Operation Tailwind
[back] Operations & Projects

See: Agent Orange  White phosphorus   Napalm

[1999] Fired CNN journalist on dismissal of Arnett: "They will do anything to stem the flow of information"  April Oliver, who produced the CNN investigative report "Valley of Death" which aired last June. Oliver and her co-producer Jack Smith were fired by CNN when they refused to disavow their exposť of US use of sarin nerve gas in a secret special forces raid into Laos in 1970 (Operation Tailwind)

[1999] Was Sarin Used by Americans in the Vietnam War? by Dan Montgomery

[1998] Producers Jack Smith and April Oliver's Rebuttal

[word doc] REBUTTAL TO THE ABRAMS/KOHLER REPORT

Blowing in the "Tailwind"

Source: Editor and Publisher, June 18, 2001 CNN has paid an undisclosed sum of money to settle a lawsuit by former CNN producer Jack Smith, who claims that he was unfairly fired for reporting on the U.S. military's use of nerve gas in Vietnam's "Operation Tailwind." Smith's $100 million defamation suit claims that he and fellow producer April Oliver actually got the story right, only to have their reputations and careers ruined when the network caved in to CIA pressure to retract the story. The network previously settled out of court with Oliver for $1 million after a deposition by Admiral Thomas Moorer, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "pretty much confirmed Oliver and Smith's reporting." However, the terms of the settlements are sealed. Allan Wolper observes that this "deprived the public of testimony from CNN founder Ted Turner, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and an A-list of TV network news stars." Smith says that if CNN had not settled, he would have demanded the network make public all the source material that he and Oliver collected for their heavily critiqued June 1998 documentary.
  • Show #419
    Original airdate: April 16th, 2009
    Guest: April Oliver
    Topic: Operation Tailwind

    From the Black Op Archives 2000
    Operation Tailwind - April Oliver and Jack Smith detail their well researched report on US. Military gassing deserters in Vietnam with Sarin gas. Then CNN caved in to pressure, called the story false, put a gag on them both, and fired the reporters.

    Play Part One - April Oliver
  • A replay of show # 005
  • The story was Nerve gas use in Laos during the Vietnam conflict
  • April was fired from CNN for reporting on it
  • CNN worried that their news sources would dry up at the Pentagon if the story ran
  • Her sources for the story were beyond question
  • She worked with Jack Smith, a very respected reporter
  • She exceeded all journalistic expectations on the credibility of the story
  • CNN did not know how to handle this kind of a story
  • There were at least 44 drafts of the story
  • CNN pretended they were blindsided by the article
  • Really, they didn't have experience fighting to heep the story alive
  • As a result, the military knows they can manipulate the media
  • April continued to receive reports of other operations in Southeast Asia
  • Deep racial divisions permeated the ranks of US military in Vietnam
  • US defectors were targeted by the American military
  • Tailwind was an operation to wipe out a defector's base inside Laos
  • Things went wrong and Nerve gas was called in to help wipe out the enemy
  • Nerve gas s a last resort weapon but the military doesn't want to admit it's use
  • April explain's the use and advantages of nerve gas
  • Not only a betrayal of April, it was a betrayal of the reporting profession
  • She explains what happened to Gary Webb (This was before his death, of course)
  • Poison gas used elsewhere, not just in Southeast Asia?....

    Play Part Two - April Oliver
  • The military doesn't want Special Ops being reported on
  • Psyops warriors working in newsrooms?
  • Military in a CNN newsroom could put reporters at risk in a war zone
  • Are they still working in newsrooms?
  • April talks about a website created to show April with a dagger through her head
  • This is the kind of intimidation she faced - How many reporters face the same thing?
  • A sworn deposition by an admiral showing requests for poison gas use
  • Kissinger tried to kill the story giving a ludicrous cover story
  • She won't ever agree to a gag order again
  • Washington Special Action Group (WSAG)
  • How April originally got the story
  • April is getting a law degree and getting out of journalism
  • Seymour Hersh's story on US forces firing on Iraqi troops during a ceasefire
  • The attack was similar to April Oliver's
  • Seymour Hersh wouldn't take this story on either

    Play Part Three - April Oliver & Jack Smith
  • April Oliver & Jack Smith interviewed by Alex S. Jones
  • Jones haggles over whether there was enough "naysayer" information in the story
  • April gives several points by witnesses both during and after her interviews
  • Jack talks abut the backlash not only to them but the soldiers who talked
  • Jones asks "Did you ask your confidential sources to come forward?"
  • April talks about another operation report on camera about nerve gas use in Cambodia
  • The gasses used and how they are used
  • Both reporters talk about journalistic integrity
  • **Audience questions**
  • Asking the same question different ways at different times
  • the questin asked of Admiral Moorer: "Was CS Gas used?" The answer was always "YES"
  • Peter Arnett's role in this story
  • Why assassinating defectors was chosen over capturing them in this case

    Play Part Four - April Oliver & Jack Smith
  • Arnett's support was lost as he retracted to save his job
  • Floyd Abrams, Hired by CNN to bury the story, questioned the validity of the information
  • He stated they were too zealous and believed the story was valid when it wasn't
  • Of course Oliver and Smith corroborated their sources and validated their story
  • The story is true! It was confirmed that nerve gas WAS used
  • CNN originally signed off on the story then backpeddled when military resistance was felt
  • Abrams took only 8 or 9 days to review a story that took 8 months to accumulate
  • April explains the use and handling of Sarin nerve gas and the minimal protection needed

    Interview with Major General John Singlaub
    APRIL OLIVER: We have a letter on Air Force stationary that says Operation
    Tailwind's men on the ground attest to CBU-15 [sarin nerve gas] being
    accurate and effective every time it was brought in... It is a letter
    signed by General Clay and sent to Air Force General Killpack...
    Read Interview Transcript