ACCESSION NUMBER:297926 FILE ID:EPF212 DATE:08/03/93 TITLE:SENATOR SMITH: VIETNAM NEVER REVEALED NUMBER OF POW'S IT HELD (08/03/93) TEXT:*93080312.EPF *EPF212 08/03/93 * SENATOR SMITH: VIETNAM NEVER REVEALED NUMBER OF POW'S IT HELD (Article on the Smith POW report to Ambassador Toon) (660) By Robert F. Holden USIA Staff Writer Washington -- The debate over whether Hanoi held back American prisoners of war (POWs) following the U.S. withdrawal from the Vietnam War in 1973 is still wide open, according to Senator Bob Smith (Republican of New Hampshire). It was rekindled when Harvard professor Stephen Morris discovered an incriminating document in the Communist Party's archives in Moscow in January. In an exhaustive report, dated July 21, to Ambassador Malcolm Toon, chairman of the U.S. side of the Joint U.S.-Russian Commission on POWs/MIAs, Smith states that the 1972 translation of a North Vietnamese report concerning U.S. POWs found by Morris contains numerous statements which can be corroborated by U.S. knowledge. As a result, the senator says he is convinced the report, which purports to be a transcript of an oral presentation by a North Vietnamese general which was clandestinely transcribed by a Soviet military intelligence agent, is genuine. "In the absence of convincing evidence to the contrary from Vietnam, I can only assume that from 1964 to 1973, the leadership of North Vietnam withheld the total number and identity of American POWs in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia over whom it had direct control," Smith said. "The position of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that the report in Russian language form is a 'pure fabrication' which they 'completely reject' is unacceptable to me, and I believe, the majority of the American people," Smith said. "This matter is still wide open." U.S. administrations for the past two decades have demanded that Vietnam provide a comprehensive and full accounting of U.S. POWs and MIAs before the United States will lift its embargo of Hanoi and establish normal relations. Smith's 250-page report, described as an interim analysis of a Soviet military intelligence (GRU) report which was translated from Vietnamese into Russian in Moscow in 1972 (and subsequently discovered by Morris in 1anuary 1993), goes through the document line by line, comparing the statements attributed to North Vietnamese General Tran Van Quang to U.S., Soviet and Vietnamese military records and Congressional testimony. Particularly affecting is the testimony of Air Force Lieutenant General Eugene Tighe before the Senate Select Subcommittee on POW/MIA Affairs in June 1992. Tighe, who served as director of intelligence for the U.S. Pacific Command in 1972-73, was responsible for directing a group of 30 senior intelligence officers who compiled a list of POWs that the United States expected to be returned following the successful conclusion of the Paris Peace negotiations. "I certainly remember the shock and sadness of the paucity of the lists of names we received versus what we expected," Tighe told the committee. "My personal view was shock because I had a great deal of faith in the approximate numbers of those lists that we had compiled and the dossiers, and my reaction was that there was something radically wrong with the (North Vietnamese) lists versus our information, that they should have contained many more names. That was my personal judgment and that was a collective judgment of all those that had worked compiling the lists," he said. Quang's assertion in the GRU report that Hanoi controlled 1205 U.S. POWs in 1972, rather than the 368 North Vietnam acknowledged, and his declaration that Hanoi would not set free all the American POWs until "the American government resolves the political and military issues on all three fronts in Indochina," led Smith to conclude in his report that the U.S. government does not know the fate of many of its missing personnel in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. "The U.S. government should stop believing that it knows the fate of just about everybody," Smith says. "It's time that people study the facts, even if it means revisiting 'old' issues." NNNN .