American POW's Left Behind

By David S. Sullivan

Recently retired Senior Professional Staff Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Personal Staff Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services.

There are ten bodies of evidence showing clearly that scores of American POWs were left behind in Indochina, especially in Laos and also in the former Soviet Union. I will describe these ten bodies of evidence briefly as follows:

FIRST - There is important but still mostly secret White House and diplomatic evidence, involving Dr. Henry Kissinger's "BACK CHANNEL" negotiations with the North Vietnamese, and also President Nixon's "WATERGATE TAPES", showing that they knowingly left behind at least "87" POWs, especially in Laos.

SECOND - There is voluminous evidence of American POWs left behind in Indochina from hundreds of human sources, including the thousands of "LIVE SIGHTING" reports of varying credibility about U.S. POWs in Indochina by refugees, defectors, and Americans.

THIRD - There is important and reliable "HUMINT" (human intelligence) evidence from recruited and paid CIA and DIA espionage agents on the ground in Indochina.

FOURTH - There is credible evidence, from the highest ranking defector from a communist country we have ever received, that many American POWs were transferred to Eastern Europe and to the former Soviet Union during the Vietnam War, were interrogated there on strategic subjects, were then used inhumanely for chemical and biological weapons experiments, and WERE NEVER RETURNED.

FIFTH - There is extensive hard, physical evidence from aerial and satellite imagery, of unique emergency signals associated with SPECIFIC downed U.S. pilots, laboriously etched into the ground by probable American POWs left behind in Indochina.

SIXTH - There is extensive, conclusive evidence from signals intelligence intercepts concerning American POWs held captive in Indochina after 1973.

SEVENTH - Because of all the converging evidence listed already, a U.S. covert action reconnaissance mission into Laos was mounted in 1981, and while this mission was botched and compromised, there are credible reports that even this aborted CIA mission detected at least one American POW held in Laos.

EIGHTH - There is evidence, NOT discussed in the Select Committee Report, from 1967 State Department cables that American POWs captured in Indochina who never came home were held under Soviet control in Eastern Europe. For example in East Germany and in Czechoslovakia, consistent with the high level Czech defector's testimony (Major General Jan Sejna)

NINTH - There is evidence, NOT discussed in the Select Committee Report, from a credible Soviet fighter-bomber pilot who defected in 1989, that American POWs were assembled and kept in the Soviet Union during the Vietnam War.

TENTH - There is evidence, NOT discussed in the Select Committee Report, from a sensitive CIA source that as many as 700 American POWs, similar to at least 300 French POWs surviving from the First Indochina War, were kept behind in Vietnam as late as 1975, and even into the 1980's.

Counting the new Russian Archival Document (Morris Document), and the then-secret, official U.S. POW Accounting documents from after operation homecoming in 1973, and the ten bodies of evidence I have listed, there is a total of at least twelve bodies of converging, hard evidence on the question of whether American POWs were left behind.

In particular, the most compelling evidence is the many emergency markings on the ground, probably etched by desperate men, almost begging to be repatriated. These emergency ground signals, going back as far as to 1975, and some as recent as 1988 and even June of 1992, are tragic. And even more tragic has been the U.S. failure to promptly follow-up on them, and return our men home. Many of these signals are unique "Authenticator" codes and distress signals specific to individual pilots known to have been shot down over Laos.

To repeat, the evidence for cases eight, nine and ten is new, recently un-covered evidence, which was NOT available to the Senate Select Committee, so it deserves some more detailed examination.