Why The U.S. Would Keep Iraq Chemical Weapons Finds A Secret

A report claims the Pentagon kept secret that U.S. military personnel were exposed to abandoned chemical weapons while serving in Iraq.

Why The U.S. Would Keep Iraq Chemical Weapons Finds A Secret
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New York Times investigation claims not only were U.S. military personnel exposed to abandoned chemical weapons while serving in Iraq, the Pentagon kept it secret.  

The Times says it "found 17 American service members and seven Iraqi police officers who were exposed to nerve or mustard agents after 2003." It says, "From 2004-2011 ... [they] repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule."

The report also says those infected by the chemical weapons were denied proper medical treatment and ordered to stay silent or give "deceptive accounts" of what they encountered.

This all begs the question: why the supposed cover-up? Wouldn't the Bush administration want this information to come to light to add support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq? Well, the Times quotes military personnel who say the answer to that is two-fold.

These weapons stockpiles were reportedly remnants from the Iran-Iraq War and Persian Gulf War and had nothing to do with WMDs or new chemical weapons the Bush administration said were either hidden away or being developed. (Video via BBC)

The other reason? Well, other sources for the Times said in most of the cases where troops were hurt by chemical agents, the weapons "appeared to have been designed in the United States, manufactured in Europe" then sent to Iraq for production. So, it's easy to see why the Pentagon would want to stay quiet about it.

Now, as you might expect, some in the media interpreted the findings a bit differently.

From Fox News, this headline: "There were chemical weapons in Iraq after all."

The left-leaning New Republic bluntly countered some who interpreted the new weapons findings as justification for the Iraq War. Its headline: "No, Chemical Weapons in Iraq Do Not Prove That Bush Was Right to Invade."

In any event, the Times also notes a more current concern; one of the stockpiles is located in a region now controlled by ISIS militants. Back in June, ISIS militants reportedly seized a former chemicals weapons facility northwest of Baghdad. 

The U.S. State Department downplayed the concern, saying the facility didn't include chemicals weapons that were still intact. To hear from the U.S. soldiers who encountered abandoned chemicals weapons in Iraq, head over to The New York Times. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.