Friday, May 06, 2005

No one left behind.

Washington-AP, May 4, 2005 - Investigators in Iraq have located the wreckage of both Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets that were reported missing earlier this week, but they have yet to find the second pilot, an official said Wednesday."

Let's hope the search for this poor pilot doesn't go on for 15 years like the one that has dragged on for the long suffering family of Capt. Michael Scott Speicher (USN) . Speicher was the first pilot shot down at the beginning of the first Gulf War on Jan. 13, 1991. You may not know this but, a CBS story from March 19, 2003 says, "One mission for US forces heading into Iraq is really a long-delayed effort to complete a mission begun more than 12 years ago, to find the US Navy fighter pilot Scott Speicher...finding him is one of the quiet missions of the coming war....the CBS broadcast "60 Minutes II" reported on growing evidence he was alive, that he may have ejected safely and, according to an Iraqi defector, was driven from the desert to Baghdad. That defector even picked Speicher from a photo lineup. So the Pentagon changed Speicher's status. He's now thought to be a POW, the only American prisoner from the '91 war."

This was the first time the navy had ever changed someones status from "killed in action" to "missing in action." [Clinton was the one who signed off on it, all you Clinton haters out there!]

Unfortunatly, that Iraqi defector turned out to be another one of Ahmad Chalabi's moles called "Eduard." The Washington Times reported (After article after article of cheer leading for a war to go get him.) on July 16, 2003 that:

"A secret Pentagon report states that once-promising leads in the hunt for Capt. Michael Scott Speicher in Iraq have turned up no evidence of his whereabouts, contradicting public official comments that the search was producing positive results. The classified document also cast serious doubt on the credibility of the Iraqi defector who first raised hopes in the United States that the Navy pilot was alive and a captive in Iraq after his plane was shot down in 1991.

The defector claims to have seen Capt. Speicher alive in 1998. But Iraqis interviewed by U.S. investigators say he is lying, according to the report prepared for Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman. The internal report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, quotes one Iraqi as saying the defector is a 'born liar.' U.S. officials are said to now have serious questions about the unnamed defector's veracity. "

"Born liar." hmmm...where have I heard that before? Oh, right, "curveball."

Much ink has been spilled in the case of Lt. Speicher. (There were over 135 articles on him during the lead up to the Iraq war.) Amy Waters Yarsinske, a former reserve Navy intelligence officer even wrote a book called "No one left Behind," theorizes that "Bedouins may have rescued Speicher and cared for him for four years, until Saddam's agents spotted them with Speicher. According to her book, sources told her that Speicher was taken away and every man, woman and child in the tribe was executed."

Florida senator Bill Nelson has made finding Speicher a personal crusade. In July of 2002 he even put forward the notion the chance Saddam might still be holding him might be reason enough to go to war with Iraq.

Later in 2003 a story from the Florida Times Union on August 14, said:

"U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson yesterday said he was angered by what he characterized as 'negative leaks' from the Pentagon about the fate of missing Navy pilot Scott Speicher. Citing senior military sources, NBC reported Tuesday that investigators found nothing in Iraqi documents to suggest Speicher was taken prisoner or is alive, and "all but concluded that Speicher died of his injuries" when his plane was shot down. The report also said his body was buried in the desert and discounted Iraqi sources who claimed Speicher was in custody. Nelson called the report 'incorrect information' and said the search for Speicher will continue until his whereabouts are determined. 'I think there is somebody in the Pentagon that is trying to kill the effort to find Speicher, and I do not like it one bit,' said Nelson, D-Fla."

Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas, was also interested in the case. His committee report on Speicher's case concluded on March 27, 2001, "Speicher probably survived," and if he did, "he almost certainly was captured." [He even asked Scott Ritter to look for him when he was with the UN inspectors!]

On September 12, 2002 Bush referred to Speicher in a speech to the U.N., one of his more bellicose:

"If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown."

There were rumblings from Saddam on negotiating with the U.S. over Speicher in March of 2002 but that went no where. The State Dept. said he should bring the subject up at the Geneva meeting of a Tripartite Commission grouping on Iraq, which Iraq hadn't been to in three years; so they really weren't too hell bent on talking about it.

March 24, 2002 :

"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 [sic], a Navy pilot shot down in January 1991. "

Bob Schieffer asked Cheney about it on Face the Nation the same day:

"SCHIEFFER: Mr. Vice President, I have just been told that a story has moved on the wire that says that Iraq has just announced that it would be willing to receive a delegation to discuss the fate of an American pilot shot down during the Gulf War. Number one, have we ever confirmed that, in fact, an American pilot is being held in Iraq? And, number two, what would you make of this report? Vice Pres.

CHENEY: I haven't seen the report except what you've just mentioned, Bob. The--the first night of the air war we lost a pilot, a carrier pilot, Spiker, I believe was his name.

SCHIEFFER: Scott Spiker, I believe. Vice Pres.

CHENEY: Right.

SCHIEFFER: Something like that. Vice Pres.

CHENEY: And--and for several years, based on the report of his wing man, the view was he'd been killed in action. He saw--had seen and explosion and so forth. Years later, at one point, there were--was, in the desert in Iraq, the finding of his uniform, some of the thing--parts of his plane and no body. And so for--in recent years, he has been classified as MIA, missing in action. We don't have any more information or evidence, at least I don't, other than the fact that he is missing in action and did go down over Iraq the first night of the Gulf War. So this is--this is news to me. I don't--I'd--I'd have to see more.

SCHIEFFER: Well, this would suggest--and, I mean, we don't want to take this beyond what the story that's moved on the wire--that he is, in fact, alive. Did we have any evidence that he was alive of we just listed him as missing? Vice Pres.

CHENEY: No, he's just--he's listed as missing because we could not confirm his death.

SCHIEFFER: Would--would we send a delegation if, in fact, they have invited us to do that? Vice Pres.

CHENEY: I--I'd have to take a look at the report and--and probably go back and take a look and see whether or not this is a serious proposition or whether Saddam Hussein's simply trying to change the subject." [Didn't we bring it up?]

Scott Ritter
in an article in Harper's June 24 2004 writes just how far things went with the search for Speicher.

"The Pentagon formed a special 'Speicher team,' which was composed of military personnel based at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington and a unit working on the ground in Iraq. In the weeks after the fall of Baghdad, the Speicher team investigated the Hakmiya prison, where the indistinct initials "MSS" were found carved into a cell wall. To those who continued to believe the Bush Administration's prewar assurances, the initials stood for Michael Scott Speicher, the pilot's full name. But to the more dubious, the initials meant nothing: a similar carving of "MJN" was found directly above the "MSS" scrawl.

...In June the Speicher team interviewed Ahmad Sadiq...Between 1991 and 2002, Sadiq... prepared, at the request of Saddam Hussein, a thorough report on the current status of every pilot shot down and captured during Desert Storm. When the Speicher team acquired this ninety-page document, they found that it contained only one line on Speicher: "Unknown, no information available on the late of the pilot." A report issued internally, meant to be comprehensive, and demanded by Saddam himself--to many, this more than anything proved that Iraq knew nothing of Speicher's fate."

As of March 1 of last year, Bill Nelson was still on his crusade.

"Dear Secretary Rumsfeld:

During a recent briefing I was told your office has decided not to continue offering a $1 million reward for information leading to the resolution of Capt. M. Scott Speicher’s fate. I believe such an action would be a mistake. At the very least, it would send a clear signal that finding out what happened to Scott Speicher no longer is a top priority. And it would deepen the suffering of Scott’s family, whose representative wrote me just last week expressing concern that efforts to locate Scott are waning. I urge you to reconsider - if not for the sake of Scott's family, then for the request from Congress in last year’s defense spending plan to offer a reward for information about the missing Navy pilot. Surely, someone in Iraq knows what happened to him; and, we shouldn't give up an incentive aimed at uncovering that information. Please let me know right away about your final decision; and, what further efforts you’re taking to provide answers to Scott’s family. " ( The family would probably want some closure and not you continuing to hammer away at this when you know he's dead.)

Seems even the "friends working to free Scott Speicher" have pretty much given up. It would be nice if the navy would do the right thing and delare him dead and give him a decent burial. It's shamless the way they used him as a causus belli for their dirty war.

The Arlington National Cemetary web site has the latest articles on the fate of the investigation into Speichers case. The second to last article (October 31, 2004) listed has this:

Washington Times
July 22, 2004

"Members of the U.S. team investigating the fate of Captain Scott Speicher have concluded that the Navy fighter pilot is dead, according to sources close to the mission....The conclusion is based largely on the fact that all leads to Capt. Speicher's whereabouts have turned up no evidence he is alive.


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