INTELLIGENCE Overview 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 agencies. 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. Priority 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 decade. 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 operation. 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 Thailand. 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 Committee. 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 Background 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 Branch. 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 responsibilities. 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 identified. 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 world. 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 techniques. 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 guidance; . database is a wasteland; . working files unprofessional, sloppy, incomplete, no standard procedures; . no disciplined, coherent, collection management effort; . too much detective work, not enough analysis; . not nearly enough admin[istrative] and intelligence technician support; . 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. Discussion 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 held. Background 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 pursued. 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 up. 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. Government. 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 accounts. 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 sustainable; . 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 other. 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.
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