Skip to comments.CLASSIFIED POW/MIA INFORMATION (Senate - July 31, 1990)
Posted on 11/08/2004 6:48:08 AM PST by Calpernia
Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I want to take the opportunity this morning, and take a moment of my colleague's time to address what I consider a very important but also a curious matter. Like most of my colleagues, I have tried to respond to inquires from my constituents about the POW/MIA issue. Many of them are concerned that we have not done all that we can do to resolve this issue. I have committed myself, as many of my colleagues have, to verifying the assertion that the Government has in fact done everything that it can.
Last summer, for instance, the Secretary of Defense issued what is called the POW/MIA Fact Book. In this book the
Secretary states that the U.S. Government is doing all it can to resolve the POW/MIA issue. Since the end of the Vietnam war the Government has acquired over 10,000 reports on sightings of POW's. Of these 10,000 there have been some 1,200 firsthand live sightings.
Some of these are cases as yet unverified, some are suspected to be fabrications, and some allegedly pertain to individuals since accounted for.
On March 23 of this year--and that is fully 4 months ago--I sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense, requesting from him access to these documents. I asked for the documents in installments and to do that over a period of time, thus trying to mitigate the workload and effort associated with my request--a heavy workload that it would be for the Department of Defense. This, as you can tell, is a pretty straightforward and simple request; simply for information that the U.S. Government claims to be very proud of, with respect to the thoroughness of its investigation, analysis, and evaluation of the POW/MIA issue.
On April 16 I did receive a response to my request. It came from assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Henry S. Rowen.
Mr. Rowen's response, Mr. President, was to deny Chuck Grassley, a Member of the U.S. Senate, access to that information. He did this solely on the basis that the information is classified.
Since when, Mr. President, is that--the fact that the information is classified--a condition for withholding information from a U.S. Senator?
In response to Mr. Rowen's letter I wrote a second letter to Secretary Cheney, dated May 24, indicating--with irritation, I might add--my dissatisfaction with this unacceptable, bureaucratic response. I have yet to receive a reply and it is now over 2 months later.
Now, Mr. President, I am uncertain exactly what this means. Am I getting some sort of a signal from the bureaucracy that a U.S. Senator poking around the POW issue will not be tolerated? Or is this just some kind of bureaucratic bungle that simply fell through the cracks?
Hopefully, Mr. President, the absence of a response reflects the latter. But let me warn those in the Department who handle this issue, there are people around this country, many people, who are incensed about our Government's handling of the POW issue and of legitimate requests for information and accountability. From what I have seen, based on my own recent involvement, I sympathize with these Americans' concerns.
Let me add, Mr. President, that this issue is not going to go away. It is not going to be swept under the rug. An analysis of those firsthand sightings of POW's, some 1,200 of them, have been cited by the Secretary of Defense as the basis for our Government's assertion that it knows of no American POW's in Southeast Asia. If this is true I intend to review
those documents and verify to my own satisfaction the validity of the statement.
One way or another, I will review those documents. If the Defense Department wants to withhold those documents from a U.S. Senator on the mere basis that they are classified, then the Department risks adding to the growing public perception that certain elements of the Defense Department are covering up something with respect to this issue.
Many of us are inclined to believe that DOD has done all it can. If this is the case, then what can possibly be the holdup of providing access to the information? It certainly has nothing to do with the fact that the information is classified.
I am looking into this matter, Mr. President, in the same manner and with the same concern that each of my colleagues in this body has done or would do for his or her constituents.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to print in the Record the correspondence I referred to.
There being no objection, the letter was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC, March 23, 1990.
Hon. Richard Cheney, Secretary, Department of Defense, The Pentagon, Washington, DC.
Dear Dick: In July, 1989, your office issued a POW-MIA Fact Book in support of the U.S. Government's efforts to resolve the POW/MIA matter.
Page 23 of this Fact Book references 10,173 reports acquired by the U.S. Government related to this issue. Of these reports, 1,210 are firsthand live-sighting reports: 132 relate to cases as yet unverified and under continuing priority investigation; 273 reports are known or suspected to be fabrications; and, 805 pertain to individuals since accounted for.
I respectfully request a copy of each of these 1,210 firsthand sightings. I understand that not all of these reports refer to POWs, but I would like to examine the entire body of evidence your Department has cited.
I am mindful that compliance with my request will require some time. I would therefore suggest that these reports be provided in installments.
The first installment should be the 132 reports that are as yet unverified and under continuing priority investigation; the second installment should be the 273 reports known or suspected to be fabrications; and, the third installment should be the 805 reports relating to individuals since accounted for.
In addition to these 1,210 reports, I would like a copy of each of the reports involving eyewitness accounts of Americans in Southeast Asia that have been received since the July, 1989 Fact Book was completed.
I would expect the first installment of my request within ten days of this date. Thank you in advance for your cooperation, and for your Department's past efforts to resolve the POW/MIA issue.
Charles E. Grassley, U.S. Senator.
In reply refer to: I-90/52320
Hon. Charles E. Grassley, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Senator Grassley: Secretary Cheney has asked me to respond to your letter of 23 March in which you requested copies of intelligence reports collected over the past 15 years relative to the issue of prisoners of war and missing in action in Southeast Asia.
As a matter of policy and practice, the Department of Defense does not release raw intelligence reporting such as you have requested. The reports are classified, often using sensitive sources and collection methods, making security for handling and storage of the mass of material a serious concern. Further, these reports would be of little value to anyone without access to the full range of collected intelligence upon which our analysts base their assessments.
At the same time, let me assure you that our intelligence collection and analytical activities on this important issue are not conducted without benefit of Congressional oversight. The intelligence committees in both the Senate and the House are kept apprised of developments and given update briefings on sighting reports upon request. Further, more than a decade ago a POW/MIA Task Force was formed for this purpose under the auspices of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, House Committee on Foreign Affairs. This bipartisan group is currently chaired by Representative Robert Lagomarsino (R-CA) and is regularly briefed on the entire range of Executive Branch actions to secure an accounting for the missing.
I appreciate your serious interest in the POW/MIA accounting efforts and our investigation and analysis of collected intelligence. At your convenience, I will arrange for you to receive an update briefing focusing on reports of live sightings and answer any questions you may have.
Sincerely, Henry S. Rowen.
Washington, DC, May 24, 1990.
Hon. Richard Cheney,
Secretary, Department of Defense,
The Pentagon, Washington, DC.
Dear Dick: On March 23, I sent a letter to you requesting copies of reports identified on page 23 of your POW-MIA Fact Book published last July. I requested these reports in installments, the first by April 2.
On April 16 I received a letter from Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Henry Rowen. Mr. Rowen denied me my request, citing the following reason: `The reports are classified, often using sensitive sources and collection methods, making security for handling and storage of the mass of material a serious concern.'
As you are well aware, I as a Member of the United States Senate have the requisite clearance to review such information. Furthermore, the United States Senate has appropriate facilities, namely the Office of Senate Security located in Room S. 407 of the United States Capitol, for handling and storing classified information. The concerns raised by Mr. Rowen in his April 16 letter, therefore, have no bearing on my request.
I do not appreciate the manner in which my request was handled. I am sure you will agree with me. Please take whatever steps are necessary to correct this situation.
I have enclosed a copy of my letter to you dated March 23. I have also enclosed Mr. Rowen's April 16 letter. Tomorrow, the Senate begins a 10-day recess, until June 5. I expect that the first installment of the documents I requested will be in Room S. 407 of the Capitol when I return to Washington on June 5. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
Charles E. Grassley,
Mr. GRASSLEY. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Kerry ). Will the Senator withhold?
Mr. GRASSLEY. I withhold; yes.
April 27, 1992
Memorandum for: Vice Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Prisoners of War and Missing in Action
From: John F. McCreary
Subject: Legal Misconduct and Possible Malpractice in the Select Committee
1. As a member of the Virginia State Bar, I am obliged by Disciplinary Rule DR-1-103(a) to report knowledge of misconduct by an attorney "to a tribunal or other authority empowered to investigate or act upon such violations." Under Rule IV, Paragraph 13, of the Rules for the integration of the Virginia State Bar, this obligation follows me as a member of the Bar, regardless of the location of my employment, for as long as I remain a member of the Virginia State Bar. Therefore, I am obliged, as a matter of law and under pain of discipline by the Virginia State Bar, to report to you my knowledge of misconduct and possible prima facie malpractice by attorneys on the Select Committee in ordering the destruction of Staff documents containing Staff intelligence findings on 9 April 1992 and in statements in meetings on 15 and 16 April to justify the destruction.
2. The attached Memoranda For the Record, one by myself and another by Mr. Jon D. Holstine, describe the relevant facts, which I summarize herein:
a. On 9 April 1992, the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, in response to a protest by other members of the Select Committee, told the Select Committee members that "all copies" would be destroyed. This statement was made in the presence of the undersigned and of the Staff Chief Counsel who offered no protest.
b. Later on 9 April 1992, the Staff Director, Frances Zwenig, an attorney, repeated and insured the execution of Senator Kerry's order for the destruction of the Staff intelligence briefing text. I personally delivered to Mr. Barry Valentine, the Security Manager for SRB-78, the original printed version of the intelligence briefing text. I also verified that the original was destroyed by shredding in the Office of Senate Security on 10 April 1992, along with 14 copies.
c. On 15 April 1992, the Staff Chief Counsel, J. William Codinha of Massachusetts, when advised by members if the Staff about their concerns over the possible criminal consequences of destroying documents, minimized the significance of the act of destruction; ridiculed the Staff members for expressing their concerns; and replied, in response to questions about the potential consequences, "Who's the injured party," and "How are they going to find out because its classified." Mr. Codinha repeatedly defended the destruction of the documents and gave no assurances or indications that any copies of the intelligence briefing text existed.
d. On 16 April, the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee, Senator John Kerry, stated that he gave the order to destroy "extraneous copies of the documents" and that no one objected. Moreover, he stated that the issue was "moot" because the original remained in the Office of Senate Security "all along."
e. I subsequently learned that the Staff Director had deposited a copy of the intelligence briefing text in the Office of Senate Security at 1307 on 16 April.
3. The foregoing facts establish potentially a prima facie violation of criminal law and a pattern of violations of legal ethics by attorneys in acts of commission and omission.
a. It is hornbook law that an attorney may not direct the commission of a crime. In this incident two attorneys, one by his own admission, ordered the destruction of documents, which could be violation of criminal law.
b. Neither the Staff Chief Counsel nor any member of the Select Committee made a protest or uttered words of caution against the destruction of documents, by admission of the Chairman, Senator Kerry. The Chief Counsel has an affirmative duty to advise the Staff about the legality of its actions, and, in fact, had earlier issued the general prohibition to the Staff against document destruction.
c. The Chief Counsel's statements during the 15 April meeting to discuss the document destruction showed no regard for the legality of the action and displayed to the Staff only a concern about getting caught. By his words and actions, he presented to the Staff investigators an interpretation of the confidentiality and security rules that the rules of the Select Committee may be used to cover-up potentially unethical or illegal activity.
d. The Staff Director's action in placing an unaccounted for copy of the intelligence briefing text in the Office of Senate Security on 16 April constitutes an act to cover-up the destruction. Throughout the 16 April meeting, all three attorneys persisted in stating that the document had been on file since 9 April. This is simply not true.
4. I believe that the foregoing facts establish a pattern of grave legal misconduct - possibly including orders to commit a crime, followed by acts to justify and then to cover-up that crime. Even absent criminal liability, the behavioral pattern of the attorneys involved plays fast and loose with the Canons of Legal Ethics and establishes that one or more of the attorneys on the Select Committee are unfit to practice law. I am obliged to recommend that this report be filed with the appropriate disciplinary authorities of the State Bars in which these attorneys are members.
John F. McCreary, Esquire
May 3, 1992
Memorandum for: Vice Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Prisoners of War and Missing in Action
From: John F. McCreary
Subject: Possible Violations of Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2071, by the Select Committee and Possible Ethical Misconduct by Staff Attorneys.
1. Continuing analysis of relevant laws and further review of the events between 8 April and 16 April 1992 connected with the destruction of the Investigators' Intelligence Briefing Text strongly indicate that the order to destroy all copies of that briefing text on 9 April and the actual destruction of copies of the briefing texts plus the purging of computer files might constitute violations of Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2071, which imposes criminal penalties for unlawful document destruction. Even absent a finding of criminal misconduct, statements, actions, and failures to act by the senior Staff attorneys following the 9 April briefing might constitute serious breaches of ethical standards of conduct for attorneys, in addition to violations of Senate and Select Committee rules. The potential consequences of these possible misdeeds are such that they should be brought to the attention of all members of the Select Committee, plus all Designees and Staff members who were present at the 9 April briefing.
2. The relevant section of Title 18, U.S.C., states in pertinent part: Section 2071. Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally (a) Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined not more than $2,000 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both. (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 795)
3. The facts as the undersigned and others present at the briefing recall them are presented in the attached Memorandum for the Record. A summary of those facts - and others that have been established since that Memorandum was written - follows.
a. On 8 April 1992, the Investigators' Intelligence Briefing Text was presented to Senior Staff members and Designees for whom copies were available prior to beginning the briefing. Objections to the text by the Designees prompted the Staff Director to order all persons present to leave their copies of the briefing text in Room SRB078. Subsequent events indicated that two copies had been removed without authorization.
b. On 9 April 1992, at the beginning of the meeting of the Select Committee and prior to the scheduled investigators' briefing, Senator McCain produced a copy of the intelligence briefing text, with whose contents he strongly disagreed. He charged that the briefing text had already been leaked to a POW/MIA activist, but was reassured by the Chairman that such was not the case. He replied that he was certain it would be leaked. Whereupon, the Chairman assured Senator McCain that there would be no leaks because all copies would be gathered and destroyed, and he gave orders to that effect. No senior staff member or attorney present cautioned against a possible violation of Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2071, or of Senate or Select Committee Rules.
c. Following the briefing on 9 April, the Staff Director, Ms. Frances Zwenig, restated to the intelligence investigators the order to destroy the intelligence briefing text and took measures to ensure execution of the destruction order. (See paragraph 3 of the attachment.) During one telephone conversation with the undersigned, she stated that she was "acting under orders."
d. The undersigned also was instructed to delete all computer files, which Mr. Barry Valentine witnessed on 9 April.
e. In a meeting on 15 April 1992, the Staff's Chief Counsel, J. William Codinha, was advised by intelligence investigators of their concerns about the possibility that they had committed a crime by participating in the destruction of the briefing text. Mr. Codinha minimized the significance of the documents and of their destruction. He admonished the investigators for "making a mountain out of a molehill."
f. When investigators repeated their concern that the order to destroy the documents might lead to criminal charges, Mr. Codinha replied "Who's the injured party." He was told, "The 2,494 families of the unaccounted for US Servicemen, among others." Mr. Codinha then said, "Who's gonna tell them. It's classified." At that point the meeting erupted. The undersigned stated that the measure of merit was the law and what's right, not avoidance of getting caught. To which Mr. Codinha made no reply. At no time during the meeting did Mr. Codinha give any indication that any copies of the intelligence briefing text existed.
g. Investigators, thereupon, repeatedly requested actions by the Committee to clear them of any wrongdoing, such as provision of legal counsel. Mr. Codinha admitted that he was not familiar with the law and promised to look into it. He invited a memorandum from the investigators stating what they wanted. Given Mr. Codinha's statements and reactions to the possibility of criminal liability, the investigators concluded they must request appointment of an independent counsel. A memorandum making such a request and signed by all six intelligence investigators was delivered to Mr. Codinha on 16 April.
h. At 2130 on 16 April, the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee, convened a meeting with the intelligence investigators, who told him personally of their concern that they might have committed a crime by participating in the destruction of the briefing texts at the order of the Staff Director. Senator Kerry stated that he gave the order to destroy the documents, not the Staff Director, and that none of the Senators present at the meeting had objected. He also stated that the issue of document destruction was "moot" because the original briefing text had been deposited with the Office of Senate Security "all along." Both the Staff Director and the Chief Counsel supported this assertion by the Chairman.
i. Senator Kerry's remarks prompted follow-up investigations (See paragraphs 4 through 9 of the attachment) and inquiries that established that a copy of the text was not deposited in the Office of Senate Security until the afternoon of 16 April. The Staff Director has admitted that on the afternoon of 16 April, after receiving a copy of a memorandum from Senator Bob Smith to Senator Kerry in which Senator Smith outlined his concerns about the destruction of documents, she obtained a copy of the intelligence briefing text from the office of Senator McCain and took it to the Office of Senate Security. Office of Senate Security personnel confirmed that the Staff Director gave them an envelope, marked "Eyes Only," to be placed in her personal file. The Staff Director has admitted that the envelope contained the copy of the intelligence briefing text that she obtained from the office of Senator McCain.
3. The facts of the destruction of the intelligence briefing text would seem to fall inside the prescriptions of the Statute, Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2071, so as to justify their referral for investigation to a competent law enforcement authority. The applicability of that Statute was debated in United States v. Poindexter, D.D.C. 1989, 725 F. Supp. 13, in connection with the Iran Contra investigation. The District Court ruled, inter alia, that the National Security Council is a public office within the meaning of the Statute and, thus, that its records and documents fell within the protection of the Statute. In light of that ruling, the Statute would seem to apply to this Senate Select Committee and its Staff. The continued existence of a "bootleg" copy of the intelligence briefing text - i.e., a copy that is not one of those made by the investigators for the purpose of briefing the Select Committee - would seem to be irrelevant to the issues of intent to destroy and willfulness; as well as to the issue of responsibility for the order to destroy all copies of the briefing text, for the attempt to carry out that order, and for the destruction that actually was accomplished in execution of that order.
4. As for the issue of misconduct by Staff attorneys, all member of the Bar swear to uphold the law. That oath may be violated by acts of omission and commission. Even without a violation of the Federal criminal statute, the actions and failures to act by senior Staff attorneys in the sequence of events connected with the destruction of the briefing text might constitute violations
of ethical standards for members of the Bar and of both Senate and Select Committee rules. The statements, actions and failures to act during and after the meeting on 15 April, when the investigators gave notice of their concern about possible criminal liability for document destruction, would seem to reflect disregard for the law and for the rules of the United States Senate.
John F. McCreary
October 30, 1992
Memorandum for the Record
From: John F. McCreary
Subject: Obstruction of the Investigation
1. I am concerned that recent lines of investigation have been seriously compromised by leaks of sensitive information by the Committee Staff Director to the Department of Defense. Leaks to the Department of Defense or other agencies of the Executive Branch of my Memoranda for the Record are interfering with follow-up discussions with useful witnesses. Moreover, they are endangering the lives and livelihood of two witnesses.
Leak of Information on Jan Sejna
2. Irrespective of leaks outside the government, Bill LeGro, attended a meeting of the US-Russia Joint Commission group in Washington on 28 October 1992 at the Department of State. The discussion featured information provided by Sejna. LeGro stated that Ambassador Malcolm Toon called for his dismissal. DIA personnel defended Sejna as to his expertise on Central Europe, but not as to his information on other areas, particularly POW related.
3. Irrespective of leaks outside the government, Bill LeGro attended a meeting of the US-Russia Joint Commission group in Washington on 28 October 1992 at the Department of State. The discussion featured information provided by Sejna. LeGro stated tat Ambassador Malcolm Toon call for his dismissal. DIA personnel defended Sejna as to his expertise on Central Europe, but not as to his information on others areas, particularly POW related.
4. On 30 October 1992, I learned from Bill LeGro that he was directed to read a letter from the Central Intelligence Agency to the Select Committee that discredits Sejna's information. The letter reportedly indicates that Sejna's information has been checked and not been confirmed by his former government. At the time this letter was received, the Staff had decided to take Sejna's deposition but had not yet scheduled a deposition of Sejna. In addition, my MFR was written from memory, and did not do justice to all that Sejna stated, either in detail or in context. As of this writing, we do not know what Sejna knows or will say under oath, yet his testimony has already been written off. This anticipatory discrediting of a Select Committee potential witness is tantamount to tampering with the evidence.
Suspected Leak of Information on Le Quang Khai
5. The second issue of suspected misconduct concerns witness Le Quang Khai. Although Le made a public statement concerning POWs on 12 September 1992, no agency of the US government contacted him concerning his POW information. He told me on 26 October that some men who represented themselves as FBI agents contacted him to attempts to recruit him to return to Vietnam as a US intelligence agent for six months. After which his request for asylum would be favorably considered.
6. On 30 October, Mr. Robert Egan of Hackensack, New Jersey, who is a close friend of Mr. Le and the intermediary whereby the Committee Staff met Mr. Le, informed McCreary and LeGro that the FBI had again contacted Mr. Le. A person representing himself as an FBI person called on 30 October to set up a meeting with Le to discuss Le's working as an intelligence agent for the FBI's POW/MIA office.
7. So far informal checks indicate there is no such office. Secondly, this contact occurred three days after my return from taking Le's deposition in Hackensack on 26 October. I observed a copy of the MFR with apparent routing designators written in the top margin on the desk of Frances Zwenig on 28 October.
8. The contact with Le two days after preparation of my MFR, despite the passage of a month since his public declarations, is highly suspicious and more than coincidental. The circumstances of both contacts in which persons identifying themselves as FBI without showing credentials or other evidence of authenticity or authority and also making a pitch to recruit Le are also highly suspicious.
9. An internal Department of Defense Memorandum identifies Frances Zwenig as the conduit to the Department of Defense for the acquisition of sensitive and restricted information from this Committee. Based on the above sequences of events, I must conclude that Frances Zwenig continues to leak all of my papers to the Defense Department. Her flagrant disregard of the rules of the Senate and her oath of office are now jeopardizing the livelihood, if not the safety, of
Senate witnesses. In addition, the Department of Defense's continuing access to sensitive Committee Staff papers is resulting in obstruction of the investigations by the Senate Select Committee by various agencies of the Executive Branch.
John F. McCreary
INTERIM REPORT ON POW/MIA'S (Senate - October 27, 1990)
Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, as ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, I have today sent an interim report to the Republican members of that committee on the sensitive topic of our POW /MIA's . This report has been prepared by minority staff members of the committee for the minority members. It is a preliminary report, with preliminary findings, on an investigation which has been in progress for 1 year.
Mr. President, this report is particularly significant because it is the first time that the Department of Defense [DOD] has permitted any outside oversight of its process of accounting for POW /MIA's . DOD has in its files 1,400 so-called live-sighting reports, but it has never acknowledged that any of these reports pertained to living American personnel. The reports are in general classified, but not highly classified. Nevertheless, DOD has asserted that the reports are too sensitive for oversight even by properly cleared and trained professional personnel.
To its credit, DOD finally relented, and allowed outside professionals on the minority committee staff to examine the files under very stringent conditions of access. Only about one-third of the files have been examined so far, but already the investigators have found serious errors in the methodology of DIA analysts in a disturbingly large number of cases.
Other preliminary findings include the following:
First, after the return of 591 POW's in Operation Homecoming in 1973, the Department of State and DOD publicly declared that no more POW's remained alive in Southeast Asia.
Second, nevertheless, a year later, DOD analysts still believed that POW's were alive in Southeast Asia.
Third, DOD analysts systematically rejected, or declared not pertinent, vitually all of the 1,400 live-sighting reports in its files.
Fourth, having declared beforehand in 1973 that no prisoners remained alive, DOD subsequently made case-by-case determinations that each name on the POW /MIA list should be presumed dead, based upon the rejection of the live-sighting reports and other evidence.
Fifth, in contrast to DOD's disinterest in confirming live-sighting reports, DOD has placed a disproportionate emphasis on identifying supposed sets of POW remains, resulting in a significant percentage of misidentifications. DOD seems more interested in finding dead POW's than living POW's .
Sixth, because U.S. covert military operations in Southeast Asia have never been revealed, it is impossible to determine whether any U.S. military personnel involved might be added to the list of known POW /MIA's . Participants in covert operations who were interviewed think that the number of covert POW /MIA's might be as large as the public list.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the interim report of the minority staff of the Committee on Foreign Relations be printed in the Record at the conclusion of my remarks, along with my cover letter transmitting it to Republican members of the committee.
There being no objection, the report was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Committee on Foreign Relations,
Washington, DC, October 26, 1990.
Dear Republican Colleague: Enclosed is an Interim Report prepared by the Minority Staff of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on the U.S. Government's handling of the POW /MIA matter. This summary document represents a year of intensive investigation, culminating in a major breakthrough in the careful examination of DIA live-sighting reports on POW /MIAs --the first time in 17 years that an independent branch of the government has had an opportunity to make an objective evaluation of the methods used in accounting for those categorized as POW /MIAs in Southeast Asia.
On October 17, 1990, the Foreign Minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Cao Thac addressed a coffee at the Foreign Relations Committee and attended by Senators of the Committee as well as invited guests. In my opinion, the Department of State's invitation to Thac to visit the United States was inappropriate at a time when the Executive Branch is still unwilling to address the hard issue of living American POWs still being held captive in Southeast Asia.
The thrust of Thac's address was to call for the acceleration of the time table for renewal of relations between the governments of Vietnam and the United States. Thac indicated that the resolution of the POW /MIA issue is one of two major areas of contention. Furthermore, Thac stated that he had agreed to all terms levied by the President through his special envoy, General John Vessey USA (Ret.). But in re-stating the terms to which he had agreed, Thac never once mentioned that the issue of living American POWs in Vietnam had been addressed.
The position of the Executive Branch is that there is `no evidence' that living Americans exist in SE Asia, nor were any left after American prisoners were returned in 1973.
Nevertheless, public opinion polls continue to suggest that 62 percent of the American people believe that U.S. POW /MIAs are still alive in Vietnam, and 84 percent of Vietnam veterans believe so. Clearly the U.S. Government no longer maintains credibility on this issue.
For this reason, a year ago, I assigned an investigation on the Minority Staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to conduct a staff investigation of the handling of the POW /MIA issue by the U.S. Government. These investigators are highly trained professionals, with a total of more than 68 years of investigative experience in the Executive Branch, including criminal investigative experience, as well as more than 17 years of experience in intelligence analysis. All served in Vietnam and are knowledgeable about the history, geography, and language of that unfortunate country.
The investigation has proceeded quietly, and without public fanfare. But much remains to be done. Information developed in the course of the inquiry was the result of the following methods: (1) face-to-face and telephonic interviews; (2) review of various classified and unclassified official documents; (3) corroborative information from government and private sources; and (4) historical research. This report is in all respects an interim report: It is incomplete and it is a summary report of conclusions which must be further tested.
The Committee on Foreign Relations has authority to engage in oversight of POW /MIA issues implicit in its broad mandate to study and review foreign policy. Senate Rule 25.1j specifically refers to the Committee on Foreign Relations matters dealing with: `[11.] Intervention abroad and declarations of war,' and `[15.] Protection of United States citizens abroad and expatriation.'
The focus of the inquiry has centered on the following questions:
1. Does the U.S. Government possess valid information concerning living POWs in Southeast Asia?
2. Has the U.S. Government failed to act on information concerning living POWs in Southeast Asia?
3. Has the U.S. Government acted improperly to intimidate, coerce, or discredit sources which have valid information concerning living POWs in Southeast Asia?
I believe that the investigators have come to valid conclusions, although of course much of the material they reviewed remains classified. Moreover, I believe that the American people have the right to see that this inquiry is pursued to a proper conclusion.
I am deeply grateful for the enormous contribution of Senator Chuck Grassley who, out of his deep concern for American service personnel, joined me at the very beginning and supported and encouraged it at every step.
One year ago, the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations assigned members of the Minority Staff to investigate the following three questions:
(1) Whether the United States Government has received and still possesses valid information concerning living prisoners of war/missing in action--POW /MIAs --in Southeast Asia;
(2) Whether the U.S. Government has failed to act on such information; and,
(3) Whether the U.S. Government has acted improperly to intimidate and discredit sources of such information.
The primary purpose of this investigation has been, and will continue to be, to determine whether the U.S. government has handled the question in a truthful and effective manner. But if it results in a determination that even one POW may still be alive, it will result in a dividend of blessings.
The inquiry remains on-going. It is based not only on the review of thousands of classified and non-classified documents, but also upon hundreds of telephonic and face-to-face interviews with government officials and those affected by their decisions with regard to POW /MIAs . A full report will require much additional investigation and analysis. The following, however, represents an interim report at the conclusion of one year's work. It allows the presentation of some preliminary conclusions.
The U.S. Government states it has no evidence that POWs were left behind in Southeast Asia. The official policy asserts that it is open to investigation of all reports. For example, the official Department of Defense (DOD) POW -MIA Fact Book, issued July, 1990, states:
`Although we have thus far been unable to prove that Americans are still detained against their will, the information available to us, precludes ruling out that possibility. Actions to investigate live sighting reports receive and will continue to receive necessary priority and resources based on the assumption that at least some Americans are still held captive. Should any report prove true, we will take appropriate action to ensure the return of those involved.'
Notwithstanding this professed openness to new evidence, the U.S. Government has insisted since April 12, 1973, that it has no evidence of living POWs . In fact, on that date--at the conclusion of Operation Homecoming, which brought home 591 POWs --Dr. Roger Shields, then Assistant Secretary of Defense, stated that the DOD had `no evidence that there were any more POWs still alive in all of Indochina.'
This assertion has been consistent. For example, last July, Col. Joseph A. Schlatter, then chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency's Special Office for POW /MIAs , was saying that `If we look at everything we collected during the war and everything we've collected since the war, we don't find any evidence that Americans are captive.'
Furthermore, as late as October, 1990, an unnamed `senior State Department official' was quoted in the press as saying the U.S. Government has `no evidence' of living American prisoners in Southeast Asia.
However, to say that the U.S. Government has `no evidence' is not the same as saying that no evidence exists. After all, there have been nearly 11,700 reports relating to POW /MIAs over the years, including 1,400 firsthand, live-sighting reports. The question is whether every single one of these reports can be dismissed from the category of credible evidence.
The U.S. Government position makes sense only if every single one of these reports can be shown to have been fabricated, erroneous, or not relating directly to a POW /MIA --for example, some reports may relate to Europeans in the area. In fact, DIA analysts have have rejected the evidence of all these reports, except for a small pool of less than 150 still considered `unresolved.'
The preliminary conclusions presented by staff for review by Senators are as follows:
(1) After the conclusion of Operation Homecoming in April, 1973, brought the return of the 591 POWs , official U.S. Government policy internally adopted and acted upon the presumption that all other POWs were dead, despite public assertions that the government was still open to investigating the possibility of discovering the existence of living prisoners.
(2) Following the adoption of an internal policy in April, 1973, that all POW /MIAs were presumed dead, the U.S. Government, convened commission in each military service to consider each case on the POW /MIA list in order to make a statutory declaration of presumption of death.
(3) While there is no reason to believe that the majority, if not most, of the declarations of presumptive death are incorrect, staff review of livesighting reports files at DIA found a disturbing pattern of arbitrary rejection of evidence that connected a sighting to a specific POW /MIA or U.S. POW /MIAs in general.
(4) The pattern of arbitrary rejection resulted in a declaration of presumptive finding of death for every such individual case, except one.
(5) The internal policy that all POW /MIAs were presumed dead resulted in an emphasis on finding and identifying remains of dead personnel, rather than searching for living POW /MIAs .
(6) The desire to identify specific sets of remains with specific names on the POW /MIA list led DOD to an exaggeration of the capabilities of forensic science, and identification based on dubious presumptions and illogical deductions rather than actual physical identification--a process which resulted in numerous misidentifications of remains.
(7) Despite adherence to internal policies and public statements after April, 1973 that `no evidence' existed of living POWs , DIA authoritatively concluded as late as April, 1974 that several hundred living POW /MIAs were still held captive in South East Asia.
(8) Although the Pathet Lao declared on April 3, 1973, that Laotian Communist forces were holding American POWs and were prepared to give an accounting, nine days later a DOD spokesman declared that there were no more American prisoners anywhere in South East Asia. No POWs held by Laotian Communist forces ever returned. The evidence indicates that the U.S. Government made a decision to abandon U.S. citizens still in the custody of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, at the conclusion of U.S. involvement in the Second Indochina War.
(9) U.S. casualties, including POW /MIAs in South East Asia, resulting from covert or cross border operation, may not be included on the list of those missing.
(10) The executive branch has failed to address adequately the concerns of the family members of the POW /MIAs , and has profoundly mishandled the POW /MIA problem.
DEFINITION OF POW /MIA
The subject of POW /MIAs requires some definitions. After the Second Indochina War--popularly known as the Vietnam War, even though Thailand, Burma, Laos and Cambodia saw U.S. combat action--hundreds of POWs returned alive, notably in Operation Homecoming, which concluded in April, 1973
Those who did not return home are classified by the Department of Defense into two categories: POW /MIAs --that is, those for whom there is some documentation that they were captured but never repatriated; and KIA/BNRs--that is, those believed to have been killed in action, but whose bodies were not recovered. For the latter, there is no evidence of their death except DOD's evaluation of the circumstances, even though no physical evidence of death may be available.
In April, 1973, DOD reported that 2,383 personnel were unaccounted
for: 1,259 POW /MIAs , and 1,124 KIA/BNRs. This study assumes that both categories of the unaccounted for deserve review. Since 1973, DOD has announced the return of 280 sets of remains, diminishing the over-all number by that amount.
In addition, there could well be an equal number of military personnel missing in action from various U.S. covert actions during the war. Since DOD files on covert actions have not been opened, and the participants in such actions never publicly identified, this inquiry could not establish any number for covert POW /MIAs . However, public source books and interviews with participants suggest that the issue of covert operations adds a substantial, but unknown, dimension of the MIA question which has received no scrutiny.
REVIEW OF LIVE-SIGHTING DOCUMENTS
In this inquiry, staff has reviewed hundreds of U.S. Government classified, declassified, and open-source documents. In addition, Senator Grassley and Committee Minority staff were given access to, and have reviewed personally, hundreds of classified live-sighting reports (accounts by Southeast Asians of live POWs in Southeast Asia) in the files of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). According to DIA, this is the first time that either a United States Senator or any United States Congressional Committee staff have been given access to the raw intelligence contained in the 1,400 live-sighting reports.
Out of the 1,400 live-sighting reports, approximately 1,200 are considered by DIA to be `resolved.' Each of the so-called `resolved' sightings was resolved by concluding that the live-sighting report did not pertain to U.S. POWs present after April 1979. Staff felt that in some cases such a conclusion was correct, but that in many it was not supported by the facts.
Staff began by first examining so-called resolved cases in order to study DIA methodology by which a conclusion of `resolution' was reached. Since the guidelines set by DIA for access to the files were extremely restrictive, the time available allowed review of only about one-quarter of the so-called `resolved' cases, and none of those in the category of `unresolved.' Nevertheless, staff concluded that a significant number of the `resolved' cases reviewed showed that the DIA methodology was faulty, or that the evidence did not support the DIA conclusion in the case, or both.
The information collected and reviewed to date by the staff shows that the position held by the United States Government--namely, that no evidence exists that Americans are still being held against their will--cannot be supported. Rather, the information uncovered during this inquiry provides enough corroboration to cast doubt upon the veracity of the U.S. Government's conclusion.
Without revealing classified information, staff believes that the review of the classified live-sighting reports reinforces that doubt. Although more information remains to be reviewed, the evidence this inquiry has thus far uncovered shows that:
(1) Living U.S. citizens, military and civilian, were held in Southeast Asia against their will after the U.S. Government's statement on April 13, 1973, that no prisoners remained alive; and
(2) The information available to the U.S. Government does not rule out the probability that U.S. citizens are stil being held in Southeast Asia.
In fact, classified and unclassified information all confirm one startling fact: That DOD in April, 1974, concluded beyond a doubt that several hundred living American POW's remained in captivity in Southeast Asia. This was a full year after DOD spokesmen were saying publicly that no prisoners remained alive.
Evidence uncovered in the several hundred cases reviewed thus far clearly demonstrates that, in a disturbing number of cases, DOD made significant errors in drawing conclusions about live-sighting reports, the presumed deaths of individuals, or about individuals that were unaccounted for at the conclusion of the war. Although many cases were resolved correctly
based upon the files, there were too many errors apparent to rule out the need to undertake and complete the review of the `unresolved' cases.
Staff also concluded that DOD spent an excessive amount of effort in discrediting live-sighting reports, while exaggerating or mishandling forensic data in order to confirm a presumptive finding of death. DOD appeared to be more anxious to declare a presumptive finding of death than in following up reports of sightings with creative investigative work.
Furthermore, there is evidence of insensitivity on the part of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government in providing complete and accurate information to the next-of-kin of missing American servicemen.
The classified evidence in DIA files suggests a pattern by a few U.S. Government officials of misleading Congressional inquiries by concealing information, and misinterpreting or manipulating data in government files. Interested Senators and staff with proper clearances no doubt will want to review the classified files themselves and draw their own conclusions.
THE 1973 POLICY DECISION
Those who have not dealt with the POW /MIA issue may find it difficult to understand how DOD's analysis of the information could be in error. Unfortunately, staff believes that DOD has allowed its precedures to be dictated by a pre-conceived policy finding.
The New York Times reported on April 12, 1973, as follows:
`Washington, April 12 (AP)--The Pentagon, two months after the first American prisoners of war began coming home, said today that it had no evidence that there were any more prisoners still alive in all of Indochina.
`Despite the fact that interviews with all returning prisoners are nearly complete, a Pentagon official, Dr. Roger Shields, said that none of the 1,389 Americans listed as missing were now technically considered prisoners. `We have no indication at this time that there are any Americans missing alive in Indochina,' Dr. Shields said at a news conference.'
Dr. Shields was at that time Assistant Secretary of Defense, but he was following guidance issued on that date by the Department of State in a memorandum to DOD which stated that `There are no more prisoners in Southeast Asia. They are all dead.' This directive was issued immediately after the return of the last POWs in Operation Homecoming. This finding was made despite that the fact that none of the hundreds of POW /MIAs that the Pathet Lao publicly acknowledged holding were ever returned from Laos. There were hundreds of live-sighting reports on file in 1973. Thousands of such reports have continued to be received since then.
PROCESS FOR `PRESUMPTION OF DEATH'
Since it was official policy, then, that all MIAs were dead, it became a bureaucratic necessity for all `unresolved' cases to be resolved in favor of a presumed finding of death.
Each respective military service from time to time convenes its own special commissions to pronounce on individual cases. Such a commission had before it at least three categories of information: The first is intellegence-related information concerning the individual. The second is eyewitness accounts of the loss event. The third is the so-called `incident report'--the official report of the loss incident.
If a year passes without new information, the respective military service can convene a commission to determine whether a presumptive finding of death should be delared.
The April, 1973, statement of policy was a political statement, rather than a finding according to statutory authority. As a result, the military services subsequently reviewed each individual case of those who previously had been declared dead en masse. And in every case except one, the commissions made a determination of a presumptive finding of death.
Because of this procedure, the bureaucratic necessity arose for discrediting any evidence that might cast doubt on the mass presumptive finding of death of April, 1973. From the standpoint of law and military regulations, the procedure followed in each case gave a legal affirmation to the original political statement.
Therefore, in order to discredit any information which might undermine the political thesis, the analysis of intelligence files fell into a systematic pattern of debunking information contrary to the thesis.
This systematic debunking included discrediting of reports, possible intimidation of witnesses, dismissal of credible evidence through technicalities, and--if all else failed--the arbitrary disregard of evidence contrary to the thesis.
DOD'S WORKING HYPOTHESIS
An analysis of DOD's working hypothesis for fully accounting for American MIAs is the key to understanding the discrepancies between DOD's position on the POW issue and the evidence uncovered by the staff.
DOD's premise, beginning in April, 1973, has been that all MIAs are dead; the corollary, therefore, is that DOD must never find any evidence that any MIA is alive. The best evidence, in DOD's opinion, is a set of physical remains that can be identified as a specific individual on the POW /MIA list. Once such an identification has been made, the case of that individual can be removed forever from the list. This is an easier task than to accept live-sighting reports that might point to a living POW , thereby necessitating appropriate follow-up action.
It is a reasonable assumption to remove POW /MIAs from the list when remains are identified, if the identification is correct. But the fact is that in a significant number of cases, such identifications have been made on the basis of inadequate physical evidence, using presumptive deductions that may or may not be true. The pressure to identify sets of remains even has resulted in specific cases where caskets have been buried with full military honors as the `remains' of the individual when, in fact, the casket is empty.
Therefore, DOD acts on its premise by vigorously investigating for the remains of dead MIAs . The list of MIAs presumed dead following the conclusion of the war totalled 2,383. DOD has received and claimed to have identified a total of 280 sets of remains since 1973.
Any full accounting of MIAs , according to DOD's working hypothesis, would necessarily involve only those cases in which either a presumptive finding of death could be made, or else full or partial remains could be discovered. As each presumptive finding of death is declared or set of remains is identified, DIA would remove, as accounted for, the names that matched those on the original MIA list. In this respect, DOD claims that DIA has vigorously investigated and resolved hundreds of such cases.
The policy of DOD is to focus attention on the cases where some evidence, no matter how small, of physical remains can be recovered. But even while DOD enthusiastically and vigorously investigates remains case--no matter how fragmentary--it just as vigorously discredits live-sighting and other witness accounts. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of thousands of Asians fled Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. These refugees provided many first-hand reports, or knew by second- or third-hand reports, of American prisoners being held in their respective countries.
To date, over 11,700 accounts have been received by DOD; 1,400 of these are first-hand, live-sighting reports. DIA claims to have analyzed fully each of these live-sighting reports, and to have left `no stone unturned' in searching for living prisoners. After analyzing the live-sighting reprts, DIA has concluded that the majority are not related to living American POWs , with the possible exception of a small percentage of reports that DIA describes as `unresolved.'
However, no `resolved' case has ever concluded that an American POW remains captive in Southeast Asia. In this way DIA concludes that there is no evidence of Americans currently being held captive in Southeast
Asia. This contention is consistent with both the working hypothesis described above and with DIA's apparent success at removing from the MIA list names that involve only those cases in which remains are identified, or a finding of death declared.
Insofar as these discrepancies relate to the 1,400 first-hand reports of living prisoners, DOD's original premise comes into question. Numerous live-sighting reports have been erroneously discredited by DIA analysts. Moreover, staff has reason to believe that DOD has misidentified the remains of scores of MIA's , and has incorrectly presumed dead many others.
This analytical bias is typical of a bureaucracy defending an established policy at all costs, even if it means denying the obvious. It is also a typical characteristic of an out-moded paradigm that can no longer explain the real world or real facts. If the original premise of DOD had been that at least some of the 2,383 MIAs were alive, then DOD would have been forced by circumstance to view the evidence collected, including the hundreds of live-sighting reports, from an objective standpoint. The relevance and validity of each report could have been judged on its own merits rather than whether it supported a pre-determined hypothesis that no living POW /MIAs remained.
Unfortunately, DOD choose to make its own analysis, without proper legislative oversight. Claiming extreme sensitivity and possible threats to sources and methods of intelligence gathering, DOD evaded the proper oversight that would have assured the objectivity of their process. The result has been a disservice to the POW /MIAs , their families and the American people.
IMPORTANCE OF THE PROBLEM
The resolution of these questions is important not only to any MIA /POWs who may be still alive, but also to the families involved. It is also important to the fate of any possible POWs in a future military action. With 200,000 U.S. troops now deployed to the Persian Gulf, the question of possible prisoners of war once again becomes an urgent matter.
Moreover, the resolution of issues relating to Southeast Asia is a key priority of our nation's foreign policy. Secretary of State James A. Baker III stated recently that the POW /MIA issue is the last remaining obstacle to resumption of relations with the government of Vietnam. But if it turns out that Vietnam has been concealing the existence of POWs , then it would be a complicating factor in initiating relations with the present regime.
EXPRESSING THE SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING AMERICANS STILL MISSING OR OTHERWISE UNACCOUNTED FOR IN SOUTHEAST ASIA (House of Representatives - July 12, 1990)
Mr. SOLARZ. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that the Committee on Foreign Affairs be discharged from further consideration of the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 291) expressing the sense of the Congress regarding the need to account as fully as possible for Americans still missing or otherwise unaccounted for in Southeast Asia and to secure the return of Americans who may still be held captive in Southeast Asia, and ask for its immediate consideration.
The Clerk read the title of the concurrent resolution.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New York?
Mr. LAGOMARSINO. Mr. Speaker, reserving the right to object, I yield to the gentleman from New York [Mr. Solarz], chairman of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, to explain the resolution.
Mr. SOLARZ. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my very good friend from California [Mr. Lagomarsino] for giving me the opportunity to explain this resolution, as well as for his very strong and significant support for the bipartisan effort to bring about a full and final accounting of the fate of our POW's and MIA's in Southeast Asia. In his capacity as chairman of the Task Force on POW /MIA's , the only Republican in the House, I believe, who chairs an official task force of the Congress, he has played a very helpful role focusing attention on this continuing problem.
The resolution which would be before Members was introduced by the gentleman from Colorado [Mr. Brown], who I think deserves some credit for having initiated this effort. It is supported by the administration. It has broad bipartisan support in the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and I believe in the House as a whole.
I have asked unanimous consent to bring it up now primarily because tomorrow the National League of Families of Prisoners and Missing in Action will be meeting for its 21st annual convention. This is a national organization which more so than any other has promoted the cause of the families of our men who are still missing in action, in the hope that a full and final accounting of their fate can one day be achieved. We thought it appropriate to consider the adoption of this resolution before that conference actually convenes, as we have every year in the past. The resolution itself expressed the sense of the Congress that we should continue to give the highest national priority to the effort to account as fully as possible for our POW /MIA's . That priority was established by the Reagan administration. It has been continued by the Bush administration, and it has been warmly endorsed by every Congress in the last several years. It also expressed the view that there is a viable and sustained process of joint cooperation with the Vietnamese and Laos Government, to get answers for families of American POW's , because we believe it is very important to have their cooperation if this is going to succeed.
Indeed, in the final analysis, as my friend from California [Mr. Lagomarsino] knows better than most, the real answers to this problem lie not in Washington but in Hanoi and in Pnonpenh and Vientiane.
The resolution also says we should place renewed emphasis on seeking an accounting of the 892 American POW /MIA's who disappeared in Cambodia, without placing this humanitarian objective into conference with United States efforts to obtain an acceptable political settlement of the Cambodian situation. It calls for heightened public awareness on the POW /MIA issue in the United States.
Mr. Speaker, this resolution is further proof, not that any is really needed, of the bipartisan nature of congressional action on this issue. Fifteen years after the end of the war in Indochina, 2,302 of our missing men still have families who are haunted by the knowledge that they do not know what has happened to them. I believe that we can always be most effective abroad when we are united at home. This resolution will enable Members to send a strong and continuing signal to Vietnam, to Laos, and Cambodia, that this remains a matter of the greatest and gravest concern to the Congress, and therefore to the American people.
I want to thank the gentleman from Colorado [Mr. Brown] for initiating the resolution, and I want to thank the gentleman from California [Mr. Lagomarsino] for his strong and effective efforts as chairman of the task force in keeping hope alive and the issue current. I urge Members on both sides of the aisle to join in supporting this resolution.
Mr. LAGOMARSINO. Mr. Speaker, further reserving the right to object, I yield to the sponsor of the resolution, the gentleman from Colorado [Mr. Brown].
Mr. BROWN of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my profound thanks to the gentleman from New York, the distinguished chairman, and the gentleman from California, who have been so instrumental in bringing this measure to the floor.
Mr. Speaker, it was 25 years, slightly more than 25 years ago when Lyndon Johnson sent out a call to those who served their country in the Armed Forces, asking for volunteers to go to Vietnam. He offered that challenge and the opportunity to those who loved freedom, who were willing to defend it far away from the American shores. American men and women volunteered in record numbers. The fact is, in the early years of the Vietnam war, there was a higher percentage of volunteers who served to defend our country in that far land than any of our modern conflicts. The fact is that those who served our country, who gave a full measure of devotion, some still remain unaccounted for, over 2,300.
Yet since the fall of Saigon in 1975, there have been more than 1,300 sightings of Americans in Vietnam who have not been returned. These have been investigated; they have been followed up and verified. There still remain almost 100 of these sightings and reports that cannot be explained away and for which there is no answer other than that these people may yet remain alive in Vietnam.
So what we do here tonight is not just to remember those who gave extraordinary devotion and dedication and sacrifice for our country, but we say that this country has no other higher priority than to bring those Americans home and find a full accounting for those who served their Nation. This Nation would be shamed if we allowed those who served us in combat to go unaccounted for, unremembered, and unspoken for. This resolution tonight has the heartfelt yearnings of the American people. It says that we shall never forget them and we shall never stop inquiring about their fate.
Mr. Speaker, we have no other higher priority than to demand their release and their accounting.
Mr. LAGOMARSINO. Mr. Speaker, further reserving the right to object, I yield to the gentlewoman from Illinois [Mrs. Martin].
Mrs. MARTIN of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this important resolution, and I commend my colleague, the gentleman from Colorado [Mr. Brown], who fought for his Nation in Vietnam. I thank him for his efforts in bringing this before the House, and I thank the chairman and ranking member of the subcommittee and the committee for allowing this resolution to come to us at this time when it is important to families and to all of us.
Mr. Speaker, during the past 18 months a great deal has changed in the world and in the way we think about the world. From the perspective of historians and political scientists, Vietnam is already, or very soon to be, of another ERA in American and world history--a cold war conflict.
From the perspective of the many millions of Americans whose lives were directly touched by the Vietnam war, however, it will not be so easily or readily confined to the historical context. In particular, the Vietnam conflict will remain a personal reality for the spouses, the brothers, the sisters, and the friends of the 56,000 Americans who gave their lives in Vietnam and the 2,302 Americans who are still prisoner, missing, or unaccounted for.
It is my hope, in supporting this resolution, that it will be recognized by the Governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia as a powerful restatement of our determination to achieve the fullest possible accounting of those 2,302 Americans. It should also be recognized by those Governments as notice from the Congress that truly normal relations with the United States will be impossible so long as the fate of our countrymen remains unresolved.
We owe it to every man and woman who served our Nation during what was perhaps its most painful and difficut hour, as well as to the families and loved ones they left behind, to assure that this issue remains one of high national priority. Our commitment to those individuals will not diminish; it is a commitment immune to time and to history.
Mr. LAGOMARSINO. Mr. Speaker, further reserving the right to object, I yield to the distinguished Republican leader, the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Michel].
Mr. MICHEL. Mr. Speaker, I am honored to be a cosponsor of House Concurrent Resolution 291.
I certainly want to thank the distinguished chairman of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the gentleman from New York [Mr. Solarz], along with the gentleman from California [Mr. Lagomarsino], and those other members of the task force for bringing this measure to the floor.
Earlier today, the House became the recipient of the first Medal of Honor ever awarded, to Jacob Parrot during the Civil War.
A ceremony marking the occasion was held in Statuary Hall.
The Medal will be on display for all to see. It is my hope that visitors to the Capitol Building will take the time to see the display when it is in place, and to meditate on the meaning of the Medal of Honor.
I mention Jacob Parrot's Medal of Honor because the event in which he earned the medal, a daring raid behind Confederate lines to capture a train, which resulted in some of the raiders becoming prisoners of war.
And it strikes me that it is fitting that we should be remembering other POW's and MIA's from another war on the same day that this Medal of Honor becomes a part of the great symbols on display in the Capitol.
The Medal of Honor, after all, is one way the Government has of officially recognizing bravery above and beyond the call of duty.
In a similar fashion, we owe it to all POW's and MIA's to officially recognize their sacrifice, their bravery, their memory.
One way of doing this--and here I quote from the resolution--is by:
Expressing the sense of the Congress regarding the need to account as fully as possible for Americans still missing or otherwise unaccounted for in Southeast Asia and to secure the return of Americans who may still be held captive in Southeast Asia.
I have said before that my feeling about POW's and MIA's can be traced to my experience as a combat infantryman during World War II.
I know what it means to wait in the darkness and, when dawn comes, discover that buddies are missing, gone without a trace.
When something like that happens, you do not forget it. The memory can haunt you across the years.
And I also know, from experience on this issue in recent years, that this is a very emotional issue. It is one that goes to the heart, and sometimes leads to heated confrontations.
I know that there are sincere differences over the measures the Government can take and should take in regard to this issue.
But on one thing there is no division: The House POW /MIA Task Force, under the leadership of our distinguished chairman and ranking member, is making every effort to deal with the complexities of this issue.
And I know that President Bush is also committed to doing all that is humanly possible to account for the fate of those yet unaccounted for.
So I just want to thank those responsible for giving us an opportunity to make these comments this evening and bring the measure to the floor, hopefully to be unanimously adopted.
And I hope that every visitor who sees the Medal of Honor on display, will also take time to see the POW /MIA banner that is in the great rotunda. These are two manifestations of the thanks a grateful Nation offers to the brave.
Both the medal and the banner say, in a different way: We shall never forget.
Mr. LAGOMARSINO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Michel].
Further reserving the right to object, Mr. Speaker, as the chairman of the bipartisan House POW /MIA Task Force, and an original cosponsor of House Concurrent Resolution 291, I rise in strong support of this important resolution introduced by our colleague Hank Brown of Colorado. This resolution reaffirms Congress' support for keeping the POW /MIA issue as one our Nation's highest national priorties--a designation made by President Reagan and reaffirmed by President Bush.
I want to commend Mr. Brown of Colorado for introducing his resolution because it is a very important signal to the Vietnamese and the rest of the world that we care about the fate of our 2,302 missing servicemen in Indochina and will not let this issue die.
Sadly, the fates of these missing servicemen and the unresolved questions of their longing families have remained unanswered for so long. Part of this situation can be blamed on ourselves. Some, in their efforts to forget the Vietnam war also forgot about those who did not come home. Others, like the Woodcock Commission, claimed there were no live Americans being held in Southeast Asia. I clearly remember the congressional mission of which I was a part that visited Hanoi in August 1979. In response to our questions regrading the POW /MIA's , now Foreign Minister Nguyen Cao Thach said, `We didn't think you cared.' We do care. I care, my constituents care, the POW /MIA families care, the congressional POW /MIA Task Force cares, Congress cares, millions of concerned American citizens care and our Government cares.
Today, under the Bush administration, as before under the Reagan administration, the POW /MIA situation has been made a top national priority. New energies and initiatives have been devoted to our POW /MIA's clearly signaling that America has not forgotten its missing men in Indochina and that we are ready and willing--at the highest national levels--to take the actions necessary to achieve a fullest possible accounting. It is critical for us to be unified on this point. House Concurrent Resolution 291 confirms this unity.
The real reason we still have so many unresolved POW /MIA cases, though, rests with the Vietnamese. The obstacles to progress and the answers to our questions lie with Hanoi, not Washington. The Vietnamese have agreed to treat the POW /MIA issue as a separate, humanitarian issue divorced from other political matters, like diplomatic recognition and so on. We will hold the Vietnamese to this pledge.
I am very encouraged that since General Vessey's mission to Hanoi in August 1987, additional progress toward achieving the fullest possible accounting of our missing men has been made. General Vessey, who was reappointed by President Bush as the President's special POW /MIA emissary, has presented the Vietnamese with a number of discrepancy cases--cases about which we know the Vietnamese have more information. The speed and comprehensiveness with which Vietnam helps satisfactorily revolve these case will, I believe, determine how long until we are able to achieve the fullest possible accounting of these men. While I am encouraged by the increased level of activity, it is not a substitute for results. Unfortunately, results over the past 6 months have been
disappointing. More needs to be done by the Vietnamese and the Lao at a much faster pace.
I am absolutely 100 percent convinced that the Vietnamese maintain a stockpile of American servicemen's remains. I am strongly convinced that there are live, unaccounted for Americans in Vietnam. I also believe that there could be live POW's in Southeast Asia--or could have been. The Vietnamese could easily help resolve some of our accounting by releasing the remains they have stored and giving us unrestricted access to investigate other cases. The ball is in their court.
Despite these obstacles, progress has been made. We have recently concluded some joint crash-site investigations and additional remains have been repatriated. We continue to work with Laos on similar projects. Technical teams have and continue to meet frequently with both the Lao and the Vietnamese. But, this progress is too slow. I hope the Vietnamese will realize that they have nothing to gain by dragging their feet on this issue. While the POW /MIA issue is a separate humanitarian one, progress on it--or the lack of progress on it--will have an impact on the resolution of other bilateral concerns. This resolution lets the governments of Southeast Asia know that Congress is watching, closely.
Mr. Speaker, House Concurrent Resolution 291 also recognizes the long suffering of the POW /MIA families. Beginning tomorrow and through this weekend the National League of Families, the only national organization comprised solely of family members, is holding its annual convention here in Washington. These families have waited a very long time to get answers and their league has been instrumental in helping achieve the progress we have made thus far. The league and the families deserve much praise.
Through this resolution, Congress is officially broadcasting that it will remain steadfast with our POW /MIA families and will keep the faith. We are reaffirming our commitment to achieving the fullest possible accounting of our POW /MIA's and reaffirming that `we will not forget.' I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this very worthy resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from California [Mr. Dornan], who is a chairman of the task force.
Mr. DORNAN of California. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California [Mr. Lagomarsino] for yielding, and I thank the gentleman from New York [Mr. Solarz] and everybody involved with this over the years. Of all the issues I have been involved with in the House in 14 years, this has been the most heartrending, but also the most satisfying, to see Members of all beliefs, from all parts of the country and from both our great parties working together to make sure, as the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Michel], our Republican leader, said, that we do not forget.
Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to add one note here. Today I am wearing the bracelet of a friend of mine who was shot down in Laos in mid-May 1965. That is 25 years and 2 months ago. He was a known prisoner, Dave Herdlecker, but David would not mind that every other day I alternate this bracelet with one of our current prisoners, the hostages in Lebanon. They are prisoners of a different kind of a war, a war against terrorism, and I spoke with one of the hostages we managed to get out yesterday, Dave Jacobsen, who has a tremendous respect for the missing-in-action issue and the work we did here in the House on that issue while he was a prisoner in Beirut. He went over with me yesterday again the litany of abuses against human rights that Iran, the Iranian Government, is guilty of, and he pointed out again that his friends, two to them that he actually served with, Tom Sutherland who was taken on June 9, 1985, and he has been there now 5 years and 1 month, and that out longest held prisoner, Terry Anderson, was taken March 16, 1985. So, in 3 says that will be 5 years and 4 months. That is past the halfway mark of our longest held prisoner in Vietnam unless there are some still alive, which we pray there are, and we get them out someday, and this prisoner of war issue, this missing in action issue, is a living, dynamic horror story in American life, and the rumors, as we talk tonight, are ricocheting around the world that Brian Keenan, the Irishman who has been held captive for years, that he may be released.
Ok, now I'm being hacked. powering down. Hopefully I can finish adding docs later.
Lots of reading to do.. Wow!
TERRY ANDERSON (Senate - September 27, 1991)
Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. President, I rise to inform my colleagues that today marks the 2,386th day that Terry Anderson has been held captive in Lebanon.
And I note that former hostage John McCarthy--held for a time with Terry Anderson and Thomas Sutherland--has offered the first public reflections on his captivity. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Associated Press report of his remarks be printed in the Record at this time.
There being no objection, the report was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
From the Associated Press, Sept. 27, 1991
FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, SEPT. 27, 1991
McCarthy Salutes Strength of Hostages
London.--John McCarthy says the strength of his fellow hostages helped him through more than five years of captivity in Lebanon and supports him still.
`These are all men of real merit,' McCarthy said of the hostages he was held with: Brian Keenan, Terry Anderson, Thomas Sutherland, and Terry Waite.
`I realize how lucky and privileged I was to share their ordeal. Their strength continues to support me now.'
McCarthy, who was released in Aug. 8, made his first lengthy public comments this week about his 5-year ordeal.
In a series of interviews with newspapers and Britain's two television networks, McCarthy, 34, was joined by Jill Morrell, 33, who led a campaign to keep his case in the public eye. Both turned aside questions about whether they intended to marry.
McCarthy said he was imprisoned longest with Brian Keenan, the native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, who was released in 1990. `He was the rock on which I built my survival and I always missed his dear presence,' McCarthy said.
McCarthy and Keenan later were held with Anderson and Sutherland. The two Americans had a radio and gave McCarthy the news that his mother had died.
`As I got to know Anderson and Sutherland again I realized that I had found two new right arms. They gave me a new and very great support,' McCarthy said.
Anderson, the chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, is the longest-held hostage. He was kidnapped March 16, 1985.
Waite, a Church of England envoy, was the last to join the group, just before Christmas last year, McCarthy said.
`Terry had been kept alone for almost four years, yet within a few hours he was chatting away as if that huge chasm had never existed,' said McCarthy.
After a serious attack of asthma, Waite had `returned to form and kept us entertained with tales of his life and experiences around the world.'
`Days and weeks would pass without note. But I did find that if I slept during an afternoon I would often awake, terrified of the time years and months that I had lost, in which nothing had been achieved,' he said.
`A hostage doesn't relax. Apart from the obvious questions forever on one's mind * * * there are more immediate tensions.
`I was always apprehensive about moving to a new location as the moves were traumatic. I slept badly. At whatever time the lights went out, it always took me two or three hours to relax and restore a sense of proportion and hope before I could go to sleep.'
He said he felt no bitterness toward his captors.
`A long time ago one came to terms with the fact that the people who were holding us were doing what they thought was the right thing what they believed in,' he said.
The hostages filled the time with cards, invented games and endless conversations, he said.
`We used to make plans, just enormous and wild plans particularly Brian Keenan would come up with enormous schemes that he would insist that we discuss for days on end,' such as Keenan's scheme for starting a yak farm in Patagonia.
`We know nothing about yaks nor Patagonia, but this didn't really seem to matter at the time. You know, we make it up as we go along, and discuss possible problems, and figure them out when we get to Patagonia,' McCarthy said.
`The days of despair were fairly short-lived. I might go up and down a few times in a day, but it didn't stretch over many hours or something like days, so that one might be up a little and then down a little, but it kind of evened out. We all watched each other, obviously, to how it was going, to try to jolly someone along.'
McCarthy said he kept a newspaper picture of Ms. Morrell in his cell.
`You can see we are here together today and we're taking it very slowly and I think that's the only way to do it. We're just two normal people getting to know each other again. It's going very nicely,' McCarthy said.
Earlier this week, Britton Jack Mann, 77, was released. He was kidnapped in Beirut in 1989.
At least nine Westerners are still missing in Lebanon five Americans, a Briton, two Germans and an Italian. In addition, British officials says Alec Collett is presumed dead following claims he was killed in 1986 in retaliation for British complicity in U.S. bombing raids on Libya.
TERRY ANDERSON (Senate - October 25, 1991)
Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. President, I rise to inform my colleagues that today marks the 2,414th day that Terry Anderson has been held captive in Lebanon.
Today, two Beirut daily newspapers published a letter from Peggy Say to Terry Anderson. In her letter, Peggy calls the videotape of her brother--released earlier this month--a wonderful gift, noting his good health and sense of humor. And she reminds him:
Thousands of people will be praying for you this Sunday for your birthday and for the continued success of the Perez de Cuellar mission.
More. Sulome, Terry Anderson's daughter, has recorded a video message. And the BBC is broadcasting birthday greetings from John McCarthy and Brian Keenan, perhaps others. I add my own.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that an Associated Press report detailing the day's events be printed in the Record at this time.
There being no objection, the report was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Two Papers Publish Peggy Say's Letter to Anderson
BY RIMA SALAMEH
Beirut, Lebanon.--American hostage Terry Anderson's sister sent him a letter that was published in Beirut newspapers on Friday, two days before his seventh birthday in captivity.
Freed hostages John McCarthy and Brian Keenan also broadcast messages of hope to their former cellmates Friday, including a special birthday wish to Anderson.
The greetings came four days after kidnappers released American educator Jesse Turner, who returned to the United States on Friday. Turner was freed as part of complex negotiations mediated by the United Nations that have raised hopes for the freedom soon of all the Westerners held in Lebanon.
In her letter to Anderson, who turns 44 on Sunday, his sister Peggy Say wrote that the family was heartened by the way he looked on a videotape broadcast by Cable News Network on Oct. 6.
`The family is still basking in the glow of your robust good health, which was quite obvious on your videotape,' Say wrote.
`Equally apparent was the survival of your sense of humor and emotional well-being.'
`We are very grateful that you were allowed to send us this wonderful (videotape) gift,' she wrote.
The letter was published by Beirut's two conservative newspapers, Al-Answar and Ad-Diyar. Other Beirut dailies, including the leading An-Nahar and as-Safir, also received Mrs. Say's letter and plan to publish it Saturday.
Anderson's 6-year-old daughter, Sulome, who was born nearly three months after his capture, sent him a videotaped birthday message, saying she felt he would be out soon.
Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, is the longest-held hostage. He was kidnapped on March 16, 1985.
Islamic Jihad, a pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim fundamentalist group, claims it holds Anderson as well as American educator Thomas Sutherland and Anglican church envoy Terry Waite, a Briton.
Keenan, McCarthy and other freed Westerners have said Anderson and other captives are allowed to read newspapers and magazines and listen to radios.
In their radio message on the BBC, McCarthy and Keenan spoke hopefully about what Anderson and the others would encounter when they are finally freed. `I think it struck me, and will probably strike all the boys as they come home, that we are very famous people because of what has been done for us, and that is a little unnerving if you haven't been when you went away,' said McCarthy, 34, a television journalist who was released on Aug. 8.
McCarthy wished Anderson a happy birthday and then assured the hostages: `Everything's fine with your families ... It's been a great joy to talk to them and get to know them. When you're ready when you come home, it will be lovely to meet up with you all again, with the families.'
Speaking of Anderson's daughter, Sulome, he said: `There's a lot of Terry obviously in her, though they have yet to meet. But God willing, that will be very soon.'
Say's letter gave her brother a detailed account of the activities of each family member, as well as the efforts being made by U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar to free him.
`Thousands of people will be praying for you this Sunday for your birthday and for the continued success of the Perez de Cuellar mission,' said the letter.
The United Nations has been trying to arrange a swap of the Western hostages held in Lebanon for an estimated 300 Arab prisoners held by Israel and its proxy militia, the South Lebanon Army.
Perez de Cuellar's efforts came in response to a letter from Islamic Jihad that was brought to him by McCarthy. Since then, three Western captives have been released--Briton Jack Mann as well as Americans Edward Tracy and Turner.
TERRY ANDERSON, FRANK REED, AND BRIAN KEENAN (Senate - July 10, 1990)
Mr. MOYNIHAN. Mr. President, I rise to inform my colleagues that today marks the 1,942d day that Terry Anderson has been held in captivity in Beirut.
In addition, I would like to remark that recent Air Force and Justice Department tests have indicated that those who held former hostage Frank Reed poisoned him regularly with arsenic. We can only hope that those holding the other hostages do not engage in similar practices, practices which make the already inhumane act of hostage-taking even more so.
On a more encouraging note, it is now widely reported that another Western hostage might soon be released. The hostage is believed to be Brian Keenan of Scotland.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that an AP wire story discussing recent developments with the hostages be reprinted at this point in the Record.
There being no objection, the story was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Former Hostage Says Captors Poisoned Him With Arsenic
Boston: Frank Reed's captors deliberately gave him arsenic, the former hostage said he was told by Air Force officials. Reed also said that hostage Brian Keenan's sister had told him in a telephone conversation from Belfast, Northern Ireland, that negotiations toward the Irish educator's release were `50 percent finished.'
`I think it's the most wonderful news I've heard since I've been home,' Reed said Monday of Keenan's possible release. `Brian and I were mates in the holes, the hideouts. Brian on several occasions tried to intervene to try to stop the beatings that were going on.'
A Shiite source in Beirut, Lebanon, said Iran was pushing hard for the release of a hostage in appreciation for aid it received after the devastating June 21 earthquake there.
Based on hair and nail samples, Air Force and Justice Department officials believe Reed was given arsenic over a long period of time and one large dose shortly before he was released, Reed told Boston television station WHDH.
The news made Reed wonder if Keenan may also have been given arsenic.
`Brian was exhibiting the same symptoms that I had of arsenic poisoning, so let us hope that it hasn't been too severe. Brian and I got in a little trouble over there together and maybe they were giving it to him for the same reasons,' he said.
Reed, released April 30 after 44 months of captivity in Lebanon, speculated that the captors' goal may have been to subdue the hostages or to make them appear sickly in order to speed negotiations.
A spokesman at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center on Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland said Reed was released from the hospital on Friday. Neither the Justice Department nor the Air Force would comment late Monday.
The hospital reported last month that tests on Reed had found arsenic, but gave no indication of deliberate poisoning.
Hostages held in the Middle East include six Americans, four Britons, two West Germans, two Swiss, an Irishman, and an Italian. The longest held is Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press. He was kidnapped March 16, 1985.
Keenan was taken hostage April 11, 1986.
PRESIDENT STONEWALLING ON AMERICAN POW'S AND MIA'S (Senate - October 31, 1995)
Mr. SMITH. Madam President, I want to turn to a subject that has long been an area that I have worked on over the years, and I have come to the Senate floor today to report to my colleagues and to the American people on what I consider to be a very disturbing track record by the administration on the issue of unaccounted for American POW's listed as missing in action.
Many of my colleagues are well aware of the deep concern that I and others have had on the POW /MIA issue as a result of some of the previous debates we have had in the Senate concerning United States policy toward Communist Vietnam. But I do not think some of my colleagues or the American people are generally aware of the extent to which this administration is continuing to stonewall and drag its feet in efforts to resolve key questions on this POW /MIA issue. Although the administration's rhetoric might suggest otherwise, the facts show that many leads which could resolve the uncertainty of our missing are not being pursued with vigor.
That is a sad statement to have to make, Madam President. But it is true. And in some very important areas information is deliberately being withheld from Congress in addition to information still being withheld by Communist countries abroad.
This is an outrage, Madam President. It is bad enough that Communist countries are still withholding information about the remains of our servicemen after all these years. But when our own Government deliberately withholds information that would shed light on this issue, it is especially outrageous. It is a very serious comment to say that our own Government is deliberately withholding information. But I am going to prove that on the floor of the Senate as I continue my remarks, because of the administration's actions and inactions which I shall explain in detail in a few moments.
Communist Vietnam, Communist Laos, Communist North Korea, and Communist China are all being let off the hook on key questions regarding missing American servicemen and women.
As a Vietnam veteran who served this country in the United States Navy, and as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I find the administration's track record on this issue deeply offensive. I am going to explain why. But before I do, I think it is important for people to have a perspective of where I am coming from on this issue.
Many of my colleagues have worked on this issue in the past. Many are familiar with some of the things that I have done. I do not think I would be presumptuous if I said that I considered myself to be somewhat of an expert on this issue. I have worked on it for 11 years. Before coming to the Senate in 1991, I spent 6 years in the U.S. House of Representatives where I was a member of the POW /MIA Task Force, and there I worked to get access to my own Government files that they had in their possession to the families of the missing.
When I came to the Senate in 1991, I introduced legislation which ultimately formed the Select Committee on POW /MIA Affairs. Along with Senator Kerry, I cochaired an 18-month investigation by this committee which sunset at the end of the Bush administration.
Our work has been criticized, and some of that criticism is justified. However, I do not think anyone would dispute the fact that our committee played a pivotal role in helping to open many of our Government's files on the POW /MIA's from the Vietnam war. We held numerous hearings, deposed hundreds of witnesses, and learned a great deal about policy decisions that were made on the POW /MIA issue at the end of the Vietnam war.
I am convinced that our work on that committee forced the Government of Vietnam to do more than to resolve to the issue, and, although I am not convinced that Vietnam has done enough, obviously, it did move them and our own Government in the right direction.
Our committee also helped jump start the establishment of a joint commission with Russia which has been researching cold war shoot-downs along with the plight of the Korean war and the Vietnam war POW /MIA's .
I know my colleagues would agree with me that our Government owes just as much to the families from those wars as they do to the Vietnam families.
The Korean and cold war families have been forgotten, Madam President.
I have traveled to Russia on two occasions to hold talks on this issue. I was the first United States Senator to travel to Pyongyang, North Korea, and I went there for the sole purpose of discussing POW /MIA's . In fact, I have been to North Korea twice to discuss this issue. I brought back 11 remains of our servicemen on one of these trips from Korea.
Finally, I have been to Vietnam five times in the years that I have been in Congress, and two of those trips were with Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.
I point all of this out not to draw to attention to my efforts--I do not want any attention drawn to my efforts--but to underscore that when there is an attempt to dupe those of us here in the Congress by the administration on information, I do not intend to be duped. I continue to follow this issue closely. I know what the President has done, and, more importantly, I know what he has not done. And he knows that I know what he has not done.
When the Senate Select Committee on POW /MIA Affairs sunset in January 1993--and I might add we had to fight for the funding just to keep it going that long--we stated the following in our final report:
With this final report, the committee will cease to exist, but that does not mean that our own hard work on this issue will also end. To the extent that there remain questions outstanding that are not adequately dealt with by the Executive Branch, we will ensure that these questions are pursued.
Let me now explain those issues that are not being adequately dealt with by the executive branch, in my judgment. I have here a chart. This is a summary of several POW /MIA -related provisions from last year's National Defense Authorization Act.
I want the American people to know that this act was signed into law by the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, on October 5, 1994. It is the law of the land. This is not Bob Smith's opinion. This is not a congressional resolution. This is the law of the land signed October 5, 1994.
And these POW /MIA provisions that were in this bill right here, those provisions had bipartisan support in this Congress. And, as you know, in 1994 it was the other political party who controlled the Congress. So that further exemplifies the bipartisan support of this legislation.
When something is signed into law by the President, the administration has a responsibility to adhere to it--it is the law--not in a manner that they deem appropriate, but in the manner prescribed in the law. It is now a year later. It is October 1995, 1 year since this law, the Defense Authorization Act, went into effect. I think it is appropriate for us to review whether the administration has fully complied with that law.
Section 1031 requires the Defense Department to assist Korean war and cold war POW /MIA families seeking information about their loved ones. Specifically, the Secretary of Defense was required to designate a point of contact for these families that would assist them, the families, in obtaining Government records on their loved ones and ensuring that these records were rapidly declassified.
This past week I received the following letter from the Korean/Cold War Family Association of the Missing concerning the Defense Department's compliance with this law. I want to read it into the Record because it is very disturbing.
[Dear Senator Smith:]
In response to your letter of today's date, I shall herewith attempt to answer in what manner the Defense Department has complied with Section 1031 [right here] of last year's National Defense Authorization Act by the numbers.
1. Establish an official to serve as a single point of contact for immediate family members of Korean/Cold War MIA /POW's .
That is one of the provisions:
In October, 1994 our association began our requests from the DPMO [or the office of POW /MIA's in the government] to name our Single Point of Contact. Jim Wold [who heads that office] insisted that as the Director of DPMO he was automatically our Single Point of Contact. Once we convinced Mr. Wold that it was feasibly impossible for him to act as such, he agreed to appoint a suitable person. In the first quarter of 1995 we were informed Dr. Angelo Collura would serve as our Point of Contact along with two assistants and at that time were given his phone number. Our ability to reach Dr. Collura by phone has been sporadic at best. On too many occasions, when we were finally able to contact Dr. Collura for follow up to previous requests, Dr. Collura stated he was not able to follow through on questions because he was `pulled off Korean/Cold War to work on Vietnam War.'
2. To have that official assist family members in locating POW /MIA information and learning how to identify such information. We were told explicitly that it was up to the families to locate the information ourselves because 1. DPMO was not tasked to do it and 2. DPMO did not have the assets to do it. So obviously we have had no assistance in this. When questioned on the matter, we were referred to the DPMO contract with the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. This contract was for the FRD to `gather, copy and deliver to DPMO' documents pertaining to Korean/Cold War POW /MIA held in U.S. archives and agencies. As of July, 1995 20,000 pages have been gathered, copied and delivered to DPMO for families to review. There has been no effort to forward specific case pertinent information to the individual families because no one in DPMO is tasked to do so. This haphazard, certainly overly expensive, redundant method of research was DPMO's intent to comply with an entirely separate section of law. Do we feel assistance has been provided? No.
3. To have that official rapidly declassify any relevant documents that are located? Dr. Collura stated it was not his job to declassify documents and he was getting no cooperation from the section of DPMO whose job it was to declassify documents. `They are too busy with Vietnam,' or `DPMO can get no cooperation from the agency which originated that document.' To date I know of no documents which have been declassified by our Single Point of Contact.
They go on to say, in conclusion:
Can you tell me what they do other than to spend over $13 million annually ignoring not only the spirit of the laws passed but the very laws themselves? Surely a private business, contracted for half that amount of money, could comply with all the sections of the 1995 Defense Authorization Act pertaining to POW /MIA's and getting information to the families.
I ask unanimous consent that the letter be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the letters were ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
KOREAN/COLD WAR FAMILY
Association of the Missing,
Coppell, TX, October 23, 1995.
Senator Bob Smith,
c/o Dino Carluccio.
Dear Dino: In response to your letter of today's date, I shall herewith attempt to answer in what manner the Defense Department has complied with Section 1031 of last year's National Defense Authorization Act by the numbers.
1. Establish an official to serve as a single point of contact for immediate family members of Korean/Cold War POW /MIAs . In October, 1994 our association began our requests for DPMO to name our Single Point of Contact. Jim Wold insisted that as the Director of DPMO he was automatically our Single Point of Contact. Once we convinced Mr. Wold that it was feasibly impossible for them to act as such, he agreed to appoint a suitable person. In the first quarter of 1995 we were informed Dr. Angelo Collura would serve as our Point of Contact along with assistants and at that time was given his phone number. Our ability to reach Dr. Collura by phone has been sporadic at best. On too many occasions, when we were finally able to contact Dr. Collura for follow up to previous requests, Dr. Collura stated he was not able to follow through on questions because he was `pulled off Korean/Cold War to work on Vietnam War.'
2. To have that official assist family members in locating POW /MIA information and learning how to identify such information. We were told explicitly that it was up to the families to locate the information ourselves because 1.
DPMO was not tasked to do it and 2. DPMO did not have the assets to do it. So obviously we have had no assistance in this. When questioned on the matter, we were referred to the DPMO contract with the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. This contract was for the FRD to `gather, copy and deliver to DPMO' documents pertaining to Korean/Cold War POW /MIA held in U.S. archives and agencies. As of July, 1995 20,000 pages had been gathered, copied and delivered to DPMO for
families to review. There has been no effort to forward specific case pertinent information to the individual families because no one in DPMO is tasked to do so. This haphazard, certainly overly expensive, redundant method of research was DPMO's intent to comply with an entirely separate section of law. Do we feel assistance has been provided? No.
3. To have official rapidly declassify any relevant documents that are located? Dr. Collura stated it was not his job to declassify documents and he was getting no cooperation from the section of DPMO whose job it was to declassify documents. `They are too busy with Vietnam.' or `DPMO can get no cooperation from the agency which originated that document.' To date I know of no documents which have been declassified by our Single Point of Contact.
Dino, I still do not know what our Single Point of Contact, Dr. Collura does other than to be `pulled off the Korean/Cold War POW /MIAs to work on Vietnam War POW /MIAs' , but then after three years of DPMO, I still do not know what DPMO does. Just today I was told by DPMO that it was not a central point of documentation for POW /MIAs . Can you tell me what they do other than to spend over $13 million annually ignoring not only the spirit of the laws passed but the very laws themselves? Surely a private business, contracted for half that amount of money, could comply with all the sections of the 1995 Defense Authorization Act pertaining to POW /MIAs and getting the information to the families.
Again, thank you for your assistance. Without your help, the men and their families would still be in the limbo of 1954. Please see attached final form letter sent to all the families.
Pat Wilson Dunton,
Headquarters, U.S. Air Force,
Washington, DC, April 16, 1954.
Mrs. Geraldine B. Wilson,
MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, FL.
Dear Mrs. Wilson: Reference is made to the letter from General McCormick notifying you that the missing status of your husband has been terminated. In order that you will have all the information presently available to us, I would like to advise you regarding the possible recovery of his remains for return to the United States.
The truce agreement reached with the Communist forces provides for certain activities in connection with the recovery of remains of our honored dead from Communist-held territory. It also provides that the specific procedures and the time limit for the recovery operation shall be determined by the Military Armistice Commission. Until the necessary arrangements for the operation have been completed, we will not know when recovery and return of remains can be initiated.
I appreciate the anxiety you are experiencing, and regret that no information other than that which as now been furnished you is available at this time. You may be sure, however, that we will notify you immediately when further information becomes available.
If I may assist you with any unusual problems or circumstances regarding the above matter, please do not hesitate to contact me. Correspondence should be addressed as follows, to insure prompt delivery to my office:
Director of Supply and Services, Attention: Mortuary Branch, Headquarters, United States Air Force, Washington 25, DC.
Please accept my sincere sympathy in the great loss you have sustained.
The Secretary of Defense established the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Office (DPMO) in July 1993 to provide centralized management of prisoner of war/missing in action (POW /MIA ) affairs within the Department of Defense. Creation of the office brought together four disparate DoD offices that had been working in the POW /MIA arena for varying amounts of time.
In August 1994, the Director, DPMO, on his own initiative, requested an evaluation of his office by the Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Program Evaluation (PED). We focused our initial work on assessing the processes that provide definition, direction, and structure for the organization. We found that well developed processes in these areas were not yet in place. Specifically, we found that: basic missions and tasks were not well defined or communicated within the organization; no strategic planning process was in place; and the organizational structure was turbulent, poorly defined, and not consistent with current policy guidance regarding organizational layering.
After documenting these observations and providing a briefing to the Director in December 1994, we redirected our work to provide constructive suggestions on defining mission and tasks, establishing a planning process, and structuring the organization at the DPMO. The results of that work are presented in this White Paper and summarized in the paragraphs that follow.
DEFINING MISSIONS AND TASKS
In defining its missions and tasks, the DPMO faces challenges posed by the broad nature of its charter, the different institutional backgrounds of the office's components, and the divergent nature of its internal and external clients. Overcoming these obstacles first requires recognition of the conflicting perspectives that clients and components bring to bear on the operations of the agency. We suggest putting together a specific statement of the organization's purpose and translating it into some general goals as a way to produce awareness of where groups differ on attacking a common problem. This process can also contribute to communication and help foster commitment to the goals that are ultimately established. Only the members of an organization can validly formulate its goals, and the process should incorporate a wide range of input and discussion. However, we do provide some illustrative general goals for DPMO to facilitate our discussion. We recommend finalizing the draft instructions on Missions and Functions as a good vehicle for documenting the results of this effort.
Carrying out the missions and tasks established by the DPMO means setting up a good planning process. This involves translating the established purposes into more specific objectives or initiatives. Formulating these specific objectives should take into account the internal and external environment and attempt to identify strengths and weaknesses of the organization. The process should also account for the resources needed to reach the objectives and determine ways to measure progress towards achieving objectives. We point out the strategic planning guidelines set forth in the Government Performance and Results Act and urge the DPMO to adopt this model. We suggest that planning efforts should start small and need not wait until full developed strategic plans are in place. We also recommend that the organization adopt performance measures that are simple to apply and linked to the budget process.
In our discussion of organization structure, we recommend that the DPMO refrain from any ad hoc structural changes until it makes a more systematic assessment of its organizational needs. We analyzed three general alternative ways to divide the work and the assignment of responsibilities and authority in the DPMO:
Alternative 1: The Current Structure With Well Defined Mission and Tasks.
Alternative 2: A matrix-type structure using task forces for specified activities.
Alternative 3: A structure that allocates a significant portion of the work load and responsibility structure by geographic region.
Criteria we present for analyzing structures include clear lines of authority and responsibility, decentralization where possible, and congruence with the strategy of the organization. In formulating the alternatives, we assume that all current functions will remain with the DPMO. The description of each alternative includes any assumptions made concerning the work processes at the DPMO. We believe the alternatives presented are viable alternatives for consideration, in whole or in part, but only those more familiar with the organization can validate our assumptions. Accordingly, we make no specific recommendations on the structure most appropriate for the DPMO.
In concluding, we recognize the difficulty in setting aside time for such process building. However, in our experience, without the strong leadership that such actions require, the organization will continue to experience difficulty in justifying its resource requirements and completing the assigned mission.
Likes building a ship while under sail, it is not easy to meld disparate organizational entities together while faced with multiple operational demands. However, that is the challenge faced by the DPMO Our initial research at DPMO led us to conclude that the organization lacked (1) well defined missions and tasks, (2) a planning system to see that major goals were accomplished, and (3) a stable organizational structure that supported effective management.
To assist the office in tackling these areas, we outlined methods that we believe will help the organization define its mission, establish a planning system, and structure its organization. We recognize the difficulty in setting aside time for such process building. However, without the strong leadership that such actions require, the organization will continue to experience difficulty in justifying its resource requirements and completing the assigned mission.
Mr. SMITH. I think the letter certainly sums it up, Madam President. The bottom line is, on section 1031, did the administration comply? The answer is, no, they did not comply. Not only do they not comply, they indicate they have no intention of complying, that they cannot comply, they do not have time to comply.
You have to remember, Madam President, I would point out to you, as one who has worked very closely in constituent services as a Member of the House and Senate, this is not your typical bureaucrat runaround where somebody is trying to find out what happened to some particular thing in the Government or trying to get to the right agency. These are families who lost loved ones, who lost loved ones in the service of their country, and to get that kind of a runaround from people who are told to comply with law is disgraceful.
Let me turn to section 1032. This requires the Secretary of Defense to recommend changes to the Missing Persons Act within 6 months; that is, by April 5, 1995. This is an act from the 1940's that allows the Defense Department to declare that servicemen who became missing in hostile territory are automatically dead after 1 year if no information surfaces indicating who they are.
Senator Dole, Senator Lautenberg, Senator Lieberman and I sponsored legislation to correct this. However, I wanted to allow the Secretary of Defense, to be fair, a chance to submit his own recommendations that we could then work out and reconcile with Senator Dole's legislation and the Armed Services Committee. I did not try to say I had all the answers. I knew we had problems. We wanted to work it out.
Did we get the report by the end of the 6-month period? The answer is, no, we did not. We did not get it until the end of June, 2 months late. It was obvious the Defense Department made no serious attempts to consult with Members of Congress before submitting what turned out to be an inadequate report. Their delay in submitting the required report has pushed back our own timetable in reviewing this matter. As a result, it remains one of the outstanding issues in the current conference committee deliberations on the fiscal year 1996 Defense Authorization Act.
Congressman Dornan in the House has worked tirelessly to revise the Missing Persons Act. I want to compliment him for his work. He recognizes the seriousness of this issue, especially as Congress, as we speak, considers sending 25,000 American servicemen into Bosnia, and the White House is leading that effort.
Madam President, we have memos from the Carter administration between President Carter, Secretary of Defense Howard Brown, and National Security Council staff which show in clear terms how the Missing Persons Act was abused, clearly abused, to satisfy other political and foreign policy agendas. There are always other items that move to the surface and push this down. As a result, many Vietnam-era POW /MIA families endured a great injustice as their loved ones were simply written off as dead. These memos clearly show why the law needs to be reformed.
I ask unanimous consent that these memos that I have be printed in the Record following my remarks.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. SMITH. To sum up on section 1032, Madam President, the record clearly shows that the required report was not submitted by the required date. The administration did not comply. So, again, regrettably the answer is `no' again to the law which was supposed to be complied with in April 1995.
Section 1033 urges the Secretary of Defense to establish contact with the Communist Chinese Ministry of Defense officials on Korean War American POW's and MIA's .
Madam President, we have learned, through declassified CIA documents and through documents obtained from Russia, that the Chinese have a wealth of information--a wealth of information --on missing Americans from the Korean war. In fact, the North Koreans told me that when I visited them in P'yongyang in 1992. They made a point of telling me. They showed me books. They showed me photographs of the camps. And in those photographs, in those books, were Communist Chinese guards.
The North Koreans said, `Senator, we know you're here in North Korea looking for information on American POW's . You ought to talk to the Chinese because they were the ones that ran the camps.
They were the ones who packed up the American prisoners and took them across the Yalu River when General MacArthur pushed north.'
So, Madam President, section 1033 deals with just that matter that was signed into law on October 5, 1994. Three weeks later, the Secretary of Defense--this is ironic, but 3 weeks later the Secretary of Defense, Dr. Perry, was dispatched to Beijing--not for this issue but another issue more important, more important than this one--where he held high-level meetings with, you guessed it, the Communist Chinese Ministry of Defense officials.
So when Dr. Perry returned, I was excited. The law had passed. It was fresh in their minds. Dr. Perry had been to Communist China meeting with these officials. So I sent him a note and asked him if he raised the subject of unaccounted for Americans held by the Chinese on both sides of the Yalu River during the Korean war. I waited. I never got an answer. Several weeks later, I was informed by a low-level bureaucrat, much to my chagrin, that the subject never came up, never discussed. I was hoping I could say, `Did we get any leads on some information?' The subject never came up. In fact, as far as I know, Dr. Perry was not even made aware of section 1033 by his defense POW /MIA office at the time. After all, we saw the letter to the families. They are not interested. They are not interested.
More than 40 years have passed, Madam President, 40 years, and we still have yet to hold any substantive discussions with the Chinese on missing Americans from the Korean war. Forty years. The families wait.
Just a few weeks ago, I was contacted by the daughter of an American pilot shot down over China--not Korea, China--in the 1950's. Intelligence indications are that the Chinese captured the pilot. He was never heard from again.
What is President Clinton waiting for before he decides to approach China on behalf of the family of this man? How many more years do they have to wait before somebody simply asks the Chinese what happened to him. How many more years? Is that too much to ask? When the Secretary of Defense goes to China for high-level talks, is it too much to ask the Chinese what happened to that pilot that we know was shot down? That is what the Congress recommended. That is what the Congress urged by passing section 1033.
So again I must check the `No' box. Again we come up short. Again the President ignores the law. Again the families wait and wait and wait. No one cares. We do not have the assets. We do not have the resources. We do not have the time. We do not have the interest to be bothered with finding out what happened to that pilot in 1950, do we? Too many other important things to do, is there not?
This is a terrible message for the President who is about to send and wants to send 25,000 more Americans who wear the uniform today into Bosnia--25,000 more Americans into Bosnia, and he cannot ask his Secretary of Defense to ask the Chinese if they know what happened to this pilot and others. I am not holding the President to a standard he cannot meet. I am not asking the President to say absolutely bring him back alive or dead or bring back information. I am asking him to ask the Chinese what happened to him. That is all I am asking.
Section 1034--another section of the law--requires Secretary of Defense to provide Congress within 45 days a complete listing by name of all Vietnam era POW /MIA cases where it is possible Vietnamese or Lao officials can produce additional information.
I am going to skip this section for just a moment because it pertains to Vietnam, and I wish to finish covering the two sections on the Korean war. However, even though I am going to skip it, as you might expect, we are going to check the `No' box here, too, because they have not complied with that either.
This is perhaps the most disturbing affront to Congress, the Vietnam portion, but I will get back to that in a moment.
Let us go to section 1035. This `requires two reports to Congress on U.S. efforts to obtain information from North Korea on POW's and MIA's .
`Do the reports show any progress since October 1994?'
We have a situation where the answer happens to be `Yes.' But it further requires the President to seriously consider forming a special commission with North Korea to resolve the issue as recommended by the Senate Select Committee on POW /MIA Affairs in 1993, and the answer to that one is `No.'
The remains of those soldiers that we know were in those camps buried in North Korea during the war, where are they? I was allowed to visit, when I went to P'yongyang, the anti-American War Museum in 1992, and I caught a glimpse of their vast archives. It is obvious--obvious--that North Korea has substantial information on Americans that they shot down, captured, or turned over to the Chinese or had taken from them by the Chinese--room after room after room. We were allowed to see maybe half a dozen, maybe a few more, 7 or 8 rooms, in an 80- to 90-room museum full of information on Americans--Americans. It was called the American museum. Some in our Government denied it existed, said there was not any such museum. You are wasting your time to go over there and try to find it. North Koreans denied it, too, but we knew where it was, and we got there.
Let me tell you something. Having served in the Vietnam war and spent 11 years on this issue, to walk through a museum with letters from American POW's that were sent home but never were received at home because the North Koreans intercepted them and hung them up on their walls as trophies, to see photographs of dead American POW's and live American POW's who had been tortured and suffered, to see it all as the North Koreans proudly displayed with a high-ranking North Korean military officer on either side as I and others walked through that museum, that is tough. That is tough to have to go through.
You know what. As tough as it was, it is not half as tough as coming back here and knowing I cannot get anybody in Government who cares enough to go back over there and try to get answers for these families. That is what is tough.
The key question here is, Do the reports show any progress in these two specified areas? And again the answer to that question is `No.' And the reports make it clear. So I think I will check the `No' box again. There was a little `Yes' box here. That is the only `Yes.' In fact, the discussions with the North Koreans have been at an impasse now for a long, long time. The North Koreans want several millions from the United States for remains they have already turned over. I am not into that blackmail. We have done that to Vietnam now--millions of dollars for remains, body parts. That is blackmail. It is disgraceful. We should not agree to it. That is not what I talked to the North Koreans about. However, it does not mean that we should not set up a better mechanism to address all of our concerns--remains, possibility that somebody may be, through some heroic effort, left alive, and information, all three, as well as the North Korean concerns about compensation for expenses they can justify.
It was interesting; a South Korean soldier after spending 43 years in a North Korean camp came back alive about a year ago. That did not get a lot of publicity. His picture was not in Time magazine.
It was O.J. Simpson's picture or some rock star's picture, but not this guy.
(Mr. ASHCROFT assumed the chair.)
Mr. SMITH. Mr. President, let me tell you something, he happened to be a South Korean, but what if he had been an American? What if he had been an American? He would have been on Time magazine, would he not? Well, he could have been. He could have been.
I do not know what the President or anyone else in our Government today would have to say to that man, not a young man, not today. What would you say to him when you looked him in the eye when he asked you, `Where had you been for the past 43 years?' What would you say?
That is where the second half of section 1035 comes in. The Congress required the President to give serious consideration to forming a special commission with the North, and this is something the Senate Select Committee on POW /MIA Affairs recommended in its final report. All 12 Senators-- Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative--agreed on this point.
Nonetheless, the administration, obviously, has not given this suggestion any serious consideration, and if they had, they would have contacted me to discuss what the Bush administration and I had already worked out and presented to the North Koreans shortly before President Bush left office. I was very involved in those discussions and there has been no followup with me whatsoever--not one word from the previous administration or this administration, absolutely no interest, no consideration, no interest whatsoever in what those discussions were. I am not a State Department official. I have no authority to negotiate. These were simple discussions, but I thought they might be interested in knowing what we talked about and what we might be able to do as a result of those discussions, but I was hoping for too much.
But, oh, you hear the rhetoric, though, you hear the rhetoric. How we worked so hard, we tried so hard, we have the POW /MIA stamp, we have the ceremonies, POW /MIA recognition day, and we have these great speeches about how we will never forget, `You are not forgotten.' Words, Mr. President, they are cheap. There has not been compliance with the second half of section 1035. So we will just check the `no' block there.
Section 1036, require public disclosure of all Defense Department records on American POW's and missing personnel from the Korean war and the cold war that are in the possession of the National Archives by September 30, 1995, 1 month ago. Our National Archives, Mr. President. Not the North Korean's national archives, not the Chinese, not the Russians, our own archives.
Two weeks ago, the administration reported that they had not complied with this section. They need more time, Mr. President. One year was not enough. So Senator Kerry and I have now extended their deadline until January 2, 1996, in the fiscal year 1996 Defense Authorization Act. We gave the administration 3 more months, and it remains to be seen whether they are going to comply.
Open up the archives. Let us see what is in there. It is the Korean war, over 40 years ago. Are there national security secrets in there? What is amazing about this is that Defense Department officials have admitted to me--admitted--and I will not quote them, but they admit it, that they did not even begin to consider whether they would be in compliance with this provision until 10 months after the bill was signed into law.
At that time, when they were asked about it by family members, then they decided they might have to do something. It is not that we did not warn them. In fact, after the law was signed last year, I sent a letter to the Department of Defense reminding them of this obligation. They did not care about the deadline. It is not important. They have too many more important things to do.
So, again, let us check the final `no' box, Mr. President. That is not a very good record, the way I look at it. This is the law. This is the law. These are not simple requests by letters. This is the law. Not one item on there was complied with.
The administration, probably not a very good metaphor, basically thumbed its nose at the Congress and the American people and the families and our Nation's veterans by not complying with the sanctions of this law. I am offended, and every single decent American should be offended. Every mother and father who has a son or daughter poised to go into Bosnia today, sent there by this President or this Congress, ought to be offended.
This is contempt for the laws of Congress, and I know a lot of laws get passed and I know a lot of things are difficult to comply with. God knows I understand that. I serve on the Armed Services Committee and I sympathize with so many of the regulations and laws with which they have to comply. But I have reminded them over and over. I have offered to help. I have given them extensions. Nothing. And yet, if you read any manual on POW's and MIA's today, you know what it will say--try not to laugh, this is the highest national priority--it says in the handbook, `the highest national priority.' If that is the highest national priority, I would hate to see what is, really. The President clearly does not care
about disregarding this law, and I think the American people are rightfully going to hold him responsible for it.
Let me come back to 1034, the final point on here. This is the section which last year's law pertained to the Vietnam-era POW /MIA cases. This is the most disturbing violation of all, because it occurred during the same period--and this is very offensive to me personally--it occurred during the same period that the President is showering the Communist Government of Vietnam with full diplomatic recognition and expanding the commercial contacts there. In fact, the State Department and our trade representatives are now coming to the Hill to brief congressional staff on further efforts to expand the economic relations, to set up the diplomatic office.
I have stated all along, and fought this every inch of the way and lost, that these initiatives are premature and that they simply amount to nothing more than putting profit over principle. That is what it is.
Section 1034 requires the Secretary of Defense to provide Congress within 45 days--this is not an unreasonable request--within 45 days a complete listing by name of all Vietnam-era POW /MIA cases where it is possible that Vietnamese or Lao officials can produce additional information. Not additional men, not unreasonable requests, not somebody that was blown up in a fire fight that nobody saw, but POW /MIA cases where it is possible that Vietnamese or Lao officials can produce additional information.
Mr. President, there are 2,170 Americans still unaccounted for from the Vietnam war. We know half of them were believed to be killed in combat at the time of their incident and the other half were listed as missing in action--we know that--which means we did not know what happened to them at the end of the war. That is what it means.
There has been a great debate about how many cases Vietnam really still owes us answers on, how many out of these 2,170 can they legitimately give us answers on. We know they cannot do it all. That would be an unreasonable expectation, because in some cases, frankly, they do not know what happened. There was a lot of concern about some of the wartime photographs that surfaced in the Vietnamese archives on cases where Vietnam had previously said they had no information, no information, do not know what happened to this guy and suddenly up pops a photograph.
So we wanted a case-by-case assessment on this issue. Now you would think that the Department of Defense would have had this information readily available in some type of a database that is constantly updated, if it is the highest national priority. We are trying to find out what happened to the 2,170 men. If we have intelligence information that this or that happened, we ought to be feeding it into a database, we ought to be able to pull it up and send it over here. Wrong.
They spend $54 million a year of the taxpayers' money working on this issue, and they cannot produce a simple list of 2,170 people in which it says on one side this guy was killed in action, here are the witnesses; this guy was captured alive, he was led off, here is the information; this guy was photographed in a POW camp, never came back. They cannot produce it. They cannot do it.
They have the information, Mr. President, because I have read it.
I have seen it. Do you know why they do not want to produce the list? I will tell you why. Because if they produce the list, it might screw up the diplomatic relations, mess up the economic gains that American businessmen are going to make by exploiting Vietnam. That is why they do not want to put the list out.
How could the President of the United States--any President--proceed with the normalization of relations with any country--in this case, Vietnam--without first knowing just a simple, basic knowledge of how many cases of missing American servicemen there are? If Vietnamese and Lao officials had more information on them, based on all of our intelligence and investigative activity to date, how can we, in good conscience, move on without getting just that basic information--not out of the Vietnamese, Mr. President, but out of our own Government--what they have that they think the Vietnamese and the Lao have?
I am not saying account for every one of these men. That is not what I am asking for. I am asking them to give me the information on the cases of the men that they have in their best intelligence--perhaps a witness, a buddy who saw a guy led off, whatever. Give it to us because we have reason to believe that the Vietnamese would know what happened to these men, and we can confront them on this.
One example: David Hrdlicka was shot down, captured by the North Vietnamese in Laos, photographed, filmed, used in Communist propaganda, paraded around. Never a word from the Lao or the Vietnamese as to what happened to David Hrdlicka. Do you think they do not know what happened to him? Of course, they know what happened to him. But that information is in that list.
If the Government sends that list over here--our Government--that is going to be a little embarrassing, because when Carol Hrdlicka, David's wife, who has waited all these years, says, `Why are you normalizing relations with a country that will not even tell you what happened to my husband?' What are you going to say, Mr. President? The administration has not complied with this law.
You have to ask yourself these questions: Why? Why? I could go over there, probably in a month, with a couple of staff people and get it myself. It is there. It is not that it is not there. Of course, it is there. Of course, there is a database. What are they afraid of? Are they covering up or sitting on information that would show the American people that Vietnam is not fully cooperating on missing Americans? You bet. You bet. That is exactly the reason why they are not giving us the information, because it is going to show that the Vietnamese are not fully cooperating--are not cooperating in any way, shape, or form, to the full capacity that they could.
If this information were released to the public, it would undermine all of the rhetoric from the President, the Secretary of State and their adjectives like `splendid,' `superb,' and all this cooperation they claim we have been receiving from Communist Vietnam. That is what we have heard--not just cooperation, but `splendid,' `superb,' `outstanding,' `unprecedented.'
Well, boy, it would sure blow that up if the U.S. Congress and every staff member for every Senator and Congressman in this place could look at that list. That is why we do not have the list. Hold the list up, ignore the law until we get it all done, until we get the mission set up, get the full diplomatic relations set up, then let it out, but do not do it now; you will sure mess it up.
I recall the statements by assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord during his last trip to Vietnam this last May. He stated: `We have no reason to believe that the Vietnamese are not making a good-faith effort on the POW /MIA issue.' Well, Mr. Lord, let me just say it as nicely as I can: That is not the truth. That is not the truth, and you know it.
If the President has no reason--and that is the exact word--to believe they are not cooperating, which is what he cited as the basis for announcing his decision to normalize relations this past summer, then where is the list? Why do you not let us see the list?
There will be some who will come back down here on the floor, perhaps tonight or tomorrow and say, `There goes Smith again. I thought we could get the war behind us; I want to get it over and move on. I am tired of fighting the war.'
Some things have to be fought. Some things have to be continued because they are right. Many of my colleagues in the 1840's and 1850's stood on the floor of this U.S. Senate and argued against slavery, and it took them a while to get it right, but they got it right, and they were right when they were making those statements and having those discussions on the floor of the Senate. And we are right now to make them now.
History will judge us as being right. History will judge us, who stood up and said we did not get the information, not only from the Vietnamese and the Lao, but from our own Government. We did not get it. History will judge us as being absolutely right. I do not care
who says what differently. History will be the judge. I will stand on that judgment.
I want to review in more detail now exactly where we have been concerning this requirement over the last year. I want my colleagues and the American people to see what is going on. I know this is a long speech and people want to go home, but it has been a lot longer for the people who have waited for answers for their loved ones, some all the way back into the fifties, from the cold war. So I am doing it for them. No one else cares, so I am doing it for them.
I want everybody to know what happened over the last year. It would make you sick, Mr. President, to see the obfuscation, the delay tactics that have taken place. I have drawn my conclusion. I am going to be criticized for this. It is a coverup; that is what it is. It is not a coverup in any sense other than you got information and you will not give it to us, according to the law. If you have information that the law prescribes and you will not give it to us, then you are covering it up. If you are not covering up, get it over here. If I get this information over here tomorrow morning, I will withdraw and retract the comment about a coverup. If I do not get it, or there is some indication that I am going to get it quickly, I am going to assume that this information is being covered up so we can get on with normalization and not mess it up.
This information, if we get it here, will show that right up to the present, despite all the comments about cooperation, the Government is nonetheless holding back information on several hundred--not 10, 12 or 20--American servicemen that were lost or captured in Communist Laos and North Vietnam during the war. Several hundred are on that list. What is that list? That list is the best case, best information available by the United States Government through intelligence sources, buddies on the battlefield, copilots, back seaters, men on the ground as to what happened to these individuals. It is not necessarily that they are alive, but that we know what happened to them, and we think the Vietnamese know what happened to them. That is all we are asking for. But, you see, if we publish that list, it would destroy the argument for normalization.
Do you know what people say to me? It is amazing. `Why would a Vietnamese hold back any information?' First of all, I am not interested in why. The first question is, are they holding back and not disclosing information about the fate of our men? In the absence of this list of cases, I can only conclude that the administration is presently engaged in a coverup of information that would answer this question in the affirmative. Pure and simple.
People will yank this phrase out of context. But if you put it in the context that I have said it--and I have been quoted out of context before--they are covering up in providing the information, the best-case information, best available information, as to what happened to certain men who are missing, in order to move forward with diplomatic relations and trade. I am going to let my colleagues and the American people be the judge after they see what happened, because do you know what? Sooner or later I am going to get that list,
because I have seen it and I know it exists.
This list was required by law on November 17, 1994. As that date approached, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense sent a letter to Congress requesting a 3-month extension. He also informed us there was an interagency agreement within the executive branch that no revised or new list would ever be produced.
Let me read from the letter we received at the time from the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The fiscal year 1995 National Defense Authorization Act contained a request that the Secretary of Defense report not later than 45 days to the Congress specified information pertaining to the U.S. personnel involved in the Vietnam conflict that remain unaccounted for.
This letter is to advise you the study is underway and that considerable progress has been made, but it is unlikely the report will be finalized by the time requested. It is anticipated that the report will be finalized within 135 days, at which time it will be forwarded to your committee for review.
This was addressed to Senator Nunn.
The comprehensive review must be carefully constructed to reinforce current and near-term negotiations. Specifically, there is great potential to any new list to cause confusion for the governments of Vietnam and Laos, and this concern resulted in an interagency agreement that would not produce any new lists.
Mr. President, the law does not give the administration the luxury to decide whether or not a new list would be produced. It said produce a list.
I reminded the administration of that fact last November. I am, frankly, not interested in some bureaucrat's view about causing confusion for the Vietnamese. The Congress, the American people, and the families are the ones who have been confused by Government distortions on this issue since the end of the war. That is another reason we want a straightforward list in the first place.
Notwithstanding that, I try to be reasonable, and in spite of all the hardships these families try to be reasonable. A 3-month extension seemed OK to me, and the Armed Services Committee agreed with it.
I met with the Deputy Assistant Secretary in December of last year in my office and told him I had no objection. Even though I did, I said I had no objection to extending the deadline to February 17, 1995. I expressed my amazement that such a list did not already exist. In fact, I still do not know how the President can look at normalizing relations with Communist Vietnam without having the list of the American POW cases that Vietnam might be holding back on. He is not concerned about it. I just am absolutely aghast to think that that does not bother him, because apparently it does not or he would provide the list.
When the new extended deadline began to approach after the Christmas holidays last year, rumors started to surface that we still would not get the list by the new February deadline. Those rumors turned out to be true.
On January 24, 1995, after more rumors surfaced that the President might upgrade relations with Vietnam, several of my colleagues joined me in sending a letter to the President reminding him of his obligation to provide the required list. In fact, we asked him to give us the list before any decision was made to upgrade relations.
That sent the red flag up, so now we had to speed up the process. Let me just say I sent the letter. But let me tell you who else signed it. It was signed by the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Senator Helms; it was signed by the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Thurmond; it was signed by the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Specter; signed by the chairman of the Asian Pacific Subcommittee, Senator Thomas; the chairwoman of the International Operations Subcommittee, Senator Snowe; the House chairman of the International Relations Committee, Congressman Gilman; the House chairman of the Asian Pacific Subcommittee Bereuter; and the House chairman of the National Committee on Military Personal, Congressman Dornan.
The President ignored the request. He said, you will get the list soon, period. This was in January 1995. January 28, he announced the formation of liaison offices between Vietnam and the United States in both Hanoi and here in Washington. Fast track, we call it.
For the first time now we are allowing the Communist Vietnamese government to establish an office here in Washington, even though Congress still had not provided the American people with a list, the White House had not provided Congress with a list of POW /MIA that Vietnam might be holding back on. No list.
I think the administration realized their decision to upgrade relations would not be viewed in a positive light if the list was released just last February. You can be the judge on that.
I next raised the issue with Secretary of Defense Bill Perry at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 9, 1995. I told Dr. Perry's staff beforehand that I would raise the question so there would be no surprises. I do not play the game that way. I wanted him to have a response ready so I did not catch him by surprise.
When I asked him at the hearing if he was going to meet the new deadline by February 17, he said, `Yes, yes.' I immediately followed up that day with a letter to the Assistant Secretary of Defense.
The following day I received a response which stated, `The Department will respond to the legislation by February 17, 1995. Let me assure you our response to this Congressional requirement will be provided in compliance with the law.'
On February 17, 1995, we received a letter from the Secretary of Defense which did not comply with the law. I repeat, did not comply with the law. It did not provide the updated listing of cases of missing Americans that Vietnam and Laos officials might have more information on.
I want to read an excerpt from that letter that we received from the Secretary of Defense which I have blown up here on a chart. This is the letter to Senator Thurmond, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
In response to this legislation, the Department of Defense has initiated a comprehensive review of each case involving an American who never returned from Southeast Asia.
That sounds good.
As of February 12, 1995, nearly 50 percent of all cases have been reviewed as part of this process.
Completion of this painstaking case-by-case review will take at least several additional months, at which time these findings will be reported to Congress.
Well, here we go again. We do not have a list. Several additional months--no list.
Is it not a little audacious for the Pentagon to talk about a request if a straightforward analysis--let me quote this language which really jumps off the page, Mr. President. `Completion of this painstaking case-by-case review will take at least several additional months.'
Painstaking. How about the pain and the uncertainty that the families have had to endure with their missing loved ones? Believe me, the Pentagon's pain on this issue is nothing compared to the pain of the families. I think the word is an insult. I take offense with the use of that word to imply there is some analyst over in the Pentagon who is going through this whole painstaking process of putting a list together--a simple list of information they already have. I am not asking them to extract this from the Vietnamese and Laos but from our own intelligence files that we believe the Vietnamese have or the Laos on our missing men.
How would you compare their pain? That must be awfully painful for them, is it not, these bureaucrats going through this painstaking process?
What have they been doing for the last 25 years? What have they been doing for the last 25 years if they do not have the information on these people that are missing? My God, what are they telling the families? How can anybody have any sympathy for anybody in this administration or any other administration with that kind of analysis on this issue?
Consider the roller coaster ride that the families have been on year after year, decade after decade, waiting for answers. Hopes up, dashed. Hopes up, dashed. They are the ones that have gone through the pain, Mr. President, not these bureaucrats.
I am not saying that the people in there are not loyal Americans trying to do a job, but we should get the job done.
How much more time do you need? It was clear by this past February that the administration had violated the law. That is the exact phrase--violated the law. I sent a long letter, again, to the Secretary of Defense on March 7, 1995, and I expressed my disappointment that you violated the law. Everybody else has to comply with the law but apparently the President does not.
A month later on April 7, I received another written response from the Under Secretary of Defense, Walter Slocombe, allegedly on behalf of Dr. Perry. Let me just read an excerpt from that letter:
Section 1034's impact has been to refocus the analyst' work to conduct this comprehensive review earlier than anticipated. Currently, DOD has committed 22 of the 33 analysts (67 percent) within DPMO and an additional 12 analysts from Joint Task Force Full Accounting to working full-time on the comprehensive review. To ensure the type of comprehensive review of all 2,211 cases that both Congress and the families demand and have a right to expect, it is essential that the analysts expend the time and scrutiny required to evaluate every individual's case in the light of all available evidence.
While there will be no arbitrary deadline, I assure you that DOD will continue to give this effort the utmost attention. I am confident the review will be completed during the summer. The department will report the results of DPMO's review to Congress on its completion.
That was in April. Imagine that. The law imposes a deadline. That is what I thought, that you had to comply with the law. I am sure the Senator in the chair, the Senator from Missouri, when the EPA tells one of the communities in your State they have to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act or Clean Air Act, they nail you with a fine and threaten your community.
This law imposed a deadline, and not an unreasonable one. Yet the Under Secretary of Defense says to Congress, `There will be no arbitrary deadline.' In other words, `To heck with you, Congress. Do not tell me when we have to do this. We will get it when we are ready. That is an arbitrary deadline.'
Who is he, Mr. President? Who elected him? Is he under the law? I guess not. The Department of Defense must be above the law. And the Clinton administration, I guess the President himself, he must feel the same way--above the law.
You wonder why people are cynical about politics and politicians? It is an affront. It is an affront to Congress. I am taking the floor tonight, and taking the time to work my way through this because I want my colleagues to know that we have laws on the books that are being ignored, and blatantly ignored. We are not even allowed to review our own Government's assessment to judge for ourselves whether Vietnam is fully cooperating. I am not asking for my own assessment. I am asking for our Government's assessment. That is all I am asking for.
And then, without getting that information, my colleagues and I are asked to rubberstamp the President's discussion on diplomatic relations. That is what we did.
I do not think it is going to be that easy. I urge my colleagues to consider these matters the next time they are asked to vote on this issue. I certainly commend Senator Craig Thomas for his support in his committee. I hope it will be a long time coming before you get an ambassador approved out of the Senate.
There used to be an expression as you go along through a speech `stay tuned, it gets worse.' The next chart is a statement from June 28, 1995, before Congress. This is a full 3 months after the last letter from Under Secretary Slocombe wherein he assured us that all his analysts were working full time on these cases.
Three months later, in June, we still did not have the list. So, this is sworn testimony by Jim Wold, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW /MIA affairs. Here is what he said.
We must never forget, however, that the goal of achieving the fullest possible accounting can only be achieved with diligence and hard work. With that in mind, I launched the ongoing DOD comprehensive review of all Southeast Asia cases, which I hope will be completed in mid-July. This all-encompassing look at every individual case will provide a solid analytic assessment of the appropriate `next steps' for achieving the fullest possible accounting. Our unaccounted Americans deserve no less. I will work to ensure that we keep our promise to them. Thank you.
Jim Wold is not entirely accurate or he would have said the goal will only be achieved when Vietnam decides to fully open its archives and its prisons. Then we can say we are diligent hard workers.
We can `say' that. That is not going to resolve this matter if the Vietnamese are deliberately withholding information, and I am going to discuss some of the information that is being withheld. There is a lot of heartwarming rhetoric at the end of this statement, `Our unaccounted Americans deserve no less. I will work to ensure that we keep our promise to them.' That is what he said. That is real nice. But the fact is the administration was supposed to work to get the job done and report it to Congress under the reasonable deadline imposed by Congress: 45 days, not 245 days later which was mid-July or 330 days, as it now stands, nearly a year since the deadline. No list.
This information should already have been compiled and available for policy makers, the Congress and the families. It has been held--it has been withheld from the American people. They have it. They can put it together. It may not be in a sheet form that you can just
say `Here,' listed with the information. They can put it together and they can put it together quickly. They have it. Of course they have it. Could they produce it? Yes. Why do they not? Because it is going to show in black and white the degree to which Vietnam is sitting, as we speak, on information concerning the fate of several hundred American servicemen. Not a few dozen like the administration likes to claim--no, no, no. This is an outrage. It is going to show that they have information on several hundred Americans.
The next chart is a copy of a letter that I sent, again to the Under Secretary of Defense, Mr. Slocombe, continuing to try here. This was dated August 18, 1995, after the President announced, in July, his intention to establish diplomatic relations with Communist Vietnam. You remember that debate. I again tried by sending another letter. My letter followed a similar letter from Senator Thomas in mid-July on this subject, in which he has made clear his intent to withhold in his subcommittee any funding for Vietnam or any ambassadorial nominee to Hanoi until this is reviewed by Congress.
I commend him for having the courage to do that. He has taken considerable heat for it. I cannot possibly say how much I appreciate his support. He has been steadfast on this issue as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific affairs.
But in my August letter, without reading it all, I basically said: Mr. Secretary, where is the list? Where is the list? Where is the list?
No response. No response from the August 18 letter. Not even an acknowledgment, despite numerous followup phone calls after this. Senator Thomas--no response.
I am told from other sources that these cases finally moved up the policy ladder in the administration, but only after the President made his decision to normalize, which was my point all along. Once we get passed that bogey, then we are home free. They did not want to get it in the way as the President made his decision. Apparently, staffers at the National Security Council are now `very concerned' about releasing this information because of what it shows and the way things are worded in the study. The word is that this assessment or study, which is now being withheld from Congress--and it is being withheld deliberately --shows that Vietnam is likely withholding information on hundreds of POW /MIA cases.
I want to underscore why I am concerned about this. The fact that we still have in my judgment a discrepancy of several hundred cases with no answers from Vietnam or Laos. To do this, I want to refer to the charts, information about POW's from Vietnam that has surfaced in the last 12 years from the Communist Party and intelligence archives of the former Soviet Union. The Russians, to their credit--the Russians to their credit--have been very, very helpful. I am a member of the U.S.-Russian Commission. I met with the Russians on numerous occasions on this subject.
For those who are not familiar with the reports about these documents, let me explain. In 1993, only a few months after President Clinton was sworn in, the administration received from the Russian archives two reports that the Soviet Union, the old Soviet Union, had covertly obtained from the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam war--covertly obtained; a very touchy subject. These were copies of speeches given by two Vietnamese military officials to the North Vietnamese Politburo in 1971 and 1972.
Sections of both of these speeches concern American POW's being held by North Vietnam, and they stated flatly that more American POW's were being held than those the Vietnamese had acknowledged. This is not our intelligence. This is the Soviets.
I might add that the numbers were larger than those that we had assumed.
Sections of both of these speeches were looked at. I might add, as I said, that these numbers were much larger than what we found in the Paris Peace Accords in 1973.
That is the essence of these secret speeches before the North Vietnamese Politburo. They had told the world that they held X number of POW's , but in reality they held X-plus, and they were not going to release them until we withdrew from Vietnam and paid war reparations, which we never did.
These are not my words. This is the document. As our select committee showed in 1992, yes, we withdrew our military forces in 1975 after Congress had cut off the purse strings, but we did not pay the reparations that President Nixon had promised the Vietnamese in secret communications in February of 1973.
So the first Politburo report turned over was a translation of a wartime secret speech by North Vietnamese Gen. Tran Von Quang, who was a former Deputy Chief of Staff of the North Vietnamese Army. In their report, he stated that 1,205 Americans were being held. As I previously pointed out, only 591 came home. So there is an obvious discrepancy. General Quang says in the document we have 1,205; 591 came home.
The secret Politburo report turned over was a translation of another speech given earlier in the war by the Vietnamese former Vice Minister for National Defense Hoang Anh. Like General Quang, he stated that he had only released a list of 368 names of Americans but that they were in fact holding 735. As I previously stated, that figure had gone up to 1,205 a couple of years later when General Quang addressed the Politburo.
These numbers are all confusing, but this is what the report says. This is not a debate about what Bob Smith believes. It is not a debate about that report itself. It is a debate about what this report says. It says it. It is a document taken from the archives of the Soviet Union. I do not know whether these numbers are accurate. I do not know. But I know that General Quang said they were accurate. It was not a propaganda document. It was said before the Vietnamese Politburo.
Do you not think that President Clinton would be naive if he believed the Vietnamese did not hold back the total number of Americans they had captured during the war for whatever strategic purposes they deemed appropriate at the time? Even former Secretary of Defense Mel Laird, to his credit, had held a press conference in 1970 to say that the list the Vietnamese published at the time was not complete.
For the record, I want to say that these two Russian documents surfaced on President Clinton's watch--not on President Nixon's or Dr. Kissinger's watch in 1973. They did not know about these documents.
There can be no doubt that President Clinton has to be the one to bear the responsibility with regard to holding the Vietnamese accountable in terms of explaining these Politburo reports, these documents. We cannot go back and say, `Dr. Kissinger should have done something on these specific reports,' because they did not know about this. It is my judgment that the administration has tried to brush these documents aside.
There will be plenty of people out there who will say, `Oh, my, here is Smith again.' This is a disservice to the Congress, and to the members of the Armed Services Committee, and to the members of our armed services. Instead of keeping faith with the American fighting men by pursuing information like this until we are certain we are doing everything we can to account for the missing Americans, the President has broken faith.
What about the investigative activity of these reports? Did we look into them sufficiently? In short, no. The administration has not even asked to meet with Hoang Anh, the author of one of these reports, even though he is living in retirement in Vietnam. We are going over there to establish diplomatic relations, going to drill for a little oil, set up some airline offices, but we cannot meet with Mr. Anh. We cannot meet with him, and have not met with him. There has been no credible type of detailed information from the Vietnamese Government on either of these reports, just deny them and that they were accurate.
Let me concentrate on that report by Quang which went into a lot of detail about the number of Americans being held. When that document publicly surfaced from the Soviet archives in April of 1993, the Vietnamese put a full court press on it, believe me, to label the document a `fabrication.' They knew
the President was close to lifting the trade embargo. In fact, some said it was created to squash the trade embargo. I do not know who could create it. It came out of the Soviet archives. It was an authentic document. It was said they were caught between a hot rock and a hard place.
What do they do? They lie. They said the report was cooked up and fabricated by a Harvard researcher. That is where it got very interesting. This was not a POW /MIA activist. This was not a nut. This was a Harvard researcher who had nothing to do with MIA's . He was over there doing another project. He found it. He said, `Whoops. Holy mackerel. Here, this is something important.' He tucked it away. His name was Stephen Morris.
When the Russians officially turned that document over, the Russians were able to convince every reasonable scholar and analyst that this was an authentic intelligence document from the GRU, the equivalent to our Defense Intelligence Agency. Simply put, the Russians confirmed when they turned the document over that the Vietnamese had apparently lied to the United States for 20 years.
Was there an uproar by the administration, Mr. President? No. In fact, the first thing they did was to classify the document secret, and withhold it from the American people. `Oh, we do not want to mess up the embargo. We cannot let that out.' But Dr. Morris released it to the New York Times. Now we have a problem. So then the administration had to respond.
I have a chart here that is a synopsis of the official comments by the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Let me just quickly go through this. You have to remember that this is an independent researcher, Dr. Morris, who finds the document in the Soviet archives. The Soviets say it is true, it is an accurate document in the sense that it is authentic. You cannot vouch for the exact language in it. But these remarks were made by General Quang, it is an authentic document out of the Soviet archives, out of the GRU intelligence community. So now we have a problem. This is two Communist nations during the war who were friends. This is an embarrassment. And the Communist Vietnamese were livid because it embarrassed them. But they were caught with their proverbial pants down. They had to say something. Here is what they said.
`Vietnam totally denies that ill-intentioned fabrication * * *. Realities prove that the report * * * is completely groundless.'
That was in the Foreign Ministry.
`General Tran Van Quang had nothing to do with the General Staff of the Vietnamese People's Army,' said the Foreign Minister.
`This is a pure fabrication, and we completely reject it,' said the Deputy Director of Vietnam's Office for Seeking Missing Persons.
`* * * it is a forgery document. It's totally false.'
This is Le Van Bang, former U.N. Ambassador from Vietnam, the charge d'affaires in Washington, DC. He is here now.
`[General Quang] was in no position to make such a report.'
`It's a sheer fabrication. It's non-existent.'
`The intelligence service that manufactured this report was a very bad intelligence service. It was absolutely wrong. Never in my life did I make such a report because it was not my area of responsibility * * *. I had nothing to do with American prisoners,' said General Quang in April 1993.
Did anybody from the U.S. Government, anybody from the Clinton administration, meet with General Quang? You guessed it. No.
But I did. I did. I went over and spent a half-hour with him. He lied throughout the entire discussion. The reason I know he lied is because I asked him questions that I knew the answer to. He gave me the wrong answers to about just the basic information, about the war years, about information he had that I knew was accurate. He lied. He lied about this.
This is when the Vietnamese really got hot.
`The Russians can possibly open up their documents for you, but as long as the United States side is treating the Vietnamese as `Trading with the Enemy,' we cannot open our documents for this reason.'
That is what the Vietnamese said. He said that to me, particularly the Vietnamese official in Hanoi. It is pretty revealing--that last quote, Mr. President, because the Vietnamese told me personally--that the Russians can open their documents, but we are not going to as long as there is a trade embargo.
That is exactly what they said to me. The Russians can open them up, but we are not opening them up until you get rid of the trade embargo; that is, Trading With the Enemy Act.
Well, the President lifted the embargo 2 years ago. After he lifted the embargo, we were going to have this whole raft of information which was going to come sweeping out of Vietnam.
We were going to be just besieged with it.
Well, we still do not have access to their Communist Party records on POW's . We had to get it through the Russians. So much for superb, splendid, outstanding cooperation, Mr. President.
Let us look at the second chart. Let us see what the Russians had to say about this document. I hope everyone is following this because we just saw what the Vietnamese had to say. These are the Russians. They do not have any reason to be lying to us about this. This is embarrassing to them if anything else. It would be the equivalent of England and the United States with some agreement during the war years that would embarrass one of us against the other. But here we have Dr. Rudol'f Germanovich Pikhoya, the Chief State Archivist of the Russian Federation in August of this year. Here is what he said:
I am absolutely certain that the numbers--
That is the numbers of POW's .
cited by General Quang are true. I believe that the data still exists in Vietnam which deals specifically with U.S. POW's . . . I am absolutely positive that the 1205 figure is absolutely true and correct as far as intelligence data is concerned. As an archivist and someone who has analyzed a great many documents, military and otherwise, I can tell you that this is an absolute truth:
He has used the word `absolute' two or three times:
This number was announced by Quang at a closed Politburo meeting.
How do Russians get information out of a closed Politburo meeting? We do not need to get into that, but we all know how to get it.
Colonel General Ladygin, Chief, Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff Ministries of Defense. That is the GRU, the intelligence arm:
General Tran Van Quang, according to the position he held in the Vietnamese military political leadership in 1972, would have been fully competent in the matters stated in the report and qualified to speak about them at Politburo sessions of the Vietnamese Communist Party Central Committee.
Fully competent in the matter stated. They knew who he was. They were allies. They knew who Quang was. Of course, they knew who he was. That is why they were spying on him, to put it nicely.
Captain 1st Rank Alexander Sivets, Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, GRU. Listen:
I will reaffirm that the 1205 document could not have been used for propaganda purposes. It was a top secret document not intended for anyone outside the chambers of the Vietnamese Communist Party to see . . . the document that was sent to the (Soviet) Central Party Committee is, in fact, an original document and not a fake. We consider that the Vietnamese leaders, in their desire to exploit the POW problem for their own interests, would officially cite a lower figure than the real one. This is something that we do not doubt . . . we believe that there were more (American POWs) than Vietnam was officially admitting to.
Gen. Dmitri Volkogonov, a real hero in my mind, who has worked hard on this issue on the side of Russia to help us resolve this issue even though he is very sick:
Upon the request of Senator Smith to President Yeltsin --
That was a hand-delivered letter that my wife delivered to Boris Yeltsin, put it in his hand when he visited in America so there were no bureaucrats in between:
Upon the request of Senator Smith to President Yeltsin, President Yeltsin ordered me to conduct additional research--
I mean we would not want anybody in the administration to give Yeltsin anything on this so I did:
to include in the files of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense. . . I have studied exhaustively the mechanism used to gather this document--
I have studied exhaustively the mechanism used to gather this document, and I can state that I do not know of any case where such information would have been fabricated. . . (General Ladygin) has stated that General Quang was fully competent to give his report.
That is a nice way of saying we collected intelligence in there. We are not going to tell you how we did it, but we did it.
Maj. Gen. Anitoliy Volkov:
The Vietnamese denied this document and said it was put forth to throw cold water on U.S. relations. However, I would say in response that there is an old Russian proverb--you cannot change the words of a song.
Once it is a song, it is a song. When you change the words, it is a different song, is it not, Mr. President?
I want to reiterate Mr. President, the Russians have told me right to my face, in my office and in Moscow, that the method by which these reports, the Quang documents, were collected were reliable by the GRU, the intelligence gathering agency. And it was a method through which they acquired other significant reports during the war. In fact, they acquired another report by General Quang to the North Vietnamese Politburo in June 1972, which has nothing to do with POW's and MIA's . In that report, he talks about North Vietnam losses during the Easter offensive in the spring of 1992, and guess what. That information, too, was all accurate. So if he was in a position to know this stuff, how could it not all be accurate? No one in the administration has even asked him about it.
Let us look at what two former National Security Advisers to the President had to say about the Vietnamese Politburo report.
Now, this is very interesting--very interesting. This was on MacNeil/Lehrer--Dr. Brzezinski, who was National Security Council adviser to President Carter, and Dr. Kissinger, who was the Secretary of State and the National Security Adviser to President Nixon.
Again, following up on the same two reports:
Dr. Brzezinski, you've stated publicly, and you're quoted in the New York Times as believing the document--
The 1205 document.
is genuine. What convinces you? Dr. Brzezinski, National Security Adviser to President Carter, right after the war. What convinces you?
Its style, its content, the cover note to the Soviet Politburo. One would have to assume a really very complex Byzantine conspiracy to reach the conclusion that this is not an authentic Soviet document based on a Vietnamese document.
Then MacNeil says:
Dr. Kissinger, what do you think on the question of authenticity, first of all, of the document?
Dr. Kissinger: I agree with Brzezinski that those parts that I know something about have an authentic ring.
Remember, this document deals not just with MIA's . It dealt with a whole raft of things. They have an authentic ring:
For example, when they (General Quang) described what their negotiating tactics were, those were the tactics they were using in negotiating with us.
Kissinger was the guy who negotiated the Paris Peace Agreement:
They say in this document that their proposals were first a cease fire and overthrow of President Thieu, after which they would use the prisoners to negotiate whatever other concerns they had. Now, as of the date of that document, those were their proposals. A month later they changed it, but I could see if you make a report to the Politburo in the middle of September and you want to summarize what the negotiating position is. . . .
He goes on to say:
If that document is authentic, and it is hard to imagine who would have forged it, for what purpose, then I think an enormous crime has been committed, and then we should--I do not see how we can proceed in normalizing relations until it is fully cleared up.
Dr. Kissinger himself: `I do not see how we can proceed with normalizing relations until it is cleared up.'
Not only has it not been cleared up; we have not even talked to anybody about it.
As far as Vietnam is concerned, I think that if this document is sustained, and it looks unfortunately to be sustainable, we have the right to ask the present Vietnamese government to place those responsible in war crimes trials . . .
Dr. Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser.
Let me repeat this:
As far as Vietnam is concerned, I think that if this document is sustained, and unfortunately it looks to be sustainable, we have the right to ask the present Vietnamese government to place those responsible in war crimes trials . . .
We did not do that, did we? We just gave them diplomatic relations. We are going to give them money, trade, airplane routes.
I don't think that we can normalize relations or ease conditions in international agencies until we have cleared up this issue . . . I don't see how we can proceed with North Vietnamese or with Vietnamese normalization until this question is cleared up . . .
Well, we did. So much for the impact of two National Security Council advisers, very respected, very knowledgeable, certainly more knowledgeable than anyone I know on this issue.
Let us look at what the President says, the Clinton administration denials concerning the 1972 Politburo report on American POW's . This is amazing. You heard Brzezinski, you heard Kissinger, you heard the Russians, the Russian intelligence. Now let us hear what our Government says.
What General Quang told us is not inconsistent with what we knew about him, and I have no reason to disbelieve General Quang.
That is General Vessey.
I have no reason to disbelieve [him].
The number of U.S. POWs mentioned in the document could not be correct . . .
Now, we are going to get to the CIA. Now we have to trash this thing, blow it up and make sure we could not possibly have any credibility left because we have to normalize. We cannot let this document get in the way.
So the CIA says:
The number of U.S. POWs mentioned in the document could not be correct, they contradict what the U.S. Government knows from years of research and the analysis of thousands of other intelligence documents.
So, the U.S. Government, the CIA, sitting here in Washington, DC, knows more than the Russian intelligence, who were on the ground, allies, knows more than anybody else:
All previously known information and conventional analytical thinking based on this information tend to refute the Russian document . . . Based on historical information we have amassed . . .
They do not say where they amassed it. They just amassed it. No proof.
We can assume that there is little evidence to support the claims made in the Russian document.
If I wanted to use profanity on the floor of the Senate--and I will not--there is a word for that, Mr. President. It comes from livestock of the male variety:
While portions of the document are plausible and some portions are accurate and true, evidence in support of its accuracy concerning the POWs is far outweighed by errors, omissions, and propaganda which detracts from its credibility.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW /MIA Affairs.
Let us drop down to Malcolm Toon, the U.S. Chairman, Joint Commission on POW /MIA's :
I am now prepared to accept as the best available answer to this annoying problem.
It is now an annoying problem. That is a very interesting choice of words, an annoying problem. Here is a guy out of the Communist archives of the Soviet Union, a general who was in a position to know almost everything about POW /MIA's , saying that they had more POW's and MIA's in the turnback, and now it is an annoying problem.
You bet your boots it is an annoying problem. If you want to normalize relations with a government that held them, it sure as heck is an annoying problem. That is what it says, an annoying problem.
But this is the one here. This is Robert Destatte, Vietnam analyst, Defense POW /MIA Office, statement to the Russian Government in August 1995. This is bizarre. Destatte is over there. And here is what he says. He is now going to argue with the Russian intelligence. He knows more about it than they do:
We have accurate knowledge of the movement of prisoners through the Vietnamese prison system. We have accurate knowledge of the numbers and locations of each of the detention camps in North Vietnam, [not only North Vietnam] South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Regarding the number of 1205,
taking into consideration the Americans who are unaccounted for, it's impossible to come up with the figure 1205 . . . We cannot accept that figure . . . If we look at the document, we know where Tran Van Quang was at the time. We also know what his position was. It's highly unlikely that Tran Van Quang would have presented a report on these issues to the Politburo.
Listen to that. It is highly unlikely. A very clear, precise word. `Highly unlikely that * * * Quang would have presented a report on these issues to the Politburo.' That he would have is highly unlikely. `We cannot accept that figure. . .' Baloney. They do not know what they are talking about.
We are told that there is no way that the numbers add up; General Quang did not, could not, have given the report. In fact, we are told there is no reason to disbelieve Quang. I think the fact that he is a North Vietnamese Communist general that waged war on American soldiers for an entire decade, a Vietnamese general who waged war on American soldiers for a decade, is that not enough reason not to brush this report aside? Do you not think he knew what he was talking about? It was not a propaganda piece. It was a document allegedly of an actual transcription of what he said. He is talking to the Politburo in Vietnam. He is not talking to the world out there trying to convince them of something.
It is amazing that the Clinton administration is so confident on this point. The Russians say it is accurate, that Quang did, in fact, give this report. And the Clinton administration says there is no reason to believe Quang. It is an annoying problem.
I cannot imagine--I am not an attorney, but in a court of law, if you were trying this case, I cannot imagine not getting a conviction that this document was real. If the administration wants to talk about whether the numbers make sense, let us look at the breakdown. The numbers certainly are not impossible. The word was that there could not possibly be that many POW's .
Well, here they are. There are the 2,170 lost in North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, China. Total: 1,101. Those are missing.
Here are the ones KIA/BNR, another 1,000. We do not know for sure that every one of them is KIA/BNR, body not recovered. So there is certainly enough in the numbers. Baloney.
If the numbers do add up, why should the administration let Vietnam off the hook on these Russian documents? Why do we not at least investigate?
Let us take Laos as an example. We have 293 personnel missing from Laos; another 178 that we believe died during the war. So 293, 178, equals 471 in Laos.
In the Politburo report General Quang states:
From other categories of American servicemen in Indochina, we have captured 391 people, including . . . 43 in Laos.
Well, you are talking about 471. It would seem to me that if you add 391 and 43, you are somewhere in the vicinity of 430. And if 471 are missing from Laos, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to figure out there could be 430 people that we do not have accounted for.
Now, let me read from the excerpts from declassified minutes of a White House situation briefing in January 1973, 4 months after Quang's secret report.
During that White House meeting, Admiral Daniel Murphy of the Department of Defense stated:
We don't know what we will get from Laos.
We are back in 1973 now:
We don't know what we will get from Laos. We have only six known prisoners in Laos, although we hope there may be 40 or 41.
Mr. President, that is almost the exact number referenced by General Quang.
We never got any POW's back from Laos. Not one. Not one. Nine were sent back by the North Vietnamese into Vietnamese prisons. Not one, including David Hrdlicka, even though he was filmed and those films were sent all over the Communist world. Never got one back. Not one. And they were captured and they were held.
I was in Laos, flew in by helicopter, went up into the remote areas of the caves where Hrdlicka was held. We talked to the villagers who held him. We know he was held there. He was alive. They know what happened to him, too. I am not saying he is alive. I do not know that. My point is they know what happened to him, and there were others captured along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and Laos by Vietnamese units and taken into Vietnam. As I say, nine of them were Americans. Only nine of them ever came home.
In our committee hearings in 1992, Larry Eagleburger had sent a memo to Dr. Kissinger. He was a DOD official at the time. He sent a memo to Dr. Kissinger recommending military action to get back American POW's believed to be captured in Laos. This was at the time peace accords were being negotiated.
President Nixon said, `It's inconceivable that there were not more names on the POW list from Laos.' And this number, this 471, tracks with what General Quang said, Mr. President. He was there. Yet, in spite of all this, in spite of all these comments, in spite of all this information, the President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, said `We're getting superb cooperation' from the Vietnamese.
The Vietnamese have turned over one document concerning shootdowns of Americans in Laos. One. One document, and that is it, even though our intelligence agencies believe that the Vietnamese have many more records on who they captured in Laos. We know they do. And you know what, if we get that list, we will find out that they do.
The Pentagon refers to that one document that we have as the `Group 559' document, since the information was apparently compiled from the records of the North Vietnamese unit in Laos during the war, which was called group 559. I might say that document was provided in September 1993, 20 years later, 2 months after my last visit to Vietnam.
It was during that visit I sat with the Vietnamese and went through declassified documents from our own intelligence agencies page by page and conclusively proved that North Vietnamese units were, in fact, in Laos during the war shooting down and capturing American pilots. I actually read it to them, the Vietnamese. They never heard these before. It was declassified, so it was perfectly appropriate to do it. I actually read them the radio intercepts that we had on these guys being captured. They were shocked. It was the first time anybody of the United States ever sat down with the Vietnamese and gave them graphic evidence and said, `Hey, guys, I'm sorry, don't give me the line anymore because we have the intercepts, we know you captured these guys. We don't know what you did with them 20 years later, but we know you captured them. So why don't you tell us? Stop the game.'
Not one shred of information on any of those guys. Not to me that year I was there, not to anybody else after that, but it is splendid cooperation, Mr. President.
So the Vietnamese put together this summary of shootdowns in Laos. They called it the group 559. They turned it over 2 months later, and our analysts at the Pentagon went through that summary and concluded:
The analysis of this document makes it clear that the Vietnamese have additional group 559 records that may contain information useful to POW resolution. This document makes explicit reference to wartime documents from which information was obtained.
Do we have these documents? Do we have these documents? No. But we are getting splendid cooperation. We are getting the oil money pumping over there, opening up the airline routes, get the businesses going because we are having splendid cooperation.
Ask the families, Mr. President, whether they think the cooperation has been splendid. Ask the families if they support normalization with Vietnam.
Since that summary document on Laos losses was turned over in 1993, practically nothing--nothing, for the most part--nothing has been turned over by Vietnam concerning cases of Americans lost in Laos.
All of these people who have come down here and railed against me on this issue over the years, railed against all the things I have said, ask them to come down here and rail about Laos. See what they know about Laos. Ask them to come down on the floor of the Senate and say, `Yes, the Lao and Vietnamese in Laos have given us all the information on the Lao shootdowns.' Ask them to do that. See if anybody has the nerve to come down and say that.
President Clinton has admitted as much in the 6-month overdue report which he provided to Congress on October 5, 1994. In that report, the President stated:
The Vietnamese have not turned over any major documents since September 1993.
It is another year later, and they still have not done it, but we are moving down the old fast track. Vietnam has done nothing credible in terms of releasing these records on American losses in Laos in addition to their high level reports on the politburo on the Russians which I spoke about earlier. The Russian intelligence data that we stumbled on by the action of a researcher named Steven Morris caught them in the act, and yet we have to debunk it. We have to say it is not true because if we say it is true or even indicate it might be true, we cannot normalize.
What I have tried to do is, as I have gone through this--and I must admit I am getting tired, Mr. President, but I cannot be as tired as some of the families are who have waited, so I am going to get through this. Bear with me just a little while longer.
Congressman James Talent, in a hearing chaired by Robert Dornan June 28, 1995, this is now to Gary Sydow, senior analyst, Defense, POW /MIA Office, Department of Defense.
Question: Has the United States been granted access to Vietnam's wartime central committee level or politburo records pertaining to the subject of American POW's captured during the war in Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia? Have they given us access to those central committee level or politburo records? Because I understand that is where these matters were discussed. Does anybody know?
In other words, have they given us access to the politburo records General Quang referred to.
Gary Sydow, senior analyst: `The answer to that is no.'
That is the end of the statement. I have known Gary Sydow since I have been in the Congress. He is a very respected analyst. He has no agenda. He is a good man. He is telling the truth. He told the truth before Congress. The answer to that is no. But that did not stop normalization. That did not stop normalization, no. We have another agenda.
Even the administration representatives who traveled to Vietnam and those who are now stationed there have done little, in my opinion, to press the Vietnamese for the Quang document.
I have to believe in most cases they are honorable men and women, but why do they not ask for the document, why do they not press for the information? That is not asking too much.
Last Thursday, our new Charge d'Affaires in Hanoi, Mr. Anderson, met with General Quang. Again, I got excited. He is going to meet somebody other than me. He is actually going to talk to General Quang. He is still alive. He still has this information in his head. So he is going to meet with him, this Mr. Anderson. So I got excited.
According to the press reports, the subject of the meeting was to thank each other for work on veterans issues, including the missing in action from both sides. That is what the meeting was about.
General Quang--they could not ask him for a more credible response on his document. The issue was not even raised, as far as I know. This is very disturbing in view of the fact that our new Charge d'Affaires, Mr. Anderson, was the State Department's representative on POW /MIA issues during the interagency meetings at the end of the Carter administration in 1980.
He served with Brzezinski. You would think he would be interested in pursuing these matters now that he is at Hanoi. My office called the State Department to find out what was actually said during that meeting. If the subject of the Guam report was not discussed at this meeting last Thursday, I would question what the point is of having diplomatic relations with Hanoi.
If we are going to have diplomatic relations with Hanoi to get the answers, why do we not ask for the answers? President Clinton said it was the best way to get answers on POW /MIA's . If we are not even going to raise the subject--it is obvious that all we are hearing is rhetoric from the administration, and there is no real commitment to serious follow-up on the issue.
Do you know what the sad thing is, Mr. President. I have been on the floor now--I do not even know--a long time. You just wonder how many people really care, other than the families and some who stay focused on this issue. It is so sad. Earlier in my remarks, I quoted assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord when he stated this past may, `We have no reason to believe that the Vietnamese are not making a good-faith effort.' Did he talk to Mr. Sydow? If you are listening, Mr. Lord, talk to Mr. Sydow. He has been around a long time. He knows a lot more about the issue than you do. Read the testimony of the committee, Mr. Lord.
I think it is clear, from everything I have gone through today, that the American people are being misled in terms of cooperation, because they are not cooperating. Are they cooperating at all? Yes. If you want to get into semantics, yes, sure. If we pay them several million dollars, we can dig around out in the crash sites, find a few teeth, a few bone parts, airplane parts. Sure. That is reasonable. That is progress. I am not opposed to that.
But that is not enough. I want the records. I want the Politburo access. I hate to say this, but this administration does not want the American people to find out what we already know about our missing POW's , because it is not a pretty picture, Mr. President. If it got out--and it will, but it will be after the fact--it would stop normalization because the American people would go crazy; they would yell and scream and write letters to their Congressmen and Senators, and they would be outraged. That is why we are not going to see this stuff until it is all done.
That is a sad thing for me to have to stand on the floor of the Senate and say. It is especially true when you look at this next chart of quotes from President Clinton himself and Vice President Gore. I do not know what more you can do other than to judge people by their words.
President Clinton, before he was sworn in as President, stated this because there was a lot of controversy about his lack of service in the war, and so Vietnam was an issue in the campaign. He said:
I have sent a clear message that there will be no normalization of relations with any country that is at all suspected of withholding information on missing Americans.'
That was Bill Clinton prior to his assuming office as President.
During the campaign, he said:
I think that the Vietnamese would be making a mistake if they think they could get, somehow, a better deal from me. I made real commitments to the American people and to the families and friends and the POWs and the MIAs that, you know, we've got to have a full, complete, good accounting before we normalize relations.
I am sorry to have to give you the bad news, Mr. President, but we do not have a full accounting.
Al Gore, the Vice President, who served in Vietnam, was even stronger. He said, in 1993, after he took office:
I'll tell you this. The great push towards normalization of relations is very strong, and a lot of other countries are moving there, but it's not going to go forward until we're satisfied that the Vietnamese government has been totally forthcoming and fully cooperative in giving every last shred of evidence that they have on this issue. We're very concerned about it.
Every last shred of evidence? Oh, my. Last month, the President said that normalizing relations with Vietnam is the best way to ensure further progress. Now it is `further progress.' You go from, `we have to get all the answers to normalize' to `if we normalize, we will get more answers.' It is a complete reversal, Mr. President, a flip-flop on a campaign promise. The American people need to understand that, and so do the families have to understand that.
The last chart, Mr. President--and this is the last chart and the end of my remarks for tonight--brings it home directly. This basically is a breakdown, by State, of all the missing. As far as I know, every State in the Union has American soldiers missing from the Vietnam war, including nine from my State of New Hampshire. I want my colleagues to understand something. These are not just statistics. Behind every one of those numbers--behind the nine in New Hampshire, behind the 210 in California, behind the 28 in Louisiana, or the 20 in Montana--is a family, a brother, sister, father, mother, wife, husband. They all wait. They all wait. They all wait. All these years, they wait.
You know, in war, you lose people. People die. People get killed, lost. People are not found. We understand that, and so do the men and women who serve understand that, and so do their families understand it. But that is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about sharing information that this Government has with the American people, so they can make an intelligent decision, through their representatives, about whether or not we should normalize with a country that did this to us. They have withheld this from us all these years, but we have basically done that--normalized with them.
I could go on and on. There is a case involving an aircraft shot down by north Vietnamese forces in Laos 1 week after the Paris peace accord--just a week after the Paris peace accord, Mr. President, when they all were supposedly accounted for. One week after, it was shot down. At the time, there were national security agency radio intercepts, and based on these intercepts, the probable capture and movement along the Ho Chi Minh trail of Americans by the North Vietnamese in this incident. To show you the agony the families have to go through--and I do not want to get into whether it is right or wrong--
now the Pentagon wants to bury the entire crew at Arlington because they found half of a tooth at the crash site in 1993.
Now, how do you explain to a family why half a tooth found at a crash site could conclusively tell a family that is their loved one when we had radio intercepts that these guys were taken away from the crash site? How do you do that?
I am told this is only forensic evidence that was recovered and now they want to bury the whole crew. Their names have been taken off the list. That is what it is--get that list down. Even though the Vietnamese may not have provided one shred of documentary evidence as to what happened to these men. They know what happened to these guys. They could tell us. If they died, they know. If they were led off and executed, they know. If they died in captivity, they know.
What do they do? They say, go ahead, take your shovels. We will sell the shovels to you, sell you the bulldozers, or lease you the bulldozers, give you some men at ridiculously high prices for labor, and we will let you go out there and dig around at the crash site when, in fact, we have all the information in the archives. We know what has happened. That is progress. That is the cooperation we are getting.
It is hard for a family to have to deal with that. Imagine yourself, a father or mother, a spouse, to have to look at that report, then be asked to accept a tooth at that crash site when, in fact, you have radio intercepts, intelligence reports that said these men were captured.
I do not know what is right. I do not know if the radio intercepts were right or wrong but the Vietnamese know. They can tell us. They can tell these families so we do not have to go through this pain anymore.
I have a long list of other cases, and I am not going to go through them. There has been no cooperation of the many requests from Congress for basic information on MIA's .
I hope my reason for taking the time of the Senate tonight, I hope that this issue might somehow, some way, hit home for each of my colleagues. When you look up there in your State and you see that number, think about it. There is a family behind every single number--children, grown now, some of them, children of their own, down at the wall.
I have looked at this issue for 11 years, and I know what I am talking about. I know what I am talking about. Communist Vietnam, Communist Laos, Communist North Vietnam and Communist China, as God is my witness, holds information on American service personnel today as I speak. They hold it and they can account for them.
We do nothing about it except normalize and go on with business as usual as if everything is all right, everything is more important, and then on top of that, we hide it from the Congress in violation of the law to be sure that we get it doing.
If we do not pursue the documents, or call into serious question the President's ill-advised decision to normalize, I am offended as a veteran, as a father with two sons and a daughter, any of whom could be sent off to Bosnia.
Mr. President, this is a tough issue. There is no question about it. It is a tough issue. The people say to me, `Senator, why don't you put the war behind you? Why don't you end this?' Because you have to get the truth. That is all we want, is the truth.
We do not want something that you cannot deliver on. If the Vietnamese cannot provide answers, then tell us why they cannot, but provide us unilaterally with everything that you can. And for God's sake, the United States Government, in a timely fashion, please provide any information that you have so that the families can finally get the peace that they deserve after so many years.
The Secretary of Defense,
Washington, DC, February 14, 1977.
Memorandum for the President.
I understand that at your meeting on February 11 with leaders of the National League of Families, you indicated that the moratorium on unsolicited status changes for MIAs would continue. From our conversation before that meeting, my understanding is that the Department of Defense should go through all the files, getting ready to move on a program of unsolicited status changes later this year depending upon the outcome of negotiations with the Vietnamese.
Do I correctly understand your wishes?
National Security Council,
March 2, 1977.
Memorandum for Zbigniew Brzezinski.
From: Michel Oksenberg.
Subject: Letter to Carol Bates of National League of Families.
Attached at Tab A is a reply for your signature to a letter from Carol Bates (Tab B).
I chose a reflective reply, since we wish to sustain Ms. Bates' confidence in us. We still have to cross the difficult bridge with these people.
Recommendation: That you sign the letter at Tab A.
National Security Council,
March 15, 1977.
Memorandum for Zbigniew Brzezinski.
From: Michel Oksenberg, MD.
Subject: League of Families' Reaction to Presidential Commission to Hanoi.
Signs are beginning to accumulate that many members of the League of Families are distressed by the purpose of the Woodcock Commission. They believe it is simply a ritualistic effort to obtain an accounting, with the President already having decided that he will accept whatever the Vietnamese give as sufficient to justify movement toward normalization.
I think it important to keep the League on board for as long as possible.
I have just talked to Carol Bates, Administrative Assistant of the League. I think that she is basically a reasonable person, and she indicated to me that a letter from you might enable her to prevent the convening of a meeting and/or press conference that would blast this effort before the Commission returns home with its report.
Recommendation: That you sign the letter to Carol Bates at Tab A.
National Security Council,
March 25, 1977.
Memorandum for Zbigniew Brzezinski.
From: Michel Oksenberg, MD.
Subject: Forthcoming Paris Negotiations with the Vietnamese.
You might wish to underscore to the President the desirability of toning down expectations, should a question arise at the press conference about the Paris negotiations.
The Vietnamese media have been vitriolic in their attacks on the U.S. They have explicitly linked aid to recognition. They have begun to release additional communications which passed between the Nixon Administration and the DRV.
Among other considerations, the hardened mood makes it unlikely that we will be obtaining more information on MIAs. At the same time, in response to the President's request, the Pentagon is forwarding recommendations on status reviews of the MIAs. The Pentagon will recommend that case reviews go forward, i.e., that MIAs be declared KLAs. This will place the President in a difficult political position, should he decide to accept the Pentagon's recommendation. He had earlier pledged not to allow case reviews until adequate accounting had been obtained. And he had raised public expectations that the Vietnamese were going to be more forthcoming on MIA information. Now it looks as if we may be in a deep freeze for at least many months.
Placed in the broadest context, when one considers the Vietnamese statements as well as Congressional votes against aid to Vietnam, we see the inability of two bitter enemies swiftly to place the past behind them, as the President had hoped. I have drafted a Q&A for the President in this realm which I think is appropriate for the occasion and in keeping with his style. You might draw it to his attention (Tab A).
Recommendation: That you mention this to the President before the press conference.
The Secretary of Defense,
Washington, DC, May 26, 1995.
Memorandum for the President.
Subject: Status Reviews for Servicemen Missing in Southeast Asia.
You have asked for my recommendations concerning status reviews for MIAs.
As you know, since mid-1973 DoD has conducted status reviews only upon the written request of a missing serviceman's primary next of kin or upon receipt of conclusive evidence of death, such as the return of his remains. The Woodcock Commission concluded (as had the House Select Committee on Missing Persons in Southeast Asia, and the Department of Defense) that there is no evidence that any American servicemen are alive and being held against their will in Southeast Asia.
It is true that the Southeast Asian governments probably have significantly more information about our missing men than they have given to us. There is no reason to believe, however, that continuing to carry servicemen as missing in action puts pressure on Hanoi to provide information on our missing men. In fact, the opposite probably is true; it puts pressure on us to make concessions to Hanoi.
Status reviews, and obtaining of a complete accounting, are two distinct issues. An accounting that confirms death by direct evidence validates a declaration or presumption of death for a missing serviceman, but it is not a legal prerequisite to a status change.
Given the overwhelming probability that none of the MIAs ever will be found alive, I believe the time has come to allow the Secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force to exercise their responsibilities for status reviews as mandated by law even though we have not received a full accounting.
Reinstatement of reviews will of course be controversial. Certain members of the Congress, some families of the missing men, and others will charge that it is an abandonment of one MIA .
* * * * *
The resumption of reviews will be preceded by (1) an expression of our strong commitment to obtaining further information about the missing men and (2) careful preparation of concerned groups for the change of policy.
The decision will be discussed forthrightly with the National League of Families.
Appropriate Senate and House leaders and key members will be given advance notice.
The procedures for status reviews will be uniform among the Military Departments, in accordance with legal requirements, and announced through simultaneous letters from the Service Secretaries to the PW/MIA families.
The public will be informed of the reasons for reinstituting status reviews and assured that this does not detract from our determination to obtain an accounting. (I suggest that the public announcement would be most effective coming from you, but I am prepared to make it instead.)
1. Reinstate status reviews in accordance with the foregoing: Approve ¿. Disapprove ¿. Other ¿.
2. Presidential statement to apprise public: Approve ¿. Disapprove ¿. Other ¿.
3. Prepare for your approval a detailed plan of procedure: Approve ¿. Disapprove ¿. Other ¿.
Mr. THOMAS. Mr. President, I rise today as the chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs to join with the Senator from New Hampshire in expressing my profound disappointment with the way the Clinton administration is managing--or more correctly, mismanaging--our bilateral relationship with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
My colleagues know that I was not supportive of the President's decision to normalize relations with Hanoi. This opposition was not based on my dislike of that country's Communist dictatorship, or even its brutal repression of its own people--although in this administration's view these two bases seem sufficient to continue to deny recognition to Cuba and North Korea. Rather, I did not believe that we should reward Vietnam with the normalization of relations when, in my opinion and the opinion of many of the Members of this body, Hanoi has not been sufficiently forthcoming with information about our country's missing and dead servicemen in Vietnam and Laos.
I will not rehash the normalization issue; the President made that decision and it serves little purpose to argue about a fait accompli. However, one of the issues that brings Senator Smith and I to the floor today are the increasing signs that this administration's has decided to explore expanding our bilateral relationship to the economic benefit of the Vietnamese Government while completely disregarding the lack of Vietnamese progress on both the POW /MIA and human rights fronts. Representatives from the State Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative were scheduled to come to the Hill this week to brief our staffs on the administration's decision to move toward expanding economic relations with Vietnam. Apparently, interagency discussions have been ongoing to the topic of extending loans and assistance to the Vietnamese through the Import-Export Bank, the Trade Development Agency, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. This at a time when POW /MIA issues remain unresolved, the Clinton administration is in flagrant violation of a law requiring the submission to the Congress of a report about the POW /MIA issue, and two American citizens remain jailed in Vietnamese prisons for advocating democracy in that country. The Senator from New Hampshire has already spoken forcefully to the POW /MIA issue, so I will limit my remarks to the second and third topics.
Mr. President, the Clinton Administration continues to fail to live up to its legal obligations with respect to the POW /MIA issue. For example, section 1034 of the act of October 5, 1994, Public Law No. 103-337, 108 Stat. 2840, requires the Secretary of Defense to provide the Congress with a complete list of missing or unaccounted for United States military personnel about whom it is possible that Vietnamese and Laotian officials could produce information or remains. The statute mandated that the report be submitted to us by November 17, 1994. When the DOD requested an extension of the deadline to February 17, 1995, we did not object. We did not object when the DOD supplied us with a sadly incomplete interim report. But Mr. President, almost 9 months after that date--and almost a year after it was due to be submitted--we have still not received that complete report required by the statute.
While I acknowledge that the President has wide latitude in the conduct of foreign policy, that latitude does not extend whether his administration abides by the legal requirements of Federal statutes. I and several other Senators wrote the President this summer requesting that the Defense Department comply with the law; we are still awaiting a response. Congress requested the list in order to determine for ourselves whether Vietnam was providing the United States with
the fullest possible accounting of our POW /MIA's . Each day that passes without it, I believe, sends us the signal that the administration is indifferent to both our concerns and our role. As the chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over Vietnam, I can assure the President that as each day passes without our receipt of the report, the likelihood that any ambassadorial nominee or funding request for that country will be indefinately held in my subcommittee increases commensurately.
Second, I am very concerned with the seeming disparity with which the Clinton administration has chosen to treat Vietnam's jailing of two American citizens--Tran Quang Liem and Nguyen Tan Tri--versus its reaction to China's arrest of Harry Wu. I spoke at length on the floor on September 5 about Vietnam's atrocious human rights record in general, and the case of these two Americans in particular. In August, a Vietnamese court sentenced Tran and Nguyen who were accused of being counter-revolutionaries and acting to overthrow the people's administration. The two were part of a group trying to organize a 1 day conference in Ho Chi Minh City to discuss human rights and democracy in Vietnam. Radio Hanoi Voice of Vietnam, in somewhat characteristic Communist rhetoric, described their `crimes' as follows:
Taking advantage of our party's renovation policy, they used the pretext of democracy and human rights to distort the truth of history, smear the Vietnamese communist party and state, instigate bad elements at home, and contact hostile forces abroad feverishly oppose our state in an attempt to set up a people-betraying and nation-harming regime. . . . Their activities posed a particular danger to society and was detrimental to national security.
They were sentenced to terms of 4 and 7 years respectively.
When human rights activist and American citizen Harry Wu was arrested in the People's Republic of China this summer, the Clinton administration appropriately raised a huge diplomatic outcy. When Wu was jailed, public calls for his immediate release came from the highest levels of the administration. It was made clear that Mrs. Clinton would not attend the U.N. Women's Conference in Beijing if he
was still being held, and that other high-level contacts would be disrupted. In essence, the signal went out that business as usual would be suspended until his release.
Well Mr. President, where is a similar outcry about the fate of these two Vietnamese-Americans? The only statement I have seen from the State Department so far was one announcing that they had raised this case with the Vietnamese a number of times, here and in Hanoi. The information available to me and other Members of the Senate, however, indicated that the issue was only being raised at the consular level. It was for that reason that Senator Grams introduced, and I cosponsored, Senate Resolution 174 calling on the Secretary of State to pursue their release as a matter of the highest priority and requesting that he keep the Foreign Relations Committee informed regarding their status. Senate Resolution 174 passed unanimously on September 19, yet since that time the administration gives the appearance of moving ahead with business as usual. I have seen no public statements by the Secretary regarding the case, and as the chairman of the subcommittee of jurisdiction I have not seen any reports on its status. While I have become aware that there have been some behind-the-scenes moves to secure their release, it is no thanks to the State Department that that information came to my attention.
During his campaign for President, then-candidate Clinton lambasted President Bush's relations with China--not dissimilar, I must note, from those Clinton himself has since adopted--and accused him of coddling dictators. Well, Mr. President, with movement toward increased economic aid in spite of the treatment of our citizens, in spite of Vietnam's horrendous human rights record, one might be tempted to ask who's doing the coddling now?
I have no strong objection to the eventual institution of full diplomatic and economic relations with the people of Vietnam. But to move toward that goal while we have these important issues outstanding is, I believe, an affront to the memories of our missing and killed American servicemen, their families, and the families of the two jailed Americans.
OFFICE OF THE REPRESENTATIVE
OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OF THE SOVIET UNION
Department of Repatriation of Foreign Citizens
Allied POWs of AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP dispatched from
Odessa Transit Camp No. 138
... May 1945
Sergeant Clifton Mains' detachment
Rank Date of
Birth Nationality Remarks Mains, Clifton Sergeant 1922 American
Hill, Eugene Private 1917 " Dole, Wilfrid " 1919 " Consecci, John Sergeant
Major 1918 " Kazmarik, John Corporal 1924 " Allen, Frank Sergeant 1922 " Dussey, Albert " 1922 "
Total 7 people Including: Officers -- Sergeants 5 Privates 2
COMMANDANT of Transit Camp no. 138
Colonel of the Guard [signed] Stoev
Head of the Directorate of Border Security [UPO]
Captain [a/c] [signed] Veipan
WORLD WAR II: AMERICAN POWS AND MIAS
The guns of distant battles fell silent long ago, but unanswered questions concerning United States servicemen missing in action and unrepatriated prisoners of war continue to concern the nation. Recently, the missing and prisoners of war from the Vietnam War have been the focus of attention.
But Soviet archival documents -- from an earlier era after World War II -- reveal that Americans were detained, and even perished, in the vast Soviet GULAG. To find out additional information about Americans liberated from German prison camps by the Red Army and then interned in Soviet camps, the U.S./Russian Joint Commission on POW/MIAs was formed early in 1992. Library of Congress officials, among others, have been authorized to research Russian archival materials on the subject in Moscow.
Through such efforts and additional cooperation, the fate of those missing in the Cold War may become known as well. Russian news reports tell of a United States B-29 aircraft shot down by Soviet interceptors over the Baltic Sea in April 1950. One of the Soviet pilots who downed the B-29 reported that the aircraft was recovered from the sea, but the fate of the crew is unknown.
The history of warfare cruelly suggests that some questions concerning the missing in action and prisoners of war will never be answered. Nevertheless, candor, goodwill, and a spirit of cooperation on all sides can minimize such questions. The opening of archives is a step forward in getting at the truth which can clear up the confusion and suspicion created in the past.