MIA Facts Site

A Sad Story that Must Be Told

NOTE:  This article is almost the same as the article at this link.  The difference is -- this article names a few more names.

Summary:  This article is being written in early September 1999.    I  wish that it were not necessary to write this article, but, the purposeful misrepresentations and personal attacks that I describe below cannot go unchallenged.   This article reveals the level to which even members of the US Congress are willing to sink to prove some point that totally escapes me.  This article is a complicated story so please read carefully.  For this article, I have written my own material in the first few paragraphs, then, at the end, I have links to several documents that are now publicly available.
(News flashLess than 48 hours after this article was posted, the MIA "activist" network flashed into action.   After reading this article, check out the addendum to see what I have stirred up.  This article, and its associated articles, undoubtedly struck a serious blow to the activist credibility.)

The "Cuban Program"

Between August 1967 and August 1968, a group of Caucasian interrogators brutally tortured and interrogated 19 US POWs in Hanoi.  One of the Americans died from his treatment.  Among long-time MIA analysts, this incident became known informally as "the Cuban program."  For years the Department of Defense has worked with the FBI, CIA, NSA, and State Department to locate these men, who were believed to be Cubans.  We have never been able to locate the "Cubans."

The Cabal Forms

In the early 1990s, several new organizations were formed within the Department of Defense to deal with various aspects of the MIA issue, mainly to supply information to the Senate Select Committee on POW-MIA Affairs.  In forming these organizations, various DoD elements were tasked to provide people to staff these new organizations.  A mixture of active and reserve military and civilians were dispatched from their parent organizations to support the MIA work.  As one might expect, parent agencies do not send their superstars into such an effort.  Those sent are generally average or below average performers.  Specifically, two people who ended up in the Defense POW-Missing Personnel Office were USN (Reserve) Commander William "Chip" Beck and Mr. Norman Kass. 

CDR Beck

Beck's reputation of being  self-centered and self-promoting is well-earned.  From the minute he walked into DPMO, Beck determined -- without one bit of analysis on his part -- that (1) US POWs were abandoned, worldwide, from WW II, Korea, and Vietnam; and, (2) he was the man to rescue them. 

Beck craves to be part of some grand adventure.  However, he does not have the discipline to study a matter, learn the details of that matter, and develop a coherent approach to the matter at hand.  Beck has neither the patience nor the talent to learn and observe the nuts and bolts details of the intelligence profession.  Instead, he absorbs himself in what intelligence professionals refer to as FLABS  -- Folk Lore And Bull Shit. 

Beck At DPMO

Beck never made any effort to learn the details of the POW/MIA issue.  From the minute he arrived in DPMO, he decided on a conclusion he wished were true:  that we left POWs behind in Southeast Asia.  On this premise, he constructed a theory about an international Communist conspiracy to exploit our POWs.  He then constructed an elaborate -- and amateurish -- scheme of clandestine activities to expose this alleged conspiracy.  Essentially, he proposed a very expensive scheme by which Beck would employ (with taxpayer money) and control old cronies and persons who have made a profession or hobby of exploiting the MIA issue; persons who could be expected to give their first allegiance to Beck rather than any assigned
mission or any idea of public service.  The scheme would allow Beck to travel to exotic places and posture as a James Bond-like super spy.

Top Cover

Very shortly after Beck came to DPMO his immediate supervisor recognized he
was nonproductive and  recommended that the Director, DPMO, inform the USN that he was no longer needed.  Beck, however, managed to ingratiate himself with Representative Bob Dornan, Senator Bob Smith, and members of their staffs, and they pressured the Director of DPMO to keep Beck on for nearly two years.

Finally, a series of events in the fall of 1997 forced the then Director to
face up to Beck and Dornan (who was Beck's principal protector at that time).  The
Director refused to renew the annual contract with the USN Reserve for Beck's
services, and Beck became history in DPMO.

Mr. Kass

I do not recall the name of the agency from which Mr. Kass came but it was clear in some conversations I had with people at that agency that they were not reluctant to see him leave. Kass's family emigrated from Russia and he has a personal vendetta to prove that the evil Empire is still evil.  Kass speaks and reads Russian with native fluency.  When I arrived in DPMO in July 1993, I had the opportunity to work with him because we were constantly having to recruit reservists, civilians, and retirees for the DPMO activity in Moscow and in the states of the former Soviet Union where we were conducting research into the fates of missing Americans .

Mr. Kass's choice of people to help do research in Russia led me to believe that he may have had his own purposes.

bulletKass introduced me to several ex-patriate Russian emigre organizations who wanted to help us.  Allegedly, these folks had contacts within Russia who could gain access to records and people.  I met with some of these people and it became clear to me that their motivation was to get US government blessing and resources to further their own agendas, which included starting new businesses in Russia. 
bulletOne of the people that Kass wanted to keep on board was an active duty military officer, native Russian linguist.  The embassy in Moscow let me know, through the Defense Attaché office, that they wanted the guy out of the country because he was spending more time trying to set up personal businesses than he did on official duties and he was beginning to cause the Embassy some problems.  Kass fought tooth and nail to keep this guy on board -- I finally canned him. 
bulletThere were other similar incidents in which people whom Kass recruited and recommended to DPMO were clearly involved in their own programs, not ours.

Congressman (now former) Bob Dornan

Former Representative Bob Dornan is one of the most rabid of the conservative Republican mad dogs.  Among those he hates is the Cuban regime of Fidel Castro.  In my association with Dornan, I learned quickly that he lacks the intellectual capacity to study and understand an issue and he surrounds himself with similar mental midgets.   Dornan got the attention of rich, conservative Republicans in southern California as a result of his local radio talk show on which he espoused their favorite lines.   Bankrolled by these folks, Dornan was elected to Congress. Even in a Congress with some wild personalities, "B-1" Bob Dornan stands out as a character.

Quotes from Dornan

"People elected a governor and I have a screaming transvestite in my ear." - Bob Dornan

"Every lesbian spearchucker is hoping I get defeated." -- Bob Dornan

Cashing Checks for the Virgin Mary

The House Banking scandal embarrassed a number of politicians, including Newt Gingrich (who bounced 22 checks), but Dornan deserves a prize for the best cheesy excuse in all of politics.  He said that he wrote the check he bounced to pay for a grotto of the Virgin Mary in his back yard. He won re-election to his heavily Catholic district.

Wife Beating

Dornan's wife Sallie has left him 3 or 4 times, and alleged in several aborted divorce suits over 16 years that he beat her. For example, in her 1961 divorce suit she stated under oath that he "dragged her about the home... by her hair and ... exhibited a revolver."   In June 1966, Dornan was found guilty of a "violent attack" on his wife and was ordered to go to jail, though police records do not show him actually serving any time.

After Dornan's opponent in his 1992 re-election brought up these old charges, Sallie recanted, saying that alcohol and drug addiction drove her to falsely accuse him of beating her. She said "I am a Christian. I am a good wife. I am a good mother, but I sure as hell wasn't then. It's just very sad that Bob had to suffer what I brought down on his head through illness, major illness." Sad, indeed.

Democrat Beating

Dornan punched Democratic Congressman Tom Downey, a Democrat from Long Island, on the floor of the House of Representatives. Granted, that's a lot more entertaining than your average congressional debate, but many people consider it over the top.

Top Gun or Wannabe?

Dornan was a fighter pilot who flew several varied aircraft and worked in Air Force Intelligence. He has claimed that he was a "shit-hot fighter pilot", and builds up his military history. He has described himself as fighting in Vietnam, though his active service was actually before that. His work in Vietnam was as a combat photographer, no cakewalk but not fighting either.

A Newsweek article sharply attacked his claims of military fame. In "little more than a year of active-duty service and a reserve stint," the magazine said, he crashed three jets and one helicopter -- "one wreck shy of the dubious distinction 'Black Ace.'" When asked for comment, he told Newsweek "You can write it up any fucking way you want."  (NOTE:  Newsweek's claims are a bit suspect themselves. The notion of the Black Ace is bizarre on it's face -- how many people would survive 4 crashes to qualify for a fifth? )

According to a sympathetic biography of Dornan by Andrew Sears, an MIT student, he joined the Air Force in 1953 and began flying "as soon as he earned his silver wings", until 1958. It appears Newsweek underplayed the length of his service; they certainly minimized 17 years of reserve and guard duty as "a reserve stint."  Clearly he crashed a lot; even the sympathetic biography says "He survived two jet fighter emergency parachute ejections as well as two 'dead stick' forced landings (F-100 jet fighter and H-13 solo helicopter)."

He served on the Intelligence Committee when still in Congress, and -- more productively -- also flew mercy flights into Biafra in the 1960s.

Sources

Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1993 pE1
Newsweek, May 1, 1995 p70
Andrew Sears, "Representative Robert K. Dornan" Biography, 1996
Scripps-Howard News Service, February 9, 1995 "House Race  Briefing: CA"

Bottom Line on Dornan

Following the Republican Congressional victories in 1994, Dornan became chairman of the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel.  Dornan used this position to hold hearings on the MIA issue.  Kass, others in DPMO who would have been better off elsewhere, several various MIA "activists," and, later, Beck, were drawn into a cabal that formed around Dornan's staff.  Their goal had nothing to do with accounting for missing Americans.  Instead, their goal was to attack anyone who dared question or disagree with them.  Mr. Bob Destatte -- whose bio is in documents linked to this page -- is one of their major targets.  Two different chiefs of DPMO -- Jim Wold and now Bob Jones -- encountered the wrath of Dornan and Smith when they tried to move Beck and Kass out.  Because Beck was a Navy Reserve officer, Wold was finally able to remove him.  Kass is still on the job as a "mole" for Congressman Rohrabacher (who has replaced Dornan as the champion of the "activists") and Senator Smith.

Beck, Dornan, and the Attack on a Good Man

I am not certain of the course of event, but, by reading between the lines, this is how I reconstruct things.  After Beck had been in DPMO for a short while, he concocted his theory of a worldwide Commie conspiracy to interrogate and hold forever US POWs.  I suspect that he encountered the "Cuban program" and determined that here was one of the smoking guns that he needed.  When he learned that DPMO was satisfied that the US government had done as much as possible to locate those responsible for the "Cuban program," he took the files to Dornan as "proof" of DPMO incompetence or worse.

(NOTE: Within Congress there are members who zealously take up support of causes, sometimes without adequate factual or logical foundation.  In the case of the MIA issue, the champions of misinformation have been Billy Hendon, Bob Smith, Bob Dornan, and Dana Rohrabacher.  Hendon has been out of Congress for several years but continues to work his mischief through his contacts with current members.  Dornan was defeated in the 1996 election.   Rohrabacher was in the process of falling under the spell of Hendon and Dornan when I had a few experiences with him in 1994 - 95.  Senator Smith is still with us.  When you have time, return to the Table of Contents and read up on Smith and Hendon.  For reasons that I cannot fathom, these individuals have picked up the sponsorship of misinformation that surrounds the MIA issue.  DPMO, then, has the problem of having people inside the organization who are swept up in the mythology and at the same time having to deal with members of Congress who believe the most bizarre tales.   The result is that one or more individuals within DPMO become "moles" for the Congressmen who become protectors of the moles.  Such was the case of Commander Beck -- Dornan protected him.  Senator Smith has emerged as Mr. Kass's godfather.   None of the foregoing note is intended to belittle the serious contributions to the MIA issue that have been made by such Congressional leaders as Steve Solarz, Bob Lagomarsino, Ben Gilman, John Kerry, Pete Peterson (now ambassador to Vietnam), and John McCain.)

Dornan's Special Orders Speech

If you watch C-SPAN, you will frequently see members of the House or the Senate speaking to an empty chamber , or to a chamber populated only by one or two other members.   These speeches are known as "special order" speeches.  They are made after regular daily sessions and their content is entered into the Congressional Record.   The special order speeches sometimes are used for mischief -- for delivering unfounded and outrageous statements that would never be permitted during normal sessions.  (For example, the Republicans -- with Dornan as the designated pit bull -- used special order speeches to trash Bill Clinton prior to the 1996 election.  It was in the special order speeches that Dornan reported that Clinton, while a student at Oxford College in England, traveled to Moscow.  Dornan then speculated that Clinton took part in anti-war activities in England and Moscow.  While he offered no proof, his special order speech statements became a matter of gospel among the Clinton-bashers.)

On August 2, 1996, Dornan made a special order speech that focused largely on the "Cuban program."  In this speech, Dornan made a number of attacks on Bob Destatte.  Specifically, Dornan:

bulletAccused Mr. Destatte of willfully and knowingly lying to, manipulating, and psychologically torturing MIA families;
bulletImplied that Destatte had become an accomplice of the Communist government in Hanoi.
bulletThreatened to bring criminal charges against Destatte.
bulletMade this statement:  "(Destatte) . . . had the gall, the effrontery, the treachery to put in writing that (the Cubans who tortured US POWs) were interpreters only. . ."

The Department of Defense Responds

Former Congressman Billy Hendon, one of the most destructive forces in the MIA issue, once described to me his method of operation.   Hendon bragged that he could make the American public believe anything he wished it to believe on the POW/MIA issue, or any other issue.  He explained that he only needed to make it controversial to oppose him, because, in Hendon's words, people in uniform and public servants "don't have the balls" to confront him out of fear that the controversy will harm their careers. Thus, said Hendon, he can make the most reckless and outrageous charges, knowing that he will not be called into question.  And, when people see him going unchallenged, they assume that he is correct.  Dornan, Beck, and several others -- Senator Bob Smith comes to mind -- have learned this lesson well.  In this case, however, the Department of Defense -- specifically, DASD Jim Wold -- had enough.  

September 17, 1996:  Dornan Censors DoD's Public Documents

Dornan held an open hearing on September 17, 1996; the "Cuban program" was on the agenda.  Destatte was told to prepare a written statement regarding Dornan's misrepresentations on the Cuban program, his attacks on Destatte and others, and Dornan's other various misrepresentations of fact.  As required by Congress, several (I think the number is 25) copies of Destatte's written statement were given to Dornan's staffers and the same number of copies were placed on the press table in the hearing room.  Remember, this was an OPEN hearing. 

As DPMO personnel were enroute to the hearing, they learned that Dornan had contacted DPMO management and had "exploded" over the Destatte statement.  They also learned that Dornan's staff had taken all copies of the statement from the public table (Does the word "censorship mean anything here?).  In the interest of peace, Destatte was not permitted to enter his prepared written statement into the record.

The Truth Will Out

Now, however, it appears that truth has emerged.  Last week (August - September 1999), the record of the September 17, 1996 hearing was published.  Somehow, Bob Destatte's written statement with all attachments -- the statement that Dornan's staff removed from public access -- was included in the official record of the hearings and is now a matter of public record.  If you would like to read the record, here is the reference (you'll have to get it from the US Government Printing Office): 


Accounting for POW/MIA's From the Korean War and The Vietnam War
Hearing before the Military Personnel Subcommittee on National Security
House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, Second Session
hearing held September 17, 1996
ISBN 0-16-054352-5

The important parts of this record are:

bulletOpening oral statement by Bob Destatte (page 160)
bulletWritten statement for the record by Bob Destatte (pages 161-164)
bulletEnclosure 1 (page 165)
bulletEnclosure 2 (pages 166-167)
bulletEnclosure 3 (pages 168-172)
bulletEnclosure 4 (pages 173-174)
bulletEnclosure 5 (page 175-176) (Note:  As of Sep. 6, 1999, I do not have this document on my web site.  Will have to scan it and post it later.)

I have posted each of these documents  at this link -- except for Enclosure 5, to be posted later. 

After you read this article (Sad Story) and the article containing Beck's letter to the Miami Herald (Beck's Fantasies), you should then read the official documents.  At that point, you will see the level of deceit that this crowd engages in.

Beck's Letter to the Editor

I urge that readers of this article go to this link:  Chip Beck's Fantasies.  The article there was written earlier and it contains a letter written by Beck to the Miami Herald regarding the "Cuban program."   After reading Beck's letter and the enclosures to the Committee hearing record, I believe that you will see how I have arrived at my conclusion, which follows.

So, What Is All This About?

What it's all about is that this sad tale is a typical example of the perfidy, calumny, demagoguery, treachery, and misrepresentations that are the stock and trade of much of the MIA "activist" community. 

Who benefits from this constant flow of sewage? 

bulletNot the MIA families for whom the "activist" community has never returned a single man, dead or alive. 
bulletNot the public, most of whom know little if anything about the MIA issue and who dismiss these antics as the work of fruitcakes. (Here is a personal note.  In 1986, when I joined the DIA Special Office for POW-MIA Affairs, I went home on leave and told an old friend from high school -- a Vietnam vet and now college history professor -- what I was doing.  He remarked that the only thing he knew about the Vietnam MIA issue was that there were a lot of "nutty people" running around trying to convince the public that US POWs were still alive in Vietnam.   I tell this story to illustrate that the antics of people such as Hendon, Smith, Beck, Dornan, et al, do nothing but reinforce the idea that there is nothing serious behind this issue.)
bulletNot the analysts within the Department of Defense who must drop what they are doing to feed the constant demands coming from a few Congressional offices for information that will be used to beat the same analysts over the head.

No, the sole beneficiaries are:  Hendon and McDaniel who continue to raise money using the MIA issue as bait; Beck who finds life as a celebrated super spy to be a lot more exciting than living as a retired navy reservist of no particular note; Rohrabacher and Smith who can dabble in history, intelligence, and current events all at once without having to understand what they are doing; the myriad wannabes who hang out at the Wall and who populate the WWW, proclaiming what they know nothing about; and a few professional MIA "activists" whose newsletters, annual conventions, Congressional contacts, and past notoriety are just too much to give up.

I am thankful for the dedication, the intelligence, and the very hard work of the real heroes: Bob Destatte, Gary Sydow, Chuck Trowbridge, Paul Mather, Joe Harvey, Johnny Webb, Warren Gray, Melinda Cooke, Sal Ferro, Carol Bates, Joanne Travis -- to name a few.  They do not deserve the Dornans and Becks of this world.

Addendum

Less than 48 hours after this article was published, former Army Captain George "Jay" Veith, himself a member of the Beat Up Bob Destatte Club fired off an e-mail message to a huge list of addressees.  Veith questions two minor points in this article, neither of which I will change.  Click on this link to read the addendum, added late in the day on September 6, 1999.    This article and the two others associated with it must have hit a vital point.

This article was published September 5 and updated on September 6, 1999.