Once Thought Neutralized, Chemical Weapons Resurface to Cause Casualties in Iraq War

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) November 13, 2014 - Chemical weapon stockpiles left over from the Gulf War harmed and sickened U.S. troops who encountered them in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.

Approximately 250,000 U.S. veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War suffered the debilitating symptoms of what become known as Gulf War Syndrome. Official recognition of the syndrome did not come until a Congressionally-mandated committee classified it as a distinct condition in 2008. 

Now, reports are surfacing that some of the same deadly agents that triggered GWS, along with additional caustic substances left over from the Gulf War, harmed veterans who served in the Iraq War that began in 2003.

Gulf War combatants were exposed to a variety of toxic chemical agents that have been linked to the onset of GWS, including deadly nerve gases (such as sarin) and highly caustic compounds (such as mustard gas). During the Gulf War, soldiers encountered significant stockpiles of sarin and mustard gas that Saddam Hussein had employed in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. 

Many of the remaining chemical weapons were destroyed during a post-Gulf-War dismantling process.

Despite the American effort to eradicate chemical weapons in Iraq, many thousands of chemical shells and warheads remained stored away among conventional weapons — from which they are hard to distinguish without the benefit of an X-ray. The U.S. military found increasing numbers of them after 2003, often with hazardous consequences for the front-line servicepeople exposed to the gases.

Soldiers sustained body blisters caused by mustard gas spilling from munitions or released from blown-up weapons caches. They suffered nausea, headaches, disorientation, memory lapses and blurred vision caused by sarin gas leaking from shells as they handled the arms, often expecting them to be conventional weapons. Indeed, not even the insurgents who recycled some of these hidden munitions to use against U.S. troops knew whether they were conventional or chemical weapons.

The injuries and illnesses Iraq War soldiers have suffered as a result of exposure to toxic agents left over from the Hussein era have pointed to an even more troubling discovery. Contrary to the analysis of a well-known U.S. government report issued in 2004, the chemical contents of the leftover weapons did not deteriorate to the point that they no longer posed a human danger.

That erroneous opinion was delivered in spite of the fact that the Pentagon knew, by that time, that in the 1980s, Iraq had mastered the production of highly pure and stable mustard gas at a plant that had been constructed with Western help. Even after an internal memorandum expressed concern over the risks troops faced when handling chemical weapons, the military continued to withhold data on the matter from the public — even as chemical weapons exposure cases mounted.

“The belated revelations concerning the exposure of Iraq War veterans to chemical weapons is eerily reminiscent of Pentagon stonewalling in connection with previous conflict-generated healthcare problems,” said David W. Magann, a prominent Tampa, Florida attorney who offers legal services for veterans. “And it has not been that long since the government owned up to the last war-related healthcare crisis stemming from the Gulf War.”

By the time the U.S. military exited Iraq in 2011, it had destroyed thousands of chemical weapons, but not all of the chemical stockpiles had been secured. Indeed, as recently as 2013, reporters found cyanide precursors and old sarin rockets at Al Muthanna — the main hub of the Iraqi chemical weapon program — which has since fallen into the hands of the Islamic State.

“Many of our veterans bear physical testament to the ills generated by warfare,” Magann said. “And many of the forgotten or stashed weapons of war are discovered with unfortunate consequences, or they linger with the potential for future use.”

David W. Magann, P.A.
Main Office:
156 W. Robertson St.
Brandon, FL 33511
Call: (813) 657-9175

Tampa Office:
4012 Gunn Highway #165
Tampa, Florida 33618

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