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.
Lots of reading to do.. Wow!