---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 01 Jun 2002 13:52:52 -0700
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Vietnam: Kerrey Committed War Crime
Vietnam: Kerrey Committed War Crime
Friday, May 31, 2002
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - Vietnam accused former Sen. Bob Kerrey of crimes
during the Vietnam War, saying Friday that families of villagers killed
by his Navy team experienced ``incomparable suffering and losses.''
It was the first time Vietnam has publicly accused Kerrey of criminal
activity. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh made the
accusation in reaction to a revised account of the raid in Kerrey's new
memoir. Thanh did not specify what crimes Vietnam believed Kerrey had
``Whatever Mr. Kerrey says cannot change the truth. Mr. Kerrey himself
has admitted that he was ashamed of the crimes he committed,'' she said.
On Friday, Kerrey said he was disappointed by the government's comments,
saying officials there have long blamed Americans for war-time
``I pointed out then, and I'm pointing out now, both sides did a lot of
damage in the Vietnam war,'' he said, adding the North Vietnamese used
terror as one of their tools.
``You gotta get beyond it,'' he said at a Washington bookstore where he
was doing a reading. ``I'm quite certain the majority of people in
Vietnam want to go on with their lives.''
Kerrey currently serves as president at New York's New School University.
The incident, which Kerrey first acknowledged last year, put the former
senator at the center of a national discussion about U.S. conduct during
Kerrey said then that about 13 civilians were killed ``by mistake'' after
his SEAL team was fired on and returned fire during the raid on Thanh
Phong village on Feb. 25, 1969. He said he did not know of the civilian
casualties until the shooting stopped.
But in his new memoir, ``When I Was a Young Man,'' Kerrey writes that he
was aware that women and children had begun to gather as his squad
searched the village for enemy Viet Cong.
Shortly thereafter, Kerrey says his men were fired upon from the
direction of the women and children. The Americans fired back, and the
villagers were hopelessly caught in the cross fire, he says.
Kerrey acknowledged the difference in his recollection of events in an
author's note, saying it changed after he met with members of his squad
following news reports.
After Kerrey acknowledged the incident last year, a member of his Navy
SEAL unit and two Vietnamese women who said they witnessed the raid
alleged the soldiers herded the women and children together and massacred
them - a charge that Kerrey and five other members of the Navy SEAL team
deny. One of the women, Pham Thi Lanh, said 20 unarmed villagers, mostly
women and children, were killed.
On Friday, Thanh, the foreign ministry spokeswoman, said, ``Our
countrymen in Thanh Phong, Ben Tre province, clearly told the truth about
She said families in the village had experienced ``incomparable suffering
and losses'' because of the ``crimes committed by Kerrey's unit.''
She said Kerrey and other Americans who fought in Vietnam now ``should
take specific and practical actions that contribute to the healing of the
wounds of the war they caused in Vietnam.''
Thanh did not specify what crimes Kerrey had committed in the raid or
what actions should be taken.
Kerrey, who later served as Nebraska governor and senator, and ran for
president in 1992, received a Bronze Star medal for heroism in the Thanh
More than 58,000 Americans and an estimated 3 million Vietnamese perished
in the Vietnam War, which ended in a communist victory in 1975.
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