MIA Facts Site

Jerry Mooney:
Nothing of Substance
-- in fact --

Summary.  Former USAF Master Sergeant Jerry Mooney is a hero of the MIA activist cult.  Mooney was an Air Force Security Service analyst who analyzed intercepted radio communications.  He has made numerous claims, most of them revolving around his claim that he saw intercepted communications proving that US POWs were taken to the Soviet Union -- "MB - Moscow Bound" as he put it.   The facts are quite the opposite.  When given a chance to show what he knew to the Senate Select Committee on POW-MIA Affairs, Mooney had nothing -- which is exactly what he has always had -- nothing.  Jerry Mooney is just another charlatan and liar, making a name for himself at the expense of MIA families.

SIGINT -- Signal Intelligence

When people began communicating by electronic means, other people began listening in.   The practice of intercepting other people's communications and learning about their plans and activities is known by the general name of signal intelligence -- SIGINT.   SIGINT has two divisions:  COMINT (communication intelligence) and ELINT (electronic intelligence).


Communications intelligence is the practice of listening to what is being transmitted and extracting intelligence from the information being transmitted.  COMINT focuses on reading the other guy's mail -- what is he saying in his messages.


Electronic intelligence is the practice of learning from the technical characteristics of the signal.  For example, we may determine that the radar on a certain enemy vessel has a unique electronic "signature."  Thus, whenever we intercept that specific signal, we know it is from that vessel.

I will not spend a lot of time discussing the world of signal intelligence, except to say that it's a fascinating business.  I recommend you track down books on the following topics:

bulletENIGMA -- the Germans developed a mechanical encoding machine that they thought made their communications completely secure.  Not so.  We were reading the German's mail before and during WW II.  Search for books and articles on ENIGMA
bulletRead either or both of Jim Bamford's books about the National Security Agency.  His first is The Puzzle Palace and his most recent is Body of Secrets.  
bulletSearch the net for anything on SIGINT, COMINT, ELINT, the Japanese Naval Code, codebreaking, and encryption.

Signals analysis

Merely intercepting enemy communications does us no good.  The intercepted material must be translated, de-crypted, collated,  analyzed, and compared to what we know from other sources.  SIGINT analysis does NOT consist of listening to what the enemy says and believing it. 

A historical example from WW II illustrates what can happen when one believes everything that is transmitted.  We knew the Germans held General George Patton in high regard, so, a special communications group was established in the north of England.   This organization consisted of a few hundred personnel and lots of radio transmitters.  They exchanged radio messages just as though they were an army in training.  Patton made himself very visible in the same area.  The Germans intercepted these communications and decided that Patton was forming an army in the north of England.  When the Normandy invasion occurred, the Germans did not believe -- for several days -- that this was the main attack.  They were waiting for Patton's phantom army to cross the English Channel.

Over-reliance on signals intelligence is as deadly as not having any signals intelligence -- smart people strike a balance.

Jerry Mooney

Mooney was a career SIGINT analyst.  He was a traffic analyst -- that is, he looked at who was sending messages to whom, the nature of those messages, the structure of the communications nets, and he tried to make determinations as to enemy capabilities from these studies.  Mooney WAS NOT A VIETNAMESE LINGUIST AND HE DID NOT SERVE IN VIETNAM.   Mooney's fame -- such as it is -- comes from three activities and events.

The BARON 52 shootdown

In February 1973, after the Paris Peace Accords were signed, we continued to collect signals intelligence because the North Vietnamese maintained substantial forces in Laos, Cambodia, and South Vietnam.  Under the terms of the Paris Accords, they were to withdraw and we used signal intelligence to monitor their activities and to determine if they really were withdrawing.

One of the best ways to intercept communications is to put antennas and receivers and a trained intercept crew on board aircraft and fly them over areas of interest.   Because radio waves travel in straight lines, if you are flying over or alongside an area of interest, you can suck up a lot of information by monitoring the radio traffic coming out of that area because you are in "line of sight" of most of the transmitters -- BARON 52 was doing just that, flying over Laos, monitoring PAVN communications.

BARON 52 was the radio callsign of an EC-47Q aircraft.  The EC-47Q was an old WW II C-47, modified with the addition of antennas, receiving equipment, tape recorders,   equipment racks, and intercept positions.  In the front of the aircraft was the flight crew -- pilot, co-pilot, and navigator.  In the rear, seated at cramped equipment tables and racks, were the intercept crew who operated the receivers and other equipment, intercepting enemy communications.  BARON 52 was one aircraft of a unit that was flying intercept missions over Laos to monitor PAVN troop movements, trying to determine if they really were withdrawing.

On 5 February 1973, BARON 52  was shot down over Laos with the loss of all on board.  Approximately five hours after BARON 52 went down, another aircraft -- operating off the coast of North Vietnam several hundred miles away from the area of Laos where BARON 52 went down -- intercepted a report from a Vietnamese unit that the unit had "four bandits" in its possession and was having trouble moving them along a road because of road conditions. 

Mooney jumped on this report and claimed that the "four bandits" were four crewmembers from BARON 52 who had been captured.  In fact, the message had nothing to do with Americans.  Instead of re-telling the BARON 52 story here, I recommend you read my article about BARON 52.

"Moscow Bound"

Mooney claimed that he analyzed a large volume of intercepts that led him to conclude that US POWs were taken to Moscow -- he claims to have kept a list called his "MB" list (for "Moscow Bound") containing the names of men whom he concluded were taken to the USSR.

In short, these claims by Mooney are fiction.  He tells a great tale and, to the novice, he is quite convincing.   When the Senate Select Committee on POW-MIA Affairs called him to testify, the MIA activists could hardly wait.  Here was their hero, Jerry Mooney, who was going to lay waste to the cover up and conspiracy going on involving live US POWs who were never released.  He was going to tell all. 

Mooney testified before the SSC -- a copy of his testimony can be found here.  He then went into closed session with the committee and later spoke at length with the committee staff.  To understand what Mooney had to offer, I think it best to quote from the final report of the Senate Select Committee:

The Committee benefited from the insights of a retired NSA SIGINT analyst, Senior Master Sergeant Jerry Mooney (USAF-retired). During the war, SMSgt. Mooney maintained detailed personal files concerning losses of aircraft and downed airmen. Unfortunately, those personal files did not become part of the archived files maintained by the NSA and have been lost. Although SmSgt. Mooney has sought to reconstruct some of that information from personal memory, the loss of the files makes it impossible to check those recollections against the contemporaneous information.

The Committee found no evidence to substantiate claims that signals intelligence gathered during the war constitute evidence that U.S. POWs were transferred to the Soviet Union from Vietnam.

.    .    .

Under questioning by one Committee Member during the January hearing, Mooney admitted that he never had "direct information" that American POW's were taken to the Soviet Union. In response to another Committee member's question, he said that he "saw no evidence that they [prisoners] went to the Soviet Union." On several occasions during his testimony he said that he believed that American prisoners had been taken there, but he was unable to provide any conclusive proof to the Committee to support his judgment.

Lying to families

Mooney has, over the past decade, put a lot of effort into lying to and misleading the families of missing men.  Here's how it works:  If a member of your family is missing in SEAsia,  ask Mooney if he knows anything about the missing man.  Mooney thinks about it then, in serious, studious tones, he tells about the intercepted communications he heard indicating that your missing father was taken to the USSR.   Recently -- June 2001 -- he was at a gathering where the daughters of an individual lost in the shootdown of SPECTRE 17 asked about their father.  Mooney told these two women that he had information that their father was captured.

His claims to family members are lies and they serve no purpose except to rip the hearts out of MIA families.  Mooney is, in this regard, typical of the rest of the charlatans who surround the MIA issue and who make up what I call the "MIA cult" -- they have no scruples, no honesty, no decency -- they lie to aggrandize themselves and they care not a whit about the emotional damage they cause.  By the way, Mooney will be the featured speaker at the National Alliance annual meeting in June 2001.  Spit.

Mooney and the analytic process

In all of his claims, Mooney states that he analyzed communications intercepts and concluded the US POWs were being taken to the Soviet Union.  All this sounds fine until one considers the way signals intelligence is analyzed -- one person does not sit off in a room breaking codes and reading other people's mail.  Signals intelligence -- actually, the raw information from which intelligence is derived -- is subjected to a lengthy process of analysis and evaluation, including many checks and balances among analysts and analytic elements.

What this means, simply stated, is that lots of eyes look at every piece of information before any conclusions are reached.

Communications are intercepted in a variety of means.  In the case in which people are actually listening to enemy voice communications, the intercept operator is a linguist of some capability and he/she is listening for certain items.  Depending on the situation, if the operator hears certain information, he/she can issue a high precedence message calling the attention of other analysts to this intercept.

Intercepts are then reviewed, translated, re-reviewed, re-translated and studied at the next level above the intercept operator.  This process continues up the chain with different analysts reviewing the intercepts, re-translating, going back to the original intercept and listening to it in the native language.  As a result of this review and continuing analysis, a comprehensive picture emerges.  And it is this process of analyzing signals intelligence that makes Mooney's claims so silly.  NOT ONE OTHER SIGNALS ANALYST AGREES WITH MOONEY.  Not one single analyst, not a team of analysts, no one has reached the same conclusions as Mooney -- many other people and groups of a people looked at the same information Mooney saw -- and they looked at it in depth.   Mooney's claims are simply not supported by the evidence or by the analysis of the evidence.   It's not that other analysts disagree with Mooney, it is that the entire body of signals evidence refutes Mooney's assertions.

Not who he claims to be

Mooney is not the hot-shot, premier analyst that he claims to be.  The comments by the SSC should be sufficient to show that he is just another clown.  I spoke with several people from the National Security Agency -- NSA -- who knew Mooney.  They moved him from job to job, trying to find something he would not screw up.  Finally, they made him an administrative sergeant, pushing paper.  Mooney tells quite a different tale -- don't believe it.

Needles in the shag carpet

My favorite Mooneyisms come from the 1986 Smith-McIntyre lawsuit.  Retired Army Major Mark Smith and his colleague Sergeant Melvin McIntyre filed suit against the President, past presidents, Secretaries of State and Defense (current and past), and various other government officials.  They claimed that they had evidence of US POWs remaining in SEAsia and the evidence was disregarded by the government.  They were suing to be brought back onto active duty and to require the government to search for these POWs, proof of which they had.  Read the linked article about Smith -- he had no information and his suit was dismissed.

Jerry Mooney came out of the woodwork and filed an affidavit in support of Smith.   In his affidavit, Mooney made his claims about having analyzed SIGINT showing that US POWs were taken to the Soviet Union.  The best part of his affidavit, however, was when Mooney claimed that "government agents" were attempting to stop him from testifying.  A big part of his affidavit is a melodramatic recounting of how these bad old government agents did the following to stop him from testifying:

bulletThey sneaked into his home and put itching powder in clothes hanging in his closets.
bulletThe sneaked into his home and buried needles in his shag carpet -- the needles stuck his feet when he walked barefooted on the carpet.
bulletThey also sneaked into his yard and put steel pipes in the ground that protruded just enough to hit the blade on his lawn mower -- causing him to ruin two mowers.

Stop laughingI am not making this up -- it's all there in his affidavit -- and it gets better, read on.

The Mooney Cartoons

Finally, there is the matter of what I call the "Jerry Mooney cartoons."   When Mooney testified before the Senate Select Committee, he was  asked to produce documents, notes, anything.  Finally, he produced what he called his own analytic work.  Mooney handed over a stack of approximately 150 sheets of 8-1/2 x 11 paper on which he had used colored markers and colored pencils to draw "cartoons."

These pages were covered with stick-figure drawings of mountains, trees, rivers, aircraft, weapons, parachutes, and people.  When laid end to end, these pieces of paper made a continuous drawing.  The drawings depicted, for example, a stick figure airplane flying over a stick figure jungle.  The next sheet would show stick figure men on the ground around a big machine gun, firing a stream of bullets that struck the aircraft.  Then, stick figure men in parachutes wee depitced bailing out of the stricken aircraft.  Across the tops of the pages were the names of missing men and repeated over and over were the words from the song "Where Have All the Flowers Gone."

The Defense Intelligence Agency asked the SSC to provide Mooney's notes to us so we could review them.  The Committee staff refused.  I learned later that Senator Bob Smith directed that the "cartoons" not be turned over because he was embarassed.  It seems that Smith had championed Mooney only to discover that Mooney had nothing to offer; now Smith did not want these silly "cartoons" in anyone else's hands.  DIA finally obtained the whole stack of cartoons from the SSC and copied them.  In June 2001 I submitted a FOIA request for the whole stack and when they arrive, I'll post a few of them so everyone can see Jerry Mooney's analytic talent at work.


This could go on and on but it makes me angry and the point is made:  Jerry Mooney has nothing to offer on the MIA issue.  He never saw any SIGINT indicating the US POWs were "MB," he never collected any information as to the fates of missing men.  He is a liar and a charlatan.