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JPRA FOIA POW Debriefs

 

JPRA has established and maintains an accessible repository for archived historical personnel recovery data to provide accurate, thorough, and objective accounts of circumstances surrounding the isolation of Department of Defense (DoD) personnel. Prisoners of War (POW) are allowed a one-time security clearance and are provided access to read and review their respective debriefing files in a controlled environment. The authorization to review files does not constitute authorization to copy, record, or retain the debriefing file.

 

Debriefings have produced classified information obtained under a promise of confidentiality made for the purpose of ensuring the fullest possible disclosure of information. POWs were promised that their complete and candid statements about the conditions of their captivity and the events surrounding their capture, captivity, and release would be treated as privileged information and not disclosed. Release would violate confidentiality agreements and constitute an unwarranted invasion of their personal privacy.

 

Debriefing materials/files are exempt from release to the public in their entirety in accordance with 5 USC §552(b)(1), (b)(3), (b)(5), and (b)(6) of the FOIA.

 

• 5 USC §552(b)(1) governs the release of classified/sensitive information which is currently and properly classified in accordance with Executive Order 13526-Classified National Security Information.

 

• 5 USC §552(b)(3) protects information specifically exempted by the National Security Act. The language of the statute clearly states that the information will not be disclosed. Specific statutes precluding such release and commonly applicable to DoD cases involving POWs, are 10 USC §1506(2)(d) and (f). These statutes prohibit the disclosure of privileged information/debriefing reports provided by missing persons returned to U.S. control which are obtained under a promise of confidentiality made for the purpose of ensuring the fullest possible disclosure of information.

 

SPECIFIC FOIA (b)(3) STATUTES PERTAINING TO MISSING PERSONS/POWS

(b)(3) Statutes

Type Of Information Covered

 [U.S. Code commonly applicable to DoD under the FOIA at 5 USC §552(b)(3).]

[Information specifically exempted by a statute establishing particular criteria for withhold.  The language of the statute must clearly state that the information will not be disclosed.]

15.

10 USC §1506(d) and (f) 

Debriefing of a Missing Person Returned to U.S. Control.  The Period Covered is July 9, 1959, forward.

46.

50 USC §435 Note Sec 1082, P.L. 102-190

Disclosure of Information Concerning U.S. Personnel Classified as POW/MIA During the Vietnam and Korean Conflicts (“McCain Bill”)

 

• 5 USC §552(b)(5) protects classes of privileged information. 10 USC §1506(2)(d) and (f) establishes privileged information/debriefing reports provided by missing persons returned to U.S. control as a distinct class of privileged information.

 

• 5 USC §552(b)(6) protects a POW’s personal privacy and prevents a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy.

 

The Missing Persons Act (10 USC Sections 1501-1513) was amended by Section 575 of the FY 2000 Appropriations Act. Section 575, "Nondisclosure of Debriefing Information on Certain Missing Persons Previously Returned to United States Control" added subsection (f) to Section 1506, which provides that "A record of the content of a debriefing of a missing person returned to the United States control during the period beginning on July 8, 1959, and ending on February 10, 1996, that was conducted by an official of the United States authorized to conduct the debriefing is privileged information and, notwithstanding sections 552 and 552a of title 5 [Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts, respectively], may not be disclosed, in whole or part, under either section.” The result of the amendment is to apply the already existing legislative prohibition on release of debriefings contained in the Missing Persons Act to those debriefings that were acquired between July 1959 and February 10, 1996. Now, all debriefings from July 8, 1959 and on into the future are considered privileged information.

 

The Geneva Convention (III) Relative to the Treatment of POW (CPW), Article 13 states…“Likewise, POWs must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.” POWs have been guaranteed absolute confidentiality by the Government and promised that information regarding the conditions of their captivity, and the events surrounding their capture, captivity, and release would not be disclosed.

 

 

 

The Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) is a Chairman's Controlled Activity. JPRA is designated as DoD's office of primary responsibility for DoD-wide personnel recovery matters, less policy. JPRA is headquartered in Fort Belvoir, Virginia with schools located in Fredericksburg, VA and Spokane, WA.
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