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Initials may offer clue to missing Gulf War pilot

From Jamie McIntyre

Prison wall
"MSS" appears on the prison wall, but there is no evidence Speicher is still alive.

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U.S. specialists looking for Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, missing since the 1991 Gulf War, find what appears to be his initials on a wall of a cell in a Baghdad prison. CNN's Barbara Starr reports. (April 24)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After an initial search of several sites in Iraq, U.S. investigators have found a clue indicating a U.S. Navy pilot who was shot down in the Gulf War may have been alive years after the fact, Pentagon officials told CNN Wednesday.

A team of U.S. specialists looking for Capt. Michael Scott Speicher found what appear to be the initials "MSS" scrawled on a wall of a cell in the Hakmiyah prison in Baghdad, an official tells CNN.

Investigators have still found nothing that indicates he is alive today.

A CNN crew went to the prison and shot video of the initials.

The importance of the find, according to Pentagon officials, is that it appears to corroborate intelligence from an informer who told the United States Speicher had been held at the prison.

In other cases, U.S. search teams found evidence in Iraq that contradicted previous intelligence and indicated some informants were lying about what they knew about Speicher, officials said.

"We know that some of the sources ... gave us information that was intentionally not true," the official said.

Speicher, who was promoted to captain while he was missing, was initially declared "killed in action" on the first night of the Gulf War in January 1991. Subsequent evidence showed that he ejected from his F-18 and fell into the hands of Iraqi military or paramilitary forces, Pentagon officials say.

He is now officially listed as "missing captured."

The Pentagon briefed several members of Congress this week on the latest developments in the search for Speicher.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, who was among those briefed, told CNN there has been no evidence discovered since the start of the war in Iraq that suggests Speicher is still alive, but that he believes Speicher may be alive based on intelligence gathered before the war.

Capt. Michael Scott Speicher is now officially listed as "missing captured."

"I know of no evidence since we have gone into Iraq, that leads me to the conclusion that he is still alive. I have no recent information," Nelson said.

Nelson is also convinced someone in Iraq knows what happened to Speicher.

"My opinion is that certain ones in this group of 55 (most wanted Iraqis) have the knowledge of the secret prison system for high-value prisoners, and wherever they find those, that's going to unlock the secrets of Speicher's fate," Nelson told CNN.

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