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Profile: Office of the Secretary of Defense

Office of the Secretary of Defense was a participant or observer in the following events:

Military medical personnel tend to simulated victims during the exercise ‘Cloudy Office.’ Military medical personnel tend to simulated victims during the exercise ‘Cloudy Office.’ [Source: Renee Sitler / US Air Force]A training exercises is held in which hundreds of personnel from the military and other government agencies practice their response to a terrorist attack at the Pentagon involving chemical weapons. The exercise, which lasts about 10 hours, is called “Cloudy Office,” and is run by the Defense Protective Service (DPS)—the law enforcement agency that guards the Pentagon—and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Over 500 people from federal, state, and local agencies take part. (BBC 5/31/1998; Borlik 6/9/1998; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 151)
Scenario Involves Terrorists Taking Pentagon Staffers Hostage - Cloudy Office is based around a scenario in which nine pro-Iraqi terrorists, armed with pistols and shotguns, split off from a group of tourists at the Pentagon, burst into Secretary of Defense William Cohen’s office, and take Cohen’s staff hostage. The mock terrorists have with them a gallon jug of liquid simulating sarin, a liter bottle of diluted sarin, and an explosive device. They threaten to release the sarin—a lethal nerve gas—if their demands are not met. Someone accidentally knocks over the jug in the confusion, thereby releasing lethal fumes throughout the Pentagon. Hazardous material teams from local fire departments arrive at the scene and set up decontamination facilities, and military medical personnel set up triage units to treat potential sarin victims. Meanwhile, members of the DPS go into the Pentagon to negotiate with the mock terrorists. Eventually the mock terrorists release the hostages and surrender. (Kellman 5/31/1998; Salmon 5/31/1998; Borlik 6/9/1998) Twenty-six people are killed and 100 contaminated by the sarin gas in the scenario, with the mock victims being played by military employees. (CNN 5/30/1998; Borlik 6/9/1998; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 151)
Pentagon Is Seen as a Potential Terrorist Target - Cloudy Office has been four months in the planning and is by far the largest exercise of its kind to be held in metropolitan Washington, DC. (Salmon 5/31/1998; Borlik 6/9/1998) It was prompted partly by the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system by the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, which killed 12 commuters. (CNN 5/30/1998; Salmon 5/31/1998; Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 151) It is part of an effort to improve America’s ability to respond to incidents involving chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. The Pentagon was selected as the location for the exercise because, as an international symbol of the United States military, it is considered a plausible terrorist target, according to John Jester, chief of the DPS. Agencies that participate include the Office of the Secretary of Defense; the Army Pentagon Medical Facility; the Washington Metropolitan Strike Force; the FBI; Arlington County, Virginia, fire and rescue departments; hazardous material teams; and the Virginia Office of Public Health. (Kellman 5/31/1998; Borlik 6/9/1998)

The Pentagon posts the more than 8,000 pages of documents, transcripts, and audio tapes it was forced to release to the New York Times as evidence of its ongoing propaganda campaign to manipulate public opinion concerning Iraq (see April 20, 2008 and Early 2002 and Beyond). The only explanation given on the Web site is, “These documents were released to the New York Times regarding the Pentagon’s Military Analyst program.” (Staff 5/9/2008)


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