DATE: 12 FEB 1991
SUBJECT: Request for Relief
1. PURPOSE: I, hereby, request to resign my position as Chief of the Special Office for Prisoners of War and Missing in Action (POW-MIA).
a. Motivation. My initial acceptance of this posting was based upon two primary motives; first, I had heard that the job was highly contentious and extremely frustrating, that no one would volunteer for it because of its complex political nature. This, of course, made it appear challenging. Secondly, since the end of the Vietnam war, I had heard the persistent rumors of American Serviceman having been abandond in Indochina, and that the Government was conducting a "cover-up" so as not to be embarrassed. I was curious about this and thought that serving as the Chief of POW-MIA would be an opportunity to satisfy my own interest and help clear the Government's name.
b. The Office's Reputation. It was interesting that my previous exposure to the POW- MIA Office, while assigned to DIA, both as a Duty Director for Intelligence (DDI) and as the Chief of the Asia Division for Current Intelligence ( JSI -3), was negative. DIA personnel who worked for me, when dealing with or mentioning the Office, always spoke about it in deprecating tones, alluding to the fact that any report which found its way there would quickly disappear into a "black hole."
c. Genereal Attitudes. Additionally, surveys of active duty military personnel indicated that a high percentage (83%) believed that there were still live American prisoners in Vietnam. This idea was further promulgated in a number of legitimate veterans' periodicals and professional journals, as well as the media in general, which held that where there was so much smoke, there must be fire.
d. Cover-up. The dark side of the issue was particularly unsettling because of the persistent rumors ans innuendoes of a Government conspiracy, alleging that U.S. military personnel had been left behind to the victorious communist governments in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and that for "political reasons" or running the risk of a second Vietnam War, their existence was officially denied. Worse yet was the implication that DIA's Special Office for POWs and MIAs was an integral part of this effort to cover the entire affair up so as not to ebarrass the Government nor the Defense Establishment.
e. The Crusade. As a Vietnam veteran with a certain amount of experience in Indochina, I was interested in the entire POW-MIA question, and willingly volunteered fo the job, viewing it as sort of a holy crusade.
f. The Harsh Reality. Heading up the Office has not been pleasant. My plan was to be totally honest and forthcoming on the entire issue and aggressively pursue innovative actions and concepts to clear up the live sighting business, thereby refurbishing the image and honor of DIA. I became painfully aware, however, that I was not really in charge of my own office, but was merely a figurehead or whipping boy for a larger and totally Machiavellian group of players outside of DIA. What I witnessed during my tenure as the cardboard cut-out "Chief" of POW-MIA could be euphemistically labelled as disillusioning.
3. CURRENT IMPRESSIONS, BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE:
a. Highest National Priority. That National leaders continue to address the prisoner of war and missing in action issue as the "highest national priority" is a travesty. From my vantage point, I observed that the principal government players were interested primarily in conduting a "damage limitation exercise", and appeared to knowingly and deliberately generate an endless succession of manufactured crises and "busy work". Progress consisted in frenetic activity, with little substance and no real results.