Families Sue National Archives for POW/MIA Records on 70th Anniversary of Korean War
(Washington; June 24, 2020) Tomorrow, on the 70th anniversary of the Korean War’s start, family members of American POW/MIAs from the conflict are suing the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for government records still being withheld on these missing men. Records sought include those on Americans known alive in enemy hands but never released and those reported by U.S. intelligence to have been shipped to China and the Soviet Union or retained by North Korea.
“After 25 years of research at NARA for information on my father and our other missing heroes,” says John Zimmerlee, a plaintiff in the suit, “At its current pace the Archives will still be keeping many of these records secret long after I and the other children of these POW/MIAs are dead.” A leading researcher on the issue, Zimmerlee is co-author of American Trophies: How American POWs Were Surrendered to North Korea, China, and Russia by Washington’s “Cynical Attitude” and son of MIA Captain John Henry Zimmerlee, USAF.
Along with information on missing Americans, plaintiffs will also seek documentation regarding NARA’s failure to make many such records easily available to the public. Washington attorney John Clarke represents the families in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. “Under the McCain Bill, two Executive Orders, and a Presidential Directive, NARA and other federal agencies have long since been required to declassify and make these records publicly available,” says Clarke. “However, many of the records – from wartime intelligence to sightings of American POWs alive decades after the war -- remain unavailable.”
Capt. Harry Moore was shot down on a 1951 Air Force reconnaissance mission and declared dead shortly after the Korean War. His widow Lois and brother Bob later married and raised a family. Then, in 2002, the Pentagon informed them that Capt. Moore may have been captured by the Soviets, who were then engaged in aerial combat against the U.S. in Korea. “It’s bad enough that Moscow, Beijing and Pyongyang refuse to open their central files on these men despite repeated requests and payments from the United States,” says Bob Moore of Boise. “Even worse is that our own government continues to slow roll release of its files. We’re in our 90s and can’t wait any longer.”
More than 7,500 Americans remain missing from the Korean War, along with over 100 Cold War aviators lost during spy flights, some also reported in Soviet and Chinese captivity. Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in April against the CIA for records on both groups of missing Americans.
Joining the suit is the POW Investigative Project, www.powinvestigativeproject.org, a multi-lingual investigative reporting platform which uses crowdsourcing to obtain POW/MIA information from China, Russia, North Korea and formerly communist countries.
For more information, contact: John Clarke, 202-344-0776, John [at] JohnHClarkeLaw.com.
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