Memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (Wilson)1

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  • Trial of Prisoners of War for Post-Capture Offenses.
[Page 768]
Reference is made to memorandum to you, dated 9 January 1953,2 subject as above, in which the Joint Chiefs of Staff referred to the request of the Commander in Chief, United Nations Command, for authority to establish a United Nations Military Commission for the purpose of trying prisoners of war and recommended that a study of this question, as well as the broader aspects of the prisoner of war problem, be undertaken by a high level interdepartmental committee with a view to making appropriate recommendations thereon to the President.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff are now in receipt of another message from the Commander in Chief, United Nations Command, (Appendix B)3 in which he expresses the conviction that the question of trials for post-capture offenders demands separate and immediate consideration and requests that he be authorized as a matter of highest priority to convene a United Nations Military Commission for the conduct of such trials. He is particularly desirous, in view of the increasing frequency of attacks against members of the United Nations Command security forces assigned to the prisoner of war camps, to bring to prompt trial and punishment those prisoners of war charged with attacks upon security personnel. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are still of the opinion that the over-all question of prisoners of war trials can best be assessed in connection with a broad review of the entire prisoner of war problem as indicated in their memorandum to you of 9 January 1953. However, the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that acts of violence against security personnel may be considered distinct from cases involving riots, demonstrations, acts against other prisoners, etc. They further consider that such acts are of such serious import that immediate action is required.
Accordingly, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that you approve, and obtain the concurrence of the Secretary of State in the dispatch of the attached draft message to the Commander in Chief, United Nations Command (Appendix “A”).4
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Omar N. Bradley
Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. This memorandum was transmitted to Allison under a letter from Nash, Feb. 16, 1953, in which Nash requested comments and clearance of a proposed JCS message to Clark authorizing trials by UNC military commissions of those prisoners charged with postcapture acts of violence against members of the UNC security forces. For a text of the JCS authorization as it was transmitted to Clark, see telegram JCS 931969, Feb. 20, p. 790.
  2. For the text of this memorandum, see p. 725.
  3. The reference was to an attached copy of telegram CX 61135, Clark to the Department of the Army, Feb. 4, p. 732.
  4. A draft copy of JCS 931969, Feb. 20, was attached to the source text.