Text previously released under E.O. 12812
and submitted to Senate Select Committee
By U.S. Department of State
The possibility exists that Americans may be present in Indochina on a "voluntary" basis. This could include civilian or ex-military individuals who stayed behind in Vietnam purposely,
AWOLs, deserters, and POWs whom the Vietnamese might say remained voluntarily.
U.S. law, regulation, and custom recognize the freedom of American citizens to travel freely, and to have privacy. If a citizen overseas does not wish his whereabouts revealed to inquiring relatives, that right must be respects. (sic)
If we receive a substantiated report that an American is in Vietnam, we should seek to determine to what degree his presence there is voluntary. The USG should contact Vietnamese authorities, to request that a U.S. consular officer, interview that person to determine if he wishes to stay or leave Vietnam. If the Vietnamese refuse a consular interview, we should seek the assistance of a third party (e.g. the British, UNHCR or ICRC) to request a meeting with the American. In the event that the interview is held, if the American wishes to leave, that right must be insisted on with Vietnamese authorities. State Department regulations on welfare and whereabouts, 7 FAM 100-188, should be consulted, with attention to the section on servicemen when relevant.
If an American somehow passes word to us that he desires to leave Vietnam (as in the Garwood case), we should contact Vietnamese authorities to request that the person be permitted to leave. If the Vietnamese deny that such a person is in Vietnam and if we are satisfied that he is there, we then can pressure the Vietnamese by asking the British or some other country which has an Embassy in Hanoi to intervene on our behalf. If the Vietnamese continue to refuse, we can consider further steps, such as public disclosure of the case.
If reliable, substantiated information reaches the USG that Americans are being held prisoner in Indochina, the following steps will be considered, in light of prevailing circumstances:
--- immediate coordination among concerned branches of the USG;
---develop public affairs position;
--- seek greater intelligence on identity, location and condition of POWs;
---initiate reception/repatriation plan;
---diplomatic contact with the relevant government: requesting immediate release of the prisoners;
---advise relatives if identities are known. Depending on developments resulting from the above steps, further action which might be considered include;
---further contacts with relevant government;
---contact with ICRC or other international body, requesting they visit prison site and contact prisoners;
---contact third governments for assistance;
---advise other governments of our information and intended actions;
---consider further public affairs aspects of issue.
If the Indochina Government continues to refuse to acknowledge it holds an American, several additional steps can be taken, depending on the country involved, the number o persons held prisoner, the firmness of our information, their location, and many other factors.
Prisoner(s) in Vietnam
In the face of Vietnamese intransigence, our most obvious recourse would be to exert as much public pressure on Vietnam as possible, including press statements, denunciation in UN fora, etc. The next stop in escalating pressure could be to request allies to consider threatening Hanoi with an economic embargo. Under extraordinary circumstances, in which the number of POWs was large and our information was beyond question [ ] action could be considered.
Prisoner(s) in Laos
In the face of Lao intransigence, we would have somewhat greater leverage than with Vietnam because we have diplomatic relations with the country. If public pressure failed to achieve results, we could impose an American trade embargo, ask the Thais to close the border, [ ] break diplomatic relations, under extraordinary circumstances a [ ] could be considered,
Prisoner(s) in Vietnamese-Controlled Kampuchea
In the event that POWs are determined to be held in the PRK, we will be unable to make direct appeals to that government because of our refusal to recognize its legitimacy. All inquiries will have to be through IOs which are resident in Phnom Penh to deal with relief matters (e.g. UNHCR). Any POWs held in Kampuchea would almost
certainly be under the control of the Vietnamese military, so any sanctions could be applied against Vietnam as logically as against the PRK. We could consider holding up payments for Kampuchea relief until the POW issue is resolved. The unstable conditions in Kampuchea might facilitate the success of a [ ] and for the same reason it is less likely that POWs are being held than in Vietnam or Laos)