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Sunday, June 13, 2004

Finally 

An independent group in Great Britain has decided to do what the Blair government would not -- namely, support the troops:
An unprecedented independent inquiry into whether more than 5,000 veterans of the first Gulf war became ill as a result of their service will be announced today.

Lord Lloyd of Berwick, the former law lord, will conduct hearings in central London in the next few months and pose a political dilemma for the government which has refused to authorise a public inquiry for the past six years . . . .

The pressure for an inquiry, first made by the Royal British Legion in 1998, has intensified since February when an eight-year legal battle by more than 2,000 veterans collapsed because there was insufficient scientific evidence to pursue their case. The Legal Services Commission which paid an estimated £4m in legal aid, withdrew further funding after reviews of research could find no specific cause for the veterans' health problems . . . .

Many former troops who served in the Gulf during the 1991 conflict have reported symptoms such as muscle weakness, neurological symptoms, headaches, depression, skin rashes and shortage of breath.

The suggested causes have ranged from the pre-conflict injections which Lord Morris has referred to as "a veritable blitzkreig on the immune system" to pollution from burning oil wells, stress, depleted uranium, organophosphates and the effect of low-level exposure to chemical agents destroyed during and after the war.

A US congressional investigation has suggested that far more troops and civilians were exposed to chemical agents than was previously estimated by the Pentagon and the CIA.

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