[sixties-l] On Bob Kerrey and Vietnam

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Thu Apr 26 2001 - 18:40:12 EDT

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    Institute for Public Accuracy
    915 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045
    (202) 347-0020 * http://www.accuracy.org * ipa@accuracy.org
    ___________________________________________________

                     PM Thursday, April 26, 2001

                     On Bob Kerrey and Vietnam

    Former Sen. Bob Kerrey's public statements during the last day -- prompted
    by revelations about to be reported by the New York Times and "60 Minutes
    II" about a raid he led that killed unarmed civilians during the Vietnam
    War -- have raised important issues. This afternoon, the following
    statement comes from Brian Willson, a former U.S. Air Force captain who
    served in Vietnam.

    BRIAN WILLSON, bw@brianwillson.com, http://www.brianwillson.com
    After participating in the Vietnam War as a member of the U.S. Air Force,
    Willson became a peace activist. In 1987, in a civil disobedience action
    with other activists at a military base, Willson lost his legs when a train
    carrying munitions bound for Central America accelerated instead of
    stopping. At the request of the Institute for Public Accuracy, he provided
    a statement today and will be available for interviews:

    "My Air Force Combat Security unit was dispatched to Binh Thuy on March 7,
    1969, to fortify a Vietnamese-controlled air base a few miles northwest of
    Can Tho City in Phong Dinh Province, about 100 miles southwest of Saigon. I
    was the first lieutenant in charge of this unit.... As a security officer I
    quickly had to acquaint myself with intelligence reports on 'enemy'
    activity, and locations and types of friendly resources. I had not been in
    Vietnam more than a month or so when it was becoming obvious to me that
    virtually everybody, other than a select few identified Vietnamese
    business, political, and military leaders, was at least secretly hostile to
    the U.S. presence and sympathetic with the Vietnamese struggle for
    independence from any outside political force. After Tet 1968, the U.S./CIA
    Phoenix program had become especially intense in eliminating political and
    military leadership in the Vietcong, and U.S. air and ground forces had
    become much more indiscriminate in killing Vietnamese and calling them all VC.

    "Bob Kerrey and I, along with nearly 4 million other U.S. men and women,
    were thrust into a fundamentally immoral, lawless intervention against the
    authentic desires of the Vietnamese to build an independent, sovereign
    nation. My job was, in essence, to protect airplanes in between their
    missions bombing villages, the latter all having been identified as being
    in a 'free fire zone,' which made it easy to rationalize destroying
    everything. On occasion I witnessed through ground observations the
    aftermath of villages bombed with only bodies of young women, many
    children, and a few elderly strewn on the ground. I never saw any weapons
    in these virtually defenseless villages.

    "Our lawless, violent intervention in Vietnam was, unfortunately, not an
    aberration. This is a tough conclusion, one that is extremely painful, to
    acknowledge about the nation of our upbringing and citizenship. But we
    veterans have a choice to take courageous responsibility for our actions,
    even if our government will not. Bob Kerrey and his men killed for this
    lie, and this terrible assault on the Vietnamese people. The only
    difference between Kerrey and myself is that I was never in a position to
    personally kill while in Vietnam. But I was part of a killing machine, even
    being complicit in the bombing campaigns, and I saw dozens and dozens of
    the bodies of women and children.

    "It is time to acknowledge our responsibility and to take leadership in a
    national healing process. Our souls, and the soul of our country, are at
    stake. Furthermore, the future of peace in the world may rest on a profound
    reckoning on the part of people in the U.S. that our imperial policies have
    been wrong, and that we now want to truly make amends for our crimes. I
    urge Bob Kerrey to be truly courageous about revealing his role while in
    Vietnam, and ask other veterans to do the same. The future of the human
    condition, not just our souls, may actually be at stake."

    Also available for interviews:

    BARRY ROMO, vvaw@prairienet.org, www.prairienet.org/vvaw
    Romo is a national coordinator for Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

    For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
    Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167



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