Sharing countercultural history. Investigating ideas on how to co-create sustainable community outside the box. Establishing said online resources content in one place. Thereby, mirroring the long process of what it takes to raise social justice, political and cultural consciousness collectively. Your mission, should you decide to join us, is to click on the yellow daisy on the left! All the best to you, in a world-wide affiliation!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another Winter Holiday card for the World_ no matter where you live!

There are as many humanities as there are people. We are not one humanity we are many. Our differences are there even if we do not judge each other by them. Your needs and my needs are the same, as are the needs of all living things. Yet the ways of all living things are different. I will not impose my need or ways onto you just because you appear to be like me. Do not impose your ways on me just because I appear to be like you.

Blessings for us all without exception. Without exception. Without exception.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dear Mr. President

Stop the money machine as usual! If corporations aren't going to hire as they once did, and they are not_ because the millions of makers inside those settings are no longer working, hence they/we are no longer buying, now is the time to innovate. Do you hear that young people in the workforce, and those just entering? You now have legitimate permission to think for yourselves!! What does this all possibly mean for you? So, Mr. President, utilize all this ability and hear me say that I like many want to work.
I want to work in the the sustainable energy field, namely installing solar panels across this land. It is time to innovate Mr. President, and I like many do appreciate the fight you have put up on our behalf for national health care. Though, I have stayed away from the fight messiness over national health care_ that resistance-at-everyone's-expense, outside of online citizen actions in which I do believe. Therefore I have participated to be heard in large numbers. We need national health care and yet isn't it is so incredibly stupid how those obvious changes are not being handled?! Some people are just married to the dollar.
Simultaneously, now is also very simply the time to innovate with regard to our failing economy. I am calling on you Mr. President, to just really do this. To take government/corporate partners kicking and screaming right along with your decisions to put us back to work, as anything else is a waste and I like many do not want to live this way any longer. The further back from the news I live my life, the more the patterns of agenda reveal of themselves, which are not in the best interests of the common good.
Just like President Roosevelt did, you can choose to create the programs to mobilize this nation back to work. Just update his idea to our time & put us back to work now. Enact a sustainability economy in this New Age Deal; New Deal Age; New Century Economy; the New Century Sustainable Economy!!! On behalf of everyone Mr. President, innovate now.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Therefore, I believe:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

These are among the devastatingly true costs of War in Families, Communities, Our Nation

Capt. Michael "Scott" Speicher (photo taken about 1991)

Saddam was telling truth of missing Gulf War pilot
AP - 11/28/2009 03:25:58


Saddam was telling truth in missing Gulf War pilot Photo By AP

Saddam Hussein was telling the truth, this time. The United States just didn't believe him.

So it took the most powerful military in the world 18 years to find the remains of the only U.S. Navy pilot shot down in an aerial battle in the 1991 Gulf War.

Michael "Scott" Speicher
's bones lay 18 inches deep in Iraqi sand, more or less right where a group of Iraqis had led an American search team in 1995.

The search for Speicher was frustrated by two wars, mysteriously switched remains, Iraqi duplicity and a final tip from a young nomad in Anbar province.

U.S. officials often were blinded by the same myopia that tainted prewar intelligence -- the American conviction that Hussein's government lied about everything. As it turned out, the Iraqis lied, but sometimes they told the truth.

For more than a decade, speculation swirled that the 33-year-old Speicher, a lieutenant commander when he went missing, had been captured alive. That was disproved by the team that found and confirmed his remains.

"He wasn't captured or tortured," said Thomas Brown, chief of the Intelligence Community POW/MIA analytic cell at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Brown, who worked on Speicher's case for 15 years, described to The Associated Press in an exclusive interview how the threads leading to the pilot got so tangled.

Speicher was shot down by an Iraqi MiG 100 miles west of Baghdad on Jan. 17, 1991, the first day of the war to drive Saddam's invading forces from Kuwait. Then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney announced the pilot's death as the first casualty of the war, but no search and rescue effort was launched.

When the war ended that March, the U.S. demanded the return of Speicher's remains. But because of a data glitch, the U.S. erroneously pinpointed his crash site south of Baghdad.

The Iraqis were puzzled. They knew an F-18 had been shot down west of the capital. But they followed the botched U.S. coordinates and searched for Speicher's plane in the south, finding nothing.

The search was soon complicated by the Iraqi discovery of a different crash site -- of a downed Air Force A-10 fighter. The Iraqis brought the unidentified American A-10 pilot's remains to a Basrah hospital for safekeeping, labeling them "Mickel" for a clumsy translation of what might have been the pilot's belt buckle manufactured by McDonnell Douglas.

Just before those remains were to be handed over to the U.S., Shiites rebelling against Saddam seized the hospital, forcing Iraqi officials to make a hasty gamble.

If they didn't turn over the pilot's remains, they would be in violation of the U.N. resolution ending the war, and the war would not be officially over. So the Iraqis instead handed over to American authorities a 4-pound piece of another cadaver and said it belonged to "Mickel."

U.S. officials already had accounted for the dead A-10 pilot, so the unidentified remains stumped them. Were they Speicher's?

By May 1991, DNA tests ruled that out. Iraq was being duplicitous, but the U.S. couldn't figure out what was behind the switch.

Rumors from Hussein's inner circle about the "Mickel" remains began to morph into whispering that the Iraqis held a live American pilot. The rumors were picked up by U.S. intelligence.

Two years later, in 1993, Speicher's crash site was found by a party of Qatari falcon hunters. Brown believes the Iraqis already had identified the crash site but failed to come forward out of fear they would be accused of covering it up. So instead, the Iraqis led the Qatari hunters to the site, Brown said, so they would "stumble" on the wreckage.

The hunters gave the U.S. Embassy in Qatar a piece of a plane containing a serial number that matched Speicher's F-18.

U.S. military officials began planning an operation to retrieve Speicher's remains. The plan was dropped in 1995 when the Red Cross secured permission from Iraq for a humanitarian search team to excavate the crash site.

Shepherded by Iraqi officials, the search team was led by a local Bedouin boy to Speicher's half-buried flight suit. Nearby were expended flares, part of an ejection seat and pieces of a life raft. But the searchers found no remains. They left suspicious, convinced that they had been set up even though Brown now says Saddam's government was telling the truth about the site.

In January 2001, President Bill Clinton changed Speicher's status from killed in action to missing, echoing U.S. belief he could be alive. An intelligence assessment said Speicher probably had survived the crash and Iraq was either holding him prisoner or hiding his remains.

In the summer of 2002, as the Bush administration prepared to invade Iraq, new intelligence intercepts suggested Speicher was being moved between dozens of secret sites inside Iraq.

Before the 2003 invasion, "we were positive we were getting him back," said Buddy Harris, a Speicher friend who later married the pilot's widow. "We were getting ready to go over and meet with him. We had the whole family prepped, with psychologists ready to help."

At least three different times, based on U.S. government information, Speicher's relatives thought they were getting him back, Harris said.

Brown believes the Iraqi government was trying to convince President George W. Bush that Speicher was still alive to protect Saddam from being targeted when the invasion came.

If that was the motivation, it backfired. Bush used Speicher's case as more evidence that Saddam had to be ousted. After Bush cited Speicher in his September 2002 speech at the United Nations, the rumors of Speicher's movements abruptly stopped, Brown said.

After the U.S. invasion, intelligence analysts searching for Speicher entered the Hakmiya jail in central Baghdad and dug up the grounds. They found remains, but none that matched Speicher's DNA.

They did find a jail cell wall that appeared to be marked with the initials "M.S.S." -- and wondered if they had been scratched by the missing pilot.

The Army dismantled the wall section and sent it back to the U.S. for testing. That same summer a soldier discovered similar initials and what appeared to be a date-- 9-15-94 -- scratched into an I-beam in a parking garage in Tikrit. The FBI cut down the beam and sent it to the Smithsonian Institution for testing.

But the markings turned out to be more false leads. The museum determined the Tikrit initials were made with a special ink reserved for Iraqi religious groups -- and an American prisoner would not likely have had access to such sacred ink. While other "M.S.S." markings were found all over Iraq, the analysts were never able to tie them to Speicher.

The searchers continued to press every lead. For six years, soldiers and Marines deployed in Anbar were told to ask people there if they had heard anything about the missing American pilot.

The instructions finally paid off last July. A sheik told Marines of a Bedouin who remembered a burial 20 years earlier. The sheik couldn't recall the exact location, but it was enough for the Marines. They returned to the old site that had frustrated the Red Cross searchers and with 100 men, bulldozers and back hoes, they turned over four football fields worth of desert, 4 feet deep.

The earth yielded another piece of a pilot's flight suit and a jaw bone. The teeth matched the missing pilot's dental records. Michael Scott Speicher, who reached the rank of captain because he kept receiving promotions while his status was unknown, had been there all along, Brown said.

The U.S. now says the case is closed, but Speicher's family, from outside Jacksonville, Fla., is still unconvinced that he died in the crash.

Buddy Harris says the ending is too neat, meant to whitewash the Pentagon's failure to launch a search and rescue mission in 1991.

"Too many people want to tie it into a nice little bow here," Harris says. "Their motive wasn't Scott Speicher, it was to get this thing done."


On the Net:

Defense Department news release:

(This version CORRECTS that Speicher was a Navy pilot, not an Air Force pilot.)

George W. Bush and his inner circle, photographed in the Cabinet Room of the White House in December 2001. From left: Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vice President Dick Cheney, the president, National-Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, White House chief of staff Andrew Card, C.I.A. director George Tenet (seated), and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.

Decades; generations later_ this kind of experience and many similar experiences of devastating loss within families does continue its affects on many levels. That is for all concerned, within the family of a service man who is 'sent into harms' way, in service to (our) government.'
The toll on families literally left behind is untenable. With this contemporary event of affecting yet another generation with the loss that must not be repeated, I enact my personal warning. A warning for all those who blind themselves in some romantic idea about heroism_ just beware what you worship. I am saying romantic here; as in blind to the facts. Just take care that no matter your intention(s) responding to any calls throughout the land that always surge and then whip into the wild-eyed froth of national patriotism_ that the devastation in its wake lasts for generations in each family. What I offer in personal parallel is only a glimpse into my own family story, and it is told only from my emerging perspective. We are a family which never came back together after the knock: "We regret to inform you..." came to our door on August 12, 1966:

Last First Middle Rank EO Srv Birth Incident Home of Record St Panel
Date Date Location

WRYE, BLAIR CHARLTON COL. O6 F 19290523 19790416 MIRROR LAKE, NH 09E 131

Remains Returned 13 September 1990

Name: Blair Charlton Wrye
Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force
Unit: TDY to 20th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron
Date of Birth: 23 May 1929
Home City of Record: Auburndale MA
Date of Loss: 12 August 1966
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 212600N 1062000E (UF595790)
Status (in 1973): Missing in Action
Category: 4
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: RF101C
Refno: 0427
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 01 April 1991 from one or more of
the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.


SYNOPSIS: The RF101 first saw action in Vietnam in late 1961, flying photo
missions over the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the primary communist supply line
through southern Laos, and the Plain of Jars to the northwest where Soviet
transports were delivering supplies to communist troops. The Voodoo later
began conducting reconnaissance over South Vietnam as well.

The RF101C was an outstanding reconnaissance craft, and although it looked
"hot" and was fast enough (max. speed 1000 mph) to leave a MiG-17 far
behind, it could not race away from the faster MiG-21, and was gradually
phased out and replaced by the Phantom II with its greater speed and
superior surveillance technology.

Maj. Blair C. Wrye was a pilot assigned to the 20th Tactical Reconnaissance
Squadron at Udorn, Thailand. On August 12, 1966, he was assigned a solo
reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. The last contact with the
aircraft was a radar reading approximately 110 miles from Udorn.

It was assumed that Wrye's aircraft was shot down somewhere over his target
area, and his loss coordinates are listed as in Nam Ha Province about 5
miles east of the city of Nam Dinh. Wrye's family knew there was a very good chance that he had been captured, and waited for the war to end. In 1973, however, when 591 American prisoners of war were released from Hanoi, Wrye was not among them. The Vietnamese denied any knowledge of him.

As the years passed, reports began to flow in to the U.S. regarding the
roughly 3000 Americans unaccounted for at the end of the war. By 1991 well
over 10,000 reports have been received, convincing many authorities that
hundreds of Americans are still alive in captivity in Southeast Asia.
Whether Wrye survived to be captured is not known. What seems certain,
however, is that we owe those who are alive our best efforts to bring them

Blair C. Wrye was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he was
maintained Missing in Action. His remains were returned to U.S. control on
September 13, 1990.

U.S. concealing its own evidence on MIA pilots
Star Tribune/ Wednesday/March 15/1995..."If the imagery contains no evidence of distress signals, why does the Defense Department go to such pains to protect it?"

U.S. concealing its own evidence on MIA pilots

By Robert P. Thompson

The closer one looks at a myth, the more obvious its falsity. This is especially true concerning the deception surrounding the POW/MIA issue.

One of many threads in this cloak of deceit is the government's cynical claim of openness and public access to documents relating to the POW/MIA issue. The telling reality is that all distress signal imagery remains classified TOP SECRET even as government damage control specialists attempt to thwart any closer examination of what they might contain, which is, according to the Defense Department, nothing.

If the imagery contains no evidence of distress signals, why does the Defense Department go to such pains to protect it?

In his Dec. 6 Counterpoint to my Aug. 5 News With a View article, Gen. James Wold said I had "alleged" in an interview the existence of pilot distress symbols "associated with American servicemen." I refer to the Jan. 13, 1993 "Report of the Select Committee On POW/MIA Affairs United States Senate":

"This consultant had detected, with '100 percent confidence' a 'faint GX2527' in a photograph of a prison facility in Vietnam taken in June, 1992. This number correlates to the primary and back-up distress symbols and authenticator number of a pilot lost in Laos in 1969."

"At Dong Mang (Dong Vai) prison, on June 1992 photography, he observed what he believed to be a 'GX2527' etched in a field near the prison. He rated this at 100 percent level of confidence in his initial report, and did not change his position during the joint review. JSSA (Joint Services Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape Agency) has confirmed that '2527' matches the authenticator number of a serviceman still unaccounted for in Southeast Asia."

The number belongs to Air Force Maj. Peter Richard Matthes, who became an MIA statistic when his aircraft was shot down over Laos, Nov. 24, 1969.

The consultant in question, retired Col. Lorenzo Burroughs, was the deputy director and head of the National Photographic Interpretation Center and pioneered satellite imagery analysis methods. The report clearly states that the "primary and back-up distress symbols and authenticator number" match a missing pilot. Gen. Wold claims that "the letters 'GX' have no known correlation to any American unaccounted for in Southeast Asia." This is an outright contradiction of the findings of the Senate Select Committee, which further advises:
"(B)ecause the number corresponds to a specific individual, the Committee agrees that the benefit of doubt should go to that possible individual, certainly enough to warrant a 'by- name' request by an appropriately high ranking U.S. official to the Vietnamese government, for information on that missing serviceman. In making that request, it should be emphasized to the Vietnamese that there is a basis for questioning whether he could be alive."

Wold wrote: "Each of the symbols referred to by Mr. Thompson has been thoroughly investigated by imagery experts." From the Senate Select Committee report:

"During its investigation, the Committee was surprised by statements from DIA and CIA imagery analysts directly involved in POW/MIA work that they were not very knowledgeable about the military's E&E signals, or, in some cases, even aware of the program. These analysts were not even tasked to look for such information prior to April, 1992. The Committee concluded that there had not been a purposeful effort to search for distress signals, or a written formal requirement for symbols, after the end of the war."

In an April 27, 1993, "Dateline" interview on NBC, Burroughs and Sen. Bob Smith, vice chairman of the Senate select committee, were questioned about "GX 2527." The following excerpts are from that remarkable yet ignored interview:

Dateline: "When was that symbol made?"

Burroughs: "I would anticipate that from the shape of it, that it was not older than a year."

Dateline: "And that signature corresponds to a pilot's distress code?"

Burroughs: "Absolutely. There's no question in my mind about it."

Smith: "I saw it. I'm not an expert, don't claim to be, but I saw the letters and the numbers
clearly, no question about it in my mind, as clearly as I could see my own name written, I know that I saw a 'GX 2527'."

The final question goes back to Burroughs:

Dateline: "What are the chances of the symbol 'GX 2527' somehow sort of appearing out there naturally?"

Burroughs: "It is a - absolutely zero."

The odds that this symbol is somehow "coincidental," as Gen. Wold asserts, are astronomically absurd. The markings on the photograph could have been "AAA123" or "Z99999" or over 2 billion other possibilities. The scientific formula to determine just how many possibilities, confirmed with a University of Minnesota math professor, is as follows: 36 x 36 x 36 x 36 x 36 x 36 = 2,176,782,336. Coincidence? You might as well say the Tooth Fairy did it. DNA evidence, with a potential "human match" of one in 89 million, considered valid evidence in many courts, pales in comparison to the above calculations. The sentence imposed on Matthes should be overturned, and his release demanded immediately.

Wold wrote, "With regard to the purported 'SEREX' symbol, no employee of the Defense Department has ever observed the word 'SEREX' on any satellite imagery or photography maintained by the United States Government."

From the Senate committee report: "They (JSSA analysts) correlated 19 of those authenticator numbers with numbers belonging to Americans still listed as missing in Southeast Asia. They also identified what appeared to be a name scratched in a field near a prison compound, in a 1992 photo." The significance of this possible symbol is reflected in testimony received during the committee's hearing on symbols:

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa: "Mr. Dussault, did you also think that you saw [sic] faintly scratched in the field?"

Dussault: "Yes, sir."

Grassley: "Did you see, 72 TA 88?"

Dussault: "Yes, sir. To my recollection that's what I saw."

Grassley: "When you saw 72 TA 88, did it, match a person that was missing?"

Dussault: "Sir, again, we are talking a year, two letters, TA - and those are E&E code letters that applied during 1972."

Grassley: "When you found the name, though, did it match when that person went down?"

Dussault: "Yes, sir."

The symbol in question, which Dussault was asked during questioning not to mention, was later revealed to be the "SEREX" symbol. Dussault is not only a Defense Department employee but is the deputy director of JSSA, the Pentagon unit tasked with the responsibility of devising distress signals, training pilots how to use them, and interpreting evidence of distress signals. Dussault, who had also been schooled in photo imagery, was interviewed by Sydney Schanberg for a New York Newsday article in 1994:

"Dussault came across the SEREX photo on Aug. 13, 1992, while at the Central Intelligence Agency's headquarters. He had been invited there to brief CIA photo interpreters on his area of expertise - distress signals." Dussault described the before and after in testimony to the Senate committee: "The ClA guys ... said look we saw the numbers. They admitting seeing the same numbers I did. When I circled it, they were right there and they said 'yeah, we saw it."' Listed clearly, on the official Missing-In-Action Report is the name: Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Henry M. SEREX.

Gen. Wold claimed, "To our knowledge, the letters 'TA' were never used as an official evasion and escape or distress symbol during the war in Southeast Asia." Dussault said otherwise in his questioning before the Senate committee above. Furthermore, two recently declassified Defense Department documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act clearly show "T" as the very first code listed under the heading of "PRIMARY E&E CODELETTERS" and "A" the very first code listed under the heading "BACK-UP E&E CODE LETTERS."

Regarding the "WRYE" symbol and its correlation to Air Force Col. Blair C. Wrye, Wold wrote that "on Sept. 13, 1990, his were among 20 remains returned by the Vietnamese." He failed to mention that the photo with the 'WRYE' symbol was taken in 1988.

The evidence is strongest in the Matthes case. The astronomical odds of a "coincidence" clearly constitute proof well beyond, what should be required to motivate the president to perform his constitutional duty, for an American who was ordered into harm's way in the service to his country. Matthes and the other men abandoned to a life of unimaginable misery should not be made to pay for the failures of the men in high places who sent them there or for a nation steeped in denial.

In the political world, where this case must ultimately be decided, it's the numbers of calls and letters to your senators, representatives, White House and media that count. Let's send a signal that can't be ignored.

Robert P. Thompson, a senior quality assurance analyst from Apple Valley, was a Marine in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969.

American Spectator Archive - Correspondence
Jane Trammell Peachtree City, Georgia Page 34 of the February issue was of particular interest for its reference to Air Force Captain Blair C. Wrye, an MIA. ... - 35k –

The MIA Cover-Up

By John Corry

Seeking to normalize relations with Vietnam, President Clinton, along with supine politicians and a feckless press, would like the public to forget the MIA issue. But evidence continues to emerge that far more men were left behind than has been reported--and that some may be alive today. by John Corry

John Corry is The American Spectator's regular Presswatch columnist and author of the new book, My Times: Adventures in the News Trade (Grosset/G.P. Putnam's Sons).

As shown by the enclosed Casualty Data Summary, a total of 1,303 American personnel remain officially unaccounted-for after the completion of Operation Homecoming.... Of the 1,303 personnel, the debriefs of the returnees contain information that approximately 100 of them are probably dead. ---Defense Intelligence Agency memorandum to Deputy Secretary of Defense William Clements, May 22, 1973

The intelligence indicates that American prisoners of war have been held continuously after Operation Homecoming and remain[ed] in captivity in Vietnam and Laos as late as 1989. ---unpublished report by Senate investigators, April 9, 1992

HANOI, Vietnam (Reuter)--US. Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord said Tuesday as conclusively as anyone can, that there are no U.S. prisoners of war (POWs) being held in Vietnam . . . . "There has never been evidence uncovered of someone being held alive," he told a news conference after talks with Vietnamese officials. --December 14,1993

A terrible truth is now emerging: Recently declassified documents and other sources show that America's MIA-POW policy has been disfigured by denials, half-truths, and evasions. More important, they also suggest that American prisoners are still crying out in Vietnam. For two decades, a cover-up has been in progress, sustained not so much by conspiracy as by government ineptitude, a bureaucratic unwillingness to draw obvious conclusions from incontrovertible facts, and a failure of national resolve. It is now certain that we left men behind in Southeast Asia-not merely the handful we now unofficially acknowledge in Laos, but in numbers reaching well into the hundreds in Vietnam. It is equally certain that American officials ignored evidence of this at the time.

To understand the moral catastrophe we must go back twenty-one years. Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, a senior member of the Hanoi Politburo, signed the Paris Peace Accords ending the Vietnam war on January 23, 1973. "We have been told that no American prisoners are held in Cambodia," Kissinger told reporters the next day. "American prisoners held in North Vietnam and Laos will be returned to us in Hanoi." One week later, however, President Nixon sent a secret letter to Premier Pham Van Dong of North Vietnam, reflecting an unpublicized understanding reached by Kissinger and Le Duc Tho. Nixon told Pham that the United States would "contribute to postwar reconstruction in North Vietnam," in an amount that would "fall in the range of $3.25 billion of grant aid over five years." He also said that "other forms of aid ... could fall in the range of I to 1.5 billion dollars."

Sen. John Kerry, the committee chairman, told one of the investigators that if the report ever leaked out, "you'll wish you'd never been born."

None of the aid was ever extended, and even the existence of the letter was not disclosed until years later. If the aid had been extended, however, Vietnam might have returned all its prisoners. The precedent was clear. The Vietminh guerrillas of the 1950s had held back an unknown number of French soldiers after the fall of Dien Bien Phu. France quietly ransomed them back with government aid. Moreover, a 1969 study by the Rand Corporation had said that "a quid pro quo that the DRV [Democratic Republic of Vietnam] is likely to demand-and one that the United States may want to consider accepting-is the payment of reparations to North Vietnam in exchange for US. prisoners."

The study went on to say that the United States could avoid the appearance of paying reparations if it publicly labeled them "part of the U.S. contribution to a postwar recovery program." Nixon's letter, of course, offered just such a contribution. The study concluded as follows:

It would be unduly optimistic to believe that the DRV and the Vietcong will release all US. prisoners immediately after conclusion of an agreement in the expectation that the United States will meet its military, political or monetary commitments. More likely, they will insist on awaiting concrete evidence of US. concessions before releasing the majority of American prisoners.

But the concessions, or aid programs, were not forthcoming. There was no possibility they ever could be. Nixon would soon be undone by Watergate, and Congress wanted no more of the war. In the delirium of the time, some thirty senators had even called for unilateral withdrawal from Southeast Asia, without the imposition of any conditions on North Vietnam. Hanoi would be trusted to return all its prisoners. When it did release 591 POWs, in Operation Homecoming in March 1973, however, it was apparent that something was wrong. Hundreds of hospital beds had been set aside for the returnees; it had been assumed many would need medical attention. The 591 returnees, though, included no amputees or burn cases; there was no one maimed, disfigured, or blind. It is reasonable to believe that the most afflicted POWs either remained in Vietnam, or were murdered.

Nonetheless, no questions were publicly raised about this or, indeed, any other substantive matter, and on March 29 President Nixon addressed the nation on television. "For the first time in twelve years, no American military forces are in Vietnam," he declared. "All of our American POWs are on their way home." Few seemed to hear what he said moments later: "There are still some problem areas. The provisions of the agreement all missing in action . . .have not been complied with . . . . We shall insist that North Vietnam comply with the agreement."

But we did not insist; for one thing, we had no "leverage" to do so. Congress had walked away from the war. In May, the Senate rejected a Republican amendment that would have allowed continued bombing if Nixon certified that North Vietnam was not trying to account for all the missing in action. Certainly, there already was evidence that men had been left behind. The Casualty Data Summary mentioned in the Defense Intelligence Agency memorandum at the top of this story, for example, notes that, besides the 1,200 or so men whose fate was unknown after Operation Homecoming, 65 were still held as prisoners: 29 in North Vietnam, 27 in South Vietnam, five in Cambodia, and four in Laos. Moreover, there was general agreement that the figure for Laos represented only a fraction of the real total. Several declassified documents suggest the number should have been in the hundreds. A March 1973 memo to the Joint Chiefs of Staff says, "There are approximately 350 U.S. military and civilian POW/MlAs in Laos." An earlier memo to Henry Kissinger says that some 215 of the 350 "were lost under circumstances that the enemy probably has information regarding their fate." No information was ever forthcoming, however, and only twelve prisoners returned from Laos.

Thus, even from the beginning, the POW issue was shrouded in ambiguity. There are, though, some salient facts. The Defense Intelligence Agency memorandum cited above says 1,303 men were still unaccounted for after Operation Homecoming, and that the debriefings of the returned POWs indicated that approximately 100 of them were probably dead. Therefore, some 1,200 might still have been alive. (A later Pentagon document gives a precise number of 1,278.) The possibility that they were alive, how- ever, was ignored, and even misrepresented. A deposition given in 1992 by Dr. Frank Shields, the former head of the Pentagon's POW/MIA Task Force, to the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs is instructive. In the deposition, Shields describes an April 1973 meeting with Deputy Secretary of Defense Clements, who had summoned him to his office to discuss the Pentagon's public posture on men missing in action:

DR. SHIELDS: He [Clements] indicated to me that he believed that there were no Americans alive in Indochina. And I said: I don't believe that you could say that ... I told him that he could not say that. And he said: You didn't hear what I said. And I said: You can't say that. And I thought he was probably going to fire me ... QUESTION: What did you interpret that to mean, "you didn't hear me"? DR. SHIELDS: That I was fighting the problem. You remember that there were a lot of people at the time who wanted to declare victory, okay? And I think that maybe at that point in time he believed that we had what we had, and that was all we were going to get, and that there was no one there.

That Colonel Hynds was captured alive seems indisputable; the Pentagon, however, has always listed a Col. Wallace Gurley Hynds as killed in action.

This meant that even though there was no evidence to prove that some 1,200 men-or, to use the exact figure, 1,278 men-were dead, the Pentagon would assume they were. Intentional or not, it was the beginning of the cover-up, and it would have a far-reaching effect. The tacit assumption that the men were dead would harden into official policy. Henceforth, all official figures on POWs and MIAs would be suspect. The grotesque part, though, is that even the figure of 1,200-or 1,278-might have been too low. As an intelligence estimate, it was worthless.

That was because in addition to the 1,278 MIAs about whom the Pentagon had no firm information, an almost equal number of MIAs had been declared dead. Most were classified as KIA/BNR, or killed in action/body not recovered. Over the years, however, a growing body of evidence has cast those early KIA/BNR figures in doubt. More men were left alive than we thought. Ironically, much of the evidence about this is now coming from the Vietnamese. In 1991, American investigators from the Joint Casualty Resolution Commission were allowed to visit a Vietnamese military museum in Vinh City in Nghe Tinh province. In their written report, the investigators say they were shown items from the museum's collection, and then given a two-page excerpt from the museum's register. Then they were allowed to examine the register itself. They took notes on information in the register that was "pertinent to significant exhibit items they had been allowed to examine." Their report continues:

The entire register was then reviewed for entries concerning additional items of interest. During this process, it was noted that a number of items mentioned in the register excerpt did not appear in the register. In addition, there were numerous gaps in the register where items that had been examined by the team were not included. This suggests that the register viewed by the team was not original as claimed by the museum staff, but in fact had been selectively recopied from an original at some time in the past. The team also noted that certain items of high interest that appeared in the register were not available for examination. Museum officials claimed that these items were not available because they had been lost, destroyed or lent to other museums.

Characteristically, the Vietnamese were trying to hide something. The investigators were shown pre-selected items. Then they were shown not the register that listed all the items, but instead an excerpt from the register. Apparently, they insisted then on examining the entire register, and when they did, they discovered it was a fake. Moreover, "certain items of high interest" that were supposed to be in the museum were missing.

The investigators, however, listed in their report the items they were able to see, literally translating the museum's own descriptions. They found, for example, "a flag used to request food used by the American colonel pilot Hynds, Wallace G., and was captured at Ha Tinh," and "bandit pilot identification card number FR 15792 of Hynds, Wallace Gouley and was captured alive in Ha Tinh on 28-5-1965."

That Colonel Hynds was captured alive seems indisputable; the Pentagon, however, has always listed a Col. Wallace Gurley Hynds as killed in action. There are six other men whose names were found in that one provincial museum who were all listed as being captured alive, although the Pentagon had declared them all dead.

The inescapable conclusion is that MIA lists were flawed from the outset. More men were captured alive than anyone thought. Recently declassified transcripts of the conversations of Vietnamese anti-aircraft gunners, monitored by the National Security Agency, reinforce the conclusion. The gunners talk of American planes being brought down, and of their pilots being captured by soldiers or villagers. The National Security Agency has correlated the transcripts with the names of the pilots. Although the Vietnamese themselves talk about the pilots being captured alive, at least some of them were classified by the Pentagon as "presumptive finding of death," or "killed in action/body not recovered."

The indications that a large number of men were left behind after 1973 have become compelling. A North Vietnamese military doctor, who defected to the South in 1971, told American officials that Hanoi was holding hundreds more prisoners than it had acknowledged. In 1979, another Vietnamese Communist defector told the Defense Intelligence Agency that in the mid-1970s Vietnamese officials had talked about holding 700 American prisoners as "bargaining assets."

The 700 figure cannot be dismissed; neither can the idea of bargaining assets. Last April, Stephen J. Morris , a Harvard scholar, disclosed that he had found the Russian translation of a 1972 report by Lieut. Gen. Tran Van Quang in Communist Party archives in Moscow. Quang said that North Vietnam was holding 1,205 American prisoners- 614 more than it released the next year. Last September, the Pentagon itself released the translation of an account of a Vietnamese Communist Party meeting held in late 1970 or early 1971. It quoted a Vietnamese official as saying that Vietnam held 735 "American aviator POWs," although it had acknowledged holding only 368.

"The total number of American aviators in the SRV [Vietnam] is 735," the official declared. "As I have already said, we have published the names of 368 aviators. This is our diplomatic step. If the Americans agree to the withdrawal of all their troops from South Vietnam, we will, as a start, return these 368 people."

The Defense Department did not try to discredit the Vietnamese document, perhaps because it attracted so little attention in the press. It said only that it could not vouch for the document's authenticity or accuracy, and that it had come "from the files of the GRU-Soviet military intelligence." On the other hand, the Quang report that Morris had found in Moscow attracted a good deal of attention, and the Defense Department reacted accordingly. When extracts from the document were published in the press, the Pentagon attempted to have the full document classified. Eventually it said that "while portions of the document are plausible, evidence in support of its claims to be an accurate summary of the POW situation in 1972 are far outweighed by errors, omissions and propaganda that detract from its credibility."

In fact, the errors were not errors; they were really the weakest of quibbles-that the 1,205 prisoners, for example, included both American POWs and South Vietnamese commandos. (Morris replied that Vietnamese Communist documents always drew a distinction between American and South Vietnamese troops.)

In Hanoi, meanwhile, Gen. John Vessey, the presidential emissary to Vietnam on POW-MIA affairs, said he had spoken to General Quang and that Quang denied he had made the report. "I have no reason to disbelieve him," Vessey said, although he had no reason to believe him, either, and indeed one excellent reason to think Quang was lying. Quang could hardly admit that North Vietnam had held more prisoners than it had ever acknowledged. The only way Hanoi could account for them now would be to confess that it had lied in the past.

Quang could hardly admit that North Vietnam had held more prisoners than it had ever acknowledged. The only way Hanoi could account for them now would be to confess that it had lied in the past.

Vessey also attempted to discredit the document itself. It said that in 1970, after American forces had raided the prison camp at Son Tay, only twenty-three miles from Hanoi, North Vietnam had dispersed POWs among other camps. Vessey said this could not be correct. After Son Tay, he insisted, POWs were not dispersed among other camps, but instead were concentrated in fewer camps. He also said that North Vietnam could not have held 1,205 prisoners because that would have required it to have a separate prison system; and neither U.S. intelligence nor the POWs who returned from Vietnam, he said, were aware of such a system.

Vessey was making a strange argument. If Hanoi kept a separate prison system for the POWs who were not returned, the POWs who did return would hardly be aware of it. Both sets of POWs would have been held in separate places. It must also be noted now that Admiral James Stockdale, testifying before respectful senators at the POW/MIA hearings in 1992, also dismissed the idea of a separate prison system. Stockdale, who survived seven years as a prisoner, thought that after the Son Tay raid, all POWs were brought into the camps in Hanoi. He also described the "tap code" that POWs used to pass messages from cell to cell; through the tap code and other means, he said, the POWs were able to keep track of one another, thus assuring that none would be lost, murdered, or spirited away without their comrades' knowledge. Stockdale, who suffered severe torture and eventually inflicted a near fatal wound on himself to convince his captors that he would never accede to their propaganda demands, was sure no POW was left behind after Operation Homecoming; he was also sure there was no separate prison system.

Stockdale, though, was wrong. It is a mark of many good men who went to Vietnam and upheld the highest standards of courage, honor, and decency that they are unwilling to believe their country might have abandoned other good men. The empty rhetoric about "healing" the wounds from Vietnam, spoken so shamelessly by press, politicians, and old peace activists, might have some meaning now if it were directed toward Stockdale and those like him.

Reports from Communist defectors and other sources make it clear that the North Vietnamese were aware of the prisoners' tap code and could manipulate it as they chose, excising the names of some POWs and introducing false data about others. Moreover, while Stockdale and the other POWs in Hanoi thought they knew the names and locations of all the American prisoners, it is obvious they did not. Nine men captured in Laos spent years in the Hanoi prison system, separated from other POWs only by the width of stone walls, without the other POWs knowing they were there.

It is on the matter of a separate prison system that government orthodoxy about POWs begins to unravel completely. The boat people who fled Vietnam in the 1980s brought with them information about a prison system that was larger and more complex than we had known. Even before the arrival of the boat people, though, U.S. intelligence agencies suspected that Hanoi had held POWs outside the known prisoner system. The known system consisted of thirteen camps-eight outside of Hanoi and five within the city. One difficulty in tracking information about them is that a camp, or prison, may be referred to one way in a DIA report, say, and another in a POW debriefing. Xom Aplo, or Xom Ap Lo N-5 1, for instance, may be called Bat Bat, after a nearby village, or Briarpatch, or even Tic Tac Toe, which refers to the configuration of some of its buildings.

But some reports are clear enough. A CIA document, only recently declassified, suggests that POWs were held in camps other than the ones identified during the war. The CIA document is handwritten, unsigned, and undated, although the content indicates that it was put together several years after Operation Homecoming in 1973. That it is handwritten is suggestive; it indicates that someone in the CIA wanted to make certain information part of the permanent record, but did not want to attract much attention when he did.

The document begins:

In response to recent human source reporting on American POWs still in North Vietnam, we conducted a photographic study of selected prison/detention facilities in the northern portion of the country. Our study concentrated on comparing known American POW camps with various other detention camps. The purpose of our study was to determine if any signatures of American presence could be found at these other camps.... Our analysis did reveal some irregularities in the North Vietnamese prison system between 1970 and 1973. The irregularities do not provide conclusive evidence of American presence at other camps; however, this possibility cannot be disregarded, and precludes drawing a firm conclusion that all the camps which held American POWs have been identified.

The CIA analyst was only being cautious. He had gone back to look at old photographs to determine how many camps had reacted to the Son Tay raid in 1970 "by constructing new defensive positions such as AAA [anti- aircraft artillery] sites, AW [automatic weapon] positions, trenching and/or foxholes." The Son Tay raiders-Special Forces troopers, Army Rangers, and Air Force volunteers-had swooped in by helicopter on Son Tay, only twenty-three miles from Hanoi, in an attempt to rescue prisoners. Unfortunately, the prisoners had been moved to another camp, although the raid itself was a victory. Hundreds of North Vietnamese regulars were killed, while not a single raider was lost or injured, and all returned home safely. They had shown that American forces could strike within reach of downtown Hanoi.

The CIA study made the reasonable assumption that camps holding POWs would react to the Son Tay raid by immediately shoring up their defenses against the possibility of a similar helicopter attack-with new anti-aircraft gun positions, trenches, foxholes, and so on. Indeed, the study found that this is exactly what six camps that were known to be holding American prisoners did. More important, it also found that seven camps that were not known to be holding prisoners-Tuyen Quang, Ba Vi, Ban Puoi, Xam Tang, Chorn Lai, Coc Mi, and Xom Giong-reacted the same way.

Judging from this reaction "and the fact that several reports have been received recently stating that Americans are still being held in North Vietnam," the CIA again said cautiously, "the possibility of a second prison system for the detention of American POWs cannot be disregarded."

Of course it cannot; the only reasonable explanation of why the Vietnamese would have fortified the camps that way is that they were used to hold prisoners. In fact, the Defense Department had speculated along these same lines before the CIA did. The CIA study was made during the mid- or late 1970s; a Defense Department report, dated July 26, 1971, adds another camp to the list of places where North Vietnam probably held prisoners. Aerial photography revealed that new gun emplacements were also constructed at the Cam Chu prison immediately after the Son Tay raid. "It is reasoned," the report says, "that Hanoi was taking steps to thwart other possible SAR [search and rescue] efforts to rescue U.S. PWs."

No American, however, was repatriated from any of these camps during Operation Homecoming.

In the appalling history of POW-MIA policy, though, nothing is more scandalous than the issue of live sightings. Since 1975, the Defense Intelligence Agency has received more than 15,000 live-sighting reports about American prisoners in Southeast Asia. Approximately 1,650 of the reports are first-hand. That means a source says he has actually seen an American held in captivity, or under conditions that cannot be easily explained. The remainder of the reports are hearsay; a source says he has been told by someone else about an American, or many Americans, held in captivity. These live-sighting reports have come from many sources- refugees, defectors, diplomats, and travelers-with the preponderance from refugees. Many of the reports, even the ones that are hearsay, are quite specific, with physical details, exact locations, and an abundance of certifiable facts.

No live-sighting reporting, however, has ever been accepted as proof by the Defense Intelligence Agency that an MIA is still alive, or ever has been alive, in Southeast Asia. This defies the laws of probability. It also moves us into the area of culpable negligence. It is permissible now to wonder if the Defense Intelligence Agency has ever been seriously interested in uncovering the truth about our missing men, or whether it has always been an instrument in a cover-up.

Criticism of the DIA, much of it from MIA family members, became so harsh and insistent in the 1980s that the agency assigned a team to investigate itself. This led in 1986 to the Director's POW/MIA Task Force Report, or the Gaines Report, after Air Force Col. Kimball M. Gaines, who was its principal author. Consider the following excerpts, both dealing with live sightings:

When a case is being worked ... it is plainly evident that the emphasis is on the investigative side of the question in most cases, where the focus rests on debunking the source more than it does on the analysis of the information itself. It should be noted with trepidation that there are some 600 hearsay reports of live sightings backlogged ... which have not had any evaluation. And there is no actual proof that this class of report has any less potential for yielding some usable information than do the first-hand sighting reports. The implications of this are obvious to the casual observer, but do not seem to be appreciated by the experts.


There exists a mindset to debunk.... Within POW/MIA Division it has evolved over time as an investigative technique, whereby intense effort is initially focused on veracity of sources with a view toward discrediting them. This penchant has overridden the seeking of the corroborative data necessary to support the sighting. Reinforcing the mindset is the investigative audit trail, which has confirmed an inordinate number of originally promising sources to be fabricators.... In the main, sources who volunteer information have no ulterior motive, especially those relocated to the U.S. Sources were very young when they observed the event; others were in dire straits as a result of the war; and, in many cases, the sighting was a fleeting one. Therefore, sources should not be badgered when they volunteer information they do not recall well ... otherwise word gets around the refugee community and information dries up.

In other words, the DIA bullied those who came forth with information about MIAs; it called an "inordinate" number of them liars; it sought to discredit reports of live sightings. The Pentagon immediately classified the Gaines Report.

Keep in mind now what the report called the "mindset to debunk." It means an unwillingness to believe, and in the eight years since the Gaines Report, it has calcified into official policy. The DIA classifies live-sighting reports by category, ranging from 1A through 9B. The lower categories apply to reports still being evaluated; the upper categories apply to the final evaluations. Here are the categories for the final evaluations; no others are allowed:

4-This category represents an unresolved status. The analytical evaluation has been reviewed and approved by senior level management-no correlation or further action is possible. 5-This category is used only by managerial personnel and indicates difficulties exist in follow-up. 6-This category shows analytical evaluations reviewed and approved by senior level management which have been correlated to a known individual or incident. 6B-Analytical evaluations reviewed and approved by management which are determined to describe an unidentified individual who is not an American POW-MIA. 7-This represents camp information only. 8-This represents no POW-MIA information. At any time, the management can place a case in this category. 9-This category indicates the analytical evaluation is approved as a fabrication. 9B-This category indicates the analytical findings are approved by management as a possible fabrication.

Obviously, there is a missing category: one that accepts a live-sighting report as accurate. The DIA is programmed to discredit the possibility that anyone was left behind in Southeast Asia, or that any one remains there now. Its intellectual dishonesty has been stunning, and its investigative process a fraud. On occasion it has seemed criminal.

It is on the matter of a separate prison system that government orthodoxy about POWs begins to unravel completely.

In August 1987, a former South Vietnamese major turned up in Bangkok after being interned in Communist prisons, and was debriefed by the CIA. The major said that in December 1978, five years after Operation Homecoming, he had encountered an American in the Tan Lap prison in northern Vietnam. The American, he said, was lying down in a room near the camp dispensary where injured or sick prisoners were taken to rest. The major described the room and the building in which it was located precisely. He also described the American. According to the CIA report on the debriefing:

Source [the major] and the American were on the first floor. Source saw the American lying down inside this room. The American was alone. He was Caucasian, between 170 and centimeters tall and weighing about 70 kilograms. He had brown hair and a thick beard. He had a wound on his right ankle that was oozing blood and pus. The American wore some sort of military trousers and a dirty, tattered red and white striped shirt. Source asked the American in English, "What is your name?" The American replied, "Jackson." Jackson then said, "You will stay here a long time." When source saw Jackson's wound, source took six penicillin tablets which were hidden in the cuffs of his trousers and offered them to Jackson. Jackson took only four. Jackson added that "there were 16 of us; 15 have gone out already." . . . A vehicle came to the front of this rest area the same evening and Jackson was taken away.

The CIA station in Bangkok passed the major's story on to the DIA in Washington in August. Following bureaucratic protocol, it also asked the DIA for permission to polygraph the major. If he passed the polygraph, of course, it would authenticate his story. What happened then is detailed in the cable traffic between the defense attachÈ in the Bangkok Embassy and the DIA in Washington. Stony Beach is intelligence jargon for the DIA; SIRO refers to the CIA:

Bangkok to Washington, September: SIRO has transferred this case to Stony Beach, and strongly urges that source be polygraphed as soon as possible.... SIRO is very high on this source. The debriefer involved states source was very forthcoming, open, and seemed completely candid.... Bangkok to Washington, October: Source has expressed his willingness to be polygraphed.... If this is unacceptable ... please advise by immediate message, and if possible, provide a rationale for not polygraphing source which can be provided to SIRO.

Bangkok to Washington, October: Request your immediate attention to this case. It's possible SIRO may simply conduct the poly without your input. Bangkok to Washington, October: Can someone ...stay on top of this for us? Bangkok to Washington, October: We have been queried several times by SIRO on the status of this case. In each case we have replied we are awaiting guidance from our headquarters. After six weeks, this wearing a bit thin. Washington to Bangkok, October: Regret delay in response.... Liaison obligation ... may have forced our polygraph hand on this source.... Request major provide a complete and detailed description again of how these events ensued.... Bangkok to Washington, November: Source answered all questions in a direct manner. His answers were consistent when interviewed over a three-day period. Washington to Bangkok, November: Do not polygraph source ... on his reported live sightings until further notice. Bangkok to Washington, February, 1988: Please advise status our request to polygraph source. Washington to Bangkok, March: ... This source does not sustain the minimum level of plausibility that requires testing by polygraph....

In April, the DIA issued its official evaluation of the major's story; it called it a "fabrication." It said that former South Vietnamese commandos who had been in Tan Lap prison had never seen an American; therefore, the major could not have seen one, either. The DIA also said the man the major described could not have been wearing a red- striped shirt because "red-striped uniforms went out of use circa 1970." Furthermore, the DIA asserted:

A computer-assisted search of all missing personnel reveals only one unaccounted for individual whose first, middle or last name is Jackson; he was lost on 21 September 1969 under unusual circumstances from a medical treatment room within a hospital cantonment area in the 3d Marine Division area of South Vietnam. While we cannot preclude this individual from consideration, based on the above, it is likely that the source has fabricated his story.

Whatever the merits of the rest of the DIA's argument, the assertion that only one Jackson was missing was, if not a careless mistake, then certainly an outright lie. Besides the unfortunate Marine lost under unusual circumstances, three other Jacksons are missing in action. All three are classified as "KIA/body not recovered," and surely one of them is the man the major saw.

Tan Lap, where the major was held, has another distinction as well. It is one of five Vietnamese prisons--the others are Quyet Tien, Yen Bai, Ha Son Binh, and Thanh Hoa--where, according to reports from the boat people and others, POWs were buried in cemeteries in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The reports are credible; some are from former Vietnamese prisoners who say they dug the graves. Not one of the cemeteries, however, has been excavated by any of the teams now looking for MIA remains. Instead, the teams dig up old crash sites. The crash sites yield little or nothing; the cemeteries could yield a great deal--evidence, perhaps, about men who were murdered. It seems, though, that the Defense Department does not want to know.

The DIA's abysmal record led the six staff members on the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs who were charged with investigating intelligence reports to re-examine, in 1992, the 1,650 first-hand live-sighting reports. They dismissed the reports that seemed least plausible; they also dismissed the ones that had been correlated with known individuals, the Marine Robert Garwood, for example, who returned from Vietnam in 1979. Then they dismissed the reports in which the source said he had seen only a single man who might have been a prisoner. They reasoned that a single man, even if he appeared to be a prisoner, might have been a deserter or a straggler and not a POW.

That left the investigators with 929 first-hand live sightings, all involving two or more men allegedly seen in conditions indicating they were prisoners. The investigators then plotted the 929 sightings on a map of Southeast Asia, using pins to mark each one. Cambodia drew no pins; Laos and some areas of Vietnam drew only a few. Other areas of Vietnam, however, drew pins in clumps or clusters. In every place where there was a cluster, there was also a Vietnamese prison. The investigators, who, for technical reasons, were using live-sighting reports that extended only through 1989, drew an obvious conclusion: "that American prisoners of war have been held continuously after Operation Homecoming and remain[ed] in captivity in Vietnam and Laos as late as 1989."

The conclusion, however, was not welcomed by the DIA, or even by most members of the Senate committee. On the morning the investigators were scheduled to present their report to the senators, one senator's aide let the Pentagon know what the investigators intended to say. A team from the DIA immediately showed up to rebut their presentation. The investigators protested; their briefing was supposed to be closed to outsiders. In a remarkable display of bad judgment, however, the senators voted, 7 to 2, to allow the DIA to attend the briefing.

By all accounts, what followed was contentious. The investigators and the team from DIA shouted at each other. Several senators shouted, too. John Kerry, the committee chairman, told one of the investigators that if the report ever leaked out, "you'll wish you'd never been born." Senator Kerry wants to normalize relations with Vietnam. When the briefing was over, Frances Zwenig, the committee's staff director, ordered that all copies of the investigators' report be destroyed. She also said she wanted their computer files purged. Zwenig, who is now the executive assistant to United Nations Ambassador Madeleine Albright, also wants to normalize relations with Vietnam.

In its 1,123-page final report on the hearings, the committee reached an evasive conclusion: "We acknowledge that there is no proof that U.S. POWs survived, but neither is there proof that all of those who did not return had died. There is evidence, moreover, that indicates the possibility of survival, at least for a small number, after Operation Homecoming."

The ambiguous language moves the cover-up to a higher plane. Buried in the 1,123 pages-and in thousands more pages of unpublished depositions-are pieces of information that sit like time bombs. Ambiguous language or not, the committee report confirms that satellite imagery has picked up the distress signals, and even the names, of downed American pilots on the ground. The distress signals--combinations of letters and numbers--appear in numerous photographs taken after, not before, Operation Homecoming. Characteristically, though, the Pentagon says they are not distress signals at all. Rather, it insists, they are combinations of lights, shadows, and vegetation that only appear to form GX2527, say, or 72TA88.

(The Pentagon's word is not reassuring. In 1988, the CIA discovered a large "USA" etched in a rice paddy in northern Laos, along with what appeared to be the letter "K," a symbol used by downed pilots. A full four years later, the Defense Department sent a team to investigate. The owner of the rice paddy, it reported, said his son had "made the USA symbol by copying it from an envelope because he liked the shape of the letters.")

The satellite imagery is compelling. The GX in GX2527, for instance, are distress letters; 2527 is the secret four-digit number of Air Force Maj. Peter Matthes, who has been missing since 1969. The Pentagon says that the GX2527, which showed up on the ground near Vietnam's Dong Vai prison in a photograph taken in June 1992, was not a man-made distress signal but a photographic anomaly. However, Larry Burroughs , a retired Air Force colonel who once headed the National Photographic Interpretation Center, the government's main imagery laboratory, insists it was man-made. Burroughs, who was brought in by the committee as a consultant, also found other, previously unidentified, distress signals among the satellite images. He also found the letters WRYE. The committee's final report dutifully notes this, but without indicating that WRYE is any more than a random collection of letters. In fact, Capt. Blair C. Wrye of the Air Force, shot down over North Vietnam on August 12, 1966, is an MIA.

Meanwhile, new information about the satellite imagery has come to light. It is now known, for example, that on June 5, 1992, a satellite picked up S-E-R-E-X, etched on the ground near Dong Vai prison. Major Henry M. Serex, an Air Force electronic warfare officer, was shot down over Vietnam on April 2, 1972. The Pentagon lists him as dead. The satellite pictures in themselves do not prove that anyone is still alive; some of the distress signals may have been made years ago. On the other hand, some of them may be new, and others perhaps are being carved out or etched into the ground even now. At the very least, they are further proof that a cover-up has been, and still is, in progress. We have broken faith with men who fought for their country, and we are being blighted by an ever-widening moral stain.

The American Spectator, February, 1994 All Rights Reserved
Reprinted with Permission

Former Rep. Hendon Fighting for 'Forgotten' Soldiers Wires
Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hundreds of American prisoners of war in North Vietnam and Laos were never freed by their captors – and many remain prisoners today.

That's the explosive report from former Congressman Bill Hendon, co-author with Elizabeth Stewart of the new book "An Enormous Crime – The Definitive Account of American POWs Abandoned in Southeast Asia."

The North Carolina Republican spent the last 25 years diligently digging into intelligence files in an effort to learn what really happened to those POWs.

In an exclusive interview with NewsMax, Hendon discussed what led him to devote much of his life to alerting his fellow Americans about the plight of these abandoned soldiers.

NewsMax: How did you get in involved in this matter?
Hendon: Like a lot of Americans I followed the war and the POWs held in North Vietnam closely. I wore a bracelet with the name of Jeremiah Denton on it. I didn't know who he was but I knew he was a POW in North Vietnam.

When the first plane landed [carrying returning POWs), my heart almost stopped when Adm. Jeremiah Denton was the first man off the plane. I called his son and told him I had seen his dad get off the plane and that I wanted to do something.

Then in 1980 I was elected to Congress with Ronald Reagan. [When Hendon met another newly elected Congressman, John LeBoutillier, he heard about a rescue mission that was planned in response to a message from imprisoned POWs seen from the air.]

LeBoutillier was on the Foreign Affairs Committee and when he heard about it he told me. We both joined the POW/MIA task force and we said, "Look, if these guys are really there we want to help."

[The rescue mission failed but it forced the two men to look deeper into the fate of American POWs in North Vietnam. That was the beginning, and Hendon recalled that from then on they never let up in trying to help the POWs still in North Vietnamese prisons.]

When we looked at the secret intelligence in the Pentagon – in addition to the rescue mission and all the satellite photography – we found out that this wasn't the only place where our guys were being held. They were all over the place over there, according to the intelligence. This was in 1981 and as we say at the end of the book, [reports are] continuing to pour in from Indochina.

I saw what was in our government files about missing prisoners and still-held prisoners, and if anybody saw what I saw they would have done the same thing I did.

NewsMax: You write with a sense of urgency and are convinced that there is a need for action. Do you believe that these men are still alive?

Hendon: We are convinced based on the intelligence and all that we have done over there that these guys are still alive and in prison. They're in underground prisons, caves. They are keeping these men alive. It's not like they are starving them to death – they are doing exactly the opposite.

These men have value. In one of the intelligence reports, the source said they were a living gold mine. And he went on to say that to lose one would be losing something of great value.

NewsMax: What is their value?

Hendon: The $4.75 billion [for reconstruction of North Vietnam, what amounted to ransom for the POWs], which they have continually called on the U.S. to pay into the 21st century.

The 4.75 billion was a deal, called for in the Paris peace accords, Article 21. It was confirmed by Nixon's secret letter. It was confirmed to them personally in Hanoi when the Vietnamese demanded that Kissinger come there and confirm it. He did. There was no question in anybody's mind.

Then right at the end of Operation Homecoming, the men were released in groups and when the last group was ready to come out, Watergate crashed down on Nixon. That was the beginning of the end for Nixon and the beginning of the end for the unreturned prisoners.

The Vietnamese were going to release them once they got their money. We promised to pay that $4.75 billion. They gave us half of our guys back and when they didn't get the money they kept the other half. The money was never even appropriated by Congress.

NewsMax: Has anyone who saw these men ever emerged?

Hendon: The repatriated deserter Garwood reported seeing POWs still held in North Vietnam. He said he saw a bunch of prisoners, about 80 or so at five different locations. At four of those locations we have corroborative intelligence where other sources independently reported American POWs. Garwood has to be a credible witness about that.

[According to Defense Department records, Robert R. Garwood disappeared from Da Nang, South Vietnam, in 1965. He was repatriated from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1979. In 1981 he was convicted of collaboration with the enemy. In December of 1984, Garwood reported live sightings of American POWs in Vietnam.]

We propose that President Bush appoint the highest level commission to go over there and try to make it right. We are firmly convinced and we believe readers will also be convinced, when they get through reading this book and the intelligence we are going to put on our Web site.

© NewsMax 2007. All rights reserved.

*** Wherever our family name is mentioned with any insinuation that we were ever consulted for the writing quoted above, rest assured we were not. Not ever, not even once. Revealing that on a whole other level there is another level of extreme called opportunism that also has its impacts on the family. I am referring here, to any written references made in a regard that reads as though we were actually spoken to by some investigating author or reporter_ again I repeat, we were not. Not even once.

I believe this photo may have been taken in the last state on American soil my father was assigned and lived before he was sent to Vietnam. If this is true then it is the state I intuitively migrated to in my early twenties, and have lived ever since. My father loved to ski; we were not living together as a family when he was given his orders for Vietnam. I was nine when I last saw him. Much later, I was a senior in high school when both my mother and I accidently discovered that my father had told only each one of us, he may be sent to Vietnam and that it was possible he might not come back. I am the oldest, my two younger brothers never knew anything from my father ahead of time.

It is obviously now more than thirty years after my own father's life became ensnared in the debacle that is_ national what? Certainly not sovereignty. Was it a sacrifice for our our freedom as a nation? Was it? I refer to Robert Strange McNamara...

From the fog of War, By: Robert McNamara:

"The lessons of Vietnam:

1. We misjudged then — and we have since — the geopolitical intentions of our       adversaries … and we exaggerated the dangers to the United States of their       actions.
2. We viewed the people and leaders of South Vietnam in terms of our own experience       … We totally misjudged the political forces within the country.
3. We underestimated the power of nationalism to motivate a people to fight and die       for their beliefs and values.
4. Our judgments of friend and foe, alike, reflected our profound ignorance of the       history, culture, and politics of the people in the area, and the personalities       and habits of their leaders.
5. We failed then — and have since — to recognize the limitations of modern,       high-technology military equipment, forces, and doctrine.
6. We failed, as well, to adapt our military tactics to the task of winning the       hearts and minds of people from a totally different culture.
7. We failed to draw Congress and the American people into a full and frank       discussion and debate of the pros and cons of a large-scale military involvement       … before we initiated the action.
8. After the action got under way, and unanticipated events forced us off our       planned course … we did not fully explain what was happening, and why we were       doing what we did.
9. We did not recognize that neither our people nor our leaders are omniscient. Our       judgment of what is in another people's or country's best interest should be put       to the test of open discussion in international forums. We do not have the       God-given right to shape every nation in our image or as we choose.
10. We did not hold to the principle that U.S. military action … should be carried       out only in conjunction with multinational forces supported fully (and not       merely cosmetically) by the international community.
11. We failed to recognize that in international affairs, as in other aspects of       life, there may be problems for which there are no immediate solutions … At       times, we may have to live with an imperfect, untidy world.

Underlying many of these errors lay our failure to organize the top echelons of the executive branch to deal effectively with the extraordinarily complex range of political and military issues.

The lessons of life:

1. Empathize with your enemy
2. Rationality will not save us
3. There's something beyond one's self
4. Maximize efficiency
5. Proportionality should be a guideline in war
6. Get the data
7. Belief and seeing are often both wrong
8. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning
9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil
10. Never say never
11. You can't change human nature"

How many Americans understand, let alone are even reasonable aware that the North Vietnamese were proactively engaged in their own governmental process, one part of which they presented their list of grievances to the French and to the UN (if I am not mistaken) in the late 1950's?! That this also is a country with its own history of struggle for autonomy and the right to self-rule?!
Before the cries of negative reaction spout their blame and chaos frenzy, read all that is here first and truly ponder the depths of implication. I am talking about plain responsibility. Know that even after more than thirty years, I am only just beginning to find information concerning my father's fate on the Internet, don't just jump to conclusions. That I was the same age range as the US Navy pilot Lt. Commander, and that I was a parent with my own child, when I first found out what had happened to my father. Finally.
That in the beginning of the nightmare life, I was a kid not even three weeks away from my thirteenth birthday when the dreaded knock came to the door. That our lives as a family changed so fast it'd make you head swim. That I am still picking up the pieces in more ways than you can imagine, WITHOUT living in the past, so my own life can work reasonably well in the present! On many levels my life does work well and on many significant levels it continues to not work as well as it can... that I am still working on it.

The cast of the Tim Robbins production, of Father Berringer's play of The Trial of the Cantonville Nine, speaks about war, Iraq, complacency, and relevance.

Take heed America, we must end this Congressional-Military-Industrial Complex, as Eisenhower warned. We must restore our democracy to a government by, for and OF the people... do you know what this means? To be a truly free democracy means no matter you education, no matter our cultural exposure, no matter your background_ YOUR VOICE MATTERS. And if one of your peers will not listen to you that you must not stop until you are heard because your story, your struggle, your commitment to right a wrong is of benefit to EVERYONE. Especially those who turn their backs on you, lock the gates of access and try to prevent you from getting your message where it can be recognized and heard and consequently will be most effective. Do NOT EVER stop

Barack Obama (The First 100-Days) used his first cabinet meeting to challenge his Cabinet Secretaries to search for cost-savings in their departments...

What kind of species of life are we human beings? More to the point, what kind of species of life do we spirits of the divine in human form want to be/express in the world, from here?

To the Speicher family, I wish you the closure you need to move on with your lives. I know that finding conscious inner peace is what our relatives caught in these duties want for those of us, they leave behind. Blessings on us all.

Photo credit: Terry Rowe

Friday, December 4, 2009

Remember Where the Hell is, Matt Harding?

He made it around to many beautiful places on this planet of ours (EVERYONE'S!). Dancing, dancing, dancing joy everywhere!!!

I posted about this project a while back, someone remind when that was! His accomplishment of dancing all around the world popped up in my email box today and it is a perfect email to open!!

Enjoy this video again and again throughout this holiday season, and if the blues threaten for even a moment do a jig instead!! Go ahead leave the internal pessimist behind for awhile; maybe even make happy jigging a habit instead!

Much love everyone!!

Don't send a card to "a recovering soldier"

I'm not being a scrooge! Here's the best way to show support for the troops

By Herb Weisbaum contributor
updated 9:17 a.m. PT, Thurs., Dec . 6, 2007

Herb Weisbaum

I don’t mean to sound like a scrooge, but don’t waste your time or postage mailing a holiday card to a recovering soldier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Maybe you’ve seen the e-mail going around. It suggests that you send a Christmas card to a hero.

There are a few versions of this e-mail out there, this one being the most common:

When you are making out your Christmas card list this year, please include the following:

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20307-5001

If you approve of the idea, please pass it along to your e-mail list.

It’s a great idea, but unfortunately if you send something addressed this way, it won’t be delivered. So please, don’t forward this e-mail.

The U.S. Postal Service will not deliver any letter, post card, or package that is not addressed to a specific individual. Anything sent to “A Recovering Soldier,” “Any Wounded Soldier,” or “Any Service Member” is unacceptable.

“We cannot accept any mail that is not specifically addressed to an individual or an organization at the medical center,” says Terry Goodman of Walter Reed.

Sometimes one of these letters will make it through to the medical center. If that happens, it is returned to sender. Goodman says officials are just following Department of Defense policy designed to ensure the safety of patients and staff at all military hospitals.

And don’t try to contact Walter Reed or any other military medical facility to get the name of a wounded service member to write. Because of medical privacy regulations, hospital officials can’t give out that information.

So what can you do?

Walter Reed suggests visiting the “America Supports You” Web site where you can make a donation to one of the more than 300 non-profit organizations dedicated to helping U.S. troops and their families.

Other resources:

* The Postal Service Web site lists ways to support our troops.

* You can post greetings on the “To Our Soldiers” message board.

* You can donate a USO Care package via the USO site.

If you want to do something for the military men and women from your area, contact your local military base or the local National Guard or military reserve unit.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

New TED Talk w/ Hans Rosling; is this only a "presentation" Revolution?

I cannot embed this TED talk with Hans Rosling so, I give you a link to the video spreading of course like wild fire! It is only hours old so, get on it!

A new mind map application is available to download for free and after watching this TED Talk, will be a true resource for more people. Find a link to their site here! For fact-centered presentation tools, click on that link_ NOW!

Want to know when Asia will catch up economically?

July 17, 2048_ China and India will catch up to the US/UK in economy and world economic domination.

Let's start abolishing world wars and cleaning up the global environmental devastation now! As Hans has said, a priority in education, health and electricity improvements and access are what is needed now in India and in China. I will be age 94 in July, 2048_ let's MOVE!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vogue/Feature: her brilliant career

Photo by Annie Leibovitz/Vogue

As Obama's surprise (and reluctant) pick for Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton brings her star power and stamina to the global stage.

(Jonathan Van Meter reports. Photographed by Annie Leibovitz.)

It is a dreary morning in early October in Washington, D.C., and perhaps because Hillary Rodham Clinton is wearing a black Oscar de la Renta suit on such a colorless day, she seems somber. I had trailed her for nearly two weeks this summer in Africa and then again in New York during the United Nations General Assembly, and I had grown accustomed to seeing her in the vivid suits she favors. Africa is nothing if not colorful, and so not only did bright red or teal or periwinkle seem situation-appropriate, but her clothes somehow matched her demeanor, which was almost uniformly cheerful. Sometimes the color/mood connection was made overt: One morning, as her motorcade arrived at the U.N. for a panel on violence against women and girls, she stepped out of a shiny black luxury sedan in a red suit and was met by Esther Brimmer, her Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, also wearing red. "Good morning, Esther," said Clinton. "I see you got the color memo."

Today's memo? Not today. When she walks into one of the many grand diplomatic reception rooms on the eighth floor of "the Building," as everyone calls the State Department, she is clutching a big mug of milky coffee and is wearing no makeup. She looks tired and cranky. She is about to tape three I'm-sorry-I-can't-be-with-you-here-this-evening videos for events she can't attend. This is obligatory drudge work, to be sure, but it's drudgery that requires her to suck it up and find that extra gear: She must be on. Clinton says hello to the group—not her usual effervescent eye-popping hello but a barely mustered blanket nicety. She sits where she is told, facing a teleprompter, and her ever-present and very chic deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, hands her a small case filled with cosmetics. Holding a compact, Clinton puts on mascara, lipstick, blush, and a little powder. She yanks her jacket straight, affixes her mic, and signals she is ready by sitting up and staring directly into the camera. And—click!—just like that, the public Hillary appears: upbeat, reassuring, in control, wide awake, means business. She nails all three videos in one take. Done. Next.

She walks into the adjoining ballroom, where she has been keeping Katie Couric waiting, and sits down to do a lengthy and tough interview on the war in Afghanistan and President Obama's agonizing decision-making process. Not surprisingly, her mastery of the issues is dazzling. Even Couric is blown away. In fact, Clinton is so clearheaded on the subject, so eloquent, that it raises the question: Why hasn't Hillary Clinton been more out in front on the most troubling foreign-policy issues of the day?

During the first several months of Clinton's tenure, there were a lot of raised eyebrows over the fact that she seemed to have a weirdly low profile for the highest-ranking member of the president's Cabinet and the leading spokesperson for the nation's foreign policy. Some even suggested that it was the administration's intention, or that her power was somehow diminished by the fact that there were so many special envoys: Richard Holbrooke for Afghanistan/Pakistan, Dennis Ross for Iran, and George Mitchell for the Middle East. "It's just dead wrong," says Madeleine Albright, who reminds me that appointing the envoys was Clinton's idea. "This is the thing that people have to understand about her. She is not into 'I have to be the one front and center.' She wants to solve the problem!"

In recent months, much of the grumbling has dissipated as she has recovered from an unfortunately timed broken elbow, gotten her bearings in the job (Ross has since left his Iran posting, allowing Clinton to take the lead with that crisis), and appeared on television with greater regularity. Although it is still hard to get the real measure of her success, her initial accomplishments and dedication to the president are compelling people to see her in a new light. From her first trip, to Asia in February, through the more than 30 countries she has visited since, Clinton has at the very least proved how focused and indefatigable she is; and while there may not have been much on the line in Africa, her itinerary just underscored the point. "You could define the trip by what she didn't do," says Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs. "No sightseeing, no museums, no shopping." There's also the fact that so many Clinton-administration veterans are on the national-security team, folks like Tom Donilon and Dennis Ross. More recently, her biggest triumph to date came during her moment of "limousine diplomacy," when she saved the Turkey/Armenia accord at the last minute. Still, over time she is going to "need a big win that's all hers," says someone who has covered Clinton for years.

But there is one other thing that lends her an aura of success, an echo from her days in the Senate: She plays well with others, especially older Republican men. The night before the Couric grilling, she did a rare joint interview with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates onstage in an auditorium at George Washington University; it aired as an hour-long CNN special. At the beginning of the interview, Gates marveled over how well the two get along. "You know, most of my career, the Secretary of State and Defense weren't speaking to one another," he said. He chalked up their fruitful partnership to his own deference to Clinton's rank. "I think it starts with the Secretary of Defense being willing to acknowledge that the Secretary of State is the principal spokesperson for United States foreign policy. Once you get over that hurdle, the rest kind of falls into place."

The evening was a reminder of something about Clinton: She is tough—more hawkish than most liberals; she's comfortable with war talk in a boys'-club environment. "I think Hillary now prides herself on the fact that she's part of the gravitas team," says Chuck Todd, the NBC News chief White House correspondent. "Her, Joe Biden, Bob Gates…the over-60 crowd." But it was also a reminder of something else: She is a rock star. Students camped out in line for hours to get tickets to the event, which sold out in minutes. When she first appeared onstage the audience leaped to their feet, and the applause was deafening. "They weren't cheering Bob Gates," said a fellow in uniform sitting next to me. And despite the gravity of the occasion, a young woman bellowed at the top of her lungs, "I love you, Hilllllary!!!!," as if she were at a Lady Gaga concert. Seeming to acknowledge her superstar status, Clinton made a crack at the very end of the proceedings, saying that Gates had served most of his 43 years in public service "in secret" (referring to his CIA days). "And I have no secrets." The crowd roared with laughter.

The Harry S. Truman Building, where the State Department is housed, is a monstrosity—a huge lump of stone and glass that overwhelms and defines the Washington neighborhood of Foggy Bottom. Built in the late thirties, it occupies 2.1 million square feet and houses some 8,000 employees and has 43 elevators. The interior has all the charm of a psychiatric hospital. So when the elevator door opens onto the eighth floor—Hillary Clinton's new supersize domain—I am surprised by the grandeur, so at odds with the rest of the building. It's no White House, but it sure beats the Russell Senate Office Building.

I am relieved to hear that our interview will be held over lunch in a private dining room, the Madison Room, along with Huma Abedin and her Michael Clayton-esque image man and fixer, Philippe Reines. She will be taking her time eating, unrushed. As we sit down, Clinton tells me that she had the furniture rearranged in this room when she arrived at State so that the table would be closer to the window. "The best view in Washington," she says, and she is right. When we stepped out onto the loggia earlier, just as the sun was coming out, to take in the sweeping vista from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, I got crazy-patriotic-spooky seat-of-power goose bumps.

After a bit of spirited chitchat about the TV show Mad Men ("That's how it was!" she says. "That's why the women's-liberation movement was so shocking. It was like news from outer space") and some ill-advised foreign-policy questions on my part, which seemed to bore her, Clinton's mood turned on a dime as soon as I shifted the focus to her—her life and her feelings. When I ask her if she can walk me through her career from First Lady, senator, and presidential candidate to Secretary of State, in terms of level of difficulty, job satisfaction, and public scrutiny, she lets out an amazing peal of high-pitched giggles. "They are such different experiences!" she says, still laughing. "It's like looking at this fruit salad. Do I like peaches better than I like plums better than kiwis?" But then, like the lawyer she was trained to be, she answers me, going through each of the stages of her hugely public life, methodically, clearly, succinctly. But when she gets to the Secretary of State part, she surprises me.

"I was stunned after the election when President Obama asked me to consider this," she says. "I really was very unconvinced. I did not think it was the right thing to do. I didn't want to do it. I just really had a lot of doubts, and I kept suggesting other people: Well, how about this person! How about that person! This one would be really good! But then a friend of mine called me and basically said, 'How would you have felt if you'd been elected and you'd called him and asked him to do this?' And that really made a big impression on me. How do you say no? And so…I said yes. And here I am." She laughs and picks up her fork and stabs a kiwi out of her fruit salad and pops it in her mouth.

I ask whether she knew that Obama was going to invite her to join his administration. "Philippe kept saying, 'He's going to offer you Secretary of State.' I said, 'Philippe, that is ridiculous! It is absurd.' " "I witnessed it," says Huma.
"You witnessed it," says Clinton, shaking her head in disbelief.
"Not going to happen, not in a million years," says Philippe, gently mocking his boss's reaction at the time.
"Not going to happen," says Clinton.
"Fun days," says Philippe.
"For you, maybe," says Clinton with a mordant laugh.

As Clinton's staffers later tell me, this is the short version of the story. The long version—a drama that unfolded over about ten days—says a lot about Clinton's state of mind after the election. It is a story that has not been given a full airing until now, and one that requires that we go back for a moment, to what was one of the most exciting—and competitive—presidential primaries in U.S. history.

The Clinton folks say that there were some ugly moments during the campaign that really stung, things that were hard to forgive, but, says one staffer, "far fewer than you would think. The campaigns, especially the hierarchies, disliked each other far more intensely than the candidates ever did." Obama reportedly chided his staff for making fun of Clinton when she cried in New Hampshire: "Give her a break. You don't know what it's like." Another person said this: "She was a pain in the ass, taking him the distance, but she definitely made him a better candidate. And the truth is, it's that very attribute of not getting out, that resiliency, that doggedness that he saw—that's what led him to pick her. If she had left the race any earlier, I don't think she'd be Secretary of State." (On her desk at the State Department is a plaque inscribed with Winston Churchill's famous admonition: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP.)

Hillary ended her candidacy in June and began campaigning for Obama, often with Bill. Even so, according to Clinton staffers, until the convention a lot of bad blood remained between the camps. It has been reported that it had been a nagging part of the VP-selection process for the Democrats. Obama would say, "Are we thinking enough about Hillary? Why are we dismissing her?" But there were simply too many raw feelings. Last year in early August, when I interviewed senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett in her Chicago office (where she had pointedly taken down her Clinton photos), she described the political marriage as "one big happy family." Really? "I mean that! All will be…all is improving dramatically. I think both Barack and Michelle have had wonderful conversations with Senator Clinton, and she's pledged to be helpful, and he's pledged to help her with her debt. But it was a tough primary. And it was long."

At the convention in Denver, Clinton gave the speech of her life and then went down on the floor and, in a very emotional moment, called off voting, convincingly throwing her weight behind Obama. "She was sucking it up," says one of her aides. "She was doing what was right for the party and for the country. And it was so transparent. You couldn't ascribe any other motive to it." One staffer was with her in Denver when she bumped into Michelle Obama the day after her speech. "And Michelle said, 'That was great,' and they had a little moment. After that, they started to speak. Say whatever you want to say about the Clintons, but they are poster parents for successfully raising a child in the White House, and I think they started talking on that basis: I have kids; we have to uproot them." (In September, Michelle and Hillary shared their first meal at the White House. "I had lunch with her in the Yellow Oval Room on the second floor, and we talked as we have in the past about how her girls were doing and getting adjusted and how the dog was doing, all the day-to-day matters of life," Clinton told me. "But we also talked about what she was doing to encourage better life habits, particularly around eating and exercise, which I think is a big deal. I think it's a very good cause for her to champion." When I ask Clinton what she thinks of Michelle's supporting young fashion designers, she says, "She can carry it off and she enjoys it, so more power to her.")

Once Clinton recovered from the disappointment of losing, she became genuinely excited about returning to the Senate. Even more, she was looking forward to going "home," as she told me. But just a few days after Obama's election, Clinton aides started hearing rumblings—from reporters and people connected to Obama's transition team—that the president was going to ask Clinton to be his Secretary of State. When they told her, she just laughed. Nonsense! And then over the weekend the rumblings turned to "credible intelligence," as one person put it. Clinton spoke to the president briefly that Sunday evening, but she remained unconvinced, partly because all he said to her was "I want to talk to you" and partly because of a misunderstanding between their schedulers that suggested a lack of urgency. So when Clinton flew to Chicago that Thursday and was offered the job, she was, as she says, "stunned."

"Even during the toughest part of the primary he told me how much he respected her," says Valerie Jarrett. "Early on in the primary I had a sense that if things worked out favorably for him, he would want to have her close."

Clinton now had to decide—quickly—whether she wanted the job, whether she could take on the job, and there were some major sticking points. For one, her campaign had been $24 million in debt. Clinton had written off the $13 million she had lent the campaign, and after raising donations she was left with another $10 million that had to be retired—a very tall order. Were she to become Secretary of State, she would be forbidden by law to campaign on her own behalf, and the best asset she had for extinguishing the debt was herself. The other impediment to Clinton's confirmation was her husband's foundation work. As one staffer told me, "The press made it about conflict of interest and their work overlapping. The truth is, she didn't want any of his good works to have to be scaled back because of what she was doing. I wasn't there, but President Clinton said something to her like 'The good you will do as Secretary of State will more than outweigh whatever work I have to cut back on.' "

All of these hand-wringing calculations took place in the span of a few days, and for various reasons—those mentioned above, others known only to herself—Clinton wavered daily. This seesaw effect created what was described to me as a "boys against the girls" dynamic among her advisers. Reines and Andrew Shapiro, her foreign-affairs adviser in the Senate, were pushing her to take the job, reportedly through occasional "E-mails that bordered on the disrespectful," someone told me. On the other side were the women who have been Clinton's most trusted advisers for years: Maggie Williams, Cheryl Mills, who is now her chief of staff, and Capricia Marshall, all urging her not to accept.

Each time Clinton wavered, Obama would talk her through it again. "At the end of the day," says one of her aides, "it was the president who sold her on it. He didn't delegate it." Says another staffer, "They started talking about it substantively, looking around the globe, and they were basically in the same place. The things they disagreed about in the campaign? We didn't believe he was actually going to have coffee with Ahmadinejad. It was something he shouldn't have said in the campaign, and we pounced on it. The tiny differences in their foreign-policy ideas during the primaries evaporated during the general election."

But as the hours ticked by, it was becoming increasingly obvious to her staff that Clinton wasn't going to accept. Out of desperation and knowing that Joe Biden was "gung ho" about the idea of Clinton as Secretary of State, Reines and Shapiro lied to their boss that it was Biden's birthday (it was actually the next day) so that she would call him and he might sway her at the eleventh hour. They were throwing the kitchen sink at her, I was told, "grasping at straws."

Reines and Shapiro went to bed Wednesday night thinking she was getting ready to call the president to say she wasn't going to do it. "We went to work Thursday not just preparing for the worst but prepared," says Reines. "There was a statement. Waiting to push the button. And every minute that went by that it didn't happen, the air was coming out of it. And then you could just tell by mid-morning, something had changed. I remember Maggie Williams called. Huma said, 'This is crazy!,' which I could just tell, knowing Huma, that it was something big. And then Maggie called me and said, 'So there's been a little development…. ' " Clinton had decided to accept.

What finally changed her mind? "Obama wouldn't take no for an answer, and he was just very smart with her," says one of her aides. "He talked about it from the right place in the right way, helping her imagine what it would be like. And she said, OK, well, let's think about it some more. Eventually he was successful at convincing her. He would not let her off the hook. Knowing her and having worked with her—that button got pushed, that we-need-you-to-serve-your-country button."

The Secretary of State's plane is no Air Force One, but it's a pretty sweet ride. A reconfigured U.S. Air Force Boeing 757 that seats about 40 passengers, it is outfitted with a cabin for the secretary that is both an office and a bedroom. (Everyone wants to know: How does she do it? Turns out Clinton is a champion sleeper: She naps on command; she is impervious to jet lag.) Behind her cabin there is a secure first class-like cabin for her top staffers; this is followed by a cabin for diplomats and distinguished guests, and another where her secondary staff sit, including a traveling doctor (on this trip, a woman from Texas who looks like Jean Stapleton) and Clinton's interpreter, an eccentric little man who seems to speak every language known to mankind. And then behind that, there is a cabin for the diplomatic security team; then, in the very back, in the last few rows, the press, who are the only people on the plane who have to sit in coach seats three across—which, on this trip, an arduous twelve-day slog through seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa, means 21,496 miles. In coach.

Not surprisingly, the ten members of the traveling press are both the most fun people on the plane and the crankiest people on the plane. They also drink more, smoke more, eat more. And complain more. And obsess about what Hillary is wearing more. And discuss her good- and bad-hair days more. But most of all, they spin out theories about the imagined dynamics of Hillary's relationships with the two most important men in her life: Bill and Barack.

Our landing in Kenya—the homeland of Barack Obama's father—could not have been more perfectly scripted to drive this group bananas. Just as we are about to touch down after traveling for nearly seventeen hours, everyone's BlackBerrys glow to life, and all at once they are greeted with the news that Bill Clinton is in North Korea meeting with Kim Jong Il, negotiating the release of the two now-famous prisoners Euna Lee and Laura Ling. They are aghast. How could he? He's stealing Hillary's thunder! Obama had to have signed off on this! The timing is atrocious! Right at the beginning of her biggest trip as Secretary of State! Or so it goes in the back of the plane. But in some ways, the press reaction is all that counts, and in their world the upstaging is instantaneous and total.

There seems to be consensus among the reporters about something else: All of the worst things and all of the best things about being Hillary Clinton are in play as she leads the State Department into a new era. Many people, not just this group, think her Clinton baggage is a distraction, as evidenced by the fixation on Bill's North Korea trip. (This was also one of the worries many had about her becoming president.) Hill and Bill are ostensibly the first presidential couple to come of age in the OK! magazine era: We obsess over every scrap about their private lives in the same bizarre, compulsive way we do with Brad and Angelina.

In Africa, where Clinton has been on long multicountry trips three times in fifteen years, she is practically a deity. (The fact that she wrote a huge best-seller, It Takes a Village, based on an African concept does not hurt.) "I love the vitality and energy of the people of Africa, almost despite the circumstances that many of them find themselves facing," she tells me. "I'm absolutely engrossed in the fact that we all came from Africa. I find that just an amazing thought. I like the positive energy that a lot of people are projecting. But I also recognize that in some of the places we visited, you really are on the thin veil of what's best and what's worst about us as human beings."

As her 24-car motorcade sped through Nairobi, thousands lined the streets. Adoring crowds of women—dancing, singing, ululating, and holding handmade signs expressing their gratitude—were present at nearly every stop. Both of the Clintons are beloved across much of the continent, but it was the women turning up to touch Hillary who were so moving. I asked one woman in Cape Town why she loved Hillary Clinton. "Because she is an African woman," she said. "She stayed with her husband, she works hard, and she keeps her family together."

One of the refrains I kept hearing from reporters was Condi would never do this. Clinton, a woman from politics, knows how to work a crowd. Sometimes her motorcade would arrive and she would jump out and just plunge right in, getting out ahead of her security team, who often looked a little panicked. She danced her funky little dance at the dinners held in her honor (as seen on YouTube). In Cape Town, she threw a party for the press and drank with the best of us, talking for more than two hours, into the night, with surprising off-the-record candor about everything from her husband to her disdain for certain world leaders. She's fun. She laughs at herself. And she is full of surprisingly sharp, pointy little retorts, barbs, and comebacks. On several occasions she drifted to the back of the plane, allowing zesty debates to flower, often asking, "What's your take?" of different reporters, who hung on her every word. One of them told me his opinion of Hillary had completely turned around: "My parents hated her, and I thought she was a bitch who surrounded herself with horrible people. But she's nice! She's really frank and blunt and funny. One time she said to me, 'We need China.' Condi would never do that. I like her." Condoleezza Rice, I was told, almost never even came out of her cabin.

At one point I tell Clinton about the Condi-would-never-do-this mantra. "I don't know," she says with a look of distaste at the whole concept. "I think it's important in these jobs to be yourself. I believe very much in people-to-people diplomacy, getting beyond the leaders. I went to Uzbekistan about twelve years ago, and the then-ruler, Islam Karimov, who is still the ruler, was fascinated by my husband. He kept saying, 'Well, I see him on TV, he's always making speeches, he's always shaking hands. What's he doing?' I said, 'Well, that's a democracy, President Karimov. He works for the people, so you go out and see the people.' A lot of the people in some of the countries we've been in, they're not unabashed fans of the U.S., but you've got to reach out. You pick up all kinds of senses and feelings from doing that."

Does being a Clinton help?

"It helps enormously. Around the world, people will say, 'I remember when your husband came' or 'We haven't really made any progress since your husband was here.' There's just a lot of very positive feedback. It's a great door opener. And I have political experience that enables me to look at a leader and say, 'I understand your political problems. I've been in politics. I've had to run for election.' So when a leader tells me that he can't do something because a certain group wouldn't like it, I say, 'But that's what politics is about.' Look at what President Obama did. He organized from the grass roots; he created a political organization. That's what you have to do."

This was Clinton's message all over Africa: Stop complaining and get organized. It was a tough-love message delivered most forcefully (and successfully) in Kenya, in private with the leaders of the country; and she delivered it at the University of Nairobi, where the crowds outside were perhaps the biggest of the entire trip and where the students inside received the message with enthusiasm. In that auditorium, I was struck by Clinton's tone. It sounded like a speech that only a mother could give. Clinton has this innate ability to be almost but not quite hectoring, the sort of "Come on, get your act together, let's go!" that mothers deliver to children so effectively. Perhaps some countries are prepared to hear certain things only from a woman?

"It's a really interesting question," says Clinton. "In our country, having had Secretary Albright and Secretary Rice and now my filling this position, it's no big deal, having a woman do the job. But in much of the rest of the world there is a strong message. You can go to some countries and there's not a woman in the room. They don't even make the effort to give me the token woman minister. None. But whether it's true or fair, when women get elected to office, they believe they are imposing a different mind-set on the political and business climate of their countries. There's a lot of evidence that women are more focused on the future, more willing to see investments actually deliver results. And in lots of African countries the honorific for women is 'Mama.' So I had lots of people say to me, 'Mama, what about this; Mama, what about that?' "

There is a corollary to this aspect of Clinton that I noticed in Africa: She mothers the people around her. Janine Zacharia, a reporter for Bloomberg News, had burned herself while cooking a couple of days before the trip. As soon as Clinton saw her bandaged hand she made a fuss, asked her what happened, and wanted to know if she had everything she needed to take care of it. Another time, we were in Goma, in eastern Congo, at an outdoor press conference, and I was getting scorched under the hot sun. While Clinton was speaking, I tried to stealthily move under a tree for shade. When she was finished, she stepped off the stage and walked up to me. "Where's your hat?" she said, sounding just like my mother. "I forgot it," I said sheepishly. "Well, we'll get you one. Someone get Jonathan a hat!" On another occasion, I had foolishly eaten a salad in Liberia, and Clinton heard I was in my hotel room, very ill. The phone rang: "The secretary would like us to bring you some Cipro." A few minutes later her physician appeared at my door with drugs. She handed me the Cipro and another pill given to chemo patients so that they can stop vomiting long enough to take more drugs. "This stuff is very expensive," she said in her Texas drawl, "but we made sure to always travel with it ever since Bush, the father, puked all over the prime minister in Japan. I said, 'Not on my watch.' " After the doctor left, an aide appeared. "The secretary asked me to bring you this." It was a Sprite and a few slices of white bread.

There were so many strange and sublime moments on this trip: a woman farmer in a cornfield outside Nairobi squealing with delight when she met Clinton, "I am one of the women you speak about all the time! You are meeting me! And I have met Hillary Clinton!" A handshake from Sheikh Sharif, the president of Somalia, that clearly moved Clinton. "He was very touching," she says. "He had immense dignity, coming to me publicly, a representative of both the United States and a woman." A moment in Pretoria when a reporter asked the South African minister of foreign affairs, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (who oddly enough looked a bit like Clinton in her robust bearing and bright colors), what has changed about South Africa's relations with the United States and she shot back with an edge in her voice, "The zeal and passion that Hillary Clinton brings to the relationship is what has changed!" Clinton speaking to a group of African businessmen: "Because people are poor doesn't mean that they don't have any money."

The most extraordinary day of the entire trip was a testament to this very idea, what Clinton calls "smart power," and it is something she is very passionate about: that the micro-economies of the poor are deeply important, and when the so-called soft issues—violence against women, food safety and agriculture, sustainable development—are not tended to, the result is chaos, instability, conflict, and war. The Victoria Mxenge housing development, a project outside Cape Town started by a few homeless women who were living on the side of the road with their children, has grown through microloans into a sprawling 50,000-home development. Clinton had visited as First Lady in 1997 and then brought President Clinton back a year later. When her motorcade arrived there on a glorious Saturday afternoon, she was met by a ragtag brass band that had a New Orleans vibe, women ululating at the top of their lungs, choral singers, and dancers, and it all added up to an explosion of joy—a happy chaos. Hundreds of people behind barricades screamed and pushed and reached out to touch Clinton as she ran along the line; some of the women were in tears. One of them yelled, "It is so nice to see you again!" Clinton was ebullient. Caroline Adler, a young State Department staffer, said, "She gets crowds wherever she goes. But this? This is unique. This feels like euphoria."

Two days later, the euphoria turned to hostility. Kinshasa was the only place in Africa where Clinton's charm and star power were useless—where the very fact of her being a Clinton worked against her. For more than a decade, the country has been devastated by war; 5.4 million people have died, the world's deadliest conflict since World War II. There is a lot of distrust of America among the Congolese people and bitter feelings about some of the Clinton administration's policies. So when Clinton appeared at a town-hall meeting with the former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo and launched into her tough-mother-love shtick, it seemed tone-deaf. When the students were given a chance to speak, their questions were uniformly angry and filled with suspicion. One of Clinton's advisers told me that Clinton often mirrors whomever she is addressing, and here was Exhibit A. Onstage in a hot, fetid room, she became testy. Just before the famous "meltdown" seen round the world, she said to one student, very sharply, "I'm only here to make a very simple point: We can either think about the past and be imprisoned by it, or we can decide we're going to have a better future and work to make it. That is the choice. We're not going to work with people who are looking backward, because that's not going to get us where we want to go."

And then came the question about China and the World Bank that included this: "From the mouth of Mrs. Clinton, can you tell us what's on the mind of Mr. Clinton?" Clinton pulled out her earpiece and snapped, "Wait! You want me to tell you what my husband thinks?" She glared at the student. "My husband is not Secretary of State; I am." She paused and then let rip again. "If you want my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I am not going to be channeling my husband." It was not so much what she said but her tone that seemed to signal a sensitive nerve had been struck.

Clinton was brutalized in the press for days. Two words summed up the gist of the criticism: very undiplomatic. She has barely said a word about it since. When a reporter from The New York Times asked about it in a press conference in Liberia, he practically ducked. She didn't even bother to answer. But when we were still in Africa I asked her about it, reminding her that this wouldn't be published until December. "Well, it was a very aggressive mood in that auditorium," she said, surprising me. "The looks on people's faces…." She caught herself. "But on the one hand, I got it because they are so despairing. On the other hand, I just sensed a real disappointment in everybody, including the United States. Forget it. There's nothing anybody can do. Why are you even here? It was a very intense experience." I tell her that the question from the student made me cringe. "I'll tell you, it made me cringe. As you saw. And the actual text of the question was pretty clear in the way it was translated. But, you know, it was just one of those moments."

One aspect of the incident that went unreported is that Mutombo, a national hero in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who has invested millions in his country, swooped in and rescued Clinton from the long, awkward, stunned silence that followed her outburst. He defended her and put the students oh so gracefully in their place. "Madam Secretary say hope is something is in the sky," he said in his broken English. "Don't you hope that maybe one day you will have a better house and you'll have a better job, maybe you can go and find the way to help your mother and your father? My dad worked as a teacher making only $37. All he did is stress the education. And we used the education as a vehicle to move us forward, and that's why I'm here today sitting here. So you better have hope."

A speech right out of the Clinton playbook. As everyone was rushing out of the auditorium, Clinton came offstage and was approached by the student, and they had an amicable exchange. Outside, Clinton ran into Mutombo and said, "Oh, my God, I'm in love with you! I want a transcript of what you said. That's the message."

One Friday in late September I spent a day following the secretary through endless meetings during the United Nations General Assembly. It was the day of high drama at the U.N.—the day the world found out that Iran had a hidden nuclear facility in Qum. Clinton's good mood was unfazed. She joked at one point that the U.N. during this week, an annual occurrence, is like "a mosh pit." She walked around obsessing bemusedly about the fact that the same chemicals used to dye hair can be used to make a bomb, asking at one point, "Well, do you need a whole vat of it?"

I was also happy to see her taking delight in a favorite new colleague, David Miliband, the tall and dashing 44-year-old British foreign secretary. When I mentioned to her over lunch that I had spoken with him, she lit up. "Oh, my God!" I joked that I got a crush over the phone in about five seconds partly because of his accent, and she said, "Well, if you saw him it would be a big crush. I mean, he is so vibrant, vital, attractive, smart. He's really a good guy. And he's so young!"

For his part, Miliband seems smitten, too. "She applies intellect but also psychology to the dossiers that she's studying. She uses her experience in a very impressive way. She brings it to bear in a way that enriches a conversation but doesn't swamp it. She learns from history without being trapped by it. I think it's also important to say that she's delightful to deal with one on one. She's someone who laughs and can tease, and she's got perspective as well."

Early in the day Clinton's motorcade crept across town to the Sheraton, where her husband was putting on his annual Clinton Global Initiative. Hillary was to give a speech about food safety and was the day's big draw. When we arrived and went into the Green Room, she disappeared up a flight of stairs. About a half hour later she appeared with Bill and Chelsea. When she walked in and saw the faces of her staff, people who have worked with the Clintons for years, she said loudly, "Oh, my God! It's like a family reunion!" For this family, that is the strange truth. As they waited to go onstage together, the TV monitors showed a montage of video clips being played in the auditorium, many from speeches by both Clintons. Chelsea, looking so soigné in a flirty black dress and killer shoes, stuck close to her mother; Bill stood on the other side of the room, alone, staring at his notes.

They went out onstage to a standing ovation and roaring applause, and then Bill said, "I want to begin by expressing my extreme indebtedness to CGI, to all of you who have participated, for giving me the first chance I have had in a week to see Hillary." And then he said, "Most of what I know about what I do today I learned from her. She has become the best public servant our family has produced. I am very proud of her."

As I stood there, my mind wandered back to the end of the trip to Africa. The last stop was Liberia; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the only woman president on the continent, and the two women have a deep affection for each other. Clinton gave a speech to the legislature that absolutely killed. "I spent two years and a lot of money running against President Obama, and he won. And then I went to work to elect him. And then, much to my amazement, he asked me to be his Secretary of State." The room erupted in applause. "And I must say that one of the most common questions I'm asked around the world, from Indonesia to Angola, is, How could you go to work for someone you were running against? I said, 'Because we both love our country.' " The audience leaped to its feet and cheered for nearly two minutes. As I looked around the room, there were men with tears running down their faces.

On the way home we land in Cape Verde to refuel and stay the night. We check into an all-inclusive resort that feels like a Sandals. The next morning, I am up at the crack of dawn. I wander down a long path to the ocean and take a swim. I am the only person in sight. On my way back, I see Clinton in the distance with just one security guy, heading toward the ocean. She, too, is going for a swim. It is a bittersweet moment: Hillary Clinton is doing something purely for pleasure, for herself, but she is doing it alone, in a place designed for couples.

Two hours later, my phone rings. Clinton would like to do the interview, the one that I've been requesting throughout the trip, now. I am picked up in my room and taken to an empty restaurant. A table is moved and staged, just for us. She comes into the room and is…a different person. For the first time in eleven days, she is no longer the Secretary of State, with coiffed hair and a brightly colored suit on. She is Hillary, a woman who just went for a swim in the ocean. Her hair, still wet, is pulled back with a white braided headband. She is wearing a navy blazer with white piping on the lapel and a silver-and-pearl choker. She is radiant. When I tell her she looks pretty, her thank-you is so heartfelt that I blush. Everyone around her—her staff, the press—talks about how she has become more attractive with age and that photographs do not tell the story. When you are around her you are constantly struck by her charisma, her vitality, her confidence. Everywhere she goes people tell her that she is prettier in person. It never ceases to amaze her staff. "People think it's a compliment," says one aide. "And then when they walk away, she's like, 'Well, what did they think before they met me?' "

As Clinton and I sit and talk, she begins to rearrange everything—the cups, the silverware, the napkins, the creamer for her coffee—until it is just so, all the while listening and talking and not missing a beat. Remembering my illness, she asks me how I am feeling and then says, "Let's get some Sprite for Jonathan." Still mothering!

I bring up something I have been thinking about during the whole time we have been in Africa: Why is Hillary such an inspirational figure to so many women? Mary Beth Sheridan, a reporter on the trip from The Washington Post, said to me one day, "Margaret Thatcher ran a whole country. No one would ever describe her as an 'inspiration.' " Clinton seems amused by the comparison and then ponders it for a moment. "Well, I don't really understand it myself," she says, finally. "But it may in part be because people feel like they know me; they have watched me on the world scene for seventeen years now. They've seen my ups and my downs." She lets out a dark little chuckle. "They've seen my best and my worst. They've seen my public and my private—they've seen everything.

"So many women feel like I'm on their side," she says. "I somehow, through my life or their perception of me, give them courage to do things. And I think it's also that, whether I am meant to or not, I challenge assumptions about women. I do make some people uncomfortable, which I'm well aware of, but that's just part of coming to grips with what I believe is still one of the most important pieces of unfinished business in human history—empowering women to be able to stand up for themselves.

"I try to live my life in a way that I think has meaning," she continues. "I was raised to believe that I have to give back, that I was incredibly blessed to be an American, to have a good education, to have an intact family with two parents who encouraged me. I never felt in my family that I couldn't do anything I set my mind to because I was a girl, which was unusual even when I was growing up. I have a great partner who has been enormously supportive to me. I have a wonderful daughter. I have a 90-year-old mother who lives with us. I have so many blessings. And yet I know how hard it is even for people in today's world who have all of the attributes of education and income. Life is challenging for everybody." She takes a deep breath, leans back, and looks at me with those bright-blue eyes. "That's the best I can come up with!"

"Her Brilliant Career" has been edited for; the complete story appears in the December 2009 issue of Vogue.