- The Washington Times - Monday, April 21, 2003

Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican and chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, says that if Saddam Hussein is alive he may have Navy pilot Capt. Michael Scott Speicher the Navy pilot shot down on the first night of the 1991 Persian Gulf war "with him."
"If Saddam is dead," or if his "senior leader who knew about Scott" is dead, the long-missing pilot is "probably in a bunker cell in Baghdad," Mr. Roberts said yesterday on "Fox News Sunday."
"And that's why we are really pulling on a full-court press to find him," Mr. Roberts added.
Capt. Speicher initially was classified as having been killed when his F-18 crashed into the Iraqi desert after being shot down on Jan. 17, 1991.
The wreckage of his plane was found in 1993. Two years later, the Defense Department and the Red Cross went to the crash site. They found Capt. Speicher's flight suit, which they determined had been a recent placement. They concluded the pilot had ejected from the plane and survived.
A decade after his disappearance, and in response to intelligence reports that an American pilot had been seen alive at various locations, Capt. Speicher's classification was changed to missing in action. It was changed again later to "captured/whereabouts unknown."
On Fox, Mr. Roberts said the pilot's current status is the "same standing as a POW."
"We don't want to leave him behind again," the senator said, adding:
"We have a special intelligence unit. We have a search-and-rescue team. They've been in Iraq since March. They are going through archives. They are talking to people who may help us actually find Scott."
Mr. Roberts then said he "really thinks … his whereabouts depends on Saddam."
"He was very closely held during the five years that he was held prisoner. No one in the United States even raised a fuss. It's been during the last six years that we've tried to persevere."
In 2000, "60 Minutes II" did an expose, detailing mistakes in the Pentagon's investigation. In her book, "No One Left Behind," naval historian and reporter Amy Waters Varsinske said the Pentagon seemed to go out of its way to ignore evidence that Capt. Speicher might be alive.
Mr. Roberts recently told The Washington Post that "people should be court-martialed" over the way the Speicher case was handled.
As for whether Saddam Hussein is dead or alive, Mr. Roberts said yesterday that the intelligence committee is "split" on the issue.

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