First Para. is mine... the rest is something to think about.

Discussion in 'POW/MIA' started by Vietvet1, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. Vietvet1

    Vietvet1 Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    8
    These very thoughts go through the minds of the Families EVERY day. Read this, question it, and take the time to check it out. I can assure you that the quote from the findings of the Hearings are real. A friend and I see the tears in the eyes of those families EVERY JUNE at meetings held in Washington DC. They are as fresh today as the day they were told about their loved one. Mention the Senate Select Committee on POW-MIAs and their eyes seethe with anger at the heads of the Committee that basically condemned their loved ones in favor of a "roadmap" to "Normalize Relationships" with the very enemy that destroyed hopes and dreams. This is at the cost of MANY heroes of our great nation..
    All I ask is that you read this and maybe you can get some insight into the minds of these families and those who stand by them. This is a very brief presentation and there is so much more to this. Choices, Choices !
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Would Someone Please Get it Right
    3 February, 2008
    When Will the Publishers and Pundits Get it Right?

    OP ED: AII POW-MIA

    Somewhere between John McCain is a true-blue American Hero and John McCain is a brainwashed Manchurian Candidate, and there are/aren't any American POW-MIAs alive somewhere, the truth lies.

    I just wish someone, somewhere, would do enough research and less creative editing and get it right. For once, just once.

    Recent in-depth articles analyzing why McCain is so generally disliked by the POW-MIA community, once again, speak only of the fringe element and the more obstreperous activists. They refer, as if carved in stone, the McCain/Kerry "findings" of the flawed Senate Select Committee on POW-MIAs (colloquially called the SSC), and one always reads...

    "Given the Committee's findings, the question arises as to whether it is fair to say that American POWs were knowingly abandoned in Southeast Asia after the war. The answer to that question is clearly no."

    However, and it is a huge however, the paragraph continues....

    "American officials did not have certain knowledge that any specific prisoner or prisoners were being left behind. But there remains the troubling question of whether the Americans who were expected to return but did not were, as a group, shunted aside and discounted by government and population alike. The answer to that question is essentially yes."

    There. You have it. Men were left behind. Not intentionally, no one specific, not purposefully abandoned, but nonetheless, left behind.

    So the "clearly no" quote that is getting so much air time as the ultimate finding is wrong. Careful editing of one single paragraph can change the entire direction and policy of a nation.

    People refer to the SSC report (people I suspect that have never read the WHOLE SSC Report) as if it were the gospel according to government. It is not. People also assume, wrongly, that the POW-MIA issue and the SSC deal exclusively with the Second IndoChina War - Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. It does not.

    It was an investigation into the issue of POWs and MIAs from ALL wars. Although 95% of the majority of investigation and testimony deals with Southeast Asia - World War II, the Cold War and Korea were included in the overall mission of the Committee. (SSC Chapter XI - "Although the Committee's investigation focused primarily on efforts to account for Americans missing from the war in Southeast Asia, the principle of accounting for lost American servicemen is the same, whether the war occurred 20 years ago or 50 years ago. Accordingly, the Committee undertook a review of information and allegations concerning Americans missing from earlier conflicts and hired a full time investigator to work in Moscow on this and related issues.")

    The Issue
    The POW-MIA issue is not about Vietnam. It is about the 88,000 plus unaccounted-for men and women from ALL wars.

    It is not about men in Tiger Cages and Caves somewhere in Laos. It is about the continued information and intelligence that came to the USG that certain personnel were seen in captivity, yet remain unrepatriated.

    It is about the former USSR's incalcitrance to provide information on Cold War Shootdowns and come forward with the truth about their involvement in the Korean War.

    It is about China's refusal to cooperate with USG investigators even though the Chinese ran POW camps during the Korean War.

    It is about North Korea's paranoid ramblings and lack of access to Death March routes, camps and combat sites. Not to mention the decades of reports that stated caucasians were seen in North Korea, teaching English.

    It is about curious reports, testimony and information that states men were taken to third-party Soviet Bloc nations for exploitation in all wars. That Cuba trained and sent torturers to the SEA area of conflict. It is about men missing from latter day conflicts such as the 1st Persian Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom, who remain unaccounted-for. It is about captured American Service Personnel being executed by their captors in the Global War on Terrorism and the complete disregard of the Geneva Accords.

    So, now that we have cleared up that misunderstood area of the POW-MIA issue, let us move on to the suddenly revered SSC.

    The Senate Select Committee
    We had a number of Hearings and investigations previous to the SSC (and post SSC I might add). To wit - The Helms Report, the Interim Report on the Southeast Asian POW/MIA Issue (1990); An Examination of U.S. Policy Toward POW/MIAs (1991); Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs (1991); Hearings before the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (1980), to name a few.

    The SSC's genesis came at a peculiar period in American history. Just short 20 years since our withdrawal from SEA, there was still much concern about reports of men, presumed American POWs, in SEA. Known as Live Sighting Reports, these came on the heels of even more intriguing satellite imagery that could be interpreted as Escape and Evasion markers or Authenticator Codes - laid down by stranded/captive/left behind service personnel who did not manage to make it back to the US during Operation Homecoming in 1973.

    Additionally, Boris Yeltsin, in a moment of extreme clarity, madness or drunkenness, passed along to the US a purported list of American personnel who may have been transported to the former Soviet Union during times of war, (known as the Russian List) previous to the creation of the SSC.

    Add to this numerous other events, reports, documents, FOIA'd material, Ronald Reagan and General John Vessey and we literally had a cosmic convergence of all things POW and MIA.

    Hence the birth of the SSC.

    Much hope had been pinned on the SSC, especially by WW II, Korean War and Cold War families. Little did they know they would become merely a footnote in final report after a 2 year investigation. So, with a Congressional Mandate, investigators, researchers, airline tickets and a large staff, the SSC set about its work to find the truth.

    Evidence of witness tampering vis-a-vis rehearsing and scripting, document destruction, sub-rosa sessions, was described in detail. Certain, questionable, witnesses were trotted out, much to the displeasure of the families and the researchers. Credible witnesses were harassed and their research blasted. Others, with significant insight and experience in the issue were simply ignored or dismissed.

    Unfortunately the Committee was hampered by personalities, politics and some highly questionable antics during its tenure. In the long run, the Committee produced a lengthy, interesting report, that was long on adjectives and mea culpas, and short on hard core answers.

    When the SSC's time ran out, boxes of material had yet to be vetted, leads and witnesses went by the wayside and the answers the SSC promised were never fully realized.

    Some may say it sounds like sour grapes. Family members, advocates, activists and veterans didn't get their desired result, so they bashed the Committee and its personnel.

    Not true.

    MANY, many people in the POW-MIA issue were thrilled with the SSC and its efforts. And, since the findings of the SSC clearly stated Americans were left behind, there was no argument from the POW-MIA Issue camp.

    The problem was that so much was left undone, unanswered.

    Look at it this way - if the SSC was the end all and be all of the POW-MIA issue... if the SSC was able to definitively answer the question 'what happened, where did he go' we would all happily go on our way and live our lives.

    But it didn't. It couldn't.

    As a result, we have continued to have Hearings on numerous aspects of the issue; Jackson-Vanik Amendment Hearings, Hearings on the Cuban Torture Program, WW II Pow Hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Military Personnel Subcommittee Hearings (Dornan), Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific (Ackerman), and now the huge momentum behind House Hearings on POW and MIAs known as H. Res 111 (King).

    So, now that we have put a lie to the veracity of the Senate Select Committee and its Report as the ultimate word on the Issue, where do we go from here.

    Oh yes, John McCain and John Kerry.

    Let's start with Kerry. I don't give a hoot whether or not his Purple Hearts are legitimately earned. Let the Order of the Purple Heart and our WIAs fight that battle. I do not care what he did in Vietnam. Let the Swift Boaters handle that. Nor do I care about his anti-war activities, the Winter Soldier fiasco or Jane Fonda. We have millions of vets in the country, I am certain they are more than capable of handling that as well.

    What I DO care about is his behavior during the SSC. How his staffer, Francis Zwenig, was permitted to run rampant during the SSC's tenure and the numerous reports of document destruction, witness tampering and stacking the deck against witness researchers, analysts and specialists. Zwenig went on to become a respected member of the US-Vietnam Trade Council after her term with the SSC expired.

    Troubling at the very least.

    Now on to McCain. I will never dispute his service record or his time in captivity. I am of the firm belief only Ex-POWs may judge other POWs. Period. His uniformed service and his captivity do not make him more or less eligible as a candidate for anything in my opinion.

    His actions and inactions once he became a civilian and public servant do. I am not speaking of anything other than his impact on the POW-MIA issue. After the SSC folded up its tent and everyone went their merry way, McCain was responsible for one of the most damning pieces of legislature ever - The Missing Service Personnel Act of 1995 (MSPA 1995). Almost singlehandedly McCain insured that many of the protections provided POW-MIAs and the responsibilities of the government in its accounting of them was undermined. By undoing the Missing Persons Act of 1942 and replacing it with the 1995 version, McCain essentially legislated what the Families feared the most,

    "... (the) basic argument is that, rather than reflecting a genuine legal problem, the 1995 Act reflects Americas loss of faith in our government's credibility." (STUDIES IN LAW, POLITICS, AND SOCIETY: VOL. 28, by Austin Sarat and Patricia Ewick)

    Basically, it gave the responsible parties all the wiggle room they needed to strike names off lists without the 1942 requirements.

    The MSPA 1995 was so detrimental to accounting that HR 4000 IH was introduced..."To amend title 10, United States Code, to restore provisions of chapter 76 of that title - relating to missing persons - as in effect before the amendments made by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997." (August 1996)

    HR 4000 failed in the House.

    So, now that we have clarified the Kerry/McCain situation and why the POW-MIA Issue Community, for the most part, cannot embrace either man or the SSC Report as the final say, let us use the United States Government's own words to define the reason that family members, advocates, activists, citizens, veterans and others continue to fight for answers and truth about our unaccounted-for fathers, brothers, sons and friends.

    It is not manic mumblings, an inability to accept reality or a means to bash the Government through an emotional issue. It is the following, words from our very own Government and its serviant agents and agencies:

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    On the Korean War
    "Executive Summary: "US Korean War POWs were transferred to the Soviet Union and never repatriated." Peter Tsouras, The Transfer of US POWs to the Soviet Union, Joint Commission Support Branch, Research & Analysis Division, DPMO, 26 Aug 1993"

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On WW II
    "An undetermined number of American POWs liberated by Soviet forces during World War II from Nazi Germany POW camps, were NOT repatriated to the United Sates or otherwise accounted for by Soviet Authorities." Dr. Paul M. Cole, POW-MIA Issues, Vol. 1, 2 & 3 National Defense Research Institute, Rand, 1994

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Information from the Soviet archives indicates that Soviet authorities deliberately misled US officials concerning the fate of American POWs." Rand, 1994

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On the Cold War Era
    "U.S. military service members may have been imprisoned and died in Soviet forced-labor camps during the 20th century, according to a Pentagon report to be released Friday.

    Researchers for the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs have been investigating unconfirmed reports of Americans who were held prisoner in the so-called gulags."

    "I personally would be comfortable saying that the number [of Americans held in the gulags during the Cold War and Korean War] is in the hundreds," said Norman Kass, executive secretary of the commission's U.S. section.
    Norman Kass, 11 February 2005
    A separate internal Pentagon document has concluded "there is a high probability" that American citizens and U.S. and British prisoners of war died in the camps.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "This report presents documentation of the United States Government's conclusion that some of these crew men were captured alive by Soviet forces but not repatriated." Rand, 1994

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Foremost among the major findings in this report is the conclusion that direct evidence suggests that American servicemen were transferred to the territory of the USSR from the Korean War zone of combat operations." Rand, 1994

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Executive Summary: "US Korean War POWs were transferred to the Soviet Union and never repatriated." Peter Tsouras, The Transfer of US POWs to the Soviet Union, Joint Commission Support Branch, Research & Analysis Division, DPMO, 26 Aug 1993
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On the Vietnam War
    "The intelligence indicates that the American Prisoners of War have been held continuously after Operation Homecoming and remain in captivity in Vietnam and Laos as late as 1989." Oral Intelligence Briefing before the Senate Select Committee on POWs-MIAs, April 8, 1992

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Despite adherences 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 Southeast Asia." Interim Report on the Southeast Asian POW/MIA Issue By the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Republican Staff Release Date: Monday, October 29, 1990

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "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 POWs remained in captivity in Southeast Asia. This was a full year after DOD spokesmen were saying publicly that no prisoners remained alive." Interim Report on the Southeast Asian POW/MIA Issue By the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Republican Staff Release Date: Monday, October 29, 1990

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    And, how could we forget the Senate Select Committee
    "We acknowledge that there is no proof that U.S. POWs survived, but neither is there proof that all of those who did not return had died. There is evidence, moreover, that indicates the possibility of survival, at least for a small number, after Operation Homecoming:

    . First, there are the Americans known or thought possibly to have been alive in captivity who did not come back; we cannot dismiss the chance that some of these known prisoners remained captive past Operation Homecoming.

    . Second, leaders of the Pathet Lao claimed throughout the war that they were holding American prisoners in Laos. Those claims were believed--and, up to a point, validated--at the time; they cannot be dismissed summarily today.

    . Third, U.S. defense and intelligence officials hoped that forty or forty-one prisoners captured in Laos would be released at Operation Homecoming, instead of the twelve who were actually repatriated. These reports were taken seriously enough at the time to prompt recommendations by some officials for military action aimed at gaining the release of the additional prisoners thought to be held.

    . Fourth, information collected by U.S. intelligence agencies during the last 19 years, in the form of live-sighting, hearsay, and other intelligence reports, raises questions about the possibility that a small number of unidentified U.S. POWs who did not return may have survived in captivity.

    . Finally, even after Operation Homecoming and returnee de- briefs, more than 70 Americans were officially listed as POWs based on information gathered prior to the signing of the peace agreement; while the remains of many of these Americans have been repatriated, the fates of some continue unknown to this day. Given the Committee's findings, the question arises as to whether it is fair to say that American POWs were knowingly abandoned in Southeast Asia after the war. The answer to that question is clearly no. American officials did not have certain knowledge that any specific prisoner or prisoners were being left behind. But there remains the troubling question of whether the Americans who were expected to return but did not were, as a group, shunted aside and discounted by government and population alike. The answer to that question is essentially yes."

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Archive ©AII POW-MIA

Share This Page