MIA Facts Site

Report of the
Senate Select Committee
POW-MIA Affairs:
Appendix 6

Selected Testimony

(Note:  I did not have a .txt version of this part of Appendix 6 -- this page is in a different format from other pages but the material is unchanged.)

Accounting -
Left Behind
Chairman Kerry: Based on that
concept of morality that you have
been driven by and the entire process
that you felt drove all of you that
you would come back together speaking
to us today, to a matter of moral
certainty in your heart and under
oath, do you believe that you left
anybody behind or that anybody was


Stockdale: No. No. I would not have come back...

Accounting -
Left Behind
It was the Son Tay Raid of November
1970 that prompted the North
Vietnamese to bring them all -- all
of these chickens out in the
satellite camps back, all back to
Hoala Prison, where in January 1971
every American prisoner -- with two
exceptions which I'll cover in a
minute -- where every American
prisoner who had ever been sighted,
whispered to, tapped to by any other
American over the last 6-1/2 years
were all locked up in a ring of
contiguous large cell blocks around
the largest west courtyard of Hoala
Prison, and it's half the prison.
Accounting -
Left Behind
Found in those dungeons -- all of
this activity found in those
dungeons, a meaning of life centered
on being your brother's keeper
emerged, keeping a memorialized
chronology of contacts and
acquaintances that could some day,
God willing, when papers and pencils
were available, allow you to present
to the world a history, in the worst
case, of who was last known to be
Accounting Admiral
And then there's a kind of an
unreal -- as we've come along in this
20th century, we've become
litigious... where we believe that
somebody owes us an explanation and
an apology and a payback if something
is not quite right. And when you
start talking about warriors last
seen alive, never being -- that the
Government owes you a blow-by-blow
description of what happened to them
to bring about either their demise or
their missingness, there's never been
a war in history that any government
could do that.

To say that the Government owes us an
explanation for what happened to a
guy who was last seen alive out on
the battlefield. Can anybody see
that as a possible reality? At night
or in storms, people get buried under
avalanches. There's any number of
things that have happened over

That's just an unrealistic goal
somebody has cooked up, and now it's
a demand.

Accounting Andry
Mr. Chairman, let me say we don't
expect this committee to take on
mission impossible by trying to
account for every single POW or MIA.
But we do believe that every effort
should be made to determine why the
Government has been unable to do a
better job of accounting for these
soldiers. Furthermore, every effort
should be made to determine what
plans our Government has made to
prevent this intolerable situation
from happening again.
Accounting Bell
...we're not talking about one man
being the only one privy to this
information, we're talking about
hundreds of thousands of analysts at
the time of intercept having access
to the same information that Mr.
Mooney saw and that Mr. Minarsin saw.

And they have all reached the same
conclusion, that just never happened,
that there is no indication that
people were singled out based on
their air crew status, based on their
technical capability or their
technical knowledge, as Moscow-bound,
and our review -- and this is, as I
said, the third time that it's been
reviewed to look for that
information -- supports that.

Accounting -
Left Behind
We had information of Americans being
held at that time [after Operation
Homecoming], sir, but it was not
correlated to any specific
Accounting -
I, too, have wondered why some cases
were left MIA when all good, in my
estimation, evidence suggested that
the person never survived the plane
crash, bailing out of the aircraft,
whatever the situation happened to
Accounting Chambers
As I have explained, our analysis
sets an upper limit on the number of
MIAs who could possibly be POWs. It
does not suggest that there are POWs,
or that any POWs were in fact held
past the time of Operation
Homecoming. What we are talking
about here are those MIAs who
potentially could have survived. We
do not know if they survived. I
cannot overemphasize this
Accounting -
The Defense Intelligence Agency, as
we were just discussing, reviewed all
2,266 cases to identify those people
who had the best chance for
survival...However, our investigation
of the loss incidents revealed that
not all of the 1,171 were likely
candidates for survival... We also
have cases where information on an
individual's fate is mixed, or
evidence of their fate is lacking...
These are the most difficult cases,
because it is almost impossible to
know where to begin an investigation
unless more information becomes

In some of the 1,171 cases, we know
the individual didn't survive, even
though he wasn't declared killed in
action by his commander, and I think
Mr. Sheetz mentioned that there are
cases where all identifiable traces
of an individual were eliminated by
the sheer force of an explosion...
Finally, there are those who are
known to have died in captivity...

Accounting -
This leaves us with 100 to 125...
Sir, the 269 total are the
individuals who were likely
candidates for survival and possible
captivity, but within that sub-
category there are several groups..
Accounting -
The difficult task of identifying who
might have survived, and remained a
prisoner after the war, began even
before prisoners were released during
Operation Homecoming in 1973 and
continues today...the total 2,266
unaccounted for Americans, 1,095 were
killed in action, leaving 1,171
Americans missing in action.
Accounting -
As shown here, the 269 individuals
for priority investigation are drawn
from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and
have been the focus of our field
investigations that began in Vietnam
in September of 1988... However, not
all 269 individuals are likely
candidates for survival and possible
captivity...Based on our field
activities in Vietnam, 61 of these
people are known to have died. An
additional 78 cannot be considered as
possible POW candidates for one of
the following reasons:

They are known to have died but
happen to have been lost in the same
incident with a last-known-alive

They are known to have died in
captivity, but are incorporated as
priority cases because at one time
they were carried by their respective
services as a POW or they do not meet
the criteria for a last known alive
designation but are included as
discrepancy cases because we believe
the Indochinese Governments are
withholding information concerning
their fate.

And finally, there are remains still
under analysis at the Central
Identification Laboratory in Hawaii
that we expect will lower this number
further once they are identified.

There are also several cases where we
have information that points strongly
but not conclusively to death at the
time of loss. loss.

Accounting Cheney
I feel we are closer than we have
ever been to a full accounting on
those who are still missing.
Accounting -
...I need to make clear as well that
the determination of status as to
whether someone is or is not KIA is
not totally an intelligence call.
There are others that play in this,
and obviously not all the families or
next-of-kin would necessarily accept
that categorization of 1,095 were
killed in action, body not recovered.

Chairman Kerry: Well, I'm troubled,
you know, folks, if there isn't
sufficient evidence to put them on a
KIA list, they don't belong on it. I
mean, this is part of what lends so
much controversy to this issue.

Accounting -
Left Behind
Chairman Kerry: Let me ask this
question, Governor, in that second
paragraph that you were just reading,
this is a July document, correct?

Governor Clements: July the 17th.

Chairman Kerry: And you said in that
document of this number, 67 are
officially listed as prisoner of war.

Governor Clements: They are
officially listed as prisoner of war
based on information that they
reached the ground safely and were

Chairman Kerry: Correct. That is
exactly the point I want to make. . .
. You have 67 people in July that you
have recorded as on the ground and

Governor Clements: That's right.

Chairman Kerry: Last known alive
captured, correct?

Governor Clements: That is correct.

Chairman Kerry: Seems to me that is
an indication you have people alive
in Southeast Asia.

Accounting -
Status Changes
Chairman Kerry: May I ask you what
the rationale was, and there may well
be a very good one, but what was the
rationale for taking this long-time
standing position of the Secretaries
of the Service and changing it. Why
did you suddenly have to make these

Governor Clements: This was most,
most delicate situation. There were
some very legitimate reasons and
cases for changing of status. . . .

Chairman Kerry: So if there was a
legitimate reason for somebody to be
made POW, why did you have to step in
and be the arbiter of that?

Governor Clements: What I am trying
to explain, and I think it is a very
understandable situation, there were
all kinds of nuances to this
particular question.

Accounting -
Status Changes
Chairman Kerry: ...Approximately how
many cases, individual cases, do you
remember being brought to your
attention after Homecoming, that is
for reclassification?

Clements: Well, quite a few. And
for me to put a number on it would be
very difficult.

Chairman Kerry: Was it more of the
magnitude of five or 100? Can you
give us some idea of how many cases
would have brought to your attention?
Not with any accuracy, was your
answer. Question: I'll understand
that it's just an approximation.
Answer: Over a four-year period
there could easily have been 50 or 75
cases that were investigated in-depth
that would have been brought to my

So, the range was 5 to 100, you
picked 50 to 75. Now that is a lot
of cases that potentially the service
secretary sent to you saying we want
to reclassify this person as a POW.
If it had been left to them, that
person would have been. It was not
left to them. You had taken over
that authority. The result was none

Accounting -
...There was never any discussion or
argument between us that statement in
all likelihood probably was true.

Chairman Kerry: That they were all

Governor Clements: That they
probably and in all likelihood were

Chairman Kerry: Was that the
prevailing attitude at DoD?

Governor Clements: Absolutely...

Accounting -
Status Changes
Governor Clements: I want to correct
one thing there. I did not take over
that authority, and my actions in
this regard were strictly on a review

Chairman Kerry: You used the word
review, but when the Deputy Secretary
of Defense, and Acting Secretary at
some periods of time, says, I want a
memo sent to all departments that any
reclassification from MIA to POW must
first be cleared by me, that is a
clearance. MIA to KIA is OK within
each service. So it was OK to take
MIA and put them into KIA, kill them
off. But do not make them prisoners.
I have got to see it. And nothing
happened. Nobody was made a

Accounting -
"I don't think there's any question
at all that I said -- not in those
exact words, but I said that in all
likelihood those people over there
are probably dead..."
Accounting -
Status Changes
Vice Chairman Smith: ...Why did you,
Governor Clements, make a decision to
not allow your service secretaries,
which as far as I know has never
happened before and has not happened
since -- to not allow your service
secretaries to upgrade an individual
from an MIA category to a POW
category? Why did you make that

Governor Clements: I don't think
that I made such a decision.

Accounting -
Status Changes
Vice Chairman Smith: Governor, I
have got it in your own
handwriting... 'I want a memo sent to
all departments, services, ASD, DIA,
JCS, that any reclassification from
MIA to POW must first be cleared by
me -- me.' That is what you said.
Accounting -
Status Changes
Governor Clements: I have no
recollection of making a decision of
that kind. Let me tell you
something, Senator, it is very, very
clear that only classification can be
changed within the services. And
let's don't get that confused.

Vice Chairman Smith: 'I request that
all actions which recommend
reclassification of military
personnel from missing in action to
captured status be submitted to me
for approval. Proposed
reclassification action should be
first routed through the Assistant
Secretary of Defense for a
preliminary review before referral to
me.' That was June 8th, 1973.

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
From my perspective, and listening to
the data and reading the documents,
there was a sea change attitude
immediately following the President's
assertion that everybody has now come

Even somebody with your credibility
and dedication and determination, for
whatever reason, even though you were
in the White House and obviously
assigned to a different
responsibility, chose not to raise
the issue, in spite of the fact that
you did feel strongly about it and
took the actions that you have so
capably described this morning. But
you did not raise the issue. No one
raised the issue, apparently, inside
the Government after the President
made his assertion in March of 1973.

And I guess I would just like you, if
you could, to describe what it was,
with all of those who felt as
strongly as you did, that this was no
longer a time within which to raise
the issue, and we are going to put it
behind us.

All I am asking -- and I do not mean
it to be in any way an accusatory
question. I just would like you to
describe the atmosphere that
apparently permeated the White House
and the administration in June when
you arrived, re-arrived, about this
issue? Why was it such that no one
chose to challenge the President's
statement and recharacterize it in a
way that would be less positive, as
you described it?

Laird: I cannot explain that,
Senator. I believe that that's
something you should pursue.

Accounting Daschle
...you might as well have been in two
different countries trying to look
into this thing, for as little
cooperation and coordination that
there was.
Accounting -
Left Behind
Though without suggesting that it is
the intent of the committee, there is
certainly a fact of life that the
media is reporting your work as a
kind of who shot John exercise. The
headlines are all full of finger-
pointing about, quote, who abandoned,
unquote, our POW/MIAs; about who is
to blame for the situation where too
little was done for too long; and
trying to find out the truth about
the fate of our POWs and MIAs.
Accounting Duker
...I don't know that I'll ever be
totally satisfied that the resolution
is there personally. I do believe a
beginning would be, though, to -- at
least for every American that was
last known alive or last known alive
in captivity, if we could resolve
every one of those cases that would
at least be a beginning towards
coming to some kind of an accounting.
Accounting -
Left Behind
I have not seen anything that would
convince me that there are not some
Americans still alive... how many,
I'm not sure, but I think that the
reports suggest that there was one
for sure, that the Vietnamese didn't
tell us about until much later. That
was one, but there are also some
reports suggesting that people might
have been alive we didn't know about.
We didn't know where they were -- and
they probably died afterwards.

...As we accumulate evidence and as
we go through that process, we are
able to begin to piece together a
little bit better what happened back
in 1972, or 1973, or 1975, and the
evidence, as we accumulate it, more
and more suggests that there are
probably some left alive in 1973.

Accounting Godley
This is an important distinction.
The MIAs were men in aircraft,
principally, shot down. They were
carried as MIAs until they were
either reported as POWs or their
graves were located, or a large
number of their wing men or other
aircraft in the air at that time
reported shot or downed in flames.
Accounting -
Nixon Statement
Without this statement, that the
President made and of course those
attendant follow-on policy decisions,
there is absolutely no electrifying
conflict. People are incensed. I
don't suppose people are incensed
with bureaucratic incompetence, they
have learned to handle that, but they
are incensed because of the deception
around this issue, deception by our
own government.
Accounting Grassley
...the Paris Peace Accords hearings
gave the live-sighting reports a
context, a plausibility quotient. In
my view, we must revisit this issue
before our work is complete, and we
must certainly get a response on the
Accounting -
Presently, there are 1,278 military
personnel who are unaccounted for as
a result of the hostilities in
Southeast Asia. Of this number, 67
are officially listed as prisoner of
war based on information that they
reached the ground safely and were
captured. Now, that is from Clements
to President Nixon. And that is on,
I believe, the 17th of July, 1973.
Now, the point that I want to raise
and that I would like to have you
respond to is, as I see it, the
bottom line is that we may not have
known with 100 percent certitude that
these men were prisoners. But it
seems to me that we sure as heck
believed that to be the case, to the
point that we would list them as
current captured. We believed it to
the point that we had a list entitled
``Current captured.'' And, at the
least, it seems to me, this
information conflicted with both the
Nixon statement on March the 29th and
the Shields statement on April the
Accounting -
I have got in front of me documents
that are entitled number of
casualties incurred by U.S. military
personnel in connection with the
conflict in Vietnam. And the bottom
line has a figure that is current
captured. And I do not know whether
they are daily or weekly reports, but
probably weekly reports. On March
the 31st, 1973, there are 81 listed;
7 April, 73, 80; 14 April, 73, and
that is the date that Shields made
his statement that there are not any
alive. We had 75. April 28th, 72.
Accounting -
Status Changes
My own belief is that a full
accounting of our people will not
occur until the Vietnamese Government
itself is accountable to its own
people. This is a Government that
has lied to its people ever since
they seized illegitimate power in
1975. They have continued to lie and
misrepresent facts to their own
Accounting Kerrey
It is very important for us to try to
figure out what we are going to do
today, not [just] what we should have
done 20 years ago.
Accounting -
Left Behind
So there is certainly that measure of
information that we have received.
There are other acknowledgments that
I think are not insignificant;
acknowledgements that we are not
really dealing with a universe of
2,266, [that] it is smaller.

In fact the committee, through its
exhaustive review, suggest that
somewhere in the vicinity, in 1973,
of 244 is a reasonable number, minus
those immediately determined to have
died in captivity, which leaves you
somewhere in the vicinity of 133,
which is close, as Vessey said, to
the numbers he has come up with.

Accounting -
Before Operation Homecoming, our
officials in the military, and you in
the executive, expressed the
conviction that POWs were about to be
left behind because the Laos list was
incomplete. But after Operation
Homecoming, the statements seemed to
have shifted and been calibrated more
towards putting people at ease, and
urging an acceptance or encouraging
the belief that the goal had been
Accounting Kerry
Chairman Kerry: President Nixon won
in 1968 on a peace platform and
indeed, no sooner was he elected than
he began withdrawing troops. Our
withdrawal was forestalled in 1968.
For four more years the war went on.
More prisoners were created and
finally, we negotiated with the
recognition that the country was fed
up and South Vietnam was to either
stand alone or fall alone with
enormous military support, I might
add, from us...

We are here 20 years later trying to
understand in the dynamics of where
we got to, whether or not we got our
prisoners out or not...It was not us
who stated that we do not have all
our prisoners back, that was in memos
that your colleagues in Government

The families, however, knew this and
for 20 years they have sought an
honest accounting from us, so we are
here today to do that and I am sure
you are sympathetic to that.

Accounting -
Dr. Shields, do you not think that it
is a little disingenuous to stand up
before the Nation and have a policy
announced that says we have no
indication that there are any
Americans alive when you know people
are carried as POW and have nothing
to suggest they are dead?

Why did you not say, "You know, we
have got 244 questions. We have got
people we list as POW, and we do not
know," instead of saying, "There are
no indications that anybody is
alive." Because the last thing you
knew was that they were alive.

Accounting -
Left Behind
Evidence was available to American
policy makers in 1973 that some POWs
might have been alive. Clearly,
there were people listed as POW who
did not return. That does not mean
that they were alive. It also does
not mean the converse; that they were
Accounting Kerry
What we did say unequivocally is that
there were a body, a group of people
listed as POW for whom there was a
reason they were listed as POW, about
whom we knew enough to call them POW.
And we did not get an accounting at
that time. And we had reason to
believe that many of them were alive.
Accounting -
Nixon Statement
Well, I would say, Admiral [Moorer],
I think your effort to explain it
that way is understandable and noble,
but the fact is I read this morning a
series of statements made by the
President which did not refer to we
are getting back the people on the
list, it said all our prisoners are

...Secondly, on May 24th, in a speech
to the POWs once they were all back,
he said 1973 saw the return of all
our prisoners of war. He did not say
to them, we are still concerned about
some of your friends; we are going to
pursue it. He said you are all back.

And in a speech on June 15th, he said
that for the first time in eight
years all of our prisoners are back,
all our prisoners are home here in
America. So I must say to you that
the evidence is overwhelming to the
committee that there is a gap between
the stated public policy and between
reality at that point in time.

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
If there were a clearer way for the
Commander in Chief to send a message
to Hanoi, or to the Pathet Lao, or to
the American public and to our
defense and intelligence officials
that the active search for a live
American prisoner was at an end, I do
not know what that might have been.
Now, no question, there is reference
after reference in these documents to
our continued desire for a full
accounting for those listed as
missing. But nowhere is there a
reference to a belief in the
likelihood that live Americans might
still be held.
Accounting -
(Tape) Question: Do you think there
still are POWs alive and well
somewhere in either Laos or Cambodia?
Answer: We have no indications at
this time that there are any
Americans alive in Indochina. (End

Chairman Kerry: That was your
statement at a press conference on
the 12th of April, 1973. We have no
indications at this time that there
are any Americans alive.

Now it is a fact, is it not, that as
of February of 1973 you personally
had information about an EC or an EQ-
47 shot down in Laos, and you
believed that four member s of that
crew survived, did you not?

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
So I frame that we have not got a
full accounting in the context of
having heard there is no evidence
that anybody is still alive, and my
immediate next thought is, OK, that
must mean we have got to find out who
is dead or how they died.

There is a huge difference. I mean I
am in politics. I understand what it
means to give a message. I remember
those days too. I was riveted to the
television set the night the
President said all the prisoners are
coming home...I thought they were all
coming home too.

I must tell you, and I thought I was
pretty aware back then, I never knew
what I am learning today. I never
knew you guys had a list of people
that you thought were still
prisoners. I never heard of it.

Accounting Kerry


I am a little disappointed that you
folks do not have at your fingertips
those numbers and the ability to tell
me, Senator, here is how many went
down. Here is exactly how many were
unaccounted for.
Accounting Kerry
If you have evidence to show that
somebody ought to be on a list, now
is the time to come forward. But it
is not sufficient for anybody to
simply say gee, it ought to be

We are dealing with reality. And we
have taken and put together lists
from every possible list we have been
able to find, subpoena, summon,
locate, uncover in the archives, and
there just are not any other lists.
Moreover, there is a finite universe
of people who went to Vietnam and
either came back or did not. We know
their names and we know the locations
and the dates and times and we have
records. And we are going to deal
with records. We are not going to
deal with hypothesis, theory,
supposition, fantasy, and ultimately
even hope, no matter how deep that
hope may be. We have to base this on
reality. We all have hope, but we
are trying to figure out what is real

Now, I want to emphasize again that
the committee does not assert that
every one of the names of the 133
were alive. We do not do that. We
cannot do that. No one could do

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
Chairman Kerry: Well, does that
raise a question in your mind today
as to whether they were, in fact, all
home on the March --

Admiral Murphy: Well, yeah, if I'm
looking at a piece of paper that says
there are 67 of them left.

Accounting -
...while there is truth to the
statement that I could not say where
so-and-so was specifically on this
day, we did have evidence that
individuals had been captured and
that individuals were not returning.
And I think that is the centerpiece
of the quandary we find ourselves in
20 years later. That those families
know that, and now the country knows
that. Those families knew that for
20 years. We also have evidence that
there were people within the
military, and in the State Department
and elsewhere, who believed that.
Accounting -
Nixon Statement
The President mentioned the MIA issue
in conjunction with a number of
issues that were not meeting with
full compliance...he did not
personalize and raise the issue of
noncompliance on POWs with the notion
that we believe there were people
that could be accounted for who were
not being accounted for. There was
just sort of this general sense of,
well, MIAs are not being accounted
for, which is distinct from the
notion that you believe you have
prisoners that were held and they
have not returned. I think the
Americans would have reacted,
obviously, very differently to the
latter than the former.

Secondly, his broader comment was
not, we have gotten back all the
prisoners that they have given us a
list of. It was that all the
prisoners have come home. So, there
was a real distinction between what
we knew or thought we knew about
prisoners versus MIA generically.
And that is, I think, something that

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
Chairman Kerry: You would agree with
me, Mr. Secretary, there is a
distinction between someone listed as
POW and someone listed as MIA.

Richardson: Definitely.

Chairman Kerry: And you would agree
with me, then, that the people
listed as MIA, some of them did not
come home, correct -- excuse me,
people listed as POW, some did not
come home, correct?

Richardson: Yes.

Chairman Kerry: Therefore, a
statement that all POWs are home is
also incorrect, is it not?

Richardson: Yes. This is a
colloquy... He could have
rationalized it, I suppose, on the
basis that all the ones we know of
have been accounted for.

Accounting -
Chairman Kerry: You, in July, are
still left with 67, by your own
account. Now, you have already taken
into account the people who came back
and who died. Those briefings are
several months prior. You are
reporting to the President,
memorandum of the United States of
America on 17 July, you folks
yourselves are saying 67 are
officially listed as prisoner of war,
based on information that they
reached the ground safely and were
captured... I do not want this to be
contentious, but do you not see the
problem here? If you have 67 people
that the Secretary of Defense is
telling the President are prisoners
because they reached the ground and
they were captured? Do you not
understand why people say hey, wait a
minute, there is a prisoner of war
over there that we have not gotten
Accounting -
Nixon Statement
And they are on the list that Senator
Grassley has provided of the 67 still
listed as captured, and you say by
March we had decided there were none
there, and yet people were still
listed as prisoners. So what was it
that allowed this decision to be made
that just sort of -- wiped it away?
What strikes me is that there was
this group that we believed were POWs
that somehow slid off into a category
other than POW in people's minds,
into a sort of MIA category without
really having been accounted for,
quote, as POWs.
Accounting -
Nixon Statement
...we have found statements where the
President said we are still worried
about the full accounting, but it was
for MIAs. The problem is there was
this distinction drawn between MIAs
and those that we believed were POWs.
Accounting -
Status Changes
Chairman Kerry [to Clements]: Now, I
want to come to the next critical
point. Governor, this was your
memorandum of 17 July, and you talk
about Public Law 37 U.S.C. 551558,
where the Service Secretaries are
specifically charged with the
responsibility for status changes.
You say at that time this system has
been used effectively to make status
changes for missing in action, and
you send over to the President, for
some reason, a fact sheet discussing
the provisions of the law, which
raises in our minds the question of
why the President might have been
interested in the status changes, and
if he was, why then, at a prior time,
had you made a decision personally,
in your own handwriting, to require
the Service Secretaries for the first
time to go through you in order to
change somebody? Now, I understand
there were 50 -- according to your
own deposition -- there were some 50
to 75 requests by the secretaries to
list somebody as POW, not as MIA, and
you did not approve any one of those,
Accounting -
Left Behind
On 19 November 1975, I testified
before the House Select Committee
Missing Persons in Southeast Asia
[Montgomery Commission]. I was also
asked, how many cases did you have of
men that were seen alive in captivity
but not heard from subsequent to that
time? I replied, I do not know
accurately. I was then asked, can
you estimate how many there were? I
replied, around 100.
Accounting -
Left Behind
Sen. McCain: When you were head of
the JCRC, did you ever see any hard
evidence that Americans were alive?

Kingston: Not to my recall.

Accounting Kingston
I interpreted that my mission was to
search for, recover and identify dead
and missing U.S. personnel.
Accounting -
Nixon Statement
On March 29th, President Nixon
announced that all of our American
POWs are on their way home.
Accounting -
Left Behind
If servicemen were kept by our
enemies, there is one villain and one
villain only; the cold-hearted rulers
in Hanoi.
Accounting -
Nixon Statement
Either people were known as
prisoners, or they were missing in
action, and therefore what President
Nixon conveyed was that those we knew
were prisoners were on their way
home, and he also said those who were
missing in action we were not
satisfied with, and that was the
state of our classification at the
Accounting -
Left Behind
Nor did any Administration know that
there were live Americans kept in
Accounting -
Left Behind
Fundamentally, I would have to say I
can find no rational reason for them
to hold prisoners.
Accounting -
Left Behind
Personally, I have no proof whether
Americans were kept behind by Hanoi.
My present gut feeling is that
probably no prisoners were left
behind in Vietnam. Possibly some
prisoners were left behind, were kept
behind in Laos, which has been my
feeling more or less since the middle
Seventies, but I'm not dogmatic about
this... But I want to make clear,
they were left -- if so, they were
kept in violation of the agreement,
in total ignorance of the American
Accounting -
Left Behind
Secretary Schlesinger was not exactly
shy in expressing his disagreements
with the views of the Administration.
I do not believe you can find one
memorandum, one phone conversation,
one meeting, or one anything in which
he expressed at the time the views he
expressed yesterday. And I can
assure you, if we had known, if we
had heard this, we would have acted
on it, because nobody was more
dissatisfied with the performance of
the Vietnamese than I. Nobody was
more eager to enforce the agreement.
Accounting -
Left Behind
Some prisoners may - I repeat may -
have been kept behind by our
adversaries in violation of solemn
commitments. No prisoners were left
behind by the deliberate act or
negligent omission of American
Accounting -
Left Behind
The committee also owes to the
American people a statement of this
simple truth. Some prisoners may --
I repeat, may -- have been kept
behind by our adversaries in
violation of solemn commitments. No
prisoners were left behind by the
deliberate act or negligent omission
of American officials. Anyone
suggesting otherwise is playing a
heartless game with the families of
the MIAs.
Accounting -
Left Behind
I think it is possible that they were
held, and it would have been in total
violation of the agreement. We did
not have any information at the time
that I was in Government that was
considered reliable.
Accounting Kissinger
The return of POWs and accounting of
the MIAs was an integral part of
every American proposal and was
always declared as non-negotiable by
Accounting Kissinger
...until October 8, 1972, the
Vietnamese had never agreed to give
any accounting of anything. So the
issue that you're addressing did not
arise until we were down to 25,000
Accounting -
Left Behind
Healing those wounds preoccupied me
then, it has preoccupied me since,
and it is one reason I find this
inquiry so painful. Mr. Chairman,
you have stated that this inquiry was
designed to heal the wounds of
Vietnam. I agree, but it cannot be
done by blaming American officials
for Vietnamese transgressions, nor by
innuendos, distortions and outright
falsehoods being leaked out of this
inquiry, nor did any --

So let us stop torturing ourselves.
The United States kept faith with
those who served their country. No
administration knew that there were
live Americans kept in Indochina.
American prisoners may have been kept
in Vietnam by a treacherous enemy in
violation of agreements and human
decency, but no one was left there by
the deliberate act or negligent
omission of any American official.

Accounting -
Left Behind
Now, it was a 50-50 chance on that
situation that prisoners of war would
not be there, but I submit to you as
members of this committee that every
prisoner of war in North Vietnam and
also in the South knew about that
raid, and it gave them hope that we
cared about them and it was a
successful raid, and the idea from my
standpoint that it did show that we
in the United States cared about our
POWs, and we did recognize them.
Accounting Laird
When I first became Secretary of
Defense, the total number of letters
that we had received since January
1st of 1960 to February of 1969, the
total number of letters we'd received
were 620. After we went public in
January of '72 the number of letters
had gone up to almost 5,000. 1,000
of those particular letter did come
through various peace activists.
Accounting -
Left Behind
Chairman Kerry: There is no question
in your mind, is there, that those
represented legitimate questions of
people who were held as a prisoner?

Lord: Absolutely.

Chairman Kerry: So, in effect, when
we got out in January and the
prisoners started coming home and the
President said all the prisoners are
on their way home, you knew that
could not be accurate based on the
information you had seen.

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
Chairman Kerry: ...it is very hard
for the committee to understand that
if the United States Government is
publicly saying we do not have any
indication of anybody alive, it would
kind of be meaningless to sit with
[the North Vietnamese] and make real
your notion that you are worried
about discrepancies or that they have
to worry about it...
Accounting Maguire
What Mr. Mooney seems to have done
is, in every case where it either
mentions a shoot down, a parachute
being seen, a search being conducted
for an individual, he put that person
in a POW status, and that just --
that's a jump in logic that's not
supported by the other evidence.

The problem is that Mr. Mooney was
really restricted to a small body of
intelligence with which to make his
assessment, and that body of
intelligence was the known U.S.
losses at the time of the report.

What we have information on is the
search and rescue efforts that
happened after the loss incident.
We've had subsequent intelligence
reports from other sources, and when
you put that all together, you can't
support 300 or more people ever even
being captured through signals

So if he saw a report that said on
the 22nd May the 283rd AAA Battalion
shot down an F-4, he would go to a
list of F-4 losses on that day, and
any F-4 that happened to have a
person unaccounted for, he would put
that person into a POW status,
totally disregarding any other losses
where we may have rescued an
individual, and in many cases he
totally disregarded the losses of
anything other than U.S. aircraft.

Accounting -
Left Behind
...if both former Secretaries of
Defense knew or believed at the time
that there was Americans left in
Southeast Asia, then I think they
have a great deal of answering to do
as to why they did not do more,
especially before the Woodcock and
Montgomery Commissions, to bring
these concerns or their beliefs to
Accounting -
Left Behind
[to Moorer] Your message on March
22nd says, the JCS message says, "Do
not commence withdrawal of the fourth
increment until the following two
conditions are met: the U.S. has
been provided with a complete list of
all U.S. POWs, including those held
by the Pathet Lao, as well as the
time and place of release; and the
first group of POWs have been
physically transferred to U.S.
custody." That was the criteria on
March 22nd.

Then, on March 23rd, a message was
sent, and I know, Mr. Chairman, this
is part of the record, both of these
messages, it said:

"Seek private meeting with North
Vietnamese representative. Our basic
concern is the release of the
prisoners, as we do not object to the
PLF playing the central role as long
as the men are returned to us. We
need precise information and
understanding on the times and place
of release of the prisoners on the
list provided by 1 February. Of
course we intend to pursue the
questioning of other U.S. personnel
captured or missing in Laos following
the release of the men on the 1
February list."

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
I would like to, again, refer to the
full statement made by President
Nixon on March 29th, 1973. The
chairman and others continue to refer
to a statement where he says all of
our American POWs are on their way
home. I think it is important to add
that he one sentence later said:
"There are still some problem areas:
the provisions of the agreement
requiring an accounting for all
missing in action in Indochina, the
provisions with regard to Laos and
Cambodia, the provisions prohibiting
[et cetera] have not been complied

So the President of the United States
did not just say all Americans are on
their way home. He caveated it, and
very strongly. . . . So both Dr.
Shields and the President of the
United States in 1973 stated
unequivocally that there were still
serious problems with the full
accounting of the MIA/POWs.

Accounting -
Left Behind
One reading this would reach the
conclusion that the Joint Chiefs of
Staff dictated a certain policy:
suspend everything on one day, and
then the following day said go ahead
and move forward with the
Accounting -
Nixon Statement
Chairman Kerry: What did you do in
1973, when you saw Operation
Homecoming? At that time you knew
that there was a discrepancy between
those coming home and those who most
readily, in your memory, were on the

Mr. Mooney: Yes sir. I was not really
concerned, because we still had the
highest requirements on the book, and
we did not expect many of these
people to come home.

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
When President Nixon made his
statement that all the men are back,
that wasn't even taken seriously. . .
. [because] when Nixon made his
statement. . . the highest tasking on
every reporter's desk in the field
was to continue to search for,
identify, isolate, locate American
POWs, particularly in Laos. And that
requirement stayed on the books.
Accounting -
Nixon Statement
Yes, could I make a comment please,
sir? I believe that you will find
that when the President made that
statement he was in Key Biscayne. He
made it through Ziegler, the public
affairs officer, and I'm confident he
was referring to simply the package
that we had ready to come out. And
all of those, 150 or so that were
ready to come out except one that was
found a little later down in South
Vietnam, but they were on the way
back. And I think that is probably
what he meant when he said all. He
meant all of the ones that we had


There is another sentence in that
public announcement, I think, that
goes on to say but there are probably
others we've got to search for.


Sen. Grassley: It is unfortunate,
but I believe the public then and now
has not read that statement any other
way, and I do not think there has
been any effort on the part of Nixon
to clarify it.


Accounting -
Left Behind
...I think that for all practical
purposes we really lost the war,
particularly from a political point
of view, because we couldn't get in
an airplane and go to each point of
contact where we thought there might
be a POW confined and held against
his will.
Accounting -
Left Behind
...the question arises now whether
you would be willing to detain those
boys who thought they were coming
home while we went through another
long discussion and negotiation with
North Vietnam. So my position was,
let's get those we have home and
continue to press to find out whether
there are any more.
Accounting -
Left Behind
...in my personal view there were no
confirmed reports of live U.S.
military personnel left behind in
Vietnam or Laos. I do not recall
seeing any such reports, and I would
have been very upset, as you would
be, if you had to read such a report
in that position.
Accounting -
It would seem to me, somebody in the
comptroller's office would have to
testify to just how they were using
these numbers. I will admit that it
says current captured, is a real
number going down to 67 by the end of
this period.
Accounting -
Left Behind
There certainly was a change in
attitude on the part of the Reagan
administration that was evident
during the 1980's. That certainly
let, and I believe throughout the
period of the seventies and eighties
that it was basically a continuation
inside of DIA, and that was that
there remained the possibility that
there were still live Americans
present in Southeast Asia remaining
after the departure of the United
States from that area.
Accounting -
Left Behind
Sen. McCain: Did you see any hard
evidence or any evidence that
Americans were alive?

Mr. Oksenberg: I saw no hard
evidence that Americans were alive.
Obviously, with the upsurge of
refugees came increasing reports of
live sightings.

Accounting -
Left Behind
I can assure you, Senator, that at no
point during my time on the watch did
we come to the conclusion that there
were certainly no live Americans in
Accounting -
Left Behind
In spite of the high visibility of
Commander Dodge's case, the North
Vietnamese chose to deny any
knowledge of him. Commander Dodge
was not repatriated in 1973.

I was extremely concerned about the
media reports that proclaimed all
POWs returned. I received letters
from President Nixon, Vice Admiral
David Bagley, Chief of Naval
Personnel, and Roger Shields, Office
of the Assistant Secretary of
Defense, all assuring me of their
commitment to securing the fullest
possible accounting.

The only letter that even mentioned
live Americans was that of Dr.
Shields, who stated, quote, there is
no specific knowledge of any live
Americans left, unquote. In other
words, fullest possible accounting
meant search for remains.

There was no public challenge of the
Vietnamese by the United States that
captured servicemen were left behind.
There seemed to be a naivete that all
prisoners had been returned and that
remains would be forthcoming. I was
shocked and bewildered, but I could
not believe that the missing were
already abandoned by our own
Government, press, and public.

Accounting -
...[the Vietnamese] said, your own
Government declared these men dead in
1973. Why should we think your
Government wants them back?
Accounting -
I said Roger, I'm surprised that you
declared all the men dead in April
1973. He said, I was ordered to do
it. And he said he was ordered to do
it by the Deputy Secretary of
Defense, William Clements. Then he
said words to the effect that he
protested, because just two weeks
earlier these memos were going
Accounting -
Left Behind
Chairman Kerry: Looking through this,
obviously retrospectively, but
looking at it as we're trying to look
at it and looking at it as the
American people are looking at it 20
years later, unfortunately, would you
say that the record suggests that the
American people and certainly the
families were not leveled with
respect to this?

Richardson: I would say that
information on the face of it was
withheld from them, and one would
have to use some rationale for doing
that -- that is, for withholding it.

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
Well, I tried to call attention to
the distinction of the degree of
certainty with which a given
proposition can be stated. For
purposes of our best estimates as to
the number of current captured, the
intelligence resources of the
Government would put together all the
bits and pieces they had and come up
with a number which represented the
weight of that evidence, and I
suppose that is what this number

The President's statement would
presumably be tilted in a direction
designed, as I suggested earlier, not
to raise false hopes and so on,
whatever may have been the
considerations. Somebody could
rationalize the distinction between
the basis for this number and the
basis for his statement.

But how it actually came about, for
all I know he deliberately chose to
lie. But I don't -- I try to give
him the benefit of the doubt, I would
say that he -- what he meant was that
every prisoner as to whom we have
definitive information.

Accounting -
S. Stockdale
I don't think we're as close to it as
some might like to believe, but I
think that there will come a point in
time when you have to take the
responsibility to make the judgment
that some people are never -- no
remains -- nothing is ever going to
be returned. And that's your job.
Accounting S. Stockdale
I can see why they are that
convinced, because of the long
history of the deception. And maybe
a lack of recognition that there are
always some people in war who are
lost. There will never, in my
opinion, be a satisfactory
accounting. In our League's list of
objectives we said that we wanted to
get the fullest possible accounting.

When you lose a war, you don't get to
go in and account for your people.
Even if you win the war, you don't
find everybody.

Accounting -
Left Behind
Chairman Kerry: I think I want to
start by asking a very simple
question. In your view did we leave
men behind?

Schlesinger: I think that, as of now,
that I can come to no other
conclusion, Senator. That does not
say that there are any alive today,
mind you. But in 1973, some were
left behind.

Accounting -
Left Behind
Despite the Paris agreement, there
was no reason, in my judgement, to
assume that the North Vietnamese
would release everybody.
Accounting Schweitzer
Why has it taken 19 years for us to
get to this starting point, is
probably the most important of these
three questions... First, the U.S.
emphasis has been on live-sighting
reports, and much of the POW/MIA
community simply wasn't interested in
researching existing proof that these
men were dead. This lack of vision
has cost us years in the search for
Accounting -
Left Behind
Sen. Kassebaum: It seems to me one of
the major debates after Operation
Homecoming was how to rate the
intelligence. You made the comment
earlier that creditable evidence, I
believe, led you to argue that there
were Americans still Laos. Is that

Secord: Yes, Senator, that's right.

Accounting -
Left Behind
Sen. Grassley: I would like to have
you describe for the committee how
confident you were in the data, and
how specific it was. And just give
us some examples.

Secord: I think a lot of the data
was flaky, but there is a law of
large numbers that comes into play
here. And we had a lot of case
studies on each and every one of
these downings, or nearly every one
of them. Some of them were just
gone, and we had nothing, but many,
many hundreds of downings. We had
all kinds of operational data,
including some that I described
earlier -- everything from good
beeper, good chute, good beeper on
the ground, transmitting on the
survival radio.

Accounting -
Left Behind
Sen. Grassley: In your view, were
there prisoners left behind in Laos
after Homecoming?

Secord: Yes, sir.

Sen. Grassley: Were the number of
prisoners significant enough to
warrant military action?

Secord: We believed so.

Accounting Sheetz
Sen. McCain: Why is it that it took
20 years to get one list, in your

Sheetz: 20 years to get one list?
We always had access to the files of
the JCRC in paper files. What's been
difficult is every time a team goes
out into the field in one of these
joint iterations we learn something
that we didn't know before, and that
information causes you to then
reevaluate what you know about a
particular case, and our databases
are always sort of chasing after one
other as new information comes in.
This is not -- these numbers are not
static numbers. They are always in

Accounting -
...some of the KIA cases, the
descriptions that you read, are more
compelling than others, but having
reviewed each and every one of them,
we do not find that there are fatal
flaws in the documentation and the
judgments that were reached by the
field commanders who were responsible
for reporting the status of their
lost men.
Accounting Sheetz
Chairman Kerry: Let me understand.
You have 196 discrepancy cases?...

Sheetz: Fate has been determined on
61 of those. So, when you subtract
that out, that gets you down to the
135 figure. The 196 is the actual
cases that existed, and we've been
able to get answers on the fate on 61
of those. So, 135 are still to be
determined; fate to be determined.

Chairman Kerry: And 90 in Laos? How
many fate determined in Laos?

Sheetz: None, sir. But I might add,
again, from prior sessions we have
explained that 85 percent of the
losses that took place in Laos that
are still unaccounted for took place
in the Eastern-most provinces, right
along the Ho Chi Minh Trail area, and
only 9 of those 90 discrepancy cases
are cases in which they took place
clearly in areas of Pathet Lao

So, essentially, 80 to 81 of those
cases are in the border, Vietnamese-
controlled areas where we are going
to be working in the tripartite arena
with the Vietnamese and the Lao to
try to get answers on those cases.

Accounting -
Chairman Kerry: ...And the person is
listed as KIA in that particular
category based on first-hand reports
from people within a unit or
aircraft, or whatever, is that
correct?... So what I am saying is
that in the case of almost 100
percent of those 1,095, there are
sufficient multiple reports of the
incident to permit you to draw the
conclusion you've drawn, are there

Sheetz: Yes, sir...

Chairman Kerry: So I ask you again
the same question I asked you a
moment ago. Is it not fair to say,
and even more appropriate to say,
that there ought to be, maybe, a new
category that in the case of those
1,095, while their body has not been
returned, in some cases based on the
report it is clear, is it not, that a
body will never be returned?

Sheetz: That is true, sir...

Chairman Kerry: So that person is in
effect accounted for. The family has
accepted the accounting, and in point
of fact it does not belong on a
POW/MIA list. It is not POW, it is
not MIA, it is KIA, body not

Accounting -
Chairman Kerry: Now, if you are
saying that 1,095 were KIA, well,
they have not been returned. Are
they not accounted for?

Mr. Sheetz: The fullest possible
accounting has three levels of
evidence, if you will. [Level] 1,
the most ideal outcome would be the
return of a live American prisoner.
Level 2 would be... recovering their
remains and repatriating those
remains to the United States. The
third level of outcome is for those
who perished, where remains cannot be
recovered, to develop sufficient
documentation as to confirm the fate
of the individual...

Chairman Kerry: These 1,095 fall
into the third category, correct?

Mr. Sheetz: At the present time,
they do.

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
Chairman Kerry: Why did not the
President of the United States stand
up and say, the prisoners are not
back? Why did not the Secretary of
Defense say, I stood up a few months
ago and I had 14 people I said did
not come back and, by God, they are
still not back, and why will
Americans not care about it?
Accounting -
Chairman Kerry: Now look at the
cause and effect. Here are the
papers coming off your press
conference. [Headline] "POW unit
boss: no living GIs left in
Indochina." Here, [Headline]:
"Rumors that there were hundreds of
U.S. servicemen still left in Laotian
prison camps do the families of the
missing a disservice." Headline:
"All U.S. POWs free Pentagon
maintains." Headline: "Unreturned
GIs are feared dead..."

Shields: I never said that the men
were all dead. I never said that.
I've never said that to this day.

Chairman Kerry: No indication that
any of the missing are alive in
Indochina. We went through this last
time; there were indications.

Shields: Senator, I don't believe
that I could tell Mrs. Hrdlicka or
Mrs. Van Dyke or the Van Dyke parents
or anyone else that I had indications
at that time that their loved ones
were alive.

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
Vice Chairman Smith: But from March
28th to April 12th a heck of a lot of
things have happened here that
reversed all information that we had
in the pipeline on prisoners of war,
in Laos especially. And in 2 weeks
we went from a memorandum to the
President of the United States via
the National Security Advisor from
the Secretary of Defense saying there
are POWs in Laos. Not alleged, there
are POWs in Laos, and we had better
do something in terms of getting them
out before we get out of here. Now
that is essentially what the
memorandum said. We went from that
to a press conference by the
President of the United States the
next day which says all POWs are
coming home. There are no more
living Americans in Indochina, you
then said on April 12th.
Accounting -
Shields: Senator, there is a
difference in saying people are alive
and in captivity and saying we don't
have indications now that they are.

Chairman Kerry: That is the
disingenuous piece of this.

Shields: It is not disingenuous,
Senator. This was and still is a
very serious issue. I read in the
newspaper yesterday that your
committee has information that an
American was alive in Indochina in
captivity in 1989.

Chairman Kerry: No, no, no. That is

Shields: It was reported in the
paper, Senator.

Chairman Kerry: Let me just make it
very clear. Senator Smith has an
opinion personally as to that. I
will tell you I personally do not
share a judgment on that or that
opinion, nor do I think has the rest
of the committee come to any
conclusion whatsoever as to anyone in
1989, and I will tell you that this
committee has no evidence today of
any specific individual in any
specific place being alive now.

Shields: And that's exactly what I
said, Senator.

Chairman Kerry: But it's not.

Shields: And the information you
have on an individual in 1989 is more
recent than a lot of the information
that I was dealing with, and that's
exactly why I did not say they were
all alive nor did I say they were all
dead. I did not know that.

Accounting -
...we really did not have proof
positive, at that time, of current
information that would allow us to go
back. I'm sure that had we known at
that time of the evidence of people,
had Senator McCain or some of his
comrades said, we left a man in this
camp, I'm sure we would have done
something about it. There were three
foreign nationals and we did.
Accounting -
... we had no hard, specific current
information at that time. And I think
we had done enough of our debriefings
at that time, because we had asked
men immediately if they knew about
living Americans.
Accounting -
Chairman Kerry: I am not challenging
your honor. I am trying to determine
whether or not you do not see what
America saw out of your statement.
Not your fault, maybe, but what
America saw out of your statement
were the headlines that I read. You
may not have willed that, but that is
what happened.

Shields: ...I have given that
statement to innumerable people since
we met last time. And they have
looked at this statement; no one has
come up with the impression that the
said all the men dead.

Chairman Kerry: But do you not see
that when you say that there is no
indication that anyone is alive--

Vice Chairman Smith: What is the
difference between that and they are
all dead?

Chairman Kerry: You are basically
taking somebody in POW status, and
you wrote that, and saying we no
longer believe that person is a POW.

Accounting -
Returned POWs
We hoped that our returnees would be
able to provide us with substantial
information about the missing, but
relatively few cases were cleared up
on the basis of returnees
Accounting -
Nixon Statement
Sen. McCain: How do you account for
the President of the United States
saying all POWs are home?

Dr. Shields: Senator, I don't
control the statements of the
President of the United States. I did
not at that time. I was as dismayed
at that statement as anyone else was.

Accounting -
Left Behind
Shields: We did raise those issues,
and we raised them with a great deal
of vigor.

Chairman Kerry: You recall that
being a sort of publicly perceived
grievance that was expressed, or you
raised them in private channels? I
do not recall this Nation being in
turmoil over the notion that we
thought Vietnam might be holding

Shields: I think, Senator Kerry,
that the Nation was probably ecstatic
that the conflict was over, and that
we were not adding to those POW/MIA

Accounting -
Left Behind
You are aware of the efforts that
were expended on behalf of Chi Chan
Harnaby, Lieutenant Dodd, and so
forth. They were men that you and
your comrades said had been left
behind. And even though they were
not Americans, we left no stone
unturned to bring them home. And in
fact, they did return home to their
loved ones. In the case of Emmet
Kay, we knew he was a prisoner, and
we pursued that and he was returned.

In the cases of Charles Dean and Neal
Sharman, we knew that they had been
captured. That was not a secret. We
made that evidence available to
anyone, and we acknowledged that. We
did not bring them home. We were not
able to do that.

Accounting -
Chairman Kerry: No one on the
committee is suggesting that the 1973
policy should have suggested that you
say yes, they are all alive.

Shields: What is the difference
between saying they are alive and we
have no indications now that they are

Chairman Kerry: We did have
indications that some people were
alive. We had absolute intelligence.
You in your own deposition,... you
agreed that recent information could
go back 6 months, 12 months. And we
had recent information 6 months and
12 months that so and so was seen
alive or so and so was alive.

Shields: I'm not aware of that,
Senator. Within 6 months? Recent
information specifically relating to
a man? I'm not aware of that

Accounting -
Shields: Senator, people were asking
if we knew whether we had left anyone
behind, and the answer was we do not
have indications at this time.

Chairman Kerry: That has been the
official line... But the questions is
what did we know in 1973 and what did
we do?

Shields: We know that men had been
alive in captivity at one time... And
those that returned did not know of
men who had been left.

Chairman Kerry: To say all prisoners
had returned as the President
announced on the 29th of March, a
week before your press conference,
was wrong. He knew it was wrong. Let
me tell you why. You recall going to
see Secretary of Defense William
Clements in his office in early
April, a week before your April
conference, correct?

Shields: That's correct.

Chairman Kerry: And you heard him
tell you, all the American POWs are
dead. And you said to him, "You
cannot say that."

Shields: That's correct.

Chairman Kerry: And he repeated to
you, "You did not hear me. They are
all dead."

Shields: That's essentially correct.

Accounting -
At the termination of Homecoming we
had no current hard evidence that
Americans were still held prisoner in
Southeast Asia... None of those who
returned had any indication that
anyone had been left behind. We knew
that there was a possibility that
defectors were alive in enemy-
controlled areas, but had no firm
evidence to confirm this either.

Robert Garwood was an example of an
American whom we felt might be alive
and in an enemy-controlled area, But
according to the returnees who saw
him last, he was not being held as a
Accounting -
[Describing 1975 testimony] Then the
famous question, do you think that
there are still POWs alive and well
somewhere in either Laos of Cambodia.
And this is the statement with which
you have had such great trouble. We
have no indications at this time that
there are any Americans alive in
Indochina. What the people at the
hearing did not hear, and what was
never reported in the press were
these words, as I said, "we do not
consider the list of men that we
received from Laos, the recovery of
10 individuals, nine of whom were
American and seven military, to be a
complete accounting for all Americans
who were lost in Laos. Nor do we
consider it to be a complete
statement of our information known to
the Pathet Lao in Laos. With regard
to Cambodia, we have a number of men
who are missing in action there.
Some that we carried as captive."
Again, the statement of people who
were carried as prisoner who did not
return. "We intend to pursue that,
too... even though we have no
indication that there are any
Americans still alive, we are going
to pursue our efforts in the process
of accounting for the missing... we
anticipate that if any Americans are
yet alive...that we would be able to
ascertain that through this
Accounting -
Admiral McCain... repeatedly asserted
that he felt a small number of
American were still alive in
Indochina. When asked how many, he
opined that perhaps 20 to 30 were
alive. When asked whether he had any
evidence at all that there is anybody
alive, he admitted he did not.
Accounting Shields
...the practical impact of lists
relating to status was always
limited... it had a mixed impact on
family members, depending on what
status a man had. It appears also to
have had a limited impact on
prisoners and missing. Ronald
Ridgeway was classified as killed in
action, but that did not prevent his
repatriation. Frank Cius was carried
as missing in action in Laos, but he
also returned home to his loved ones.
David Demmon was carried as a
prisoner in South Vietnam, but to
this day, he remains unaccounted for.
Accounting -
Chairman Kerry: ... we have uncovered
some 244 people... were carried by
DoD as POW, prisoner of war. You did
not know until after the debriefs
that 111 of them died in captivity.
When you made this statement, those
debriefs had not been completed, had

Shields: No, they had not.

Accounting -
Left Behind
The only individuals whom hard, and
at that time current, information
indicated were in captivity and for
whom no accounting has yet been
received were two civilians; an
American, Charles Dean, and Neil
Sharman, an Australian, who were
captured in 1974. They were
unquestionably in the hands of the
Pathet Lao when the events that led
to the fall of Saigon and Vientiane
in mid-year 1975 occurred. Our
intelligence capability and our
ability to track them in captivity
ended with the collapse of the
friendly governments.
It is unlikely, I believe, that an
accounting is obtainable now which
will resolve the doubts of many
families about the status of their
loved ones missing in Southeast Asia.
The record has become too convoluted
and distorted for that to happen.
Accounting -
Sen. Robb: Why was not some effort
made, either institutionally or
individually, to say hey, we have
information that is simply at odds,
at variance with the information that
you have just announced or
articulated through either policy
papers or official pronouncements,
whatever the case may be? Why was
there not some critical questioning
or skepticism that can be raised at
that time, and why was there a
passive acceptance?

Shields: Senator, there are
statements by General Walters at the
CIA. I don't know him well, but my
understanding is he doesn't accept
much passively at all... I don't
think that the United States
Government possessed the kind of
information that you are speaking of.

Accounting Shields
There has been some concern, I
believe, over the fact that DIA
carried some men in classification,
in particular the prisoner category,
which differed from those of the
services. The reason for this is
simple, and I believe valid.
Accounting -
Status Changes
By law, only the service secretaries
have the legal authority to determine
an individual's status, and the law
was observed in this regard during my
tenure in the Department of Defense.
Accounting Shields
The facts regarding individual cases
were not in dispute. If a man listed
by the Navy as missing was carried by
DIA as captured and that led to
better correlation of intelligence
reports, then our own efforts were
Accounting -
Chairman Kerry: [citing Shields'
comments] "We do not consider the
list to be a complete accounting",
then you went into MIA and some who
were listed as captive. That is not
a phrase that grabs me in any way as
if you believe somebody is still a
Accounting -
Vice Chairman Smith: I want you to
tell me about the Nixon meeting.
That is where we are now, April 11th.
I want you to lead me into that
meeting. Did anybody say anything to
you? I just want you to give me some
very specific answers, and I want a
long discourse. Did anybody say
anything to you prior to that
meeting, at any time, about what you
should or should not say to the
President of the United States, yes,
or no?

Shields: Absolutely nothing...

Accounting Shields
We understood long before we received
the DRV-PRG list in Paris in January
1973 that Operation Homecoming would
only be one phase of our work. It was
evident that the process of
accounting for those who did not
return would be long, arduous, and
complicated under even the best of
Accounting -
Left Behind
Sen. McCain: ... if Mr. Shields said
-- in his memorandum, he says DoD had
no specific knowledge, that is
different in my view than no
indications. That is a very
different use of language. I think,
frankly, that in your memorandum no
specific knowledge is a defensible
position. No indications, I think,
is not.

I think what I am trying to get at
here is what was the thrust of the
belief? Is it that the President of
the United States said there are no
more Americans alive in Southeast
Asia and we closed the book until the
agitation on the part of families and
other Americans brought this back to
the attention of the American people?
Or has there been a good-faith
effort? Or is it somewhere in
between, in the view of many of us,
that during the 1970's the issue was
ignored to a certain degree because
of the desire of the American people
and the American Government to put
this issue behind us, which could
have led us to some failed
opportunities to return some
Americans who may have been held

I know that is very difficult, but I
think it is a philosophical question
that is important to be cleared up,
and maybe we could begin with you,
Mr. Sieverts.

Mr. Sieverts: The root question is
whether there were any opportunities
to achieve the return of living
Americans. That's the sole question.
And no, I don't think there were
any. I don't think we had any
indications of Americans in
captivity. Some of my testimony is
intended to bear on that question,
because of our past experience, of
the lengths to which Americans would
go -- we're talking about POWs held

Accounting -
Left Behind
The root question is whether there
were any opportunities to achieve the
return of living Americans. That's
the sole question. And no, I don't
think there were any. I don't think
we had any indications of Americans
in captivity... the lengths to which
Americans would go-- we're talking
about POWs held against their will in
captivity-- the lengths they would
go, one way or another, to let us
know of this. It bears on the
photographs, for example. The idea
of Americans cheerfully being
photographed and not using the
opportunity to somehow convey who
they are and what the circumstances
are is beyond my imagination.

But it's beyond my experience, more
importantly, of being responsible for
this subject during the long time
when we really did have Americans in
captivity and we did get indications
which were quite solid.

Accounting Sieverts
Sen. McCain: Mr. Sieverts, was that
the policy on your watch, that we did
not know whether they were alive or
dead? Or was it that we assumed they
were all dead, or what?

Sieverts: ...Our approach during that
entire period was to present
information in a positive spirit
through the channels that were
available pursuant to the Paris
agreement and, to the extent that it
was possible, and it was not at all
easy, to do so in Laos, as well. At
every opportunity, we would shade the
interpretation of cases and lists in
a favorable direction... In the
direction of saying we know you have
more information... Over a period of
time, we broadened those lists. We
added to them, we gave specific case
records, detailed case records.

The difficulty was that at the same
time if you overstated that
assumption for a domestic audience
you would create what was clearly
exaggerated and possibly an entirely
false hope among families.

Accounting -
Dr. Shields, all I am saying to you
is based on the documents that I have
read -- not on my opinion, the
documents that I have read, the
depositions we have taken, the
witnesses we have talked to, the
information that I have been able to
glean from whatever I have been able
to see, that is not what went into
the pipeline prior to March 28th. It
was not gut feeling, it was not
visceral, it was simply -- it was so
factual and at least so definitive
that the Secretary of Defense made a
recommendation to resume the war and
risk bringing home the last group of
American POWs. And that changed, that

So my question to you is what is the
point of a press conference after the
President speaks and says all the
POWs are home?..You had a private
meeting with the President of the
United States and you come out of
that meeting and you hold another
press conference. And you say, in
addition to what the President
already said, there are not any more
living Americans.

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
...the point is that we continued
operations in a third country that we
were not supposed to be at war with,
and we were losing people while we
were bringing home American POWs from
Vietnam. We were still losing people
and still standing up saying that
there are no prisoners when we had no
idea what happened to them. And
somebody has to be accountable for
Accounting -
Nixon Statement
...the document says on June 30th
that we are listing and
distinguishing between missing and
POWs. We now are listing 67 hostile
captured people as prisoners of war
on June 30th, when in fact the
official position as announced by the
President and others is that there
are not any more POWs. Am I correct?

Sen. Grassley: Yes. President Nixon
made his statement on March the 29th,
and Dr. Shields made his statement on
April the 14th.
Vice Chairman Smith: And this is
June 30th, listing 67 people as

Sen. Grassley: Yes.

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
... on January 27th and 28th there
were lists exchanged and provided.
But we still were flying missions
over Laos after those lists were
exchanged. We were losing Americans
in Laos in a secret war... So when
you say on April 12th that you do not
have any information on live
Americans, that is simply not true.
Accounting -
Nixon Statement
...Actually, there were two policies,
one right after the other, with the
same data base...the first policy was
full accountability. Then there was
a statement when the President said
all the POWs are home.

The policy then changed to everybody
is home, all the POWs were home. But
the data base, the intelligence
information that you had, did not
support that claim, as you have all
as you have all said.

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
...as to why this data base was
apparently looked at differently as
we came down to this period of March
28th through April 15th, in that
period of time when President Nixon
made his statement, Mr. Shields made
his statement?

What happened differently? Was there
something there that we are missing
that caused this change in analysis
of the intelligence? Or do you
believe that there were people there
after Operation Homecoming, based on
what you knew?

General Secord: Well, yes, of course
I believe there were people after
Operation Homecoming. This
memorandum was written

Accounting -
Nixon Statement
...I am just trying to say to you
that you had a tabulation; it was a
running tab, it was coming into you
by the week. Nothing changed in the
way it was reported, nothing changed
in the documents that went into the
pipeline, the information that went
into the pipeline. Nothing changed.
On the contrary, it was reported to
the Secretary of Defense that it was
valid information. The only thing
that changed is you guys made an
announcement, or the President made
an announcement on March 29th which
was totally at odds with all of that
Accounting -
Nixon Statement
...II A has provided U.S. delegation
folders with background information
on about 80 persons in the category
of POW, and then even today, here is
a list that we have just received
from -- the committee received on the
20th of March, 1992, from Margaret R.
Munson, director, DoD, POW-MIA
Central Documentation Office. It
lists 50 people who are in Category I
survival code in Laos.

I mean, there is just no way that any
reasonable person can conclude based
on the documents and the information
that this committee has received,
that you could make the kind of
statement that the President made and
know that it was correct. And I will
tell you, to speak for myself, this
one Senator just does not accept it.


Accounting Sungenis
Sungenis: The first casualty
reporting requirement from the
services was in 1963, and that was a
numerical report only. In March of
1973 the requirement was made that
the services provide us with
individual casualty reports. And
what they did in '73 was provide us
with a DD form 1300 for each
individual and a punched card with
that information. Since that day we
have maintained the file. But as you
know, this was after Homecoming when
we got into the business.
Accounting Sungenis
To the best of my knowledge, at no
time did this office engage or
participate in any policy
determination or jurisdictional
matter concerning the reporting
criteria used by the respective
military services.
Accounting Sungenis
...at the time the official file was
transferred to the Archives, the
back-up materials, such as the hard
copy DD Forms 1300 and other
supporting documentation, we
Accounting -
Left Behind
That we had no current information at
the time where we could go and put
our hands on some individual that was
alive at that time.
Accounting -
Left Behind
Some [names] were written on the
walls. No one ever saw these
individuals in a prison environment.
Accounting -
Left Behind


Sen. Kerrey: Do you have any
recollection of ever having anybody
say to you during that period of time
in 1973, after Operation Homecoming,
that we should just let this matter

Trowbridge: No sir.

Sen. Kerrey: Were you ever told by
somebody, the war is over, let us not
drag this our any further with energy
expanded in areas that are not apt to
be terribly useful?

Trowbridge: No sir, never.

Accounting -
Left Behind
... the U.S. Government carried 97
individuals listed as prisoners of
war that did not return. This is at
the completion of Operation
Accounting -
Left Behind
...When I said 97, or to use your
term 80, actually at the completion
of Operation Homecoming our agency
held 115 individuals in a prisoner
status who did not return home.
Accounting -
Left Behind


Sen. Kerrey: Do you not think it fair
to say there was an attitude in 1973
that we were indeed glad the war was
over and that we wanted very little
further discussion of anything in
regards to the war, including the
status of our prisoners.

Trowbridge: Oh, I think that there
may have been some very well
individuals that thought that way,
but I think the moral fiber that runs
through the American citizen is a, we
don't leave our unaccounted for. We
go get them.

Accounting -
Left Behind
We are left with slightly less than
100 men who are officially listed by
the service as POWs... in no instance
did we have current intelligence to
indicate that these men were
currently held in captivity.
Accounting -
Vice Chairman Smith: Is there
evidence or is there not evidence
that Americans remained alive as
prisoners of war, taking out Garwood,
from 1973 to 1989? That is a simple
yes or no question. Is there or is
there not, based on your opinion?

Trowbridge: Based on my opinion and
what I have seen, we have nothing
that would indicate that an American
prisoner -- confirmed information or
evidence, firm evidence, or
convincing evidence, that an American
prisoner was being held against his

Vice Chairman Smith: Do you agree
with that Dr. Shields?

Shields: Senator, the second
definition -- indications. We
certainly knew that people were alive
at one time. I do not have anything
that would allow me to make the
judgment, which you suggested is the
first definition, that would allow me
to make the judgment that those
Americans were still alive, and say
that to a family member, for example.
And say, I am confident that based on
the information I have your husband
is alive. I could not have said

Accounting Trowbridge
That was our responsibility,
correlating information to somebody
who may be missing. But, until
somebody told us he was missing, he
was not on our roll.
Accounting Trowbridge
In some cases, we had very good
information that the individuals had
been held but had died there. In
many other cases, there was no
information beyond the original loss
data. There were also a few cases
where the services listed men as
prisoners of war based on data which
they later learned was erroneous in
that it correlated to a different
man. Much of this we learned through
debriefing all of the returnees, who
also told us of men who had died
before entering the prison system.
Accounting Trowbridge
...the war years within DIA, our
office was the focal point for
POW/MIA information.
Accounting Trowbridge
...the agency's position at the time
was that we held no information that
individuals at that time were being
held against their will.
Accounting Trowbridge
DIA thought it possible that a man
was a POW, yet the services carried
him as missing in action. The status
the service assigned was always their
legal status.
Accounting Trowbridge
DIA did not and does not determine
the legal status of a serviceman.
That is the sole responsibility of
each of the military service
Accounting Trowbridge
We had a very close relationship.
Our agency supported Dr. Shields with
intelligence information.
Accounting -
Returned POWs
We know through extensive debriefings
and subsequent investigations that
all Americans seen by U.S. prisoners
of war who did return in the
Vietnamese prison system have been
accounted for as either returned POWs
are through the return for remains,
or having been reported as died in
Accounting -
Left Behind
Sen. Grassley: What happened in your
view to those who we expected back
who did not come back?

Walters: I think they killed them.
They're that kind of people.

Left Behind
Until Homecoming, you expected them
to come home alive. When they did
not come home alive, you ceased to
think they should be home alive.


Return to SSC Report Table of Contents
Go to next section