According to Fox News, “American troops were exposed to chemical weapons multiple times in the years following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, while the Pentagon kept their discoveries of the expired or degraded weapons secret from investigators, fellow soldiers, and military doctors, according to a published report.”
The New York Times also recently reported:
“From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.
In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.”
The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm’s way and from military doctors. The government’s secrecy prevented troops in some of the war’s most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds.
The New York Times asserts that “in case after case, participants said, analysis of these warheads and shells reaffirmed intelligence failures.” And, while President Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, all the weapons found had actually been developed before 1991. NYT also describes that the weapons were “filthy, rusty or corroded, a large fraction of them could not be readily identified as chemical weapons at all. Some were empty, though many of them still contained potent mustard agent or residual sarin. Most could not have been used as designed, and when they ruptured dispersed the chemical agents over a limited area, according to those who collected the majority of them.”
Yet, handling chemical weapons lead to many injuries, which were not taken seriously by military doctors at the time. Many explosive ordnance disposal personnel were also not aware that the shells they were handling contained chemicals, believing them to be regular old artillery.
Symptoms ranged from disorientation and nausea to blindness and huge, seething blisters. Jarrod L. Taylor, a former Army sergeant on hand for the destruction of mustard shells that burned two soldiers in his infantry company, joked of “wounds that never happened” from “that stuff that didn’t exist.” The public, he said, was misled for a decade.
“I love it when I hear, ‘Oh there weren’t any chemical weapons in Iraq,’” he said. “There were plenty.”