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Full-text: July 19 1971 hearing (pp.175-242)
CIA/DoD Phoenix Program:
Targeting non-combatants (civilians)
Also: Torture and murdering prisoners

CIS: 72 H401-3 SuDoc: Y 4.G 74/7:V 67/4

U.S. Assistance Programs in Vietnam








July 15 {a.m., p.m.}, 16, 19, 21; and August 2, 1971


Printed for the use of the Committee on Government Operations

GPO mark




Chet Holifield, California, Chairman

Jack Brooks, TexasFlorence P. Dwyer, New Jersey
L. H. Fountain, North CarolinaOgden R. Reid. New York
Robert E. Jones, AlabamaFrank Horton, New York
Edward A. Garmatz, MarylandJohn N. Erlenborn, Illinois
John E. Moss, CaliforniaJohn W. Wydler, New York
Dante B. Fascell, FloridaClarence J. Brown, Ohio
Henry S. Reuss, WisconsinGuy Vander Jagt, Michigan
John S. Monagan, ConnecticutGilbert Gude, Maryland
Torbert H. MacDonald, MassachusettsPaul N. McCloskey, Jr., California
William S. Moorhead, PennsylvaniaJohn H. Buchanan, Jr., Alabama
Cornelius E. Gallagher, New JerseySam Steiger, Arizona
Wm. J. Randall, MissouriGarry Brown, Michigan
Benjamin S. Rosenthal, New YorkBarry M. Goldwater, Jr., California
Jim Wright, TexasJ. Kenneth Robinson, Virginia
Fernand J. St Germain, Rhode IslandWalter E. Powell, Ohio
John C. Culver, IowaCharles Thone, Nebraska
Floyd V. Hicks, Washington
George W. Collins, Illinois
Don Fuqua, Florida
John Conyers, Jr., Michigan
Bill Alexander, Arkansas
Bella S. Abzug, New York

Herbert Roback, Staff Director
Christine Ray Davis, Staff Administrator
James A. Lanigan, General Counsel
Miles Q. Romney, Associate General Counsel
J. P. Carlson, Minority Counsel
William H. Copenhaver, Minority Professional Staff



William S. Moorhead, Pennsylvania, Chairman

John E. Moss, CaliforniaOgden R. Reid, New York
Torbert H. MacDonald, MassachusettsFrank Horton, New York
Jim Wright, TexasJohn N. Erlenborn, Illinois
John Conyers, Jr., MichiganPaul N. McCloskey, Jr., California
Bill Alexander, Arkansas
Chet Holifield, CaliforniaFlorence P. Dwyer, New Jersey

William G. Phillips, Staff Director
Norman G. Cornish, Deputy Staff Director
Harold F. Whittington, Staff Consultant
Dale E. Moser, Supervisory Auditor, GAO
Martha M. Dott, Clerk
Mary E. Milek, Secretary




Witness: William E. Colby {p.175}

July 19 1971 hearing, pages 175-242




U.S. Assistance Programs in Vietnam


Monday, July 19, 1971

House of Representatives,
Foreign Operations and Government Information Subcommittee of the Committee of Government Operations,

Washington, D.C.

The subcommittee met, at 10 a.m., in room 2154, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. William S. Moorhead (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

Present: Representatives William S. Moorhead, Ogden R. Reid, and Paul N. McCloskey, Jr.

Staff members present: William G. Phillips, staff director; Norman G. Cornish, deputy staff director; Harold F. Whittington, staff consultant; Dale E. Moser, supervisory auditor, GAO; and William H. Copenhaver, minority professional staff, Committee on Government Operations.

Mr. Moorhead.  The Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Government Information will please come to order.

The last 2 days of our hearings have dealt with the aspects of the so-called pacification program in South Vietnam.

I might say that we are happy to have our friends from the broadcast media with us. Under our rules this is permitted when a majority of the subcommittee is agreeable. By telephone poll we have had previous clearance from eight of the 10 subcommittee members.

Many questions as to the economy and efficiency of the operations of this program were put to the AID witness on Thursday. Mr. Luce of the World Council of Churches, who testified Thursday afternoon, was critical of the many aspects of the program, as have been many members of this subcommittee.

On Friday, witnesses from the General Accounting Office testified on a study they have conducted of the pacification program, with specific references to management, budgetary deficiencies of the Civil Operations and Rural Development Support program, the so-called CORDS activities, that are funded in part by AID, by the Department of Defense, by the CIA, and other agencies.

I think I speak for the subcommittee when I say that we are extremely disturbed about what we have learned thus far about the CORDS program: its heavy emphasis on military and paramilitary activities; its apparent distortion of priorities for long-range development of the welfare of the Vietnamese people; and the confusion that has marked the distribution of funds to a point where GAO witnesses testified that really, “Nobody can say for sure just what has happened to many hundreds of millions of dollars” allocated to the CORDS operations. {p.176}

Perhaps our witness this morning can clear up some of the misapprehensions about the past financial program. Ambassador William E. Colby, who has been responsible for administering the CORDS program in recent years, is with us. He has just recently returned to the United States for reassignment, so we will get a very up-to-date report from a very important member of the U.S. mission in Vietnam.

We welcome you, Ambassador Colby.

Mr. Colby, will you rise?

Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give this subcommittee is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Ambassador Colby. I do.

Mr. Moorhead. You may proceed, Mr. Ambassador.

Statement of
Hon. William E. Colby,
Deputy to COMUSMACV for
Civil Operations and Rural Development Support

Ambassador Colby. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I have. It is a pleasure to have this opportunity to explain the CORDS program, and I would like to read it into the record at this time.

It is a pleasure to have this opportunity to explain the CORDS program in Vietnam to the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Government Information.

The CORDS program was a result of our experience in Vietnam. It evolved primarily from the nature of the war waged in South Vietnam by the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese. This was a new form of war, called by the Communists a people’s war, differing in many important respects from the traditional wars of the past.

Its key characteristic was its concentration on the weak points at which the Government made contact with the population, breaking this relationship and building a gradually increasing force to contest the authority and power of the Government. Problems of perception of this new tactic, plus traditional agency and department organizational compartmentation, limited our and the Vietnamese Government’s ability to confront this challenge in ways appropriate to the threat.

Over the years, a number of individual programs and experiments in Vietnam were of considerable value. Unfortunately, a number of years elapsed before they were drawn together into an effective overall strategy so as to conduct a people’s war on the Government side.

The first major step taken toward an integration of the U.S. effort was the establishment of the Office of Civil Operations in the US. Mission on December 1, 1966, bringing the programs of the U.S. civil agencies in Vietnam under one operational direction. It was soon seen, however, that it was necessary to integrate both military and civil programs in order to conduct a strategy to meet the people’s war of the Communists. Thus, CORDS was formed in May 1967 to bring under one authority all U.S. support of Vietnamese programs relating to “pacification.” CORDS was placed under the overall authority of the Commander, U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, and my predecessor, Ambassador Robert Komer, was named as the first Deputy to the Commander for CORDS.

This organizational pattern has continued without substantial change to this day. {p.177}

A program to fight a people’s war must be carried out by the Vietnamese people and its Government. Thus, CORDS does not really have a program of its own, but rather supports a Vietnamese program. The Vietnamese program also evolved over a number of years, out of a number of early experiences and individual projects. In considerable part, it was influenced by advice and support provided by the United States through the CORDS organization and its predecessors. However, it rests fundamentally on the constituted authorities and the people of Vietnam who participate in it.

The function of U.S. advice and support was to initiate and support a Vietnamese effort which can be taken up and maintained by the Vietnamese alone. The CORDS program has thus been engaged in Vietnamization as an essential element of its nature.

With the formation of CORDS in 1967, a new concentration was placed on support of pacification as an essential way of combating the people’s war. A number of activities were initiated during 1967 to bring new thrust into this program.

This thrust was temporarily diverted by the impact of the Communist TET attack in February 1968. But the real impact of that attack was to accelerate the Government of Vietnam’s formation of a fully integrated pacification program behind the shield of the regular military forces.

During 1968 a number of new projects were initiated. And on November 1, 1968, the GVN launched a national “accelerated” pacification campaign of 3 months’ duration. Through this campaign, the Government of Vietnam assumed the initiative in the contest with the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong for the first time since the war began.

This 3 months’ campaign was followed by a year’s program for 1969, following roughly the same strategy. And this, in turn, has been followed in 1970 and 1971 by annual GVN plans.

The titles of the plans changed during these years to reflect the changing focus of the program and the new situation on the ground. Thus, the 1968 effort was called an accelerated pacification campaign, 1969 called pacification and reconstruction, 1970 called pacification and development, and the current 1971 plan is called community defense and local development.

The 1968 and 1969 thrust was primarily one to reestablish local territorial security in a gradually expanding number of hamlets and villages. As this expansion occurred, increasing attention could be placed on the reestablishment of local government through village and hamlet elections and the reconstruction of roads, schools, et cetera. This was followed by the initiation of local economic development and the reinforcement of community defense.

The Government of Vietnam is currently engaged in consideration of longer term economic and social planning for the future at the national level, building upon the favorable local situations produced during these years of effort.

Despite the change in focus in this program during these early years, it has had several consistent elements. The foundation of the entire program has been to engage the active participation of the people in their own defense, local government and development. This has particularly included the participation of the people in the People’s Self- {p.178} Defense Force, an unpaid militia of well over a million, to whom over 500,000 weapons have been made available by the Government to enable them to help defend their communities. It has included an extensive program of elections at the hamlet and village level, for provincial councils and for the National Senate; elections for the national Lower House and the Presidency are scheduled for the end of August and the beginning of October, respectively. It has also included participation in development programs, not only as individuals, but also as members of communities, helping to discuss and decide what use should be made of funds made available to the local community for local improvements, that is, whether these funds should be used for construction of a new school, a new road, an irrigation ditch, et cetera.

A second major thrust of these annual programs has been to strengthen the local communities and to decentralize government power to them. This has been most obvious in the authority given village chiefs over local Popular Force units and national policemen and the decisionmaking power granted to local village councils over local development planning.

A third principle has been to consider the people the target of the effort, to provide permanent protection to the villagers against the local guerrilla or terrorist as well as against the occasional enemy regimental foray, to let the village community select its own leadership, to have development plans reflect local desires rather than central planners’ theories, to provide government care for and assist the resettlement or return home of refugees and war victims, to make the tiller of the land its owner and end the rule of the landlord class.

The first necessity in this program was to establish local security, without which the people could not and dared not participate and the Government could not respond. Thus, the Regional and Popular Force companies and platoons were increased to a current force level of some 550,000 men, armed with M-16 rifles to match the Communist AK-47 and trained by five-man U.S. mobile training teams.

The national police was augmented, improved and deployed to local villages to strengthen civil law and order there. The Phoenix program was developed to combat the secret Communist apparatus of terror. The Chieu Hoi or “open arms” programs offered members of the enemy camp an honorable chance to rally to the Government, and ever 100,000 have done so since TET of 1968.

These programs, too, followed the principles of participation by the people in their local communities so that the next steps in the programs of elections and community development followed closely the improvement of security.

Thus, the basic aim of the effort has been to form a new political base for the GVN in the Vietnamese people and their local communities, replacing the traditional focus of authority in the palace, the military command, the French-trained bureaucrats.

I do not pretend that this program is in full-blown existence in every corner of the country. One of the characteristics of the Vietnamese scene and the people’s war is the variation between areas and between programs, in great part dependent upon the quality of individual leaders on both sides of the contest. Thus, there are a few parts of Vietnam still, in effect, engaged in the 1965) program outlined above. There are other parts which are well along on the 1971 program and crowding the concepts for 1972. {p.179}

In some places the population does not participate as designed, but is bossed by an overbearing local chieftain. In some areas the bureaucrat has not relinquished the centralized power to the degree contemplated in the plans.

Nonetheless, the overall picture is clearly one of momentum in the direction initiated in November 1968. The leaders of the GVN are well aware of local program weaknesses, and they are constantly pressing to overcome individual failures to implement the plan.

Most significant perhaps is that the Communist leadership has called for new efforts and tactics to contest this program, seeing in it a major threat to their hope of conquest in Vietnam. In some areas, or on some occasions, they have had successes. But in the overall balance the momentum is still on the side of the GVN.

But what is the U.S. role in this effort, and what sort of an operation is CORDS? As indicated above, a considerable degree of the advice and support of the GVN pacification program has come from the U.S. side over the years. The integration of the U.S. military and civilian agencies’ efforts in May 1967 was a substantial stimulus to the eventual development of the integrated GVN program. The matter which might most interest this subcommittee’s study of U.S. foreign operations would be the rather unique manner in which CORDS promoted U.S. policies through a combination of advice, support and inspection at various levels of the Vietnamese Government from the national through regional, provincial, district, and even the village.

The organizational structure of CORDS permitted this kind of multilevel operation and input. At the national level, CORDS has an overall planning staff and provides advice, liaison and support to certain of the GVN’s ministries. Its planning staff deals particularly with the GVN’s Central Pacification and Development Council, an interministerial body, whose chairman is the president, with a special staff to coordinate the work of the various ministries in support of the annual plan. CORDS’ national staff also works with the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Rural Development, the Ministry of Ethnic Minorities, the Ministry of Chieu Hoi, the Ministry of Social Welfare, the Ministry of Justice, the Joint General Staff, and the National Police Command on their programs.

In each of the four regions into which Vietnam is divided, CORDS has a staff which deals with the GVN Regional Pacification and Development Council and supervises the work of the provincial CORDS teams. At each of the 44 provinces, CORDS has a team under a Province Senior Adviser, who deals with the Vietnamese Province Chief.

About one-half of the provinces have a military officer as the senior adviser. About a half have a civilian from AID or the Foreign Service as the senior. In each case the Deputy Province Senior Adviser is of the opposite service. This replaces the situation prior to CORDS’ formation, when the Province Chief might be faced with several independent U.S. agencies, all with direct command line to Saigon. Below the province, small teams have existed at the district level. And, on a mobile basis, certain smaller teams have even operated in village security planning on a temporary basis.

This integration of U.S. authority at the local level, under the Region and Province Senior Adviser, creates certain difficulties in the formal bureaucratic responsibilities of the component American agencies. Its {p.180} advantage, however, has been so compelling that these have bean well worth any bureaucratic difficulties.

This concept of a single American supervisor and program director at each level is difficult to explain, not only to senior American officials but also to the Congress. I urge, however, that it be carefully examined by the subcommittee to reassure it that the normal program reviews and controls still take place through parent agency channels, while the integration gives substantial benefits and flexibility at the implementation level.

The numbers of personnel involved in these programs can be seen from the attached chart. (See annex I.) From this, it can be seen that we have begun to reduce the numbers of U.S. personnel engaged in the CORDS program. We have every intention to continue this reduction at a rapid rate.

While the numbers are not large when compared with our total U.S. commitment in Vietnam, their contribution has been substantial. The fact is that the GVN’s capability to conduct the program and the improvement of security and development have proceeded to the extent that we have phased out the village and district levels of CORDS representation from a number of areas and have sharply reduced the size of several province teams.

The precise numbers of reduction in the coming months have not been finally established, but I can reassure the subcommittee that further reductions will be substantial.

With respect to funding, CORDS does not have funds of its own appropriated by Congress. Its funds, like its personnel, come from the agencies contributing to the integrated program which is CORDS. Thus, the individual programs implemented by CORDS are contained within the congressional presentations made by the Department of Defense and AID, and are audited and reviewed through these channels as well.

This explains the recent confusion created by a journalist’s extraction of one phrase from a general background document developed by the General Accounting Office on CORDS, suggesting that $1.7 billion of the CORDS budget was not accounted for.

In fact, as also indicated in the document, the GAO team merely stated that the manner of obligation of these funds was not available in Vietnam, as they were mixed into parent-agency programs in a fashion which could not be segregated at the field level to apply to CORDS separately.

In fact, these expenditures are fully controlled through normal channels. These CORDS figures stemmed from an effort by the CORDS staff to produce a statement of the total cost to the United States and to the GVN of the CORDS program, estimating where necessary the portion of parent agency appropriation used in the CORDS programs.

The attached annex II summarizes these estimates. The major cost of the program has been in the weapons and equipment provided by the United States to the GVN’s Regional and Popular Forces, the salaries paid to these forces and to the national ponce by the GVN’s budget, and the cost of the U.S. advisory personnel.

Aside from the sums being spent on these programs, the question must be faced as to their effectiveness on the ground. The GVN with {p.181} CORDS’ assistance has developed a rather complex system of goals and reports in an effort to stimulate local leadership to action and provide a management measurement of their accomplishments.

Most prominent of these, and known to almost every village chief in the country, has been the hamlet evaluation system. Under this system, a series of questions are asked about the situation in each hamlet. The responses are given grades and combined to an overall grade for the hamlet. Province chiefs are required to bring about the upgrading of a specified number of hamlets and population during the annual plan and phases thereof.

We are well aware that these grades are in part artificial and certainly on occasion have been the subject of abuse or falsification, and we and the GVN have made them more stringent to keep them useful.

It is quite clear, however, that this system presses a number of local officials to improve the real situations which produce the grade in the vast majority of the places in which it is used.

This system is supplemented by a series of other goals and reports systems. In applying these measurements, and in other evaluations of the effectiveness of the program, a clear focus must be kept on its objectives, and not judge it by its incidentals.

For example, the main purpose of granting development funds to the village for local selection of projects was to revive village government and a sense of community identity among its citizens — in the phrase used in Vietnam, the process rather than the project. This objective is not necessarily lost if a local chieftain abuses his power, but is replaced at the next election by displeased voters alerted to his misuse of the funds by a system of public disclosure or inspection.

I do not excuse such corruption, of course. I merely suggest that the evaluation of effectiveness be on a larger scale.

The most significant measurements of effectiveness, however, can only be made by inspections on the ground, which our senior officials do with great regularity and frequency. From such experience, it is plain to see the change in the situation over the past years, in good part as a result of this program.

The traffic on the roads, the bustling marketplaces, the atmosphere of security instead of terror that covers most of the country, are plain to the eye. The war is still going on, of course, and the North Vietnamese and Vietcong give every evidence of continuing it for a long time. Local defeats and occasional disasters will occur. The overall momentum of the GVN, however, is apparent.

In short, CORDS has been a unique experiment in our foreign operations. It has substantially achieved the purposes for which our government formed it and for which the Congress provided the support it required.

(Annexes I and II follow:)



 U.S. militaryAID/State
1968 5, 732959
1969 6, 360996
1970 6, 175882
1971 4, 908822


________ {p.182} ________


[in millions]

budget 1 
1968 523.810, 21250, 098
1969 647.411, 89764, 923
1970 729.012, 18771, 947
1971 696.210, 80472, 247


Approximately 50 percent of GVN budget is U.S. supported.


Ambassador Colby. Because there was a certain degree of interest the other day in the Phoenix program, Mr. Chairman, I prepared an additional statement on that subject, which I would be very happy to read if you so desire.

Mr. Moorhead. I have read your statement. I think it would be a good idea for you to read it into the record.

Ambassador Colby. On July 15, the members of the subcommittee devoted considerable attention to the Phoenix program. I have thus prepared the following statement in an attempt to put this program in perspective. It supplements the rather detailed and extensive testimony I provided on the same subject to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February, 1970.

The Phoenix program of the Government of South Vietnam is designed to protect the Vietnamese people from terrorism and political, paramilitary, economic and subversive pressure from the Communist clandestine organization in South Vietnam. ¶

The Vietcong infrastructure, or VCI, is the leadership apparatus of the Communist attempt to conquer the Vietnamese people and government. The VCI supports the military operations of the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army units by providing intelligence, recruits or conscripts and logistics support. It also directs and implements a systematic campaign of terrorism against government officials, locally elected leaders and the general population. ¶

The result of this terrorism is as follows:


1969 10,5266,09715,0746,097
1970 11,6805,95112,5886,872
1971 (May) 4,5262,4704,7013,257


The Phoenix program is an integral part of the Vietnamese Government’s war effort to bring security to its people since the VCI is a key element of the Communist war effort.

The Phoenix program includes an intelligence program to identify the members of the VCI, an operational program to apprehend them, a legal program to restrain them and a detention program to confine them.


The Phoenix program assembles intelligence on the VCI from all sources. Thus the national police, the People’s Self-Defense Force, the military and the village governments are charged with collabora- {p.183} tion to develop a full picture of the VCI at the various levels. This material is drawn together primarily in district intelligence and operations centers. Special dossiers have been produced to assemble the information in the most usable manner. The Phoenix program at each level is under the direct supervision of the appropriate government official; that is, village chief, district chief, province chief, et cetera. The national Phoenix staff has been made a part of the National Police Command.


Similar cooperation among all services is required in operations against the VCI. Thus the National Police, the Regional and Popular forces, the People’s Self-Defense Force and the Chieu Hoi program conduct joint and independent operations against VCI individuals and unite as a part of the war effort. Goals have been established over the past several years for the reduction of VCI strength. These goals have been refined in order to focus the action on the higher level and more significant VCI. ¶

The Phoenix program is not a program of assassination. In the course of normal military operations or police actions to apprehend them, however, VCI are killed as members of military units or while fighting off arrest. ¶

The Phoenix program has been widely publicized in Vietnam as a program to protect the people against terrorism and participation by local leadership and the population has been encouraged. “Wanted” posters have been circulated to enlist public assistance in the apprehension of VCI, although the posters point out to the individual that he may rally under the Chieu Hoi program and be free of any punishment. ¶

The following figures give the results of the program over the past several years:


1968 11,2882,2292,55915,776
1969 8,5154,8326,18719,534
1970 6,4057,7458,19122,341
1971 (May) 2,7702,9113,6509,331
Total 28,97817,71720,58766,982



A VCI member is subject to formal trial by military court or to an emergency detention procedure established by GVN legislation, analagous {sic: analogous} to the procedure used in many other countries in times of emergency. ¶

This “an tri” procedure authorizes the detention of an individual after a review of his case by a Province security committee, consisting of the Province chief, the public prosecutor, the chairman or a member of the elected Province Council and other local security officials. ¶

A variety of improvements in these procedures have been made in the past 3 years, to include time limits on preparation of cases, advising elected village leaders of all cases occurring in their village for passage to families, a conditional release or parole system, the assignment of public prosecutors to additional provinces to improve the workings of the Province security committees and closer supervision of the committees. Further improvements are under consideration by the Vietnamese Government. {p.184}


Communist offenders are detained in national police detention centers or the corrections centers of the Ministry of Interior. The subcommittee has previously been informed of the program to improve conditions in these corrections and detention centers. This has not only included physical improvements to the facilities but also improvements in their procedures.


The United States through CORDS has provided advice and assistance to the Phoenix program. ¶

This currently includes approximately 637 U.S. military personnel working with the Phoenix centers at the district, province, region, and national levels. It also includes a very few U.S. civilian personnel. ¶

Of course advisors with the military units, the national police, the Chieu Hoi program, et cetera, advise and assist their respective service in its normal role, which includes support of the Phoenix program. ¶

Over the past 3 years, U.S. support has been provided for the Phoenix program, principally for construction and office equipment expenditures for the district centers:


U.S. counterpart
(VN millions)
U.S. dollar
(millions at 118/1)
1968 1791.52
1969 1721.46
1970 45.38
1971 (May) 43.36
Total 4393.72


These figures do not include advisory personnel costs which have not been quantified.


The Phoenix program is an essential element of Vietnam’s defense against VCI subversion and terrorism. ¶

While some unjustifiable abuses have occurred over the years, as they have in many countries, the Vietnamese and U.S. Governments have worked to stop them, and to produce instead professional and intelligent operations which will meet the VCI attack with stern justice, with equal stress on both words. ¶

Considerable evidence has appeared from enemy documents and from former and even current members of the enemy side that, despite some weaknesses, the program has reduced the power of the VCI and its hopes for conquest over the people of South Vietnam. ¶

Phoenix is an essential part of the GVN’s defense as the VCI is to the Communist attack. ¶

U.S. support is fully warranted.

Mr. Moorhead.  Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador, for your statement. I am sure your suggestions will be studied closely by the subcommittee because CORDS is a new type of foreign operation.

Mr. Ambassador, did you see the article today in the Washington Post which is headed “Vietnam, a Fragile Security,” and then in a smaller heading, “Population Still Up for Grabs”? {p.185}


It seems to me that we face a situation which I have experienced before in Vietnam, where the official report is always positive. Intelligent people like you are always more optimistic, whether it is on the military side or the civilian side, than the information we get from independent observers like newspaper reporters.

On page 12 of your testimony, you talk about the traffic on the roads, the bustling marketplaces. This article gives a much less optimistic picture.

I looked also at your supplementary statement about the number of persons killed through VC terrorism. If my arithmetic is correct, if they keep on in 1971 at the rate that they have for the first 5 months, we have approximately the same number killed in 1971 as were killed in 1970. That is a statistic which indicates to me that progress toward pacification is at a slower rate than your general testimony would indicate.

Would you care to comment on this?

Ambassador Colby. I was very interested in the headline there, Mr. Chairman, referring to a fragile situation. About a year ago, a journalist who had been there a while threw up to me the question whether the security situation there was still fragile. We had made quite a point over the previous year or so that the situation was quite fragile. I had to think back and say that I didn’t think it was fragile anymore in that sense.

What you have there, I believe, quite frankly, is a situation we have had in our own staff to a considerable degree. The fellow who has been there a little while looks back on the situation a couple of years ago and has a great sense of how different the situation is from what it was a couple of years ago in terms of the security situation and the ability of the people to circulate, the markets work and so forth.

So he is inclined to tell his successor that the situation is good compared to what it was when he came. The new man looks around and realizes you can still get killed by a mine on the road, by a grenade in that very marketplace. Not many of those occur, but some do. He begins to think it is pretty bad.

I think the thrust of that article, Mr. Chairman, was that the security situation is really quite a bit better than it was, and is quite substantially in hand, but that the political problem is yet to be faced. I think that is what the writer of that article was essentially saying, that the political problem of the relationship of the people to the Government has not really been solved to that degree.

I would be inclined to agree that certainly the political identification of the people with the Government has not proceeded as fast as the security situation has, but this is a sequential development. This is the design of the plan. First you produce a reasonable climate of security in which the people dare to participate and maintain security, and then you develop the programs which invite the people’s participation in a political sense and involve them in that sense. I think this has been done at the village level to a considerable degree, although it has not in every village, I hasten to say.

The process is building a new political base of this Government from the bottom up. This is just beginning at the local level and it is being gradually moved up the scale from the village to the province to the national level. {p.186}

I think the sequence of elections at the village hamlet level in 1969 and 1970, and then in the Province councils in 1970, and later in 1970 for the Senate and this year for the National Lower House and the Presidency, shows this sequential development from the bottom up.

This is political development which is quite a different kind of political base than the former governments used to have where power went down to the people. I am well aware that spokesmen such as myself, and probably including myself, have stated a more positive view of the situation than some of our independent observers have. I do believe, though, that a full evaluation of the situation in Vietnam today shows that the momentum of the strengthening of the Government in security terms, in political terms, and in development terms, is continuing, and will continue in the near future.

Mr. Moorhead. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. I still point out that the rate of VC killings seems to be at practically the same rate as last year.

Mr. Ambassador, a question with respect to the Phoenix program. That is the same thing as the Phung Hoang program?

Ambassador Colby. It is, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Moorhead. You mentioned that there have been some abuses. Have any of your subordinates reported to you instances of torture being used under the Phoenix program?

Ambassador Colby. We have had reports of a few through our channels. We have also had allegations to the National Assembly and in the Vietnamese press of this kind of thing. We have looked into these. On occasion we have found abuses, as I say, unjustifiable abuses, and in collaboration with the Vietnamese authorities we have moved to stop that sort of nonsense.

Mr. Moorhead. It bothers me, Mr. Ambassador, that the pacification program by its very nature, includes the killing, torture, imprisonment, moving of people, destruction of villages, and the conscious creation of refugees. They may create new hatreds among the people in opposition to the Saigon government.

Have any studies been made on this point? There are certain aspects of the pacification program which make me wonder if we are making friends or enemies. If we are making enemies by this program, our assistance is not only wasteful from a dollar point of view, but in direct contravention of our goals and objectives in Vietnam.

Ambassador Colby. I think, Mr. Chairman, that your characterization of the nature of the program is not quite the same as I would give it. I think the program is one of an expanding defense of the people against the rockets and raids such as were described in the New York Times this morning and some of this sort of thing. I think the purpose is to provide protection to the people and to give the people a voice in their own future and their own Government.

Thus, I believe that there have been a few cases of abuses, as I have mentioned, most people have been killed as the enemy attacked some of these places, either by the local forces or the self-defense forces, and in the course of active operations against the enemy units out, in the jungle.

There have been a very few movements of people from areas where they could not be defended. {p.187}

This is in accordance with the Government’s overall policy that security will be brought to the people and not the people brought to security, whenever it is possible. I think the trend of the program over the past several years, in terms of the millions of people it has protected more than overcomes the occasional unjustified abuse.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Ambassador, what has happened to the 35-member cadre teams that were trained? Are they under Phoenix or CORDS? What has been their success or failure?

Ambassador Colby. These were developed and were supported directly by the United States. CORDS took over their management and direction and control in collaboration with the Vietnamese Government in 1969. We have since worked with the Vietnamese Government through the Ministry of Rural Development, to which Ministry they were assigned for management and control, in the process of bringing them more up to date with the changing situation. The reason you had a 59-member team in 1969 was that you needed 59 men to defend themselves while they operated out in the countryside. Otherwise, they would be killed by VC attacks.

As the program proceeded, however, it became less and less necessary that they be a self-defending, self-contained unit. They could rest their defense upon the local forces, the self-defense forces that have been developed. Consequently, the teams were reduced to 30 men.

They have in this year’s program been reduced to 10-man teams and a substantial number of the cadre have been assigned as individuals to serve with different services. For instance, the land reform program took about 2,000 of them, and they have been assigned to various other programs in order to help those programs produce the results desired. The total number of the cadre has reduced from about 50,000 to about 31,000 currently. This is part of a deliberate plan on our part to phase out U.S. support of this program. The Vietnamese Government is going to pick up on their budget continued support at some level. I don’t think they have decided what the level will be. It will probably be less than the current level. They are currently debating the exact level and how they should be organized in the future.

Their function was one, initially, of supplying local security and local government in an area which had neither. As local security improved and local government has grown up from the communities themselves, that function of the cadre has been lost. But newer functions of giving the people an idea of what the programs of the governments are, helping these various programs to be implemented at the local level, this is a continuing job of a cadre of the Government to help carry out the land reform, the veterans’ benefits programs, and so forth.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Ambassador, could you tell us when the Government of Vietnam first began to support the Phoenix program financially and what percent of the cost of that program is now borne by the United States and what percentage by the GVN?

Ambassador Colby. This is the usual difficulty, Mr. Chairman, in describing these things. The Vietnamese Government has assigned a lot of people to the Phoenix program.

Mr. Moorhead. When did they first support the Phoenix program financially? {p.188}

Ambassador Colby. By assigning people and paying the salaries of those police or military personnel they began to support it at its outset. In terms of direct contribution of funds, the first contributions were last year, some small amount — 11 million piasters — this year it is intended that a larger amount be supplied. .

Mr. Moorhead. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.

I will say that the Chair took 11 minutes and we will proceed under an expanded 5-minute rule.

Mr. Reid.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman, very much.

Mr. Ambassador, I certainly want to welcome you back. We appreciate your courtesy in testifying.

You will recall the conversation we had in my office a few weeks ago. In an attempt to be as fair and objective as possible, over the weekend, I reread some 600 pages of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings, including your testimony therein. I would like to ask a few general questions about Vietnamization and also would like to talk a little bit on Phoenix.

On the very clear conviction that candor is the best medicine here and that there are some aspects that are not totally clear to this subcommittee, I would like to ask a few questions.

First, could I ask what is the status of the VCI individual who has been captured? Is he then considered a prisoner of war?

Ambassador Colby. In most cases no, Mr. Chairman, unless he also was a member of a guerrilla group or had some military or paramilitary function.

Mr. Reid. In those cases he would be a prisoner of war and otherwise not?

Ambassador Colby. In those cases he would be a prisoner of war. We have extended the direct definition of a prisoner of war to include a considerable number of people who would technically not fall under that.

Mr. Reid. Does the Vietcong infrastructure include women or children?

Ambassador Colby. It certainly includes some women, the leaders of some of the women’s groups, women members of village and district and Province committees and so forth. Madam Binh would be a member, for instance, of the VCI. I would say it probably does not include many children, if any.

Mr. Reid. What age range?

Ambassador Colby. I would say that for instance a VCI would have to be either a leader or a cadre in the organisation. The 12-year-old or 13-year-old boy who is picked up and given a thousand piasters to throw the grenade into the restaurant would not be categorized under either of those. He would not be a VCI in that sense. He would be a terrorist and would be subject to punishment under that category.

Mr. Reid. The reason I asked about prisoners of war is that in your testimony on pages 318 and 319 of the Senate report you were asked by Senator Fulbright, ¶

“Does the arrested person have a counsel and trial?”

Your answer was no.

“May he be tried by the committee while he is in jail? Does he have a right to a hearing?” ¶

Your answer was ¶

“No, he does not have a right to a hearing under present legislation.” {p.189} ¶

Basically what I am asking is whether you consider the law which permits detention for a period up to 2 years under the an tri law is on all fours with the Geneva Convention.

Ambassador Colby. I think it is. It is not what I would frankly prefer and I think the Government is moving toward changing it in that direction. It has not occurred yet and I would quite frankly say that he does not have a hearing today. His case is reviewed and he is interrogated and his case is looked at.

Mr. Reid. Does he have any right to counsel?

Ambassador Colby. No, not under the present situation.

Mr. Reid. Then is it not a kangaroo trial?

Ambassador Colby. It is an administrative proceeding, not a trial.

Mr. Reid. Whether it is called a trial or an administrative proceeding, is that important in international law? There might be some concepts under which we would relate it to due process.

Ambassador Colby. I think there are two different things. I think it probably meets the technicalities of international law but it certainly does not meet our concepts of due process.

Mr. Reid. Does it meet the spirit of international law?

Ambassador Colby. I think as it has gradually improved it does. I think it did not some time ago and I do not think it entirely meets it yet.

Mr. Reid. Would his rights be protected?

Ambassador Colby. Not adequately under our concept of due process.

Mr. Reid. The reason I am pursuing this a little bit is that the testimony before the Senate is replete with some indications and some explicit reports that at times the district coordinating center or the senior advisors have admitted they have made mistakes or are not certain of their information.

My question is: Are you certain that we know a member of the VCI from a loyal member of the South Vietnam citizenry?

Ambassador Colby. No; Mr. Congressman, I am not.

Mr. Reid. The answer to that seems to be no, at least in some cases. Therefore there is the possibility, that someone will be captured, sentenced, or killed, who has been improperly placed on a list without adequate verification. If it is inadequate my question goes back to the first point: Isn’t that a reason for making sure that legal proceedings are totally fair?

Ambassador Colby. I certainly would like to see them improved and we have been working to see them improved. I think they are considerably improved. As I said, I do not think they meet the standards I would like to see applied to Americans today.

Mr. Reid. Another point, Mr. Ambassador, that I would like to place in as clear perspective as possible is the question of an assassination. ¶

Repeatedly it has been said that the Phoenix program does not involve assassination. It does involve either neutralization or elimination, to use some of the descriptive phrases here. ¶

There are reports in the Senate testimony, however, of a VCI official being hauled out of bed and stabbed and killed. ¶

There is another newspaper report in the hearings that relates to a roundup of individuals, two or them being Vietcong suspects. ¶

One was then interrogated and shot. ¶

What I would like to ask is this: ¶

The testimony refers to an early period where {p.190} there was a counter terrorist organization. ¶

Both you and others testified to that and you also said it was relatively short-lived, as I recall, in your testimony. ¶

Were these the PRU’s and did they involve Nungs and others who had been hired for the purpose of working in the program you described?

Ambassador Colby. It was a predecessor of the PRU, yes, Mr.

Mr. Reid. And that did include mercenaries?

Ambassador Colby. It included people who were hired by the United States; yes.

Mr. Reid. And part of their purpose was counterterror and assassination, perhaps? Am I correct there?

Ambassador Colby. I would not say that that was the — not assassination; no.

Mr. Reid. Did it involve some of that?

Ambassador Colby. I think some occurred; yes. That is why I said that. I think some occurred.

Mr. Reid. That is what I was not totally clear about from your testimony.

Ambassador Colby. I thought I tried to make it clear that I think some did occur at that time.

Mr. Reid. So, in other words, the forerunner of this program did involve some assassinations, inadvertent or otherwise.

Ambassador Colby. As I said at that time, Mr. Congressman, Vietnam was a pretty wild place at one period when the Government was very unstable and almost not there. The enemy was very much at the gate. A lot of things were done that should not have been done. We have been trying to fix them up and stop that sort of thing ever since.

Mr. Reid. Now let me go from that period of 1969 to the present. Here I refer to the Wall Street Journal of 1969. In this story the reporter said that a man identified as a Vietcong was leaning against a tree trunk. Several PRU had gathered around him and wanted to know where ammunition was hidden and where the Vietcong went. And then subsequently in the story, it said from behind a nearby house two shots occurred. The narrow-shouldered prisoner had been executed and his body was dumped into a bunker.

Are you familiar with that story?

Ambassador Colby. I was in 1969, yes, sir.

Mr. Reid. Was that in essence accurate testimony?

Ambassador Colby. I am prepared to accept the testimony of that reporter, whom I consider very reliable.

Mr. Reid. That would be called summary treatment.

Ambassador Colby. That was an unjustifiable offense which we have been trying to work against. If you want to get bad intelligence you use bad interrogation methods. If you want to get good intelligence you had better use good interrogation methods. You will get what the fellow thinks you want to hear if you use the wrong methods. This is the lesson we have been trying to put over with the people with whom we work.

Mr. Reid. There was another instance reported in 1970 in an account of True Magazine. It talks about an instance in 1968. The PRU had captured the highest VC official, a province chief. It says one PRU suddenly noticed a Vietcong trying to run away and wrestled with {p.191} him a few minutes until the PRU stabbed and killed him. There are various current instances of this in the record.

My problem then becomes a more general one. If we are not certain as to who are the VCI and who are not, if we are a good deal less than enthusiastic about the procedures, legal or otherwise, following their capture, if it is quite clear that the total is now, according to figures provided this morning, 20,587 people who have been killed, is this, in your judgment, a program that the United States should be associated with at all at this point due to what it seems to me you have stated, namely that this is far from ideal in the protection of certain rates {sic: rights}, even though it is a wartime situation. ¶

Is this something you feel irrespective of the Vietcong or Hanoi terror or assassination that has been done, is this the kind of program, which I think is unique in U.S. history, that we should have anything to do with and if so why? ¶

What would you state as the reason?

Ambassador Colby. Yes, I think we should be associated with it because it is an essential part of the war effort. ¶

I also believe there are a number of other things which are not ideal in Vietnam that we are associated with that do not work the way we would like them to. ¶

However, I think that by our association and by our working on it we have substantially improved a great number of this kind of programs or a variety of other programs by the efforts we have made.

Mr. Reid. Do you think it is humanly possible, Mr. Ambassador, for the United States through our programs to reliably, beyond the peradventure of reasonable doubt, identify 1,200 or 1,400 suspects a month? ¶

Once they are on that list is not that a ticket to possible oblivion for an individual on that list?

Ambassador Colby. I believe there are steps we can take to insure that the evidence is very, very reliable. ¶

I would not say beyond a reasonable doubt because that would get you into a court trial.

Mr. Reid. Let me ask you this. It is my understanding, Mr. Ambassador, that there are some DSA’s, individuals who served in this program, who have resigned on the grounds that they could not morally be satisfied that they were identifying the right individuals, quite aside from what they may have thought about the program inherently. ¶

Have you talked with some of the DSA’s who have resigned?

Ambassador Colby. They have not talked to me about that as a reason for resigning, Mr. Congressman.

Mr. Reid. I think the subcommittee is in a position to bring witnesses before this committee who will testify that they did resign because they were not satisfied at all, or they asked for transfer.

Ambassador Colby. We have in our directive the right of any individual in the Phoenix program to request relief from it. ¶

We have relieved certain members, although not DSA’s. We have relieved individuals from the Phoenix program. ¶

I cannot recall of any who have resigned from the service for that reason. ¶

At least they have not spoken to me about it.

But to get back to the point, Mr. Congressman, I think that by our work with a program or this nature we can improve it and bring it into the standards which we can accept. ¶

When the blacklists and things like that were originally developed, I agree that they were inaccurate in a substantial number of cases. ¶

I think that we have helped to produce forms for dossiers, requirements for proof, more professional intel- {p.192} ligence operations which give more reliable information. ¶

We have stressed capture and interrogation rather than killing a man when you are out after him, if you possibly can, and I think there are very few cases today that fall below the standards.

Mr. Reid. Let me ask you one other question. ¶

As I read the current report, there is a quota or goal, if you prefer, relative to sentencing which is roughly half of the total by each military region that are supposed to be captured. ¶

How can you as a concept, administratively, legally or otherwise, set up a quota for what we might think are some kind of judicial proceedings? ¶

If you set a quota, is not that almost automatically saying we are setting a quota irrespective of the facts, the evidence or justice?

Ambassador Colby. We have opted on a number of goal systems in Vietnam, Mr. Congressman. ¶

The goal is one of reducing the enemy force.

Mr. Reid. I understand that, Mr. Ambassador, and I respect what you say but how on earth can you set a quota — and I think I am quite correct — for sentencing?

Ambassador Colby. The reason for putting in the 50 percent sentencing was to put a greater pressure on officials to do a more professional job of capturing and interrogating and then sentencing as a result of the information gathered professionally than by filling the quotas by those who happened to be killed in the course of a battle. ¶

As I mentioned earlier, there are some individuals who are both military commanders or guerrilla commanders and VCI. ¶

In the course of the military fights with a lot of those troops, a lot of people are killed who are revealed as, and identified as, VCI.

Mr. Reid. If I put your three statements together, you say there is a possibility and you would guess in some cases those captured are, or should be, properly considered prisoners of war. Secondly, you expressed—

Ambassador Colby. Are captured and then treated as prisoners of war.

Mr. Reid. Yes, that is correct. ¶

Secondly, you have expressed a good deal less enthusiasm for the an tri law. You expressed today, and I think you expressed a year ago, that that ought to be changed. ¶

And third, the fact that there may be, and I am sure there are, instances where there is incorrect identification. ¶

How can you possibly put that together with a quota for sentencing? ¶

In fact, what you are saying is that there is a chance that some may be improperly identified and if he is dealt with under the an tri there is a very good chance he will have no counsel and finally, you are putting more heat on the local entities to sentence a certain number and stay within the quota. ¶

It seems to me if that is the program it throws out the window any basic rights or any real verification. ¶

Isn’t the pressure all on one side here to procure a certain number of sentences by quota?

Ambassador Colby. There is additional pressure in the assignment of public prosecutors to the Province security committees, in the activation of the role of the chairman of the Province counsel, in the program to publicize the results of the Province security committee hearings so that these can be subject to check by the population, by the review made by the legislature of the Phoenix program there and a variety of other things that I think we have had something to do with {p.193} helping to push. ¶

We have created a pressure on the other side as well. ¶

I just didn’t want to be in the situation of saying that nothing bad ever happens because that is not true.

Mr. Reid. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador and Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. McCloskey?

Mr. McCloskey.  Mr. Ambassador, is there anything about the Phoenix program that can’t be fully disclosed at this time?

Ambassador Colby. It is a part of the Vietnamese war effort. ¶

The Vietnamese pacification plan has certain portions of it classified and certain portions of it unclassified. ¶

As far as disclosure to the Congress here in a classified form, I think we have been as responsive as we could be to the congressional inquiries on it.

Mr. McCloskey. Witnesses that have preceded you have indicated that nothing is classified “secret” which would be withheld from the Congress.

Ambassador Colby. No. I think we can give you classified material if it is handled as such.

Mr. McCloskey. In your judgment is there anything about the Phoenix program that must be classified at the present time?

Ambassador Colby. I think there are certain aspects of it. ¶

It is a part of the Vietnamese plan for action against a clandestine operation in their country. ¶

I think that classification assists them to some degree in the way they go at their problem.

Mr. McCloskey. If I touch on anything in my questions that requires classification, will you call it to our attention so that we may make appropriate arrangements for protection. ¶

I want to quote first from article 3 of the Geneva Convention of 1949, Mr. Ambassador. ¶

“In the case of armed conflict occurring in the territory of one of the parties, the following acts shall be prohibited. The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guaranties which are recognized as indispensible {sic: indispensable} by civilized people.” ¶

In that connection, no court ever sits for those accused of being members of the VCI, does it?

Ambassador Colby. Occasionally, but only if they happen to be sent to a court instead of to the Province security committee.

Mr. McCloskey. Let me try to quote from one of your Phoenix documents. ¶

The administrative detention applies to those against whom there is insufficient evidence to convict, ¶

isn’t that right?

Ambassador Colby. Right.

Mr. McCloskey. If there is sufficient evidence to satisfy a court that the man is a member of the VCI he goes to the military court, does he not?

Ambassador Colby. Generally that is true.

Mr. McCloskey. But the great bulk of people apprehended under the Phoenix program are never tried by the court?

Ambassador Colby. No.

Mr. McCloskey. I note from a letter to the International Red Cross by Ambassador Rinestad, he says in part as follows: ¶

“With respect to South Vietnamese civilians captured by U.S. forces and transferred to the authorities in Vietnam, the U.S. Government recognizes it has a residual responsibility to work with the Government of the Republic of Vietnam to see that all such civilians are treated in ac- {p.194} cordance with article 3 of the Convention.” ¶

If article 3 of the Geneva Convention requires a trial by court, how are we working with the Government of Vietnam to see that these civilians are receiving the proper attention under the Geneva Convention? ¶

Can you tell me?

Ambassador Colby. I think the answer, Mr. Congressman, is that we are trying to put in the standards of due process, if you will, and we have achieved a number of them. As I stated to Congressman Reid, I am not satisfied that we have completed our effort yet.

Mr. McCloskey. Then when Ambassador Rinestad says in his letter of December 7 that we are working to do something, we are still talking here in July of 1971 about something in the future. ¶

Under the law, no court ever sits on the person accused of being a Vietcong, isn’t that correct?

Ambassador Colby. I think you are right.

Mr. McCloskey. Have we so advised the Red Cross?

Ambassador Colby. I don’t know.

Mr. McCloskey. Shouldn’t we?

Ambassador Colby. I think here in article 42 they refer to the difference between the court conviction and the internment or placing in residence of persons. ¶

I think the Vietnamese Government’s theses on this, quite frankly — and I say to you that we still have to work on this — is that these people are being interned or placed in assigned residences. ¶

That does not fit the standards of what we are talking about. We are working to improve the treatment and the procedures here so that they do meet the standards of due process.

Mr. McCloskey. I understand that; but, as I understand the Geneva Convention — and I would like you to correct me if I am wrong — the Geneva Convention requires that there be no passing of sentences without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court. ¶

Regardless of how they are treated or whether they are put in administrative detention, no court ever sits on them, and the Geneva Convention requires that court. ¶

We have told the Red Cross we are working to achieve the protection of the Geneva Convention. ¶

The fact of the matter is that we have not achieved the protection of the Geneva Convention. ¶

The South Vietnamese citizens picked up under this program don’t get that, do they?

Ambassador Colby. I don’t want to discuss this in a highly legal forum but I would like to make two points. ¶

First, in article 3 it does refer to persons taking no active part in hostilities, as the people they are talking about. ¶

Second, I think that the Geneva Convention is rather general: it does not apply to the citizens of a country if action is taken by that country. I think article 4 gives an indication that the persons protected are people to be protected from action by a power of which they are not nationals.

Mr. McCloskey. Let’s clear this up. ¶

I saw some cases over there when Frank Scotton was showing us around in some of the Provinces. ¶

We looked in some of those dossiers. We found one of an individual who was accused of being a potential VCI because while his village was occupied by the Vietcong he had paid taxes to the Vietcong and his son had been drafted into the Vietcong forces. ¶

There was nothing that would indicate that this man was engaged in making war against his own country. These were articles of suspicion. ¶

I will quote from the Vietnamese document that describes searches for in- {p.195} formation against potential suspects. ¶

You are familiar with SOP3 and that is a Vietnamese document, isn’t it?


Ambassador Colby. Yes.

Mr. McCloskey (reading).

“Information on a person, residents of the area who make suspicious utterances, such as,

“(1)  Expressions which distort Government of Vietnam policies and the action of Government of Vietnam cadres.

“(2)  False rumors which confuse and frighten the people.

“(3)  Creation of division and hatred among the populace and between the populace and Government of Vietnam cadres

* * *

Those who act suspiciously:

“(a)  the hesitation or fearful attitude of a dishonest person;

“(b)  contact with those whom we suspect; or

“(c)  regular secret colloquies of a certain group of people in the area.”

All of those are reasons to fill out a dossier and label a man as a potential VCI, are they not?

Ambassador Colby. This part of the document was advice on how to collect intelligence and what kind of intelligence might be collected. ¶

This was not the basis for conviction or detention. ¶

I think the case that you described pretty clearly would fall into a category-C case which does not come under the Phoenix program. ¶

It did originally, but it does not now.

Mr. McCloskey. Let’s assume a dossier is prepared. ¶

The dossier essentially is a lot of hearsay evidence. ¶

A neighbor can report that he saw the man down the road carrying an M-16. That would be one item of evidence against him. Another person can participate in a search where you have a hidden informer inside the thing that looks like a chemical toilet. As people pass by he identifies them as potential VC, is that correct?

Ambassador Colby. Yes, it is.

Mr. McCloskey. And the defendant informed against, or identified, has no right to appear in his own defense, no right to counsel, no right to confront his accuser, no right to see his dossier; is that correct?

Ambassador Colby. That is correct, but in that case he has not done anything that gets him into category A or B.

Mr. McCloskey. But information in those categories can be fixed as such by items collected from three or more people, can it not?

Ambassador Colby. From a variety of intelligence sources.

Mr. McCloskey. It can be military, a policeman, or his neighbors down the block. ¶

If there are three items against him which are sufficient as a burden of proof, although there is no real burden of proof, to satisfy the security committee that he is possibly a threat to the national security, then he can be sentenced to life imprisonment, isn’t that correct?

Ambassador Colby. No, he can’t be sentenced to life. He can be detained for, depending on which category, up to 2 years. His case then has to be reviewed to see whether it should be continued.

Mr. McCloskey. Let me try to clarify it. ¶

He can’t be sentenced for more than 2 years. ¶

But once he is sentenced for 2 years, he cannot be released unless the Province chief releases him, isn’t that correct?

Ambassador Colby. His case is reviewed every 2 years, and in the {p.196} majority of cases, Mr. Congressman, it is our understanding that the majority are released, rather than continued.

Mr. McCloskey. Do we know that? Do we have those statistics?

Ambassador Colby. We do not have those as solidly as I would like. That is why I would not like to state it flatly at this point. We are in the course of getting these and they may even have them by now.

Mr. McCloskey. I wonder, Mr. Ambassador, if those figures could be furnished to this committee by letter following this hearing, to include the number of people sentenced to 2 years who have ultimately been released and those whose detention has been ended?

Ambassador Colby. I think we can give you that. This is one of the things we are trying to do to make this system work better, Congressman, and that is to get an accurate inventory of who is in the jails, how long they have been in there, why they have been in there, and to review in considerable detail the justification for their being there.

Mr. McCloskey. Mr. Ambassador, you understand my specific request, for the list of those detained for 2 years, those that have been released upon completion of their sentence and those held over.

Ambassador Colby. I don’t think you want the names, but the summary of numbers.

Mr. McCloskey. Yes.

Ambassador Colby. We will give you as good as we can. I wouldn’t want to promise it flatly because we may not be entirely satisfied with the accuracy of the figures for a while, but we will give you what we have as well as we can get it.

(The information follows:)



[During the period January-June 1971, the following An Tri cases were reviewed for extension of original term with disposition as indicated)

Total 5,6192,0133,606


Note: The length of the original terms is not available but current directives call for the following normal terms by category: A, 2 years; B, 1 to 2 years; C, 1 year maximum.


Mr. McCloskey. Mr. Ambassador, I appreciate that because I think it bears directly on this question whether a man is indeed sent up for life when he gets this 2-year sentence or whether it is, in reality, a 2-year sentence. ¶

The only case that I know where this occurred was where I interviewed a lady who had been so sentenced. ¶

My understanding was that at the end of the 2-year period she had not been released.

Ambassador Colby. Mr. Congressman, I recall one figure. The figures do show that over the past 5 years 100,000 Communist offenders have been released from the correction centers. That is not just temporary detention. That is from the correction centers. That is a very substantial number of people that have been released.

Mr. McCloskey. Mr. Ambassador, I have a document in front of me indicating that interrogation statements or confessions are admissible and used extensively in an tri hearings. ¶

Is that correct? {p.197}

Ambassador Colby. Yes. ¶

Quite frankly, Mr. Congressman, they used to be used exclusively, which was one of the major problems. ¶

They are not used exclusively any more.

Mr. McCloskey. That also appears in the document, the American advisers to the Phoenix program should try to require a quantum of proof, other than by confession and interrogation. ¶

That brings me to the real problem that I saw personally with the Phoenix program when I was there. ¶

If the evidence is insufficient to convict a man, and also insufficient to show a reasonable probability that he may be a threat to security, then he may still be sent to the Province interrogation center. ¶

When I first met with the American personnel in Saigon, I understood that these secret prisons were under the control of the CORDS personnel. ¶

As we went out to the field, however, we found the Province interrogation centers were not operated by CORDS; is that correct?

Ambassador Colby. The Province interrogation centers are actually operated by the special branch of the national police. They are advised by another element of our mission there. ¶

I feel that any actions there are probably coordinated with CORDS. I feel a certain responsibility for that as well.

Mr. McCloskey. As a deputy to CORDS, you do have personal responsibility over the operation of these Province interrogation centers, do you not?

Ambassador Colby. I have a feeling of responsibility. I do not know what the fine lines of the organizational diagrams might be but I feel responsibility for everything to do with this program.

Mr. McCloskey. Who built the province interrogation centers? Were they American contractors?

Ambassador Colby. I do not believe so. I am not quite sure of that.

(The information follows:)



These centers were built by local Vietnamese contractors funded directly by the United States.


Mr. McCloskey. Mr. Ambassador, it is correct, is it not, that after a dossier is prepared in the district and the evidence is insufficient to satisfy the Province security council, the prosecutor does have the privilege of sending the detainee, the suspect, to the Province interrogation center? ¶

And further, under the rules he may be kept for up to 46 days to see if additional information or confessions can be extracted which will be sufficient to establish the reasonable probability that he is a VCI: ¶

Is that not correct?

Ambassador Colby. I think your sequence is a little wrong, Mr. Congressman. ¶

When he is arrested and initially screened, if they feel that there is something that warrants his further detention but they do not have the adequate figures or information themselves, they can send him there. ¶

The 46 days was a time limit established between arrest and final action by the Province security committee, which quite frankly used to be quite a bit more than that. ¶

It was established as a maximum limit. As I understand it, I think it is 30 days for the preparation of the dossier, which includes the interrogation.

Mr. McCloskey. I am running out of time but I would like to refer to the report that was given to us by the General Accounting Office. {p.198}

They indicate that, as of the date of this report, which was this year, 2,286 of those captured as of April 1970 remained to be processed. They were still detained. They had not been sentenced or released.

Ambassador Colby. That was in 1970, Mr. Congressman.

Mr. McCloskey. This report is dated 1971.

Ambassador Colby. But the information was on 1970.

Mr. McCloskey. Do you have the figures up to this date?

Ambassador Colby. I do not have them with me but we do have them and we have found they are not quite as bad as that is. That was our initial cut of those figures.

Mr. McCloskey. Mr. Chairman, may we ask that these figures be furnished us updated to June 30, 1970?

Mr. Moorhead. Do you have that?

Ambassador Colby. I think so.

(The information follows:)



At end-May 1971 (June not yet available), cases awaiting processing were estimated as follows:

Communist offenders:
An tri processing 2,616
Military court 2,502
Common criminals 5,968
Military offenders 1,002

Indications are that current VCI captives are generally moved through an tri processing on a current (46 days maximum) basis although there is an additional group of unprocessed VCI captured prior to the implementation of the current system. A project is in process to identify these and move them through the processing. The major backlog exists in cases of common criminals and Communist offenders awaiting court trials.


Mr. McCloskey. I regret I have run out of time, Mr. Ambassador, but I want to thank you for your courtesy in appearing here today. I would like to express a hope that Mr. McAfee’s concept of judicial due process will continue to be imposed.

From my personal view, we are not meeting the requirements of article 3 of the Geneva Convention. It seems to me that we should do so if we want this kind of protection for our own prisoners of war.

Mr. Moorhead.  We will be back to you for another round of questioning, Mr. McCloskey.

Mr. Ambassador, could you tell me how many U.S. personnel are involved in this program and how they are broken down between military and civilian?

Ambassador Colby. They are almost entirely military, Mr. Chairman, I think our figure was 637 U.S. military. There is a very small number of civilians on it. There are people like myself who have spent some time on it but I would not call myself full-time responsible for Phoenix. I spend some time on it but some time on other things.

There are a number of others who are involved in it in that way part of the time. But in terms of full-time civilian effort, we originally had projected about 50 U.S. civilians but we did not hire them. These were DOD civilians that we were going to hire and we did not hire that many. We have a very small number actually working on Phoenix.

Mr. Moorhead. Do U.S. personnel ever participate in arrests of VCI? {p.199}

Ambassador Colby. They do not arrest, Mr. Chairman, but they do participate. I would say occasionally they go along on an operation to see how it is going. A military adviser might go out with a regional force platoon or company when they are out after a district committee or something and in the course or it they capture the district committee. Occasionally it happens. They do not participate in all of them but in some of them.

Mr. Moorhead. Do they ever participate in those attempted arrests that result in killing?

Ambassador Colby. Yes, because sometimes that kind of an operation results in a fire fight and people get killed on both sides.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Ambassador, I can understand the performance of the pacification program such as land reform and the like, but I do not think it is desirable or morally right for this country to be assisting the outright evil side of this program. ¶

If the Vietnamese want to do it, it is their country and their people. ¶

Do you think the Vietnamese Government, if it was required to pay the full cost of the Phoenix program, might reduce the scope of the program to the benefit to all concerned?

Ambassador Colby. I think the program has very much been considered a priority program by the Government of Vietnam, Mr. Chairman, by the President, the Prime Minister and the Government. Therefore I would suspect that it would go on.

Frankly, I was never able to take the position that if something wrong went on over there it could be sort of left to the Vietnamese as to responsibility. ¶

I felt that our country and our Government are involved in the support of the overall effort there, that there is nothing that we can say we do not have some responsibility to improve, to do something about. ¶

Therefore I could not take that kind of philosophical position myself, by saying that it is Vietnamese and has nothing to do with me.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Ambassador, is it not true that many Vietnamese bureaucrats, both high and low, pay money to obtain their jobs?

Ambassador Colby. I certainly think that has happened in the past. ¶

If we are talking about Province chiefs and district chiefs today, I would say that is probably not true and it is probably not true of police chiefs today. It is probably not true of senior appointments in the army at this point. It may have been in the past. I have some familiarity with the procedures for appointments of various of these higher officials and I think they are chosen on the basis of merit or political considerations, whatever they may have, but not on the basis of money paid by them. ¶

I would not want to say that that does not ever occur, but in the higher jobs, I think the answer is no.

Mr. Moorhead. And it could occur in the lower jobs which would not come to your attention?

Ambassador Colby. It can occur in the lower jobs.

Mr. Moorhead. And then to recoup their investment, such officials would be prone to accepting bribes, would they not?

Ambassador Colby. That is very true.

There are inspection systems and disclosure systems developed to try to prevent that, to try to deter it, but it could probably happen.

“ It began with a phone call. ¶

In November last year 39-year-old Huda Alazawi, a wealthy Baghdad businesswoman, received a demand from an Iraqi informant. ¶

He was working for the Americans in Adhamiya, a Sunni district of Baghdad well known for its hostility towards the US occupation. ¶

His demand was simple: Madame Huda, as her friends and family know her, had to give him $10,000. ¶

If she failed to pay up, he would write a report claiming that she and her family were working for the Iraqi resistance. He would pass it to the US military and they would arrest her.

“It was clearly blackmail,” Alazawi says, speaking in the Baghdad office of her trading company. “We knew that if we gave in, there would be other demands.” ¶

The informant was as good as his word. ¶

In November 2003, he wrote a report that prompted US soldiers to interrogate Alazawi’s brother, Ali, and her older sister, Nahla, now 45. Wearing a balaclava, he also led several raids with US soldiers on the families’ antique-filled Baghdad properties.

On December 23, the Americans arrested another of Alazawi’s brothers, Ayad, 44. ¶

It was at this point that she decided to confront the Americans directly. She marched into the US base in Adhamiya, one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces. ¶

“A US captain told me to come back with my two other brothers. He said we could talk after that.” ¶

On Christmas Eve she returned with her brothers, Ali and Mu'taz. “I waited for four hours. An American captain finally interrogated me. ¶

After 10 minutes he announced that I was under arrest. ...

“The US officer told us: ‘If you don’t confess we will torture you. So you have to confess.’...” ...

... her brother Mu'taz was brutally sexually assaulted. ...

“At midnight they threw something at my sister’s feet. It was my brother Ayad. He was bleeding from his legs, knees and forehead. ... The next day they took away his body.”

The US military later issued a death certificate, seen by the Guardian, citing the cause of death as “cardiac arrest of unknown etiology”. The American doctor who signed the certificate did not print his name, and his signature is illegible. ...

... a US guard broke her shoulder ...

After eight months in prison they ... made me sign a piece of paper promising not to leave the country. And then I was free.” ...

... what does she think of the Americans now?

I hate them,” she says.”

Luke Harding, After Abu Ghraib: Huda Alazawi was one of the few women held in solitary in the notorious Iraqi prison. Following her release, she talks for the first time to Luke Harding about her ordeal. (The Guardian, September 20 2004).


Mr. Moorhead. The thing that concerns me is that the Phoenix program imposes monthly quotas. ¶

I am sure this may eliminate some {p.200} hard-core Communists, but may it not include the “neutralization” of innocent persons because they refuse to come up with the requested bribe?

Ambassador Colby. I would say the answer is that it is possible that they be arrested or threatened with arrest unless they pay a bribe. ¶

That is a complaint that has been made in the legislature and in the press in Vietnam against individual police or military officials or local officials. ¶

That kind of complaint has been made.

I, frankly, think that the procedures that we have gotten prevent very much of that going on to full conviction. ¶

I am convinced also that it does not result in their being killed because the kill situation comes from fire fight, and a fighting situation. That is why people get killed. ¶

They do not go out to kill them.

Mr. Moorhead. But they can be arrested and brought up before—

Ambassador Colby. They can be arrested and the bribery and corruption problem can exist.

Mr. Moorhead. They can be brought before a tribunal of questionable officers.

Ambassador Colby. The actions include such things as requiring that the village chief be informed of operations, of arrests taking place within his village, so that he can reflect the local community attitude toward that individual.

Mr. Moorhead. You mentioned police chiefs.

Hasn’t President Thieu replaced all the police chiefs and other appointed local officials?

Won’t this result in their being loyal to him, not as President, but as a candidate for reelection?

Ambassador Colby. The Province chiefs are appointed by the President. The district chiefs are appointed by the Prime Minister. The police chiefs at the different levels are appointed by the chief of police, who in turn is appointed by the President.

The President did change a number of Province chiefs over the past 3 years, in an attempt to get better ones. Frankly. I think he has in great part succeeded.

I think there is a great change in the quality of Province chiefs in that country. The Prime Minister has changed, of the 250 odd districts, probably 150 district chiefs over the past 2 or 3 years, again in a search for better ones. He requires them to go through a training course before they ran be appointed, and that sort of thing.

There has just been a rather substantial change in the police structure, partly as a result of Sir Robert Thompson’s recommendations to the President there for a new way of organizing the police.

There were particularly brought into the police some military officers, selected out of the military, to take some of the police chiefs jobs at various levels. The attempt there was to get good police chiefs to replace some of those that really had not been so good in the past.

Mr. Moorhead. What is the “special branch” of the Vietnamese National Police Force?

Ambassador Colby. This is the intelligence branch of the national police.

It is similar to most national police structures in the British and French systems, which have a special branch where they conduct their intelligence operations. I think the comparable branch of the FBI would be the Internal Security Division or Unit, whatever they call that. {p.201}

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Ambassador, you have been in Vietnam for some time now. What would you assess the percentage of support of the South Vietnamese Government to be?

I don’t mean those who are pro-Communist, but those who are for the Government of South Vietnam.

Ambassador Colby. I hate to be hard on this, but pro-Government is an acceptance, in my mind, of the constitutional structure, the constitutional Government. I think the vast majority of the people have accepted the constitutional structure.

I think there are a lot of people, however, including the Buddhists, for instance, who are opposed to the present incumbent government, the President and Prime Minister.

But I believe that this is the key thing that is going on in terms of political development in Vietnam. It is the building of a constitutional structure in which differences can be resolved without overthrowing the Government.

I think the Government’s success in conducting its elections of the past 3 years at the village and hamlet levels, the success at the Province levels, and with the Senate last year, have very substantially brought the Buddhist groups into an acceptance of the overall constitutional structure as a framework within which to try to remove the incumbent government, rather than going out into the streets.

We had a very interesting incident a couple of months ago in Hue when two Bonzes burned themselves. The local Buddhist leadership indicated they would not support the making of a public issue out of that.

I, frankly, laid that attitude on their part, to the fact that they had won the Province council elections last year in the Hue area, and their list won the Senate election last year.

I think that building a constitutional framework is the most important thing going on, and, of course, it is facing a particular challenge this year in the lower house and the Presidency.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Ambassador, I would like now to turn to the question of land reform.

On page 4 of your statement you talk about making the tiller of the land its owner. How is that program progressing?

Is it progressing well, or just barely adequately?

Ambassador Colby. I think it is progressing quite well, Mr. Chairman.

Frankly, the land reform program is directed by the USAID Mission, rather than by CORDS in Vietnam. But I do know that by the anniversary of the land reform bill in March, they had managed to distribute 200,000 hectares of land, which was their target for that period. It wasn’t their original target, but was their target after they got. into it.

I know it has its problems like most other programs, but has had a substantial political impact, and I think it will continue to be implemented and applied.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Ambassador, we have had testimony about the number of refugees and the figures have ranged all over the lot. ¶

We are now fortunate in having you before the subcommittee to give us the correct answer. {p.202}

How many Vietnamese have been uprooted from their homes over the period from 1965, and how many should probably be called refugees today?

I don’t mean the ones that are technically receiving aid, but who should, in humanitarian terms, be called refugees today?

Ambassador Colby. I testified on this subject to Senator Kennedy at the Senate Subcommittee on Refugees and Escapees in April, Mr. Chairman. I agree with you that the figures are somewhat less than completely clear over the years. I tried to clarify it by a new way of computing it, which indicates that over the years, the total of refugees generated comes to about 5,300,000. That includes people who were the subject of war damage, as distinct from moving away from their homes. In other words, there were a million people during the TET attacks during 1968 that had their houses damaged. A lot of them had their houses burned down, but didn’t leave the town.

I think the figure you are looking for is the total number of people who have registered or have been affected by the war effort. That is in the neighborhood of 5,300,000.

I don’t think that is the whole picture. I think there are people beyond that who were not registered, but that gives you between a quarter and a third of the population in Vietnam.

If you come down to today, the situation today — and let’s leave the current caseload figures aside — I think you are in the neighborhood of a half million people that you could still say are refugees in the real sense. They are either living in their refugee communities that they set up several years ago, or they have gotten certain benefits and gotten jobs in the new area. But they would like to go home. They are still away from home.

I would say that something in that neighborhood would be the correct figure. Well over a million have already gone home. Various benefits have been paid to many more.

I think the total amount of benefits paid comes to 6 million odd recipients. There is a duplication there, because sometimes two or three benefits go to the same man.

Mr. Moorhead. So what is your figure for today?

Ambassador Colby. My current figure is in the neighborhood of half a million. This is not a firm figure. We don’t have that kind of statistic. These people are registered for certain benefits. They were paid certain benefits. They then dropped off the registration list. ¶

But, as you say, in human terms they are still refugees.

Mr. Moorhead. Are those the ones who are currently receiving benefits?

Ambassador Colby. No, sir.

The ones currently receiving benefits are around 250,000 or 300,000. Again we are a little bit loose in definitions here.

I say the key thing is that when a man becomes a refugee, he registers for certain benefits. He is then counted as a refugee entitled to certain benefits. He then is paid the benefits, at which point his name drops off the list. He is no longer on the list.

You said in human terms, which I think is a fair way of putting it. He is not on the formal list in human terms. I gave you a rough estimate of the number of people who I think are still away from their homes, who would like to go back. {p.203}

Mr. Moorhead. Your figure is roughly double the number who are officially listed as receiving benefits.

Ambassador Colby. Those are people who have registered recently and have not yet been paid all their benefits. That does not mean the people, for instance, in Quang Nam Province. That is an area where divisions have contested for several years. There has been a vast amount of destruction and damage done there by both sides. There are people who were driven out of their homes in 1965 as refugees. They have settled themselves in refugee camps along the roads.

These refugees have been paid their benefits, and many of them have new jobs and new ways of living. They are not on the current lists.

You asked whether they are refugees. I think in human terms they are.

I refer you to the statistical approach also in my previous testimony. That is the difference I am trying to draw. In terms of the precise number that are currently registered for benefits, I have that here.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Ambassador, we had the testimony of Mr. Nooter, from AID that the present number as recorded by the social welfare, is approximately 550,000 persons. 250,000 of those were receiving refugee benefits, and 300,000 receiving benefits under the return to village program.

Ambassador Colby. That is a distinction I draw, Mr. Chairman. The return to the village, I think, is going in the opposite direction from a refugee.

A refugee is running away from something. A return to village fellow is going home. He is receiving certain benefits.

As I say, well over a million people have gone home, and about 700,000 or 800,000 of those actually have been paid benefits. Those are on the positive side.

You asked the total number of current people who are not able to go home because their areas are still insecure, they just can’t get there, or for some other reason they can’t, but they still want to.

There is a refugee camp right near the DMZ. It has about 7,000 people in it now. It used to have 20,000 people.

Most of those people came from the DMZ. They are never going back to the DMZ in the reasonable future; 12,000 of them have been resettled and put into farms in that Province. The other 7,000 or 8,000 are still there. They are not on our rolls as current caseloads, but they are people who will need help.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Ambassador, one final line of questioning. ¶

This has to do with accounting.

As you know, the jurisdiction of this subcommittee is as to efficiency and economy of Government operations.

I am sure you are familiar with the General Accounting Office report. It says, among other things, that CORDS maintains incomplete financial records. It says certain problems could be avoided “If CORDS had established procedures for central management and control of budgets and obligation data.”

It says, ¶

“We learned during a survey that internal audits and inspections had generally not been conducted. Of the 12 audit groups authorized to inspect CORDS’ operations, only two had done so since 1967.” {p.204}

Then it points out it is very difficult to check on the efficiency and economy of the Government because ¶

CORDS frequently commingles the funds of two or more agencies.” ¶

And so forth. I might say that the pages I have read from are unclassified pages in a secret document.

Mr. Ambassador, I understand when CORDS was first established, there was an emergency situation. I am inclined to think it was a good thing to unite various funds and personnel into one operating agency. ¶

But isn’t it possible now to establish central accounting management so that the Congress — and the General Accounting Office, as an arm of Congress — can make internal audits so that we can be sure where the dollars and resources have been expended{,} that they were properly applied, and are being utilized with a minimum of waste involved in a program the size of CORDS?

Ambassador Colby. I agree with you, Mr. Chairman. ¶

The team from the GAO that was out there last year, that made that report, had that as one of the main points they made to me when they left. They had a very difficult time putting the figures together.

My point, of course, is that we were in the middle of a wartime effort and we, frankly, had our main focus on doing the job and less on accounting for a considerable period.

I fully agreed that it was time to tighten up and get the thing organized so people could understand it better and understand the various contributions. We moved along on that.

We have, I think, some figures that are much better today than they were when that team was there. I would not say they are entirely perfect yet, but we are in the course of developing exactly that kind of figure that should give the Congress a proper view. ¶

I fully agree that it is needed at this stage.

Mr. Moorhead. Those figures now, with qualifications, are they in such form that they could be presented to us?

Ambassador Colby. I have a copy of them here, Mr. Chairman, and I will be glad to leave it for the record. They are still somewhat tentative, but I can leave them for the committee to look at.

Mr. Moorhead. Are they unclassified?

Ambassador Colby. They are unclassified. They are the work of our people in the field.

As you know, sometimes the field figures don’t entirely match with the Washington figures, because of other factors put into them.

I hasten to say that this figure is not necessarily absolutely correct. These figures are still subject to modification, but I think they give a rough idea.

There are some points of decisionmaking as to what you include. For instance, we did not include in this, various expenditures of the Vietnamese Government, which in a sense might be included. For instance, the salaries and costs of village chiefs and governments. We decided that would go on anyway, and we would leave that out.

The new program of veterans benefits that the Vietnamese Government has enacted, they have done on their own. They are not getting any support out of the Americans.

We are helping them in very minor degrees on the disabled veterans programs, the widows and orphans. The main thrust of the program does not show. {p.205}


Mr. Moorhead. Without objection, that will be made part of the record.

(See p.223.)

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Reid?

Mr. Reid.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Ambassador, let me return briefly to the an tri law. Specifically, a section of the law says:

By this Decree are outlawed private persons, parties, leagues, associations that commit acts of any form which are directly or indirectly aimed at practicing Communism or Pro-Communist Neutralism.

Then it says:

Shall be considered as Pro-Communist Neutralist a person who commits acts of propaganda for and incitement of Neutralism: these acts are assimilate to acts of jeopardizing public security.

Is it fair to say that someone who is considered a neutralist might be subject to it?

Ambassador Colby. I think under the act, but not under the Phoenix program.

The Phoenix program defines categories A, B, and C of Communist offenders. ¶

Category A is essentially the leadership elements of the VCI. ¶

B is the cadre element of the Vietcong apparatus. ¶

C is any others who might help the Communist effort in some way.

The focus of the Phoenix is on the A and B only. The law might include others but the Phoenix program would not.

Mr. Reid. I am still asking whether this is possible within the definition, and you think it is not?

Ambassador Colby. I think the individual could be punished under the law, but would not come under the Phoenix program in that sense.

I think we have done a lot of things, like the makeup of the dossiers and so forth, to focus them very clearly on leaders and cadre members of the apparatus. It specifically does not call for questions about neutralism, and so forth.

Mr. Reid. Did you see the statement the other day of General Minh, in which he expressed deep concern that Phoenix was being used by the Government against political opponents?

The clear inference was that it could be used by President Thieu in the upcoming campaign, and thereby prejudice or threaten to prejudice the character of the election.

Ambassador Colby. I think I did see that statement.

It is very similar, Mr. Congressman, to the statements of a number of members of the Vietnamese legislature, and press critics of the Government over there for some time.

This program has been under some supervision by the legislature. The Prime Minister has met the legislature and answered questions about it and so forth in the discussions.

Mr. Reid. In your judgment, is this a real possibility in some areas, that it could be used in that sense?

Ambassador Colby. Could is a broad word.

I think it is possible, but I do not think it will be. It is possible, but I do not think it will be, frankly.

Mr. Reid. Second, let me ask to the extent that individuals are killed — and I think there have been 20,000 to date, while the figures {p.206} you have provided for this year are 3,650 — how many were killed under the Phoenix program, and is the killing in a noncombat situation?

Ambassador Colby. I think the killings occur mostly in combat situations.

(The information follows:)



During the period January 1970 through March 1971, 87.6 percent of the VCI reported as neutralized by being killed were killed by regular (United States, ARVN, Free World) or paramilitary (RF, PF, PSDF, CIDG) forces and only 12.4 percent by police (NP, SP, NPFF) and similar (PRU, RDC, and so forth) forces.


Mr. Reid. What would be the incidence of noncombat situations?

Ambassador Colby. I think some are killed fighting off arrests.

Mr. Reid. What weapons are used in this kind of operation?

Ambassador Colby. The police have pistols and rifles, and that is about all.

Mr. Reid. Are boobytraps or knives used? Are trail boobytraps used, for example?

Ambassador Colby. The self-defense force will set up defense and ambushes around the community at night. You have a whole series of defenses around every community every night designed to catch people who are not properly moving through that area.

I think the losses to boobytraps have been mainly on the other side. I think it has been mainly the other side that has suffered from boobytraps.

I would say the local self-defense force probably does set up some boobytraps along trails going into the community. The members of the community are well aware that there is a curfew after dark, and that innocent people don’t walk around at night.

Mr. Reid. I think I know the answer to this question, but I would like to ask it for the record.

Do you state categorically that Phoenix has never perpetrated the premeditated killing of a civilian in a noncombat situation?

Ambassador Colby. No, I could not say that, but I do not think it happens often. I certainly would not say never.

Mr. Reid. Mr. Ambassador—

Ambassador Colby. Let me distinguish. ¶

Phoenix, as a program, I say, has not done that. ¶

Individual members of it, subordinate people in it, may have done it. ¶

But as a program, it is not designed to do that.

Mr. Reid. Mr. Ambassador, could you describe a little more clearly the function of American personnel assigned to Phoenix?

Do they perform any actual arrests or killings, or do they merely select the individuals who are to be placed on the list who are subject to killing or capturing and subsequent sentencing?

Ambassador Colby. The American personnel assigned to the Phoenix program help the process of accumulating the information, primarily, Mr. Congressman. They help on filling out the dossiers, working out techniques for how the dossiers are handled.

Mr. Reid. But Americans do not participate in the implementation?

Ambassador Colby. They certainly do not arrest, because they have no right to arrest. {p.207}

American units may capture people in the course of a raid on a district VC headquarters base, in which case people are captured. When they are revealed as not meeting the POW standards, then they are turned over to the Vietnamese authorities. ¶

The Americans, at that point, are in an advisory position.

Occasionally a police advisor may go out with a police unit to capture somebody, just to see how it is done, what is the performance of that unit. ¶

He would not be the man who reached out and grabbed the fellow.

Mr. Reid. Mr. Ambassador, does CORDS or any other agency keep a record about each individual whom Phoenix has neutralized?

Ambassador Colby. We have been working with the Vietnamese Government to set up a data processing system, which will put into a single file, all of the people identified as VCI, and also give us a, set of followup reports on any of them that have been picked up, where they stand in the processing, when they are convicted, how long they are convicted for, where they go to prison, how long they stay there, whether they come out when they are supposed to, and so forth.

Mr. Reid. When did this verification system start?

Ambassador Colby. In its full-blown operation, it is just about right now, Mr. Congressman.

The full VCI listings we have had now for about a year.

Mr. Reid. Of the listings you have had for about a year, what degree of accuracy did you find?

Did you find that the people that had been listed by the Phoenix program were in fact VCI, or a large percentage thereof, or did you find that some were not properly identified?

Ambassador Colby. That you would have to determine at the district center.

Mr. Reid. Have you verified anything at the district center?

Ambassador Colby. We have.

The existence of intelligence reports which would indicate this man has a certain job in the VCI — the intelligence report is in the dossier.

Mr. Reid. Can you say there is a high degree of accuracy in the initial dossier or report or do you have some concern as to the accuracy?

Ambassador Colby. I have never been highly satisfied with the accuracies of our intelligence effort on the VCI.

Mr. Reid. Are we talking about a substantial number, say over a thousand, who might have been improperly identified, or are you talking in terms of a hundred or what?

Ambassador Colby. I would say initially identified, misidentified, I would say that in the past you had larger numbers than that.

Mr. Reid. Meaning what, over 5,000?

Ambassador Colby. I wouldn’t like to give you a figure, but I would say that—

Mr. Reid. Or 7,000? Is that the implication?

Ambassador Colby. I frankly don’t have a number, Mr. Congressman. When we initially went into this program 3 years ago of helping out with refining the accuracy of it in telling, identifications of people as members of the VCI, we found a very imprecise area. We feel that our questions are quite accurate now. {p.208}

Mr. Reid. When did you decide that there was a very imprecise area here?

Ambassador Colby. When we first got into it. Once we started looking into the original lists and information—

Mr. Reid. How long did it stay very imprecise?

Ambassador Colby. Until we could work up the dossier systems.

Mr. Reid. Starting in 1967, when do you think the dossiers were worked up?

Ambassador Colby. By mid-1969 they began to get a little bit of validity to them.

Mr. Reid. So for 2 years, there was very little validity?

Ambassador Colby. It wasn’t until mid-1968 that the program really got started at all.

Mr. Reid. Well, we will call it a year and a half.

Ambassador Colby. Call it a year or so that it was very imprecise.

Mr. Reid. I have here a list that has been provided to the subcommittee by Mr. Michael Uhl in the Phoenix program. It is a list of VC cadre rounded up in one of the Provinces after that area was secured by Operation Pershing in February of 1967. I can’t attest to the accuracies of the document, which is dated February 28, 1967.

It is of some interest that on this list 33 of 61 names were women and some persons were as young as 11 and 12. It is a list of VC cadre. Apparently it was based on material developed in February 1967.

I do note, for example, that there is a young girl who was born in 1955, Phan Thi Nhuan. Another boy was born in 1956, Pham Danh. He was listed as a liaison agent. The young girl is listed as a Women Association Cadre.

I merely mention this and ask if there is no objection that it be included in the record to indicate that the list does contain a number of women and does contain a relatively significant number of children not even in their teens.

Ambassador Colby. I think that is an example, Mr. Congressman, of exactly the situation that this program is designed to eliminate, to bring more accuracy into the program and to improve that kind of compilation so that it really targets at the main people and not a lot of people who are merely incidentally involved.

Mr. Moorhead. Would you like this in the record?

Mr. Reid. I will amend my motion to say subject to its being verified.

Mr. Moorhead. Without objection, it is so ordered.

(The material follows:)



Hoainho'n, February 28, 1967.


Mr. Chief, National Police Department of Binhdinh Province.
Mr. Advisor of Special Police Branch of Binhdinh Province.
Mr. Colonel Smith, G.2, 1st Air Cavalry, Nhatrang.
The Staff Command of Pershing operation.

Documents herewith: List of VC cadres (From N. 1 to 61) — To be continued.

Remarks: For information — This list of VC cadre is extracted from the list in Vietnamese sent from 18th to 26th February 1967 by our camp.

Chief, Screening Camp. {p.209}


{To come}


Mr. Reid. Mr. Ambassador, you had some colloquy with the chairman wherein he expressed the view that he would have some concern about this program, particularly if the United States had anything to do with it. ¶

Was this program initially a program established by the South Vietnamese? {p.210}

Ambassador Colby. It is really only Vietnamese, but the Americans had a great deal to do with starting the program.

Mr. Reid. Did we have anything to do with starting the program?

Ambassador Colby. Yes, we had a great deal to do in terms of developing the ideas, discussing the need, developing some of the procedures, and so forth.

Mr. Reid. Would you say the initiative on this lay with the United States or with the South Vietnamese Government?

Ambassador Colby. I would say with both. ¶

I would say the United States had a great deal to do with it and maybe more than half the initiative came from us originally. ¶

I think at this point that probably we contribute less than half of the effort.

Mr. Reid. I might say, Mr. Ambassador, that I am not totally reassured by what you say. I want to compliment you, however, on your candor. At no time have you taken any position other than that of full support for this program. ¶

I personally have felt for some time, as you know, that this is not something that the United States should be engaged in. ¶

I personally think that it does violate the Geneva Convention, giving protection to civilian persons in time of war. I have talked with Prof. Roger Fisher, among the others, of Harvard Law School. I believe this does violate the Geneva Convention in this regard. ¶

If it was a clear violation of the Geneva Convention and if in addition it is very clear that the trial procedures under the an tri law or other procedures do not provide basic protections, however one defines that, legally or morally, is there not a case for the United States cutting off funds completely for this program and disassociating itself completely from the program?

Indeed, my own view is that we should indicate to Saigon that this kind of thing should be stopped forthwith.

Ambassador Colby. If one accepts your premise, Mr. Congressman. I think cutting off connections with it is not enough. As I indicated to the chairman, I think the degree of U.S. assistance to Vietnam calls upon us to use our influence with them to—

Mr. Reid. I was trying to use a little understatement in saying that the program should be totally stopped. ¶

We have the leverage to indicate this to Saigon, quite obviously. ¶

I think the premises are clear. ¶

I have heard nothing to assure me there is any kind of legal safeguard. ¶

I have heard nothing to indicate that if those people are eliminated, whether by a boobytrap or a fire fight, they are any less dead. ¶

I am surprised that we would start this kind of program. ¶

It seems to me it is doing precisely the sort of thing we said we didn’t want to have anything to do with. ¶

I think it does not permit a climate conducive to free elections. ¶

It does mean that people are summarily shot. In some cases it may be in a fire fight and in other cases it may be in a different kind of operation. But it is summary justice. ¶

It is a matter of national policy that apparently has been approved by the President of South Vietnam, as well as strongly endorsed by General Abrams.

I just don’t see how the United States can involve itself in this kind of program. ¶

Your response, I take it, is that my premises are incorrect.

Ambassador Colby. I would question some of your premises, Mr. Congressman. ¶

Secondly, I would say that many of the things that you quite legitimately express concern about have gone on in Vietnam for {p.211} a long time and that this program is designed to eliminate them, not to continue them,

This program is designed to improve the situation so that kind of abuse does not take place. ¶

I think we have made very substantial strides in this. ¶

I think our action should be to continue to try to make a proper program of an essential element of this kind of war that is going on and not either to give away this whole arena of the war to the enemy, nor to accept continued abuses in the actions to contest—

Mr. Reid. As I understand your point of view, you feel this kind of program is inherent in the kind of war that is being fought and while it has been subject to abuses, some of it is being corrected. ¶

I would say that if we went into Vietnam on the grounds of self-determination, justice should become a meaningful term. ¶

This is precisely the kind of thing which has been perpetrated by Hanoi and the Vietcong and should not be duplicated by South Vietnam or the United States.

Then there is very little difference between the kind of terror on one side and elimination or neutralization on the other. ¶

It seems to me the United States sinks to a low level when it indulges in this kind of thing. ¶

I doubt that any court of law, international or otherwise, would sanction what we are doing. ¶

Therefore, it is my concern that not only will the funds be cut off and Congress might think about that, but equally that our Embassy and other officials in Vietnam will stop this program completely. ¶

I think it is reprehensible.

Might I finally ask one final question. ¶

Do you think that absent U.S. forces, and including the fact that I hope we will not have any residual force in Vietnam either, that the present government or successive governments or the program of Vietnamization is likely to succeed, or do you think that the program itself is subject to a very risky future? ¶

Can you say with some degree of confidence that you think Vietnamization is out of the woods and that a viable government will last there?

Ambassador Colby. I think this depends on what is the end objective, Mr. Congressman. ¶

I have said on several occasions that unfortunately the Vietnamese are not going to live happily ever after. ¶

They are going to have to face a security threat from North Vietnam and from the Vietcong over a number of years. They are going to lose a few and they are going to win a few. ¶

But I do believe that the probabilities are very clear that they will be able to sustain themselves in the future without the U.S. presence there that has been there in the past.

I think this stems from an increased awareness by the Vietnamese of the nature of the war being waged against them and by an increased degree of political and social solidarity that is coming up under this new constitutional development.

Mr. Reid. Assuming the premise that it has a chance, doesn’t that depend on whether there are free elections, and is not the action of President Thieu in requiring a certain number of signatures to be able to run in this election and certain other steps being taken likely to depart from anything resembling what we might call a free election?

Ambassador Colby. I don’t think that is the case. This is a form of primary he has set up to reduce the number of candidates, but leave a full choice between the candidates. {p.212}

Mr. Reid. Is it likely that Vice President Ky will be able to run or General Minh?

Ambassador Colby. Certainly, General Minh will be able to run and I don’t know whether Vice President Ky will be a candidate or not, but he gives every evidence of it.

I share your concern, Mr. Congressman. I think the success of the program in part depends upon the success of the elections that have been held in the past and that they are facing a very critical watershed this year. ¶

If they conduct a good election, one that they can stand up to and defend and be proud of, then I think they will consolidate their Constitution. ¶

If they don’t, they may have some trouble.

Mr. Reid. Thank you very much, Mr. Ambassador.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. McCloskey.

Mr. McCloskey.  Mr. Ambassador, when I was in Vietnam several years ago, one of the Communists said they use the terms neutralize and eliminate. They didn’t say they were executing village chiefs. ¶

Did we choose this word neutralization by design?

Ambassador Colby. Frankly, what you are dealing with, Congressman, is the problem of presenting information. I like to use the three subordinate verbs, rally, capture or sentence and kill. But if you have to get a collective word to express the total, then—

Mr. McCloskey. The terms that I have seen across the top say neutralization and rally, capture and sentence.

Ambassador Colby. There was “elimination,” and various other words that drifted around in the process. ¶

That one seemed to be a neutral word, neutralization. ¶

It is of the infrastructure, not of the individual.

Mr. McCloskey. The estimated VCI strength in 1970 was 63,000, of which over 34,000 were unidentified. 28,218 were identified for that total of 63,000. ¶

During 1970 we had eliminated or neutralized 22,341, roughly a third of what still remained. ¶

There were 8,000 killed. I went out in the field then. ¶

Unfortunately, of the people neutralized, they had no proof that they were VCI. ¶

Was that an accurate statement?

Ambassador Colby. Of what you were told?

Mr. McCloskey. Let’s take this report for the first 2 months of 1971. ¶

1,346 have been sentenced. ¶

Apparently they met somebody’s proof showing that they were reasonable security risks. ¶

1,527 had been rallied to come over to our side. ¶

1,620 had been killed, but most of them had been killed in operations out in the field and identified after the fight as potential VCI. ¶

This is true of the program today, isn’t it? ¶

Most of those killed are identified after the fight as possibly having been attached to the VCI?

Ambassador Colby. What they are identified from is from documents on the body after a fire fight. You will find that the squad leader of that guerrilla unit was also a village security chief or something which classifies him as a VCI.

Mr. McCloskey. The figures that we were given for the first 2 months of 1971 indicated that there were 63,000 VCI remaining, and our program neutralized 4,500, of which 1,620 were killed. During the same period, the VCI had killed 680 and abducted 772. During that program, we had neutralized three times as many as the VC had neutralized. {p.213}

Ambassador Colby. I think we are talking about a totally different area, Congressman. The terrorism figures against the Government include not only the people in the Government, the village chiefs and so forth, they also include the ordinary population. In fact, the vast majority of those 6,000 people killed during 1969 and 1970 were ordinary members of the general populous. I think something on the order of 1,500 were what are called selective assassinations where the enemy really went in and targeted a certain individual and killed him.

The figure on the Government side of VCI that we eliminated includes only the people that we think are members of the Communist apparatus, not the followers or the simple people.

Mr. McCloskey. Our target of neutralization is directed at the VCI?

Ambassador Colby. Categories A and B.

Mr. McCloskey. We started with 63,000 and neutralized 4,500 in the first 2 months. Their program showed less than one-third against the general population of what ours is against the targeted people. So presumably we could leave this country tomorrow and the Phoenix program would continue to wipe out the VCI at a ratio of 3 to 1, or more, if those statistics are correct?

Ambassador Colby. I wouldn’t categorize those figures in the same way.

Mr. McCloskey. Is that right about the first 2 months of the year?

Ambassador Colby. I will accept the figures.

Mr. Reid. Would the gentleman yield? ¶

Mr. Ambassador, on the point my colleague is making, I have been told that Phoenix is frequently used as an after-the-fact identification rationale for killing civilians during a tactical military operation. ¶

In other words, civilians who are killed in such an operation are subsequently labeledVCIin order to justify having killed them. ¶

My question is, if this on occasion has happened, does that mean that fire fights occur where civilians are shot without those pulling the trigger knowing initially whether they were VCI or not, and if so, doesn’t this mean fairly indiscriminate shooting of civilians as opposed to military in a fire fight?

Either way, it seems to me it is not justifiable.

Ambassador Colby. I think the answer, Mr. Congressman, is to clarify the nature of those fights. ¶

The nature of those fights is a fight between a very evanescent VC unit or sometimes North Vietnamese with South Vietnamese accompanying them, sometimes in uniform and sometimes not. ¶

After the battle, they go out and check who those people were. ¶

They find that a certain man was the liaison chief or had some other job in the local district committee. ¶

These are not ordinary civilians incidental to the fight. ¶

These are people who were killed in the course of the fight between the Government forces and the enemy. ¶

It was after the fact that they were identified, in addition to being soldiers, as members of the VCI.

Mr. Reid. What I am getting at is once the target is centered on a village that may contain VCI, that certainly puts a number of civilians who might be called insurgents on a list that means they are subject to elimination. ¶

As I read the Geneva Convention, insurgents are equally subject to protection. ¶

Here it would appear to me that insurgents or just plain civilians might be caught up in one of these fire fights. ¶

Again, I am concerned on both counts. ¶

I thank my colleague for yielding. {p.214}

Mr. McCloskey. The reason I asked you about that ratio, Mr. Ambassador, if we continue at the present rate, we will have 27,000 VCI neutralized within a year. ¶

Yet as of this morning, U.S. intelligence reports show the Vietcong infrastructure has actually increased by several thousand over the past year. ¶

Is that a correct statement?

Ambassador Colby. The estimate that the Post is referring to is the estimate which includes the headquarters of the local and higher levels also. These were not included in the earlier total figures. ¶

There has been a monthly decline of comparable figures over the past year, although there was a jump when these additional higher level figures were added as by reason of the way the machinery had been developed, they were not numerically counted in the total at an earlier stage.

Second, there is no contention that the total of VCI goes down together with the number of those neutralized because there is a replacement going on.

Mr. McCloskey. I wonder if you have any intelligence whether the operation of Phoenix creates more VCI by reason of the use of these tactics? ¶

The whole history has been one of resisting this type of thing, has it?

Ambassador Colby. That is why the Government did not make this a secret operation, Mr. Congressman. ¶

This was made a public program. There is a current program on to identify on the walls of the villages in terms of the names and pictures of all of the identified members of the VCI. ¶

There is a double reason for that.

First, it is to get the people to participate in the elimination of this terrorist threat. ¶

Second, quite frankly, there is the attempt to get the check of the people on the accuracies of the names. If a name is not accurate, we expect to hear from them.

Mr. McCloskey. When you say it is not a secret program, Mr. Ambassador, can you tell me why the identity and location of these Province interrogation centers, which are the intervening step between the arrest and the final sentencing, are kept secret? ¶

I have seen two. ¶

The one I saw had deliberately been built inside what appeared to be an empty school, and building in isolation cells 5 by 7 feet in size along the central corridor.

If you looked into that school building from the outside, you saw what appeared to be an empty school building. The classrooms were still there. A wall at least 10 feet high with a barbed wire fence was built around this installation. There was no way of knowing what was inside that building. No American had ever been in it. ¶

If this is such an open matter, why are such precautions taken for secrecy?

Ambassador Colby. This is where they bring suspects and people accused of other crimes as well. ¶

They need some protection to keep them enclosed. ¶

I don’t think there is any secrecy about the existence of the centers. I think these are pretty generally known in the local communities for what they are. ¶

These belong to the special branch of the national police and are used for the interrogation of people in them. ¶

There are some Americans who do inspect these centers also on a regular basis.

Mr. McCloskey. I understand there are 21 such Americans but in 44 Provinces in Vietnam they are not present when interrogation takes place.

Ambassador Colby. Sometimes they are present and sometimes they are not. {p.215}


Mr. McCloskey. The question I have is why the secrecy? ¶

Why do you build a prison inside an empty school building to look like a school building instead of a prison?

Ambassador Colby. The Province interrogation centers are built on a common construction plan. I don’t think they are made to look like a school building. They don’t look like school buildings from outside. They look like prisons.

Mr. McCloskey. Have you seen this particular Province interrogation center? It is in the city of Qui Nhon.

Ambassador Colby. No, I have not seen it.

Mr. McCloskey. I can tell you it is built to look unlike a prison. It is like a school building and then surrounded with walls.

Ambassador Colby. The plan for a Province interrogation center which exists in most of the Provinces I think looks kind of like a prison.

Mr. McCloskey. How many of these have you seen?

Ambassador Colby. Oh, 20 or 30, something of that order.

Mr. McCloskey. How many would a passerby on the street know was a prison?

Ambassador Colby. I think by reason of the protections around it and the way in which it is organized and the general conversation.

Mr. McCloskey. The general populace of the community has an aura built up such as I suppose the bastille had before the French Revolution. Is there any way that a passerby going outside this wall knows what is inside that interior structure?

Ambassador Colby. It has a flag and is obviously a Government installation and probably has a policeman on the gate.

Mr. McCloskey. But the gates are all solid so you can’t look inside the wall, aren’t they?

Ambassador Colby. This is a classified area; there is no question about that.

Mr. McCloskey. Why is it classified, Mr. Ambassador, if this is such an open program?

Ambassador Colby. Mainly because it is part of the special branch of the National Police. That is their internal security branch which handles its material on a classified basis.

Mr. McCloskey. Once inside the exterior wall of these 27 installations you have seen, do any of them look like prisons; when you are inside the wall and looking at the building itself?

Ambassador Colby. You have a set of offices on one side and a set of cells on the other.

Mr. McCloskey. But there is nothing from the outside of that building that would indicate there were cells inside, is there?

Ambassador Colby. No, there is a blank wall.

Mr. McCloskey. And they are designed deliberately to do that so the steel doors that lead into the cells are seen only when you get inside the structure itself, aren’t they?

Ambassador Colby. There is a wall around the place both for its protection from the outside and to prevent escape. It is a solid wall around the building.

Mr. McCloskey. But why are those interior structures built to look unlike prisons?

Mr. Colby.  Some of them look like some of the ordinary detention centers also that are used in various places. The ordinary detention {p.216} center has a wall around it and you don’t see anything until you get inside. It is a normal detention center.

Mr. McCloskey. But when you do get inside that blank wall there is nothing to indicate that the building you are looking at is a prison until you go inside and see that row of steel doors and that row of cells, is there?

Ambassador Colby. I am talking about the Province Interrogation Center.

Mr. McCloskey. The correction center is the same type of center. Why is this built with such secrecy? Did the Americans build it?

Ambassador Colby. I can’t answer immediately whether American contractors were involved but I do know the United States supported their construction. Whether they used local contractors or not, I am not sure.

(The information referred to above follows:)



The Province Interrogation Centers were built by local Vietnamese contractors funded directly by the United States.


Mr. McCloskey. I have one further question. I noted that this quote appears: ¶

“The policy of Vietnam requires the relocation of people, to group them for greater security * * *  .”

It is therefore GVN policy that civilians are not to be relocated except where special circumstances exist?

In your earlier testimony you said 3 million people were relocated or became refugees. ¶

How many became displaced as a result of deliberate Government policy?

Ambassador Colby. I don’t think I have a figure on that, Congressman. I would guess that of those who were relocated in an earlier period there was a substantial number, although not the total by any means. I can’t give you a proportion offhand. ¶

Since 1970 the Government has adopted the policy of trying to minimize these but hasn’t eliminated them.

Mr. McCloskey. This has been at the urging of the U.S. forces?

Ambassador Colby. Yes. We have urged that security be brought to the people and not the people brought to security. This hasn’t worked all the time but that has been our basic line.

Mr. McCloskey. Do you have any legal opinion from the State Department, Mr. Ambassador, that would indicate that article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions does not apply to these civilians who are picked up?

Ambassador Colby. I can’t answer that. I would like to give you an answer on that later, if I may. I have discussed it in general terms but I would rather not give you a firm answer.

Mr. McCloskey. My distress is caused by the fact that apparently nobody, until recently, has ever looked at that question. If I may at this point in the record, Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask that we leave the record open for a response by the Ambassador whether anyone ever did check whether this satisfied article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and: two, what is the legal opinion of the Department of State today whether this complies with the Geneva Conventions. ¶

Thank you very much.

Mr. Moorhead. Without objection it will be so ordered.

(The material follows:) {p.217}



Questions have been raised and considered from time to time concerning the conformity of the Phoenix program with the Geneva Convention requirements. The following memorandum represents the opinion of the Department of State on this question.


The four Geneva Conventions of 1949 for the protection of war victims updated earlier international conventions to reflect the experiences of World War II. They filled a number of lacunae which had become evident in the earlier conventions. ¶

The fourth convention on protection of civilian persons in time of war was a completely new treaty designed to minimize, to the greatest possible extent, the suffering of civilians caught in the turbulence of war. Bearing in mind the Nazi practices during World War II, the drafters of the fourth convention sought to ensure humane treatment of civilians in belligerent and occupied territories, and to lay down rules to prevent their being deported, taken as hostage or interned in concentration camps. ¶

Experience since 1949 has revealed additional lacunae in the conventions, and international discussions are now taking place with a view to the further refinement of humanitarian treatment of both combatants and noncombatants caught up in armed conflict. ¶

Article 4 of the third convention of 1949 on protection of prisoners of war sets certain standards for recognition as prisoners of war. ¶

In Vietnam, the United States and the Republic of Vietnam have as a conscious policy accorded prisoner of war status to many thousands of paramilitary and other prisoners captured by United States or South Vietnamese forces who would not be entitled to it under the convention. (See MACV Directive 381-46, dated December 27, 1967, copy attached.)

Article 4 of the fourth convention on protection of civilian persons in time of war provides that persons protected by that convention are those who find themselves in the hands of a party to the conflict or occupying power of which they are not nationals. ¶

This means that South Vietnamese civilians detained by South Vietnamese authorities are not protected persons within the meaning of article 4 of the fourth Geneva Convention. ¶

Article 4 also provides that nationals of a cobelligerent state are not protected persons while the state of which they are nationals has normal diplomatic representation in the state in whose hands they are. ¶

This provision would seem to cast considerable doubt on the entitlement of South Vietnamese civilians captured by United States forces to protection as protected persons even while they are in the custody of the U.S. forces. ¶

Nevertheless, the United States and South Vietnamese Governments have agreed that humanitarian treatment must be accorded to all persons, irrespective of whether an individual is considered a protected person within the meaning of the convention, and we have acknowledged a residual responsibility with respect to those captured by U.S. forces.

Article 3, which is common to all four of the Geneva Conventions, prescribes the minimum standards of humanitarian treatment to be accorded to all persons, even though they may not be “protected persons” within the strict meaning of the conventions. ¶

Paragraph 1(d) of this article prohibits ¶

“the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.” ¶

This provision applies only to sentencing for crimes and does not prohibit a state from interning civilians for subjecting them to emergency detention when such measures are necessary for the security or safety of the state. 1 

The Phung Hoang, or Phoenix program, is a Vietnamese program aimed at the Vietcong infrastructure (VCI), the political subversive apparatus which directs and supports the military threat to South Vietnam’s security. ¶

The U.S. support of this program has been principally advisory in nature directed at improving the intelligence methods, the apprehension techniques, the legal procedures and the detention arrangements involved in the struggle of the Vietnamese against the VCI. ¶

Persons suspected of involvement in the VCI may be arrested by the Vietnamese authorities and placed in administrative detention or brought to trial. {p.218}

The Vietnamese “an tri”, or administrative detention procedure is similar in some respects to the emergency detention procedures utilized by a number of other nations in time of emergency to intern persons on grounds of national security. Such procedures involve no criminal sentence and are not violative of article 3. 2  On the other hand, aspects of the “an tri” procedure raise some problems which give us concern in this regard.

We have been working with the Government of the Republic of Vietnam with a view to improving the procedure to insure the humanitarian treatment of detainees. We are striving to make the “an tri” procedure accord with fundamental concepts of due process, and to improve the conditions of internment.

Not a part of the Phoenix program, but sometimes discussed as in possible conflict with the Geneva Conventions, is the subject of forced relocations of communities. Vietnamese Government policy is currently to bring security to the people rather than the people to security whenever possible, but such relocations have occurred in the past and, if deemed essential, might occur in the future. Article 49 of the fourth convention, intended to deal with the transfer of protected persons from occupied territory, clearly contemplates the possibility of transfer inside the national territory for security reasons. Article 49, like articles 42 and 43, concerns only protected persons. Of course, the general obligations of humanitarian treatment would apply in the case of any relocation of communities in South Vietnam, even though the individuals involved are not protected persons under the fourth Convention.

In conclusion, although there have been some individual failures in execution, thy general obligation of humanitarian treatment underlying the Geneva Conventions has been accepted by the Governments of Vietnam and the United States in the context of the Vietnam conflict, despite the anomalies created by attempting to apply rules essentially designed for a World War II situation to one involving a political, subversive infrastructure.


The ICRC commentary on the fourth Geneva Convention states in this connection:

“No sort of immunity is given to anyone under this provision. There is nothing in it to prevent a person presumed to be guilty from being arrested and so placed in a position where he can do no further harm; and it leaves intact the right of the State to prosecute, sentence and punish according to the law.” (p.31)

Articles 42, 43, and 78 of the fourth Geneva Convention clearly contemplate wartime internment and assigned residence for civilians as accepted procedure under certain safeguards. Since these articles apply only to protected persons, their specific requirements would not apply to South Vietnamese civilians.



December 27, 1967

Directive No. 381-46.


1.  Purpose.

This directive provides policy guidance for the combined screening of detainees, and for the activation, as required, of Combined Tactical Screening Centers (CTSC).

2.  General.

(a)  The forces that capture or detain suspect personnel are responsible for the prompt screening and classification of detainees.

(b)  Criteria for determination of status and classification of detainees is contained in paragraphs 3 and 4 of annex A.

(c)  Disposition of detained personnel who have been classified will be made in accordance with paragraph 5 of annex A.

(d)  Close coordination between the capturing forces, and authorities, and military police units is essential to accomplish the screening classification and disposition of the detained personnel.

3.  Applicability.

(a)  This directive applies to all U.S. forces and FWMAF assigned, attached, or under operational control of MACV.

(b)  CTSC are to be activated on an “as needed” basis in connection with combined operations, to optimize the screening of detained persons Deactivation will occur as soon as the tactical situation dictates and the requirement for the center no longer exists. {p.219}

4.  Discussion.

Classification of persons detained is the sole responsibility of the detaining U.S. or FWMAF. All detainees must be classified into one of the following categories:

(a)  Prisoners of war.

(b)  Nonprisoners of war.

(1)  Civil defendants.

(2)  Returnees.

(3)  Innocent civilians.

5.  Concept.

(a)  The success of the combined screening is dependent upon close coordination and integrated planning among all participating and interested organizations. Maximum cooperation and the availability of essential data will aid in the immediate release of innocent civilians and proper treatment of returnees.

(b)  Combined screening of detainees will be conducted at the lowest echelon of command practical; normally, at the brigade or division Prisoner of War (PW) collecting points. Screening centers should be located near sector/subsector headquarters for ease of access to both military and civilian files.

(c)  The mission of the CTSC is to optimize the screening and classification of a large number of detained personnel to permit effective exploitation of knowledgeable sources for immediate tactical information and to expedite the proper disposition of PW’s and nonprisoners of war.

6.  Responsibilities.

(a)  ACofS, J-2, will develop joint policy and guidance for the classification of detainees.

(b)  ACofS for CORDS will insure that its field activities coordinate with the operation of the CTSC.

(c)  CG, I FFORCEV, II FFORCEV, and III MAF will insure that units under their operational control have made adequate provisions for combined tactical screening of detainees prior to the start of operations.

(d)  Province and district chiefs will usually have the funds to provide for feeding of nonprisoners of war detainees. If local funds are not available, foodstuffs can be obtained through the local CORDS representative on an emergency basis.

7.  Organization of the contained tactical screening center (CTSC)

(a)  The CTSC will have joint representation from participating military units and civil authorities. Ideally, the deputy province chief and a representative from the operational unit should function as cochairmen. As established in paragraphs 2a and 8b, final responsibility for determining the status of persons detained by U.S. forces, rests with a representative of the U.S. Armed Forces. In addition to participation by various staff elements of the operational unit, representatives at the CTSC should include the following: The national police, provincial/district police, including the special branch, national police branch, military security service (MSS) and sector/subsector S2. Each element functioning in the CTSC will provide its own transportation, equipment, and supplies.

(b)  Exploitation of human sources, documents, materiel, and other intelligence requirements incident to the effective screening and classification of detainees will normally be accomplished by intelligence personnel of the participating elements.

(c)  Liaison with the province/district office is necessary to gain advice on territorial matters which may be affected as a result of activation of a screening center.

8.  Screening procedures

(a)  The detaining unit will insure that the proper documentation is initiated and maintained on every individual detained. It is imperative that data reflect circumstances of capture and whether documents of weapons were found on the detainee.

(b)  Maximum use must be made of interrogators and interpreters to conduct initial screening and segregation at the lowest possible level. Participation in the initial screening by all agencies represented in the CTSC is encouraged. However, the sole responsibility for determining the status of persons detained by U.S. forces rests with the representatives of the U.S. Armed Forces. {p.220}

(c)  Detainees will be classified in accordance with the criteria established in annex A. Every possible arrangement will be made to insure that it is a joint effort by the participants of the CTSC, that all possible information and facts have been gained from interrogation, and that all pertinent files and records have been checked.

(d)  To preclude rejection by the PW camp commanders of PW’s of questionable status, evidence gathered to substantiate the determination that the detainee is entitled to PW status must be forwarded with the prisoner. Improperly documented PWs will not be evacuated to PW camps.

{Annex A:}


1.  Purpose

To establish criteria for the classification of detainees which will facilitate rapid, precise screening, and proper disposition of detainees.

2.  Definitions

(a)  Detainees. Persons who have been detained but whose final status has not yet been determined. Such persons are entitled to humane treatment in accordance with the provisions of the Geneva Conventions.

(b)  Classification. The systematic assignment of a detainee in either the PW or nonprisoner of war category.

(c)  Prisoners of War. All detainees who qualify in accordance with paragraph 4a, below.

(d)  Nonprisoners of War. All detainees who qualify in accordance with paragraph 4b, below.

3.  Categories of forces

(a)  Vietcong (VC) Main Force (MF). Those VC military units which are directly subordinate to Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN), a front, Viet Cong military region, or subregion. Many of the VC units contain NVA personnel.

(b)  Vietcong (VC) Local Force (LF). Those VC military units which are directly subordinate to a provincial or district party committee and which normally operate only within a specified VC province or district.

(c)  North Vietnamese Army (NVA) Unit. A unit formed, trained and designated by North Vietnam as an NVA unit, and composed completely or primarily of North Vietnamese.

(d)  Irregulars. Organized forces composed of guerrilla, self-defense, and secret self-defense elements subordinate to village and hamlet level VC organizations. These forces perform a wide variety of missions in support of VC activities, and provide a training and mobilization base for maneuver and combat support forces.

(1)  Guerrillas. Full-time forces organized into squads and platoons which do not necessarily remain in their home village or hamlet. Typical missions for guerrillas include propaganda, protection of village party committees, terrorists, and sabotage activities.

(2)  Self-Defense Force. A VC paramilitary structure responsible for the defense of hamlet and village in VC controlled areas. These forces do not leave their home area, and they perform their duties on a parttime basis. Duties consist of constructing fortifications, serving as hamlet guards, and defending home areas.

(3)  Secret Self-Defense Force. A clandestine VC organization which performs the same general function in Government of Vietnam (GVN) controlled areas. Their operations involve intelligence collection, as well as sabotage and propaganda activities.

4.  Classification of detainees

(a)  Detainees will be classified PW’s when determined to be qualified under one of the following categories:

(1)  A member of one of the units listed in paragraph 3a, b, or c, above.

(2)  A member of one of the units listed in paragraph 3d, above, who is captured while actually engaging in combat or a belligerent act under arms, other than an act of terrorism, sabotage, or spying.

(3)  A member of one of the units listed in paragraph 3d, above who admits or for whom there is proof of his having participated or engaged {p.221} in combat or a belligerent act under arms other than an act of terrorism, sabotage, or spying.

(b)  Detainees will be classified as nonprisoners of war when determined to be one of the following categories:

(1)  Civil Defendants.

(a)  A detainee who is not entitled to PW status but is subject to trial by GVN for offenses against GVN law.

(b)  A detainee who is a member of one of the units listed in paragraph 3d, above, and who was detained while not engaged in actual combat or a belligerent act under arms, and there is no proof that the detainee ever participated in actual combat or belligerent act under arms.

(c)  A detainee who is suspected of being a spy, saboteur, or terrorist.

(2)  Returnees (Hoi Chanh). All persons regardless of past membership in any of the units listed in paragraph 3, above, who voluntarily submit to GVN control.

(3)  Innocent Civilians. Persons not members of any units listed in paragraph 3, above, and not suspected of being civil defendants.

5.  Disposition of classified detainees

(a)  Detainees who have been classified will be processed as follows:

(1)  U.S. captured PW’s and those PW’s turned over to the U.S. by FWMAF will be retained in U.S. Military channels until transferred to the ARVN PW Camp.

(2)  Nonprisoners of war who are suspected as civil defendants will be released to the appropriate GVN civil authorities.

(3)  Nonprisoners of war who qualify as returnees will be transferred to the appropriate Chieu Hoi Center.

(4)  Nonprisoners of war determined to be innocent civilians will be released and returned to the place of capture.

(b)  Responsibilities and procedures for evacuation and accounting for PW’s are prescribed in MACV directive 190-3 and USARV regulation 190-2.


Mr. Moorhead. While we are on that, members will have some questions to submit to you in writing. ¶

The staff has some questions to ask also.

Mr. Phillips.  As you know, Mr. Ambassador, last month the subcommittee held extensive hearings on the question of security classification procedures as part of our inquiry into the “Pentagon papers.” ¶

I am intrigued by the fact that in your prepared statement, annex 1, you list the number of CORDS personnel, U.S. personnel, and in annex 2, the estimated classification budget. Then in your supplementary statement on Phoenix you have two tables, one on page 3, of Phoenix operations against VCI and on page 5 U.S. support of Phoenix.

All four of these tables were classified in the GAO report on CORDS. Two were classified as secret and two were classified as confidential. GAO testified that they classified these various statistics because of their classification in the field.

Could you explain the mechanism by which you have obtained permission to declassify these four tables for our hearing today?

Ambassador Colby. I think a number of these figures may well have been overclassified. I frankly was a little surprised at the secret level on the GAO’s report but they may have found some document that was classified secret. I am well aware that there are also other documents which were only classified confidential that had that kind of material.

The declassification of some of these figures I have done in part on my own authority as a deputy to General Abrams and I have checked these with the appropriate authorities in the Department of State and the Department of Defense before submitting these statements.

Mr. Phillips. In other words, you were able to declassify them because you were the original classifier? {p.222}

Ambassador Colby. Essentially I was responsible for them, yes. Whether I actually put the stamp on the first time or not, I was responsible for the program.

Mr. Phillips. The data on the number of killings in the 1969 Phoenix operations against the VCI was classified as secret in the GAO document that was presented to our subcommittee about 2 weeks ago. ¶

Yet they were the very same figures that you used in your testimony before the Senate committee last spring, some 16 months earlier. ¶

This illustrates, I think, Mr. Chairman, the kind of problem we were trying to get at in our hearings on classification procedures. ¶

I thought it might be helpful to get this into the record of these hearings.

I have just two other questions.

On June 2 a memorandum was sent to you from Ambassador Bunker setting forth the guidelines to maintain neutrality in the Vietnamese elections.

Can you tell us what action CORDS has taken with its personnel to implement this memorandum?

Ambassador Colby. Yes. I personally have spoken at meetings in our four corps with the province senior advisers and explained the importance of the United States not interfering in these elections. We have put out written instructions and we have repeated Ambassador Bunker’s to our field staffs. We have passed along the same instructions. We have distributed the Ambassador’s instructions.

Mr. Phillips. In other words, you distributed his memorandum with a cover memorandum of your own.

Ambassador Colby. I have forgotten whether it had a cover memorandum or not. If it did, it merely said it is important to follow this directive.

Mr. Phillips. Was that memorandum declassified before it was forwarded to your personnel? It was classified as confidential?

Ambassador Colby. I think the Ambassador’s directive was declassified and consequently that would declassify our instructions as well. I think we probably passed that out on an unclassified basis.

Mr. Phillips. What I was getting at was the extent of distribution of the directive. I think the intent was to distribute it as widely as possible.

Ambassador Colby. Yes; we supplemented it by oral directives.

Mr. Phillips. On Thursday of last week Don Luce of the World Council of Churches testified as to the extent of VD among Vietnamese women and also the fact that an estimated 400,000 Amer-Asian children have been produced during years of our involvement in Vietnam. ¶

Is there any program of our Government — not necessarily CORDS — that is working to help solve these two serious social problems caused by our presence in Vietnam?

Ambassador Colby. I cannot speak very fully to it, but our public health program generally and the improvement of the whole medical capability of Vietnam is of course aimed, among other things, at VD in addition to other diseases.

Mr. Phillips. His testimony was that this was not reaching the Vietnamese people. Of course, it is taking care of our military and civilian personnel. Mr. Luce said that this was not reaching the Vietnamese people as far as protection against the spread of VD is concerned but {p.223} that only our own military and civilian personnel were being protected and treated.

Do you know of any program that is actually aiding the Vietnamese people who have been infected?

Ambassador Colby. Frankly I do not know of a particular program. I might not, in the normal course of things. But I do know that the general buildup of the health facilities, the local hospitals, the maternity dispensaries and things like this at the district, and even the village level, the training of nurses and medical technicians and additional doctors, all this is aimed at spreading this kind of thing. There are a lot of other diseases there that have not had particular attention in the past.

With respect to the children, there are orphanages in Vietnam at which some of these children reside. I have visited some of them myself.

There is a program of the Vietnamese Government of subsidizing orphanages that take care of children who have no parents or in many cases of only one parent. There is a day care system being pushed for the mothers who have no husbands and so forth. There is a current program being developed with Mr. Klein of the International Social Services to try to improve adoption services there. It is a very complicated subject. ¶

The one thing we frankly discouraged was the formation of a lot of orphanages by individual American units because our experience with that in Korea was not good. When the unit went away the orphanage was left and you also created a problem of apparent favoritism for the hybrid American as distinguished from other citizens.

Mr. Phillips. I think a conference is going on this week here in Washington sponsored in part by Brookings Institution which is trying to get at the problem of the Amer-Asian children, adoption procedures, and so on.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Ambassador, we enjoyed your testimony very much. We would like to go on but we have a vote in progress now. We will have to adjourn. You have carried out your assignment of explaining the CORDS program to this subcommittee very ably. We are deeply grateful.

The hearing is now recessed until Wednesday afternoon.

(Questions subsequently submitted to Ambassador Colby and his responses follow.)


Question 1.  Mr. Ambassador, by percentage and total dollar amount, how much of the pacification program has been financed — directly or indirectly — by the United States? In your answer, I wish you also would incorporate that part of the Vietnamese budget financed by revenues which stem from the U.S. presence in Vietnam, excluding deficit financing, of course.

Answer. In annex II of my opening statement, I attempted to show the reply to this question, supplemented by the report submitted at page 204. As indicated in my remarks on pages 203 and 204, these figures to not reflect Washington level considerations and some degree of interpretation was required in deciding just which expenditures to include in the “pacification program” on both the Vietnamese and U.S. sides. Taking the totals of annex II and using a constant rate of exchange of 118 to 1 (despite some artificiality involved), the information desired is as follows: {p.224}

{table to come}

Question 2.  Does this also apply to the Phoenix (Phung Hoang) program directed toward neutralising — that is, killing, capturing or rallying — members of the Vietcong infrastructure? ¶

What is the cost per individual?

Answer. In my statement on the Phoenix program, I gave the direct U.S. expenditures on this program, except for advisory personnel costs as indicated. ¶

The total expenditures in support of Phoenix, however, cannot be segregated since it is a program designed to coordinate and consolidate the efforts of a number of different agencies against one of the several aspects of the Communist attack against South Vietnam. ¶

Phoenix expenditures, direct and indirect, are included in the figures given in reply to Question 1, but no meaningful answer is available to the question as to the cost per individual VCI.

Question 3.  You say and we quote — ¶

“The Phoenix program was developed to combat the secret Communist apparatus of terror.” ¶

Does it in any way combat terror with terror?

Answer. The Phoenix program does not combat Communist terror with terror. It identifies members of the Viet Cong infrastructure for apprehension and detention according to Vietnamese law. My opening statement and testimony. I believe, explains the circumstances in which VCI are killed in the course of military operations or fighting off apprehension, and places in perspective such unjustifiable abuses as have occurred. This does not constitute fighting Communist terror with terror.

Question 4.  Are the community self-help programs assisted with grants? Why aren’t loans utilized so the money can be used over and over? Our aid could be reduced if this was done.

Answer. The village self-development program in 1969 involved grants only, for simplicity and to achieve a rapid impact. In the 1971 program a system of loans was developed, managed by village credit committees. The purpose is to move toward normal rural credit and local generation of necessary development funds through local taxation and to prepare for the phaseout of U.S. assistance and central Government funding in favor of local self-sufficiency.

Question 5.  How does the Phoenix program make absolutely certain that persons eliminated are really Vietcong?

Answer. In a series of directives, the Vietnamese Government Central Phung Hoang Committee has stated the positions in the Vietcong infrastructure which subject the incumbent to detention; prescribed formats for dossiers to accumulate intelligence and other evidence on individuals; categorized the VCI position as A (leaders), B (cadre), or C (followers), with respective detention terms; refined the goals assigned to the Provinces and districts to apply only to A and B category personnel and only to those actually sentenced rather than merely captured; required that operations be coordinated with local village chiefs; called for the publicizing of 100 percent of the VCI identified to enlist popular participation and to generate local correction of the information; improved the operations and timeliness of Province security committee proceedings; assigned legal officers of the Ministry of Justice to many (not yet all) Provinces to improve the legal aspects of Province security committee proceedings; carried on training and publicity programs to improve official and public understanding of the real nature of the VCI and the best ways to counteract it through professional and responsible intelligence, interrogation, and police techniques; and established an inter-ministerial legal committee working with the Central Pacification and Development Council to conduct a continuing study and coordination of improvements in the legal procedures applicable to the Vietcong infrastructure. ¶

As indicated in {p.225} my testimony, these have not yet reached a state of absolute certainty that only Vietcong infrastructure personnel are targeted for apprehension, and further improvements are needed to constitute true due process; nonetheless, the GVN has made many substantial improvements in its procedures thanks to the Phoenix program.


Question 6.  Who provides the money to pay informants? And what is the range of these payments?

Answer. Some informants are paid through GVN and U.S. intelligence channels according to the value of their information. ¶

The payments range from nothing for citizens who contribute information out of a sense of public duty to large amounts for critical information concerning members of the enemy apparatus provided at great risk to the informant. Further details on these programs should be sought from intelligence agencies. ¶

In addition to informant payments, rewards have been and are publicly offered for information leading to the apprehension of identified VCI personnel. Until lately, these have not involved large sums, but a new program is being tested under which large sums would be offered for a few carefully identified high VCI leaders, with careful restrictions to ensure accuracy, to encourage capture rather than attack and to offer the individual the option of rallying under the Chieu Hoi program.

Question 7.  Since the United States has financed almost 100 percent of the Phoenix program, must not it share primary responsibility for the consequences of the program?

Answer. As indicated in my oral testimony, I believe the United States must share responsibility for many matters in Vietnam and try to improve them, by reason of the extent of our overall involvement there. This certainly includes the Phoenix program independent of the degree of U.S. financial support for it, as the Phoenix program is an essential element of the nature of the war in process there, and needs U.S. participation and support to meet appropriate standards of effectiveness and due process.

Question 8.  Explain the operations of the national police in Phoenix operations.

Answer. The national staff of the Phoenix program is an element of the national police command. National police personnel also participate in Phoenix staffs at region, Province, district, and village level, together with military and other GVN civil personnel. The special branch of the national police collects intelligence on the Viet Cong infrastructure and contributes this to the Phoenix program of collation of all available information on the subject. In some areas the special branch handles the collation for the Phoenix program; in others, military personnel do so. In their normal police operations, under the direction of Province and district chiefs, the police check for, search out, and apprehend members of the Viet Cong infrastructure (VCI) identified by the Phoenix program or otherwise coming to their attention. The national police initially detain VCI suspects apprehended by the police or turned over by the military pending the legal proceedings of the Province security committees or the courts. In short, the national police operations in Phoenix operations are those normal to a police force combating an organized public enemy in other countries.

Question 9.  Describe the extent to which CORDS has contributed to the operations of GVN prisons, detention centers and interrogation centers.

Answer. In 1963, a U.S. program of advice and assistance to the GVN prison system was initiated, which was taken over by CORDS in 1967. The program initially focused on a vocational skills training program. In 1967, the problems of overcrowding because of the war and loss of prisoners to VC attacks became serious. Thus, a substantial program of fortification and expansion of prison facilities was undertaken. To this was added a variety of programs to improve facilities and procedures in the correction and detention systems both before and after the Con Son incident of 1970. Advisory attention to these centers has been increased over the years, using both civilian and military personnel, including six members of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons now in Vietnam. As a result of the overall program (and the more stringent standards of apprehension established under the Phoenix program), overcrowding has been eliminated except in a few facilities, the death rate in the correction centers has dropped from 1.56 per thousand per month in 1967 to .36 per thousand per month in 1970, medical care has substantially increased and feeding and sanitary facilities have been improved. Additional improvements are still needed, but the advice and assistance to date has certainly improved the GVN’s operation of all these centers, as well as the circumstances of their inmates. Funding (AID and DOD) {p.226} for corrections and detentions *  (including the cost of civilian advisors) from the inception of CORDS is as follows:

[Dollar amount in thousands]

Fiscal yearAmount Piasters
1967 $78.043.0
1968 1,199.7760.0
1969 951.5493.0
1970 315.342.8
1971 267.0102.2
1972 627.469.3


With respect to interrogation centers, CORDS since its establishment in 1967 has provided about $100,000 toward repairs and improvements.

Question 10.  How many interrogation centers are being operated by the United States or under U.S. advisory supervision? Specify each location. How many U.S. personnel are assigned to such operations and what are their duties and responsibilities?

Answer. A Provincial interrogation center exists in each of the 44 Provinces, a regional center in each of the four regions and a National Center at Saigon, operated by the special branch of the national police with advice and assistance from the Pacification Security Coordination Division of CORDS. ¶

In addition, military interrogation centers are operated by ARVN, United States, Korean, and Australian military units at appropriate levels at which interrogations are conducted. ¶

In August 1971, 26 U.S. civilian personnel worked with the civilian centers described above, providing advice on professional interrogation techniques, reporting the significant intelligence acquired, and observing the standards of treatment of inmates. ¶

Present plans are to phase out most provincial centers (and U.S. advisory support) during the coming year and rely only on the regional and Saigon centers.

Question 11.  To what extent are U.S. personnel present or assisting in the interrogation of VC or North Vietnamese suspects?

Answer. U.S. personnel are primarily advisors with respect to GVN interrogation of VC or NVA suspects. ¶

Thus they are sometimes present, sometimes not; they sometimes make suggestions with respect to questioning and sometimes do not. There is no fixed rule in this regard, other than that of helping GVN personnel to meet professional (and ethical) interrogation standards. ¶

To the extent that suspects are apprehended by U.S. military units, of course, U.S. personnel will conduct at least initial interrogations to determine how they should be handled. ¶

On some few occasions, special arrangements are made for U.S. interrogators to have access to particularly interesting cases for direct interrogation on matters of interest to the United States.

Question 12.  Of those individuals “neutralized” since the inception of Phoenix, how many have been identified as definite members of the VC Infrastructure? Of those killed, how many have been definitely identified?

Answer. The basic objective of the Phoenix program has been and is to identify the individuals concerned as definite members of the Viet Cong Infrastructure. The collation of intelligence from all sources and services endeavors to build up an accurate picture of the VCI and its leaders and cadres despite the techniques of aliases, clandestinity and terror utilized by the VCI. Thus, any individual sentenced, rallied or killed and recorded in the Phoenix program must be “definitely identified” by name and position in order to be included in Phoenix results. ¶

In my testimony, however, I indicated that these identifications were not precise when the Phoenix program started and that one of its objects was indeed to improve their accuracy. ¶

Thus, it must be stated that not all cases since the inception of Phoenix in 1967 have been accurately identified “as definite members of the VCI,” the number of which I am unable to state precisely, but that substantial improvements in the accuracy of those identifications” have been and are being made thanks to the Phoenix program.

Question 13.  How many military personnel are now enrolled at the U.S. Army Institute for Military Assistance at the John Kennedy Training Center, Fort Bragg, N.C.? What are they being trained for? Fully describe the type of training they receive. How many have been graduated? Where are then assigned? How long is it contemplated to continue assigning graduates of the Institute to Vietnam? Does the United States plan to continue operating the Institute after withdrawal from Vietnam? For what purposes? {p.227}

Answer. The U.S. Army Institute for Military Assistance dated from 1950 when the Army established the Psychological Warfare Division at the Army General School, Fort Riley, Kans. ¶

In 1952, this activity was transferred to Fort Bragg, N.C., and subsequently formed into the Psychological Warfare Center. ¶

The Center was redesignated as the Special Warfare School (SWS) in 1956. ¶

In 1960, the school was expanded to assume the additional task of preparing doctrine and instruction in counterinsurgent operations. ¶

On January 10, 1969, the SWS was expanded and provisionally designated the Institute for Military Assistance (IMA) to assume the responsibilities of its present mission. ¶

Since 1962 the institute has graduated more than 27,000 officers of the U.S. Armed Forces and civilian officials, plus over 5,000 foreign nationals from 75 nations.

The basic mission of the U.S. Army Institute for Military Assistance is to prepare and conduct resident and nonresident courses of instruction to meet requirements for training the Armed Forces of the United States, U.S. Governmental personnel, and foreign personnel in internal defense and development operations, psychological operations, and Special Forces operations, and to train U.S. military personnel in military assistance training advisor activities for duty in the Republic of Vietnam.

Thhe {sic: The} IMA currently conducts four courses specifically oriented to train U.S. military personnel for assignment for duty in the Republic of Vietnam.

Military Assistance Training Advisor (ARVN).  This is a 6-week course designed to prepare officers for duty as field advisors with ARVN tactical and logistical elements. During the period fiscal year 1969-1971, 1,200 officers attended this course. For fiscal year 1972, 521 personnel will be programed for training.

Military Assistance Training Advisor (SR NCO).  This is a 6-week course designed to prepare senior noncommissioned officers for duty as field advisors with ARVN tactical and logistical elements. During the period fiscal year 1969-1971, 2,331 noncommissioned officers attended this course. For fiscal year 1972, 150 personnel will be programed for training.

Military Assistance Training Advisor (CORDS).  This is a 6-week course designed to prepare officers for duty with the Civil Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS) activities in support of the pacification effort. During the period fiscal year 1969-1971, 1,106 military personnel attended this course. For fiscal year 1972, 654 personnel will be programed for training.

Military Assistance Security Advisor (MASA).  This is a 12-week course (8 weeks of language training is included) designed to provide selected military intelligence officers with a working knowledge of the fundamentals and techniques of general advisor functions in the Republic of Vietnam and of the fundamentals and techniques of intelligence, the Phung Hoang program, and specialized intelligence skills as they apply to his duties as a Province or District Intelligence Operation Coordination Center (PIOCC/DIOCC) advisor. Initiated in fiscal year 1972, this course has been attended by 131 officers. For fiscal year 1972, 350 personnel will be programed for training.

Training of military personnel for assignment to the Republic of Vietnam will continue at IMA until such time as requirements no longer exist. Training programs and student levels are under constant review in order to remain responsive both to requirements from the field and changes in policy. Once it is determined that a requirement no longer exists to train personnel for duty in the Republic of Vietnam, training courses at IMA will be curtailed accordingly. IMA will continue operating under the cognizance and direction of the Department of Army in consonance with its basic mission.

Question 14.  To what extent has CORDS conducted surveys of detainees in jails, prisons and detention or interrogation centers to determine the legality of their incarceration and the nature of their treatment?

Answer. CORDS advisors make regular visits to jails, prisons and detention or interrogation centers where they examine to the extent possible, facilities, health, sanitation, segregation, and the treatment of inmates. They file periodic reports of these visits with CORDS which provide a way of discussing deficiencies with national authorities when needed. They do not systematically review the legality of the incarceration of each individual inmate, but certain individual problems have been raised with GVN authorities when these have come to our attention. In addition. CORDS has worked with the GVN on the adoption of a formalized booking procedure requiring positive identification of the individual detained, the charge and disposition. Also, developed with CORDS help, and almost operational, is a GVN automated management system to provide a cur- {p.228} rent inventory of all inmates and the authority for their incarceration. Some partial reviews of current inmates have been made by GVN authorities in the course of the preparatory work for this new system.

Question 15.  Since the discovery of the Tiger Cages which CORDS was either ignorant of or was a party to concealment, what changes have been made in CORDS operations to prevent a continuation or recurrence of such practices?

Answer. MACV Directive 525-8 dated December 28, 1970 (copy attached) was issued to codify CORDS procedures and responsibilities with respect to U.S. support of the GVN detention and correction system. Quarterly reports on correction center inspections are required of local CORDS representatives following prescribed forms.

With respect to Con Son itself, CORDS has established an advisory staff on Con Son Island specifically instructed to make regular observations of all aspects of inmate treatment. ¶

To relieve overcrowded maximum security conditions, a new compound has been constructed with 384 cells as opposed to 120 in the old compound. Each new cell block unit has a deep water well, bathing facilities, exercise yard and cesspool. ¶

American advisors have provided technical assistance in developing a highly productive fishing project and an expanded agricultural program to supplement the inmate diet. ¶

The CORDS advisory staff now has the full-time services of a U.S. medical doctor for regular inspection trips to Con Son to check on sanitation, nutrition, health conditions, et cetera. A U.S. Army dental team makes regular visits to Con Son and other correctional centers to provide dental treatment to prisoners.


San Francisco, Calif.,
December 28, 1970

{Directive No. 525-8}.


1.  Purpose. This directive establishes policy and guidelines for the support of the Government of Vietnam (GVN) programs to screen, process, incarcerate, and provide humane treatment of civilian offenders confined in civil jails, detention facilities, and correction centers.

2.  Applicability. This directive is applicable to MACV and all military region (MR) senior advisors, MR DEPCORDS, and Province senior advisors (PSA).

3.  General.

a.  This policy is implemented through the support of two separate but related projects; these are:

(1)  The National Police Jail and Detention (NPJ&D) Project. This provides advisory, commodity, and training assistance to the Director General National Police (DGNP) to support the screening, initial processing, and confinement of civil suspects during the course of investigation pending due process of law. Suspected persons are confined in National Police (NP) jails and detention facilities until they are either convicted and sentenced to a Directorate of Corrections’ (DOC) correction center or found innocent and released.

(2)  The correction center project. This provides advisory, commodity, and training assistance to the DOC to support programs involving physical facilities, care, welfare, and treatment for sentenced offenders in DOC correction centers. These include Vietcong Infrastructure (VCI), common criminals, and prisoners of war (PW) convicted of crimes while in PW camps or held temporarily after capture pending turnover of military authority.

b.  The U.S. support of both projects is to advise and assist the DGNP and DOC to:

(1)  Develop suitable organizational and management capabilities at all levels.

(2)  Establish adequate screening of suspects to insure prompt release of the innocent and retention of suspects.

(3)  Provide secure and sanitary facilities which will withstand Vietcong (VC) attack and prevent offenders from escaping and returning to the VC.

(4)  Establish effective procedures for the positive identification of incarcerated persons including fingerprinting, photographing, and maintaining records to support the National Police Criminal Reporting System.

(5)  Assure humane treatment of incarcerated persons, and institute education, training, and rehabilitation programs to enable them to be gainfully employed while confined and to prepare them for eventual release. {p.229}

4.  Policy. The United States will assist the GVN, DGNP, and the DOC to provide secure confinement and humane treatment of civilians and PW incarcerated in MP jails and detention facilities and DOC correction centers. This is directly related to the pacification goal and the GVN Phung Hoang program of identifying and eliminating VCI.

5.  Responsibilities.

a.  The Public Safety Directorate (PSD), Civil Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS), is responsible to the AC of S, CORDS, MACV, for:

(1)  Overall management cognizance of DOC and N.P.J. & D. projects.

(2)  Establishing priorities for program implementation.

(3)  Providing commodity requirements support for the program.

(4)  Issuing guidelines for program implementation at national, regional, and provincial levels.

b.  Each MR DEPCORDS, through the MR Chief, Public Safety, is responsible for:

(1)  Disseminating and implementing applicable policies, procedures, and responsibilities.

(2)  Advising and assisting the GVN at MR level to provide for humane treatment of all suspects and offenders: secure adequate, and sanitary confinement facilities; appropriate medical care of confined personnel; and the proper integration of this program with the NP Criminal Reporting System and the Phung Hoang program.

c.  Each PSA, through the province public safety advisor, is responsible to advise and assist the province chief to:

(1)  Accomplish timely and accurate investigations of suspects as required under the Phung Hoang program.

(2)  Make optimum use of existing confinement space by housing persons who are uninvestigated or investigated and unsentenced, in jails or detention facilities only.

(3)  House only sentenced offenders at DOC correction centers. This includes persons convicted under the an tri law utilized by the Province security committees.

(4)  Fingerprint and photograph all suspects and convicted persons and compile name-index cards, records, dossiers, and a proper accounting system for the persons confined as required under the NP Criminal Reporting System.

(5)  insure that PW held in any type of civil detention facility, who are not serving a sentence as a result of a legal conviction, are transferred as rapidly as possible to the appropriate MR PW camp for internment.

(6)  Insure humane treatment of prisoners by GVN staff personnel.

(7)  Institute public relations programs with citizen groups, volunteer agencies, and existing GVN agencies and gain their support and assistance.

d.  The PSA will provide air transportation of inmates from one prison to another if the GVN does not have such services available.

e.  Reports on DOC and N.P.J. & D. activities will be submitted as required by Appendix 4 to Annex K of Joint MACV/JUSPAO/USAID/MC Directive 4-70.

6.  Report. This directive requires no report.

7.  Reference. MACV Joint Directive 4-70.

W. G. Dolvin,
Major General, U.S. Army,
Chief of Staff.

Question 16.  Since captured persons can only be credited to Phoenix quotas after trial and sentence, is this not a strong inducement to convict without regard to the fairness of the proceedings or the wrongdoings of the prisoner?

Answer. The requirement that captured VCI actually be sentenced before they could be credited to Phoenix goals was instituted in 1970 for the purpose of eliminating temptations by local officials to meet goals by indiscriminate arrests. ¶

While the danger outlined in the question may exist, it is more likely that convictions will be well based than simple arrests. ¶

The various improvements in the an tri procedure outlined in my statement, and several institutional and practical factors also tend to minimize the possibility of unjustified sentencing, as follows:

a.  The assignment of public prosecutors to the Province security committee. On May 13, 1970, the Prime Minister ordered public prosecutors to act as advisors to the Province security committees to regulate and control the quality of their determinations and to inspect detention facilities to insure that persons were not being illegally detained. The ministry of justice was charged with the responsibility of insuring that Public Prosecutors executed these tasks. {p.230}

b.  The requirement for proof by substantiated evidence of membership, position, or function in the VCI. Persons who do not fall into the above category but engage in activities for or beneficial to the Vietcong may be detained by order of the Province security committee; however, individuals in this category are not considered members of the VCI, and their detention, therefore, does not count as “neutralization” under Phoenix.

c.  The requirement for concurrence by the Ministry of the Interior with the determination of the Province security committee.

d.  The integrity of the members of the PSC. The fact that from January through May 1971 of the 4,303 VCI suspects apprehended only 2,749 were detained on the order of the Province security committee indicates that by and large the Province security committees do require proof that an individual poses a danger to national security and that they apply this standard for detention in a reasonable manner. It should be noted that the U.S. advisory effort emphasizes identification and apprehension of specific key members of the VCI and resists the use of resources to apprehend large numbers of low level VCI to meet numerical goals.

Question 17.  Describe the duties and responsibilities of Province reconnaissance units. How do they differ from and what is their relationship to Phoenix personnel and operations?

Answer. The Provincial reconnaissance units are attached to the National Police Command and operate on mission orders signed by Province chiefs specifically naming personalities who appear on the Phoenix lists of VCI leaders or cadre. ¶

The missions are covert small unit operations emphasizing the capture wherever possible of such VCI to exploit their knowledge of other VCI personalities, installations and organizations. ¶

The PRU collect intelligence as well as conduct these paramilitary operations against the VCI. ¶

The PRU are a separate unit from the Phoenix center at District or Province level, that center being responsible for the collation of VCI intelligence and the coordination of the various military, police and other (that is, information) operations against the VCI. ¶

The PRU contribute intelligence to the Phoenix center and coordinate operations with other forces through Phoenix.

Question 18.  How many refugees have been returned to their original abode? How many have been settled in new locations? How many await resettlement or return?


a.  The numbers estimated as returning to their home villages, with and without GVN benefits, over the years have been as follows:

Estimated as having returned to original village without having received GVN return-to-village assistance
Prior to 1967 325, 400
During 1967 315, 500
During 1968 90, 700
After 1968 90, 000
Received full GVN return-to-village assistance
During 1969 188, 600
During 1970 388, 000
Jan-Jun 1971 102, 200
In-process of receiving GVN return-to-village assistance
As of June 20, 1971 337, 000
Total 1, 837, 400

b.  Resettlement benefits are designed to assist the individual to settle himself in some other area than his original home. ¶

Before 1970, refugees who received these benefits were reported in our bureaucratic shorthand as resettled. This manner of reporting produced an earlier misunderstanding that these individuals were alleged to be completely “resettled.” Actually, of course, they were only paid specified benefits to assist in resettlement. This resettlement could take place in a refugee camp, in which case the camp would gradually become a normal community. In others, the individual was given the assistance to help him establish his own habitation in a new area. ¶

However, the payment of this benefit does not, in the eyes of the GVN or the U.S., represent any kind of final disposition of such individuals, nor does it intend to suggest that they are fully rehabilitated. This is undertaken by some development assistance to communities under the refugee program and the more general development programs. ¶

We have thus changed our reporting to refer only to “resettlement benefits paid”. {p.231}

Prior to 1967 542,000
During 1967 136,000
During 1968 235,000
During 1969 586,000
During 1970 139,709
During 1971 (June) 56,600
In process 20 Jun 71 72,000
Total 1,767,309

c.  The case load of the GVN’s Ministry of Social Welfare for these two categories as of June 20, 1971, that is, those who have applied for benefits but have not yet received all to which they are entitled, was:

Receiving temporary benefits 178,000
Resettlement benefits 72,000
Return to village benefits 337,000

As indicated in my testimony before the subcommittee, and the Senate Subcommittee on Refugees on April 21, 1971, this is not the complete picture as the figures concern themselves with benefits to be paid rather than the total number of people awaiting resettlement or return. ¶

There is no definitive estimate of the total number awaiting resettlement or return. ¶

In my testimony, I indicated that a half million might be considered refugees in a human sense, away from their homes, awaiting a chance to return to them and not having made new permanent living arrangements, but I have been advised that that estimate is low and that a more precise estimate would be about 2 million who might return home if security permitted.

Question 19.  What has the refugee caseload been each year since 1965?

Answer. The caseload statistics can give an erroneous impression alone, as they depend on such factors as degree of registration and speed of payment of prescribed benefits rather than the actual human need. ¶

Thus, in my testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Refugees, I used the estimated number of refugees generated, plus Cambodia repatriates, and casualty and damage claimants registered to give the figure of those affected by the war, with the comment that there undoubtedly were others not recorded. (Hearings, Senate Subcommittee on Refugees, April 21, 1971, pages 46-47). ¶

This tried to give an overall picture of the size of the refugee problem, rather than the bureaucratic report of the caseload.

{table to come}

Subject to the above caveats, in response to the question, the actual caseload figures since 1965 of temporary and resettlement benefits in process are actually as follows:

December 1965 (estimate) 454,000
December 1966 (estimate) 810,000
December 1967 794,000
December 1968 1,330,000
December 1969 270,000
December 1970 (plus 210,000 return to village) 220,000
July 1971 (plus 344,000 return to village) 126,000


Question 20.  Since 1965, how many refugees in South Vietnam have left their place of abode to (a) escape Communist terrorism, (b) flee from allied artillery or bombardment, (c) flee from enemy artillery or bombardment, (d) evade allied military action or (e) evade enemy military action?

Answer. The total of all these and some other causes was given in the response to question 19 above. The breakdown requested is not available, however.

Question 21.  How many refugees are widows, widowers, orphans, physically disabled and economically handicapped?

Answer. This information is not available. ¶

A survey of 252 sites in MR 1 inhabited by refugees and exrefugees, conducted in March 1971, showed that out of a total site population of 296,200, 8,522 were widows, 2,395 were orphans, and 3,350 were physically disabled. ¶

GVN estimates of totals in the following categories (both refugee and general population) are:

Physically Disabled
Civilian 132,000
Military 53,000
Total 185,000

War Widows
Civilian 69,000
Military 76,000
Total 145,000

War Orphans
Civilian 107,000
Wards of the nation 201,000
Nonwards 92,000
Total 400,000

No figures are available for widowers or “economically handicapped.”

Question 22.  What is your estimate of underreporting of refugees by the GVN during the past 5 years? What is your estimate of the number of refugees removed from the rolls prior to self-sufficiency or prior to receiving all entitled benefits?

Answer. We believe the figures in question 19 are somewhat below the full potential, but not substantially. (Note that the figures prior to 1967 are estimates, as the GVN machinery then was not sufficiently developed to provide effective reporting.) ¶

In 1968, the GVN organized special teams to register large numbers of refugees who had missed earlier registration. ¶

Since then, we believe that underreporting has been minimal, with one exception. For a period during the summer of 1970, newly generated refugees were reported by the Ministry of Social Welfare not as “refugees” but as “war victims.” ¶

This was due to a misinterpretation by some Province Chiefs of a speech by President Thieu in which he said he did not wish to have any more refugees. The context in which he said this was that refugees should no longer be venerated since security had improved so much. For a while this misinterpretation resulted in an underreporting of actual refugees by local officials. ¶

The mistake has been corrected and refugees given the benefits to which they are entitled.

Refugees are removed from the rolls once they have received the benfits {sic: benefits} to which they are entitled, regardless of whether they are or are not “self-sufficient.” How “self-sufficiency” is defined is largely a matter of judgment, and there are unquestionably large numbers of refugees, exrefugees, and normal Vietnamese citizens whose living conditions are less than adequate.

Question 23.  Describe the duties and responsibilities of U.S. officials in administering, advising, or overseeing refugee programs. Are all refugee operations under CORDS? If not, what are the other operations?

Answer. All refugee operations are the responsibility of the Government of Vietnam, working primarily through the Ministry of Social Welfare. CORDS/War Victims Directorate is the counterpart organization for the Ministry and as such is the principal advisor on all refugee affairs. GVN ministries other than the Ministry of Social Welfare conduct activities which affect refugees and ex-refugees. USAID advises the GVN on some of these other activities. {p.233}

CORDS/WVD is organized at several levels corresponding to those of the Ministry of Social Welfare (and other GVN ministries). Officials at headquarters in Saigon advise the Ministry on policies, procedures, financial management, and the reporting and evaluation of programs. CORDS representatives at regional and provincial levels advise their GVN counterparts on the implementation of programs, scrutinize the uses made of U.S.-supplied resources and keep CORDS in Saigon advised of program progress and problems.

CORDS also provides assistance to voluntary agencies engaged in relief or social welfare work with refugees and other disadvantaged groups. Thirty such agencies (21 American and nine international) are now registered with the Voluntary Agency Liaison Branch of CORDS/WVD, which furnishes logistical support, liaison with the Ministry and assistance in developing programs. The agencies employ, in Vietnam, approximately 278 Americans, 117 TCN and 867 Vietnamese.

Other assistance is given to refugees by U.S. and other military units to neighboring communities and by the local GVN officials and communities. CORDS endeavors to keep abreast of and coordinate these efforts with its own and the GVN program objectives wherever possible.

Question 24.  Detail the amount of money that the United States has obligated and expended on refugee programs during the past 5 years. How much has the GVN obligated and expended?

{table to come}

Question 25.  Describe the actions taken by U.S. officials to measure and evaluate the operations of refugee programs.

Answer. Assistance to GVN refugee programs is the main responsibility of the War Victims Directorate of CORDS and regional and provincial war victims officers (66 U.S. positions). ¶

In addition, it is one of the responsibilities of all CORDS officers responsible for assistance and support to the GVN 1971 community defense and local development plan, of which assistance to refugees is an important component. ¶

This involves a close familiarity with the refugee situation and with programs in process, reporting to senior levels of problems and progress in the program, reviewing and drawing conclusions from GVN statistical and operational reporting on refugees, advising and urging appropriate GVN action where needed, frequent liaison and discussions with GVN officials from national to local levels, field trips and visits to refugee centers and spot discussions with refugees and their community leaders, arranging surveys of refugee situations and needs by independent survey teams and discussions and liaison with GVN and allied officials, especially military, on matters affecting or likely to affect refugee situations.

Question 26.  How many GVN agencies are involved in administering refugee programs?

Answer. The Ministry of Social Welfare has primary responsibility for administering the refugee program. Some aspects of this program are carried forward with the cooperation of other technical ministries. ¶

For example, the vocational training facilities of the Ministry of Education are used wherever possible and health services are made available through the established facilities of the {p.234} Ministry of Health. ¶

Planning for refugees to return to their own villages and for normalizing permanent resettlement sites for refugees who cannot or do not wish to return to their original villages is undertaken through the coordinating machinery of the Provincial Pacification and Development Councils and the Central Pacification and Development Council on which all Government agencies responsible for the gamut of security technical and development programs are represented.

The Ministry of Social Welfare’s responsibility under the refugee program terminates when refugees have returned to their own villages or the resettlement site has been constituted as a hamlet and the refugees have received all benefits to which they are entitled. ¶

They then fall under normal GVN programs for the population as a whole, some of which are specially emphasized for the benefit of refugee or exrefugee communities (such as special grants to return to village communities to reestablish public facilities, roads, markets, et cetera).

Question 27.  Under the Phoenix program, how many of those “neutralized” died as a result of being caught in an armed encounter, as a result of execution, after torture, from other causes?

Answer. My supplementary statement for the record on the Phoenix program provides the numbers killed on page 182 of the transcript. ¶

As indicated in a supplementary submission for the record, some 88 percent of those killed were killed by military forces, with 12 percent by other (police, et cetera) forces. ¶

No authorized executions have taken place under the Phoenix program. ¶

As indicated in my statement and testimony, it is unfortunate that some unjustified abuses have taken place, which in cases have resulted in the death of the victim, but the Phoenix program is designed to prevent them to produce instead professional, intelligent and humane operations to meet the VCI threat with stern justice, with equal stress on both words. ¶

The attached letter to the Honorable Thomas E. Morgan, Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, from Assistant Secretary of Defense G. Warren Nutter of August 21, 1971, with its enclosures, outlines the U.S. and GVN policies in this regard.


Assistant Secretary of Defense,
Washington, D.C., August 21, 1971.

Hon. Thomas E. Morgan,
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs,
House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Chairman:  The Congressional Record of August 3, 1971 (page H 7761-2) reports an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act offered by Mr. Reid of New York, which was defeated by voice vote. ¶

This amendment would have barred any assistance under the Act to any nation for programs which encompass the assassination or torture of persons, or which violate the standards set forth in the Geneva Conventions. ¶

In his remarks submitting the amendment (copy attached), Mr. Reid made reference to the Phoenix program of the Government of Vietnam, which is supported by the United States.

Ambassador William E. Colby, cited by Mr. Reid, has suggested that clarification would be appropriate of certain aspects of the Phoenix (Phung Hoang) program in reference to Mr. Reid’s remarks and the testimony received by the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the House Committee on Government Operations subsequent to Ambassador Colby’s appearance there on July 19, 1971.

As described in some detail in Ambassador Colby’s testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February 1970, the Phoenix (Phung Hoang) program of the Vietnamese Government was effectively begun in July 1968, as the result of a Vietnamese Presidential directive. U.S. support of this program has been principally advisory in nature, directed at improving the intelligence methods, the apprehension techniques, the legal procedures and the detention arrangements involved in the struggle of the Vietnamese against the Viet Cong infrastructure, or clandestine, subversive and terrorist apparatus. ¶

As testified by Ambassador Colby, unjustified abuses occurred in this struggle in the past, and could occur at present, but the Phoenix program does not encompass or condone unjustifiable abuses in any way, and in fact is designed to eliminate them. ¶

U.S. policy in this regard was set out in MACV Directive 525-36 of May 18, 1970 (copy attached) which formalized an earlier memorandum of October 15, 1969 cited in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings February 1970, page 725. ¶

The Vietnamese Government in its Community Defense and Local Development Plan for 1971 includes the following provision in its annex I covering the Phoenix (Phung Hoang) program: {p.235}


“In order to gain the confidence of the people and their support for the Government’s program to neutralize the VCI, all personnel working with Phung Hoang must closely adhere to the policy of treating the population and the VCI detainees with a sense of high respect for the law and not abuse their authority in their performance of duty. Consequently, Phung Hoang committees of all echelons must concentrate on the following points in 1971:

a.  Cooperation and coordination with village, hamlet, ward, and quarter officials when performing missions in their areas, to include notification of these officials regarding the disposition of any people arrested.

b.  Screening should be performed quickly, humanely, and fairly with emphasis on immediate release of innocent people without causing them undue trouble and annoyance.

c.  Perfection of target dossiers. Arrests are to be made only when sufficient evidence and accurate information is available.

d.  Province and city security committees must meet at least once a week (or more often depending on requirements) to consider detainee cases and sentence the VCI as appropriate.

e.  Notification of detainee disposition must be made to the appropriate Government echelons and agencies to insure effective monitoring.”

As indicated in the Department of State’s opinion, filed with the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations in response to its request of Ambassador Colby on July 19, 1971, the Phoenix program is not violative of the terms of the Geneva Conventions. ¶

Although certain aspects give concern in the field of due process, the Vietnamese and American Governments, working together, have brought about a number of improvements in its procedures and are cooperating in the formulation and application of additional measures to bring greater effectiveness to the struggle against the Viet Cong infrastructure and to insure that the program meets high standards of justice. ¶

Reports of unjustified abuses predating the implementation of the Phoenix program or involving U.S. or Vietnamese military intelligence or combat operations should not be mistakenly ascribed to the Phoenix program of the Vietnamese Government nor to U.S. support thereof.

In summary, the struggle between the Vietcong infrastructure and the Vietnamese Government is an integral part of the overall conflict in Vietnam. ¶

The Phoenix program has brought about improvements in the effectiveness and propriety of the Vietnamese Government’s conduct of this struggle. ¶

U.S. support of this program is conducted under the same restraints as support of other Vietnamese military and civil programs.


G. Warren Nutter.


Mr. Reid of New York.  Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

The Clerk read as follows:

Amendment offered by Mr. Reid of New York: Page 12, line 13, strike out the quotation marks and the period immediately following such quotation marks.

Page 13, after line 13, insert:

“(a)  No assistance shall be furnished under this act to any nation for programs which encompass the assassination or torture of persons, or which violate the standards set forth in the Geneva Conventions.”

Mr. Reid of New York.  This amendment is simple, I believe. It is directed to insuring that there are no programs through which the United States provides funds to any nation which encompasses as a program, the assassination or torture, or programs which violate the standards set forth in the Geneva Conventions.

More explicitly, my amendment would require that no U.S. funds would be furnished to programs which are characterized by a pattern of assassination or torture or other violations of the Geneva Conference, to which the United States is a signatory. It would cut off assistance only to those programs of a nation which were characterized by such abuses, but would not deny funds to worthy programs being carried out by that nation.

This amendment is prompted primarily by the outrageous abuses which have taken place under the Phoenix program in South Vietnam.

Mr. Chairman, we have had testimony before the House Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Government Information last month, from Ambassador William Colby, former Director of CORDS, and from a number of other persons {p.236} which relate to some activities of Phoenix, which, in my judgment are violative, at the time they took place, of the Geneva Conventions. The United States is clearly on record as being a signatory to the four Geneva Conventions, which clearly proscribe and preclude such activities.

We have had testimony from eyewitnesses that clearly indicates that there have been in the past, not in the immediate present, but in the past, immediate neutralization, termination with extreme prejudice, assassination, and torture ending in death. For those who saw page 2 of the Washington Post this morning, they will see some of the details of the latest testimony, and there is a similar story by Mary McGrory in the Washington Star tonight. Unfortunately it has been a record of testimony that I think is clear, and this is the reason why we think the bill before us should be explicit with regard to our use of funds in connection with anything that is violative of the Geneva Conventions.

I might mention parenthetically, that Ambassador Colby has pointed out that under the Phoenix program to date, while 28,000 persons have been captured of the Vietcong infrastructure, over 20,587 have been killed.

The thrust of this amendment is not against the rallying or the bringing over to the side of the Saigon Government those in the Vietcong infrastructure. Our concern is with practices that are clearly violative of the conventions.

Mr. Chairman, let me explain the Phoenix program in more detail.

The Phoenix program is a program of the GVN, heavily supported by the United States, whose stated purpose is to “eliminate” or “neutralize” the Vietcong infrastructure — VCI. Such “neutralization” or “elimination” is accomplished in any one of three ways: Rallying; that is, inducing the VCI to surrender or come over to the Government side voluntarily — capture and sentencing, or killing.

In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Government Information last month, Ambassador William Colby, former director of CORDS, the agency in Vietnam which administers U.S. support to Phoenix, stated that since the beginning of 1963 until May 1971, a total of 20,587 persons have been killed under the Phoenix program. In the same period 28,978 have been captured.

The VCI are officially defined as the “leadership apparatus” of the Vietcong insurgency. They are nearly all civilians, including many women. Members of VC village, district, and Province committees, for example, are classified as VCI. In most cases they do not qualify for “prisoners of war” status when captured. Thus Phoenix is aimed not at the elimination of armed combatants, but at the elimination of unarmed, noncombatant civilians. By analogy, if the Union had had a Phoenix program during our Civil War, its targets would have been civilians like Jefferson Davis or the mayor of Macon, Ga.

The abuses and inhumaneness perpetrated by the Phoenix program make it imperative that we cease to support it at once and do everything in our power to have the GVN stop the program dead in its tracks. ¶

Under Phoenix, civilians identified as VCI have been assassinated without any semblance of judicial process. Ambassador Colby has acknowledged this, although he states that the United States is endeavoring to prevent its recurrence. ¶

Persons detained under the Phoenix program can be incarcerated for up to 2 years without trial under a South Vietnamese law known as the an tri law, again without any semblance of due process. Ambassador Colby admitted that under this law a Phoenix detainee could be jailed without a trial, without right to counsel, and without adequate protection of his rights “under our concept of due process.” ¶

Torture of detainees during interrogation is another hallmark of the Phoenix program. Specific instances of torture have been described under oath by witnesses before the subcommittee. Theodore Jacqueney, a former AID official in Vietnam testified:

“In every province in Vietnam there is a Province interrogation center — a ‘PIC’ — with a reputation for using torture to interrogate people accused of Vietcong affiliations. These PIC’s have a CIA counterpart relationship, and in some cases also have a relationship with the AID police advisor.”

Mr. Jacqueney went on to describe an instance of torture, known as the “rock and roll,” of which he had knowledge. ¶

Reports of such torture have come from others as well, and they simply cannot be ignored or downplayed.

At least as shocking as the assassinations, torture, and drumhead incarceration of civilians under the Phoenix program is the fact that in many cases the intelligence is so bad that innocent people are made victims. ¶

Yesterday two former military intelligence personnel in Vietnam, Michael Uhl and Barton Osborn, testified that virtually all information identifying an individual as a VCI {p.237} is unverifiable and frequently completely unreliable. ¶

Both described motives of financial gain, and sometimes pure personal vindictiveness, as factors causing Vietnamese intelligence agents to give information about an individual. ¶

Ambassador Colby admitted this problem. ¶

In response to the question, ¶

“Are you certain that we know a member of the VCI from a loyal member of the South Vietnam citizenry?” ¶

Mr. Colby stated: ¶

“No. ... I am not.”

Who knows how many innocent people have been assassinated or tortured in the name of the Phoenix program?

Not only Phoenix, but any program or activity conducted by a foreign nation which involves assassination, torture, or other mistreatment of civilians, or which violates the standards of the Geneva Conventions, should not receive the support of the United States. I have described Phoenix as an egregious example. Wherever other examples may exist, they too must be cut off from U.S. support. ¶

We cannot hold our heads high as a Nation if we continue to condone and support programs such as this.

Mr. Morgan.  Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word. Mr. Chairman, I should like to address a question to the author of this amendment. I knew the Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations, of which the gentleman is a member, has been holding hearings, but this amendment came as a surprise to the committee. I suggest the gentleman’s subcommittee should hold further hearings and develop the case more precisely.

It worries me that we should add to section 620 of this bill another limitation which will be very difficult to administer.

The way I read the amendment, it says that no assistance shall be furnished under this act to any nation for programs which encompass the assassination, torture of civilians, or which violate the standards set forth in the Geneva Conventions.

To me that language is somewhat vague. It worries me that we might be buying a pig in a poke here.

I have no strong feelings. If the subcommittee would develop something and put it in a bill form, along these lines, it will be considered. We have in our programs many former projects which could bring us into violation under this limitation.

What worries me is that perhaps a group of tourists in any country might do a couple of assassinations, and under this amendment we might upset our whole aid program.

I am not so completely opposed to this. I believe the subcommittee on which the gentleman from New York serves should hold further hearings and develop some legislation, and I can promise him it will receive some consideration.

Mr. Reid of New York.  The chairman very kindly asked me to comment. First, Mr. Chairman, the thrust of this amendment is to say that U.S. funds should not go to any nation which is carrying out activities in violation of the Geneva Conventions, to which we are a signatory. If we are in fact doing that now we are in violation of international law which should be supreme in matters of this kind.

The only two specifics which go beyond the Geneva Conventions mentioned in the amendment are the assassination and torture, but they are covered by an additional phrase dealing with a program, a program of assassination or program of torture.

I do not think any person or his spouse would argue for a program of assassination or a program of torture.

Quite frankly, Mr. Chairman, both of those are explicitly prescribed and covered in the Geneva Conventions. ¶

All I am trying to do is to put this House on record to show a sense of concern that we will uphold the Geneva Conventions to the extent our funds are utilized.

Mr. Morgan.  I wonder if the gentleman would explain to the House who would make the determination under his amendment?

Mr. Reid of New York.  I would think the Secretary of State would make this determination.

The Chairman.  The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from New York (Mr. Reid).

The question was taken; and the chairman announced that the noes appeared to have it.

Mr. Reid of New York.  Mr. Chairman, I demand tellers.

Tellers were refused. {p.238}



APO San Francisco, Calif.
May 18,1970.

Directive Number 525-36.



1.  Purpose. This directive establishes policy and responsibilities for all U.S. personnel participating in, or supporting in any way, Phoenix (Phung Hoang) operations.

2.  Applicability.— This directive is applicable to all MACV staff agencies and subordinate commands.

3.  Policy.

a.  The Phoenix program is one of advice, support, and assistance to the Government of Vietnam (GVN) Phung Hoang program, aimed at reducing the influence and effectiveness of the Vietcong Infrastructure (VCI) in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN). The VCI is an inherent part of the war effort being waged against the GVN by the Vietcong (VC) and their North Vietnamese allies. The unlawful status of members of the VCI (as defined in the “green book” and in GVN official decrees) is well established in GVN law and is in full accord with the laws of land warfare followed by the U.S. Army.

b.  Operations against the VCI include: the collection of intelligence identifying these members, inducing them to abandon their allegiance to the VC and rally to the government, capturing or arresting them in order to bring them before province security committees for lawful sentencing, and as a final resort the use of military, or police force against them — if no other way — of preventing them from carrying on their unlawful activities is possible. Our training emphasizes the desirability of obtaining these target individuals alive and of using intelligent and lawful methods of interrogation to obtain the truth of what they know about other aspects of the VCI. U.S. personnel are under the same legal and moral constraints with respect to operations of a Phoenix character as they are with respect to regular military operations against enemy units in the field. Thus, they are specifically unauthorized to engage in assassinations or other violations of the rules of land warfare, but they are entitled to use such reasonable military force as is necessary to obtain the goals of rallying, capturing, or eliminating the VCI in the RVN.

Query:  “Military force”?

Ambush and snipers. In war, lawful against combatants, and murder targeting non-combatants.

The VCI being, by definition, noncombatants, this is a criminal order, authorizing the ambush-murder of non-combatants.

Being approved at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, it is also a state-sponsored crime against humanity, murder as a tool of national policy.


c.  If U.S. personnel come in contact with activities conducted by Vietnamese which do not meet the standards of land warfare, they are:

(1)  Not to participate further in the activity.

(2)  Expected to make their objections to this kind of behavior known to the Vietnamese conducting them.

(3)  Expected to report the circumstances to the next higher U.S. authority for decision as to action to be taken with the GVN.

Query:  “Report”?

It’s the legal duty of military officers, not merely to report, to object, to not participate. It’s their duty to suppress violent crimes. And by force if needs be. As Wilhelm List, and his co-defendants, learned in The Hostage Case (NMT, Feb. 19 1948). And as Wilhelm von Leeb, and his co-defendants, learned in The High Command Case (NMT, Oct. 27-28 1948).

Which they knew, already.


d.  There are individuals who find normal police work or even military operations repugnant to them personally, despite the overall legality and morality {p.330} of these activities. Arrangements exist whereby individuals having this feeling about military affairs can, according to law, receive specialized assignments or even exemption from military service. There is no similar legislation with respect to police type activities of the U.S. military, but if an individual finds the police type activities of the Phoenix program repugnant to him, on his application, he can be reassigned from the program without prejudice.

4.  Responsibilities.— Subordinate U.S. commanders are to insure that the policies outlined above are strictly adhered to.

5.  Reports.— This directive requires no report.

W. G. Dolvin,
Major General, U.S.A.,
Chief of Staff.

“ ... the directive issued by MACV which, frankly, I drafted ...”

William E. Colby, July 2 1973.

“ ... we issued instructions and directives out of the MACV headquarters, which I drafted ...”

William E. Colby, July 20 1973.


The foregoing letter from G. Warren Nutter, together with its two enclosures, also appears in the Congressonal Record (September 15 1971, House, Extension of Remarks, Cornelius E. Gallagher): 117 Congressional Record 32080-32082 (U.S. Congress 92-1, Permanent Edition (red bound)), SuDoc: X.92/1:117/PT.24, LCCN: 12036438, ISSN: 0883-1947, LC Call No: KF35, Dewey Class No.: 328.73/02CJHjr


Question 28.  What is CORDS’ reaction to Major General Ngo Dzu’s forcible relocation of 50,000 Montagnards against their will in March 1971, and the proposed removal of 30,000 more (who by now may also have been moved)? Does this not represent a form of genocide? {p.239}

Answer. These relocations do not represent a new form of genocide. ¶

CORDS worked with the GVN in the adoption of GVN policy to bring security to the people rather than moving the people to security wherever possible. CORDS also worked with the GVN to establish and to exercise a procedure requiring relocations to be reviewed and approved by the GVN Central Pacification and Developtnent Council rather than local officials only. These measures brought about the deferment of some of the moves planned in 1971 and better preparation for those where there was justification for the move. ¶

Some hardships and difficulties were imposed on both Montagnards and Vietnamese despite these measures, however. CORDS reaction has been to reduce these to the minimum by proper approvals and prior planning and assistance, but to recognize the necessity for some relocations due to the nature of the war. ¶

As outlined in the Department of State’s opinion on the Geneva Conventions and the Phoenix program, submitted for inclusion in the transcript of these hearings (page 216), such relocations are not violative of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the treatment of civilians.

Question 29.  Is it not correct that the Hamlet evaluation system has been a major force behind the creation of refugees and in the delays in allowing their return home?

Answer. I do not believe so. There may have been a few cases in which the authorities moved exposed communities or delayed the return of others in order to have a high HES score, but the major reasons for the creation of refugees were military in nature and return home has principally depended on security in the area.

Question 30.  Would you not agree that if those who are elected to govern in South Vietnam do not represent the people, then pacification will not work and efforts of the United States to maintain the country in an independent category will have been in vain? If that be so, then, why is the United States tolerating, assisting, or condoning the conduct of an election in South Vietnam which appears to be patently rigged?

Answer. The GVN pacification and development program has included a series of elections over the past 3 years at hamlet, village, Province council, and National Assembly (Senate and Lower House) levels which have been generally reported as representative of the people. These elections have included methods of challenge and resolution pursuant to the GVN’s constitutional procedures. ¶

The United States played no part in these elections. ¶

As I indicated in my testimony, the presidential elections this year were a critical watershed in Vietnam’s consolidation of its Constitution. ¶

While they certainly did not achieve all that could have been hoped from them, since only one candidate was presented, I do not believe that they need bar future progress on the pacification and development program.

Question 31.  Do village chiefs have authority over special police and other forces assigned to the Phoenix program?

Answer. Village chiefs were given authority over national and special police assigned to their villages. In addition, decrees require that village chiefs be informed of Phoenix operations in their villages and of the disposition of suspects from the village apprehended under the Phoenix program.

Question 32.  What happens to the POW’s and VCI captured by American forces? If turned over to the Vietnamese, does the United States retain any responsibility for these prisoners under the Geneva Convention even after transfer?

Answer. POW’s are turned over to the ARVN for treatment as POW’s. VCI who are not entitled to POW treatment are turned over to the GVN civil authorities for disposition under GVN law. ¶

The United States does recognize a residual responsibility for those turned over as POW’s and the Department of State’s opinion filed with this transcript (page 216) acknowledges a residual responsibility for VCI turned over.

Question 33.  In your statement (last paragraph page 10 through page 12) you indicate that a certain amount of corruption, etc., is acceptable to the political returns of the program. Am I correct in assuming that you support the principle that even when a recipient government lacks administrative skills which because of a number of factors increase the cost of support, the United States should consider the political returns from a minimal personnel presence (low profile) worth the additional costs? {p.240}

Answer. The real U.S. objective in this program has been to get the Vietnamese Government and political process to work and to achieve the strength necessary to sustain that nation against its external and internal enemy. ¶

The American role was to stimulate and assist Vietnamese action along these lines, not to act ourselves or to achieve physical results in terms of projects. However, American activity and physical projects can sometimes initiate Vietnamese participation and eventual assumption of full responsibility. In such cases they are justified for a limited period, although they can become counterproductive if they are carried on too long. ¶

Thus the rule of reason governs the reply to the question. ¶

If a temporarily larger U.S. presence can initiate an important activity, it is justified for a time. And if corruption or inefficiency is of relatively minor proportion, and does not pervert the ends of the activity, it should be resisted by appropriate means but not by a massive U.S. presence likely to frustrate the important end result sought by the program.

Question 34.  In your statistics (annex I and II), do you include in the total personnel and spending for CORDS all military spending for pacification activities? For example, any civic action activities by the military?

Answer. The figures include direct military expenditures in support of the pacification program such as civic action. ¶

They do not include, however, many categories of military spending which contribute to pacification in a very direct way, such as security operations in critical areas by ARVN or U.S. forces, military road building which opens up areas for resettlement, operations for protection of rice harvesting, etc. ¶

In greatest part, the figures cover arms and equipment for the local security forces (RF and PF) and costs of U.S. advisory personnel. ¶

The personnel figures only include U.S. military personnel assigned to CORDS, not personnel in U.S. units (such as civic action officers) who contribute to pacification in many ways.

Question 35.  Does the U.S. budget figure include the pay and allowances for the, military personnel who work for CORDS?

Answer. Yes.

Question 36.  Is the reported increase in population controlled by the Government of South Vietnam due to success of the pacification program or is it due to a change in the strategy by the Communists?

Answer. The increase in security is due to the success of the entire war effort of the GVN with U.S. and allied assistance. This includes the work of the military forces, the pacification program, economic stabilization and constitutional growth. ¶

The Communist change to a protracted war stems from the failure of their 1968-1969 general offensive but the {sic: they} hope that over the longer term U.S. withdrawals or internal South Vietnamese “contradictions” will give them victory. ¶

The pacification and development program is in great part aimed at strengthening the constitutional procedures for resolving these contradictions and thereby frustrating this Communist hope.

Question 37.  How would you assess public attitudes in Vietnam today in terms of support for the Government of South Vietnam?

Answer. As indicated in my testimony, I believe the vast majority of the Vietnamese public accepts the constitutional system, hopes for its continued growth, and supports it to a considerable degree through participation in the Peoples Self Defense Force, local elections, Village Self-Development Program, and so forth. ¶

I believe a very small proportion has any real liking for the Vietcong cause. ¶

There is a substantial segment of those supporting the constitutional structure who would prefer other incumbents in various offices, including the Presidency (especially among the Buddhists and in the cities), although I believe the largest portion of the population in the rural areas are more apt to support President Thieu’s Government. ¶

This trend is partly due to the improved security the Government has been able to extend to more people. It is partly because of the many Government programs that have in fact benefited both city dweller and farmer. ¶

More people have turned away from the Communists in the countryside because of their brutality, their failure to fulfill their promises, and the decreasing appeal of their revolutionary Marxism. A farmer, for instance, who is earning more because of the new strains of miracle rice and who is being confirmed in his land title under the land reform program, is not attracted by the Vietcong propaganda. ¶

Finally, more people are active by participating in the political process through the ballot and by standing for election to public office. ¶

While Vietnamese retain many reservations about their {p.241} Government, and the political opposition within South Vietnam is, of course, always actively calling for change and reform, most people seem clearly to prefer the present system of Government over a Communist regime.

Question 38.  During your tour of duty in Vietnam, how many province chiefs or district chiefs were removed for cause? How many were accused or convicted of corruption?

Answer. During my tour of duty (March 3, 1968 to June 30, 1971) there were approximately 35 Province chiefs and approximately 163 District chiefs removed. ¶

The word “approximate” must be used because both American and Vietnamese records for 1968 are not the best due to the confusion of the aftermath of the enemy’s Tet offensive during January and February, coupled with his May offensive, when a number were changed due to failure or casualty. ¶

We can find nothing in our files concerning the subject for 1968. ¶

Our records covering the 44 provinces and 256 districts in Vietnam begin in early 1969. ¶

The chart below breaks down the figures that we have by year:

1968 00
1969 211
1970 1959
1971 (through June) 1493
Total 35163


Not all Province chiefs were removed for cause, but we are not able to determine exactly how many of the 35 were removed for cause. A number were removed because they were wounded in action or promoted.

Not all District chiefs were removed for cause. It is safe to assume that many of them were, but a number of them were killed in action, wounded in action, or promoted. The Vietnamese figures on this are:

Reason for removal1970January to
June 1971
Lack of capacity 1841
Corruption 41
Other (new job, killed, wounded, etc.) 3751
Total 5993


The figures on corruption immediately above should be viewed as approximate, as in many cases, proof of corruption was inconclusive or unobtainable; therefore, ineffectiveness was used as the reason to remove the Province or District chief.

Our records are only concerned with the removal of Province and District chiefs and we have no figures for convictions. Liaison with the Vietnamese Ministry of Interior has indicated that they do not keep such figures.

Question 39.  How many Vietnamese, United States, and third country doctors and other health personnel are attached to refugee camps?

Answer. A specific reply to this question is not available. The general policy is for refugee communities to be served by the normal health facilities of the area (for example, Provincial hospitals) rather than by establishing a separate health structure for them. This is supplemented by the assignment of health technicians and the operation of aid stations in refugee communities similar to those in normal communities, periodic visits by health personnel (military and civilian), and special attention by several voluntary agencies. In emergency situations, for example, the arrival of the repatriates from Cambodia, special efforts are made for immunization, sanitation, et cetera.

Question 40.  How many Vietnamese have been uprooted from their homes in some way since the war began?

Answer. {p.242}


and damage
1964-66  1 2,400,000  2,400,000
During 1967 435,000  435,000
During 1968 340,000  2 1,070,3001,410,300
During 1969 115,000 290,000405,000
During 1970 135,000210,000200,000545,000
January to June 1971 103,000 45,000115,000
Total 3,528,000210,0001,605,0305,310,300



Includes approximately 1,000,000 temporarily displaced during Tet and May 1968 offensives.

Source: April 21, 1971 statement p. 9.

Question 41.  How much U.S. money is involved in the operations of the Phoenix program?

Answer. My statement for the record on the Phoenix program provides the direct U.S. expenditures in support of the Phoenix program, except for the costs of advisory personnel. (An estimate of advisory pay, allowances and upkeep is about $10,700,000 annually.) ¶

As indicated in my reply to Supplementary Question A2, it is not possible to segregate the portion of U.S. expenditures in support of territorial forces (RF, PF), PSDF, National Police, Chieu Hoi, et cetera, which assist the overall Phoenix program from their normal activities.

Question 42.  Do you think that the Phoenix program has limited the effectiveness of the Viet Cong Infrastructure?

Answer. Yes. Aside from the direct losses of personnel captured, rallied or killed, we have considerable evidence that the VCI operates under considerable limitations as a result of concern for exposure and capture under the Phoenix program, that its organizational structure in a number of areas is reduced to skeleton status instead of its previous full panoply of committees and members, that it has difficulties maintaining contact in many villages, et cetera. ¶

We even have a frank admission by a senior Communist official to a friend in Europe that the Phoenix program has caused real difficulties to the Viet Cong.

(Whereupon, at 1:05 p.m., the hearing was recessed, to reconvene at 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 21, 1971.) {p.243}



Source: The printed hearings (cited below).

By CJHjr: Photocopied at 141%, scanned, converted to text (OCR: FineReader 6.0), formatted (xhtml/css), links, text {in braces}, text beside a green bar |, text in yellow boxes, bold-face, bold-italics, highlighting, added paragraphing (for ease of reading) marked with this trailing paragraph symbol: ¶ .

This document (the second Phoenix hearings): July 21 1971 hearing (pages 243-286), U.S. Congress, House Hearings, U.S. Assistance Programs in Vietnam (U.S. Congress 92-1, House Committee on Government Operations, Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Government Information, Hearings, July 15 {a.m., p.m.}, 16, 19, 21, and August 2 1971, 4+362 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.G 74/7:V 67/4, CIS: 72 H401-3, OCLC: 235387, LCCN: 71616178 pf, DL, WorldCat}. Ensuing report: U.S. Assistance Programs in Vietnam (U.S. Congress 92-2, House Report No. 92-1610, House Committee on Government Operations, October 17 1972, 5+107 pages) {SuDoc: [Y 1.1/8:]92-2:H.RP.1610, Serial Set: 12976-6, CIS: 72 H403-19, OCLC: 540690, LCCN: 72603272 pf, WorldCat} {Full text: pages 1-46 2.4mb.pdf, pages 47-97 2.8mb.pdf, pages 99-107 501kb.pdf, omitting page 98 and repeating page 107, instead, at the start}.

Next: July 21 1971 hearing (pages 243-286) {250 kb}.

See also:

The first Phoenix hearings: Vietnam: Policy and Prospects, 1970 {58.4mb.pdf, source}, “Hearings on Civil Operations and Rural Development Support Program” (U.S. Congress 91-2, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings, February 17, 18, 19, 20, and March 3, 4, 17, 19, 1970, and Appendix, 7+750 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/2:V 67/17, CIS: 71 S381-2, OCLC: 119418, LCCN: 76610214 pf, DL, WorldCat}.

The third Phoenix hearings: Nomination of William E. Colby to be Director of Central Intelligence (U.S. Congress 93-1, Senate Armed Services Committee, Hearings, July 2, 20 {a.m., p.m.}, 25, 1973, 3+186 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.AR 5/3:C 67/3, CIS: 73 S201-27, OCLC: 800312, LCCN: 73603022 pf, DL, WorldCat}. Witnesses: William E. Colby, Robert F. Drinan, Samuel A. Adams, Paul Sakwa, David S. Harrington, Kenneth B. Osborn.

Vietnam Policy Proposals: Hearings on nine proposed items of legislation to end the U.S. war in Vietnam (U.S. Congress 91-2, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings, February 3, 4, 5, and March 16, 1970, 5+405 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/2:V 67/16, CIS: 70 S381-7, OCLC: 78825, LCCN: 74606991 pf, DL, WorldCat}.

National Veterans Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam (Citizens’ Commission of Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes, Washington D.C., December 1-3 1970), transcript, 117 Congressional Record 4238-4271 (U.S. Congress 92-1, March 1 1971, Permanent Edition (red bound)) {SuDoc: X.92/1:117/PT.4, ISSN: 0883-1947, OCLC: 05058415, LCCN: 12036438 pf, GPOCat, LL: paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}. Witnesses: Robert Bowie Johnson Jr., Mike McCusker, Daniel K. Amigone, Greg Motoka, Kenneth Barton Osborn, Norman Kiger, Gail Graham, Steve Noetzel, Edward Murphy, Daniel Alfiero, Louis Paul Font, Robert Master, Peter Norman Martinsen, T. Griffiths Ellison, Ed Melton, Chuck Hamilton, Lee Meyrowitz, Gordon S. Livingston, Greg Turgeon, Richard Altenberger, Bob Connelly, Robert Lifton, Chaim Shatan, Donald Engel, Gary Thamer, Steven Hassett, Kenneth Campbell, Sam Rankin, Phillip Wingenbach, Tod Ensign, Larry Rottmann, Robert Osman.

Winter Soldier Investigation (Vietnam Veterans Against the War Inc., Detroit Michigan, January 31, February 1-2, 1971), transcript, 117 Congressional Record 9947-10055 (U.S. Congress 92-1, April 6 1971, Permanent Edition (red bound)) {SuDoc: X.92/1:117/PT.8, ISSN: 0883-1947, OCLC: 05058415, LCCN: 12036438 pf, GPOCat, LL: paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}; 117 Congressional Record E 2825-2936 (U.S. Congress 92-1, April 6-? 1971, Daily Edition (green bound)) {SuDoc: X/A.92/1:117/???-???, ISSN: 0363-7239, LCCN: 80646573 pf, OCLC: 02437919, GPOCat, LL: paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}.

American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia, 1971 (U.S. Congress 92-1, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on National Security Policy and Scientific Developments, Hearings, March 23, 24, 25, 30, 31, April 1, 6, 20 {vvaw}, 1971, 9+583 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/1:P 93/4/971/PT.1, CIS: 71 H381-9, OCLC: 15634210, LCCN: 77612471 pf, WorldCat}, witness: Larry Rottmann (volunteer coordinator, Vietnam Veterans Against the War), April 20 1971 hearing, pages 353-423 {3.2mb.pdf}, at pages 406-423. CIS: “Description of charged mistreatment of prisoners in South Vietnam by American forces; report of receiving Officers Candidate School instruction on the use of torture.”


Legislative Proposals Relating to the War in Southeast Asia {44.14mb.pdf, source} “Hearings before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Ninety-Second Congress, First Session, on S. 376, S. 974, S.J. Res. 82, S.J. Res. 89, S. Con. Res. 17, S. Res. 62, and S. Res. 66” (U.S. Congress 92-1, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings, April 20-May 27 1971: “April 20, 21 and 22, 28, May 3, 11, 12, 13, 25, 26 and 27, 1971,” 7+726+12 pages) {SuDoc: Y 4.F 76/2:AS 4/13, CIS: 71 S381-18, OCLC: 198272, LCCN: 79614140 pf, DL, WorldCat}, witness: John Kerry (VVAW: Vietnam Veterans Against the War), Thursday April 22 1971, 11:05am-1:00pm, pages 179-210 {3.1mb.pdf}.

House Ad Hoc Hearing for Vietnam Veterans Against the War (U.S. Congressmen Jonathon Bingham and Paul Findley, presiding, Friday, April 23 1971, Venue: U.S. Congress, House of Representatives), transcript, 117 Congressional Record 13104-13118 (U.S. Congress 92-1, May 3 1971, Permanent Edition (red bound)) {SuDoc: X.92/1:117/PT.10, ISSN: 0883-1947, OCLC: 05058415, LCCN: 12036438 pf, GPOCat, LL: paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}. Witnesses: Larry Rottmann, Forest Lindley, Les Johnson, Arthur Egendorf, Kip A. Kypriandes, Phillip Lowley, Vinny Giardina, Michael Paul McCusker, William W. Lemmer, Alex Prim, Robert McLaughlin, Jack Smith, David B. Maize.

Senate Ad Hoc Hearing for Vietnam Veterans Against the War (U.S. Senator George McGovern, presiding, Friday, April 23 1971, Venue: U.S. Congress, Senate, Room G-103 New Senate Office Building), transcript, 117 Congressional Record 15392-15405 (U.S. Congress 92-1, May 17 1971, Permanent Edition (red bound)) {SuDoc: X.92/1:117/PT.12, ISSN: 0883-1947, OCLC: 05058415, LCCN: 12036438 pf, GPOCat, LL: paper, microfiche, DL, WorldCat}. Witnesses: Scott Camil, Vinny Giardina, Melville L. Stephens, Basil Paquet, Joe Nielsen, Dale Granata, Everett Carson, Forrest Lindley Jr., Samuel Miller, David A. Lamenzo, Jon Bjornson, Ken Provan.

Ad Hoc Hearings on Command Responsibility for War Atrocities in Vietnam {copy} (U.S. Congressman Ron Dellums, presiding, April 26, 27, 28, 29, 1971, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Venue: U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Caucus Room, Cannon House Office Building), transcript, The Dellums Committee Hearings on War Crimes in Vietnam: An Inquiry into Command Responsibility in Southeast Asia (New York, Vintage Books, 1972, 13+355 pages) {LCCN: 79039897 pf, ISBN: 0394717678, WorldCat}. Witnesses: Five West Point graduates (Fred Laughlin, Gordon Livingston {Iraq, copy}, Robert B. Johnson, Greg Hayward, Ron Bartek, Michael O'Mera), five former military intelligence special agents and POW interrogators {omitted from the linked source}, ten former Americal Division members (Gary Battles, Charles David Locke, Terry Mullen, Steve Padoris, Daniel S. Notley, John Beitzel, Guadalupe G. Villarreal, Daniel Barnes, Thomas Cole, William Toffling), overview of air war, pacification, and forced urbanization (John Sack, Kenneth Campbell, Randy Floyd, Elliot L Meyrowitz).

Bertrand Russell Tribunal, “International War Crimes Tribunal” (Stockholm Sweden, May 2-10 1967; Roskilde Denmark, November 20 – December 1 1967).

Tiger Force: “Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths: Tiger Force, an elite fighting unit in Vietnam, left a trail of atrocities in that country that have been concealed from the public for three decades.” (The Blade, Toledo Ohio, October 22 2003, February 15, March 28, April 6, May 2, May 12 2004).

This document is not copyrighted and may be freely copied.


Charles Judson Harwood Jr.

Posted July 22 2004. Updated May 10 2009.


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