For five long years, the Pentagon steadfastly insisted there was no evidence that U.S. soldiers were exposed to poison gas during the Gulf War. Assurances began to evaporate recently, and by last week the Pentagon's own count of G.I.s who may have been tainted by deadly fumes had risen so fast it reached potentially 1 out of every 100 Americans who served in the gulf.

First the Pentagon conceded last June that perhaps 350 soldiers from the Army's 37th Engineer Battalion could have been exposed to traces of chemical weapons when they blew up ammunition at the Kamisiyah weapons depot in...

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