New Clue In Lost Pilot Mystery?

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The search for Michael Scott Speicher – the Navy pilot shot down on the first night of the first Gulf War 12 years ago – has turned up a tantalizing clue that he was alive and in Iraqi hands as recently as the mid-1990s.

CBS News Correspondent David Martin reports a joint CIA-Pentagon team searching Iraqi prisons for some trace of Speicher found a cell with the initials "MSS" scratched on the wall.

There's no proof "MSS" stands for Michael Scott Speicher, but the reason the team went to that particular prison run by the Iraqi intelligence service was to check out a report from a source who claimed he had seen an American pilot there in the mid-1990s.

There have been several unconfirmed sightings of Speicher over the years, mostly by Iraqi defectors, but this is the first time investigators have turned up physical evidence that might corroborate one of those sightings.

Speicher had been given up for dead until the wreckage of his F-18 was found in the Iraqi desert two years after the war had ended. The cockpit canopy was apart from the rest of the plane, indicating he tried to bail out.

After getting permission from the Iraqis, a Pentagon team searched the site. They found no remains, but they did discover a tattered but largely intact flight suit, evidence Speicher was alive when he hit the ground.

If that "MSS" etched on a prison wall is really his initials, Michael Scott Speicher was sitting in a Baghdad dungeon at the same time the Iraqis were insisting they didn't know what had happened to the first casualty of America's 12-year war with Saddam Hussein.
  • Sue Chan

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