Dead or Alive? Silent Running

  DEAD OR ALIVE? SILENT RUNNING
The Secret POW Return Program
1994 The California Zephyr
By Glenn Rogers

[Note: The California Zephry is a publication associated with the Vietnam Veterans of America. VVA.org.]


The notion of the United States running a secret program for the return of POWs
from Vietnam and paying what amounts to and is ransom money for these men is
hard to believe.  


The whole idea of running it secretly simply to avoid the
atmosphere of another Iran hostage situation makes the concept even harder to
accept.  To think that the White House could be successfully blackmailed by the
Vietnamese makes this concept completely ludicrous.  


First of all, why do this secretly?  

Secondly, is the government capable of keeping 

something this big secret?  

And last, how do you keep returned American POWs living in the United
States from seeking out loved ones and talking to the media?


According to insiders interviewed during research for this story: You keep it
secret so there will be normalized relations with Vietnam someday and Vietnam
will then allow you some influence over and access to their huge offshore oil
reserves.  You keep it secret by running it from the top of the White House, as
was done during the Iran Contra operation.  You keep the returned POWs silent
by instructing them that if they don't keep quiet, the other POWs waiting to
come back won't get their chance and may die in captivity.  You remind the
stay-behinds, deserters and collaborators who are returned as well, that they
can be tried and imprisoned as traitors if they talk. 



 You neutralize leaks to the media by flooding Beltway journalists with 

qualified spokespeople skillfully armed with counter-propaganda. 

 But most of all, you debunk and
discredit anyone who comes close to telling the truth about what would have to be perceived

as America's largest conspiracy and cover-up operation in history.


The Department of Defense has been asked about the secret return of POWs from
the Vietnam war.  Prior to the Spring of 1994 the Department of Defense denied
the secret POW return program by saying,

"There is no secret return program."  Now, they state however, "We know of no
such program."

If there is no such program [illigible word] Department of Defense, then why is
it that at least two former MIAs, who will remain unidentified in this article,
have classified medical records at the Department of Veterans Affairs?

Journalists have been routinely criticized for establishing pet conspiracy
theories by cleverly reconstructing the facts brought out during proceedings of
the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs.  Yet, it is within those
proceedings that facts supporting earlier suspicions of a secret return program
have been found.  In the last month of Senate Select Committee hearings on the
POW/MIA issue, Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire revealed that in January 1977
the Vietnamese government had offered, through a third party to President Jimmy
Carter, a sensitive arrangement to release American POWs left behind at the
conclusions of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. 


 In 1973, Nixon and Kissinger had
secretly offered the Vietnamese around $4.2 billion in war reparations to
release all the remaining POWs and captives.  In a letter dated February 1,
1973, from Nixon to North Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Van Dong, hand
delivered by Kissinger, Nixon pledged $3.25 billion over five years in
reconstruction aid and an additional $1.5 billion for food and other commodity
needs.  Both Nixon and Kissinger have stated that between 1973 to 1975, the
Vietnamese had continually disregarded tenants of the Peace Accords,
specifically the release of captives known to be held in Laos, Nixon and
Kissinger unilaterally withdrew their offer.  In sworn testimony before the
Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, Kissinger said, "It had been our
constant position that we would never give aid to ransom our prisoners."
During that time period, George Bush had been in charge of the U.S. mission in
Beijing, China and was about to become Director of the Central Intelligence
Agency.  He would later remark about POWs for war reparations in 1981, "It was
a lost cause."  When Ford lost his office and a new party came into power, as
the Vietnamese saw it in 1976-77, new president Jimmy Carter was made an offer
by the Vietnamese to exchange POWs and captives for the war reparations the
Vietnamese still felt they had coming.

The actual details concerning this first secret offer to come from the
Vietnamese is limited at best.  In that actual time period though, Carter had
made a significant gesture to normalize relations with several countries that
included Vietnam.  Around March of 1977, Carter had sent a mission to Vietnam
seeking peaceful resolution of the differences separating Vietnam and the
United States.  During the alleged subsequent negotiations, it is believed
Carter had requested that all the POWs be released together for the exchange of
war reparations paid in the form of financial aid leading toward normalized
relations.  But, the Vietnamese were against releasing all the POWs at the same
time.  


Carter is said to have remained firm, he wanted them all or nothing.
The Vietnmese stalled over this point in the negotiations.  Carter decided to
gamble and as an overt gesture to the Vietnamese, showing his veiled disregard
for the value of POWs, played a trump card [illegible] declaring all the POWs
dead on paper.  The negotiations to release the POWs was severely damaged as a
result of Carter's move.

Later in 1979, the Vietnamese showed Carter what they were capable of doing if
he didn't return to the table and take their offer more seriously.  That year,
U.S. Marine Corp Private Bobby Garwood was apparently allowed to rescue himself
from the Vietnamese and return to the United States.  The American media had a
field day.  Faltering with his, up until then, little used English, he began
talking about other POWs still alive in Vietnam.  The White House, caught with
their back turned, began a discrediting campaign on Garwood's character and
debunked statements he made to the press about POWs still remaining in Vietnam.

The destruction of Garwood'scharacter was so intense and successful that most
Americans can still recall the courts-martial he faced under charges of
conspiring with the enemy.  Garwood had been targeted for elimination during
the war, by Command and Control North (C&CN) teams working out of Laos, should
the POW camp he was in be rescued.  There was evidence available, detailing his
collaboration with the enemy, ready to be used against him.  If Garwood was
taken seriously, someone might want to hold a Congressional Hearing and
determine if the abandonment of POWs in 1973 was a crime or not.  By making
Garwood out to be a zoo-like animal and focusing on his collaboration with his
captors, he was effectively compromised and not taken seriously by the press or
the American public.  Other POWs were indeed still there though, and they would
drop onto the American scene shortly; just as Garwood had.  Garwood was ony
guilty of being the first one back and the starting point for the secret POW
return program.

The Carter White House conceived a plan to deal with any more Garwoods.  This
plan would keep late returnees quiet, out of view from the public and avoid the
need for court martials without having to actually eliminate late-returning
POWs.  The White House was morally capable of abandoning these Americans at the
negotiating table, but they weren't capable of stopping the Vietnamese or
Soviets from dropping POWs onto the American scene at will.  With this new
control, the circus of another courts-martial and the possibility of any more
revelations concerning POWs abandoned in Vietnam could be avoided.



William "Liam" R. Atkins, is a former member of an Army Special Forces C&C
North team.  His team operated out of the southern area of the Laotian
panhandle to identify POW camps and repatriate POWs if possible.  They were
also tasked with eliminating known POW collaborators.  Atkins' C&CN team had
Garwood on their list, an identified collaborator; he wasn't to be rescued.
After Garwood's return in 1979, Atkins was gathering information on him for a
future book he was researching at the Forestall Building in Washington, D.C.
He said he was shown many military personnel records at the Forestall Building.
 Atkins found several normally routine administrative entries in [illegible]
revealed the White House paid for dealing with late-return POWs.  The records
showed how two late-returnees that came after Garwood, Robert L. Greer and
Frederick Schreckengost were handled with more sophistication.  Atkins states
he established the accuracy of what he was uncovering by contacting sources at
the National Security Agency and CIA.  They gave him verbal verification and
hard documents in support of what he found in the records.  Greer and
Schreckengost, were also Marines and had come out through an Eastern Bloc
country.  They were MIA in 1964 after last being seen while together in South
Vietnam.  The two were also known to have collaborated with the Viet Cong and
NVA.  Atkins discovered that after these men returned they were given new
identifies and their personnel records were, "magically moved out of the
records room."  The handling of Greer and Schreckengost was done in a manner
similar to the highly successful Federal Witness Protection program.

Atkins book was never written.  However, he did make a video tape in 1984.  He
says he wanted to get the facts about Greer and Schreckengost on record with
the video he described as, "A shot in the dark."  In the video, Atkins is
questioned with scrutiny by an unseen and at times not so friendly
interrogator.  The questioner during the taping of the video is believed to be
a journalist.  Atkins is currently serving his second year at a Washington,
D.C. city jail.  This is his third arrest on a weapons charge since finding out
about Greer and Schreckengost and is still awaiting a trial date.

His first arrest occurred in England, on December 2, 1980.  Before his arrest,
he had been talking extensively about the secret program dealing with late
return turncoat/collaborator POWs to Ann Mills Griffiths at the National League
of Families.  According to Atkins, Griffiths not only didn't act upon this
knowledge, but now, he says, denies he ever spoke to her about it.  However, as
he relates in his video tape, Griffiths called and told him she had just been
told to control her activities surrounding late-returnees or else.  Atkins goes
on further and relates what a member of the National Security Counci llater
told him specifically about the threat.  "She had been warned the POWs held in
Russia would be killed if she didn't cooperate."  


In another phone call shortly
before his trip to England, Griffiths told him members of the intelligence
communtiy were in her office and asking questions.  He asked her to "put them
off" and left on his planned two week trip for England to settle a child
custody case.  The video tape was made after a 3 1/2 year prison term.

Atkins says he was taken into custody "off the streets of England" and after a
severe beating, held in what he describes as, "a hospital storage room."  He
was later removed to a prison facility following a brief stay in a private room
at the hospital.  He also states he was interrogated by unknown persons except
for one who was identified as a Mr. Duncan, an official at the U.S. Embassy in
London responsible for tracking Americans in trouble.  He was strapped into a
bed and an IV drip was put into his arm throughout the ordeal.  In his video
tape, he described some of the techniques used to break him down, such as not
knowing what time it was and sensory depravation, along with the use of, as
court released records would later verify, sodium Pentothal.  He claims they
wanted to find out what he knew about Greer, Schreckengost and the secret
program.

Atkins says that after being moved to the private room, some ten days after his
arrest, his fiance noticed on his medical chart that he had been administered
Sodium Pentothal.  He points out that he had not suffered any injury during the
beating that would have required the use of an anesthetic.

Within a week to two weeks after his arrest, one of his sources in Washington
was moved to a position that did not require a confidential clearance, he says,
even though Atkins does not recall compromising his source and can only guess
what he said while under the influence of the drug.



His second arrest, this time in 1987, came after publicly talking about the
program once more.  He served his time cooperatively and was given a full
release.  During his 1992 arrest, he and witnesses state that a weapon was
planted on him in a Georgetown bar the night before the Senate Select Committee
sent a request for testimony to investigative reporter David Hendrix of the
Riverside County, California Press-Enterprise.  Hendrix had just run a story
outlining the secret return of Greer and Schreckengost.  (See Hendrix's 1992
groundbreaking story on page 7, Senate staff probes reports of secret POW
relocations)

Atkins had recently been pleading with the Senate Select committee to have them
hear his testimony and view his video tape.  The Senate Select Committee
however, couldn't effectively access Atkins, he was unavailable to them while
in jail.

After his return to the United States in 1984, and the taping of his video,
Atkins was hired by and worked for Oliver North, at the National Security
Council, in a front company set up just for Atkins.  He was to get military
equipment funneled to Afghan rebels and recruit other former Special Forces
members to work in North's network.  During that period, Atkins became a
primary source for leaks on the Afghan War to journalists he trusted.

Besides the three Marines, Garwood, Greer and Schreckengost, there were three
other POWs that came back in 1979, one a member of the CIA, one an officer of
the U.S. Navy and another an officer of the U.S. Air Force.  In January 1992,
retired KGB General Oleg Kalugin testified before the Senate Select Committee
that his Soviet counter-intelligence staff had in 1978, interviewed three
American prisoners held in Vietnam after the war.  Kalugin stated that these
three were among a handful made available to the Soviets by the Vietnamese.
Kalugin also said, the recruiting of POWs was a major goal following the
successful recruitment of a British POW during the Korean War.  Of the three
interviewed by Kalugin's staff, one agreed to cooperate.  He said Vietnamese
officials had told him the three men interviewed were sent home in 1979.  After
waiting "until these guys settled down," Kalugin said, "the returnees could not
be found by his agents in the United States, since either the phone numbers and
addresses of the three men held on file by the KGB had been either false or
something else had happened to the men.  


In the following year, 1980, Kalugin
was assigned to other duties.  Another Soviet KGB agent, Oleg Nechiporenko, who
claims to have interviewed the three Americans while on Kalugin's staff, said
Kalugin's testimony was incorrect and the interviews had occurred in 1973.  The
Vietnamese called Kalugin's story false.  However, Kalugin pointed to the fact
that Vietnam still remains the Soviet's best intelligence listening post in
that area of the world and alluded that an open admission of the recruitment
and subsequent release of POWs in 1979, with the cooperation of the Vietnamese,
would embarrass and compromise Soviet and Vietnamese intelligence activities.

A research reporter for Columnist Jack Anderson, Lisa Kruger, was trying to
gain further access to sources within the intelligence community in 1979.  She
met with Atkins and used information he provided to further her goal.  Later,
in an October 26, 1980 column Anderson wrote:

"As many as six Americans are believed to have taken up arms against U.S.
troops in Vietnam.  At least two of these - both Marine privates - are known to
have joined in combat with the Viet Cong against American forces.  Yet, these
two men now live in the United States, unpunished, under new identities
furnished by the government itself."

The secret return of POWs who had collaborated with the enemy and subsequently
placed into a program similar to if not the Federal Witness Protection program,
had in fact occurred.  Under sections 4101 of Title 3, The United States Code,
Double Criminality, a person can be transferred to the United States for a
crime against the United States.  The Attorney General has the authority to
accomplish this.  Under section 4105, of the same title, a person serving a
sentence in a foreign country can be transferred to the custody of the Attorney
General under the same conditions and for the same length of time as a sentence
imposed by the foreign country.  If it is a crime against a foreign country,
such as Vietnam, that sentence can be served in the United States if the
Attorney General so chooses.


  In both of these sections, Congress and the
public are bypassed and not informed of the criminals returning to the United
States.  The United States government chose to deal with these men by placing
them in the late-return program along with new identities.  They would hold
over their heads, the threat of future convictions as traitors to keep them
quiet.  There is no statue of limitations for taitors.  The stage had been
effectively set for dealing with anymore Garwoods who would walk out of Russia
or Vietnam and drop onto the American scene. 

  DEAD OR ALIVE? SILENT RUNNING
The Secret POW Return Program
1994 The California Zephyr
By Glenn Rogers

The notion of the United States running a secret program for the return of POWs
from Vietnam and paying what amounts to and is ransom money for these men is
hard to believe.  


The whole idea of running it secretly simply to avoid the
atmosphere of another Iran hostage situation makes the concept even harder to
accept.  To think that the White House could be successfully blackmailed by the
Vietnamese makes this concept completely ludicrous.  


First of all, why do this
secretly?  

Secondly, is the government capable of keeping somehting this big
secret?  


And last, how do you keep returned American POWs living in the United
States from seeking out loved ones and talking to the media?



According to insiders interviewed during research for this story: You keep it
secret so there will be normalized relations with Vietnam someday and Vietnam
will then allow you some influence over and access to their huge offshore oil
reserves.  You keep it secret by running it from the top of the White House, as
was done during the Iran Contra operation.  You keep the returned POWs silent
by instructing them that if they don't keep quiet, the other POWs waiting to
come back won't get their chance and may die in captivity.  You remind the
stay-behinds, deserters and collaborators who are returned as well, that they
can be tried and imprisoned as traitors if they talk. 



 You neutralize leaks to
the media by flooding Beltway journalists with qualified spokespeople
skillfully armed with counter-propaganda.  But most of all, you debunk and
discredit anyone who comes close to telling the truth about what would have to
be perceived as America's largest conspiracy and cover-up operation in history.

The Department of Defense has been asked about the secret return of POWs from
the Vietnam war.  Prior to the Spring of 1994 the Department of Defense denied
the secret POW return program by saying,

"There is no secret return program."  Now, they state however, "We know of no
such program."

If there is no such program [illigible word] Department of Defense, then why is
it that at least two former MIAs, who will remain unidentified in this article,
have classified medical records at the Department of Veterans Affairs?

Journalists have been routinely criticized for establishing pet conspiracy
theories by cleverly reconstructing the facts brought out during proceedings of
the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs.  Yet, it is within those
proceedings that facts supporting earlier suspicions of a secret return program
have been found.  In the last month of Senate Select Committee hearings on the
POW/MIA issue, Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire revealed that in January 1977
the Vietnamese government had offered, through a third party to President Jimmy
Carter, a sensitive arrangement to release American POWs left behind at the
conclusions of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. 


 In 1973, Nixon and Kissinger had
secretly offered the Vietnamese around $4.2 billion in war reparations to
release all the remaining POWs and captives.  In a letter dated February 1,
1973, from Nixon to North Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Van Dong, hand
delivered by Kissinger, Nixon pledged $3.25 billion over five years in
reconstruction aid and an additional $1.5 billion for food and other commodity
needs.  Both Nixon and Kissinger have stated that between 1973 to 1975, the
Vietnamese had continually disregarded tenants of the Peace Accords,
specifically the release of captives known to be held in Laos, Nixon and
Kissinger unilaterally withdrew their offer.  In sworn testimony before the
Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, Kissinger said, "It had been our
constant position that we would never give aid to ransom our prisoners."
During that time period, George Bush had been in charge of the U.S. mission in
Beijing, China and was about to become Director of the Central Intelligence
Agency.  He would later remark about POWs for war reparations in 1981, "It was
a lost cause."  When Ford lost his office and a new party came into power, as
the Vietnamese saw it in 1976-77, new president Jimmy Carter was made an offer
by the Vietnamese to exchange POWs and captives for the war reparations the
Vietnamese still felt they had coming.

The actual details concerning this first secret offer to come from the
Vietnamese is limited at best.  In that actual time period though, Carter had
made a significant gesture to normalize relations with several countries that
included Vietnam.  Around March of 1977, Carter had sent a mission to Vietnam
seeking peaceful resolution of the differences separating Vietnam and the
United States.  During the alleged subsequent negotiations, it is believed
Carter had requested that all the POWs be released together for the exchange of
war reparations paid in the form of financial aid leading toward normalized
relations.  But, the Vietnamese were against releasing all the POWs at the same
time.  


Carter is said to have remained firm, he wanted them all or nothing.
The Vietnmese stalled over this point in the negotiations.  Carter decided to
gamble and as an overt gesture to the Vietnamese, showing his veiled disregard
for the value of POWs, played a trump card [illegible] declaring all the POWs
dead on paper.  The negotiations to release the POWs was severely damaged as a
result of Carter's move.

Later in 1979, the Vietnamese showed Carter what they were capable of doing if
he didn't return to the table and take their offer more seriously.  That year,
U.S. Marine Corp Private Bobby Garwood was apparently allowed to rescue himself
from the Vietnamese and return to the United States.  The American media had a
field day.  Faltering with his, up until then, little used English, he began
talking about other POWs still alive in Vietnam.  The White House, caught with
their back turned, began a discrediting campaign on Garwood's character and
debunked statements he made to the press about POWs still remaining in Vietnam.

The destruction of Garwood'scharacter was so intense and successful that most
Americans can still recall the courts-martial he faced under charges of
conspiring with the enemy.  Garwood had been targeted for elimination during
the war, by Command and Control North (C&CN) teams working out of Laos, should
the POW camp he was in be rescued.  There was evidence available, detailing his
collaboration with the enemy, ready to be used against him.  If Garwood was
taken seriously, someone might want to hold a Congressional Hearing and
determine if the abandonment of POWs in 1973 was a crime or not.  By making
Garwood out to be a zoo-like animal and focusing on his collaboration with his
captors, he was effectively compromised and not taken seriously by the press or
the American public.  Other POWs were indeed still there though, and they would
drop onto the American scene shortly; just as Garwood had.  Garwood was ony
guilty of being the first one back and the starting point for the secret POW
return program.

The Carter White House conceived a plan to deal with any more Garwoods.  This
plan would keep late returnees quiet, out of view from the public and avoid the
need for court martials without having to actually eliminate late-returning
POWs.  The White House was morally capable of abandoning these Americans at the
negotiating table, but they weren't capable of stopping the Vietnamese or
Soviets from dropping POWs onto the American scene at will.  With this new
control, the circus of another courts-martial and the possibility of any more
revelations concerning POWs abandoned in Vietnam could be avoided.



William "Liam" R. Atkins, is a former member of an Army Special Forces C&C
North team.  His team operated out of the southern area of the Laotian
panhandle to identify POW camps and repatriate POWs if possible.  They were
also tasked with eliminating known POW collaborators.  Atkins' C&CN team had
Garwood on their list, an identified collaborator; he wasn't to be rescued.
After Garwood's return in 1979, Atkins was gathering information on him for a
future book he was researching at the Forestall Building in Washington, D.C.
He said he was shown many military personnel records at the Forestall Building.
 Atkins found several normally routine administrative entries in [illegible]
revealed the White House paid for dealing with late-return POWs.  The records
showed how two late-returnees that came after Garwood, Robert L. Greer and
Frederick Schreckengost were handled with more sophistication.  Atkins states
he established the accuracy of what he was uncovering by contacting sources at
the National Security Agency and CIA.  They gave him verbal verification and
hard documents in support of what he found in the records.  Greer and
Schreckengost, were also Marines and had come out through an Eastern Bloc
country.  They were MIA in 1964 after last being seen while together in South
Vietnam.  The two were also known to have collaborated with the Viet Cong and
NVA.  Atkins discovered that after these men returned they were given new
identifies and their personnel records were, "magically moved out of the
records room."  The handling of Greer and Schreckengost was done in a manner
similar to the highly successful Federal Witness Protection program.

Atkins book was never written.  However, he did make a video tape in 1984.  He
says he wanted to get the facts about Greer and Schreckengost on record with
the video he described as, "A shot in the dark."  In the video, Atkins is
questioned with scrutiny by an unseen and at times not so friendly
interrogator.  The questioner during the taping of the video is believed to be
a journalist.  Atkins is currently serving his second year at a Washington,
D.C. city jail.  This is his third arrest on a weapons charge since finding out
about Greer and Schreckengost and is still awaiting a trial date.

His first arrest occurred in England, on December 2, 1980.  Before his arrest,
he had been talking extensively about the secret program dealing with late
return turncoat/collaborator POWs to Ann Mills Griffiths at the National League
of Families.  According to Atkins, Griffiths not only didn't act upon this
knowledge, but now, he says, denies he ever spoke to her about it.  However, as
he relates in his video tape, Griffiths called and told him she had just been
told to control her activities surrounding late-returnees or else.  Atkins goes
on further and relates what a member of the National Security Counci llater
told him specifically about the threat.  "She had been warned the POWs held in
Russia would be killed if she didn't cooperate."  


In another phone call shortly
before his trip to England, Griffiths told him members of the intelligence
communtiy were in her office and asking questions.  He asked her to "put them
off" and left on his planned two week trip for England to settle a child
custody case.  The video tape was made after a 3 1/2 year prison term.

Atkins says he was taken into custody "off the streets of England" and after a
severe beating, held in what he describes as, "a hospital storage room."  He
was later removed to a prison facility following a brief stay in a private room
at the hospital.  He also states he was interrogated by unknown persons except
for one who was identified as a Mr. Duncan, an official at the U.S. Embassy in
London responsible for tracking Americans in trouble.  He was strapped into a
bed and an IV drip was put into his arm throughout the ordeal.  In his video
tape, he described some of the techniques used to break him down, such as not
knowing what time it was and sensory depravation, along with the use of, as
court released records would later verify, sodium Pentothal.  He claims they
wanted to find out what he knew about Greer, Schreckengost and the secret
program.

Atkins says that after being moved to the private room, some ten days after his
arrest, his fiance noticed on his medical chart that he had been administered
Sodium Pentothal.  He points out that he had not suffered any injury during the
beating that would have required the use of an anesthetic.

Within a week to two weeks after his arrest, one of his sources in Washington
was moved to a position that did not require a confidential clearance, he says,
even though Atkins does not recall compromising his source and can only guess
what he said while under the influence of the drug.



His second arrest, this time in 1987, came after publicly talking about the
program once more.  He served his time cooperatively and was given a full
release.  During his 1992 arrest, he and witnesses state that a weapon was
planted on him in a Georgetown bar the night before the Senate Select Committee
sent a request for testimony to investigative reporter David Hendrix of the
Riverside County, California Press-Enterprise.  Hendrix had just run a story
outlining the secret return of Greer and Schreckengost.  (See Hendrix's 1992
groundbreaking story on page 7, Senate staff probes reports of secret POW
relocations)

Atkins had recently been pleading with the Senate Select committee to have them
hear his testimony and view his video tape.  The Senate Select Committee
however, couldn't effectively access Atkins, he was unavailable to them while
in jail.


After his return to the United States in 1984, and the taping of his video,
Atkins was hired by and worked for Oliver North, at the National Security
Council, in a front company set up just for Atkins.  He was to get military
equipment funneled to Afghan rebels and recruit other former Special Forces
members to work in North's network. 


 During that period, Atkins became a
primary source for leaks on the Afghan War to journalists he trusted.

Besides the three Marines, Garwood, Greer and Schreckengost, there were three
other POWs that came back in 1979, one a member of the CIA, one an officer of
the U.S. Navy and another an officer of the U.S. Air Force.  In January 1992,
retired KGB General Oleg Kalugin testified before the Senate Select Committee
that his Soviet counter-intelligence staff had in 1978, interviewed three
American prisoners held in Vietnam after the war.  Kalugin stated that these
three were among a handful made available to the Soviets by the Vietnamese.
Kalugin also said, the recruiting of POWs was a major goal following the
successful recruitment of a British POW during the Korean War.  Of the three
interviewed by Kalugin's staff, one agreed to cooperate.  He said Vietnamese
officials had told him the three men interviewed were sent home in 1979.  After
waiting "until these guys settled down," Kalugin said, "the returnees could not
be found by his agents in the United States, since either the phone numbers and
addresses of the three men held on file by the KGB had been either false or
something else had happened to the men.  


In the following year, 1980, Kalugin
was assigned to other duties.  Another Soviet KGB agent, Oleg Nechiporenko, who
claims to have interviewed the three Americans while on Kalugin's staff, said
Kalugin's testimony was incorrect and the interviews had occurred in 1973.  The
Vietnamese called Kalugin's story false.  However, Kalugin pointed to the fact
that Vietnam still remains the Soviet's best intelligence listening post in
that area of the world and alluded that an open admission of the recruitment
and subsequent release of POWs in 1979, with the cooperation of the Vietnamese,
would embarrass and compromise Soviet and Vietnamese intelligence activities.

A research reporter for Columnist Jack Anderson, Lisa Kruger, was trying to
gain further access to sources within the intelligence community in 1979.  She
met with Atkins and used information he provided to further her goal.  Later,
in an October 26, 1980 column Anderson wrote:

"As many as six Americans are believed to have taken up arms against U.S.
troops in Vietnam.  At least two of these - both Marine privates - are known to
have joined in combat with the Viet Cong against American forces.  Yet, these
two men now live in the United States, unpunished, under new identities
furnished by the government itself."



The secret return of POWs who had collaborated with the enemy and subsequently
placed into a program similar to if not the Federal Witness Protection program,
had in fact occurred.  Under sections 4101 of Title 3, The United States Code,
Double Criminality, a person can be transferred to the United States for a
crime against the United States.  The Attorney General has the authority to
accomplish this.  Under section 4105, of the same title, a person serving a
sentence in a foreign country can be transferred to the custody of the Attorney
General under the same conditions and for the same length of time as a sentence
imposed by the foreign country.  If it is a crime against a foreign country,
such as Vietnam, that sentence can be served in the United States if the
Attorney General so chooses.

  In both of these sections, Congress and the
public are bypassed and not informed of the criminals returning to the United
States.  The United States government chose to deal with these men by placing
them in the late-return program along with new identities.  They would hold
over their heads, the threat of future convictions as traitors to keep them
quiet.  There is no statue of limitations for taitors.  The stage had been
effectively set for dealing with anymore Garwoods who would walk out of Russia or Vietnam and drop onto the American scene. 

CONTINUED

 

It also set up a basis, in 1981 for the Vietnamese to make another 

offer on the repatriation of remains,
stay-behinds and living POWs referred to as "breathers," for money.

Shortly after taking office as President of the United States, Ronald Reagan
received this offer.  The Canadian and Chinese governments offered to act as
intermediaries for the exchange of more than 50 American POWs from the Vietnam
War for $4.2 billion.  In an account of the offer published by The Washington
Times on August 11, 1992, Secret Service agent and Vietnam veteran John F.
Syphrit, was working in an area of the White House and overheard Ronald Reagan,
Vice President George Bush, Director of the CIA William Casey and National
Security Adviser Richard V. Allen, discussing the offer Casey held in his hand.


 Syphrit's story stated,

"Casey wanted to know what to do about this [offer], the agent said.  He said
it had come through China and Canada from the Vietnamese.  Reagan asked what he
thought of it and Casey said there wasn't anything to it.  Bush agreed.  He
said it was a lost cause."  Allen thought, "they should look into it some more.
 But, Mr. Casey insisted that the offer constituted blackmail, the agent said,"

Bill Paul at The Wall Street Journal had published an earlier account of the
conversation in a 1986 article.  Paul had an irrefutable second source for the
offer."

"During the discussion, it was first decided that the offer was indeed genuine.
 Then, a number of the President's advisers said they opposed paying for POWs
on the ground that it would appear as if the U.S. could be blackmailed."
Reagan agreed.  "At that point, the president's men were prepared to let the
matter drop."

"To his credit, however, Mr. Reagan told William Casey, Director of the Central
Intelligence Agency, and Richard Allen, then the national security adviser, to
try and find another way to get the men home."

On June 23, 1992, Richard Allen, under subpoena from the Senate Select
Committee, was deposed about his recollections of the offer. 


 In the closed
door deposition, that has never been released, Allen balked over the details.
San Diego Union reporter Robert Caldwell succeeded in getting some of the
testimony taken that day and did a story.  Allen's answers to questions asked
in a portion of Caldwell's copy,

"Yes, I do.  If it was $4 billion, it was indeed for live prisoners."  When
Allen was asked how many, by the committee, Allen responded, "Dozens,
hundreds."


Allen later wrote the committee a letter recanting his testimony.  The letter
was not taken under oath.  He said his memory had played tricks on him.