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Eisenhower knew POWs remained in Korea


Pentagon says nothing new in declassified documents

September 16, 1996
Web posted at: 11:00 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Carl Rochelle

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Newly disclosed documents suggest that as many as 900 U.S. servicemen were left behind in North Korea after the United States and North Korea exchanged prisoners following the Korean War. The declassified papers were released by the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library.

The public didn't know about those left behind, but it is clear that Eisenhower did. Five months after the war, in a document dated December 22, 1953, Army Secretary Robert Stevens met with President Eisenhower and told him the Defense Department had the names of 610 Army people and over 300 Air Force prisoners still held by the North Koreans.


A number of people confirmed the reports, citing their own experiences. Retired Colonel Phillip Corso, a former intelligence aide to Eisenhower, watched the exchange of prisoners at Panmunjon, and talked with some of those who came back. "Our own boys told me there were sick and wounded American boys not 10 miles from the camp, and they were not exchanged," he said. (9 sec/96K AIFF or WAV sound) icon

A former Czechoslovakian general and Soviet intelligence agent, Jan Sejna, defected to the United States before the end of the Cold War. He told Congress Tuesday that he saw some of the prisoners being used in gruesome medical experiments.

"The top-secret purpose of the hospital was medical experimentation on Americans and South Koreans. The POWs were used to test the effects of chemical and biological weapons, and test the effects of atomic radiation," Sejna said.


"The Soviets also used the American prisoners to test the psychological endurance of American soldiers. They were also used to test various mind controls."

Some Americans defected, choosing to stay in North Korea at the end of the war, but there are persistent reports that some Americans are still being held against their will, 40 years later.

The Pentagon maintains that there is nothing new in the declassified Eisenhower documents.

"The information in those documents has been testified about for years," a senior Pentagon official told CNN. "To date, we have not been able to corroborate any of this information, and we continue to devote the highest priority to investigating reports of live sightings."


While the Pentagon has never been able to corroborate any reports of POWs in Korea, the United States finally got a chance to look for itself. In July North Korea, for the first time, allowed a U.S. team into the country to search for remains of American soldiers. A tape provided to CNN by North Korea showed one of the excavation sites. (19 sec/ 952K QuickTime movie) movie icon

The Eisenhower documents suggest that although that administration was concerned about the possibility that it had abandoned POWs, it did not make the issue public for fear of a nuclear confrontation with Russia or China.

The Pentagon said it has raised the issue of live POW sightings repeatedly with the North Korean government, but North Korea has consistently denied withholding any Americans after the war.


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