MIA Facts Site

"Chip" Beck
Visits Cuba:
Same Song, Second Verse

Summary.  Former Navy LCDR "Chip" Beck has returned to Cuba. He claimsed in a December 1999 letter to the editor in the Washington Times that he was going there to seek the truth about Cuban contact with US POWs during the Vietrnam War.  According to the Cuban report on his visit, he was one of 37 journalists who visited Cuba for a major non-event.  I can hardly wait to read Beck's claims about this visit.

You should have come to this page from either the "What's New" page or the articles covering Beck, Dornan, and the "Cuban program."  If not, read this article and the articles linked to it.

Now (mid-January 2000), Chip Beck has returned to Cuba.  Here are a couple of documents dealing with his visit. 

Beck's Letter

The Washington Times
Sunday, December 26, 1999

Cardenas challenge already met

   In a letter responding to my views on adopting a practical approach toward
bilateral relations with Cuba ("Solution to Cuba crisis too simplistic," Dec.
15), Jose Cardenas ended by challenging the group I will lead to Havana next
month "to press for answers on Cuban torture of American" POWs during the
Vietnam War.

  As a former POW investigator-turned-journalist who has twice traveled to
Cuba, I have already met Mr. Cardenas' challenge during my earlier trips,
beginning a year ago, and the subject will be discussed again during my
January visit.

   Ironically, officials in Havana were more forthcoming and willing to
address this topic on a professional level than Mr. Cardenas' allies in
Congress, including Rep. Ileana Roz-Lehtinen. When the House Committee on
International Relations discussed the "Cuban program" in Vietnam in October,
I was originally invited to testify at the suggestion of former POW Mike
Benge, who knows of my work in this field. After being interviewed by
congressional staff members in Mrs. Roz-Lehtinen's office prior to the
hearings, I was told the next day that "the docket was full" and my testimony
would not be received.

  I expressed some incredulity that a congressional body that publicly stated
that it "wanted to get to the bottom of the issue" about alleged Cuban
interrogation of U.S. POWs would not want to hear from the only source who
had actually talked to Cuban diplomatic and military officers in Havana about
this specific program. I was told "it's just a scheduling matter."

  Perhaps it was my advice to the congresswoman and her staff members that
soured them on my proposed testimony. I said that if they really wanted to
find answers to lingering questions about unrepatriated POWs, then I was
supportive of this process, and in fact this was one of my goals in going to
Cuba. However, I added, if they simply wanted to use the emotional POW issue
as a means to exacerbate already poor relations between Cuba and the United
States, then I viewed that as an inappropriate and disrespectful use of
American service personnel and the POWs.

  I was the POW investigator who 3 years ago resurfaced the files hidden by a
handful of Pentagon officials that lead to October's House hearings. In
October 1996, I testified before the Dornan subcommittee in closed session on
related matters. I have since retired from the Navy and traveled to Cuba,
where I have talked to Cubans who served in Vietnam, including two war
correspondents who interviewed American POWs in Tay Ninh Province held by the
Viet Cong in 1965. I believe I know what happened in the Hanoi prison called
"the Zoo" in 1967-68, and why. I expect to find out more answers in my next

  Those answers, should they evolve, will come about because I elected to
engage Cuban professionals in a direct manner that genuinely seeks answers,
but gives them an opportunity to express their point of view, investigate
some possibilities on their own, and provide information that Mr. Cardenas
and Mrs. Roz-Lehtinen are too biased to even consider.

  During a November 1998 trip to Havana, I viewed films of American POWs in
captivity during the Vietnam War, mostly taken by war correspondents from
Vietnam, Cuba, East Germany and other countries. Officials of the Cuban
Foreign Ministry and the Jose Marte Press Institute expressed willingness to
cooperate on identifying U.S. POWs in the films to see if any of them were
POWs who did not return after Operation Homecoming in 1973.

  During my upcoming trip, I plan to discuss yet another trip to Havana,
accompanied by select ex-POWs and POW family members who are experts on
identifying former prisoners from photos, to see what can be learned from the
Cuban press files and even official archives.

  As to the 1967-68 program involving 20 American POWs who were beaten, with
Vietnamese approval by the way, I have more insights on what transpired, the
mission requirements of the interrogators, and what products were sought by
those involved, whoever they were. To obtain more facts, however, requires
that we set aside the emotional and venal aspects of our approach, and take a
competent, objective and professional approach.

  I don't know if Mr. Cardenas served in Vietnam, but I spent nearly five
years on the ground in Indochina and have some right to speak for my
generation of combat veterans. The Vietnamese certainly tortured and killed
American POWs, yet I do not hear Mr. Cardenas calling for an end to our
economic programs with Hanoi, just Havana.

  American forces, in select cases, did not perform admirably with regard to
enemy prisoners of war. Any cries of war crimes would be hypocritical if
aimed only in one direction. What was done in Vietnam, for good or bad, is
over. We need to acquire answers on the larger issue of what happened to
America's unrepatriated POWs from 50 years of warfare where the Soviets had a
secret exploitation program in their intelligence arsenal. I uncovered
relevant insights in East Berlin and Havana in the past two years, not by
being antagonistic nor subservient, but objective.

  As Mr. Cardenas suggested, I am willing to bring up these issues when I
travel to Havana. It's a disappointing, however, that his allies in Congress,
in my own nation's capital, are not interested in hearing what I learn during
those trips.


The Cuban Version of Events

The following is a translation by the US Foreign Boradcast Information Service (FBIS) of an article published by the cuban news service Granma. 

Now, this article puts the MIA "activist" community in something of a bind.  During the Vietnam War, Dr.  Fernando Barral, a Cuban propaganda officer posing as a psychiatrist and claiming to be a journalist,   "interviewed" Senator John McCain while McCain was a POW in Hanoi.   Granma later published and broadcast the propaganda version of this meeting.   McCain's statements were misrepresented in the Granma report but the "activists" use this Vietnamese-Cuban propaganda to claim that McCain is a traitor.  Read this article for more.  If the "activists" now claim that Granma misrepresented the substance of Beck's visit, how then can they rely on Granma's rendition of McCain's "interview?"  Of course, consistency of logic was never a strong point among the true believers.


SUBJ:    US Editors, Publicists Visit Granma's Offices

SOURCE:  Havana Granma (Internet version) in Spanish 12 Jan 00


    Report by Nidia Diaz

    FBIS Translated Text

    A group of US editors and publicists who are members of the US National
Dailies Association visited the offces of Granma daily yesterday afternoon.
They are exchanging experiences under the auspices of the International
Journalism Institute.

    The 37 Americans were welcomed by our director, Frank Aguero, who
explained to them issues that have to do with editorial policies, the
daily's edition and scope, electronic issues, and weeklies in various
languages.  Other members of the Directorate Council also participated in
the meeting.

    An interesting exchange of opinions on the case of little Elian, whose
right to be taken back to his father was unanimously stressed by the
visitors, took place.

    An interesting and exemplifying anecdote was recounted by war
correspondent and cartoonist Willian (Chip) Beck, whom she-wolf
congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen mentioned a few weeks ago to shore up her
charges against Cuba regarding US soldiers who were imprisoned during the
Vietnam War.

    He explained that when he told her aides of his previous visit to Cuba
and his affection for Cubans, he was told that his services were no longer

    Finally, the US media workers toured the various editing rooms of the


Whoa!!! Let's take a look at that.  Here the Cubans quote Beck as saying that he told a US Congresswomen of his "affection for Cubans."   Granma also describes this visit as a spectacular non-event.  I can hardly wait to read Beck's version of things.

Article posted 1/19/00