Breadcrumb

POW/MIA Files

Abstract

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
Scope and Content Note

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: Federal Regulations and Restrictions.]

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 POW/MIA series consists of three boxes of previously classified materials from the National Security Council Files. The first box contains copies of the President’s Daily Briefings or PDB. These are also located in NSC boxes 1-61.

    The two remaining boxes contain an array of materials including letters, memoranda, telegrams, memoranda of conversations, and related documentation created or received primarily by President Richard Nixon, Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and his staff, particularly regarding the release of prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Vietnam War.

    Many of the documents concern the ongoing peace negotiations in Paris, particularly pertaining to the release of prisoners of war and those missing in action in the Indochina region. They largely refer to cease-fire agreement timelines, the withdrawal of United States troops, and the limited support for the South Vietnamese after the completion of negotiations and the release of POW/MIA. Further material catalogs the efforts of Four Party Joint Military Team (FPJMT), the Two Party Joint Military Commission (TPJMC), and the International Commission of Control and Supervision (ICCS) throughout the cease-fire agreement’s implementation. Documentation additionally suggests the Indochinese leaders’ response to the cease-fire agreements through conversations between Kissinger and other foreign leaders, President Nguyen Van Thieu’s speeches, cease-fire violations, and summaries of key diplomatic meetings.

    There are also materials from community organizations like the National League of Families of American POW’s and MIA’s in Southeast Asia, including lists of meeting attendees, recordings of conversations, and letters from committee heads to Dr. Kissinger. With the release of prisoners of war and those missing in action, further documentation deals with concern over the media and antiwar response, particularly to the continued funding of war efforts for POW release.

    In addition, boxes 2-3 hold materials involving the post-release efforts. These documents range from speeches from President Richard Nixon at POW events to POW release statements regarding their capture, treatment, and, for some, their continued national commitment.  

  • A large number of the President's Daily Briefs for the Nixon and Ford presidencies were released by the Central Intelligence Agency on August 24, 2016. They are available online in the CIA's virtual Reading Room.

  • A selection of documents from boxes 2-3 are available as PDF files HERE.

  • Linear feet of materials:   1 cubic foot

POW/MIA Files Series

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

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

Folder Title List

Box 1

President's Daily Briefing

President's Daily Briefs Jan 1-27, 1969
President's Daily Briefs Jan 28-31, 1969
President's Daily Briefs Feb 15-28, 1969
President's Daily Briefs Mar 1-19, 1969
President's Daily Briefs May 15-31, 1969
President's Daily Briefs July 1-9, 1969
President's Daily Briefs Aug 1-9, 1969
President's Daily Briefs Sept 1-22, 1969
President's Daily Briefs Oct 1-28, 1969
President's Daily Briefs Nov 1969
President's Daily Briefs Dec 10-31, 1969
President's Daily Briefs Jan 1-14, 1970
President's Daily Briefs Feb 2-28, 1970
President's Daily Briefs Mar 2-31, 1970
President's Daily Briefs Apr 1-10, 1970
President's Daily Briefs June 6-15, 1970
President's Daily Briefs July 11-20, 1970
President's Daily Briefs Aug 12-31, 1970
President's Daily Briefs Sept 18-30, 1970
President's Daily Briefs Oct 1-16, 1970
President's Daily Briefs Nov 2-30, 1970
President's Daily Briefs Dec 1970
President's Daily Briefs Jan 2-29, 1971
President's Daily Briefs Feb 1-17, 1971
President's Daily Briefs Apr 1971
President's Daily Briefs May 1971
President's Daily Briefs June 1971
President's Daily Briefs July 1-16, 1971
President's Daily Briefs Aug 2-16, 1971
President's Daily Briefs Oct 1-30, 1971
President's Daily Briefs Nov 1-16, 1971
President's Daily Briefs Dec 1971
President's Daily Briefs Jan 3-31, 1972
President's Daily Briefs Feb 1-15, 1972
President's Daily Briefs Mar 1972
President's Daily Briefs May 17-31, 1972
President's Daily Briefs June 16-30, 1972
President's Daily Briefs July 17-31, 1972
President's Daily Briefs Aug 1-15, 1972
President's Daily Briefs Sept 1972
President's Daily Briefs Nov 17-30, 1972
President's Daily Briefs Dec 1-16, 1972
President's Daily Briefs Feb 1973
President's Daily Briefs Mar 1973
President's Daily Briefs Apr 2-30, 1973
President's Daily Briefs May 1973
President's Daily Briefs June 1973

Box 2

Vietnam Subject Files

3-D Prisoners of War (All)
Vietnam (POW) Vol. IV Jan-June 1972
Vietnam (POW) Vol. V July-Dec 1972
Vietnam (POW) Vol. VI Jan 1973 [1 of 2]
Vietnam (POW) Vol. VI Jan 1973 [2 of 2]
Cease-fire 1972
Vietnam Cease-fire Memos Jan-Mar 1973
H[enry] A. K[issinger]/President Memos (NVN), Situation in Vietnam, May-Aug 1972
H[enry] A. K[issinger]/President Memos (NVN), Situation in Vietnam, Sept-Oct 1972

Box 3

Vietnam Post Cease-Fire Report March 1973
Vietnam Post Cease-Fire Report April 1973
Vietnam Post Cease-Fire Report May 1973

Vietnam Country Files

Vietnam August 1972
Vietnam September 1972
Vietnam Oct-Dec 1972
Vietnam Jan-Apr 1973

Backchannel

Backchannel Messages - 1972 Southeast Asia
Backchannel Messages - 1973 Southeast Asia, Vol. I
Backchannel Messages - 1973 Southeast Asia, Vol. II [Part 1]
Backchannel Messages - From:  Amb. Bunker - Saigon Sept 1972
Backchannel Messages - To: Amb. Bunker - Saigon Sept 1972 [Part 2]
Backchannel Messages - To: Amb. Bunker - Saigon 1972
Backchannel Messages - 1973 Vol. I [Part 1] To: Amb. Bunker - Saigon through Apr 1973
Backchannel Messages - 1973 Vol. I [Part 2] From: Amb. Bunker - Saigon through Apr 1973
Backchannel Messages - 1973 Vol II Bunker/Whitehouse Apr 1 - July 18, 1973
Backchannel Messages - 1972 Paris - Watson and Porter
Backchannel Messages - Paris, 26 Patch 1972
Backchannel Messages - 26 Patch 1973 Vol. I
Backchannel Messages - 26 Patch 1973 Vol. II

Country Files - Far East

Laos - Vol. II Jan - Dec 1973

Jon Howe Vietnam Subject Files

John Negroponte Negotiations Files 1972-73 Vol. I
John Negroponte Negotiations Files 1972-73 Vol. II
[How the Peace was Won]
Daily Brief for the President - Apr - Sept 1972
Daily Brief for the President - Oct 1972 - Jan 1973