MIA Facts Site

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

JFT-FA Larson
12/04/92 Sen. Daschle: Let me just stop you.
Did you say live sightings are number
one.

Larson: Live sightings.

Sen. Daschle: Discrepancy cases,
number two.

Larson: Discrepancy cases.

Sen. Daschle: And then surrounding
cases that may be related to
discrepancy, number three?

Larson: Yes, sir.

JFT-FA Larson
12/04/92 Chairman Kerry: ...Are you confident
that you are, in fact, making
progress and that you think that if
we continue down this road we can get
answers, or do you feel there is a
significant something missing that
the committee ought to know about and
articulate so that we can change it?

Larson: Mr. Chairman, I'm absolutely
convinced that we have the proper
command structure, organization,
people, priorities, and approach in
place to do the fullest possible
accounting. I think the key to it is
what will the Vietnamese do and what
will the three countries over there
do, particularly, the two countries
of Laos and Vietnam.

I think our system that's in place
will allow us to evaluate that. I
think for the first time I've got the
resources to continue to push and to
continue to press and to make them
produce in the things they promised
to produce and to evaluate what they
give us. So I think the system is
there. But I think the key to
success is on the other side and what
they are willing to do for us as this
system goes forward.

JFT-FA Larson
12/04/92 Sen. Daschle: I remember General
Needham saying in Vientiane that you
assess the time it will take to do a
case and double it, because you just
never know. With that caveat and
completely appreciative of the
unknowns out there, do you have any
kind of a time frame within which you
believe this entire effort can be
completed?

Larson: ...My original estimate was
about two years, that at the two-year
point we should have a good idea as
to whether we could continue or how
close we were to the fullest possible
accounting. At the 1-year point we
will be through phase 1 and will
start into the geographic
investigations. I would say by next
summer we'll have a pretty good idea
of where we are as we look at the
geographic surveys through the
country.

JFT-FA Smith
12/04/92 Some of the information that we are
receiving on your work has been --
and some of the cable traffic and so
forth -- has been somewhat critical
about yourselves, as well as the
Vietnamese.

For example, in some of the things
that I have looked at, there was a
reference to your last field effort
as one of the least successful in
terms of a comparison with others.
Another comment, the Vietnamese have
shown no evidence of a serious effort
to search records for information or
to locate witnesses.

JTF-FA Andrews
12/03/92 Chairman Kerry: What is it in the
structure, that we can anticipate,
that you believe is going to
eliminate the problems that have
existed? Didn't you say this was a
new operation.

Secretary Cheney came in. We are
gratified for his early testimony.
He said we are going to change this.
A lot of changes have been
implemented, to his credit. He has
followed through, he has put new
people in, he has committed
resources. Just a night and day
difference between what this
administration has done in the last
year and where we have been the last
20 years.

But what do we look for structurally,
as a consequence of those decisions,
that will change this?

Andrews: Well, I think you've
certainly made the point of having
all these documents in one place
where, so even if there is a
turnover, certainly someone can come
and see everything in their file. I
think this is something that
certainly CDO is working towards
achieving.

I do think the more that we get into
the business of JTF-FA and DIA and
the other agencies not seeing
families but continuing to do what
their job is and ensuring that that
information gets to the casualty
officers, we're going to eliminate
some of the problems that we've had.

JTF-FA Christmas
06/25/92 We are employing a two-track approach
toward resolving cases in Vietnam.
First our detachment in Hanoi,
consisting of experts skilled in
interview techniques, Vietnamese
wartime records, and graves
registration specialists are engaged
in a day in and day out effort.

Second, our Hawaii-based search teams
are conducting intensive 30-day
periods of investigations and remains
recovery operations. Between these
periods of intensive field
activities, our detachment staff and
Vietnamese officials accomplish a
number of tasks essential for the
success of these field operations.

JTF-FA Christmas
06/25/92 During the last completed period of
field activities, our teams recovered
or obtained from villagers
fragmentary remains believed to be
from seven loss incidents and
involving 10 individuals... From the
other last known alive individuals
whose cases we investigated, we found
no evidence which suggests they are
alive. In some instances, we
interviewed witnesses to the death
and burial of Americans. Further
efforts now are required to locate
and to recover those remains.

JTF-FA Gadoury
11/06/91 Sir, I think we have the mechanism to
conduct the investigations on our
side, and all we're waiting for is
that access and the ability to get to
those places where we need to go.

JTF-FA Griffiths
11/06/91 What is being worked now, all that's
missing, is greater responsiveness,
not more effort.

JTF-FA Kerry
11/15/91
...you are, in a sense, under siege
here. You are going to have to come
back with the Desert Storm mentality
on this one in order to deal with
that. I think you are beginning to
see that and recognize that this is
not, as I said at the outset of the
hearing, something that anyone of us
wished upon any one of us, or this
committee, or the United States
Senate. It exists because it has this
tenacious life of its own, and the
only way this committee can avoid
becoming tarred by this process is to
guarantee that we are opening it
up...

JTF-FA Kerry
11/06/91 Chairman Kerry: The public has no
sense of what it's like to be out in
the boonies sometimes, as you are,
with a rucksack and living in pretty
rough circumstances, day in and day
out. I know what a pleasure it is to
get back to Hanoi to be able to get a
shower or something. And Hanoi is
pretty rudimentary. So you are
really, all of you, in Laos, in the
jungle or wherever it is that you go,
it is often at enormous risk and at
continuous discomfort. I just want
you to know that we are deeply
appreciative of those efforts and
very, very respectful of them. We
wish you well as you continue this
difficult quest. Thank you very, very
much, gentlemen.

Gadoury: Sir, I would submit that the
risk we take is certainly not greater
than the risk that the people that
we're looking for took at one time.

Chairman Kerry: We appreciate that,
and we appreciate your recognition of
that also.

JTF-FA Kerry
11/06/91 ...legitimate heroes of this effort,
Kerry called Bell, Gadoury, Cole.
Their story is an important part of
understanding the genuine, good-faith
effort that people have been making
and the type of commitment that
individuals have made to this issue
over the years. And any inquiry into
the POW/MIA effort that is lacking in
their testimony is an incomplete
inquiry.

JTF-FA Kerry
11/05/91
...I happen to believe that [U.S.
investigators] are heroes in the best
sense of the world. I think that
Americans need to know how many years
people have been out there in the
field in some mighty dangerous,
sweaty circumstances, jumping on
helicopters that most of us would
hold our breath going near, and going
out into the jungle...

JTF-FA Larson
12/04/92 Our Joint Task Force has conducted
five joint field activities in
Vietnam in the last year, seven in
Laos, and four in Cambodia, and we
have ongoing operations right now out
there in the field in Laos and
Cambodia. We have done 294 joint
field investigations. We have
surveyed 149 crash sites or grave
sites, and we have mounted 35 remains
recovery operations.

JTF-FA Larson
12/04/92 Chairman Kerry: And how many people
are on the ground in Vietnam and
Laos?

Larson: Our teams have varied in
size from a low of about 28 to a high
of about 63. It depends on how many
teams we actually have. We shoot for
about 70. We like to get five or six
teams in the field at a time,
particularly in Vietnam.

JTF-FA Needham
12/04/92 One of my policies is that we be
truly open. We do not classify any
documents, and we allow our people to
give us a candid assessment.


We knew that we were having trouble
with one of the teams in Vietnam last
time. We brought it to the
Vietnamese attention about half-way
through the joint field activity.
This was one of the ones I referred,
kind of mixed cooperation, and in
fact we did not accomplish all the
cases in that area that we had hoped
to last time.

JTF-FA Sheetz
11/06/91 ...the Defense Department plans to
investigate on the ground in Vietnam
each and every lost -- every missing,
unaccounted-for individual.

JTF-FA Smith
06/25/92 Vice Chairman Smith: General
Christmas, on the 6th of May there
was an AP report quoting both you and
General Needham. General Needham
said-- this is what he is attributed
as having said: "There still is no
reason to believe any missing
Americans is alive in Vietnam,
Cambodia or Laos, but every live
sighting has to be checked out."

JTF-FA Vessey
06/25/92 I believe that the organizational and
procedural framework is now in place
to achieve our goal of fullest
possible accounting.

JTF-FA Vessey
12/04/92 To take advantage of the increases in
Vietnamese cooperation, the United
States made some significant
organizational changes in the POW/MIA
area in the past two weeks. The
Secretary of Defense established that
task force subordinate to the
Commander in Chief Pacific... And the
Secretary also established the office
of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for
POW/MIA Affairs. I think there's
plenty for both of those outfits to
do.

JTF-FA Vessey
11/05/91 I want to tell you that I have worked
very closely with these people. They
are all mortal human beings like you
and me. I disagree with many of them
many times, and we argue and battle.
But I want to tell you that they are
all dedicated people. If you could
see the field work that has been done
with these people traveling by old
Soviet helicopters, by dug-out canoe,
on foot, and into areas in Vietnam
where no one has been since the
battles were fought, trying to find
evidence of what happened to our
people, you too would have the same
appreciation for their dedication
that I have.

Laos Admiral
Stockdale
12/03/92 Sen. McCain: Now, you have
acknowledged, however, that as to
Laos you cannot be so certain.

Stockdale: No, I know literally
nothing about Laos.

Vice Chairman Smith: And I just want
to be certain, when you say that you
do not think that anybody was left
behind, you mean Vietnam, correct?
Not necessarily Laos?

Stockdale: Yes.

Laos Admiral
Stockdale
12/03/92 Well, we know that, you know, it's
strange that only nine military men
who are now in freedom that were shot
down in Laos -- and I asked Brace,
what did they have in common? He
said, well, there's only -- he
laughed at my ignorance.

He said, we were all captured by
North Vietnamese soldiers and they
brought us to Hanoi... I think of the
Laotian people as kind of placid
peasants and North Vietnamese
soldiers as ferocious.

But in this case, the only way you
got to freedom was to get captured by
the more organized army, which is
North Vietnam...

Laos Bell
12/04/92 Vice Chairman Smith: Let me ask you
straight up. Anybody alive in Laos
after Operation Homecoming in 1973,
American POWs?

Bell: We had some reports there.
The reports that I think are most
worthy of consideration in Laos are
those in the 1972 time frame.

Laos Brooks
12/01/92 My recollection is there were
approximately a dozen, roughly a
dozen names that either were put out
on a Pathet Lao list at one time of
people in captivity or names of
people that we had reason to believe
were alive when they fell into
Laotian hands. I do not think it was
more than a dozen, maybe 15... Laos Brown
12/03/92 We had very frank discussions with
them and pushed them very hard on
what happened to our aviators. And
finally at one point with the deputy
foreign minister we simply said
flatly, look, we know there were a
large number of American aviators
shot down over your region of Laos.
We know that a significant number of
them were alive when they hit ground.
We have reason to believe a
significant number of them were alive
when your forces took them into
custody. We have no accounting for
them; what happened to them?

And after some pressure the
government spokesman simply said
look, we did not appreciate at the
time how important this question
would be and some of them were
killed.

Laos - JTF-FA
Operations Gadoury
12/04/92 Chairman Kerry: What have you
gleaned from those 6 years of living
out in jungle, you know, and putting
up with the heat, and the snakes, and
the insects, and the leeches, and the
difficulties and so forth? What
would you share with this committee
about the possibility of 200 people
or 50 people being held in one place
in Laos?

Gadoury: Well, as I said earlier, I
have talked to hundreds and probably
thousands of refugees, Lao refugees
predominately, in the camps and they
include low land refugees, Hmong,
hill tribes people from all over
Laos, from North to South. I have
not received any credible reports of
live Americans after 1973 with the
exception of Emmett Kay... the focus
of our field activities with our
teams is to go out and conduct
excavations, but at the same time use
that as the starting point, the
jumping point, to get out and do
investigations of these discrepancy
cases. And the way they break down
in Laos is, and what we're working on
a priority basis, are three cases.
There are three cases of people who
were, at one time, POW. They're at
the very top of our priority list.

And then there's 44 cases -- below
that 41 additional cases, priority
cases, where the person was last --
or the people involved in that
incident were last known alive. And
then there's a number of other
discrepancy cases where we feel that
the Lao should or could have some
information. So, we're addressing
those on a priority basis.

Laos - JTF-FA
Operations Gadoury
10/15/92 Since 1985, when I started making
regular trips to refugee camps and
villages along the Thai border in
which many Lao live, I've encountered
certainly thousands of Lao. And of
those people, have interviewed
hundreds with information related to
unaccounted for Americans, mostly in
Laos.

Laos - JTF-FA
Operations Gadoury
12/04/92 Vice Chairman Smith: Mr. Gadoury,
you have been involved in the issue
quite a while in Laos. What is your
feeling, what is your assessment of
the cooperation with the Lao? Are
they serious? Obviously, they are
not all that serious. What do we
have to do to improve the situation
there? What do we need to do?

Gadoury: Well, Senator, as you know
I work on the field level with the
teams that go out in the field. And
what I see in the field I think is a
reflection of some of the changes or
the considerations that are given at
the policy level in terms of
bilateral U.S.-Lao relation...

Laos - JTF-FA
Operations Gadoury
12/04/92 But when you go out there with the
team, we're living out there in the
tents, we've got our military
rations, we've got our cots, we've
got our mosquito nets, and we have
our team doctor to take care of us if
we get sick. Even under those
conditions, it's very difficult.

Sometimes, laying in my cot there at
night, I wonder, if I didn't have the
cot, if I didn't have the mosquito
net, and the military rations and all
the things that we have out there,
how long I could last.

I look at the villagers who live out
there. The average life span in
those rural areas is not much over 40
years old. You don't see a lot of
old people. Sometimes it makes you
stop and think what you'd be able to
do if you were out there in a
situation where you didn't have a lot
of control over where you were living
and where you're going.

Laos - JTF-FA
Operations Gadoury
12/04/92 ...in February of 1986 we went on our
first excavation in Savannakhet
Province. And our team went into
Savannakhet, the town of Savannakhet,
and we had to spend overnight because
the landing sight wasn't prepared.
We were put up in a hotel. They put
armed guards outside the door and
they advised us not to go walking
around.

More recently on the operation I just
came back from a few weeks ago, we
were given pretty much unlimited
access in the area of Savannakhet
Province to address the cases that we
had agreed upon before going out to
the field. The Lao were very
cooperative. In fact, there was a
dramatic departure on this last trip
from anything that we had experienced
in the past.

They were very efficient in terms of
coordinating with local officials,
sending their representatives with
our excavation team, preparing
witnesses or locating witnesses and
preparing access with local officials
for our teams, and then sending
officials out with us to do the
actual investigations and surveys.

Laos - JTF-FA
Operations Gadoury
12/04/92 ...over the years that I have been
involved in Laos, and starting in
1985, I personally have seen a
dramatic change in the level of
cooperation that we get in the field,
which I think is a reflection of this
higher level of cooperation.

Laos Godley
09/24/92 After January, I think, of '73, if I
remember it, I was frequently getting
instructions to tell Souvannah
Phouma, who was the Prime Minister of
Laos -- a gallant, honest man -- tell
him to do this or do that; ask him to
do this or that, and give him
assurances that we will resume
bombing. We will do this and that if
the North Vietnamese or the Pathet
Lao do not agree. We knew darn well
we could not resume the bombing, but
I had to tell him that. It wasn't
pleasant.

Laos Godley
09/24/92 We were concerned, but there were no
Americans held by the Pathet Lao, and
were convinced that all Americans who
fell into enemy hands in Laos were
under North Vietnamese control.

Laos Godley
09/24/92 One of the great problems that
thoughtful Americans had in Vientiane
-- members of the staff -- was that
we were sacrificing little Lao to
protect our men in South Vietnam;
that sure, we would tell them darn
near anything just to keep them
fighting. It may not have been
totally honorable, but we felt that
was the role of American diplomats or
military leaders at that time.

Laos Godley
09/24/92 Godley: Really, I think the point we
were making here was the bird in the
hand is worth two in the bush. Let's
get the nine men back, and then look
into it.

Chairman Kerry: Let me assume that
is true and not even second-guess it.
The next question is you believed
there were more, is that correct?

Godley: Again, sir, later on, I
think it was March 29 when we said we
did not think there were any
prisoners still in Laos. That, I
think, reflects the further
consideration and consultation with
all elements of the American team in
Laos.

It's a blatant contradiction. I
recognize that.

Laos Godley
08/11/92 You recommend a specific diplomatic
track to gain accounting of the men
held/missing, and you point out that
we should hold them accountable for
all POWs being held in Indochina, and
you assert the following: "This
initiative should forcefully and
plainly assert that the U.S. will no
longer play games with the POW issue
in Laos. The LPF should be told that
we know they hold U.S. prisoners and
we demand their immediate release, as
well as an accounting and information
on all those who may have died."

Sir, we had proof, as much as you
can, that Americans were taken
prisoner. Where they were held, and
by whom they were held, there was a
good deal of question. I personally
was convinced that there were no
Americans held by the Pathet Lao, and
the Americans that were prisoners
were prisoners of the North
Vietnamese units in Laos or had been
taken back to North Vietnam.

Laos Godley
09/24/92 Sen. Kerrey: Did you have a
systematic method for debriefing the
Hmong? Did you discuss some sort of
development -- the development of a
system that would have enabled you to
debrief the Hmong about data that --

Godley: The case officers with the
Hmong would do what they could. We
had no system for doing that.

Sen. Kerrey: Why, if it was a top
priority again, if they were our best
source of intelligence?

Godley: Senator, if you were in my
shoes, what system would you
establish to question?

Sen. Kerrey: I suggest to you, sir,
that if it was my top priority I
would at least consider the
development of a system.

Laos Godley
09/24/92 Anything that Le Duc Tho said about
Laos would be law in Laos in the
Pathet Lao areas. The North
Vietnamese domination of everything
Lao was complete.

Laos Godley
09/24/92 The only reliable sources we had
about MIAs or POWs were, of course,
Air Force reports as to losses over
Laos and Air America,...

Laos Godley
09/24/92 I never accepted as iron-clad any
Communist agreement... Communists in
Indochina were well trained liars and
their word was nothing.

Laos Godley
09/24/92 Sen. Kerrey: What would your estimate
have been of the possibility of
actual victory and achieving a free
Laos in 1971?

Godley: They were our friends, but I
never regarded the military
operations in Northern Laos as
victory. It was really a sideshow of
the big war in Vietnam. We pursued
it with all in our power because I
felt -- I and my associates felt that
we were holding down three first-rate
North Vietnamese divisions, some
artillery, even some armor. And
those men were in Northern Laos, and
they were not down in the Delta or
South Vietnam. But I never saw a
victory in that... My sense of it was
I'd do my best to keep it from
occurring.

Laos Godley
09/24/92 ...we did what we could vis-a-vis the
Pathet Lao to obtain information
concerning Americans captured or
deceased in Laos. The discussions
with the Pathet Lao representatives
in Vientiane were fruitless and
inconclusive.

Laos Godley
09/24/92 Chairman Kerry: Ambassador Godley,
what priority for intelligence
collection did you attach to the
collection of information on POWs and
MIAs in Laos?

Godley: Top.

Laos Haig
09/21/92 Vice Chairman Smith: I can
understand Watergate, political
pressures, protests, Congress voting
to cut off the money. So, the
President might say, let us sign it,
let us cut, and maybe, this other
agreement will be signed. We will
get the prisoners back from Laos.
Privately there was reference to
prisoners in Laos, but publicly there
was not. And, I think, families were
misled by that. Maybe not
deliberately, but I think they were
mislead by it. And that is my point.

Haig: Well, you know, I can't act as
an apologist for statements that were
made after January, and I won't
attempt to do that, but I will make
some observations. The first is, I
don't believe Dr. Kissinger, or
President Nixon, or anyone involved
in these negotiations ever took a
position that in their intellectual
anguish they did not believe was
going to improve the prospects of
getting our prisoners out rather than
impede that process.

Laos Kerrey
09/24/92 What I have seen that is available to
the committee thus far does not seem
to me to represent a very systematic
effort [to gather information about
Laos]. Nor does it reflect the
declaration that it was a top, number
one priority of the embassy at the
time. It just does not seem to
connect. Laos Kerrey
09/24/92 We had to accept an assurance that
really was worthless. Accepting an
offer by the North Vietnamese to do
all they could was hardly an
iron-clad guarantee, and made it
difficult for us to truly get an
accounting for our missing.

Laos Kerrey
09/21/92 Sen. Kerrey: Mr. Secretary, let me
first of all deal with your assertion
that we, perhaps, are not being
balanced enough in our regard to the
North Vietnamese -- today, the
Vietnamese Government. I have never
suffered the delusion that they would
tell the truth. I have never
suffered under the illusion that, in
fact, current negotiations with the
Vietnamese Government would be
terribly productive in getting a full
accounting of remaining POWs and
MIAs. I have never suffered under
the illusion.

In fact, I am rather surprised, in
looking at the negotiations that
occurred at the time, that a
representation made by the North
Vietnamese -- do not worry, we will
take care of Laos -- was all that was
required to get the Americans to say,
OK, we will accept your
representation that full accounting
in Laos will occur as a side
agreement.

 Laos Kerry
09/24/92 If you are saying, we have an
agreement that gets all of our
prisoners back and we have got
iron-clad guarantees, but all of a
sudden in the middle of this thing
you are poised with the problem of
explaining, gee, we do not have them
all back, you have to explain that
you do not have iron-clad guarantees
and you also have to explain
something different to the American
people, do you not?

Laos Kerry
09/24/92 ...the question was were there any
surprises in the list of POWs in
North Vietnam? Your response was it
was pretty close to what we expected.
We are hoping for 40 more on the list
of those in Laos. That is your
comment. I am simply trying to
establish -- I know it was 20 years
ago -- I am simply trying to
establish, Admiral [Moorer], what the
basis of that hope was. We have only
six known prisoners in Laos, although
we hope there may be 40 or 41.
...General Deane, had told you in a
memo on March 21st that there were
live prisoners in Laos in addition to
those nine.

Laos Kerry
09/24/92 Now, one final important question.
On March 22nd, 1973, you sent a cable
to the Secretary of State stating --
and let me read this to you because
it is important: "we believe that the
LPF holds throughout Laos more
prisoners than found on the DRV list.
But we believe that for the time
being we should concentrate our
efforts on getting these nine men
repatriated as soon as possible...we
believe we should continue to press
for the release of the nine
acknowledged PW's within the time
frame, but deal with the questions of
accounting for MIAs and determining
whether there are additional PW's to
be repatriated within the time frame
of this cease-fire and military
protocol."

There is a sort of ambivalence in
that I am trying to understand, and
it is important to us. You said we
believe they hold throughout Laos
more prisoners. And in fact, we
carried people as prisoners. But at
the end of the memo, "we need to
determine whether there are
additional POWs to be repatriated."
What was your thinking, then? That
they may have been killed, or that
you did not know?

Laos Kerry
09/24/92 I think it is very important that in
the middle of the release period when
you folks had high expectations...
that you thought there were hundreds,
but that you had six known prisoners
in Laos and that you had a hope of
some 40 or 41 more.

Laos Kissinger
09/22/92 Chairman Kerry: ... we did have
information that these prisoners were
held in caves near Sam Neua... When
we confronted the Prime Minister
point blank on this subject of non-
accountability, we got the same kind
of 'this was history; this was part
of the past; terrible things happened
in war' -- the very kind of comments
that Soubhan gave us. Only he had
given them to us more directly,
saying [downed pilots] were killed...

Kissinger: I was surprised, and
shocked even, by the small number of
prisoners from Laos.If that is
correct,... then we never received
any prisoner that was captured by the
Pathet Lao and they might easily have
done what the Khmer Rouge did, kill
every prisoner.

Laos Kissinger
09/22/92 ...statistically, the percentage of
the missing unaccounted for in Laos
was far smaller than in Vietnam. Laos Kissinger
09/22/92 The North Vietnamese told us that all
prisoners held in Laos -- they told
us this in writing -- would be
returned.

Laos Kissinger
09/22/92 Our perception of the Pathet Lao was
that they were stooges of Hanoi, that
they had no independence whatsoever,
that they were totally controlled by
the communists in Hanoi... But we
were confident and we had never an
example to the contrary, that the
Pathet Lao would not disobey anything
that Hanoi wanted them to do.

Laos Kissinger
09/22/92 I used these figures in my
preparatory talks in Hanoi, and I
might point out here that all of the
figures in the Eagleburger and
Richardson memoranda were familiar to
us and had been raised with Hanoi
before we received the memorandum on
my February visit in Hanoi.

Laos Kissinger
09/22/92 Chairman Kerry: So here you are in
May with Le Duc Tho saying not what
happened to John Sparks, or what
happened to so-and-so, we need an
accounting, but saying, give us a
sentence that says there's nobody
alive in Laos, it will be helpful to
us. Why would you have been satisfied
with a sentence?

Kissinger: I wasn't satisfied, Mr.
Chairman. I was dealing here with a
man who knew reality. I had no means
of pressure left.

Laos Laird
09/21/92 Smith: When you were told or you had
information either from the CIA or
the DIA on your watch that there were
prisoners in Laos and/or Vietnam, did
you feel reasonably certain that
information was accurate?

Laird: I felt fairly reasonably
certain as far as the North was
concerned. I felt very good about
the South. I had a better feeling
about Cambodia. I did not have a
strong feeling that the intelligence
coming out of Laos was outstanding.
That was run by the State Department
and the CIA, and we did not have our
own assets there, but I did quiz the
CIA on a weekly basis about that type
of information.

Laos - JTF-FA
Operations Larson
12/04/92 Chairman Kerry: We haven't talked a
lot about Laos. What is the level of
cooperation in Laos?

Larson: Mr. Chairman, I'd say the
level of cooperation in Laos is
mixed. It's sometimes a case of a
step forward, two steps backward, two
steps forward a step backwards, and
in my honest assessment after being
there and having some conversations
and looking, I have great difficulty
telling how much of it is
bureaucratic ineptness and lack of
cooperation in a very primitive
government and how much of it is
policy driven in that there's some
resistance to cooperation.

Laos - JTF-FA
Operations Larson
12/04/92 Chairman Kerry: Some people have...
asserted to us that all you need to
do is put the pressure on Vietnam and
that will solve Laos, they control
them. Do you agree with that?

Larson: That's not my assessment,
from what I've seen. I think it's
much more complex than that.

Laos - Perot
Trip Martin
08/11/92 The Chairman: And was there any
question in your mind that these were
prisoners who were alive and being
held at that time that you were
there, or had they been tracked
earlier?

Martin: No question in my mind.

Chairman Kerry: They were alive at
the time you were there.

Martin: They were alive at that
time.

Laos - Perot
Trip Meurer
08/11/92 ...a lot of Americans, towards the
end -- especially towards the end of
the war, if they were caught, they
were summarily executed and put in
shallow graves...It was not Laotian
policy, I recall, Senator. It was
the villagers, individual
villagers...

Laos - Perot
Trip Meurer
08/11/92 Chairman Kerry: Mr. Meurer remembers
27, Mr. Martin remembers 25, but the
memory of both of you is specific as
to mid-20's of American prisoners of
war being held in the Sam Neua area
in caves, is that accurate?

Martin: That is correct.

Meurer: Yes.

Laos Moorer
09/24/92 During the course of this period, the
numbers were always shifting back and
forth as we found out that a certain
individual was dead or a certain
individual had been released. There
were -- the lists we had and the
lists that were given by the North
Vietnamese didn't exactly match. And
I really can't answer your question
as to why I had -- where I got
irrefutable evidence that there were
40 people in Laos. Laos Moorer
09/24/92 There is no doubt that the Pathet Lao
was under the grip of the North
Vietnamese army.

Laos Moorer
09/24/92 The decisions to send the message,
the decision to cancel the message,
were all generated by an overall
management of the plan we had to
coordinate the withdrawal of the few
troops we had left with the
withdrawal of the prisoners we had
left.

Laos Moorer
09/24/92 Chairman Kerry: Did we have any
photographs or evidence that showed
that there were Americans in those
caves?

Moorer: I don't recall ever having
seen it.

Laos Moorer
09/24/92 ...a wounded Pathet Lao telephone
lineman who was captured north of
Vientiane. That prisoner located and
described a cave complex in Sam Neua
that reportedly had contained U.S.
POWs at an earlier time. This was
the first Pathet Lao prisoner or
defector with up-to-date hard
information on Sam Neua to arrive in
Vientiane since 1971. He suggested
that several U.S. POWs were still at
Sam Neua in the late 1960's, more
recently than the older reports that
existed with respect to Hrdlicka and
Shelton. And then the cease-fire in
Laos in 1973 apparently effectively
precluded any military-associated
agent operations into Sam Neua due to
the embassy's desire to avoid the
possible compromise that such a
covert operation would have on the
impact of the cease-fire. So we
never got in there afterwards to
check.

Laos Moorer
09/24/92 [citing Moorer deposition] Question:
Why did we complete our troop
withdrawal without insisting the
Pathet Lao give us our prisoners
back? Your answer: When this
started and the POWs came back and so
on, there was a very euphoric
reception and the President gave a
party on the White House grounds and
all the wives of POWs came and so on.
And press release after press release
were that we were withdrawing the
troops at that point. No President
could have said whoops, we are not
going to withdraw the troops because
these people will not agree with us.
They are not carrying out their part.

At that point in history, we did not
have the stomach for doing what you
are asking me why we did not do it.

Laos Moorer
09/24/92 And when an effort was made by
General Woodard to get the General
Hoa, who was a North Vietnamese rep,
to do something about the Laos POWs,
his reply was that Laos did not
participate in the negotiations and
did not sign the agreement. Laos Moorer
09/24/92 ...when I was Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, not one message that
involved movement of troops or
aircraft attacks or anything of a
military nature was originated by me.
In every case, I had it initialed by
the Secretary of Defense, or in many
cases I had direct telephone calls
from the President.

Laos Moorer
09/24/92 Now, in answer to your specific
question, of course, that was
supposed to be taken up with further
negotiations with North Vietnam. In
my opinion, and I don't know whether
the Ambassador agrees with this, the
North Vietnamese had an iron grip on
the Pathet Lao. And the Pathet Lao
did exactly what the North Vietnamese
told them to. So, the pressure had
to be put on the North Vietnamese.
But, as I repeat, the only way you
could verify these photographs and
these DIA lists and so on is to go to
Laos with an armed force and find
out. And then of course we just lost
all of our leverage. And,
consequently, what happened was that
we very quickly, by 1975, we had lost
not only South Vietnam, but also
Cambodia.

Laos - Perot
Trip Murphy
08/11/92 Chairman Kerry: Do you recall the
number of 25 or 27 prisoners being
held in caves in Sam Neua as having
been briefed to them by the station
chief [during 1969-70 trip to laos
with Perot]?

Murphy: I do not recall that number.

Chairman Kerry: Do you recall any
number whatsoever?

Murphy: ...I had in mind 18 in one
report. Now, I don't know whether
that was briefed to them or not...

Laos - Perot
Trip Perot
08/11/92 Vice Chairman Smith: When you were
there in 1970 and you had this
meeting with the station chief and
others, what types of indications did
they give to you specifically about
the existence of POWs in Laos during
the war in 1970?

Perot: ...They basically indicated
that they had radio intercepts. They
were able to track the prisoners on
the ground. They knew where the
prisoners were being held. The
reason they had not tried to rescue
the prisoners is the risk-reward
ratio was not good. I certainly
agreed with that. They probably
would have gotten more people killed
in a rescue than they rescued.

But they seemed to have a great deal
of knowledge about who they were,
where they were held. And they told
of specific cases of Sam Neua
Province, which ties in with General
Walters' testimony several years
later.

Laos - Perot
Trip Perot
08/11/92 ...our people at the Paris Peace
Conference were asked what about the
people in Laos. And our people
relied, oh, we'll get them back
through Hanoi. Very quickly the
Pathet Lao said oh, no, you will have
to deal directly with us...We
ransomed the people out of Hanoi. We
ransomed our prisoners out of Hanoi.
Senator McCain is able to sit right
here today because we ransomed him
out of Hanoi, but we never wrote the
check. And that's what caused the
people to be left in Laos.

Laos Rodman
09/21/92 Sen. Daschle: Well, what rationale
did you have amongst the negotiators
with regard to the justification for
signing an agreement that does not
include the MIAs in Laos and
Cambodia? How could we rationalize
that, knowing that they were there?

Rodman: Well we thought we had a
commitment from the North Vietnamese
in two or three different respects
with respect to Laos. One was that we
did expect to get a list, through
their good offices, of the prisoners
in Laos. They promised to try to get
a -- help us get a cease-fire in Laos
within a short period of time. So we
were dealing with the party which
clearly did call the shots to a great
extent, and they were making some
commitments to us which were not as
formal as other commitments they
made... So we thought that given that
this was a Vietnam agreement, we
thought we had achieved something of
some value with respect to Laos and
Cambodia.

Laos Schiff
08/04/92 ...there are no compelling reason to
believe that a substantial number of
aviators were captured and retained
by the Pathet Lao. The bottom line
is that Laos is not the MIA/POW black
hole it has been depicted to be.

Laos Schiff
08/04/92 Others who say that Laos is a special
case cite a second reason for their
belief. They say that because the
Lao Government did not sign the Paris
Peace Agreements, it did not return
prisoners at the time of Operation
Homecoming. This belief is based on
a fundamental misunderstanding of who
controlled the territory where most
of our losses in Laos occurred.
[North Vietnam]

Laos Schiff
08/04/92 ...The Ho Chi Minh Trail network is
shown by the black lines. Notice
that most of the Trail is well within
Laos. This area was totally
controlled by the Vietnamese. Almost
85 percent of U.S. personnel lost in
Laos were lost in this area. Our
intelligence indicates that U.S.
prisoners of war captured in areas of
Laos remained under Hanoi's
control... When looking at Laos on a
case-by-case basis, we find that very
few missing men would have become
prisoners of the Pathet Lao. Almost
everyone lost was lost in an area
under North Vietnamese control....

Laos Schiff
08/04/92 Chairman Kerry: ...is there not a
group of aviators believed to have
been unaccounted for the Laos at the
time of Operation Homecoming?

Schiff: Yes, sir, there is. They
are among the priority cases...

Sheetz: There are right now still 64
discrepancy cases for Laos...

Chairman Kerry: So there are 64
question marks pertaining to Laos
which would have been the body of
that group about whom we had
legitimate questions at the end of
the war.

Sheetz: Yes, sir.

Chairman Kerry: So when you say it
is not a black hole you are saying
that notions that of the 500 plus
airmen lost over Laos, the notion
that many more than the 64 that we
have questions about is improbable,
is that accurate?

Sheetz: Yes, sir...

Laos Schiff
08/04/92 ...I'd like to turn to Laos to clear
up some commonly held misconceptions
about the POW situation in that
country. To begin with, I can tell
you that Laos is not the black hole
some believe it to be. People who
think otherwise point to the
difference between the small number
of prisoners who returned from Laos,
and the far greater number who
returned from North Vietnam. But as
I will show you, this is essentially
comparing apples with oranges... A
comparison of air losses is relevant
because 90 percent of our losses in
Laos in Laos were aviators... Laos
and South Vietnam are very similar.
A large portion of downed airmen were
rescued in both countries. The small
portion captured is relatively
equal... North Vietnam is different
because intense air defense made it
very difficult to rescue downed air
crews... Since fewer men could be
rescued, more of our airmen were
captured, and later more were
returned from North Vietnam...
because search and rescue operations
in Laos and South Vietnam were more
effective, more downed airmen were
rescued and fewer became prisoners.

Laos Schiff
12/04/92 Another thing that I had looked at
is, how many Pathet Lao prisoners can
we confirm? At this point, taking
confirmation very strictly, and
saying that I can confirm a prisoner
if I have a photograph of that
individual, or I have a report from a
U.S. individual who was held with
that person, then if those prisoners
are confirmed, I have 16 confirmed
prisoners captured by the Pathet
Lao...

There were 16 that were captured by
the Pathet Lao. One of those was
turned over to the NVA, and he was
released during Operation Homecoming.
The others were not released during
Operation Homecoming, but some of
them were released. There were six
that were released.

Laos Schiff
12/04/92 Schiff: But of the 15 who were
captured and held by the Pathet Lao,
six of those were released, two
escaped, and the rest are still
unaccounted for.

Chairman Kerry: So of all the
information so far on the black hole
of Laos, there is only information as
to 16 captured by the Pathet Lao.

Schiff: Only confirmation.

Laos Schlesinger
09/21/92 It is evident, I think, that the
Laotians gave no true accounting of
the Americans that had been in Laos.

Laos Schlesinger
09/21/92 When overflights ceased, of course,
our ability to gather information
diminished, but up until the time of
the ceasing of overflights we were
able to stay in touch with a number
of those who had been downed in Laos
and that's what led to the
disappointment with regard to the
brevity of the list.

Laos Schlesinger
09/21/92 ...while the CIA was running the war
in Laos, it was running the war, as
it were, with military assets
provided from the Department of
Defense.

The United States government was not
directly involved in Laos. it was a
CIA-directed operation, but the
assets that were being directed were
assets of the Department of Defense.
The agency itself, aside from the
operations in the West, had a very
limited number of personnel in the
country as compared to the Department
of Defense.

It was the responsibility, as it
were, of the Director of Central
Intelligence, yet the assets and most
of the knowledge came from DOD. I
hope that clarifies that.

Laos Schlesinger
09/21/92 I have a high probability assessment
that people were left behind in Laos
and a medium probability assessment
with regard to Vietnam. I think that
of the various parties, the North
Vietnamese had the strongest
incentive on the other side to be
forthcoming, but I doubt that applied
to the provisional government of
Vietnam, and even the North
Vietnamese were not enormously
forthcoming. Laos Schlesinger
09/21/92 We had been in communication after
flights were knocked down over Laos
with the people on the ground, and
those people did not appear on the
lists. So one must assume, either
that the other side engaged in
executions, or alternatively that the
list was incomplete.

Laos Secord
09/24/92 Vice Chairman Smith: Without casting
any aspersions on anyone, let me just
ask the question this way. In your
professional assessment as an
intelligence officer in 1973, were
live American POWs remaining in Laos,
for whatever reason, remaining in
Laos after the Paris Peace Accords
were signed, and after the American
POWs, the last group of American POWs
came home on March 28th.

General Secord: I was an operational
staff officer. But the answer to
that question, obviously, is
affirmative. I mean, that's why we
drafted the memo we've been talking
about here for some time. Laos Secord
09/24/92 When you say POWs in Laos, a number,
you are obviously referring to a
larger number than the nine. And did
all of those people come home that
you were tracking?

Secord: None of them, that I know
of, have been located or even heard
of since the Paris Accords. But we
did know to, I think, a reasonable
level of certitude, that there were
more, hence the memorandum.

Laos - EC-47 Shields
06/25/92 The MIA category is specifically
appropriate to cases where you do not
know whether men are alive or dead.
That is case of those men in the EC-
47 in my own mind. I did not know. Laos Shields
09/24/92 I think that the small number of men
which returned, and the number of men
which are missing would indicate that
we should receive more information
concerning our men in Laos. And I
think it is foolish to try and say
anything more than that.

Laos Shields
09/24/92 Shields: In the memorandum which was
written in May -- which you had in
your possession, which discussed the
EC-47, which DIA has discussed and
Emmet Kaye's capture -- I said at the
bottom of that page: With your
concurrence, we will continue the
position that we don't know whether
men are prisoner or missing.
Chairman Kerry: I know what you said
at the bottom of the page. But let
me just say what you said at the top
of the page. At the top of the page
you said: In a DoD-sponsored press
conference held April 12th, 1973, I
made the statement that DoD had no
specific knowledge indicating that
any U.S. personnel were still alive
and held prisoner in Southeast Asia.
This statement has been the basis for
all subsequent answers from DoD to
questions concerning the possibility
that Americans may still be held
prisoner in Southeast Asia. You are
saying it became Government policy.

Laos Smith
06/24/92 Laos is a black hole. We so not have
any idea, with the exception of about
13 individuals, what happened to the
people in Laos. Laos Smith
09/24/92 We had information to conclude, even
if not totally conclusive, but at
least to assume, that people were
alive in Laos and that we had this
information. And that is my point.

Laos Smith
09/24/92 What happened to those people?
Nobody has explained that. We are
talking about huge references to
prisoners here. And this is
intelligence data that you folks had.
And nothing changed, as far as the
testimony that we have received
before this committee. Not a damn
thing has changed that would indicate
what happened to those people.
Nobody said they were executed.
Nobody said they were released. And
nobody said they came home. So what
happened to them, and do you folks
have any information on that?

Godley: I do not. Laos Smith
09/24/92 CIA has said in this memorandum, ``We
studied other information to access
activity in Houa Phan Province in
general, and the Sam Neua area in
particular, and we reached the
following conclusions. An historical
precedent exists for suggesting the
presence of American POWs in the Sam
Neua area. Photographs taken by a
reconnaissance aircraft in October
1969 show what may be as many as 20
non-Asians, accompanied by Pathet Lao
guards, near caves at Ban Nakai Tua,
20 kilometers east of the Sam Neua
markings.

Laos Stockdale
12/03/92 Sen. Reid: But the only people that
you know of that survived being shot
down over Laos were people that were
shot down and then captured by North
Vietnamese military?

Admiral Stockdale: Yes...

Laos Trowbridge
06/25/92 ...the Pathet Lao, over the years,
they had a spokesman, Soth Petrasy,
who made many statements relative to
American POWs... As far as the
intelligence reporting that we had,
it wasn't supporting his statements.
We have talked with him subsequent to
that time and he has indicated to us
that his statements about holding
prisoners were for the purpose of
propaganda. Laos Vessey
12/04/92 The second thing is that Laos is not
as homogenous a Nation as is Vietnam.
It's tribal ethnic groups that are
split up in various places, the
communication during wartime was
miserable, and I doubt that it's much
better today.

Laos Vessey
06/25/92 Sen. McCain: What is your... best
explanation, even if it is
instinctive or intuitive, as to why
there were so many not returned from
Laos as opposed to Vietnam?

Vessey: Well, Laos is a sparsely
populated and rugged country... we
lost physical things in Laos that we
wanted to recover and couldn't find
after they had been dropped from
airplanes... just finding anything in
remote regions of Laos is difficult.

Additionally, Laos is a different
sort of country. It is a tribal
country with different ethnic groups.
The central government under any
regime in Laos has had very little
control over many parts of Laos... We
didn't have as much surveillance on
what our own people did in Laos
during the war. That is to say,
airplanes were outside the radar
coverage in Laos, where they were not
necessarily in Vietnam.

Laos Vessey
12/04/92 But secondly, there's another reason,
that the accounting will not be as
good from Laos as it was or as it is
likely to be from Vietnam. You've
flown over the area. It's very
rugged terrain.

 

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