MIA Facts Site

The Earth
and Other Myths


Summary.  Once upon a time, the most advanced, wise, and learned scientists believed that the earth was flat and that the earth was the center of the universe -- the sun and stars revolved around the earth.  This belief held on until well into the 17th century and later in some places.  The MIA activist cult practices the "earth is flat" belief system -- they dust off old reports, old letters, and old whatever and proclaim they have discovered a deep, dark secret.  They ignore information that has been developed since these old reports were made, preferring to live in the past.

Copernicus and Galileo


Everyone has heard the story about Nicolas Copernicus (1473-1543) whose treatise On the revolutions of the heavenly spheres (published 1543) argued that the earth revolved around the sun.  This thesis directly countered current scientific belief, which held that the earth was the center of the universe and everything revolved around the earth.

The problem was that, at this time, the western world was in the grip of "the church" -- the Holy Apostolic Catholic Church -- and the view of the church was that man was a creation of god, god had put man on the earth, and god's creation -- man on his earth -- is the center of the universe.  In the eyes of the Church, any suggestion to the contrary was blasphemy and cause for excommunications.  Thus, Copernicus's theory was considered implausible by the vast majority of his contemporaries, and by most astronomers and natural philosophers of succeeding generations until the middle of the seventeenth century.


In 1609 Galileo constructed the first astronomical telescope, which he used to discover the four largest satellites of Jupiter and the stellar composition of the Milky Way, and in 1632 he published his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, a work that upheld the Copernican system rather than the Ptolematic system and marked a turning point in scientific and philosophical thought. Galileo, then, proved the Copernican theory that the earth was not the center of the universe.   And what did the church do?  They brought Galileo before the Inquisition in Rome (1633) where he was made to renounce all his beliefs and writings supporting the Copernican theory.

Now, the mid-1600's was not that long ago.  Thus, as recently as 400 years ago, the best minds in the world held that the earth was the center of the universe and anyone who questioned that belief was hauled before the church courts and forced to renounce his "heresy."

Those who denounced Copernicus and who forced Galileo to recant are of the same mindset as the MIA "activist" cult -- they believe that history stopped at some fixed point in the past and they will not hear of anything after that point.

Examples of "Flat Earth Thinking"

Examples of this mindset abound on the MIA "activist" websites.  Here are a few examples from the website of the National Alliance for MIA Families (copied on November 4, 2000).


Confirmed POWs - CIA document list Confirmed POWs as of 23 October 1967. List includes the name of one Marine a handwritten note on document states "not on list." To read more about this list and the Marine "not on List See Bits N Pieces Oct. 7th, 2000 To view actual document click here.

Nhommarath - former Natioanl (sic) Security Advisor Richard Allen says "We missed the best chance we ever had to find POWs still alive" See Bits N Pieces Sept 2, 2000 for details.

Nhommarath - Read memo written by General Eugene Tighe, on January 28, 1981. "Since April 1979, DIA has been investigating information provided by a refugee who alleged the detention of U.S. PWs in Laos. In November 1980 CIA provided information which corroborates the refugee's report...."

Contigency (sic) Plan For Live Americans In Indochina - State Department Plan dated January 27, 1981 - actions to be taken "depending on the country involved, the number of persons held prisoner..."


Note the dates on these items from the National Alliance:  1967 and 1981.  The Alliance would like for history to stand still -- but history does not stand still and their items are not new and have not been for years.  Read on.


First, let’s deal with the matter of lists. I receive e-mail and I read on the "activist" sites claims that this man or that man was "on the Kissinger list," "on the Shields list," "on the CIA list," or on some other list, thereby proving that the US government knew this man was alive. They then go on to prattle that, because he was on a list, and because we knew he was alive, and because he did not return, he must be among the hundreds of men who were held back after the war by the Vietnamese. The details of such claims vary, but that’s the basic claim – a name on a list equals a POW who was known to be captive and was never released.

Lists for the Paris negotiations

Claims of this sort about lists are not correct and are seriously misleading. What, then, are the "lists" about? That depends on the time period and the reason for the list. Let’s deal first with the Kissinger and Shields lists.

Henry Kissinger was President Nixon’s national security advisor and the chief US negotiator in the talks that led to the Paris Accords ending the US – Vietnam War. Roger Shields was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, the Pentagon office that is charged with developing and carrying out contacts with foreign nations. Shields – or whoever was in the ASD/ISA position – was an important member of the US negotiating team.

During the war, "missing" men could have been in one of these situations:

  1. Confirmed as a prisoner. Men who were confirmed as prisoners may be still alive or may have died in captivity. We learned during Operation Homecoming of over 40 men who died in captivity.
  2. Possibly a prisoner. Men who fit this description are those who were lost under circumstances where they may have been captured or there may have been a mention in the Vietnamese press that was equated to them. For example, if a US aircraft were shot down and a couple of days later Radio Hanoi stated that a US aircraft had been downed on XXX date, at XXX location and the pilot (crew) were captured, then it is possible that the men mentioned were captured. Confirmation of this claim would await further information.
  3. Possible enemy knowledge.
bulletIn many cases, Radio Hanoi would describe a shootdown that equated to a US aircraft loss and they would make no mention of the crew, or they would make some statement such as "the pilot paid with his life." While such a claim would not suggest that the man/men were captured, it does suggest that the Vietnamese had some knowledge of the crew’s fate.
bulletIn other cases, a man (men) would be lost under circumstances in which we thought it was probably that the Vietnamese would know something about them. There are many cases in which an aircraft went down, there was no chute seen, no emergency call heard, and no reason to believe that the man got out of the aircraft. But, because the incident occurred in close proximity to Vietnamese troops, or in/near a populated area, we assumed that the Vietnamese would know something of the man’s fate.
  1. Uncertain enemy knowledge. There are instances in which an aircraft took off on a mission, made a few commo checks, and was never heard from again. There were a few losses – especially involving long-range recon teams – in which a group of men went into the jungle, may or may not have been heard from, then they disappeared. In these cases, we simply do not know what happened to these men and we do not know what the Vietnamese know about them.

During the Paris negotiations, one of our objectives was to force the Vietnamese to give us information about missing men. Our problem was that we did not know what they knew. If we intended to give them a list of missing men and require them to provide information about them before negotiations moved forward, then we would kill the negotiations. Why? Because we had no way of definitively knowing what they knew. If we were to insist that they give us information on a man about whom they had no information, then negotiations would stop. We could not do that.

Thus, when US negotiators passed to the Vietnamese a list of "missing" men and demanded that they provide us information about these men, we knew that we would not receive answers on all the men listed. Because our own knowledge was incomplete, US negotiators decided to put on their lists names of men known to be prisoners, names of men who could be prisoners, and names of men whose fates were simply unknown.

Now, read the following sentence carefully. Lists of missing men were prepared and passed to the Vietnamese as a negotiating tactic, not as an indicator that the men on any one list were known to be captives. That’s it, folks. On any list, there were names of known POWs, names of possible POWs, names of men about whom the Vietnamese may know something, and names that were a mystery to us.

Inaccurate and misleading claims about "lists"

Claims that this man was known to be a POW because he was on "the Shields list" or "on the Kissinger list" are nonsense and are based on total ignorance of the purposes of the various lists. (Note, too, that there is not a single "Kissinger list" or "Shields list." The Pentagon was constantly being called on to produce a list with XXX number of names, or a list that met other criteria.)


Here we find a real bombshell -- in 1981, DIA, CIA, and the president's national security advisor were talking about reports of US POWs being held in Nhommarath, Laos.   Let's examine this story.

Nhommarath:  The Reports

In late 1980, a source reported to the CIA that US POWs might be held in an area of southern Laos.  Upon further questioning, the source claimed that US POWs were in a prison camp near the village of Nhommarath.  CIA passed this report to DIA with the comment that the source's reliability was questionable.  Just to be safe, DIA ordered satellite imagery to be taken of known prison facilities in that area of Laos.  In early 1981, US imagery satellites took a shot of a known prison camp near Nomarrath. (Variant spellings: Gnomarrat, Nhomarrat).  One imagery analyst claimed that he observed:

  1. The letters "B-52" spelled out using either piled up logs or brush, or stamped out in the ground;
  2. Tools with handles too long to be used by Caucasians; and,
  3. People seated cross-legged on the ground who would have to be Caucasians because SEAsians all squat, not sit cross-legged.

There were two problems with this assessment:

  1. The system that took the shot was an experimental system that was proving to be wildly inaccurate and was later shut off; and,
  2. Several other imagery analysts looked at the same view and concluded that the first guy had made a bad call, that there were no such items visible in the imagery.

(Note:   Contrary to claims being made in July 2000 by certain "MIA activist" groups, there was no signal intelligence concerning Nomarrath -- just the one unreliable CIA source report and the imagery on which opinions varied.)

A Navy Admiral in DIA was briefed about the CIA report and the two opinions  by the imagery analysts. He concluded that it was best to be safe than sorry so he started to crank up an operation to investigate this place on the ground. In the course of doing this, the imagery was briefed to members of Congress and was shared with certain US Special Operations units. This report made its way through the US Special Operations community to former Army LTC James "Bo" Gritz who has made himself a legend with his bogus operations.  Follow this link to read about Gritz's "rescue operations."

Nhommarath:  The Investigation and Findings

The recon

After completing inter-agency coordination, the CIA was given the mission of conducting an on-the-ground reconnaissance of the prison camp. A recon team of "indigenous" troops (Thai special forces) made their way into Laos and found the Nomarrath camp. They sat in the jungle outside the camp for several days, even penetrated the outer perimeter. They brought back a large quantity of photographs they had taken. They did not observe any Caucasians in the camp and the photographs showed only Asians. (Their handheld, ground-level photos were compared to satellite imagery just for double-check and verification; those guys really were there.)

Reports from people who were there

Over the years, DIA has located former officials of the Royal Lao Army and government who were imprisoned at Nhommarath. Some of these sources were held there at the very time the satellite imagery was being investigated and the recon team was doing their thing. These sources state that there were only Lao in Nomarrath, no foreigners, no Americans. They put the population of prisoners at between 30 and 45, varying from time to time.

Thus, the facts about this incident are:

  1. At the time of the reporting (1981), there was concern that the reports were accurate – that there were Americans in this prison camp.
  2. Officials at the time took prudent actions – they investigated the reports, in spite of the fact that there was considerable evidence that argued against the presence of US POWs at Nhomarrath (unreliable human source, serious questions about the imagery).
  3. The 1981 investigation – the ground recon of the camp – showed nothing that would suggest foreign prisoners in this camp.
  4. Since 1973, US interviewers have worked the refugee camps throughout SEAsia, interviewing refugees coming out of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. A part of the interview was to determine if the refugee had ever been arrested or had any experience with a prison that would allow him/her to know who was in that/those prison(s). Over the years, US interviewers turned up several former inmates of the Nhomarrath camp.   These people stated unequivocally and unanimously that there were no foreigners of any kind in the camp at Nhomarrath.   I do not recall the number but I believe it was 4, 5, or 6 – and every one of these had been in Nhomarrath at the time of our interest in the camp, 1981.  They reported that the camp population was 40 – 45 and they were all Laotian – officers and officials of the former Royal Lao government and military

No Americans in Nhomarrath

Thus, the conclusion is:

  1. US intell developed information that led us to believe there was a possibility of Americans in this camp.
  2. We investigated and found no Americans.
  3. Over the years, information has been collected to confirm the earlier conclusions of no Americans there.

"Activist" misrepresentations

You will never read on an "activist" web site, never hear from any of them, the conclusions about Nhomarrath. All they want to do is what the National Alliance does on its website, quoted above.  They want to wave around 1981 statements and disregard the follow-up actions and findings thereof -- because that action and those findings do not support the Alliance's cherished "abandoned POW" claims.

Contingency planning

And what of that 1981 State Department plan for recovery and return of US POWs?  Well, folks, has anyone ever heard of "Be Prepared?"  does the term "contigency plan" mean anything?  If it were possible that US POWs -- or defectors -- were returned from SEAsia, would it not be smart to have in place a plan as to what to do with them?

The presence of a contingency plan does not mean that the condition for which the plan is made is known to exist.  Consider the following examples.

bulletAt the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (Fort McNair, Washington, DC), classes consist of senior military and civilian government officials and senior executives from industry.  They consider what would be done in case the US were required to go on a full wartiem mobilization such as we did during WW II.  How would US industry shift from producing consumer goods to producing armaments, and the like.
bulletThere are plans in place for Presdential orders that would order part or all of the civilian airline fleet under government control in times of national emergency.  

Does the existence of these and other contigency planning measures mean that "the government" is plotting a takeover of the civilian airline fleet?   a takeover of civilian industry?  No.  It means nothing of the sort.   It does mean that prudent and responsible people are considering what would need to be done in cases of extreme national emergency and they are being prepared.   That's what the 1981 State Department POW return contingency plan was about -- "Be Prepared"  - it did not mean that anyone expectd US POWs to return.

In conclusion

The point of this discussion is that the MIA "activist" cult ignores reality.   This article has presented examples of how they use old information -- information that was considered valid or possibly valid at the time it was collected -- and ignore information that was developed later -- similar to 16th century "scientists" who insisted that the earth was the center of the universe, in spite of proofs to the contrary.  Why?  Because later discoveries do not fit into their mindset.

What we knew then

During the Vietnam War, all agencies of the US government who had the capability to do so collected information about men who were lost.  Because lost personnel were overwhelmingly military, the military had primary responsibility for collecting such information and acting on it.  In the years following the war, that effort continued.  Since the late 1980's, US personnel have been stationed in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia where they :

bullethave access to the wartime records of our former adversaries;
bulletare able to find and interview former enemy personnel who had contact with missing US personnel, were eyewitnesses to losses, or who were knowledgeable about how US prisoners or dead were handled;
bulletare able to go to loss sites and find wartime eye-witnesses; and,
bulletare able to find loss sites and excavate wartime crash and grave sites. 

What we know now

This activity has led to our developing specific information about individual losses and an understanding of what happened to missing men.  For example:

bulletUS investigating teams have located every known aircraft loss site in Vietnam.   Most of these have been visited more than once, many have ben excavated to recover remains, and all will be excavated eventually.  Ditto for Cambodia.  Because of the rugged terrain in Laos, it will take longer to find and assess every known crash site there, but it will be done.
bulletUS investigators have located wartime documents that were used to record the results of Vietnamese searches of US crash sites. That is, when a US aircraft was downed, Vietnamese forces went to the site and reported on what they found.  We have located many of these documents with entries such as "Pilot's body shredded," "Two pilots captured," and the like.  This information has led to conclusions about cases for which we previously had questions.
bulletContinuing interviews with refugees have provided information that was either specific to a loss incident or to a place.  That is, many refugees were arrested and held in prison for trying to escape Vietnam or Laos.  They told us about their prison experiences and, with over 20,000 total reports, we have developed extensive knowledge about the Vietnamese and Laotian prison systems and where there were and were not foreigners in that system (as in the case of Nhommarath).
bulletUS investigators have interviewed former enemy personnel who were eyewitnesses to loss incidents, who buried missing Americans, and who had similar information that was useful in determining the fate of missing men.

The result of this continuing collection and analysis of information is that we now know much more than we did in 1973 or 1967 or 1981.  For this reason, it is  wrong to take reports from years past and claim that these reports offer proof that US POWs were "abandoned" in SEAsia, while ignoring recent information that sheds light on these old reports.

An example

A case in point is that of "the mortician," an ethnic Chinese resident of Vietnam, he was a mortuary technician who processed French remains that were recovered from battlefield sites and returned to the French; he later processed American remains that were recovered and "stored" by the Vietnamese. 

Initially, based on statements he made in 1976, US intelligence believed there may have been as many as 400 to 600 US remains that were recovered by the Vientamese and that could be returned to us.  This article relates the mortician's story and is based on his 1976  statements.   In 1986, a Special National Intelligence Estimate (SNIE) was published that was based largely on the mortician's figures.

In the years following 1976, US intell developed considerably more information and developed a much better understanding of just how many US remains the Vietnamese collected.  In 1999, the results of this analysis were published; see this article for that analysis, which is based on current information, not just the 1976 "mortician's" report.  Our conclusions, based on current information, are that the mortician's estimates were high and it is not likely that the Vietnamese have more remains "stored."  In spite of the fact that we know much more now than we did in 1976 about the Vietnamese recovery of US remains, we still find "activists" qouting the 1986 SNIE as gospel, insisting that the Vietnamese could return to us far more remains than we can realistically expect, and ignoring later findings.

Tell the true believers

Would someone please tell the National Alliance and other MIA "activists" that the earth is not the center of the solar system or the universe, and that Copernicus and Galileo were right?  Don't be surprised if they, like the 16th century church, don't believe you.

November 4, 2000