House Subcommittee on Military Personnel
Statement of Joseph D. Douglass
September 17, 1996
Congressman Dornan, Members of the House National Security Committee,
ladies and gentlemen. It is a privilege to be asked to participate in your
Let me begin by thanking you for your efforts to learn what happened to the
missing American servicemen. I believe this task is one of the most pressing
and moral challenges our nation faces.
I have worked in the national security area for close to thirty-five years. During
this time I have worked on many very unpleasant subjects: nuclear war,
chemical and biological warfare, deception, narcotics trafficking, and others.
However, I can honestly say that nothing has left me with a more profound
sense of sadness, frustration, and anger than has my work in the POW/MIA
We ask our young men, many of them barely out of high school, to leave their
families and friends, and to sacrifice their lives for their country, and even for
other countries. They leave not knowing if they will live to return or, if they do,
what condition they will be in.
But they go, and relatively few complain. They believe that America places
great value on human life and that whatever can be done to support them in
battle will be done.
Most important, they also believe, as expressed so well in the Senate Select
Committee on POW/MIA Affairs final report, that "the single most basic principle
of personal honor in America's armed forces is NEVER WILLINGLY TO LEAVE A
FELLOW SERVICEMAN BEHIND."
Most Americans, civilian and military, sincerely believe in this principle.
And, when the chips are down, Americans have great faith in their leaders and
institutions. We may not agree with all their politics and mannerisms, but we
do stand behing them, especially during a crisis.
This is why coming to terms with the POW/MIA Issue is such a difficult process.
None of us want to believe that this fundamental code of honor, this trust
between our country and those sent to fight its wars, has been broken,
repeatedly broken -- not by those sent to fight the wars but by our own
leaders. This is a painful realization that is very hard to reach. But, this is what
I now believe: that thousands of American youth who went to war to serve
their country were knowingly and deliberately abandoned after the war was
over. They were not simply abandoned because they were dead -- they were
just abandoned; abandoned, as many of us now believe, to a life worse than
Nor is this where the story ends, because our government's subsequent
efforts seem to have been directed first to deny any were abandoned, and
then to bury informatin that might show what really happened to those still
In short, the search for the "truth" has been mainly a charade. The best
description of the process that I have read is the letter of resignation written
by Col. Millard Peck, who headed the Defense POW/MIA office in 1990. His
letter presents a sobering eye-witness account of the mendacity and duplicity
that have attended our government's efforts to recover missing American
servicemen. My experience certainly supports what Col. Peck described.
I have been involved in POW studies since 1992 when a friend first told me
about the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs. He said that he
thought the Committee would be very interested in the information I had
acquired during my work with General Major Jan Sejna, who is here today to
share with you his knowledge.
It is most important here to recognize who General Sejna is and why his
information is so important.
General Sejna is, to my knowledge, the most important COMMUNIST official
ever to seek political asylum in the West, which he did at the end of February
1968. Before he defected, General Sejna had held a variety of key positions in
He was a member of the Czech Central Committee and the Parliament, which
roughly corresponds to our Congress. At the Parliament he was a member of
the Presidium, which was the inner circle, and of the Party Group, which gave
the marching instructions to the Presidium and to the Parliament.
He was a member of the bureau at the Main Political Administration which is
the Party watchdog over the military. This administration also has an important
role in the formation and implementation of policy.
Early in his career, Gen. Sejna helped set up the Czech Defense Council, which
was patterned after the Soviet Defense Council, which is the highest ranking
decision-makng body in areas of defense, intelligence, counter-intelligence, and
national security. He was the defacto secretary of the Defense Council and in
charge of the Defense Council secretariat for several years.
He was first secretary of the party at the Ministry of Defense, Chief of Staff to
the Minister of Defense, and he served on the Minister's Kollegium. And, he
was a member of the military section of the Administrative Organs Department
of the Central Committee.
In brief, Gen. Sejna was a member of the decision-making hierarchy, one of the
ten most knowledgeable officials in Czechoslovakia. He met regularly with top
COMMUNIST officials from the Soviet Union and around the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am not trying to exaggerate his importance. It is
simply crucial that you understand where he is coming from. He was where the
action was. What he has to say is not hearsay or second-hand information. It
is all first-hand knowledge. He was there. He IS an eye-witness. It is his
personal experiences he is reporting.
I first met General Sejna in the late 1970s. We subsequently have worked
together on a variety of projects. I have never known him to be deceptive or
misleading in describing his experiences as a top COMMUNIST official. Nor have
I ever met anyone who had worked closely with him who did not have the
highest respect for his information.
Gen Sejna was the first person to explain the importance of the Defense
Council to U.S. intelligence. He is also the person who first laid out in detail the
role of the Soviet Union in organizing and training terrorists, and who first told
people about the Soviet long-range strategic plan, and about their extremely
effective narcotics trafficking intelligence operation. It was in my investigations
of the Soviet narcotics trafficking operation that I first became aware of Soviet
operations with American POWs.
I have also personally witnessed numerous efforts by people who did not like
what he had to say to discredit him and his information, just as happened
when I tried to bring his information to the attention of the Senate Select
As soon as I began looking into the POW/MIA problem, i concluded that
General Sejna's information was of major importance, so much so that I met
several times with him to conduct some very specific debriefings to confirm the
depth and breadth of his knowledge.
The more I talked to him, the more I knew how important it was to bring his
knowledge to the attention of the right people, yet do it in such a way that his
information could be confirmed and used to learn more about what happened
to the missing Americans before the Russians, or North Koreans, or Vietnamese
were able to learn what was afoot and silence potential witnesses, burn
documents, or otherwise cover their tracks.
This is when I started to learn the real truth about our government's POW/MIA
efforts. As I began talking to people on the Select Committee staff there
seemed to emerge in parallel a variety of efforts from people within the DIA
and CIA and elsewhere to discredit General Sejna, sabotage his information,
and alert the Czech and Russian intelligence services about what he was
In rethinking this process, I concluded that one of the most important points to
make is that to my knowledge there has been no effort by anyone one in
government in any agency or official capacity to learn what Gen. Sejna knows,
except to the extent necessary to assess how much a threat he represented
to the efforts designed to sweep the whole matter under the rug.
It is not that people debriefed him, analyzed his information, and then rejected
it. They did not want to know in the first place. And, with few exceptions, they
still do not want to know. This is one of the real challenges your committee
Toward the end of 1992, I became so personnally shocked at the efforst to
bury his information that I took it upon myself to work with Gen. Sejna to
reconstruct the events related to American POWs as best he could recollect
The essence of his information is that American POWs, and to a lesser extent
South Korean and South Vietnamese POWs, were used by the Soviets as
laboratory specimens -- human guinea pigs -- for training mililtary doctors and
for conducting experiments with drugs, chemical and biological warfare agents,
and atomic radiation. I have prepared a paper based on my debriefings of
General Sejna and my own experience for your use. I believe General Sejna will
summarize his knowledge for you in a few minutes.
By 1993 it was clear to me that the efforst of people in our government had
thoroughly alerted the former COMMUNIST officials and intelligence services
about the emergence of Sejna's information. The possibility of surprise had
been almost totally destroyed.
According, I decided to publish the essence of Sejna's information so that at
least the American public could be aware of this facet of the POW/MIA problem.
I also hoped that maybe the information would find its way to the desk of that
rare individual who, like Col. Peck, was truly interested in learning what
The Conservative Review published my article in late 1993. It elicited no
response from within the government, but several people outside the
government were astounded with the information -- so much so that I
prepared and even more detailed accounting that was published in October
1994 an January 1995.
While the information presented in these articles was extensive, it still only
represented a small portion of what was available. For example, I deliberately
withheld information that could be best used in tracking down additional
information on American servicemen who might still be alive. I felt it was
prudent to withhold this information to prevent its sabotage by the same
forces that had blown the whistle on Sejna and his knowledge so effectively in
As you might guess, again there was absolutely no response from anyone in
the government. Indeed, even the news media for the most part refused to
cover the story, I suspect because the charges and details in the information
were so extensive that anyone would immediately understand that what was
at issue was the perpetration of war crimes of a magnitude not experienced
since the end of World War II.
The problem, of course, is that no one seems to want to hold the COMMUNIST
or RUSSIAN leadership accountable. Since the Soviet Union was born in 1917,
few people have been willing to confront the evils of their system.
One of the key questions today is, has anything changed? Is anyone today
willing to confront the Russians and the entire array of former and remaining
Does our country today have the moral courage to do what is right, or will the
usual political and commercial interests prevail?
I can not adequately express my own feelings on how important this task is.
We owe it to all those still missing, and to all those who will be asked to serve
in the future. If the United States does not take the strongest possible stand
in opposition to what has happened, how can we ever expect to put an end to
Thank you for this opportunity to share with you my feelings. I will be happy to
assist in any way I can to learn what happened and to recover those who may
still be alive.