The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] Lawsuit for Gulf War Veterans Targets WMD Businesses - Heather Wokusch

Lawsuit for Gulf War Veterans Targets WMD Businesses
Heather Wokusch

A lawsuit on behalf of over 100,000 Gulf War veterans has the Bush administration on edge and 
businesses running for cover.

The class action suit names 11 companies and 33 banks alleged to have helped Iraq with its chemical 
weapons program in the 1980's, despite knowledge Saddam Hussein was actively using WMD against both 
Iranians and his own people.

At the time, Reagan's Middle East envoy was one Donald Rumsfeld, hard at work opening doors for 
Hussein's regime to purchase millions in aircraft, hardware and other potential weaponry.

But after the invasion of Kuwait bumped Hussein from Pentagon friend to the "Most Wanted" list, 
coalition forces got stuck with the nasty task of dealing with the same chemical weapons that 
businesses had profited by helping Iraq amass.

Unfortunately, most Gulf War troops didn't realize that in destroying Hussein's WMD, they would 
also be endangering their own lives.

In the 1991 air war against Iraq, coalition forces bombed weapons production facilities and 
ammunition dumps, subjecting themselves to widespread and unexpected fallout; in one disastrous 
case, over 100,000 service members were exposed to sarin nerve gas when the US military improperly 
blew up chemical weapons sites in Khamisiyah.

Today, it is estimated that up to half of the 697,000 Gulf War veterans are sick, many suffering 
from a variety of symptoms collectively known as Gulf War Illness. The US Department of Defense 
(DOD) has been repeatedly criticized for mishandling the veterans' health complaints, often citing 
lack of diagnosis as justification for withholding treatment and compensation.

However, recent medical research has established causal links between exposure to chemical warfare 
agents, Gulf War Illness and birth defects among veterans' children.

It's those links attorneys Gary Pitts and Kenneth McCallion will address. Maintaining "companies 
and banks have not yet had any negative consequences for helping Saddam Hussein build his chemical 
weapons of mass destruction," Pitts and McCallion claim the lawsuit is not only "to seek just 
compensation for the poisoned veterans and their birth-defected children, it is to deter companies 
from engaging in this kind of behavior in the future."

And in light of today's conflict in Iraq, the lawsuit's implications are both broad-reaching and 
ominous. At least 100 Gulf War II troops have already contracted a "mystery" pneumonia-like illness 
the US Department of Defense can't properly diagnose, and the families of soldiers based in Iraq 
are demanding answers.,1282,-2993917,00.html

Michael Neusche describes how his 20-year-old son Josh, a former track star from Missouri, wrote 
home from active duty in Iraq on June 26 saying would be doing a secretive "hauling" mission. By 
July 1 Josh had fallen into a coma; the military promptly reclassified Josh as "medically retired," 
thus stripping him and his family of entitlements, and on July 12th Josh died from what the 
Pentagon called "other causes."

In a similar case, Zeferino E. Colungo, a 20-year-old from Texas, died after battling an 
unexplained pneumonia-like illness. In a recent letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the 
Colungo family says, "We deserve to know why a healthy young man who was supposedly screened and 
determined fit for deployment would suddenly die. It is our right to receive honest answers."

It's clear the DOD has some explaining to do; GW II troops must not be forced to receive the same 
medical run-around suffered by their predecessors.

The lawsuit on behalf of Gulf War veterans, however, ups the ante considerably - this time not only 
the DOD is under fire. By targeting companies and banks for compensation, veterans are sending the 
weapons industry a clear warning: it's getting dangerous to profit by helping dubious governments 
produce WMD.

©Heather Wokusch

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]