Did Clinton's Drug Czar Lead Gulf War Slaughter Of Iraqis?New Yorker Magazine Press Release
In ``Overwhelming Force,'' in the May 22, 2000, issue of The New Yorker, Seymour M. Hersh reports on the activities of the 24th Infantry Division during the 1991 Gulf War. The 24th was commanded by General Barry R. McCaffrey, who now serves as the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Hersh concentrates on three episodes in the campaign: the Battle of Rumaila, on March 2, 1991, which took place two days after President Bush declared a ceasefire; and two incidents, on February 27th and March 1st, in which Army personnel have been accused of wrongly shooting Iraqis who posed no threat to them and who, in the case of the February 27th incident, had already surrendered. All three of these episodes have been investigated by the Army, which found no wrongdoing, but, Hersh reports, key witnesses and information were either missed or ignored. Hersh interviewed more than two hundred past and present enlisted men and officers over the six months he spent preparing this account, including the Army's own investigators. Taken together, they present a picture that is, as editor David Remnick remarks in a Comment accompanying Hersh's article, ``at a minimum, unsettling.''
March 2, 1991: On the morning of March 2nd, Hersh writes, ``McCaffrey reported that, despite the ceasefire, his division had suddenly come under attack from a retreating Republican Guard tank division.'' There was disagreement among the officers assigned to McCaffrey's mobile headquarters, Hersh reports, about the significance and strength of the Iraqi attack and about whether there had indeed been an attack at all. There was also profound disagreement over the appropriate level for the division's response. Nonetheless, McCaffrey, after a delay, ``ordered an assault in force -- an all-out attack,'' Hersh writes. The assault destroyed some seven hundred Iraqi tanks, armored cars, and trucks.
``Many of the generals interviewed for this account believe that McCaffrey's attack went too far, and violated one of the most fundamental military doctrines: that a commander must respond in proportion to the threat,'' Hersh writes. ``That's the way we're trained,'' one major general tells Hersh. ``A single shot does not signal a battle to the death. Commanders just don't willy-nilly launch on something like that. A disciplined commander is going to figure out who fired it, and where it came from. Especially if your mission is to enforce a ceasefire. Who should have been better able to instill fire discipline than McCaffrey?''
In testimony before Congress and in written responses to questions sent to him by Hersh, McCaffrey has said that the Iraqis attacked first and that the subsequent response by the 24th was necessary to protect the lives of American soldiers. But, Hersh reports, McCaffrey's version of events was disputed by soldiers and officers who were at the scene on March 2nd. The assault ``was not so much a counterattack provoked by enemy fire as a systematic destruction of Iraqis who were generally fulfilling the requirements of the retreat,'' Hersh writes. McCaffrey, in his written responses to Hersh, says, ``I believe that my actions at Rumaila were completely appropriate and warranted in order to defend my troops against unknown and largely unknowable enemy forces and intentions.''
Among McCaffrey's harshest critics are several of his fellow Gulf War generals. ``There was no need to be shooting at anybody,'' Lieutenant General James H. Johnson, Jr. (Ret.), then the commander of the 82nd Airborne, tells Hersh. ``They couldn't surrender fast enough. The war was over.'' The officer in charge of enforcing the ceasefire, Lieutenant General John J. Yeosock (Ret.), says, ``What Barry ended up doing was fighting sand dunes and moving rapidly.'' He was ``looking for a battle.'' Major General Ronald Griffith, who commanded the 1st Armored Division of VII Corps, says of McCaffrey, ``He made it a battle when it was never one.''
After the ceasefire, the rules of engagement had been revised; commanders were to protect their troops and hold their positions but they were no longer authorized to initiate offensive military actions on their own unless they faced an imminent threat. In the two days following the ceasefire, McCaffrey had moved his forces toward an access road Iraqis were using to retreat, Hersh reports, ``without informing all the senior officers who needed to know -- inside his own division operations center at XVIII Corps, and at Third Army headquarters.''
Early on March 2nd, a Scout unit reported to McCaffrey's command post that it was being fired upon by the retreating Iraqis and that it had returned fire in self-defense. The Scouts were attacked by several different types of weapons, McCaffrey writes, and ``direct fire from T-72 tanks,'' adding that the rocketing continued later that morning. There was a delay after the initial American response, which destroyed several Iraqi tanks and guns, while McCaffrey decided what to do and his subordinates debated the nature of the Iraqi threat and the appropriate American response. Some officers were in favor of engaging the Iraqis and some were not. Major General John Le Moyne, then commanding the 1st Brigade of the 24th Division as a colonel, tells Hersh, ``there was absolutely no doubt in my mind'' that the attack was justified. Lieutenant General James Terry Scott (Ret.), then an assistant division commander, says, ``Eventually, we became convinced that it was a real, no-shit attack by the Iraqis.'' Others saw it differently. ``There was no incoming,'' Patrick Lamar, McCaffrey's operations officer, tells Hersh. ``I know that for a fact.'' Lamar describes the battle as ``a giant hoax,'' although he also told Army investigators that McCaffrey's response was ``necessary.'' To Hersh, Lamar says, ``The Iraqis were doing absolutely nothing. I told McCaffrey I was having trouble confirming the incoming.''
According to many of the enlisted men Hersh spoke to who were on the scene, there was nothing like an Iraqi attack forming the morning of the 2nd. James Manchester, a Scout positioned well forward of the main force, remembers thinking, ``It's over, it's over. These guys are going home. It was just a line of vehicles on the road.'' Edward R. Walker, another Scout, tells Hersh, ``Many of the Iraqi tanks were on flatbed trucks and had their turrets tucked backward.'' When Manchester heard a captain saying on the radio that the Iraqis were about to launch anti-tank missiles at his tanks, he was incredulous. ``We are sitting right on top of these people,'' he says, referring to the Iraqis, ``and there are no vehicles pulled off.'' The captain calling in this information, he says, was behind him and could not see the line of vehicles.
February 27, 1991: On the afternoon of February 27th, the day before the ceasefire, James Manchester and other Scouts were manning a roadblock in front of the main forces of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Ware's battalion. Things proceeded routinely until, as Manchester recalls, ``A Buick comes up, with the commander, and he surrenders his battalion to us.'' Vehicles continued to arrive, including a hospital bus, according to Specialist Edward Walker, who was in charge of counting the men. There were, he remembers, 382 Iraqis. They were stripped of their weapons, Walker says, and lined up in rows. One man, who had lost an eye, asked if he was now a prisoner. When he was told that he was, he said, ``Thank, Allah.'' The Iraqis were each given a ``a white piece of paper, if they didn't have anything white,'' Sergeant James Testerman, who was also present, tells Hersh. The lieutenant in charge of the Scout group, Kirk Allen, ``made it a point to keep the battalion headquarters in the loop,'' Hersh writes. Allen told the operations center that he had captured a large number of prisoners and reported the precise position of the surrendered hospital bus. According to Walker, Ware's headquarters ordered that the captured weapons be destroyed, a task which fell to Walker himself. Then the Scout group was ordered to move. As they drove away, the explosion detonated. At that moment, Walker says, a platoon of Bradleys came into view rolling toward the prisoners, and then the Bradleys' machine guns opened fire. ``I saw rounds impact in front of the vehicle,'' Sergeant Steven Mulig, another Scout, says. ``I could tell that they were hitting close to the prisoners, because there were people running. There were some who could have survived, but a lot of them wouldn't have, from where I saw the rounds hit.''
John Brasfield recorded radio transmissions that were being made by the Scouts and their superiors while the Bradleys were firing toward the prisoners of war, on a personal tape recorder he had brought with him to the Gulf. ``The lead company behind us is tearing up all those vehicles,'' one man is heard saying. ``There's no-one shooting at them. Why'd they have to shoot?'' asks another voice. Lieutenant Allen then reports to Lieutenant Colonel Ware, ``There's shooting, but there's no one there to shoot at,'' to which Ware responds, ``I understand.'' On the tape, Brasfield says, ``They want to surrender. Fucking armored vehicles. They don't have to blow them apart.'' Someone else says, ``It's murder.'' After more sporadic firing, someone says, ``We shot the guys we had gathered up,'' and another adds, ``They didn't have no weapons.'' At this point, Ware calls for all firing to stop.
March 1, 1991: The day after the ceasefire was announced, Hersh reports, another incident took place in which American soldiers stand accused of shooting unarmed Iraqis. Sergeant Steven Larimore, who headed a ground-surveillance-radar team, was assigned to work with Scouts from the 3-7 Battalion of McCaffrey's Command. Army troops had discovered a cache of weapons in a deserted schoolhouse late in the afternoon of the 1st, and Larimore's unit joined the Scouts in clearing the village and searching the schoolhouse. The weapons were secured, Larimore says, and after taking souvenirs, he and his men moved out toward the east, along with the Scouts. There was a group of villagers walking in the area. ``One guy had a white bedsheet on a stick,'' Larimore says, but ``out of the blue sky, some guy from where we're sitting'' -- that is, in the Scout Platoon -- ``begins shooting'' into the villagers.
Other machine guns joined in. ``We were screaming, 'Cease fire!''' Larimore tells Hersh. ``People hit the ground. The firing went on.'' Larimore estimates that he saw fifteen or twenty Iraqis fall. ``I did not see anything that looked like return fire,'' he says. Another eyewitness, Sergeant Wayne P. Irwin, who headed a different G.S.R. team that was in the area, says the Iraqis were ``just passing through'' when the shooting began. ``I yelled for them to cease fire. I couldn't understand why they were firing.'' Irwin, a seventeen-year Army veteran, tells Hersh, ``To me, they posed no threat to us-they were all in civilian clothes.'' Scouts told Irwin that they had seen the Iraqis carrying ``grenade launchers and stuff like that,'' but, Irwin says, he did not find that account credible. ``To me,'' he says, ``they had nothing.''
Lieutenant John J. Grisillo was the platoon leader of the Scout team that opened fire. Grisillo tells Hersh that Larimore, who confronted him at the time, did not understand that his men were responding to a threat. ``They raised a white flag,'' Grisillo recalls, but ``they were carrying weapons. We fired warning shots, but they didn't stop.'' Because they were headed toward the schoolhouse, a building known to contain weapons, they were, Grisillo determined, a danger. Grisillo also tells Hersh that after the war he spoke with his brigade commander, Colonel Le Moyne. ``He let me know that he thought the G.S.R. guys didn't understand the situation at the time,'' Grisillo says. ``Calls had to be made. It's not nice, but prudent. If I had that situation again, I'd do it again. I've never lost a minute's sleep about it.''
The Investigations: There were four Army investigations into the conduct reported on by Hersh in his article. Each of these investigations found that no criminal charges should be brought against anyone. Hersh describes these investigations in detail.
Concerning March 2nd: In August, 1991, Colonel Ernest H. Dinkel, then a deputy chief of staff for the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (C.I.D.), was assigned by Major General Peter T. Barry to investigate charges made in an anonymous two-page letter which had been sent from Fort Stewart to the Army's Inspector General. The letter appeared to have been written by an officer serving in McCaffrey's 24th Division command post. ``That's what scared everybody,'' Dinkel recalls. ``This was from someone who was there.'' The letter alleged that McCaffrey was guilty of a ``war crime'' in his March 2nd assault on the retreating Iraqis and that he had urged his brigade commanders to ``find a way for him to go 'kill all of those bastards.''' The letter also claimed that 24th Division soldiers had ``slaughtered'' Iraqi prisoners of war after seizing an airfield. Colonel Dinkel and his investigators spent several weeks conducting interviews and collecting data on the anonymous letter, at Fort Stewart and at Army bases around the country, but they did not focus on the shootings on the 27th or the 1st, Hersh reports. In the end, Dinkel and his assistants, after interviewing more than one hundred and fifty men and women, including McCaffrey, concluded that McCaffrey's actions on the 2nd were justified because the Iraqis had fired first. They also concluded that no prisoners had been mistreated. Nonetheless, General Peter Barry, the C.I.D's commanding officer, explains to Hersh that by the time the investigation shut down, the Army's senior leaders realized that there was ``a certain element of truth'' to the allegations made by the anonymous letter writer. ``Whoever wrote the letter had detailed knowledge,'' Barry says. ``But establishing the criminality is difficult.''
Concerning February 27th: Edward Walker told his story about the events of February 27th -- the collection of the prisoners and the shooting afterwards -- to a lawyer in Saudi Arabia. After Walker returned to his home base in Missouri, the 1st Brigade began an inquiry into his allegations. When he was asked if he had seen anyone actually get shot, Hersh writes, ``Walker said what he always said: he hadn't seen any prisoners fall, but he saw rounds being fired at them.'' The 1st Brigade's investigation absolved Lieutenant Colonel Ware's battalion of any wrongdoing. Le Moyne tells Hersh that Walker's claims were groundless. ``It was not a hospital bus. There were no wounded. They were armed Iraqi officers and soldiers.'' Steven Mulig and a few other Scouts had been summoned to testify, but Mulig says, none of the officers wanted to hear what they had to say. ``We were all getting upset,'' Mulig says, adding, ``It was just an officer cover-up kind of thing.'' The final report concluded that, while the Americans had fired in the direction of the Iraqis, no prisoners ``had been killed or wounded in the incident.''
Late in the spring of 1991, three members of the 5th Engineer Battalion at Fort Leonard Wood told officials in the base's Inspector General's office about the alleged shooting of Iraqi prisoners of war by soldiers from the 1st Brigade of the 24th Division. This investigation was conducted by Major Thomas Mitchell. Mitchell says, ``The kids who came in were nice, and there seemed to be some validity to what they saw. But we couldn't confirm anything illegal.'' In the formal report that Mitchell prepared for his superiors, he found that the 5th Engineer allegations were ``unsubstantiated.''
Concerning March 1st: After his return from Iraq, Sergeant Larimore gathered six of his colleagues in the Ground Surveillance Radar teams of the 124th Military Intelligence Battalion and met with investigators at the Fort Stewart branch of the C.I.D. The men described what they had seen on March 1st, when Iraqis in civilian clothes had been shot near a schoolhouse while holding a white flag. ``All six of us went and told what we knew,'' Larimore tells Hersh. ``The basic tenet was that we didn't see anybody shooting at us'' before the 1st Brigade platoon opened fire. After they made their report, Larimore and his colleagues heard nothing more from the C.I.D. until Colonel Le Moyne, the 1st Brigade commander, announced that he wanted to meet after work with the men in the chain of command. Once in Le Moyne's office, Larimore says, ``We got this big long speech about how we had never been in combat or in a firefight. We didn't know what it was like. He ripped us pretty good.'' When Hersh interviewed Le Moyne, he defended his meeting with Larimore and the other complainants as merely an attempt ``to cut down on confusion. You gather the key people all in one place, so there's no misunderstanding.''
Le Moyne's next step was to authorize a captain in his brigade to conduct an informal investigation and file a report. ``The captain laid out the course of his investigation,'' Larimore tells Hersh. ``He said there was a group who observed no weapons'' among the civilians who had been shot and ``there were also people who said they saw weapons and muzzle flashes.'' The captain then concluded that the allegations of wrongful death were ``unsubstantiated.'' In Le Moyne's view, the case was now closed. The investigation, he said, had produced a series of witnesses who ``totally refuted the allegations.'' The soldiers' immediate superior, Lieutenant Charles Febus, who had encouraged them to make their report, tells Hersh, ``They did their duty and filed their report. And the Army chose to do what it did.''
NEW QUESTIONS ARISE OVER MCCAFFREY AND GULF WAR ATTACK.WASHINGTON (New York Times)- One of the top American commanders in the Persian Gulf War came under investigation after a member of his unit complained that his troops had pummeled retreating Iraqi forces in an unprovoked attack two days after a cease-fire went into effect.
Military investigators, who fielded the anonymous complaint and completed a secret report in 1991, exonerated Barry McCaffrey, now a retired four-star Army General and President Clinton's top drug control official.
But questions about the attack have been revived by a report appearing in The New Yorker magazine on Monday that quotes senior Army officers, including an officer who fought alongside McCaffrey, as saying the attack was unjustified.
Patrick Lamar, the operations officer of McCaffrey's division, told the magazine that the attack was a "giant hoax" in which overwhelming firepower was used against an Iraqi armored force that put up little resistance.
The article by Seymour M. Hersh pits a no-holds-barred investigative reporter against one of nation's most aggressive military men.
Hersh first made his name by reporting on the massacre of Vietnamese civilians by Americans in the hamlet of My Lai. His 25,000-word article on McCaffrey is the longest the New Yorker has published since 1993.
In addition to challenging McCaffrey's conduct, Hersh also asserts that some of McCaffrey's troops fired on Iraqi prisoners. And he questions the integrity of the military's investigations of this and other alleged Gulf War misconduct, charging that critics were often either ignored or intimidated.
But McCaffrey insists that he has been the victim of a journalistic vendetta. He says that Hersh pursued him for months and tried unsuccessfully to prove that he had committed felonies during his service in Vietnam and had stolen a bicycle as a child.
And in recent weeks, McCaffrey has mounted a pre-emptive campaign to make Hersh the issue, distributing letters to reporters by military officers complaining of Hersh's reporting tactics and directing journalists to the Army's in-house investigation, which concluded that the attack was provoked by the Iraqis and was within the cease-fire rules of engagement.
"I have been dealing with the press for years, but nothing prepared me for this," McCaffrey said in an interview. McCaffrey has long had a reputation as an ambitious commander. He was badly wounded in Vietnam, but that did not shake his confidence or ardor for battle.
As troops prepared to do battle with the Iraqis in the Persian Gulf, McCaffrey was in command of the Army's 24th Infantry Division, a unit that had been commanded by H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the former Gulf War commander, and which consisted of 26,000 soldiers and 8,600 vehicles.
The task of McCaffrey's division was to take the fight to Iraq's Republican Guard. Unlike some of his fellow Army commanders, who methodically and cautiously maneuvered their units on the battlefield, McCaffrey's soldiers raced through southern Iraq and were on the verge of cutting off many of the Iraqi forces when President George Bush announced that a cease-fire would take place after 100 hours of ground combat.
Hersh's article makes several allegations. One of the most sensational is that a unit of armored vehicles within McCaffrey's division fired high-powered machine guns into a crowd of more than 350 disarmed Iraqi prisoners.
McCaffrey was not personally implicated in the episode, although Hersh suggests the general set a tone for his unit that encouraged use of excessive firepower.
Hersh cites a tape of radio conversations during the episode that shows soldiers were horrified by what is portrayed as a panicky blunder by trigger-happy troops.
McCaffrey said that the soldier who made the tape was leaving the scene in a Humvee when it occurred and did not actually see what the armored vehicles were firing at. He said that a subsequent Army investigation determined that not a single Iraqi prisoner was killed or injured.
McCaffrey's decisions immediately after the 1991 Persian Gulf War have long been the subject of debate. After a cease-fire was announced, an Iraqi unit stumbled into McCaffrey's division as the Iraqu unit was trying to retreat and there was an exchange of fire.
Hundreds of armored vehicles and trucks were destroyed in the fight, and McCaffrey told Cable News Network soon after the battle that he believed 400 Iraqis has been killed.
Some Army officers complained after the war that McCaffrey had used the episode as an excuse to pummel the Iraqis in one of the most one-sided fights of the war.
The dispute has been explored in several books, and was the subject of a 1991 investigation by the Army's Criminal Investigation Command. The investigation cleared the general, and he has cited it this past week in his defense. Hersh's account, however, suggests for the first time that the discomfort over the attack also ran deep within McCaffrey's own 24th Infantry Division, citing comments by his operations officer.
Hersh's interpretation of the fight is sharply contested by McCaffrey. Hersh suggests that McCaffrey deliberately provoked the fighting by deploying his troops in front of a causeway over Lake Hammar and, thus, along a likely Iraqi retreat route.
He also quotes officers as saying that many of the Iraqi tanks were being carried by trucks and that their turrets were turned to the rear, that the initial shots from the Iraqi side were not a real attack but a sign of panic upon encountering the Americans blocking their retreat, and that McCaffrey ordered additional waves of assault long after any sign of resistance from the Iraqis.
"There was no need to be shooting at anybody," Lt. Gen. James H. Johnson Jr., who commanded the 82nd Airborne, is quoted as saying. "They couldn't surrender fast enough. The war was over."
McCaffrey, however, insisted that Hersh's account was skewed. He said he moved his troops up to a boundary decided by higher-level Army officers, who were overseeing the war from Saudi Arabia.
And McCaffrey added that he had no reason to think his units were astride an escape route because he believed that the causeway had been destroyed by American warplanes. He also denied that most of the Iraqi tanks had their guns turned to the rear and insisted that he carried out the attack to protect his troops.
"This whole notion that the tanks were up on trucks and that their guns were all to the rear is bull," he said. "This was an armed unit moving through the desert."
Retired Gen. Gary Luck, the commander of the 18th Airborne Corps during the Persian Gulf War and McCaffrey's superior, said that he went to the battle scene immediately after the fight and concluded that McCaffrey had acted appropriately. "I think it was a fair fight," he said.
McCaffrey has also released a letter by Schwarzkopf to Hersh in which the allied commander said he was not aware of any impropriety in the attack.
McCaffrey said he was relieved that Hersh had dropped many of his earlier allegations. He said that as a result of the episode he has gathered an array of material on the Persian Gulf War.
GULF WAR BATTLE REPORT DISPUTEDWASHINGTON (AP) - Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey says an Army investigation just after the Gulf War refutes recently revived allegations that his troops violated a cease-fire and killed Iraqi prisoners.
Newly released documents show that in 1991 the Army's criminal investigators interviewed dozens of soldiers and officers, reviewed maps and logs, and didn't find evidence to substantiate allegations of wrongdoing under McCaffrey's command of the 24th Infantry Division.
McCaffrey, now the White House director of drug control, has waged a pre-emptive strike against an upcoming New Yorker magazine article by Seymour Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has done new research on the charges.
McCaffrey complained to the New Yorker and writers and editors elsewhere that Hersh is spreading false allegations and engaging in ``journalistic stalking.'' Hersh responded that he was simply ``asking questions, listening to answers and trying to verify and assess what I've been told.''
New Yorker spokeswoman Perri Dorset said today there would be no comment from the magazine before the story was published, and Hersh didn't return a message seeking comment.
At the heart of the dispute are events the Army Criminal Investigation Command probed in August and September of 1991, in response to an anonymous letter alleging war crimes.
Hundreds of pages of Army records released to The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act provide new details about the fiery attack on a division of Iraq's elite Republican Guard on March 2, 1991 - two days after President Bush declared a cease-fire.
``Although the engagement occurred after the cease-fire, this inquiry has substantiated that the engagement was clearly provoked by the Iraqis,'' said a Sept. 9, 1991, memo from the Criminal Investigation Command. The fight ``was within the cease-fire rules of engagement.''
Some investigative documents were withheld by the Army, citing privacy concerns, and some were missing from files. Among records released are interviews with soldiers and officers, whose names were blocked out, describing what became known as the ``Battle at Rumaylah.''
A battalion of the 24th Infantry Division was surprised in the early morning darkness of March 2 by the appearance of a convoy of several hundred vehicles, including tanks, artillery, rocket launchers and trucks. The Iraqis apparently were leaving Kuwait and looking for a way to cross U.S. lines to the safety of home.
Soldiers of the 24th Division reported taking fire from an Iraqi tank and a missile and saw other weapons among the convoy pointed toward them. As a result, commanders ordered the Americans to open fire.
One officer at McCaffrey's command post told investigators that while the attack was under way, ``I thought it was a slaughter. But the bottom line was he (McCaffrey) was doing what was necessary to protect the force because they had been fired on and nobody knew what these guys were liable to do.''
McCaffrey, who flew to the front lines to lead the attack, later told a Senate panel that his forces destroyed at least 630 vehicles and pieces of equipment. He didn't estimate the number of Iraqi soldiers killed but said many fled their vehicles and escaped unharmed.
``While it is easy after the fact to say the Iraqis were beaten or unable to
fight, our troops were under fire,'' McCaffrey wrote to the New Yorker on Monday in response to Hersh's questions. ``This was a huge dangerous enemy force that posed a major threat to the integrity of my main battle area.''
The Army investigators' memo also said that ``after extensive interviews with personnel from brigade and battalion commanders to privates, there was no evidence'' that soldiers at Jalibah Airfield ``killed or mistreated'' prisoners of war.
Investigators did find that one Iraqi prisoner was ``accidentally shot'' two
days before the U.S. attack at the airfield, and the incident was reported up the chain of command.
The allegations surfaced in August 1991 in an anonymous letter alleging the attack after the cease-fire was ``a war crime'' covered up by military leaders and that soldiers ``slaughtered some prisoners after the Jaliba Airfield attack.''
In his response, provided to the AP, McCaffrey said, ``Across this enormous confusing battlefield, thousands of Iraqi soldiers were treated with enormous compassion.''
McCaffrey, who was awarded a fourth star before retiring to become President Clinton's drug policy adviser, points out that the Army investigation found ``no wrongdoing'' by any 24th Infantry Division soldier.
Hersh, who won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, also wrote ``Against All Enemies,'' a book about the Gulf War and the unexplained illnesses reported by its veterans.
No Inquiry on Gulf AttackTHE NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE 16/05/2000
WASHINGTON - The Army said Monday that it had no plans to reopen an investigation into an attack made at the end of the Persian Gulf war in 1991 by soldiers under the command of Barry R. McCaffrey, the retired Army general who is now President Clinton's drug-policy adviser.
A report published Monday in The New Yorker magazine raised several allegations about the attack, in which the 24th Infantry Division pummeled retreating Iraqi forces in southern Iraq two days after a cease-fire took effect.
The article, written by Seymour M. Hersh, quotes several soldiers disputing official claims that the Iraqis provoked the battle.
Monday May 15 8:00 AM ET
McCaffrey, Author Clash on GulfWASHINGTON (AP) - Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey and author Seymour Hersh clashed this morning over charges that troops led by McCaffrey used unnecessary force in a battle with Iraqi troops after the Gulf War cease fire.
The actions of McCaffrey's troops are questioned by several of McCaffrey's former military colleagues in a report written by Hersh in The New Yorker magazine.
One of the ex-colleagues, retired Lt. Gen. James H. Johnson Jr., is quoted as saying that ``there was no need to be shooting at anybody'' on March 2, 1991. ``They couldn't surrender fast enough. The war was over.''
``They were a defeated army going home and he attacked them,'' Hersh said on NBC's ``Today'' show.
``This is nonsense, this is revisionist history,'' responded McCaffrey, now director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
McCaffrey said two of his company commanders reported they were under fire and ``we obviously had to support our soldiers.''
Hersh ``is recycling charges that were investigated 10 years ago. It conclusively demonstrated there was no wrongdoing,'' said McCaffrey, who was also appearing on ABC's ``Good Morning America'' and CBS's ``The Early Show.''
The magazine said that its research found:
The attack ordered by McCaffrey destroyed some 700 Iraqi tanks, armored cars and trucks, The New Yorker reported.
``Hersh says that the Iraqi forces at Rumaylah were in `retreat,''' McCaffrey said in a response. ``However, he wasn't the one watching a force spanning five miles, made up of hundreds of Iraqi tanks, trucks and armored personnel carriers face him. The Iraqis fired on U.S. forces. The Army investigations unequivocally concluded that the use of force in response was justified.''
The magazine noted that there were occasional ``bitter disputes'' between McCaffrey and other generals over such things as the perceived hoarding of tank and truck fuel by McCaffrey, whose division performed the famed ``left hook'' maneuver that blocked the retreat of Iraqi forces from the war zone in Kuwait.