|In many cases, Radio Hanoi would describe a shootdown that equated to a US aircraft loss and they would make no mention of the crew, or they would make some statement such as "the pilot paid with his life." While such a claim would not suggest that the man/men were captured, it does suggest that the Vietnamese had some knowledge of the crews fate.|
|In other cases, a man (men) would be lost under circumstances in which we thought it was probably that the Vietnamese would know something about them. There are many cases in which an aircraft went down, there was no chute seen, no emergency call heard, and no reason to believe that the man got out of the aircraft. But, because the incident occurred in close proximity to Vietnamese troops, or in/near a populated area, we assumed that the Vietnamese would know something of the mans fate.|
During the Paris negotiations, one of our objectives was to force the Vietnamese to give us information about missing men. Our problem was that we did not know what they knew. If we intended to give them a list of missing men and require them to provide information about them before negotiations moved forward, then we would kill the negotiations. Why? Because we had no way of definitively knowing what they knew. If we were to insist that they give us information on a man about whom they had no information, then negotiations would stop. We could not do that.
Thus, when US negotiators passed to the Vietnamese a list of "missing" men and demanded that they provide us information about these men, we knew that we would not receive answers on all the men listed. Because our own knowledge was incomplete, US negotiators decided to put on their lists names of men known to be prisoners, names of men who could be prisoners, and names of men whose fates were simply unknown.
Now, read the following sentence carefully. Lists of missing men were prepared and passed to the Vietnamese as a negotiating tactic, not as an indicator that the men on any one list were known to be captives. Thats it, folks. On any list, there were names of known POWs, names of possible POWs, names of men about whom the Vietnamese may know something, and names that were a mystery to us.
Claims that this man was known to be a POW because he was on "the Shields list" or "on the Kissinger list" are nonsense and are based on total ignorance of the purposes of the various lists. (Note, too, that there is not a single "Kissinger list" or "Shields list." The Pentagon was constantly being called on to produce a list with XXX number of names, or a list that met other criteria.)
Here we find a real bombshell -- in 1981, DIA, CIA, and the president's national security advisor were talking about reports of US POWs being held in Nhommarath, Laos. Let's examine this story.
In late 1980, a source reported to the CIA that US POWs might be held in an area of southern Laos. Upon further questioning, the source claimed that US POWs were in a prison camp near the village of Nhommarath. CIA passed this report to DIA with the comment that the source's reliability was questionable. Just to be safe, DIA ordered satellite imagery to be taken of known prison facilities in that area of Laos. In early 1981, US imagery satellites took a shot of a known prison camp near Nomarrath. (Variant spellings: Gnomarrat, Nhomarrat). One imagery analyst claimed that he observed:
There were two problems with this assessment:
(Note: Contrary to claims being made in July 2000 by certain "MIA activist" groups, there was no signal intelligence concerning Nomarrath -- just the one unreliable CIA source report and the imagery on which opinions varied.)
A Navy Admiral in DIA was briefed about the CIA report and the two opinions by the imagery analysts. He concluded that it was best to be safe than sorry so he started to crank up an operation to investigate this place on the ground. In the course of doing this, the imagery was briefed to members of Congress and was shared with certain US Special Operations units. This report made its way through the US Special Operations community to former Army LTC James "Bo" Gritz who has made himself a legend with his bogus operations. Follow this link to read about Gritz's "rescue operations."
After completing inter-agency coordination, the CIA was given the mission of conducting an on-the-ground reconnaissance of the prison camp. A recon team of "indigenous" troops (Thai special forces) made their way into Laos and found the Nomarrath camp. They sat in the jungle outside the camp for several days, even penetrated the outer perimeter. They brought back a large quantity of photographs they had taken. They did not observe any Caucasians in the camp and the photographs showed only Asians. (Their handheld, ground-level photos were compared to satellite imagery just for double-check and verification; those guys really were there.)
Over the years, DIA has located former officials of the Royal Lao Army and government who were imprisoned at Nhommarath. Some of these sources were held there at the very time the satellite imagery was being investigated and the recon team was doing their thing. These sources state that there were only Lao in Nomarrath, no foreigners, no Americans. They put the population of prisoners at between 30 and 45, varying from time to time.
Thus, the conclusion is:
You will never read on an "activist" web site, never hear from any of them, the conclusions about Nhomarrath. All they want to do is what the National Alliance does on its website, quoted above. They want to wave around 1981 statements and disregard the follow-up actions and findings thereof -- because that action and those findings do not support the Alliance's cherished "abandoned POW" claims.
And what of that 1981 State Department plan for recovery and return of US POWs? Well, folks, has anyone ever heard of "Be Prepared?" does the term "contigency plan" mean anything? If it were possible that US POWs -- or defectors -- were returned from SEAsia, would it not be smart to have in place a plan as to what to do with them?
The presence of a contingency plan does not mean that the condition for which the plan is made is known to exist. Consider the following examples.
|At the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (Fort McNair, Washington, DC), classes consist of senior military and civilian government officials and senior executives from industry. They consider what would be done in case the US were required to go on a full wartiem mobilization such as we did during WW II. How would US industry shift from producing consumer goods to producing armaments, and the like.|
|There are plans in place for Presdential orders that would order part or all of the civilian airline fleet under government control in times of national emergency.|
Does the existence of these and other contigency planning measures mean that "the government" is plotting a takeover of the civilian airline fleet? a takeover of civilian industry? No. It means nothing of the sort. It does mean that prudent and responsible people are considering what would need to be done in cases of extreme national emergency and they are being prepared. That's what the 1981 State Department POW return contingency plan was about -- "Be Prepared" - it did not mean that anyone expectd US POWs to return.
The point of this discussion is that the MIA "activist" cult ignores reality. This article has presented examples of how they use old information -- information that was considered valid or possibly valid at the time it was collected -- and ignore information that was developed later -- similar to 16th century "scientists" who insisted that the earth was the center of the universe, in spite of proofs to the contrary. Why? Because later discoveries do not fit into their mindset.
During the Vietnam War, all agencies of the US government who had the capability to do so collected information about men who were lost. Because lost personnel were overwhelmingly military, the military had primary responsibility for collecting such information and acting on it. In the years following the war, that effort continued. Since the late 1980's, US personnel have been stationed in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia where they :
|have access to the wartime records of our former adversaries;|
|are able to find and interview former enemy personnel who had contact with missing US personnel, were eyewitnesses to losses, or who were knowledgeable about how US prisoners or dead were handled;|
|are able to go to loss sites and find wartime eye-witnesses; and,|
|are able to find loss sites and excavate wartime crash and grave sites.|
This activity has led to our developing specific information about individual losses and an understanding of what happened to missing men. For example:
|US investigating teams have located every known aircraft loss site in Vietnam. Most of these have been visited more than once, many have ben excavated to recover remains, and all will be excavated eventually. Ditto for Cambodia. Because of the rugged terrain in Laos, it will take longer to find and assess every known crash site there, but it will be done.|
|US investigators have located wartime documents that were used to record the results of Vietnamese searches of US crash sites. That is, when a US aircraft was downed, Vietnamese forces went to the site and reported on what they found. We have located many of these documents with entries such as "Pilot's body shredded," "Two pilots captured," and the like. This information has led to conclusions about cases for which we previously had questions.|
|Continuing interviews with refugees have provided information that was either specific to a loss incident or to a place. That is, many refugees were arrested and held in prison for trying to escape Vietnam or Laos. They told us about their prison experiences and, with over 20,000 total reports, we have developed extensive knowledge about the Vietnamese and Laotian prison systems and where there were and were not foreigners in that system (as in the case of Nhommarath).|
|US investigators have interviewed former enemy personnel who were eyewitnesses to loss incidents, who buried missing Americans, and who had similar information that was useful in determining the fate of missing men.|
The result of this continuing collection and analysis of information is that we now know much more than we did in 1973 or 1967 or 1981. For this reason, it is wrong to take reports from years past and claim that these reports offer proof that US POWs were "abandoned" in SEAsia, while ignoring recent information that sheds light on these old reports.
A case in point is that of "the mortician," an ethnic Chinese resident of Vietnam, he was a mortuary technician who processed French remains that were recovered from battlefield sites and returned to the French; he later processed American remains that were recovered and "stored" by the Vietnamese.
Initially, based on statements he made in 1976, US intelligence believed there may have been as many as 400 to 600 US remains that were recovered by the Vientamese and that could be returned to us. This article relates the mortician's story and is based on his 1976 statements. In 1986, a Special National Intelligence Estimate (SNIE) was published that was based largely on the mortician's figures.
In the years following 1976, US intell developed considerably more information and developed a much better understanding of just how many US remains the Vietnamese collected. In 1999, the results of this analysis were published; see this article for that analysis, which is based on current information, not just the 1976 "mortician's" report. Our conclusions, based on current information, are that the mortician's estimates were high and it is not likely that the Vietnamese have more remains "stored." In spite of the fact that we know much more now than we did in 1976 about the Vietnamese recovery of US remains, we still find "activists" qouting the 1986 SNIE as gospel, insisting that the Vietnamese could return to us far more remains than we can realistically expect, and ignoring later findings.
Would someone please tell the National Alliance and other MIA "activists" that the earth is not the center of the solar system or the universe, and that Copernicus and Galileo were right? Don't be surprised if they, like the 16th century church, don't believe you.
November 4, 2000