An enormous crime, POW/MIA

Discussion in 'Multinational HQ' started by armchair_jihad, Mar 7, 2008.

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  1. Having noted Trip Wires post in this thread

    that the POW/MIA issue would be used against McCain the US election I thought I would check out some of the links he offered on this subject.

    Being youngish and non Yank, my exposure to the whole US Vietnam POW /MIA issue has been a few very dodgy films, large wall paintings in various US bases and some simplistic but earnest, web sites.

    Trips main link was to , the web site of the book. Having just read the 14 case studies on the site I have to say I am leaning towards being impressed with the body of evidence, to the extent that I have just ordered the book.

    Given the nature of the society and regimes in Vietnam and Laos, I can understand why not all POW’s would be returned at the end of the War, I can also fully appreciate the argument for the alleged DIA cover up and ongoing suppression.

    Knowing the region I would be very certain that any remaining captives would have been carefully disposed of by now, especially given the amount of US investment in the area.

    Although I will be reading the book in a few days I did notice it had no reviews in the mainstream US press, have any US ARRSER’s apart from Trip read it?

    And just how vunerable is McCain on this issue?
  2. Here are some reviews, both a bit sceptical. I must say I find these kinds of conspiracy theories hard to believe.

    Very long, here is an excerpt from it:

    The Hendon/Stewart thesis—articulated in their subtitle—is that the United States government “abandoned” live POW/MIAs behind in Vietnam. And further, that when pressed—by prominent Americans, MIA families, non-governmental organizations, and information that could not be ignored—some government officials simply went through the motions of ascertaining what happened to these men or, worse, subverted, twisted, and buried the truth about their fate.

    But “abandoned” presupposes that there were prisoners left behind for the government to abandon. Thus, the authors of An Enormous Crime raise three questions: (1) Were live Americans withheld by the North Vietnamese at Operation Homecoming in 1973? (2) If they were, did our government know? (3) If it did, was there a cover up?

    If the answer to the first question is “no”—if no live Americans were withheld at Operation Homecoming—the second and third questions are irrelevant. There was nothing for our government to know, nothing to cover up.

    On the other hand, if there is evidence that Americans were withheld, it has to have been such that our government had to have known (and thus, the POW/MIAs were, in fact, “abandoned”). This, in turn, would mean that indeed there was a cover up.


    Because with the vast human and material resources possessed by the United States even thirty-five years ago, official incompetence alone would not account for our government not having made substantial, and probably successful, efforts to repatriate those withheld by the Communists.

    Accordingly, the first question must be addressed first.

    Unfortunately, Hendon and Stewart unwittingly undermine their thesis that the North Vietnamese withheld American POW/MIAs at Operation Homecoming by making three serious mistakes.

    First, they present a mind-numbing avalanche of data and irrelevant information.

    For example, the authors often break their dramatic narrative by introducing scores of POW/MIA sighting reports which, after a while, begin to sound alike and include unpronounceable Vietnamese names that the reader can not possibly remember. While the authors obviously believe that these sighting reports bolster their argument, it would have been better served if the reports had been presented in summary fashion with the texts of the actual sightings contained, if need be, in an appendix. More important, however, the sighting reports are either hearsay—some triple and even more—or suffer from lack of credible first-hand, primary-source corroboration.

    And while interesting, lengthy discussions such as Richard Nixon’s Watergate problems and the fraudulent selection of the unknown soldier, though conceivably bearing tangentially on the POW/MIA issue, break the authors’ narrative and distract the reader from the thesis the authors have set out to prove.

    Second, they rely considerably on dubious sources.

    Reliance on witnesses with axes to grind—such as the despicable turncoat Marine, Bobby Garwood (who was convicted of collaboration with the enemy and striking a POW), and former South Vietnamese military personnel seeking an edge in their efforts to immigrate to the United States—necessarily raises questions of credibility.

    Third, for crucially important allegations they offer no sources at all.

    This is the worse failing of An Enormous Crime—which regrettably undermines the authors’ prodigious effort.

    When a former Congressman and the daughter of a POW/MIA accuse the North Vietnamese of withholding prisoners and the United States government of complicity by knowingly abandoning live Americans to a brutal, conscienceless Communist foe, they are obliged to make as strong a case as possible—not to rely on unsourced assertions, such as the one that follows.

    In an eye-opening passage on pages 301-303, the authors report a 1986 conversation which, if true, by itself would provide a compelling piece of evidence in support of their argument that the North Vietnamese withheld POW/MIAs at Operation Homecoming and that our government knew the truth but did nothing.

    They describe a meeting on October 7, 1986 in Hendon’s Congressional office “attended by [CIA Director William] Casey, a man Hendon did not know but assumed was Casey’s deputy, Robert Gates [presumably the current Secretary of Defense], two other individuals from the CIA, Hendon, [then-Representative Bob] Smith, and perhaps a half dozen of the other [POW/MIA-seeking] activist congressman.”

    After some back-and-forth, the CIA director, the authors assert, made the following admission: “ ‘Look, the nation knows they (the POWs) are there, everybody knows they’re there. You guys have written the President (advising him they are there), you’re always talking about it, [Lieutenant General Eugene F.] Gene Tighe [Jr. a seasoned Air Force POW/MIA expert, and one-time head of the Defense Intelligence Agency] is always talking about it, but there’s no groundswell of support for getting the men out.’ He [Casey] continued, ‘Certainly you are not suggesting that we pay for them, surely you’re not saying we should do something like that with no public support.’ He concluded by saying, ‘look, we screwed up in 1973, we screw up all the time, and my job is to make sure that we don’t screw, Casey’s word up again. What do you want, another hostage crisis?”

    Imagine if this devastating admission were true.

    In 1986—thirteen years after every live American was supposed to have been repatriated from, if not all of Indochina at least North Vietnam—the Director of the CIA, a close associate of the President of the United States, admits to a room full of high public officials that the North Vietnamese did in fact withhold POW/MIAs, that they remained in Vietnam, that our government knew it, that few Americans wanted them repatriated, and that they were not going to be ransomed by the United States.

    But how do we know if the authors are telling the truth about this extraordinay revelation?

    Well, we have someone’s word for it. Whose? Why, Hendon’s. At page 301 he discloses his source as “[a]n affidavit later filed by Hendon, based on meeting notes he recorded on the morning following the meeting . . . .” (My emphasis.)

    No other source is given, even though according to Hendon the other attendees—Casey’s deputy, Gates, two CIA people, Congressman Smith “and perhaps a half dozen of the other [MIA-seeking] activist congressman”—“were deeply disturbed by what they had just heard.”

    The authors are asking the reader to take on faith that nearly a dozen high public officials heard America’s top spook make these damning admissions, when Hendon and Stewart fail to produce even one of those witnesses as a source: not Casey’s deputy, Gates, the CIA agents, Bob Smith, or the other Congressmen. Only Hendon himself.

    The Casey episode is not the only one the authors use to deliver earthshaking information about POW/MIAs. The also claim that in 1983 Richard Armitage, then a high-ranking Defense Department official, told Hendon the prisoners “serve at the pleasure of their commander in chief, and when he decides it’s time for them to come home, then they’ll come home.”

    These deficiencies in An Enormous Crime—the mind-numbing quantity of data and irrelevant information, reliance on dubious sources and, in crucially important passages, no sources at all—seriously undermine the book.

    They do not, however, discredit the other aspects of the authors’ argument—some of which are formidable.

    Thus, in assessing their case from the perspective of what evidence a lawyer would have to produce if trying to prove the authors’ thesis in a court of law, I will necessarily ignore opinions, hearsay, newspaper articles, unsourced statements, and reports from anonymous intelligence and other sources; not only do the authors not need that sort of “verification” to advance their thesis, but that kind of “sourcing” actually undercuts it. Breathless statements like “a CIA contact in West Germany had learned from a Vietnamese embassy employee in Bonn that the [Communists] were holding American prisoners of war as a ‘trump card’ that they planned to use in the upcoming negotiations with the United States” are probative of nothing.

    Eliminating all the chaff, then, what wheat is left?

    another review:
  3. i have no idea if there is any truth to this but interesting:

    Baghdad , 20 Feb 08 And here is just a personal vignette of an experience I and my psychologist buddy had with the Republican probable nominee, Senator McCain. He came here, as you might know, to “inspect the situation.” Jesus, what a farce! There he was, walking around a marketplace with more armed guards than Bush has, and wearing a huge bullet-proof vest. Anyway, after he “inspected” the market, he came to the Green Zone for some rigged conference with the lying generals. My buddy and I were going to visit another friend when we saw guards, etc, in front of a rec room door. Curious, we went into another unguarded room, opened several doors and guess what? There was the Senator all by himself, sitting on a folding chair by a card table. We were a little awed so I said ‘Hello, Senator. Sorry to bother you.” He looked at us like we were cows and kept blinking. Finally, he smiled and said, ‘Hey, there, soldiers! How is it going? Is it going good?” and my friend the shrink said, “Why yes, Senator. Everything is great!” And McCain smiled at nothing and looked around the room.

    “Well…I’m glad to hear it. You are the General?” And I said, a little sarcastically, “Why no, Senator, not quite yet.” And he looked at me like I was a sheep or something, smiling s silly smile. “Oh” he said to the table, “Let’s hope it gets a little cooler here. Have you been here long?” My friend said, “Too long Senator.” “Why that’s good, General,” the Senator replied to the ceiling. Then his lips moved but he said nothing. He looked up and smiled. My wife’s grandfather did just that. And the Senator may have been sitting right near us but believe me, he was somewhere else. Then he began a conversation with someone who wasn’t there and my friend took my arm and said, “I think we should get the hell out of here,” and we started to go back the way we came when some civilian came in. “It’s time to go to the meeting, John,” but McCain just smiled and kept on talking to the table. The civilian said, “All right, gentlemen, time to go. The Senator is very tired and has jet lag.” And when we left, the Senator was talking complete nonsense. Later, one of the staff personnel told both of us that the Senator had “a little accident” and he had to change his pants. Jesus H. Christ! This nut is going to be a President? My friend, who is a pro, said he was very obviously suffering from pre-Alzheimer’s and believe me, although I am not trained, this one was a pure space case. They must know this. I guess they give him a shot of something before he gets out in public but if you saw him with a vacant stare, talking to himself, you would not have to be a professional shrink to know that putting this pathetic man into the Oval Office would be a worse mistake than putting Bush in. At least as far as we know, Bush doesn’t talk to the walls and wet himself.”
  4. Interesting, but I have serious doubts about its validity. Romney tried to make the same argument, and it was quite apparent that McCain could tell what was happening. His mind is all there, though there are questions about his physical health.

    There has been "swift boating" against McCain, but he has enough veteran support to get past it. I have some serious doubts about the allegations against him. He has a firm counter-point in that he was himself tortured by the NVA, and quite severely.