FOX NEWS 03/23/03
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday some American soldiers are missing in the fighting in Iraq and that there is a report of a missing allied aircraft.
Rumsfeld said he could not provide any information about a missing aircraft. In Baghdad, security officers searched the banks of the Tigris River, apparently looking for one of more pilots who may have bailed out of a downed plane.
Asked what he could say about missing pilots, Rumsfeld replied, “Nothing.” He suggested that the search in Baghdad was staged.
“There has been a report of an aircraft missing,” the secretary acknowledged on NBC’s Meet the Press. “I don’t want to speculate because I simply don’t know.”
Rumsfeld said there are some American troops who are missing in Iraq. He noted that under the Geneva Convention governing prisoners of war, “It’s illegal to do things to POWs that are humiliating to those prisoners.”
“There are, we believe, there are some American soldiers missing.” He said there also could be captured journalists.
Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the report of the missing plane was unsubstantiated.
“We have nothing to substantiate that claim by the Iraqis, that any pilot has bailed out of his airplane over Baghdad,” he told ABC’s This Week.
“In fact, we checked just before coming on the air, and all planes are reported safe at this point,” said Myers, who spoke about an hour before Rumsfeld.
Myers was less certain about whether there were Americans being held prisoner in Iraq.
“We’re still trying to track that one down,” Myers said. “We’re in contact with Central Command. They will be the ones that will determine that. And we’re going to have to do some more investigation to determine whether that’s true or not.”
Saddam Hussein has decreed that any Iraqi who kills an enemy soldier will get a reward equivalent to $14,000.
And $28,000 will go to anyone who captures an enemy soldier alive, the decree said, according to the official Iraqi News Agency.