MIA Facts Site

Why Do I
Bother?

 

Why do I bother with these uninformed fools?  On February 24, 2001, an individual signing the name "Paul Rifenberg" left this message on the MIA Facts Site Guestbook.  Mr. Rifenberg’s message is quoted as he posted it, complete with misspellings.

QUOTE

Just an idle observation: During the Senate Select Committe Hearings, two former Secretaries of Defense testified that they believed POWs were left behind. General Westmoreland has also shared that same opinion, as did former CIA Director William Casey. Why should we believe some rear-echelon desk-jockey Colonel's opinion when these superior ranked individuals (your bosses, I believe)all felt differently than you ? They were all in a better position to know the actual truth, don't you think ? What could you possibly know that they didn't ?

END QUOTE

Mr. Rifenberg has two problems, both of which he shares with the rest of the "MIA activist cult" — (1) he does not know what he is talking about, and, (2) he believes that time stopped somewhere in the 1970’s.

It is true that two former Secretaries of Defense testified before the Senate Select Committee on POW-MIA Affairs (SSC) that they believed it was possible that there were US POWs still alive in captivity in SEAsia after Operation Homecoming. If these two former Secretaries make such statements, how is it that I can state definitively that no US POWs were left alive in captivity after Homecoming?

The answer is simple: Passage of time.  The two SECDEFs held their positions at the end of the Vietnam War and in the 1970’s. At the end of the war, and well into the 1980’s, there were men who were "missing" about whom we had questions as to their fate. In the case of a few men, while there was no evidence that they were alive at the end of the war, there was also no evidence that they were dead. In fact, some men were lost in incidents where they were known to have survived their loss but were never seen in captivity.  Faced with this uncertainty, the conclusion that was provided to these two SECDEFs was that we could not rule out the possibility of men still being alive in captivity.  And that is the last they knew on the matter.

The SSC was in session for 16 months from summer 1991 until January 1993 — this item is being written in February 2001 — the SSC has been history for eight years.   The people who testified before the SSC testified as to what they knew at the time they knew it.  In the case of the two SECDEFs who stated their beliefs on POWs, their information was 15 to 20 years old at the time of the SSC.

We have learned a lot since the end of the war and since the time these two men were SECDEF.

bulletThrough the 1970’s into the late 1980’s, US search teams had limited access to the battlefields of SEAsia; the Vietnamese returned to us remains that they had recovered; US intelligence agencies continued to collect and analyze information; and, returnees were debriefed and that information was analyzed.
bulletBeginning in the late 1980’s, US search teams have had excellent access to the old battlefields and we have been able to search loss incident sites; US researchers have been stationed in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia where they have had excellent access to our former enemies’ wartime records.

The fact is that the former SECDEFs testified to what they knew at the time they held the office of SECDEF — and that time was 20 to 30 years ago.  They did not know what we have learned in the past three decades and that information has led to the conclusion of a lot of previously uncertain loss incidents -- in every one of these, the individual's death has been established without a doubt. We know more now than they did then.

Ditto for General Westmoreland.

Mr. Rifenberg and the rest of the "MIA activist cult" prefer to live in the past, that’s why they constantly dig up reports from 30 years ago, testimony from old SECDEFs, and the like. They prefer to ignore recent information because that information refutes their favorite fairy tales.

 Mr. Rifenberg then claims that former CIA Director Bill Casey stated that he knew US POWs were left behind in Vietnam.  This is not a true statement — it is one of the favorite lies of the "MIA activist cult." This story originates from former congressman Billy Hendon. A few months before Casey died, Hendon met with him in an attempt to get Casey to support one of Hendon’s wacky schemes. Casey heard him out then sent him on his way. After Casey died, Hendon announced that Casey had said to him that he (Casey) "knew" we left men behind.

There were two CIA officers in the Hendon-Casey meeting, one of whom was taking notes. Both of these men testified that Casey never made such a statement and that he never said anything to Hendon that was even close to Hendon’s claim.

I doubt that anything I say will dissuade Mr. Rifenberg from his pursuit of fairy tales — that’s the way the "MIA activist cult" works.

By the way, Mr. Rifenberg makes some silly comments about how the SECDEFs and Casey were in a better position than I to know the truth.  Mr. Rifenberg has never served a day in uniform, never served with the CIA, and has not a clue as to what he is talking about.  Just where does Mr. Rifenberg think that Secretaries of Defense, the CIA Director, and other very senior people get their information?  Does he believe -- as he seems to -- the the Secretary of Defense and the Director of CIA spend their time reading every report that comes into their organizations?  Hardly. 

Here’s a news flash for Mr. Rifenberg:  These guys know what people like me tell them.  It’s the action officers and the analysts — majors, lieutenant colonels, GS 12/13/14’s — who read and analyze the reporting; who direct collection; and who write the position papers, the information papers, and the decision papers that the Secretary, Deputy, Under, and Assistant Secretaries depend on for their knowledge. And it’s the colonels who command the action officers and who decide what goes up the chain of command.

 Rifenberg says "They were all in a better position to know the actual truth, don't you think ? What could you possibly know that they didn't ? " No, they were not in a better position than I because they knew what we on the staff told them.

I can hardly wait for Mr. Rifenberg's next dumb, uninformed comment.