"He [Roger Dumas] was taken in the last moment, just before they brought him to the Freedom Village bridge, at Panmunjom, just between North and South Korea..."
Seen August 24th, 1953, according to returned POW, Ciro J. Santo: "...He [Roger Dumas] was to be repatriated on the same day I was, on August 25th. The Chinese took those guys away. But we don't know where they took 'em...."
A recently released, award-winning film, Missing, Presumed Dead: The Search for America's POWs, documents Bob Dumas’s life-long battle to find his POW younger brother, Roger Dumas, who was kept by the communists in North Korea --and the American government's pereptual efforts to stop him. Written, produced and directed by Bill Dumas, the nephew of Roger Dumas, the documentary provides empirical evidence of how hundreds of our POWs were left behind in enemy territory after both the Korean and Vietnam wars.
To keep hope alive that one day we will get to the truth behind this tragic issue and perhaps administer some sort of justice, we have gathered a distinguished panel to discuss several crucial questions: What did (do) the communists want with our POWs? Why did (does) our own government betray them? Are any of our prisoners still alive and is there any hope that we can still rescue them?
Frontpage Symposium’s guests today are:
Bill Dumas, a filmmaker in Los Angeles and former Fellow at the American Film Institute. He is the producer of Missing, Presumed Dead: The Search For America's POWs.
Joe Douglass, an investigator who has been engaged mainly in learning what happened to thousands who were left behind in the hands of various Communist captors. His work led to the identification of the one former Communist official who was personally involved in the efforts to capture American soldiers and what their captors did to them and correlating this with other information. He is the author of the book Betrayed, a comprehensive account of the abandonment of American POWs and their subsequent betrayal by the U.S. government.
Bill Bell, a Vietnam veteran who went to Vietnam as an infantryman in 1965 and served multiple combat tours there. His wife and son were killed and a daughter critically injured in April 1975, when the families of U.S. officials assigned to the American Embassy in Saigon were evacuated in conjunction with the "Operation Babylift" program. Bell returned to postwar Vietnam as the first official U.S. representative after the war ended, when he was assigned as the Chief of the U.S. Office for POW/MIA Affairs in Hanoi. He is the co-author (with Jay Veith) of his memoirs on the Vietnam War: "Leave No Man Behind."
Jay Veith, the author of Code Name Bright Light: The Untold Story of U.S. POW Rescue Efforts During the Vietnam War (Free Press, 1998), and co-author (with Bill Bell) of Leave No Man Behind: Bill Bell and the Search for American POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War (Goblinfern Press, 2004). He has testified twice before Congress on the POW/MIA issue.
Lynn O'Shea, a researcher of the POW/MIA issue who has worked with the National Alliance of POW/MIA Families since its inception in June 1990. For the last ten years, she has served as editor of their newsletter and Director of Research.
FP: Bill Dumas, Joe Douglass, Bill Bell, Jay Veith, and Lynn O'Shea, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.
Before we begin, I would like to dedicate this discussion to Roger Dumas.
Let’s have a moment of silence for Roger and also for all the poor suffering souls that he represents.
Roger was just 18 years old when he was shipped to Korea in July 1950.
(moment of silence)
Welcome ladies and gentlemen.
I think it would be best to begin by going over the evidence regarding our POWs who were left behind.
Can each of you briefly relate your knowledge of this matter?
Dumas: To address the first part of the question, "What did the communist want with our POWs," in the case of the Korean War, the allied forces allowed tens of thousands of North Korean and Chinese POWs they were holding, to defect to South Korea, Japan, Formosa (Taiwan), etc. This angered the North Koreans who considered this policy as tantamount to not returning their POWs. The repatriation of POWs was the single point of contention that separated the two sides for over half of the war during peace negotiations.
From North Korea’s point of view, since all their POWs were not returned they would not return all our POWs. This position is clearly stated in a letter from North Korean General Cho during peace negotiations.
As Col. Philip Corso testified during the Senate Select Committee hearings in 1992, President Eisenhower ultimately made the decision to leave these POWs behind in order to end the stalemate and the war. Corso recommended this course of action to the President because at that time, "U.S. policy tied our hands," and would not allow implementing a course of action to take back these POWs by force. He referred to the policy as the, "Fig Leaf Policy" which forbade any antagonism of the communists (specifically the Soviet Union, where hundreds of American POWs were transferred during the Korean War.) This was because of a, "fear of general war," stated Corso, who was President Eisenhower's POW liaison.
I suspect that the North Koreans thought that these POWs could then be use as pawns for political gain but it is clear that once the U.S. government decides to abandon POWs then they, in effect, no longer exist. Since the government does not admit to abandoning POWs it then cannot try to repatriate them. In my documentary film, then Deputy Asst. Secretary of Defense, Robert Jones clearly states that it is U.S. policy not to negotiate for "hostages" (which is what they classify a POW once a war ends) because this will only encourage more hostage taking and this puts our "current forces in harm’s way."
The U.S. government has made it clear to the North Koreans that they will not negotiate for these POWs and in fact don't even acknowledge their existence. In my film there are two examples of the N. Koreans attempting to negotiate the release of POWs - once in 1987 involving Jesse Jackson and again in 1996 during the Olympic Games in Atlanta, GA. In both cases, the State Department and White House stepped in to stop these negotiations.
So, how will these POWs ever be repatriated? Only when the U.S. government admits to abandoning them. At that point the government will not have to maintain the lie and this will allow them to take the necessary steps to negotiate the release of our POWs. This would be a monumental change of direction and I can't imagine who in our government might undertake it.
FP: This is simply an outrage. This means there are living Americans still in North Korea being held against their will. Mr. Douglass, your turn. And kindly expand for us please on why hundreds of American POWs were transferred to the Soviet Union during the Korean War. What did the Soviets want with them? What happened with them?
Douglass: U.S. POWs have been transferred to Russia beginning at the conclusion of WWII for a variety of reasons. The principal reasons are to embarrass the United States, show how weak the U.S. leaders are, and to cause the U.S. military to lose confidence in and respect for our political leaders. The POWs are then used, most of them, as slave labor in harsh conditions and where they have a limited life span, such as in uranium mining. At the same time, many were used in jobs that would not decrease their life span because the Russians also wanted to send a message that prisoners who were captured by them could end up languishing forever in Russian jails and the U.S. government would end up having to deny they were left behind. The Russians knew that some word of their capture would get out and the longer they were kept alive the more salt would be rubbed in the American wounds.
For American POWs there are additional uses to which they are put, because they were Americans, that are not so well recognized. Because America was the "main enemy," American POWs were used to determine more about the "enemy." For example, hundreds of American POWs were subjected to deliberate psychological and physiological stress (torture) to determine how well they could survive the rigors of war, especially nuclear war.
The American POWs were also used as subjects in tests of Russian chemical and biological warfare agents. The American POWs were important because these agents were to be used on the Americans in a war and it was important to the Russians to know how the Americans, with their unique history of medical shots, immunizations, and nutrition, would react to the Russian CW and BW agents.
Another type of experimentation was "mental conditioning" or "brain washing." Here, the Russians wanted to learn how difficult it was to "condition" the Americans or re-educate them. There was a wide range of experimental programs in this respect, from the creation of so-called Manchurian Candidates, to people who would end up hating America or in losing their beliefs in the "American system."
Following WWII and especially important during the Korean War, prisoners were used as medical guinea pigs in the development of sophisticated new chemical weapons whose primary target was the brain. This was when the field of psychoactive drugs was just beginning. As a field, the new psychoactive drugs fit naturally into the Russian work on mind control and mental conditioning.
The potential advances envisioned were precisely what the Russians had been pursuing since the late 1920s. The first generation of such chemical agents, really psychoactive drugs, saw their first effective use in the purges of Communist officials in the late 1940s and early 1950s. They were very effective in obtaining desired confessions from various leaders. This work grew rapidly with the assistance of German and Italian scientists who had been pursuing similar drugs and had been captured by the Russians at the end of WWII and taken to Russia and enabled to continue their work there. During the Korean War, many of these drugs were used on American POWs in special hospitals in North Korea. At the conclusion of the war, the survivors, about 100 American POWs, were shipped to Russia for more extensive tests.
This was the beginning of what became during Vietnam the most important Russian motivation in moving POWs to Russia, where the most sensitive experiments and tests were conducted. The Americans were especially valued because of their value in these experiments where the effects of the drugs on the mind was under investigation and where the effects on American minds was most important. The demand grew exponentially because the whole field of neuropharmacology was exploding and hundreds -- thousands -- of new subjects were in demand, and American subjects were most in demand.
As a final use, a small percentage of American POWs, at most 10 percent who were judged "cooperative," were moved to Russia where they would be trained as Russian agents for insertion back into the United States, some very quickly (with ~ two weeks training) so they could be inserted back into their military units with a good excuse of how they got loose and lost, and some for long term training and associated use and insertion back into the United States after the war.
The "what happened to them" depends on the use to which they were put. Many of those in slave labor would gradually die as they wore out or caught diseases or other. A certain percentage of the slave labor prisoners were used for labor that did not necessarily lead to early deaths because the Russians wanted people to know that if they were caught, they would live forever as Russian prisoners, and thus keep the U.S. embarrassment alive as long as possible.
The majority of those in medical experiments -- the guinea pigs -- died. A limited number, especially those who were being used in long term tests (for example how long the effects of different drugs might last or whether long serious debilitating side effects would ever disappear) could have survived for a long time. Some under the effects of other drugs were in very long term tests that would last a lifetime.
FP: Thank you Mr. Douglass. This is truly horrifying. But let me come back to you for a moment. I have studied this over the years and know that every word you say is true. But could you kindly give us a few facts, some evidence, sightings, confirmation, details etc. What if people reading this just say that this is all fantasy and all made up? Can you give us some concrete facts about what some witnesses have reported, perhaps what some American POWs have reported? For instance, were there any POWs that were trained to be reinserted who then disclosed the whole thing, etc? Perhaps some witnesses or guards or defectors from behind the Iron Curtain that substantiate these realities, etc.
Douglass: Keep in mind that it is only horrifying to our shielded Western minds and our sense of right and wrong. It is quite in line with the Communist mind set in which there is no soul, no God, no spiritual basis for man and where the value of any person is only the value of the various chemicals that make up the person. The human cost of Communism during the last century has been measured by those killed, roughly 150 million, or, in the case of Russia, roughly 60 million or more. These are people who starved 10 million in the Ukraine by taking all the food out of the people's homes and then leaving them to starve to death.
The material I presented is only a summary of a mass of detail that is laid out in my book on this subject, Betrayed. Its primary information was factual, not rumor or second hand, that was received from Gen. Jan Sejna, a top-ranked Czech Communist official who defected to the United States in 1968. His positions were such that he would have had access to the material in his work and his memory was excellent. He actually worked on some aspects of the final efforts in North Korea to make certain that no one would ever know what happened and in setting the stage through negotiation with the North Vietnamese and Laotian Communists for the management of POWs in a special secret system for experimentation and for the movement of POWs back to Russia where the most sensitive experiments were performed.
When Sejna testified about the use of American POWs in Korea at House hearings in 1968, the House Committee Chairman, Robert Dornan, stopped him and turned to Col. Phil Corso who had been on CINCPAC intelligence during the Korean War. He had spent considerable effort trying to learn what had happened to the missing captured Americans. He had collected enough information that he was able to answer Representative Dornan's question, "Could he confirm what Gen. Sejna was saying?" and without hesitation he answered, "Yes" and then explained that he was getting reports that came from enemy territory in Korea. He learned that they had some sort of a hospital up there where General Kamil, the Soviet, was heading all the interrogation and brainwashing. Additionally, he said they had a hospital there where they were actually experimenting on our prisoners Nazi style…we sent out agents to try to get the information and I never did get much information on the hospital itself. But I did keep receiving, over a period of time, reports that this was happening. He also told about the most devilish and cunning experiments that were the techniques of mind altering and how many of our POWs died under such treatment.
I should also add that the Defense Intelligence Agency had placed Sejna on a lie detector for four hours and could find no signs of deception in Sejna's responses to many questions. In his memo on this testing, the director of DIA also said that Sejna had a long history of providing excellent information both to the United States and to many of our allies following his defection twenty years earlier.
The movement of hundreds of American POWs by air to Russia during the Vietnam War was also followed by NSA analysts. This transportation and its management was monitored by Gen. Sejna personally on several occasions and his information on these movements, the planning, the numbers, and stopovers in Prague just prior to the last leg of their journey to Russia is also presented in Betrayed. The use of American POWs as medical guinea pigs in testing of various drugs was also reported by the North Vietnamese Army doctor Dang Tan who had defected the same year that Gen. Sejna defected.
There is other data on the types of experiments, who managed them, the program under which they were conducted by a number of former KGB and GRU officers. They knew generally the nature of the program and that American POWs were being shipped to Russia for use in the program. However, the overall program was so secret that few people had any extensive knowledge of the details. It was fortuitous that Gen. Sejna was one of those who really knew what was happening.
FP: This is truly depressing. It simply crushes one’s heart to think of the fate of these young men in the hands of these monsters. One wishes there could be some kind of retribution.
We faced an Evil Empire that perpetrated great evil against its own people and against us. And it did evil things to our POWs. There was little perhaps we could do at the time. We couldn’t just barge into the Soviet Union without starting WWIII, that’s obvious. But the outrage is that now, after the Cold War, there is this damn shameful and shameless reluctance to get to the truth, and, more importantly, to do all we can to find out if any of our people are still alive under this barbarity. One thing is that we will face evil regimes and obstacles, another is our government’s reluctance to do anything about this. What gives?
Bell: In may 1991, our government opened the U.S. office for POW/MIA affairs in Hanoi. I had the honor of heading that office. By that time our government had identified and returned the remains of 339 of our men, including some cases from the important last known alive list. We were staffed by Vietnam veterans who were genuine experts, trained in the art of investigation and fluent in the languages of Indochina. During the life of that office we also began to receive top secret documents from the archives of the communist party of the former Soviet Union indicating that the actual number of live prisoners held by the Vietnamese was far greater than that revealed to our government by Vietnamese negotiators. members of Congress, who met with the Russian leadership regarding the documents have been assured by senior Russian officials that they are in fact genuine.
In 1992, as we began to uncover the facts about our missing men, our POW office was dismantled to be replaced by a joint task force-full accounting. Vietnam veterans were replaced by young investigators from the us Pacific Command in Hawaii and the task force began it's "roll" across the countryside, re-excavating crash sites which had already been excavated long ago by the security forces of Vietnam. Shortly thereafter, even though results were minimal at best, our policy level officials began to return from trips to Vietnam and related to our president reports of "superb" cooperation on the part of the Vietnamese.
In 1991, during his election campaign, our president made the following pledge to the people of this nation: "There will be no normalization of relations with any nation that is at all suspected of withholding any information" on missing Americans.
After being elected, he made yet another promise on 22 July 1993: "progress to date is simply not sufficient to warrant any change in our trade embargo or any further steps toward normalization. Any further steps in relations between our two nations depend on tangible progress on the outstanding POW/MIA cases." Amazingly, after that promise was made only two Americans were accounted for when our president abandoned his promise and lifted the trade embargo on 3 February 1994.
Our president then pledged that he would not open a liaison office in Vietnam unless there was considerable progress in four critical areas: (1) the return of remains (2) resolution of the last known alive cases, (3) trilateral cooperation with the country of Laos, and (4) access to POW/MIA related documents. He also expressed his concern regarding human rights.
Today, the joint task force has been replaced by a joint POW/MIA accounting command (JPAC) and some 1800 men are still held prisoner or missing in Indochina. Concerning the last known alive discrepancy cases, many have been quickly resolved based solely on implausible, circumstantial accounts. Only a relatively small number of cases on the important last-known-alive list have been resolved through the recovery of identifiable remains.
As for trilateral cooperation with Laos, the fact that our teams held a meeting with the Vietnamese and the Lao "near the border" between Vietnam and Laos during a photo-opportunity visit by our assistant secretary of state, does not in itself constitute progress. Contrary to the reports of "absolutely superb" cooperation, our teams have never been allowed to cross the border to pursue leads and interview witnesses during the course of the investigations of cases involving men captured in Vietnam and later moved into Laos. The same situation applies for Cambodia. Moreover, over 80% of the cases in Laos and over 90% of the cases in Cambodia have incident locations in areas, which were actually under the control of Vietnamese forces during the war.
Access to POW/MIA related documents is yet another example of exaggerated reporting. although the Vietnamese have passed our researchers more than 30,000 documents, less than 1% of those documents are associated with unresolved cases. Our policy-makers should be more concerned with quality than with quantity. Exaggerated reports of "thousands of documents," "the return of the largest number of remains," our government officials should remember that neither the Vietnamese people nor the Vietnamese government has anything direct relationship to our POW's and MIA's.
This issue has, and will continue to be controlled entirely by the communist party of Vietnam. According to communist doctrine, live POW’s are used to extract political concessions and remains are used for economic purposes. The POW/MIA issue is highly technical in nature. If after reviewing the past history of manipulation and duplicity of various communist regimes in dealing with the issue our government does not realize this fact, then something is terribly wrong.
Since our policy-makers have described a "absolutely superb" level of cooperation on the part of the Vietnamese, we could assume that the live sighting investigations were resolved in an honest manner. I do not believe this is the case for the following reasons: during the time that I was the senior U.S. representative in Vietnam, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts traveled there for a first-hand look at the live-prisoner situation.
At one prison camp visited by the senator, Vietnamese officials informed him that not only were there no Americans being held in the camp at the time of his visit, no Americans were detained there during the war. Satisfied with this statement by the communist authorities, Senator Kerry returned to the U.S. and praised the government of Vietnam for its openness and superb cooperation. This set the precedent for key personnel of joint task force-full accounting to follow the Senator's lead in praising Vietnam, thus providing the necessary political cover for the president to renege on his pledge to maintain the leverage of U.S.. negotiators by keeping the trade embargo in place.
An American prisoner was released by the Vietnamese only eight months after the Senator returned to the United States. During his debriefing here the man said he had been detained in the same prison visited by Senator Kerry. The man said he was moved from the prison to another detention site one day prior to the Senator's arrival, and then moved back into the prison two days after the Senator departed the area.
Actually this man was not a wartime POW. He was captured off the coast of Vietnam while passing by in a pleasure boat, but the important thing is that he is an American citizen who was being held in a Vietnamese prison. The chairman of the Senate Select Committee went to that prison and the authorities deceived him when they said no Americans were ever held there, after they moved the American out. What this means is if communists officials will lie to a U.S. Senator with overall responsibility for the issue, how can any field investigator check out a live sighting report and be confident that he too is not being deceived? Since we have never investigated one single live sighting report without informing the Vietnamese in advance of the circumstances and location, how can our government say that during the investigations of the live sighting reports believed to be credible conducted thus far, American POW's were not moved out prior to the arrival of the investigators?
For those who still believe in the system, they may seek to pardon our officials by finding them to be simply "naive." In order to erase any doubts concerning the attitude and motivation of our policy makers, please allow me to quote briefly from an official government document made available to U.S. negotiators dealing with Hanoi on the POW/MIA issue:
"Despite the substantial political and economic concessions the French have made to Hanoi since 1954, France has never received a full accounting for its missing and dead. The Vietnamese communist government has consistently circumvented and violated the terms of the 1954 agreement concerning the accounting for France's missing servicemen. Hanoi's actions clearly demonstrate that its only interest in the French military graves in Vietnam and the requests for remains by the families of the deceased is in the economic and political benefits that the Vietnamese government can derive from control of these remains. We should keep this in mind in dealing with Hanoi. We can anticipate that Hanoi's objective is to obtain increasingly large economic and political concessions in exchange for piecemeal releases of remains and information about our missing servicemen."
Any of our officials with any common sense at all should have seen that events unfolded precisely as cautioned in this message. But in this case it was not a lack of common sense as the motivating factor, it was not a lack of information, it was not a lack of funding or resources, it was only a lack of integrity. We all know why the trade embargo was lifted, because of money, plain and simple. And we all know who lifted the embargo: the best politicians money can buy.
Veith: I think all three commentators make excellent points as to what is the heart of the matter: why would the Communists hide and then hold back American POWs? I believe we can sum up the matter by understanding that they were trying mightily to defeat us, and the best way to do that was to "understand your enemy." And the quickest way to do that was to study the men who had been captured. Communist doctrine has generally favored manipulation of ideology as the shortest means to achieve power, and understanding how Americans thought and reacted was the best way to refine propaganda to create a Communist movement in the US. Whether their methods were efficient or successful is another debate, but one can see the broad outlines of the same plan in both Korea and Vietnam. Thus, holding back US POWs is in essence an intelligence operation--think "sources and methods"--to a gain technical, biological, and human understanding of your enemy.
FP: Thank you Mr. Veith. While we focus on the motivates and strategies of the enemy, which is essential, I would kindly ask our guests to continue giving us the evidence in this symposium of our lost POWs. Lynn O'Shea, what do you bring to this table my friend?
O’Shea: Today, there is no longer a question as to whether Communist nations, dating back to World War II held back American and Allied Prisoners of War. This statement is validated by the recently released 5th Edition of the Gulag Study. This study, dealing principally with World War II and Korea, was compiled by the Joint Commission Support Directorate (JCSD) the investigative arm of the U.S. side of the U.S./Russian Joint Commission on POW/MIAs. According to the report; “Americans, including American servicemen, were imprisoned in the former Soviet Union...." Not maybe.... not thought to be.... not believed to be..... But were imprisoned!
During a CNN interview, when asked about the number of American’s held, JCSD executive secretary Norman Kass responded; “I personally would be comfortable saying that the number is in the hundreds."
In January 1993, the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs published its conclusions. Dealing primarily with Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the committee concluded: "In 1976, the Montgomery Committee concluded that because there was no evidence that missing Americans had survived, they must be dead.....This Committee has uncovered evidence that precludes it from taking the same view. 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....”
“Evidence..... that indicates the possibility of survival.” “Americans, including American servicemen, were imprisoned in the former Soviet Union...."
Two official investigative bodies of the United States Government have concluded that American service personnel, were either imprisoned in the former Soviet Union at the end of World War II, the Korean War and during the Cold War and that American POWs possibly survived in Southeast Asia after Operation Homecoming in 1973.
Yet, no substantial effort has been made by the U.S. Government to recover these men. POWs are never discussed during talks with North Korea. Nor, are they mentioned during official Presidential visits. Instead, the job of discovering the fate of our POW/MIAs is the responsibility of the Defense POW/MIA Office (DPMO) a rather low level department within the Defense Department. By tradition, the head of this office is a Presidential appointee, with no background in the POW/MIA issue.
The current head of this office, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for POW/MIA Affairs Jerry D. Jennings, is currently the subject of an Inspector General (IG) investigation for abusive management style, and sexual harassment. IG investigations are not new to DASD Jennings.
In 1992, while serving as Deputy Director at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Jennings was the subject of an investigation of Agency activities. The Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives also investigated. At the conclusion of their investigation, they issued a report calling FEMA “"a political dumping ground" The report also stated FEMA “is widely viewed as "a turkey farm.... where large numbers of positions exist that can be conveniently and quietly filled by political appointment." The report described Mr Jennings as “more interested in the benefits associated with his position and cosmetic changes" than FEMA’s mission.
Today 13 years later, Mr. Jennings has a home at DPMO proving that the agency charged with this important issue has turned into the new “political dumping ground” or “turkey farm.” What message are we sending to the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian governments, when U.S. negotiators on the POW/MIA issue are the calibre of a Jerry Jennings or worse?
Today, the question is no longer did we leave American servicemen behind, at the end of each of our wars. Today, the question is why hasn’t the U.S. Government mounted a serious effort to recover these men?
FP: Thank you Ms. O’Shea. Ok, in this last round, let’s discuss what can be done about this outrage and tragedy. What can we do? What steps can we take? What must we focus on?
Dumas: Having screened my documentary film, "Missing, Presumed Dead: The Search For America's POWs" to several large audiences that had little or no knowledge of our abandoned POW/MIAs, I am very encouraged that if the film reaches a wide audience the American public will demand our government take action. Audiences have responded with utter shock and anger over evidence presented in the film and that we talked about in this forum. As the film gets seen my more VOTERS and inspires them to read Joe Douglass, Jr.'s book, "Betrayed" and Bill Bell/George Veith's book, "Leave No Man Behind" we will achieve a groundswell that will elevate this issue to national prominence.
Currently, I am working with Kent Snyder, the executive director of Congressman Dr. Ron Paul's Liberty Committee, to distribute the documentary to every member of Congress and the Senate in an effort to pass House Resolution, HRes 123, that will establish a House select committee to investigate abandoned POW/MIAs and examine U.S policy towards POW/MIAs. This distribution will be handled by Rep. Paul's staff using interoffice mail under his cover letter signed by other Congressmen as well. This insures the DVDs will be delivered and given serious consideration.
We are planning to have a press conference on Capital Hill next week as well with Rep. Paul and other Congressman co-sponsoring the House bill, as well as screenings of the film for Congressmen, staffers and the press.
We are hoping to have as many POW/MIA organizations behind this effort as possible. As many involved in this issue know, it's very difficult to get POW/MIA organizations working together on a singular project but I see this as the best chance we've have in a long time to put this issue in the national spotlight.
We will then need a strong grassroots campaign to encourage our legislators to view the film and become co-sponsors of HRes 123. This effort will require POW/MIA advocates to call, email and fax their Congressmen/women urging them to view the film and become co-sponsors of the bill.
If we succeed in passing this bill the next task will be to insure that an honest and thorough investigation take place followed by an real and exhaustive effort to find and repatriate any live American POWs. That will require a lot of hard work by the experts on this panel and many others.
One other goal of this House select committee should be to insure that whoever heads DPMO is an expert on the issue with a proven track record who is truly committed to our POW/MIAs as opposed to a government policy intent on keeping the tragedy of abandoned POWs buried.
Douglass: It should be clear from the preceding views and the two dozen plus books on the subject, that the U.S. government left American POW/MIAs behind, knew it, and later denied it and have done their best to hide information, destroy those who challenged them, and otherwise cover it up. The only truly honest statement from inside the U.S. government concerning the POW/MIA problem was Col. Millard Peck's resignation statement with which he terminated his career in the Army and head of the DIA POW/MIA office in 1991. This memo tells it all. It can be found on the Internet, in my book Betrayed, and in the Senate Foreign Relations staff report that was published on May 23, 1992, An Examination of U.S. Policy Toward POW/MIAs. He clearly states that the POW/MIA "search" is strictly a farce, designed to blow smoke until the issue itself dies a natural death.
The most amazing aspect of this issue, to me over the years, is that notwithstanding the preponderance of evidence that the U.S. government does not want anyone alive found and rescued, the preponderance of concerned Americans still waste their time trying to get the government to do what it should do, which is not about to happen. This should have been clearly known in 1993 at the time the Senate Select Committee folded its tents and it became evident that its main unstated task was to kill the public interest about what happened to all the missing men that had been building over the preceding decade.
The only action I can think of today that might be useful would be a small effort mounted by people who really understand that the main enemy in uncovering the truth is the U.S. government itself and that what is needed is an effort comparable to that mounted by Simon Wiesenthal -- but, and this is key, without ever letting the government know what they were doing.
These are admittedly hard words. However, they are, in my judgement, well supported by the facts that have been so well presented in two dozen plus books published over the past 25 years and the several video documentaries that are capped by the excellent documentary by Bill Dumas that is today probably the best place to begin for someone interested in learning more about this issue
Many thanks to you Jamie and Frontpagemag.com for your efforts in bringing this issue to your readers’ attention.
Bell: I believe that at least some live American personnel were left behind during the two major battlefields of the Cold War, Korea and Vietnam. At the close of World War Two, the beginning of the Cold War marked the implementation of a new policy of exploitation of captured foreign personnel by countries within the Communist International. This policy gradually evolved from a program to extract information relating to tactics, weapons and equipment to a program including proselytizing and propaganda.
Eventually this policy was incorporated into a doctrine whereby live prisoners were used for political and military purposes and the remains and personal effects of the dead were used to extract economic concessions in the form of revenue enhancement. The much needed revenue was to be used to support the operations and activities of the communist party organizations in countries where American personnel were held.
Even though this has been proven by the actions of the communist organizations in China, North Korea and Vietnam, U.S. Government officials continue to grovel at the feet of the communist leadership while delivering up large sums of taxpayer financed cash in return for permission to search for bones at sites already excavated long ago by communist intelligence and security personnel.
At the same time the American business community has continued to conduct business as usual with an unrepentant and unremorseful former adversary of the United States. The American business community has played the role of the well known "Trojan Horse" by submitting itself to the manipulation of the communist propaganda machines in several countries.
The goal of the proselytizing apparatus in communist countries is to exploit character defects in selected influence groups in order to gain active participation by those influence groups, while obtaining passive acceptance by the target population as a whole. In the current situation regarding American prisoners the influence group selected for exploitation is the American business community and the collective character defect is greed.
Considering the above, American MIA's who made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for freedom and democracy are undoubtedly turning in their graves after having being used as pawns in a communist plan to dupe the American people into paying for continued dictatorship of millions of freedom loving Asians by brutal communist regimes.
In my opinion, the best way to find answers concerning our missing men is by helping the people of China, North Korea and Vietnam gain freedom. Once the communist party apparatus in each of those three countries has collapsed, the people will provided whatever assistance is necessary to account for missing and dead Americans. The very last thing any U.S. Government organization should be involved in at this critical juncture is in making payments in U.S. taxpayer dollars to nurture and support communist regimes, thus insuring their survival for an even greater period of time.
In the interim, we should all remember the recent tragic crash of the U.S. Government leased helicopter resulting in the deaths of all American and Vietnamese Search and Recovery personnel while on a mission to search for bones in Central Vietnam. We should all ask ourselves the question: "If that were my son or daughter would I want them to die while searching for the bones of the dead?" Fact is: All the bones in China, North Korea and Vietnam are not worth the life of even one American serviceman or woman.
At a time when large numbers of wounded and disabled American veterans are returning from battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan to seek treatment in facilities of the Veterans Administration that are under-staffed and under-funded, taxpayer dollars currently being extorted by communist regimes in the form of payments for permission to search for the bones of the dead can be far better utilized to provide treatment for the living veterans of the current war.
As for those who were last-known-alive and in the custody of enemy forces, however, we are all obligated to take whatever actions are necessary to insure that a thorough investigation is conducted. Such an investigation must result in the recovery and repatriation of either the live American personnel in this category, or their identifiable remains. If neither the live personnel nor their identifiable remains can be recovered and repatriated, then a transparent record of effort of a thorough investigation conducted by qualified experts must be published in the form of a detailed report. Moreover, this report must clearly explain why neither the men nor their identifiable remains can be recovered and repatriated, and it must be able to withstand public scrutiny by both the American people and the U.S. Congress.
The example set by our government is obviously flawed. It seems that we are living in a strange world indeed. Cases involving hundreds of Americans, last-known-alive and in the custody of communist forces in China, North Korea and Vietnam, are being almost totally ignored by the national media, while the same media remains intently focused for months on the case of one single high school student missing from a nightclub in Aruba.
How can we as Americans allow this situation to continue?
Many thanks to all who participated in this effort.
Veith: I am forced to agree with Dr. Douglass regarding efforts to get the USG to respond. In fact, if one looks closely at the actions of the other governments when faced with the same issue--attempting to account for missing POWs--they all have the same reaction: deny it occurred.
Look at what's happening with the current South Korean government. Over fifty former POWs have escaped North Korea, their own Ministry of Defense concurs that more remain alive in NK, yet the South Korean govt has not pressed NK very hard about these missing personnel for the simple reason that efforts at "reconciliation" have a higher political priority.
Furthermore, just recently, the North admitted, for the first time ever and after years of denials, that 10 former South Korean POWs remain alive in the country. Whether that admission was a result of the efforts of the South Korean government or something else is still an open question.
No doubt some of the same thought process went on in the USG: are we going to risk nuclear war for some unknown number of men who may or may not be alive? But, instead of maintaining steady diplomatic pressure and constant efforts to account for the men, they choose to bury it, hoping it would go away, and more importantly, so we would not be held hostage to the situation.
My thoughts are that if we are to ever get answers, govt to govt is only one channel. And, I'm not even convinced that the fall of the Communist regimes would do the trick. Look at the Czechs; many former Communists remain in power, and they have every thing possible to stymie any investigation into American POWs. They are not about to allow this kind of material to surface. Same in many other ex-communist countries.
So, I believe that it will take "other channels," families working together, NGOs, etc., to finally uncover the truth. The problem, of course, is that this exposes people to fraud, scams, etc. Still, I firmly believe one day the truth will come out. It always does.
FP: Thank you Mr. Veith. Lynn O’Shea, last word goes to you.
O'Shea: The truth is out. The problem is no one in Washington, D.C. is listening. Politicians talk the talk, but they refuse to walk the walk on this issue. They’ll co-sponsor a bill to fly the POW/MIA flag but on matters of substance they are MIA. Bill Dumas referred to H.Res 123 calling for a Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs in the House of Representatives. This legislation is not new. It has been introduced in the last five sessions of Congress and never made it out of committee for a vote of the full House of Representatives. Why?
Some say the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, concluded in 1993, addressed all concerns. That is simply not true. Mountains of new and old information, unavailable to the Senate Committee, have come to light and intelligence continues to develop. This information is largely ignored by both the Executive and Legislative branches of our government.
We'd like to provide several examples. In late 2003, Warren Gray a former analyst, with the Defense POW/MIA Office, (DPMO) with almost 20 years experience in POW/MIA matters, expressed his frustration at the failure to properly investigate matters relating to live POWs. Discussing one report of 185 men held back by Hanoi at “Operation Homecoming” Mr. Gray stated: “In November 1993 DPMO received a report that American POWs had been held in Southeast Asia after Homecoming, possibly as late as 1976, and that the number was 185. An immediate effort was made to go back to the original source to obtain further information, without success. The report was deemed to be so important and possibly credible that the collection representative was directed to follow the situation and to conduct frequent follow-ups which did not happen.”
“In January 1998 members of the Joint Commission Support Directorate (JCSD) within DPMO decided to investigate the report and asked the collection representative for access. The collection representative stated that she had no idea which report they were talking about, therefore could not furnish it.”
“Only after JCSD personnel threatened to demand an Inspector General investigation into the loss was the report “found.” Later in 1998 JCSD did what it could with limited resources to investigate the report; that was the last action to check out the possible credible information. Details of the report have never been taken to any country within SEA to demand an explanation, perhaps because the implications of the report were that the country in question could never have been deemed to be cooperating in the POW issue if the report was true.”
“The same collection representative that received the report in 1993, lost the report in 1998 and who would have been responsible for any follow-up since its receipt, remains in place, and the report remains unresolved. During the mid-l 990's a Russian geologist was interviewed and reported that he was told in 1976 by Vietnamese counterparts that the Vietnamese Government at that time was holding live American POWs. Does this report substantiate the earlier reporting? No one knows since neither report has been investigated further or in-depth.”
This past June, a very well placed source provided our organization information on a report received from a potentially creditable source. The information provided states: “In 1998, the Directorate of Operations within DPMO received an extremely credible report that American MIAs were still being held in Southeast Asia, and DPMO ignored the report! Not one single action was taken to determine if the report was true, the source was not interviewed further, the Governments in Southeast Asia were not asked to account for the report…nothing.”
During the recent government briefings held in Washington, D.C. Dolores Alfond, National Alliance of Families Chairperson focused on the 1998 report of Americans’ held in Southeast Asia. In response to her question, a DPMO representative stated the report was "highly classified" and that they "shouldn't even be discussing it." When she pressed, she was told one source knew nothing and the other recanted.
Ann Holland, wife of T/SGT Melvin Holland missing in Laos, followed up by asking "if one source knew nothing and the other recanted, why is the report still classified?" There was no answer to that.
We relayed this response to the source of the information who responded; “DPMO is absolutely lying.”
In March 1996, I. O. Lee, an analyst with the Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), presented a background paper which concluded "There are too many live sighting reports, specifically observations of several Caucasians in a collective farm by Romanians and the North Korean defectors' eyewitness of Americans in DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic Korea) to dismiss that there are no American POWs in North Korea.
In his report, Mr. Lee discusses two groups of Americans. One a group of possible deserters, and a second group of American Prisoners of War (POWs). According to Mr. Lee, "A second, larger group of Americans is comprised of US service members, most likely POWs from the Korean War and possibly Vietnam War era. There have been numerous reports of both American and British POWs in North Korea. One of the most compelling reports received over the years was a sighting reported to DoD by a Romanian in 17 Feb 1988...."
“...The analysis of numerous live sighting reports correlate that American POWs live in a group compounds in various locations in Pyongyang and its suburbs and perhaps other places in DPRK. POWs movements in DPRK are apparently controlled by the North Korean Government.”
American servicemen held as Prisoner of War, transferred to the former Soviet Union after World War II, and the Korean War – “Americans, including American servicemen, were imprisoned in the former Soviet Union....” 5th Edition of the Gulag Study U.S./Russian Joint Commission on POW/MIAs.
American servicemen held as Prisoner of War in North Korea – “too many live sighting reports.... to dismiss that there are no American POWs in North Korea.” I.O. Lee analyst with the Defense Prisoner of War Missing Personnel Office (DPMO).
American servicemen held as Prisoner of War in Southeast – “There is evidence, moreover, that indicates the possibility of survival, at least for a small number, after Operation Homecoming....” Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs.
Today, we know of the “185 Report” and the 1998 report of a specific number of live Americans in Southeast Asia and nothing is done about it.
The servicemen held back at the end of each of our wars, represented by the findings of the Gulag Study, the Background Paper prepared by I.O. Lee and the findings of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, are truly POW/MIAs.... Prisoners of Washington / Mired in Apathy.
Where is the outrage?
FP: Bill Dumas, Joe Douglass, Bill Bell, Jay Veith, and Lynn O'Shea, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium to discuss this issue. I hope we may have contributed to some kind of fruitful action coming out of this.
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