Doubts Remain About Missing Pilot

scott, speicher, pilot, gulf war, first casualty, 60ii
CBS
A Navy pilot shot down over Iraq in January 1991 may have been captured by Iraqi forces, and members of the former Iraqi government "know the whereabouts" of the officer, the Navy has concluded.

A Navy board of inquiry concluded that there is no credible evidence that Capt. Michael "Scott" Speicher is dead, and it reaffirmed his official status as "missing/captured," according to the board's final report.

The board also recommended that the Pentagon work with the State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the Iraqi government to "increase the level of attention and effort inside Iraq" to resolve the question of Speicher's fate.

Navy Secretary Gordon England approved the report on Wednesday, according to Lt. Erin Bailey, a Navy spokeswoman.

The Iraqi government under President Saddam Hussein maintained from the start that Speicher perished at the site where his F/A-18 fighter jet crashed in the desert. No evidence to contradict that has surfaced since the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, but the new Navy inquiry concluded there was no credible evidence of his death, either.

"In view of the above findings, the board concludes as to the current whereabouts and status of the person that the person missing/captured," the report said. A copy of the report was provided to The Associated Press.

After the fall of Baghdad, a team of U.S. investigators searched for evidence of Speicher's fate.

CBS News reported in 2003 that the investigators had searched more than 50 prisons, graveyards and other sights in Iraq, but reported no conclusive findings. At that time, CBS News had reported that intelligence documents revealed that a pound and a half of human flesh which the Iraqis has turned over to the U.S. as remains identified only as "Michael," did not share the same DNA as Speicher.