Senate Select Committee Testimony & Depositions

KGB/GRU Information on U.S. POW-MIAs - S E N S I T I V E -


For: Senator John F. Kerry, Chairman
Senator Bob C. Smith, Vice Chairman
Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs

From: Dr. Joseph D. Douglass, Jr. (initialed here)

Date: July 20, 1992

Subject: KGB/GRU Information on U.S. POW/MIAs

Like you, I am appalled at the negligent manner in which our government has sought the return of American POW/MIAs.

helvetica,arialI am writing this memo to bring my knowledge on this subject to your attention and to express my interest in assisting you in your efforts 1) to determine the fate of American POW/MIAs and 2) to obtain their release or the return of their remains.

Based on newspaper accounts, it appears to me that you have encountered difficulties in obtaining support and information from the KGB and GRU. I have in mind recent statements by Col. - Gen. Dmitri Volkogonov that Vietnam will be a difficult case because much of the information "has not reached the archives," by Yevgeny Primakov, that the KGB has "found no new information that missing Americans from the Vietnam conflict were held in Russia," and from reports that Russian intelligence agencies are resisting efforts to uncover files on U.S. POW/MIAs.

I have been in the defense and national security business for over twenty-five years. From 1975 to 1990 I was heavily involved in the analysis of Soviet operations and strategy. Based on this work, I believe there is a considerable information in the KGB and GRU on the fate of U.S. POW/MIAs from the Korean and Vietnam' Wars and other situations. I also believe there are approaches other than "searching the archives" that may be much more effective.

To explain my beliefs and to indicate why my experience may be particularly relevant to your efforts, I would like to share with you selected portions of my notes on my debriefings of a particularly important Soviet bloc defector, Jan Sejna.

- S E N S I T I V E -

Mr. Sejna is now an American citizen. When he defected in 1968, Gen. - Maj. Sejna held a variety of top-level positions Czechoslovakia that brought him into first-hand contact with Soviet intelligence operations of the highest sensitivity. Among the positions he held were chief of staff to the Minister of Defense and secretary of the Defense Council, which was the highest decision - making body in areas of defense, intelligence, counter-intelligence, and foreign policy in the communist system.

That is, Sejna was a member of the decision-making hierarchy, in daily contact with top-level communist officials from around the world, and privy to military and intelligence plans and operations. His reports have been assessed within U.S. intelligence, operating under instructions from the Soviet Union, constructed a hospital in North Korea. Ostansibly, the hospital was built to treat casualties of the war. In reality, it was an intelligence research facility in which Czechoslovak, Soviet, and North Korean doctors would experiment on U.S. and, to a lesser extent South Korean, prisoners of war.

Czechoslovak military intelligence operations in North Korea came under the direction of Soviet military intelligence. The Czechoslovak official who was in charge of their portion of the operations in North Korea was Colonel Rudolf Bubka of the Military Intelligence Administration (Zpravdajska sprava or Zs) of the Czechoslovak General Staff. Colone Bubka was in North Korea under diplomatic cover. The hospital was under his authority. The Czechoslovak official immediately in charge of the hospital was Colone Professor Dr. Dufek, who was a heart specialist. Sejna learned about the hospital directly from Col. Bubka, from various official reports on the experiments, and from briefings to the Defense Council by experts such as Dr. Dufek and Dr. Plzak, a neurologist who was also a member of the medical team at the experimental hospital in North Korea, and from other top-level officials in Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union.

The experiments were justified by the Soviet officials as preparations for the next war. The Soviet objective was to determine the strengths and weaknesses of U.S. servicemen so that the Soviets could better asses the ability of U.S. soldiers to survive and operate in the rigorous conditions of all-out global war. Special experiments were devised and run to test the psychological and physiological endurance limits of U.S. servicemen. The fate of some U.S. POWs is inextricably tied to these experiments. This is one of several reasons why the KGB and GRU are less than enthusiastic in their efforts to uncover the fate of U.S. POWs. The experiments likely would surface in the process.

Additionally, the U.S. POWs were used as guinea pigs to test a variety of chemical and biological warfare agents and drugs that were being developed for military and intelligence use. One of the series of experiments conducted on U.S. POWs was to test the effectiveness of different mind-control drugs. As it turned out, the most effective drugs were those that had been developed at the Czechoslovak Air Force Scientific Center. Many of us can still recall the radio broadcasts and filmed newsreels that were shown at the movies in the mid 1950's in which the propaganda statements of U.S. servicemen denouncing America were aired. It was the Czechoslovak mind control drugs that caused the captured U.S. servicemen to renounce America, speak of the benefits of the communist system, and subsequently refuse to return to the United States following the cease fires. I understand our defense establishment lists such people as defectors and traitors. This may be a most unjust approach to a very complex problem.

To investigate bio-chemical aspects of U.S. servicemen, which was also part of the Soviet search for vulnerabilities, autopsies were performed on dead servicemen whose bodies were taken by the North Koreans and on those POWs who did not survive the various experiments at the intelligence medical facility. To further show the coupling of seemingly disparate intelligence operations to the POW issue, it was because of these autopsies on U.S. POW/MIAs that the Soviets, Khrushchev in particular, first seized on the idea of waging war on American youth with narcotics.

The idea of using narcotics as weapons, as different from their use as intelligence tools, was a major thrust of communist China's foreign policy adopted in 1949. The Korean War was the first war in which the Chinese would push narcotics as a way to undermine the effectiveness of the opposition's military forces. This strategy would later be employed with greatly enhanced effectiveness against the French, and later the Americans, in Vietnam.

- S E N S I T I V E -

During the Korean War Soviet KGB intelligence was especially interested in the Chinese narcotics operation and followed it with great care. One of their findings was the existence of a surprisingly high incidence of use of hard narcotics, such as herion, cocaine, and the synthetic hiropon, among U.S. servicemen when contrasted with similar use by South Korean servicemen, a factor of two greater.

It was a consequence of the autopsies that this information came to take on strategic importance. During the autopsies, the Soviet and Czech doctors discovered that an unusually high percentage of the young U.S. servicemen had cardiovascular damage -- "mini heart attacks" was how the Soviet doctors described the damage -- a much higher percentage than among South Koreans. While several possible contributing factors were identified, such as diet, the doctors recognized the correlation between the incidence of heart damage and use of hard drugs and concluded that the drugs were probably a major cause.

When Khrushchev learned about this finding, he immediately recognized the potential of narcotics as a strategic weapon and commissioned a study to determine the potential effectiveness of narcotics trafficking as a strategic weapon for use against the West, the United States in particular. This was the origin of what would become by 1962 one of the most important Soviet-bloc intelligence operations undertaken to undermine our society, military effectiveness, and economic stability. Their primary initial targets were our youth, which are the backbone of any nation's military strength, and our colleges, because that was where our future leaders were to be found. A thorough investigation of the fate of U.S. POWs ultimately should also lead American intelligence to the sources of the narcotics plague that has grown exponentially since roughly 1969, when the Soviet trafficking strategy went operational.

What happened to the unaccounted for American POWs in the Korean War? Most are probably dead. But, some of the roughly 8,000 still unaccounted for might be alive. Were any of the American POW guinea pigs likely to have been returned? When I put this question to Sejna, his response was emphatic. "NO WAY! " he exclaimed, adding that Czechoslovak intelligence also built a crematorium in North Korea to help dispose of the remains of U.S. servicemen following the autopsies -- the ultimate fate of a majority of the American POW guinea pigs.

- S E N S I T I V E -

Obtaining information about the fate of POWs from the Vietnam War will be even more difficult than from the Korean War because many POWs are coupled to extremely sensitive programs. Before his fall from power in September 1964, Sejna explained, Khrushchev, Khrushchev put the wheels in motion to continue in North Vietnam the experiments that were begun in North Korea during the Korean War. The experiments had been considered extremely profitable and there were many new drugs, chemical and biological agents and possible counteracting vaccines developed in the intervening years that needed to be tested.

Accordingly, arrangements were negotiated with the North Vietnamese and medical experiments using American POWs as buinea pigs were continued. Doctors from East European countries besides Czechoslovakia were involved. Most of the experiments on U.S. POWs were conducted in military hospitals in North Korea. But, the most sensitive experiments were conducted in KGB and GRU facilities back in the Soviet Union. This is why the movement of U.S. POWs to Russia and their interment in prisons and psychiatric "clinics" as revealed by Mr.Yeltsin takes on added significance.

It is highly unlikely that information on these activities will ever find its way into the Russian archives. Being research operations, the activities directly relate to special capabilities that are in being today and to covert operations over the past twenty years of the highest sensitivity.

For openers, the POW experiments are coupled with efforts to develop new generations of military chemical and biological warfare agents, efforts that, according to Sejna were more sensitive and more highly classified than nuclear weapons programs. They are also coupled to the development of chemical agents and drugs for intelligence applications and their nature likely will raise serious questions about a wide variety of assassination activities, including several undertaken against a variety of the highest-level national and international leaders.

They are coupled to the development of a wide variety of ming-control drugs. One that was described by Sejna was a follow-on to the drug used to reverse the values of selected U.S. POWs during the Korean War and cause them to disown America as described earlier. The new drug tested in the mid-1960's was covertly administered through food. It was operationally used as early as 1967 to turn influential anti-Soviet individuals in various countries into neutral and even pro-Soviet supporters.

That is, the telltale trail of U.S. POWs impinges on these, and other, extremely sensitive Soviet intelligence operations and capabilities that are still highly valued today. It goes without saying that neither the KGB nor the GRU are likely to find and volunteer such information on their own initiative!

I am convinced that the above is only a fraction of the information that is close at hand respecting the fate of U.S. POW/MIAs. The above information is just bits and pieces I collected in the process to conduct careful debriefings on the POW/MIA issue -- but would welcome the opportunity to do so. There is no doubt in my mind that considerably more information could be extracted from further debriefings, and that among the items of greatest interest would be the names of other officials and participants from various former communist countries who would also have detailed memories based on first-hand knowledge. Once identified, these people could be contacted and the process repeated. The result would be a mass of detail that would be most difficult to refute and which then could be used as the basis for specific discussions with President Yeltsin to obtain his assistance in a much more direct attack on the KGB and GRU bureaucracies than merely looking for needles in the archive haystacks.

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the above in detail with you and address any questions you may have. An over view of my background is attached for your information. My phone number is (XXX) XXX-XXXX.

Finally, I would like to caution your staff not to take any precipitous action based on the above without careful deliberation. That is, there are a number of important operational nuances that I did not discuss above because of their sensitivity.

Reprinted with permission from Joseph D. Douglass