Summary. Legislation introduced into the Senate and the House in 1999 has the potential to interfere with serious efforts to account for and recover missing men from WW II, Korea, and Vietnam. I urge readers to contact your Senators and ask them to oppose S. 484, the "Bring Them Home Alive Act" and contact your Representatives to oppose H. R. 1926, with the same name.
From time to time, the MIA "activist" community convinces one or more members of Congress to introduce legislation that promotes the activist point of view. This has happened in early 1999. Things got started in February 1999 when Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell introduced S. 484, the "Bring Them Home Alive Act." Now, in May 1999, Representative Joel Hefley has introduced the companion bill, H. R. 1926, also named the "Bring Them Home Alive Act".
Senator Campbell's Letter
The following is a letter sent by Senator Campbell to the rest of the Senate asking that they support his bill.
BEN NIGHTHORSE CAMPBELL
Text of the Bill
H. R. 1926, introduced into the House of Representatives in May 1999 has the same language.
So,What's the Problem?
The legislation offers refugee status in the U. S. to anyone who returns alive a U. S. POW from the Korean War or the Vietnam War. The bill also requires that this offer be broadcast and advertised through various media. So, you ask, what's the problem? Sounds like a good plan. Not exactly.
First, I recommend that you read these articles on the MIA Facts Site; the articles describe the bogus reports that U. S. investigators must deal with.
If this legislation becomes law, I see two results that will be damaging to serious
There is already a well-developed cottage industry in the refugee camps of SEAsia that produces bogus reports, phony photographs, bogus documents and witnesses, all claiming to know the location of live U. S. POWs. The articles cited above describe these bogus reports and the impact they have on attempts to collect serious information. This legislation will do nothing but generate more bogus reports.
For example, in 1989, a group of eight members of Congress and one former Congressman
offered a reward of $2.4 million to anyone who would free an American prisoner from
Southeast Asia. A photograph appeared in newspapers worldwide showing a group of
grinning Congressmen standing in front of what was supposed to be a pile of money,
advertising the reward. Flyers advertising the reward offer were spread around the
refugee camps in SEAsia. Our interviewers in the refugee camps, who were collecting
valuable information on missing Americans, were flooded with phony reports in response to
this reward offer. I cannot count the weeks that we wasted tracking down phony
stories that were generated by refugees
This is the result of reward offers.
Impact on Our Former Adversaries
Over the years, a lot of effort has gone into convincing the Vietnamese, the Lao, and now the Koreans to allow U. S. search teams into their countries to search for and recover missing men. I recommend that you visit the web site of the Defense POW-Missing Persons Office and read the articles there describing the search teams that go in and out of SEAsia and Korea. Read, too, about the U. S. personnel who are stationed in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia where they work full time on accounting for missing men.
The fact of the matter is that there are no live U.S. POWs held anywhere in the world. The Vietnamese, Lao, Cambodian, Koreans, Russians, and Chinese all know this. If we pass this legislation and start to publicize it, we are saying to them that we do not trust them, that we do not believe their statements that they hold no U. S. POWs. Exactly how do you think this will affect the hard-won cooperation that we now have?
Impact on Families, Congress, and Department of Defense
Another impact of this bogus reporting is that on the relationships among the families, Congress, and the Department of Defense. When a bogus report is received, claiming that a missing man is alive, that report is sent to the man's family. DoD policy is that if a report does or may pertain to a missing man, it is sent to his family. It does not matter if we know the report to be bogus, it goes to the family.
The result of this practice has been , in some instances, to destroy or at least sour relations among the family, Congress, and the DoD. Here is what often happens. The family receives the report and one or more family members decide that the report is true. Often, the family is contacted by one or more "activists" who represent themselves as experts and who begin to fill the family with nonsense, supporting the bogus report.
Then, the DoD analysts report their findings that the report is bogus. The family does not believe them, accuses the DoD analysts of lying and covering up. The "activists," of course, are just delighted with this state of affairs and do what they can to keep things stirred up.
The family often contacts their Congressional representatives who contact DoD who tells the representatives that the report is bogus. Faced with a distraught family, with an activist who is not constrained by the truth, the member of Congress sometime sides with the family and then you have a huge, ongoing battle involving DoD, the family, and the Congress. This is all a monstrous waste of time, it destroys relations that should be cooperative, and it generally helps no one -- except the activist who scores another family dragged into disorder.
These, then, are the likely results of the proposed legislation:
Of course, these three results would please the MIA cultists no end -- they just love the publicity and the mud wrasslin'.
The following is the text of a letter that I wrote to my Senators and Representative, urging them to NOT support S. 484 or H. R. 1926. I encourage readers to do the same.
E-mail your representatives
You can locate your Congressional representatives' e-mail addresses here:
Write your representatives
Follow up your e-mail with a letter to your representatives.
A suggested letter
Here is my suggestion for a letter to your Senators and Representatives. Note that the bill has two numbers -- S. 484 in the Senate and H. R. 1926 in the House. Senator Campbell introduced the Senate version, Representative Hefley introduced the bill in the House. Be certain to use the correct citation for the Senate or the House, depending on to whom you are writing. I have put the text that needs to be changed in this typeface.
Dear (Congressman) (Senator) (Name):
Thank you for your help to stop this nonsense.