1993 Congressional Reports

Final Report of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs

Chapter 4



The intelligence community is set up to minimize needless
duplication without endangering the longstanding policy that the
intelligence agencies should be competitive in their assessments.
A key document approvved by the National Foreign Intelligence Board
(NFIB) is a directive, approved and published annually by the
Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) that establishes the
budgetary and collection priorities for all the agencies. 

This document is the product of a formal mechanism and is the
official statement of priority for all members of the intelligence
community. For example, for most of the post-war world, topics
dealing with the capabilities of the former Soviet Union to attack
the U.S. and NATO have had a number-one priority assigned the
Board. Thus, Soviet affairs have enjoyed primacy in all claims for
budgets, resources, collection and publication.

Regarding the POW/MIA issue, Lt. Gen. Perroots testified that he
succeeded in having the NFIB assign a number-one priority to the
POW issue for the first time only in 1985, as an exception to
national policy. In the same hearing former National Security
Council staff member Richard Childress testified that in 1983,
during the first Reagan Administration, he was the first to have
the intelligence community raise the national intelligence priority
of the POW issue from seven, where it had been since the end of the
Vietnam War in 1975.

The information-handling process in the intelligence industry,
simplistically, consists of collection of information, processing,
analysis, and dissemination of finished or semi-finished
intelligence. The information flow is controlled at every stage by
normal organizational functions, including management, budgeting,
quality control, training, assignment of priorities and allocation
of resources. Although agencies have much latitude in their
internal management, the end results are governed by the Board-
approved national intelligence priorities.

There are two ways in which individual agencies can pursue
important national intelligence objectives with others acting only
in a supporting role. On occasion and for subjects requiring
special expertise or reflecting narrow interest, the NFIB may
designate an agency to take the lead. In his deposition, Rear
Admiral Thomas Brooks (USN-Ret.) indicated that the Navy has the
lead on a number of nationally important intelligence issues. 
Without a formal statement of national priority, collection,
analysis and publication on a topic might still occur by exception.
Thus, an agency might retain a small analytical effort on a subject
of its own interest, by justifying it against some other national
priority. A senior official of the National Security Agency (NSA)
testified in his deposition that NSA maintained a residual
collection effort against Southeast Asia between 1975 and 1978,
based on the Soviet interest in the region as manifest by its
occupation of naval facilities at Cam Ranh Bay and the priority
attached to Soviet matters. The expenditures for this effort were
justified, according to the senior official, neither by the
military capabilities of Vietnam, which had a million-man army at
the time, nor by the POW/MIA issue.

The Defense Department's primacy on POW issues came about by
directive from William Casey, belatedly, in 1985.

Intelligence and Intelligence Analysis

Intelligence is often defined by the source from which the
information is obtained. Human intelligence (HUMINT) refers to
information observed and reported by human beings. All live-
sighting reports, whether first- or second-hand, are human source
reports. Technical collection of electronic signals (SIGINT)
includes information obtained by eavesdropping on radio
conversations. Imagery intelligence (IMINT) includes photography,
including pictures or images obtained by various means, including
by a person taking pictures with a hand-held camera.

There are many techniques for performing intelligence analysis,
which is the term used to describe the process of endeavoring to
understand the larger meaning of information obtained secretly. All
intelligence information consists of two parts: the source and the
content. Both must be analyzed in evaluating the larger meaning of
secret information by means of separate techniques. For this
reason, intelligence agencies normally separate the evaluation of
sources from the analysis of the content to avoid the dangers of
bias and conflict of interest.

One common intelligence analytical practice is to compare
information obtained in each of these separate channels to
determine whether the channels corroborate each other. This
matching is the simplest and easiest form of analysis, and matches
are seldom precise. More sophisticated analytical techniques
include pattern analysis, cause-and-effect analysis, cost-benefit
analysis, the use of probabilities and utilities, and a variety of
advanced computer modeling techniques.

Intelligence information, by its very nature, is a glimpse of
reality. It is never conclusive because the methods of acquisition
are surreptitious. On the other hand, the probabilities of reality
that can be established by intelligence information are necessary
and sufficient to enable national decision-makers to make
reasonable judgments about courses of action. While intellience
information is never complete, good intelligence often has made the
difference between life and death, victory and defeat.

Regarding the quality of information obtained on the POWs,
successive retired senior CIA officiers involved in collection
activities in Southeast Asia have testified that the sources of
information of POWs were not materially different from those used
for obtaining information on other topics. Often they were
the same people. Thus, a single human source might report on
military developments as well as on POW matters in the same report.
Many files provided by the intelligence agencies included reports
of this nature.

Investigating the Intelligence Agencies' Performance

The intelligence investigators determined that any evaluation of
DoD's work had to be best understood in the context of the
intelligence community's support of the DoD. The accuracy of this
judgment was reflected in the testimony of former DIA Directors Lt.
Gen. James Williams and Perroots and present DIA Director, Lt. Gen.
James Clapper. This investigation was conducted primarily
through the deposition of key intelligence officials in light of
intelligence administrative documents found in the files of the

Intelligence Community Support of the POW Effort

The Committee's investigation discovered that the normal processes
of the U.S. intelligence community have not been followed in the
intelligence aspects of the POW/MIA issue. In depositions, former
Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Admiral Inman and a former
senior CIA official testified that the POW issue was considered
exclusively the province of DoD;all other agencies played a
supporting role only. The CIA officer stated that it was his
understanding that it was usual to defer to DoD in POW/MIA
issues. No official could recall just how this grant of
exclusivity was made, but none could recall a formal determination.


After Operation Homecoming in 1973, virtually every intelligence
official from whom the Committee received testimony confirmed that
the collection of intelligence on POWs was not a high- priority
issue. Despite repeated Presidential statements about the issue's
importance, Lt. Gen. Perroots confirmed that the POW/MIA issue was
first listed as priority "one" as a national intelligence objective
only beginning in 1986 -- as an exception to policy. The low
priority resulted in no demands on the intelligence community to
provide resources to this issue for most of the period after the
Vietnam War.

Analytical Priorities

The Committee was provided with only one national intelligence
estimate concerning Vietnam and its policy towards the POWs.  The
Community produced no inter-agency assessments nor any joint
studies of the issue.  In his deposition, Rear Admiral
Brooks, a former director of the DIA POW/MIA analytical effort and
former Director of Naval Intelligence, stated that during his time
as an intelligence official, there was no written inter-agency or
Intelligence Community studies of any kind.  Dr. Schlesinger said
that in his time as Director of Central Intelligence in 1973, he
ordered the Intelligence Community to write the first National
Intelligence Estimate on Vietnam of any kind in over a

The September 1987 Special National Intelligence Estimate is the
only discussion of the intentions of Vietnam regarding POWs. 
Admiral Inman states that during hie tenure as Deputy Director of
Central Intelligence, no national intelligence assessments of this
issue were requested or written.

Central Intelligence Agency Actions

Management Actions

The Central Intelligence Agency management retained no formal
responsibility for POW/MIA collection and analysis and has deferred
completely to the Department of Defense.  CIA maintained no
analytical effort on this topic after the Vietnam war.  The
organizations that had performed this work were disbanded.  This
may be the only supposedly national-level issue in which CIA has
taken this position.

The Directorate of Operations maintained a residual effort for a
short time after the war, but this has long since been disbanded. 
Responsibility for follow-up collection actions fell to specific
area desk officers and was a function of personal interest.  One
such officer in the mid-1980s was highly diligent in following up
reports of prisoner sightings.

Collection and Special Operations after Homecoming

The testimony provided by retired officials indicated CIA field
officers knew to report information on POW/MIAs.  The
investigations found that in the 19 years since Homecoming, CIA
executed one collection operation, conducted one special follow-up
operation, and considered, but rejected, a third special follow-up

The investigation found no evidence that any live-sighting leads in
the 1970s resulted in a single follow-up operation by the Central
Intelligence Agency.  Former senior officials based overseas stated
that they found no intelligence reporting on this topic to be
credible.  However, one official admitted that a large amount of
data was destroyed in 1975 to prevent it from being lost to the
enemy.  Copies of this information allegedly are still held in

CIA Primacy in Laos and Information Sharing

All intelligence officers who testified to the Committee, including
Ernie Brace who was a contract pilot held longer than any other
POW, stated that CIA had the dominant intelligence interest in
Laos.  All information is provided to the Department of Defense. 
On the other hand, CIA retained no analysts assigned to analyze
POW/MIA information.  A former senior CIA officer admitted that
this arrangement produced an anomaly whereby CIA collectors and
desk officers were ostensibly accountable to DIA intelligence
analysts regarding the quality of the reporting.

Analysis or Lack of It

The investigation found only one study of the POW/MIA issue written
by CIA, and that was in the mid-1980s and concerned Vietnamese
policy towards the U.S.  That study was written by a political
affairs analyst.  The Directorate of Intelligence at CIA has no
POW/MIA analysts.  The first recent background studies written by
the CIA relevant to the POW issue were two on prisons in Laos and
Vietnam.  These were done at the behest of the Select

Current Role

CIA's supporting role, management attitudes and of formal tasking
reflect lukewarm support for the POW/MIA effort.  The intelligence
files do not suggest an aggressive posture in collecting
information nor great diligence in following up.  Since 1981, the
POW/MIA intelligence topic has made virtually no demands for
resources of any kind on "the President's intelligence agency."

The Role of the Defense Intelligence Agency


The Defense Intelligence Agency's intelligence role in POW-MIA
affairs is extensive.  According to testimony provided by the
Secretary of Defense, DIA is at the center of the two-tier approach
used by his Department to determine the fate of U.S. service
members missing in Southeast Asia.  As part of the first tier, the
Defense Intelligence Agency investigates and analyzes current
reports of Americans being held against their will.  These are
called live-sighting reports.  

The Secretary noted that as part of the second tier, the Defense
Department relies "heavily" on DIA's analysis to reach a final
conclusion on the fate of each service member for whom there has
not been a final accounting.  In this category, they emphasize
service members who were last known alive after being reported lost
or for whom the U.S. Government believes that the governments of
Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam should be able to provide additional
information as to the service member's status.  These are called
discrepancy cases.

DIA's Management Issues

As of Nov. 23, 1992, DoD had received 1,629 first-hand live-
sighting reports, most of which described real events; 85 remained
unresolved but were being investigated. It must be noted that
each report does not necessarily correlate to a different missing
service member.  Numerous reports are traceable to the same
individual.  Nonetheless, the Secretary stated that 109 reports
remained under active investigation by the Defense Intelligence
Agency. In his testimony, the Acting Director of DIA identified the
Agency's role in these live-sighting cases:  DIA determines "the
facts pertinent to the report and follows them to their logical
conclusion."  According to him, during the process DIA "is to keep
policy and decision-makers and the families informed."  DIA's
Executive Director noted to Committee Members that DIA supports
POW-MIA families directly, and also assists POW-MIA organizations. 
He emphasized that DIA's role is intelligence support and not
policy making.

In a prepared statement to the Committee, the Principal Deputy
Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
indicated that DIA's role in assisting service casualty officers in
their responsibility to keep families informed has been
"problematic."  According to him, Casualty Affairs Officers from
each of the Military Services are responsible for discussing
individual cases of POW's or MIA's with family members.  He added
that DIA personnel "are not trained for family outreach."  The
Committee agrees with his comment that DIA is an intelligence
collection and analysis organization and family outreach programs
are not an appropriate function for its personnel to perform. 

The Committee believes that the Department of Defense must make
every effort to ensure that properly trained personnel provide the
necessary and fundamentally important interaction with family
members. It is no secret to members of the military services, or to
families, that casualty affairs has traditionally been a backwater
and has not received the kind of priority it deserves. At a
minimum, personnel must undergo sensitivity training before
undertaking these sensitive positions.

DIA supports the Pacific Command's Joint Task Force - Full
Accounting efforts to resolve POW/MIA cases, according to the
Secretary of Defense.  He testified to the Committee that DIA
prepares a case file that provides "detailed explanations of the
incident of loss, biographic data, search and rescue efforts, and
other information that will assist Vietnamese and U.S.
investigators in focusing on a particular case."  DIA then becomes
the focal point for analyzing all data that is received and for
making a recommendation to the Department on whether further
investigation of a particular case is required.  

The Chief of DIA's Special Office for POW/MIA Affairs supported
this in his statements to the Committee.  He said that DIA
maintains a single database which includes refugee camp reporting,
first hand live-sighting reports, Department of State cables,
National Security Agency reports, and Central Intelligence Agency
reports.  But during its review, Committee investigators found
instances where relevant information may not have been provided to
DIA on a timely basis.  The Committee has not been able to identify
a specific procedural cause for the problem, but believes that it
is important enough to warrant continued review by the Executive

In addition, Committee investigators were unable to find a single,
comprehensive database for all relevant intelligence information on
POW's and MIA's.  While DIA may feel that it possesses this single
database, investigators continued to find information from
different sources that DIA apparently did not have on hand. 
Moreover, there is no single location for the consolidation of all
Intelligence Community files pertaining to POW's and MIA's.  The
Committee believes that since the original reason for maintaining
separate files in separate agencies -- that is, to support
different policy-makers who required different information for
different reasons -- no longer exists, it is important to bring
together all previous intelligence information into one location
and to continue to add to these same files as new intelligence
information is developed.

In his testimony, DIA's Executive Director noted several additional
DIA roles.  According to him, the Agency provides intelligence
support for operations conducted to recover human remains. 
Additionally, DIA supports POW-MIA activities handled by others in
the executive and legislative branches.   For example, the
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
testified that at least from his perspective, the POW/MIA Inter-
Agency Group relies "very extensively" on DIA.   

DIA also attempts to keep track of the location where useful
information might be found in Vietnamese files.  In testimony
before the Committee, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
General John W. Vessey, Jr. (U.S. Army - retired), testified that
DIA has studied the problem of determining which Vietnamese units
might possess information on missing Americans and knows which
records the Vietnamese needed to produce in order to satisfy the
search of the Vietnamese historical record.  It is clear from the
information available to the Committee that DIA's focus on this
part of the historical record has been extremely important and
quite useful.  There is anecdotal information which indicates that
even the Vietnamese have benefitted from the information DIA has
told them that exists in their own files.

In his testimony, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command,
Control, Communications, and Intelligence (ASD-C3I) stated that he
had staff responsibility within the Department of Defense for
overseeing the operations of DIA.  He indicated that POW-MIA
matters are now "treated as one of the highest priorities in the
collection of intelligence."  This attitude was echoed by testimony
of the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for
International Security Affairs; unfortunately, these lofty words
never were translated into real action.

Several witnesses provided a different perspective on the priority
that DIA has placed upon the POW-MIA issue.  From their testimony,
it is clear that priorities have changed throughout the period
following the Vietnam War.  While the history of these changes is
addressed in more detail in the section of the Committee's report
titled, "Change in Intelligence Priorities," the question of
prioritization often arose in the more general context of DIA's
ability to discharge its responsibilities.  In that regard, DIA has
conducted several internal reviews to assess its handling of its

DIA Internal Criticisms

Witnesses described to the Committee several DIA internal reviews
of the Agency's support for POW-MIA affairs.  The reviews
identified shortcomings and provided recommendations for
improvement.  Significantly, several recurring themes are found in
each of the reviews.

In February 1983, the DIA's Inspector General conducted a routine
inspection of the POW-MIA Office as part of its overall annual
inspection schedule for the entire Agency.  According to the
Inspection Team Chief at the time, the IG's Office found that the
POW-MIA office was "overexposed to outside pressures" and that it
was not organized for efficient operations.  The Team Chief
remembered that DIA's senior management focussed on taking
corrective actions to the problems that his inspection team

The Inspector General's Office conducted another investigation of
the POW-MIA Office in late-1984 and early-1985.  The investigators
were trying to determine if inappropriate procedures were being
used to deal with people who reported information concerning POW's
and missing in action.  It had been alleged that valuable
information was being lost because people who had come forward were
being discouraged from offering further assistance.

The inspectors found that:

     "There was no indication that DIA interviewers used any
     procedures that intentionally downgraded, humiliated,
     embarrassed or abused the witness.

     There was no evidence to suggest that any truly
     knowledgeable witness could be discouraged by DIA methods
     for making information known.

     . . . these allegations of mistreatment were judged to be
     responses from individuals who had attempted to use the
     PW/MIA issue for their own purposes.

     . . . there can be no improvement to the worsening
     situation [regarding relations with members of Congress
     or with the public] until the policy and public relations
     interface is inserted between the DIA and the rest of the

     There was evidence that DIA had been and continued to be
     manipulated on the PW/MIA issue by entities outside the
     U.S. Government."

In early 1985, DIA conducted an additional internal review by
having other Agency analysts critique the work of the POW-MIA
Office.  These analysts concluded that the Office's analytic effort
was of high quality.  They also commented that the Office's
perceived need to respond to numerous outside requests diminished
its analytic activities.  Moreover, they believed that an
"inordinate" amount of time was being spent on a "legalistic
approach to evidence and analysis" but that outside interest in the
issue probably made this expenditure of time necessary.  They also
believed that HUMINT in the field could be improved by adding
additional collectors. 

In September 1985, DIA's Assistant Deputy Director for Collection
Management, Rear Admiral Thomas A. Brooks, (USN-Ret.) prepared an
internal DIA memo critical of the POW/MIA effort.  This memo was
prompted by approximately four months of experience during which he
had responsibility for DIA's support of POW-MIA issues.  In his
testimony, Admiral Brooks related that during the period when he
had POW-MIA responsibility at DIA, he had been surprised by the
small number of people who were dedicated to analyzing POW-MIA
questions since it was supposed to be the Nation's number one
priority.  He was also disappointed by the analytic process, the
way that files were kept, and the lack of disciplined analytic

In March 1986, Col. Kimball M. Gaines (USAF-Ret.) led an internal
task force at DIA which also was highly critical of the POW/MIA
effort. Col. Gaines and his task force made the following findings:

.    unhealthy attitudes;

.    almost total lack of management -- working hard but not
     working smart;

.    haphazard approach to problems and functions;

.    too much direct exposure of the working-level analysts;

.    inadequate planning, internal communication, and written

.    database is a wasteland;

.    working files unprofessional, sloppy, incomplete, no standard

.    no disciplined, coherent, collection management effort;

.    too much detective work, not enough analysis;

.    not nearly enough admin[istrative] and intelligence technician

.    significant ADP [automated data processing] deficiencies.

Other senior DIA witnesses commented on the Agency's performance. 
In his testimony to the Committee, Lieutenant General Leonard
Perroots (USAF-Ret.), the Director of DIA from 1985-1989,
summarized his findings concerning DIA's handling of the POW-MIA
effort.  Concerned about how well DIA was fulfilling its
responsibilities during his tenure, he had directed two separate
reviews of DIA's POW-MIA procedures.

     A major valid criticism was that insufficient resources
     were being expended to adequately do the collecting,
     analysis, and follow-up mission. . . .this was especially
     true from '73 to '85.

     Another valid criticism. . . is the over-classification
     of information on this subject.

     Another valid criticism that we ultimately fixed was the
     criticism that there was insufficient coordination among
     the intelligence agencies to ensure an effective database
     and integrated collection and analysis effort.

     Another valid criticism was the lack of an adequate 
     follow-up effort within the intelligence community.  The
     National collection priority for POW/MIA prior to 1985
     ranged from priority 7 to priority 3.  We raised it to
     priority 1.

     Another valid criticism:  DIA was too involved in
     activities which detracted from its primary mission . .
     . some of this was the result of our efforts to respond
     to every query from every source, whether it be the
     Congress, the press, the League of Families, or just
     interested public."

     Another valid criticism. . . is that we not always
     adequately conducted timely follow-up of reports.

General Perroots emphasized that there was never a conspiracy to
cover-up information concerning prisoners or missing in action.  He
also emphasized that during his tenure, he worked hard to ensure
that there was not a mindset to debunk intelligence reports of live
Americans being held in Southeast Asia.  

In his testimony to the Committee, General James A. Williams,
Director of DIA from 1981 to 1985, also emphasized that there was
"no mindset to debunk consciously and there was certainly no effort
to cover up."   Similarly, the 1983 DIA IG inspection team
concluded that "analytical work in the PW/MIA office was being
conducted on the assumption that some Americans were still held
captive in Southeast Asia." 

The testimony of Col. Joe Schlatter, the head of DIA's POW-MIA
Office from 1987 to 1990 was especially noteworthy.  He had been
part of an official review of DIA's effort prior to becoming head
of the office.  During his earlier review, he reached two important
conclusions that he later found to be false:

     Earlier, he believed that DIA's analytical process was flawed
     and that there was a mindset to debunk on the part of the
     Agency's analysts.  

     After becoming head of the office, he determined that the
     analytic process was not flawed because the answers to the
     important questions could only come from files or officials of
     the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.  Furthermore, he found that
     a mindset to debunk did not exist.  During his testimony, he
     also noted that the recommendations of the most critical
     reports of DIA's efforts were implemented. 
Col. Peck requested relief from his position as chief of the
POW/MIA office on Feb. 12, 1991 because of frustrations over the
management and activities of the office. Peck's letter restates
most of the criticisms contained in earlier reviews, including
extensive outside interference in the operations of the office. In
his valedictory letter, Peck drew seven conclusions, including that
people were abandoned, that the office is manipulated, that the
League's director is an impediment to DIA's POW/MIA work, and that
DIA is used as "the fall guy" to cover the tracks of others.

Ronald Knecht, Special Assistant for Command, Control,
Communications and Intelligence, headed a management review of
Peck's allegations in April 1991. A small, senior management team
examined files, conducted interviews, and reviewed past reports on
the organization. The team found that Peck was not qualified as an
intelligence manager and was "too close to the Vietnam POW/MIA
issue to be objective."

However, "the management inquiry team could not find any facts that
support Col. Peck's various allegations of impropriety in the
POW/MIA resolution process," the report added. Peck had been warned
several times by the DIA's Director, Lt. Gen. Harry E. Soyster,
about his managerial shortcomings.


The DIA has essentially assumed Lead Agency responsibility within
the Intelligence Community for POW/MIA affairs.   Since the
Military Services are primarily responsible for maintaining liaison
with family members of POWs or MIAs and since DIA is the primary
coordinating agency for defense intelligence matters, DIA's central
role in providing intelligence support for POW-MIA affairs is
understandable.  But this role has created some problems.

On the one hand, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency is
not routinely responsible for coordinating the efforts of the
Intelligence Community.  This responsibility belongs to the
Director of Central Intelligence.  While the Director of DIA has
access to the collection, processing, analysis, and dissemination
systems of the Intelligence Community, his focus traditionally has
been -- and should remain -- on supporting the Department of
Defense.  Numerous examples arose as a result of the Committee's
investigation where intelligence activities outside of the
Department of Defense produced relevant information on POW's and
MIA's.  It appears most of this information eventually found its
way to the appropriate personnel within DIA.  Timeliness and the
requirements of all-source analysis, however, demand that relevant
intelligence information is available for immediate analysis and
action if necessary.  It is imperative that the Intelligence
Community's activities on behalf of POW-MIA affairs be streamlined
and centralized.

On the other hand, the closeness of DIA to the Military Services
has drawn the Agency into a relationship with family members for
which its personnel are untrained and unprepared.  As a result,
some family members have focused their frustrations on the Agency. 
Objective intelligence support and a sensitive understanding of
family member attitudes are very difficult roles for a single
agency to perform.  Intelligence analysis demands a rigorous
examination of ambiguous information.  Family member liaison
demands a sympathetic viewpoint tempered by a sense of realism. 
DIA has experienced great difficulty in bringing the two
perspectives together.  

Part of the reason for the sense of frustration felt by some family
members over DIA's performance can be found in DIA's own internal
investigations.  Their self-generated internal reviews have created
a lot of the criticisms which others have since echoed.   These
critiques reveal recurring themes:  a diffusion of the POW-MIA
effort among several agencies; diffusion of DIA's own effort;
excessive influence by activities outside of the U.S. Government;
disagreements over analytical judgments; defensiveness when
confronted by external criticisms.  Frustration also has arisen
because external expectations have exceeded DIA's ability to
provide many of the conclusive answers that some believe are
possible.  As the current DIA Director noted in his testimony, ."
. . intelligence, given its inherent limitations, simply on its own
cannot resolve these issues [e.g., the ultimate fate of
POW/MIA's]." With the new openness in Southeast Asia, intelligence
analysis is no longer the driving force behind U.S. efforts to
account for missing servicemen. 

The Committee believes that the Secretary of Defense must continue
to improve procedures so that relevant intelligence information is
acted upon quickly by the Department, that it is provided to family
members on a timely basis, and that family members are part of a
competent outreach program.  The Committee further believes that
effective Intelligence Community support of POW-MIA affairs could
be improved significantly by the creation of an inter-agency
"Center for POW-MIA Affairs" under the Director of Central
Intelligence.  The Committee envisions that this center would be
created from existing Intelligence Community resources and would be
staffed periodically by many of the same intelligence personnel who
are currently spread throughout the Community.  Effective and
efficient intelligence support will continue to be fundamentally
important to the POW-MIA effort for the foreseeable future. 

There should be consideration given about the direct intelligence
support of the POW function being moved from DIA to a more
appropriate spot -- perhaps to CINCPAC to support the Joint Task
Force - Full Accounting in a more timely fashion.

Live-Sighting Reports

For the past 20 years, there has been nothing more tantalizing for
POW/MIA families than reports that Americans have been seen alive
in Southeast Asia, and nothing more frustrating than the failure of
these reports to become manifest in the form of a returning
American -- with the single exception of Robert Garwood in 1979. 

The sheer number of first-hand live-sighting reports, almost 1,600
since the end of the war, has convinced many Americans that U.S.
POWs must have been left behind and may still be alive. Other
Americans have concluded sadly that our failure, after repeated
efforts, to locate any of these alleged POWs means that the reports
are probably not true.

Because of its importance as possible evidence that U.S. POWs are
alive, and also because of its contribution to the ongoing
controversy over the POW/MIA issue, live-sighting reports were a
central focus of the Committee's investigation. Committee Members
and staff investigators spent thousands of hours going over DIA
files; hundreds of requests were made to DIA for additional
documents and information; several staff and Member briefings were
conducted on the subject; and two full days of public hearings were


A live-sighting report is just that -- a report that an American
may have been seen alive in Southeast Asia in circumstances which
are not readily explained. The report could come from anyone -- a
refugee, a boat person, a former political prisoner, a diplomat, a
traveler -- who is or has been in a position to make such an
observation. The information could be firsthand or hearsay; it
could involve one American or many; it could be detailed or vague;
it could be recent or as far back as the end of the war.

The point is that every live-sighting report is important because
it is potential evidence that a U.S. POW may have survived; until
recently, these reports were not treated as important, and accorded
a high priority by DIA, however.

Conversely, there is a significant difference between a live-
sighting report about a Caucasian and one that positively
identifies an American, which admittedly is difficult at any
difference. Other identifying information increases the credibility
of any live-sighting report; however, all of these reports must be

A majority of the live-sighting reports received by U.S.
authorities have come from Southeast Asian refugees, many of whom
were interviewed at refugee camps in Thailand or Hong Kong. In
addition to reports of actual sightings of Americans, other
evidence of live or missing Americans is investigated, as well.
This includes reports of the location of airplane crash sites or
the discovery of dog tags used as military identification by
American soldiers. The total number of first-hand and hearsay live-
sighting reports and other related reports is more than 15,000
since 1975.

Of the 15,000 total, approximately 1,650 are first-hand live-
sighting reports. According to DIA, more than 70 percent of these
reports have been judged accurate and relate to individuals who
returned at Operation Homecoming, to American civilians stranded in
Vietnam in 1975, to Robert Garwood, or to individuals whose remains
have subsequently been returned.  Fewer  than 100 first-hand live-
sighting reports remain under active investigation. Of these,
approximately 60 involve Americans reported to be in a captive
environment. With the exception of two deserters and Garwood, none
of the reports have been correlated to an American military POW or
MIA alive in Vietnam after Operation Homecoming.

At least since the early 1980's, the handling of live-sighting
reports has been one of the most controversial aspects of the
POW/MIA issue. During 1985 and 1986, three separate internal DIA
reviews criticized the agency's procedures, including its
methodology for analyzing reports, evaluating sources and following

In 1986, for example, a Task Force headed by Gen. Eugene Tighe
found that:

     . . . Over the years, the perceived mission of the PW/MIA
     center at DIA has changed, officially and unofficially,
     from analysis of the intelligence flowing into DIA on
     this issue to 'resolving the issue' whereby doubt is cast
     on the veracity of the intelligence.

     The modus operandi of the PW/MIA center evolved toward
     undue emphasis in establishing source bona fides, at the
     expense of analyzing, from every angle, information
     provided by these sources. . . an example of the effort
     is one case where four years were spent trying to prove
     that a re-education camp which was a key part of one
     live-sighting report did not exist (this to disprove the
     report), only to find that the camp did indeed exist.
     During the intervening years, the report was not analyzed
     for its contribution to the overall issue. . .

     There is a total absence of rigorous, standard,
     disciplined, professional, administrative procedures. .
     . .

     A. . . basic problem is the bias in expectations that
     refugees are not reliable reporters unless proven to be
     so. . . yet refugee accounts are the major database. . . 
     The refugee community that has provided the bulk of the
     eyewitness reports strikes us as possibly the finest
     human intelligence database in the U.S. post World War II
     experience. . . .

Current Operations

Since the Tighe report and other critical reviews were written, the
DIA POW/MIA office has expanded substantially, working conditions
have improved and the ability to conduct meaningful intelligence
collection activities overseas has increased. The United States now
has live-sighting investigators stationed permanently in Bangkok
and Hanoi and expects to have similar positions filled soon in Laos
and Cambodia.  

Throughout the past year, the U.S. has been negotiating with the
Vietnamese concerning the extent to which the American
investigators would be able to carry out short-notice inspections
of prisons and other facilities in order to follow up on live-
sighting reports. Efforts to develop a formal agreement with the
Government of Laos are ongoing. The Cambodian Government has no
objections to U.S. investigators traveling within that country, but
there is no guarantee of protection in areas controlled by the
Khmer Rouge.

It is important to note that live-sighting investigations are
conducted jointly with Vietnamese and Cambodian officials. They are
an effort to learn more and an opportunity to reach people who may
provide additional information; they are not "Rambo" missions
conducted covertly. Indeed, the presence of Americans in remote
areas -- especially when they must fly or drive in -- often creates
such a stir that surprise is all but impossible. The argument
always can be made that a prisoner was hidden at the last moment,
but these are sovereign nations and the U.S. must work with the
agreements reached with them about access to their people and
sites. In sum, the Committee agrees with DoD that it is better to
take the opportunity to conduct live-sighting investigations than
to ignore it -- in the hope that U.S. investigators will be able to
piece together information, and reach out to citizens.

During its first year in operation, the Joint Task Force - Full
Accounting received 81 live-sighting reports, 34 of Americans said
to be in captivity and 47 said to be living freely. Of the total,
64 were in Vietnam (23 captive, 41 free), five were in Laos (four
captive, one free), and 12 in Cambodia (seven captive, five free).
The JTF-FA conducted 40 advance-notice investigations, and 16
short-notice investigations; all but one of each were in Vietnam
(Laos has not yet granted permission to conduct joint live-sighting
investigations). In all, 99 live-sighting reports remain
unresolved; 59 are reported to be living in captivity and 40
freely. Of these, 82 are in Vietnam (46 captive, 36 free); six are
in Laos (all reported in captivity), and 11 are in Cambodia (seven
captive, four freely).

In its first year, JTF-FA had provided families with 1,906 new or
requested pieces of information, and 143 live-sighting reports have
been resolved, passing muster with the Inter-Agency Group charged
with reviewing them.

In testimony before the Select Committee, Mr. Robert Sheetz, Chief
of the DIA's POW/MIA office explained his agency's methodology for
evaluating live-sighting reports: 

     The cycle begins with collection of the (live-sighting)
     information and preparation of an initial report. . . 

     When we receive the report, it is promptly entered into
     our database, and an analyst is assigned responsibility
     for conducting immediate initial analysis. This first
     analytical look includes a complete search of all our
     databases to determine if we have any prior reporting
     that might shed light on this report. We look at all
     reports from the same geographic area. We look for
     similarities in stories. We check not only human source
     reporting, but also information from other sources
     available to us. When relevant, we consult special
     sources, such as our prison database. Once the analyst
     has completed first stage analysis, he or she determines
     whether additional follow-up is necessary and, if so,
     what that follow-up should be.

     . . . . it may be necessary to reinterview the source to
     ask additional questions or to clarify certain issues. It
     may also be necessary to interview additional people, for
     example, persons identified by the source himself or
     other persons who have come from the same village or been
     interned in the same prison. . . 

     Within the last year. . . DIA has finally been able to
     employ an additional collection method, sending personnel
     into Indochina to investigate reports on the ground.

     . . . . as additional information is completed, findings
     are collected, and the report is reanalyzed. During this
     phase, we may decide to collect additional information,
     sending the report back to the collection phase. At some
     point, however, analysts in this second, more detailed
     stage of analysis, determine that sufficient information
     has been collected to evaluate the report.

     In the evaluation and validation stage, our analysts
     prepare a formal evaluation that summarizes the report,
     outlines other information collected, provides our
     analysis of the total, and indicates how the report was
     evaluated. These summary findings are first reviewed in-
     house by other analysts and management.

     If approved, the summary findings are presented to a
     formal review panel made up of members of the
     intelligence community, including representatives from
     the Department of State, the Central Intelligence Agency,
     the Military Intelligence Services, the Joint Chiefs of
     Staff and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for
     International Security Affairs. . . 

     The outcome of our approved evaluations are disseminated.
     . . all go into our information base. All reports
     correlated to unaccounted for persons are forwarded to
     the appropriate service casualty offices for release to
     the next of kin. Cases of high interest are briefed to
     the inter-agency group during DIA's weekly briefings to
     that body. Unusually significant cases are briefed to the
     Congressional oversight committees and to Members of
     Congress on a regular basis.

During the Select Committee's hearings, DIA officials cautioned
about reliance on a single source of information and stressed its
own reliance on "all-source" intelligence for evaluating the
validity of live-sighting reports. These sources include human
intelligence, signals intelligence, imagery or photographic
intelligence and information provided by other agencies of the U.S.

Committee Investigation

During its investigation, the Committee sought to evaluate
carefully some of the past criticisms that have been made of DIA
methodology.  These include allegations about a so-called "mindset
to debunk" live-sighting reports, an over-emphasis on evaluating
the source as opposed to the content of a report, a failure to
correlate reports involving the same geographic area and a failure
to follow up more rigorously on hearsay reports.

The examination of intelligence concentrated on the live-sighting
intelligence reports.  In the course of the investigation, over
2,000 sources were actually examined page by page by the
investigators.  Over 1,300 of these reports have been declassified
and all will be in the ensuing weeks.

The Committee engaged in a spirited and lengthy debate on live-
sighting analysis -- its methodology and meaning.  In fact, the
review and analysis of live-sighting reports consumed more time and
staff resources than any other single issue.

The Committee concentrated on two differing approaches for analysis
of the live-sighting reports: one, put forward by a group of
Committee investigators, called a "Cluster Analysis," and the other
articulated by the Defense Intelligence Agency.  Both approaches
are described and commented on below so that readers can judge for
themselves on this contentious question.  The Committee divided
over the validity of these approaches -- ten senators finding the
Committee approach sufficient only to raise additional questions
but meaningless in its capacity to make a judgment that a POW
remained alive.  Two senators believe that the cluster analysis
provides evidence Americans remained alive until 1989.

Cluster Analysis Methodology

Some investigators adopted a suggestion that put forward a
Memorandum written by Rear Admiral Thomas A. Brooks, when he
directed the DIA POW office that recommended plotting the live-
sighting reports on a map to see how they cluster.  It was
believed that the key advantage of this analytical technique was as
an alternative method for reaching analytical judgements based on
this information contained in a selection of the best sighting

The live-sighting intelligence investigation began in earnest in
February 1992, when the Department of Defense Central Document
Office began sending live-sighting files in redacted form -- to
protect intelligence sources and methods and to honor source
requests for confidentiality -- to the Office of Senate Security. 
In March, Room B-78 in the Russell Senate Office Building was
cleared for storing materials up to the secret classification
because the Office of Senate Security ran out of space to store the
files referred by DIA.  Most of the analysis of live-sighting files
was performed in this room until it was closed in June because of
a security breach.

A printout of a DIA database containing summary information on
15,559 live-sighting reports received since 1973 was a vital tool
in accomplishing the analysis.  The summary is sufficiently
detailed to enable significant correlations in the information even
without having the actual file.  Thus, work on assembling
information, refining the universe of data, and working towards
building the cluster map could proceed without the actual files.
The investigators applied 16 filters to reduce the 15,559 to a
manageable universe relevant to the charter of the Senate Select
Committee -- to investigate intelligence reports on men alive and
in captivity after Operation Homecoming.  Therefore, the
investigators' working data base was purged of all information
obtained after 1973 but which described sightings prior to
Operation Homecoming.  This reduced the universe to about 6,600
sighting files, both hearsay and eyewitness accounts.

Application of other filters further reduced the working data pool
to about 1,500 reports.  Filters used in this phase of reduction
included the following, all of which were rejected:

.    information that DIA correlated to returned POWs or men known
     to have died in captivity during the war, unless an
     examination of the file proved that correlation to be not

.    all reports of single individuals living freely or in
     conditions that did not indicate captivity;

.    reports of well-known individuals who returned alive after
     1973, including Emmet Kay; the civilians captured during the
     fall of South Vietnam; Robert Garwood; and civilians who were
     captured by the Vietnamese after the war, such as those lost
     in the wreck of the Glomar Java Sea;

.    sightings of individuals who proved to be drug and gun
     runners, smugglers and other scofflaws;

.    sightings of men with wives and families;

.    reports of men living singly without indications of captivity;

.    reports from sources who retracted their story without
     indications of coercion;

.    reports of grave sites, dog-tags, and remains;

.    reports equated plausibly to other Europeans, dead or alive;

.    reports from sources who were clearly lying, based on a
     careful review of the file.

As the final filter, the investigators rejected from the pool of
1,500 reports those that lacked specific locational information. 
This reduced the pool to 928 reports that were posted to a large
map of Southeast Asia, based on the coordinates that were included
as an entry in the printout of the DIA data base.

Using the same data base, and applying the same filters, with the
same controls, the investigators worked so that any team of
investigators could at least replicate the result of this team and
understand how it conducted its analysis, even if it disagreed with
the result.

Review of the Live-Sighting Files and DIA Source Evaluations

The review of the actual files continued while the information for
the map was presented.  The aim of the file review was twofold:  to
act as a check in the validity of the baseline used to build the
data pool for the cluster analysis and to examine the quality of
the intelligence analysis and follow-up performed by the original
analysts.  In order to preserve their own credibility, the
investigators judged that they could not accept a priori any
findings by Defense Department analysts as to the reliability of
the sources.  The documents and information in the files either
supported or failed to support assessment of the source.  In some
instances, files that had been accepted by the investigators for
inclusion in the cluster analysis were rejected for plotting based
on the review of the actual file.  Others that had been rejected
were added, based on the contents of the files.

The investigators early on found that most of the so-called hearsay
source files contained few pieces of paper in them and little
follow-up.  The most profitable files to examine were those labeled
first-hand live-sightings or eyewitness accounts.  About 225 were
used in the cluster analysis.  These files contained lots of paper
and lots of follow-up.  Every one of the first-hand accounts posted
to the cluster map by the investigators had been determined to be
a fabrication or a mistaken identification.  A key part of the
investigation was to determine whether these judgments had been
fairly reached.

The guidelines for file review involved a simple test:  whether the
documents in the file contained sufficient information for the
investigators to reach the same conclusion that was reached by the
original analyst.  In other words, was the DIA analysis
legitimately replicable.  Thus, when a source passed one or more
polygraph tests but was labeled a fabricator, such as source 995 in
Laos, a close examination of the documents in the file was
undertaken to determine whether the file contained evidence that
supported a finding of fabrication or mistaken identification of
the same quality as that provided by the source.  Thus, an attempt
by the original analyst to refute the direct testimony of an
eyewitness by using generalized information, i.e. "We knew there
were Soviets in the area, he probably saw Soviets" was considered
insufficient reason to reject a report (Source 724).

Refutations based on general statements by inmates and others that
the did not hear of or see any U.S. POWs were accepted at face
value.  The fact the many inmates did not see POWs, while few did
under special conditions, was not considered a sufficient basis to
reject a report of direct, eyewitness testimony by one of the few. 
The investigators examined alleged discrepancies in various
accounts to determine whether they were fatal to the sighting
report as was often alleged.  The litmus test was always
replicability based on the contents of the files provided by the
Defense Department.

By clustering information based on military grid coordinates and
then organizing the information in each cluster chronologically,
the investigators were able to perform cross-referencing of
information.  In one closed session briefing on 2 July 1992, the
investigators briefed the Members that intelligence reports showed
that POWs were taken into Laos from Vietnam at two periods, most
prominently during the buildup of tensions that led to the Chinese
invasion of northern Vietnam and in its aftermath.  Defense
Department analysts present testified that "there was no evidence
that any POWs had ever been taken to Laos."  The investigators read
a list of 12 Defense Department sources that contradicted that
statement.  This disclosed a pattern of reporting from separate
sources that was otherwise apparent.  None of the 12 files
contained any evidence that they had ever been cross referenced to
each other.

Similarly, the investigators found 13 source files in which the
source claimed to have seen POWs in the Hanoi Ministry of National
Defense Complex, known as the Citadel, or to have worked on
underground facilities used to house POWs.  None of the files
showed indications that they had been matched or related to each

Key Events in the Investigation

Closed session briefings on the analytical approach used by the
investigators and on what the approach showed about the
intelligence were held on 9 April, on 12 May, and on 2 July
1992.  Defense Department analysts were present at each session. 
In preparation for the hearings on live-sightings, a final closed
session meeting was held on 29 July to enable the Defense
Department an opportunity to preview the hearing.

Other Analyses

The investigators pursued other lines of analysis as a compliment
to the cluster map and to check it.  One of these analyses,
contained in a Memorandum to the Chairman and the Vice Chairman,
was a cluster analysis of the source files that the Defense
Department termed "unresolved live-sightings."  At the time of the
analysis, about 110 eyewitness accounts remained unresolved.  The
plot of these files failed to show cluster patterns.  Statistical
analysis indicated that over half of these files were sightings of
persons who stayed behind by their own choice and were not in
captivity.  A substantial portion of those files were sighting
prior to Operation Homecoming.

Other lines of analysis included a statistical comparison of
wartime and post-war fabrication in the data.  During the war, the
Defense Department determined that only about 14 percent of the
reporting was fabricated.  Beginning in 1973, the rate jumped to
about 85 percent of the reporting, within a month.  This analysis
was performed on Louts 123 and graphed.

Source Analysis versus Content Analysis

Vice Chairman Bob Smith outlined the philosophy behind this aspect
of the Committee's investigation in his opening statement at the
August 4, 1992 hearing:

     Eight years ago, when I first came to Congress, I got
     involved in the POW/MIA issue. That involvement mostly
     consisted of meetings with DIA personnel and listening to
     briefings on sources. The meetings always dealt with the
     sources of information.

     Source analysis as it was presented usually meant taking
     interviews, talking with other refugees about a source,
     conducting various background checks, and sometimes
     giving polygraph tests.

     But the focus was clearly on the source more than what he
     said. The analysts always concluded that a source
     fabricated his story based on source analysis.

     My colleagues and I felt that something was missing. We
     never saw raw data, had no personal contact and saw no

     What I now realize is that there is a second way of
     analyzing information called content analysis. The two
     other approaches complement each other in establishing
     the accuracy of information.

Minority View

Everyone agrees that bad intelligence sources produce bad results.
Therefore, if all the sightings of U.S. POWs in captivity since
Operation Homecoming are erroneous, then these reports are
irrelevant. But this is not the case. Even the DIA accepts that a
number of the intelligence sources are credible, such as the source
known as the "mortician."

The minority could not accept at face value many of DIA's final
evaluations of sources. For example, the minority would not accept
DIA's resolution that a live sighting was not credible when the
source passed multiple polygraphs and every item of his account had
been verified. Some investigators contend that it is reasonable to
draw a conclusion that a source of this quality provided credible

More than any other document, the Brooks Memorandum of September
1985 led the minority to accept a broader, more thorough, and more
all-encompassing approach to the analysis of the intelligence. Use
of a cluster-map analysis enabled Committee investigators to:

.    assess together both the hearsay and the first-hand live-
     sighting reports;

.    mesh technical intelligence information with human source

.    discover patterns and relationships in the intelligence not
     evident in DIA files; and

.    establish a baseline to check the validity of the source
     evaluations done by DIA.

One of the clearest differences between the two approaches is seen
in the results. In every instance that DIA found the source of a
live-sighting report after 1973 to be credible, the DIA analysts
left the resolution of the sighting open-ended, or decided that the
source had to have been mistaken as to the identity of the persons
seen, regardless of what the source said. In the former case, no
additional analysis was evident. In the latter, none was needed.

The minority assessed that credible sources produced believable
reports and credible information. Additional analysis could lead to
additional results. By using cluster and other forms of pattern
analysis, the minority learned, for example:

.    the existence of logistic and administrative relationships
     among camps in northwestern Laos and among camps in
     northwestern Vietnam that are not reflected in DIA documents;

.    evidence of a possible second set of camps in Vietnam from
     which no prisoners returned; and

.    differences in the policies, the patterns, and the
     characteristics of POW incarceration in Vietnam and in Laos.

Most importantly, the cluster-map analysis created a context for
interpreting and understanding the limited amounts of signals
intelligence of POW movements is Laos and Vietnam, and for the
photography of alleged distress signals. In every instance, the
signal intercepts and the alleged distress signals coincided with
a cluster of live-sighting report posted to the map. This
integration had never been done before.

In conclusion, the minority believes that, based on this analysis,
the intelligence indicates a strong possibility that Americans
remained alive until 1989; however, we cannot prove it.

Majority View of the Committee

Ten senators concluded that while cluster analysis can possibly
assist in raising legitimate questions, without adequate sources
and fundamental report verification, the analysis is meaningless. 
Plotting ten or twenty flags representing individual reports in the
close proximity on a map means very little if the reports
themselves are not valid.  While it may raise questions depending
on the validity of the reports, it cannot in and of itself be taken
as evidence of someone being alive. 

In the view of the majority of senators, the plot presented by some
staff investigators is fundamentally flawed because the items
posted have not passed a validity test.  Any meaning a cluster
might purport to present is clouded when such plots include reports
that are known fabrications, possible fabrications, and in some
cases are characterized by a generalized reporting which in many
cases lacks precise geographic location or other factual

As DIA pointed out to the Committee, the map-plot presented by some
investigators included only 215 first-hand live-sighting reports,
70 percent of which the Department of Defense has judged and an
inter-agency review board has approved as being complete
fabrications.  In addition, DIA emphasized that the other plotted
reports, many of which have only limited analytic value because
they lack specifics on the time and/or place of sighting.

DIA View

DIA asserts that notwithstanding the limited value of plotting non-
valid or unverified reports, they have used cluster analysis as a
"tool."  During the hearings on August 4th, referred to above,
Major Jeannie Schiff (USAF) testified as follows:

     DIA has analyzed clusters since the mid-1980s. In fact,
     when a new source report is received at DIA it is
     standard procedure to look at all previous first-hand and
     hearsay reports in the same geographic area and to look
     at any report that contains similar information
     regardless of source or location.

     DIA briefed the results of cluster analysis to Members of
     Congress in 1987...

     After careful analysis, we did not find a single report
     or group of reports within any of the... areas identified
     by the Senate (Committee staff) which could confirm that
     a U.S. POW was held against his will after the war.

DIA asserts that the Brooks Memorandum is in error.  DIA maintains
that, contrary to Brooks' finding ('basic analytical techniques,
such as plotting all sightings on a map to look for patterns and
concentrations, have never been utilized"), their analysis invoke
a computer-generated plot which is more thorough than any hand
plotting by analysts.  DIA adds that Brooks was never responsible
for the day-to-day management of the POW office and even that
limited command lasted only a few weeks.

Analysis of Clusters

During public hearings on Aug. 4 and 5, 1992, the Committee
reviewed the DIA's overall handling of live-sighting reports and
discussed, in depth, "clusters" of reports, totalling 155, in four
particular areas: 1) the Hanoi Ministry of Defense area; 2) the Son
La region of northwestern Vietnam; 3) northeast Laos (Viengxay
area) and 4) the part of northwestern Laos known as the Oudomsai

Hanoi Ministry of Defense (Vietnam)

One cluster of 22 firsthand and 48 hearsay reports centers around
a secure area in downtown Hanoi that houses the top military and
intelligence offices of the Vietnamese Government. During
questioning, Senator Smith cited six unresolved reports, and one
previously resolved report, that mention, to one degree or another,
an underground detention facility in the area, including several
that refer to a prison beneath the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. The
reports allege that American POWs had been held during certain
periods in such a facility after the war.

In response, Mr. Robert DeStatte, a senior DIA analyst, pointed out
discrepancies among the reports with respect to the location of the
alleged detention facility and cited conversations with area
residents who denied seeing any U.S. prisoners after the time of
Operation Homecoming. He also expressed skepticism about the
existence of an underground prison because the high water table in
Hanoi would, in his judgment, make the construction of extensive
underground facilities impossible. 

Under questioning, DIA officials said that they had not asked the
Vietnamese for permission to inspect all of the buildings cited by
sources as containing a prison, nor had they examined aerial
photography for evidence of construction of a prison beneath the Ho
Chi Minh Memorial.

A delegation of Committee Members visited the area of the Defense
Ministry on November 16, 1992 and found two underground bomb
shelters, but no evidence that there is or has been an underground
detention facility at the location. Nonetheless, the statements by
DeStatte at the Committee's August hearing proved to be inaccurate.

During the Select Committee's final week of hearings in early
December, 1992, Vice-Chairman Bob Smith noted that:

     Our intelligence agencies have confirmed the existence
     of, and I quote, "a below-grade infrastructure far more
     elaborate than one would find at a mausoleum." We have
     also heard from the Russian Ambassador that there is a
     restricted underground area beneath the Ho Chi Minh
     mausoleum...there is a very large underground area
     beneath Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum and the Citadel that
     certainly would have been large enough and secure enough
     to detain any number of American POWs in the 1980's.

During the hearing on December 4, 1992, DeStatte responded:

     ...whether one can build an underground facility there or
     not, you'd have to check with qualified engineers. It
     would be my guess that if you're willing to devote the
     resources and the money, that you can build an
     underground facility anywhere.

     ...(but) if the stories of an underground prison were
     true, then we should be able to replicate those stories,
     to corroborate them by interviewing other persons who are
     familiar with the same area, the same events, the same
     time periods.

     ...our investigators have spoken with many persons who
     could have corroborated the stories if those stories were
     true. In the end, we're left with a large number of
     credible witnesses whose testimony has refuted the
     unsubstantiated stories of the few...

Mr. DeStatte also cited the statement Russian Ambassador to Vietnam
Rashid Camadolin to the press on Aug. 15, 1992 in which he stated
that there is a restricted underground area beneath the mausoleum
in which there is a cooling device and a triple generator for
protection against power outages. According to Mr. DeStatte, the
Russian Ambassador dismissed the possibility that US POWs were ever
held in the area.
During the same hearing, Select Committee Chairman John Kerry
mentioned that: 

     When we were on our trip (to Vietnam) last week, we were
     given access to classified information. Through both
     technical and classified sources, we have learned at
     least to the satisfaction of those on the trip, that in
     fact there is no underground "prison" or facility in that
     particular location.

Viengxay (Laos)

Vienxgay is located in a remote area of northeastern Laos and
served as wartime headquarters for the Laotion Communist forces,
also known as the Pathet Loa or LPF. During the war, LPF leaders
lived in caves in the area as a protection against American bombing
raids. There is also evidence that some U.S. POWs were held
prisoner in the caves during the war.

Committee investigators identified 35 post-war reports of Americans
in captivity in the Viengxay area, of which 13 are first-hand. Many
of the reports come from individuals who claim to have worked as
guards or as prison trustees in the area in which the Americans
were allegedly held captive. The reports were spaced throughout the
1970's and early 80's, with the most recent dating from 1986. The
reports generally cite a small number of American prisoners (no
more than a dozen), held separate from other prisoners, although
three reports from the 1980's cited more than 200 prisoners. 

According to the DIA, the LPF did capture some American prisoners
and detain them at Vienxgay during at least the early part of the
war. None of these prisoners returned at Operation Homecoming. In
May of 1973, the plane of civilian pilot Emmet Kay went down in
Laos. Mr. Kay was captured and sent to Hanoi but then returned to
Vienxgay where he was held captive in a cave until his release in
September, 1974.  Beginning in 1975, large numbers of Soviet
agricultural and medical advisers began operating in the area.
Sightings of the Russians and of Emmet Kay may, according to DIA,
account for some of the subsequent live-sighting reports. DIA has
interviewed  157 refugees who formerly resided in the region who
deny that any other U.S. POWs were held in the area after 1973. The
DIA dismissed as completely unrealistic the three reports of more
than 200 U.S. POWs being held captive in the mid-1980's.

Son La Area (Vietnam)

The Son La area is a large and relatively remote area of northern
Vietnam, bordered on the south by Laos and extending almost to
China. It includes a series of prisons and is about 100 kilometers
west of the Yen Bai prison, which is where Robert Garwood spent
most of his time. A number of the resolved sightings from the Son
La area have been correlated by DIA to Robert Garwood. Between 1976
and 1978, the North Vietnamese Army operated a series of detention
camps for former South Vietnamese military personnel (ARVN) in the

Committee investigators identified 19 reported sightings of
Americans in captivity in and around the Son La area. Of these
reports, 9 were first-hand and 10 hearsay. Thirteen of the
sightings were in the mid to late 1970's. Most involve brief,
apparently accidental, sightings of a group of alleged prisoners
held separate from the rest of the prison population. For example,
in separate reports in 1976, one U.S. person was reportedly seen
cutting bamboo, a group of 60-70 U.S. POWs were allegedly seen on
a soccer field, and six POWs were apparently seen working. In 1977,
there was a hearsay report that American prisoners were about to be
moved, a report that 24 foreigners were seen under guard and a
reported sighting of 40-50 Americans in a camp. In 1978 and 1979,
there were another four reports of sightings of relatively large
(30-50) groups of POWs in the area. Towards the end of 1979, China
invaded this part of Vietnam and the reported sightings of large
numbers of Americans stopped. Subsequent reports, all hearsay,
involve the alleged sighting only of individual or small numbers of

Mr. Sheetz of DIA testified that the U.S. Government had received
a total of 30 reports about the possible presence of U.S. POWs from
individuals who had been under detention in the Son La area during
the late 1970's, aside from the many reports correlated to Robert
Garwood. Of the 30 reports, 18 were thought to be fabrications and
12 had been correlated to other types of individuals--such as
Swedish development workers or Soviet advisers. 

Mr. Gary Sydow, Chief of the Analysis Branch of the DIA's POW/MIA
Office, testified that DIA does not believe there is any evidence
that American POWs were ever held in the ARVN detention camp system
in the Son La area. According to Mr. Sydow, "We've learned a lot
about this system. But to hunt for PW's, this is not a place I
would look." DIA officials also testified that they had interviewed
more than 3700 former inmates of the prison system and been told by
only a very small number about the possible presence of Americans
other than Robert Garwood. According to Mr. DeStatte:

     There was a tremendous flow of information there. None of
     these camps existed in isolation, and while...there was
     a small number of people who said that there was a number
     of PW's, of Americans other than Robert Garwood, I would
     point out that a tremendous number--a tremendously larger
     number of people were in that same system who were
     exposed to the same information flow. They say no.

The DIA officials did testify, however, that a 1979 reported
sighting of 40-50 Caucasians, while under guard, bathing in a
stream alongside a road in Son La province remains under active

Oudomsai (Laos)

The Oudamsai region is a very remote area of northern Laos in which
few, if any, American operations occurred during the war. Committee
staff investigators identified 30 reported sightings of American
POWs in the area following the end of Operation Homecoming. Of
these, six are first-hand, the rest hearsay. The reports generally
relate to the detention of small numbers of Americans in caves or
camps, separate from those holding Lao prisoners, in or near the
five prisons in the region.
Sources of the reports were usually Lao prisoners out on work
detail or individuals providing services to the prisons. The
reported sightings extend in time from 1973 until 1989. The reports
during the 1970's generally referred to less than 10 American
prisoners, three reports from 1986 to 1989 cited between 16 and 21

Mr. Warren Gray, Chief of the Current Operations Branch of the
DIA's POW/MIA Office, testified that there is no evidence that
Americans were held in the Oudomsai region or elsewhere in Laos
after Operation Homecoming. According to interviews with more than
1000 Lao refugees conducted by the DIA and other U.S. agencies,
there were no U.S. POWs in the Oudomsai region. The refugees did
say, however, that there were large numbers of Soviet advisers,
usually travelling with an armed escort because of the presence of
Lao resistance forces in the area. Several of the alleged sightings
of U.S. POWs were attributed by DIA to sightings of the Soviet

Asked to summarize the DIA's view of sightings in the Oudomsai
region, Mr. Gray said:

     There are several points that should be made with regard
     to Oudomsai, Luang Prabang, and Phong Saly, the three
     areas for which this cluster (of reports) was brought
     together. First of all...the Lao resistance has complete
     access to all three provinces. They were well-attuned to
     the fact that there are reward offers of millions of
     dollars if they bring out live POWs.

     They have been looking for live POWs on a daily basis.
     Early on, the Lao resistance turned in some hearsay
     reporting. They made up some of the reporting on their
     own and we said through their channels, knock it off. If
     you have valid information, we want it, otherwise do not
     use the POW issue for monetary gain . . . . because it's
     not going to be accepted.

     But the resistance has access to those areas. We have
     access to the resistance leaders. They have told us to a
     person that if they get POW information, we'll be the
     first to know. They've had no valid POW information from
     any of these three provinces.


The question of methodology with respect to evaluating live-
sighting reports was revisited on December 4, 1992, during the
Committee's final hearing, in the following exchange between Mr.
Robert Sheetz of DIA and Vice-Chairman Bob Smith: 

     Mr. Sheetz:...it's not enough just to take individual
     reports and throw them up on the map. You've got to look
     at them in the context of all that you know. This is
     another way of talking about doing all-source
     analysis...evaluating each report in terms of what you
     know about the area and how the report fits in.  

     Senator Smith: But, Bob, nobody is representing anything
     differently than that on the map...

     Obviously, a firsthand report is better than a hearsay
     report in terms of the source. But in terms of the
     plotting, if 10 different hearsay reports, all
     independent, plot in the same grid coordinates it ought
     to send a signal out (that) you ought to take another
     look at it...

     what is being misrepresented here is that somehow every
     one of these reports are valid. Nobody has said that. We
     just simply took the grid coordinates that were in your
     information and put them up there just to see where they
     came. And that is the way they clustered. Many of them
     will be bogus, as you have said.

     But the point is...if you missed something in the past
     because it was not done, then it is worth a second look.
     And I think we ought to be...working together to go
     through those ones.

Other Live-Sighting Reports

In addition to the examples mentioned above, there were other
reports which the Comittee focused on in Vietnam. An ethnic Chinese
refugee left Vietnam in 1979 and related a story which DIA deemed

While employed as a mortician in Hanoi, responsible for treating
the stored remains of American MIAs, the refugee stated that he saw
two unidentified Caucasians as late as 1979, whom he believed were
"progressive" Americans who remained after the Vietnam War under
the custody of the Vietnamese Government. The "mortician" has
passed a polygraph examination to this effect and was deposed by
the Committee during its investigation.

Another example in Vietnam on which the Committee focused were the
live-sighting reports by former Marine PFC Robert Garwood, who
remained in Vietnam until 1979. During a week-long deposition,
Garwood told the Committee that he had seen what he believed were
live American POWs between 1973 and 1978. Most notably, Garwood
stated that he had seen American POWs in a prison camp at Thach Ba
Lake in 1977 and in a box car at a railway crossing in 1976.
Although the DIA stated as recently as June 1992 that no such
prison ever existed at Thach Ba Lake, the Committee notes that the
presence of this prison was confirmed by the Vietnamese to the
Chairman and Vice Chairman in December 1992. Whether Americans ever
were held in this facility and were moved through a railway
crossing, as Garwood claims, remains under investigation.

Current Status of Live-Sighting Investigations

In April, November and December 1992, Members of the Select
Committee traveled to Vietnam and Laos for discussions with
officials in those countries on several subjects, including
cooperation in the investigation of live-sighting reports. 

In Laos, the Committee has found recent improvements in
cooperation, although investigations are hindered by the hazardous
geography and inclement weather that characterizes the Laotian

During meetings in Vietnam, the Select Committee repeatedly pressed
officials (1) to accelerate the pace of jointly run live sighting
investigations, particularly those identified as priorities by
American officials, with the hope that all unresolved priority
reports could be investigated by the end of the Committee's tenure;
and (2) to permit what have become known as "short notice live
sighting investigations."  A "short notice" investigation occurs
when US investigators present Vietnamese officials with the details
of a live sighting report and receive permission to conduct an
immediate on-site investigation.  The primary advantage of a "short
notice" investigation is that it reduces the risk that the
investigation will be compromised through the "coaching" of local
residents or by the removal or alteration of physical evidence. 

The degree of Vietnamese cooperation on live-sighting
investigations has improved considerably, in part as a result of
the Committee delegation visits. At the time of the Committee's
visit in November, eighteen "priority" first-hand live sighting
reports concerning Vietnam remained uninvestigated.   The schedule
then in place called for completion of the 18 investigations
sometime in the spring of 1993.  During meetings in Hanoi between
November 15-17, 1992, however, the Select Committee obtained a
promise from Vietnamese officials to accelerate the pace so that
investigation of the 18 remaining priority cases would be completed
by early December. 

In fact, the Committee delegation was able to participate
personally in the investigation of six of the eighteen priority
cases. Under the leadership of the DIA, and with the cooperation of
the Vietnamese, Committee Members and staff conducted on-site
inquiries into live-sighting reports involving:

.    the Citadel, a secure military compound in Hanoi analogous to
     the U.S. Pentagon (two reports emanating from the Citadel were

.    the X-4 Prison in Ho Chi Minh City, analogous to the U.S. FBI;
.    the Rach Gia Prison in Ha Tien Province; 

.    a mountaintop in Chau Doc Province; and 

.    the An Diem Prison in Da Nang.  

In each location, the team of Members, staff and DIA investigators
searched for corroboration of details of the relevant live sighting
report by surveying the physical layout and appearance of the area
and by interviewing local residents. All six live sighting reports
proved to be inconsistent with the information obtained during the
on-site investigations, and none turned up evidence that live
Americans remain in captivity in Vietnam. 

Since the conclusion of the Committee's visit, the pace of
investigations has continued and all of the priority investigations
in Vietnam have now been completed. Unfortunately, none of these
priority live sighting reports has been found to be valid.

The "short notice" live sighting investigations provide a useful
gauge of the level of the Government of Vietnam's cooperation on
the POW/MIA issue. These investigations often require a substantial
intrusion into government operations or into the privacy of
Vietnamese citizens.  Despite this, the Vietnamese have been
extremely cooperative recently in responding to US requests for
short notice investigations.  As of early December 1992, US
investigators had conducted 16 short notice live sighting
investigations in Vietnam.

Despite the heightened cooperation of the Vietnamese, and despite
the increased focus of US officials upon the investigation of live
sighting reports, the caseload for future investigatory action
remains. This was illustrated by a discussion involving Senator Tom
Daschle, Admiral Charles Larson, Commander CINCPAC, and Major
General George Christmas, Commander of CINCPAC Operations during
the Select Committee's hearing on December 4, 1992:

     Sen. Daschle:  We talked about trying to complete the
     [priority] live sighting investigations by ... the end of next
     week, December 10th.  Are we going to be able to maintain that
     schedule?  To what degree are you satisfied, if we can meet
     that schedule, that we [will] have exhausted our live sighting

     Admiral Larson: Senator, I don't think we'll ever exhaust the
     live sighting investigations.  They keep coming in.  We still
     have 99 unresolved cases, so they come in as we resolve them. 
     We've picked out the priority ones.  DIA has assessed those as
     priority, have given them to us, and we pursue those as fast
     as we can in the field.  And I think the last one is up by the
     Chinese border now, the folks are up there today working on
     that one.  

     Sen. Daschle:  We had about eight or nine, I think, when we
     left [Vietnam in November 1992], and you say now those
     priority cases are all --

     Admiral Larson: This is the last one.

     General Needham: Yes, sir.  ...[T]he last report I have is we
     were down to one, and that one was up on the Chinese border
     ... and they're up there right now, in fact, may have actually
     finished it.  But it's one that takes a couple of days to get
     up there and a couple of days to get back.  

     General Christmas: But as an example, we have 24 more cases
     that have just arrived in Bangkok.

     Sen. Daschle:  24 more live sighting cases?

     General Christmas: That's correct.  And we will begin -- eight
     of those are reinvestigations, but we will begin a program
     then tomove on with those 24.  So it's very dynamic. 

     Sen. Daschle:  Now are those live sightings that have just
     recently occurred, or are they old live sightings that are
     being turned over to you for the first time?

     Admiral Larson: Most of these are old live sightings that have
     been screened and presented to us for either investigation or
     re-investigation.  Most of the ones I screened were probably
     four or five -- some of them were probably four or five years
     old, but they're not all current that are happening right now.

In early January 1993, the caseload of live-sighting investigations
to be done totalled 40; JTF-FA teams returned to Southeast Asia to
undertake these and other investigations on Jan. 2, 1993.

Example : Pleiku, November 1992

Another live-sighting investigation was conducted by a committee
staff investigator and a member of Joint Task Force-Full Accounting
(JTF-FA) November 21-25, 1992, following the departure of the
committee delegation.  The investigation began in Ho Chi Minh City
and ended in Pleiku, Gia Lai-Kontum Province.

Acting on information provided by a Chinese-Vietnamese resident,
Mr. Luu, of Tacoma, Washington, the investigation team was composed
of Gary Flanagan of JTF-FA, Ho Xuan Dich, Director of the Vietnam
Office for Seeking Missing Persons, and Col. William E. LeGro,
Committee investigator.  

Mr. Luu had provided Col. LeGro with the name and address of a
Vietnamese resident of Ho Chi Minh City who had information about
"William George Morgan," allegedly an American POW living freely,
or being held, in the central highlands of Vietnam.  The team found
the source, Mr. Toan, at home in his coffee-house.  As it
developed, Mr. Toan had no personal knowledge about "Morgan", but
agreed to lead us to someone who did.  He also produced three
bundles of human remains (bones and skulls), which appeared to be
Mongoloid, rather than Caucasian.  They were later collected by the
Vietnamese for joint forensic examination.

Mr. Toan accompanied the team to Xuan Loc, a 90-minute drive east
of Ho Chi Minh City. Here they interviewed Mr. Bao who also had no
personal information about "Morgan," but offered to guide us to a
man who did.  Mr. Bao also offered three bundles of bones which
also appeared upon casual inspection to be Mongoloid.

The following morning, the team picked up Mr. Bao in Xuan Loc and
continued east and north on National Route 1, reaching Tuy Hoa by
dark.  The journey resumed the next dawn and by mid-morning the
team was passing through the village of Ha Tam, between An Khe and
Mang Yang on National Route 19.  Here Mr. Bao directed a halt in
front of a small, thatched shelter and introduced the team to Mr.
Anh, who told them that the source of information was Mr. Long in
Pleiku and that he would guide them to Mr. Long.

The meeting with Mr. Long is described in the live-sighting report

     At 1200 hours on 24 November, the team arrived in Pleiku
     town. At 1210 the team arrived at 83 Nguyen Viet Xuan
     Street, which is located on the south side, and uphill
     from, Route 19 on the way into the main section of Pleiku
     town. The team stayed close to Mr. Bao and Mr. Anh when
     they exited the vehicle and walked to the residence of
     Mr. Long. Mr. Bao knocked on the door, and a Vietnamese
     male answered the door. Another man then came to the
     door, and Mr. Anh said that it was Mr. Long. Mr. Long
     invited us in and we entered the building.

     The living area of the residence smelled strongly of
     alcohol and the man who identified himself as Mr. Ho Xuan
     Long appeared to have been drinking heavily. Mr. Long
     identified himself as a 40-year-old ethnic Vietnamese.
     After introducing the team, we informed Mr. Long that we
     had been following information leads about an American
     living in the Central Highlands in a remote region.
     During the introduction, team members noticed that Mr.
     Long's left arm was heavily bandaged. Subsequently,
     during the interview, Mr. Long occasionally appeared to
     be in severe pain. The team explained that Mr. Toan in Ho
     Chi Minh City had led us to Mr. Bao in Xuan Loc, and that
     Mr. Bao had led us to Mr. Anh in Ha Tam, and that Mr.
     Anh, in turn, had led us to Mr. Long's residence in
     Pleiku. The team then asked Mr. Long if he had any
     information on live Americans.

     Mr. Long expressed some initial surprise that a joint
     U.S./SRV team would be visiting him and then said that he
     had gone with "some others" to a very remote area where
     an American was living. Mr. Long said that 12 or 13 other
     men had gone to a border defense post with him. At this
     point, the team asked Mr. Long who the other men were and
     who did the men meet with at the border defense post. Mr.
     Long responded in vague terms and said that the group of
     men had gone to the border defense post "to the west" of
     Pleiku at a location about ten kilometers from the
     Cambodian border. Mr. Long said that it took the group
     two days to travel to the border defense post. Mr. Long
     then said that he himself had never seen an American
     alive in that region, but he knew that the American was
     alive. The team asked Mr. Long how he knew the American
     was alive, and Mr. Long responded that he just knew the
     American was alive because he had heard others talking
     about the American. The team asked Mr. Long to identify
     anyone who knew of the live American, and Mr. Long
     refused to answer. After Mr. Long refused to answer
     several questions from the team members, Mr. Long
     responded that he would not answer any more questions.
     The team asked Mr. Long to reconsider, and Mr. Long
     changed his story. Mr. Long said that he knew that the
     American was alive because he had gone to a Montagnard
     village where all of the villagers talk about the
     American. The team asked Mr. Long for details about the
     village and the villagers. Mr. Long refused to answer.

     At this point, Mr. Dich and Mr. Manh of the VNOSMP tried
     to impress upon Mr. Long the importance of his responding
     to questions from the joint team. Mr. Dich and Mr. Manh
     re-introduced the American members of the team, then re-
     introduced the Vietnamese members of the team. After re-
     explaining the purpose of the team's visit, Mr. Manh
     asked Mr. Long if he had ever seen the American living in
     the highlands. Mr. Manh also asked for details about the
     border defense post, its numerical designator, and who
     was in charge of the border defense post. Mr. Long
     refused to answer.

     Mr. Bao and Mr. Anh, who were present, but had remained
     silent up to this point, then asked for Mr. Long's
     assistance. Both Mr. Bao and Mr. Mr. Anh appealed to Mr.
     Long to find a way to lead the team to the location where
     the American was living. Mr. Bao and Mr. Anh also
     appealed to Mr. Long to do so as a humanitarian act and
     not for monetary gain. Mr. Long refused to respond to
     their requests. Instead, Mr. Long said that he was afraid
     to answer. The team informed Mr. Long that if he would
     describe precisely where the remote location was, the
     team would proceed there immediately, regardless of what
     type of transportation was required. Mr. Bao and Mr. Anh
     both asked Mr. Long to find a way to tell the team what
     he knew. Mr. Long said he was sorry but he would need
     time to think about it. Mr. Dich then asked Mr. Long if
     the border defense post in question was Border Defense
     Post 93. Mr. Dich also asked Mr. Long if the man in
     charge of the border defense post was Mr. Bien. Mr. Long
     said that he would not answer those questions. Mr. Dich
     them told Mr. Long that the team would leave him alone to
     think about the situation and would return in the evening
     to talk some more. Both Mr. Dich and Mr. Manh assured Mr.
     Long that he had nothing to fear so long as he told the
     truth. The team left Mr. Long's residence after notifying
     him that we would return at 1800 hours the same day.
The interview continued, with Mr. Long becoming increasingly
evasive and nervous.  Finally, Mr. Long departed from his assertion
that he had seen the American:

     Mr. Long, noticeably shaking, said the[n] he knew a man
     at a border defense post near the location where the
     American was kept hidden. Mr. Long repeated that he could
     only go to the location alone. Mr. Dich and Mr. Manh both
     encouraged Mr. Long to cooperate and tell the team what
     he knew. At this point, Mr. Long said that the only
     reason he only knew the story of the American living in
     the central highlands was because he had met a man named
     Huy Luu in Ho Chi Minh City at a coffee house operated by
     a young man named Toan. Mr. Long quickly changed the
     subject and said that he knew of approximately 20 sets of
     remains of U.S. servicemen. To substantiate this, Mr.
     Long went to a room at the rear of his residence and then
     returned with the photocopy of an identification card. .
     . .

     The team consulted field listings of unaccounted for U.S.
     personnel and informed Mr. Long that the identification
     data on the card did not correspond to any known
     Americans missing in Vietnam.

     The team then questioned Mr. Long about his knowledge of
     remains alleged to [be] the remains of U.S. servicemen.
     Mr. Long said that he knew of approximately 20 such
     remains. When asked where the remains were and who had
     custody of them, Mr. Long said that he only knew of the
     remains because the local people who had them in their
     custody had approached him and asked him to help them.
     Mr. Long said that each of the remains was available for
     a price of $5,000 (USD) in gold or that all 20 of the
     remains could be purchased for $100,000.

The team agreed that Mr. Long was evasive and probably had no
information on any living American in the highlands.  Mr. Dich
informed Mr. Long that the People's Committee would meet with him
later that evening to decide on what to do about Mr. Long's
dealings in false information about Americans.  This meeting took
place, but the American members of the team were not invited to

The following morning Mr. Flanagan and Col. LeGro attended a
meeting with the People's Committee and heard from Major Hien, the
commander of the border post in question.  Information presented at
this meeting appeared to show that the story of the American in the
highlands was a venerable rumor, probably founded in the Caucasian
resemblance of an old, blind tribesman who lived in a village
southwest of Pleiku.  It was quite apparent that Mr. Long was
attempting to make his living trafficking in POW information and
remains, but it was unclear whether he was a leading figure in this
enterprise or part-agent/part-victim.  Mr. Luu's role was also in
question, as were the involvements of Toan, Bao, and Anh.


As long as live-sighting reports remain under investigation, they
constitute a measure of potential evidence that US POWs may have
been left behind and survived in captivity, at least for a time.
It is also possible that one or more of DIA's past report
evaluations is incorrect. As rigorous as the current analytical
process appears to be, it remains dependent at times on deductions
that, although highly logical, are still less than 100% certain.
Examples of this are cases where DIA has correlated sightings to
Soviet advisers because advisers were present in an area or
discounted reports because multiple other refugees from a
particular area have reported seeing no U.S. POWs. The existence of
a small degree of uncertainty is inevitable in making such
judgments and a small degree of uncertainty is all that is -- or
should be -- required to ensure that the live-sighting followup
process continues to be taken very seriously and that evaluations
be done with enormous care.

Arriving at a firm judgment about the overall significance of live-
sighting reports is complicated by several factors. Many such
reports are obvious fabrications. Others are so vague as to make
meaningful follow-up impossible. Nailing down specific information
about incidents that may have occurred ten or fifteen or more years
ago is, at best, extremely difficult. And as mentioned above,
analytical judgments, even when professionally arrived at, often
retain an element of subjectivity. 

Another complicating factor in assessing live-sighting reports is
the frequent need for foreign country cooperation. In that sense,
the U.S. Government's official investigators are caught in what is
perhaps the ultimate "Catch-22". If an apparently credible report
should be received concerning the possible presence of Americans in
Vietnam or Laos, cooperation from the governments of those
countries may well be required to check the report out. But the
very process of asking permission jeopardizes the credibility of
the investigation. As a result, the DIA supplements its official
requests with other means of gathering information, but these other
methods may be relatively slow and uncertain. One routine but
increasingly available method of gaining information consists
simply of talking to average Vietnamese in their own cities and
villages. The presence of full time American investigators in Hanoi
and hopefully, in Laos and Cambodia, as well, should augment the
amount of information collected by this method.

The Committee notes that political changes particularly in
Cambodia, but also in Vietnam and Laos, have greatly expanded the
number of Caucasians living or traveling freely in southeast Asia.
This creates a likelihood that there will be a rising number of
well-intentioned, but inaccurate, reports concerning possible
American POWs. It is important that procedures be established so
that the limited resources of DIA investigators are not squandered
on reports that obviously do not pertain to possible U.S. POW/MIAs.

It is DIA's judgment that the live-sighting reports they have
received and evaluated do not constitute "evidence" that any U.S.
POWs remained in captivity in southeast Asia after the war,
although the possibility that this did occur cannot be ruled out.
There was considerable discussion by Committee Members during the
course of its investigation about DIA's use of the term "evidence"
in that statement. Some Members felt that the number and detail of
live-sighting reports clearly constituted "evidence" that Americans
were left behind, even if serious questions about the validity of
individual reports had been raised. Other Members agreed with DIA
that a large number of reports does not necessarily signify
anything if there are strong reasons to discount each of the
reports. No Committee Member would argue that existing reports
constitute hard proof that American POWs remained behind or are
still being held captive in southeast Asia. 

The Committee investigation also found that:

.    There is no evidence that officials or investigators from DIA
     have concealed or covered up information concerning the
     possible presence of live Americans in Southeast Asia.

.    The current DIA staff, especially those based in southeast
     Asia, deserve credit for an enormous and steadily increasing
     amount of work performed under very difficult and
     uncomfortable conditions.

.    In order to ensure objectivity, there must be a continued and
     conscious effort on the part of DIA leadership to maintain an
     attitude among analysts that presumes the possible survival of
     U.S. POWs in southeast Asia to the present day.

.    The DIA should routinely review its analytical methods for the
     purpose of ensuring the most rigorous possible, all-source,
     evaluation of live-sighting reports, including hearsay reports
     where feasible. 

.    Continued emphasis should be placed on establishing a strong,
     on the ground, live-sighting investigatory capability in Laos
     and Cambodia and on expanding that capability within Vietnam.

.    The highest priority should continue to be given to credible
     reports that live Americans are currently being held.

Pilot Distress Symbols

The purpose of this part of the investigation was to determine the
possibility that a number of symbols and markings, identified
through the use of overhead reconnaissance photography, might have
been attempts by American POWs to communicate their location to
U.S. intelligence collectors.  These possible distress symbols,
several of which match pilot distress symbols used during the war,
span a period from 1973 to 1988, and as late as June 1992.

The Committee also undertook an examination into actions taken by
the Government to investigate those symbols.  U.S. investigators
did not act on one provocative symbol, even after four U.S.
Senators travelled to a remote area of Laos to investigate it
themselves. It was not until the Committee scheduled a public
hearing on it six months later that U.S. investigators began their
work. In contrast, while it took the U.S. six months to request
permission to visit the site, the Government of Laos granted
permission in just two days.


As part of their overall training, U.S. Air Force pilots received
survival training.  The Air Force's Joint Services Survival,
Evasion, Resistance, and Escape Agency (JSSA) developed and
conducted much of the training program.  Some of the survival
training during the Vietnam War-era was conducted at Fairchild Air
Force Base.  Another part, focused specifically on jungle survival,
was conducted at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.  The
length of the courses varied.  Depending on the year in which the
training was conducted, the Fairchild phase could have been 12-20
days in length and the Clark phase might have been 3-5 days long. 
Although the program was conducted by the Air Force, some Army,
Navy and Marine Corps personnel also participated.  Many subjects
were taught during these programs, but training that focused on
ground to air signaling was of particular interest to the

Ground to air signals could consist of pyrotechnic signals, sea dye
marker, mirrors, or signals based on sticks, rocks or soil which
would be arranged in patterns clearly recognizable from the air. 
Pilots were taught to use shadows to enhance and add a three-
dimensional effect to the letters. 

Specific letters used for the ground symbols were determined by the
U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), the military regional command
responsible for the conduct of the war in Southeast Asia.  The
signals were changed periodically so that the secrecy of their
meaning could be maintained.  It appears that the practice of using
letters for ground-to-air signalling started in 1966 and the style
of the letters evolved throughout the war with the directive to add
appendages to the letters taking effect in October 1971.

The preferred means of signalling, of course, was by a survival
radio.  Voice communications over these radios relied upon special
authentication procedures.  Normally, this would be a four digit
number or "authenticator number."  Once a downed pilot established
communications on a survival radio, he would use the authenticator
number to verify his identity with the search or rescue aircraft. 
This method of authentication would make it more difficult for
enemy forces to mimic a downed pilot and lure unsuspecting allied
aircraft into a trap.  Ground-to-air signalling was an essential
part of pilot survival training.

Military Escape and Evasion Program

During the war years, the Services gave many pilots who flew in
Southeast Asia individual authenticator numbers to identify
themselves by radio or other means in the event of their shootdown
or capture.  Combat squadrons also gave their flyers primary and
back-up Escape and Evasion (E&E) signals to use to identify their
location, as either an evader or a POW.  Some Army Special Forces
troops were also given E&E distress signals for their use.  These
distress signals were classified and changes periodically.  Pilot
authenticator numbers were also classified.  During the years of
the Southeast Asian conflict, both national level and Service
intelligence organizations were required to be alert for any Escape
and Evasion (E&E) symbols marked on the ground, as part of the
overall effort to recover downed pilots or identify possible
detention sites for POWs.  A number of Search and Rescue operations
were mounted during the war, based on the detection of E&E symbols.

Investigation Procedures

The Committee held Hearings on this issue on October 15, followed
on the 16th by a closed hearing on a 1981 covert operation, which
was triggered largely by a possible distress signal.  A number of
depositions and interviews of DIA, CIA and JSSA personnel, related
to the Symbols investigation were also completed.  The
investigation focused on identifying all possible symbols detected
by overhead photography, all contemporaneous written documentation
and analysis pertaining to such symbols, and on what efforts were
taken by DIA to investigate the origin of the symbols.  Most
documentation has been declassified and line drawings of the
possible symbols were prepared by CIA and DIA.

Because a photograph of a possible pilot E&E symbol equates to a
form of physical evidence, this investigation examined
possibilities, to which a tangible comparison could be made to
known facts. As a hypothetical example, would a four digit number
seen on a photographic print from the mid-1980's, and which matches
a classified authenticator number of a pilot listed as MIA,
constitute evidence of a living POW?  This was a critical question
to be addressed by this investigation.  

If a POW still were being held captive in Southeast Asia after
Operation Homecoming, he would, inter alia, rely upon his survival
training to attempt to communicate with potential rescuers.  This
assumption led investigators to an examination of "overhead
imagery" -- photographic copies of images obtained by various
collection methods as viewed from an aerial perspective-- to
determine if symbols were being written on the ground in Southeast
Asia after Operation Homecoming.  Not only was the existence of the
symbols important to the Committee, the Committee was also
interested in follow-up actions taken by the Government to any
symbols that had been detected.

It rapidly became quite clear that part of the answer to the
existence of symbols lay in "imagery interpretation" or "imagery
analysis."  Because of the technical characteristics of the form of
collection, the resolution -- or precision of detail -- of the
objects shown on an image can lead different viewers to different
interpretations of what is depicted.  The interpretations are based
partly on scientific analysis -- the measurement of the size of an
object, for example -- and partly on subjective reasoning.  All-
source analysis helps to put an object's origins into context. 

In several aerial photographs of Southeast Asia, Committee
investigators detected the appearance of suspicious markings on the
ground that could have been made by people wishing to signal their
presence to an airborne viewer.  The significance of this to the
POW issue was immediately obvious.  The Committee asked JSSA to
determine if the markings corresponded to symbols provided to
pilots during the war. During the course of this evaluation, JSSA
identified what appeared to be additional symbols and numbers, some
of which corresponded to authenticator numbers, escape and evasion
symbols, western-style surnames, or numbers relevant to years of
the Vietnam War.

The Committee was faced with two principal arguments put forward by
DIA.  First, while DIA concludes that two symbols clearly existed
on the ground, DIA's analysis concluded that the remaining markings
were unintentional phenomena of man, nature or the photo process. 
For example, DIA resolved that some of the possible symbols were
the results of a combination of thickened rice paddy dike walls,
shadows, burn marks in field, tree, logs, and rice residue from
stacking of harvested rice.  JSSA testified that the use of
thickened rice paddy walls, burn marks, logs, trees, man-made-
objects such as stone walls and leaving rice residue in the ground
as a means to leave a signal, are consistent with SERE training. On
the two symbols which DIA concluded were intentional symbols, the
1973 "TH" photo and the 1988 "USA - possible K," DIA cannot explain
their origin.

It was thus necessary for the Committee to determine if such
symbols would be consistent with standard methods and training
taught to pilots during the war.  In this regard, the Committee has
received written assessments from the proponent agency for training
the creation of pilot distress signals, the Joint Services SERE
Agency (JSSA), as well as testimony in depositions and hearings,
whether these symbols appear to be consistent with SERE training. 

JSSA was not asked to perform photo interpretation, only to assess
whether the possible symbols seen on photos match known distress
symbols used during the war and judge if they appeared to conform
to methods of manufacture taught to pilot during survival training.

As the Committee learned during the course of its investigation,
these judgements became very problematic.  The fundamental problem
was to determine if the symbols actually existed as markings on the
ground.  Nevertheless, JSSA personnel identified what appeared to
be other symbols on the print, including a number of 4-digit
authenticator numbers at sites of possible symbols detected by DIA.

They correlated 19 of those authenticator numbers with numbers
belonging to Americans still missing in Southeast Asia.  They also
identified what appeared to be a name scratched in a field near a
prison compound, in a 1992 photo.  The significance of this
possible symbol is reflected in testimony received during the
Committee's hearing on symbols:

     Senator Grassley: Mr. Dussault, did you also think that
     you saw faintly scratched in the field?

     Mr. Dussault: Yes, sir.

     Senator Grassley: Without telling us the name, did you
     try to match it with the names on the missing list?

     Mr. Dussault: About three days later, yes, sir.  At first
     I didn't realize it was a name.

     Senator Grassley: Did it match any names?

     Mr. Dussault: To my recollection, it did.

     Senator Grassley: Did you see, 72 TA 88?

     Mr. Dussault: Yes, sir.  To my recollection that's what
     I saw.

     Senator Grassley: How did you interpret that?

     Mr. Dussault: At first, my first interpretation of that
     is -- 72 was the year the guy went down.  TA was his E&E
     code letters.  And 88 could have been the year he arrived
     there or the year he left.  And that was my
     interpretation.  I don't know if that's even close. 
     That's just speculation.

     . . . . Senator Grassley: When you saw 72 TA 88, did it
     match a person that was missing?

     Mr. Dussault: Sir, again, we are talking a year, two
     letters, TA -- and those are E&E code letters that
     applied during 1972.

     Senator Grassley: when you found the name, though, did it
     match when that person went down?

     Mr. Dussault: Yes, sir.

Intelligence Community Assessment

In testimony on October 15, 1992, the Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (ASD
C3I) provided the results of DIA's assessment.  During his
testimony, he emphasized several points which helped to clarify the
importance of experience in understanding overhead imagery.

He noted that the photograph used for the original analysis was a
poor medium from which to draw conclusions.  Imagery analysts do
not use photographs.  Instead they analyze the medium used by the
imagery collector.  These media are either film or digital
representations.  When other media -- such as photographs -- are
derived from the original form and used for analysis, new
information is entered into the image because a photograph
represents an "averaging" of the information contained in the
original medium.  This could provide a potentially false view of
what was originally collected by the aerial platform.

The ASD C3I also noted that imagery analysts use several important
tools to assist their analysis: high technology high resolution
work stations, laser light, or powerful optics.  Since some of this
technology is classified, he mentioned that during the Committee's
open hearing, line drawings would be used to approximate the images
that DIA analyzed.  In a classified session, however, Committee
Members had the opportunity to view the original imagery.  With
this background, the ASD C3I testified to DIA's assessment of the
suspicious markings found on the photographs.

According to the ASD C3I, two sets of symbols are clearly man-made.

The first is the symbol, 1973 TH, taken on July 10, 1973, on the
Plain of Jars in Laos.  Some interpreters believe that the "TH"
could be a "TA" and the 1973 could be "1573."  DIA attempted to
correlate the four different interpretations (1973 TH, 1973 TA,
1573 TH, 1573 TA) to classic distress symbols, escape and evasion
symbols, or personal authenticator numbers.  Although there was no
exact correlation, the ASD C3I offered several alternatives as
possible explanations for the ground symbols.  These included:
markings made by the crew of a CIA-operated aircraft downed eight
kilometers from the site on May 7, 1973; symbols made by Thai
personnel captured in the area by Pathet Lao forces; markings made
by members of the crew of an U.S. AC-130 gunship downed 300 miles
away in southern Laos in December 1972.  DIA believes that none of
the alternatives are definitive and has concluded that "the origin
and meaning of this symbol is unexplained and probably will remain

According to DIA, the second obviously man-made symbol is a USA and
potential K image taken on January 22, 1988 in a rice paddy in
northern Laos near Sam Neua.  The ASD C3I testified that CIA
discovered the symbols on the image in December 1988 and
immediately brought them to DIA's attention.  By then, the symbols
were no longer visible on the ground, but, according to the ASD
C3I, "investigative steps were promptly taken."  In the period
since the testimony, DIA has furnished information to the Committee
which indicates that in November 1992, a joint DoD investigation
team has discovered a reasonable explanation for the symbols that
existed in January 1988.

The investigation team traveled to the rice paddy in November 1992
where the symbols had been seen four years previously. Permission
was granted two days after requesting it from the Government of
Laos; it was the DIA that "sat on" the investigation for four
years.  They interviewed the owner of the field who revealed that
his son had "made the USA symbol by copying it from an envelope
because he liked the shape of the letters."  The envelope had
contained correspondence to the owner sent by a family relative
living in Colorado in the United States.  The owner explained that
the 1988 envelope no longer existed, but he produced two recent
letters from his relatives in Colorado.  The investigators also
talked to the son who confirmed his father's explanation and noted
that in addition to the USA symbol, he also had made a stick figure
of an airplane and "a symbol he called a dragon head."  The son
said that he made the symbols by forming arm loads of rice straw
into shapes of the letters or symbols and setting them on fire. 
The investigation team accepted the explanation and noted that
local Lao officials seemed surprised by the revelations of the two

According to the ASD C3I, DIA discounted all of the other symbols. 
Explanations of the various suspicious markings varied
considerably.  Some were discounted because all-source analysts
believed that there was no evidence that American prisoners were
being held in the area at the time the symbol was made.  Other
markings were attributed to: shadows; trees; combinations of
shadows, bushes and trees; natural scarring of the ground;
limestone outcroppings and logs.  In his testimony, the ASD C3I
emphasized that JSSA personnel are trainers and are not responsible
for and have little experience in accounting for MIA's.  Moreover,
they are not imagery interpreters, do not have imagery
interpretation equipment, and do not have access to intelligence
information that would enable them to conduct all-source analysis. 
While well-intentioned, their original identifications lacked the
experience and training essential to making such judgments.

JSSA Findings

JSSA, formerly the Air Force Intelligence Support Agency, has been
the DoD executive agent for POW code of conduct, survival, evasion,
resistance and escape training.  In 1991, Secretary Cheney
designated JSSA the "executive agent for DoD U.S. POW/MIA matters
and is responsible for developing, in coordination with the
services and DoD agencies" a new DoD directive on managing the
services escape, resistance functions and related code-of-conduct
issues.  It is JSSA that devises pilot distress symbols and trains
how to employ them. 

JSSA, as documented in written evaluations, deposition and
testimony before the Committee, indicated that the 1973 "TH," the
1975 roof-top markings, the 1981 possible 52K," the 1987 possible
"arrow P', the 1988 "USA possible K," the possible 1988 markings at
Mouang Tan, and the possible name and associated numbers at Dong
Mang in 1992 are consistent with standard SERE training, and
expected actions that could be taken by a POW in captivity, or
having escaped detention.  They did not address whether the symbols
are shadows, photographic anomalies or unintentional markings, only
that they appear consistent with known symbols and methods.

In regard to those markings which DIA assessed to be thickened rice
paddy walls, burn marks or residue from rice stacks, JSSA had
indicated that any of these would be reasonable methods of
clandestinely manufactured symbols and are consistent with SERE
practices.  Even the clever use of shadows can be used to cast
symbols, during certain times of the day.  The potential use of
natural geographic features to produce symbols, or even portions of
symbols, is in fact a method JSSA uses to train pilots under the
most restricted types of conditions.

Although downed pilots ideally would be able to construct signals
large enough to be seen from any passing aircraft or satellite, it
is the individual's security situation on the ground that dictates
how blatant or discreet he must be in the signal's construction. 
Whether a detainee, under close or continuous observation, or an
evader hiding in an area of high enemy activity, either would
probably have to muster all his ingenuity to construct a symbol. 
Accepting the premise that intentional symbols may be scarcely
visible or a clever mixture of natural and manmade objects has
contributed to the extremely difficult task of confirming the
presence of several alleged symbols.

Conversely, one reasonable criticism of the "USA" symbol, is the
question of how a POW could have made such a blatant symbol while
under detention.  The "USA" is clear and unmistakable, while the
possible "K" nearby is faint.  Of course, assuming the symbols to
be legitimate and not a hoax, the "USA K" would not necessarily
have to be made by a POW, who was at that time under detention.  In
theory, it could have been made by an escapee or the boy who
allegedly made the USA because he liked the shape of the letters. 
However, in its June 29, 1992 written analysis of the "USA" symbol,
JSSA outlined a possible scenario in which the symbol could have
been made by a POW under detention:

     If an American crew member were living in this area and
     part of a labor force working these {redacted} and was
     part of the {redacted} where he definitely could have
     made a "K" in the marshalling area by repeatedly walking
     the same path and ensuring he stacked {redacted} where he
     needed them to create a "K."  If the crew member happened
     to become frustrated after receiving no response to his
     "K" signal, it is reasonable to expect him to make
     progressively more blatant signals, including a "USA."

JSSA goes on to state that:

     "While some may consider it unwise to use blatant
     signals, history has shown that sometimes such signals
     are the only ones that get the appropriate attention."
DIA determined that with the exception of the "USA" and the 1973
"TH" that all other possible symbols were the result of
unintentional acts of man, nature, or photographic anomalies.  This
gap between what appears on photographic prints as consistent with
known SERE training and what disappears on the light table, or
appears as shadows or vegetation, is why an independent evaluation
was required by the Committee.

Intelligence Community Search for Evader Symbols Since 1973

This is the first Congressional investigation to inquire into this
aspect of the POW issue.  No other Congressional investigative
committee or body has conducted a general investigation into the
possibility that markings observed on the ground may be evidence of
live POWs in Southeast Asia.

The Committee was rather surprised to find that neither DIA or CIA
imagery analysts were familiar with Vietnam pilot distress symbols,
or had a requirement to look for possible symbols, prior to the
Committee's inquiry.  This was confirmed under oath by imagery
analysts from both agencies.  Both agencies have since been briefed
on the symbols program by JSSA, and now possess this, but there was
no evidence to indicate the intelligence community was attuned to
watch for possible signals in Southeast Asia after Operation

In the deposition of Warren Gray, an all-source analyst at DIA, was
the statement that DIA imagery analysts have always looked for
evader signals.   This statement, is inconsistent, however, with
interviews and depositions of DIA and CIA imagery analysts.

Chuck Knapper, DIA imagery analyst, stated he was unfamiliar with
distress symbols before committee investigators asked him about
symbols in an interview, in April of 1992.   Mr. Knapper is
DIA's principal imagery analyst (one of two) dedicated to the DIA's
POW imagery task.  

He also stated under oath, that although Committee investigators
suggested he contact JSSA to become educated in the distress symbol
program, he did not arrange for such a briefing until June. 
During his deposition he was asked:

     "So for the first six to seven months that you were
     working POW imagery analysis you were not familiar with
     evader symbols?" 

     Knapper answered, "That's correct."
     In response to the question whether he had been looking
     for evader symbols in the photography before he met with
     JSSA he replied, " I was not."  

     When asked if his predecessor had ever given him the
     indication that evader symbols were something DIA was
     looking for in prior years, Knapper indicated that he had

The Committee found a similar lack of knowledge on pilot distress
symbols at CIA, both in interviews and depositions.  In a meeting
with members of CIA's Office of Imagery Analysis (OIA), analysts
admitted they were unfamiliar with distress symbols and had no
records or tables of symbols used during the war.  Unlike DIA, the
analysts at CIA admitted they should have been aware of the
program, and expressed sincere interest in receiving as much
information as possible.  Acting on the suggestion by the
Committee, CIA immediately arranged a briefing by JSSA and
distributed tables of Vietnam ear evader symbols to their analysts.

In a subsequent deposition, Roger Eggert, a CIA imagery analyst,
confirmed what had been learned in interviews regarding his
agency's lack of knowledge about this program.  He was asked:

     "Were pilot distress symbols something that you had ever
     studied before spring of this year?"   

     His answer: "No."

     "Was it anything - were pilot distress symbols anything
     that you ever looked for in any of your imagery analysis
     before spring of this year?"  

     His answer:  "No." 

This lack of knowledge about pilot distress symbols is but another
example of bureaucratic jealousies or incompetent coordination in
critically important analyses.

Contrary to the suggestion of some Committee investigators that
"there had not been a purposeful effort to search for distress
symbols," some Senators agreed that there has indeed been such an
effort. In fact, the two alleged E&E signals given most prominence
by the Committee were discovered by U.S. Government imagery
analysts. The Committee believes that a recommendation to review
old photography, starting from 1973, would divert substantial
effort from current operations, would duplicate efforts that have
been in place for years, and would cause the expenditure of large
amounts of manpower and money with no expectation of success.

Some Members also agreed that JSSA has no imagery analysts
available, has no intelligence collection or analysis capability,
and has no background in current intelligence operations or
analysis relative to the POW/MIA issue. JSSA was not consulted
because it was not in a position to offer assistance or

The Report states that JSSA concluded that the four symbols in
question were consistent with the SERE methods and actions expected
of downed pilots; some Members agreed that this statement is
misleading to the point it reflects adversely on JSSA. The symbols
in question are consistent with expected actions only because they
are symbols, they assert. These "symbols" do not relate to any
evader signal in use during the Vietnam War.

Another indicator that DIA has done little to address the
possibility of distress symbols appearing on photography is its
inability to account for the Army's, Navy's or Marine Corps' pilot
authenticator numbers.  JSSA still preserves those for the Air
Force.  As recorded in the hearing of October 15, DIA does not know
what happened to the numbers.  

This is a significant failure for several reasons.  First, it
supports the theory that DIA has never taken the possibility of
symbols seriously.  Mr. Andrews' contention, in the hearing of
October 15, that authenticator numbers were not meant to be laid
out on the ground is misleading.  Authenticator numbers were
intended to be used as a means for pilots to identify themselves,
primarily over their survival radio, immediately after shoot-down.
This was a safeguard against deceptive enemy radio broadcasts,
attempting to lure rescue helicopters into an ambush.

In reality, authenticator numbers were used through a number of
different media during the war, including ground signals.  The
"1973, 1573 or 1933 TH" symbol is a probable example of an
authenticator being used as a signal, in conjunction with that
individual's primary and backup evader symbols.

In theory, therefore, if a POW still living in captivity, were to
attempt to communicate by ground signal, smuggling out a note, or
by whatever means possible, and he used his personal authenticator
number to confirm his identity, the U.S. Government would be unable
to provide such confirmation, if his number happened to be among
those numbers DIA cannot locate.     

DIA Investigation of Possible Symbols

DIA attempted to investigate the 1973 "TH" and 1988 "USA" and, in
fact, still consider both as open investigations.  DIA became aware
of the 1973 photograph in 1976 and the "USA" symbol nearly one year
after it was taken.  The delay in receiving these photos for
evaluation must be attributed to DIA inaction and a passive
approach to indications of the possibility of live Americans.

The area of the USA site had not been visited before the Committee
delegation landed in that valley in April 1992, nearly four years
later.  According to the testimony of DIA's POW Operations Chief,
no other investigation or site visit was undertaken for the other
symbols prior to 1992.   The possible "arrow and P" symbols
detected on 1987 imagery near Ban Nampo, Laos were not discovered
until a 1992 review of old imagery, responding to a Committee
request.   This site is currently under DIA investigation.

DIA Investigation of the "1973 TH" Symbol. A series of low-level
photographs clearly showing a set of four digit numbers, followed
by the probable letters "TH" or "TA" was first imaged on May 20,
1973, in north central Laos.  The site was apparently imaged again,
with the numbers and letters still visible, as late as 10 July
1973.  DIA did not receive the film, taken by a low-level
reconnaissance platform, until 1976.  JSSA first received the
photograph for review in the mid-1980s. 

Some have referred to the photograph as the "Thomas Hart" symbol,
because of the "TH" letters stomped in the tall elephant grass. 
Both DIA and JSSA rule out the possibility that Captain Hart could
have traveled some 300 miles from the crash site of his AC-130
aircraft to the location of the "TH" symbol.  DIA believes that the
symbol was possibly made by one of Emmet Kay's  Hmong crew members
who went down with Kay's civilian aircraft on 7 May 1973, some 8
kilometers away.  Because Emmet Kay has confirmed he did not make
the symbol, DIA has made several attempts to locate Kay's former
crew members, but has been unable to substantiate that any one of
them made the symbol.

JSSA contends that it is unlikely the symbol, a possible
authenticator number followed by a possible primary and back-up
distress symbol, was manufactured by Emmet Kay or any of his crew. 
First, he and his crew members were captured in a relatively short
period of time, and it would have been difficult to travel 8
Kilometers to the site of the symbol.  Second, non-U.S. employees
were not permitted access to classified authenticator numbers and
distress symbols.  And most importantly, JSSA notes that all were
captured within three hours, yet someone had to maintain the "TH"
symbol by continuously keeping the elephant grass stomped down,
until at least 10 July when it was still clearly visible, nearly
two months later.   

JSSA also notes that the 20 May 1973 photograph, which had the best
resolution among the photos, seems to reveal the number to more
probably be a "1933."  JSSA stated in their 15 October testimony
that they would compare this number with these authenticator
numbers still available, to determine if a specific name could be
matched.  DIA's investigation of this symbol remains open, although
determining the fate of its maker after so many years is remote.  
DIA Investigation of the "USA" and Possible "K" Symbols. In
December of 1988, CIA discovered what clearly appeared to be a
large "USA" etched into a rice paddy near the northern Lao village
of Sam Neua.  It was discovered in a routine search not related to
the POW issue, nearly a year after the photograph was taken.  It
was referred immediately to DIA for evaluation.

DIA imagery analysts determined that the "USA" was man-made and
made intentionally to be seen from the air.  It measured 37.5 feet
by 13.5 feet.  Beneath the "USA" some scarring was noted that "may
be interpreted as the letter "K" or the numbers "31" or "34,"
according to a 23 December 1988 DIA imagery analysis.  Lack of
recent coverage prior to the January 1988 photograph prevented DIA
from determining how long the symbol may have been present. 

The Committee investigation found no evidence that DIA originally
considered the possibility that the possible "K," beneath the USA,
might be a pilot distress symbol.  Though the "USA" does not
conform to any recognized evader symbols used during the war, "K"
was in fact a legitimate symbol.  

The appearance of a possible appendage on the "K" seen near Sam
Neua, which conforms to a classified symbol used during the war,
should have triggered a far more aggressive and timely response to
investigate the symbol's origins.  In fact, however, not one
document in DIA's files dating from 1988 and 1989, mentioned the
possibility that the "K" could have been a pilot distress symbol. 

When shown the photograph, for the first time in 1992 by Committee
investigators, members of JSSA were previously unaware of the
photo's existence and moved to the conclusion that the "K" could
possibly be a valid distress signal.  Mr. Erickson and Mr. Dussault
of JSSA restated this opinion in testimony during the hearing of
October 15:      

     Chairman Kerry: Now, with respect to the K up there, it
     has been referred to occasionally as a walking K. Without
     getting into great details about walking, does that
     appear to be a walking K?

     Mr. Erickson, JSSA: To me, it does.

     Chairman Kerry: It does?

     Mr. Erickson: Yes, it does.

     Chairman Kerry: And it has the walking appearance,
     whatever        that extra -- I don't want to get into
     any classified area.        Do you believe it's
     distinctly a K?

     Mr. Dussault, JSSA:  It to me looks like a K, and that's
     how I think we ought to consider it. . . . . . ..

     Mr. Dussault went on explain why the "USA," though not  
     conforming to known distress signals, should not be     

     Mr. Dussault: Sir, in our training we try to bring out
     the bottom line, and that is communicate any way you can
     who you are and that you're there.  And if the individual
     has tried a particular method and it hasn't worked, try
     something else. And in this case, in my mind, it's a
     possibility that the individual may have tried over the
     last 15 years various signals. None of those got any
     attention, so he's going to go with a blatant USA.

     Chairman Kerry:  Fair enough.  Mr. Secretary (Andrews),
     do you have any comment on any of this? 

     Mr. Andrews: No,I don't have a disagreement with Mr.

     Chairman Kerry: So, you people would accept what they
     have said as the possibilities and, in fact, you are
     treating it that way.  Is that correct?

     Mr. Andrews: Absolutely.  We don't rule out that it was
     made by someone deliberately trying to make a K. 

The Committee was unable to resolve its concern over DIA's failure
to bring JSSA in to evaluate the "USA" photo, at the earliest stage
of DIA's investigation.  When DIA was asked in writing to explain
why JSSA had not been shown the "USA and possible K" in 1988, DIA
responded in a 23 July 1992 memorandum, signed by Mr. Robert
Sheetz, DIA, that:
     It is the judgement of DIA that the possible "K" evader
     symbol is most likely not an evader symbol, but is merely
     the spoil created when the USA letters were constructed
     by scraping away harvested rice stubble to expose the
     bare earth. . . . Having judged that the supposed letter
     K was most likely not an evader symbol and lacking other
     confirmation that U.S. POWs could be held in the area,
     DIA did not involve JSSA.   

This explanation failed to allay Committee concern, when DIA
imagery analyst, Mr. Chuck Knapper, testified in a deposition that
the conclusion that the "K" was created by dumping rice spoil, was
new analysis from his own evaluation completed in 1992.  His
analysis thus differed from original DIA analysis in 1988, which
referred to the possible "K" as ground scarring, not spoil.  This
raises the obvious question of how DIA could dismiss the possible
"K" as an evader symbol in 1988 because it was merely spoil, as Mr.
Sheetz described it, when DIA did not conclude it was spoil until
1992.  Therefore, the question as to why JSSA was not shown the
photo in 1988, has not been answered satisfactorily.     

Through much of the Committee's investigation of the USA symbol,
DIA implied that the "USA" symbol was possibly made at the
direction of a POW activist operating from Bangkok.  DIA admits
this has not been substantiated by any evidence, but offers one
plausible explanation.  As previously mentioned, in late November
1992, however, a U.S. defense team again visited the site of the
USA symbol.  On that visit they talked to a farmer and his son who
stated he made the USA symbol in the rice paddy, based on postal
marking on an envelope mailed from relatives in the U.S. It should
be noted that the son said he made the symbols by burning piles of
rice stalks, versus either dumping spoil or digging. 

The Committee has asked DIA what follow-up actions would be taken
to confirm the validity of the farmer's, and his son's story, and
if they considered the USA case closed.   In a letter dated
December 17, 1992, forwarded by CDO, DIA responded that:

     None of the previous actions underway to investigate the
     area of the symbol have been halted; as a matter of fact,
     classified, sensitive collection actions remain active
     and will be expanded as a means by which to check into
     the background and credibility of the rice farmer and his
     sons, and may well be expanded to cover all Lao officials
     introduced to the DoD team that investigated the symbol.
     . . . . . No one ever said the symbol was fraudulent or
     that the case is closed.  

Changing DIA Analysis of the Possible Symbols. The Committee found
it interesting that current DIA analysis often contradicts earlier
DIA or CIA analyses, particularly in cases when previous analysis
lends credence to the validity of a symbol's authenticity.  DIA
attributes this to "reevaluations." There are no cases where DIA
changed its analysis in the opposite direction.  There are two
principal examples of this.

On the 1975 Dong Mang roof-markings, where a possible "K" was
spelled out in morse-code, DIA dismissed the possibility that this
facility would hold Americans by calling it a reeducation facility,
that held primarily ARVN prisoners in the late seventies.   Their
determination was based on refugee reporting.  DIA supported their
contention that the facility would not hold sensitive American
prisoners by showing the Committee a photograph of the facility
with its front gate open.  

CIA, however, noted in 1976 that the facility was "unique" in the
way it was constructed: 

     Walls within the compound physically and visually
     segregated the prisoners. . . . It is secluded in a
     relatively remote area and has an access control point on
     the road leading to the camp. . . . The visual
     segregation of the prisoners indicates this was not a
     forced labor camp.

CIA went on to note that the "only other known prison that used
internally walled compounds to segregate prisoners was the former
POW compound at Dan Hoi." 

In the case of the "52" seen inside a prison garden at a camp in
Laos in 1980, DIA states in 1992 that the "52" probably did not
exist because of "variations in the size and structure of the
possible numbers from observation to observation."   This,
however, directly contradicts DIA's own analysis from 1980/81,
which states in a February 23, 1981, compilation of imagery read-
outs over a number of days, that "the number "52" is still visible
with no change. . . .this lack of change indicates that the
numerals may have been dug into the earth." 

CIA analysis at the time is summarized in an extract from a Jan. 6,
1981 "Spot report":

     Analysis of further imagery of 30 December 1980 located
     what appears to be the number "52," possibly followed 
     agricultural plot inside the outer perimeter of the above
     facility.  DIA is unable to ascribe any particular
     significance to the number, but "K" was given to U.S.
     pilots as a ground distress signal.  It is thus
     conceivable that this represents an attempt by a prisoner
     to signal to any aircraft that might pass overhead."

In referring to the "52" symbol in testimony before the Committee,
Assistant Secretary Andrews stated that when you look at the "total
all-source picture, then I believe that it is not an unexplained
symbol."  It is noteworthy that multiple reports of possible POWs
under detention in this vicinity, including other intelligence
sources, met the priority requirement to look for this camp on
imagery. (See Covert Operations Section.) 

In conjunction with multiple HUMINT reports pointing to POWS being
interned here, it was the discovery of the symbols in the camp's
garden that energized the intelligence community and triggered a
serious reaction by our government, the details of which can not be
discussed in an unclassified format.   The actions taken do
not correspond to intelligence information deemed to be low in
confidence.   Andrews' conclusion in 1992 clearly was not shared by
the Intelligence Community in 1981.

Committee Independent Imagery Analysis

The Committee hired two consultants, with years of experience in
the field of imagery intelligence, to provide an independent
evaluation of those possible symbols presenting the most
controversy.  Each conducted his own analysis independent of the
other and arrived at his own individual conclusion.   DIA provided
each consultant work space and the necessary equipment in which to
perform his analysis, primarily through the use of the IDEX-2 and
Zoom-500 work stations.  

In addition to being asked to evaluate the "USA possible K" at Sam
Neua, the "Arrow P" at Ban Nampo, and the "A5" "LO" markings at
Muang Tan, all of which had been previously identified by DIA, the
consultants were asked to evaluate the alleged numbers and markings
seen by JSSA on prints.  This included numerous numbers in the
Muang Tan area, JSSA believed to be possible authenticator numbers,
and the name and numbers seen in a field outside Dong Mang (Dong
Vai) prison, in which JSSA matched to the name of a MIA.  

After his initial evaluation, each consultant presented his
findings in a written report to the Committee.  A second evaluation
was performed by each consultant on possible symbols where
differences arose.  Those symbols on which reconciliation could be
achieved, and those where it could not, were then presented to the
Committee in a joint report, outlining each consultant's rationale
for his final position.  Although a consensus was reached on the
majority of symbols, key differences remained.

Committee's Independent Consultants. Because DIA asserts these
authenticator numbers and names identified by JSSA disappear when
enlarged or put on the light table, the Committee employed two
independent photography consultants to determine why these
"symbols" appear on the prints and if they, in fact, exist.
The two consultants' analyses reaffirmed the conclusion that
imagery analysis is an art as well as a science.  It often fell to
professional judgement calls on whether faint traces or textures
seen on the image were intentionally made, or the normal
photographic anomalies common to film processing and mixtures of
natural shading and ground vegetation. The principal problem
centered on determining whether extremely faint appearances, could
have been aged symbols made weeks or months before the image, or
possibly discreet attempts to place a symbol, simply because the
maker would have been risking his life to construct a more blatant
signal.  To accept the premise that a POW under detention would
only construct large block letters is limiting and would seriously
undercut any attempt to conduct an open-minded evaluation.

Both consultants discounted most of the symbols identified by JSSA
personnel at Mouang Tan.  Most of these were attributed to tonal
textures of the imagery media, naturally occurring configurations
of terrain, vegetation, soil texture, farming products, and man-
made objects (such as buildings).  One consultant put a 30 percent
probability of the "K" near the "USA" being intentionally man-made
as a symbol, while the other assessed a less than 20 percent
probability that it was a legitimate symbol.

One consultant initially identified two other suspicious looking
markings.  He later discounted these as intentional distress
symbols for the same reasons as he discounted those identified
previously. He noted that even dedicated analysts might initially
be led astray by the imagery.

     The "fuzziness" of the paper prints and the eye-catching
     nature of the shadows provided the environment for a
     dedicated analyst to visualize what he hoped to see
     through  the integration of the random objects -- similar
     to a "connect-the-dots" puzzle or interpreting a
     Rorschach test ink blot.

He also added comments concerning the use of shadows to create a
symbol on the ground:

     The reason that shadow identification is necessary is
     that they change relative to the terrain, based on the
     time of day, season, and the taking parameters of the
     image collection system; therefore, they cannot be used
     to produce symbols.

The second consultant gave a 60 percent call of confidence on a
portion of a possible name seen by JSSA at Mouang Tan.  In his
final report, he identified seven markings that in his opinion
represented either purposefully made symbols or merited further
analysis and "special processing."  Several of these were possible
markings not previously detected by JSSA.

At Dong Mang (Dong Vai) prison, on June 1992 photography, he
observed what he believed to be a "GX 2527" etched in a field near
the prison.  He rated this at 100 percent level of confidence in
his initial report, and did not change his position during the
joint review.  JSSA has confirmed that "2527" matches the
authenticator number of a serviceman still unaccounted for in
Southeast Asia.  In the same vicinity, he also found a possible
name, in which he originally gave a 70 percent confidence call. 
His position remained unchanged after the joint review.

He also identified what he believed to bee the number "1285",
possibly followed by a "K" or "2", and "2852" followed by an "X" in
1988 photography of the Sam Neua site.  He originally attributed a
50 percent confidence level to those possible symbols, however he
determined they were not purposeful symbols in the joint review.

Review of these symbols by the other consultant did not result in
agreement.  His opinion attributed the symbols to shadows,
vegetation or man-made features, such as walls.  Nonetheless, the
joint review did result in the negation of several other symbols
including the "NT 2222", which had been originally identified by
JSSA and initially given a 50 percent level of confidence by one

Since his conclusions left open to question the interpretations of
several markings, the Committee requested DIA to conduct a final
review of the relevant imagery.  For this review, the Committee
asked DIA to include analysts from the National Photographic
Interpretation Center and CIA.

The special task force reported its findings and conclusions to the
Committee in late December 1992.  Six analysts, ranging in
experience from six to 25 years (for an average of over 19 years of
imagery analytical experience) and representing the CIA's Office of
Imagery Analysis, DIA's Office of Imagery Analysis, and the
National Photographic Interpretation Center, sought to reconcile
the final differences between the two outside consultants.  The six
task force members agreed that, "none of the suspect symbols could
be identified as intentionally prepared man-made markings."

Their conclusions on each of the six unreconciled symbols were:

     Reported Symbol GX 2527:  The consensus of the team was
     that although portions of what could be interpreted as
     letters/numbers were observed in the field, they appeared
     to be too haphazard and ill-defined to be a man-made
     distress signals.

     Reported Symbol PAI/RA1:  The consensus of the team was
     that some of the letters could be discerned; however, the
     team concluded that they were probably a combination of
     trails and vegetation and not intentionally prepared man-
     made markings.

     Reported Symbol 232?:  The team had great difficulty in
     confirming the presence of these numbers, leading to the
     conclusion that whatever was present was a natural
     configuration and not intentionally prepared man-made

     Reported Symbols 1104 and WRYE:  The team was able to
     discern portions of what could be interpreted as letters
     and numbers; however, the team concluded that these
     'symbols' were probably a result of a combination of
     shadows and vegetation along the side of the road/trail
     and not intentionally prepared man-made markings.

     Reported Symbol VASYA:  The team concluded that it was
     extremely difficult to discern this 'symbol' and judged
     that it was a combination of shadows and vegetation on
     the edge of a field and not intentionally prepared man-
     made markings.
     Reported Symbol 14192:  After a detailed review of the
     area in question all of the team members concluded that
     the recorded symbol could not be identified on the

Once again the Committee was confronted with an Intelligence
Community consensus countered by a few dissenting opinions.


A number of questions remain open regarding the issue of possible
POW distress symbols.  The 1988 "USA" and 1973 "TH" symbols remain
unresolved, according to DIA, and they do not dispute they were
man-made.  Regarding the "K" next to the "USA", Assistant Secretary
Duane Andrews, stated in testimony on 15 October 1992, that "We
don't rule out that it (K) was made by someone deliberately trying
to make a K." The Committee, further notes the inconsistency
between past and present DIA analysis on the "52 possible K" symbol
at a detention camp in Laos.

The Committee cannot conclude, based on its investigation and the
guidance of imagery experts, that U.S. POWs in Southeast Asia have
attempted to signal their status to aerial observers.  This has
been a particularly important part of the Committee's review
because the logic of the investigation was clear.  Prisoners held
against their will might conclude that the best hope for obtaining
outside help would begin by them being detected from the air. 
During their survival training, Air Force - and some Army, Navy and
Marine Corps -- pilots were taught how to construct signals using
readily available material.  These symbols might be visible on
imagery obtained by the U.S. Intelligence Community.  Therefore,
this imagery needed to be examined in detail.

For example, CIA had noted the USA symbol found on imagery taken in
Laos and provided it to DIA for further review.  DIA's evaluation
confirmed the symbol but could not determine its origin.  It is
important to note, however, the relatively long period between the
collection of the imagery and its provision to DIA:  January -
December 1988.  This severely hindered any immediate follow-up
action that DIA could take.

The symbol probably disappeared with the end of the seasonal rice
harvest.  Its maker, if a prisoner, might have been moved in the
period between its construction and its discovery.  But it took too
long to resolve the symbol's origin.  While the Committee 
recognizes that the changing political climate on the POW/MIA issue
that is occurring between the Lao and United States Governments
largely assisted in allowing DIA to investigate the symbol on the
ground in Laos, four years is excessive.  The Intelligence
Community must respond more rapidly to potential ground-to-air
signals identified on overhead imagery.

Comments concerning JSSA's survival training on ground-to-air
signalling is beyond the purview of this Committee.  Nonetheless,
it must comment on the techniques that are being trained.  The use
of naturally occurring objects to construct signals is
fundamentally sound.  But the severe difficulty of definitively
identifying these signals on overhead imagery is equally obvious. 
On those images in which the Committee was interested, experienced
imagery analysts disagreed with each other's analyses.  In
addition, the Committee has been shown overhead imagery of areas
around the world on which these symbols appear to exist.  The
relationship of these other symbols to U.S. POWs is extremely
tenuous at best.  It appears incontrovertible that large-scale
alphanumeric combinations exist naturally.  These natural
occurrences can be quite misleading to any rescue attempts.  They
certainly caused the Committee to become concerned over POWs
signalling their presence in Southeast Asia.  JSSA must deal with
this in the development and conduct of its training programs on
ground-to-air signalling.


The intelligence community must respond more rapidly to potential
ground-to-air signals identified on overhead imagery.  If a
possible symbol is the work of a POW, it is vital we visit that
site immediately.

.    It is strongly recommended that an interagency task group of
     experienced imagery analysts be formed to review all available
     imagery of prisons or suspect detention areas in Vietnam and
     Laos, after 1973, for indications of possible distress

.    DIA and CIA should establish a closer and more formalized
     working relationship with JSSA.  JSSA should be consulted
     immediately, whenever suspect symbols or questionable markings
     appear on imagery.

.    It is recommended that JSSA be permitted to attend IAG
     meetings, in an advisory capacity as an additional
     representative of the Joint Staff.

.    Pilot distress symbols should, immediately, be designated a
     priority collection requirement for Southeast Asia.

.    All imagery analysts with responsibilities pertaining to
     POW/MIA analysis, should be thoroughly briefed and preferably
     trained in SERE techniques and methods.

.    In the case of the "GX 2527" because the number corresponds to
     a specific individual, the Committee agrees that the benefit
     of doubt should go to that possible individual, certainly
     enough to warrant a "by-name" request by an appropriately high
     ranking U.S. official to the Vietnamese government, for
     information on that missing serviceman.  In making that
     request, it should be emphasized to the Vietnamese that there
     is a basis for questioning whether he could be alive.

These symbols have been energetically pursued and explained to the
satisfaction of all reasonable critics, some Members believe.  It
is also germane to point out that some inexperienced analysts also
have been able to find "symbols" in Africa, in the state of Utah;
they also can be seen in vestiges of the photo-development process.
These "symbols" are in fact indicators which are not man-made, not
on the ground and have no realistic basis in fact.  Professional
examinations have found all of these so-called "symbols" to be

In addition, some Members agree that the treatment of the
"USA/possible K" symbol, the "1953/1973 TH" symbol, and the alleged
"52" at a site in Laos are misleading in the extreme.  The Report
does not describe the extensive investigations conducted by the
U.S. intelligence community into these symbols and the findings
which relate to the probable origins of these symbols.  

Specifically, the December 1992 on-site investigation of the "USA"
symbol determined that the symbol was not a distress signal and had
nothing to do with missing Americans.  Some Members believe that
the results of the investigation determined that the symbol was
made by Hmong tribe members from Ban Houei Hin Dam village, Huoa
Phan Province, Laos.  

Covert Operations

The purpose of this investigation was to determine what, if any,
official U.S. covert operations may have been launched after 1973,
or specifically after Operation Homecoming, to confirm the presence
of live American POWs in Southeast Asia, and what intelligence
information may have been available that necessitated the need for
such operations.  

There have been numerous allegations made of possible clandestine
intelligence or military operations conducted by the U.S.
government into Southeast Asia.  Many of these allegations contend
that such official operations succeeded in returning with
confirmation of live POWs in captivity, but that information was
kept secret from the American public.  In May 1981, the Washington
Post and other newspapers printed a story of an official incursion
into Laos by American sponsored mercenaries, to confirm the
presence of POWs at a specific camp monitored by U.S. Intelligence.

In addition, there have been several unofficial operations mounted
by private groups, attempting to penetrate Laos in search of POWs
and allegations that some of these attempts were secretly
sanctioned by the U.S. Government.

Investigative Procedures

This Committee held a closed hearing on October 16 into the
circumstances of the alleged 1981 covert operation reported by the
Washington Post.  The Committee has spent many months, and
conducted numerous depositions of present and former officials to
determine exactly what occurred in this case.  Because of the level
of classification of some of this material, and in order to protect
current operations and capabilities, the details of this case
remain classified.  Much of the intelligence information, however,
leading up to this event may be ultimately declassified.
The investigation into unofficial or "private" operations focused
primarily on whether there was official U.S. government sanction or
support for any of these operations.  Other aspects of these
private forays were examined under a separate Committee
investigation pertaining to oversight of private POW/MIA
organizations and their activities.  The private operation commonly
known as "Grand Eagle" has been investigated, in regard to
government support of that private initiative.  We have obtained,
enough documentation from Army intelligence files to allow the
Committee to draw rather conclusive findings regarding official U.S
support for that operation.  


The Committee has identified only one official operation mounted
after 1973, to confirm the presence of American POWs in Southeast
Asia; this makes the distinction between major cross-border
intelligence, military or paramilitary type operations and normal
intelligence operations involving collection agents or clandestine
sources.   There have been numerous intelligence operations
involving individual sources or collection agents, with
requirements relating to the POW problem.

The Intelligence relating to the 1981 operation was perhaps the
most compelling and multiple source intelligence ever made
available to intelligence officials and policy-makers of "possible"
live American POWs still in captivity up until that time.  The
actions of U.S. officials in response to this intelligence attest
to the quality and quantity of that intelligence. 

The U.S. intelligence community had several human intelligence
sources reporting the presence of American POWs held in a
particular area in Laos from 1979 through early 1981. One of these
was a sensitive source with unusually good access. That particular
source provided a series of reports, indicating possibly up to 30
Americans working at a detention camp in Laos.  The source
indicated the prisoners were periodically moved from, then back to
the camp on work details. Based on the HUMINT reporting, the
intelligence community was able to locate a detention facility
through overhead photography near a Lao village in late 1980.
A second-hand DIA source, in November 1979, reported the camp held
an American POW named "Ltc. Paul W. Mercland."   DIA stated in a
briefing to the HFAC on 25 June 1981, that although they could not
correlate a "Mercland" to any missing Americans, there was a Paul
W. Bannon lost in Laos in 1969.  Lt. Gen. Tighe, then Director of
DIA was at that briefing and told its members that "Mercland" could
have been a mispronunciation of "American" and speculated that
"Bannon" may have been inadvertently dropped as the information was
passed out by the source.  The secondary source passed a polygraph
test given by DIA.

Admiral Tuttle, who was Deputy Director of DIA at the time,
testified in his deposition that he also recalled SIGINT reports
referring to American POWs at a detention camp in Laos. NSA has not
been able to confirm Admiral Tuttle's memory of SIGINT reporting of
Americans in Laos.  Among the declassified reports found at NSA,
however, was a copy of an intercept that originated from a allied
government, that did report the movement of American POWs from
Attepeu in late December 1980.  This report, which was deemed to be
unreliable by CIA at the time, was remarkably similar to an
independent HUMINT report within days of intercept, that the
American POWs, who had been working at Attepeu, were being moved
back to a detention camp in Laos.

In late December 1980, what appeared to be the number "52"
scratched in the row crop area within the compound was detected on
photography.  CIA, in a Jan. 6, 1981 "Spot Report" stated:

     analysis of further imagery of 30 December 1980 located
     what appears to be the number "52," possibly followed by
     the letter "K," traced on the ground in an agricultural
     plot insider the outer perimeter of the above facility. 
     DIA is unable to ascribe any particular significance to
     the number, but "K" was given to U.S. pilots as a ground
     distress signal. It is thus conceivable that this
     represents an attempt by a prisoner to signal to any
     aircraft that might pass overhead.

The "52" was observed over a period of time. DIA imagery analysts
in 1981, stated in an Imagery Analysis Memorandum dated February 23
1981 that "the number '52' is still visible with no change.  The
lack of change indicates that the numerals may have been dug into
the earth."   This contradicts current DIA analysis, provided
during the Committee's Oct. 15, 1992 hearing that because the "52"
changed shape in different photographs, it therefore is
questionable as an intentional symbol.

The "sensitive" HUMINT source reported that the American POWs had
been moved to Vietnam for security reasons by the end of January
1981.  Imagery analysts reported the "52" had begun to fade away by
February. Other aspects of the intelligence and actions taken to
confirm the presence of Americans at the camp remain classified.

A report of a sighting of one possible Caucasian at the suspect
camp was received by CIA, but not reported outside the agency.  CIA
has been unable to answer exactly why this was not reported to DoD,
State and the White House, but contend it must they must have had
a valid reason why it was not.  They have speculated that they may
have determined the possible Caucasian was a Chinese prisoner, or
that the reporters were fabricating. 

The CIA and others conducted an investigation in 1981. A key Lao
member of the investigation testified to the Committee in closed
session that some members of the Lao resistance tried to persuade
him that he saw an American at the suspected camp. He told them he
could not say that.

Later in 1981, the intelligence community interviewed a refugee who
was at a camp similar to a detention camp in Laos and saw no
Americans or Europeans.  They admit, however, they are not certain
it was the same camp, and it was during a different period than
when the American POWs were allegedly detained there.

Efforts taken by the intelligence community and the U.S. military
to investigate and prepare for the possibility of a rescue of live
American prisoners were extensive.   President Reagan and his
National Security Advisor, Richard Allen were aware of this
intelligence and the actions taken.  It had the highest national

The intelligence community's actions to confirm the presence of
American POWs at this camp were inconclusive.  Steps were underway
to resume efforts to obtain a conclusive answer, when a press leak
killed any further efforts.  

Private Operations with Official Support

On the question of official U.S. support being provided to the
private operation known as "Grand Eagle," U.S. Army intelligence
documentation confirms that a component of Army intelligence did in
fact provide a long range camera, polygraph and other equipment and
financial support to Mr. Gritz in support of his group.  This
equipment and financial support, however, was provided in advance
of that intelligence component receiving full approval to provide
such support, and in fact the request (or CIOP proposal) was
ultimately denied.   The equipment and money had, however, already
been released.  (Army contact reports.) 

The Committee also became aware of allegations of off-line U.S.
Government (NSC) support to private organizations in regard to
fundraising and movement of funds to indigenous rebel groups. 
Allegedly, this activity was related indirectly to the POW issue or
used as a cover for providing financial support to resistance
groups using non-appropriated funds.  Due to time constraints, the
Committee was unable pursue these reports.  This is discussed in
some detail in the chapter on private fund-raising.

In 1982, the U.S. Government monitored the communications of a
private organization operating from Thailand, attempting to
undertake a private foray into Laos in search of POWs.  DoD
requested a determination from Justice Department as to the
legality of monitoring the communications of American citizens
abroad.  This was in fact carried out.  (NSA file documents
forwarded to Committee.)   

The Role of the National Security Agency


Signals intelligence (SIGINT) is one of the principal sources of
information used by intelligence analysts.  Successful interception
of communications (COMINT) -- a component of SIGINT -- provides an
analyst with an important insight into the knowledge of the sender
and receiver of an intercepted message.  As is the case with the
other sources of intelligence information (the so-called "INT's"),
an intercepted message does not necessarily indicate that the
actual contents of the message are true.  On the one hand, the
sender may purposely be sending an incorrect message to mislead any
foreign intelligence agency that might be attempting to intercept
messages.  And on the other hand, the sender may not be
transmitting accurate information simply because he or she does not
have either a complete picture or understand the true circumstances
surrounding the contents of the message.  For this reason, COMINT
is an important intelligence source, but it is only one source. 
Experienced analysts use it with other intelligence sources in
order to derive a more complete intelligence picture of a set of
circumstances.  COMINT is one part of a complete all-source
intelligence analysis.

Successful and unsuccessful SIGINT operations are closely guarded
secrets.  Obviously, when the capabilities of a foreign power to
intercept communications becomes known, it is very easy to cut off
this source of intelligence.  Alternative methods of communications
can be used, radio frequencies can easily be changed, encryption
devices can be used or altered.  Even though the Vietnam War lies
twenty years behind us, there remains a strong tendency by the
Intelligence Community to want to keep information developed from
signals intelligence carefully controlled.  The Committee
continually ran into difficulties in trying to discuss this type of
information during its open sessions.  Nevertheless, Committee
Members and Committee investigators were able to obtain relevant
information during classified briefings and hearings as well as
during its open sessions.  Significantly, much important
information has been declassified as a result of the Committee's

National Security Agency's Responsibilities

SIGINT was a source of information on U.S. POW's and MIA's both
during the War and during the years afterward.  In a prepared
statement to the Committee, senior NSA officials indicated that no
mission had a "higher priority" than information pertaining to
downed fliers or captured Americans.  Committee investigators found
that special reporting categories were established within both
intelligence and operational channels to ensure that there was a
rapid and clearly identifiable flow of information concerning
downed fliers and prisoners.

The same NSA officials believed that there were approximately 2,000
SIGINT reports throughout the period of the focus of the
Committee's interest concerning the loss, capture, or status of
U.S. personnel in Southeast Asia.  They stated that these reports
allowed intelligence analysts during the war to develop some
information that some crew members of downed aircraft did not
survive the shootdown.  Other reports provided information on the
initial capture and subsequent movements of prisoners by a
capturing unit.  The officials emphasized that all of the SIGINT
information was manually processed during the war years which
indicated to the Committee that retrieval and correlation of
information was then quite different and more difficult than it is
today using automated databases.  The data from the Vietnam War era
still is manually processed.

After the fall of Saigon, the National Security Agency and the
military service components that support it largely dismantled
their collection efforts in Southeast Asia. The elaborate
collection capabilities that supported the war essentially ceased
or were relocated to other trouble spots around the world. The
analytical organizations that monitored signals intelligence in 
the region were also disbanded or sharply reduced as personnel were
transferred to other assignments.

U.S. collection capabilities were further diminished during this
period as Vietnam and Laos developed secure landline communications
to replace the radio networks used during time of war. If officials
in either country were communicating about live U.S. POWs, the
likelihood that these communications would be detected by the U.S.
had become remote. However, during this period, the NSA did receive
third party intercepts concerning the reported presence of American
POWs in Laos. 

As a result of the Committee's efforts and a new retrieval strategy
initiated at NSA, more than 4,500 reports were later identified
that pertained to POW/MIAs.  An NSA study showed that 878 of these
reports could be correlated to possible POW/MIAs; 448 of these
could be considered "resolved cases."  That is, either an
individual returned to U.S. control during Operation Homecoming or
human remains were returned.  By using all-source analysis, DIA
further refined the conclusions that could be reached on individual
cases based upon NSA's information.  From this analysis, it is
clear that many of the original, on-the-spot NSA analyses were
understandably in error.  

But in fact, the Committee found that NSA end-product reports were
not used regularly to evaluate the POW/MIA situation until 1977. It
was not until 1984 that the collection of information on POW/MIAs
was formally established as a matter of highest priority for
SIGINT. There was insufficient all-source information available to
NSA at the time to make either a correct or final judgment. 
Nonetheless, four reports correlated to individuals as being last
known alive and in captivity and seven reports indicated
individuals whose status was unknown.

In conducting its review of NSA files, the Committee examined more
than 3,000 post-war reports and 90 boxes of wartime files. The
Committee discovered that previous surveys of NSA files for POW/MIA
related information had been limited to the agency's automated data
base. Hundreds of thousands of hard copy documents, memoranda, raw
reports, operational messages and possibly tapes from both the
wartime and post-war periods remain unreviewed in various archives
and storage facilities. Most troubling, NSA failed to locate for
investigators any wartime analyst files related specifically to
tracking POWs, despite the fact that tracking POWs was a known
priority at the time. This failure made it impossible for the
Committee to confirm some information on downed pilots that was
provided by NSA employee Jerry Mooney. 

The Committee believes that DIA's review of NSA's correlations
highlights the weakness of single source intelligence analysis. 
Many of the NSA reports indicating possible capture of an
unaccounted-for American were, based on returnee debriefs and other
intelligence sources, actually related to a fellow crew member who
was captured and eventually repatriated to the U.S.   Furthermore,
according to DIA's analysis, many of NSA's original correlations
were incorrect.  Often several aircraft were lost at the same time
within a short distance of each other, and because the NSA reports
rarely identified specific locations, crew members who survived the
shootdown and later were rescued frequently were mistaken for
unaccounted-for personnel. 

Moreover, Vietnamese units often exaggerated the number of aircraft
shot down and the number of U.S. pilots subsequently captured. 
Similarly, it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine the
overlap of multiple reporting of the same reported shootdown by
adjacent Vietnamese units or nearby observers.  In any event, doubt
concerning the final outcome of an individual incident will always
exist in some cases because signals intelligence can never provide
sufficient evidence in all cases to provide conclusive proof of the
specific date, time, and place of capture -- or death.  SIGINT can
add to the quality of the analysis, but it can rarely provide
unqualified conclusions.

SIGINT and DIA Individual Case Files

The recent NSA identification of numerous relevant reports that are
in addition to the 2,000 reported to the Committee in January 1992
appears to be important new information.  The Committee cannot make
a determination that this information will alter the status of any
unaccounted-for U.S. personnel.  NSA and DIA analysts now have
completed a review of the additional reports and have found no new
information to change the status of any missing person.

The Committee does believe, however, that pertinent reports should
be placed in each individual's case file and redacted only if
absolutely necessary.  Having continued to emphasize to this
Committee the importance of all-source intelligence analysis, DIA
must ensure that all sources are made available to the analysts and
investigators who have the responsibility for resolving cases both
in the field and at headquarters.  It is not clear to the Committee
why this has not already happened in all cases.

Post-1973 Reports of Intercepts on Possible POWs

As mentioned in the Committee's Executive Summary, by the late
1970's, the level of U.S. Government intelligence collection in
Southeast Asia was far less than it was during the war.  However,
between 1979 and the mid-1980's, various unconfirmed reports
relating to possible American POWs in Laos were collected.

As examples, in December, 1979, a third-party intercept was
received indicating that three U.S. prisoners were being moved from
Muoung Vieng Sai to Muong Attopeu to work in the mines.  In
December 1980, a third-party intercept indicated that 20 American
POWs were about to be moved from Oudom Sai province to Vientiane. 
In 1984, an intercept referred to the movement of 23 unidentified
prisoners from Muong Sepone prison to the Tha Vang Center in Laos. 
In the 1984 report, NSA noted that this number corresponded with
collateral information concerning the presence of 23 American POWs
at a camp in Southen Laos.  

Finally, in 1986, an intercept referring to the movement of
unidentified "prisoners of war" to Nong Tha, Laos raised questions
at NSA, because "the Lao do not normally refer to captured Thai
soldiers or Lao expatriates as "prisoners of war."  The Committee
notes that these and other reports have raised questions concerning
the possibility that American POWs might have been present in Laos
after 1973.  The Committee cautions, however, that none of the
reports have been judged to be accurate by either the National
Security Agency or the Defense Intelligence Agency.

An NSA Analyst's View

The Committee was fortunate to have Senior Master Sergeant Jerry L.
Mooney (USAF-Ret.) come forward and provide important insights into
the problems associated with analyzing SIGINT information
concerning POW's and MIA's.  He has had a long association with the
issue, both while assigned to the National Security Agency and also
following his retirement from the Air Force.  In closed and open
Committee sessions, he gave an analyst's viewpoint which helped to
bring into focus many of the problems associated with SIGINT's
relationship to the POW-MIA issue.

Mooney stated that while assigned to the Vietnam branch of NSA, he
maintained detailed files concerning losses of U.S. aircraft and
the names of downed crew members.  He did this through personal
interest and because he was assigned the task by his superiors. 
His efforts were well known to his colleagues and supervisors.  In
the words of one supervisor, "If you wanted to know about POW-MIA's
or AAA [anti-aircraft artillery], you wanted Jerry Mooney.  He was
the guy because he was the gatherer of information."

Unfortunately, Mooney's personal files are no longer available. 
According to Mooney and some of his colleagues, he developed his
"working aids" in order to correlate SIGINT information with loss
reports given by U.S. units.  Witnesses disagreed over whether he
maintained lists of information or kept the information in a file
box of index cards.  The difference between the two methods appears
inconsequential.  In either case, he maintained information that he
felt undoubtedly would be useful when a final accounting was made
of crew members from lost aircraft.  But since these files were
working aids for an individual analyst, they did not become part of
the archival material maintained by NSA.  

NSA archivists reported to the Committee that Mooney's files were
no different than the personal working aids developed by the
thousands of analysts who have worked at NSA over the years. 
According to the archivists, his personal working files would have
been destroyed upon his departure because they were not part of the
official NSA reporting process, and because NSA was not responsible
for maintaining historical information that correlated SIGINT with
U.S. loss reports.  Furthermore, because of the sensitive nature of
their primary source -- SIGINT -- Mooney's files could not be
maintained separate from the normal archival process.

According to Mooney and his NSA supervisor, the Vietnam branch of
NSA was never asked to provide an overall list of their assessment
of POW-MIA personnel prior to Operation Homecoming.  The Committee
finds this surprising.  Even though NSA was not the Lead Agency for
maintaining information on POW's and MIA's, it appears that it
would have been routine for a senior Government official to have
directed an Intelligence Community-wide search for information
relevant to POW's and MIA's.   NSA's information could have been
useful both for the U.S. negotiators at the peace talks and for
those responsible for supervising the final repatriation of U.S.

Because the inter-agency process of the Intelligence Community is
subject to the same flaws in information flow as any large
organization, the Committee tasked NSA to examine whether Mooney's
files could have been important. Analysis indicates that with few
exceptions -- involving personnel declared as KIA/BNR -- all
relevant SIGINT was part of the casualty folders of missing

While SIGINT was used during the war to place personnel in the POW
category, only a handful who were ever confirmed by SIGINT as
actually being POWs did not return at Operation Homecoming. The
review requested by the Committee failed to identify any instance
where the appropriate SIGINT indicating capture had not been
associated with the missing individual prior to Homecoming,
although there was one instance resulting from the Committee's
review in which an additional piece of information was located and
added to an individual's file.

In fact, it was standard procedure during war-time for analysts at
field intercept stations to put "analyst notes or comments" at the
bottom of SIGINT reports to list potential loss candidates who
might or might not correlate to the incident described in an
intercept. While one can surmise that greater involvement by NSA
could have somehow helped during the Homecoming accounting process,
the fact remains that three separate reviews of SIGINT materials by
NSA and DIA have failed to uncover any significant SIGINT materials
missed or omitted relating to possible POWs.

Mooney remained concerned about the POW-MIA issue after his
retirement from the U.S. Air Force.  He permitted Committee
investigators and NSA officials to review the extensive information
that he has collected since his retirement.  He reconstructed some
of the information from memory, and because his NSA working aids
apparently no longer exist, it was impossible to check his
recollections against his Vietnam War-era information.  

However, it was possible to check his "reconstructed information"
against war-time SIGINT reports. Each one of Mooney's allegations
was investigated by NSA, and a corresponding all-source
investigation was conducted by DIA. Neither agency was able to
confirm any of Mooney's allegations, particularly those involving
the suspected movement of American POWs to the Soviet Union.  

Interestingly, as part of his research he has identified several
names of members of the foreign news media who had access to U.S.
prisoners.  If contacted, these individuals might be able to
provide additional information on U.S. POW's.  The Committee
believes that this would be an appropriate task as part of an
intelligence community open-source collection effort.  In any
event, Mooney's material has allowed Committee investigators to
bring together a great deal of material as an additional check on
the information that NSA has on hand.  His efforts on behalf of the
POW-MIA issue are greatly appreciated.

NSA and Baron 52

During the Committee's August, 1992 hearing, the Vice Chairman
raised the subject of NSA reports disseminated on February 5, 1973,
the same day that an EC-47Q aircraft with 8 U.S. servicemen was
shot down by North Vietnamese units in Laos.  The aircraft has been
referred to as "Baron 52."  The Vice Chairman expressed concern
over the substance of the intelligence reports and the incident, in
general, in view of the fact that it occurred after the signing of
the Paris Peace Accords with North Vietnam.

During the same hearing, DIA analyst Robert Destatte disputed the
contention that the intercepted information pertained to the EC-47.

Mr. Destatte also attacked the May, 1973 NSA report possibly
correlating the traffic to the EC-47 stating the report was the
"musings" of NSA analyst Mr. Jerry Mooney.  Finally, Mr. Destatte
contended he had spoken with one of the SAR team members, Mr. Ron
Schofield, who he said discarded the possiblity that anyone could
have survived from Baron 52. According to his testimony, Mooney
believed at the time of the incident that four of the eight crew
members survived the shootdown.  

In January 1992, Mooney noted in his testimony that at the time the
incident was reported, an unnamed DIA analyst agreed with him on
the telephone that the four crew members were "gone forever."  The
inference in Mooney's testimony was that because of the sensitive
nature of the aircraft's mission, captured crew members had been
taken to the USSR.  

Under questioning by one Committee Member during the January
hearing, Mooney admitted that he never had "direct information"
that American POW's were taken to the Soviet Union.  In response to
another Committee member's question, he said that he "saw no
evidence that they [prisoners] went to the Soviet Union."  On
several occasions during his testimony he said that he believed
that American prisoners had been taken there, but he was unable to
provide any conclusive proof to the Committee to support his

Responding to a Committee inquiry, in October 1992 DIA provided a
detailed examination of many issues surrounding the Baron 52
incident.  Enclosed with the examination were  declassified
translations of the enemy report that has led several people to
different interpretations of the fate of the crew of Baron 52. Some
believe that four crew members survived; DIA disagrees.

According to the information provided to the Committee, the initial
declassified translation of the enemy's February 5, 1973 report
to DIA, soon after the enemy report was received, a second, more
careful translation was made, and it stated, "GROUP       HAS FOUR
According to information provided to the Committee, this report
with its two translations were the only sources of enemy
information that led Mooney to issue an informal message on May 2,
1973.  His message states:


     (XD 495254 16-30N 106-25E) TO "93," A PROBABLE REFERENCE
     TO KILOMETER MARKER 93 ON ROUTE 1032 (XD 549505, 16-43N



Since Mooney's May 1973 message refers to a single enemy February
5, 1973 report and the translations of the report available to the
Committee appear complete, the Committee finds it difficult to
arrive at the same conclusions reached by Mooney in his May 1973
message.  For example, it appears that the enemy report contains no
information concerning the pilots being located near Moung Nong. 
It does not mention water being given to the fliers.  It does not
refer to the supply of "ways and means," making Mooney's conclusion
concerning trucks pure conjecture.

Nor does the Committee agree with the DIA belief that it was
unlikely that the enemy unit would have used kilometer markers as
reference points in this type of report because using them violated
basic operational security (OPSEC) practices.  Other, similar types
of reports have been furnished to the Committee, and enemy units
used kilometer markers as reference points in those reports.  But
the Committee concurs with DIA's view that even if the enemy report
referred to kilometer markers 44 and 93 -- which is speculative --
more detailed all-source intelligence information than that
available to Mooney would have been necessary in order to place the
theorized kilometer markers on routes 914 and 1032 in Laos.  

For example, DIA conducted a terrain analysis and found that a
chain of mountains exists between the two routes identified by
Mooney in May 1973, and that the routes are headed in different
directions.  Substantial distance exists between the Baron 52 crash
site and the spots determined by Mooney to be the locations of the
possible kilometer markers.  Furthermore, the aircraft's speed and
reported flight path would not have brought it close to these

In addition, in order to ascertain that the numbers 44 and 93
contained in the enemy report referred to specific kilometer
markers, Mooney would have had to confirm that the kilometer
markers existed as landmarks in that war-torn country in February
1973 and were available to enemy units either as land navigation
aids or as reference points.  Having evaluated the information
provided by Mooney and the intelligence information and analysis
provided by DIA, the Committee believes that Mooney's analytical
judgments regarding the Baron 52 incident are largely speculative
and unsubstantiated.  There is no firm evidence that links the
Baron 52 crew to the single enemy report upon which Mooney
apparently based his analysis.
The Committee notes that it cannot prove or disprove whether or not
the intercepted information pertains to the capture of crewmembers
of the Baron 52.  Evidence from the crashsite indicates that no
crewmembers survived, although there was a chance, however slim,
that crewmembers bailed out before the crash.  Moreover, the
Committee notes that written documents dated in May, 1973 indicate
that Dr. Shields, NSA, and DIA representatives all believed that
there was a possibility Americans had been captured from this
incident.  Finally, we note that during an October, 1992
deposition, Mr. Ron Schofield disputed Mr. Destatte's
characterization of his comments pertaining to this incident.  

At publication time, an excavation of the Baron 52 crash site was
planned for January 1993. JTF-FA teams returned to Southeast Asia
on Jan. 2, 1993 to begin another 30 days' work.

Intelligence Support in Laos

During the Vietnam War, intelligence support for the U.S. effort in
Laos was different than for the other countries in the war-time
theater of operations.  According to testimony by former Secretary
of Defense Melvin Laird, the Secretary had to rely upon
intelligence information from CIA and the Department of State.  DIA
did not have much of a collection capability in Laos.  He mentioned
that human intelligence reporting was weak.  Secretary Laird
testified that he recommended a program to the U.S. Ambassador to
Laos which was designed to improve intelligence support there. 
Additionally, in a memorandum dated September 9, 1971, Secretary
Laird articulated a concern to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, Admiral Thomas Moorer, that poor intelligence support was
affecting the POW effort.   He feared that the lack of reliable
intelligence was "hindering United States Government efforts to
recover prisoners of war and MIAs."  There was an inference in the
memo that the U.S. embassy in Laos was reluctant to accept military
intelligence assets.  

Ambassador MacMurtrie Godley, U.S. Ambassador to Laos, 1969-73,
denied in his testimony that any such reluctance existed.  He noted
that a Military Intelligence team operating from Thailand had been
a problem because it was responsible for intelligence reporting
that often was inaccurate and required correction by the Embassy in
Vientiane.   Under questioning by one Committee Member, he
indicated that the collection of information on POW's and MIA's in
Laos had "top" priority.  He said that any intelligence assistance
that could be obtained at the time was most welcome.    Under
additional questioning by the same Committee Member, however, the
Ambassador agreed that he turned down an offer by the Joint Chiefs
of Staff for additional intelligence assets.  He was unable to
provide little explanation for his decision other than, "What would
you do with them?" 

Committee staff reviewed declassified and unredacted material
relating to the U.S. Army's HUMINT Exploitation Team in Laos,
Project 5310-03-E. The staff did not review extensively either all
Attache archival reports or documents of Project 404, the
organization providing augmentation to the Attache system in Laos,
but did review hundreds of war-time HUMINT raw intelligence reports
received from Laos, many from this one team.

The dossier of the Exploitation Team, supplemented by intelligence
reports declassified by DIA in December 1978, provide evidence that
Ambassador Godley fully supported the U.S. military's presence in
Laos. There is direct evidence the Team's organization, mission,
and structure was appropriate to war-time conditions there.
However, there is also evidence that DIA was less than enthusiastic
about both the team and its operations.

The Team's concept of operations began in 1970, when the Army
Attache, Lt. Col. Ed Duskin, invited an Army survey team to Laos to
explore what more could be done, particularly in the area of
POW/MIA intelligence. The Team concluded that experienced HUMINT
personnel were needed. Declassified messages demonstrate that a
recommendation to this effect was wholeheartedly supported by the
attache staff, the CIA station, and the Ambassador. The first U.S.
Army interrogation officer and a member of the initial survey
team arrived in Vientiane in March 1971. A field-grade team
officer arrived that summer. Two additional case officers arrived
in 1972 to augment the Team.

Operating within U.S. Embassy guidelines designed to downplay the
U.S. presence, the Team employed a small staff of locally hired and
Team-trained interrogators, including former North Vietnamese Army
Capt. Mai Dai Hap. Hap was the major contributor to the Rand
Corp.'s war-time study on Laos.

The Team operated as a joint U.S. effort with the Royal Lao Army
intelligence staff, which from the outset included daily contacts
with the Lao Army Headquarters and Military Region 5. By 1972, this
was expanded to include all other military regions in Laos, and was
done with close coordination and cooperation with CIA station

Beginning in 1971, the Team ensured all North Vietnamese Army and
Pathet Lao prisoners and defectors were interrogated in detail on
a wide variety of in-country, theater, and national intelligence
requirements. Declassified documents confirm that information on
U.S. POWs and MIAs was the first subject covered with all these
sources. This small Exploitation Team produced all military HUMINT
originated reports from Laos during 1971-75 and averaged one report
per day. 
Every North Vietnamese Army and significant Pathet Lao soldier
arriving at Vientiane was interrogated in detail; however, with the
majority of U.S. POWs who survived into captivity being taken to
North Vietnam within a matter of days or weeks, there were no known
prison camps for U.S. POWs available for exploitation by the Joint
Personnel Recovery Center or U.S. led paramilitary forces.

The team's archival records confirm that the problem with war-time
HUMINT reporting in Laos was the lack of prisoners and defectors
(called ralliers by the North Vietnamese). For example, during
1964-74, there were slightly more than 150 North Vietnamese Army
POWs who reached Vientiane. The precise number of defectors may
have been a similar amount. This was a drop in the bucket from the
tens of thousands of North Vietnamese Army forces from Military
Region IV and the 559th Group operating the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

However, these prisoners and defectors were primarily from front-
line tactical units, had recently been rotated into Laos, and were
not from the rear-area logistical groups where most U.S. airmen
were lost. Thus, the prisoners and defectors often had more
information about aircraft losses over North Vietnam than over

The Pathet Lao saw little sustained combat after the  mid-1960s,
being almost entirely a North Vietnamese Army-controlled effort,
and their force structure in Laos was negligible. It shrank to
almost nothing in southern Laos in 1972, when nearly the entire
South Laos Regional Command Headquarters, and all major subordinate
units, defected to the Royal Lao Government. A key ingredient in
Laos was its severe underpopulation -- less than four million
people. Laos was half the geographical size of Vietnam, with one-
tenth its population.

The Team did not operate in isolation to the remainder of the U.S.
intelligence organization in the region. The team regularly
coordinated with the Order of Battle Center in Udorn, Thailand;
intelligence exploitation centers in South Vietnam; and with both
Lao and Thai military intelligence officials. The Team was
withdrawn from Laos in the Spring of 1975, after local staff came
under increasing pressure from the Pathet Lao in Vientiane. The
project was terminated at the end of 1975.

Archival records of this Team confirm that the Team conducted its
first behind-the-lines agent operation in 1972. Other operations
followed later, and declassified documents confirm that DIA was
opposed to them, notwithstanding its objective to gather POW/MIA

All such agent operations had to be conducted from Thailand and
were suspended in 1975 upon the direction of the U.S. Ambassador.
The focus of these operations was POW/MIA intelligence from Pathet
Lao areas of Laos and from Hanoi in North Vietnam. They did not
take place for the obvious reason, demonstrated elsewhere in this
Report, that DIA and others at the national level no longer viewed
the subject as the nation's intelligence priority.

Other NSA Sources

The Committee found no evidence to corroborate claims by Terrell
Minarcin; sources Minarcin suggested investigators interview and
others said his claims were unfounded. Although Barry Toll did
occupy the position of Intelligence NCO on the CINCLANT Airborne
Command Post and did have access to sensitive message traffic,
Committee investigators were unable to locate any former crew
members of his team who could corroborate the messages he claims to
have seen. His former Army JAG lawyer did corroborate partly his
allegations that DIA continued to monitor his whereabouts after his
military discharge.