Down the years Schanberg has pieced together the evidence, much of it covered up by the Senate committee. In 1993, an American historian unearthed in Soviet archives the record of a briefing of a Vietnamese general to the Soviet politbureau. The briefing took place in 1973, right before the final peace agreement between the US and Hanoi. What the Vietnamese general told the Russians was that his government was intent on getting war reparations, $3.25 billion in reconstruction money, pledged by the US in peace negotiations headed on the US side by Henry Kissinger. The general told the Russians that Hanoi would hold back a large number of POWs until the money arrived. It seems the Vietnamese had successfully used the same tactic with the French, to elicit promised funds, after which POWs were transferred.
But Nixon and Kissinger had attached to the deal a codicil to the effect that the US Congress would have to approve the reparations – which the two knew was an impossibility in the political atmosphere of the time. Thus they effectively sealed the POWs fate. On signature of the 1973 treaty Hanoi released the names of 591 POWs scheduled to be returned. , At the time there was widespread consternation in the US – in the New York Times for example -- at the unexpectedly low number. In fact, as top official in the US government knew, about 600 POWs were being held back, against delivery of the promised $3.25 billion.
All of this was suppressed by the Kerry-McCain committee, with the complicity of the US press, enamored of both McCain and Kerry. McCain was particularly vicious in mocking what he and his press allies suggested were the fantasies of MIA families and Vietnam vets.
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