Over 600 U.S. Troops Claimed Exposure To Chemical Weapons In Iraq, But Military Failed To Treat Them

More Than 600 U.S. Troops Described Being Exposed To Chemical Eeapons In Iraq But Military Failed To Offer Them Medical Care, Pentagon Admits – Daily Mail

More than 600 American soldiers told military medical staff that they believe they were exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003, but the Pentagon failed to act on that information, it was revealed Thursday.

According to reporting by The New York Times, Pentagon officials said the department will now expand its outreach to veterans and establish a toll-free hotline for reporting potential exposures and seeking medical evaluation or care.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered an internal review of military records after the Times published an article in October about how US troops encountered degraded chemical weapons from the 1980s that had been hidden or used in makeshift bombs.

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Truth comes out: Pentagon acknowledged that more than 600 American soldiers told military medical staff that they believe they were exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003

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US forces came upon hidden caches of warheads, shells and aviation bombs in Iraq between 2004 and 2011. Pictured here are Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians working in Afghanistan in 2002

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The initial newspaper report disclosed that 17 service members had been injured by sarin or sulfur mustard agent, and several more came forward after the story appeared, the Times said Thursday.

The Army’s Public Health Command collects standardized medical-history surveys, known as post-deployment health assessments, which troops fill out as they complete combat tours.

Those who responded ‘yes’ to a question about exposure to such warfare agents – ‘Do you think you were exposed to any chemical, biological and radiological warfare agents during this deployment?’ – were asked to provide a brief explanation.

The review ordered by Hagel showed that 629 people answered ‘yes’ to that question and also filled in a block with information indicating chemical agent exposure, Col. Jerome Buller, a spokesman for the Army surgeon general, told the newspaper.

‘Secretary Hagel ordered the department to examine the medical records for all servicemembers assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Units where exposures were reported to have occurred, as well as the Post-Deployment Health Assessment data for all servicemembers who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘The review has determined thus far that 734 troops reported potential exposure. The actual extent of that exposure is not yet clear,’ Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement to Stars and Stripes.

About 5,000 chemical weapons were recovered or destroyed in Iraq following the 2003 invasion.

A Times investigation last month revealed that US forces came upon hidden caches of warheads, shells and aviation bombs between 2004 and 2011.

But the Bush administration reportedly covered up the existence of the 30-year-old weapons, some of them designed by the US, which did not fit into the narrative that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction.

Most of the warheads were mustard agents in 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets developed by Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war which raged between 1980 and 1988.

Many of the shells recovered by American troops after the 2003 invasion would leak liquid during transportation, exposing the soldiers to the potentially-lethal fumes.

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Hidden: Between 2004 and 2011, soldiers found thousands of rusty chemical munitions throughout Iraq, most of them buried. Pictured on the left are troops handling weapons in Kandahar, Afghanistan

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A U.S. Army Third Infantry Division soldier loads materials discovered in an explosives laboratory hidden in a home April 15, 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq

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Symptoms ranged from disorientation and nausea to blindness and large blisters.

A Navy explosive-ordnance disposal technician, who was not named because he remains on active duty, told the Times this week that he was burned on his left forearm in 2006 when a mustard agent spilled on him as he was carrying shells outside Samarra.

After he went to an Army doctor seeking treatment, an officer in his battalion ordered him to stop talking about the chemical shells.

Cmdr Ryan Perry, a Navy spokesman, told the newspaper that they do not condone the silencing of service members, adding the the sailor had reached out to the Navy about the 2006 chemical episode in recent days.

Each person who answered the health questionnaire would have received a medical consultation at the end of their combat tour, Buller said.

It was not clear why the military did not take further steps, such as including compiling the data as it accumulated over more than a decade, tracking veterans with related medical complaints, or circulating warnings about risks to soldiers and to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans who believe they were exposed can call a Pentagon hotline at 1-800-497-6261, which previously had been used for Gulf War veterans reporting illnesses.

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Obama Suddenly Decides To More Than Double U.S. Troop Presence In Iraq

Iraq War II: Obama Seeks New War Authorization; Will More Than Double U.S. Troops On Ground – CNS

The White House and the Defense Department announced today that President Obama will order an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq, more than doubling the 1,400 who are currently there.

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On Wednesday, in his first post-election press conference, the president said he will be seeking from Congress a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to engage in warfare against the Islamic State, which is now operating out of territory it has seized in Iraq and Sryia.

At the end of 2011, as he headed into the 2012 election year, President Obama removed all U.S. troops from Iraq, and declared the war there over.

That war had been authorized by an AUMF that Congress approved on Oct. 11, 2002.

Since Obama declared that Iraq War over, Iraq has seen the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). ISIS is a terrorist group that sprang from al Qaeda, was expelled from al Qaeda, and then went on to take control of a large territory in Iraq and Syria. Its aim is to create a caliphate in the region that now includes Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced the troop deployment this afternoon. The additional 1,500 personnel he said will be in “a noncombat role to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish forces.”

“U.S. Central Command will establish two expeditionary advise and assist operations centers, in locations outside of Baghdad and Erbil, to provide support for the Iraqis at the brigade headquarters level and above,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman told National Public Radio. “These centers will be supported by an appropriate array of force protection.”

On Dec. 14, 2011, Obama traveled to Fort Bragg to announce that he had brought all troop home from Iraq and that he war was over.

“It’s harder to end a war than begin one,” Obama said then. “Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq–all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering–all of it has led to this moment of success. Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations. And we are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making.”

In his ensuing reelection campaign, the president repeatedly took credit–at rallies–for fulfilling the promise of his first campaign to end the Iraq war.

“I’ve kept the commitment that I’ve made,” Obama said, for example, at an Oct. 24, 2012 rally in Iowa. “I told you we would win the war in Iraq. We did.”

“I mean what I say and I say what I mean,” Obama said on Nov. 5, 2012. “I said I’d end the war in Iraq. I ended it.”

On Jan. 21 of this year, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, issued an audio statement making a direct and unambiguous threat to the United States.

“Our last message is to the Americans,” he said. “Soon we will be in direct confrontation, and the sons of Islam have prepared for such a day.”

On Wednesday, Obama explained why he believed he needed a new war authorization.

“With respect to the AUMF, we’ve already had conversations with members of both parties in Congress, and the idea is to right-size and update whatever authorization Congress provides to suit the current fight, rather than previous fights,” Obama said Wednesday.

“In 2001, after the heartbreaking tragedy of 9/11, we had a very specific set of missions that we had to conduct, and the AUMF was designed to pursue those missions,” said Obama. “With respect to Iraq, there was a very specific AUMF.”

“We now have a different type of enemy,” said Obama. “The strategy is different. How we partner with Iraq and other Gulf countries and the international coalition–that has to be structured differently. So it makes sense for us to make sure that the authorization from Congress reflects what we perceive to be not just our strategy over the next two or three months, but our strategy going forward.”

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White House Did Not Discuss ISIS Strategy With Pentagon Prior To U.S.-Led Campaign – Big Peace

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As of the end of August, there was no communication between the White House and the Pentagon concerning a strategy to fight the Islamic State, the Department of Defense (DoD) said in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Not only did the president not have a strategy, as he candidly admitted on August 28, the White House did not talk about developing a strategy with his Defense Department prior to launching airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq on August 8.

This contradicts comments by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest trying to explain Obama telling reporters on August 28, “We don’t have a strategy yet.”

The White House attempted to blame the Pentagon for delaying the development of a strategy.

On August 29, Earnest insisted that what Obama meant is that he was then-waiting for the Pentagon to make recommendations on what to do.

“The Pentagon is developing plans or military options for the president to consider if he decides that it’s necessary to do so,” he said. “But at this point, the president hasn’t made any decisions and hasn’t ordered any military action in Syria.”

In a response to a FOIA request filed by Dr. Larry Kawa as a concerned private citizen, DOD’s Office of Freedom of Information said that as of the end of August, it could not locate any paper or electronic communication documents between the president and the Pentagon mentioning a strategy to fight the Islamic State (IS, ISIS and ISIL).

The Pentagon searched for communication that would have occurred between the beginning of January thru the end of August.

“On August 28, 2014 President Obama stated in a national press conference that he ‘does not have a strategy yet’ in regards to ISIL/ISIS in Syria,” said Kawa in his FOIA request. “He blamed the Pentagon for the delay. I would like clarification of any correspondences in this regard between the Pentagon and the office of the President or executive branch.”

Kawa told Breitbart News that he spoke to the Pentagon FOIA agent in charge of handling his request in an effort to confirm that before the end of August, there was no communication between Obama and the Pentagon concerning a strategy on ISIS.

“Per DOD FOIA agent Charles Marye, any such documents would have appeared. If there were any meetings that were classified, their existence would also have appeared but did not,” said Kawa.

“In conclusion, the Pentagon is 100 percent certain that there have been no discussions either classified or unclassified regarding strategy on ISIS or ISIL,” he continued.

The Pentagon’s FOIA office searched for communication involving the Secretary of Defense, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the White House, and the National Security Council, according to Kawa.

FOIA Agent Marye did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

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Incompetence Update: Obama State Department Plans To Bring Foreign Ebola Patients To U.S.

State Department Plans To Bring Foreign Ebola Patients To U.S. – Washington Times

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The State Department has quietly made plans to bring Ebola-infected doctors and medical aides to the U.S. for treatment, according to an internal department document that argued the only way to get other countries to send medical teams to West Africa is to promise that the U.S. will be the world’s medical backstop.

Some countries “are implicitly or explicitly waiting for medevac assurances” before they will agree to send their own medical teams to join U.S. and U.N. aid workers on the ground, the State Department argues in the undated four-page memo, which was reviewed by The Washington Times.

“The United States needs to show leadership and act as we are asking others to act by admitting certain non-citizens into the country for medical treatment for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) during the Ebola crisis,” says the four-page memo, which lists as its author Robert Sorenson, deputy director of the office of international health and biodefense.

More than 10,000 people have become infected with Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and the U.S. has taken a lead role in arguing that the outbreak must be stopped in West Africa. President Obama has committed thousands of U.S. troops and has deployed American medical personnel, but other countries have been slow to follow.

In the memo, officials say their preference is for patients go to Europe, but there are some cases in which the U.S. is “the logical treatment destination for non-citizens.”

The document has been shared with Congress, where lawmakers already are nervous about the administration’s handling of the Ebola outbreak. The memo even details the expected price per patient, with transportation costs at $200,000 and treatment at $300,000.

A State Department official signaled Tuesday evening that the discussions had been shelved.

“There is no policy of the U.S. government to allow entry of non-U.S. citizen Ebola-infected to the United States. There is no consideration in the State Department of changing that policy,” the official said.

Another official said the department is considering using American aircraft equipped to handle Ebola cases to transport noncitizens to other countries.

“We have discussed allowing other countries to use our medevac capabilities to evacuate their own citizens to their home countries or third-countries, subject to reimbursement and availability,” the second department official said.

The internal State Department memo is described as “sensitive but unclassified.” A tracking sheet attached to it says it was cleared by offices of the deputy secretary, the deputy secretary for management, the office of Central African affairs and the medical services office.

A call to the number listed for Mr. Sorenson wasn’t returned Tuesday.

Mr. Obama has been clear about his desire to recruit medical and aid workers to fight Ebola in Africa.

“We know that the best way to protect Americans ultimately is going to stop this outbreak at the source,” the president said at the White House on Tuesday, praising U.S. aid workers who are already involved in the effort. “No other nation is doing as much to make sure that we contain and ultimately eliminate this outbreak than America.”

About half of the more than 10,000 cases in West Africa have been fatal.

Four cases have been diagnosed in the U.S., and three of those were health care workers treating infected patients. Two of those, both nurses at a Dallas hospital, have been cured.

Several American aid workers who contracted the disease overseas were flown to the U.S. for treatment.

The United Nations and World Health Organization are also heavily involved in deploying to the affected region, but other countries have been slower to provide resources to fight Ebola in West Africa or to agree to treat workers who contract the disease.

The State Department memo says only Germany has agreed to take non-German citizens who contract Ebola.

European nations are closer to West Africa, making transport easier, the State Department memo said.

Officials said the U.S. is the right place to treat some cases, notably those in which non-Americans are contracted to work in West Africa for U.S.-based charities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“So far all of the Ebola medevacs brought back to U.S. hospitals have been U.S. citizens. But there are many non-citizens working for U.S. government agencies and organizations in the Ebola-affected countries of West Africa,” the memo says. “Many of them are citizens of countries lacking adequate medical care, and if they contracted Ebola in the course of their work they would need to be evacuated to medical facilities in the United States or Europe.”

The memo says the State Department has a contract with Phoenix Aviation, which maintains an airplane capable of transporting an Ebola patient. The U.S. can transport noncitizens and have other countries or organizations pay the cost.

The U.S. has helped transport three health care workers to Germany and one to France.

In the U.S., the department memo lists three hospitals – the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Emory University Hospital in Atlanta – that are willing to take Ebola patients.

According to the memo, Homeland Security Department officials would be required to waive legal restrictions to speed the transport of patients into the U.S.
“A pre-established framework would be essential to guarantee that only authorized individuals would be considered for travel authorization and that all necessary vetting would occur,” the memo says.

A Homeland Security spokeswoman didn’t return emails seeking comment.

Judicial Watch, a conservative-leaning public interest watchdog, revealed the existence of a State Department plan this month. When The Times described the document to Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch’s president, he said it is evidence of why the administration balked at adopting a travel ban on those from affected countries.

“Under this theory, there could be people moving here now, transporting people here now, and it could be done with no warning,” Mr. Fitton said. “If our borders mean anything, it is the ability to make sure that dire threats to the public health are kept out.”

After those initial reports surfaced, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, sent a letter asking for answers. On Tuesday, he said the document The Times obtained “raises more concerns and questions than answers.”

“President Obama should be forthcoming with the American people about the scope of his plan to bring non-U.S. citizens infected with Ebola to the United States for treatment,” Mr. Goodlatte said in a statement.

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Congressman Hunter: Ten ISIS Fighters Have Been Apprehended At U.S. Border (Video)

Congressman Says 10 ISIS Fighters Have Been Apprehended At U.S. Border – Daily Caller

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California U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter made the alarming claim Tuesday that at least ten fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been apprehended trying to enter the U.S. at the southern border.

“ISIS is coming across the southern border,” Hunter told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren.

“You say that they’re coming in the southern border which changes all the dynamics. Do you have any information or any evidence that they are actually coming in the southern border now?” asked the host.

“Yes,” said Hunter.

“Tell me what you know,” said Van Susteren.

“I know that at least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas,” said Hunter, who received the information from a confidential border patrol source.

“They caught them at the border, therefore we know that ISIS is coming across the border,” Hunter continued. “If they catch five or ten of them then you know there’s going to be dozens more that did not get caught by the border patrol.”

Hunter is not the first lawmaker to report such disturbing news.

Last month Utah U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz asked Department of Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson about a report that four men with ties to terrorists were apprehended trying to enter the U.S. through Texas on Sept. 10.

Johnson said that he had heard reports “to that effect,” but did not elaborate.

In his interview Tuesday, Hunter cited remarks made by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, who in August warned that, because of open borders, terrorist activity posed an “immediate threat.”

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*VIDEO* U.S. House Select Committee On Benghazi: Hearing 1 (09/17/14)



……………………….Click on image above to watch video.

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Via C-SPAN

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CHAIRMAN GOWDY’S OPENING STATEMENT

REP. JIM JORDAN QUESTIONS SECURITY EXPERT TODD KEIL

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Click HERE to visit the official website of the House Select Committee On Benghazi

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Most Corrupt Justice Department In U.S. History Stonewalling Internal Investigators

Justice Department Stonewalling Internal Investigators – Daily Caller

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The head investigator charged with overseeing the Department of Justice testified Tuesday that various government agencies have repeatedly stymied his investigation efforts, and have done so in direct violation of federal law.

Michael E. Horowitz, Inspector General of the Department of Justice, was testifying before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on investigative access to government information.

“Since 2010 and 2011,” he said. “The FBI and some other Department components have not read Section 6 (a) of the IG Act as giving my Office access to all records in their possession and therefore have refused our requests for various types of Department records. As a result, a number of our reviews have been significantly impeded.”

“It’s deeply troubling that Department of Justice leadership has stonewalled the Inspector General’s investigations several times and only produced requested documents after officials concluded that it would help them,” lamented Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the committee’s chairman. “The Inspector General’s activities should not be dependent upon the whims of a particular administration. Efforts to restrict or delay an Inspector General’s access to key materials in turn deprive the American people and their elected representatives of timely oversight information with which to evaluate an agency’s performance.”

Inspectors general are independent investigative officers whose job is to ensure that government agencies are not violating the law or engaging in fraudulent behavior. In August of this year, nearly 50 inspectors general signed a letter to Congress alerting politicians to “the serious limitations on access to records that have recently impeded the work of Inspectors General at the Peace Corps, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Justice.”

These officers “faced restrictions on their access to certain records available to their agencies that were needed to perform their oversight work in critical areas,” the letter explained. “Limiting access in this manner is inconsistent with the IG Act [the 1978 law that created the inspector general offices], at odds with the independence of Inspectors General, and risks leaving the agencies insulated from scrutiny and unacceptably vulnerable to mismanagement and misconduct – the very problems that our offices were established to review and that the American people expect us to be able to address.”

During his testimony, Horowitz cited a number of examples of administrative obfuscation, including government actions that significantly delayed their 2012 report on the notorious “Fast and Furious” scandal, in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives facilitated Mexican drug cartels purchasing hundreds of guns, and later losing track of them.

In each of these instances, Horowitz explained, “the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General granted us permission to access the records we sought… However, as I have publicly testified previously, I have several significant concerns with this process. First and foremost, this process is inconsistent with the clear mandate of Section 6(a) of the IG Act. The Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General should not have to order Department components to provide us with access to records that the Congress has already made it clear in the IG Act that we are entitled to review. Second, requiring the OIG to have to obtain the permission of Department leadership in order to review agency records compromises our independence.”

In other words, the administration is making the watchdog agencies jump through hoops to do their jobs, significantly delaying their findings, wasting taxpayer dollars, and compromising the oversight reports.

As the IGs’ original letter of complaint plainly states, “the IG Act is clear: no law restricting access to records applies to Inspectors General unless that law expressly so states, and that unrestricted access extends to all records available to the agency, regardless of location or form.”

“Our struggles to access information relevant to our reviews in a timely manner continue to cause delays to our work and consume resources,” Horowitz said. “They also have a substantial impact on the morale of the auditors, analysts, agents, and lawyers who work extraordinarily hard every day to do the difficult oversight work that is expected of them. … For the past 25 years, my Office has demonstrated that effective and independent oversight saves taxpayers money and improves the Department’s operations. Actions that limit, condition, or delay access to information have substantial consequences for our work and lead to incomplete, inaccurate, or significantly delayed findings or recommendations.”

Other investigations hindered by the government included reviewing “whether Department officials violated the civil rights and civil liberties of individuals detained as material witnesses in national security cases in the wake ofthe September 11 terrorist attacks,” FBI use of wiretaps, and sexual assault within the Peace Corps.

“The issues facing the DOJ OIG, the EPA OIG, and the Peace Corps OIG are not unique,” the August complaint stated. “Other Inspectors General have, from time to time, faced similar obstacles to their work, whether on a claim that some other law or principle trumped the clear mandate of the IG Act or by the agency’s imposition of unnecessarily burdensome administrative conditions on access. Even when we are ultimately able to resolve these issues with senior agency leadership, the process is often lengthy, delays our work, and diverts time and attention from substantive oversight activities. This plainly is not what Congress intended when it passed the IG Act.”

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