During Pres. Bush's address to the UN the other day he mentioned several individuals being held by Saddam Hussein. He stated that one was an American. He was referring to Scott Speicher, a Navy pilot who was shot down during the Gulf War. His story is a sad one indeed. Maybe you have read some of the stories put out by the media or seen news reports regarding him.

Lt. Commander Scott Speicher was piloting a F-18 from the Carrier Saratoga the morning of January 17, 1991, the opening day of the War. He was flying an "Ironhand" mission, which was designed to take out Iraqi radar sites, thus paving the way for other coalition forces. At about 3:50 AM, enroute to his target, Speicher was shot down. In the coming months and years there has been debate on what exactly hit Speicher. Some thought it was an Iraqi Mig-25 which had been identified and was in the area. Conventional wisdom now has it that it was friendly fire from another Navy plane that brought his F-18 down. At any rate, there was no distress call heard and there was an immense and violent fireball seen in the area where Speicher had been. The Navy initially only listed him as Missing in Action. His aircraft was the only American plane lost on that first night of the War and the next morning Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney stated in a Washington press conference that a single U.S. aircraft had been lost which had resulted in the death of the pilot. This despite the fact that the Navy still only listed Speicher as MIA. However Navy brass soon got word that there had been the F-18 had been blown out of the sky with no chance of survival and no ejection seen. Speicher's status was soon changed to Killed in Action. When U.S. and coalition POW's were repatriated at the end of the war, there was no Scott Speicher.

In 1993, two years after the end of the war, Navy intelligence sources started receving information that Speicher was still alive and in the hands of friendly Bedouins in Iraq. In the fall of a tribe of Bedouins had found the wreckage of Speicher's F-18. A Naval intelligence source had even provide a stack of pictures of the crash to CIA and Navy official. It was clear that the F-18 wasn't destroyed in a fireball, in fact it bore very little fire damage. Also the canopy and ejection seat were gone and there were burn marks on the cockpit where the rocket-powered ejection seats normally leave marks. In other words, the pilot had ejected. Unfortunately, much of this information was not acted upon due to the new Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton, Les Aspin. There were other more pressing matters to Aspin and looking for a lost Navy pilot wasn't one of them.

In time word was passed to American officials that Speicher was alive with the Bedouin tribes who wanted to return him to the U.S. for financial reward. In early 1995, a Saudi Prince who frequently travelled in the are and was familiar with the Bedouins even offered to help get Speicher out. He was waiting for instructions when the Joints Chiefs of Staff were told by JCS Chairman John Shalikashvili to "stand down". Why? Apparently the Clinton administration had made the decision that bringing Speicher home would reveal that they had known he was there all along, a political hit they were unwilling to take. Shalikashvili was even on record as saying he was against any rescue party/information-gathering operation because he "didn't want to be the one to write lettters to the parents telling them that their son or daughter died looking for old bones. According to CIA and Naval covert sources in Iraq, Saddam's troops found the Bedouins who had Speicher in December, 1995. Speicher was taken away and according to the sources, every Bedouin, man, woman and child were slaughtered.

In early 1999, a man defected from Iraq who had and interesting story. He told debriefers that he had driven around an American prisoner in Baghdad some years earlier. The prisoner was a pilot and the man picked out Speicher's picture from a lineup. The timeline as told by the driver would have been after Saddam's troops had found Speicher. The driver supposedly passed multiple lie detector tests and was even told an American family was offering a large reward if the pilot in question was short with blond hair. The driver stuck to his story. Speicher is 6 foot with dark hair.

Due to increasing evidence that Speicher was alive, his status was formally changed by the Navy on January 10, 2001, from Killed in Action to Missing in Action, the first time in U.S. history that that change had ocurred. On January 11, President Clinton created a frenzy when he stated for the media that, "We have some information that leads us to believe that he might be alive." There is other evidence. British intelligence provided info to the CIA that showed Speicher was being held in a prison in Baghdad. Only a few of Saddam's closest associates are allowed to see him. Supposedly British Intelligence has photos of Speicher in captivity. It was said there are indications he has facial scars and walks with a limp.

In January of 2002, Dutch intelligence made contact with an Iraqi defector that said Speicher had been moved to a military facility after September 11. Lastly on March 20, 2002, a special session of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was held. Chairman Pat Roberts called in CIA Director George Tenet and DIA Director Admiral Tom Wilson. Roberts wanted an answer for the record and asked both Tenet and Wilson, "Given all the information in your possession, is Scott Speicher alive today? Tell us all now," he demanded. Both replied, "Yes, he is".

In addition to the regular news media outlets, much of the source of my information comes from a recently released book, "No One Left Behind: the Scott Speicher Story" by Amy Waters Yarsinske. She is a formal Naval Intelligence Officer. My purpose for writing this piece is simply that the more people know about Scott Speicher, the more hell we can raise with our Senators and Congressmen and State Department to get this matter resolved and bring this guy home. Maybe, just maybe this is why Bush has been rattling the saber so much lately. Anyway, write and/or e-mail your congressmen please. This story is in the media out there but evidently not enough. None of us can begin to imagine what this guy's gone through if he's still alive which is what the evidence seems to point out. One other strange note on this subject, Speicher's widow/wife remarried a year after Speicher was declared dead. She married one of their best friends, another Navy officer.

Sorry about the length of this piece but I thank you for your attention to this matter. Keep Scott Speicher in your thoughts.