In honor of SP6 James L. Shirah, U.S. Army, Retired, Member of the 441st
Excerpts from Kiss the Boys Goodbye - How the United
States Betrayed Its Own POWs in Vietnam
published in 1990 by Dutton Publishing and written by Monika Jensen-Stevenson and William Stevenson. (ISBN 0-525-24934-6)
* * * Quotation from pages 168-169 follows: * * *
A professional intelligence man, now retired, added to my growing sense that the [Senate] committee hearings were as unlikely to get to the bottom of the issue as the bureaucrats who had thrown away or otherwise ignored intelligence on live prisoners at the end of the Vietnam war.
"We abandoned those men," James L. Shirah told me in Georgia. "I saw firsthand some disgusting examples."
Shirah spent much of the 1960's as interrogator/ analyst/ documents examiner for a highly classified Army intelligence unit in Laos. He continued operating into the 1970's. "But in 1969, the kinds of missions I carried out were stopped, and by 1973, when the war ended, I had quit, emotionally, all other involvement. I had seen us throw away the best intelligence network our country ever had-" He described a network of Asian agents that had reinforced electronic intelligence on Americans in enemy hands. "When the U.S. ran out of Saigon, the CIA left for the enemy the files on thousands of these agents.
"Call me an anthropologist," said Shirah, referring to his cover. "That's what I still have to tell everyone. Even now, I'd have difficulty going before the [Senate] Committee because of these unjustified secrecy rules. But I will go on record-we knew everything about every man who was missing. I personally destroyed in acid my copy of the huge file-the number is 5310-03-E. The original's unburied in this secret archive at the 500th [MI] Group, Ford Island, off Hawaii. "
Shirah had fought as a member of an intelligence group-"the good side, not the bad part." I did not press him for an explanation until later. He was in a Georgia Hospital, in terrible pain, and seemed to want me to have certain information before it was too late. General "Heinie" Aderholt, who had run so many secret air operations from Thailand, vouched for his credentials, saying Shirah shared his own sense of shame.