MIA Facts Site

What Has
DASD Jennings
Been Smoking?

 

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, and Director of the Defense POW-Missing Personnel Office made a major unsupportable statement in a meeting in Moscow, September 2004.  The following Associated Press article reports on Jennings' statements.  Read the article; I will comment after the article.

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US Wants Broader Search for Missing POWs

24 September, 2004

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) ‹ The American co-chair of a U.S.-Russian commission working to determine the fate of missing servicemen said that a more extensive search through Russian government archives is needed to determine if any American prisoners from the Korean and Vietnam wars were taken to the Soviet Union.

Jerry D. Jennings, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense in charge of the worldwide search for missing American servicemen, praised Russia's contribution to the painstaking effort to determine the fate of American servicemen missing from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War. None have been found alive.

But a key question has remained unanswered since the Joint Commission on POW/MIAs was set up in 1992: Were any American prisoners from the Korean and Vietnam wars taken to the Soviet Union?

"I think if there were high-value prisoners, they would have taken them out" to the Soviet Union, said Jennings, who served as a CIA intelligence officer in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war. "There have been clues, the problem is there is no hard evidence."

A hint emerged when researchers found a brief memoir written by the late Russian military historian and the commission's co-chair, Dmitry Volkogonov, shortly before his death in 1995, in which he said he had discovered in Russian archives a Vietnam-era document assigning the KGB the task of "delivering knowledgeable Americans to the USSR for intelligence purposes."

Russian officials said there was no such directive and that they are convinced such transfers did not take place.

If such transfers occurred, relevant documents would likely reside in KGB archives, which unlike some of the Russian Defense Ministry's files, remain classified and off-limits to U.S. researchers, Jennings said in an interview.

"It's likely that the answers are in the KGB files, it's likely that they would hold these special prisoners if they were brought in the country," Jennings told The Associated Press.

With Russian officials stonewalling U.S. requests for access to KGB archives, a possible solution could be engaging retired Russian officers to rummage through the sensitive files on behalf of U.S. officials, Jennings said.

A similar approach had been negotiated with Vietnam where retired senior intelligence officers were recruited to search through classified files for clues to the fate of missing American servicemen, Jennings said.

He said that he got assurances from senior Russian officials that the Kremlin would continue providing strong support to the POW/MIAs panel despite a recent government reshuffle that left the status of its Russian part uncertain.

The Russian government has allowed the commission's researchers to review thousands of pages of documents from the Russian Defense Ministry's Central Archives relating to U.S. combat losses in Korea. The search helped clarify the fate of 264 Americans who went missing from the Korean war.

The Russians have also provided extracts from classified documents relating to the downing of U.S. aircraft in Vietnam and helped find remains or determine the fate of American airmen whose planes were shot down on spy missions over the former Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The United States, in turn, has given Russia archival documents shedding light on the fates of about 450,000 Soviet displaced persons from World War II and 163 Soviet soldiers who went missing during the war in Afghanistan. It has also provided information on many Russians missing during the Cold War.

"This is a very sensitive, very important issue to the veterans on both sides and to the families of the missing on both sides," Jennings said of the commission's work.
2004 Associated Press

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The heart of this article is these two paragraphs; read them again.

"I think if there were high-value prisoners, they would have taken them out" to the Soviet Union, said Jennings, who served as a CIA intelligence officer in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war. "There have been clues, the problem is there is no hard evidence."

A hint emerged when researchers found a brief memoir written by the late Russian military historian and the commission's co-chair, Dmitry Volkogonov, shortly before his death in 1995, in which he said he had discovered in Russian archives a Vietnam-era document assigning the KGB the task of "delivering knowledgeable Americans to the USSR for intelligence purposes."

So, Jennings is telling us there "have been clues" that "high-value" U. S. POWs were taken from Vietnam to the Soviet Union.  The article goes on to refer to a claim by the late Russian General Dimitry Volkogonov that the KGB was assigned the task of "delivering knowledgeable Americans to the USSR for intelligence purposes."

I spent six years working on the question of Americans missing in Southeast Asia and I am not a novice to the issue.  Jennings' statement has no basis in fact.  There is no reason whatsoever to believe that U. S. POWs from Vietnam or Korea were transferred to the Soviet Union.  Every "clue" to which he refers has been investigated time and again and found to have no substance.

Volkogonov's claim was investigated and found to be a reference to a KGB directive aimed at encouraging American defectors.

I am dismayed and am at a loss to explain why an official at Jennings' level would make such statements, knowing that his claims are groundless.  Perhaps he's trying to cozy up to someone, maybe he's trying to please a superior or ameliorate critics.  DASD Jennings needs to get a spinal transplant and stiffen his backbone.

No U. S. POWs were removed from Vietnam (or Korea) the the USSR.  He has no business making such claims.  Frankly, I am glad to be retired and out of it -- but it still hurts to see misrepresentations at such high levels.