[sixties-l] Fragging Bob 1

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Mon May 28 2001 - 19:23:47 EDT

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    May 17, 2001

    A CounterPunch Special Report

    Fragging Bob: Bob Kerrey, CIA War Crimes, And The Need For A War Crimes Trial

    by Douglas Valentine

    By now everybody knows that former Senator Bob Kerrey led a seven-
    member team of Navy Seals into Thanh Phong village in February 1969,
    and murdered in cold blood more than a dozen women and children.

    What hardly anyone knows, and what no one in the press is talking
    about (although many of them know), is that Kerrey was on a CIA
    mission, and its specific purpose was to kill those women and
    children. It was illegal, premeditated mass murder and it was a war

    And it's time to hold the CIA responsible. It's time for a war crimes
    tribunal to examine the CIA's illegal activities during and since the
    Vietnam War.

    War Crimes As Policy

    War crimes were a central was part of a CIA strategy for fighting the
    Vietnam War. The strategy was known as Contre Coup, and it was the
    manifestation of a belief that the war was essentially political, not
    military, in nature. The CIA theorized that it was being fought by
    opposing ideological factions, each one amounting to about five
    percent of the total population, while the remaining ninety percent
    was uncommitted and wanted the war to go away.

    According to the CIA's mythology, on one side were communist
    insurgents, supported by comrades in Hanoi, Moscow and Peking. The
    communists fought for land reform, to rid Vietnam of foreign
    intervention, and to unite the north and south. The other faction was
    composed of capitalists, often Catholics relocated from North Vietnam
    in 1954 by the CIA. This faction was fighting to keep South Vietnam
    an independent nation, operating under the direction of quiet

    Caught in the crossfire was the silent majority. The object shared by
    both factions was to win these undecided voters over to its side.

    Contre Coup was the CIA's response to the realization that the
    Communists were winning the war for the hearts and minds of the
    people. It also was a response to the belief that they were winning
    through the use of psychological warfare, specifically, selective
    terror the murder and mutilation of specific government officials.

    In December 1963, Peer DeSilva arrived in Saigon as the CIA's station
    chief. He claims to have been shocked by what he saw. In his
    autobiography, SubRosa, DeSilva describes how the VC had "impaled a
    young boy, a village chief, and his pregnant wife on sharp poles. To
    make sure this horrible sight would remain with the villagers, one of
    the terror squad used his machete to disembowel the woman, spilling
    he fetus onto the ground."

    "The Vietcong," DeSilva said, "were monstrous in the application of
    torture and murder to achieve the political and psychological impact
    they wanted."

    But the methodology was successful and had tremendous intelligence
    potential, so DeSilva authorized the creation of small "counter-
    terror teams," designed "to bring danger and death to the Vietcong
    functionaries themselves, especially in areas where they felt secure."

    How Counter-Terror Worked In Vietnam

    Thanh Phong village was one of those areas where Vietcong
    functionaries felt secure. It was located in Kien Hoa Province, along
    the Mekong Delta. One of Vietnam's most densely populated provinces,
    Kien Hoa was precariously close to Saigon, and is criss-crossed with
    waterways and rice paddies. It was an important rice production area
    for the insurgents as well as the Government of Vietnam, and thus was
    one of the eight most heavily infiltrated provinces in Vietnam. The
    estimated 4700 VC functionaries in Kien Hoa accounted for more than
    five percent of the insurgency's total leadership. Operation Speedy
    Express, a Ninth Infantry sweep through Kien Hoa in the first six
    months of 1969, killed an estimated 11,000 civilians-supposedly VC

    These functionaries formed what the CIA called the Vietcong
    Infrastructure (VCI). The VCI consisted of members of the People's
    Revolutionary Party, the National Liberation Front, and other
    Communist outfits like the Women's and Student's Liberation
    Associations. Its members were politicians and administrators
    managing committees for business, communications, security,
    intelligence, and military affairs. Among their main functions were
    the collection of taxes, the recruitment of young men and women into
    the insurgency, and the selective assassination of GVN officials.

    As the CIA was well aware, Ho Chi Minh boasted that with two cadre in
    every hamlet, he could win the war, no matter how many soldiers the
    Americans threw at him.

    So the CIA adopted the Ho's strategy-but on a grander and bloodier
    scale. The object of Contre Coup was to identify and terrorize each
    and every individual VCI and his/her family, friends and fellow
    villagers. To this end the CIA in 1964 launched a massive
    intelligence operation called the Provincial Interrogation Center
    Program. The CIA (employing the US company Pacific Architects and
    Engineers) built an interrogation center in each of South Vietnam's
    44 provinces. Staffed by members of the brutal Special Police, who
    ran extensive informant networks, and advised by CIA officers, the
    purpose of the PICs was to identify, through the
    systematic "interrogation" (read torture) of VCI suspects, the
    membership of the VCI at every level of its organization; from its
    elusive headquarters somewhere along the Cambodian border, through
    the region, city, province, district, village and hamlet committees.

    The "indispensable link" in the VCI was the District Party Secretary
    the same individual Bob Kerrey's Seal team was out to assassinate in
    its mission in Thanh Phong.

    Frankenstein's Monster

    Initially the CIA had trouble finding people who were willing to
    murder and mutilate, so the Agency's original "counter-terror teams"
    were composed of ex-convicts, VC defectors, Chinese Nungs,
    Cambodians, Montagnards, and mercenaries. In a February 1970 article
    written for True Magazine, titled "The CIA's Hired Killers," Georgie-
    Anne Geyer compared "our boys" to "their boys" with the qualification
    that, "Their boys did it for faith; our boys did it for money."

    The other big problem was security. The VC had infiltrated nearly
    every facet of the GVN-even the CIA's unilateral counter-terror
    program. So in an attempt to bring greater effectiveness to its
    secret war, the CIA started employing Navy Seals, US Army Special
    Forces, Force Recon Marines, and other highly trained Americans who,
    like Bob Kerrey, were "motivationally indoctrinated" by the military
    and turned into killing machines with all the social inhibitions and
    moral compunctions of a Timmy McVeigh. Except they were secure in the
    knowledge that what they were doing was, if not legal or moral,
    fraught with Old Testament-style justice, rationalizing that the Viet
    Cong did it first.

    Eventually the irrepressible Americans added their own improvements.
    In his autobiography Soldier, Anthony Herbert describes arriving in
    Saigon in 1965, reporting to the CIA's Special Operations Group, and
    being asked to join a top-secret psywar program. What the CIA wanted
    Herbert to do, "was to take charge of execution teams that wiped out
    entire families."

    By 1967, killing entire families had become an integral facet of the
    CIA's counter-terror program. Robert Slater was the chief of the
    CIA's Province Interrogation Center Program from June 1967 through
    1969. In a March 1970 thesis for the Defense Intelligence School,
    titled "The History, Organization and Modus Operandi of the Viet Cong
    Infrastructure," Slater wrote, "the District Party Secretary usually
    does not sleep in the same house or even hamlet where his family
    lived, to preclude any injury to his family during assassination

    But, Slater added, "the Allies have frequently found out where the
    District Party Secretaries live and raided their homes: in an ensuing
    fire fight the secretary's wife and children have been killed and

    This is the intellectual context in which the Kerrey atrocity took
    place. This CIA strategy of committing war crimes for psychological
    reasons to terrorize the enemy's supporters into submission also is
    what differentiates Kerrey's atrocity, in legal terms, from other
    popular methods of mass murdering civilians, such as bombs from the
    sky, or economic boycotts.

    Yes, the CIA has a global, illegal strategy of terrorizing people,
    although in typical CIA lexicon it's called "anti-terrorism."

    When you're waging illegal warfare, language is every bit as
    important as weaponry and the will to kill. As George Orwell or Noam
    Chomsky might explain, when you're deliberately killing innocent
    women and children, half the court-of-public-opinion battle is making
    it sound legal.

    Three Old Vietnam Hands in particular stand out as examples of this
    incestuous relationship. Neil Sheehan, CIA-nik and author of the
    aptly titled Bright Shining Lie, recently confessed that in 1966 he
    saw US soldiers massacre as many as 600 Vietnamese civilians in five
    fishing villages. He'd been in Vietnam for three years by then, but
    it didn't occur to him that he had discovered a war crime. Now he
    realizes that the war crimes issue was always present, but still no
    mention of his friends in the CIA.

    Former New York Times reporter and author of The Best and The
    Brightest, David Halberstam, defended Kerrey on behalf of the media
    establishment at the New School campus the week after the story
    broke. CIA flack Halberstam described the region around Thanh Phong
    as "the purest bandit country," adding that "by 1969 everyone who
    lived there would have been third-generation Vietcong." Which is CIA
    revisionism at its sickest.

    Finally there's New York Times reporter James Lemoyne. Why did he
    never write any articles linking the CIA to war crimes in Vietnam?
    Because his brother Charles, a Navy officer, was in charge of the
    CIA's counter-terror teams in the Delta in 1968.

    Phoenix Comes To Thanh Phong

    The CIA launched its Phoenix Program in June 1967, after 13 years of
    tinkering with several experimental counter-terror and psywar
    programs, and building its network of secret interrogation centers.
    The stated policy was to replace the bludgeon of indiscriminate
    bombings and military search and destroy operations which had
    alienated the people from the Government of Vietnam with the scalpel
    of assassinations of selected members of the Viet Cong Infrastructure.

    A typical Phoenix operation began in a Province Interrogation Center
    where a suspected member of the VCI was brought for questioning.
    After a few days or weeks or months undergoing various forms of
    torture, the VCI suspect would die or give the name and location of
    his VCI comrades and superiors. That information would be sent from
    the Interrogation Center to the local Phoenix office, which was
    staffed by Special Branch and Vietnamese military officers under the
    supervision of CIA officers. Depending on the suspected importance of
    the targeted VCI, the Phoenix people would then dispatch one of the
    various action arms available to it, including Seal teams like the
    one Bob Kerrey led into Thanh Phong.

    In February 1969, the Phoenix Program was still under CIA control.
    But because Kien Hoa Province was so important, and because the VCI's
    District Party Secretary was supposedly in Thanh Phong, the CIA
    decided to handle this particular assassination and mass murder
    mission without involving the local Vietnamese. So instead of
    dispensing the local counter-terror team, the CIA sent Kerrey's

    And that, very simply, is how it happened. Kerrey and crew admittedly
    went to Thanh Phong to kill the District Party Secretary, and anyone
    else who got in the way, including his family and all their friends.

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