What really happened in Vietnam? Nick Turse investigates war crimes files.

February 22, 2013 | By | Reply More

Journalist Nick Turse investigated Vietnam war crimes files, thousands of them. As he explained to Bill Moyers, there is much America did in Vietnam that it should be ashamed of. Why dredge up the past? First, Vietnam is within the lifetimes of many people currently alive. Second, a powerful lesson illustrated by Turse is that in the absence of accurately reported information our government excels at hiding the truth and painting rosy pictures. This is a very important lesson pertaining to Iraq and Afghanistan. We always have spotty and hyper-censored media coverage concerning the conduct of our troops. What have our troops been doing? The assumption should be that in the absence of vigorous and accurate reporting, things have been going on in Iraq and Afghanistan that could not possibly withstand the light of day.  That is certainly what happened in Vietnam, which was a concocted war, just like Afghanistan and Iraq.  Americans need to quit pretending that they are getting accurate information from their government in the absence of any trustworthy verifying source of information. In the absence of trustworthy information, we need to assume that war is a theater for war crimes and make believe.

How many decades will we need to wait before the truth comes out about the wars of “freedom” we are fighting in the Middle East? How many decades will pass before historians declare that these needless wars were conducted in shameful ways. How long before Americans realize that our biggest wars are wars to clamp down on information waged by our government against the people of the U.S.? Here are a few excerpts from the Turse interview by Bill Moyers:

All the atrocities that [John] Kerry mentions by name [before Congress] I found evidence of all of those types of crimes represented in the records of this Vietnam War Crimes Working Group in the government’s own files. So at the same time that– you know, that Kerry and the veterans that he was referring to there were being smeared as fake veterans or as liars, the military had all these records that proved that these were just the very crimes that were going on in Vietnam.

[An army medic named Jamie Henry] saw these things. And when he first spoke up about brutality his life was threatened by fellow unit members. And even his friends came to him and said, “Look, you have to keep your mouth shut or you’re going to get shot in the back during a firefight and no one’s going to be the wiser.” So Jamie did keep his mouth shut, but he kept his eyes open. And he kept cataloguing everything he saw.

And this culminated in– it was February 8th, 1968. And his unit moved into a small hamlet. And his commanding officer, a West Point trained captain– ordered all the civilians there rounded up. It was about 19 civilians, women and children. And Jamie was taking a break, smoking a cigarette. And over the radio he heard this captain give an order. And it was to kill anything that moves.

And Jamie heard this. And he jumped up. And he went to go try and intervene. But he was just seconds late. He showed up just as five men arrayed around these civilians, opened up on full automatic with their M-16 rifles, and shot them all dead. And Jamie told me that 30 seconds after this took place, he vowed that he would make this public.

And he made it, you know, his duty to do so. As soon as he got home from Vietnam, he sought out an Army lawyer. And he told them everything that he saw. And this Army lawyer told him that he needed to keep quiet, because there were a million ways that the Army could make him disappear. He went to spoke to an Army criminal investigator. But that man threatened him. He went and sought out a civilian lawyer who told him to get some political backing.

He wrote to two congressman. Neither of them returned his letters. Then he started speaking out. He went on the radio. He went to public forums. And even the winter soldier investigation He spoke out there. But he could never get any traction. And finally, you know, it was years later that Jamie just gave up. And you know, he decided that he just had to move on with his life.


Category: Good and Evil, hypocrisy, Military, Secrecy, War, Warmongering, Whistle-blowers

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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