The '1205 Document': A Story of American Prisoners, Vietnamese Agents, Soviet Archives, Washington Bureaucrats, and the Media

Last January, I was sitting in the former headquarters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, reading top-secret Soviet files about the Vietnam war.

Issue: Fall 1993

Last January, I was sitting in the former headquarters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, reading top-secret Soviet files about the Vietnam war. While turning the pages of a file, I unexpectedly came upon a startling document by a Vietnamese Communist general. It was a Russian translation of a report dated September 15, 1972 by Lieutenant General Tran Van Quang to the Vietnamese Worker's (Communist) Party politburo, detailing the number of American prisoners of war held by the North Vietnamese on that date. The document was the product of the former Soviet Armed Forces Main Intelligence Directorate (Glavnoye Razvedivatelnoye Upravleniye--GRU).

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