July 12, 2013

WASHINGTON DC - Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) and a bi-partisan group of members of the House are calling for an investigation and audit of the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC), the entity responsible for tracking down those lost in the line of duty. In a letter to the Inspector General’s office at the Department of Defense, the Congressional representatives cite numerous shortcomings in the JPAC’s internal procedures and question the handling of a 2012 internal review which raised questions about those shortcomings.

“We have a moral obligation to use every available resource to track down and recover service members who are lost at war,” says Speier, member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “Over 80,000 soldiers – a small city’s worth – are still listed as missing, but taxpayer money is being spent on needless travel and misguided missions. By all accounts, the internal review showed that JPAC has been incompetent at its job and for a long time. There should have been immediate action taken as a result of this review. Instead, the command was allowed to go on floundering.”

Earlier this week, the command was revealed to be at risk of “dysfunction to total failure,” including sending investigators on “boondoggles” that can be referred to as “military tourism.” According to the internal review, these processes and investigations rely on too few leads, an incomplete list of the service members they’re searching for, and maps that are so “chronically unreliable” that the teams are left “cartigraphically blind.”

The letter calls for answers regarding the command’s entire process, from authorizing and evaluating missions to the accuracy and quality of JPAC’s tools for conducting investigations and collecting evidence.

An estimated 83,348 service members remain missing from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

The letter can be viewed here and has been co-signed by

Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) – Chair, House Armed Services Oversight and Investigations
Rep. Niki Tsongas (D- MA) – Ranking Member, House Armed Services Oversight and Investigations
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) – Member, House Armed Services Committee
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) – Member, House Appropriations’ Defense Subcommittee