[sixties-l] Vietnam: Kerrey Committed War Crime (fwd)

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Date: Thu Jun 06 2002 - 19:35:04 EDT

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    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: Sat, 01 Jun 2002 13:52:52 -0700
    From: radtimes <resist@best.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
      the war.

      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
      the massacre.''

      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
      Phong raid.

      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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