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Captain Michael "Scott" Speicher, USN

Operation Desert Storm

MIA: 18 January 1991

KIA/BNR: May 1991

MIA: 10 January 2001

Status Changed to Missing/Captured: 11 October 2002

LCDR Michael Speicher memorialized at Arlington National Cemetery 
Section H Headstone #517

Name: Michael Scott Speicher
Rank/Branch: Lt.Cdr./US Navy
Unit: USS SARATOGA
Age: 33
Home City of Record: Jacksonville FL
Date of Loss: 17 January 1991
Country of Loss: Unknown
Loss Coordinates:
Original Status: Missing in Action
Status Changed to KIA/BNR May 1991
Status changed BACK to MIA 01/10/01
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: FA18
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 09 March 1991 from one
or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
published sources, interviews. Update by the P.O.W. NETWORK.

 

 


Photo Courtesy of the Blue Angles Assoc.

USS Saratoga (CV-60)

 

 

Persian Gulf War POW/MIA Accountability Act of 2001 (S-1339)
The Speicher Bill

 

Military Searches For Gulf War Pilot
Associated Press
January 12, 2004

 
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Military search crews have returned to the site where Navy pilot Michael Scott Speicher's fighter jet crashed 13 years ago, while captured Iraqi officials, including Saddam Hussein, are being questioned about the fate of the missing flier.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who has worked to get answers for Speicher's family and friends, said crews are actively looking for the Jacksonville man, whose plane went down Jan. 17, 1991, about 100 miles north of the Saudi Arabian border.

The FA-18 Hornet was the first jet shot down in the 1991 Gulf War in Iraq.

Navy officials said crews have checked more than 50 sites, including hospitals, prisons, security archives, homes and the crash site, said Lt. Mike Kafka, a Navy spokesman. "The Navy remains extremely interested in information regarding Capt. Speicher," he said.

Nelson said he was heartened when he heard Saddam and other high-level Iraqi officials had been questioned about Speicher, although Saddam has denied knowledge of Speicher's fate.

Kafka said all detained officials and hundreds of lower-level officials, civilians, defectors and refugees have been questioned.

"Sooner or later, somebody is going to talk," said Nelson, who believes Speicher could still be alive. "I hope so. With each passing day, it diminishes that possibility."

Recently, crews revisited the crash site for the first time since 1995. At that time they found the canopy, wings, unexploded ordnance, but the cockpit was missing. Nelson said he could not comment on what, if anything, was found in the second search.

Some believe Speicher was killed when a surface-to-air missile knocked his fighter jet from the sky. There was evidence, however, that he ejected from his damaged aircraft.

Speicher was 33 when he was shot down. He held the rank of lieutenant commander at the time; he has since been promoted to captain. His wife, Joanne, has remarried and his children are now teenagers.

His status changed from missing in action to killed in action, but in 2002 it was changed again to missing-captured. A marker has been placed on an empty grave at Arlington National Cemetery.

"We hold out hope that Scott is still alive," Speicher's cousin, Teresa Engstrom of Minneapolis, said in an e-mail. "Failing that, I would hope that the family and all those wonderful supporters can at least know what happened."

 

 

'Secret' Report Adds to Mystery

By Timothy W. Maier

When someone leaked to the Washington Times last month the so-called "secret two-page Pentagon report" that suggested U.S. Navy aviator Capt. Michael Scott Speicher died when his F-18 Hornet was shot down Jan. 17, 1991, the feisty Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) figured it was a message to back off of his crusade to find out what had happened to the pilot still missing from the Persian Gulf War. An infuriated Nelson slammed the pessimistic news story in the Times, claiming it was full of faulty information, such as labeling as a liar an Iraqi defector who claims to have seen Speicher alive. Nelson demanded to see the Pentagon report.

But, to his surprise, the Pentagon told him straight out that there is no Pentagon report. After a little more digging Nelson's staff learned that this two-page document, dated June 23, actually was written by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) - which also repeatedly had debunked stories that U.S. servicemen were left behind in Vietnam. "There was nothing new in the report," insists Nelson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who helped push Speicher's promotion last year to captain. The DIA report rebukes allegations by an Iraqi defector known as "2314" who claims to have given Speicher a ride to a Baghdad hospital. The report says the assessment that Speicher survived the crash primarily is based on information provided by "2314," although Nelson insists there are more witnesses and more intelligence information, such as the recovery of the American pilot's flight suit, which when put together lead to a probability that Speicher survived. The DIA's bleak picture appeared to suggest Speicher probably died in the fiery crash.

It's not the first time Speicher has been presumed dead. Vice President Dick Cheney, who was the defense secretary in 1991, reported the pilot's death as the first casualty of Gulf War I. The Pentagon assured Speicher's family a full search-and-rescue mission had been launched but they later learned the assurance was a lie [see "Turning Their Backs on Speicher," May 27, and "Forgotten Flier," June 17, 2002]. At present a specialized search team of 15 personnel at the DIA, the CIA and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency are interrogating Iraqi prisoners and surveying Saddam Hussein's known prisons for clues in hopes of finding Speicher.

The DIA report conflicts with an earlier CIA report delivered to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in March 2001. The CIA report stated, "Iraq can account for Lt. Cmdr. Speicher, [but] is concealing information about his fate." It also claimed Speicher ejected with at least an "85 to 90 percent chance of surviving. ... We assess Speicher was either captured alive or his remains were recovered and brought to Baghdad." It was the CIA report that forced president Bill Clinton to change Speicher's status from killed in action to missing in action/captured (MIA) - 10 days before Clinton left office on Jan. 11, 2001. The DIA report also fails to mention that the Iraqi defector, who claimed to have driven Speicher to Baghdad, had passed two lie-detector tests. Instead the report says he will be given a lie-detector test.

"Somebody is leaking disinformation that is incorrect," says Nelson, who made a trip to Iraq in July and visited a cell in Hakmiya Prison in Baghdad where Speicher's initials, M.S.S., were carved into a wall of a prison cell. "He didn't die in the crash. I truly believe that someone is trying to kill the Speicher investigation," the Florida senator insists.

Sources familiar with the DIA report say the analysis in the two-page document did not come from senior intelligence officials but nonetheless was handed to Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The DIA report amounted to field observations but did take into account some recent findings - including one set of the M.S.S. initials etched onto the Baghdad prison wall in cell 46, Insight sources say. The report did not take into account another set of initials that were discovered, M.J.M., which some believe represent his two children, Meghan and Michael, and his former wife, Joanne, who remarried after being told her husband was killed in action. She has declined this magazine's request for an interview.

According to the DIA report, the defector known as 2314 worked for Saddam Hussein's special security organization and claims he saw Speicher alive in 1998. The DIA report claimed, "None of the information provided by 2314 has proven accurate." Witnesses cited by 2314 to support his story have denied the defector's account. One called him a "born liar." Two physicians, his supervisor and a psychiatrist whom 2314 said would confirm his story since have been interrogated and denied having any knowledge that 2314 saw Speicher in 1998. All four passed lie-detector tests.

However, the DIA report also notes that an Iraqi prisoner reported to U.S. Marines that he heard two prison guards discussing the "U.S. pilot," providing enough doubt for Nelson to continue his campaign to find or account for Speicher.

Pentagon sources say Nelson's high-profile approach of holding press conferences and posting pictures on his Website of himself pointing at the initials found in the prison cell have created an adversarial relationship between the senator and the Pentagon. Says one senior official, "Nelson is handling this just as badly as Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) handled the Vietnam MIA issue."

Asked if he was being a publicity hound, as suggested by senior Pentagon personnel, Nelson snapped, "I am doing this for the family. And I am not going to stop until I get some answers!"

Family attorney Cindy Laquidara of Jacksonville, Fla., also takes offense at what she considers cheap shots at Nelson. "I asked him to go over there," she says. "They should be mad at me." Laquidara adds that many news stories have been riddled with falsehoods, including allegations that it may not be Speicher's flight suit that was recovered and that he may not have ejected. "It is his flight suit. It's not alleged. It's his," she says, noting that witnesses have identified it as belonging to Speicher. "And he did eject!" The aviator's Hornet was found with the seat ejected. Laquidara also expresses anger that the Pentagon has done little to advertise or promote the $1 million reward for information that helps to solve the Speicher mystery.

Congressional sources close to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and also outspoken on the Speicher case, tell Insight they believe the timing of the "Pentagon report" may indicate a backlash to Nelson's "political showboating" as compared to Roberts' persistent but low-key approach. That might help explain the sea of negative reports, such as that investigators searched 50 prisons and seven graves but found nothing. Even in the prison cell where Speicher's initials were found a genetic test of hair recovered from a drain proved it did not belong to the missing pilot. While forensic scientists continue to test other material taken from that cell, Nelson doesn't expect a breakthrough from that trail. "I wasn't surprised that they didn't find anything. The cell looked clean to me," Nelson says. "It looked like someone had gone in there and cleaned and scrubbed the cell."

Nelson believes there still is a secret underground prison system being run by Saddamist holdouts that may contain not only Speicher but also hundreds of missing Kuwaiti prisoners. In late August about a dozen Kuwaiti prisoners were freed, but no one seems to know what happened to the 600 others reportedly still being held, Nelson says. Roberts, however, thinks Speicher may be being moved about as Saddam's trophy prisoner. Asked if he saw any evidence on his recent trip to Iraq suggesting that Speicher still is alive, Nelson replied, "No. But I didn't see any evidence that he was not alive." In fact, one piece of evidence that has raised hopes is a 90-page Iraqi document found in a prison in July. The report, dated January 2003, lists prisoners of war (POWs) being held, and Speicher is among those named. While it remains unclear whether the names of those so listed include the subsequently deceased, the Pentagon still is analyzing these records along with thousands of other POW-related files.

Former officials from Iraq continue to claim Speicher is dead, but few believe they are telling the truth. Saddam attempted as early as March 1991 to pass off the remains of someone else as Speicher, but DNA tests proved otherwise. In fact, officials now are retesting that DNA to determine if the unidentified body was that of a Gulf War I veteran who may have died a month after Speicher was shot down. According to a 90-page document turned over to a U.S. intelligence officer by an Iraqi general, those remains belong to an American pilot. The retesting also comes at a time when Speicher's family has been considering asking that the remains be tested again to rule out any possibility it is Speicher.

In the meantime, both Roberts and Nelson plan to press for congressional hearings to determine who is at fault for the failure to make a timely and thorough search for Speicher. "We would certainly encourage John Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the [Senate] Armed Service Committee, to hold hearings. We are constantly in his ear. And I will tell you that if Speicher is not found, I am not walking away - never," Nelson vows.

Timothy W. Maier is a writer for Insight.

 

 
August 15, 2003

Navy now believes pilot died when shot down in 1991

By Robert Burns
Associated Press
 

 

U.S. investigators searching in Iraq for clues to the fate of missing Navy pilot Michael Scott Speicher, shot down on the opening night of the 1991 Gulf War, have returned to an early hypothesis: that he died at or near the site where his F-18 fighter crashed.

A later theory — that he was captured alive and imprisoned in Baghdad — has been largely dismissed, based on postwar interrogations of Iraqi officials, searches of the prison system and assessments of Iraqi government documents, three defense officials familiar with the search said Friday.

The idea that Speicher was a prisoner gained currency after intelligence reports in the late 1990s cited claims by Iraqi sources that an American pilot was being held in Baghdad. Upon closer examination since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime those claims have unraveled, officials said.

The three defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said investigators have not abandoned the search in Baghdad or reached any firm conclusion about Speicher’s fate. But they have found nothing so far to support the theory that Speicher had been held alive in an Iraqi prison.

This has taken investigators back to the theory that if he survived the shootdown Jan. 17, 1991, over west-central Iraq, then he most likely died there shortly afterward, the officials said.

Some of the documents found since the fall of Baghdad indicate that Iraqi government officials were befuddled by continuing U.S. government inquiries about the possibility of Speicher being held alive. U.S. investigators deduced from this that the Iraqis had no knowledge of Speicher being held. That is consistent with Iraq’s public position from the start.

The Iraqis asserted that Speicher had perished in the crash, but they never produced his remains. In March 1991 the Iraqis returned a small amount of human remains and identified them as a pilot named “Mickel,” but laboratory tests revealed that they were not Speicher’s remains.

Just hours after Speicher was shot down on the opening night of the 1991 war, the Pentagon declared him killed in action. But in January 2001 the Navy changed his status to missing in action, reflecting an absence of evidence that he died in the crash. Last October, the Navy changed it again, to missing-captured, indicating a belief that the Iraqis had taken him alive.

In March 2001, U.S. intelligence agencies said in a report to the Senate Intelligence Committee that Speicher probably ejected safely from his plane and it was struck by a missile.

“We assess Lt. Cmdr. Speicher was either captured alive or his remains were recovered and brought to Baghdad,” the report said. In either case, the Iraqi government has concealed information about his fate, it said.

One U.S. official said Friday that investigators are now 99 percent certain that prewar intelligence reports indicating that Speicher was being held in prison were based on faulty information.

Invading U.S. forces in April reported finding the initials “MSS” scratched into a cell wall in an Iraqi prison, fueling speculation that Speicher had been held there at some point. But preliminary tests on hair found in the cell’s drain showed it did not match Speicher’s DNA, and officials do not believe the MSS initials were put there by Speicher.

In December 1995 a team of U.S. experts searched the crash site with the Iraqi government’s permission. They found wreckage of Speicher’s aircraft but no sign of the pilot other than a flight suit that the Iraqis said they found at the site. The Navy said the flight suit was of the type and size Speicher would have worn, but tests have not established a firm link.

The site surveyors concluded from evidence available then that Speicher probably survived the shootdown.

Speicher, of Jacksonville, Fla., was 33 years old when he was shot down. He held the rank of lieutenant colonel at the time; he has since been promoted to captain.

 

 

Senator is optimistic about missing Navy pilot           July 10, 2003              


By Stephen Dinan
THE WASHINGTON TIMES


    Evidence is finally being found that can help investigators determine if Navy Capt. Scott Speicher, who was shot down over Iraq in 1991, is in fact alive and where he is now, according to a senator who just returned from Iraq.
    "New evidence has been produced ... that is classified, but that gives me reason to be optimistic for the first time in several weeks that I have been pessimistic. That doesn't say that he's alive, but that says that we're beginning to get evidence that, in fact, we might be able to find out," said Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat.
    Mr. Nelson told fellow members of the Armed Services Committee yesterday that a process is now in place for processing information about Capt. Speicher.
    The naval aviator was initially listed as the first casualty of the first Gulf war, having been shot down during fighting on Jan. 17, 1991, but his status was later changed to missing-captured.
    A military team on the ground in Iraq has been charged with determining Capt. Speicher's fate. But there had been little to go on since April, when the initials MSS — possibly for "Michael Scott Speicher" — were found on the wall of the Hakmiyah prison in Baghdad.
    Mr. Nelson visited the cell and made a tracing of the initials, which were carved about 1/4 inch deep in the wall of the cell. Above those initials is carved "MJN."
    Mr. Nelson said forensics experts still haven't concluded whether the initials were in fact carved by Capt. Speicher, and Mr. Nelson and Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, both said the process has been too slow.
    The promising new information that made Mr. Nelson optimistic is classified, he said, so wouldn't talk about specifics.
    Mr. Roberts said the new information is coming from people and documents, rather than "working at sites that have been looted and vacant for a long period of time."
    "The fact that it is mentioned in documentation and by people we can then go and see and get information from, if in fact we can locate them, is a very positive sign," Mr. Roberts said.
    "In addition several other reports that were very negative were not proven reliable," he said.
    Still, despite the new information, both senators said there hasn't been enough new information for them to come to any conclusion on Capt. Speicher's fate.
    "I certainly hope we're going to find him and bring him home, but we just don't have any evidence yet," Mr. Nelson said.
    
 

 

 

 

By JOHN J. LUMPKIN

.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (April 23) - American investigators in Iraq have found what may be a clue to the only American missing from the first Gulf War: the initials of Navy pilot Michael Scott Speicher, etched into a prison wall in Baghdad.

It is unknown who scrawled the letters ``MSS'' into a cell wall in the Hakmiyah prison, said U.S. officials, or whether the letters had anything to do with the missing pilot.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said an informant had also reported that an American pilot was held at that prison in the mid-1990s.

A joint team of officials from the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency is in Iraq, searching for clues to Speicher's fate.

Lt. Cmdr. Speicher, an F/A-18 Hornet pilot from Jacksonville, Fla., and three other pilots flew off the USS Saratoga for a bombing run over Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991, the first night of the war. During the mission, another Hornet pilot saw a flash and lost sight of Speicher.

The next morning, the Defense Department announced that Speicher's plane had been downed by an Iraqi missile. Several months later the Pentagon classified the pilot as killed in action, but changed that last year to ``missing in action, captured.''

Intelligence reports from several sources led to the change, officials said.

Iraq officials have said Speicher was killed in the crash.

Speicher's flight suit was found at the crash site and there have been persistent intelligence reports about a U.S. pilot held in Baghdad.

Only one U.S. service member remains listed as missing from the second Iraq war - Army Sgt. Edward J. Anguiano, 24, of Brownsville, Texas, who disappeared after his convoy was ambushed March 23.

04/23/03 19:27 EDT

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press.

 

 

 

The Last POW
He Was Shot Down in '91 and Declared Dead. Today the Pentagon Is Not So Sure.

 

By Jennifer Frey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 17, 2003; Page C01

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.

They said goodbye to him nearly 12 years ago, here at Cecil Field, now home to corporate jets and commuter airlines. It was a naval air station back then, Scott Speicher's home base. Hundreds came to the funeral. A funeral without a body. There was the grieving widow, Joanne, who had married him at this same place, 71/2 years before. His fellow pilots. His two small children. His father. His friends.

He was, the story went, the first U.S. serviceman to be killed in the Gulf War, a Navy pilot shot down on the first night of the attack, his F-18 crashing into the Iraqi desert below. It was Jan. 17, 1991. The next morning, during a televised news conference, Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney reported that the first night of strikes had involved a "single casualty." It was, he clarified, "a death."

Yet more than a decade later, as Americans are buoyed by the televised images of prisoners of war safely rescued in another Iraqi war, a special joint unit from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency is trying to solve the mystery of Scott Speicher. In January 2001, prompted by an accumulation of evidence acquired over several years, the Navy took the extraordinary step of reclassifying Speicher as "missing in action." (Last October, his status was further changed to "missing/captured.") There was, the Navy determined, no evidence to show that Speicher was dead. And there now was enough evidence to indicate that he could still be alive, a prisoner of war.

"The objective is to find out whatever we can about what happened to him," says one U.S. official with knowledge of the mission, which also involves recovering information on Kuwaiti soldiers missing since the first Gulf War. "We think the Iraqi government knows what happened. Our goal is to find out precisely what they know."

So these days -- this war -- have blurred into one long moment of truth for those who have loved, missed, mourned and hoped for Speicher over the past 12 years. For his family, which has pushed the government to reassess Speicher's case -- and long hoped for this mission to find him. For the high school friends who formed the Free Scott Speicher association last spring, and now jump at the ring of their cell phones, desperate for news. For the fellow pilots who feel angry -- betrayed, almost -- that no rescue mission ever took place, that their military never went looking for the guy they knew, from his Navy call sign, as Spike (the family name is pronounced "Spiker"). For Navy Capt. Mark I. Fox, who headed to the Gulf, to this war, still holding onto memories of his friend, the one he last saw on that fateful night in 1991.

And for his neighbors, his teachers and his fellow citizens of Jacksonville, who have hung signs, plastered bumper stickers on fire trucks, held rallies. Prayed.

"I think that there will be an accounting for him, whatever it is, in the very near future," says Bob Stumpf, a retired Navy officer who flew with Speicher the night of the crash and saw the flash in the sky when his plane was hit. "There's no doubt in my mind that we'll know, finally, what his fate is."

Time Passes, Stands Still

 

He would be 44 now. His children, babies when he shipped out in August 1990, are now teenagers. His wife remarried -- a decision she made at a time when everyone still believed her first husband was dead -- and her new husband, who has his own history with Speicher, has been leading the push to find out what happened to him.

His father has passed away. At the church where he taught Sunday school, red pansies and white snapdragons bloom at the base of a memorial to him, one marked with an American flag. At Arlington National Cemetery, there is a marker with his name.

Since his file has been reopened, he has been promoted twice, and is now a captain.

He is remembered, though, as the man he was 12 years ago. Speicher went to his high school reunion three days before he left for the Gulf. He was, friends say, the envy of the class -- a handsome, talented pilot with a beautiful wife and beautiful kids. He was admired.

Now those same friends wait and hope. It is a Tuesday night, in the middle of the war, and they are gathered around a low table in a hotel lobby, one of their trademark bumper stickers ("Free Scott Speicher" on a background of red, white and blue) in front of them. They have formed an organization: They have business cards, ranking officers, monthly planning sessions. They are talking about Speicher when their cell phones and beepers go off in quick succession.

MSNBC is reporting that a POW has been rescued. Alive.

There is a rush for the hotel bar, for the big-screen televisions. Channels are changed, baseball games disappear from the screen.

"We've been on pins and needles since this war started," says Nels Jensen, noting the distracted, anxious faces of his friends.

It is complicated for them, this war. They didn't embrace it simply because it might bring them their resolution. It's not that they are opposed to it, either -- no one is saying that. But they see other soldiers taken prisoner, see bombs falling on the country where Speicher might still be, and it makes them shudder.

"There are only two scenarios and regardless, we'll know what happened," says Jim Stafford, who used to sit next to Speicher in high school ("alphabetical order, you know," he explains) and who still has the postcard he received from the Gulf, one Speicher posted a few days before his plane went down.

"But if we don't get Scott Speicher back alive, it's a tragedy."

"And even more so," Debbie Isaac adds, softly, "if he ends up getting killed during all this turmoil, after surviving for so long. That's the sad part."

There is a buzz in the room. Jessica Lynch's face has flashed up on the television screen. For the group, there is a mixture of disappointment and elation, a sense of relief that one family's pain is over, mixed with their own nagging frustration.

"We couldn't expect it would be him," Isaac admits.

She is worried, they all are, that someone in Saddam Hussein's regime might use Speicher now as a pawn. But the recent safe return of seven more POWs -- all in relatively good health -- is a comfort. Their release came after a tip from local Iraqis. And that is the greatest hope that Speicher's friends now hold out -- that he, too, is being held somewhere and, now that Hussein's regime has been toppled, someone will come forward with the information.

"We're just so glad to get these other people back, too," says Stafford, who was again anxiously watching the news last Sunday morning, waiting for the rescued POWs to be identified. "And we're still holding out hope for Scott. We believe, very strongly, that he was alive before this all started."

They all grew up here, in a part of town thick with military families. Several had fathers who were Navy men. They remember sitting in the classroom, seeing a chaplain and an officer come to the door, take away a classmate to deliver some bad news.

They can't help but think of the Speicher children.

"My dad was gone for six months," Isaac says. "But he came home. Their dad has been gone for 12 years."

They started the organization after hearing more and more news reports suggesting that Speicher may not have died, news reports that dominated class reunion discussion. They wanted answers. They wanted accountability. So the group staged rallies, came to Washington to march under a "Free Scott Speicher" banner, distributed the bumper stickers, contacted local media.

"If you know Scott, you can't give up," Stafford says. ". . . We may not get the answer we want, but we're not going to stop until we get one."

A Backup Steps Forward

 

He wasn't supposed to go. Not on that first mission, not that first night. Speicher was the spare, the guy who hovered in the background, and went into action only if something went wrong with one of the other planes.

He went to his commander and begged. He was persuasive.

"The last time I saw Spike, he was manning up for the flight in which he was lost," Fox wrote in a recent e-mail from the aircraft carrier USS Constellation, his memories of that night still strong. "He had gone out of his way to fly on that particular strike."

There were two formations of five planes each involved in the mission. Stumpf was in Speicher's sister squadron. He remembers being en route to his target, the sky lighting up with surface-to-air missiles.

"Then there was one flash that appeared to be brighter," Stumpf says. "It sort of lit up everything."

Then it sank to the desert floor.

Stumpf didn't know what it was. But when he got back to the USS Saratoga, his carrier, and heard that Speicher was missing, it all came together.

"At that point, I assumed he was on the ground, that he ejected, and he was either being rescued or in the process of evading the enemy while waiting to be rescued," Stumpf says.

Within 24 hours, his commander was in his stateroom, asking for his coordinates when he saw the flash. It made sense to him. They were trying to pinpoint where to go looking for Spike. Most pilots who eject from that type of plane survive.

"They're supposed to go," Stumpf says. ". . . They should have gone."

It is, after all, the military code: No one gets left behind.

Only it isn't that simple. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War -- when there were so many losses on search-and-rescue (SAR) missions -- the military had become much more careful about launching them. On that night, the commander says, he had to weigh issues such as communication, geographic locators, any evidence that the pilot survived the crash and, above all, the prospects of a successful mission against the level of risk to the officers who would be deployed.

There was no communication from Speicher, no radio contact. (However, it was later determined that the type of radio Speicher had been issued did not fit into his flight suit pocket and likely would have been lost during ejection.) No signs of light as search planes flew over the area. Geographic locators were iffy -- they had the information from Stumpf and other pilots but couldn't spot any wreckage on the ground. And Speicher's wingman reported he had not seen an ejection before the plane was hit.

Adm. Stan Arthur was the man who had to make the call. The prospects for a successful recovery mission -- and the prospect that Speicher was even still alive -- were too slim, he decided, and the risks that would be taken by a SAR team were too great.

"It's one of those decisions where you don't like to do it, you don't want to do it, but it's the right decision," Arthur says. "And even today you know it's the right decision. But knowing what you know now, it just makes it all the tougher to realize that everything wasn't exactly as we thought. Or doesn't appear to be."

And so he, too, waits and hopes. And remembers.

"Never a day goes by," he says, his voice heavy.

Finding Peace, Then Love

 

When her husband's plane went down over Iraq, Joanne Speicher was a 31-year-old mother of two small children -- Michael, then 3, and Meghan, a year old. She had met Scott at Florida State University, married him in 1983. She was a Navy wife, living in a gray ranch house in a southwest Jacksonville neighborhood where it is routine for residents to look up and see planes coming in for a landing at the base a few miles away.

It was Jan. 18, one day after the war began, when Joanne heard the knock on the door. There was an officer, bearing news. A week later, a telegram arrived via Western Union:

"It is with much regret that I confirm the missing in action status of your husband LT Michael Scott Speicher," read the missive, all in capitals. "He is being listed in this status because his aircraft failed to return following combat action against the forces of Iraq on 17 January 1991. Efforts to locate him have been unsuccessful."

By then, though, the words -- "missing in action" -- held little hope. He was dead, the government had said so. Joanne had questions about what exactly had happened to him, of course. But she had told her children that Daddy wasn't coming home.

When the war ended and the POWs were repatriated, Speicher was not among them. The government didn't ask for him; it asked for remains. The ones the Iraqis turned over, officials would later learn, did not match Speicher's DNA. On May 22, 1991, after an official review of the evidence available at the time, the Navy officially declared Speicher "killed in action, body not recovered."

That summer, in the only public interview she has given on the subject, Joanne told Ladies Home Journal that she believed that her husband had died instantly that night, when his plane exploded in midair. Believing that made it possible for her to go on.

"I'm at peace," she told the magazine in the June 1991 issue. "I feel like it's over, and he is in a better place. I would have been angry if he died in a car crash. This was his life, and Scott wouldn't have wanted it any other way."

Over time, she fell in love again.

His name was Albert Harris, but he was known to everyone as Buddy. He had been Scott's closest friend, a fellow Navy pilot. Devastated by Speicher's death, Harris began spending more and more time with the Speicher children, playing the role of surrogate father. And, as he would tell NBC's Tom Brokaw in an interview in February, "the light kind of came on around the same time as to the possibilities."

They married on July 4, 1992, 18 months after Speicher's plane went down. Asked by Brokaw how people felt about the situation, Harris admitted there were moments when he and Joanne had doubts, but their friends were encouraging.

"They thought it was great," he said.

Together, they had two children, and all four siblings started to go by the last name Speicher-Harris. They moved into a new home, alongside Doctor's Lake, with a basketball hoop out front and big, leafy trees to shade the lawn. They were their own family now.

Then Harris began to get word of intelligence reports casting doubt on Speicher's death -- or, at the very least, on the assumption that he had died when his plane had been hit. And he and Joanne began to wonder: What if Scott is still alive?

It was, of course, a terribly awkward situation. But, as Harris has said publicly a few times, they both felt that they needed to do everything they could to find answers and, perhaps, bring Speicher home. There was a need to put public pressure on the government to resolve the situation, to give them answers, and to do that, they needed to get Scott's story out there. But, from the beginning, Joanne had been fiercely protective of the family, particularly her children. The marriage and the delicate situation it had created made the desire for privacy only stronger.

Still, they hired an attorney, Cindy Laquidara, a family friend who took the case without charge. She facilitated their contact with the Defense Department and the media. Harris gave some interviews, as did Joanne's nephew, Richard Adams. At times, the delicacy of the situation was extraordinary. When Harris was asked how he and his wife would handle it if Scott returned safely, he told Brokaw, "My blanket answer is we're going to have one heck of a 'welcome home' party, and we'll go from there. We'll -- we'll work it out."

And even though the public scrutiny hurt, the family did what it could to keep Speicher's story alive.

Now, though, the search for Speicher is finally happening. The government is seeking answers with resolution a priority. And, once again, the family has asked for privacy. All interview requests are being denied, Laquidara says.

"They made decisions to get on with their lives based on what the government told them," Stafford says. " . . . But I can tell you they both love Scott very much, and they've been working hard to bring him back.

"I can't imagine the problems that it's caused them," he continues, "and I don't know what's going to happen" if Speicher comes back. "And I don't care. That's not my business. It's really nobody's business."

Stafford's voice is rising now, clearly inflected by the struggle he knows the family is facing -- and his desire to protect them from outsiders who will want to muck around in their personal lives.

"The story is," Stafford says, "that we left a guy behind over there and he's suffered in prisons for over 12 years and he needs to come home. The government needs to wade through its mistakes and problems and correct [them]. And we all need to leave the family alone."

The Case for Hope

 

"This is a human drama of gargantuan proportions," says Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). "The fact that those children were told that their father was dead, and then years later the Department of Defense changes his status to missing in action, then changes his status to missing/captured -- you can imagine the trauma that that family is going through."

In 1993, the wreckage of Speicher's plane was found. In 1995, the Defense Department, along with the Red Cross, which had negotiated with the Iraqi government for permission to enter the country, went to the site to hold an official investigation. They found part of the plane's seat as well as Speicher's flight suit, clearly put there recently because it did not appear weathered by four-plus years of exposure in the desert. They determined that he had ejected from the plane and survived.

Then came the intelligence reports. Iraqi informers who claimed to have seen an American pilot at different times, in different locations. It was difficult, if not impossible, to determine the veracity of the claims.

Then, in 1999, an Iraqi defector told intelligence officers that he had driven an American pilot to Baghdad early in the war. He picked out Speicher's picture. He passed lie detector tests. Of all the reports, one official now says, this was the one that most caught their attention, because it seemed the most credible.

Politicians got involved. Then-Sen. Bob Smith from New Hampshire was an early advocate. Later, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) took up the cause. Then Nelson. They wrote letters, demanded hearings.

In 2000, "60 Minutes II" did a damning investigation, exposing mistakes in the Pentagon's handling of the incident and highlighting evidence that indicated Speicher might be alive.

And in January 2001, the Navy -- faced with what one official called "an accumulation of evidence" that Speicher might be a POW and absolutely none that indicated his death -- changed his status.

Two months later, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence received a report on Speicher. "We assess that Iraq can account for LCDR [Lt. Cmdr.] Speicher but that Baghdad is concealing information about his fate," said an unclassified CIA summary of the analysis. "LCDR Speicher probably survived the loss of his aircraft, and if he survived, he almost certainly was captured by the Iraqis."

Roberts now says that "people should be court-martialed" over the way Speicher's case was handled, but he also recognizes that now is not the time to place blame.

"I don't think a hindsight, 20/20, finger-pointing exercise will really help Scott right now," Roberts says. "There will be enough time for that once we get him on the tarmac."

On the surface, it may seem somewhat incredible that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein would have an American pilot in captivity, would tell virtually no one, and would hold him -- and not kill him -- for years. But that is exactly what he has done in the past. In April 1998, as part of an exchange of prisoners between Iran and Iraq, Hussein released an Iranian pilot, Hussein Raza Yashkuri, who had been captured 18 years before, at the start of Iran-Iraq war.

It is stories like that one that keep hope alive for everyone from Speicher's family to Speicher's friend Fox, whose ship, the Constellation, was ordered back to home port just a few days ago, the major fighting now over. In his e-mail, Fox said that he still thinks about Speicher, still prays for him. He also keeps a "Free Scott Speicher" bumper sticker in his stateroom.

He may have gone off to fight another Gulf War, but a lingering ghost from the first haunts him still

 

 

End in sight to riddle of missing US airman

Military officials confident they will discover fate of pilot lost in 1991 war

Lawrence Donegan in San Francisco
Sunday April 6, 2003
The Observer


As endgames of this Gulf war are played out, there are hopes that the advance into the heart of the Iraqi capital will also bring an end to one of the enduring intrigues of the previous conflict - the whereabouts of US airman Michael Scott Speicher.

In 1991 Lieutenant Commander Speicher from Jackson, Florida, was part of the first air mission over Iraq. The F-18 fighter pilot took off from the deck off the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga on 16 January - and flew into a 12-year mystery.

In the confusion of heavy anti-aircraft fire as well as air-to-air missile attacks from Iraqi jets, two other navy pilots on the bombing raid saw a bright explosion. When Speicher, then 33, failed to return to the ship, they assumed his plane had been destroyed by enemy fire.

The then US Defence Secretary Dick Cheney went on television to announce that the US had suffered its first casualty in the war. The pilot was given a tomb in the Arlington National Cemetery. His home town mourned him with a vigil and a memorial. His wife, Joanne, wept and hugged their two children, Michael, one and Meghan, three.

But within a few years doubts about Speicher's fate began to emerge. The US received intelligence reports indicating the F-18 had not been destroyed but had crash-landed and its pilot had ejected. In 1996 his bloodstained and discarded flight suit was found by a Red Cross mission while the Iraqi authorities continued to deny they had either found a body or taken a prisoner. 'He was probably eaten by wolves,' was one official's remark.

A series of intelligence reports and accounts by Iraqi defectors during the Nineties bolstered the belief among former military colleagues and political figures that the pilot may have survived. By the time Speicher's wife was informed, in 1996, she had remarried - even more awkwardly, to Speicher's best friend, Buddy Harris.

The reports were taken seriously enough for the then President Bill Clinton to announce in January 2001 that Speicher had been reclassified from Killed in Action to Missing in Action. 'We have some information that leads us to believe he might be alive,' Clinton said at the time. As a result of this announcement Joanne Speicher Harris once again began to receive his monthly salary of $6,313.

The reasoning behind Clinton's decision became clear a couple of months later with the publication of US intelligence which stated: 'We assess that Iraq can account for Captain Speicher, but that Baghdad is concealing information about his fate.' The report concluded that the navy pilot had survived the loss of his aircraft and was 'either captured alive or his remains were recovered and brought to Baghdad.'

There were further developments in early 2002, when an Iraqi defector interviewed by Dutch intelligence services claimed to have seen Speicher alive and in good health, but that he now walked with a limp and had facial scars. He also alleged that on the day after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington in September 2001, the American pilot was moved from Baghdad to a military facility in case of US reprisals.

A further change in the pilot's status was announced soon afterwards by US Navy Secretary Gordon England who said he now considered him MIA - captured - effectively declaring him a prisoner of war of the Iraqi regime.

A fresh navy inquiry into the affair concluded that the recovery of Speicher's flight suit, the tampering of wreckage from the F-18 and Iraq's past history of detaining PoWs for years (earlier this year Iraq returned around 100 prisoners taken captive during the 1980-88 war with Iran) all 'continued to suggest strongly that the government of Iraq can account for him'.

As recently as last month US intelligence agencies reported that a US pilot believed to be Speicher had been seen alive in Baghdad. The Defence Department recently confirmed reports that a Special Operations team was dispatched into Iraq before the start of the current conflict with the specific purpose of trying to track down the airman.

Orders have been given to a unit on the ground in Baghdad now to make finding him a priority.

Julie Speicher, the airman's cousin and one of the leading lights of the Friends Work to Free Scott Speicher campaign group, said there was no doubt in her mind that the Iraqi government had been holding him captive for the past 12 years. 'I think they grabbed him when he came down. I really think he's alive,' she said, adding that his release would be a great day for the Speicher family.

For his friend, and now stepfather to his two children, Buddy Harris, the situation is difficult but surmountable. He has said that he sat Speicher's children down and told them: 'The worst thing that's going to happen is that somebody is going to come back into your lives who loves you more than anything else. Having more than one person love you can't be bad.'

 

 

Team to search for pilot lost since first Gulf war
By Bill Gertz
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

 

     Defense and intelligence agencies have formed a special unit that will go into Iraq to search for Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, a missing U.S. Navy pilot believed to have been held captive in Iraq since 1991.


     Creating the special unit comes as U.S. intelligence agencies reported last week that an American pilot believed to be Capt. Speicher was spotted alive in Baghdad earlier this month.
     A classified intelligence report circulated to officials March 14 stated that Capt. Speicher was seen as he was being moved in Baghdad, although officials said the sighting could not be confirmed.
     The joint program by officials of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the CIA, U.S. Central Command and other agencies also will conduct a nationwide search of Iraq for terrorists and chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, said Lt. Cmdr. James Brooks, a DIA spokesman.
     "The intelligence community has established a unit to do a country-wide discovery, exploitation and interrogation effort to identify and disrupt terrorist operations; and to identify, examine and eliminate [weapons of mass destruction]," Cmdr. Brooks said in a statement.
     "Another function is to determine and resolve the fate of Capt. Speicher," Cmdr. Brooks said.
     Capt. Speicher was declared killed in action after his F-18 jet was shot down by a missile over Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991.
     Later, intelligence reports indicated that his plane had crash-landed and that Capt. Speicher had ejected. His flight suit was later found during a Red Cross mission to Iraq.
     Several intelligence reports from the 1990s also indicated that Iraq was holding an American pilot believed to be Capt. Speicher, and in 2001 the Navy reclassified him from killed in action to missing in action.
     In October, Navy Secretary Gordon England changed the status again to "missing in action, captured," effectively declaring Capt. Speicher a prisoner of war.
     The Navy determined at the time that wreckage from the F-18, the recovery of Capt. Speicher's flight suit, Iraqi tampering with the downed plane and recent intelligence "continues to suggest strongly that the government of Iraq can account for him."
     Baghdad has denied that it was holding Capt. Speicher and invited a U.S. team to visit Iraq last year to investigate. The Pentagon and State Department declined the offer.
     U.S. officials hope the ouster of Saddam Hussein in the U.S.-led war will produce definitive proof on whether Capt. Speicher is a prisoner or whether he died in captivity.
     Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters yesterday that finding terrorists and deadly unconventional weapons are among eight key U.S. objectives in Iraq.
     Mr. Rumsfeld said the United States hopes to "identify, isolate and eventually eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, production capabilities, and distribution networks."
     U.S. forces also will "search for, capture, drive out terrorists who have found safe harbor in Iraq."
     The troops also will "collect such intelligence as we can find related to terrorist networks in Iraq and beyond" and intelligence on "the global network of illicit weapons of mass destruction activity," the defense secretary said.
     Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in an interview that he and other interested members of Congress have "come a long way from where we were," a reference to bureaucratic resistance to pursuing the Speicher case.
     "Every hearing we have, every [congressional delegation] we have, we always mention this issue," said Mr. Roberts, whom intelligence agencies brief regularly on the Speicher case.
     The Kansas senator said the Pentagon's Defense Prisoner of War Missing Person Office and the DIA are working on a new assessment of the case, based on the numerous intelligence reports that indicate Iraq is holding an American pilot.
     "We're talking about a considerable number of people [in Iraq] who say they've seen an American POW," Mr. Roberts said.
     The senator said he is holding out hope for the day when "we see him getting off an airplane" as a free man.
     Saddam has admitted holding some POWs for decades. On Tuesday, Iran and Iraq exchanged about 200 prisoners captured by each side during their eight-year war in the 1980s, according to reports from official Iranian and Iraqi news services.
     The Washington Times disclosed in March 2002 that U.S. intelligence agencies had new information indicating that Baghdad was holding an American pilot believed to be Capt. Speicher.
     A U.S. intelligence report produced in March 2001 stated that "we assess that Iraq can account for Capt. Speicher, but that Baghdad is concealing information about his fate."
     The report also stated that Capt. Speicher was "either captured alive or his remains were recovered and brought to Baghdad."
     It also concluded that Capt. Speicher "probably survived the loss of his aircraft, and if he survived, he almost certainly was captured by the Iraqis."

 

 

 

 

Associated Press Newswires

> Saturday, March 22, 2003

>

>

> Family of missing Navy pilot lost in 1991 hope new war in Iraq may

determine

> his fate

> By RON WORD

>

> JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - The family of a Navy pilot shot down over

Iraq

> in 1991 hopes the latest war against Saddam Hussein's regime may help

> resolve lingering questions about what happened to the missing

aviator.

> U.S. troops will be looking for evidence of Lt. Cmdr. Scott

> Speicher's fate as they move throughout Iraq, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson

> said before the latest conflict began.

> Speicher and three other pilots flew off the USS Saratoga for a

> bombing run over Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991. Another FA-18 Hornet pilot saw

> a flash and lost sight of Speicher.

> The next morning, the Defense Department announced that Speicher's

> plane had been downed by an Iraqi missile. The Pentagon has classified

> the pilot as "missing in action, captured"; Iraq officials said

> Speicher

was

> killed in the crash.

> "I know that we're going to be looking for him big time as we go

> into Iraq," Nelson said. "The flip side of that is if you're Saddam

> Hussein, and if you have Scott Speicher alive, you're probably going

> to use him for propaganda purposes or for some kind of shield. So, we

> just don't know."

> Nelson, a Florida Democrat and a member of the Senate Armed Services

> and Foreign Relations committees, has urged the Pentagon to make

> finding Speicher a priority. He has worked with Sen. Pat Roberts, a

> Kansas Republican, on the Speicher issue.

> Lt. Cmdr. Paula Storum, a Navy spokeswoman in Washington, said she

> could not discuss operational details, but said, resolving Speicher's

> fate "is always a priority for the Navy and its leadership."

> An attorney for Speicher's relatives, Cindy A. Laquidara, said

> Wednesday that she could not discuss any possible rescue plans the

> government may have to free the pilot. She said the family would not

> be available for comment, fearing it might complicate his case.

> "Our goal is to bring Scott home after 12 years," she said.

> Speicher's flight suit was found at the crash site and there have

> been persistent intelligence reports about a U.S. pilot held in

> Baghdad. He is only case still unaccounted for from the war.

> Speicher was declared killed in action several months after the

> crash.

The

> Navy redesignated him missing in action last year on the basis of what

> officials said were intelligence reports from several

sources.

> Former high school classmates and former Navy pilots who flew with

> Speicher have formed Friends Working to Free Scott Speicher. They have

> staged rallies and put up signs reading, "Free Scott Speicher" around

north

> Florida on billboards and in store windows.

>

> Dow Jones International News

> Saturday, March 22, 2003

>

> US Team To Search Iraq For US Pilot Lost In '91 - Report

>

> NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- U.S. defense and intelligence agencies have

formed

> a special unit that will go into Iraq and search for Capt. Michael

> Scott Speicher, a missing U.S. Navy pilot believed to have been held

> captive in Iraq since 1991, the Washington Times reported Saturday on its Web site.

> The report said a classified intelligence report circulated to

officials

> March 14 said Speicher was spotted alive in Baghdad earlier this month

> as

he

>

> was being moved, though officials said the sighting couldn't be confirmed.

> The joint program by officials of the Defense Intelligence Agency,

> the CIA, the U.S. Central Command and other agencies will also conduct

> a nationwide search of Iraq for terrorists and chemical, biological

> and nuclear

weapons,

> the report said, citing DIA spokesman Lt. Cmdr. James Brooks.

> Speicher was declared killed in action after his F-18 jet was shot

> down by a missile over Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991. In October 2002, the

> Navy changed his status to "missing in action, captured," effectively

> declaring Speicher a prisoner of war, the Times said

> Baghdad has denied holding Speicher.

>

> Reuters English News Service

> Monday, March 17, 2003

>

> VIETNAM: FEATURE-Dogs enlist in hunt for elusive Vietnam war dead.

> By Christina Toh-Pantin

>

> HON DAT, Vietnam, March 18 (Reuters) - On July 3, 1966, David Joseph

> Phillips's fighter jet was hit by automatic weapons fire during a

> mission over Vietnam.

> He has been listed as missing in action ever since.

> His case is like many from the Vietnam War in which investigators often

> have to work with very little information to try to locate remains.

> In Phillips's case, a witness told provincial authorities he had

retrieved

> and buried body parts but the witness has since been rendered silent

> by a stroke. Now investigators for the first time are using sniffer

> dogs. An estimated 1,889 U.S. personnel are listed as missing in

> Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and China from the Vietnam War. About 58,000

> Americans were

killed

> in

> the conflict, while Hanoi says three million Vietnamese died. The

> search in Hon Dat, a rural area of rice and fruit farmers in

> southernmost Kien Giang province, is one of the tough cases,

> classified as an "isolated burial" of the suspected remains of

> 32-year-old Phillips. "After the dogs scanned the area, the dogs

> actually alerted us to this

one

> place," anthropologist Sam Connell said, patting the patch of dirt

> next to

a

>

> 12-by-12 metre (40 ft by 40 ft) pit being scoured for bones, personal

> effects and wreckage fragments. The dogs have stirred up hope among

> the volunteers of the Joint Task

Force

> Full Accounting whose mission since 1992 has been to recover Vietnam

> War

era

>

> remains from Southeast Asia.

> But it took a year of delicate negotiations before the government in

Hanoi

> allowed the MIA team to bring in the dogs to assist in cases that have

> bee

n

> particularly elusive.

> On loan from the Rhode Island state police, German Shepherds Maximus

> and Panzer were put to work in February on seven cases in four central

> and southern provinces believed to house the remains of 12 U.S.

> military personnel.

>

> BREAKTHROUGH

>

> It was considered a breakthrough in the often thorny aftermath of the

> war won by the northern communists against the U.S.-backed South. The

Vietnamese

> call

> it the "American war".

> Like hundreds of others before, the mission in Hon Dat, a former Viet

Cong

> stronghold, involves hard manual labour of digging, transferring

> buckets

of

> dirt and sifting for clues in hot weather. A dozen U.S. military

> members

are

> on this team.

> About 35 villagers have been hired for the bucket brigade and

> sifting,

with

> the Americans who have been trained to recognise bones doing the

> digging, which is taking place in an orchard. But even the experts are

> sometimes fooled.

> "We had some nice looking roots that we thought were remains,"

> Connell said. Since 1992, some 566 sets of suspected U.S. military

> remains have been repatriated from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. From

> Vietnam alone, the

figure

> is

> 349.

> By about a week into the dig, the team had uncovered pieces of

> wreckage but no human remains. Near the pit, tiny yellow flags dot the

> ground where the jet was reported to have crashed.

> Captain Octave MacDonald, the team leader, who has been on a dozen MIA

> missions, concedes it can be disappointing to go away from a site without

> having found any traces of a serviceman. But he believes the effort should

> not stop.

> "I'd like to think that if I fall in combat that my brothers will come

out

> there looking for me," he said.

> The Vietnamese say they hope their own dead might also be recovered

during

> the process and that they sympathise with the families of MIAs. "We

> know that relatives of those who died in Vietnam are waiting for

their

> remains," said Nguyen Van Hung, a Kien Giang province official.

>

> Associated Press Newswires

> Saturday, March 15, 2003

>

> Colorado group hopes to persuade North Korea to return USS Pueblo By

> COLLEEN LONG

>

> FORT LUPTON, Colo. (AP) - The growing crisis in North Korea opens

> old wounds for Al Plucker.

> Thirty-five years ago, Plucker was a young navigator aboard the USS

Pueblo

> when it was captured off the coast of North Korea. Plucker and his

> crewmates were tortured and humiliated during 11 months in captivity

> before they were released.

> Today, the Pueblo remains docked in Nampo on North Korea's west

> coast, where visitors hear a briefing from two North Korean sailors

> who took part in the capture and watch video recordings, the Korean

> Central

News

> Agency has said.

> The news agency in 1999 quoted visitors as saying that the spy ship

"bears

> witness to the U.S. imperialists' history of aggression on Korea."

> Plucker, 56, other survivors and supporters want to bring the ship home.

> They have lobbied the Bush administration and Congress to make its

> return part of any negotiations with North Korea.

> "It was our responsibility, it was our ship," he said. "It would give

all

> us crew a peace of mind if we knew it was on our home ground."

> A spokesman at North Korea's U.N. delegation in New York would not

comment

> on the Pueblo.

> Sitting in the kitchen of his home on a turkey farm near this tiny

> town about 30 miles north of Denver, Plucker thumbs through scrapbooks

> of news clippings about the crisis as he vividly recalls his ordeal.

> At 21, Petty Officer 3rd Class Plucker had just competed three tours

> in the Vietnam War when he was assigned to the U.S. Navy vessel.

> On Jan. 23, 1968, he had just gotten off duty when North Korean

> torpedo boats surrounded the Pueblo and opened fire, killing one

> sailor and wounding 10.

> Plucker said the captain tried to avoid capture while the crew

> burned

top

> secret papers, but North Korean forces boarded the ship and brought it

> ashore.

> The 82 crew members were taken to two military bases near Pyongyang

where

> they were beaten, tortured and left malnourished, Plucker said. At one

> point, he weighed about 98 pounds.

> "We would get an apple, and we'd keep it for weeks under our beds,

> just peeling away a tiny piece at a time, because we were just so

> hungry," he recalled. "You'd count grains of sugar, that's how

> starving

you

> were."

> The sailors were crowded into barracks. Often they were forced to

> sit silently in small chairs at a table for days at a time.

> North Korea claimed that the ship was inside its waters. The U.S.

> government said the Pueblo was in international waters.

> The hostages were released two days before Christmas. The Navy

considered

> a court-martial for the ship's commander, Navy Cmdr. Lloyd M. "Pete"

> Bucher for letting the Pueblo fall into enemy hands without firing

a

> shot and for failing to destroy much of the ship's classified

> material. He was never brought to trial.

> Plucker, who received a Purple Heart and a POW medal, returned to

> Colorado, attended college and married. He has spent the past 30 years

> raising turkeys.

> He acknowledged that returning the ship to the United States would

> not erase all his memories, but believes it would help put some of the

> nightmares to rest.

> "I was 21 years old then, just a kid," he said. "And my youth,

everything,

> was taken away. I've been too serious ever since."

> Plucker and a group of supporters have been meeting for about 18

> months to draft letters to U.S. leaders and North Korean officials

> requesting the return of the ship, whose namesake is a city about 100

miles

> south of Denver.

> "The committee feels this could be the one little olive branch that

shows

> the North Korean government is trying to work with us," said Paulette

> Stuart, a member of Puebloans for the Return of the USS Pueblo.

> "Relations could improve by this token."

> Last year, former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Donald P. Gregg

delivered

> to North Korean officials a letter from The Pueblo Chieftain Publisher

> Robert Rawlings and other group supporters asking for the ship's

> return.

> He said a deal to return the Pueblo was hinted at in an Oct. 3

> letter in which Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan invited him to

> visit Pyongyang. When he met with Kim, Gregg said he was told that the

> climate

had

> changed and it was no longer an option.

> Gregg said it was clear the North Koreans were referring to U.S.

> allegations that North Korea was secretly pursuing a program to

> produce highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.

> The White House disclosed that the North Koreans had acknowledged

> the secret program, and the Bush administration has refused to resume

> any negotiations until the program is eliminated.

> Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., is planning to reintroduce a

> resolution in Congress to ask North Korea to return the ship.

> "It would be a very diplomatic thing for them to do; it would be a

thawing

> of very frigid relations," Campbell said. "But the chances are getting

> worse, not better."

> As global tensions rise, the Pueblo group's hopes are dimming.

> "Of course, our efforts are determined by negotiations by U.S with

> North Korea," Rawlings said. "And it doesn't look good for us, or for

> negotiations right now."

 

 

Team to search for pilot lost since first Gulf war
By Bill Gertz
THE WASHINGTON TIMES


Defense and intelligence agencies have formed a special unit that will go into Iraq to search for Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, a missing U.S. Navy pilot believed to have been held captive in Iraq since 1991.
Top Stories

     Creating the special unit comes as U.S. intelligence agencies reported last week that an American pilot believed to be Capt. Speicher was spotted alive in Baghdad earlier this month.
     A classified intelligence report circulated to officials March 14 stated that Capt. Speicher was seen as he was being moved in Baghdad, although officials said the sighting could not be confirmed.
     The joint program by officials of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the CIA, U.S. Central Command and other agencies also will conduct a nationwide search of Iraq for terrorists and chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, said Lt. Cmdr. James Brooks, a DIA spokesman.
     "The intelligence community has established a unit to do a country-wide discovery, exploitation and interrogation effort to identify and disrupt terrorist operations; and to identify, examine and eliminate [weapons of mass destruction]," Cmdr. Brooks said in a statement.
     "Another function is to determine and resolve the fate of Capt. Speicher," Cmdr. Brooks said.
     Capt. Speicher was declared killed in action after his F-18 jet was shot down by a missile over Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991.
     Later, intelligence reports indicated that his plane had crash-landed and that Capt. Speicher had ejected. His flight suit was later found during a Red Cross mission to Iraq.
     Several intelligence reports from the 1990s also indicated that Iraq was holding an American pilot believed to be Capt. Speicher, and in 2001 the Navy reclassified him from killed in action to missing in action.
     In October, Navy Secretary Gordon England changed the status again to "missing in action, captured," effectively declaring Capt. Speicher a prisoner of war.
     The Navy determined at the time that wreckage from the F-18, the recovery of Capt. Speicher's flight suit, Iraqi tampering with the downed plane and recent intelligence "continues to suggest strongly that the government of Iraq can account for him."
     Baghdad has denied that it was holding Capt. Speicher and invited a U.S. team to visit Iraq last year to investigate. The Pentagon and State Department declined the offer.
     U.S. officials hope the ouster of Saddam Hussein in the U.S.-led war will produce definitive proof on whether Capt. Speicher is a prisoner or whether he died in captivity.
     Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters yesterday that finding terrorists and deadly unconventional weapons are among eight key U.S. objectives in Iraq.
     Mr. Rumsfeld said the United States hopes to "identify, isolate and eventually eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, production capabilities, and distribution networks."
     U.S. forces also will "search for, capture, drive out terrorists who have found safe harbor in Iraq."
     The troops also will "collect such intelligence as we can find related to terrorist networks in Iraq and beyond" and intelligence on "the global network of illicit weapons of mass destruction activity," the defense secretary said.
     Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in an interview that he and other interested members of Congress have "come a long way from where we were," a reference to bureaucratic resistance to pursuing the Speicher case.
     "Every hearing we have, every [congressional delegation] we have, we always mention this issue," said Mr. Roberts, whom intelligence agencies brief regularly on the Speicher case.
     The Kansas senator said the Pentagon's Defense Prisoner of War Missing Person Office and the DIA are working on a new assessment of the case, based on the numerous intelligence reports that indicate Iraq is holding an American pilot.
     "We're talking about a considerable number of people [in Iraq] who say they've seen an American POW," Mr. Roberts said.
     The senator said he is holding out hope for the day when "we see him getting off an airplane" as a free man.
     Saddam has admitted holding some POWs for decades. On Tuesday, Iran and Iraq exchanged about 200 prisoners captured by each side during their eight-year war in the 1980s, according to reports from official Iranian and Iraqi news services.
     The Washington Times disclosed in March 2002 that U.S. intelligence agencies had new information indicating that Baghdad was holding an American pilot believed to be Capt. Speicher.
     A U.S. intelligence report produced in March 2001 stated that "we assess that Iraq can account for Capt. Speicher, but that Baghdad is concealing information about his fate."
     The report also stated that Capt. Speicher was "either captured alive or his remains were recovered and brought to Baghdad."
     It also concluded that Capt. Speicher "probably survived the loss of his aircraft, and if he survived, he almost certainly was captured by the Iraqis."
 

 

Subject: Speicher
> Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2003 19:08:44 -0500
> From: "Lynn O'Shea" <lynn@nationalalliance.org>

> The following appeared on Newsmax today.
>
> Pray for Speicher
> John LeBoutillier
> Thursday, March 20, 2003
>
> Of all the things we hope to soon see - for example, Saddam and his sons
> either in U.S. hands or dead - none is more important than the rescue from
> an underground cell of Michael Scott Speicher, the Gulf War's first casualty.
>
> Back in January of 1991, when Navy pilot Speicher was shot down in Iraq on
> the first day of the Gulf War, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and
> then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Colin Powell immediately declared
> him "dead." No investigation; no search teams; no attempt to discover what
> had happened to our pilot.
>
> It was not until several years into the Clinton administration that more
> evidence came to light. Indeed, it looked as if Speicher had survived the
> shootdown - and had been driven in a truck to Baghdad. A steady stream of
> Iraqi defectors subsequently reported the same thing: A U.S. pilot -
> presumably Speicher - was being kept in an underground prison complex at
> Salman Pak under the personal control of Saddam's elder son, Uday. (This is
> the same suburban Baghdad location where hijackers have been trained in a
> jet easily visible to satellites passing overhead.)
>
> Only this past summer did the Bush administration finally acknowledge the
> likelihood that Michael Scott Speicher may very well still be alive. Now
> comes the key question: Will he still be alive after we take down the
> Saddam Hussein government? What will the butcher and his two butcher sons
> do to poor Speicher? Will they try to use him as leverage to gain their own
> freedom? Or will they kill him to avoid yet another certain 'war crimes'
> trial? Will we prosecute those who have been holding him all this time?
>
> Let us pray that we soon see the following TV scene: a group of Delta Force
> troops emerging from some underground facility with a living Michael Scott
> Speicher. When - and if - that wonderful day comes, then another series of
> questions will loom: How could we ever have left him there in the first place?
>
> Why was no effort made the day he was shot down to rescue him? Why were
> Cheney and Powell so quickly willing to write Speicher off? If indeed
> Speicher has been held alive against his will for 12 years, what exactly
> has our intelligence community known about it?
>
> If they say that they did not know, then we need to find out exactly why
> they didn't know. What do we spend over $60 billion a year on intelligence
> gathering for? And then comes an even bigger question: If Speicher has been
> alive all this time, what of the U.S. POWs from the Vietnam War? What has
> happened to them? Has the same shoddy disregard for their fates also
> corrupted the truth about their survival?
>
> A lot rests on the next few days.
 

 

New reports say Iraq holding U.S. pilot

By Bill Gertz

THE WASHINGTON TIMES http://washingtontimes.com/national/20030110-48937660.htm

The Defense Department recently obtained additional intelligence stating that a missing Navy pilot is alive and being held by the Iraqi government, according to U.S. officials. Top Stories The intelligence officials believe that the reports refer to Navy Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, whose status was changed to “missing/captured” by the Navy in October.

The reports, received in November, state that Iraq is holding a U.S. pilot and has moved the pilot among 18 locations in the country, according to officials familiar with the documents. The reports said the pilot was being treated by a doctor. The officials could not say how reliable the reports are or whether they represent “circular reporting” — new reports based on old intelligence information from the same source or similar sources.

A spokesman of the Defense Intelligence Agency said that it receives such dispatches several times a year. “We investigate every single one,” the spokesman said, without providing details. Cindy Laquidara, a Florida lawyer who represents Capt. Speicher’s family, said in an interview that she recently spoke to an Iraqi defector who reported seeing a captive U.S. pilot in Iraq.

The defector is one of at least three Iraqis who reported that Baghdad is holding an American pilot from the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Mrs. Laquidara said she believes the recent reports are based on the defector’s statements. The intelligence officials said the latest information bolsters earlier reports indicating that Iraq has been holding an American pilot since the war.

Disclosure of the additional information on the pilot comes as the U.S. military continues to send thousands of troops to the Middle East as part of a buildup of forces for any operation against Iraq. The prisoner-of-war case has complicated the Bush administration’s effort to use the threat of military force to pressure Baghdad into disarming its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

The officials said any U.S. military action against Iraq is likely to be preceded by covert operations to find and rescue Capt. Speicher inside Iraq, if he is still alive. There also are concerns among some Pentagon officials that Saddam Hussein might try to exploit the issue of the missing pilot in a standoff with the United States. Iraq might reveal that it has the pilot and then threaten to execute him if U.S. forces invade. Mrs. Laquidara said she had contacted Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations about Capt. Speicher late last year and was told that Baghdad is willing to make a “humanitarian gesture,” which she interpreted as meaning that Iraq may turn over the pilot or his remains.

“The Iraqis expressed a willingness to help me get answers to what happened, and where he or his remains are,” Mrs. Laquidara said. “They did not admit that they have him, only that they would help. “We feel that there is an urgent need to resolve the case” before any conflict erupts, she said. Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican and incoming chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview that he has been pressing the Bush administration to resolve the Speicher case, as preparations for war are under way.

Information obtained recently from congressional staff visits to the region indicate that “more and more there are signs that an American POW is in Iraq,” Mr. Roberts said. He said that with Iraq facing attack, Saddam may be more willing to help resolve the case. “I think we have a window of opportunity now, and we should do everything we can to use that” to find out about Capt. Speicher, Mr. Roberts said. He sent a letter to Saddam on Monday appealing for Baghdad’s help. Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat, told reporters last month that a conflict with Iraq will make it more difficult to resolve the fate of Capt. Speicher.

“The clock is ticking,” Mr. Nelson told the Jacksonville, Fla., Times-Union. “Once the balloon goes up in a hot war, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to get information. For the Defense Department to keep dragging their feet, as they have in the past, that time is over.” Baghdad said last year that Capt. Speicher was dead and invited the U.S. government to send a team of investigators to look for him. The Bush administration balked. The State Department and Pentagon chose, instead, to send a diplomatic note seeking more information.

In October, the Navy changed the status of Capt. Speicher to “missing in action, captured.” It was the second time since 2001 that the Navy changed the downed pilot’s status. He was initially declared killed in action after the F-18 jet he was flying was shot down over Iraq in January 1991. That was later changed to “missing in action” in 2001 and finally “missing/captured.” The status changes followed an investigation revealing that Capt. Speicher survived the F-18 downing by ejecting and numerous intelligence reports indicating that Iraq was holding a pilot from the Gulf war.

Navy Secretary Gordon England stated in a memorandum issued Oct. 11 that the status change does not mean Capt. Speicher’s location is known. He said that if the Iraqis are holding Capt. Speicher, “he is entitled to prisoner-of-war status under the Geneva Convention and would have been entitled to that status from the first day he came under Iraqi control.” He also said that if Capt. Speicher is alive, “he is a prisoner of war.” President Bush said in a speech in September to the United Nations that Iraq had failed to account for missing prisoners, including a pilot.

Mr. Bush signed legislation into law in October aimed at helping to resolve Capt. Speicher’s case. The Persian Gulf War POW/MIA Accountability Act amended earlier law on missing military personnel. The new legislation gives the attorney general the power to grant refugee status to any Iraqi or Middle East national who “personally delivers into the custody of the United States government a living American Persian Gulf War POW/MIA.

 

 

Senators Press Saddam on Gulf War Pilot

By LIBBY QUAID
.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Two senators are asking Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein for more information about Gulf War pilot Michael Scott Speicher, whom the U.S. Navy declared captured a decade after listing him as dead.

Speicher's F/A-18 was shot down on the opening night of the Gulf War in 1991. The military originally said Speicher died but changed his status last fall, given the absence of evidence he was killed in the crash.

``It's not only for Scott; it's for every person who wears the uniform,'' said Sen. Pat Roberts, the new Senate Intelligence Committee chairman. ``This is the culmination of the longest effort to raise the absolute belief in the value of individual life, because we left somebody behind.''

The Navy changed the pilot's status last fall under pressure from Roberts, R-Kan., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and other lawmakers. The senators said Monday they want to meet with Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammed Al-Douri, to talk about Speicher.

In a letter Monday, Roberts asked Saddam for the meeting and for help ``in effecting humanitarian release of our lost pilot if he remains alive, or obtaining conclusive information regarding his fate if he does not.''

Roberts concluded that Speicher must be alive after getting a series of classified briefings on the case.

Nelson said time is running out to learn Speicher's fate, as the Pentagon presses ahead with a massive military buildup in the Gulf. President Bush said Monday that Saddam does not appear to be complying with U.N. demands that he disarm, ``but he's got time.''

``If we get into a hot war with Iraq, all bets would be off on getting any kind of information or, if he is alive, of getting him out,'' Nelson said.

A spokesman for the U.N. representative did not immediately return a phone call seeking a comment on the senators' request for a meeting. Iraq claims that Speicher was killed but has not turned over any remains.

The senators maintain that Pentagon officials did not adequately investigate Speicher's fate and stalled in changing his status even after new intelligence surfaced.

They first got involved in part because Speicher's family lived in the Kansas City area and moved to Florida when he was a teen-ager.

 

 

Navy News Special

 

Navy changes status of Capt. Michael Scott Speicher

Date: 11 October 2002
 

 

Secretary of the Navy Gordon England today announced a revision to the status of Navy Captain Michael "Scott" Speicher, the F/A-18 pilot who has been unaccounted for since his plane was shot down over Iraq on the opening night of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Secretary England has remained very involved with the Speicher case since his first days in office, and has been kept abreast of any developments in the U.S. government's understanding of what happened to this Navy pilot. Based on that information, and building on the significant status revision made last year by then-Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, Secretary England has decided that the "Missing - Captured" category is the most appropriate designation for Captain Speicher.
 

Secretary England's official memorandum outlining his reasons for this decision is also posted here.

 

 

Pilot once thought dead now listed as ''captured''

 
Capt. Michael ''Scott'' Speicher

 

By DALE EISMAN, The Virginian-Pilot
© October 12, 2002


WASHINGTON -- The Navy's civilian leader said Friday that he believes Capt. Michael ``Scott'' Speicher was captured by Iraqi forces shortly after his F/A-18 Hornet was shot down on the first night of the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and that Iraq's government is withholding information on Speicher's fate.

Navy Secretary Gordon R. England said he has changed Speicher's status in service records to ``missing/captured.'' Available evidence indicates that if Speicher is alive ``he is a prisoner of war,'' England added.

Speicher had been listed since early last year as ``missing in action.'' ``The information available to me now does not prove definitively that Capt. Speicher is alive,'' England said in a memorandum released to reporters. But he also has ``no evidence to conclude that Capt. Speicher is dead.''

Speicher was declared killed in action shortly after his plane was downed on Jan. 17, 1991. But no remains were ever found, and a search of the crash site in 1995 turned up a flight suit believed to have been Speicher's.

The inspection team that located the suit ``determined that the cockpit area had been expertly excavated'' before the team's arrival, England wrote.

 

Iraq claims Speicher died in the crash. England noted Friday that statistics of F/A-18 mishaps indicate that 90 percent of the pilots involved survive ejection from the plane, but 70 percent are injured.

England's action Friday was hailed by a spokeswoman for the flier's family and by two U.S. senators who've pressed the Navy and the Bush administration to redouble efforts to locate Speicher.

``We think it's about time. We asked for this change more than a year ago,'' said Cindy Laquidara, a Jacksonville, Fla., lawyer who represents Joanne Harris, Speicher's widow.

``It should not be up to the serviceman to prove he is alive,'' Laquidara added.

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts said England's declaration ``adds credibility and urgency to efforts to secure Capt. Speicher's release. It sends a symbolic message to the Iraqis, to other adversaries and most important to the men and women of the armed forces that we will accept nothing less than full disclosure of circumstances surrounding the missing and captured.'' President Bush has alluded to the Speicher case in several recent speeches calling for international action to disarm Iraq and replace dictator Saddam Hussein. The president has argued that Iraq's refusal to account for Speicher is another indication of Saddam's disregard for international law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Dale Eisman at icemandc@msn.com or (703) 913-9872.

 

 

Pilot once thought dead now listed as ''captured''

 
Capt. Michael ''Scott'' Speicher

 

By DALE EISMAN, The Virginian-Pilot
© October 12, 2002


WASHINGTON -- The Navy's civilian leader said Friday that he believes Capt. Michael ``Scott'' Speicher was captured by Iraqi forces shortly after his F/A-18 Hornet was shot down on the first night of the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and that Iraq's government is withholding information on Speicher's fate.

Navy Secretary Gordon R. England said he has changed Speicher's status in service records to ``missing/captured.'' Available evidence indicates that if Speicher is alive ``he is a prisoner of war,'' England added.

Speicher had been listed since early last year as ``missing in action.'' ``The information available to me now does not prove definitively that Capt. Speicher is alive,'' England said in a memorandum released to reporters. But he also has ``no evidence to conclude that Capt. Speicher is dead.''

Speicher was declared killed in action shortly after his plane was downed on Jan. 17, 1991. But no remains were ever found, and a search of the crash site in 1995 turned up a flight suit believed to have been Speicher's.

The inspection team that located the suit ``determined that the cockpit area had been expertly excavated'' before the team's arrival, England wrote.

 

Iraq claims Speicher died in the crash. England noted Friday that statistics of F/A-18 mishaps indicate that 90 percent of the pilots involved survive ejection from the plane, but 70 percent are injured.

England's action Friday was hailed by a spokeswoman for the flier's family and by two U.S. senators who've pressed the Navy and the Bush administration to redouble efforts to locate Speicher.

``We think it's about time. We asked for this change more than a year ago,'' said Cindy Laquidara, a Jacksonville, Fla., lawyer who represents Joanne Harris, Speicher's widow.

``It should not be up to the serviceman to prove he is alive,'' Laquidara added.

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts said England's declaration ``adds credibility and urgency to efforts to secure Capt. Speicher's release. It sends a symbolic message to the Iraqis, to other adversaries and most important to the men and women of the armed forces that we will accept nothing less than full disclosure of circumstances surrounding the missing and captured.'' President Bush has alluded to the Speicher case in several recent speeches calling for international action to disarm Iraq and replace dictator Saddam Hussein. The president has argued that Iraq's refusal to account for Speicher is another indication of Saddam's disregard for international law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Dale Eisman at icemandc@msn.com or (703) 913-9872.

 

 

Navy may change pilot's status to MIA-captured

 
Scott Speicher

 

By ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press
© August 15, 2002


WASHINGTON -- The Navy is considering changing the status of Gulf War pilot Scott Speicher from missing in action to MIA-captured, a move some believe would put pressure on Iraq to provide more information about his fate, officials said Wednesday.

The authority to change Speicher's status rests with Navy Secretary Gordon England. Aides said he had not made a decision.

Speicher, a Navy F-18 pilot who was shot down over Iraq on the opening night of the Gulf War in January 1991, initially was listed as killed in action, with no body recovered. But in January 2001, the Navy changed his status to missing in action, given an absence of evidence that he died in the crash.

Iraq says Speicher was killed in the crash.

Earlier this year some members of Congress publicly urged the Navy to change Speicher's status to either POW or MIA-captured to reflect their belief that he was taken alive by the Iraqis.

 

Some in the Navy are concerned that a decision to change Speicher's status would be interpreted as a political move related to the Bush administration's search for a justification to attack Iraq.

There is no known physical evidence that Speicher was captured, but U.S. intelligence agencies believe it is a possibility. It is widely believed inside the Navy that Iraq knows more about Speicher's fate than it has acknowledged.

Last year, U.S. intelligence agencies said in a report to the Senate Intelligence Committee that Speicher probably ejected from his plane and survived the shootdown.

``We assess Lt. Cmdr. Speicher was either captured alive or his remains were recovered and brought to Baghdad,'' the report said. In either case, the Iraqi government has concealed information about his fate, it said.

Last month the State Department sent a diplomatic note through the International Committee of the Red Cross asking whether the Iraqi government can offer new details about Speicher.

In a July 8 letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he agreed with Powell's suggestion that a note be delivered ``to confirm Iraq's intention to provide new information.''

In March, Iraq offered to meet with U.S. officials in Baghdad to discuss the case.

A U.S. excavation team visited the crash site in 1995, finding aircraft debris but no human remains. U.S. officials have said the site was tampered with because reconnaissance photos showed part of the plane removed, then returned, before the excavation team arrived.

 

 

From The Washington Times -- June 7, 2002

 INSIDE THE RING

 Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough

 THE WASHINGTON TIMES

 Speicher update

 Senior Pentagon policy officials are close to again changing the  status of a missing Navy pilot whose plane was shot down near Baghdad  during the1991 Persian Gulf war. A defense official said policy-makers in the Office of the Secretary  of Defense, known as OSD, are close to a decision on whether to change  the status of Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher from missing in action to prisoner of war. It would be the second time in two years the pilot's status changed.  He was initially declared killed in action in 1991. Last year, the Pentagon  reclassified him as "missing in action." New intelligence this year bolstered earlier reports indicating the  Iraqis are holding an American pilot prisoner. The reports are said to  be the main reason for considering the new POW status. The change is being pushed by several Republican congressmen who have  seen the new intelligence reports suggesting Cmdr. Speicher is alive. Meanwhile, the Pentagon bureaucracy is moving very slowly in following  up on Baghdad's March offer to let U.S. officials visit the country  and investigate Cmdr. Speicher's fate. The reaction is typical of what critics say is the Pentagon's  dismissive approach to POW and missing-in-action issues. Defense officials in charge of the case are supposed to be working on  a formal response to the Iraqi offer and then scheduling a trip to  Geneva for meetings with Iraqi diplomats. "There does not appear to be any  activity to support this goal, however," a source close to the Pentagon tells us.

 

Speicher case draws new focus, passion 04/28/02   
       

Sunday, April 28, 2002

Speicher case draws new focus, passion
Navy pilot shot down in Gulf War

By Paul Pinkham
Times_Union staff writer

They've been here before, the family and friends that love Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher and the Jacksonville Navy community that  calls him a hero.

Too many times.

In the 11 years since the Cecil Field fighter pilot from Orange Park  was shot down over Iraq and pronounced killed in action, the shadowy  reports have surfaced every few years.

Like in 1995, when the family was told his FA_18 Hornet jet had been found with evidence he ejected and survived.

Like in 1999, when an Iraqi defector told investigators he drove an American pilot to Baghdad about a month after the Persian Gulf War began.

Like last year, when President Clinton said Speicher "might be alive" and the Pentagon took the unprecedented step of changing his status to missing in action.

Each time, there's been a flurry of news coverage and diplomatic sabre_rattling about ending the mystery. Then the case fades to the  background again.

Will this time be different? Speicher's family thinks so.  "It feels different," said Speicher's nephew, Richard Adams of    Austin, Texas. "After Sept. 11, we have a different feeling in this         country now. We're sending a lot of boys over there, and we need to  let them know we're not going to leave anyone behind. Scott's definitely a symbol of that."

Adams said the family has never had this many government agencies working on the case. Even President Bush has addressed the issue,  saying he wouldn't put it past Iraq President Saddam Hussein to hold  an American hostage for 11 years.

"This time is different because there has begun to be activity starting to pressure __ both publicly and clandestinely __ Iraq for information," said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D_ Fla.

But media critic Mark Crispin Miller, who wrote an op_ed piece for The New York Times on the Speicher case in 1995, calls the current  attention "propaganda" designed to build support for U.S. military action against Iraq.

"The media, which has been eager to join the war on terrorism, is not being sufficiently critical in this case," said Miller, a  professor of media studies at New York University. "Why is Scott             Speicher being turned into this sort of hostage from a Rambo movie?"

History or mystery?

As America braced for war in late 1990, several newspapers,  including the The Florida Times_Union, published a wire service map  showing U.S. ship deployments in the Gulf.            Scott Speicher, a graduate of Forrest High School on the Westside, was outraged and wasn't shy about sharing his feelings with a reporter from his hometown paper. The map gave away strategy, he said, and pilots would get shot down.
    
His words were tragically prophetic.

On Jan. 17, 1991, the opening night of the war, U.S. bombers lit up the nighttime sky over Baghdad. The operation was considered a success.

But Speicher, 33, didn't return with his squadron to the USS Saratoga. He never radioed for help. Fellow fliers returning to the carrier said they saw an explosion near Speicher's jet over the             western Iraqi desert. They had no way of knowing they were part of  the opening pages of a mystery that would remain unsolved more than a decade later.

A few months later, the Pentagon formally told Joanne Speicher that she was a widow and the couple's two children fatherless. She wouldn't know for four years that questions already were surfacing about her husband's fate. For example, DNA testing showed human remains Iraq gave to the United States, purported to be those of an  American pilot named Mickel, weren't Speicher.

Joanne Speicher was still unaware of the questions in December 1993,  when Speicher's crash site was located in the desert. It was 14   months before the family was told and 24 months before investigators  went to look at the site. Navy analysts concluded Speicher probably ejected and survived the initial crash, but in September 1996 the Pentagon reaffirmed its classification of Speicher as killed in action.

“In Scott's case, the more you look at it, the more you realize that we left somebody behind and we made some mistakes," said U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R_Kan., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.   "Then there was an attitude thing that really bothered me. They had
reached a conclusion, and they weren't going to go back in and accept any further intelligence.

"The more dots you connect, the more you become convinced that not only did we leave somebody behind but also that he survived the crash."

'What happened?'

That was unacceptable to Roberts and U.S. Sen. Robert Smith, R_N.H., both veterans who fervently subscribe to the "leave no man behind" credo.

"One of the questions we always get back from abroad is why would Americans care so much about one person," Roberts said. "It gets to our values."

For Smith the issue was personal. His own father died in a military plane crash in the Chesapeake Bay in 1945.  "I'm glad they didn't stop looking because he was one of two remains  that were found," said Smith, a Vietnam veteran and outspoken  proponent on POW_MIA issues. "If something happened to me, I'd want my government to find out what happened."

Smith, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said he began receiving intelligence reports in 1995 that Speicher might have survived the crash. In 1999, he began pressuring the Pentagon to    change Speicher's status to missing in action. Roberts joined the effort soon after and began pressuring the intelligence community.

 In 2001, days before leaving office, Clinton announced the Pentagon  had changed Speicher's status to missing in action, making him the only American from any war still officially declared MIA. An  intelligence report requested by the Senate concluded that Speicher probably survived and was captured. Intelligence officials didn't buy Iraq's explanation that Speicher was eaten by wolves in the desert.

"Every pilot wants to have the security of knowing that if he's shot down, his buddies are coming to get him," Nelson said. "It appears we did not honor that with Cmdr. Speicher."  

The story heated up again this year when British intelligence reported on another Iraqi defector, a former military adviser to Saddam, who said he knew of an American pilot still held in Baghdad.     Reports that the pilot was moved to a more secure facility after Sept. 11 because Saddam feared retaliation for terrorist attacks in  Washington and New York, only fueled speculation.

"All of a sudden, it was a series of reports that came in ... that  made me think, 'You don't suppose ...''' Roberts said. "Without any  clear evidence that he's dead, you have to presume he's alive."

 'Find an answer'

Miller doesn't buy it. Despite the intelligence report, he said his research shows Speicher's jet exploded in midair.   "I find it hard to believe that Scott Speicher survived that  incident, but I can see the propaganda value of making him seem to  be a sort of MIA," Miller said. "It has a great deal to do with the renewed pressure to merit some kind of military action against Iraq.

The revival of interest in the Speicher story is one piece of this drive to focus on the perfidy of Saddam Hussein."  Others in Washington have quietly speculated the same thing.  But Cindy Laquidara __ the family's attorney, who has remained in  constant contact with Pentagon, State Department and intelligence  officials in Washington __ dismissed that theory.

"You don't bomb a country because they're holding one of your guys.  You go and get your guy," she said. "Each piece of information for  the past 3 1/2 years has gotten more detailed so that people can't discount it."

Laquidara said a turning point was the involvement of Smith and  Roberts, who "forced the creation of a committee that had all the staff people on it."

"They said 'go find us an answer,' " she said.

Also making the timing right is the fact that Syria is normalizing  relations with Iraq, and Kuwait is pressuring Baghdad for the  release of 400 Gulf War POWs it still holds, Laquidara said. Nelson   has talked to the leaders of Syria and Lebanon, asking for their help in determining what happened to Speicher.    The Pentagon currently is mulling its response to an Iraqi           invitation, made earlier this month through the Red Cross, for U.S.  officials to come to Iraq and investigate Speicher's disappearance.

"This is one attempt by them to call the U.S. bluff on this case," Miller said. "They wouldn't do it otherwise."    Nelson, Roberts and Smith said they worry about raising false hopes for Speicher's family in Orange Park. But they remain committed to finding answers.

"I pray every day he's alive," Smith said. "What we know is Saddam Hussein has the answer."

Times_Union staff writers Rachel Davis and Matthew I. Pinzur  contributed to this report.
            Staff writer Paul Pinkham can be reached at (904) 359_4107 or
            ppinkham@jacksonville.com.
 

 

Iraq offers new talks on missing aviator
By DALE EISMAN, The Virginian-Pilot
© April 11, 2002

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon is considering an offer by Iraq for new discussions on the fate of Lt. Cmdr. Scott Speicher, a Navy pilot missing since the first night of bombing in the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

Officials said Wednesday that a draft proposal under review by aides to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld calls for dispatching a team of inspectors to Baghdad to pursue the Speicher case. There was no timetable for a final decision on the proposal.

The memo is ``very predecisional,'' said Marine Lt. Col. Dave Lapan, a Defense Department spokesman. He said a report Wednesday by The Washington Times that the Bush administration ``is ready to dispatch a team of experts'' to Iraq is ``premature.'' Officials ``want to take our time in evaluating'' the Iraqi offer, which was not formally received until Monday, Lapan said. The Iraqis have had many opportunities to help in the past ``and they haven't done so,'' he added.

Other officials said the draft plan suggests the United States insist on access to Iraqis believed to have seen Speicher after he ejected from his crippled F/A-18 Hornet on Jan. 17, 1991. It also says the United States should demand return of the aircraft pieces missing during an inspection of the crash site in 1995.

In addition, the memo says the the United States should reserve the right to select the inspection team members and leaves questions about press coverage of the inspection unresolved, the officials said.

 

Iraq has insisted that the delegation include Scott Ritter, a former United Nations weapons inspector who has been critical of American policies toward Iraq. The Iraqis also say American journalists must be allowed to cover the visit. One official said the draft plan doesn't rule out Ritter as an inspection team member. The draft says the United States is willing to ``coordinate with the Red Cross'' on ground rules for media coverage of any visit, he added.

Because the United States and Iraq do not have diplomatic relations, the International Committee of the Red Cross has been acting as a go-between in the Speicher case. Whatever reply the United States ultimately sends to the Iraqi proposal probably will be conveyed by the State Department to the Red Cross, one official said.

The United States also has a potential conduit to Iraq through the Tripartite Commission, made up of American, European and Iraqi representatives. Iraq has boycotted the panel for three years however, most recently skipping a March 8 meeting. The commission is to meet again in July.

Speicher is the only American service member still listed as missing from the Gulf War. He was declared dead by U.S. officials shortly after his Hornet was brought down, apparently by an anti-aircraft missile. But persistent reports that he might have survived and had been sighted in Iraq prompted former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig to change his status last year to missing-in-action.

The case has attracted national attention, with members of Congress, including Virginia Sen. John W. Warner and Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-4th District, seeking a more aggressive push by the Bush administration to resolve Speicher's status.

The U.S. delegation that visited the crash site in 1995 found Speicher's flight suit and pieces of his airplane, including the cockpit canopy. The evidence indicated Speicher managed to eject from the plane before it crashed, but there was no sign of him or his remains.

 

 

National Alliance of Families
For The Return of America's Missing Servicemen
+ World War II + Korea + Cold War + Vietnam + Gulf War +

 

 

Chicago Tribune Published March 12, 2002

Iraqi Says Gulf War U.S. Pilot Is Alive
By Christine Spolar
Tribune Foreign Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- U.S. intelligence agents are working to corroborate new information from an Iraqi defector that an American pilot shot down over Iraq a decade ago is alive and imprisoned by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, government sources said.

New evidence about the Navy pilot, Michael Scott Speicher, surfaced in late January. President Bush and top advisers in the State and Defense Departments were informed by intelligence agents that a one-time high-ranking military adviser to Hussein, who defected earlier this year, has information that the American pilot was alive as of January.

Speicher, who would be 44 today, was classified killed in action from 1991 until January 2001. The CIA, the Navy and President Clinton reviewed what were considered serious gaps in intelligence analysis concerning the

Speicher case. On Jan. 10, 2001, based on evidence that the pilot survived the crash and was seen in Iraq, Speicher was reclassified as missing in action.

The Iraqi defector first spoke earlier this year to Dutch intelligence about an imprisoned American pilot in Iraq. According to sources, the defector told interrogators that the American pilot in prison was in good health but walks with a limp and has facial scars. The defector has been deemed credible through his descriptions of both Speicher, whom he did not name, and his knowledge of prisons where the pilot is thought to have been held, sources said.

Bush is kept informed about the case, and Secretary of State Colin Powell is "very much engaged," according to another well-placed source. The imprisonment of Speicher, the first American lost in the war against Iraq in 1991, would have a powerful effect on, if not trigger a powerful reaction from, the Bush administration, which had made clear it wants Hussein ousted.

Attempts to verify the defector's claims intensified in February, sources said. Public comments by the administration regarding Iraq sharpened within the same week, including Powell's statement that the United States was weighing ways to topple Hussein.

The defector said the pilot had been held at Iraqi Intelligence Headquarters, the same building that the United States bombed in 1993 in retaliation for an assassination attempt on President George Bush, the father of the current president and the leader of the 1991 allied coalition against Iraq.

The defector told intelligence agents that the pilot was moved to a military facility on Sept. 12, the day after Islamic terrorists hijacked American airliners and drilled them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Iraqis feared reprisals from the United States and wanted to safeguard their captive, the defector told his interrogators.

The defector said only a handful of Iraqis are aware of the pilot's existence, and that Hussein and his son, Qusay, closely monitor his well-being, sources said.

Interest from administration

The case of Michael Scott Speicher appears to have a special resonance for the current administration. Bush's father led the allied force coalition in the gulf. Powell then was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Vice President Dick Cheney was secretary of defense.

Cheney's role is particularly sensitive because, during the first press briefing after the first strike in 1991, Cheney declared Speicher dead. That announcement was both premature and problematic for the military, which at the time was seeking information about the downing of Speicher's plane.

"This is important to them," said one source knowledgeable about the White House interest in the case. "The people in charge then are the people in charge now."

The Speicher case continues to generate interest in the Senate, which has been conducting an investigation on intelligence lapses in the case. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), a member of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee

and the Armed Services Committee, wrote to the Pentagon in February that Speicher should be listed as a prisoner of war.

Roberts said in his letter that changing the status would better reflect unanswered questions about the "exceptional and compelling" case of the missing fighter pilot. "If Capt. Speicher lives, we must make every effort to attain for him the freedom he has so long been denied. His case reaffirms to our nation, albeit somewhat belatedly, that we will never abandon our soldiers even if some embarrassment falls to our government," Roberts wrote to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Declared missing in action

Speicher was listed as killed in action from May 1991, four months after the war. He was reclassified as missing in action--in an unprecedented decision by the Navy--nearly 10 years later, in January 2001. The change in status occurred in the last days of the Clinton administration. Congressional inquiries and extensive media reports raised serious questions about whether the airman, in fact, had died after his F/A-18 was hit by enemy fire over Iraq.

The New York Times first reported that Speicher's shattered plane was discovered in the desert in 1993 by a Qatar source and that the Joint Chiefs of Staff balked at embarking on a secret mission to recover the body. The newspaper reported that a mission, conducted with Iraq's knowledge, was not completed until late 1995. No evidence of the pilot was found, it was reported.

CBS' "60 Minutes II" later reported that in the days and weeks after the shootdown in 1991, U.S. forces never searched for Speicher because they believed the plane to be a total loss. The CBS program noted that

investigators who went to the crash site in 1995 had found no human remains or other evidence that Speicher had died.

The network also revealed that American military and intelligence circles were grappling with some startling new information in 1999. There was another Iraqi defector, who was interrogated by American intelligence and

passed multiple polygraph tests, who claimed he had driven a pilot who fit Speicher's description to a military facility outside Baghdad during the first week of the war.

CIA acts after broadcast

The CIA analysis was ordered within weeks of the broadcast and, in December 2000, a classified accounting of the Speicher case was sent to the Navy, the National Security Council and Clinton. The 100-plus page document, which remains classified, asserted that Speicher's jet was hit by an Iraqi air-to-air missile, that there was a successful ejection and that the Iraqi source who described driving him after the shootdown was credible.

In a seven-page declassified version of facts released last year, the CIA asserted that Speicher probably survived being shot down, and "if he survived, he was almost certainly captured by the Iraqis." As a result of Speicher's reclassification to missing in action in January 2001, the United States sent a formal demarche to Iraq demanding information about him.

Clinton: He `might be alive'

In a radio interview then, Clinton said that Speicher "might be alive" and "if he is . . . we're going to do everything to get him out." Iraq rebuffed inquiries about Speicher and indicated, as Iraqi officials had told reporters, that he might have been eaten by wolves in the desert.

Inquiries by the United Nations and the Tripartite Commission responsible for missing soldiers from the gulf war provided no new information. Late in 2001, the Iraq government issued its first written response to the Tripartite Commission, denying knowledge of Speicher.

Speicher, a lieutenant commander at the time of the war, has been promoted to commander in the past year, and, more recently, to captain. His wife, who has since remarried, and children have been compensated with back pay for their loss over the past decade. The family has maintained a strict silence on the case.

 

 

Family Wants to Search for Pilot's Body



The family of a Navy pilot missing since the 1991 Gulf War believes he is still alive and wants the United States to accept an Iraqi invitation to send a delegation to investigate his disappearance, their lawyer said Tuesday.

Lt. Cmdr. Scott Speicher, then 33, became the first listed American casualty of the war when his Navy FA-18 Hornet was shot down in Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991.

There is a good chance that he survived by ejecting from his plane and is imprisoned, said attorney Cindy Laquidara, who represents Speicher's family.

U.S. officials have said Speicher's flight suit was found and there have been persistent intelligence reports about a U.S. pilot held in Baghdad. Last year, the Pentagon changed his status from killed in action to missing in action. All other U.S. serviceman killed or captured during the conflict have been accounted for.

A statement issued Sunday by an unidentified Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman said Iraq is ready to receive a U.S. delegation to investigate what happened to Speicher.

``We should pursue every avenue,'' Laquidara said.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the administration didn't have enough information to evaluate the Iraqi statement.

 

 

U.S. considers Iraqi offer for talks on MIA pilot

March 24, 2002 Posted: 7:34 PM EST (0034 GMT)
 

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. officials considered an Iraqi offer Sunday for talks in the Middle Eastern country about an American pilot missing since the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry reiterated an offer made several times previously inviting an U.S. delegation to come to Iraq and discuss the case of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher, a Navy pilot shot down in January 1991.

Iraq maintains Speicher was killed in the crash, but the U.S. Navy has received reports in recent years indicating he may be still alive.

Asked about the Iraqi offer, Vice President Dick Cheney told CBS's "Face the Nation" that U.S. officials would evaluate the proposal to "see whether or not this is a serious proposition or whether (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein is simply trying to change the subject."

Speicher, then 33, was piloting a Navy F/A-18 Hornet jet when it was shot down by enemy fire on January 17, 1991 -- the first day of the Gulf War. He was subsequently declared the war's first combat death, but the Navy changed his status to missing in action in 2001 after receiving information that he may have survived.

MORE STORIES
Pentagon may classify Gulf War pilot as POW 
 

Rear Adm. Steven Pietropaoli said that, while the Navy knew of no plans to send a U.S. delegation to Iraq, officials remained "extremely interested" in any information about Speicher.

"We're committed to obtaining the facts on this issue, and we'll continue to work closely with (the Defense Department) and other agencies working on this issue," Pietropaoli said.

A State Department statement issued Sunday said that discussions about Speicher should be conducted by the Tripartite Commission, which was set up to resolve issues relating to missing and captive service members after the Persian Gulf war.

State Department spokeswoman Jo-Anne Prokopowicz noted that Iraq has refused to attend commission meetings for the last three years, including a meeting scheduled two weeks ago. But the department has not explicitly rejected the idea of sending a delegation to Iraq.

The United States "is deeply committed to resolving the fate of all Gulf War missing in action," including Speicher, Prokopowicz said.

 

 

Pentagon considers classifying Gulf War pilot as POW

March 16, 2002 Posted: 12:51 AM EST (0551 GMT)
 

Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher's aircraft was shot down on the first day of the Iraqi air war in 1991.
Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher's aircraft was shot down on the first day of the Iraqi air war in 1991.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon is considering changing the classification of an American pilot -- whose jet crashed in Iraq on the first night of the 1991 Gulf War -- from Missing in Action to a Prisoner of War, sources told CNN Friday.

It would be the third time the Pentagon has reclassified the case of Cmdr. Michael Speicher. However, Pentagon officials said there is still no credible evidence to suggest he is still alive.

But by reclassifying Speicher as a POW, it would put more pressure on Iraq to account for what happened to the then 43-year-old pilot, the sources said.

Speicher's F/A-18 aircraft was shot down by enemy fire on January 17, 1991, the first day of the Gulf War. He was classified as MIA the next day. A subsequent review found there was "no credible evidence" he survived the crash and Speicher was listed as Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered (KIA/BNR) on May 22, 1991.

By January 2001, his status was changed back to MIA.

Pentagon officials said there have been various reports over the years of an American pilot being held in Baghdad, but none of the reports has been judged to be very credible.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday said he is aware of the reports, but had not seen anything new. "Some of it is speculation. Some of it -- most of it is unauthoritative, that is to say, it is coming from people who heard from somebody about something," he said.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, a member of the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, said there is no evidence to prove Speicher died in the crash and that he should be listed as a POW.

"I think we left somebody behind. I don't think there's any question about it," Roberts told CNN. "More than likely he was captured and was a prisoner of the Iraqis."

After the war, Iraq released 21 U.S. military personnel, and all U.S. and coalition airmen downed over land were accounted for, with the exception of Speicher.

Iraq provided a small amount of human remains said to be of an American pilot, but tests showed they were not those of Speicher.

The Pentagon is seeking a "full accounting" for happened to Speicher, and while publicly U.S. officials express the hope he is still alive, privately officials admit there is no evidence he is.

"It's the right position to take since we can't prove he's dead," one official told CNN.

Five months after Speicher's crash, following a secretary of the Navy status review board that found "no credible evidence" to suggest he had survived the shootdown, his status was changed to KIA/BNR.

In December 1995, investigators from the Navy and Army's Central Identification Laboratory entered Iraq and conducted a thorough excavation of the crash site. In September 1996, based on a comprehensive review of evidence accumulated since the initial KIA/BNR determination, the secretary of the Navy reaffirmed the presumptive finding of death.

But over the years since that determination was made, the Navy and U.S. government have consistently sought new information and continued to analyze all available information to resolve Speicher's fate.

Roberts said it is imperative for the United States to pursue the case on the assumption Speicher may still be alive and held by Iraq. Doing otherwise, he said, would be unfair to Speicher, his family, and every U.S. servicemember.

The senator said he wants to make sure the Pentagon does not ignore such critical intelligence information in the future.

"We have changed his classification from MIA, now we're waiting on POW," Roberts said. "We changed the laws so it won't happen again in terms of intelligence assessment. We are making progress."

 

 

Missing pilot's status in question
By Bill Gertz
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
 
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday the Pentagon is investigating whether a Navy pilot shot down in the Persian Gulf war is alive in Iraq.


     "We have a very real interest in his circumstance, if he's alive — indeed, in knowing about his circumstance, even if he's not alive," Mr. Rumsfeld said.
     "And one would hope and pray that he is alive. We do not know," Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon.
     The defense secretary was asked about the case of Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher after a series of reports on the case that appeared in this week's editions of The Washington Times.
 

A U.S. intelligence report made public this week states that Cmdr. Speicher, who was lost when his F-18 plane was shot down over Iraq in 1991, "probably survived the loss of his aircraft, and if he survived, he almost certainly was captured by the Iraqis."
     Cmdr. Speicher was initially declared killed in action in 1991, but new evidence in later years led to a reversal of the designation. In January 2001, the Pentagon reclassified him as missing in action. It was the first time the Pentagon had ever made such a status change.
     Mr. Rumsfeld said "a very serious effort" is under way on the part of the U.S. government over "a sustained period to try and gather as much information as possible."
     Some of the information about the case is classified and some is unclassified, he said.
     "Some of it is speculation," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "Some of it — most of it is unauthoritative. That is to say, it is coming from people who heard from somebody about something, or believe there might be a situation that could be characterized as encouraging from our standpoint."
     Pressed on whether there is evidence Cmdr. Speicher is alive in Iraq, Mr. Rumsfeld said: "I've answered that to the best of my ability."
     Mr. Rumsfeld said he read The Times articles and, "I have not seen any current intelligence in the last week that would enable me to cast any additional light" on the case.
     Mr. Rumsfeld said he has reviewed intelligence data over the past year "because we're interested" in the case.
     U.S. intelligence officials, however, said new information about the case was obtained from a foreign intelligence service in the past several months, indicating Iraq is holding an American pilot captive.
     The report — based on information from someone who had been inside Iraq — stated that the pilot was being kept in isolation and only two Iraqi officials would see him.
     President Bush also commented on the Speicher case this week. Mr. Bush suggested the pilot could be alive and said if he were, it would show the cruelty of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
     Mr. Bush said he "wouldn't put it past him, given the fact that he gassed his own people" — a reference to Saddam's ordering of chemical-weapons attacks on Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq in the late 1980s.
     The intelligence community report dated March 27, 2001, stated that a team of investigators visited Cmdr. Speicher's crash site in 1995 and determined that the pilot ejected.
     The investigators also believe Iraq is concealing information about the fate of the pilot and once supplied human remains to U.S. officials that upon laboratory testing turned out not to be Cmdr. Speicher's.
     U.S. officials said the intelligence regarding the case includes numerous agent reports of an American pilot being held prisoner in Iraq.
     "There are at least three independent sources," one official said.
     Some U.S. intelligence officials have tried to dismiss the reports, saying Saddam would not keep an American pilot hostage and would have used him for propaganda if he was a captive.
     However, other officials said Saddam held an Iranian pilot prisoner for 17 years, while denying Iraq held any prisoners from the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.
     The State Department said this week that it questioned Iraqi officials about Cmdr. Speicher's fate during a meeting in Geneva. The Iraqis did not respond, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

 

 

Va. lawmaker voices concern about case of missing Navy pilot
By LON WAGNER, The Virginian-Pilot
© March 15, 2002

U.S. Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-4th District, on Thursday added his name to a growing list of politicians calling for a resolution to the case of missing Navy pilot Michael Scott Speicher.

Speicher, 33 at the time, was shot down over Iraq on the first night of airstrikes during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Neither he nor his remains were found, but he was declared killed in action and given a tombstone at Arlington National Cemetery.

``I am very distraught today over our failure to resolve the disappearance of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher,'' Forbes said. He didn't call for any specific action.

Speicher left behind a wife, Joanne, and a 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son.

``Scott Speicher's family doesn't have closure because no search and rescue mission was ever launched,'' Forbes said.

 

Initially, it was reported that Speicher's plane had been destroyed. Then his F/A-18 Hornet was discovered in the Iraqi desert nearly intact almost three years after the war ended.

In January 2001, Speicher became the first service member to have his status revert to missing in action after being listed as killed in action. He has been promoted twice since he disappeared.

Pentagon officials and politicians have repeatedly said that Iraqi leaders know more than they have said. President Bush reiterated that sentiment at a news conference Wednesday.

Bush said Iraq's refusal to account for the pilot reinforced his view of Saddam Hussein. He professed disbelief ``that anybody would be so cold and heartless as to hold an American flier for all this period of time without notification to his family.'' But, Bush said, he ``wouldn't put it past him, given the fact that he gassed his own people.''

Also this week, a letter from Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld was made public. Roberts, from Speicher's home state, pointed to an intelligence community assessment of the Speicher case that read:

Speicher ``probably survived the loss of his aircraft, and if he survived, he almost certainly was captured by the Iraqis.''

Roberts wrote that the evidence on Speicher means that a more appropriate term would be ``missing, captured.'' Though ``prisoner of war'' is not an official designation, Roberts suggested that the Department of Defense use the term ``POW'' in all future references to Speicher.

``By stating to the world that we indeed believe that Captain Speicher survived -- at least for some period of time -- in Iraqi custody,'' Roberts said, ``we would acknowledge his unique and honored service as an American Gulf War POW.''

Reach Lon Wagner at 446-2341 or lon1@pilotonline.com

 

U.S. officials downplay report on Navy pilot in Iraq

March 11, 2002 Posted: 8:10 AM EST (1310 GMT)
 

 


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. officials Monday downplayed a published report that a U.S. Navy pilot thought to have been killed in action during the Persian Gulf War might be alive and held in Iraq.

The report in Monday's Washington Times said U.S. intelligence agencies had received new information about Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher.

Navy Secretary Richard Danzig last year changed Speicher's status from Killed in Action/Body not Recovered to Missing in Action.

But one U.S. official said Monday, "If Scott Speicher were still alive, Saddam Hussein would have brought him out for propaganda."

Another official said, "This story has been out once or twice already."

The official said he had no knowledge of any recent information to support the idea, including and beyond the time span the newspaper cited.

Speicher's F/A-18 aircraft was shot down by enemy fire on January 17, 1991, the first day of the air war over Iraq. He was placed on MIA status the next day.

On May 22, 1991, following a secretary of the Navy status review board that found "no credible evidence" to suggest he had survived, his status was changed to Killed in Action/Body not Recovered.

In December 1995, working through the International Committee of the Red Cross, investigators from the Navy and Army's Central Identification Laboratory entered Iraq and conducted a thorough excavation of the crash site.

In September 1996, based on a comprehensive review of evidence accumulated since the initial determination, the secretary of the Navy reaffirmed the presumptive finding of death.

But over the years since that determination was made, the Navy and the U.S. government consistently have sought new details and continued to analyze all available information to resolve Speicher's fate.

This additional analysis, when added to the information considered in 1996, underscored the need for a new review.

Based on the review, Danzig concluded that Speicher's status should be MIA, and the change was made in January 2001.

 

 

Scott Speicher: Dead or Alive?
The Virginian-Pilot
© January 7, 2002

A special report

Slide Show: What happened to Scott Speicher? Examining the evidence
 

Part 1: Dead or Alive?
On the first night of the Gulf War, an American pilot disappeared. What happened to Scott Speicher is a mystery that deepens by the year.

Part 2: Presumed Dead
His fellow pilots didn't want to believe that Scott Speicher had been killed over Iraq, but the American government made a quick judgment that sealed his fate.

Part 3: A Test of Honor
Almost three years after a U.S. pilot was lost in the Gulf War, a stunning find in the Iraqi desert set off a debate over risk-taking vs. military duty.

Part 4: Returning to Iraq
In late 1995, Americans got their first look at the wreckage of Scott Speicher's Hornet and a chance to see what he might have seen if he landed safely in the desert.

Part 5: Hope Reawakens
Again and again, the government declared Scott Speicher, a Gulf War pilot, dead. But by 1999, reports from Iraq made his family and others believe there was a chance he had survived.

Part 6: Missing in Action
In 2001, President Clinton made a decision that pushed Scott Speicher back into the headlines and sparked a renewed effort toward solving the 10-year-old mystery.

Update: Report says pilot might be held in Iraqi jail
 

 

The First Casualty
60 Minute II 03 July 2001
  • A Downed Gulf War Flier
  • Labeled 'Killed In Action'
  • But What Really Happened To Him?
     
  • (CBS) On Jan. 17, 1991, the first night of the Gulf War,
    Lieutenant Commander Michael Scott Speicher was shot
    down over Iraq. He became the conflict's first American casualty.

    When 60 Minutes II started working on this story more than
    two years ago, Speicher was listed as Killed in Action despite
    the fact that the U.S. military had never looked for him,
    and that there was no evidence that he ever died. Last week,
     Speicher made history again. The Navy changed his status
    from Killed in Action to Missing in Action.
    The U.S. military has never done that before - not in the
    Civil War or the World Wars and not in Korea or in Vietnam.
    The Navy did it earlier this year because it finally admitted that it doesn't know
    whether Scott Speicher is dead or alive.
    Correspondent Bob Simon provides an update of the story that
    60 Minutes II
    first reported in 2000.
    Click here to read the two-part report:

    May 2000 Report

    Somewhere in the arid, desolate desert of western Iraq, Speicher's F-18 crashed in
    darkness two hours after the war began.
    Speicher was one of the best pilots on the aircraft carrier Saratoga. He wasn't
     supposed to fly on the first mission of the war but he refused to be left behind.
    "When it just came down to flying the airplane, there was nobody like Spike,"
     says Barry Hull, another pilot in Speicher's squadron.
    On Jan. 17, Hull, Speicher, and 32 other pilots took off at 1:30 a.m. from the
    USS Saratoga in the Red Sea. They were supposed to suppress enemy air
    defenses west of Baghdad. It was a very dangerous mission.

    "The closer we got to Baghdad, the more impressive the light show over
    Baghdad became,"
    recalls Bob Stumpf, who was flying two planes away
    from Speicher. "It was just an incredible anti-aircraft barrage."

    Eight minutes from the target, Stumpf was startled by a huge flash in
     the sky. He assumed the blast was a missile, but he didn't think that
    any planes had been hit.
    The fighters continued toward the target and dropped their bombs.
    As they turned back toward the Saratoga, the pilots checked in over
     the radio. Speicher didn't check in. The pilots returned to the Saratoga
    just before dawn without him.
    During their intelligence debriefings on the ship, Dave Renaud, who had
     been the closest pilot to Speicher, reported seeing explosions five miles
    away, in Speicher's direction, at the same time that Stumpf had witnessed
    that large flash in the sky. Renaud reported the plane had been blown to bits.
     He even drew a little circle on his map where he thought he had seen the fireball.

    "The first report was 'airplane disintegrated on impact; no contact with
    the pilot; we really don't believe that anyone was able to survive the impact,'"
     says Admiral Stan Arthur, commander of all Allied Naval Forces in the Persian Gulf.

    A few hours after the first mission had returned to the ships,
    Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney held a press conference in Washington.
     On the basis of one account of a flash in the night sky and 12 hours of radio
    silence, Secretary Cheney declared Speicher dead.

    To Stumpf, the pronouncement seemed premature.

    Why did Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney declare Speicher dead in the
     first hours of the Gulf War when there was no evidence to support it?
    Cheney declined to comment.

    Admiral Arthur says that because the Navy wasn't sure where Speicher
    had gone down, no search-and-rescue mission was launched. But the
    captain of the Saratoga personally told Speicher's wife, Joanne, that
    "every effort continues to be made to locate Scott."
    A week later,
     Speicher's commanding officer sent this message to Joanne, "All,
    repeat, all, theater combat search-and-rescue efforts were mobilized."


    On March 7, 1991, right after the war, Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams
    assured Americans the military would continue to look for every missing
     soldier and flier.
    When the POWs were released at the end of the war, Tony Albano, who
     was Speicher's roommate, was sent to Saudi Arabia in case Speicher
    was among the prisoners being freed. He didn't see Speicher.
    Weeks later, the Iraqis sent a pound and a half of flesh to the Americans,
    claiming it was the remains of a pilot named Michael. Speicher's first name
     was Michael, and there was no other Michael among the missing. One DNA
     test and the case would be closed forever.
    Then things got strange. That spring, Victor Weedn, a forensic pathologist,
    tested the flesh. He says it did not come from Speicher.
    Were Saddam and the Iraqis trying to hide something, or had they just
    made a mistake? Apparently no one asked, because the next day, May 7,
     the Navy began the process of officially declaring Speicher KIA. "I was
     a little surprised at that because our test report didn't show that he
     was dead,"
    Weedn says.

    Joanne Speicher was asked to sign off on this decision. She thought all
     search efforts had been exhausted, so she agreed. While most of the
     country was celebrating its victory, a private memorial service was being
    held in Arlington National Cemetery. There was no body.
    Speicher's case was closed. Then in December 1993,
    an Army general from Qatar came to the western Iraqi desert,
    150 miles southwest of Baghdad. He and his party were hunting
    for rare falcons when they stumbled across an American F-18.
    The condition of the nose suggested the plane had not disintegrated
    in the air. The Qatari took pictures, and pieces of the plane, to the
    American Embassy in Doha, the Qatari capital. The photos and a
    piece of radar equipment were sent to Washington, where a check
    was run on the serial numbers. The results stirred the Pentagon.
    Nearly three years after the Gulf War, Speicher's jet had been located.
    The pictures showed that the canopy had come down away from the
     plane; this indicated that the pilot had tried to eject.
    The Pentagon went back and checked the satellite imagery it used to
     track Scud launches during the war. It found a crash site, with the
    outlines of a jet in the sand - Speicher's F-18. The crash spot was right
     where his fellow pilot had said it was. But despite three years of
    assurances, no one in the U.S. government or the military had ever
     bothered to look for Speicher's plane.

    Says Arthur: "You get this sinking feeling that there's something
     really wrong here, that you missed something."


    In April 1994, Admiral Stan Arthur, who had sent Michael Scott Speicher
    into battle, wanted to launch a covert mission into Iraq to check out the
    crash site. But some Pentagon policy officials were concerned about
    casualties.
    They wanted to ask Saddam for permission to go to the site under
    the Red Cross flag.

    This approach enraged those who wanted the mission.
    "You don't preserve your options when you essentially announce
     to the Iraqi government that you know that you found a crash site,
    and you found something at the crash site that might lead you to
    conclude the pilot is alive,"
    says Tim Connolly,
     who was then the deputy secretary of defense in charge of special operations as
     well as a Gulf War veteran with a Bronze Star. "Because if, in fact, the pilot is
     alive and being held by the Iraqis, the pilot isn't alive anymore."
    Connolly
    also wanted to launch a covert mission.
    Classified documents show that the chance of success for a secret mission
    was considered high. Connolly says that the area was very sparsely populated.
    At a meeting in December 1994 in the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense William
    Perry and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili,
    decided how to approach the site.
    Connolly argued his case at the meeting. "I closed by saying, 'I will go
    out the door of this conference room and I will stand in the hall, and I
    will stop the first five people who walk by in military uniform, regardless
    of service or gender,'"
    Connolly recalls. "'I will explain to them what we
     are trying to do and ask them if they will get on the helicopter. And I
    will guarantee you that all five will get on the helicopter.' And then I
    shut my mouth. And the chairman said, 'I do not want to have to write
     letters home to the parents to tell them that their son or daughter
    died looking for old bones.'"


    The Pentagon nixed the covert mission. General Shalikashvili would not
    talk to 60 Minutes II about his decision.

    On March 1, 1995, Saddam agreed to allow American experts to visit the
    crash site. But because of what Baghdad called "unforeseen bureaucratic
     delays,"
    the Americans didn't visit for nine months.
    When members of the U.S. team got there, they found the site had been
    tampered with. The cockpit was missing. The Iraqis had gotten there first.
    But the Americans found a plane that had not disintegrated in the sky.
    They found the canopy, which ejects with the pilot, about a mile from
    the aircraft. Spent flares and parts of a survival kit also were located.
    There was not a bone or a drop of blood or a trace of Michael Scott Speicher
     anywhere.
    But toward the end of their six-day search, the Americans found a tattered
    flight suit. Albano, who has examined the suit, thinks it is Speicher's.
    There were definite signs Speicher could have survived an ejection.
    But when the crash team returned, the Pentagon said that there was
     no evidence that Speicher had survived. In fact, the investigators reported
    that the crash site provided no evidence Speicher had died. The Defense
     Department now grudgingly acknowledges this.

    "I don't believe we have any evidence that he's dead," says Connolly.

    But if Speicher survived the crash, why didn't he send a rescue call on his radio?
    Pilots are repeatedly drilled on the importance of keeping their radios with them
    at all times during crashes. It is the key to getting rescued.
    Minutes before Speicher took off, the pilots had been given new radios.
    These radios were larger than the previous models and didn't fit in the
    vest pocket that had held the earlier models.
    Even before the mission, the size of the radios worried Ted Phagan,
    who was in charge of the pilots' radios. "As the pilots are walking
    out I'm telling them, 'You're going to lose this radio if you have to eject,'"
     he recalls. Phagan thinks Speicher lost his radio when he ejected.
    (By the second launch, Phagan had fixed the problem with a new flap.)

    By mid-1996 even Shalikashvili wrote to the CIA expressing his misgivings
    about Speicher's status.

    With mounting evidence that he survived the crash, and without any
    evidence that he died, U.S. intelligence agencies are launching a new
    search. Investigators aren't ruling out the possibility - slim though it
    might be - that Speicher could be alive in Iraq.
    American investigators say an Iraqi defector who had recently escaped
    to Jordan told them that in the first days of the war, he had driven an
    American pilot from the desert to Baghdad and the authorities. The pilot,
    he says, was alive, alert and wearing a flight suit. The defector pointed
    Speicher out in a photo lineup and passed two lie detector tests.
    The head of the Iraqi Air Force, General Khaldoun Khattab, says that Iraq
    freed all the prisoners after the war. "It's possible he was seriously
    injured after he ejected from the plane, and there are lots of wolves
    in the area,"
    Khattab says.
    The case may never be solved. Admiral Arthur is tormented by the question
    of what happened to the flier.

    January 2001 Update

    After 60 Minutes II reported this in May of 2000, the Navy took the extraordinary
     step of changing Speicher's status from Killed In Action to Missing In Action.
    In January, then-President Clinton said he didn't want to raise false hopes,
     but said, "We're going to do our best to find out if he is alive, and if he is,
    to get him out because as a uniformed service person he should've been
    released by now if he is alive."

    After 10 years, much of the plane has been lost to the desert, to the Iraqis,
     to the Americans who came with their shovels five years ago. But enough
    remains to pose a number of haunting questions. If he survived, could he move?
    Which way did he walk? Was he found? Where is he? Most haunting of all is the
    fact that for nearly five years no American came looking.
    Admiral Arthur was the only high-ranking American official who agreed to be
    interviewed about the Speicher case.
    Since last March, 60 Minutes II made repeated requests for interviews to
     former Defense Secretary (now Vice President) Richard Cheney, who declared
    him dead, to ex-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, John Shalikashvili, who
    decided not to launch an operation to look for him, and to Navy Secretaries
    John Dalton and Richard Danzig, who for seven years maintained his
    status as Killed In Action.

    They all refused to talk to 60 Minutes II about Speicher.
     
  •  

     

    UNCLASSIFIED

    27 March 2001

    Intelligence Community Assessment of the Lieutenant Commander
    Speicher Case

     

    Scope Note: This is an unclassified summary of the ""Intelligence Community Assessment of the-Lieutenant Commander Speicher Case" produced at the request of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The requirement to protect classified sources and methods prevented the inclusion of classified material that pertains to the case. The unclassified version is therefore incomplete, and the overall judgments of the assessment may not be fully supported by the unclassified content provided.

    Introduction

    An F/A-18 Hornet, piloted by LCDR Michael Scott Speicher, was brought down over west-central Iraq during a mission on 17 January 1991-the only aircraft downed that first night of the air war. LCDR Speicher was the only US serviceman lost over land during Operation Desert Storm whose status remained Killed in Action-Body Not Recovered (KIA-BNR). (1) The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has asked the Intelligence Community (IC) to assess the Speicher case and also to provide an unclassified version of the assessment.

     

    We assess that Iraq can account for LCDR Speicher but that Baghdad is concealing information about his fate. LCDR Speicher probably survived the loss of his aircraft, and if he survived, he almost certainly was captured by the Iraqis.

    Night of the Shootdown

    During Desert Storm, none of the limited information available on coalition personnel lost was linked to the fate of LCDR Speicher. No information during the Gulf war conclusively revealed how LCDR Speicher's aircraft was destroyed. Postwar analysis suggests that LCDR Speicher's Hornet was downed by an Iraqi Air Force aircraft firing an air-to-air missile. LCDR Speicher's aircraft crashed in the desert west of Baghdad.

    During the shootdown of LCDR Speicher's aircraft, no

     

    1

    UNCLASSIFIED

    UNCLASSIFIED

    parachute was seen - it was nighttime-and neither combat search-and-rescue resources nor intelligence revealed any indication that LCDR Speicher tried to signal by radio, beacon, or other means. We judge that this information is inconclusive with regard to the fate of LCDR Speicher; the lack of observed parachutes and radio calls or other signals are not definitive indicators of a pilot's fate.

     

    Iraqi Repatriations ... No-Accounting for LCDR Speicher

    Shortly after the Desert Storm cease-fire, Iraq began repatriating captured Coalition personnel. With the exception of LCDR Speicher (and a Saudi Arabian pilot), all other Coalition airmen downed over land during the war with Iraq were accounted for. Baghdad either released the airmen or returned remains that were later positively identified. (2) We judge that the regime was aware of Western press reports during the war that indicated LCDR Speicher was dead. Therefore, Baghdad probably did not feel compelled to accurately account for LCDR Speicher. The absence of contacts between LCDR Speicher and US forces after his ejection or with other Coalition prisoners of war (POWs) is an inconclusive indicator of LCDR Speicher's fate.

     

    False Remains

    In March 1991, Iraq returned a small amount of human remains and identified the remains as a pilot named "Mickel." Laboratory results revealed the remains were human, but not those of LCDR Speicher. Saddam's regime probably hoped the unidentified remains would satisfy Washington. Baghdad has since claimed that LCDR Speicher was devoured by animals and that no remains were found.

     

    Crash Site Survey and Excavation

    In December 1993, a US F/A-18 crash site in Southwestern Iraq was located and US authorities were notified. The wreckage was confirmed to be that of LCDR Speicher's aircraft. The site was located on imagery in April 1994, using US U-2 imagery taken in 1991. On 14 February 1995, the ICRC, at the request of the USG, contacted Iraq about the US plan to excavate an F/A-18

     

    2

    UNCLASSIFIED

    UNCLASSIFIED

    crash site in Iraq. Baghdad delayed the matter until late October 1995 when Iraqi permission for the team's entry was obtained.

    The team was in Iraq from 9-16 December. The investigators passed the approximate location of the crash site to their Iraqi contacts on the night of 9 December. The ICRC team traveled to the location the next morning. The ICRC team found evidence that the site had been expertly searched within one month prior to the team's arrival: the Iraqis excavated the cockpit area of the wreckage and removed all significant cockpit debris. A US Navy F/A-18 aircraft mishap investigator who participated in the 1995 ICRC excavation also believed the wreckage was likely examined in the month preceding the survey but that major portions of the cockpit and instrument bay section were removed years prior to the ICRC team's arrival.

     

    Analysis of the wreckage by US Navy experts concluded that LCDR Speicher initiated the ejection sequence, jettisoned the canopy, and likely ejected from the stricken aircraft prior to the crash. The canopy was located near the crash site; the ejection seat could not be found. Investigators were able to examine other parts of the aircraft including large portions of the wings and the fuselage behind the cockpit, the canopy frame, the engines, and wing pylons. In addition, the team recovered a data storage unit and fragments of life support equipment, as well as a flight suit handed over by the Iraqis. (see below)

     

    US Navy analysis of the F/A-18 wreckage resulting from the 1995 crash-site excavation showed the forward part of LCDR Speicher's aircraft suffered a catastrophic event in the early morning hours of 17 January 1991. At the time of the first impact LCDR Speicher's F/A-18 was at 28,000 feet and traveling at .92 Mach (540 kts). The Hornet suffered a power loss, prior to the canopy being jettisoned. Evidence indicates the impact threw the aircraft laterally off its flight path at least 50 to 60 degrees, subjecting the aircraft to a minimum 6-G load . (3)

     

    3

    UNCLASSIFIED

    UNCLASSIFIED

    US Navy investigators concluded that the pilot was not incapacitated by the initial incident. Flight surgeons and aircraft life support systems experts believe LCDR Speicher would have had at least 85 to 90 percent chance of surviving (with second-degree burns to exposed skin) the resultant flash heat and fire and aerodynamic forces of the initial impact that brought down his aircraft. According to several Gulf war veterans and US military aircrew, LCDR Speicher was probably well protected from the flash fire by his flight gear.

     

    During the December 1995 survey, the Iraqis directed ICRC team members to the flight suit which was purportedly "found" by a Bedouin boy, but the official Casualty Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI) examination of the suit concluded it showed minimal weathering and adherent soil. We believe the Iraqis planted the flight suit. Near the site where the Iraqis claimed the uniform was "discovered," a few samples of other pilot-related materials were found. Some or all of these items may not have originated in the area in which they were recovered, according to the investigation's results. (4) US Navy experts assessed that the flight suit was the right type and the same size as the suit worn by LCDR Speicher. They also determined that the location and shape of the velcro used to affix patches was correct for LCDR Speicher and his unit. The condition of the returned flight suit also indicates that the aviator was not in the aircraft at ground impact. Specialists determined that damage to the recovered flight suit indicates exposure to a few seconds of heat. Also, the flight suit showed only a trace of possible blood. We can only speculate as.to why the Iraqis chose to return the flight suit. They may have calculated that they had to produce some evidence related to the pilot in order to appear cooperative and put an end to further inquiries. They could have altered the evidence to mislead investigators.

     

    According to US Navy data, noncombat F/A-18 ejection statistics reveal that 90 percent of pilots survive. This same data shows that of the pilots who ejected over land and survived, 70 percent were injured in some way. Navy experts assessed that LCDR Speicher probably was injured during the

     

    4

    UNCLASSIFIED

    UNCLASSIFIED

    ejection and parachute landing. These injuries could have resulted from parachute opening shock and from his parachute landing. A review of postwar reporting from downed aircrew indicates some were seriously injured by their ejection and parachute landing, while others suffered relatively minor injuries or survived unscathed. (5) The Iraqis could have cut-off the suit because they did not know how to properly release the various fasteners or were perhaps trying to intimidate their captive. The cuts also could indicate the pilot was injured, unconscious or deceased when the uniform was removed. Alternatively, the Iraqi regime may have altered the flight suit (for example, by cutting) to deceive foreign investigators.

     

    We do not know if LCDR Speicher survived the ejection sequence or subsequent landing, but the lack of crash-site evidence of LCDR Speicher's death, US Navy statistical data associated with F/A 18 incidents, and the condition of the returned flight suit suggest that he probably survived the crash of his F/A-18.

     

    Conclusion

    The way Baghdad has handled the case-falsely suggesting that remains returned in 1991 were those of LCDR Speicher, tampering with the F/A-18 wreckage before the 1995 crash site excavation, planting the flight suit for crash investigators to find, and declining to account accurately for LCDR Speicher¡raises troubling questions about his fate

     

    The regime made it a high priority to capture enemy personnel or recover remains inside Iraqi-controlled territory, and Baghdad would have thoroughly investigated the matter until the pilot was captured or the remains recovered. Baghdad's efforts to recover Coalition airmen downed over Iraqi-controlled territory were highly successful.

     

    We judge that Baghdad was aware of January 1991 western press reports that a US aircraft was shot down over Iraq on the first night of the war and that the pilot was believed to be the first US casualty of Desert Storm. The press reports would have

     

    5

    UNCLASSIFIED

    UNCLASSIFIED

    caused Iraqi intelligence to investigate and the information very likely helped Baghdad focus its search for the wreckage and the pilot.

     

    We assess LCDR Speicher was either captured alive or his remains were recovered and brought to Baghdad.

     

    6

    UNCLASSIFIED

    1. On 11 January 2001, LCDR Speicher's status was changed to Missing in Action (MIA)

    2. Baghdad released 21 US military personnel to the custody of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on 4 and 5 March 1991. Saddam was quick to order the release of Coalition POWs and return remains to avoid further military attacks by Coalition forces.

    3. Sources: A report from Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC) weapons Division, China Lake, to Casualty Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI) and DPMO dated 26 February 1996, entitled 'Investigation of Aviation Life Support System Equipment Recovered near F/A-18 BUNO 163470, Crash Site in the western Region of Iraq.' A memo from COMNAVSAFECEN to CILHI and DPMO dated 15 February 96, entitled 'DPMO/CILHI Aircraft Mishap Investigation F/A-18C BUNO 163470.1 Memo from Joint ICRC-Iraqi recovery-team anthropologist to Commander, CILHI, dated 19 March 1996, entitled 'Search and Recovery Report, 41/CIL/96, An F/A-18 Aircraft Crash Site in the Vicinity of Tulul ad al-Dulaym, Wadi Thumayl, Republic of Iraq, 10-15 December 1995."

    4. Six fragments of an anti-G garment of the type used by LCDR Speicher were recovered, as were portions of an ejection seat upper leg garter, a signal flare, fragments of a life raft and a portion of a parachute protective cover (all consistent with the equipment types issued to F/A-18 pilots). None of these items were apparently exposed to heat.

    5. Additional injuries were often inflicted by Iraqi soldiers immediately after capture. Returnees report being shoved to the ground, kicked, and beaten with rifle butts or other implements. Prisoners were also subjected to beatings and torture during formal interrogations at various headquarters and detention facilities throughout Iraq.

     

    From Roger Hall

    Subject: Lt. Cmdr. Michael Speicher

    To All concerned on America's POW:
    The 2001 Senate Intelligence Act included POWs coverage on cases going back to 1990. The Senate Intelligence bill originally included coverage of Vietnam era POWs, but the DOD fought this; when time ran out the Intelligence Committee had to settle on the 1990 limit. The limit does cover new live sighting reports on Vietnam cases received after 1990.

    It was pointed out that the Senate Armed Services Committee and Personnel subcommittee have not been getting any support, positive feedback, or pressure on the Lt. Cmdr. Michael Speicher case from the veteran's organizations. There is a feeling among some Senator's that there is little interest being shown in the Speicher case or the POW issue. Some Senators see the Speicher case as the best possibility of a live POW, but there is no veteran support. Furthering the Speicher case is a goal itself, but doing so will also bring needed support for Vietnam era cases.

    Without continued pressure on the Senate by the Legion and other veteran's groups nothing will be done. They need to hear Veteran's demands to do more, to account on what is being done for the return of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Speicher.

    Any help the Legion can bring to this important matter will help assure positive action by the committee for his safe return and not another remains case.

    Sincerely,
    Roger Hall 8715 First Ave.,
    apt 827C
    Silver Spring, MD 20910
    301/585-3361
    301/587-5055
     

     

    Resolution No. 457

     

    A FULL ACCOUNTING FOR COMMANDER SPEICHER

     

    WHEREAS, on January 16, 1991, Navy Lieutenant Commander Michael Scott Speicher became the first official U.S. casualty of the Persian Gulf War when his F-18 Fighter jet was shot down over Iraq; and

     

    WHEREAS, because no information was available to indicate that Commander Speicher survived the loss of his aircraft or his possible location on the ground, no search and rescue effort was launched either during his loss incident or immediately after the war ended, and

     

    WHEREAS, although the United States Navy declared Commander Speicher, “killed in action” in September 1991, the Department of Defense has continued to keep his case open to investigation, and

     

    WHEREAS, Iraq has not cooperated with the United States in the effort to gain a full accounting for Commander Speicher’s loss; and

     

    WHEREAS, no remains of Commander Speicher have ever been recovered and identified; and

     

    WHEREAS, a Qatari military officer discovered the wreckage of Commander Speicher’s aircraft in the desert in Iraq in December 1993, and reported it to U.S. officials; and

     

    WHEREAS, in 1995 a Pentagon team received Iraqi government approval to visit the crash site, and determined that Commander Speicher had ejected from his aircraft; and

     

    WHEREAS, U.S. officials have confirmed that the Pentagon recovery team also found Commander Speicher’s flight suit in the desert; and

     

    WHEREAS, in 1996, General John Shalikasvili, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is reported to have written the CIA requesting assistance in answering unresolved questions about Commander Speicher’s case; and

     

    WHEREAS, the news media has reported that an Iraqi defector in Jordan may have information about Commander Speicher’s case; and

     

    WHEREAS, based on the available evidence, it is impossible to determine whether or not Commander Speicher survived his crash; and

     

    WHEREAS, on July 19, 2000, Senate Concurrent Resolution 124 expressed the sense of the Congress with regard to Iraq’s failure to provide the fullest possible accounting of Commander Speicher and prisoners of war from Kuwait and nine other nations in violation of international agreements, now, therefore

     (continued)

    Page 2 - Resolution No.  457 - A Full Accounting for Commander Speicher

      

    BE IT RESOLVED, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, that we urge the Administration and Congress to continue an aggressive investigation into Commander Speicher’s fate until either he is recovered alive, his remains are recovered and identified, or until a full accounting of his fate can be determined.

     

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the government of Iraq to cooperate with the United States in the effort to account for Commander Speicher.

     

    Adopted by the 101st National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 19-25, 2000

     Resolution No.  457

     

    Lt. Cdr. Speicher Crashed in Iraq but was forgotten by his country--Left Behind
     

    by Mark D. Faram and Vivienne Heines--Special to the Times--(http://www.airforcetimes.com) Air Force Times Issue 19 February, 2001.

    "Bright flashes of anti-aircraft fire pulsated in the night sky approaching Baghdad. 

    Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher's F/A-18 Hornet thundered into the combat zone with nine others from his air wing off the aircraft carrier Saratoga.

    Operation Desert Storm had just begun, and this Jan. 17, 1991, U.S. strike was the first against Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces.

    After carrying out their mission to attack radar sites, the jets returned to the Saratoga.

    All except one. (Picture:"CBS 60 Minutes II Photo--Speicher is seen in a video made aboard the Saratoga shortly before his last mission.) 

    Speicher, 33, did not come back. Some of the aviators recalled a particularly bright explosion on the run near Baghdad. They thought Speicher was hit by an air-to-air missile and ejected. They hoped he would be found and brought home.

    But there was no search for the Navy pilot. No rescue mission. No body brought home. Alive or dead? Ten years, no answers.

    The Persian Gulf War's first casualty, Speicher remains the only person unaccounted for except as a disturbing mystery of that conflict.

    From KIA to MIA

    On Jan. 11, just six days shy of the 10-year anniversary of the start of the Persian Gulf War, Navy Secretary Richard Danzig changed Speicher's official status from killed in action to missing in action.

    The unprecedented change in status reflects the cumulative weight of information and political pressure that has come to bear in the case over a decade.

    Many in the military and the highest levels of government believe that Speicher was wrongfully written off right from the start.

    Some of his fellow squadron members were shocked that Navy leaders did not launch a search-and-rescue mission soon after Speicher went down.

    "My clear recollection was that nobody had thought he had been killed," said retired Cmdr. Bob Stumpf, a decorated fighter pilot who was in VFA-83, the sister squadron to Speciher's.

    He flew in the airstrike into Iraq with Speicher.

    "My thought was, 'The poor bastard is on the ground evading capture,'" Stumpf said.

    "There was no talk that he had been killed. There was no reason to think that."

    Yet, Navy leadership decided against any attempt to located the downed pilot.

    "The first report was that the plane disintegrated on impact; [there was] no contact with the pilot, we really don't believe anyone survived," retired Adm. Stan Arthur, commander of allied naval forces during the Gulf War, told the CBS News television program "60 Minutes." (Picture: A wing from Speicher's F/A 18 Hornet is seen in the Iraqi sand during a December 1995 U.S. visit to the site. The Defense Department added the arrow to the photo.)

    Since the crash, experts have speculated that Speicher didn't radio for help because his radio may have been lost in the aftermath of the hit on his jet, possibly during ejection.

    JoAnne Speicher, the missing pilot's widow and mother of their two children, sued the radio's maker, Motorola, alleging the product was defective and left him unable to communicate after the crash. The case was settled out of court. JoAnne Speicher has declined all media requests for interviews.

    Arthur who did not respond to multiple requests from Navy Times for interviews, also told "60 Minutes" that in retrospect, he regrets the decision to not search for Speicher.

    Within hours of Speicher's disappearance, then-Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney told reporters that an F/A-18 Hornet had been lost in the first attacks and the had been killed.

    Speicher's official status remained missing in action, but the declaration that he was killed ran contrary to what some aviators on the Saratoga believed.

    "We were very surprised the next day when the Defense Department announced that he had been killed. We assumed they had information we did not," Stumpf said.

    In fact, the Defense Department was operating on very little information.

    Stumpf said that Speicher's squadron commanding officer had him help pinpoint where Speicher likely went down.

    "I'm sure he tried really hard to get a rescue mission. But when you're on the ship, 700 miles away, you can only be told to shut up so many times."

    "It's such a metaphor for what's wrong with the country today," he said. "It seems to fit with the whole dismantling of the warrior culture. It's unwritten oath that we're not going to leave anyone out there."

    Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican from Speicher's home state of Kansas and member of the State Select Intelligence Committee, said that he believes Speicher's country let him down.

    "Without question, we lost one of our own, left him behind," Roberts said.

    Roberts and Sen. Bob Smith, R-New Hampshire, have been at the forefront of a campaign to raise the profile of Speicher's case and find the answer to his condition and whereabouts. (Picture: Crash Site--Location of the wreckage of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Speicher's F/A-18 Hornet)

    "My best judgment is that [Speicher] survived, was in the hospital and was later incarcerated," he told Navy Times. "We do not know what his current status is. It has been very frustrating."

    Dead or Alive?

    Capt. Tony Albano, who shared a stateroom with Speicher on the Saratoga and was a fellow member in the VFA-81 Sunliners, said Speicher was considered one of the squadron's top pilots.

    Albano, now on the staff of the deputy chief of naval operations for fleet liaison, had known Speicher since 1983 and last talked to him just before they suited up for the mission over Iraq.

    On the flight back to the carrier, Speicher could not be raised on the radio.

    "I didn't know what had happened. I didn't want to think the worst," Albano said. But Smith said there's strong evidence that Speicher survived the jet crash.

    "There is not one bit of evidence to suggest that Speicher perished in his aircraft," Smith said. "In fact, we have strong indications to the contrary that he did at least survive the ejection."

    "WE have no indications that he is still alive to day and yet no evidence that says he died."

    Over the past 10 years, the trail to the truth of what happened to Speicher has run hot and cold, through intriguing clues and confounding twists.

    A few weeks after the war ended, Iraq turned over a one pund package of what it said were Speicher's remains. DNA testing showed that it was not.

    In May 1991, the late Adm. Mike Boorda, then the Navy's personnel chief, approved a review board's recommended "finding of death" and Speicher's status was changed from missing to dead.

    The case went all but uninvestigated until December 1993, when an official from Qatar stumbled upon the wreckage of an aircraft in the Iraqi desert while hunting for rare falcons. He forwarded pictures to U.S. officials. Serial numbers in the photos matched Speicher's aircraft. The Qatari official said he saw an ejection seat near the site.

    U.S. forces planned a covert mission to comb the wreckage. But then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. John Shalikashvilli vetoed the mission as too risky to American lives.

    Americans didn't get to the the site for two years, until December 1995, when a Red Cross team and experts from the U.S. Central Identification Lab in Hawaii arrived with Saddam's permission.

    They found the site had been tampered with. There was no sign of Speicher or human remains.

    It was clear to the team that the aircraft crashed into the ground in one piece. (Picture: The canopy of Speicher's jet seen in 1995. When a businessman photographed the scene two years earlier, the canopy was flat.) Accident investigators determined that the pilot had initiated ejection. But there was no sign of the ejection seat the official from Qatar had reported seeing.

    Other evidence found was a flight suit, reportedly located by a Bedouin shepherd. The Iraqi escorts refused to allow U.S. investigators to interview the shepherd and suspected the flight suit might have been planted at the site to give the appearance that the pilot died there.

    Other "pilot-related materials" about a kilometer away included:
    --Six fragments of anti-G suit material.
    --An ejection-seat upper-leg fragment.
    --Three survival-raft fragments.
    --A survival-kit flare.
    --A parachute harness fragment.

    According to a memorandum dated January 1997 from Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Wilson of the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, or DPMO, the flight suit was "consistent with the one worn by LCDR Speicher" and the survival equipment appeared to have been cut with a sharp object.

    There were some blood stains, but none suggesting massive external bleeding, the memo said.

    DNA testing on the stains was found to be "inconclusive," said Larry Greer, spokesman for DPMO.

    "It was not a definite match," he said. "It was also not a definite exclusion."

    Still, the Navy on Sept. 30, 1996, "reaffirmed" it's previous ruling that Speicher was dead, even though the investigators clearly believed that Speicher ejected.

    'The system failed'

    Roberts and other members of Congress were becoming increasingly unhappy with the handling of Speicher's case.

    "In July 1999, we asked the intel community to conduct an inquiry," Roberts said. "It took 18 months but it happened."

    Stumpf says the move was long overdue.

    "The Navy and the Department of Defense have been dragging their feet on this. Once we had the wreckage located in '93, that's when we started making the really god-awful mistake of not going in there to investigate the crash site," Stumpf said.

    As a result, Roberts pushed for changes to the law that now require intelligence agencies to share all POW/MIA information.

    "The system failed, so we had to fix the system, to ensure that all available data is analyzed and that accurate determinations are made," Roberts said.

    Roberts said that in the few weeks since Speicher was listed as MIA, new sources have come forward with information.

    Though Iraq has yet to formally respond to a recent State Department inquiries about Speicher, the status change sends a strong message, Roberts said.

    "Iraq has to know that this will not stand," he said.

    Stumpf, who remains in contact with Speicher's family, described them as involved and concerned about the continuing search to discover what happened.

    "In the big picture, it is a good thing that we're getting off the ground on this thing. It's just a shame that it's taken so long."<<<

     

    New Leads Emerge on Missing Flier
    Gulf War: U.S. senator says pilot downed in 1991 may have survived and that recent reports back idea he could have been taken prisoner by Iraqis.

    By PAUL RICHTER, Times Staff Writer


         WASHINGTON -- Recent publicity about the first U.S. casualty of the 1991 Persian Gulf War has loosed an outpouring of new leads in the mysterious case, including information that could support the notion that the flier survived his crash and was taken prisoner by the Iraqis, according to a U.S. lawmaker.
         Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the leads have come to light since last month, when Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher was officially reclassified from "killed in action" to "missing in action."
         The leads still need to be verified, Roberts said. But he added: "We're getting a better picture that he certainly did survive the crash. . . . The jigsaw puzzle of what happened to Michael Speicher is becoming more complete."
         Roberts declined to identify the sources of information except to say that people with knowledge of the case contacted U.S. authorities after the burst of worldwide media attention last month.
         Some of the sources, however, may be similar to the emigre Iraqis who over the years have given U.S. authorities tips that a Navy flier fitting Speicher's description was captured, hospitalized and held prisoner in Baghdad. The U.S. government has been skeptical of some of those accounts.
         Intelligence officials declined to elaborate on the new information.
         Speicher was on a mission to strike Iraqi radars on the first evening of the U.S. air assault on Iraq in January 1991. About 150 miles southwest of Baghdad, his F/A-18 Hornet was struck by an Iraqi-fired missile.
         Another U.S. flier said he saw Speicher's plane consumed in a fireball. Because the wingman saw no parachute open, and because the Navy received no radio signal from Speicher, officials assumed the flier was dead.
         The Navy did not conduct a search. And in 1994, when a hunting party from Qatar found the wreckage of the plane, Pentagon officials--despite internal dissent--decided that they did not want to risk U.S. lives pursuing Speicher's remains.
         In 1995, a U.S. team visited the crash site with a Red Cross escort and the permission of the Iraqi government. But the team found that the site had been dug up, presumably by the Iraqi government.
         Nevertheless, some clues suggested that Speicher had successfully ejected from the jet and survived the crash. A flight suit, apparently his, was found at a distance from the wrecked aircraft. And spy satellite photos showed man-made images on the desert floor, suggesting that Speicher, though unable to radio for help, might have tried to attract the attention of fellow U.S. pilots.
         Some U.S. veterans, and lawmakers such as Roberts and Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.), have argued that the military hasn't pushed hard enough to solve the mystery of Speicher's fate.
         U.S. officials, explaining the reclassification of Speicher, have said they still have no "hard evidence" that he is alive. And they say that many pieces of evidence are ambiguous or unverified.
         They say they had simply come to doubt that the earlier evidence, including the wingman's report, was sufficient to conclude that Speicher was killed in the crash.
         The Iraqis have consistently contended that Speicher did not survive the crash. After the State Department last month called on the Iraqis to give a more complete accounting of the case, Iraq denounced the pressure.
         Roberts said he has talked about the case with Vice President Dick Cheney, who was defense secretary during the war, and Donald H. Rumsfeld, the current defense secretary, and found their interest "keen." Roberts said the United States continues to try to coax more information from the Iraqis.
         Roberts acknowledged that it remains "very questionable" that Speicher is alive. But he said that some nights he wonders if Speicher wakes up in a Baghdad prison cell wondering, ' "Where is my country?' That's a haunting question."

     

    Subject: Fw: news release on Speicher
    Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2001 08:20:50 -0800
    Subject: CDR. SCOTT SPEICHER
    MR. PRESIDENT,
         I WAS THE COMMANDING OFFICER OF THE OTHER FA-18 SQUADRON ABOARD USS
    SARATOGA FLYING COMBAT MISSIONS DURING DESERT STORM. YOUR ADMINISTRATION
    REFUSED THE US AIR FORCE REQUEST TO ATTEMPT TO DETERMINE THE STATUS OF, AND
    RESCUE IF POSSIBLE, CDR SCOTT SPEICHER, UNITED STATES NAVY IN 1994-1995.
    EXPLAIN TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND PARTICULARLY TO US  SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN
    WHY YOU FEEL THAT THEIR HEALTH AND WELFARE PARTICULARLY DURING AND AFTER A
    COMBAT SITUATION DOES NOT DESERVE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF "RISK" IN RETURNING
    OUR FOLKS DEAD OR ALIVE TO THEIR FAMILIES?
    AMERICANS WHO SERVED THEIR COUNTRY IN UNIFORM UNDERSTAND RISK AND THE
    COURAGE IT TAKES TO MAKE HARD DECISIONS. I AM INTERESTED, WITH ONLY A HANDFUL OF
    DAYS LEFT IN YOUR TERM, WHY YOU ARE  ADVERTISING THIS "CLASSIFIED" NEWS NOW?
    DENNIS M. GILLESPIE
    CAPTAIN, USN (RET)

     

     

    Image of Pentagon oval, linked to Defense News page   United States Department of Defense
    NEWS RELEASE
    On the web: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jan2001/b01112001_bt016-01.html
    Media contact: newsdesk@osd.pentagon.mil or +1 (703) 697-5131
    Public contact: defenselink@osd.pentagon.mil or +1 (703) 697-5737
    No. 016-01
    IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 11, 2001

    NAVY CHANGES STATUS OF CMDR. MICHAEL SCOTT SPEICHER

    Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig has changed the status of Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher from Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered (KIA/BNR) to Missing in Action (MIA). Speicher's F/A-18 aircraft was shot down by enemy fire in the first day of the air war over Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991. He was placed in an MIA status the next day. On May 22, 1991, following a Secretary of the Navy status review board that found "no credible evidence" to suggest he had survived the shootdown, his status was changed to KIA/BNR.

    In December 1995, working through the International Committee of the Red Cross, investigators from the Navy and Army's Central Identification Laboratory entered Iraq and conducted a thorough excavation of the crash site. In September 1996, based on a comprehensive review of evidence accumulated since the initial KIA/BNR determination, the Secretary of the Navy reaffirmed the presumptive finding of death.

    Over the years since that determination was made, the Navy and the U.S. government have consistently sought new information and continued to analyze all available information to resolve Speicher's fate. This additional information and analysis, when added to the information considered in 1996, underscored the need for a new review.

    Based on the review, Danzig has concluded that Speicher's status should be "Missing in Action."

     

     

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    DPMO LogoDefense POW/MIA Weekly Update

    [FrontPage Include Component]

    January 18, 2001

    DESERT STORM REPORTS CLARIFIED

    Air Force and Navy officials have clarified information related to accounting for American casualties during Desert Storm. One media report indicated that most of the crew of the Air Force's AC-130 "Spirit 03" were still listed as "killed in action, body not recovered." However, that report was based on outdated information. According to the Air Force, all crewmembers of "Spirit 03" were recovered, and buried in individual funerals.

    Two U.S. Navy aviators are still listed as KIA/BNR from combat in Desert Storm. They are Lieutenant Commander Barry T. Cooke and Lieutenant Robert J. Dwyer.

    NAVY CHANGES STATUS OF CMDR. MICHAEL SCOTT SPEICHER

    Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig has changed the status of Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher from Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered (KIA/BNR) to Missing in Action (MIA). Speicher's F/A-18 aircraft was shot down by enemy fire in the first day of the air war over Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991. He was placed in an MIA status the next day. On May 22, 1991, following a Secretary of the Navy status review board that found "no credible evidence" to suggest he had survived the shootdown, his status was changed to KIA/BNR.

    In December 1995, working through the International Committee of the Red Cross, investigators from the Navy and Army's Central Identification Laboratory entered Iraq and conducted a thorough excavation of the crash site. In September 1996, based on a comprehensive review of evidence accumulated since the initial KIA/BNR determination, the Secretary of the Navy reaffirmed the presumptive finding of death.

    Over the years since that determination was made, the Navy and the U.S. government have consistently sought new information and continued to analyze all available information to resolve Speicher's fate. This additional information and analysis, when added to the information considered in 1996, underscored the need for a new review.

    Based on the review, Danzig has concluded that Speicher's status should be "Missing in Action."

     

     

    SYNOPSIS: Scott Speicher was raised in Kansas City. When he was 
    in high school, the Speicher family moved to Jacksonville, Florida. 
    Scott continued his education at Florida State University, receiving a
    degree in accounting and management.
    Speicher went on to join the U.S. Navy and receive flight training. 
    During the Mid-East Crisis, Speicher was one of 2,500 airmen 
    assigned to the USS SARATOGA in the Red Sea. Speicher was
     part of a fighter squadron and flew the F18 "Hornet" fighter/bomber.
    On January 18, 1991, Speicher's aircraft was hit by an Iraqi SAM
    (surface-to-air missile) and crashed during the first Coalition offensive of
    the war dubbed "Operation Desert Storm." Initial reports by Defense
    Secretary Dick Cheney stated that Speicher had been killed. One military
    source said reports indicated the aircraft had "exploded to bits" in the
    sky, apparently having suffered a direct SAM hit.
    Iraqi officials soon announced the capture of American pilots. It was
    originally believed the chances of Speicher's ejection were slim, but the
    books were not closed on Speicher. He was the first American to be listed
    Missing in Action. Most recent media reports indicate that he was 
    probably "confirmed killed." Although Secretary of Defense 
    Dick Cheney has said Speicher was killed, he is still officially listed
     missing in action.
    The Methodist church in Florida where Scott Speicher has been a Sunday
    School teacher has held prayer and candlelight vigils for his safety. They
    have not given up hope that he is still alive.
    In the first days of March, 1991, 21 American POWs were released by the
    Iraqis. Scott Speicher has not yet been released.
    Those who recall the abandonment of American POWs in World War II,
     Korea and Vietnam are watching carefully, determined that men like 
    Speicher will be returned alive, or fully accounted for, before American
     troops leave the Middle East when hostilities cease.
    Scott Speicher and his wife Joanne have two children, a daughter, age 3,
     and a son, age 1. All live in Jacksonville, Florida. Speicher's father, 
    Wallace Speicher, was a Navy pilot in World War II.
    As of May 1997, Michael Speicher is still unaccounted for. His status,
    Missing in Action, changed to KIA shortly after his incident. Although
    the USG has excavated what they believe to have been the plane's crash
    site, no remains were found. The USG also stated, prior to the
    excavation, that all men were accounted for.
    

     

    Navy Changes Status of Gulf War Pilot
    Updated 7:14 PM ET January 10, 2001
    This is an Undated Photo of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Speicher. (AP)
    By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
    WASHINGTON (AP) - In a highly unusual move, the Navy has changed
    the status of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Speicher, shot down in an F-18
    fighter on the opening night of the 1991 Gulf War, from killed in
    action to missing, officials said Wednesday.
    Navy Secretary Richard Danzig notified the Speicher family of
    the decision Wednesday, according to officials in the office of
    Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., who has long challenged the Pentagon's
    official "finding of death" for Speicher. The officials discussed
    the matter on condition they not be identified. Pentagon officials
    confirmed the information.
    Pentagon officials said Danzig acted because of substantial
    evidence that Speicher may not have died in the crash.
    "It's substantial in nature, in the totality," one official
    said. He would not elaborate. The official said the State
    Department sent a new diplomatic note to Baghdad demanding that the
    Iraqi government tell all it knows about Speicher's fate.
    Last March, Smith and Sen. Rod Grams, R-Minn., asked Danzig to
    change Speicher's status to missing in action, reflecting evidence
    of doubt about whether he survived the crash. Smith met with Danzig
    again Dec. 20 on the matter, officials said.
    In a letter dated Dec. 18, Sandy Berger, President Clinton's
    national security adviser, told Smith a recent intelligence
    assessment "has stimulated a high-level review of this case -
    several new actions are under way and additional steps are under
    intense review."
    Berger's letter, which was provided to The Associated Press on
    Wednesday, did not specify what actions were contemplated.
    Speicher, of Jacksonville, Fla., went missing when his Navy F-18
    Hornet was shot down on Jan. 16, 1991, in an air-to-air battle with
    an Iraqi fighter. He was the first American lost in the war and the
    last still unaccounted for.
    The late Adm. Mike Boorda, then the chief of naval operations,
    approved the official "finding of death" on May 22, 1991. That
    action changed his official status from missing in action to killed
    in action.
    In September 1998, after efforts by Smith and Grams to learn
    more about what U.S. intelligence agencies knew of Speicher's fate,
    the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was given a classified
    chronology of the agencies' activities on the matter.
    "We strongly believe that the information contained therein
    supports the request we are making of you with this letter," Smith
    and Grams told Danzig in a letter last March. They did not cite any
    specific evidence, which is classified secret.
    The senators said they were informed March 12 by the Defense
    Department's POW-Missing Personnel Office that its position on
    whether the available evidence indicates Speicher perished in the
    crash of his plane is, "We don't know."
    Smith and Grams have said before that Pentagon officials
    initially told them evidence had not been found to indicate that
    Speicher could have survived the crash. However, in May 1994 - more
    than three years after Speicher went missing - Pentagon officials
    indicated in a secret memorandum that a U.S. spy satellite had
    photographed a "manmade symbol" at the crash site earlier that
    year. Some military officers said they interpreted the symbol as a
    sign that the Navy pilot might have survived the crash.
    Speicher was the only American killed on Iraqi territory whose
    remains were not recovered.
    A plan was devised in 1994 to conduct a covert operation into
    Iraq to search the crash site for clues to Speicher's fate, but it
    was scrapped in December 1994 by Army Gen. John Shalikashvili, then
    the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The general ruled the
    risk of casualties was too high to justify the secret mission.
    In 1995, U.S. crash site specialists from the Defense
    Department, working with the International Committee of the Red
    Cross, entered Iraq with President Saddam Hussein's permission.
    When they got to the crash site they found it had been excavated,
    The New York Times reported in December 1997.

    US Changes Pilot Status to 'Missing' After Gulf War
    Updated 7:58 AM ET January 11, 2001
    By Charles Aldinger
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In an unusual step, the Navy has
    decided to change the status of a U.S. fighter pilot shot down
    over Iraq early in the 1991 Gulf War from "killed in action" to
    "missing in action" because of evidence that he may have survived
    the crash, Navy officials said on Thursday.
    Navy Secretary Richard Danzig on Wednesday notified relatives
    of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher, who had been listed as
    killed since shortly after the war, according to the officials,
    who asked not to be identified.
    Speicher became the first American lost on the first day of
    the air war when his Navy F-18 attack jet was apparently hit and
    crashed in a fireball during a battle with Iraqi jets on Jan. 17,
    1991.
    Although no wreckage was initially found, defense officials
    said Pentagon documents showed U.S. spy satellites more than
    three years later detected what was described as a man-made
    symbol at the crash scene. They declined to give details.
    Although most of the information in the case is classified,
    officials said a flight suit that could have been Speicher's was
    more recently found lying on the surface of the desert.
    The New York Times reported on Thursday that the  Defense
    Department intended to use Speicher's new "MIA" status to press
    Iraq for a full accounting on what might have happened to the
    pilot.
    In 1990, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ordered an invasion of
    neighboring Kuwait, triggering the Gulf War in which the United
    States led an allied force against Iraq.
    RESCUE CONSIDERED, REJECTED
    A senior Navy official said the move by Danzig was the latest
    step in a saga that began after a Navy review board approved
    listing Speicher as killed in action in May 1991 because there
    had been no communication from the pilot and no wreckage was
    initially found.
    "Since then, evidence has come in and things have now reached
    critical mass. We almost made the change three years ago, but we
    can do so now," the official told Reuters.
    Nearly three years after the jet was downed, a hunting party
    found the wreckage. The leader of the group, a military officer
    from another Gulf country, provided U.S. officials with
    photographs of the wreckage, according to the defense officials.
    After the symbol was subsequently detected on the desert,
    officials said, there was a debate in high Pentagon military
    circles on whether to send a secret rescue mission to the area to
    search for the pilot. But the Times reported that then-Joint
    Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. John Shalikashvili rejected such a
    move as too dangerous, they said.
    The Times said that the Pentagon instead sent investigators
    to the region under the auspices of the International Committee
    of the Red Cross and with permission from Hussein.
    The officials confirmed to Reuters that the site had by then
    been excavated and that former Navy Secretary John Dalton in 1996
    reaffirmed that Speicher, who had been based in Jacksonville,
    Florida, had been killed in the crash.

     

    Lt. Cmdr. Michael S. Speicher: Expendable
    There is no chance Lt. Cmdr. Michael S. Speicher survived, Defense
    Secretary Dick Cheney assured the American people within hours of the
    Navy pilot's failure to return to the aircraft carrier Saratoga on the
    night of Jan. 16, 1991. He was last heard from over Iraqi flying
    northeast toward Baghdad
        
    Speicher, 33, of Jacksonville, Fla, was the first U. S. pilot shot down
    in the Gulf War. He left a wife, a 3-year-old daughter and a 1-year old
    son.
        
    On Jan. 18, 1991, less than 48-hours after Speicher became missing, the
    Pentagon said his single-seat FA-18 Hornet fighter bomber was shot down
    by an Iraqi surface-to-air missile. The plane "exploded to bits" in the
    sky after being hit.
        
    "Evidently, pieces of the plane were strewn all over the Iraqi landscape
    and Speicher's wing mates saw it happen," the official said.
        
    So, if Speicher and his aircraft "exploded to bits" all over the Iraqi
    sky in 1991, why, in December 1995, did a Pentagon team go to Iraq On a
    secret mission to look at the wreckage of Speicher's fighter and to
    search for his remains?
        
    The search mission, which was led by the International Committee of the
    Red Cross and undertaken with the approval of Iraqi President Saddam
    Hussein, found the wreckage virtually intact and upside down.
        
    Pentagon spokesman Bev Baker said the U.S. team, which conducted a 
    weeklong excavation and search of the site, found "no human remains"
     in the wreckage or around the crash site.
        
    Evidence is now surfacing indicating that Speicher parachuted from his
    plane, landed safely, was alive on the ground and later captured. These
    revelations have the Pentagon scrambling for cover. Naval intelligence
    is now saying they were never sure why Speicher's plane disintegrated in
    midair. They now conclude he either had a freak midair collision with an
    Iraqi MIG-25 or that the enemy plane shot him out of the sky.
        
    Pentagon officials told the press in December that a parry of hunters
    discovered the crash site of Speicher's Navy FA-18 two years ago and
    that as a result, a U.S. spy satellite photographed the crash site.
    Intelligence officials conveyed the images to the POW/MIA office at the
    Defense Department. Secretary of State Warren Christopher contacted the
    Red Cross in Baghdad and requested its assistance.
        
    "Not exactly," a Capitol Hill source familiar with the case told the
    U.S. Veteran Dispatch.
        
    "A couple of years ago, Naval Intelligence picked up a story that
    Speicher had survived the shoot down and was captured by the Iraqis,"
    the source explained.
        
    "As a result, Pentagon intelligence went back and looked at old
    satellite imagery of the Speicher crash site which was in a wasteland
    far from civilization. Beside Speicher's ejection seat located on the
    ground several miles away from the wreckage of the aircraft' the
    analysts found the image of a two-letter Escape and Evade (E and E)
    symbol used by downed pilots to indicate they are alive and want to be
    rescued.
        
    "They also checked the debriefs of other pilots who had been shot down
    and released from Iraq. They may have even reinterviewed some of the
    former prisoners. One pilot said he was told by his Iraqi captors that
    'the guy in the FA-18 shot down on the first day is on the run and
    we're going toe catch him," the source said.
        
    When asked if it was true that the Pentagon had satellite imagery of
    Speicher's ejection seat and E and E code, Baker said "The Pentagon does
    not discuss intelligence reports."
    She said it was still the position of the Department of Defense that
    Speicher was killed in action, body not returned, and that pilot
    observation remained the basis of that conclusion.
        
    The U.S. government's rush to declare Speicher dead is a glaring example
    of the Pentagon's secret policy of writing off military personnel who
    become captured or missing during a conflict as "expendable."
        
    As servicemen and women start falling into the hands of an enemy, the
    Pentagon simply declares them missing in action and denies all knowledge
    of Americans being captured. If some of the missing are resumed alive at
    the end of hostilities, it is a plus for the Pentagon. For those who are
    not returned, it is easier for the Pentagon to close the book by
    declaring them killed in action, body not returned.
        
    Even after Cable News Network (CNN) reported Iraq's minister of
    information saying that American pilots had been captured and that
    reporters would be allowed to meet with them, the Pentagon denied
    knowledge of any Americans being captured.
        
    "We know of no American prisoners of war," Lt. Gen. Thomas Kelly,
    operations director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said when asked by
    reporters if Iraq were holding any U.S. prisoners of war.
        
    Only after video interviews of allied POWs were broadcast on Iraqi
    television and later in the United States did the Pentagon officially
    declare that the Iraqis were holding U.S. prisoners.
        
    It was nearly two weeks after 20-year-old Army Spec. Melissa
    Rathbun-Nealy and 23 year-old Amy Spec. David Lockett disappeared
     before the Pentagon officially declared them missing in action.
        
    The Pentagon had held the two absent without leave (AWOL) despite
    eyewitness accounts from American servicemen who saw them being 
    captured and reports that a captured Iraqi soldier had said he helped 
    transport two Americans, a white female and a black male (Nealy is 
    white and Lockett is black.) to Basra, a key Iraqi command center 
    north of Kuwait.
        
    Nealy's father, Leo Rathbun, took matters into his own hands and
    appealed directly to Saddam Hussein asking him to acknowledge his
    daughter as a prisoner of war.
        
    Rathbun told The Grand Rapids Press that he did not want his daughter
    forgotten if a peace plan calling for the release of all prisoners were
    ta be signed.
        
    "The Army has not recognized Melissa as a POW and if the war ends, I
    believe the Bush administration would ignore the problem of MIAs and
    POWs just as previous administrations ignored the MIAs and POWs still
    thought to be held in Vietnam," Rathbun said in the interview.
        
    Neither the U.S. or Iraqi governments officially acknowledged that Nealy
    and Lockett were prisoners of war until they were released in February
    1991.
        
    Is Speicher alive? There certainly is evidence that he was alive after
    being shot down and in the absence of credible evidence proving him
    dead, all Americans must demand his immediate release.
        
    Dozens more like Speicher are missing as a result of the war with Iraq
    and only the Pentagon knows exactly how many.
        
    The Pentagon has always lied to the American people about U.S.
    servicemen known to be captives of an enemy. The Lying is as deadly for
    the captured and missing as an enemy bullet and it is time for it to
    stop. We must demand that our government be absolutely honest and
    accurate in accounting for our missing servicemen.
        
    Otherwise, those brave men and women now serving our country in Bosnia
    will also be treated as expendable, abandoned to the enemy and allowed
    to disappear.
        
    That is exactly what happened to Lt. Cmd. Speicher and many unfortunate
    U.S. servicemen captured in Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam and in the
    Gulf.
        

     

    March 19, 1999
          
         The Honorable Richard Danzig
         Secretary of the Navy
         Pentagon, Room 4E686
         Washington, D.C. 20350-1000
         
         Dear Secretary Danzig:
         
            We are writing to request that you use your authority under
         Title 37, USCS, Section 555 (a) and 556 (d) to reconsider and
         change or modify the "finding of death" determination made by the
         Secretary of the Navy's designee on May 22, 1991 with respect to
         Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher, USN.  We strongly believe, for
         the reasons noted below, that such action is indeed "warranted by
         information that has been received and other circumstances," as
         provided for in the above-cited law.  We have further been advised
         that status determinations with respect to Lt. Cmdr. Speicher are
         not currently covered by the Missing Persons Act, Title 10, USCS,
         Sections 1501-1510, as amended, thereby making action under Title
         37 appropriate.
         
            Lt. Cmdr. Speicher was the first American to be listed as
         missing in action when his F-18 was lost over Iraq during a combat
         strike mission in the first hours of the Gulf War in January, 1991.
         When the war ended, the Iraqi Government returned a "soft tissue
         fragment and hair bearing skin" which allegedly related to Lt.
         Cmdr. Speicher. However, subsequent DNA tests determined the
         remains were not those of Lt. Cmdr. Speicher.
         
            The Navy convened a Status Review Board on May 20, 1991 to
         consider the state of evidence at that time related to Lt. Cmdr.
         Speicher's loss.  On May 22, 1991, the late Admiral Mike Boorda,
         then Chief of Naval Personnel, approved and signed out the
         board-recommended "finding of death" which resulted in Lt. Cmdr.
         Speicher's status being changed from missing in action to killed in
         action.
            
            In December, 1993, a Qatari official and his hunting party came
         upon Lt. Cmdr. Speicher's aircraft wreckage in Iraq.  He
         immediately forwarded to U.S. military officials pictures of the
         plane's canopy, a shard of metal with serial numbers, and passed on
         his recollection of having seen the ejection seat as well.  Two
         years later, in December, 1995, U.S. crash site specialists from
         the Department of Defense were permitted to access the crash site,
         following coordination efforts between the Iraqi Government and the
         International Committee of the Red Cross.  The results of the
         crash-site investigation were briefed to the Congress in the winter
         and spring of 1996.  In December, 1997, we were further briefed on
         this matter by the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
         for International Security Affairs, Frederick Smith, in response to
         concerns generated by the attached New York Times story.
         
            In February, 1998, a classified follow-up briefing on this case
         was provided to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence by the
         Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO).  In
         September, 1998, pursuant to our earlier inquiries on this matter,
         the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense provided
         to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence a classified
         chronology outlining Intelligence Community activities bearing on
         the issues raised as a result of Lt. Cmdr. Speicher's loss.  The
         briefing materials and the chronology referenced above are
         available for your review.  We strongly believe that the
         information contained therein supports the request we are making of
         you with this letter.
         
            During the last three years, we understand that the Department
         of Defense has refused to authorize any further approaches to the
         Iraqi Government concerning the fate of Lt. Cmdr. Speicher "because
         of the state of U.S.-Iraqi relations."  Nonetheless, our offices
         were informed during a briefing we received on March 12, 1999 that
         the official publicly-stated position of the Department of Defense
         POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) with respect to whether the
         available evidence indicates Lt. Cmdr. Speicher perished in his
         aircraft incident, is "we don't know."  As you know, the DPMO is
         charged with developing, implementing, and overseeing policy on
         unaccounted for U.S. personnel for the Department of Defense.
         
            In view of the official position of the Department of Defense
         and the classified evidence now available to the Department of the
         Navy, we believe that the justification for the finding of death
         determination in May, 1991, is no longer valid and conclusive.  We,
         therefore, urge you to use your statutory authority to change the
         status of Lt. Cmdr. Speicher back to "missing in action" -- a
         status that more accurately reflects the available evidence and
         provides a presumptive "benefit of the doubt" to Lt. Cmdr.
         Speicher.  We owe nothing less to Lt. Cmdr. Speicher and his
         family.
         
            We look forward to your response, and thank you for your
         personal attention to this very important matter that deeply
         concerns us.
         
                                      Sincerely yours,
         
           <Signed>                                  <Signed>
            BOB SMITH                                 ROD GRAMS
            United States Senator                     United States Senator

     

    May 02, 2000
    CBS News | The First Casualty
    CBS NEWS BROADCASTS 
    The First Casualty 
    A Downed Gulf War Flier 
    Labeled 'Killed In Action' 
    But What Really Happened To Him? 
    (CBS) On January 17, 1991, the first night of the Gulf War, Lieutenant
    Commander Michael Scott Speicher was shot down over Iraq. He 
    became the conflict's first American casualty.
    But there's one problem: There is no evidence that he is dead. Bob Simon
    reports. 
    Speicher is the only American unaccounted for from the Gulf  war. When
    Speicher was officially declared killed in action in May of 1991, the U.S.
    military had never even looked for him. 
    Somewhere in the arid, desolate desert of western Iraq, Speicher's F-18
    crashed in darkness two hours after the war began. 
    Speicher was one of the best pilots on the aircraft carrier Saratoga. He
    wasn't supposed to fly on the first mission of  the war but he refused to be
    left behind. "When it just came down to flying the airplane, there was
    nobody like Spike," says Barry Hull, another pilot in Speicher's squadron. 
    On January 17, Hull, Speicher, and 32 other pilots took off at 1:30 a.m.
    from the USS Saratoga in the Red Sea. They were supposed to suppress 
    enemyair defenses west of Baghdad. It  was a very dangerous mission. 
     "The closer we got to Baghdad the more impressive the light show over
    Baghdad became," recalls Bob Stumpf, who was flying  two planes away 
    fromSpeicher. "It was just an incredible anti-aircraft barrage." 
    Eight minutes from the target, Stumpf was startled by a huge flash in the
    sky. He assumed the blast was a missile, but he didn't think that any planes
    had been hit. 
    The fighters continued toward the target and dropped their bombs. As they
    turned back toward the Saratoga, the pilots checked in over the radio.
    Speicher didn't check in. The pilots returned to the Saratoga just before
    dawn without him. 
    During their intelligence debriefings on the ship, Dave Renaud, who had 
    been the closest pilot to Speicher, reported seeing explosions five miles 
    away,in Speicher's direction, at the same time Stumpf had witnessed that
     largeflash in the sky. Renaud reported the plane had been blown to bits.
     He evendrew a little circle on his map where he thought he had seen 
    the fireball. 
    "The first report was 'airplane disintegrated on impact; no contact with the
    pilot; we really don't believe that anyone was able to survive the impact,'"
    says Admiral Stan Arthur, commander of all Allied Naval Forces in the
    Persian Gulf. 
    A few hours after the first mission had returned to the ships, Secretary of
    Defense Richard Cheney held a press conference in Washington. On the
     basis of one account of a flash in the night sky and 12 hours of
    radio silence, Secretary Cheney declared Speicher dead. 
    To Stumpf, the pronouncement seemed premature. 
    Why did Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney declare Speicher dead in
     the first hours of the Gulf War when there was no evidence to support it? 
    Cheney declined to comment. 
    Admiral Arthur says that because the Navy wasn't sure where Speicher had
    gone down, no search and rescue mission was launched. But the captain 
    of the Saratoga personally told Speicher's wife Joanne that "every effort 
    continues to be made to locate Scott." A week later, Speicher's
    commanding officer sent this message to Joanne, "All, repeat, all, theater
     combat search and
    rescue efforts were mobilized." 
    On March 7, 1991, right after the war, Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams
    assured Americans the military would continue to look for every missing
    soldier and flier. 
    When the POWs were released at the end of the war, Tony Albano, who
     was Speicher's roommate, was sent to Saudi Arabia in case Speicher 
    was among the prisoners being freed. He didn't see Speicher. 
    Weeks later, the Iraqis sent a pound and a half of flesh to the Americans,
    claiming it was the remains of a pilot named Michael. Speicher's first name
    was Michael and there was no other Michael among the missing. One 
    DNA test and the case would be closed forever. 
    Then things got strange. That spring, Victor Weedn, a forensic pathologist,
    tested the flesh. He said it did not come from Speicher. 
    Were Saddam and the Iraqis trying to hide something, or had they just
     made a mistake? 
    Apparently no one asked, because the next day, May 7, the Navy began 
    the process of officially  declaring Speicher KIA. "I was a little surprised
    at that because our test report didn't show that he was dead," Weedn
    says.
    Joanne Speicher was asked to sign off on this decision. She thought all
    search efforts had been exhausted, so she agreed. While most of the 
    country was celebrating its victory, a private memorial service was
     being held in Arlington National Cemetery. There was no body. 
    Speicher's case was closed. Then in December 1993 an Army general from 
    Qatar came to the western Iraqi desert, 150 miles southwest of Baghdad. 
    He and his party were hunting for rare falcons when they stumbled across 
    an American F-18.
    The condition of the nose suggested the plane had not disintegrated in the
    air. The Qatari took pictures, and pieces of the plane, to the American
    Embassy in Doha, the Qatari capital. The photos and a piece of radar
    equipment were sent to Washington, where a check was run on the serial
    numbers. The results stirred the Pentagon. Nearly three years after the
    Gulf War, Speicher's jet had been located. 
    The pictures showed that the canopy had come down away from the plane;
     this indicated that the pilot had tried to eject. 
    The Pentagon went back and checked the satellite imagery it used to track
    Scud launches during the war. It found a crash site, with the outlines of a
    jet in the sand - Speicher's F-18. The crash spot was right where his fellow
    pilot had said it was. But despite three years of assurances, no one in the
    U.S. government or the military had ever bothered to look for Speicher's
    plane. 
    Says Arthur: "You get this sinking feeling that there's something really
    wrong here, that you missed something." 
    Part II
    Years Later, Search For Flier Continues Is He Alive In Iraq? 
    Investigators Will Now Try To Find Out 
    (CBS) In April 1994, Admiral Stan Arthur, who sent Michael Scott 
    Speicher into battle, wanted to launch a covert mission into Iraq to
    check out the crash site. But some Pentagon policy officials were
     concerned about casualties. They wanted to ask Saddam for permission
     to go to the site under the Red Cross flag. 
    This approach enraged those who wanted the mission. "You don't preserve
    your options when you essentially announce to the Iraqi government that
    you know that you found a crash site, and you found something at the
    crash site that might lead you to conclude the pilot is alive," says Tim
    Connolly, who was then the deputy secretary of defense in charge of
    special operations as well as a Gulf War veteran with a Bronze Star.
    "Because if, in fact, the pilot is alive and being held by the Iraqis, the
    pilot isn't alive anymore." Connolly also wanted to launch a covert 
    mission.
    
    Classified documents show that the chance of success for a secret mission 
    was considered high. Connolly says that the area was very sparsely 
    populated. 
    At a meeting in December 1994 in the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense 
    William Perry and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of  Staff, General John
    Shalikashvili, decided how to approach the site.
    Connolly argued his case at the meeting. "I closed by saying, 'I will go out
    the door of this conference room and I will stand in the hall, and I will
    stop the first five people who walk by in military uniform, regardless of
    service or gender,'" Connolly recalls. "'I will explain to them what we are
    trying to do and ask them if they will get on the helicopter. And I will
    guarantee you that all five will get on the helicopter.' And then I shut my
    mouth. And the chairman said, 'I do not want to have to write letters home
    to the parents to tell them that their son or daughter died looking  for old
    bones.'" 
    The Pentagon nixed the covert mission. General Shalikashvili  would not 
    talk to us about his decision. 
    On March 1, 1995, Saddam agreed to allow American experts to visit the 
    crash site. But because of what Baghdad called  'unforeseen bureaucratic 
    delays,'the Americans didn't visit  for nine months. 
    When the U.S. team got there, they found the site had been tampered with.
    The cockpit was missing. The Iraqis had gotten there first. 
    But the Americans found a plane that had not disintegrated in the sky. 
    They found the canopy, which ejects with the pilot, about a mile from the
    aircraft. Spent flares and parts of a survival kit also were located. There
    was not a bone or a drop of blood or a trace of Michael Scott Speicher
    anywhere. 
    But toward the end of their six-day search, the Americans found a tattered
    flight suit. Albano, who has examined the suit, thinks it is Speicher's. 
    There were definite signs Speicher could have survived an ejection. But 
    when the crash team returned the Pentagon said that there was no 
    evidence that Speicher had survived. In fact, the investigators reported
     that the crash site provided no evidence Speicher had died. The Defense 
    Department now grudgingly acknowledges this. 
    "I don't believe we have any evidence that he's dead," says Connolly. 
    But if Speicher survived the crash, why didn't he send a rescue call on his
    radio? Pilots are repeatedly drilled on the importance of keeping their
    radios with them at all times during crashes. It is the key to getting
    rescued. 
    Minutes before Speicher took off, the pilots had been given new radios.
    These radios were larger than the previous models, and didn't fit in the
    vest pocket that had held the earlier models. 
    Even before the mission, the size of the radios worried Ted Phagan, who
    was in charge of the pilots' radios. "As the pilots are walking out I'm 
    telling them, 'you're gonna lose this radio if you have to eject,'" he recalls.
    Phagan thinks Speicher lost his radio when he ejected. (By the second 
    launch, Phagan had fixed the problem with a new flap.) 
    By mid-1996 even General Shalikashvili wrote to the CIA expressing his
    misgivings about Speicher's status. 
    Speicher is still listed as 'Killed In Action.' But with mounting evidence
    that he survived the crash, and without any evidence that he died, U.S.
    intelligence agencies are launching a new search. Investigators aren't
    ruling out the possibility - slim though it might be - that Speicher could
    be alive in Iraq.
    American investigators say an Iraqi defector who had recently escaped to
    Jordan told them that in the first days of the war, he had driven an
    American pilot from the desert to Baghdad and the authorities.
    The pilot, he says, was alive, alert, and wearing a flight suit. The
    defector pointed Speicher out in a photo lineup, and passed two lie detector
    tests. 
    The head of the Iraqi Air Force, General Khaldoun Khattab, says that Iraq
    freed all the prisoners after the war. "It's possible he was seriously
    injured after he ejected from the plane, and there are lots of wolves in the
    area," Khattab says. 
    The case may never be solved. Admiral Arthur is tormented by the 
    question of what happened to the flier. 
    "My worst fear was what happens if someday he shows up in Baghdad 
    on a TV screen and it's a surprise to everybody," says  Arthur. "How 
    would you explain that?" 
    

    Update as of 13 JAN 01

    'The Answer Lies In Baghdad'

    Pentagon Hunts Answers On Fate Of Gulf War Pilot Michael Speicher Clinton Says U.S. Will Do Everything It Can To Bring Him Home, If Alive Downed On First Night Of War, Evidence Suggests He Survived Crash

    (CBS) The U.S. State Department is awaiting word from Iraq for information about the fate of Lt. Cmdr. Michael "Scott" Speicher, a Navy pilot downed on the first night of the Gulf War 10 years ago.

    Speicher was listed as a combat death until Wednesday, when the Navy took the extraordinary step of changing his status from "killed in action, body not recovered" to "missing in action."

    The next day President Clinton told CBS Radio News that the U.S. government has information that "leads us to believe" that Speicher "might be alive."

    "We have some information that leads us to believe that he might be alive and we hope and pray that he is," the president told CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller. "We've already begun working to determine whether, in fact, he's alive and if he is where he is and how we can get him out … and we're going to do everything we can to get him out."

    The change came after new evidence emerged following a 60 Minutes II report by Correspondent Bob Simon suggesting Speicher might have survived the crash.

    "The answer lies in Baghdad," Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., who has spearheaded a campaign to find the truth behind Speicher's disappearance, said Friday on CBS The Early Show. "What we need to do now is get answers from Baghdad. This pilot, if he's alive, has been there for 10 years, with nobody looking for him. That's just plain outrageous."

    A State Department spokesman said Thursday that Iraq wasn't answering a diplomatic note requesting information on Speicher and accused the Iraqis of concealing the fate of the American pilot.

    The State Department transmitted the note through Iraq's interests section at the Algerian embassy in Washington and will try to get responses through Iraqi representatives at the United Nations in New York and in Geneva, Switzerland, spokesman Philip Reeker said.

    Reeker said the State Department believes Iraq has "information that could help resolve the case."

    Speicher's F-18 disappeared in a ball of fire over Iraq after an air-to-air battle with an Iraqi fighter. A search-and-rescue mission was never launched. His death was announced on Jan. 17, 1991 — the morning after the war started — by then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, the new vice-president elect.

    Three years later, the Pentagon came across startling evidence hinting that Speicher, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., might not have died. A U.S. spy satellite provided photos of the wreckage, including the cockpit canopy.

    Retired Admiral Stan Arthur told CBS, "The thing that got my attention immediately was the fact the pictures showed that the canopy was some distance away from the airplane."

    Arthur said that could mean "that an ejection attempt had most likely taken place."

    A plan was devised in 1994 to conduct a covert operation into Iraq to search the crash site for clues to Speicher's fate, but it was scrapped in December 1994 by Army Gen. John Shalikashvili, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    In 1995, U.S. crash site specialists from the Defense Department, working with the International Committee of the Red Cross, entered Iraq with President Saddam Hussein's permission.

    But when they got to the crash site they found that the area "had already been dug through and tampered with before we arrived," said Allen Liotta, deputy director of the Defense Department's office of missing personnel.

    Investigators said they found no ejection seat, and other key components were missing. There was an obvious plant - a flight suit believed to be Speicher's that appeared to clean to have been lying out in the desert for 10 years.

    "That's one of the pieces of this puzzle that just doesn't fit," Barry Hull, who flew off the Saratoga on the same mission with Speicher, said Friday on CBS' The Early Show. "If I get shot, the moment I pull that ejection handle, I'm no longer a pilot. At that point I'm a soldier and the last thing I'm going to do, running around in the desert, is take off my flight suit and walk around in my skivvies. It just doesn't make any sense."

    The presence of the flight suit clashed with the story the head of the Iraqi air force told 60 Minutes II.

    "It's possible he was seriously injured after he ejected from the plane, and there are lots of wolves in the area," said General Khaldoun Khattab. "Maybe he was attacked by wolves."

    Pentagon officials tell CBS News that since that story aired on 60 Minutes II they have come across additional evidence that Speicher was alive when he hit the ground.

    In a letter dated Dec. 18, Sandy Berger, President Clinton's national security adviser, told Smith a recent intelligence assessment "has stimulated a high-level review of this case — several new actions are under way and additional steps are under intense review."

    However, there is no known evidence to answer the question of whether he might still be alive.

    "My gut tells me he is probably dead, but there is no evidence that he's dead," Hull said. "We owe it to him to find out what happened to him."

    Speicher remains the only American unaccounted for from the Gulf War and the only American killed on Iraqi territory whose remains were not recovered. An empty grave bears his name in Arlington National Cemetery.



    Time To Talk?
    January 12, 2001 10:15 pm EST

    U.S. Request For Info On Pilot May Open Dialogue With Iraq

    BAGHDAD, JAN. 12, 2001 (CBS News) - This weekend a group of American religious and humanitarian leaders who think that U.S. policy towards Iraq is wrong will fly to Baghdad, defying sanctions set up since the Gulf War a decade ago.

    As CBS News Correspondent Allen Pizzey reports, in recent months, the number of such symbolic, sanction-breaking flights has grown. But opportunities for meaningful dialogue between the United States and Iraq remain few and far between.

    Informed sources here say senior Iraqis remain skeptical about any substantive exchange with the United States at governmental level, although it is not something they would reject, as long as it met their terms.

    Questions surrounding the fate of Lt. Cmdr. Michael "Scott" Speicher — a Navy pilot shot down on the first night of the Gulf War who was considered killed until his status was changed this week to "missing" — may have presented the Iraqis with a diplomatic windfall.

    So far there has been no official Iraqi response to demands for information about the missing pilot. As far as the Iraqis are concerned the only issue between them and Washington is sanctions, and any dialogue will have to revolve around them.

    Erosion of the U.N.-imposed embargo is evident everywhere in Baghdad. Markets are stacked with products from a dozen countries — including many at the forefront of the coalition alliance in the Gulf War.

    Canned goods from Europe are on offer, along with pasta from one-time enemy Iran, tomato paste from Turkey and American-made Louisiana hot sauce.

    But even with billions pouring in from oil sales that are enhanced by U.S. consumption, life for many ordinary Iraqis remains far worse than before sanctions came into effect 10 years ago.

    Humanitarian gestures like the Americans' flight here this weekend won't do much to change that, but they are a sign that the so-called "box" Washington thinks it has around Saddam Hussein is getting flimsier by the day.

    The sanctions against Iraq originated in a 1990 U.N. resolution and have been amended numerous times in the years since.

    U.N. Res. 661 of August 6, 1990, called for countries to keep "any commodities or products, including weapons or any other military equipment, whether or not originating in their territories but not including supplies intended strictly for medical purposes, and, in humanitarian circumstances, foodstuffs" out of Iraq, as well as "any funds or any other financial or economic resources."
    In April 1991, U.N. Res. 687 established a process for reviewing the sanctions periodically. Subsequent measures, passed on occasions when Iraq barred weapons inspectors, suspended and reinstated the reviews.

    In November 1997, the Security Council slapped a travel ban on Iraqi officials.

    Under the resolutions, sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors determine that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have been eliminated.

    Baghdad says some 1.5 million Iraqis may have died as a result of the sanctions. Two U.N. humanitarian commissioners for Iraq have resigned over the measures.

    But the U.S. State Department claims the sanctions have never prohibited the import of food, medicine, or humanitarian aid, and says Iraq controls its own fate — that cooperation with international requirements will bring an end to the sanctions.

    The sanctions cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors determine that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have been eliminated.

    Concerned by the deteriorating situation, the U.N. Security Council opened a loophole to its embargo in 1996 called the oil-for-food program. It has allowed Iraq to sell oil as long as about half the proceeds buy essentials for its people.

    Most of the rest goes to pay war reparations and U.N. administrative costs.



    PRESS RELEASE More Gulf War MIA's?

    Ten years after the Gulf War, the Department of the Navy has officially
    declared one of its own Missing in Action..

    On 17 Jan. 1991, LCDR Michael S. Speicher was shot down , and within hours
    was declared Killed In Action. In recent statements, the Pentagon claims
    that Speicher is the only person from the Gulf War who remains unaccounted
    for .

    This is not the case

    1. Lt. Robert J. Dwyer F/A 18 pilot from
    Wothington , Ohio was shot down 5 Feb. 1991 , and remains listed KIA/BNR
    (Killed in Action/Body Not Recovered)

    2. Lt. CDR. Barry T. Cooke A-6 Pilot from Austin Texas was lost on 2 Feb.
    1991 and remains listed KIA/BNR

    3. The following 10 of 14 United States Air Force personnel who
    were aboard an AC-130 are also listed as KIA/BNR

    Maj./USAF Paul J. Weaver,
    Capt./USAF Arthur Galvan ,
    1stLt/USAF Thomas Bland,
    SMSGT/USAF Paul G. Buege ,
    MSGT/USAF James B. May ,
    TSGT/USAF Robert Hodges ,
    SSGT/USAF John Oelschlager ,
    SSGT/USAF John Blessinger ,
    SSGT/USAF Timothy Harrison ,
    SSGT/USAF Barry Clark

    4. In the following story, Newsweek Magazine reported missing Special Forces
    personnel who are still unaccounted for.

    "Final Mission: Some covert warriors paid the ultimate price. Eleven Green
    Berets engaged in reconnaissance and sabotage around Baghdad are still
    missing in action, though their names have never been listed on any public
    MIA reports. Intelligence sources told NEWSWEEK that in late February, three
    commandos were hunting SCUDs in Iraq when their dune buggy overturned,
    breaking one man's back. The Army dispatched a Black Hawk helicopter into
    Iraq, piloted by a four-man crew from Task Force 160, a secret Army unit.
    After retrieving the commandos, the crew crashed in a Saudi dune, killing
    all seven on board. The Pentagon informed the public that the Blackhawk had been
    on a medical evacuation mission. even in death, the warriors of the Special
    Operations Command maintain their cover.

    NEWSWEEK MARCH 18, 1991
    Joshua Hammer with Douglas Waller
    in Washington



    Subject: Gulf War Statistics

    THE STORY IN NUMBERS

    [From VFW Jan 2001 Edition - www.vfw.org]
    Troops deployed in Persian Gulf (Aug 2, 1990 - July 31, 1991): 696,628
    Troops believed to have been exposed to chemical warfare agents: 100,000
    Troops who received pyridostigmine bromide: 250,000
    Troops who received botulism vaccine: 8,000
    Troops who received anthrax vaccine: 150,000
    Troops believed to have been exposed to depleted uranium [DU]: 436,000
    Source: National Gulf War Resource Center
    Gulf theater troops filing disability claims with the VA: 249,810
    VA claims granted: 192,024
    VA claims denied: 26,410
    VA claims pending: 31,376
    Source: VA Office of Public Affairs, July 15, 2000

         

     

    Lieutenant Commander Michael Scott Speicher, U.S. Navy

    Persian Gulf War's First Casualty


    106th CONGRESS

    2d Session

    S. CON. RES. 124

    CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

    Expressing the sense of Congress with regard to Iraq's failure to provide the fullest possible accounting of United States Navy Commander Michael Scott Speicher and prisoners of war from Kuwait and nine other nations in violation of international agreements.

     


    S. CON. RES. 124

    CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

    Whereas the Government of Iraq has not provided the fullest possible accounting for United States Navy Commander Michael Scott Speicher, who was shot down over Iraq on January 16, 1991, during Operation Desert Storm;

    Whereas in 1990 and 1991, thousands of Kuwaitis were randomly arrested on the streets of Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation;

    Whereas in February 1993, the Government of Kuwait compiled evidence documenting the existence of 605 prisoners of war and submitted its files to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which passed those files on to Iraq, the United Nations, and the Arab League;

    Whereas numerous testimonials exist from family members who witnessed the arrest and forcible removal of their relatives by Iraqi armed forces during the occupation;

    Whereas eyewitness reports from released prisoners of war indicate that many of those who are still missing were seen and contacted in Iraqi prisons;

    Whereas official Iraqi documents left behind in Kuwait chronicle in detail the arrest, imprisonment, and transfer of significant numbers of Kuwaitis, including those who are still missing;

    Whereas in 1991, the United Nations Security Council overwhelmingly passed Security Council Resolutions 686 and 687 that were part of the broad cease-fire agreement accepted by the Iraqi regime;

    Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 686 calls upon Iraq to arrange for immediate access to and release of all prisoners of war under the auspices of the ICRC and to return the remains of the deceased personnel of the forces of Kuwait and the Member States cooperating with Kuwait;

    Whereas United Nations Security Resolution 687 calls upon Iraq to cooperate with the ICRC in the repatriation of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, to provide the ICRC with access to the prisoners wherever they are located or detained, and to facilitate the ICRC search for those unaccounted for;

    Whereas the Government of Kuwait, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 686, immediately released all Iraqi prisoners of war as required by the terms of the Geneva Convention;

    Whereas immediately following the cease-fire in March 1991, Iraq repatriated 5,722 Kuwaiti prisoners of war under the aegis of the ICRC and freed 500 Kuwaitis held by rebels in southern Iraq;

    Whereas Iraq has hindered and blocked efforts of the Tripartite Commission, the eight-country commission chaired by the ICRC and responsible for locating and securing the release of the remaining prisoners of war;

    Whereas Iraq has denied the ICRC access to Iraqi prisons in violation of Article 126 of the Third Geneva Convention, to which Iraq is a signatory; and

    Whereas Iraq--under the direction and control of Saddam Hussein--has failed to locate and secure the return of all prisoners of war being held in Iraq, including prisoners from Kuwait and nine other nations: Now, therefore, be it

      Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That--

        (1) the Congress--

          (A) demands that the Government of Iraq immediately provide the fullest possible accounting for United States Navy Commander Michael Scott Speicher in compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 686 and other applicable international law;

          (B) acknowledges that there remain 605 prisoners of war unaccounted for in Iraq, although Kuwait was liberated from Iraq's brutal invasion and occupation on February 26, 1991;

          (C) condemns and denounces the Iraqi Government's refusal to comply with international human rights instruments to which it is a party;

          (D) urges Iraq immediately to disclose the names and whereabouts of those who are still alive among the Kuwaiti prisoners of war and other nations to bring relief to their families; and

          (E) insists that Iraq immediately allow humanitarian organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the living prisoners and to recover the remains of those who have died while in captivity; and

        (2) it is the sense of the Congress that the United States Government should--

          (A) actively seek the fullest possible accounting for United States Navy Commander Michael Scott Speicher;

          (B) actively and urgently work with the international community and the Government of Kuwait, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions 686 and 687, to secure the release of Kuwaiti prisoners of war and other prisoners of war who are still missing nine years after the end of the Gulf War; and

          (C) exert pressure, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, on Iraq to bring this issue to a close, to release all remaining prisoners of the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, and to rejoin the community of nations with a humane gesture of good will and decency.

    Passed the Senate July 19, 2000.

    Attest:

    Secretary.

    END

    Lieutenant Commander Michael Scott Speicher, U.S. Navy

    Persian Gulf War's First Casualty


    106th CONGRESS

    2d Session

    H. CON. RES. 275

    IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

    June 26, 2000

    Received and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations


    CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

    Expressing the sense of the Congress with regard to Iraq's failure to release prisoners of war from Kuwait and nine other nations in violation of international agreements.

    Whereas in 1990 and 1991, thousands of Kuwaitis were randomly arrested on the streets of Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation;

    Whereas in February 1993, the Government of Kuwait compiled evidence documenting the existence of 605 prisoners of war and submitted its files to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which passed those files on to Iraq, the United Nations, and the Arab League;

    Whereas numerous testimonials exist from family members who witnessed the arrest and forcible removal of their relatives by Iraqi armed forces during the occupation;

    Whereas eyewitness reports from released prisoners of war indicate that many of those who are still missing were seen and contacted in Iraqi prisons;

    Whereas official Iraqi documents left behind in Kuwait chronicle in detail the arrest, imprisonment, and transfer of significant numbers of Kuwaitis, including those who are still missing;

    Whereas in 1991, the United Nations Security Council overwhelmingly passed Security Council Resolutions 686 and 687 that were part of the broad cease-fire agreement accepted by the Iraqi regime;

    Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 686 calls upon Iraq to arrange for immediate access to and release of all prisoners of war under the auspices of the ICRC and to return the remains of the deceased personnel of the forces of Kuwait and the Member States cooperating with Kuwait;

    Whereas United Nations Security Resolution 687 calls upon Iraq to cooperate with the ICRC in the repatriation of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, to provide the ICRC with access to the prisoners wherever they are located or detained, and to facilitate the ICRC search for those unaccounted for;

    Whereas the Government of Kuwait, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 686, immediately released all Iraqi prisoners of war as required by the terms of the Geneva Convention;

    Whereas immediately following the cease-fire in March 1991, Iraq repatriated 5,722 Kuwaiti prisoners of war under the aegis of the ICRC and freed 500 Kuwaitis held by rebels in southern Iraq;

    Whereas Iraq has hindered and blocked efforts of the Tripartite Commission, the eight-country commission chaired by the ICRC and responsible for locating and securing the release of the remaining prisoners of war;

    Whereas Iraq has denied the ICRC access to Iraqi prisons in violation of Article 126 of the Third Geneva Convention, to which Iraq is a signatory;

    Whereas Iraq--under the direction and control of Saddam Hussein--has failed to locate and secure the return of all prisoners of war being held in Iraq, including prisoners from Kuwait and nine other nations; and

    Whereas significant questions remain regarding the status of United States Navy Lieutenant Commander Michael Speicher, who was shot down over Iraq on January 16, 1991, during Operation Desert Storm and was declared dead by the United States Navy without the conduct of an adequate search and rescue operation, however subsequent information obtained after the Persian Gulf Conflict by United States officials has raised the possibility that Lieutenant Commander Speicher survived and was captured by Iraqi forces: Now, therefore, be it

      Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That--

        (1) the Congress--

          (A) acknowledges that there remain 605 prisoners of war imprisoned in Iraq, although Kuwait was liberated from Iraq's brutal invasion and occupation on February 26, 1991;

          (B) condemns and denounces the Iraqi Government's refusal to comply with international human rights instruments to which it is a party;

          (C) urges Iraq immediately to disclose the names and whereabouts of those who are still alive among the Kuwaiti prisoners of war and other nations to bring relief to their families;

          (D) insists that Iraq immediately allow humanitarian organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the living prisoners and to recover the remains of those who have died while in captivity; and

          (E) urges Iraq to immediately release all information regarding the fate of United States Navy Lieutenant Commander Michael Speicher and to release Lieutenant Commander Speicher, or deliver his remains, to the International Committee of the Red Cross for return to the United States; and

        (2) it is the sense of the Congress that the United States Government should--

          (A) actively and urgently work with the international community and the Government of Kuwait, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions 686 and 687, to secure the release of Kuwaiti prisoners of war and other prisoners of war who are still missing 9 years after the end of the Gulf War;

          (B) exert pressure, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, on Iraq to bring this issue to a close, to release all remaining prisoners of the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, and to rejoin the community of nations with a humane gesture of good will and decency; and

          (C) actively and urgently work with the international community and the Government of Kuwait to actively seek information on the status of United States Navy Lieutenant Commander Michael Speicher and make every effort to expedite the release of Lieutenant Commander Speicher, or deliver his remains, from Iraq.

    Passed the House of Representatives June 23, 2000.

    Attest:

    JEFF TRANDAHL,

    Clerk.

    END

    The following letter was sent to the President, Vice President, Senator Warner and 
    Congressman Davis

    Dear Mr. President,

    The story of Commander Michael Scott Speicher, the first pilot shot down over Iraq during the Gulf War, is becoming more and more familiar to the American public. on 10 January 2001 CDR Speicher's status was changed from KIA/BNR to MIA. America is no longer going to sit back and watch as our service personnel get left behind after a battle. We want this case solved, and Michael Scott Speicher brought home to America. We are asking for your help. 
    Commander Speicher's F-18 was shot down over Iraq on January 17, 1991, which was the first night of the Persian Gulf War. It was reported on CBS's 60 Minutes II recently that after Speicher was shot down, the U.S. military had not even looked for him before pronouncing him dead only 12 hours after it is believed that his plane was hit. What remained of his F-18 was found in 1993 in the desert of Western Iraq by an Army general from Qatar and his hunting party. He reported this to the American Embassy in Doha, and Washington was notified. 
    By the time our government examined the crash site, which was 9 months later, it had already been tampered with. Pictures taken of the crash site by the military officer from Qatar had shown that the canopy of his plane had fallen away from the plane, indicating that Speicher had at least tried to eject. Spent flares and parts of a survival kit were found about a mile from the crash site. There was also "a man-made symbol in the area of the ejection seat" according to Pentagon documents, as reported by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, December 6, 1997. There were no bones and there was no blood to indicate that he had died. It was believed that he may have survived, as a flight suit, believed to be his, was later found and it was determined that it was cut off of him. His remains have never been sent home or found, and flesh that Sadam Hussein sent to the U.S. stating that it was what remained of a pilot named Michael was proven with DNA testing that this could not have come from Speicher. 
    So where is he? Why has he not been found, dead or alive, and brought home to the country he was sent into battle by? An Iraqi defector who escaped into Jordan has passed two lie detector tests and identified Speicher in a photo lineup as an American pilot that he had driven from the desert to Baghdad and authorities, saying he was "alive, alert, and wearing a flight suit." U.S. military authorities were denied a request for a covert operation to search his crash site. This country is obligated morally and rightfully to bring our soldiers home from war. It is not acceptable to leave them and declare them dead without definite proof. The truth as to the fate of Michael Scott Speicher, as well as all other POW/MIA's from the United States of America is the only acceptable result to the families of these soldiers and to our country. 
    Please tell me what is being done to determine the fate of Commander Michael Scott Speicher, POW/MIA from the Persian Gulf War. I would like to know what is being done to follow up on this situation and what information has been found on what happened to him and where he may now be. I anxiously await your reply and respectfully ask you to continue investigating this case until it is rightfully solved and Michael Scott Speicher is brought home. I thank you for your time. 
    Sincerely, 

    Stephen R Scherr
    srscherr@home.com
    ICQ#62660411


    Michael Speicher
    The Clinton Administration took the unusual step Thursday of changing Speicher's status from dead to missing. (ABCNEWS.com)
    Iraq: U.S. Pilot Is Dead
    Details of 1995 Crash Site Search Released
    ABCNEWS.com

    W A S H I N G T O N, Jan. 15 — Responding to U.S. reports about a missing American pilot from the Gulf War, Iraq on Sunday divulged details of a 1995 search of a crash site in its western desert carried out by the U.S. military and the Red Cross.

     

    U.S. intelligence officials in Washington said Friday there were unconfirmed reports that Lt. Cmdr. Michael S. Speicher had survived the Jan. 17, 1991, downing of his F-18 Hornet and had been detained by the Iraqis. The U.S. government asked Baghdad on Wednesday for an accounting, U.S. officials said.

    The Iraqis say Speicher didn't survive the downing of his plane.

    In 1995, Navy investigators, under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, visited the crash site, also north of Baghdad (the exact location remains classified by the United States), and uncovered evidence they believed confirmed he was dead. Based on that evidence, the Navy made a second determination of Speicher's death in 1996.

    But the U.S. investigators also gained evidence suggesting Speicher had ejected from the aircraft. A flight suit was found with faded areas where the pilot's patches would have been and the canopy, blown from the aircraft, was found, suggesting an ejection. But no ejection seat was found.

    "We have reason to think he survived the ejection," a Defense Department official told ABCNEWS last week.

    Investigators also found evidence suggesting the Iraqis had combed the site. They said they found the site had been excavated.

    Details of the Search

    In its account of the 1995 search released Sunday, Iraq's Foreign Ministry said in a statement, "The Americans demanded the [search] to be carried out secretly."

    "The team, accompanied by Iraqi experts and [Red Cross] representatives, found the pilot's uniform, but not his remains," the Foreign Ministry said.

    Parts of the plane were found at the site, along with "evidence the pilot was killed," the ministry said without elaboration.

    The Iraqis said prior digging at the site had been carried out by desert-dwelling Bedouins in the area. The Bedouins took some parts of the plane, the Iraqis added.

    Iraq's government "did not know where the site was prior to the visit. The American team supplied Iraq with the details on the location," the statement said.

    Meanwhile, Iraq renewed its demand that the U.S. government pay $70,000 for Iraqi expenses incurred during the investigation.

    In Washington, National Security Council spokesman P.J. Crowley rejected Iraq's claims and renewed the U.S. demand for full disclosure.

    ‘Inaccurate, Misleading or Incomplete’

    "We have told the Iraqis is that their statements to this point have either turned out to be inaccurate, misleading or incomplete," Crowley said. "We believe they continue to conceal information important to us in determining once and for all the status of Cmdr. Speicher."

    Speicher is the only American lost in Iraqi territory during the war who has not been accounted for.

    The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said more than one informant had reported to U.S. intelligence agencies that an American thought to be Speicher was being held prisoner in Iraq after the war ended.

    Speicher, of Jacksonville, Fla., flew his F-18 Hornet off the carrier USS Saratoga on the opening night of the war in January 1991, and went down west of Baghdad. He apparently was attacked by an Iraqi MiG-25 fighter.

    Another American pilot who saw the jet explode in midair reported that it was hit by an air-to-air missile and that he did not see Speicher eject. A combat search and rescue mission was planned but not executed, and the crash site was not found until 1994.

    Clinton Takes an Unusual Step

    The Clinton administration took the unusual step Thursday of changing Speicher's status from dead to missing. The determination was based upon fairly new, highly classified intelligence information that it will not release to the public.

    Officials said they still suspect Speicher is dead, but in the words of one senior military official, "on the small chance he is alive you don't want to provide information publicly that would then get him killed."

    A Navy official tells ABCNEWS.com the MIA determination will entitle Speicher's wife, now remarried, to approximately $300,000 in back pay since 1996 and additional monthly payments until he is returned or evidence is obtained that proves his death.

    "We … have supported, and are encouraged by, the change in status to MIA for Scott," Joanne Speicher Harris said in a statement. "We are also heartened by the formal demand to Iraq. We appreciate the efforts of the Federal Government on Scott's behalf."

     

       
    Copyright©2001-2003 Stephen R. Scherr: Please request permission before copying

     


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