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BIAS IN VIETNAM WAR ATROCITIES' REPORTS
A few months ago the L.A. Times had a series of articles on newly
revealed U.S. atrocities in Viet Nam. How do you respond to those new US atrocities? Here is the best answer from Bill Laurie, a Vietnam Vet also a familiar figure in many political activities of Vietnamese-American communities, especially at UTA, Texas in 2006. But before you read on Bill Laurie's well researched article, let's check out some documentary pictures and a few "samples" of Viet Cong-terror. But keep in mind, long before the word "Al-Qaeda" became a household name, the Viet Cong had been a forerunner of the "mother of all terrorism!" And if you are sensitive to the images of violent death, think twice before clicking on the thumbnail pics below.
VIET CONG MINES IN PHU YEN PROVINCE
Viet Cong Mines Kill 54, Including Four Children. (The above photos taken by Vietnamese Information Service Photographer) SAIGON, FEB. 14 -- Fifty-four Vietnamese civilians, including four children, were killed and 18 wounded by three Viet Cong mines buried in a road in Phu Yen province. Mining of the road was in retaliation for an Allied operation guarding harvesting of the rice crop. The area has had to import 600 tons of rice monthly because the Viet Cong controlled the major portion of the crop. The first explosion, with left a three-meter crater in the road and threw the large bus into a canal, killed 27 farmers on their way to work in fields near Tuy Hoa. Eleven others were injured. A three-wheel bus, loaded with men, women, and children, touched off the second mine with killed 20 and wounded seven. Another three-wheel bus set off the third mine, which killed 7. It was the most serious incident involving mines since early 1964 when 22 Vietnamese women and children were killed when their bus struck a mine planted by the Viet Cong. The incident typifies the murder and pillage by which the Viet Cong are terrorizing South Viet Nam. Between 1962 and mid 1965, according to figures released by the International Control Commission, at least 54,235 civilians in the South have been killed, wounded, or kidnapped.
(The VN Center Archive)
DAK SON MASSACRE
Viet Cong Massacre Dak Son Civilians - Song Be, Vietnam, December 6 -- Two battalions of Viet Cong systematically killed 252 civilians with flame-throwers and grenades this week in a "vengeance" attack on a small hamlet less than a mile from the capital in Phuoc Long Province.; Survivors of the December 6 attack said the VC shouted their intentions to "wipe out" the hamlet of Dak Son as they struck from the surrounding jungle. A local defense force of 54 men gave ground before the estimated 300 uniformed communists. According to the survivors, the VC ranged up and down the hamlet streets, systematically burning more than half the 150 thatched homes of the community. Two defenders were killed, four wounded and three are missing.; Many of the victims were burned to death in their homes, others, who fled to underground shelters, died as flame-throwers with their napalm-based fuel, were directed into the small shelters. Other Viet Cong threw hand grenades into holes where families were covered.
(The VN Center Archive)
PHOTOS OF DAK SON, A WEEK AFTER THE ATTACK
The color photos above were taken (about a week after the Dak Son attack) by John Felt who was at Song Be the night the massacre took place. Song Be MACV compound was located at Phuoc Long province (Phuoc Binh HQ), about 2.5 kilometers South of Dak Son.
John Felt was attached to the 44th US Signal Battalion and left VN on February 28, 1967. Thank you for sharing with us the documental pictures and for your dedicated service in Vietnam.
THE MY CANH RESTAURANT BOMBING
THE MY CANH RESTAURANT BOMBING
Forty eight (48) are killed as Terrorists Bomb Saigon Restaurant- 18 Americans Among Dead - 100 Wounded.
Terrorist bombs shattered a floating restaurant on the Saigon river here tonight and killed at least 29 persons, including eight Americans.
Two big explosions sounded almost simultaneously from the river bank. Witnesses said they believed that as many as 50 persons may have died in the crowded restaurant, the My Canh, and on the riverside boulevard nearby.
Police said that 17 of the dead were Caucasians, and presumably most of these were Americans. Of six Viet Namese dead in the initial count, most were women. A United States military spokesman said the dead included five U.S. servicemen and three American Civilians. He said 30 persons injured were targeted at American installations. One hundred or more persons were wounded...
The explosions at the My Canh occurred at 8:15 p.m. (7:15 a.m. St Louis time). One was caused by a powerful shaped charge - possibly an American-made Claymore electric mine - planted in the bank of the river. The Claymore explodes in the direction it is pointed.
The restaurant which is moored about 25 feet from the bank, has an entry over a gang-plank leading from the waterfront street. It is patronized mostly by Americans and wealthy Vietnamese.
A second blast, which investigators believed was caused by a bomb mounted on a bicycle went off at a tobacco stall on the bank next to the restaurant. Investigators assumed that the explosions were placed in advance and timed to explode at the peak of the dinner hour on a weekend night. The restaurant was crowded and its glass walls were crushed under the haul of fragments. Victims were carried to a number of Saigon hospitals and authorities had difficulty in compiling casualty lists.
The riverfront normally is thronged with strollers seeking cool breezes in the early part of the night. Women walking with the children were among the casualties. At least one American woman was believed to have been killed. The dead and wounded were scattered in a wide arc...
In sheer power the blasts were exceeded by several others, including the bombing last Christmas eve of an officers hotel and the bombing in March of the United States Embassy. Although Viet Namese police patrol the Saigon waterfront, the My Canh restaurant has not been regarded as a likely prime terrorist target. There were no American military police near the establishment when the blasts occurred. The scene is about 500 yards from the U.S. Embassy, which is heavily guarded since it was damaged March 30 by a terrorist bomb that killed 30 persons.
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Friday June 25, 1965)
RESPONSE TO L.A. TIMES ATROCITIES SERIES FOLLOWS HERE:
The recent Los Angeles Times article on U.S.
Military atrocities in Viet Nam should only be the
beginning of a comprehensive investigation of war
crimes and unwarranted brutality in Viet Nam, Laos,
and Cambodia. This has never been done and is long
over due. Culumination of such a study would produce
results not expected by the American public,
misinformed as they have been about Viet Nam.
It should be noted as a preface that this Viet Nam
veteran neither excuses nor justifies actual war
crimes committed by American forces. I would not
stand in a long line to argue any American serviceman
guilty of murder should not be spending the rest of
his life in Leavenworth, breaking rocks. These vile
events did happen, and are inexcusable and seen as
such by Viet Nam veterans themselves. I have
personally heard any number of Viet Nam veterans state
forthrightly that they never did or saw anything like
My Lai, and that Lt. Calley should be executed as a
That said, let's consider the report the L.A. Times
examined. It reports 7 massacres resulting in 137
civilians killed, along with 78 other attacks killing
57 civilians, and 141 instances of torture. A total
of 320 incidents are in the Army report, and another
500 alleged atrocities that were either unproven or
were otherwise discounted. Altogether, there are 820
cited instances, and at least 194 civilians killed.
These exclude My Lai so the total civilian atrocity
death toll is presumably about 694. This is far less
than the 36,000 Viet Namese assassinated by the
communists, and that is an absolute minimum, exclusive
of combat fatalities.
During the American involvement there were
approximately 900 infantry platoons in Viet Nam at the
high point, excluding Naval riverine, combat
engineers, artillery, armor, and other units exposed
to combat. These infantry platoons, excluding other
unit types cited above, spent in the order of 729,000
platoon-days in the field, involving about 22 million
man days in the field. In other words, 729,000 daily
opportunities for platoons to commit war crimes, and a
total of 22 daily million opportunities for an
individual to commit an atrocity. The Army report
cited by the L.A. Times suggests 820 atrocities
occurred and even if these extended over a two-day
period, meaning 1,640 "atrocity days," it would
represent 0.22% of total platoon days, or 2 out of
1000. Most vile atrocities, even My Lai, took place
in one day, so the ratio is somewhere between 1: 1,000
and 2:1,000. For individuals the incidence is
similarly low. Presuming 15 people were involved with
each of the 820 atrocities, and these occurred on one
day, the individual atrocity-day equals 12,300, or
.0006, 6 out of 10,000. If riverine, engineer,
artillery and other were included, the "atrocity rate"
would plunge even further. No apologies made for what
might appear to be obscene McNamarian number-juggling;
it is simply a means to show that barbaric behavior,
as measured by the report's own data, was not a common
occurence and these disguting examples do not come
close to representing the whole. It's also called
"analysis," something reporters are supposed to do,
and most often do not. In the interest of honesty and
historical integiry, it must be added that atrocities,
per se, were not the full extent of the problem.
There were simply too many, however much a minority,
Americans who behaved with crass rudeness and
sometimes drunken-or stoned-grotesque idiocy. The US
government is culpable, as is the military, for not
properly training troops on Viet Nam's intricacies(it
is doubtful if many in government knew enough to teach
anything) and the utmost importance of dignified and
civilized behavior in dealings with the people of Viet
This was and is not a mere rhetorical statement.
The Viet Namese people were and are my friends. In
two instances of inexcusably rude and disgusting
American behavior I physically threatened the American
perpetrators with instant violent retribution; they
stopped their rancid and utterly intolerable
obnoxiousness. I, along with several others, also
initiated an investigation of wrong-doing which we
knew would destroy the career, deservedly so, of a
U.S. Army "lifer" NCO whose actions were a disgrace to
the uniform he wore, and to his country.
American forces went on literally thousands of MEDCAPs-Medical Civil Action Projects and
DENTCAPs-Dental Civil Action Projects, bringing
welcome relief to Viet Namese rural people suffering
from disease, infections, broken bones, or decayed
teeth. Lives were saved, faces were saved from
ravaging skin disease, scalded feet from an upturned
caldron of boiling water were saved from possible
amputation. Hundreds of schools and maternity clinics
were built, a number of which would be burned or
destroyed by the VC. This is not to say ALL U.S.
forces were involved with such programs, but it is a
far greater number than those involved with or
This writer spent almost three years in Viet Nam.
At one time or another I was in 18 of the former RVN's
44 provinces. VC/NVA war crimes and atrocities were a
daily -DAILY- routine occurence, whether in the form
of rocketing civilian areas(a war crime acknowledged
by anti-war activist Richard Falk), assassinating
civilians, raping women, etc. At Cai Lay district
town the NVA put a mortar round into a school yard,
killing 23 children and wounding 40 or 50. NVA
artillery slaughtered thousands of Viet Namese on
QL(Highway) 1 and on QL 13 south of An Loc in 1972;
this was deliberate, observed and aimed fire, not
Allied malfeasance and atrocities were rare
exceptions, most due to simple human idiocy rather
than policy. Rude behavior was all too common
however. Since returning to the U.S., and utterly
amazed and disgusted at inability of U.S. public to
comprehend the most elemental aspects of the war, I've
continued the quest for more information. Having
talked with and interviewed scores of veterans, having
talked with scores of Viet Namese(I speak the
language), having read scores of personal memoirs and
battlefield accounts, having plodded through reams of
operation reports and declassified material, the
inescapable conclusion arises: U.S. war crimes, as
vile and disgusting and treasonous as they were,
simply were not a common occurence. This is not said
as a light dismissal, as one war crime is far, far too
many, and a vile betrayal of what was arguably
honorable cause in Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia(and
along the Thai border where Hanoi's war spilled over).
To repeat what has been mentioned above: anyone
guilty of outright, clearcut murder should have been
punished severely by either a multi-decade or life
prison sentence, or execution. Those committing war
crimes, atrocities, rapes, etc. were providing aid and
comfort to the VC/NVA, whose deceitful propaganda was
given undue credibility because of the actions of
morons and sub-humanoid scum. They shamed and
vilified the uniform worn by better people than they.
They were traitors.
One point seldom discussed: Under Secretary of
Defense McNamara's "Project 100,000," almost 300,000
people, who would normally have been rejected for
military service by virtue of mental or psychological
deficiences, or sociopathic tendencies, were allowed
into the military, against the military's wishes and
preference. Research shows these "Project 100,000"
people caused a disproportionate number of problems,
sustained higher casualties, and it can be safely
assumed were involved in a disproportionate amount of
uncivilized behavior if not atrocities and war crimes.
What is the purpose of the L.A. Times expose? What
is to be achieved by these revelations? Is it a
concern for the people of SE Asia? A concern for
justice? When all is considered, there seems to be
no purpose beyond the desire to wallow in habitual
masochism and national flagellation regarding U.S.
involvement in SE Asia. It can't be a concern for the
SE Asian people or justice. A content survey of the
L.A. Times internet archives, extending from 1 Jan
1985 to the present, shows the following:
• My Lai-695 entries
• Dak Son Massacre(where 250 Montagnards were
killed and burned alive in 1967 by NVA using
• VC/NVA Assassinations(over 36,000 South Viet
Namese teachers, district chiefs, agricultural
extension advisors, civil servants were killed,
often in hideously brutal fashion, by the VC.
Another 60,000 or so were abducted with only
several thousand returning, indicating tens of
thousands others were assassinated. The 36,000
figure alone, given Viet Nam's 17 million
population, represents a national mortality
proportion that would equal about 420,000
Americans assassinated, exclusive of combat
fatalities, of which South Viet Nam's military
sustained 275,000)-NO entries
• Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thu, a Hoa Hoa Buddhist widow who
immolated herself in 1999 to protest Hanoi's
religious oppression-NO entries
• Mr. Ho Tan Anh, a Buddhist who immolated himself
in 2001 to protest Hanoi's religious oppression-
• Thich(Venerable) Chan Hy, a Buddhist monk who
immolated himself in 2003 to protext Hanoi's
religions oppression-NO entries.
• The 2004 fatal beating of Buddhist Monk Thich Duc
Chinh in a Hanoi prison-NO entries
• Hue Massacre, 1968, when the VC/NVA
systematically executed as many as 5,000 civil
servants, teachers, etc. who were sytematically
rounded up and executed, some buried alive in mass
graves, some tied up and shot in the back of the
head, around Hue City during 25 day NVA occupation
of the city-NO entries.
• Oppression of Montagnards-systematic cultural
genocide of the indigenous highland people,
resulting in scores dead, scores jailed, scores
beaten in past 2-4 years-NO entries
• Decimation of Hmong people in Laos by Pathet Lao
and North Viet Namese troops
(See factfinding.org and http://www.huntingtonnews.net/national/060708-staff-laos.html)-NO entries
• Recent republication of North Viet Nam dissident
poet Nguyen Chi Thien's book, "Flowers from
Hell/Hoa Dia Nguc." Mr. Thien, dubbed
the "Solzhenitsyn of Viet Nam" by author Michael
Lind, spent 27 years in Hanoi prisons(12 years in
solitary confinement) for writing anti-communist
poetry. He recently in Garden Grove and spoke
before a crowd of about 600 people-NO entries
• Egregious Hanoi Human Rights violations,
documented by Human Rights Watch(hrw.org), Free
Viet Nam Alliance(fva.org), Amnesty International
(amnesty.org), Transparency International
(transparency.org), Mother Land(queme.net), Global
Witness(globalwitness.org), and scores of others.-
• Hanoi economist Le Dang Doanh's revelation that
Viet Nam's per capita income, 80% of Thailand's in
1950, was only 20% of Thailand's in 2000, all due
to smothering dictatorial communist policies and
endemic corruption-NO entries.
• Inimical result of communist economic policies
producing average infant and maternal mortality
rates, for the three communist Indochina
countries, twice that of the average for the
nearby non-communist countries of Indonesia,
Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand(UN and World
Bank data for 2002)-NO entries
The pattern is clear and evident: L.A. times
stories for the past 21 years dwell
disproportionately, and hence dishonestly, with
American atrocities, and ignore far more lethal and
wretched established behavior patterns, in the form of
VC/NVA atrocities committed as a matter of routine.
Were the L.A. Times, or readers sanctimoniously
gloating over the recent article, even remotely
concerned with the well-being of the Viet Namese,
Laotian and Cambodian people, these topics would have
been discussed, in excrutiating detail. They have not
been, and the fetish of obsessing over what is
demonstrably unrepresentative behavior of U.S. forces
must be attributed to a presumed ecstasy of
psycho-political masochism and perverted sadistic
voyeurism. It also reflects a craven, vile hypocrisy
of the worst order. Make no mistake about it, many
people ENJOY the fact that hundreds of Viet Namese
were murdred at My Lai. It validates their presumed,
and quite vicarious, sense of "revolutionary"
righteousness. Conversely, it's not FUN to talk about
honorable U.S. and South Viet Namese behavior and
performance. This leads to a parallel conclusion: the
L.A. Times, and those reading this article with smug
righteousness, do not want to hear anything that might
nullify their perceptions of virtuous superiority.
They do not want to hear of either admirable U.S.
or South Viet Namese or Australian troop performance
or squalid VC/NVA atrocities, atrocities routinely
committed as a matter of policy, not as a despicable
breakdown of leadership as characterizes U.S.
atrocities. It is interesting to note that Viet Nam
and SE Asia veterans outnumber former "anti-war"
people among the ranks of those concerned with human
rights in Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia.
So, hats off to Nick Turse and Deborah Nelson for
for STARTING a thorough examination of the subject of
atrocities in Viet Nam(and Laos, Cambodia). Now let's
follow through with a thorough, comprehensive,
documented, complete and no-holds-barred look at the
entire picture. After all, half the truth, or
one-tenth of it, is still a lie. Mr. Turse and Ms.
Nelson, or anyone else, can start by examining this
and reviewing this brief article:
The completion of such a study will lead to the
conclusion that America's biggest "war crime" was
Washington's refusal to adopt and implement a
appropriate strategy(NEVER done), properly train its
troops, and then ultimately abandoning the people of
Southeast Asia to a bigoted and ignorant collegium of
near-medieval thugs who were, in essence, the Taliban
of Southeast Asia, responsible for the death of
millions for no valid reason. It will reveal that
more Indochinese people died violent deaths after
1975, when the war was supposedly over, than during
the war. It will discover names of many Viet Namese
who once ardently supported Ho Chi Minh, only later to
discover to their terror and disgust, that Ho Chi Minh
was, as Nguyen Chi Thien called him, "the devil king,"
and his followers were ruthless adherents to an
ideological cult. Reporters willing to earn their pay
will research the lives, and shattered hopes, of
Nguyen Chi Thien, Duong Thu Huong, Chan Tin, Hoang
Minh Chinh, Phan Khoi, Truong Nhu Tang, Hoang Cam,
Doan Van Toai, Nguyen Cong Hoan, Duong Quynh Hoa, and
scores of others whose faith in the communist cause
was brutally betrayed, and who now denounce the
power-hungry goons running Viet Nam. Further research
will also show the news media's abject failure to
report the war in comprehensive depth and detail,
leaving the American public abysmally mis- and
under-informed, a deplorable situation that continues
today(Of note is fact that former L.A. Times Viet Nam
reporter Jacques Leslie admits to sitting around at
night in his Saigon apartment, getting loaded on
marijuana, hoping to come up with a good idea for a
story). Yes, there is much for the voyeuristic
sadists to gloat over: American idiocy in Viet Nam
contributed to the eventual conquest by even more
primitive vengeful idiots, and a total inability of
this country to comprehend what took place, how, why,
with what effect, and at whose expense.
Now, the final question remains: why do some
people actually LIKE this?
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