New book documents live POWs in Southeast Asia
E-mail blast to alert thousands of coming publication
By C.J. Raven
U.S. Veteran Dispatch
April 12, 2007
A scathing indictment of U.S. government officials who first denied and then covered up facts about 600 American POWs and MIAs from the Vietnam War is set to hit book stores on Memorial Day weekend, and a former New York congressman is heralding its appearance.
John LeBoutillier hopes his e-mail announcing "An Enormous Crime - The Definitive Account of American POWs Abandoned in Southeast Asia" will reach hundreds of thousands of people and awaken them to facts that point clearly to the existence of American POWs still being held in Vietnam, Laos and Russia.
"Maybe this book will have some jarring effect in some way," the former U.S. congressman from New York said. "This is not just a book about history; it's also a current affairs book. The people responsible for the cover-up are still in government today.
Former President George H.W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Senator John McCain and Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry "helped cover it up in the Senate Select Committee several years ago," LeBoutillier said.
Former N.C. Congressman Bill Hendon and Elizabeth Stewart wrote "An Enormous Crime." Hendon and LeBoutillier became friends while they were members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and it was there that they learned about America's missing and imprisoned military members.
On a day in February 1981, LeBoutillier overheard two fellow congressmen talking about a Pentagon briefing they had attended. The men learned that the military believed prisoners of war were alive in Laos. LeBoutillier's curiosity was pricked, and he told the men he and Hendon would like to get the briefing. No problem, they told him, since they were members of Congress.
"We got the briefing for a couple of hours," LeBoutillier said. "If you, or anybody else, had had the same briefing we had, not only would you be convinced that a lot of POWs are still being held over there, but that it is our duty to do whatever we can to get them back."
The Hendon-Stewart book is a project 11 years in the making. The pair dug through Washington archives, used the Freedom of Information requests and interviewed countless sources in their search for information. They provide meticulous documentation of every fact contained within the book's 481 main pages and 52 additional pages of notes and citations. The authors are building a Web site to give readers access to each of 66,000 pages of information they uncovered.
"There is a thirst for this book," LeBoutillier said. "I think (people will) be ordering it and buying it, for sure. This book is a lot of work to read. It is so comprehensive. It's not the opinion of Hendon or Stewart. Everything stated in there comes from U.S. documents. Every document will be made public when the book comes out. Everyone can read it for themselves."
"Enormous Crime" can be ordered at Amazon.com before it becomes available on local bookshelves.
Although some readers may shrink at the idea of reading history and current events, Hendon and Stewart have created a highly readable and compelling story that will be difficult to put down. It reads like a political spy novel and will continually prompt readers to say, "Oh no, they didn't," all the time knowing, "Oh yes, they did."
"Enormous Crime" is already gathering favorable reviews. Publisher's Weekly calls it "an intriguing story … (with) the ring of truth." Kirkus Reviews says it's a "convincing and compelling argument" for the fact that American POWs are still being held against their will.
Hendon took the name of his book from a 1993 television interview with Henry Kissinger, whom LeBoutillier says is the "first and most guilty American official." Kissinger at that time said it appeared that new evidence had surfaced proving that the North Vietnamese government kept more prisoners than it originally admitted. Kissinger said if the report was true, it would be "an enormous crime."
LeBoutillier also has been active in trying to uncover the location of missing American servicemen. He attempts to induce government or military officials in Laos, Vietnam and Russia, by paying, hiring or convincing, to release prisoner information or turn over the prisoners themselves.
"It hasn't happened yet, but that doesn't mean it's not the way to do it," he said. "We've got to have some live men recovered because that's the only way the American people will really believe a terrible crime has occurred. They have to see some living victims recovered. Then the government would have to admit there was a cover-up."
The Pentagon continues to receive reports, as recently as this year, of live American POWs, and the U.S. government continues to keep those reports from the public, LeBoutillier says.
He scoffs at reports from government officials such as McCain, Kerry and others who claim the Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camps are empty, and that is proof that all POWs have been returned.
LeBoutillier believes American servicemen are being held primarily in the mountainous region of North Vietnam, near the Laos border, in small camps of 10, 12 or 15 men, and guarded by their heavily-armed captors.
"So we owe it to those brave American heroes to make one more concerted effort to get them home," he writes in his e-mail message.
His e-mail recommends these actions to help uncover the truth:
* "Some people will call for War Crimes Trials for former and current U.S. government officials who abandoned our men and covered up their fate;
* "Others will call for the impeachment and removal from the U.S. Senate of John McCain and John Kerry;
* "Some will agree with Hendon/Stewart's suggestion to urge a presidential-level delegation of all former presidents and high-level officials to go to Hanoi and Vientiane and "stay there and negotiate until they get the POWs released."
* "Some will join the current effort to create a new U.S. House Committee on POW/MIA Affairs. (Having served in the 1980s on the earlier version of that committee -- and seeing two more since then -- I can assure you nothing any good will ever come from a congressional committee; the CIA/DIA infiltrates the staff and 'rig' the investigations. So we'd be better off channeling our energies elsewhere.)
* "Some will want to return to the in-the-streets activism of the 1980s and 1990s -- staging demonstrations aimed at making the media and the government pay attention to the Live POW issue.
* "Others will get on their computers and spread the word through the blogosphere in an effort to -- finally -- get the truth about our living POWs out there with thousands of supporting documents to back us up.
* "Some might write supportive letters-to-the-editors to their newspapers and magazines and urge them to cover the live POW issue -- truthfully and fairly.
* "Others will come up with other ideas and ways to get the Live POW issue back into our national consciousness.
* "Whatever you do, DO SOMETHING!
* "The POWs need our help, so it is up to us to do whatever we can do to help get this issue back on the front pages and back in the news. Please help our brothers!"
The live-POW issue needs to go back on the front pages of American newspapers, lead the evening news and return to the consciousness of every American citizen, LeBoutillier believes.
"It's not fair to abandon them," he said, "and it's not the American way."
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