• John Kiriakou, Scooter Libby and the Myth of Justice

    January 28, 2013

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Iraq

    John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer, pleaded guilty to leaking the identity of one of the agency’s covert operatives to a reporter and was sentenced on January 24, 2013 to two and a half years in prison. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped charges that had been filed under the World War I-era Espionage Act.

    District Judge Leonie Brinkema noted the two and a half-year term was identical to that imposed on Scooter Libby, the chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby was convicted of leaking the covert identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame in a politically-motivated attack on her husband in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Libby’s sentence was commuted by President George W. Bush to zero, while Kiriakou will be required to serve his full time.

    In an America where the same crime is treated ever so differently– leak a name to help George W. Bush and get a reprieve, leak a name to expose torture and go to jail– Kiriakou’s story is worth repeating today.


    In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

    Here is what military briefers like to call BLUF, the Bottom Line Up Front: no one except John Kiriakou is being held accountable for America’s torture policy. And John Kiriakou didn’t torture anyone, he just blew the whistle on it.

    A long time ago, with mediocre grades and no athletic ability, I applied for a Rhodes Scholarship. I guess the Rhodes committee at my school needed practice, and I found myself undergoing a rigorous oral examination. Here was the final question they fired at me, probing my ability to think morally and justly: You are a soldier. Your prisoner has information that might save your life. The only way to obtain it is through torture. What do you do?

    At that time, a million years ago in an America that no longer exists, my obvious answer was never to torture, never to lower oneself, never to sacrifice one’s humanity and soul, even if it meant death. My visceral reaction: to become a torturer was its own form of living death. (An undergrad today, after the “enhanced interrogation” Bush years and in the wake of 24, would probably detail specific techniques that should be employed.) My advisor later told me my answer was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise spectacularly unsuccessful interview.

    It is now common knowledge that between 2001 and about 2007 the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) sanctioned acts of torture committed by members of the Central Intelligence Agency and others. The acts took place in secret prisons (“black sites”) against persons detained indefinitely without trial. They were described in detail and explicitly authorized in a series of secret torture memos drafted by John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury, senior lawyers in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. (Office of Legal Counsel attorneys technically answer directly to the DOJ, which is supposed to be independent from the White House, but obviously was not in this case.) Not one of those men, or their Justice Department bosses, has been held accountable for their actions.

    Some tortured prisoners were even killed by the CIA. Attorney General Eric Holder announced recently that no one would be held accountable for those murders either. “Based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths,” he said, “the Department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    Jose Rodriguez, a senior CIA official, admitted destroying videotapes of potentially admissible evidence, showing the torture of captives by operatives of the U.S. government at a secret prison thought to be located at a Vietnam-War-era airbase in Thailand. He was not held accountable for deep-sixing this evidence, nor for his role in the torture of human beings.


    John Kiriakou Alone

    The one man in the whole archipelago of America’s secret horrors facing prosecution is former CIA agent John Kiriakou. Of the untold numbers of men and women involved in the whole nightmare show of those years, only one may go to jail.

    And of course, he didn’t torture anyone.

    The charges against Kiriakou allege that in answering questions from reporters about suspicions that the CIA tortured detainees in its custody, he violated the Espionage Act, once an obscure World War I-era law that aimed at punishing Americans who gave aid to the enemy. It was passed in 1917 and has been the subject of much judicial and Congressional doubt ever since. Kiriakou is one of six government whistleblowers who have been charged under the Act by the Obama administration. From 1917 until Obama came into office, only three people had ever charged in this way.

    The Obama Justice Department claims the former CIA officer “disclosed classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities.”

    The charges result from a CIA investigation. That investigation was triggered by a filing in January 2009 on behalf of detainees at Guantanamo that contained classified information the defense had not been given through government channels, and by the discovery in the spring of 2009 of photographs of alleged CIA employees among the legal materials of some detainees at Guantanamo. According to one description, Kiriakou gave several interviews about the CIA in 2008. Court documents charge that he provided names of covert Agency officials to a journalist, who allegedly in turn passed them on to a Guantanamo legal team. The team sought to have detainees identify specific CIA officials who participated in their renditions and torture. Kiriakou is accused of providing the identities of CIA officers that may have allowed names to be linked to photographs.

    Many observers believe however that the real “offense” in the eyes of the Obama administration was quite different. In 2007, Kiriakou became a whistleblower. He went on record as the first (albeit by then, former) CIA official to confirm the use of waterboarding of al-Qaeda prisoners as an interrogation technique, and then to condemn it as torture. He specifically mentioned the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah in that secret prison in Thailand. Zubaydah was at the time believed to be an al-Qaeda leader, though more likely was at best a mid-level operative. Kiriakou also ran afoul of the CIA over efforts to clear for publication a book he had written about the Agency’s counterterrorism work. He maintains that his is instead a First Amendment case in which a whistleblower is being punished, that it is a selective prosecution to scare government insiders into silence when they see something wrong.

    If Kiriakou had actually tortured someone himself, even to death, there is no possibility that he would be in trouble. John Kiriakou is staring down a long tunnel of 30 months in jail because in the national security state that rules the roost in Washington, talking out of turn about a crime has become the only possible crime.


    Welcome to the Jungle

    John Kiriakou and I share common attorneys through the Government Accountability Project, and I’ve had the chance to talk with him on any number of occasions. He is soft-spoken, thoughtful, and quick to laugh at a bad joke. When the subject turns to his case, and the way the government has treated him, however, things darken. His sentences get shorter and the quick smile disappears.

    He understands the role his government has chosen for him: the head on a stick, the example, the message to everyone else involved in the horrors of post-9/11 America. Do the country’s dirty work, kidnap, kill, imprison, torture, and we’ll cover for you. Destroy the evidence of all that and we’ll reward you. But speak out, and expect to be punished.

    Like so many of us who have served the U.S. government honorably only to have its full force turned against us for an act or acts of conscience, the pain comes in trying to reconcile the two images of the U.S. government in your head. It’s like trying to process the actions of an abusive father you still want to love.

    One of Kiriakou’s representatives, attorney Jesselyn Radack, told me, “It is a miscarriage of justice that John Kiriakou is the only person indicted in relation to the Bush-era torture program. The historic import cannot be understated. If a crime as egregious as state-sponsored torture can go unpunished, we lose all moral standing to condemn other governments’ human rights violations. By ‘looking forward, not backward’ we have taken a giant leap into the past.”

    One former CIA covert officer, who uses the pen name “Ishmael Jones,” laid out a potential defense for Kiriakou: “Witness after witness could explain to the jury that Mr. Kiriakou is being selectively prosecuted, that his leaks are nothing compared to leaks by Obama administration officials and senior CIA bureaucrats. Witness after witness could show the jury that for any secret material published by Mr. Kiriakou, the books of senior CIA bureaucrats contain many times as much. Former CIA chief George Tenet wrote a book in 2007, approved by CIA censors, that contains dozens of pieces of classified information — names and enough information to find names.”

    If only it was really that easy.


    Never Again

    For at least six years it was the policy of the United States of America to torture and abuse its enemies or, in some cases, simply suspected enemies. It has remained a U.S. policy, even under the Obama administration, to employ “extraordinary rendition” — that is, the sending of captured terror suspects to the jails of countries that are known for torture and abuse, an outsourcing of what we no longer want to do.

    Techniques that the U.S. hanged men for at Nuremburg and in post-war Japan were employed and declared lawful. To embark on such a program with the oversight of the Bush administration, learned men and women had to have long discussions, with staffers running in and out of rooms with snippets of research to buttress the justifications being so laboriously developed. The CIA undoubtedly used some cumbersome bureaucratic process to hire contractors for its torture staff. The old manuals needed to be updated, psychiatrists consulted, military survival experts interviewed, training classes set up.

    Videotapes were made of the torture sessions and no doubt DVDs full of real horror were reviewed back at headquarters. Torture techniques were even reportedly demonstrated to top officials inside the White House. Individual torturers who were considered particularly effective were no doubt identified, probably rewarded, and sent on to new secret sites to harm more people.

    America just didn’t wake up one day and start slapping around some Islamic punk. These were not the torture equivalents of rogue cops. A system, a mechanism, was created. That we now can only speculate about many of the details involved and the extent of all this is a tribute to the thousands who continue to remain silent about what they did, saw, heard about, or were associated with. Many of them work now at the same organizations, remaining a part of the same contracting firms, the CIA, and the military. Our torturers.

    What is it that allows all those people to remain silent? How many are simply scared, watching what is happening to John Kiriakou and thinking: not me, I’m not sticking my neck out to see it get chopped off. They’re almost forgivable, even if they are placing their own self-interest above that of their country. But what about the others, the ones who remain silent about what they did or saw or aided and abetted in some fashion because they still think it was the right thing to do? The ones who will do it again when another frightened president asks them to? Or even the ones who enjoyed doing it?

    The same Department of Justice that is hunting down the one man who spoke against torture from the inside still maintains a special unit, 60 years after the end of WWII, dedicated to hunting down the last few at-large Nazis. They do that under the rubric of “never again.” The truth is that same team needs to be turned loose on our national security state. Otherwise, until we have a full accounting of what was done in our names by our government, the pieces are all in place for it to happen again. There, if you want to know, is the real horror.


    John Kiriakou maintains a personal web page, which includes information on how to donate to his legal expenses fund if you so wish.

    Kiriakou, alongside whistleblowers such as Tom Drake and myself, appears in the upcoming documentary SILENCED, now in production. The film explores the steep personal price paid by those who challenge national security policy in post 9-11 America.



    Originally published September 11, 2012 on TomDispatch.com, with updates on John’s sentencing.



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    Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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  • Recent Comments

    • Guy Montag said...

      1

      “America just didn’t wake up one day and start slapping around some Islamic punk. These were not the torture equivalents of rogue cops. A system, a mechanism, was created.”
      . . .

      John Kiriako’s going to jail. Meanwhile, Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s memoir, “My Share of the Task,” is #2 on the NYT Non-Fiction best-seller list.

      McChrystal’s portrays a disingenuous whitewash of his role in importing torture to Abu Gharib and supervising it’s use by JSOC from 2003-2005 (not to mention his central role in the Pat Tillman friendly-fire cover-up.

      If you want more details, see my 3-star Amazon review or the post, “Never Shall I Fail My Comrades” at the Feral Firefighter blog.

      01/28/13 2:51 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      2

      Unlike Scooter LIAR Libby who endangered covert CIA agent Valerie Plame’s life, her Brewster Jenning contacts and perhaps thousands of Americans who may be killed in a terrorist attack that her undercover operation could have prevented, Kiriakou will not have his sentence commuted. One can wonder, given all the damage Scooter caused, why hasn’t the CIA sent a drone to take him out? CIA officials say giving terrorists photographs of interrogators has exposed CIA personnel and their families to possible terrorist attacks. But what about the rest of US? Are all American officials fair game such as US Diplomatic personnel in Benghazi perhaps?

      Here’s a thought for our “forward leaning and not looking back” Prez: if Scooter Libby, LOOKING BACK who caused FAR MORE DAMAGE to the safety of Americans and not just CIA torturers, didn’t have to serve his sentence, then LOOKING FORWARD why not give the guy a commutation who helped to stop our descent into hell, and call it even (Amb) Stevens.

      01/28/13 2:53 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      3

      “If a crime as egregious as state-sponsored torture can go unpunished, we lose all moral standing to condemn other governments’ human rights violations. By ‘looking forward, not backward’ we have taken a giant leap into the past.”

      Of course, that is the myth IN THIS COUNTRY. We lost moral standing in the world with our insane actions invading Vietnam, Grenada et al. In case one forgot while the invasion enjoyed broad public support in the United States NATURALLY and received support from some sectors in Grenada from local groups who viewed the post-coup regime as illegitimate,it was criticized by the United Kingdom, Canada and the United Nations General Assembly, which condemned it as “a flagrant violation of international law”.

      01/28/13 4:27 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      4

      quote:”.. that his leaks are nothing compared to leaks by Obama administration officials and senior CIA bureaucrats.”

      Blindingly obvious notwithstanding..given the Espionage Act is being touted for leaking “classified” information, and claiming the Drone program IS Classified, as “National Security”….

      http://news.antiwar.com/2012/06/21/govt-lawyers-drone-strikes-must-remain-classified/

      … was paraded in front of the Judge who presided over the trial in which the father of the 16 year old American teenager who was murdered via the CLASSIFIED Drone program, sued the USG and failed due to the Admistrations claim….
      quote:”… government lawyers angrily insisting that not only is data related to the strikes classified, but that even mentioning the existence of documents related to the program in open court is a threat to the ongoing terror war.”unquote

      http://ivn.us/2013/01/04/judge-rules-on-targeted-drone-use/

      Based on the governments own claim, I submit I DO now expect the prosecution of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as he officially signed off on leaking the CLASSIFIED “existence” of the Drone program to a journalist who produced a film for PBS which aired last week, entitled…”Rise of the Drones”. Furthermore, now that the FBI is fervently searching for “government employee leaking source” communications with journalists who work for various press company’s, I’d submit this it a BONA FIDE, PLUM BOB of a SLAM DUNK for the Eric the schmuck HOlder.
      So all you FBI/DOJ boys, better get with it as every day that passes makes ya’ll look like not only a fucking fool that you are, but hypocritical, selective and over the top whistle blowerr prosecuting, Obozo sycophants who do everything in your power to hide this MURDEROUS regimes War Crimes, while prosecuting those who expose it to the fucking world.

      Otherwise….EAT MY SHIT you GODDAMNED WAR CRIMINALS.

      01/28/13 6:44 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      5

      ps…forgot this…
      http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/01/25/pbs-special-follows-the-rise-of-the-drones

      What is mind numbingly astonishing, is this statement by the producer of this film as he personally verified the existance of Drones..by STANDING NEXT TO ONE….
      quote:
      “Being around predators, you’re just like “What’s the big deal?” unquote

      What’s the big deal. Fucking PRICELESS. Only from the Parallel Universe of the Absurd.

      yessireeeebob. Never goddamned ceases to amaze me.

      01/28/13 6:48 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      6

      ps..also forgot this from the article…

      quote:”We ultimately had to get access signed off on by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It went all the way up to the top.”unquote

      Well sooprise sooprise sooprise. All the way to the top. You betcha. The TOP leaks and get’s what it wants. The bottom leaks and get’s mentally tortured and imprisoned. Only in Amerika.

      01/28/13 6:55 PM | Comment Link

    • el vino vinó said...

      7

      Great job PVB. I don’t know her and I’m not in possession of all the facts but… I’m prior military w/service in the mideast and I’ve done quite a few other things along the way and I never got the impression that Plame’s contribution to the war on terror amounted to anything more than supporting Starbucks and padding her resume. Having been in theatre I can tell you she is no operator. But this is all conjecture. What isn’t are the points you make so beautifully… Cheney got his wish and we are definitely on the Dark Side at this juncture. Simultaneously when the CIA chief gets caught with his pants down due to purloined, un-encrypted gmail intercepts I don’t know what to believe anymore. Part Death Star, part clown show, the US intelligence establishment is something to behold and get the hell out of the way of… never knowing if you’re going to wind up in jail, in a “black site” or lampooned on a million internet blogs. “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”… Yeah, right. Pass the mocha frappy please.

      01/28/13 10:32 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      8

      I need some help.
      Was there ever a plea bargain deal in the work with Libby? Was Libby facing the serious charge of espionage which Kiriakou possibly faced?

      01/28/13 11:58 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      9

      I’m still searching for guidance not rants. Did Libby tender a plea? If not, then why. Let’s dig a little deeper than the bullshit that passes for angry liberal/progressive venting. Is Kiriakou really a hero or an asshole? Maybe he just pushed the buttons of the wrong people in an act of self aggrandisement that had nothing to do with valor and principle. I always question the actions of saints and martyrs. Prick them deeply and they might come up total assholes.

      01/29/13 1:23 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      10

      Says Poole: “Was Libby facing the serious charge of espionage which Kiriakou possibly faced?”

      Mr. Libby nor anyone else (Rove etc.) was charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act, which were the original subjects of the Plame investigation. Libby should have been charged as a traitor, as should Dick Cheney and the rest of the neo-conartists who damaged our national security and economy in facilitating the Iraq War. Surprised they all haven’t received the Order of Lenin.

      As for our current conartist:

      “The Obama administration does not dislike leaks of classified information. To the contrary, it is a prolific exploiter of exactly those types of leaks – when they can be used to propagandize the citizenry to glorify the president’s image as a tough guy, advance his political goals or produce a multi-million-dollar Hollywood film about his greatest conquest. Leaks are only objectionable when they undercut that propaganda by exposing government deceit, corruption and illegality.”

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/27/obama-war-on-whistleblowers-purpose

      01/29/13 11:22 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      11

      Well well well…living proof of the Law of Unintended Consequences and the numero uno GREATEST MOMENT IN MONUMENTAL MILITARY STUPIDITY all in one neat little package.
      Yesterday afternoon I had an epiphany moment. As I usually have my radio in my shop permanently tuned to NPR, I like to listen to Fresh Air, which is an hour of interviews with artists, musicians, journalists etc. As the host introduced the current guest, I heard these words….

      quote:”DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

      This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross, who’s off this week. The My Lai massacre stands as one of the most shocking atrocities in American military history. For over four hours on March 15, 1968, American soldiers methodically slaughtered more than 500 unarmed Vietnamese civilians.

      But our guest, writer Nick Turse, says that the abuse and murder of civilians was far more common in the Vietnam War than most Americans imagine. His new book, based on a decade of research in military archives and extensive interviews with Vietnam vets and Vietnamese civilians, argues that murder, torture, rape, indiscriminate bombing and artillery fire, home burnings and forced displacement, were virtually a daily fact of life during the Vietnam War. And he says such acts were the inevitable outcomes of deliberate policies dictated at the highest levels of the U.S. military.” unquote

      As I listened, I realized, because my attention on what was being said was so intense, I was dripping paint all over my shoes, as I was in the middle of painting something for my wife. I put the brush down..and continued listening. As I listened, my heart began pounding, adreniline was making me shake..and then I knew.

      Guys, behold the astonishing, unvarnished living proof our military has, and is, the perpetrator of MASSIVE, unadulterated, and unambiguous WAR CRIMES…

      quote:””He told me … he watched the point man — the lead man of his patrol — detain a young girl and molest her, and he thought to himself, you know, ‘My God, what’s going on here?’ And over the ensuing months, he watched a litany of atrocities take place: a young boy executed for no reason; an old man who was used for target practice; a prisoner thrown off a cliff; a man who was held down to be run over by an armored personnel carrier. … And when he first spoke up about brutality, his life was threatened and even his friends came up to him afterwards and said, ‘Listen, you better keep your mouth shut or you’re going to get a bullet in the back during a firefight.” unquote

      Wait till you get the full account..and if it doesn’t make you puke..you are hopelessly braindead.

      http://www.wbur.org/npr/169076259/anything-that-moves-civilians-and-the-vietnam-war

      There is no doubt in my mind anymore. I’m ashamed to be part of the same species as these animals. America is morally dead.

      01/29/13 1:57 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      12

      ps..just realized he’s the managing editor for TomDispatch.com

      http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175635/

      01/29/13 2:03 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      13

      Libby was guilty of giving aid to a foreign enemy- my government which is foreign to me but I’m not part of the judicial system so I couldn’t be of any help. Kiriakou wanted to aid fellow Americans in seeing the truth about this “foreign” government and hence became an enemy of Amerika. I like using that K in America which makes the name very Kafkaesque.

      01/29/13 2:06 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      14

      ps..just read the linked page.. I’m so sick I can’t stand it.

      From now on.. to me… “KILL ANYTHING THAT MOVES” is a metaphor for WASHINGTON DC.

      01/29/13 2:11 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      15

      ps 3..we don nee no stinkin leaks anymore

      01/29/13 2:12 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      16

      ps 4…if this doesn’t make Amerika explode in monumental shame..NOTHING WILL, as the Founders experiment is a epic fail.

      01/29/13 2:24 PM | Comment Link

    • Lisa said...

      17

      Well done, Peter, then (with your Rhodes app) as now.

      [A belated acknowledgement to @meloveconsul for his Solzhenitsyn link in the previous post. He and Bezemenov wer spot-on re. the come-down we have seen lately.]

      01/30/13 4:54 AM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      18

      Lisa, thanks for that. However, after massive doses of self-inflicted Communist style reflecting upon my false consciousness, I have “evolved” to understand that the essence of American morality is Gay Boy Scouts.

      01/30/13 5:55 AM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      19

      …(continuing my above comment)…because Americans have “evolved” to understand that THE “civil rights struggle of this time” is the struggle to enforce sensitivity about anal penetration.

      01/30/13 5:57 AM | Comment Link

    • Expat said...

      20

      @ pitchfork: Here are some recommended readings to tide you over ’til the book arrives in the mail:

      “‘So Many People Died’ The American System of Suffering, 1965-2014” by Nick Turse
      http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175635/tomgram%3A_nick_turse%2C_a_war_victim%27s_question_only_you_can_answer/

      WaPo Review: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-01-25/opinions/36546552_1_war-crimes-vietnam-war-atrocities

      How Did the Gates of Hell Open in Vietnam? by Jonathan Schell
      http://truth-out.org/news/item/13990-how-did-the-gates-of-hell-open-in-vietnam

      Anything That Moves by Nick Turse (adapted from KATM)
      http://www.guernicamag.com/features/anything-that-moves/

      01/30/13 1:02 PM | Comment Link

    • Expat said...

      21

      And here’s a review from someone who’s actually read KATM and knows of what he speaks. I lifted it from the “Vietnam Old Hacks” Google Group.

      Tom Fox – Jan 22

      Just finished reading Nick Turse’s book, Kill Anything that Moves. It was an unsettling and deeply emotional experience. I found myself
      tearing up, even gagging at times, as I turned the pages. Long buried memories were torn open anew. I experienced more than bitter sadness;
      I felt the anger again, and maybe most of all I felt the loneliness. It was the result of having experienced so much as such a young age and then feeling there was almost no way to share it. It was also the result of knowing few others cared to listen, to care, to act to end the madness and killings.

      The loneliness of which I speak, the loneliness many of us felt for so long, finally stemmed from a failure to be the bridges of understanding we set out to be. Our passions, our love for the
      Vietnamese people we had come to know, imprisoned us. The war made those chains all the heavier. How could we not have become lost?

      I was among the fortunate. I met and married a woman from Can Tho. Looking back, I realize she became my bridge, not only to the experience, but also to the future. We were to have children and
      grandchild. Something undeniably good was to come out of the war. I was able to eventually leave Vietnam without ever leaving it behind. I journeyed through life with someone who understood beyond mere words.

      I had arrived in Vietnam in 1966 with International Voluntary Services, was quickly assigned to work and live among the war refugees
      in Phu Yen province in central Vietnam. I stayed for nearly two years. During that time I witnessed the ravages of war, disruption,
      destruction, killings, starvation, and the death of families and villages. I worked among the tattered remnants of families doing what
      I could, never much. I signed the IVS protest letter in 1967, went with Don Luce to hand deliver the first breakaway document to
      Ambassador Bunker, sat in front of his desk, telling him we knew the war was a lie. He was stone faced. I felt that if he could make us
      disappear he would. We became the first local stone in his shoe.

      Later, some of us wrote articles for Dispatch, that small noble news effort, to report the American public that the war was going badly,
      that the Vietnamese, for than anything, wanted it ended. We managed to scratch together enough money – $20, $30 here and there for a published article. Most US papers would not print what we wrote. Our stories went against the tide at the time. The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle and the National Catholic Reporter would be the exceptions. After Tet 1968 more of the the mainstream media began to focus on the impact the war was having on the Vietnamese. In 1971 and 1972 I worked for The New York Times and Time magazine as a local hire.

      Once, in 1969, I accompanied John Conyers and Robert Drinan one hot day to Con Son island. We carried maps drawn up by students to help led us to the Tiger Cages. What we failed to achieve on that trip Don Luce and a subsequent delegation achieved months later. Each trip, each search to uncover the worst of the brutalities got refined as the student maps improved. During those years we would provide alternative congressional briefings: Visitors would be briefed by the CIA station chief and Pentagon officials, getting one viewpoint (Gov. Romney called it “brainwashing.”) We introduced the groups to student leaders, Buddhists, dissident Catholic “Third Force” progressives and former political prisons.

      For many years, upon returning from Vietnam I could not – would not – stand at an athletic event to sing the national anthem. I could not salute the flag I had seen painted on the bottom of the wings of the fighter bombers taking off day and night from the Tuy Hoa air base to bomb the farmers and flatten villages in Phu Yen, farmers who would then become refugees, sometimes thousands at a time, who would walk distances to be “resettled” on sand along the coast where I was to somehow provide assistance. As one IVS colleague said at the time: “We were the band aid on the genocide.”

      Nick Turk’s book offers the largest picture of the madness that was the Vietnam war, as officially taken from US military documents. He
      does not argue the case that My Lai was more of the norm than the aberration. He reveals the case. I don’t think the US policy was a policy of atrocity, not specifically. But in the end it was an overall atrocity. It came from our arrogance and a belief that technology,firepower, really, in the end would have its way. We never took enough time to read Vietnamese history or understand Vietnamese culture. Those of us who invested in learning the Vietnamese language, for the most part, took on a view that the war was futile and the Vietnamese, divided as they were, did not really support the US effort as much as take advantage from it. At least those who
      professed to be on “our” side did.

      “Kill Anything that Moves” should become mandatory reading in all U.S. history classes, in all classes where warfare is taught. It should also be introduced as evidence into the hearings to confirm the next secretary of defense, simply as an overdue reality check. At least Chuck Hagel was there. He has experienced war.

      As a nation, we must face the horrific truth of the barbarism of which we are capable if we ever hope to avoid repeating Vietnams indefinitely. I hope and pray this happens. If at this point, after this book, we fail to face the Vietnam war, I don’t know where we can turn to for hope.

      01/30/13 1:10 PM | Comment Link

    • Lisa said...

      22

      @meloveconsul:

      You have arrived at a breathtaking apprehension. ISTM any porno film or mag leaves me understanding that anality is truly the new frontier. Really, just in time for us to understand how it is we should be taking the rapacious policies of our current administrations.

      Good and hard … oh, and smiling. (“Thank you sir, may I have another?”) As Solzhenitsyn wrote,

      Your screens and publications are full
      of prescribed smiles and raised glasses.
      What is the joy about?

      What, indeed.

      01/30/13 3:52 PM | Comment Link

    • An Ex-CIA whistleblower goes to jail but the criminals he exposed walk away FREE? Have you had enough of these shit ass laws yet? « THE WORD WARRIOR Bonju Blog said...

      23

      […] John Kiriakou, Scooter Libby and the Myth of Justice (wemeantwell.com) Rate this:Share this:EmailFacebookTwitterMoreRedditDiggGoogle +1TumblrPinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

      01/30/13 8:45 PM | Comment Link

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