Bachmann Wants New POW Panel; '93 Report Says No Prisoners Remain

A select committee in 1993 found there were no live prisoners in Southeast Asia.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., the four-term congresswoman and one-time GOP presidential candidate, suggested Wednesday Congress get back involved in a sticky issue it hadn't significantly looked into in more than a decade: POW/MIAs.

[WHISPERS: The POW/MIA Flag Still Flies High Despite Questions]

Speaking on Capitol Hill just days before the Memorial Day weekend, Bachmann told supporters she had introduced a resolution that would establish a select committee to focus on service members who became prisoners of war or went missing in action in conflicts including the Vietnam War, the Korean War, World War II, Cold War missions, the Persian Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Today I introduced a resolution to establish a Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs.…

— Michele Bachmann (@MicheleBachmann) May 22, 2013

The committee would hold hearings on the issue, investigate some 83,000 unresolved POW/MIA cases and look for other ways to identify soldiers some believe remain unaccounted.

"It is our duty and responsibility to the heroic men and women who have given us so much to never stop fighting to bring each and every American home," Bachmann said in a statement provided to Minnesota's St. Cloud Times.

But in 1993, a Senate select committee on POW/MIA issues found that "there is, at this time, no compelling evidence that proves that any American remains alive in captivity in Southeast Asia."

[READ: Obama Oversimplifies Renewed Calls to Close Guatanamo Bay]

And H. Bruce Franklin, an American cultural historian and Rutgers University professor critical of the POW/MIA movement, says there is no reason to believe another select committee would find anything different.

"The post-war POW issue was a manufactured issue. It was manufactured to get the United States out of its commitment to help rebuild the country of Vietnam," says Franklin. "So the attempt to keep this issue going is really disgraceful and shameful."

Franklin also believes Bachmann's involvement in the issue represents "pure opportunism" on the heels of a Public Policy Polling survey that found her opponent, Democrat Jim Graves, was leading Bachmann 47 percent to 45 percent. Bachmann's office did not immediately respond to request for comment from Whispers on the new resolution or the race.

Bob Dumas, whose brother Cpl. Roger Dumas was supposedly seen alive in North Korea just as the Korean War ended, says a select committee is much needed to investigate the many service members like his brother who have never been found.

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"To me, the Pentagon, they don't want nobody home," says Dumas, who won a lawsuit against the government in federal court to change his brother's status in the military from dead to "prisoner of war." Today, Roger would be 83 years old. "But if [Bachmann] is not pressured by somebody powerful, and they open the hearings and do it the right way, that would [help]," he said.

Earlier this month, the Defense Department said a man at the center of a new documentary, "Unclaimed," was a fraud.

According to the film, John Hartley Robertson, a Special Forces soldier in the Vietnam war, was found living in south-central Vietnam and is a former prisoner of war.

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