Chemical Weapons

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Newspaper reports state that Army officials reportedly exchanged e-mails on a plan to deflect criticism of its chemical weapons incinerator in Anniston by embarrassing local officials over their stand on emergency response training.

The e-mails obtained by the Birmingham News document the Army's strategy to repair its image, which has been damaged in Alabama by plans to destroy more than 2,200 tons of deadly Cold War-era chemical weapons at the Anniston Army Depot.

Alabama officials who read the e-mails reacted angrily.

Gov. Don Siegelman said it appears some Army officials are more interested in their image than safety concerns.

In the Pentagon e-mails, the officials said they would challenge Alabama to beef up its emergency response training and then publicize the state's refusal.

Mike Abrams, spokesman for the Anniston incinerator, said he could not comment on the e-mails because their sending did not involve the Anniston office. A spokeswoman for the Army's chemical demilitarization program could not be reached for comment.