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View Full Version : When John Kerry's Courage Went M.I.A.



patfromlogan
25th February 04, 10:24 AM
The point is that Kerry, for political gain, let the M.I.A.s rot. There, now you don't need to read all this crap.

http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0408/schanberg.php

Senator Covered Up Evidence of P.O.W.'s Left Behind
When John Kerry's Courage Went M.I.A.
by Sydney H. Schanberg
February 24th, 2004 1:00 PM







Senator John Kerry, a decorated battle veteran, was courageous as a navy lieutenant in the Vietnam War. But he was not so courageous more than two decades later, when he covered up voluminous evidence that a significant number of live American prisoners—perhaps hundreds—were never acknowledged or returned after the war-ending treaty was signed in January 1973.

The Massachusetts senator, now seeking the presidency, carried out this subterfuge a little over a decade ago— shredding documents, suppressing testimony, and sanitizing the committee's final report—when he was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on P.O.W./ M.I.A. Affairs.

Over the years, an abundance of evidence had come to light that the North Vietnamese, while returning 591 U.S. prisoners of war after the treaty signing, had held back many others as future bargaining chips for the $4 billion or more in war reparations that the Nixon administration had pledged. Hanoi didn't trust Washington to fulfill its pro-mise without pressure. Similarly, Washington didn't trust Hanoi to return all the prisoners and carry out all the treaty provisions. The mistrust on both sides was merited. Hanoi held back prisoners and the U.S. provided no reconstruction funds.

The stated purpose of the special Senate committee—which convened in mid 1991 and concluded in January 1993—was to investigate the evidence about prisoners who were never returned and find out what happened to the missing men. Committee chair Kerry's larger and different goal, though never stated publicly, emerged over time: He wanted to clear a path to normalization of relations with Hanoi. In any other context, that would have been an honorable goal. But getting at the truth of the unaccounted for P.O.W.'s and M.I.A.'s (Missing In Action) was the main obstacle to normalization—and therefore in conflict with his real intent and plan of action.

Kerry denied back then that he disguised his real goal, contending that he supported normalization only as a way to learn more about the missing men. But almost nothing has emerged about these prisoners since diplomatic and economic relations were restored in 1995, and thus it would appear—as most realists expected—that Kerry's explanation was hollow. He has also denied in the past the allegations of a cover-up, either by the Pentagon or himself. Asked for comment on this article, the Kerry campaign sent a quote from the senator: "In the end, I think what we can take pride in is that we put together the most significant, most thorough, most exhaustive accounting for missing and former P.O.W.'s in the history of human warfare."

What was the body of evidence that prisoners were held back? A short list would include more than 1,600 firsthand sightings of live U.S. prisoners; nearly 14,000 secondhand reports; numerous intercepted Communist radio messages from within Vietnam and Laos about American prisoners being moved by their captors from one site to another; a series of satellite photos that continued into the 1990s showing clear prisoner rescue signals carved into the ground in Laos and Vietnam, all labeled inconclusive by the Pentagon; multiple reports about unacknowledged prisoners from North Vietnamese informants working for U.S. intelligence agencies, all ignored or declared unreliable; persistent complaints by senior U.S. intelligence officials (some of them made publicly) that live-prisoner evidence was being suppressed; and clear proof that the Pentagon and other keepers of the "secret" destroyed a variety of files over the years to keep the P.O.W./M.I.A. families and the public from finding out and possibly setting off a major public outcry.

The resignation of Colonel Millard Peck in 1991, the first year of the Kerry committee's tenure, was one of many vivid landmarks in this saga's history. Peck had been the head of the Pentagon's P.O.W./M.I.A. office for only eight months when he resigned in disgust. In his damning departure statement, he wrote: "The mind-set to 'debunk' is alive and well. It is held at all levels . . . Practically all analysis is directed to finding fault with the source. Rarely has there been any effective, active follow-through on any of the sightings . . . The sad fact is that . . . a cover-up may be in progress. The entire charade does not appear to be an honest effort and may never have been."

Finally, Peck said: "From what I have witnessed, it appears that any soldier left in Vietnam, even inadvertently, was in fact abandoned years ago, and that the farce that is being played is no more than political legerdemain done with 'smoke and mirrors' to stall the issue until it dies a natural death."



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What did Kerry do in furtherance of the cover-up? An overview would include the following: He allied himself with those carrying it out by treating the Pentagon and other prisoner debunkers as partners in the investigation instead of the targets they were supposed to be. In short, he did their bidding. When Defense Department officials were coming to testify, Kerry would have his staff director, Frances Zwenig, meet with them to "script" the hearings—as detailed in an internal Zwenig memo leaked by others. Zwenig also advised North Vietnamese officials on how to state their case. Further, Kerry never pushed or put up a fight to get key government documents unclassified; he just rolled over, no matter how obvious it was that the documents contained confirming data about prisoners. Moreover, after promising to turn over all committee records to the National Archives when the panel concluded its work, the senator destroyed crucial intelligence information the staff had gathered—to to keep the documents from becoming public. He refused to subpoena past presidents and other key witnesses.

When revelatory sworn testimony was given to the committee by President Reagan's national security adviser, Richard Allen—about a credible proposal from Hanoi in 1981 to return more than 50 prisoners for a $4 billion ransom—Kerry had that testimony taken in a closed door interview, not a public hearing. But word leaked out and a few weeks later, Allen sent a letter to the committee, not under oath, recanting his testimony, saying his memory had played tricks on him. Kerry never did any probe into Allen's original, detailed account, and instead accepted his recantation as gospel truth.

A Secret Service agent then working at the White House, John Syphrit, told committee staffers he had overheard part of a conversation about the Hanoi proposal for ransom. He said he was willing to testify but feared reprisal from his Treasury Department superiors and would need to be subpoenaed so that his appearance could not be regarded as voluntary. Kerry refused to subpoena him. Syphrit told me that four men were involved in that conversation—Reagan, Allen, Vice President George H.W. Bush, and CIA director William Casey. I wrote the story for Newsday.

The final Kerry report brushed off the entire episode like unsightly dust. It said: "The committee found no credible evidence of any such [ransom] offer being made."



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A newcomer to this subject matter might reasonably ask why there was no great public outrage, no sustained headlines, no national demand for investigations, no penalties imposed on those who had hidden, and were still hiding, the truth. The simple, overarching explanation was that most Americans wanted to put Vietnam behind them as fast as possible. They wanted to forget this failed war, not deal with its truths or consequences. The press suffered from the same ostrich syndrome; no major media organization ever carried out an in-depth investigation by a reporting team into the prisoner issue. When prisoner stories did get into the press, they would have a one-day life span, never to be followed up on. When three secretaries of defense from the Vietnam era—James Schlesinger, Melvin Laird, and Elliot Richardson—testified before the Kerry committee, under oath, that intelligence they received at the time convinced them that numbers of unacknowledged prisoners were being held by the Communists, the story was reported by the press just that once and then dropped. The New York Times put the story on page one but never pursued it further to explore the obvious ramifications.

At that public hearing on September 21, 1992, toward the end of Schlesinger's testimony, the former defense secretary, who earlier had been CIA chief, was asked a simple question: "In your view, did we leave men behind?"

He replied: "I think that as of now, I can come to no other conclusion."

He was asked to explain why Nixon would have accepted leaving men behind. He said: "One must assume that we had concluded that the bargaining position of the United States . . . was quite weak. We were anxious to get our troops out and we were not going to roil the waters . . . "

patfromlogan
25th February 04, 10:25 AM
Another example of a story not pursued occurred at the Paris peace talks. The North Vietnamese failed to provide a list of the prisoners until the treaty was signed. Afterward, when they turned over the list, U.S. intelligence officials were taken aback by how many believed prisoners were not included. The Vietnamese were returning only nine men from Laos. American records showed that more than 300 were probably being held. A story about this stunning gap, by New York Times Pentagon reporter John W. Finney, appeared on the paper's front page on February 2, 1973. The story said: "Officials emphasized that the United States would be seeking clarification . . . " No meaningful explanation was ever provided by the Vietnamese or by the Laotian Communist guerrillas, the Pathet Lao, who were satellites of Hanoi.

As a bombshell story for the media, particularly the Washington press corps, it was there for the taking. But there were no takers.

I was drawn to the P.O.W. issue because of my reporting years for The New York Times during the Vietnam War, where I came to believe that our soldiers were being misled and disserved by our government. After the war, military people who knew me and others who knew my work brought me information about live sightings of P.O.W.'s still in captivity and other evidence about their existence. When the Kerry committee was announced (I was by then a columnist at Newsday), I thought the senator—having himself become disillusioned about the Vietnam War, and eventually an advocate against it—might really be committed to digging out the truth. This was wishful thinking.

In the committee's early days, Kerry had given encouraging indications of being a committed investigator. He said he had "leads" to the existence of P.O.W.'s still in captivity. He said the number of these likely survivors was more than 100 and that this was the minimum. But in a very short time, he stopped saying such things and morphed his role into one of full alliance with the executive branch, the Pentagon, and other Washington hierarchies, joining their long-running effort to obscure and deny that a significant number of live American prisoners had not been returned. As many as 700 withheld P.O.W.'s were cited in credible intelligence documents, including a speech by a senior North Vietnamese general that was discovered in Soviet archives by an American scholar.

Here are details of a few of the specific steps Kerry took to hide evidence about these P.O.W.'s.



He gave orders to his committee staff to shred crucial intelligence documents. The shredding stopped only when some intelligence staffers staged a protest. Some wrote internal memos calling for a criminal investigation. One such memo—from John F. McCreary, a lawyer and staff intelligence analyst—reported that the committee's chief counsel, J. William Codinha, a longtime Kerry friend, "ridiculed the staff members" and said, "Who's the injured party?" When staffers cited "the 2,494 families of the unaccounted-for U.S. servicemen, among others," the McCreary memo continued, Codinha said: "Who's going to tell them? It's classified."

Kerry defended the shredding by saying the documents weren't originals, only copies—but the staff's fear was that with the destruction of the copies, the information would never get into the public domain, which it didn't. Kerry had promised the staff that all documents acquired and prepared by the committee would be turned over to the National Archives at the committee's expiration. This didn't happen. Both the staff and independent researchers reported that many critical documents were withheld.


Another protest memo from the staff reported: "An internal Department of Defense Memorandum identifies Frances Zwenig [Kerry's staff director] as the conduit to the Department of Defense for the acquisition of sensitive and restricted information from this Committee . . . lines of investigation have been seriously compromised by leaks" to the Pentagon and "other agencies of the executive branch." It also said the Zwenig leaks were "endangering the lives and livelihood of two witnesses."


A number of staffers became increasingly upset about Kerry's close relationship with the Department of Defense, which was supposed to be under examination. (Dick Cheney was then defense secretary.) It had become clear that Kerry, Zwenig, and others close to the chairman, such as Senator John McCain of Arizona, a dominant committee member, had gotten cozy with the officials and agencies supposedly being probed for obscuring P.O.W. information over the years. Committee hearings, for example, were being orchestrated to suit the examinees, who were receiving lists of potential questions in advance. Another internal memo from the period, by a staffer who requested anonymity, said: "Speaking for the other investigators, I can say we are sick and tired of this investigation being controlled by those we are supposedly investigating."


The Kerry investigative technique was equally soft in many other critical ways. He rejected all suggestions that the committee require former presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush to testify. All were in the Oval Office during the Vietnam era and its aftermath. They had information critical to the committee, for each president was carefully and regularly briefed by his national security adviser and others about P.O.W. developments. It was a huge issue at that time.


Kerry also refused to subpoena the Nixon office tapes (yes, the Watergate tapes) from the early months of 1973 when the P.O.W.'s were an intense subject because of the peace talks and the prisoner return that followed. (Nixon had rejected committee requests to provide the tapes voluntarily.) Information had seeped out for years that during the Paris talks and afterward, Nixon had been briefed in detail by then national security advisor Brent Scowcroft and others about the existence of P.O.W.'s whom Hanoi was not admitting to. Nixon, distracted by Watergate, apparently decided it was crucial to get out of the Vietnam mess immediately, even if it cost those lives. Maybe he thought there would be other chances down the road to bring these men back. So he approved the peace treaty and on March 29, 1973, the day the last of the 591 acknowledged prisoners were released in Hanoi, Nixon announced on national television: "All of our American P.O.W.'s are on their way home."



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The Kerry committee's final report, issued in January 1993, delivered the ultimate insult to history. The 1,223-page document said there was "no compelling evidence that proves" there is anyone still in captivity. As for the primary investigative question —what happened to the men left behind in 1973—the report conceded only that there is "evidence . . . that indicates the possibility of survival, at least for a small number" of prisoners 31 years ago, after Hanoi released the 591 P.O.W.'s it had admitted to.

With these word games, the committee report buried the issue—and the men.

The huge document contained no findings about what happened to the supposedly "small number." If they were no longer alive, then how did they die? Were they executed when ransom offers were rejected by Washington?

Kerry now slides past all the radio messages, satellite photos, live sightings, and boxes of intelligence documents—all the evidence. In his comments for this piece, this candidate for the presidency said: "No nation has gone to the lengths that we did to account for their dead. None—ever in history."

Of the so-called "possibility" of a "small number" of men left behind, the committee report went on to say that if this did happen, the men were not "knowingly abandoned," just "shunted aside." How do you put that on a gravestone?

In the end, the fact that Senator Kerry covered up crucial evidence as committee chairman didn't seem to bother too many Massachusetts voters when he came up for re-election—or the recent voters in primary states. So I wouldn't predict it will be much of an issue in the presidential election come November. It seems there is no constituency in America for missing Vietnam P.O.W.'s except for their families and some veterans of that war.

A year after he issued the committee report, on the night of January 26, 1994, Kerry was on the Senate floor pushing through a resolution calling on President Clinton to lift the 19-year-old trade embargo against Vietnam. In the debate, Kerry belittled the opposition, saying that those who still believed in abandoned P.O.W.'s were perpetrating a hoax. "This process," he declaimed, "has been led by a certain number of charlatans and exploiters, and we should not allow fiction to cloud what we are trying to do here."

Kerry's resolution passed, by a vote of 62 to 38. Sadly for him, the passage of ten thousand resolutions cannot make up for wants in a man's character.

Kein Haar
25th February 04, 10:26 AM
He was in Viet Nam?!

KageReaper
25th February 04, 10:31 AM
He's French??

kismasher
25th February 04, 10:54 AM
so many words!???!!

patfromlogan
25th February 04, 11:25 AM
Originally posted by kismasher
man, i'm as anti bush as they come, but i see a new one of these threads every day

yawn.

They are both assholes. And I sure didn't want to bore you with more TRUTH about Bush. And to be off topic in off topic what ma do you practice by the way?

Mr_Mantis
25th February 04, 11:47 AM
Thanks for the info. What a bastard!

kismasher
25th February 04, 12:18 PM
i'm starting to sound like a broken record

john edwards is the pimp,

The Wastrel
25th February 04, 03:37 PM
Statement of John F. Kerry
Before the International Trade Subcommittee
of the Senate Finance Committee
on the Renewal of the Waiver
of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment for Vietnam
July 7, 1998

Mr. Chairman, thank you for inviting me to testify this morning on the President's decision to renew the waiver of the Jackson-Vanik amendment for Vietnam. Let me say at the outset that I strongly support this decision, and I believe overturning it would have serious negative consequences for our bilateral relations with Vietnam and our larger interests in Southeast Asia.

Today, the United States has many important and varied interests in Vietnam and in the region. First, we have an overriding humanitarian interest in continuing the process of obtaining the fullest possible accounting of American servicemen missing from the war.

Second, we have an interest in promoting freedom of emigration -- an area in which the government of Vietnam has made substantial process over the last year.

Third, we have an ongoing interest in promoting human rights and democratic freedoms around the world, including in Vietnam where the composition of the population -- over 60 percent of Vietnam's population are under 25 years of age -- and the process of economic development hold the promise of political liberalization over time.

Fourth, Vietnam is a potentially significant market for American services and goods, but that market can only be developed if Vietnam maintains the course of economic reform that it began in the late 1980s. When I was in Vietnam earlier this year, it was clear to me that there was concern within the leadership about the financial crisis in Asia and what implications that crisis had for Vietnam. I believe after talking with the Prime Minister and other senior Vietnamese officials that Vietnam will stay the course. However, if we force Eximbank and OPIC to close down -- which is what supporters of the resolution of disapproval want -- we run the risk of setting that process back. It is in the interest of American workers and businesses to continue to encourage this process of reform.

Vietnam is an integral part of Southeast Asia -- a region where political stability has been sporadic at best. In light of the financial crisis that is engulfing Asia and the turbulent events in Cambodia over the last year, it is in our interest to have an active presence in the region and effective working relationships with the countries of the region, including Vietnam. If fact the Bush Administration's overtures toward Hanoi in 1990 and 1991, which resulted in the so-called "road map" for U.S.-Vietnamese relations, were born out of the need to end the conflict in Cambodia and establish a process to promote regional stability.

We also have overriding strategic and political interests in counter balancing China's position and growing influence in Southeast Asia. Over the last few years China has been aggressively courting the countries of Southeast Asia even those, such as Vietnam, which were historical enemies. China has mended fences with Cambodia's second prime minister, Hun Sen, and was quick to provide aid to Cambodia in the wake of the coup last July in which Hun Sen deposed his co-prime minister Prince Ranariddh. China has also been the number one supplier of arms to the military junta in Rangoon, and has continuously worked to develop Burma as an outlet for Chinese goods from landlocked Yunnan province. Although Vietnam has been invaded by China many times, Beijing has made a concerted effort to improve relations with Hanoi. A trip to the border provides a first hand picture of the budding trade relationship between China and Vietnam.

Last, but certainly not least, we have an interest, a responsibility, and a national need to heal the wounds of a nation and put the past behind us once and for all. The step by step process of normalizing our relations with Vietnam is a means of healing those wounds.

The real question is how we promote these interests most effectively? Those who oppose the Jackson-Vanik waiver want to turn the clock back to the policy that we had in place for some 20 years after the war -- a policy of denial. But Mr. Chairman, as the history of the POW/MIA issue clearly demonstrates, that policy was a failure.

The Wastrel
25th February 04, 03:38 PM
For years after the war, we tried to promote our primary interest in Vietnam -- to resolve the cases of American servicemen still missing from the war -- by denying Vietnam the benefits of trade and diplomatic relations. The policy produced few positive results. Progress on the POW/MIA issue came only when we began to engage the Vietnamese and to recognize that the Vietnamese needed and wanted a relationship with the United States. This recognition was implicit in the Bush Administration's roadmap which set out a step by step process for normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam.

Today, we can cite enormous progress in the process of POW/MIA accounting as a result of the cooperation that we have received, and continue to receive, from the Vietnamese. In the last five years American and Vietnamese personnel have conducted 30 joint field activities in Vietnam to recover and repatriate remains. 233 sets of remains have been repatriated and 97 remains have been identified. In addition to working jointly with the United States on remains recovery, the government of Vietnam agreed in 1996 to an American request to undertake unilateral action. Since that time, Vietnamese teams have provided reports on their unilateral investigations of 115 cases.

The Wastrel
25th February 04, 03:39 PM
When I became Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs in 1991, 196 individuals were on the list of "discrepancy" or "last known alive cases." These were cases in which individuals survived their loss incidents but they remain unaccounted for because they did not return alive and their fate was uncertain. These are the most difficult and heartbreaking cases. As of today, fate has been determined for all but 43 of the 196 on this list. This means, Mr. Chairman, that their families and friends finally know what happened to them. That is progress by any measure.

Since agreement was reached in December 1994 on joint U.S.-Vietnamese-Lao trilateral investigations in Laos, 22 Vietnamese witnesses have participated in operations in Laos; the government has identified another 32 to participate in future investigations. These witnesses have proved crucial to our accounting efforts in Laos. For example, information provided by Vietnamese witnesses resulted in the recovery and repatriation of remains associated with two cases in 1996: one involving eight Americans and another involving four.

One of the critical questions at the core of the accounting process is what documents or information does Vietnam or its citizens possess that could provide answers. When we started this process several years ago, we had little access to information. That has changed dramatically. We have a full time archive in Hanoi where Americans and Vietnamese work side by side to resolve remaining questions. Thousands of artifacts, documents and photographs have been turned over by Vietnamese officials for review. In the last five years alone, 28,000 archival documents have been reviewed and photographed by joint research teams. We have conducted over 195 oral history interviews in addition to those conducted during the joint field activities. In response to an American request, Vietnam in 1994 created unilateral document search teams. Since that time they have provided documents in 12 separate turnovers totaling 300 documents of some 500-600 untranslated pages. To date these teams have also conducted unilateral research in 19 provinces.

The Wastrel
25th February 04, 03:39 PM
During my tenure as Chairman of the POW/MIA Committee, I spent countless hours and made numerous trips to Vietnam, often accompanied by my good friend and committee colleague, Senator McCain, in an effort to develop and improve cooperation on the POW/MIA issue. I am convinced that we made progress on this issue because of engagement and cooperation, not isolation or containment. And I am equally convinced that the best way to promote our broad range of interests in Vietnam is to continue to engage the Vietnamese and to follow our present policy of step by step normalization of bilateral relation with Vietnam.

The initial waiver of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, exercised by the President just a few months ago in March, was a modest but important step in the continued normalization of our relations with Vietnam. Coming nearly three years after the United States and Vietnam normalized diplomatic relations, this waiver simply enabled the Export-Import Bank and OPIC to begin operations in Vietnam -- a step that is for the benefit of American companies and by extension the American economy. It is important to note that this waiver does not extend most-favored-nation tariff treatment to Vietnam. That step is further down the road, and no doubt will come when the United States and Vietnam have completed negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement.

Those who oppose the Jackson-Vanik waiver argue that we are moving too fast, that Vietnam's performance in the areas of emigration, human rights, and some would even say POW/MIA is unsatisfactory, that our policy of engagement has yielded few tangible results. I disagree and I think the record backs me up.

The use of carrots or incentives creatively has been at the core of our policy toward Vietnam since the President, with the overwhelming express support of the Senate, lifted the unilateral U.S. trade embargo in 1994. There is no question that the President's decision to waive the Jackson-Vanik amendment in March of this year led to significant progress on emigration -- the one and sole issue on which the extension of MFN, US governmental credits and credit insurance is dependent under the provisions of the amendment.

Since the waiver was issued, Vietnam has made significant and consistent progress in fulfilling its commitments under the ROVR agreement which provides for resettlement in the United States of eligible Vietnamese who had returned to Vietnam from refugee camps in the region. As of June 8, Vietnam had cleared for interview 15,081, or 81 percent of the 18,718 potential applicants. I would point out, Mr. Chairman, that INS has interviewed only 9447 of those cleared by the Vietnamese to date. So far, 3119 have arrived in the United States. Vietnam is also cooperating with the us to expedite processing of those applicants still in the pipeline and provide an accounting of a list of 3000 individuals which we handed over in January. The Administration expects that a significant number of these people will be cleared for interview once we have given Vietnamese officials additional information with which to find them. Not only did the waiver produce results but the very prospect of a waiver led Vietnamese officials to modify processing procedures for the program last October.

Since the waiver was granted, Vietnam has also adopted more liberal procedures for those in the Orderly Departure Program (ODP) under which some 480,000 Vietnamese have emigrated as refugees or immigrants to the U.S. over the last 10-15 years. At this point there are only about 6900 ODP applicants remaining to be processed, including Montagnards and former reeducation camp refugees. Vietnam's agreement early this month to allow U.S. officials to interview all Montagnard ODP cases as well as the procedural changes adopted by Vietnam will enable the United States to complete these interviews by the end of the year.

Clearly Vietnam has made substantial and measurable progress in the area of emigration, but what about human rights. To be candid, Mr. Chairman, the record is not as impressive. Vietnam continues to be a one-party state that tolerates no organized political opposition. Many basic freedoms, such as freedom of the press or speech, are denied or curtailed, and according to Amnesty International, Vietnam has at least 54 political prisoners.

Human rights is and must continue to be on our bilateral agenda with Vietnam. Treasury Secretary Rubin and Secretary of State Albright have raised human rights issues with Vietnamese officials at the highest levels during their visits to Vietnam. The United States and Vietnam have established a regular, bilateral human rights dialogue in which general issues as well as specific cases are raised. I consistently raise human rights issues during my trips to Vietnam. These entreaties and the gradual improvement in our relations has had some positive results. Several jailed dissidents have been released, and some degree of liberalization has taken place.

No one can go to Hanoi and not recognize that exposure to and interaction with other countries is changing Vietnam. Vietnamese enjoy more personal liberty than they ever had before; they own shops, have economic mobility, and speak to foreigners in most cases without fear. They have more access to information and foreign media and although the newspapers are "state papers", they are increasingly outspoken about corruption and governmental inefficiency. After last year's legislative elections, the number of nonparty members elected to the National Assembly doubled from 8 percent to 15 percent. While this represents a minority of the Assembly's membership, it clearly is a trend in the right direction, as is the fact that the Assembly itself is playing a stronger role on key issues, both economic and political.

Some argue that the only way to change Vietnam's human rights record is to deny them the benefits of trade, force OPIC and EXIMBANK to close their doors, and freeze our relationship here and now. As one who has made more than a dozen trips to Vietnam over the last eight years and who has witnessed how this country has changed in such a short time period, I honestly believe that they are wrong. If we want to promote human rights and political change in Vietnam, we need to expand our contacts, not contract them through all the tools at our disposal -- trade, aid, exchange programs, participation in ASEAN and other regional and international institutions. And we need to maintain the ability to discuss this issue at the highest levels of government. Vietnamese leaders know full well the importance that we place on human rights and that progress on this issue will be part of the context in which our relations develop.


I know this committee will be hearing testimony later this morning from some who argue that Vietnam has not cooperated fully on the POW/MIA issue. As is obvious from my earlier remarks, I disagree, but let me make two additional points. First, during each of my trips to Vietnam I have met with the American teams who work on this issue daily with the Vietnamese. Every one of these teams, including the one now in place, has indicated to me that Vietnamese cooperation has been outstanding. Second, to those who argue that Vietnam is withholding documents or even remains, I say if that is so, the only way you are going to find out is to continue the process and the policy we now have in place.

Mr. Chairman, I believe the record over the last few years clearly proves that our step by step approach to normalizing relations with Vietnam is working and is consonant with the many interests we have in that country and the region. Reversing that policy by disapproving the President's waiver of the Jackson-Vanik amendment will reduce our influence and threaten future progress on POW/MIA, emigration, human rights, economic reform and trade, and other interests I have not discussed, such as stemming the flow of illegal drugs. In short, it would do irreparable harm to our relationship and our interests not only in Vietnam but also in the region.

The decision to treat Vietnam as a country, rather than a war, was made when we normalized diplomatic relations in 1995. We cannot and should not turn the clock back now. The President made the right decision when he decided to waive the Jackson-Vanik amendment and to renew it this month. Congress should let that decision stand.

The Wastrel
25th February 04, 03:40 PM
Statement of John McCain
In Support of Jackson-Vanik Waiver
July 07, 1998

Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, I am pleased to have this opportunity to testify today in support of the President's decision to extend the Jackson-Vanik waiver for Vietnam. As you know, I have a deep interest in our bilateral relationship with Vietnam and always appreciate the opportunity to help move that relationship forward. If this statement sounds familiar, it is because I submitted testimony two weeks ago before the House Subcommittee on Trade on the same issue.

Although the Jackson-Vanik waiver may appear to be a minor, technical issue of little relevance to broader US-Vietnam relations, it serves as an important tool for the advancement of American interests in Vietnam. Specifically, the President's decision to waive the Jackson-Vanik amendment in March, and to extend the waiver in June, has encouraged measurable Vietnamese cooperation in processing applications for emigration under the Orderly Departure Program, or ODP, and the Resettlement Opportunity for Vietnamese Returnees agreement, or ROVR.

The Wastrel
25th February 04, 03:40 PM
The Jackson-Vanik amendment exists to promote freedom of emigration from nondemocratic countries. The law calls for a waiver if it would enhance opportunities to emigrate freely. The numbers indicate that opportunities for emigration from Vietnam have clearly increased since the President waived the Jackson-Vanik amendment, and relations with Vietnam should continue to improve with the facilitation of greater levels of trade.

The evidence that Vietnam has liberalized its emigration policy is compelling. As of June 15, 3,267 Vietnamese had departed for the United States under ROVR. Since the waiver was granted, Vietnam has eliminated the requirement for ODP applicants, including Montagnards and former re-education camp detainees, to obtain exit permits prior to being interviewed by American officials. Vietnam has cleared for interview over 80 percent of all remaining ROVR applicants, and we expect many more to be cleared shortly.

Critically, on the day the President announced his decision to extend the Jackson-Vanik waiver, the Vietnamese government announced it would allow U.S. officials to interview all Montagnard ODP cases. Previously, many of these individuals were off-limits to American interviewers, raising concern among many of us that Vietnam was denying Montagnards eligibility for emigration under the ODP. Clearly, the Vietnamese understood that the Montagnard issue was important to the United States, and they responded by meeting our demand for access to this group of people.

The Wastrel
25th February 04, 03:40 PM
In short, Jackson-Vanik is working. Vietnamese cooperation on outstanding emigration applications has increased. Vietnam has made important progress on its commitments under the January 1997 ROVR agreement with the United States. The vast majority of remaining ROVR applicants have been cleared for interview by U.S. officials. Pre-interview exit permits are no longer required for ODP applicants. American officials will soon be actively interviewing Montagnards who wish to emigrate under the terms of the ODP. Remarkably, the Administration expects to complete almost all ODP refugee interviews by the end of this year.

The Jackson-Vanik waiver has given momentum to this process. Revoking the waiver would likely stall this momentum, to the detriment of those who seek to emigrate.

I wish to ask my colleagues who would overturn the President's extension of the Jackson-Vanik waiver for Vietnam the following questions: Would a successful resolution of disapproval do anything other than sacrifice the progress we have witnessed since March? Would revoking the waiver advance the cause of those Vietnamese who benefit dramatically from their government's cooperation on emigration matters? How would those individuals who have successfully departed Vietnam this year have fared if the United States had not used the Jackson-Vanik waiver to encourage Vietnamese compliance with our emigration priorities?

The Wastrel
25th February 04, 03:40 PM
We should also note the significant effect of the Jackson-Vanik waiver on U.S. businesses operating in Vietnam. The waiver has allowed the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Export-Import Bank (EXIM) to support American businesses in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and elsewhere. Competitors from other industrialized countries have long had the benefit of lending and insurance guarantees provided by their own governments. Without such governmental support, American businesses in Vietnam suffered.

There can be little doubt that the American business community in Vietnam has a moderating influence on the political leadership there. As advocates of economic reform and a healthy bilateral relationship, they deserve our support. Withdrawing OPIC and EXIM guarantees would hurt U.S. business in Vietnam and halt the progress on economic normalization that may soon lead to a bilateral trade agreement and Vietnam's accession to the World Trade Organization. It would reinforce the position of hard-liners in Hanoi who believe Vietnam's opening to the West has proceeded too rapidly. We should do all we can to encourage this opening by supporting the U.S. companies that bring trade and investment to Vietnam.

A number of outstanding differences continue to stand in the way of closer US-Vietnamese relations. Human rights, including the freedom to speak, assemble, and worship, remain subject to the whims of political leaders in Hanoi. Political and economic reforms lag far behind American expectations. Our companies operating in Vietnam suffer from bureaucratic red tape and corruption.

Ambassador Peterson and the embassy staff in Hanoi are working diligently to address these legitimate concerns. At the same time, the 30 Joint Field Activities conducted by the Department of Defense in the past five years, and the consequent repatriation of 233 sets of remains of American military personnel during that period, attest to the ongoing cooperation between Vietnamese and American officials on our efforts to account for our missing servicemen. I am confident that such progress will continue.

Just as the naysayers who insisted that Vietnamese cooperation on POW/MIA issues would cease altogether when we normalized relations with Vietnam were proven gravely mistaken, so have those who insisted that Vietnam would cease cooperation on emigration issues once we waived Jackson-Vanik been proven wrong by the course of events since March. Those of us with long experience dealing with the Vietnamese, including Senator Kerry, Ambassador Peterson, and U.S. military leaders responsible for our POW/MIA accounting, recognize that cooperation begets cooperation, and that the carrot is as effective as the stick in furthering our cause with the Vietnamese.

The Wastrel
25th February 04, 03:40 PM
It is important to stress that the Jackson-Vanik amendment relates narrowly to freedom of emigration. It does not relate to the many other issues involved in our bilateral relationship with Vietnam. The Jackson-Vanik waiver is a tool we can selectively use to encourage free emigration. The waiver has contributed to that objective. Using it as a blunt instrument to castigate the Vietnamese government for every issue of contention between our two countries will not advance America's interest in free emigration from Vietnam.

We cannot process applicants under ODP and ROVR without Vietnamese cooperation. Such cooperation is put at risk by the resolution of disapproval before the Subcommittee today. As one who cares deeply for the Vietnamese people whose fate may hang in the balance, I urge my colleagues in Congress to support the President's decision to extend the Jackson-Vanik waiver for Vietnam.

I thank the Chairman for holding this important hearing today."

The Wastrel
25th February 04, 03:41 PM
http://www.aiipowmia.com/
http://www.aiipowmia.com/testimony/jvtest1998.html

Justme
25th February 04, 04:40 PM
Go Dennis....

Mr_Mantis
25th February 04, 05:15 PM
Originally posted by Justme
Go Dennis....
:eek: Nooooo!!!!!

Owen
26th February 04, 07:51 AM
I hate Kerry's involvement in the Winter Soldiers Travesty.