[back] The Phoenix Program
The Phoenix Program
a book by Douglas Valentine
The My Lai Massacre and The “Tiger Cages”
As for the American role, according to Muldoon, "you can't have an American there all the time watching these things." "These things" included: rape, gang rape, rape using eels, snakes, or hard objects, and rape followed by murder; electrical shock ("the Bell Telephone Hour") rendered by attaching wires to the genitals or other sensitive parts of the body, like the tongue; "the water treatment"; "the airplane," in which a prisoner's arms were tied behind the back and the rope looped over a hook on the ceiling, suspending the prisoner in midair, after which he or she was beaten; beatings with rubber hoses and whips; and the use of police dogs to maul prisoners. All this and more occurred in PICs. p.85
"Now everyone knows about the airborne interrogation—taking three people up in a chopper, taking one guy and saying. Talk,' then throwing him out before he even gets the chance to open his mouth. Well, we wrapped det [detonator] cord around their necks and wired them to the detonator box. And basically what it did was blow their heads off. The interrogator would tell the translator, usually a South Vietnamese intelligence officer, 'Ask him this.' He'd ask him, 'Who gave you the gun?' And the guy would start to answer, or maybe he wouldn't—maybe he'd resist—but the general idea was to waste the first two. They planned the snatches that way. Pick up this guy because we're pretty sure he's VC cadre—these other two guys just run errands for him. Or maybe they're nobody; Tran, the farmer, and his brother Nguyen. But bring in two. Put them in a row. By the time you get to your man, he's talking so fast you got to pop the weasel just to shut him up." After a moment's silence he added, "I guess you could say that we wrote the book on terror." Page 63 (hardcover edition)
On August 25, 1970, an article appeared in The New York Times hinting that
the CIA, through Phoenix, was responsible for My Lai. The story line was
advanced on October 14, when defense attorneys for David Mitchell — a sergeant
accused and later cleared of machine-gunning scores of Vietnamese in a drainage
ditch in My Lai — citing Phoenix as the CIA’s “systematic program of
assassination,” named Evan Parker as the CIA officer who “signed documents,
certain blacklists,” of Vietnamese to be assassinated in My Lai. When we spoke,
Parker denied the charge.
......As in any large-scale Phoenix operation, two of Task Force Barker’s companies cordoned off the hamlet while a third one — Calley’s — moved in, clearing the way for Kotouc and Special Branch officers who were “brought to the field to identify VC from among the detained inhabitants.” .....The CIA, via Phoenix, not only perpetrated the My Lai massacre but also concealed the crime.
....As Jeff Stein said, “The first thing you learn in the Army is not competence, you learn corruption. And you learn ‘to get along, go along.’” Unfortunately not everyone learns to get along. On September 3, 1988, Robert T’Souvas was apparently shot in the head by his girl friend, after an argument over a bottle of vodka. The two were homeless, living out of a van they had parked under a bridge in Pittsburgh. T’Souvas was a Vietnam veteran and a participant in the My Lai massacre.
.....T’Souvas’s attorney, George Davis, traveled to Da Nang in 1970 to investigate the massacre and while there was assigned as an aide a Vietnamese colonel who said that the massacre was a Phoenix operation and that the purpose of Phoenix was “to terrorize the civilian population into submission.”
Davis told me: “When I told the people in the War Department what I knew and that I would attempt to obtain all records on the program in order to defend my client, they agreed to drop the charges.”
.....Bart Osborn (whose agent net Stein inherited) is more specific. “I never knew in the course of all those operations any detainee to live through his interrogation,” Osborn testified before Congress in 1971. “They all died. There was never any reasonable establishment of the fact that any one of those individuals was, in fact, cooperating with the VC, but they all died and the majority were wither tortured to death or things like thrown out of helicopters.” [book extract] The My Lai Massacre and The “Tiger Cages” by Douglas Valentine
But the American establishment and media denied it then, and continue to deny
it until today, because Phoenix was a genocidal program -- and the CIA
officials, members of the media who were complicit through their silence, and
the red-blooded American boys who carried it out, are all war criminals. As
Michael Ratner a lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights told
CounterPunch: "Kerrey should be tried as a war criminal. His actions on the
night of February 24-25, 1969 when the seven man Navy Seal unit which he headed
killed approximately twenty unarmed Vietnamese civilians, eighteen of whom were
women and children was a war crime. Like those who murdered at My Lai, he too
should be brought into the dock and tried for his crimes."
......A famous Phoenix operation, known as the My Lai Massacre, was proceeding along smoothly, with a grand total of 504 Vietnamese women and children killed, when a soldier named Hugh Thompson in a helicopter gunship saw what was happening. Risking his life to preserve that "social contract," Thomson landed his helicopter between the mass murderers and their victims, turned his machine guns on his fellow Americans, and brought the carnage to a halt.
.....It was the CIA that forced soldiers like Kerrey into Phoenix operations, and the hidden hand of the CIA lingers over his war crime. Kerrey even uses the same rationale offered by CIA officer DeSilva. According to Kerrey, "the Viet Cong were a thousand per cent more ruthless than" the Seals or U.S. Army.  Bob Kerrey, CIA War Crimes, And The Need For A War Crimes Trial by Douglas Valentine