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Executive Order 12812 of July 22, 1992, directed executive agencies to declassify and release materials pertaining to Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. In addition, the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs conducted an investigation and hearings in 1992 and sought access to documentation on POWs and MIAs.

This artificial collection of materials consists of documents that:

  • relate to Prisoners of War and Missing in Action (POW/MIA) matters
  • are from the National Security Council (NSC) files among the Nixon Presidential Materials
  • are located in NSC series that have not been reviewed and released to the public in their entirety
  • met the search guidelines of the investigation
  • have been subjected to a declassification review and released in accordance with the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) and its implementing regulations

About the Documents

The documents in this collection were made available to the staff of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs for use in the Committee's investigation, but the contents of the documents were not necessarily publicly released.

After documents containing POW/MIA information were identified by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the documents were submitted to the NSC for review.

The documents released by the National Archives are those which have been subjected to a declassification review and released in accordance with the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) and its implementing regulations.  [See Also:  Our Legal Responsibility]

Those documents relating solely to the subject of POW/MIAs have been reviewed in their entirety for declassification and release. Many documents, however, deal with other subjects in addition to POW/MIAs; only the portions of these documents relating to POW/MIAs have been reviewed for release.

Types of Documents

The materials include letters, memoranda, telegrams, memoranda of conversations, and related documentation created or received by Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and his staff.

  • Many of the documents concern the ongoing peace negotiations in Paris
  • Linear feet of materials:   1 cubic foot

POW/MIA Files Series  [See Also:  Folder Title List]

These documents were identified, reviewed, and declassified as a result of a search of the series of NSC files likely to contain POW/MIA documentation. The documents were identified as a result of a search of the following NSC series.

The series in bold are now open for research in their entirety, and the documents once part of the POW/MIA collection from these series may be found in their original file segments:

  • President's Daily Briefing
  • Vietnam Subject Files
  • Vietnam Country Files
  • Paris Talks/Meetings
  • Backchannel
  • Country Files – Far East
  • For the President's Files – Winston Lord, Vietnam Negotiations
  • Alexander M. Haig Special File
  • Files of the President – Vietnam Negotiations
  • Jon Howe Vietnam Subject Files
  • Henry A. Kissinger Office Files

Public Access

The then-Nixon Presidential Materials Staff released the POW/MIA materials to the public on November 10, 1993.

  • Since that time, several of the NSC series in which the documents were found have been reviewed in their entirety and released to the public.
  • Consequently, this collection contains only photocopies of those documents that are located in currently closed series.
  • The POW/MIA materials from open series may be found in their original file segments.

How the Documents are Marked

Portions of documents are blacked out because they relate to subjects other than Prisoners of War (POW) or Missing in Action (MIA).

  • In some instances such portions are marked Not Related to POW/MIAs.
  • To expedite the declassification review of POW/MIA information, portions relating to other subjects were not reviewed by the NSC for potential declassification and release.

In some instances, documents contain national security information which could not be declassified at this time.

  • If an entire document has been withheld, a withdrawal notice has been inserted in the file in place of the document.
  • If only a portion of the document remains classified, the deleted portion is marked Sanitized, and the appropriate section of Executive Order 12356 is indicated in the margin.

Other POW/MIA Documents  [See Also:  Excerpted POW/MIA-Related Conversations]

There is additional documentation relating to POW/MIAs among the Nixon Presidential materials which have been opened to the public:

  • White House Central Files: Subject File category "National Security-Defense (Prisoners)" (ND 18-3) contains memoranda, petitions, telegrams, letters, and newspaper clippings about Americans held prisoner or who were missing in action during the conflict in Vietnam.
  • Other file segments, particularly among the White House Special Files, contain additional documentation on POW/MIAs.
  • It is possible that scattered documentation on POW/MIAs will be found in integral file segments of Nixon Presidential Materials which remain to be processed for release in accordance with the PRMPA.

The full report of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs may be found on the Library of Congress's website at: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/pow/senate_house/investigation_S.html

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