The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 8, 2013

AP IMPACT: MIA work 'acutely dysfunctional'

Largely beyond the public spotlight, the decades-old pursuit of bones and other MIA evidence is sluggish, often duplicative and subjected to too little scientific rigor

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—"Sketch maps" used by the JPAC teams looking for remains on the battlefield are "chronically unreliable," leaving the teams "cartigraphically blind." Cole likened this to 19th century military field operations.

Absent prompt and significant change, "the descent from dysfunction to total failure ... is inevitable," Cole concluded.

He directed most of his criticism at the field operations that collect bones and other material, as opposed to the laboratory scientists at JPAC who use that material to identify the remains. Cole is a management consultant and recognized research expert in the field of accounting for war remains; he still works at JPAC.

More broadly, the government organizations responsible for the accounting mission, including the Pentagon's Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, or DPMO, which is in charge of policy, have sometimes complicated their task by making public statements that their critics view as disingenuous or erroneous.

The head of DPMO, for example, retired Army Maj. Gen. W. Montague Winfield, said last month at a public forum that the U.S. government has "no evidence" that U.S. servicemen taken prisoner in North Korea during the 1950-53 war were later moved to the former Soviet Union against their will and never returned.

Washington made a detailed case in writing to Moscow in 1993 that such transfers did happen, and the AP has obtained a videotape produced by U.S. officials and given to the Russians at the same time to support the U.S. case.

The tape, which has never before been made public, was provided to the AP by a former government official who was not authorized to release it. It says that based on interviews and other research, U.S. investigators believe "10s if not 100s" of American POWs were transferred to the territory of the former Soviet Union. In some cases they were moved to Russia through rail transfer points in China, the tape asserts.

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