WHERE ARE OUR POWS? ... PAX Television 1/11/02

JERRY ORBACH (Host): 78,750 men are missing from WW II, more than 8500 in Korea, more than 2000 in Southeast Asia, and hundreds from the Cold War. Most likely some of these men died on the battlefield, in plane crashes, and in captivity. But isnít it also possible that some others survived even until now? Can we really believe the official US government policy that thereís no credible evidence of live POWs anywhere from our past wars?

Korean War POW Charles Rowley Korean War POWs Korean War POW Roger Dumas Korean War POW/MIA Korean War POW/MIA Korean War POW/MIA Korean War POW/MIA

ORBACH: Did American Armed Forces deliberately violate its single, most basic principle of personal honor to never willingly leave a fellow serviceman behind?

Korean War POW/MIA Korean War POW/MIA Korean War POW/MIA Korean War POW/MIA

ORBACH: And does the US government continue to hide evidence that these abandoned servicemen in many still classified secret documents?

Korean War POW/MIA Korean War POW/MIA Korean War POW/MIA

ORBACH: "In 1953 about 4000 American POWs were repatriated during the two prisoner exchanges between North Korea and the United States. But were there other prisoner of war left behind? Unhappily there are hundreds of brothers, wives, and parents of these servicemen who believe there were."

Korean War Prisoner Exchange Korean War Prisoner Exchange

ROBERT DUMAS (Brother of POW Cpl. Roger Dumas): "The Pentagon declared my brother Roger dead in 1954 because they said he was not a prisoner of war in North Korea. I didnít buy what they said so I decided to sue them in Federal court, which I did to change his status to prisoner of War. And in 1984 I won that unprecedented court case. Roger was declared a POW though still with a presumptive finding of his death. To this day, the Defense POW/MIA office has deliberately covered-up his case. When former assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Jones wrote a letter to me, he confirmed that Roger is a POW. But, when he subsequently wrote to senator Joseph Lieberman, my senator from Connecticut, his tone and content were decidedly different."

Robert Dumas Roger Dumas

ROBERT JONES: "Neither my agency nor any other government agency has uncovered evidence other than that which was solicited by corporal Dumasí family to indicate that he was ever captured and held prisoner by communist forces during the Korean war."

ROBERT DUMAS: "In 1978 I was given these two photos that show camp 5 in one photo and the other photo showed 3000 American prisoners waiting to be released. These photos were given to me by an ex-prisoner of war who was a journalist in camp #5. My brother Roger is in this photo (circled in photo). Heís been identified by the pentagon and by my family. "

POW Roger Dumas POW Roger Dumas

ORBACH: Has the evidence always been there for the asking? Is it really possible that the US government with all its vast resources could miss something so obvious?

DUMAS: In 1998 the pentagon informed me that they had found 2 ex-POWs. One by the name of Ciro Santos from Orlando Florida and one by the name of Bobby Caruth from Redding California. Both of these men were at the repatriation point with my brother Roger at the time of their release. Santos told me the last time he saw Roger was at the repatriation point in 1953. At that time two Chinese guards were leading him away and when he asked Roger, "Roger, where are you going?" And Roger put up his hands and said, "I donít know."

ORBACH: " Despite the Herculean effort of Bob Dumas and many other family members trying to find POWs, the US government still publicly denies the validity of live POW sightings. Former DPMO head Robert Jones testified at the POW/MIA hearing in the Pennsylvania state senate in 1999. "

Former DPMO head Robert Jones
JONES: "First, we have received over 21,350 live-sighting reports. We have investigated those. I regret to say as of this particular moment we have not had any success. All of these have in fact proved false."

ORBACH: " But how can the US government discount evidence of these POWs in their own highly classified intelligence documents? And how can they discredit eyewitness reports and even communication from the POWs themselves that have been smuggles out of captivity? Is there some compelling evidence - a smoking gun so to speak - that the government canít or wouldnít face up to?
Delores Alfond Natl. Alliance of Families
ALFOND: A post card was placed inside an envelope and mailed to Sparta Arkansas in 1992. It read "People of Sparta, A.R. I was born in Sparta, AR. I enlisted in the U.S. Army in September 1949. Iím still alive. Iím sick, and still a POW in North Korea." Signed: Private W.C. East with his serial number.
W.C. East Postcard from North Korea
ORBACH: Itís hard to imagine the Senate and particularly Senator Kerry and his committee not taking the post card seriously. And we would like to report that a thorough investigation was conducted, but the truth is the Senate had a somewhat different reaction.
ALFOND: The post card was an ingenious idea and turned out to be quite credible. In fact, another post card came from East and it was sent to Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who was then the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs. Instead of just asking a few questions or contacting the family in Sparta, someone in the Senate Select Committee took it upon themselves to just through it into the trash and dismiss it as a hoax. Then someone actually retrieved the post card from the trash and sent it to Eastís family in Sparta. The family verified it was Eastís handwriting by comparing it to a previous letter from him.
Senator John Forbes Kerry, MA
Sydney H. Schanberg, Ted Sampley: "No one in the United States Senate pushed harder to bury the POW/MIA issue, the last obstacle preventing normalization of relations with Hanoi, than John Forbes Kerry. Sen. John F. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, is one of the key figures pushing for normalization. Kerry visited Vietnam where he has been doing two things: (1) praising the Vietnamese effusively for granting access to their war archives and (2) telling the press that there's no believable evidence to back up the stories of live POWs still being held. Ironically, that very kind of live-POW evidence has been brought to Kerry's own committee on a regular basis over the past years, and he has repeatedly sought to impeach its value. Moreover, Kerry and his allies on the committee - such as Sens. John McCain, Nancy Kassebaum and Tom Daschle - have worked to block much of this evidence from being made public."
ORBACH: Neither Senator Kerry, his committee, nor the Senate generally exhibited the slightest interest in this evidence of live POWs. But by January 1996 the increase in credible reports of live POW sightings in North Korea did bring about a very unexpected response at the Pentagon.

Captured American Captured American
ORBACH: I.O. Lee, a DPMO senior research analyst, wrote a classified background paper on live sighting reports that actually contradicted the official Pentagon position. Does this mean the DPMO was finally putting its official stamp of validation on live POWs?
I.O. Lee Report
ALFOND: : In his report, Lee was particularly interested in the October 1979 statement by Serban Oprica who was a Romanian who was employed in a North Korean factory in Pyongyang. Oprica was on a bus tour with other Romanians and a Korean guide when the bus suddenly made a turn into a small village, which appeared to be an agricultural collective farm. Oprikaís statement further read, after a turn a large field with tiny houses appeared before my eyes. From those houses a man that was taller than the Koreans approached the bus. Everyone in the bus was shocked because the man was not Korean. He was in his fifties and had light colored hair. And we saw many more people bent toward the ground. None of these people were Korean. They were tall and in there fifties. Another passenger on the bus told Oprica that the Caucasian farmers were American Prisoners of War.
ORBACH: : Amazingly I.O. Lee even took the trouble to locate another Romanian, Flarin Tomescii, who confirmed seeing the Caucasians working on the farm and its location. Leeís conclusions were contained in his report and testimony before Congress when Bob Dornanís House Subcommittee on military personnel held on September 17, 1996.
ALFOND: : According to Lee, "There are too many live-sighting reports of Americans in the DPRK, specifically observations of several Caucasians in a collective farm, by Romanians and the North Korean defectors, to just dismiss the possibility that there are American POWís in North Korea."

Robert Dumas
DUMAS: : After the hearing Congressman Dornan that he believed that there were still Americans alive in North Korea after the war and he would do everything possible to bring them home. But, unfortunately he was defeated for congress in the following election.
ORBACH: : POW activist lost one of their staunchest allies in congress, but other congressional subcommittees began forcing the declassification of more documents that seem to point to the US governmentís having knowledge of live POWs. The possibility of bringing them home, however, seemed as remote as ever until 1998.
ALFOND: : During the Olympic games in Atlanta in 1996, our organization housed, fed, and entertained North Korean UN Ambassadors and their wives in a large private home in Atlanta for over a month. All the while explaining to them how important our POWs were to us even after all these years. Remarkably two years later we were offered 7 live American POWs. I called the White House and spoke with the National Security Counsel telling them that the North Koreans were offering American POWs to be brought to the negotiating table for the first time.
ORBACH: : The POW activist were excited and expected an enthusiastic reception from the White House to this unprecedented offer. They were doomed to disappointment.
Captured Airman
ALFOND: : The National Security Counsel was less than enthusiastic. They said that because the offer came through a third party, that it was just an empty gesture.
ORBACH: : Why is it that government officials are so quick to brush evidence of Americans still being held captive by nations with which we were once at war? Unfortunately, as it turns out, America still had more wars to fight. On April 22, 1970 during the Vietnam War, the fate of the American crew of the AC130A spectre gunship ĎADLIBí on an armed highly secretive mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos hung in the balance.