*EPF406   07/02/92 *

(Article on Senate Select Committee meeting of July 2)  (690)
By Jane A. Morse
USIA Staff Writer
Washington -- The Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs  unanimously
passed a resolution July 2 that asks the president to declassify and
publicly release all documents pertaining to POWs and MIAs.

The resolution calls for the president to "expeditiously issue an Executive
Order requiring all Executive branch departments and agencies to declassify
and publicly release, without compromising U.S. national security, all
documents, files and other materials pertaining to POWs and MIAs."

Declassification would begin with documents currently within the Committee's
possession, but would also include documents in the possession of a
long-list of government agencies.

Committee Chairman John F. Kerry (Democrat of Massachusetts) explained that
"The Executive Order we seek would lead to the rapid -- and by that we mean
weeks, not months -- declassification of materials currently within the
possession of the Committee and of the Kissinger and Nixon papers....

"We take this action because more than two decades of excessive secrecy has
seriously harmed efforts to resolve questions about our missing servicemen
and contributed greatly to public confusion and mistrust," Kerry added.

"Our interest is not limited to Department of Defense or Defense
Intelligence Agency documents or to the traditional 'POW-MIA case files,'"
Kerry said.  "They tell only a part of the story.  We are requesting
documents wherever they exist within the Executive branch, including
documents from this president and previous presidents."

The current list of documents the Committee requests be declassified
includes:  the papers of Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush,
and of former NSC Advisor and later Secretary of State Henry Kissinger;
live sighting and hearsay reports; casualty files; DIA historical files;
current DIA POW/MIA policy files; last known alive/in captivity files; DIA
intelligence files; files of former Defense Secretaries Clements,
Weinberger, and Carlucci; files of former Deputy Defense Secretary Clements
and Assistant Defense Secretary Armitage; National Security Agency product
reports; service intelligence files; Joint Chiefs of Staff documents;
Central Intelligence Agency documents; all related imagery collected by
National Technical Means; National Security Council documents; related
State Department telegrams, and the files of Frank Sieverts, formerly the
special assistant for POW/MIA matters to the secretary of state during the
1973 Operation Homecoming.

Kerry said the Commitee would request declassification and public release of
other relevant documents as they come to the Committee's attention.

In their letter to the president, which was hand delivered July 2, the
Committee asks that already-redacted documents now in the possession of the
Committee be declassified and released in time for the Committee's hearings
which are tentatively set for August 4-5.  Additionally, the Committee
requests the Nixon and Kissinger papers be declassified no later than
1ugust 13.

The Committee also unanimously approved the Robb-Grassley Motion, which
calls for the Committee Chairman "immediately upon the reconvening of the
Senate after the July recess to call a meeting of the Committee on July 23
to evaluate progress and consider initiating alternative formal
declassification means, if necessary."

"Our Committee is scheduled to expire at the end of this year," Vice
Chairman Bob Smith pointed out.  "Because we are sunsetted, every week, and
indeed every day, is precious, and we must keep this in mind."

Senator John McCain (Republican of Arizona), who himself was a POW in Hanoi
for eight years (1965-1973), devoted a large portion of his remarks to
defending Senator Kerry against allegations that Kerry destroyed some
documents that were part of the committee's deliberations.  McCain also
decried those "deranged" individuals who "have convinced themselves that
there is a massive conspiracy to prevent the return of our POWs.

"We do not have a shred of evidence of a conspiracy," McCain said.  Such
allegations, he said, "libel hundreds, if not thousands of uniformed
members of our armed services, whose complicity would be necessary to
effect this."

Senator McCain's father, Admiral John McCain, Sr. was CINCPAC in Honolulu at
the time then-Navy Lieutenant Commander McCain was shot down over North
Vietnam and taken prisoner in 1965.