The POW/MIA Data base has been opened to the general public at a computer workstation located in the Library of Congress Computer Catalog Center in the Thomas Jefferson Building. The data base is the creation of the Library's Federal Research Division, which is indexing documents declassified by the Defense Department regarding American prisoners of war and those missing in action in Southeast Asia. The title of the collection is Correlated and Uncorrelated Information Related to Missing Americans in Southeast Asia.
The Federal Research Division is receiving the documents from the Department of Defense pursuant to the FY 1992 National Defense Authorization Act. Section 1082 of the act, Disclosure of Information Concerning United States Personnel Classified as Prisoner of War or Missing in Action During Vietnam Conflict, requires placement of the information in a "suitable library-like location within a facility within the National Capital region for public review and photocopying." The Library of Congress was selected for that setting.
ocuments being declassified include the 15 volumes of Uncorrelated Information Related to Missing Americans in Southeast Asia, released Dec. 15, 1978; Indochinese Refugee Reports; Source Reports (containing verified live sightings of Americans in Southeast Asia, hearsay live sightings, grave site and crash site information); and Casualty Files.
The public will be able to use the workstation to search the index using keywords, date of information, type of document, country of incident (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) and by personal names. Because of restrictions, the number of documents with names is limited.
The National Defense Authorization Act prohibits public release of information on living persons unless they consent in writing. It also prohibits the release of information on a person who is dead, incapacitated or whose whereabouts are unknown unless consent is given by "a family member or family members of that person determined to be appropriate by the Secretary of Defense."
Neither the Library of Congress nor the Federal Research Division is responsible for the declassification of the documents. The indexing is continuing and the data base will be updated on a regular basis as more documents are microfilmed. Currently there are approximately 20,000 documents in the data base.