House Armed Services Subcommittee – POW/MIA Hearings

If you subscribe to the National Alliance of Families’ Bits N Pieces, you have surely read that the House subcommittee on Military Personnel will “suddenly” be having hearings on the POW/MIA Issue. Why? Well, they claim that they haven’t gotten an update on the Issue in over a decade and that it was time they did.

From Bits N Pieces:

House Sub-Committee on Military Personnel to Hold Hearings – On June 25th we learned that the House Sub-Committee on Military Personnel would hold hearings on the POW/MIA issue. While we welcome the Committee decision to hold its first hearings on the POW/MIA issue since 1998, the Committee and Congressional leadership should understand that these hearings are not a substitute for passage of H.Res 111.

Hearings simply give organizations and individuals a chance to present a picture as they see it and to make recommendations on future efforts. These hearings do not provide the opportunity for in depth investigations of the type required to properly address new POW/MIA information discovered and developed since the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs issued its final report in January 1993.

The first hearing is scheduled for 2:00 PM July 10th. You can watch and/or listen to the hearing via the internet at http://armedservices.house.gov/audiocast.shtml Testifying that day will be Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/MIA Affairs (DPMO) Charles Ray and Admiral Donna Crisp, Commander of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC.) Dates for future hearings have not been set. When they are we will let you know.

Lynn goes on to say that no series of hearings on the Hill will substitute for a House Select Committee which House Res. 111. I couldn’t have said it better myself!

If you will be working or unable to listen in to the first session on July 10th, The POW Warrior will be live blogging the event here so feel free to check in from time to time during the day to get some insight on what is being told to Congress about the Issue by DASD Charles Ray and JPAC Commander Rear Admiral Crisp. There testimony should be rather interesting!

Another Con Man Fleecing the POW/MIA Issue

In a previous post I shared my personal views on former JPAC field investigator James M. Webb and his recent attempt to fleece the POW/MIA Issue with claims of “inside information”.  After viewing his first of many money making products, I suspected that Webb was trying to make a quick buck by marketing his insider idea to families and activists.

Little did I know that his plans were on an even grander scale.  I have been made aware of some of the activities of James M. Webb and let me make this clear, he is in the same category as Mike Hearns and Richard/Hadel who was recently exposed by POW/MIA Families.  Webb seems to be escalating his level of fraud on family members.  First, we have the DVD “The Untold Story” which really tells us nothing that we don’t already know.  It was so poorly made and the lack of preparation is more than evident as the DVD goes on.

Now, it appears, that Webb has moved on to more covert operations and is targeting individual families or groups of families with claims of assistance, knowledge of live men and contacts in SEA that can “help” bring out a live man.

The POW Warrior has been made aware of a POW/MIA family who sought out Webb for additional information on a case that he had investigated multiple times in the past. He responded to the family that he would be happy to review his old reports and then provide the family will a full report on any significant information that he recalled that may not have been mentioned in the original reports.  The family was made this promise in late 2007 and after three follow up e-mails that were never responded to, this family got the message that Webb had no intention of helping anyone except himself.

His tactics escalated to include offering information to LKA families and most likely some false documents as evidence of life. Apparently many family members have contacted Webb asking for help and information and he has apparently decided this was where the real money was because his purported monthly newsletters, upcoming book and other products have seemed to come to a inexplicable hault.  The POW Warrior had been told that the upcoming book was initially going to be a collaborative effort between Webb and David D. Hendrix, the reporter who broke the Alternate Identity Program. Yet due to “creative differences” that partnership was dissolved.

Webb was supposed to be a guest speaker this past week during the Annual Family Meetings and after receiving the money to purchase his airfare, donated by various LKA family members, he asked if they would pay for his assistant to come along as well.  The need for an assistant is still mind-boggling to me, yet I digress (thankfully the families told him that was impossible).  Some 10 days before the meeting he responded that he had his tickets for 16-19 June when he was actually supposed to be in attendance for 19-21 June.  A week before the meetings he communicated that he was attempting to change the reservations and would get back to those involved.  On the 18th he had some unknown individual contact the families again stating that he had suddenly become ill and was hospitalized with what appeared to be some type of poisioning.  Was he insinuating that he was purposely poisoned so he could not attend the event?  It is hard to speculate. 

To date, there has been no further contact from Webb and these families are out over $2500. 

One final thought, Webb has claimed in his DVD that he was present for the infamous document shredding incident in Hanoi yet myself and others have attempted to find someone who can corraborate his participation and at present, we have not been able to do so.

What may well be at the core of this situation is that Webb underestimated the POW/MIA Families and activists and suddenly realized that his con-game would not get passed those assembled who have been fighting this issue long before he ever set foot in SEA as an investigative team member.  Not to mention those who he may well have made promises to or had been ignoring via e-mail were expected to be in attendance and he may well have been concerned about a confrontation.

Either way, Webb is now, at least in my eyes, an official enemy of the Issue.

The POW Warrior

UPDATE May, 2009:  With the Annual Meetings just a few months away, I thought a follow up on Webb would be in order.   He has seemed to disappear.  His website, The POW/MIA Insider, is not longer active, his promised publications are non-existent and the families that he fleeced for over $2500 have not heard a word from him. 

The Shantag’s over at the POW Network referenced this link regarding James M. Webb.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one who questioned his claims.

http://www.professionalsoldiers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19672&page=2

Educating Garrison Keillor

 

A  syndicated columnist from Minnesota, Garrison Keillor, wrote a scathing piece that appeared in many major newspapers across the country condemning a national non-profit POW/MIA -Veterans group, Rolling Thunder ©  their site here,  for their disruption of his Memorial Day Weekend in our nation’s capitol.    It appears that Mr. Keillor was inconvenienced by having to wait some 20 minutes to cross Constitution Avenue on Sunday, May 25, 2008 as Rolling Thunder’s 21st Annual POW/MIA Demonstration Ride took place through the Capital.  Reports have estimated that some 350,000 bikers came from all corner of the US, Canada and even Australia to demonstrate in the name of those  100,000 POW/MIAs that are still unaccounted for from all our military conflicts as well as some significant issues that affect our military veterans.

 It would appear that Mr. Keillor, felt the need to express his discontent by lashing out using his “the pen is mightier than the sword” technique.   It is significant to note that Mr. Keillor was not in DC for business, this was a leisure visit.  On that day he was just another American enjoying a beautiful day in our nation’s capital.  Therefore he decided to use his next syndicated piece as a weapon against these 350,000 patriots who disrupted his day.  Before dissecting his piece, which I refuse to provide a link to, let’s just say that Mr. Keillor didn’t plan the logistics of his day’s events and instead of blaming himself for the “piss poor planning on his part” he decided to wield his pen to reallocate blame. 

Please keep in mind that many websites geared toward DC for visitors, DC papers and even hotels were making Memorial Day Weekend visitors to DC well aware of the fact that Constitution Ave. would be inaccessible during certain times on Sunday.  It suffices to say, Mr. Keillor didn’t get the memo.

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Dear Mr. Keillor,

To dutifully correct you, this was no “tribute” or “celebration”.   It was a demonstration.  It was a message to Washington’s political arm that those assembled are well aware of the fact that men were knowingly left behind in past wars and we want them to act appropriately to correct it.   If you had done some research before you put pen to paper, you would have learned from Rolling Thunder’s Mission Statement that,

                THE MAJOR FUNCTION OF ROLLING THUNDER ®, INC. IS TO PUBLICIZE THE POW-MIA ISSUE: TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC THAT MANY AMERICAN PRISONERS OF WAR WERE LEFT BEHIND AFTER ALL PREVIOUS WARS AND TO HELP CORRECT THE PAST AND TO PROTECT FUTURE VETERANS FROM BEING LEFT BEHIND SHOULD THEY BECOME PRISONERS OF WAR-MISSING IN ACTION. WE ARE ALSO COMMITTED TO HELPING AMERICAN VETERANS FROM ALL WARS.

 

Mr. Keillor, you went on to say that the “patriotism somehow gets lost in the sheer irritation of the thing.”   How irritating indeed.  I wonder how we could compare your irritation with the “irritation” of having a loved one captured and never returned?  Or with the children who hold their parent’s hand on their death bed being told to keep fighting with Washington to find their brother still missing from Vietnam?  Or with the mothers of soldiers Byron Fouty and Alex Jimenez captured last year in Iraq? 

 

You explained that you went to see some fine artwork at the National Gallery after the disruption of you day and found the peace and quiet to be “an outpost of civilization.”  How ironic that this “civilization” that you so enjoyed was bought and paid for by the brave men who are remembered on the various memorials found just a few blocks away.   These men who loved their country and valued all that it stands for more than they valued their own lives.  I am reminded of the George Orwell quote, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”   There is no doubt that you, Mr. Keillor,  are one of those sleeping peaceably …

 

 You drone on for three paragraphs about the artwork you saw and how, in your mind, all one needs to know about war can be read in the specific books you mention.  Well, Mr. Keillor, there are certain things in life that must be lived in order to be truly understood.  Those of us with children can attest to the fact that what we thought being a parent was and what it is are two very different things. The same can be said about war.  No one in that demonstration “played soldier”, Mr. Keillor, and I can assure you they didn’t consider it a game.   The overwhelming majority of those that drove by you have seen war, they have lived it is a way that only their band of brothers can understand.  These are the rough men who stood ready to do violence on your behalf.   If you were truly searching for those who are “playing soldier”, you simply needed to head to the opposite end of Constitution Avenue to Capitol Hill.  There is where you will find people who know little if anything about being a soldier, yet trying to pretend that they do.  They did it during Vietnam and they are doing it again.

 

Many of us are curious as to how you expressed your patriotism while in DC for Memorial Day.   After seeing the artwork did you pause at any of the war memorials?  Did you take the Metro to Arlington Cemetery?  Did you go to the VA Hospital to visit with Veterans as hundreds of members of Rolling Thunder did on the day before the ride?  Did you walk up to one of those bikers and shake his hand and say thank you?  Did you stop to listen to the speeches given by those supporting the POW/MIA Issue?  One certainly does wonders.

 

The most important question I have to ask Mr. Keillor is this; What do you do to reach out to those in need?  When was the last time you did something that wasn’t self-serving?  What causes do you support?  Not just with writing a check for a tax write off or spending $200 a plate for a gala but something that you give you time to, something that you believe in? 

 

You see Mr. Keillor, these 350,000 people spent their hard earned cash and rode their bikes from as far away as California and even flew in from Australia to participate in what you deemed an “irritation”.   These folks rode for battle brothers who made the ultimate sacrifice, missing battle brothers and some even rode for their missing family members.  They gave up their trips to the museum, their picnics, yard work, pool time and their day off to give voice to those who have none.  And what did you give up?  20 minutes standing in the sun on a street corner.  How patriotic of you!

 

One final thought, Mr. Keillor.  You painted your description of these 350,000 people with a very broad brush.  I can assure you that there were people on those bikes who earn more money than you do and live in a home much nicer than yours.  Yet they rode on bikes not BMW to send a message.   You made reference to these ponytail clad bikers, well, you would be surprised to learn that many of them later donate that hair to “Locks of Love” and then start growing their hair to donate it all over again.   Can I ask again about what you do for others?

 

Class is over, Mr. Keillor, I would recommend that in the future, the next time you decide to take a trip or write about something that you know nothing about, don’t follow the traditional stereotypes or make assumptions, do you research, after all, you are a journalist.