769. Letter from Osborn to Clough1

Dear Ralph:
[Facsimile Page 1]

I am returning the extra copies of the missing-personnel dossiers you mentioned in your letter of December 19. As you say, we did get data on twelve persons.

It should be possible to make a pretty good presentation on the basis of the material we now have, if we can have discretion as to the use of material from some of the classified dossiers. Although some of the new material is still utterly valueless in our context (e.g., Pvt Worley, Lt. Gleaves, Lt De Lacy, Lt Cochran, Lt Batson, Lt Nelson), I don’t think this would necessarily hurt our presentation. We now have a few cases we could cite in some detail to cast doubt on the so-called “accounting” in both the “escaped” and the “no-data” categories (e.g., Pvt Walker, Lt Biesterveld, Capt Moreland—why have we no new data on him?—and several of the Air Force cases). Taking off from this, we could strongly renew the demand that this “practical matter” between the two sides be settled by the simple and feasible action on Peiping’s part that we [Typeset Page 1291] have asked for all along. It has seemed to us here we might also want to work in a blanket demand for information on any other US personnel, whether or not involved in the Korean conflict, of whose fate the Communists might have knowledge. In this connection, it might be useful for us to have whatever unclassified information is available on any US planes that have gone down near China since 1950—plane numbers, crew names, etc.

Probably Wang will not even give us a nibble this time. If he does respond, it will probably be with a counterattack. He can if he chooses attack the failure of the UN side to submit any accounting at all; but this line can be exploited by us against him, as it would at least be an acknowledgment that MAC business can be dealt with here. Wang could, if he chose, make a fairly good counterattack on the 14,000, even though these are not comparable to the unaccounted-for personnel. He could point out that the PRC has let those of the US non-patriots wishing to do so return; he could ask whether the 14,000 have the same right; he could point out that this is a practical matter between our two countries. Of course, he would be wrong, but it might prove uncomfortable having to argue the point. However, this line of counterattack somehow doesn’t seem Wang’s style in the present pattern.

I was glad to learn from your card that Joe Bennett is to be joining you. He is an excellent man. As to when I might rejoin you—the [Facsimile Page 2] Ambassador has indicated a sympathetic understanding of my disinclination to stay on here if the talks assume—or retain—the character of an indefinite and sporadic maintenance of contact. We both feel that the next meeting ought to be somewhat more indicative than most in regard to the future of the talks.

I realize, of course, that this doesn’t give you in CA much of a firm basis for planning ahead on personnel, which is another reason I’m glad Joe Bennett is coming.

Helenka and the children and I had a good Christmas, and hope all of you in CA did, too. We’re taking advantage of the year-end holidays to spend a few days in Italy, which I’ve never seen.

Happy New Year to all.

Sincerely,

David L. Osborn

Enclosures: Extra dossiers of missing personnel for Defense

  1. Source: Department of State, Geneva Talks Files, Lot 72D415. Confidential.