TITLE:SENATOR SMITH: VIETNAM NEVER REVEALED NUMBER OF POW'S IT HELD (08/03/93)
*EPF212 08/03/93 *
SENATOR SMITH: VIETNAM NEVER REVEALED NUMBER OF POW'S IT HELD
(Article on the Smith POW report to Ambassador Toon) (660)
By Robert F. Holden
USIA Staff Writer
Washington -- The debate over whether Hanoi held back American prisoners of
war (POWs) following the U.S. withdrawal from the Vietnam War in 1973 is
still wide open, according to Senator Bob Smith (Republican of New
It was rekindled when Harvard professor Stephen Morris discovered an
incriminating document in the Communist Party's archives in Moscow in
In an exhaustive report, dated July 21, to Ambassador Malcolm Toon, chairman
of the U.S. side of the Joint U.S.-Russian Commission on POWs/MIAs, Smith
states that the 1972 translation of a North Vietnamese report concerning
U.S. POWs found by Morris contains numerous statements which can be
corroborated by U.S. knowledge. As a result, the senator says he is
convinced the report, which purports to be a transcript of an oral
presentation by a North Vietnamese general which was clandestinely
transcribed by a Soviet military intelligence agent, is genuine.
"In the absence of convincing evidence to the contrary from Vietnam, I can
only assume that from 1964 to 1973, the leadership of North Vietnam
withheld the total number and identity of American POWs in Vietnam, Laos,
and Cambodia over whom it had direct control," Smith said.
"The position of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that the report in
Russian language form is a 'pure fabrication' which they 'completely
reject' is unacceptable to me, and I believe, the majority of the American
people," Smith said. "This matter is still wide open."
U.S. administrations for the past two decades have demanded that Vietnam
provide a comprehensive and full accounting of U.S. POWs and MIAs before
the United States will lift its embargo of Hanoi and establish normal
Smith's 250-page report, described as an interim analysis of a Soviet
military intelligence (GRU) report which was translated from Vietnamese
into Russian in Moscow in 1972 (and subsequently discovered by Morris in
1anuary 1993), goes through the document line by line, comparing the
statements attributed to North Vietnamese General Tran Van Quang to U.S.,
Soviet and Vietnamese military records and Congressional testimony.
Particularly affecting is the testimony of Air Force Lieutenant General
Eugene Tighe before the Senate Select Subcommittee on POW/MIA Affairs in
June 1992. Tighe, who served as director of intelligence for the U.S.
Pacific Command in 1972-73, was responsible for directing a group of 30
senior intelligence officers who compiled a list of POWs that the United
States expected to be returned following the successful conclusion of the
Paris Peace negotiations.
"I certainly remember the shock and sadness of the paucity of the lists of
names we received versus what we expected," Tighe told the committee. "My
personal view was shock because I had a great deal of faith in the
approximate numbers of those lists that we had compiled and the dossiers,
and my reaction was that there was something radically wrong with the
(North Vietnamese) lists versus our information, that they should have
contained many more names. That was my personal judgment and that was a
collective judgment of all those that had worked compiling the lists," he
Quang's assertion in the GRU report that Hanoi controlled 1205 U.S. POWs in
1972, rather than the 368 North Vietnam acknowledged, and his declaration
that Hanoi would not set free all the American POWs until "the American
government resolves the political and military issues on all three fronts
in Indochina," led Smith to conclude in his report that the U.S.
government does not know the fate of many of its missing personnel in
Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
"The U.S. government should stop believing that it knows the fate of just
about everybody," Smith says. "It's time that people study the facts, even
if it means revisiting 'old' issues."
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list