The American Gulf War Veterans Association (AGWVA) called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last October 2, in reaction to the flat denial that he had any knowledge of the chemical and biological weapons the United States shipped to Iraq in the 1980's. Questioned by Sen. Byrd (D-WV) before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Rumsfeld felt obliged to add that he ' doubted that they ever occurred '. Could it be that the Secretary - a man who likes to describe himself as 'sweet and lovable' - ignored that a Senate report established the fact that the US did provide bacteria and viruses such as the plague, botulism, anthrax and the West Nile to Iraq, among other deadly diseases? That he did not know that these facts are openly discussed in mainstream publications here and abroad?
He had been, after all, sent to Iraq by President Reagan in 1983 when Iraq was already using gas against the Iranians. He met with Tarik Aziz in Baghdad the same day the UN released its report on the matter. Yet, he opted to remain silent then, as did his friends in the Reagan Administration, except to boast about the close friendship he had established with Saddam Hussein.
How can a Secretary of Defense possibly ignore today that 400,000 Gulf War Veterans out of the 697,000 deployed, suffer from various illnesses related to this war, that almost 200,000 have filed medical claims with the VA and that at least 8,000 have died since the war ended in 1991?
Now that Mr. Rumsfeld enthusiastically peddles yet another questionable war in which he stands to personally gain millions of dollars, AGWVA believes that he presents a clear danger to our country, to the lives of service members and to the American people. They also believe he should be considered a serious threat to the national security. We agree, for there is no doubt in our minds that the Secretary deliberately chose to deceive the Committee and the nation once again, a trait Mr. Rumsfeld seems amused to increasingly display in public.
Dulles NOW activists applaud the difficult and courageous stand taken by the veterans. It is with pride that we, therefore, second their call for the immediate resignation of the Secretary of Defense and his removal from office.