Following Reports of ‘Fake’ POW/MIA Recovery Ceremonies, McCaskill Demands Answers
Senator: Families deserve honest answers on recovery efforts and that’s not happening
WASHINGTON – After leading a recent Senate hearing showing POW/MIA accounting efforts in disarray, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today demanded answers from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel after a recent report by NBC News suggested that phony “arrival” ceremonies were being staged using military props and remains that had sometimes been returned to the U.S. months prior.
“This is even more evidence that these recovery efforts are suffering from systemic problems and a lack of coordinated leadership,” said McCaskill, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight and daughter of a World War II veteran. “Families in this community just want officials to be honest and forthright about the government’s efforts—instead, what they’re often getting is false hope and fake ceremonies.”
McCaskill’s letter to Secretary Hagel seeks information on all arrival ceremonies, including dates of ceremonies, the recovery location of remains presented at each ceremony, and the actual date the remains arrived at the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii—the primary unit responsible for POW/MIA recovery efforts.
“It appears that the Department of Defense even towed planes to the ceremonies to create the impression that the remains had just arrived from the recovery location,” McCaskill’s letter to Defense Secretary Hagel reads.
A recent report from the Government Accountability Office, the top federal government watchdog, showed that multiple groups had overlapping authority and control over POW/MIA searches, and lacked a cohesive mission. The report also says that the various operations would be more efficient and transparent if they were centralized under a single command structure.
McCaskill, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently demanded answers about an internal report that found that the Pentagon’s entire POW/MIA recovery program has been woefully mismanaged—and that senior officials may have suppressed the critical report. McCaskill also recently wrote U.S. officials concerning the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) fellowship program—a program that the Department of Defense heavily relies on to conduct recovery efforts.
A copy of McCaskill’s letter is available online HERE.