|IMMEDIATE RELEASE||August 27, 1998||(703)697-5737(public/industry)|
A key document used by the Department of Defense in its POW/MIA accounting efforts has recently been declassified.
The Key Judgments of National Intelligence Estimate 98-03, Vietnamese Intentions, Capabilities and Performance Concerning the POW/MIA Issue, discussed Vietnams cooperation with the U.S. government on the POW/MIA issue. It was published in classified form in April by the National Intelligence Council, a senior staff serving the director of central intelligence, policymakers and senior military officials.
Mr. Robert L. Jones, deputy assistant secretary of defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs, requested that Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet declassify the NIE so it could be shared with family members, veterans and family organizations. The declassification of the Key Judgments NIE 98-03 will enhance the publics understanding of U.S.-Vietnamese cooperation on this important issue.
A copy of the document is attached.
|Vietnamese Intentions, Capabilities, and Performance
Concerning the POW/MIAIssue
|Key Judgments||Since the early 1990s, we have seen evidence for increased
Vietnamese cooperation on the POW/MIA issue in the strengthened staffing, increased
responsiveness, and growing professionalization of the Vietnamese organizations that deal
with this issue.
Consequently, we judge that Vietnam has become more helpful in assisting US efforts to achieve the fullest possible accounting of American personnel missing in action during the Vietnam conflict. On the issue of recovering and repatriating remains of US personnel, we rate Vietnamese cooperation as excellent. Cooperation also has been good on assisting with trilateral investigations and providing documents (see table).
We think the decision to be more cooperative with the United States on POW/MIA accounting has not come easily to the Vietnamese leaders. Longstanding ideological distrust, lingering animosity from the war, suspicion of American motives and fear of intelligence exploitation all have operated at times to limit Vietnams willingness to cooperate on recovering or accounting for US MIAs. But our reporting suggests that the POW/MIA issue no longer has the political sensitivity it once had.
Incidents of outright refusal to cooperate with US investigators have decreased, but instances in which the Vietnamese raise objections to POW, MIA activities still remain. In most cases, the Vietnamese cite considerations of sovereigntyfor example, in refusing to make internal Politburo documents accessible to US investigators; security, such as not allowing US officials to enter classified locations and facilities; or technical problems, such as difficulty in locating documents or records. Occasionally the Vietnamese state that local villagers are concerned about the intrusive nature of investigations and recovery activities.
Summary Evaluation: Vietnamese Cooperation
|Element||Level of Cooperation||Comments|
|Joint field activities; recovery and repatriation of remains||Excellent||Has been improving since early 1990s; increasing professionalism on part of Vietnamese|
|Assisting with trilateral investigations||Good||Vietnamese working hard to obtain Laotian cooperation in recovery efforts|
|Providing documents, personal artifacts, and equipment||Good||Vietnamese have provided numerous documents but probably are holding out on those that would embarrass the government|
|Making officials available for interviews||Fair to Good||Some retired officials resist interviews|
|Live sightings||Reluctant, but cooperation still reasonably good||Vietnamese resent live-sighting investigations and question their utility|
|Transfer of POWs to the Soviet Union||Uncertain||Vietnamese say none were transferred but issue remains open|
Moreover, although Vietnams performance generally has improved with respect to the US POW/MIA issue, we think Hanoi has not been completely forthcoming on certain POW/MIA matters:
Although 120 live-sighting investigations have been carried out by US teams, none has generated any credible evidence of American POWs left in Vietnam. Hanoi protests having to investigate such cases, but reports appear regularly most recently on five POWs possibly being held in Laos and established procedures for resolving them continue to be in effect.
Although Vietnams overall performance in dealing with the POW/MIA problem has been good in recent years, the unresolved issues noted above suggest the need for continued close attention by the US Government.
We assess continued progress in POW/MIA accounting will require overcoming two types of obstacles:
We have reviewed the so-called 1205 and 735 documents, which purport falsely in our viewto be reports to the party leadership containing statements that Hanoi held large numbers of US POWs above those acknowledged to the United States. We believe the judgments in the 1993 Department of Defense (DOD) assessment remain valid: that the documents are probably authentic GRU-collected documents (Soviet Military Intelligence). But many of the details of the documents, including dates and other facts, are implausible or inconsistent with reliable evidence. In particular, the numbers of POWs allegedly held by Hanoi at the times mentioned are inconsistent with reliable US Government statistics and far outnumber the actual total of open cases. We believe that neither document provides a factual foundation upon which to judge Vietnamese performance on the POW/MIA question.