Scores of former American hostages are giving the U.S. government valuable information about conditions inside Kuwait and Iraq over the past four months, officials say.
One former hostage says he made a diagram of the strategic site in Iraq where he was held as a "human shield."About three-fourths of the hostages have voluntarily submitted to debriefing sessions with officials from the State Department and the military.
"Hundreds have been interviewed and hundreds more have agreed to be interviewed," Joe Reap, a State Department spokesman, said Tuesday.
Another U.S. official said the government is interested in information on the Americans remaining in the two countries, and "anything else they might have seen while they were there and they might want to pass on."
Miles Hoffman, 33, of Roswell, Ga., said he spent eight to 10 hours earlier this month with Air Force intelligence officers who quizzed him about his captivity in Kuwait and Iraq.
Hoffman, a money manager in Kuwait, was evacuated in mid-November because he needed a bone graft on his arm, which had been hit by a bullet. He said he had been one of the "human shields" confined to two strategic sites in Iraq.
"I diagrammed the site," Hoffman said.
The State Department said the debriefing sessions are voluntary. As private citizens, the returning hostages have no obligation to submit to interviews with the government.
On the airplane home, the evacuees were handed a piece of paper asking if they would like to provide information to the U.S. government. Special teams are sent to question those who agree.
Americans whose paychecks were halted after the invasion are eligible to apply for financial aid from the government. Congress passed a $10 million aid plan in October.
The former hostages can draw the equivalent of $24,705 a year, pro-rated for the length of time they had been held captive.