MODERATOR. Fine, thank you. We're going to break the format here a little bit. Mrs. Warner has to go back to work, but I know some of the press, if Mrs. Warner does not mind, might like to direct some questions directly to her, and then we'll go on with the rest of the format. Does the press have questions? Would you identify yourself please?
QUESTION. What relationship has the President or his aides had with you? Has there been any attempt to propagandize you?
WARNER. No. We get a Christmas card, that's about the size of it.
MODERATOR. Yes? Over there, please.
QUESTION. Mrs. Warner, do you think the POWs in North Vietnam are being used for political purposes by the President?
WARNER. Well, it seems that way. The Song Tay raid, well, it was called a success, even if there weren't any prisoners there, it was labeled a success; suppose there had been prisoners there? Is it reasonable to assume that they could have captured, rescued twenty? How many lives would have been lost? It just seems like it raised the hopes of prisoner families for really no good reason, no good purpose.
QUESTION. Have you been in contact with any other prisoner families?
WARNER. Yes, I have, sir.
QUESTION. Do they share your opinions?
WARNER. I think not. I wish if they did they'd step forward. I feel like I'm on a mountain top all by myself, my husband and I.
MODERATOR. The question was have you tried to express your opinions to the United States government?
WARNER. Sir, I've written many letters. A month or so ago, when the bombing was renewed over North Vietnam, my husband called everybody he could think of, because I'm sure you understand that we didn't want the prison camp where my son was to be bombed. It's sort of like batting your head against a stone wall. I've written many letters to the President, many letters to the Free Press and the news media but never mailed them because I felt that I'm being put on the spot. I'm isolated. I'm alone in the way I feel about this, and it's kind of frightening, you know?
QUESTION. But I believe every prisoner of war family, let's say, has someone that they can contact. The Defense Department has an adviser let's say. You've had personal contact with your adviser. What sort of reaction did you get from him?
WARNER. Well, it's a Marine officer, and they've always been very kind. I have no complaints whatever. They try to get questions answered for us through the Pentagon, any questions that we have. They're willing to cooperate with us in any way. They have to turn in a report every three months, I understand, and I have no complaint about these men. They're doing their job.
QUESTION. You're not harassed in any way?
WARNER. Not harassed, not yet. Not yet. We were told when Jim was first shot down that if we let his name be published in the paper that we'd probably get harassing phone calls.
MODERATOR. From whom, from whom?
QUESTION. Your objection is that the White House has not been responsive. Is that correct? To your letters and so on?
WARNER. Well, maybe not in a way we think they ought to be. I'd like to see us get out of Vietnam. I'd like to see us get out completely, so that we don't tear our country apart any more than it already is.
QUESTION. Did you say earlier that your letters to the White House were not answered?
WARNER. No, I did not say that. I said I had written them, but hadn't mailed them. I put my feelings down on paper, as a release, I suppose, maybe it's frustration. Maybe I feel if I wrote it, it wouldn't really help how I feel.
QUESTION. Have you tried to contact the White House at all?
QUESTION. You have?
CALDWELL. Can I answer that? When the bombing was resumed over the North, my father called the White House.
QUESTION. What sort of a reaction did you get?
CALDWELL. Well, he didn't talk to anybody. He didn't get in touch with anyone. As Mrs. Warner said, he made a lot of phone calls, and he did make a lot of phone calls, but he didn't get in touch with anyone at all, not directly. He was promised all of these phone calls would be returned, so on the following Monday, or Sunday, he sent a telegram to Melvin Laird, and we didn't get any response from that either.
WARNER. No, he got a letter. We got a letter back.
CALDWELL. Did he? But the personal letter didn't really give us a justifiable explanation as to why the bombing was resumed without thought for what it would do to the prisoners that were being held there.
QUESTION. Would you say as a flat statement that the United States government was not being responsive to the...
CALDWELL. They're being responsive to the families that are cooperating with them and the families that are backing them. They aren't being responsive to us.
QUESTION. What were your opinions on the war in Vietnam before your son was shot down over North Vietnam?
WARNER. From the very beginning, before my son ever went to Vietnam, I had mixed emotions about this thing. I've read a lot of things about it, I talked to people about it. Well, I'm anti-war, period. I'm anti-violence, period. I never could figure out why we should be there and why we should be afraid that they were going to come over and take over our country. Obviously, we're fighting on the side of the minority. If it was the majority, we wouldn't have to be there.
MODERATOR. Can you tell us what the basic content of the telegram to Melvin Laird was? What sentiments it expressed?
WARNER. I hope I don't get my husband upset about this. He said, "Congratulations on the resuming of the bombing of the North. Whose brilliant idea was it, Premier Ky or General Westmoreland?"
QUESTION. Mrs. Warner, is it your feeling that President Nixon and his staff are using the publicity on the prisoners of war to divert the American public's attention from what they are actually doing in Vietnam?
WARNER. I wouldn't say that's my feeling. It just seems we have been kept busy with little busy work, like writing letters to Hanoi, condemning them for the inhumane treatment. And we've gotten everybody in America to write a letter to Hanoi. How many was it they took over there and dumped on the steps of the Hanoi delegation in Paris? I don't think they're going to read all these letters, in the first place, and our government isn't swayed by public opinion. How do we think that Hanoi is going to be swayed by public opinion from another country?
QUESTION. Do you feel that President Nixon is using this as a focus for American public attention, rather than having the focus on anti-war activities or anti-war public sentiment?
WARNER. Let's not just say President Nixon, let's say our administration. Sometimes I feel yes, that we are being used. I feel that they did not want the prisoner of war families to join with any peace groups, but I'm a peace-loving person, that's why I had to go.
QUESTION. Mrs. Warner, a few moments ago you said that you were alone on a mountain top. Well, I want to say that you're not alone because these people are all our brothers and sisters and we've got to get them back.
WARNER. Thank you.
MODERATOR. Are there any other questions from the press? I'd like to thank you personally, Mrs. Warner, and our prayers go with you.
WARNER. Thank you very much. Thank you for listening.
FLOYD. My name is Jon Floyd. I was a pilot with the Marine Corps. I was based with Marine Attack Squadron 533 in Chu Lai. Mrs. Warner's son was at Chu Lai. He was shot down about five months before I arrived there. Most of our missions consisted of close air support (which amounts to blowing the tops off of hills or something for helicopters to land) and what is called a TPQ Mission, which is a radar set. This guides the aircraft in at a high altitude, usually about 20,000 feet; they'll give us an air speed to fly, an altitude, and heading control, and we'll reach a point their gear tells them to tell us and we release the bombs. Sometimes we were told what our target was; the targets might be a suspected enemy truck park, or a suspected supply depot, or sniper fire. Normally we'd go up in either single or section aircraft, two aircraft. We carried normally a load of 28 500-lb. bombs per aircraft, and it isn't uncommon, it was a kind of standard joke, about releasing 56 500-lb. bombs on a suspected sniper.
The TPQ bombing is a strato-level bombing which is directly condemned by the Nuremberg principles after Dresden, in World War II, was wiped out because no significant military targets were there. Regarding pilot's living conditions, at Chu Lai we had air-conditioned Quonset huts. We lived there on the beach.
We had access to sailboats, and mainly spent our time in the Officer's Club and nominally doing some sort of job. We also flew into North Vietnam. I was flying an A6A Intruder aircraft, and this is a radar strike aircraft. We'd fly in at a low level at night. They had stopped bombing Hanoi area about two months after I arrived there. This type of mission up into the Hanoi-Haiphong area, called Route Pack Six, was called a "rolling thunder." Primarily what we did, while I was there, was basically going in at night, low level, popping up to about 1,200 feet, acquiring a target on radar, and through the information from our various systems, it went into a computer; I pulled a commit switch and the computer dropped the bombs. We went back at low level. This was always done at night. I didn't get any rolling thunders while I was there, I'm not too unhappy to say.
Our bombing of the North mainly consisted of between the 17th and 18th parallel. This is where the Air Force and Marine Corps area was allotted when the bombing halt was called above the 20th parallel. The Navy had between the 18th and 19th parallel. Our primary objective was to pick up moving targets, such as trucks, or barges, any convoys carrying supplies, etc. We also had secondary targets, which were normally called a truck park or a gun-emplacement or ferry positions across the river, which we would drop our bombs on if we didn't pick up any moving targets. These were the same targets that we had for months and months, and they'd be bombed many times over each night.
Basically the type of weapons we used there were 500-lb. bombs, and 2,000-lb. bombs with what we called "daisy-cutters," which was about a yard-long 1 fuse, to make sure that the bomb doesn't go ahead and penetrate the ground when it explodes but it stays above ground so the frag pattern will be large enough. We also used CBUs (cluster bomblet units) which are classified, a secret I believe, which amount to a canister which releases a number of small bomblets which are anti-personnel. Also, we mined the rivers and roads with 500-lb. bombs which were set to go off normally in the 24-hour period following to catch trucks and barges coming along at later times.
Anywhere in North Vietnam basically is a free drop zone. There were no forbidden targets. If you didn't find any particular targets that you wanted to hit, then normally you'd go ahead and just drop your bombs wherever you wanted to. They had zones off in the water where you could go and jettison your bombs, but this was very seldom ever used. Many times, I know, a lot of pilots I've talked to said they would drop their bombs on the city of Dong Hoi, which is the main city between the 17th and 18th parallel there on the coast. We had gotten information that the North Vietnamese had told us that they had a prisoner of war camp in Dong Hoi. It was always blacked out, but no one seemed to believe this and they'd go ahead and dump their bombs on the city there. Referring to Dr. Nelson's experience in Hue, our government claims that most of the people that died there were executed by the Viet Cong, after the cease fire, but a great deal of the city of Hue was destroyed by our own bombing and I'm sure a great deal of these people that died were destroyed by our bombing. I wouldn't doubt but that her living room was blown up by one of our bombs. This war from the pilot's standpoint, is a very impersonal war. You go over there and whether or not you believe the goals that the government prescribes for us to fight for or whatever, most of the pilots just go along and figure, well, it's a job. And that's the way we all looked at it. You fly. You see flak at night. That's about as close to war as we get. Sometimes you get shot down, but you don't see any of the explosions. You can look back and see 'em, but you don't see any of the blood or any of the flesh. It's a very clean and impersonal war.
You go out, fly your mission, you come back to your air-conditioned hootch and drink beer or whatever. You're not in contact with it. You don't realize at the time, I don't think, what you're doing. It dawned on me, I think, when we got reports of 13 year old NVA soldiers coming across and being captured; that most probably they had young girls driving most of these trucks that we were destroying up north. And as far as the damage reports that were put out by the pilots, it was a kind of a standard joke. Especially when you knew which pilots would not particularly do a good job and every bomb they saw exploding, they'd come back and report secondaries. It was just a standard joke. Among the career officers, especially major and above field grade officers, this was just a place to advance your career. They tried to give everyone a command of some sorts. They made sure everyone pretty well got a medal of some sort. In my unit (it was in a flight status) it was a Distinguished Flying Cross. I got two of these; virtually all of the officers got one. This was just a standard procedure. Have you got your DFC yet? It was a common thing. We had an older bombardier navigator and he used to fly with a lot of the colonels who would come down from Group. They had a high change-over of command to make sure everyone got their command over there. We would send him up with all the colonels to take them up north, get shot at, and bring them back and write up their horror tale of how brave they were, and give 'em a medal. Then they'd probably never fly again with us, after they got the medal.
MODERATOR. Okay, now I'd like to go and talk to a few of the other men here on the panel who were interrogators. First we have Jon Drolshagen. He was in the Army. He worked with S-5 which is the Civic Action Program in Vietnam. This is what he was assigned to. This Civic Action Program is to win the hearts and minds of the people. I'd like Jon to explain a little bit about how he carried out this Civic Action Program.
DROLSHAGEN. Right. Well, being an interrogator you automatically don't win hearts and minds. Being an interrogator the way I was, you definitely don't win hearts and minds. I've heard about these bell telephone hours where they would crank people up with field phones. I guess we did them one better because we used a 12-volt jeep battery and you step on the gas and you crank up a lot of voltage. It was one of the normal things. I'll give a little background. I started out in Vietnam as a platoon leader, seven months in the field doing little fire fights, killing people, etc. You get a little bit hardened, I guess. You become a superhawk or whatever you want to put it at.
After a while, people in my unit were a little bit weary of going out in the field with me. I started enjoying killing people a little bit more than you're supposed to, I guess. Even for the United States, I guess you can like it too much. I was taken out of there and put in the Civic Action. The basis of the Civic Action is to win the hearts and minds of the people, propagandize them to our way of thinking. We're supposedly building schools for them, getting medical aid to them, food and clothing, all the nice things that you can think of that you would want to do for people that are "less than we are" so we can bring them up to our standards--which is amazing for a country that's been there an awful lot longer than we have. Instead of doing this type of thing, we had a major that enjoyed doing other types of things. We worked more as an intelligence unit to gather information for our brigade and division. My area was from the city of Tay Ninh, the Tay Ninh Province, down to Phu Cuong which Cu Chi bisected. Outside of Cu Chi, there's a little village called _____ Tau Chi that has an ARVN battalion and an RND unit outside. A little bit north of that is another village that we had commandeered, some head honcho's hootch, which is a big place, you keep your beer cool in it, and where we could carry on interrogation without outside people knowing what was happening. There was another lieutenant and a major there that was an adviser to the Vietnamese battalion down there. There were Vietnamese officers, enlisted men, and NCOs and American officers, enlisted men and NCOs that were present for the wiring of prisoners. You could take the wires of a jeep battery (it's a tremendous amount of voltage), put it most any place on their body, and you're going to shock the hell out of the guy. The basic place you put it was the genitals. There were some people who really enjoyed that because people would really squirm. The major that I worked for had a fantastic capability of staking prisoners, utilizing a knife that was extremely sharp, and sort of filleting them like a fish. You know, trying to check out how much bacon he could make of a Vietnamese body to get information. Prisoners treated this way were executed at the end because there was no way that we could take them into any medical aide and say, "This dude fell down some steps," or something, because you just don't get them kind of cuts and things like that. That was our basic way of getting the information that we needed from prisoners, suspects or whatever. These people were not taken in to the 25th Division Headquarters which is stationed in Cu Chi. These were utilized out in the ARVN areas. We would go back into base camp at night, and being red-blooded American like we were, we'd go down to the Officers Club and get blasted and talk to people. So I'm sure that my brigade commander, my brigade CO, and all the officers attached to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade, 25th Division, knew what was happening. There was no condemnation of this. People would request to go out there with us and watch it. We had pilots with us and they don't get on the ground too much. They don't see what's really happening. We would take pilots out with us to show them our side of the war, as it were. You become very hardened after being out in the field, losing a lot of people, killing a lot of people, and when you come in, torturing really is just another way of going over it.
MODERATOR. Would you say, Jon, that these were commonly used tactics for interrogators over there, our interrogators?
DROLSHAGEN. Well, using personal experience, yeah. It was so commonplace, you know, you just do it.
MODERATOR. Just accept it as policy.
DROLSHAGEN. Right. That's just what we do.
MODERATOR. What about the prisoners? Who were these prisoners, normally? How did you acquire them, or where did you get them?
DROLSHAGEN. Well, they would be brought to us by the Vietnamese.
MODERATOR. I see. For what? Were these actual prisoners taken in an engagement of some sort, or what? Or do you know?
DROLSHAGEN. I'm not really positive as to whether they were taken in engagements or whether we're going to label them as suspects. Anybody, and this is the racist attitude of Americans in that country, anybody that has slanted eyes and is our age is a Cong if he doesn't have a South Vietnamese uniform on. And if you find one of these guys (we don't even use the term suspect) he was known, and if he died, he was definitely a Viet Cong. You know he's not going to retaliate or anything. He's used as a body count. We would take snipe fire in that area quite often. There was, I guess, a price on our head. We were told that the North Vietnamese, the Viet--I'm just going to use Vietnamese because they all are--they didn't like us, which I can imagine. They were trying to do away with us so any time we had to slice somebody up and do away with them, it was just another body count.
MODERATOR. Jon, what was the highest ranking officer that you've seen at these interrogations?
DROLSHAGEN. A major.
MODERATOR. Did he take part in them?
DROLSHAGEN. Well, yeah. He was my instructor-type guy.
MODERATOR. He taught you what you knew.
DROLSHAGEN. Right. He was pretty good at it, I guess.
MODERATOR. Okay, thanks very much, Jon. We have another gentleman here, Don Dzagulones, who was also an interrogator. He was an interrogator for eleven months in Vietnam. I'd like him to describe a few of his experiences to you. If you would, tell us where you were stationed and basically what the setup was there.
DZAGULONES. Okay. I was attached to a Military Intelligence Detachment which was attached to the Americal Division and it was subdivided further into teams. During the three days of interrogation, MPs were present at all interrogation sessions, which is a rule in Vietnam. All interrogations are conducted in the presence of MPs who are to make sure that we adhere to the Geneva Convention, but, as it is, the MPs were usually the most sadistic people. As far as the field phone itself, I watched as the MPs applied the torture themselves. Like I didn't have to do it. They did it for me. And that night, the night of the first interrogation, a medic came to my area with a syringe with 7 cc's--I believe it was of sodium pentothal--and it was kind of like an anonymous gift.
I was told how to use it and it was left to my discretion whether or not I wanted to. I didn't because I was afraid of killing the guy. I didn't know too much about that particular drug. There were numerous incidents I feel I should explain what our function was as an interrogator. Most of the prisoners were women, children, and old men. It wasn't often that we got a military-aged male and our primary function was to find something that these people had done wrong. In that part of Vietnam (I guess they call it disputed) but it's controlled by the Viet Cong; there's no doubt about it. No one ventures out anywhere at night and the Viet Cong force people to join organizations. The Viet Cong tax them heavily and these people are forced to join various organizations, each of which has a separate interest in aiding the Viet Cong. So anyone that we got as a detainee prisoner who admitted to being in an organization was classified as a civil defendant, which meant that he or she went to the National Police and the National Police applied further interrogation techniques. The National Police were probably, well, they could put the Gestapo of the SS to shame.
In our particular district, the favorite tactic used by the National Police was to string a guy up from a beam or a rafter or anything that would extend his hands out, get a speedometer cable, I believe it was, and kind of whip the person until either he died or talked or was unconscious. A lot of the interrogations were witnessed by officers. As I said, all of the interrogations were witnessed by MPs, none of whom ever did anything to prevent brutality.
When I first got into Vietnam, I was an observer at most interrogations for a couple of weeks just to learn what was going on and how to conduct the interrogations. One of the first interrogations I witnessed took place in a hospital in which a North Vietnamese prisoner was brought in wounded. He was severely wounded. He was going into shock from loss of blood. They had gotten the prisoner at an ambush. We had an interrogation team there that was interrogating the guy, but he wasn't offering information fast enough. The Brigade S-2, which is the Brigade Intelligence officer, a major, was there and he was dissatisfied with the proceedings so he took over the interrogation himself.
He got smelling salts, hands full of smelling salts, and he held them to the guy's face to keep him conscious, to make him talk. That didn't work very well, so he poked around in the wounds and what not. And there were MPs present again. There was a captain who was a doctor present and two or three interrogators who could easily corroborate what I'm saying. Anything I say can be corroborated. I can get people to corroborate what I say. No one took any steps to prevent the abuse of the prisoner.
As I said, he was severely wounded and he was there for maybe half an hour. They were working on getting a helicopter to medivac him up to Division for more intensive treatment, medical treatment that is. Field phones and beatings were commonplace occurrences. As an interrogator, I was subject to the Geneva Convention and I was watched by the MPs during the interrogations. However, there were other people in our unit who were counterintelligence and, during their interrogations, there was no one ever present. They conducted their interrogations on their own. There was no one to supervise, and consequently, they took advantage of it. They always used the field phone. They never bothered to ask the person questions.
One of the incidents that I know of personally, which I witnessed, was a guy who was supposed to be a spy. They'd interrogated him for about four or five hours and they alternated between beating him and wiring him up with the field phone. Subsequent to the interrogation, the guy was unconscious. I don't know if he was alive or not. They loaded him in a jeep, left the base camp, dumped him off Highway 1 somewhere off the side of the road and came back. No one ever found out about the conduct of the counterintelligence people.
Another time they brought in a woman prisoner who also was alleged to be a spy. They continued the interrogation in a bunker and she wouldn't talk. I don't think she even gave them her name. So they stripped off her clothing, and they threatened to rape her, which had no effect on her at all. She was very stoic. She just stood there and looked at them defiantly. So they threatened to burn her pubic hairs, and I guess it wasn't done on purpose, I'm sure of that, but they lighted a cigarette lighter and she caught on fire. She went into shock. I guess she was unconscious, so they called the medics. The medics came and they gave the medics instructions to take her to the hospital under the pretext of being in a coma from malaria, which they did. And nothing was ever done about that.
I also had experience with Psy-Ops teams, which is basically the same thing Jon was. They were to win the hearts and minds of the people. There was one sergeant in particular who had a reputation for being a sadist. His mission was to go into areas and propagandize the people, try to win their hearts and minds over to the South Vietnamese government's side, which is an impossibility. There was no part of his mission which involved detaining people, but at least once or twice a month, he'd send in a bunch of prisoners. Usually they were old women, and, invariably, all had been beaten. One time in particular, we had five elderly ladies sent in, all of whom were beaten. One had a broken leg, I believe, and another had a skull fracture. We sent them over to the hospital for medical attention and we brought it to the attention of the people at Brigade (the majors, the captains, and the colonels).
We told them that it wasn't an isolated incident, that it happened before with the same guy, but no one took any action to prevent it or to reprimand him or to see that it never happened again. As I said, it was commonplace to beat people. There were many assorted techniques used. The field phone was the most popular, though. I'm sure there's a lot more I could relate but right now I'm too nervous to think of them.
MODERATOR. Okay, how about the dehydration?
DZAGULONES. One of the favorite methods used in coercing a prisoner to talk was dehydration. Our main objective in getting a prisoner to talk was to make sure we left no marks, nothing that was traceable. So the MPs were very cooperative with us. We'd get a prisoner and we'd keep him on a diet of crackers and peanut butter, which comes in C-rations. The prisoner was kept out in the sun for three or four days eating crackers and peanut butter and occasionally they'd make him do a little physical labor. If the guy wasn't suffering enough, they'd make him fill sand bags and carry them around. They did this until it was obvious that the prisoner wasn't going to talk, or the prisoner broke. No steps were ever taken to prevent these actions. There was no supervision.
If people did find out about it, they just let it go, because it was an accepted practice; it was common. They were after the information and since the Vietnamese, as has been mentioned, were treated and held as less than human, anything that we did was perfectly all right. I was trained at Fort Meade, Maryland, and officially we weren't trained to use any kind of torture tactics. A class was supposed to last for an hour. They'd lecture us for half an hour and then they'd turn the class over to Vietnam veterans, people who had been interrogators in Vietnam. It was up to them to tell us what they felt was essential to help us function as interrogators in Vietnam. Invariably the instruction would turn to various methods that they'd seen or heard of or used in torturing people in Vietnam and there are many, many, many methods.
MODERATOR. Also, you related to me earlier about women in the camp and about a mother and a daughter.
DZAGULONES. Like I said, most of the prisoners we had were women. It wasn't uncommon to have a mother and daughter coming in the same group of prisoners. I don't know why, I can't understand it, but we had a rarity in our unit. We had a black interrogator, which is really uncommon. There aren't too many black people in military intelligence. So we found out that by threatening a woman with having the black interrogator rape her, would usually make them talk. So they'd have the woman and her daughter brought in at the same time. We'd send the daughter into a bunker and tell the mother that we were going to send the black interrogator in to rape the daughter if she didn't cooperate and give us information. Usually they took it only as a threat. There were occasions on which the guy did go in to the bunker, but he was a pacifist, he never did anything. He didn't even want to interrogate. I guess he was considered by the brass to be a malcontent, but he served his purpose just by walking in the bunker. He'd scare the woman and usually they'd talk. They'd tell us what they knew.
MODERATOR. Okay, thank you very much. I think the point is obvious here. We talked yesterday about maltreatment of prisoners by combat troops in a combat zone in the heat of battle. And of course what we've presented here with this type of testimony is the fact that this is delivered by professionals not in the heat of battle. It's common knowledge at all echelons of command. At this point, I'd like to ask John Van Dyke if he would sort of summarize what we have been listening to here this morning.
VAN DYKE. My contribution to this panel is that I did work in the State Department in 1966 for the Office of the Legal Adviser on the question of prisoners of war. Since then, I've kept in contact with the people in Washington that are connected with us and I've tried to find out as much as I could about what the actual practices were--are in the North and the South in connection with prisoners. I've talked with as many of the men who've returned from North Vietnam as I can persuade to talk to me. I've just tried to piece together the picture of what is going on as best as I can.
Now we've all been deluged in the last eighteen months with this incredible campaign from Washington to get us aroused over the prisoner of war issue. I don't need to go into any great detail about what's been happening. Members of the Cabinet have met with wives and parents of the prisoners. Congressional resolutions have been passed with great urgency. One hundred thirty-five million prisoners of war stamps were issued by the Post Office. Local telephone companies have circulated little notes with the bills telling you to write to Hanoi. The Steve Canyon cartoon strips went through a period of presenting daily sagas of life of relatives of POWs.
This whole effort has been designed to arouse us, get us concerned, and generate hatred toward an enemy that none of us find it very easy to hate. Ho Chi Minh looked like Santa Claus. It's very difficult to generate hatred toward him. Most people you know just don't want to have anything to do with hating this enemy. The campaign has had some success and I think it's useful to try to understand what's been going on and to acknowledge how closely this is being regulated from Washington.
The Defense Department provides direct encouragement for wives and parents who have organized themselves into a group called the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia. The chief fund raiser for this group is a chap called Paul Wagner who was Barry Goldwater's Press Secretary during the '64 Presidential campaign and has since, as a PR man, served clients such as Portugal in its disputes with Angola. The group's chief lawyer is a chap called Charles Havens, who was employed by the Defense Department when I was at the State Department and worked on prisoners of war affairs.
Then just in typical military-industrial complex fashion, he switched over to the private sector. This group has continued to work closely with the Defense Department to get as much interest as it can. Now the amazing thing about this campaign to me is how little evidence the government and the League of Families has come up with about abuse by the North Vietnamese toward our prisoners.
Virtually each of the nine men who've been freed has made statements which contradict themselves. So we're left with a great state of confusion. Two of the three men who were last freed, which was in the summer of 1969, said after they'd had a month of debriefing in Washington, that they had been mistreated to some extent. These are the prime witnesses for the government.
These statements that they made in September 1969 directly contradicted statements they'd made when they were freed. And at that point, none of the other seven prisoners who had been released would corroborate the statements that the two of the nine made. I called one of the other seven, Air Force Captain Joe Carpenter, after the two, Robert Frischman and Douglas Hagdahl made their statements, and asked him whether he had experienced any of the kind of mistreatment abuses that Frischman and Hagdahl announced or whether he'd heard about any. He said, "No," but that he could not make any public statement because he'd been contacted by the Pentagon. He'd been contacted right after Frischman and Hagdahl held their press conference. They had told him not to say anything, that there was an elaborate plan being organized and that his role at this point was to stay quiet, which he did, because he was still in the Air Force and still wanted to make a career of it.
Last September, September 1970, which was some two years after Carpenter was released, he finally did make a statement on ABC News and gave a generally mild account of his captivity. He said that soon after he was shot down he was, of course, terrified when he arrived, but he soon got over his fears when he realized that his life was being protected by the militia that quickly arrived. The most serious problem that arose was that some villagers pulled at his mustache. He was, once he got used to the prisoner's camp, kept alone in a bunker and he found the isolation somewhat difficult to get used to.
But it wasn't total solitary confinement because he had a window out on the street, kids would come by and they would communicate as best they could without knowing the language. He'd make faces at them and they would make faces back. They got along and eventually the older people came over and he sort of dug it. Friendship developed and he had no charge of brutal treatment at all toward his captors.
Well, since that statement of September 1970, two of the other released pilots have made public statements and indicated that they had some rough times, especially when they were being transported around North Vietnam during periods of heavy bombing. They had to suffer the same inconveniences as the North Vietnamese. As we know, our government and the pilots who fly for our Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, have been making it very unpleasant to live in North Vietnam. There's been no explanation of why these two pilots that have recently made statements waited two, and in one case, three years, before making any statements. The remaining charges against North Vietnam involved procedural irregularities.
In those areas, North Vietnam has responded and has made dramatic improvement. There's been an official list that has been released and mail is now coming regularly. Mrs. Warner indicated that since March, she's gotten a letter about once a month. That's the general average that most families have been getting. Now what's the comparable situation in South Vietnam in terms of the legal structure? We've heard a great deal about what happens before prisoners get to formal prisoner of war camps. It's fairly clear that life is made very unpleasant for any prisoner before that happens.
Now, there are six formal prisoner of war camps in South Vietnam which hold some 35,000 men and the International Committee of the Red Cross does make inspections of these camps. The Department of Defense, for some reason it's not been announced, classifies as confidential information about the number of prisoners who have died in these formal prisoner of war camps. Richard Dudman, who is the Washington Bureau Chief for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and a man who was incidentally himself a prisoner in Cambodia for a month last year, did some investigating and discovered that the figure of prisoners who have died in the formal prisoner of war camps in South Vietnam is at least 899 out of the 35,000 and that includes at least more than 300 North Vietnamese and another 500 Viet Cong soldiers.
The comparable figure of Americans who have died in captivity in North Vietnam is five. I'd like to mention some other aspects of the legal situation. There's been an effort in one or two cases to bring to trial men accused of killing prisoners of war in the South and the record of convictions is so amazing that it just elevates what we've heard here as unofficial and what really happens to an official policy. The trial of Lt. James Duffy in March 1970 indicates the somewhat hypocritical attitude that our government takes.
Duffy was in command of a company in Binh Phouc district, September 1969, attempting to set up an ambush. The company discovered a man hiding inside the bunker with documents indicating he was a deserter from the South Vietnamese army and they suspected he was a Tiger Scout for the Viet Cong and imprisoned him.
Subsequently, according to allegations which the Court-Martial panel accepted, Lt. Duffy told Sgt. John Lanasa, "It's time to get up and get out and shoot him." Lanasa replied, "I always wanted to shoot a gook between the eyes." Lanasa then put an M-16 to the prisoner's head and did in fact shoot him between the eyes. This is uncontradicted testimony. Lt. Duffy reported to his superiors that the man was shot while trying to escape. Duffy's lawyer, in the defense in the court-martial, did not deny that any of these events took place, but instead argued that Duffy was acting in accordance with an Army policy not to take prisoners in combat operations.
Two fellow 1st Lieutenants in Duffy's company testified in his behalf at the trial that there was a conscious policy to avoid taking prisoners. And we've heard plenty of evidence here that this has been a policy throughout South Vietnam. The eight-man military court-martial accepted this defense. They first concluded that Duffy was guilty of premeditated murder, but upon learning that such a finding required a sentence of life imprisonment, they changed their verdict to involuntary manslaughter and gave him a six month sentence.
Duffy continued to be paid by the army while in prison with a forfeiture of $25.00 per month. He was allowed to remain in the Army. The court-martial panel, in fact, wanted to avoid imposing any penalty on Lt. Duffy and they only gave him a six month sentence after they were told that they could not completely suspend the sentence. Sgt. Lanasa, who was put on trial in July of last year, was acquitted by the court-martial entirely. There's another trial that I'd like to mention and it happened more recently. Last month a court-martial panel was being organized to try Sgt. Charles Hutto for participation in the My Lai massacre.
In the process of impaneling the group of officers to try Sgt. Hutto, an army colonel was questioned to determine whether he could be an impartial member of the panel. He was asked whether it would be appropriate to execute a prisoner of war in Vietnam, his answer was, "This is not a conventional war. We have to forget propriety." It's an army colonel that makes this statement. He was then accepted as foreman of the court-martial panel being deemed to be an impartial observer of the situation.
I think that that elevates a policy of killing prisoners of war to an official level. Since then, Sgt. Hutto, of course, was acquitted by this court-martial panel and since then all but five of the twenty-five people originally charged with the My Lai massacre have also had the charges dropped against them. So it would appear that we will not even get a scapegoat for the My Lai massacre. I'd like to touch on one other aspect of North Vietnam's prison treatment: the question of inspection of camps which generally comes up. The North Vietnamese have always refused to have an international body inspect the camps and I think that position ought to be explained a bit. The North Vietnamese genuinely doubt whether any international body can be neutral in this war.
The United States has for some time tried to persuade North Vietnam to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the captured American pilots. The United States views the International Committee as an impartial body. It's composed entirely of Swiss nationals and they cannot understand why North Vietnam does not similarly view the committee. Well, the history of it is that Asian nations were first introduced to the Red Cross by Western countries which brought it along with their colonizing missions.
The Red Cross is still viewed as an arm of imperialism. Although the International Committee of the Red Cross has done as best it can to be neutral in the war, the Swiss naturally find it easier to communicate with other westerners and they've maintained a close relationship with the United States. North Vietnam has in turn grown to mistrust the Red Cross. Second, and perhaps a more important reason why the North Vietnamese do not want any foreign organizations inspecting their prison camps, is that they fear a renewed and even more intensive bombing campaign by the United States if the United States learns the exact locations of all the prison camps.
The North Vietnamese reason, I think correctly, the Air Force and Navy would be free to begin a saturation bombing campaign in all other parts of the country and to send over more commando raids on the camps themselves. The bombing attacks on various parts of North Vietnam in January, February, May, September, and November 1970 and again during the past month, provide new reasons for North Vietnam's fears. In fact, I think the recent commando raid would end forever the possibility of any international inspection of North Vietnam's prison camps. The North Vietnamese should not, however, be viewed as intransigent on this issue of prisoners of war. Mrs. Warner mentioned the Viet Cong offer about prisoners of war. In September of 1970, Madame Binh said that if the United States would set a definite timetable for troop withdrawal, the Communist forces would refrain from attacking withdrawing U.S. troops and in addition they would begin immediate discussion on the exchange of prisoners. Never before in modern warfare has there been a general prisoner exchange prior to the end of hostilities. It's a really remarkable offer. The Nixon Administration ignored the offer.
Instead of responding directly to it, President Nixon made an address the following month, October 1970, in which he said he favored the immediate release of all prisoners but he would not link this gesture to withdrawal of American military forces from Vietnam. Another obstacle in the way of complete settlement of the prisoner of war situation is the U.S. insistence that those men now held in Saigon's POW camps be given a choice of whether or not they will be returned to the North.
And there's evidence that we may be undertaking some kind of reeducation program in the POW camps in the south similar to what we did in Korea to encourage the men in those camps not to return to North Vietnam. This issue of voluntary repatriation delayed the Korean truce by some 18 months during which 140,000 casualties occurred and it seems possible that the Nixon Administration is going to use this issue again in an attempt to gain time for what they hope might be a military victory.
In contrast, we see that the issue might backfire on them. Mrs. Warner is not alone; there are at least half a dozen other relatives that have gone on record as favoring Madame Binh's proposal. Fred Thompson who was released in the summer of 1968 has gone on record in favor of Madame Binh's proposal and the day may come in which the majority of these relatives turn around and force the administration to accept Madame Binh's proposal as the appropriate way of getting out of Vietnam and getting the prisoners out of Vietnam.
It would seem that this is a possible course that we can take. In the meantime, however, government officials are talking about more raids into North Vietnam to rescue prisoners. Before the November raid, the administration's use of the prisoner of war issue seemed a cynical attempt to manipulate popular support in order to gain emotional hatred toward the North Vietnamese. The raid raises deeper questions. Unlike President Johnson, Mr. Nixon has given no assurance against American military expeditions to the North. As we know, an American invasion of Laos seems imminent. The Administration is exploiting the prisoner of war issue to generate emotional support for military actions as a pretext for yet another expansion of the war. Thank you.
MODERATOR. Relating directly to the concern of the American military and the American government to the release of prisoners, at the time George Smith was captured, three other American Special Forces people were captured in Vietnam in November 1963. Steve has a leaflet, part of an after action report, relating to those three people, Sergeants, Versage, Rowe, and Pittser. Rowe, I think, was a lieutenant.
NOETZEL. This is a copy I showed you before of an after action report. It's an official report which was forwarded to the Pentagon which included every major piece of civic action that was accomplished by this particular Psy war team. I had an extra copy. I brought it home with me. Before I explain the leaflet, I want to give an example of the kinds of leaflets we did use in a leafleting campaign all through the IV Corps or the Mekong Delta, then I'll show you the leaflet that relates to a ransom for the three sergeants. One is in Vietnamese and there's a translation with it. I'll read it quickly to you.
To the people in the VC-controlled area. On 3 February 1964 government military units on the way to liberate the village of Can Chu engaged in a battle with the VC unit. The battle was very furiously fought and both sides suffered casualties. As a result four of our members and Mr. Nyguyen Van Do, an innocent civilian, were killed. We confirmed the exact figure in order that we might be able to keep a record of soldiers killed and their families. The bodies of these brave men killed by VC were removed from the battlefield by the comrades and taken by helicopter back to Camp Long Kanh where their leaders and comrades helped their families and shared their grief. After their bodies were washed and prepared for burial, in accordance with their particular religious customs at the camp dispensary, all expenditures of burial, including coffin and incense stick, were beyond the families' concern.
We also provided transportation by helicopter to those families who wished the bodies of beloved soldiers to rest in their home towns and substantial payment was made to the survivors of each soldier killed by VC. Dear Countryman, it is evident that the government of the Republic of Vietnam always cares for each and every brave soldier sacrificed for his nation. How about you? Have you ever thought of your life? You have already witnessed that when your comrades die, their bodies will be hidden beneath the mud or thrown into the river. Their families will never get neither gratuity nor the least of condolence. On the contrary, they will starve and peril will be brought down on them.
From the miserable life of present time to the shameful deaths sooner or later and a stormy outlook for such beloved people, have you ever thought about it? Be sincere and answer the question by yourself and bravely change sides which are integral to your life. We are always delighted to welcome your return to the nation and to your families.
This leaflet was used. The leaflet that I will read now was not used. Never dropped. Communique of IV Corps Tactical Zone Leaflet. There's the leaflet in Vietnamese. It says:
1. Commanding General of IV Corps Tactical Zone will have a reward of 300,000 Vietnamese piasters to the one soldier or civilian who releases or helps release the three Americans Versage, Rowe and Pittser.
2. Pro-communist members are able to benefit from this reward too and when they return they will also benefit from the government's clemency in the surrender inducement campaign, now known as Chieu Hoi.
3. Inform or conduct the three Americans to the nearest strategic hamlet or military post. 4. Procedure of collecting reward will be simplified and prompt. Reward will be drawn within 48 hours after the release of the three Americans.
Signed Phong Dinh, 27 November 1963 by General Nyuen Hu Ko, Commanding General IV Corps, the ARVN Army.
Special Forces commanders in Trang Nha, Vietnam, saw this leaflet, read it and decided that they were not going to ransom, not going to pay any money to communists whether civilian or VC, to release American prisoners. This amounted to a total of $3,000 or $1,000 apiece because they didn't want to contribute that to the war effort of the Viet Cong. That's how interested they were in the release of these three Americans.
MODERATOR. The testimony we've heard so far, of course, continues to relate between Americans and Vietnamese. Much of it, I hope at least, is not very pleasant to listen to. Much of it must seem rather incredible. Is this what we can do to people? Other people? Vietnamese? I have two people who I'm going to bring on very briefly to show you we are capable of it. We do it to ourselves. Denny Leonard and Thomas Carroll come forward, please. We've talked of prisoners of war and we think of it usually in the classical sense of being captured by an unfriendly power or hostile power. Denny Leonard was a member of the United States Army, an American Indian. He was in basic training and as part of the command information classes there, to show the elitism and the esprit de corps and the buildup of esprit de corps, they were shown the proud tradition of the 1st Cavalry, which included, of course, the massacre of his people and this was considered the way to build esprit with the troops. Denny left. Subsequently, he did return and was confined to the stockade at Presidio, California, United States Army stockade. Denny, would you just very briefly talk about, first of all, your briefing on entry and maybe one or two other little incidents?
LEONARD. When I entered the stockade in San Francisco, they made you go through a process, a special processing detachment--they called it a black cell. It was downstairs and they used all black soldiers there. These soldiers were returning AWOLs and they promised them that they would be set free or not be court-martialed if they would teach the new people that were coming down there that going AWOL or defying the army was a very bad thing. And so, all the black soldiers that were in this black hole would counsel new people that were coming in. That was GIs that were being returned by the armed forces patrol from AWOL, or those people that were transferred to the Presidio from other stockades. When I was down there, there was two prisoners that were beaten. They were both white. I wasn't bothered because I was an Indian and the black GIs dug Indian people, but the whites were treated pretty badly. That's how the army was utilizing racism when I first went into the stockade.
MODERATOR. The man sitting next to Denny is Thomas Carroll, formerly of the United States Marine Corps, who went AWOL and was subsequently court-martialed for that, is that correct? We don't have time to go into the whole story, Tom, but perhaps the press can ask you questions about it later, if they want. I have on your sheet here that you were held in stockade for nine months, four months in solitary. Would you just relate some of the conditions under which you were confined?
CARROLL. Well, I was in solitary confinement for 120 days for not going along with the brig program. I was confined at 3rd MAF, outside Da Nang, first if you didn't go along in your cell, then you were put on diminished rations which was bread and water three times a day and dehydrated vegetables. But, you never got the vegetables and they'd spit in the water and step on the bread. Charges were written up against you for talking in your cell. You weren't allowed to do anything.
MODERATOR. How much did you weigh when you went in there?
CARROLL. About 170 pounds.
MODERATOR. How much did you weigh when you got out of there?
CARROLL. Ninety-eight pounds. I had malaria when I got out that was why they let me out. But they'd spit in the water and step on the bread and most of the time in my cell there were handcuffs and leg irons. They'd come down and give you injections of thorazine to immobilize you.
MODERATOR. Can you explain what thorazine is used for? Or do you know?
CARROLL. Well, the only thing that I knew it was used for was an antidote to bring someone down that was on LSD or to quiet someone down. They'd do this about three times a day and then they'd come in and throw water in your cell and kick the door and once they sprayed five gallons of DDT to kill a spider while I was still in there.
MODERATOR. Would you briefly go through the routine that you went through to go to the latrine?
CARROLL. Well, when you were in solitary you didn't go to it. There was a bucket in there with you.
MODERATOR. This was in medium compound?
CARROLL. Right. But when I was in maximum compound, first you'd have to request permission to speak to Sally Quarter NCO who's the guard walking the aisle. To do this you'd say, "Sir, prisoner so-and-so requests permission to speak to the Sally Quarter NCO," and he'd make you say it four or five times and then he'd give you permission to speak. And you'd say, "Sir, prisoner so-and-so requests permission to make a head call." You'd go through the whole thing again and he'd keep you standing there. He'd give you permission and then you'd have to ask permission to leave where you're standing and step over into the aisle and go through the same routine to first to speak, and then to get permission to do this, and then once you got that far, he'd tell you whether or not he was going to let you go all the way. Then you'd request permission again to do it, and he'd march you down there and you had a limited amount of time. You had to go through the same procedure to get back. And all during this time, after you requested permission to speak, then you had to ask permission to ask whatever question it was that you were going to ask him.
MODERATOR. How did they usually address you when they responded to your questions?
CARROLL. "Turd" or "Scum" or a few other choice names. And while you were standing there, they'd go over all the things that was wrong with you. If your boots weren't shined or you didn't have shoe polish or your uniform was dirty (you had no place to wash it) and then if you'd talk back, they'd mark it down in the book.
MODERATOR. Would you consider this type of training demeaning? Did it make you a better Marine?
CARROLL. No, that's what the worst part of it was. That was the purpose for it; it was for discipline so they got you completely disciplined to kill without question. You weren't allowed to question orders and this was the reason and they told us they did this. We had to go through all this stuff to learn not to question an order and to do exactly what you're told, when you're told, and how to do it, how you were told to do it.
MODERATOR. Thank you, Tom. I have one more question. Let the press have their licks at it, I'd like to ask Dr. Zinn about the treatment of the prisoners in North Vietnam again, and specifically, can you relate what George was saying about food and starvation and so on to anything in the North?
ZINN. I don't want to take too long with this but the point about the food given to the prisoners of the North Vietnamese, but when Father Berrigan and I were in Hanoi to pick up the first three of the nine pilots who were released by the North, we met them for the first time in the prison compound inside the building in the outskirts of Hanoi. We were introduced to them and we wondered what condition they were in. We wanted to see if they had been well fed or ill fed and they looked as if they'd been well fed, that is they looked pretty good. To put it another way, they looked better than we did, which may not have been saying very much. But when we talked to them later, they said they'd been given adequate food; in fact, they'd been given double the ration that the Vietnamese themselves were getting because the Vietnamese assumed that the Americans were big, which was true. They needed more food. They gave them more food. They also told us that they had plenty of French bread all the time--all the French bread apparently that they wanted, more than they could eat. We wondered if they, these three particularly, because they'd been selected for departure from North Vietnam, had been given special treatment in the way of food and we asked them about that.
They said they were quite sure that all the prisoners in the camp were getting the same food because, although they didn't see the other prisoners very often, when they would go out to pick up their particular tray of food, they saw all the other trays of food, and all the other trays of food looked the same. So it seems that the prisoners were being adequately fed. Just let me make one point to reinforce what has been said several times about the fact that the American government, despite all its heart-rending pleas about doing something for the POWs, and deluging the North with letters and so on, has never cared for the fate of the American POWs. It has taken us a while to realize.
We also knew that the American government didn't care what happened to the Vietnamese but it was assumed that they cared something about what happened to Americans. It turns out that that's not so either, and I suppose it should occur to anybody who thinks about it that if the American government were concerned about the treatment of POWs in the North, the first thing they would do is not to add to the number of POWs in the North by more bombing raids. And the second thing they would do is not intensify the bombing raids in order possibly to provoke the North Vietnamese into worse treatment of the prisoners that they hold.
Of course, this hasn't happened. Father Berrigan and I had one graphic and close at home illustration of this. When we were talking to the Prison Camp Commandant in Hanoi about the release of the three pilots, he said to us, almost offhandedly at one point in the conversation, he said, "Of course, you realize, that if your government bombs Hanoi while you are here and while we are talking about the release of these three pilots, we may not release them." And we thought about this. It seemed on the one hand cruel and upon second thought, understandable. That was a Wednesday, I remember, and we were to leave Hanoi on Friday with the three men.
The next day was Thursday and we were having a conversation with several North Vietnamese and the air raid alert sounded. There had been several days of no bombing. Later the American government claimed that they hadn't bombed in deference to the POWs and the fact that we were bringing them home. By a remarkable coincidence those were days of bad weather. It wasn't easy to bomb on those days. Thursday was the first clear day, on Thursday the bombers came, and they bombed Hanoi. And, as Dan Berrigan and I were sitting there in the shelter listening to the bombs fall on Hanoi, we wondered about what was going on in the minds of the people in Washington and the generals in the Air Force and whether they really gave a _____ about the American prisoners or about anybody else.
Just one more point, before I conclude, and that is that Mrs. Warner said at the very outset of her remarks that she wanted to make it clear she wasn't a revolutionary, she was an American. Of course, I suppose you can be an American revolutionary. But, I think, she was concerned to make it clear that there is something about America which she cherished and which she cared about and which was inside her. I was thinking as people were talking here, as ex-GIs were talking about their experiences and listening to Randy Floyd talk about a bombing (I was a bombardier once)--I remember how we just dropped bombs and everybody claimed we were doing pinpoint bombing. We never knew where the bombs were falling.
But I thought those were crude times. We're in sophisticated times and technology has improved. Johnson and Nixon said we were doing pinpoint bombing; maybe it was true, of course. Technology is secondary to human will and the fact is, we don't have the will not to bomb civilians. That's the crucial thing. But listening to all this testimony and thinking about what Mrs. Warner said about America, it occurred to me that what is happening in this country now is something very special and that is that we were all brought up to really believe that there is something about America that is great. We were different from other countries. We were different from tyrannies; we were different from totalitarian states.
These other countries were cruel; they were brutal; they invaded countries. They sent armies across borders; they bombed; they bombed civilians; they destroyed cities; they lied also to their people--these other countries did; they tortured. America was different and what's happening now in the United States is that all the things that we believed about America and which were part of the American tradition-- our ideals, turn out, well, not to be true, if they were ever true, and certainly not to be true now.
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