VIETNAMESE INTENTIONS, CAPABILITIES, AND PERFORMANCE CONCERNING THE POW/MIA ISS

Created: 4/1/1998

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Vietnamese Intentions, Capabilities, and Performance Concerning the POW/MIA Issue (u)

This Estimate was approved for publication by UK National Foreign Intelligence Hoard under the authority of the Director of Central Intelligence.

ThisIntelligence Eitimaieprepared

Scope Note

Vietnamese Intentions, Capabilities, and Performance Concerning the POW/MIA Issue (U)

This Naiional Intelligence Estimate was requested by Samuel R. Bcrgcr. Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, in conjunction with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, It addresses two key questions:

Hanoi than were ultimately released.

o what extent has the leadership of the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV)ommitment to cooperating with the United Slates to achieve the fullest possible accounting of American peisonnel missing in action during the Vietnam conflict?

Whai is the Intelligence Community's assessment of theocuments from the Russian archives? (These two intelligence reports raised troubling questions about whether all American prisoners of war (POWs) were released during "Operation Homecoming"3 by citing substantially higher numbers of live American prisoners in

This NIE differs from standard estimative papers in that it has an historical focus rather than projecting forward to the future. Some of the judgments it reaches are based upon assessments made by experienced Americanrather thanizable body of intelligence reporting. In some cases we had to consider intelligence reporting that is as much as

For these and other reasons, there arc important gaps in our knowledge of these sensitive issues, and our judgments must therefore be cautious. Accordingly, the Estimateengthy annex on methodology thai describes available information, intelligence gaps, and how the judgments were reached.

Contents

Nole

Judgments

I: The Question of Vietnamese Coooerationpjjj

To US Government Accounting Efforts

Vietnamese Intentions

of Vietnamese Noncoopeiation

Bureaucracy: Responsiveness and Resistance

Record of SRV Responsiveness

SRVedicmion of Resources to the

Issue

POWs Interrogated by Russians?

Some POWs Transferred to Russia or Elsewhere?

Accounting

SRV Performance

II: Intelligence Community Assessment of"ocuments^

A&sessiiicrTr^^

Document

pm. AMNTIIIIIDNAUVlErT BLANK

Key Judgments

Vietnamese Intentions, Capabilities, and Performance Concerning the POW/MIA Issue!

Since the, we have seen evidence for increased Vietnamese cooperation on the POW/MIA issue in the strengthened staffing, increased responsiveness, and growing professionalization of the Vietnamesethat deal with this issue:

In our view. Hanoi judges thai belter ties to the United States are inown security and economic development interests and thairequires progress on the POW/MIA issue.

US financial support for cooperative action and willingness to agree to reciprocity on Vietnamese humanitarian concerns also encourage cooperation.

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 on|

We think Hanoi's decision to be more cooperative with the United States on POW/MIA accounting has not come easily to the Vietnamese leaders, longstanding ideological distrust, animosity lingering from the war.of American motives, and fear of intelligence exploitation all have operated at times to limit Vietnam's willingness to cooperate on recovering or accounting for US MI As. But our reporting suggests that die POW/MIA issue no longer has the political sensitivity it once had ^

Incidents of outright refusal to cooperate with US investigators have decreased, but there are still instances in which the Vietnamese raiseto POW/MIA activities. In most cases, the Vietnamese citeofexample, in refusing to make internal Politburo documents accessible lo US investigators; security, such as not allowing US officials to enter classified locations and facilities; or technical

urnMsm

problems, such as difficulty in locating documents or records. Occasionally Ihe Vietnamese slate that local villagers are concerned about the intrusive nature o( investigations and recovery activities. |

Moreover, although Vietnam's performance generally has improved with respect to the US POW/MIA issue, we think Hanoi has not beenforthcoming on certain POW/MIA matters:

In some instances, we believe full disclosure would prove embarrassing to the regime. For example. Hanoi continues to deny thai US POWs were mistreated while in captivity in the North.

Wc think Vietnam still has records it could make available to USbut which would discredit its denials of mislrcaimeiri.

ew reports of transfers of US POWs to Kussia and other countries arc unexplained, and the books remain open J

ive-sighting investigations have been earned out by US teams, none has generated any credible evidence ot American POWs left in Vietnam. Hanoi protests having to invesligatc such cases, but reports appearrecently on live POWs possibly being held in Iestablished procedures fur resolving iheril continue to be in effect mWM

Although Vietnam's overall performance in dealing with the POW/MIA problem has been good in recent years, the unresolved issues noted abov< suggest the need for continued close attention by the US Government.

We assess continued progress in POW/MIA accounting will require over coming two types of obstacles:

Technical problems, such as difficulty in retrieving archival materials, contacting leads, and conducting field activities by the Joint Task Force-Full Accountingre more amenuble to resolution than political obstacles. Not all can be overcome- -the passage of lime and geographic change increase the difficulty of recoverysome can be overcome through improving technology, maintaining US financial commitment, and supporting continued profcssionalization on the Vietnamese side.

Figure 1

Summary Evaluation: Vietnamese Cooperation With the United States on POW/MIA Accounting

Element

of Cooperation

fiekt activities; recovery slid repatriation of remains

been improving since; increasing professionalism on part of Vietnamese.

with trilateral investigations

work ltard to obtain Laotian cooperation in recovery efforts.

documents, personal artifacts, aod equipment

have willingly provided numerous documents but probably are holding out on those that would embarrass the government.

officials available for interviews

to good

retired officials may resist interviews.

but cooperation still reasonably good

resent live-sighting investigations andtheir utility.

of POWslo Soviet Union

say none were transferred, but issue remains open.

USpnUNc Ua tan ouln><Uia*tion, W

Overcoming politicalas Vietnam's sensitivities about infringements on its sovereignly and obstructionist tendencies on archival research and live-sightingbe more difficult. In the past, Vietnam has reacted best to straightforwardness combined with respect and US acknowledgment of Hanoi's own MIA accounting

We have reviewed the"ocuments, whichin ourbe reports to the party leadershipstatements that Hanoi held large numbers of US POWs above diose acknowledged to the United Slates. We believe the judgments in3 Intelligence Community assessment released hy the Department of Defense (DOD) remain valid: that ihe documents are probably authentic

join) newny ufinatiCK ol American

GRU (Soviet Military Intelligences-collected documents- But many of die 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 arc inconsisienl withUS Government statistics and far outnumber the actual toial of open cases. We believe that neither documentactual foundation upon which to judge Vietnamese performance on the FOW/MIA quest ion H

Discussion

I: The Question of Vietnamese Cooperation

ietnam's attitude and overall approach toward cooperation with the United Stales on prisoners of war or missing in action (POW/MIA) issues have improved. I

restrictions and normalizinghas become more coopcraiivc in assisting the United States locate and recover the remains of MI As. Also, the easing of bilateral tensions after the Paris Agreement1 (which ended Vietnam's occupation of Cambodia)limate moreto Vietnamese cooperation. We assess that Vietnam has become more cooperative for

the lastears this situationsubstantially.

H" ncreasingly professional and are upobile in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of the Interior. Many Foreign Ministry juniorreceive training there. According to USmany Vietnamese officials who work POW/MIA issues have demonstrated skill andj

Hanoi has been moving toward bettersince that timeariety of reasons, but particularly sincethe United States began seriously to discuss easing trade

Hanoi wants engagement with Washington, especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had been Vietnam's key ally and supporter. Vietnam now perceivesrelations with the United Slates to be essential for furthering its economic and security objectives. Vietnamese leadersthat Washington willey power in the region, and American businessotential major source of investment They recognize that better cooperation on the POW/MIA issue is central to Washington's ability toetter bilateral relationship. Normalization of relations has generallyVietnam's willingness to improve cooperation.

The effort does not place any great demand on Vietnam's own limited resources. The United States provides financial hacking for cooperative endeavors to account5 million annually to underwrite

2 CIA Stud)

Some of the highlights of the Keyof the CIA Study, Vietnam:lis Strategy on the POW/MIA Issue, ofnclude:

During the post four years, Vietnam has become more cooperative in resolving questions concerning US militaryreported as possible prisoners of war or missing in action (POWslMlAs) in the Vietnam war. The government has made several important gesturesncluding turning over more remains and material evidence than duringears; participating, for the first time, in joint investigations of sites where American planes crashed or missing US servicemen were last seen; and, beginningiving US experts limited access to military museums and archivesrecords detailing Vietnameseof American losses.

joint recovery efforts In Vietnam. Mosi of this goes to Vietnam lo fund the five joini fieldines held

Vietnam's more cooperative approach was observed by CIA analysts in (besecince then, reciprocal actions by the US and Vietnamese Governments have fostered an even better climate for approaching the POW/MIA issue:

The US "Hanoi Office" (US MIA Office) was opened in

Inoreign Minister Nguyen Manh Cam totd the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific thatwould expand cooperation with the United States on POW/MIA issues. The two sides agreedmonthechanism to investigate live-sighting reports,rocess forUSo Vietnam.

Inietnam received the highest level US delegation since the end of thewar and agreed to allow US State Department officials to be stationed in Hanoi to assist JTF-FA activities.

ietnam agreed toS liaison office in Hanoi to facilitate progress on POW/MIA accounting andrelude to diplomatic relations. US officials arrived in August, and the office formally opened in

under the best of circumstances, there are limits to what the United States could expect to achieve. I

1 According, to JTF-FAeMjmirtCS.WnceJ each field recovery fteiiviiy in Vietnam his cox about USillion.

Responding To US Government Accounting Efforts

anoi also has become much moie cooperative in allowing US officials to meet and interview Vietnamese citizens whocoulci be knowledgeable of MIA

good indicator of Vietnamese intentions is the degree to which Vietnamese officials have undertaken unilateralis, efforts without direct participation by thessist in locating remains of USUS officials at JTF-FA suggcsiH ihatdieVietn3mese side has worked energeti-callv to follow up leads and schedule field

[Vietnam |

ore cooperative with ll

United States on POW/MIA accounting. This decision has not come easily to the Hanoiin our view. Longstanding ideological distrust, animosity lingering from the war,of American motives, and fear ofexploitation all have operated at times to limit Vietnam's willingness to cooperate on recovering or accounting for US MIAs.officials frequently point to thebetween their work to recover missing American soldiers and efforts to account for their own. which number morehey must also overcome interbureaucraiic rivalries and central-local disputes to maximize their cooperation But our reporting indicates to us thai the POW/MIA issue no longer has the political sensitivity it once had. fS)

activities lo locate and recover remains, In some instances. Vietnamese on recovery teams have willingly worked beyond the terms of their contracts to successfully complete(see inset onJ^H

Cultural reasons, in addition to official policy, contributes to this record. Families are of great importance to ihe Viemamese. Vietnamese workers who participate in the field recovery eftorts frequently express respect for US efforts to recover remains of American

For local officials, participation in joint field activities can be financially profitable. People in their villages can earn much more by

its sovereignty and protecting its secrets. That said, there have been few instances in which Vietnamese authorities have flatly refused US requests concerning an accounting for MlAs. Vietnamese tend to avoid direct refusals. Rather, they indirectly decline US requests by asserting thai Vietnam will undertake unilateral

measures to achieve the accounting the US seeks. Among the most significant examples:

Although Vietnam has provided thousands of documents to the US side. US requests to see Politburo documents penaining to US POW/

Vietnamese authorities have nol facilitated interviews with some senior retired military officers whom US officials think couldPOW/MIA information Vietnamese authorities claim thai these retirees do not wish to he interviewed by US officials and in some instances lack knowledge.

At the working level. Vietnamese officials arc not always amenable to US requests.!

Vietnam does not allow joint field activities in "classified" military areas. Vietnam offers to undertake unilateral searches in these areas when detailed and credible leadsew instances, the Vietnamese have been able to provide remains from these locations to US authorities.

Vietnam's Bureaucracy: Responsiveness and Resistance

Our review of the past decade suggests thate key elements of Vietnam's government initially were reluctant to assist the United Stales in resolving POW/MIA issues. Such

We occasionally see some hints of continuing dissatisfaction, however. For example, in6 the Army Newspaper Quart Dot Nhan Dan warned that the United States was taking advantage of MIA searches to "grasp and exploit many of ourhe tone of the article was that cooperation with the United States could threaten Vietnam's interests, .statement)

some elements ot Vietnam's bureaucracy did not favor full engagement with the United States on POW/ MIA issues. Consequently, for cooperation to continue. Vietnamese leaders and VNOSMP officials probably will continue to have to maintain pressure on all elements of.

The Record of SRV Responsiveness Recovery and Repatriation of Remains.responsiveness on the recovery and repatriation issue is currently described by JTF-FA officials as excellent. According tofigures, since ihe end of the war, Hanoi

ml

_ *jfrrrt

Initiative in Recovery Operations: Recent Examples^tM

4

OnP5 Douglas Alan Ross was killedombat operation in South Vietnam. IIis unit was forced to take cover. Other dead and wounded werein an extensive search the next day, but the body of SPS Ross was not found. He eventually became

Inoint US-Vietnamese team investigated4 in La Mo Nong Village, Chu Pa District, Gia Lai Province. The teamquare-meter area and questioned local residents but found no information.

In earlywo Vietnamese villagers reported to Gia Lai Province officials that, whileetal detector to search for scrap aluminum, they had found the grave of an American. They produced identification tags reading: Ross. Douglas., Lutheran. Provincial authorities notified the central government, which then informed the JFT-FA detachment inoint team was dispatched to Pleiku townshipuly to question local witnesses and retrieve the remains. These were repatriatednd approved for identification by the Armed forces Identification Review Board on

7

Ont. Daniel Borah's aircraft was hit by antiaircraft fire and

crashed into the jungle in North Vietnam. Two other aircraftarachute and heard voice radio transmissions while the parachute was in the air. After the parachute landed in the trees, an emergency beacon was heardhort time, then silence. Other aircrew saw the parachute pulled down through the trees. Largeof PAVN forces in the arearound search. Three days of air search and rescue efforts failed to locate any sign of Lt. Borah.

hotographs purporting to be ofLt. Borah and his Lao guard surfaced inAsia. Borah family members staled that the man in the photos was indeed Lt. Borah. The world press cited this as evidence of live American POWs still in Southeast Asia. Extensive investigation into the origin of the photos, however, revealed that they were inoax. The individual believed to be Lt, Borah wasao named Ahrao. as was confirmed in interviews with him.

Inhe "Office for Seeking Missing Persons" (VNOSMP) reported that it hadeteran of an antiaircraft battery whose members hadead American pilot named "Borah" and had buried the body. The VNOSMP located ato the burial and then provided this information (though not the witness) to US investigators innoint US-Vietnamese team excavated the site andomplete set of remains. The remains were subsequently identified as those ofU. Daniel Borah,

relumed remains lo US officials onccasions,eis (noi all of which were of USincehen joint recovery operations began inthe Central Identification Laboratory in HawaiiHI) reportsets of remains have been repatriated. Of these,has been completedets, while identifications onets arc pending review by Service Secretaries, andets are undergoing final lab review. Procedures for handling remains have been joinUy developed and work smoothly.

on the unsupported testimonyhe Vietnamese Government collected and stored remains during ihewar. bul we do not know howonsiderable number were returned to various US delegations lhat visilcd Vietnam:

CILHI reports that since thehere has been no indication of storage in the remains returned by the Vietnamese to the United States, including those sets of remains obtained outside the JTF-FA joint recovery efforts. H

have no evidence lhat the Vietnameseare storing remains of American dead. A

pecial National Intelligence Estimate (SNIE) stated that we had evidence lhatwas storingets of remains. But that judgment was retracted in

ecause it turned out lo have been based

1 Intcllifiera Comimimiy

MJPMO in conjunction with CILHI presentlytudy underway to invcntigaie the gucMion of Vietnamese storage of the remain* of US personnel. Further cnoclmion* on thirt Usue muu (wait (he results of ihis uudy^pjj

Sm. rul

Resolution of Discrepancy Cases. Accordinghe Department of Defense POW andPersonnel Office (DPMO) data,priority discrepancy'" cases remain to be resolved with Vietnam. This compares with theases* These are cases where US informationissing US serviceman seems to differ from that of the Vietnamese. VietnamS special team that has extensive geographic access to conduct research and investigations on discrepancy cases.

US officials believe Vietnam has, for the most pan. been cooperative on diese cases. The main difficulty in resolving such cases is in obtaining leads. When we or the Vietnamese obtain such leads, they have acted promptiy to help resolve the discrepancy, according to US officials. J

Assistance in Implementing TrilateralWith Laos.

' The original prtixily discrepancy cum were ettabtidieiloflVial*mimotiy General Vtiwy. Ihe US Special rcpresenuiivc. in (lie late IVSOs and

'il

Saaeat

investigations focus on those areas of Laos that were more or less controlled byduring the war. The procedures foroperations are gradually becoming less cumbersome, such as those for interviewing witnesses and conducting field activities. Joint recovery activities in Laos have been conducted according to geographic priorities, mostly on a

Provision of POWIMIA-Related Documents, Personal Artifacts, and Equipment. Vietnam has provided0 documents to US officials, but we believe the Vietnamesecould improve their record in providing

Vietnam's archival filing and retrieval system for materialoears old may not be adequate to readily produce relevant

Nevertheless. Vietnam has become morethan before in providing such materials. In several instances. Vietnam has providedthat its investigators uncoveredWhen the US side has good leads, the process of obtaining records and artifacts has been eased. For example, inauthoritiesS delegationages of documents, sketch maps, andreports collected by their investigation teams. The documents included areview of all special remains cases,photographs, grave registration lists, and "died in captivity" lists. I

Live-Sighting Reports.articularly difficult problem. Hanoi is sensitive about allegations it is holding POWs since the releases mandated by the Paris accords3 and expresses doubt thatof such reports will yield any results. Hundreds of such reports have been found to be inaccuraterescreening process, including many that were received through intelligence channels.S officials haven-site investigations of live-sighting reports. Thus far.urned up convincing evidence of live American POWs still in Vietnam. After investigation, many of the reports turned out to be scams. Still others were deemed inaccurate because the investigators could not find the locations or structures cited in theew have

The Vietnamese have turnedide array of wartime and postwar documents that have contributed directly to accounting for missing Americans, resolving questions about why remains cannot be recovered, and confirming loss locations for downedAmong the most usefulollection of contemporary reports, prepared forinternal use, that list US casualties, note whether remains were collected and buried, identify grave sites, and indicate whether the central government was able to collect remains. So far US officials have acquired documents of this type forforthern wartime provinces. Of the fivefor which these officials do not yet have such records, all are in the far north ofthere are only two in which Americans were lost in any number.

For several of these same areas. Vietnam has also provided records prepared by wartime military organizations that detail theof downed aircraft. Using data from these "shootdownS officials have been able to locate previously unknowncrash sites and to send joint teams to investigate on the ground and find out what happened to the aircrews.

The documents have also helped determine which US losses were known to Vietnamese forcesefined geographic area and which were not. Establishing which losses occurred without Vietnamese awareness has enabled US officials to assess the degree to which they should expect assistance fromin investigating particular cases. In some cases, such evidence has enabled US officials to conclude that certain aircraft crashed at sea or in remote unpopulated areas

The ability to prepare, preserve, anddocuments declined precipitouslynorthern Vietnam. In southern Vietnam and in the border areas of Cambodia and Laos, the field conditions in whichforces operated and the mobility of their headquarters, which frequently came under attack by US and Allied forces, militated against extensive recordkeeping.

The few records acquired from outsideVietnam relate chiefly to POWs who died in captivity. One exceptionist of aircraft dawned by PAVS forces in southern Laos. This recordostwar compilation ofmessage traffic from units in this area. The terse entries suggest the focus wasunits that should be creditedowning and not where aircraft crashed or what happened to the aircrews.

The Vietnamese have permitted US personnel to examine thousands of open-source wartime records, including museum artifacts and receipts, documentary films, news photos, and central and provincial newspapers.

The SRV's Dedication of Resources to the POW/MIA Issue

Vietnam's primary resource is people, not money. We assess that Vietnam has assigned increasingly qualified people to POW/MIA issues and has given them the authority to act in conjunction with their US counterparts. This assessment is based on the experience of US officials who have longtime experiencewith the Vietnamese on the POW/MIA issue. The Vietnamese have become adept at adjusting their support for joint field activities to meet US requirements!

Vietnam's primary interest will continue to be engagement with the United Stales, and Hanoi will watch carefully for signs that Washington's efforts lo achieve full accounting are flagging. Vietnam would adjust iis policies accordingly. Vietnam probably wouldS decision to reduce expenditures for ihe POW/MIAor to reduce field activities as an indicator that US interest was waning.

Were POWs Interrogated bj Russians? We are uncertain whether Vietnam or Russia have been fully forthcoming on cases ofinterrogations of POWs. This question is important because no reluming POWs. except

Live-Sighting Investigations |

ive-sighting investigations have been carried out. none has generated any credible evidence of American POWs left in Vietnam. Hanoi protests having to investigate such cases, but reports surfacerecently on five POWs possibly being held inprocedures for resolving themto work well. For example, the latest live-sighting case in Vietnam was resolved in

Other Russians, however, have denied such allegations. Those who were in Vietnam during the war have staled that the Vietnamese,about sovereignly, did not allow the Soviets to be involved in interrogations. Rather, the Soviets would pass to the Vietnamese their questions, and the Vietnamese wouldprovide information. Panov, for example, stated that he could only witness interrogations of Americans when his questions were being asked. The Russian questions reflected the Soviet preoccupation with technical intelligence.

one CIA civilian employee, reportedof being interrogated by Russians. The Russians may have witnessed the interrogation of some POWs without the POW's knowledge. For example, in interviews with US officials. V. G. Panov (U.aid that he, along with olher foreign officers (Chinese. Korean, and perhapsitnessed the interroga-tions of American POWs on four separatePanov also stated, however, that he believed the POWs may have been unaware that heoviet oflicci.J

The evidence on Russian involvement inis contradictory. Former KGBKalugin said that Russians had questioned US POWs; President Ycl'tsin also claimed this hadesides Panov, noted above, other Russian officers interviewed by DPMO's Joint Commission Support Directorate have said they were present during the interrogation of American POWsB

Were Some POWs Transferred to Russia or Elsewhere?

We have reviewed many reports that claim tliat POWs were transferred out of Vietnam. None of ihcse reports have been substantiated, and many have provedew received2 remain under investigation or unresolved.

We also have credible reports thai US POWs were not transferred out of Vietnam. General Volkogortov told the US-Russian Commission on POW/MIA Affairs that his delegation had uncovered no evidence that US prisoners had been transported from Vietnam to the USSR. Several of the Russians who served in Vietnam during the war. and would have reason to know, were interviewed by US officials and insisted that no US POWs were transferred to the USSR. For example. K. F. Katushev. former Central Committee Secretary for Maintaining Ties With Other Socialist Countries in ihe, told US interviewers that he would have known if US POWs were iransferrcd to the USSR. He believed no such transfers occurred.

Although wc lack good evidence lhat POWs were transferred to ihe USSR, we also conclude that the books should remain open on this issue. Until some of the reporting above is clarified, we cannot say definatively that no POWs were transferred from Vietnam.

Improving Accounting

We have identified above two types of obstacles to MIA accounting: technical and political. Technical obstacles are those related toarchival materials, pursuing leads, and conducting field activities. They also would include such problems as the circumstances under which the lossS soldier occurred or changes inexample, ihe shifting of rivers or changes in fields andThey primarily involve logistics. We assess Vietnam is most likely to be cooperative in resolving these obstacles under these conditions:

Continued US cooperation with Vietnamese authorities in applying the best technology and communications to help recover and identify remains.

Continued US financial commitment toendeavors. We think that theside measures its own efforts by evaluating the US commitment, in addition to relying on the funding.

Continued nurturing of Vietnamesecompetence. This will require patient engagement bul can also encourage the type of mutual respect at ihe working level thai enhances prospects for successful recovery efforts.

-*MMirnt i

obstacles may be somewhat moreto resolve. We think the primary issue will be Vietnamese sensitivity overwith the United States on the POW/MIA issue. The question could become moreas local officials question the degree of effort being put toward resolution of US cases

Overall SRV Performance On balance, we conclude that Vietnam'son the US POW/MIA issue has definitely improved over the past decade.

Part II: Intelligence Community Assessment or"ocumen tsj

Current Assessment

Although3 we have obtained new Information about the two documents above, we believe the assessment released by DOD' remains valid: thai is, the documents were probably collected by the military intelligence department of the former Soviet Union (GRU) but arc not what they purport to be. That report concluded that the documents containinaccuracies and anomalies. Moston the basis of US Government records, the numbers of POWs cited in these documents as being held by North Vietnam were much too

ocument

5 document purports toeport by General Tran Van Quang to the Vietnamese Politburo inhe document came to lightne copy was found by an American researcher in the Russian archives. Another was provided US officials by Presidential Adviser Volkogonov. Among other

things, the lengthy report states that Vietnam wasS POWs inigureore than the highest number the US Government ever believed might be held captive and more than twiceany aseleased by Vietnam during Operation Homecoming

New Information. Since the originalof the document by thenterviews with Russian officials who were knowledgeable of the document continue to validate the claim that it is an authentic GRU document and not afabneation:

GRU Capt. A. I. Sivets told US interviewers in7 that the original document was destroyed, that the source had provided other Vietnamese documents to the GRU, and that5 document was genuine.

K. F. Katushev, CPSU Central Committee Secretary responsible for maintaining ties to other socialist countries in the, when interviewed by US officialsuly

"Ruitian rcecltecbomare haiy on whether the "IWi'docu-menloriginally whiten in Vietnamese. General Votkogooov. adviier to President Yeltsin, thought heiccuif an ongiiul Vietnamese version. In any evenly Vicinamete version of the document hto been locticd^f

' The work of (he Intelligence Communitythe basisews release by the Aunianc Secretary of Defence lor PuWic Attainentitled, "ffeeen* KepomnaAmci-POWs i" IfdiKhina: Aa Atituniftul'hu

emembered that he hadopy of the document in early

P. Glazunov. who served in the Soviet Embassy in Hanoi25unior diplomat and again4old US interviewers7 that he had heard of5 document in thehen he served in the International Department of the Central Committee. |

While supporting the authenticity of thenone of the Russians claimed thatOWs was accurate. General Volkogonov, in statements to the pressxpressed doubt about the reliability of the numbers.ASS correspondent who served in Vietnam during the period. V. Kob-chev. stated that the numbers were too high. Several of the Russians interviewed indicated that information about US POWs probably would not have been high on the Soviet agenda, and not much scrutiny would have been given the number:

interviewee, V. V. Dukhin. who servedolitical Counselor in Russia's Embassy in Hanoi25 said that the former DCM in Hanoi, I. A. Novikov. (now deceased) told him he was aware of5 document when it was acquired. Novikov described the document acquisition asandery conscientiouse further slated that the GRU agent who acquired the document was not reliable.

that the report could have been in Quang's style. Nevertheless, Tin found the document "very

By way of contrast. General Quang, inwith US officials consistently denies that he was the source of the report. Vietnamese officials continue to claim the reportabrication.m

Assessment. None of ihe new information helps to confirm the accuracy of5 report. As notedircumstantialcasts doubt on the validity of the report:

-esponsibilitiesattlefield corn-senderombat situation make it unlikely that he would be brought to Hanoi to report on issues that were not within his scope of responsibilit

The length of the report wouldolitburo meeting. According to an academic specialist on Vietnam, during that particular period the Politburo met weekly and was unlikely to have entertained long reports.

The purpose of the meetings was to make decisions, not listen to long oral reports.

The tone of the report also iserson of Quang's subordinate status would not have lectured the Politburo on what its policies were. Such hardcore revolu-

an interview inietnamese Sr. Col.ui Tin said that helosewith General Quang, the putative author of the report. He thought it plausible that Quang could have reported to the Politburo and

Wrul

tionarics as Lc Duan. Pham Van Dong, and Truong Chinh probably would not have been spoken to in such manner or have tolerated such language.

The timing of the Politburo meeting isThe report supposedly was given onut the Vietnamese claim there was no meeting on that date. I

m

that day, Quang Tri fell to South Vietnamese forces and Le Due Tho, who ranked 5th in seniority on the Politburo, was meeting with Henry Kissingerey juncture in the Paris peace talks. Would the Politburo bePOW/MIA issueseneral whose forces were defending, andey city?

Although the circumstantial evidence above is not definitive, the content of the report casts even more doubt on its accuracy. The portions of the report dealing with the POW issue are inaccurate with respect to how the prisoners were segregated by rank, where they were located, how they were classified, and theof their release. More important, the numbers of POWs the report claims were held are not accurate:

OD report observed thatigureore POWs thanby any reliable source. We have received no new evidence that would alter that assessment.

1 If there were additional POWs. wc would have known of them unless Vietnama separate prison system unknown to the POWs who returnedc have uncovered no reliable evidenceeparate prison system existed for certain POWs; not do we have such indicators as plausible site locations.

igure is inconsistent with our understanding of how many Americansthe events in which they were lost to become captives. Based on informationto US researchers as of4 (when the original analysis of5ocument* was released byt most, the fates ofmericans thought to have been last known alive (on the priority case list) were uncertain. Since then, more US remains have been discovered and returned to the United States from Vietnam. Thus far, the circumstances of theseaccord with data and leads obtained by Vietnamese and US authorities.the number of Americans whose fates are uncertain (on the priority case list) has been reduced to 4g. The recoveries con* tradict the assertion thai Vietnam secretly hid. and perhaps secretly eliminated, hundreds of US POV, |

Consequently, the Intelligence Community assesses the information in5 document to be unreliable andound foundation for judging Vietnamese performance on the POW/ MIA question. |

ocument

ocument purports toeport to the Central Committee by Hoangentral Committee Secretary, in late0 or earlyike5 document, it was acquired by the

aragraph in the report says that Hanoi ismericans though ito the United States, lt also says these POWj will be returned when US forces withdraw from Vietnam. |

Sew Information.3 we had only two pages ofeport; we now have the fulltext. The Russian sources who claimed5 document was authentic make the same claim forocument. |

Assessment. The new information reinforces the case that this document is an authentic GRU-colIected report. Nevertheless, as with5 document, circumstantial evidencethe information in the report is inaccurate:

The dates are wrong. The report says it was given ath plenary session of theCommittee in late0 or earlyn fact,h plenum was not held untilheheld in1 wash.

- Hoang And wasecretary of the Central Committee at that time and was responsible forhere is nowhy he wouldeport that deals extensively with political and militaryand the situations in Laos andAgriculture is mentioned only briefly.

3(1

The report speaks extensively aboutfor the 4th Party Congress, including the establishmentreparatory committee. In fact, the Politburo did not decide when to hold the 4th Party Congress untilhich was several months afterhof the Central Committee The 4th Party Congress was not held until

Another key anomaly in the purported report is the charge againstopportunist"of the Central Committee, six of whom arc named. If this were true, they should have been promptly ousted from their positions. Yet the report says the controversy had dragged on for yeais, and Ann's call forseems unusually weak. In fact, no action appears to have been taken then, and one alleged "opportunist" remained in his sensitive post, heading the army's General Political Department, until after the war.and disagreement over policy broke out during the period of "collectiveafter the death of Ho Chi Minh. Some of the dissenting policy positions alleged ineport are plausible But others-suchroposal to invite foreignChinese) troops to help in Laos and Southnot. Furthermore, if opportunism and disunity were of suchindirect references in the party press would have followed the plenum.

As in the case of5 document, theevidence against die validity of the report is buttressed by the data on the numbers reported:

3 DOD report concluded thatumber was too high US records indicatefOWs released3 were captured1 The totalHanoi could have been holding at the time could not haveccording to US Government records. No evidence has come to light3 (hat would cause us to revise our judgment.

The continued recovery of US remains through the joint field activities3 casts doubt on the likelihood that Vietnam could have been hiding that manyPOW/MlAsH

Consequently, we concludeocument also offers no foundation to support athat Vietnam has not been forthcoming on POW/MIA issuesH

NationalDisclosure

to Criminal Sanctions

Information available as of8 was used in the preparation of this National Intelligence Estimate.

The following intelligence organizations participated

in the preparation of this Estimate:

The Central lmellifiencc Agency

The Defense Intelligence Agency

The National Security Agency

The Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

Department of State

The Federal Bureau of Investigation

The National Imagery and Mapping Agency

also participating:

The Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence.

Department of the Army

The Director of Naval Intelligence.

Departmem of the Navy

The Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence.

Department oforce

The Director of Intelligence.

Headquarters, Marine Corps

Fnmtd byhoftraphi Group

This Estimate was approved for publication by the National Foreign Intelligence Board under the authority

Original document.

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