Saturday, June 28, 2008

USA Law Professor allows torture - House Judiciary subcommittee

Yoo's Congressional Testimony Contradicted By Details In His Book

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record
Friday, June 27, 2008

In heated testimony before a House Judiciary subcommittee Thursday; former Justice Department official John Yoo downplayed his role in crafting the Bush administration’s brutal interrogation policies.

“Decisions about interrogation methods at Guantanamo Bay were made by the Defense Department,” said Yoo, who was a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and now a UC Berkeley law professor, in testimony before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.

But Yoo’s testimony was undercut at times by material he included in his 2006 book, War by Other Means: An Insider’s Account on the War On Terror, where he discussed meetings he participated in to help develop policy for the “war on terrorism.”

Moreover, Yoo wrote about a trip he took to Guantanamo Bay with other senior administration officials to observe interrogations and participated in discussions about specific interrogation methods. Yoo’s trip to the prison facility has not been previously reported.

David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, who participated in numerous cabinet level meetings regarding harsh interrogations methods, also testified Thursday.

Based on the generalities of the questions directed at Yoo, and his refusal to respond to some of the more simpler queries, it appeared that Democratic committee members were unfamiliar with the contents of his book. He discussed, in far greater detail than his testimony Thursday, how he formed legal opinions on torture, his reasons for recommending that the White House ignore the Geneva Conventions, and warrantless wiretaps.

Yoo is the author of an August 2002 legal opinion widely referred to as the torture memo that gave CIA interrogators legal cover to implement brutal methods during the interrogations of suspected terrorists. He also drafted a second, similar opinion for military interrogators in March 2003.

Yoo's legal opinion stated that unless the amount of pain administered to a detainee results in injury "such as death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions" than the interrogation technique could not be defined as torture.

The memo was withdrawn in 2004 by former OLC head Jack Goldsmith who wrote in his book The Terror Presidency that Yoo's "torture memo" was "legally flawed," sloppily written, and called into question whether the White House was provided with sound legal advice.

The 2000 health benefits statute Yoo used "defined an ‘emergency medical condition’ that warranted certain health benefits as a condition ‘manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain)’ such that the absence of immediate medical care might reasonably be thought to result in death, organ failure, or impairment of bodily function," Goldsmith wrote in The Terror Presidency.

“The health benefits statute's use of ‘severe pain’ had no relationship whatsoever to the torture statute. And even if it did, the health benefit statute did not define ‘severe pain.’ Rather it used the term ‘severe pain’ as a sign of an emergency medical condition that, if not treated, might cause organ failure and the like.... OLC’s clumsily definitional arbitrage didn't seem even in the ballpark."

The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) confirmed in February that is had been investigating whether Yoo and other OLC attorneys involved in the drafting of the torture memos gave the White House poor legal advice.

Yoo’s book offers some clues behind the genesis of the August 2002 torture memo. He wrote that in December 2001 “senior lawyers from the attorney general’s office, the White House counsel’s office, the Department’s of State and Defense, and the [National Security Council] met to discuss the work on our opinion” regarding whether the Geneva Convention applied to members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Yoo wrote that he too participated in the meetings.

“This group of lawyers would meet repeatedly over the next months to develop policy on the war on terrorism,” Yoo wrote. “Meetings were usually chaired by Alberto Gonzales...his deputy, Timothy Flanigan, usually played the role of inquisitor, pressing different agencies to explain their legal reasoning to justify their policy recommendations.”

Yoo wrote that the Defense Department was represented by its general counsel William “Jim” Haynes, the State Department by legal adviser William House Taft IV, and the NSC by John Bellinger, that agency’s legal adviser. Haynes testified last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee about his role in the brutal interrogations that took place at Guantanamo.

These meetings Yoo described appear to be similar to those disclosed in a report by ABC News in April, which said that President George W. Bush approved discussions that his top aides held about harsh interrogation techniques.

“The most senior Bush administration officials repeatedly discussed and approved specific details of exactly how high-value al-Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the CIA,” ABC News reported, citing unnamed sources.

“The high-level discussions about these ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed – down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

“These top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al-Qaeda suspects – whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding, sources told ABC News.”

Yoo wrote that his department often clashed with the State Department about international law banning torture.

“In our arguments, State would authoritatively pronounce what the international law was,” Yoo wrote. “OLC usually responded ‘Why?’--as in why do you believe that, why should we follow Europe’s view of international law, why should we not fall back on our traditions and historical state practices?”

Yoo wrote that the policies he and other senior administration officials recommended, that al-Qaeda and the Taliban were not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention, rankled military lawyers.

“Judge Advocates General [JAG’s] worried that if the United States did not follow the Geneva Conventions, our enemies might take it as justification to abuse American POW’s in the future,” Yoo wrote. “From what I saw the military had a fair opportunity to make it’s views known. Representatives from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including uniformed lawyers, were present at important meetings on the Geneva question and fully aired their arguments.”

The consensus among the officials who participated in the in the December 2001 meetings formed the basis of a legal memorandum sent to Gonzales that advised the White House that al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners were not entitled to the protections of prisoner of war status or the Geneva Convention.

President Bush accepted that legal opinion on Jan. 18, 2002.

“The only way to prevent future September 11s will be by acquiring intelligence,” Yoo wrote. “The main way of doing that is by interrogating captured al-Qaeda leaders or breaking into their communications.... In an opinion eventually issued on January 22, 2002, OLC concluded that al-Qaeda could not claim the benefits of the Geneva Conventions.”

Yoo also wrote that in January 2002 he and the other administration officials who participated in the meetings in December 2001 took a trip he took to Guantanamo Bay to observe the interrogations of several detainees

The trip took place seven months before he drafted the first legal opinion on interrogation techniques that was later withdrawn.

“A gust of warm, humid air embraced us as we disembarked at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay,” Yoo wrote in his book. “I was the junior person on the flight among the senior lawyers there from the White House, Departments of Defense, State and Justice. The group of us who landed that day had no idea that the “front” in the war on terrorism would soon move from the battlefields of Afghanistan to the cells of Gitmo.”

Yoo wrote that on the flight to Guantanamo he was seated next to Taft and “sought to make clear that the president could...decide that the Geneva Conventions would apply to Afghanistan...including common article 3’s guarantee of basic humane treatment of detainees.”

“When our group of lawyers visited Gitmo, the Marine general in charge told us that several of the detainees had arrived screaming that they wanted to kill guards and other Americans,” Yoo wrote, in the context of explaining why the prisoners were not entitled to the benefits of the Geneva Convention or POW status. “Many at Gitmo are not in a state of calm surrender. Open barracks for most are utterly impossible; some al-Qaeda detainees ant to kill not only guards, but their peers who might be cooperating with the United States. The provision of ordinary POW infeasible.”

Yoo added that a few weeks after he returned from Guantanamo “the lawyers met again in the White House situation room to finally resolve the issue for presidential decision.”

“If Geneva Convention rules were applied, some believed they would interfere with our ability to apprehend or interrogate al-Qaeda leaders,” Yoo wrote. “We would be able to ask Osama bin Laden loud questions and nothing more. Geneva rules were designed for mass armies, not conspirators, terrorists, or spies.”

Consensus eluded the group,” Yoo wrote. Alberto “Gonzales had the unenviable task of summarizing the different positions for President Bush and attempting to forge a consensus.”

Gonzales “recommended that the President find that neither al-Qaeda nor the Taliban were covered by Geneva.”

Powell, Yoo wrote, urged President Bush to reconsider that position.

On Feb. 7, 2002, President Bush sent a memo to Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, CIA Director George Tenet, Attorney General John Ashcroft, General Richard Myers, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which said, according to Yoo’s book, “the Geneva Conventions only applied to conflicts involving states fighting with regular armed forces.”

“However,” Bush wrote in the memo, according to Yoo, “the war on terrorism ushered in a new paradigm, one in which groups with broad, international reach commit horrific crimes against innocent civilians, sometimes with the direct support of states. [President Bush] accepted that he could suspend the Conventions with regard to Afghanistan, but decided not to. Instead, he found that the Taliban were “unlawful combatants”...[and] also found that common article 3 applied only to an “armed conflict not of an international character,” and hence neither to the war with al-Qaeda nor the Taliban.”

Last update : Friday, June 27, 2008


Here are some photos from our action at the recruiting station on Wednesday June 30. And the text of the flyer handed out during the demonstration. Scroll down for more recently posted information about Iraq.

As the Bush adminstration tries to convince the US public that Iraq will now have "full sovereignty" we remind you that sovereignty is defined as "supreme power over a body politic" & "freedom from external control". Sovereign nations do not have 140,000 foreign troops occupying their nation operating under foreign commanders.

They don't allow foreign soldiers to break into homes, arrest citizens or shoot Iraqis resisting the occupation of their nation. Nor do they allow them to interrogate or torture their citizens at US run prisons or allow detainees to be secretly flown to other countries where torture is not legally contested. Sovereign nations do not allow other nations to choose former CIA agents like Prime Minister Allawi to head their new govenment or allow US administrator Paul Bremer to issue edicts
prohibiting US soldiers, intelligence agents and civilian contractors from being prosecuted for war crimes.


While the US prosecutes low ranking military prison guards for torturing and murdering at least 37 detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq their behavior was the direct result of Bush's decision to accept the White House counsel's flawed interpretation of the Geneva Conventions as irrelevant and of Bush and Rumsfeld's orders allowing prisoners to be tortured. We have conveniently forgotten that torture as an instrument of US policy has a long, bloody history.

By the end of 1969, 20,000 Vietnamese had been assassinated during the CIA's Operation Phoenix program. Most were interrogated using torture before being executed. CIA agent Bart Osborne told Congress in 1971 "I never knew in the course of all these operations any detainee to live through his interrogation. They all died. There was never any reasonable establishment of the fact that any one of those individuals was, in fact with the VC (Viet Cong), but they all died and the majority were either tortured to death or thrown out of helicopters".

In 1983 the CIA trained Honduran soldiers in the notorious Battalion 316 in the use of "shock and suffocation devices in interrogations". The CIA Interrogation Manual --"Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual" recommended "arresting suspects early in the morning by surprise, blindfolding them, and stripping them naked. Suspects should be held incommunicado and deprived of any kind of normal routine in eating and sleeping. Interrogation rooms should be windowless and soundproof, dark and without toilets". When no longer suspects were killed and buried at the US built base at El Aguacate. John Negroponte, then ambassador to Honduras ordered an aide compiling stats on human rights abuses to be kept from Congress so that funding Reagans Contra War would continue. In Aug. 2001 mass graves with 185 corpses including 2 Americans were found there. Negroponte's willingness to hide human rights abuses do not bode well for Iraqis as Negroponte assumes his new role as ambassodor to Iraq.

US written manuals used to train the Contra mercenaries against Nicaraqua recommended hiring professional criminals to carry out 'selective jobs', creating a 'martyr' by arranging a violent demonstration that leads to the death of a rebel supporter and sabotage.

In 1996 the Pentagon admitted that manuals condoning "executions of guerrilas, extortion, physical abuse, coercion and false imprisonment" were used to teach Latin Americans at the US Army's School of the Americas.
Therefore we call for the immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Tenent to be tried for war crimes along with Saddam Hussein.

Some things you can do to express your concerns and to force change in the interventionist U.S. foreign policy, (including ending the U.S. Occupation of Iraq):


*ORGANIZE YOUR OWN PROTEST and let others know about it OR JOIN OTHER GATHERINGS urging peaceable and just, U.S. international relations:
--Saturdays, 10:00-11:00 a.m., Columbia Post Office, Walnut St.;
--Tuesdays, 12 Noon-1:00 p.m., Speakers Circle, UMC campus;
--Wednesdays, 4:15-5:45 p.m., corner of Broadway and Providence
--Third Friday, 6:00-7:00 p.m., corner of Broadway and 9th Street.

--LEGISLATORS.. Sens. Kit Bond, phone 202-224-5721,e-mail and Sen. Jim Talent, 202-224-6154,, Sen._______,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510; Rep. Ken Hulshof (or your representative), locally at 449-5111 or 202-225-2956,, Rep. ______, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515
-- WHITE HOUSE... Comment Desk: 202-456-1111, FAX: 202-456-2461,, President George W. Bush, The White House, Washington, DC 20500

For more information contact, with the co-sponsoring organizations, Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation (Jeff Stack 449-4585) or St. Francis House Catholic Worker (Steve Jacobs 443-0096).



Red in Tooth and Claw: American Terror, Then and Now

by Chris Floyd

...the CIA also taught these same torture tactics to the Islamic extremists that the United States was arming, training and funding in Afghanistan.
Thursday, 24 January 2008—Lobster – the British "journal of parapolitics" (or "deep politics," as its usually called in North America, following the work of Peter Dale Scott) – is an interesting magazine. A very low-key affair, with no pictures, no ads, no color, just columns of plain, small-print, heavily footnoted articles, Lobster comes out twice a year, published in the front room of editor Robin Ramsay's house in Hull. In a profile in the Sunday Herald a few years back, Ramsay described the magazine this way: "Lobster is a futile remnant of an ancient notion of trying to educate people to behave rationally in politics, so it's a complete waste of time." I first heard about it a couple of years ago from the film director, Alex Cox, who has written for the magazine in the past. There is good stuff to be found in every issue, along with pieces you might strongly disagree with.

As an example of the former, the current issue – not on-line – has a devastating piece by John Newsinger on "The CIA: A History of Torture." It is a succinct overview of the notorious record of what Newsinger rightly calls "the most dangerous terrorist organization at work in the world since the Second World War." He continues:

It has overthrown governments, sponsored wars, carried out assassinations and terrorist attacks, organized and financed death squads, kidnapped and tortured, trafficked in drugs, bribed and blackmailed, even worked with the Mafia. Despite this, it remains a 'respectable' organization, listened to by Western governments...and treated by the mainstream media as a credible intelligence-gathering organization."

Then, drawing on the work of Alfred McCoy, Thomas Powers and others, he goes on to detail the decades-long history of CIA involvement in atrocity, with telling vignettes from individual episodes, such as the Phoenix Program in Vietnam: the CIA death-squad program that murdered tens of thousands of people. (The CIA itself admits to 20,000 deaths; the South Vietnamese government estimated the blood harvest at 40,000.) Torture was "a routine feature" of Phoenix, which was dubbed a "counter-insurgency operation":

...K. Barton Osborne told a House of Representatives subcommittee that during his time in Vietnam he had seen a prisoner killed by means of a six-inch dowel hammered into his ear and a woman prisoner starved to death. He could not recall a single prisoner surviving interrogation. It was in these bloody circumstances that the Agency decided to conduct some controlled experiments in torture, presumably assuming that with so much going on, no one would notice. In mid-1966, two CIA psychiatrists flew into the country and carried out electro-shock experiments on prisoners at the Bien Hoa mental hospital outside Saigon. The prisoners were tortured to death. Even more horrific, in July 1968 another CIA team, accompanied by a neurosurgeon, flew in to carry out experiments implanting electrodes in the brains of three prisoners in an attempt to control their behaviour. The experiments failed and the victims were killed and their bodies destroyed."

(For details of an earlier experiment in "mind control" – this time on one of their own, an American CIA scientist who looked a bit too closely at what his comrades were getting up to -- see "The Secret Sharers: The CIA, the Bush Gang, and the Killing of Frank Olson.")

As Newsinger notes, the CIA was not deterred by America's defeat in Vietnam; they simply transferred their black ops to Central America – where many top officials responsible for "counter-insurgency" in Iraq first honed their skills in directing torture teams and death squads. The genocidal fury reached its apex under the rule of the saintly Ronald Reagan (lauded by Obama) and George H.W. Bush (bosom friend and father figure to the Clintons). As Newsinger notes, in Central America

the United States, with the full support of the Thatcher government [recently lauded by H. Clinton] engaged in two of the most brutal counter-insurgency campaigns of modern times in El Salvador and Guatemala....The Guatemalan military conducted themselves with a brutality that rivaled that of the Nazis. The civilian population in those areas that supported the guerrillas was physically exterminated in the most cruel and sadistic fashion. By the end of the conflict in 1996, over 200,000 people had been killed, overwhelmingly by the military (the UN Truth Commission estimated that the military were responsible for 93 percent of the atrocities). Throughout all this horror the Americans worked hand-in-glove with the Guatemalan military....The CIA was operating an enormous network of paid informants, most of them well-known for their involvement in torture and other war crimes. The CIA and related intelligence officials knew which prisoners had been kidnapped, where they were being held, and the fact that their torturers were the CIA's own paid informants.

At the same time they were aiding this holocaust, Reagan and Bush were also conducting the illegal proxy war against Nicaragua, using an army described by a top U.S. military advisor as "just a bunch of killers." The "Contras" -- which Reagan famously described as the "moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers" -- were trained in terrorism by the CIA. Newsinger quotes Greg Grandin's book on the subject:

One high-level Contra official who worked closely with the CIA said that brigades would "arrive at an undefended village, assemble all the residents in the town square and then proceed to kill -- in full view of the others -- all persons suspected of working" for the government. Other Contra officials confessed to "damnable atrocities" and "hundreds of civilian murders, mutilations, tortures and rapes" of which "CIA superiors were well aware."

Back to Newsinger:

All this was prescribed in the instruction manual that the CIA produced for the Contras. [Newsinger notes that the author of the manual, John Kirkpatrick, was a veteran of the Phoenix Program.] One section, "Selective Use of Violence for Propagandist Effects" recommended the killing of "carefully selected and planned targets such as court judges, police and State Security officials, CDS Chiefs, etc." As Holly Sklar observed: "A hit list that starts with court judges and ends with etcetera is a mighty broad license for murders." And in practice, the etcetera included teachers, doctors, nurses, indeed anyone believed to the sympathetic to the Sandinistas."

At the same time, the CIA was also teaching these same tactics to the Islamic extremists that the United States was arming, training and funding in Afghanistan. And we have seen these exact same methods being carried out in Iraq, where judges, teachers, doctors and other professional "etcetera" have been carefully selected and targeted by....militias and death squads armed, trained and funded by the United States, and, no doubt, by rogue "blowback" bands whose roots and training go back to the global jihad movement that the United States helped create under Carter, Reagan and Bush I.

Of course, as noted above, Iraq -- and the top echelons of the Bush Administration -- are crawling with officials who made their bones in the dirty wars of Central America. Such as John Negroponte, the lifetime Bush Faction factotum who was head of the entire intelligence apparat under George II before moving back into the shadows at the State Department. Newsinger writes:

Crucial as a base for the covert war against Nicaragua was neighboring Honduras. Effectively ruled from the American Embassy, there were so many US military and CIA personnel in the country that it was jocularly known as "the USS Honduras." Presiding over this was the US Ambassador, John Negroponte, later a key figure in the Iraq War. Negroponte had earlier served in the US Embassy in Saigon. Now he supervised both the contra operation and the brutal suppression of dissent in Honduras itself. The CIA, with the co-operation of the Honduras army, established death squads that tortured and killed dozens of people....An elite Honduran Army unit, Battalion 3-16, provided the personnel for the death squads, which were trained and financed by the CIA. According to one veteran of the unit, "US advisors taught 'psychological methods' of coercive interrogation. In practice, they made use of both the new and old methods of torture.

No one, not a single person in the ruling circles of the U.S. bipartisan political class, has ever been held accountable for these mass murders and terrorist crimes.
We have seen how the whole nefarious history of the CIA and its fellow black operators in the National Security State has been played out in the killing fields of Iraq: death squads, torture, assassinations, corruption, "etcetera." (For more, see "Ulster on the Euphrates: The Anglo-American Dirty War in Iraq.") It's also being played out in Afghanistan and Somalia and countless other countries, and in every far-flung "secret site" in the Terror War's global gulag. And it will go on playing out in the same brutal, blood-soaked way -- because no one, not a single person in the ruling circles of the bipartisan political class, has ever been held accountable for these mass murders and terrorist crimes. Not one. Instead, the perpetrators have soared comfortably through long careers strewn with honors, riches, privilege and power. There is literally no penalty whatsoever for any high American official who orders, supports or even directly commits atrocities.

So why should they stop? The system of power protects them. The system creates them. The system needs them. They are the system.

photo of Chris FloydChris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at cfloyd72 at gmail


I wrote this letter in response to an attack on my first letter about U.S. imperialism in Vietnam. The Montclarion cut it heavily, butchered one quote beyond legibility, and left out the documentation; this is the version I originally wrote.

To the Editor

The Montclarion

Dear Madam:

I'm replying to the criticisms of my article, and of myself, in last week's Montclarion (2/17, p.12).

1. Prof. Paul Scipione believes U.S. involvement in Vietnam was not to "exploit it for cheap labor and raw materials but to protect all of Southeast Asia from falling under Communist domination." But he fails to explore what this means.

After WWII peasant rebellions against brutal landlord exploitation and the landlord-dominated governments raged throughout Asia. Such rebellions had occurred for thousands of years; the peasants had always lost. What was different in the post-WWII era was that some of those peasant rebellions were winning, for the first time in history, because they were led by communists.

In China and Vietnam communists, mostly peasants themselves, led peasant armies to defeat Western imperialists and their landlord collaborators. The peasants got the land, and their standard of living increased dramatically. But in countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, and South Korea American and British imperialists managed to suppress, through mass murder, the peasant rebels, who wanted only a chance to live free of conditions little different from slavery.

Why do U.S. capitalists want to keep peasants poor? For cheap agricultural goods, to be resold at a high profit; cheap raw materials; and cheap labor, from peasants driven off the land and forced to work in subhuman conditions for subhuman wages. These conditions still persist in all of Southeast Asia, and U.S. corporations still profit from them today, while exporting jobs and hurting American workers. This is what "protecting Asia from Communist domination" means in practice.

2. Atrocities:Scipione is wrong on all four points he makes. (a) The "hundreds of civilians butchered" at Hue in 1968 were killed by Americans. This massacre was later blamed on the North Vietnamese by the U.S. and Saigon governments. (For these and all references, see Sources, at end).

(b) Books about documented U.S. atrocities are many, but there are few lists of even alleged communist atrocities in Vietnam. The longest I have seen is in the Appendix to Pike's pamphlet. It is not trustworthy -- Pike fabricated the "Hue massacre" myth -- and he gives no evidence. Still, Pike does not allege even one communist atrocity of the scale of My Lai.

(c) Scipione denies there was a U.S. policy of committing atrocities in Viet Nam. He is wrong. Mass murder of unarmed civilians was a direct and predictable consequence of U.S. military campaigns and "free-fire zones." Two examples: Operation WHEELER WALLAWA, in 1967, killed 10,000 civilians; they were "counted" as "V.C.", but few were. These mass murders were "A matter of policy," according to the Newsweek reporters on the scene. Operation SPEEDY EXPRESS (1968) caused over 5,000 civilian deaths while killing probably fewer than 200 guerrillas.

And killing any "Vietcong" was a war crime, just like the Nazis' killings of anti-Nazi partisans in Europe during WWII! An invading country, the U.S. simply had no right to be there or to kill anyone, any more than the other Western imperialist nations or Japan, or Nazi Germany, did.

(d) Scipione states that the South Vietnamese, not Americans, killed thousands in the Phoenix Program. Wrong again! According to intelligence agent Jeff Stein, ...when someone was picked up their lives were at an end because the Americans most likely felt that, if they were to turn someone like that [i.e. who had been savagely tortured] back into the countryside it would just be multiplying NLF ["Vietcong"] followers.

Another officer in "Phoenix", Bart Osborne, testified before Congress in 1971: I never knew in the course of all those operations any detainee to live through his interrogation. 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 either tortured to death or things like thrown out of helicopters. Osborne again: It [Phoenix] became a sterile depersonalized murder program... Equal to Nazi atrocities, the horrors of "Phoenix" must be studied to be believed.

It is not surprising that Scipione has swallowed the vicious U.S. propaganda about American foreign policy -- we all have! It's pushed everywhere; opposing viewpoints are seldom permitted. The truth is kept out of the media and school, where we are taught that America "has good intentions" and is "moral", in contrast to other imperialist nations.

Most of us cannot believe that we have been so lied to! We are taught that propaganda is something that happens to others, not to us! In fact, the population of all capitalist countries is deceived about the massive atrocities of their own governments -- so they will march off "patriotically" to do whatever their rulers want. It's the same with us. The moral: THE U.S. GOVERNMENT LIES! NEVER BELIEVE A WORD IT SAYS!

3. Scipione praises "free enterprise" and the "free press." Far from "free", the press in the U.S. is tightly controlled to exclude dissident viewpoints, such as the truth about the Vietnam War. There are many excellent books on control of the news in the U.S. (see Sources). As for "free enterprise": this is Chamber of Commerce pap. Capitalist culture may be "free" for tycoons, but not for anyone else.

Capitalism is based upon exploitation. Capitalists produce no value; it is extracted from workers, who get only a small part of it as wages. This exploitative economic system produces an exploitative culture: racism, nationalism, sexism, poverty, unemployment, crime, moral degeneracy, the wastage of millions of lives and the shocking concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a very few who use the rest of us for their purposes.

Scipione states I "espouse socialism." But I don't. I certainly detest capitalism, which has proven utterly incapable of providing a decent life for the vast majority of the human race. And I have great respect for the communist movement of the past. But socialism has failed to create an egalitarian society free from the horrible racism, exploitation and cruelty of capitalism. Of course, from the standpoint of the majority, capitalism is worse: for example, the standard of living of the working class has fallen drastically since western-style capitalism has been established in East Europe. But socialism is, in fact, a mixture of elements of capitalism and communism, in which the capitalist elements came to predominate. This was its downfall, in my opinion -- that it did not break entirely with capitalist inequalities.

I'd like to deal with one outright lie that Scipione stated about me personally. How can he write "Dr. Furr never invites me to guest lecture in his course on the Vietnam War"? Scipione has spoken four times in that course! One year I even assigned his novel 'Shades of Gray -- ironically, a devastating exposure of capitalist degeneracy -- as required reading!

Scipione states that students deserve "a more balanced view" of the Vietnam War period. My response: I use, and respect, scholarly viewpoints. Like anyone else, Scipione should study the research on the Vietnam War before presuming to speak on it. As for "balance": Paul, do you invite Marxist, communist and other anti-capitalist speakers to your business classes? You should! Take a dose of your own medicine.

Finally: I ask The Montclarion to stop attacking me through derogatory headlines. My letter carried a headline mocking me, and Scipione's letter also carried a headline mocking, not Scipione, but me again! This is grossly unfair, not only to me, but, more important, to your readers. It is irresponsible journalism, unworthy of you. If all ideas are fairly presented, without favor, the truth -- and the readers -- will benefit.

Grover Furr, English

Sources: Peasant rebellions: Jeffrey Race, War Comes to Long An; Gabriel Kolko, Anatomy of a War. Atrocities: Gareth Porter, "U.S. Political Warfare in Vietnam -- the 1968 'Hue Massacre', Indochina Chronicle, No. 33 (24 June 1974), reprinted in the Congressional Record 19 Feb. 1975, and Edward S. Herman and D. Gareth Porter, "The Myth of the Hue Massacre," Ramparts, May-June 1975. Douglas Pike, The Vietcong Strategy of Terror (U.S. Mission: Saigon, 1970); Ed Herman, Atrocities in Vietnam; The Winter Soldier Investigation (1972); Herman and Noam Chomsky, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism. Policy: 'Pacification's Deadly Price,' Newsweek 19 June 1972; Herman and Chomsky, 313-321. "Phoenix": Douglas Valentine, The Phoenix Program(1990) (Stein and Osborne quotes); Herman and Chomsky, 327 (Osborne quote). Control of press: Ben Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly; Dan Schiller, Objectivity and the News; Michael Parenti, Inventing Reality; Herman and Chomsky, Manufacture of Consent. On capitalism and exploitation: start with Karl Marx, Value, Price and Profit, then try David Smith and Phil Evans, Marx's Kapital for Beginners (1982).

Go to the first letter in this series; or back to the Table of Contents of my Vietnam War Page.

The Myth Of The "Hue Massacre" 1968 Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman.

"CIA and Operation Phoenix in Vietnam"
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 2:32 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home