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Full-text: August 2 1971 hearing (pages 287-362)
CIA/DoD Phoenix Program:
Targeting non-combatants (civilians): MACV 525-36
Torture and murdering prisoners
Arrest, imprisoning, terrorizing political opponents

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




Michael J. Uhl
K. Barton Osborn
Jerome R. Waldie

{August 2 1971 hearing, pages 287-362}




U.S. Assistance Programs in Vietnam


Monday, August 2, 1971

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

Washington, D.C.

The subcommittee met, pursuant to recess, at 10 a.m., in room 2203, 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.

While waiting for other members to arrive, I will make an opening statement.

During the past several weeks, we have been looking into the economy and efficiency of the operations of the U.S. assistance programs in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. We have reviewed the degree of inequity in the exchange rates in the currency of these countries with the U.S. dollar. We have begun our inquiries into the long-range implications of U.S. assistance operations to help strengthen the economic trade and stability of these nations once U.S. military support has been withdrawn.

Likewise, we have reviewed various economy and efficiency aspects of such programs as commodity imports, health, refugees, public safety, and rural development and other types of inter-related activities involved in the so-called CORDS “pacification” programs.

Wednesday and Thursday afternoons of this week will be devoted to hearing additional witnesses on the operation of black market currency manipulation and other illegal activities in these countries.

The Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Eugene Rossides, will be the principal witness on Thursday. Following the hearing that day, I hope to discuss with the other members of the subcommittee the overall plans and timetable for reports on these hearings and the advisability of resuming certain areas of these hearings in September after the recess.

Earlier in our hearings, we discussed various aspects of the pacification program carried on by the CORDS organization. Ambassador Colby, former head of the programs, testified 2 weeks ago today. Members have been disturbed by certain allegations made about the U.S. involvement in the so-called Phoenix program, under which some 22,000 persons of the Vietcong infrastructure were neutralized this past year. We learned that neutralized means killed, imprisoned or rallied.

Ambassador Colby went into some detail about the Phoenix program in a supplemental statement he submitted to the subcommittee. He also {p.288} responded to numerous questions about its objectives and its operational characteristics.

For the record, I would like to include an article in today’s New York Times which is headlined: “Rewards up to $11,000 Set for Captured Vietcong.”

Without objection it will be made part of the record.

(The article follows:)



(By Alvin Shuster)

SAIGON, South Vietnam, Aug. 1— The United States and South Vietnam have decided to start paying the highest cash rewards of the war — up to the equivalent of $11,000 — for each of certain key leaders of the Vietcong’s political underground.

Informed sources said today that the program, to be financed by the United States, would be tried first as a pilot project in four of South Vietnam’s provinces and extended to others later if successful. It is designed to stimulate interest among the South Vietnamese civilians in the lagging effort against the Vietcong’s clandestine organisation, which remains a serious threat to the pacification program.

There is continuing concern among American and South Vietnamese officials that the enemy’s subversive apparatus will step up activities after the withdrawal of American troops, restore its hold over many rural areas and again challenge the stability of the Saigon government.

“It is the cream of the leadership that we are now after with those high rewards,” said one official.

The decision to increase the rewards reflects the difficulties of the so-called Phoenix program, called Phung Hong by the Vietnamese. The controversial program, which its critics say emphasises assassination, is often described as one of the most important but least successful programs in Vietnam.

Authorities will now offer from 1 million to 3 million piasters, or $3,700 to $11,000 at the official exchange rate, to civilians who provide information leading to the capture of known leaders in the Vietcong network.

Until now, the usual limit under the Phoenix program has been 100,000 piasters, or about $370. Higher amounts have been paid in rare cases.

As part of the pilot program in the four provinces, the military or police units capturing the Vietcong leaders will also be rewarded. Sources said they would share 200,000 piasters, or about $760, if the leader is captured alive, but only half that if he is killed.


The four provinces, one in each of the military regions, are Quangnam in region I in the north, long a troublesome area; Binhdinh, a Communist stronghold in region II; Bienhoa, just north and east of Saigon in region III, and Vinhbinh, a coastal province in the populous Mekong Delta and an area where officials fear the Communists may try to disrupt this year’s legislative and presidential elections.

At this point, officials believe the Vietcong may operate on two levels during the elections for the House of Deputies next month — remaining relatively quiet in the few areas where they support sympathetic candidates and trying to disrupt the elections in other places. Sources report that instructions have gone out to Vietcong cadres to attack polling places with mortars, attempt to intimidate the electorate, overrun local outposts and generally work to show weaknesses in the government’s pacification programs.

In explaining the new pilot program of higher rewards, officials said the goal was quality rather than quantity. Last year in the Phoenix program 22,841 Vietcong were “neutralized” — those killed or captured and sentenced to jail or who defected. Most of them, however, were regarded as low-level operatives.


Officials said some details of the new reward effort were yet to be worked out, including how much to pay for which leaders. They estimate that there are 60,000 in the network, called the Vietcong infrastructure but that the top leaders sought represent only 2 to 5 percent of the total.

“You can be sure that if the leader carriers a price of three million piasters, he’s really a key man” said one official. {p.289}

The Phoenix effort was conceived by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1967 but was turned over the next year to the South Vietnamese, who continue to receive vital American help in the form of advisers and money.

Recent Congressional testimony in Washington showed that American financial aid for Phoenix from 1968 until May, 1971 amounted to $732 million. The current American contribution to the program is not known.

While American officials acknowledge that there are abuses in the program and some indiscriminate killing, they remain convinced that it must be continued and improved if South Vietnam is to have a chance for survival after American troops leave. Officials recognize, however, that diligent police and intelligence work is required to identify and hunt down the Vietcong suspects and that many South Vietnamese lack the knowledge and the interest to make the effort always effective.

“They will go in and pacify an area with their troops and local forces and think they have put out the fire,” said one American official in the delta recently. “But then they will leave it smouldering. That’s the Vietcong underground and therein lies the real danger.”

In defending the bounty system, officials note that money incentives have long been part of the struggle here and have had some success. The Vietcong who go over to the Government side, for example, have been paid for the weapons they bring with them, from the equivalent of about $2 for a flare gun to $370 for a heavy antiaircraft weapon.

Rewards have also been paid to civilians, not only for information on wanted Vietcong, but also for leading the authorities to weapons and ammunition caches. Some high Pentagon officials have called this program the “most cost effective effort we have.”

The names of the wanted Vietcong leaders and when possible their pictures are posted in villages and hamlets, much like the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s posters in American post offices.



Mr. Moorhead. I would also like to include in the record a letter to me from Mr. Robert W. Komer, who was formerly head of the CORDS program. He enclosed an article he wrote entitled: “Impact of Pacification on Insurgency in South Vietnam.”

Without objection the letter and the article will be included in the record.

(The material follows:)


Falls Church, Va., July 23, 1971.

Hon. William Moorhead,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Government Information,
U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

Dear Congressman Moorhead: Let me express my appreciation as a citizen that in the current hearings of your subcommittee on the CORDS support program in Vietnam, you as Chairman are attempting to give a rounded picture of our accomplishments as well as failures. It was good to hear that you asked about land reform (already 500,000 acres have been distributed under the new 1970 law — a notable achievement in any country within 1 year), and even pointed up the unique nature of our attempt to blend civil and military in a unique advisory organization.

The facts about this catastrophic war are grim enough without the invention of a new mythology to buttress charges of ecocide, genocide, and war crimes which will look silly in a few year’s time. For example, some witnesses before your subcommittee apparently invented figures to prove their points. Take, for example, a claim of 100,000 political prisoners — when the total population of every lock-up in South Vietnam is only a little over 35,000 — of whom at least 35 percent are ordinary criminals. Similarly, I see figures of up to 400,000 illegal children sired by Americans, when the only responsible estimate is 5,000 to 15,000, itself a guess and itself tragedy enough.

Perhaps parochially, I am distressed to see everything we Americans tried to do in Vietnam put in the worst possible light. To me, the GVN pacification effort we Americans helped support and shape in 1967-1971 will ultimately be judged on balance as one of the few generally constructive aspects of the Vietnam tragedy. I have tried to bring this out in a recent article, a copy of which I enclose. You might wish to include it in the subcommittee record.


R. W. Komer.



Robert W. Komer

Impact of Pacification on Insurgency in South Vietnam


Whatever one’s views about U.S. policy toward Vietnam or U.S. performance in that tragic conflict, in at least one respect the U.S. consciously attempted not to overmilitarize or over-Americanize the war, but attempted rather to cope with its rural revolutionary and largely political dimension. This attempt has had many names; the most widely known (though hardly the most apt) is pacification.

From Diem’s Agrovilles in 1959 through the Strategic Hamlet program of 1961-1963, Diem’s Civil Guard, and the Revolutionary Development program of 1965-1966, many promising though regretably modest experi-


Ambassador Komer served as Deputy for Civil Operations and Revolutionary {sic: Rural} Development Support (CORDS) to the Commander, United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (COMUSMACV), and as chief pacification adviser to the Government of Vietnam in 1967 through 1968. He then went to Turkey as U.S. Ambassador. Before going to Vietnam, he was a senior member of the National Security Council staff from 1961 to 1965, Deputy Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from 1965 to 1966, and the Special Assistant to President Johnson in charge of supervising the “other war” of pacification in Vietnam. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in December, 1967, and the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Honor Award in November, 1968. He is currently doing research at The RAND Corporation.

Any views expressed in this paper are those of the author. They should not be interpreted as reflecting the views of The RAND Corporation or the official opinion or policy of any of its governmental or private research sponsors.

Prepared for delivery at the Sixty-sixth Annual Meeting of The American Political Science Association, Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, California, September 8-12, 1970. Copyright RAND Corporation, 1970.

Reprinted from: Journal of International Affairs, Volume XXV, 1971 Number 1.



ments were tried. But not until the so-called “new model” pacification program of 1967 was the effort made on a sufficiently large and comprehensive scale — and sustained consistently over a sufficient period — to provide any full-scale test of its potential in coping with rural insurgency. Moreover, it was the only program carried out when the tide was running in favor of, rather than against, the Government of Vietnam (GVN) (thanks to massive U.S. military intervention at horrendous cost), thus permitting a sustained expansion into enemy-held and contested rural areas. For these reasons, this article will focus on the 1967-1970 pacification effort.

Unfortunately, the open literature on Vietnam pacification efforts in general and the 1967-1970 effort in particular is exceedingly thin. 1  Despite the millions of words written about Vietnam since 1965, there is a notable dearth of systematic analysis of such key aspects as the pacification program. This aspect of the Vietnam tragedy has been consistently neglected in favor of the more dramatic aspects of the war. A survey of press and periodical reporting over the three years of 1966-1968 reveals very few articles annually that even attempt to deal with pacification in the round. Most open sources available to the academic community seem quite impressionistic, particularly on the 1967-1970 period when commentaries on pacification almost invariably became caught up in the growing controversy about the war. An adversary proceeding developed — indeed a vicious circle — wherein the more the establishment attempted to show that progress was occurring the more the media and other critics attempted to show that it was all a house of cards. Hence, this article will be based primarily upon the author’s personal experience and access to operational data during the period. This necessarily entails a certain parochial bias. However, most of the data on the impact of the current program is of comparatively recent origin, since it only began to gather momentum with the first Accelerated Pacification Campaign of November 1968-January 1969, and the cumulative results have become fully apparent only in 1969-1970. {p.292}

Nature of the “New Model” Pacification Program, 1967-1970

Since there is so little in the open literature, it seems worthwhile to summarize the 1967-1970 Vietnam pacification program as a prerequisite to assessing its impact. It differed in many significant respects from previous pacification efforts, in Vietnam or elsewhere.

Conceptually, all Vietnam pacification efforts have been designed essentially to serve two constructive aims: (1) sustained protection of the rural population from the insurgents, which also helps to deprive the insurgency of its rural popular base; and (2) generating rural support for the Saigon regime via programs meeting rural needs and cementing the rural areas politically and administratively to the center. A secondary purpose has been to help neutralize the active insurgent forces and apparatus in the countryside. In essence, then, it is a civil as well as military process.

The 1967-1970 program differs from its predecessors less in concept than in the comprehensive nature and massive scale of the effort undertaken, and in the unified management which pulled together a great variety of subprograms for the first time on a fully countrywide scale. It must also be seen as a product of the circumstances and constraints existing at the time. It came late in the day, and only after costly U.S. military intervention had averted final collapse of the coup-ridden GVN and had created a favorable military environment in which the largely political competition for control and support of the key rural population could begin again. This competition was also facilitated by the increased stability at the center afforded by the Ky-Thieu regime. But the previous deterioration of the chronically weak GVN administration and security apparatus in the countryside made pacification an uphill task from the start. The new program also entailed a painful build-up and deployment of resources, which took at least two years. All this necessitated a crash effort, as did the time constraints uppermost in U.S. policy-makers’ minds. Few expected that the U.S. public would sit still for a slow, methodical ten-year campaign.

Since most available resources were in Vietnamese and U.S. military hands by 1967, since pacification required first and foremost the restoration of security in the countryside, and since what little GVN administration that existed outside Saigon had become military dominated, it was also logical for the new pacification program to be put under military auspices. On the U.S. side the result was a hybrid “Rube Goldberg” type of civil-military advisory organization called Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS). Paradoxically, CORDS resulted in far greater civilian influence on the pacification process than would otherwise have been likely, since civilians occupied most top CORDS positions. {p.293}

Even though the U.S. made a major advisory, logistic, and financial contribution, the “new model” pacification program has remained primarily Vietnamese from the outset. With one or two minor exceptions, all operational programs were staffed and managed by Vietnamese. The Vietnamese-to-U.S. adviser ratio at the peak of U.S. involvement was over 100 to 1. Of course, this was made possible (especially on the security side) because during 1966 to 1969 the U.S. military assumed the chief offensive role against the Viet Cong/North Vietnamese Army, (VC/NVA) — except in IV Corps — thus permitting the allocation of South Vietnamese military resources to providing local security in the countryside. On the other hand, the very fact that pacification was essentially a Vietnamese enterprise entailed another series of constraints:

Some have criticized the pacifiers for adopting over-simplified massive quantitative approaches to a highly sensitive task. In my view, this was the only feasible way to get early countrywide impact, given the extent of the need, the limited quality of the resources available, the GVN’s limited administrative capabilities and the lateness of the day. It is worth remembering that effective countrywide pacification had eventually to encompass [over] 10,000 hamlets [and] 2,000 villages [in] 250 districts and 44 provinces. The GVN could not afford politically to neglect half the country, or ignore certain provinces, in order to concentrate on the rest. Moreover, some resources existed in all these provinces that might as well be utilized since they were not readily transferable. Providing sustained rural security on this vast scale was inevitably a manpower extensive matter, almost requiring simple mass approaches. We were vividly aware of a major weakness in previous pacification efforts: the securing troops stayed only briefly and then moved on, after which the hamlets often retrogressed.

It must also be borne in mind that pacification was a 99 percent Vietnamese program, and properly so, even though supported by the United States. We pacifiers, coming along late in the day, had to make do with some of the most poorly trained and equipped Vietnamese assets that no one else was really using. Moreover, we couldn’t design programs beyond the capabilities of such Vietnamese administrative structure as was left by 1967, never strong but further degraded by terror and war. Lastly, it didn’t take Tet 1968 and its aftermath to make us realize in the field that we didn’t have five or ten years to get pacification moving. By 1967-68 the time seemed past for long-term programs or slow oilspot techniques.

We further realized that there was no one pacification technique that could of itself and by itself be decisive if we just put all our resources {p.294} behind it. So as a practical matter we pulled together all the various programs then in operation — civilian and military — that looked as though they could make a contribution. To utilize all available resources we pushed multiple programs simultaneously, though according to a realistic set of priorities. In effect, we pragmatically sought to build the new model pacification on existing assets, as a concerted series of admittedly inefficient countrywide programs, which nonetheless seemed capable of gradual improvement to the point where they cumulatively offered hope of saturating the enemy and enabling us to build faster than he could destroy. Given the real-life circumstances of wartime Vietnam, the war’s chaotic impact on a society still half-formed, and the elusive yet all-pervasive enemy presence, making quantity substitute for quality was almost the only realistic approach. Indeed, I recall no highly efficient program in Vietnam — no single American or Vietnamese effort that would be regarded as such by American standards. 2 

Providing Territorial Security. ¶

Pragmatically, the multifaceted 1967-1970 pacification program is perhaps best described in terms of its components. A notable feature was the stress on sustained territorial security (local clear and hold) as the indispensable first stage of pacification. Earlier pacification efforts had partly foundered on the lack of this. The military — regarding pacification as civilian agency business — had never provided adequate security resources. Nighswonger finds this a major source of the failure of earlier programs. From his own experience he saw the “heart” of pacification as “protection of the peasant,” and he concluded in 1966 that “a rural security system is only an urgent need, but not yet a reality in Vietnam.” 3  This was recognized in the imaginative Revolutionary Development (RD) program of 1966-1967. Its cutting edge, the 59-man, RD Cadre team, was designed as an armed paramilitary force to provide protection as well as developmental help to the hamlet. Also relevant was the allocation of 40 to 50 Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) battalions to provide temporary security in selected RD campaign areas in the 1967 pacification plan.

But large-scale pacification required full time sustained protection at the key village/hamlet level on a scale far beyond that which could be provided by these expedients. The pacification planners saw the long neglected Regional and Popular Forces (RF and PF) as the logical force-in-being on which to build. They were all locally recruited, and the bulk {p.295} of them were volunteers (partly in order to avoid the draft). RF served only in their own provinces and PF in their own districts. The placing of the RF/PF advisory effort under the new U.S. civil-military pacification management, CORDS, in conjunction with the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF) reorganization of 1967 marked the beginning of a truly integrated civil-military pacification program on a major scale. At long last, primary responsibility for local protection of the rural population devolved upon local forces recruited from this population itself.

The RF/PF were re-equipped and upgraded, their command clearly placed under province and district chiefs, and their numbers greatly increased. They expanded by more than 100,000 in 1958 alone, and now number some 510,000 men in over 1500 RF companies and 6000 PF platoons. The Tet shock of 1968 led to revival of another local security mechanism, the part-time People’s Self-Defense Forces (PSDF). These have grown to over three million, equipped with some 500,000 weapons. Though PSDF have often engaged the enemy, their most useful role is probably less in local defense than as a means of engaging the population politically in anti-VC activity.

Two other pacification sub-programs were designed to help cut into insurgent strength. A revitalized Chieu Hoi program aimed both at inducing VC to rally to the GVN and then at employing them productively. Ex-VC ralliers are now used in a wide variety of military as well as civil pacification roles. The GVN’s Phung Hoang (Phoenix) program aimed at neutralizing the clandestine VC politico-administrative apparatus, which many regard as the key to their insurgent capabilities. The VC infrastructure (VCI) taxes, proselytizes, propagandizes, and terrorizes the rural population; recruits and controls VC local forces; and administers VC-controlled areas. To date Phumg Hoang has been a small, poorly managed, and largely ineffective effort, though some attrition of the VCI has taken place.

Civil Programs. ¶

The other major aspect of the “new model” pacification effort has been the many civil programs aimed primarily at: (1) the revival of a modestly functioning rural administration; (2) rural economic revival to provide pragmatic incentives to the farmer; and (3) the establishment of other essential rural services, such as medical and educational facilities, refugee care, and a civil police presence. Many of these programs, inherited from the USAID mission, were integrated into a comprehensive pacification scheme by the GVN Central Pacification Council and CORDS. {p.296}

Perhaps most significant has been the concerted GVN/U.S. effort to restore village/hamlet self-government, which was abolished by Diem in 1956. During the 1967-1970 period, a series of GVN decrees were promulgated, and pragmatic steps were taken to provide for the election of hamlet chiefs and village councils, the creation of autonomous village budgets, and the reservation of local taxing powers and use of local tax revenues to the village. Moreover, GVN decree #045 of 1 April 1969 placed local security forces and police under the village chief’s authority for the first time in history, and lodged responsibility for framing local self-help plans in the village itself. Also in 1969, the GVN granted each elected village council a one million piaster village self-development fund under control of the village council itself. 4 

The RD Cadre program, which grew to a peak of 47,000 men in some 750, 59-man teams, and its associated New Life Development (later Village Development) program under the RD Ministry were used largely to strengthen local government and to assist in self-help projects. Another facet of the effort to restore functioning local government has been the continuing purge since late 1967 of corrupt or ineffective military district and province chiefs; the purge has touched most provinces and districts in South Vietnam.

A major parallel effort, given high priority from 1968 on, was the revival of the rural economy, which for years had suffered the chief brunt of the war. War-induced boom conditions and greater security were enhancing the urban sector of the economy while the rural sector was ever more depressed. A combination of techniques was introduced to close this urban-rural gap; among them, changing the terms of trade between urban and rural sectors by increasing prices paid to the crop producers, large-scale introduction of new IR-5 and IR-8 rice strains, accelerating import and distribution of fertilizer, expanding protein and free grain output, and not least, reopening and upgrading of key roads and waterways utilizing military engineers and U.S. contractors. Rural taxes were abolished, along with a web of economic and resource control restrictions. Water pumps and tractors were introduced in large numbers. In June 1970 a far-reaching land reform program finally passed the National Assembly, and the GVN is laying plans to redistribute 200,000 hectares of land per year for the next several years.

Other pacification programs also gathered momentum between 1967 {p.297} and 1970. Greatly increased resources were devoted to refugee care and, more recently, refugee resettlement. The USAID-supported hamlet school and teacher-training program was continued and broadened. There was a major effort to improve rural hospital and dispensary facilities. The GVN’s feeble propaganda capabilities were strengthened, but more important, the widespread use of radio (and even some television) in rural areas gave the GVN a virtual monopoly of mass communications. The effort to provide a civil law-and-order capability by strengthening the feeble National Police was also stepped up, and in 1969 police again were being stationed in the villages.

Two other distinctive features of the 1967-1970 pacification program were unified civil-military single management (for the first time), and a massive increase of resource inputs. Total pacification funding by the U.S. and GVN rose almost threefold from roughly $582 million in 1965 to over $1.5 billion scheduled in 1970 (dollar equivalents), including military outlays (the largest single is RF/PF funding). By 1970 roughly half of the real cost of pacification was borne by the GVN. Unified management of these outlays and of the multiplicity of pacification activities in several thousand villages and hamlets was feasible only by creating stronger central management at Saigon, region, province, and district levels.

Once again, the purpose here is not to represent the pacification effort of 1967-1970 as a highly efficient, high-impact program; it made no such pretense. Like most things in Vietnam, it has been cumbersome, wasteful, poorly executed, and only spottily effective in many respects. The aim is rather to describe the major differences between the “new model” and previous programs in management, size, and program emphasis. Nonetheless, GVN and U.S. efforts in 1967-1970 did manage to convert some innovative but small-scale experiments into a coherent, integrated, civil-military program on a big enough and consistent enough scale to produce gradually significant impact on Viet Cong prospects in the countryside. Whatever its faults, the 1967-1970 program at least stands out as one of the few innovative efforts undertaken by the GVN and U.S. to cope with a revolutionary, largely political conflict. In a conflict in which mistakes of policy and execution were almost the rule rather than the exception, the so-called “new model” pacification effort of 1967-1970 stands out as at least addressed to the key problems of dealing with rural-based insurgency via techniques that indeed attempted to compensate for the destructiveness of the war. It was a unique wartime expedient, designed specifically to cope with revolutionary war as it had evolved by the late sixties in Vietnam. {p.298}

Pacification Measurement Systems

Aside from a handful of in-depth studies of local situations (of which few are based on recent evidence 5 ), the most extensive body of available data on the effects (good or bad) of the major 1967-1970 pacification effort lies in the statistical and other reports developed for operational management purposes by the pacifiers themselves. These measurement systems were another notable feature of the “new model” pacification program. Despite their many limitations, the new reporting systems represent a comprehensive attempt at systematic collection and evaluation of relevant pacification data mostly from the village/hamlet level — perhaps the most innovative measurement technique of the Vietnam war.

Given the nature of the problem — keeping periodic track of the changing situation in 44 provinces, and 250 districts, over 2000 villages, and over 10,000 hamlets — stress had to be laid on relatively simple quantitative techniques. A similar problem was faced in keeping track of the multitude of small-scale pacification assets — now over 1500 RF companies and 6000 PF platoons, numerous thinly spread national police and RD teams, etc. The systems had to be designed realistically for input by relatively unskilled and overburdened field advisers — since one of the principles adopted was to have all possible inputs made at the lowest feasible level (hamlet if possible) — and then not to permit them to be changed as they travelled up the line.

In fact, the most controversial of the pacification measurement systems — the Hamlet Evaluation System (HES), initiated in January 1967 — was designed specifically to overcome the flaws inherent in previous, more subjective efforts to assess what was really happening in the countryside. These consisted of largely narrative reports based on Vietnamese sources that had proved consistently overoptimistic. The HES was prepared monthly by U.S. district advisory teams, using a standardized format questionnaire pertaining to physical changes in the hamlet. The HES assessed a matrix of 18 specific security and development indicators according to a simplified five-letter scoring system. At Saigon level, automated data processing is used to save clerical costs and to act as a memory bank. 6  {p.299}

As a result, data can be analyzed and compared month by month for the last three and a half years by individual hamlet, village, district, province, region, and SVN as a whole. Functional categories can also be separately analyzed.

HES has been frequently evaluated and criticized by civilian contract analysts; with their help a revised and updated version called HES/70 came into use in 1970 after an extensive trial period. It involves a more detailed and objective uni-dimensional question set, including 25 monthly questions on village/hamlet security and 114 quarterly questions covering all pacification matters. Instead of doing the rating, the adviser simply answers the questions; all scoring is clone centrally by a mathematical weighting formula not known to the field. During the i969 trial period, HES/70 showed consistently lower security ratings (about 4-6 per cent) than the old HES.

CORDS also designed over a dozen specialized data reporting systems, all closely related to each other and to HES for comparative purposes. They include PSDF, Chieu Hoi, National Police, Refugee, RD Cadre, and Territorial Forces Management Information Systems, a Pacification Data Bank, Rural Information System, Self-Help Project Monitoring System, Terrorist Incident Reporting System, and the like. Now a system is being designed to help carry out and monitor land reform. Monthly narrative reports on a standard format from U.S. province advisory teams have also been required since 1967; deliberately problem oriented, they provide an additional source of useful insights and were used primarily to identify matters needing attention by higher echelons.

Lest all this seem like too much reporting for its own sake, it should be noted that these systems were designed for management control at each level, not just progress reporting. Consistent emphasis has been placed on problem identification and analysis, not just results. It is impossible to manage a multifaceted pacification program effectively in thousands of villages and hamlets without such reports and measurement systems. But the important point is that these systems provide what one analyst has described as a “gold mine” of raw data on various facets of pacification impact.

In the absence of much else, any assessment of pacification impact must rest heavily on the validity of these CORDS measurement techniques. Much ill-informed criticism has been directed at HES in particular, but most seems to challenge HES for what it does not even claim to be — a measuring of popular attitudes — rather than analyzing it for what it is — a management tool. As with so much involving Vietnam, few critics have {p.300} taken the time to study what they deplore. Other critics really seem to be complaining less about the HES itself than about the way in which its aggregate scores have often been used in simplistic fashion to advance the notion of “progress.” Unfortunately, there is much to this criticism. When HES data is used by officialdom and the media without suitable qualification to claim that “x percent of SVN population is now secure,” it is not surprising that such oversimplification sometimes contributes to the Vietnam credibility gap. At any rate, CORDS field briefings on pacification included many relevant qualifiers which were usually ignored in media reporting. Moreover, it is too little recognized that the HES has consistently shown pacification regression and “churning” in rural areas (a fact unduly obscured by use only of overall aggregates). For example, HES provided the only quantifiable and detailed assessment of the sharp drop in rural security following the VC Tet Offensive in 1968.

There are obviously many limitations to the overall utility of pacification measurement system data. Perhaps most significantly, they provide only indirect inferences as to what the population of the countryside really thinks — about the GVN, the VC, security, etc. Periodic physical status indicators are the chief output, first because these are the easiest to measure, and second because of the indispensable need for simplified, standardized procedures if the whole village/hamlet spectrum is to be covered — and with relatively unskilled U.S. advisers as the chief source of input. It is often forgotten that these systems were designed as U.S. reporting systems precisely to avoid the kind of overly optimistic Vietnamese reporting which had characterized earlier efforts. For the same reasons, emphasis was placed on generating detailed factual reporting rather than subjective evaluations. While some fudging of figures to show progress has inevitably occurred, particularly when Vietnamese sources are used, a much larger source of perturbation has probably been the frequent shifts in U.S. advisers.

Yet those who have consistently used pacification measurement data have found it generally reliable within its limitations. For example, the analysts in the Systems Analysis Office under the Secretary of Defense have used it regularly for the most impressive “in-house” analytical critiques of pacification performance produced in the last few years. Indeed, one criticism that can be made is not that the mountain of raw data now available is distorted or inaccurate, but that so little of it has yet been analyzed in depth. In a real sense Vietnam has been the most extensively commented on but least solidly analyzed conflict in living memory. Both the establishment and its critics can be faulted on this score. Even CORDS {p.301} itself places greater stress upon systematic collection of data than upon its exploitation for management purposes. Since most of this data is unclassified, or will doubtless become so, its full exploitation may have to be left to the academic community.

More recently CORDS has been experimenting with poll-type survey techniques, using trained Vietnamese teams to conduct semi-structured interviews of a cross-section sampling of the rural population to determine trends in rural attitudes toward pacification and related subjects. Once this technique is fully developed, and results become available, they should offer useful insights.


Pacification Impact on Insurgency

It is still premature to attempt more than an interim assessment of the impact of the “new model” pacification program. Though the improvement of the GVN position in the rural areas since the low point of 1965 is clearly visible, its real depth and extent and its ultimate lasting quality are still untested. But here some important distinctions must be made. ¶

First, much more can be inferred about the short-term impact of pacification on the current VC insurgency than about its longer-term effect in helping to create a socio-political environment in which future insurgency would not again flourish.
Second, even over the short-term, it is hard to assess the relative extent to which observed changes in the countryside can be properly attributed to the pacification program as opposed to other factors. ¶

How much is attributable to the shield provided by the allied effort in the “big unit” war, which largely drove the VC/NVA main forces from most populated areas? ¶

How much did VC/NVA exhaustion from heavy manpower losses in their 1968 Tet and follow-on offensives weaken the insurgeney’s rural base? ¶

These two factors did much to create the conditions in which the rapid pacification upsurges of late 1968-1970 became possible. ¶

Or how much did systematic VC tactics of coercion and terrorism eventually alienate the rural population? ¶

How much did factors such as peasant perceptions as to who was winning affect rural actions and attitudes? ¶

All such factors undoubtedly had (or will have) some impact. Thus, in an unconventional conflict like Vietnam the relative impact of pacification versus other political, military, or psychological factors is exceedingly hard to sort out.

A third problem is the difficulty of distinguishing between the southern based VC insurgency itself, and North Vietnam’s input — especially through NVA infiltration. ¶

For analytical purposes at any rate, we cannot {p.302} dismiss this by calling Vietnam a “civil war.” Hanoi’s chief contribution in the 1965-1970 period has been well-trained regular forces. Their relative role in proportion to that of the southern VC has steadily increased to the point where over 70 per cent of the VC/NVA main force units and combat support are estimated to be NVA. Vietnam has become more and more “an NVA war” as VC military strength has declined. What began as an externally supported civil war in the south has by now become largely an internally supported “invasion” from the north. Clearly pacification has had much more impact on the faltering VC insurgency than on the NVA main force threat, which could be sustained almost indefinitely by infiltration from the north.

Last is the sheer difficulty previously mentioned of drawing adequate inferences from the mass of statistical data available. ¶

It is infinitely easier to quantify the physical changes in the situation in the countryside than to assess the impact of these changes on — to use the once fashionable cliché — the hearts and minds of Vietnam’s peasants. In terms of popular reactions, to what extent are any positive effects of pacification (improved security, economic revival, etc.) offset by the negative effects of how the GVN and U.S. have conducted the war? To what extent has coercion corruption, or arbitrary use of power by GVN administrators taken the bloom off the rose? Is peasant alienation from VC terror and exaction significantly greater than his alienation from similar GVN actions in many cases? Is the farmer fatalistic about all the destruction, or would he rathe have a harsh peace even under VC control than the continued destructive ness of the U.S. style of war? One can only pose these questions. No adequate basis for inference is yet available and may never be. But then in what field of analysis are data on behavior and attitudes as satisfactory as those on quantifiable changer

Despite all these caveats, however, at least some tentative inferences can be drawn. ¶

In general, the thesis of this article is that the 1967-1970 pacification program probably played a major role in reducing the VC insurgency to its present straits. Indeed, the consolidation of GVN local control over the countryside, the consequent drying up of the insurgency’s population base and the expansion of the GVN’s base, the attrition of the VC politico-administrative apparatus, the large number of ralliers under the Chieu Hoi program, and the constructive civil aspects of pacifcation — restoration of local government autonomy, rural economic revival, local economic and social development — may have contributed as much over the period to damping down the insurgency as the “big unit” {p.303} casualties inflicted over the same period. The evidence to support the thesis will he assessed under several headings.

Effect on Active Insurgent Strength. ¶

The 1967-1970 pacification program has contributed materially to the cumulative attrition of most components of VC active strength. ¶

First, the local pacification security forces (pricipally RF/PF but also the National Police, RD Cadre, and PSDF) have consistently inflicted more casualties on enemy forces — and taken more in return — than ARVN itself. Their activities, as well as their shear growing presence at the local level, have greatly inhibited VC recruiting, taxation, propaganda, logistics, and even terrorism. ¶

Second, the Chieu Hoi program has facilitated the rallying of over 160,000 hoi chanh ralliers (about two-thirds military) since it began in 1963, and over 132,000 of these came between 1966 and 1970. Though many of these are low-level people, and some no doubt rallied more than once, the cumulative total must have put at least a crimp in VC strength. The great bulk of these ralliers are from III and IV Corps, where the indigenous VC insurgency was largely centered.

Third, even the feeble Phung Hoang program has, according to the U.S.-designed reporting system, led to the neutralization of over 40,000 mostly low level VCI during 1968-1970. Of course, over half of those rallied, were captured, or were killed in the course of military and police operations of one kind or another. But the important point is that the growing if belated focus on neutralizing the VC politico-military apparatus as well as insurgent military strength has probably seriously rediced insurgent capabilities. The most recently published figures indicate that the remaining VCI are now carried at about 70,000. 7 

Whether or not the above figures are wholly accurate, the point is that the cumulative impact of these pacification programs has contributed materially to the reduction of insurgent strength to a point where, without continued infusion of NVA personnel (and now reportedly political cadre), most professional observers estimate that it would be difficult for the VC insurgency to survive as a major threat to the GVN.

The fact that the VC are increasingly targeting pacification programs may be an interesting indicator of the extent to which pacification is hurting the VC. During the three day April 1970 offensive “high point,” for example, nearly half of the enemy attacks were against pacification targets. {p.304}

Recent VC documents clearly indicate greater 1970 concern over pacification and direct greater efforts to combat it. Of course, all this may be partly because harassing pacification is a cheap way to keep the pot boiling during a “protracted war” phase.

Effect on Insurgent Population Base. ¶

Pacification programs, in conjunction with other factors, have had a similar effect on the VC-controlled rural population base. ¶

This can be systematically measured by the HES, which, with due allowance for the necessary qualifications, nonetheless is better than any other data for measuring such trends. It has been officially admitted that at the end of 1964, only 40 per cent of South Vietnam’s population was under government “control” — a sometime thing in those days — and over 20 per cent under VC control. Even when HES was first instituted in January 1967, only some 62.1 per cent of a total 16.3 million people were then rated as even “relatively secure,” some 18.5 per cent as contested, and still 19.4 per cent as admittedly VC-controlled. Furthermore, a high percentage of this increase in “relatively secure” population in 1965-1967 did not occur because of increased security in the countryside, but rather as a result of refugee movements and the accelerated urbanization taking place. However, these factors can be removed from the calculation by considering only rural HES scores. In January 1967, only some 46.3 per cent of the rural population was rated as relatively secure. Even at the end of 1967 less than 50 per cent of the rural population was so rated, and this dropped further as a result of the 1968 Tet Offensive, which was faithfully reflected in the HES. But the June 1970 figures (from the revised HES/70, which is much more sensitive to enemy activity and VCI presence) rate over 91 per cent of SVN’s 17.9 million population as “relatively secure,” 7.2 per cent as contested, and only 1.4 per cent or 256,000 rural people as VC-controlled. The great bulk of this VC-controlled population is concentrated in less than a dozen of the 44 provinces. The 1969-1970 gains have been mostly in the key rural areas.

Whatever one’s prejudices as to the precision of these figures, there is little doubt that GVN domination of the countryside has expanded rapidly since late 1968 at the expense of the VC-controlled population base, with inevitable effects on VC recruiting capabilities. Of course, GVN general mobilization in 1968, which led to the build-up of RVNAF and para-military forces to over 1.2 million men, has also operated to sop up manpower which might otherwise be available to the VC.

Effect on Rural Security. ¶

A mass of quantitative data, mostly from the hamlet/village level, in the HES and other data banks provides over- {p.305} whelming evidence that the physical security provided the bulk of the rural population has expanded considerably since the 1965 low point. ¶

HES security scores for rural population show an increase in relative security (ABC categories) to 90.5 per cent at end-1969. For those who are unwilling to accept so-called “C” hamlets as even relatively secure, even A and B population has risen to about 75 per cent as of June 1970.

Increased security in most populated areas, though still spotty in some cases, is also amply evident to the observer. There is also a direct correlation between increases in local GVN security forces and the resulting improvement in security indices. Improved security can also be directly inferred from the decline in the overall incident rate. From available statistics it is clear that the number of battalion-sized attacks and even lesser incidents was down significantly in 1969 from 1968 and has declined even further in 1970. Terrorism is still high, especially in March through May of 1970, but the overall terror, sabotage, etc. trend is down from 1968 to 1970. It is worth repeating, however, that the overall decline in the intensity of the war can be attributed to many other factors besides pacification.

Equally significant, the war has become largely localized. Analysis of the 1970 incident rate and the HES statistics show clearly that both the military war and terrorism now impact mostly on a few key areas. Leaving aside the “big unit” war in the almost unpopulated jungle and mountain areas along the borders, insurgency-type activity or VC incursions into populated areas are largely concentrated in the three provinces of southern I Corps, Quang Nam, Quang Tin, and Quang Ngai; Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Pleiku, and Kontum in northern II Corps; and four provinces in the Delta, Kien Hoa, Vinh Binh, An Xuyen, and Kien Giang (the last mostly because it is along the border). In most populated areas of the other 33 provinces, the intensity of conflict and even terrorism has radically declined — in many cases to sporadic harassment.

The number of refugees who are increasingly returning to the countryside (with help from the GVN refugee resettlement program) is another gross indicator of improved rural security. Excluding refugees from Cambodia, the number on the rolls has declined from over two million at the highest point to some 1.5 million in February 1969, and then to around 217,000 by mid-1970. While refugee statistics (especially earlier ones) are not wholly reliable, they are sufficiently reliable to establish this broad trend. The return to villages has continued in 1970.

Effect on Rural Participation in GVN-Sponsored Activities. ¶

It is at least partly relevant that popular participation in GVN programs, organiza- {p.306} tions, and activities of one sort or another has soared in recent years. ¶

No doubt to some extent this is a function of GVN pressure or coercion, or at least a matter of the peasant doing what he is told to do. ¶

Moreover, such participation does not necessarily equate with active commitment, though it would be equally mistaken to argue that it has no such meaning at all. ¶

At any rate, the rural population is becoming heavily engaged in the business of local government, local defense, self-help, etc., particularly since the Tet Offensive of 1968. ¶

Significant on this score are the rapid increases of GVN military and paramilitary forces (excluding PSDF) from 700,000 in April 1968 to about 1.2 million men today, and the rising enrollment in the part-time Popular Self-Defense Force, all since May, 1968, to between 3 and 3.5 million (though in urban as well as rural areas).

Increased popular participation in GVN-sponsored elections also may be relevant to popular acquiescence in the governmental process. ¶

While there has unquestionably been some fudging of the results in local cases, the extensive statistics available since 1967 on voter registration, participation, and number of candidates are considered generally reliable by professional observers in the field. In May 1965, only 3.8 million (of 4.2 million registered voters) voted in the provincial and municipal elections. In September 1966, 4.3 million of 5.2 million voted for the Constituent Assembly. The proportion of the 5.87 million registered voters voting in the 1967 national elections was 83 per cent. The proportion voting in the 1970 provincial and municipal council elections of 28 June 1970 dropped to 72.5 per cent (as usually happens in local vs. national elections), but the number of registered voters had risen to 6.1 million. The number of candidates for each seat (3.5 in the 1970 elections) has also increased. New faces are much in evidence; in I Corps the number of new candidates who won in village/hamlet elections increased from 20 per cent in 1969 to 30 per cent in 1970. The 1970 provincial and municipal council elections in I Corps produced 60 per cent new faces since 1967. At the lowest level some 961 villages and 5344 hamlets elected local administrations in 1969, bringing total elected local governments to 2048 out of 2151 villages and 9849 out of 10,496 hamlets. Some of these local elections were only nominal, but given the sheer looseness and inefficiency of the GVN at all levels, few would contend that local elections were mostly rigged. While difficult as yet to evaluate, the GVN’s continuing efforts to restore local autonomy at the grass roots level have apparently stimulated greater rural popular interest in local government.

Effect on Socio-Economic Conditions in the Countryside. ¶

Here again, mostly quantitative indices must be relied upon. ¶

It is difficult to translate {p.307} into meaningful impact all the USAID-type statistics on hamlet or other schools built, teachers trained, fertilizer distributed, rural dispensaries and province hospitals constructed, refugees cared for, wells dug, roads and waterways opened and repaired, tractors imported, markets built, self-help projects completed, or piasters and dollars spent. ¶

But there is little question that the range of services and assistance provided the rural population in GVN-controlled areas, mostly through the pacification program, has increased dramatically by 1969-1970 over 1965-1967. ¶

The net impact of priority measures to revive the rural economy has been to reverse the long decline in agricultural production, and according to a recent U.S. economic study, to make many Delta farmers the “new rich” of Vietnam. By June 1970 there were an estimated 3400 tractors in the Delta (IV Corps), a doubling over fifteen months as a result of agricultural development loans and sheer private spending. ¶

Of course, increased agricultural income is far from evenly distributed, and against all the improvement must be weighed the continued difficulties posed by military operations, GVN inefficiency, corruption, and the like.

Effect on Rural Attitudes Toward VC and GVN. ¶

So far this tentative analysis of pacification impact has stressed mostly quantifiable factors. It is far harder to assess systematically the effect on rural attitudes and commitment to the contending sides. ¶

Yet even here there is a growing body of evidence that the farmers are turning against the VC, even though they may not look with favor on the GVN. ¶

The decline in VC popular support has been noted by many observers, and attributed to a variety of causes. It can also be documented in numerous rallier interviews. ¶

Some point to how increased VC use of coercion, forced conscription, high taxation, and terror have alienated farmers in many areas. ¶

Statistics indicate that more than three-fourths of the terrorist victims in the period 1967-1970 were ordinary civilians. ¶

The widespread destruction in the Tet and May Offensives of 1968 generated a particularly noticeable anti-VC backlash. ¶

Others point to a drastic decline in the appeal to peasants of life in VC-controlled areas, as opposed to materially improved conditions in areas under GVN domination. ¶

Still others contend that the farmers are increasingly coming to believe that the GVN is winning, and in pragmatic fashion are gravitating toward the side that has the “mandate of heaven.”

But in terms of generating positive rural political support for the GVN, the evidence is much more spotty. ¶

And this may be the heart of the matter. ¶

To Popkin, one of the few scholars who has addressed this issue, “the central problem of pacification is how to translate economic resources and {p.308} military power into village control.” He sees this as “a political and not a technical problem,” 8  and renders the tentative verdict, based on 1966-1967 and 1969 field observations, that:

In the term’s most common meaning-physical security, governmental presence and economic benefits-most of South Vietnam is pacified. But this only means that the concept has always been inadequate, for peasants that have endured decades of mobilization and brutalization are no longer necessarily willing to act as passive subjects to be ruled from afar. 9 

In effect Popkin sees pacification as succeeding in its proximate aims but by no means yet achieving positive rural political support for the GVN. He recognizes that the Thieu regime is attempting to build a rural political base through methods already described. But to him:

Saigon’s problem has always been the lack of positive support even though there is often resentment or mistrust of the Viet Cong. And until positive links are made with the peasant population, until they identify with and feel represented by the government in Saigon, the risk of a Viet Cong comeback will remain. 10 

He grants that the new pacification programs in the village “have begun to energize a long dormant village political structure,” but sees Thieu as hemmed in in his attempts to move further in this direction by the ARVN, which regards its still dominant role in rural administration as a base of political power which it will be reluctant to relinquish.

What support Thieu may get from the people is likely to be irrelevant unless ARVN is reformed. For the essence of the conflict is not between a traditional peasant and a modernizing state but between a newly modern, politically sensitive peasantry and a state that is jealous of its own power and prerogatives. 11 

Popkin’s critique, based on actual field research in 18 villages, is perhaps the most perceptive and up-to-date yet available. ¶

Yet to what extent should a wartime program like pacification be measured in terms of what must essentially be a longer-term political process lasting perhaps a de- {p.309} cade? ¶

It seems too much to expect that in only three years or so even the major pacification effort finally launched in Vietnam should have achieved more than the restoration of relative local security in most areas, a considerable degree of economic revival, and the re-establishment of at least a semblance of popularly based local administration — with a substantial degree of popular acquiescence and perhaps some support. Thus, Popkin’s verdict seems a bit premature. ¶

If pacification is looked on as mainly aimed at suppressing insurgency and creating a climate within which the longer-term political process can have its inning, then Vietnam pacification may have been (as indeed Popkin grants) largely successful. 12  It has bought time to let the GVN see if it can knit together the government and the peasantry. ¶

At a minimum the peasantry now apparently sees a brighter future under the GVN than under the Viet Cong, aside from regarding the GVN as now having the “mandate of heaven.” Moreover, more recent 1970 rural attitude surveys (by Vietnamese) show a more positive rural attitude toward the GVN than Popkin has suggested.

Indeed, Popkin himself sees the conflict which will now determine ultimate GVN viability as one between the peasantry and ARVN rather than between the GVN and VC. Other observers would rate the ARVN’s political power as less of a fearsome threat to Thieu. In a real sense he has more control over ARVN than anyone else, a result of his powers to promote and reward as the senior general and president. In any case, ARVN is not very cohesive as a political power center and is increasingly being redeployed toward the borders, away from populated areas.

Moreover, the decentralization of power has gone further than Popkin suggests. Some 70,000 village/hamlet officials have been educated at the Vung Tau National Training Center for their new responsibilities (and harangued by Thieu himself to exercise them). Greater decentralization has occurred in 1970 (e.g., autonomous village budgets, new provincial councils) and more is planned for 1971 (e.g., election of province chiefs as called for in the 1967 constitution). Though local autonomy still exists {p.310} more on paper than in reality in many areas, and a natural conflict of interest is emerging between the new village leaders and the military men who dominate at the district and province levels, the trend is in the right direction.

If Thieu survives, he will almost certainly push decentralization further for his own political purposes. Moreover, despite the natural conflict of interest between ARVN and the newly emerging rural groups, there is less of a conflict inherent in the relations between these groups and the central government. It is easier to envisage a sharing of power between the village at the local level and the GVN at the center than between local civilians and military leadership groups. In any case, the related diffusion of power now taking place between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches will operate to limit the impositions of the center on the village. Neither Thieu nor ARVN are any longer as much the free agents they used to be.

Tentative Conclusion

In sum, the gathering weight of recent evidence indicates that the 1967-1970 “new model” pacification program, with all its flaws and weaknesses, has contributed materially to at least a short-run improvement in the GVN’s ability to cope with rural insurgency. ¶

There is no doubt that the position of the GVN vis-a-vis the VC in the countryside has grown much stronger — militarily, economically, and administratively — since 1965-1966. The dramatic physical improvements in most areas are highly visible, and the trends are further confirmed by the systematic CORDS measurement systems, despite their limitations. ¶

The weight of evidence also shows that the VC position has drastically declined in all areas of Vietnam and remains a major threat in only about 8-12 provinces. Moreover, despite U.S. withdrawals, GVN capabilities to push the pacification process further still appear to be growing, and the capabilities of the southern VC (though not necessarily the NVA) appear to be on the wane.

It should also be borne in mind that pacification’s contribution to these results was achieved via programs that have been primarily Vietnamese staffed and run from the outset, though extensively subsidized and logistically supported by the U.S. ¶

Even so, the direct U.S. dollar input to pacification in probably the peak year 1970 is only about $777 million out of the many billions still being spent, which makes pacification probably more cost-effective than most major wartime programs in Vietnam. ¶

Nor have pacification programs generally entailed the sort of counterproductive side effects on rural attitudes characteristic of many aspects of the {p.311} ”big unit” war. Indeed, many programs (refugee aid, village development and self-help, etc ) were designed partly to compensate for these.

What is less apparent, and far less subject to measurement, is how lasting the change in the countryside or the degree of positive rural commitment is to a still feeble GVN. ¶

In the author’s view, the war and its consequences (e.g., pacification) have stimulated what amounts to a rural revolution in Vietnam — politically, socially, and economically. ¶

But the extent to which this revolution will benefit the GVN’s cause over time is still unclear. Definitive evidence may not be available for years. ¶

Moreover, the VC — though greatly weakened — is still a force to be reckoned with. ¶

Indeed, despite the growing evidence as to pacification’s short-term impact on rural insurgency, such other factors as new NVA offensives, political changes in Saigon, or the terms of a negotiated settlement may so affect the final outcome in Vietnam that no real test of pacification’s ultimate impact may ever be feasible.


{Each footnote appears on the same page with its text reference}.

1 The most coherent analysis of one phase of Vietnam pacification is by William A. Nighswonger, Rural Pacification in Vietnam (New York: Praeger, 1966). But it covers only the period before the major “new model” pacification program got underway. Most open literature is on pre-1966 pacification efforts. See for example the brief but perceptive accounts in George Tanham, editor, War Without Guns: American Civilians in Rural Vietnam (New York: Praeger, 1966). The most comprehensive account of the current program is the extensive testimony of Ambassador W. E. Colby and his CORDS colleagues before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February 1970 (which has not yet been published by the Committee). For a summary of 1966-1970, see R. W. Komer, “Clear, Hold, and Rebuild,” Army (May 1970), pp. 16, 24, and its companion piece, “Pacification: A Look Back and Ahead,” Army (June 1970), pp. 20-29.

2 Komer, “Pacification,” ibid., p. 24.

3 Nighswonger, op. cit., pp. 70, 130, 147.

4 See The Vietnamese Village 1970: A Handbook for US. Advisers, Community Development Directorate, CORDS MACV, 2 May 1970.

5 For example, D. W. P. Elliott and W. A. Stewart, Pacification and the Viet Cong System in Dinh Tuong: 1966-67, The RAND Corporation, RM-5788, January 1969. See also Nighswonger, op. cit., on Quang Nam province 1964-1965. Perhaps the most systematic current study of the impact of the war on a sample of 18 villages is the continuing work by S. L. Popkin of Harvard for South East Asia Development Advisory Group (SEADAG) (see below).

6 See Colonel E. R. Brigham, “Pacification Measurement,” Military Review, May 1970, for a short analysis of the HES. He was chief of the CORDS Research and Analysis Division during the evolution of HES.

7 George McArthur, Los Angeles Times, Part I, April 2, 1970, p. 4.

8 Popkin, SEADAG Discussion Paper, “Village Authority Patterns in Vietnam,” Asia (2 June 1969), p. 1.

9 Popkin, “Pacification: Politics and the Village,” Asian Survey, (August 1970), p. 663.

10 Ibid., p. 664.

11 Popkin, ibid. The author’s own observations in Vietnam, 7-19 July 1970, would tend at least partially to confirm his thesis of the growing clash of interest between elected village councils and the military province and especially district chiefs who are reluctant to share local power.

12 For a view that the extent of popular support for a government, or its shift from an insurgency to a government, is not a reliable indicator of success, see Nathan Leites and Charles Wolf, Jr., Rebellion and Authority (Chicago; Markham 1970), pp. 87-89, reviewed in this issue of the Journal. Theirs is the only systematic analysis of indicators of success in counter-insurgency known to the author. In their view, the “hearts and minds” theory that popular attitudes play a decisive role in enabling insurgencies to achieve success is grossly overdrawn. They see popular behavior as depending “not only on likes and dislikes” but also on the opportunities and costs to the population of choosing whether to follow their attitudinal preferences. Moreover, to them “the progress made by each side in an insurgency influences the affiliations of most of the population as much as, or more than, it is influenced by those affiliations.” (pp. 150-151) {p.312}



Mr. Moorhead. Today we will hear from two outside witnesses who will testify on the economy and efficiency of the field operations of this program. The witnesses, Mr. Michael Uhl and Mr. Barton K. Osborn, both served in the U.S. Armed Forces in Vietnam during the past several years. Both had command and operational responsibility in the intelligence area, charged with implementing various directives, orders and stated objectives of the Phoenix program.

Both were honorably discharged from the military service and appear here as voluntary witnesses. We will hear their statements and then both will be available for questions from the members of the subcommittee and the staff.

Mr. Uhl and Mr. Osborn, will you come forward to the witness table, please.

This being an investigative hearing, we will swear you both, if you will please rise and raise your right hand.

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

Mr. Uhl. I do.

Mr. Osborn. I do.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Uhl, since you have a prepared statement, why don’t you proceed first.

Do you have an initial statement, Mr. Reid?

Mr. Reid. No.

Statement of
Michael J. Uhl,
a Public Witness

Mr. Uhl. Thank you.

My name is Michael J. Uhl. I am currently listed in the Army records as a retired first lieutenant by virtue of my disability.

Upon arrival in the Republic of Vietnam in November of 1968—

Mr. Moorhead. For the record you might give us your address here.

Mr. Uhl. I currently reside in New York City. I am using my parents’ address as my address of record: 35 Coppertree Lane, Babylon, New York, Code 11702.

Mr. Moorhead. Thank you.

Mr. Uhl. Upon arrival in the Republic of Vietnam in November of 1968 I was assigned as the team chief of the 1st Military Intelligence Team — 1st MIT — 11th Brigade, Americal Division. I remained with the 11th Brigade until late May 1969, at which time I was medically evacuated, having contracted pulmonary tuberculosis.

The 1st MIT consisted of three sections: Counter Intelligence (CI), Order of Battle (OB), and Interrogation of Prisoners of War (IPW). My primary function was to administer the team and coordinate its efforts, in order to fulfill our mission of providing the combat brigade with tactical intelligence for immediate exploitation and security from compromise of its operations. By virtue of my military occupational speciality (MOS) I also had direct supervisory control over the CI section.

Through my testimony today I hope to convey, generally, a perspective shared by many of my veteran comrades. This is a perspective gained from the field, of those charged with the responsibility for {p.313} implementing ambiguous and often absolutely misleading directives, policies, and standard operating procedures. Most of these I believe to be based on fallacious analysis of the historical and contemporary Vietnamese situation, not to mention a fundamentally misguided concept of what the role of the United States should be in foreign affairs.

I do not make these charges lightly. For those who have strong beliefs in the many revolutionary concepts that first shaped our Nation, disillusionment does not come easily. Our system has evolved away from the best sentiments of Thomas Paine, Sam Adams, Patrick Henry, and thousands like them throughout our history.

William Jennings Bryan, in spite of his failings, summed up many of these sentiments before this very body {Indianapolis, April 8 1908}. At that time Congress was debating whether or not to withdraw American troops from the Philippines.

And so with the nation. It is of age and it can do what it pleases; it can spurn the traditions of the past; it can repudiate the principles upon which this nation rests; it can employ force instead of reason; it can substitute might for right; it can conquer weaker people; it can exploit their lands; appropriate their property; and kill their people; but it cannot repeal moral law or escape the punishment they decreed for the violation of human rights. * * *

Since this subcommittee is enjoined to hear testimony that bears on the efficiency and funding of governmental operations, I will try to make my comments relevant to these guidelines wherever possible. It is generally fairly obvious that at least with tactical level MI operations, waste and inefficiency are the rule, not exception.

It is not at all unpredictable, given what we have learned from the Pentagon papers, that my operational perspective of MI programs like Phoenix, for example, is diametrically opposed to the administrative perspective of former CORDS chief, Ambassador Colby.

For instance, Ambassador Colby gave the impression that Phoenix targeted specific high level Vietcong infrastructure whose identity had been established by at least three unrelated intelligence sources. In his prepared statement delivered before this committee on July 19, 1971, he cites several interesting statistics. Among these is the number of Vietcong infrastructure (VCI) successfully targeted and “neutralized” during the period 1968-May 1971. 1970 figures show 22,341 VCI “neutralized.” Colby thus would have us believe that the vast majority of these people were targeted according to the rules that he outlined.

This capacity on the part of MI groups in Vietnam seems to me greatly exaggerated. A mammoth task such as this would greatly tax even our resourceful FBI, where we have none of the vast cross-cultural problems to contend with.

What types of operations “generate” this supplementary body count then, assuming the figures are accurate? It was my experience that the majority of people classified as VC were “captured” as a result of sweeping tactical operations. In effect, a huge dragnet was cast out in our area of operation (AR) and whatever looked good in the catch, regardless of evidence, was classified as VCI.

MI personnel do not have an “active” combat role. Nevertheless, the 1st MIT had a reputation of being an aggressive unit that did not shy away from initiating and participating in combat patrols. On one {p.314} occasion, shortly after I had joined the team, I was on the land line, land communication, reporting to my commanding officer (CO) at division. In the course of giving him an account of the week’s activities, I mentioned that we had staged several MI patrols. He reprimanded me slightly, saying that he did not want to lose “valuable” MI personnel on routine combat patrols; replacements were hard to come by. He further informed me that the only justification for MI people to be on a patrol was for the purpose of hunting down VCI. From that point on, any “body count” resulting from an MI patrol were automatically listed as VCI. To my knowledge, in fact, all those killed by 1st MIT on such patrols, were classified as VCI only after their deaths. There was never any evidence to justify such a classification.

The IPW section, I would estimate — again I stress “estimate” — interrogated an average of 20 people per day.

Mr. Moorhead. Is that your team: 20 per day?

Mr. Uhl. Yes, sir.

These Vietnamese were generally turned over to MI by our various combat units, as VC suspects. There was an extraordinary degree of command pressure placed on the interrogation officer to classify detainees turned over to IPW as civil defendants (CD’s). As opposed to innocent civilians (IC’s) these are people adjudged to have violated Vietnamese law.

It was a foregone conclusion that the overwhelming majority of detainees could not be classified as prisoners of war (PW’s) since the conditions of capture did not meet the rigid criteria set up to make that classification. Therefore, the way that the brigade measured its success was not only by its “body count” and “kill ratio” but by the number of CD’s it had captured. ¶

Not only was there no due process, which we as Americans consider to be among man’s “natural rights,” but fully all the detainees were brutalized and many were literally tortured.

All CD’s, because of this command pressure, (the majority of our detainees were classified as CD’s) were listed as VCI. To my knowledge, not one of these people ever freely admitted being a cadre member. ¶

And again, contrary to Colby’s statement, most of our CD’s were women and children. ¶

Mr. Colby, in response to a direct question, denied that Americans actually exercised power of arrest over Vietnamese civilians. ¶

In Duc Pho, where the 11th Brigade base camp was located, we could arrest and detain at will any Vietnamese civilians we desired, without so much as a whisper of coordination with ARVN or GVN authorities. ¶

But the impact of this oversight in Ambassador Colby’s testimony pales when compared to his general lack of understanding of what is actually going on in the field.

I mentioned above that in order to be listed as VCI at least three different intelligence agencies had to target the same individual. Even if this were true, which it wasn’t in my experience, the most crucial omission in this progression is not even addressed. ¶

That is: what steps are taken to assure that information used to denounce any individual is reliable?

The 1st MIT employed 11 coded sources. These were indigenous subagents paid to provide us with “hot intel” on the VC personalities and movement in our AR. ¶

We had no way of determining the background of these sources, nor their motivation for providing American {p.315} units with information. ¶

No American in the team spoke or understood Vietnamese well enough to independently debrief any “contact.” None of us were sufficiently sensitive to nor knowledgeable of the law, the culture, the customs, the history, etc.

Our paid sources could easily have been either provocateurs or opportunists with a score to settle. Every information report (IR) we wrote based on our sources’ information was classified as (1) unverifiable and (2) usually reliable source. As to the first, it speaks for itself; the second, in most cases was pure rationale for the existence of the program.

The unverified and in fact unverifiable information, nevertheless, was used regularly as input to artillery strikes, harassment and interdiction fire (H&I), B52 and other air strikes, often on populated areas. ¶

We churned out a dozen IR’s per week, not because it was good or reliable information, but it was our mission. Furthermore, it was not possible, given the conditions in Vietnam, for a tactical unit to produce reliable and verified intelligence data.

The intelligence contingency fund (ICF), a classified fund, provides payroll and incentives for these essentially useless subagents. Moral, ideological, and political questions aside, literally millions of dollars must be squandered yearly in operations similar to the one I described extemporaneously, all over Vietnam; all over the world.

If one assumes, as I do, that Phoenix is a hoax — that thousands of Vietnamese are indiscriminately classified as VC — based on no specific targeting procedure — based on no evidence — then this is just one more colossal example of wasted funds and personnel.

So what, a few more millions are wasted among the billions wasted before them. ¶

As the troops return from Southeast Asia, the cost of this war will continue for many years to come. Those addicted to drugs will need extensive rehabilitation. ¶

Those scarred psychologically from having been executioners of brutal policies will not only seek medical and financial relief, but in a real sense, represent a human resource no longer willing or able to believe in the worth of American Institutions.

Mr. Moorhead. Thank you very much, Mr. Uhl.

Before we question you, we will hear from Mr. Osborn.

Mr. Osborn, you may proceed.

Statement of
K. Barton Osborn,
a Public Witness

Mr. Osborn. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

My name is K. Barton Osborn. I am a resident of Washington, D.C., 5205 Sherrier Place NW., Washington.

I would like to describe my role as it was peripheral to the Phoenix program and give you an idea of the context in which I was associated with both military intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency program.

I was in Vietnam from September 1967 until December 1968. At that time I was in the Army on active duty. I had been trained for 6 months at Fort Holabird, Md., in a covert classified program of illegal agent handling, which taught us to find, recruit, train, and manage and later terminate agents for military intelligence.

Mr. Reid.  Could you explain what you mean by “terminate”? {p.316}

Mr. Osborn. Terminate, that is to release agents from their duties as they performed them for the agent handler once they no longer were of use for the agent.

Mr. Reid. Do you imply by that with extreme prejudice?

Mr. Osborn. There are two ways: one is with prejudice and one is without prejudice.

With prejudice means simply — without prejudice first of all, is to tell the man or woman he has done a good job; give them a payoff or whatever and let them go; also to establish a future contact arrangement.

With prejudice is subcategorized into two areas. With prejudice may mean simply that the agent did a bad job; in some way was judged not loyal or whatever, and was not to be hired again and was to be put on a list of undesirable personalities which they call “black list.”

With extreme prejudice is to murder the individual right out because he or she constitutes a knowledgeable person who may be compromising to present or future operations. That is a termination process.

There is a whole cycle called “The intelligence cycle,” from the point of needing an agent and going to find one through recruiting the person, training them, managing them, sending them out, receiving them back, having them perform missions and then debriefing them and then eventual termination.

Mr. Reid. Were you aware of or did you participate in anything that reflected extreme prejudice?

Mr. Osborn. Yes, I was. Let me explain that.

As I was running agents for 15 months in Vietnam — I arrived there, in 1967 — I suppose I became operational after six weeks in Vietnam. The operation was in the I Corps area south of Da Nang City. I lived in the civilian community under a cover name and cover status in Da Nang City. I was under the cover of a GS-9 Department of Defense Civilian who was attached to the civil operations program, specifically: USAID refugee programs and so forth. I made my own covers. I was given no official cover by any headquarters. I was just sent there as a free agent to organize and to provide information to use in combat.

The 1st Marine Division, 3d Marine Division, various Army units were in the area, but all American.

The reason I didn’t work with any of the Vietnamese in any capacity is that I performed unilateral operations which are strictly illegal and against the Geneva Convention. I was performing the kind of operation which, if discovered by the South Vietnamese, would constitute a compromise for what we call “a flap to the U.S. Government.” I was sent there under cover to perform illegal operations, targeting not only the VC and the NVA, but also the South Vietnamese Government in some operations which I got into, such as illegal green dollar dissemination.

There were no restrictions on any legalities which we used, or illegalities, and military intelligence, for instance, call us “extra-legal activity” which means it is justifiable on the basis of the necessity to collect information. I used whatever I needed to in the way of resourcefulness; defined agents. Specifically I looked through the files of {p.317} construction companies in the area, American contractors. I found people working on the economy who spoke English and from there I recruited my agents.


I had two nets at the time of, say, the spring of 1968; two nets being two principal agents under whom were subagents running cells of people in a geographical area, each cell constituting perhaps five people at one time. I had 40 to 50 people working under these two nets. Their prime objective was to collect combat information; that is, names, locations, size, plans, supplies of unit which were known to be or learned through my nets to be operating in the area. I reported this information to the combat units which I mentioned, and there I found myself getting an extra product which I hadn’t expected and that was political information.

There were people reporting to me names of individuals who were supposedly the Vietcong sympathizers and cooperants. I didn’t expect this information and in fact, operationally had no way to deal with it.

I reported this to the 1st Marine Division, G-2, that is the colonel who was the G-2 officer there and he said they had no real capacity to deal with this kind of information, although it seemed worthwhile information.

I disseminated it through them laterally and found I got feedback reports from them in following up the effectiveness of my data that were for the Phoenix coordinator and I didn’t know what it was. I investigated this through the G-2 of the 1st Marine Division and found the Phoenix coordinator, in fact, was an Army officer, a major who had a house in Da Nang City which was known in our intelligence community to be the CIA operational headquarters.

I went there to find out if my reporting was being effectively used. He told me: “Yes, they know of the information that came through under my cover name and identified me that way and asked me if I had much of this information.” I told him I came by a good bit and had a capacity to collect a good bit more, and asked him how it would be used and he said: “According to the Phoenix program.”

The Phoenix description was that it was designed to neutralize the core of the VC, interdiction politically, logistically and so forth. I found myself in possession of this information and in need of funds for my agents, because Military Intelligence, although I had been assigned by them to recruit agents, found themselves short on what Mr. Uhl described as the intelligence contingency funding and in fact, had no money to pay the agents once they had been recruited.

I had recruited these people on promises of money to come, but when it came time to pay I didn’t have money so I took what incentive gifts — cigarettes and liquor, that were available and had them sold by interpreters on the black market in order to get money for my agents’ payment.

The Phoenix coordinator offered me not only the opportunity to utilize the political information I was getting, but also additional money which I may have needed for my agents. From that point on I had no real financial struggle and found myself not only able to pay my agents, but utilize CIA facilities, such as Air America for transportation housing, covert housing in the city areas where I needed it; such things as safe houses which are areas to meet your agent covertly and debrief; money to rent hotel rooms in order to meet them {p.318} covertly; agent payments, both overt money payments and incentive gift such as an occasional motorcycle to a principal agent and so forth. From the time of my association with the Phoenix program I no longer had any logistical problems. This is how the information was dealt with; I gave it to them in reciprocity for the money and information I received,

I would report an individual which had been reported to me by one of my net on the assumption that my agent’s addressee was combat information which was high, was reflected directly in their VCI information; that is to say they were consistent through all kinds of information which they supplied to me and we had a way of testing the combat information and found it very effective.

I didn’t question how they reported or how they selected the individuals whom they reported other than the fact they described them in their activities as Vietcong. I reported this both directly to the Phoenix coordinator in Da Nang and also combat using units and they would use it if they could.

The resulting interrogations are what I would like to describe to you; that is: How the individuals reported were dealt with by American personnel.

The 1st Marine Division was adjacent to the Da Nang Air Base. They had a Marine Division of the 1st Wing, an amphibious force which was adjacent to the air base, and its job was to protect the air base from attack by enemy, either regular or irregular troops.

I at one point was reporting regularly people in that area of Da Nang Air Base who may have constituted a threat to the air base’s security. I remember at one time I reported an individual who lived in a local village who was reported to me by the local cell as being a logistical officer for the local farmers organization, which is the Vietcong structure at the village level, and the counterintelligence team from that unit went out and pickled the individual up and detained him as a suspected VC.

I went back the next day to check out the utilization of my report and whether or not it had been accurately followed through on and so forth. They told me they had the individual detained there and I asked how they were going to deal with him; and they said they were preparing to interrogate him; would I like to attend the interrogation, and I said I would, because I had never seen one. They said it would be an airborne interrogation and I didn’t quite conceive that. I went ahead with the marine officer who was a first lieutenant, head of the CI team. We took two Marine enlisted men and two Vietnamese males in their 30’s or so and we went out to the air wing and we got on a helicopter and flew northwest of Da Nang over some uninhabited area there of flat terrain.

Mr. Reid. What unit was that?

Mr. Osborn. Counterintelligence team of the 1st Marine Division.

Mr. Reid. Of the 1st Marine Division?

Mr. Osborn. That is right. They had a facility there on the 3d Marine Amphibious Force’s air wing at Da Nang Air Base.

But we flew over some flat terrain, perhaps 20 miles out of Da Nang, and the two Vietnamese were bound with their hands behind their backs and the two Marine enlisted men kept them off in a sling seat inside the helicopter. The interrogation began, not on the individual {p.319} whom I had reported, but on the extra person, and I didn’t know who he was at first and found out that he was a previous detainee who had already been interrogated who had been beaten and who had internal injuries and who was not able to respond to questions. They had brought him along for the purposes of interrogation.

I found out the purpose was this: They antagonized the individual and told him they needed certain information regarding VC activities and he couldn’t give it. He hadn’t given the information they wanted from him and they demanded it of him and he couldn’t respond or wouldn’t respond. They antagonized him several times by taking him with his elbows behind his back, hands tied, running him up to the door of the helicopter and saying: If you don’t tell us what we need to know we are going to throw you out of the helicopter. They did this two or three times and he refused to say anything. He couldn’t respond. He wouldn’t respond. Therefore, on the fourth trip to the door they did throw him out from the helicopter to the ground. That had the effect directly of antagonizing the person I had reported, suspected Vietcong logistics officer, into telling them whatever information they wanted to know, regardless of its content, value or truth; he would tell them what they wanted to know simply because his primary objective at that point would be not to follow the first Vietnamese out the door, but rather to return safely to the ground.

Mr. Reid. That was a purposeful, deliberate pushing out the door?

Mr. Osborn. There was no question at all. This was the reason they took this first individual up and the reason that they antagonized him and went through the form of threatening him, and throwing him out three times.

Mr. Reid. Who gave the order that he should be pushed out?

Mr. Osborn. The 1st Marine Division lieutenant.

Mr. Reid. There was a lieutenant on board?

Mr. Osborn. That is right. He was the counterintelligence team chief.

Mr. Reid. Do you recall his name?

Mr. Moorhead. Because of the rules, we had better not mention names of individuals in such cases in public session.

Mr. Osborn. In all due respect, I do recall his name, but I am not willing to go into that. You can see that that is irrelevant. In fact, the form of the thing is what we are talking about.

So that we returned to the ground and they proceeded with the interrogation on their own. This happened, not once as an aberration, but twice that I attended. The same airborne procedure; the same dummy on the first hand who was antagonized and then thrown from the helicopter; the second person who was then interrogated and gave whatever information they demanded of him.

They certainly did not know how to elicit information from this person without brutality, for there was no real interrogation session short of the brutalization.

I saw other interrogations, to describe them briefly: The use of the insertion of the 6-inch dowel into the 6-inch canal of one of my detainees’ ears and the tapping through the brain until he died. The starving to death of a Vietnamese woman who was suspected of being a part of the local political education cadre in one of the local villages. They simply starved her to death in a cage there they kept in one of the hooches at that very counterintelligence team headquarters. {p.320}

There were other methods of operation which they used for interrogation, such as the use of electronic gear such as sealed {sic: field} telephones attached to the genitals of both the men and women’s vagina and the men’s testicles, and wind the mechanism and create an electrical charge and shock them into submission. I had a lot of conversations about the use of that kind of equipment, although I never saw that used firsthand. I did see the equipment sitting around but never saw it used.

Mr. Moorhead. Were these methods that you described conducted by American personnel or—

Mr. Osborn. Americans only. These were unilateral operations not in coordination or with the knowledge of the South Vietnamese Government.

Mr. Reid. And officers were present as well as enlisted men?

Mr. Osborn. Each time. These were my experiences with reporting names of Vietnamese from my agents to American agencies and the resulting interrogations.

They also used the CSD, combined studies detachment, which is light cover for the CIA in Vietnam, which was part of the Phoenix coordinator — I should say the overall organization under which the Phoenix coordinator existed in Da Nang.

They employed provisional reconnaissance units which were small squads of Vietnamese military who were targeted on villages and which, when military interrogations would not take place, went out to the village to locate the individual who was reported, seized that individual and theoretically they would detain him. But officially they could not condone a murder program overtly.

So, they assigned PRU’s to capture these VCI suspects. Naturally the PRU’s know unofficially it was preferable to neutralize them rather than go through the administrative problems and procedure of not only detaining this person and keeping him alive to the point of being turned into the interrogation center—

Mr. Moorhead. What was the PRU, again?

Mr. Osborn. Provisional reconnaissance units.

Mr. Moorhead. And they are Vietnamese?

Mr. Osborn. They are Vietnamese.

Mr. Reid. When you say “neutralize,” please describe what you mean.

Mr. Osborn. Killed on the spot. I know, for example, of readbacks from this treatment of Vietnamese who I reported through the coordinator although I didn’t know the identity of the people in the provisional reconnaissance units, just the fact they had gone and done their jobs: that is: to find the people in their villages and to murder them there.

Mr. Reid. Is the PRU composed of United States or South Vietnamese personnel?

Mr. Osborn. Primarily the provisional reconnaissance units are Vietnamese military personnel. They have American advisers, both military and civilians.

For instance, I know people with the combined studies attachment, that is: the CIA there, who worked with the PRU’s and also special forces officers for special forces personnel: usually company grade officers: that is: second lieutenant through captain, who worked with the PRU teams. They encouraged them unofficially on this method of operation. I never saw it codified; that is, I never saw an official directive {p.321} that said the PRU’s will proceed to the village and murder the individual. However, it was implicit that when you got a name and wanted to deal effectively in neutralizing that individual you didn’t need to go through interrogation; find out, establish any kind of factual basis leading to the conclusion that this individual was, in fact, Vietcong infrastructure, but rather it was good enough to have him reported as a suspect and that justified neutralization.

After all, it was a big problem that had to be dealt with expediently. This was the mentality. This carries a semi-official or semi-illegal program to the logical conclusion that I described here. It became a sterile depersonalized murder program. I had no way, as I say, of establishing the basis of which my agents reported to me suspected Vietcong infrastructure members. However, I had no reason to feel at that time they were participating in any kind of a personal vendetta, but there was no way to question that. In fact, the description that individuals whom I reported further up by my agents, were either categorical; that is to say: so and so, who is a known Vietcong member, or a known member of the farmer’s association, or whatever, is residing at such and such a spot and does such things. There was no cross-check; there was no investigation; there were no second opinions. And certainly not whatever official modus operandi had been described as a triple reporting system for verification. There was no verification and there was no discrimination. It was completely indiscriminate and at best the individuals were either able to escape capturing by the people who were to pick them up and neutralize them or interrogated and let go.

I will say this: individually I never know an individual to be detained as a VC suspect who ever lived through an interrogation in a year and a half, and that included quite a number of individuals. That may be my experience; may be a tremendous exception to the rule, but the experience of my peers there and my own experience firsthand, which I can swear to, and have sworn to, was categorically inhuman and with no rhyme, reason or bureaucratic justification for a murder program which had gone way beyond the level of any competence at that level.

The corruption involved; that is, the reporting of individuals for either the classic protection game or such, any other program would be pure speculation on my part. What are described here are things of my firsthand knowledge which stand as a serious breach of any kind of human orientation or any reflection of an accurate understanding of the Vietnamese as we see our role in Southeast Asia officially.

Thank you.

Kenneth Barton Osborn previously testified at the National Veterans Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam (December 1-3 1970) and, subsequently, before the Senate Armed Services Committee (July 20 1973).  CJHjr

Mr. Moorhead. Thank you, Mr. Uhl and Mr. Osborn, for this very unpleasant testimony. But I think it is something we have to face up to. So, I think you have rendered a great service to the Congress and to the people of America.

Mr. Osborn, I would like to get a little more detail about the financial operations of your activities. How much money did you handle in setting up your network of agents?

Mr. Osborn. At first I set them up for military intelligence with no money.

I had the mission; the vague mission of operating in the area covertly in alignment with my training at Fort Holabird to establish {p.322} the agents, but that was an assignment that was understood to be my duty or my job in Vietnam.

I should tell you that out of maybe 10 people who are trained this way and sent to Vietnam perhaps eight of them decide to use that year and their autonomy, which is constituted by their civilian status, and compartmentalization from the military in the inference {sic: interest} of security as the year in which to have a vacation, take off of R.&R.’s and so forth.

Of the agent handlers who decide to do anything voluntarily there is very little support from headquarters. Agents simply — because there are bad communications. The lines of communication were almost closed up. They assumed that we would go, be as resourceful as we could, find a way to motivate agents, extract information from them and feed it to combat units.

But on requesting money as a necessary step in motivating agents I found little or no response from the military. That didn’t mean I couldn’t get money, because I did utilize what things I could get sold on the black market in order to get piasters to convert that to new piasters and give them to the agents as payment and say: There is more to come. There is a necessity to maintain the loyalty of the agents.

When I got fully operational and started to get unlimited funds from the Phoenix coordinator, which for a long time was my only source of funds, agent payments amounted to approximately 15,000 piasters per month for the salary of a principal agent and perhaps another 10,000 for what we call agent expenses for the principal agent.

Then under him would be four or five cell leaders who were what they call “option agents” who were out in the field actually helping to collect the information. Under each cell leader there were four or five collecting agents. Their salaries ranged from 2,000 to 10,000 piasters per month, depending on their efficiency, the amount of reporting and the accuracy of the information.

If you would pay an agent on the amount reported obviously you would encourage a papermill. If you, shall I say, if you would pay him in accordance with strictly the accuracy of his information you would make him paranoid about any kind of lack of accuracy.

So, these several factors brought the agent payments in the field to 2,000 to 10,000 piasters a month, and cell leaders maybe one and a half times that for the coordinating duties in addition to the collection.

Support agents, such as couriers and so forth, were paid various amounts of money ranging from nothing, a loyalty factor, all the way up to, say, a thousand piasters per month.

Mr. Moorhead. Was there any bonus feature if a subagent brought in some especially valuable information?

Mr. Osborn. Yes; always an allusion to that, but I never paid a balance.

Mr. Moorhead. Did you have to account to anybody for these expenditures?

Mr. Osborn. To Military Intelligence. There is an intricate accounting mechanism on a standard form which has to be letter perfect and without erasures, and that is the most important, but almost no money.

On the Phoenix program I found no accounting necessary and unlimited funds. {p.323}

Mr. Moorhead. Is it true that the United States provided funds to enable the Vietnamese informers to buy their way out of the draft?

Mr. Osborn. Very definitely. I can find examples that I know of firsthand. I couldn’t get interpreters. I wasn’t trained in Vietnamese; I wasn’t trained at all to go to Vietnam. I was trained in agent operations in the context of Western Europe, which is the way it is taught in the Army. When I arrived in Vietnam I didn’t speak Vietnamese and I needed to communicate to find agents and so forth. I looked around for interpreters and found them in several contexts.

My first principal agent spoke English and that solved that communication problem. After that I needed interpreters in order to contact agents. I can think of one man in Da Nang City who was my interpreter for several months who was eligible for draft, and I tried to get him out of the draft by getting the Phoenix coordinator to obtain a draft deferment for him through one of the CIA elitist organizations. That has been awhile ago, and I don’t remember which one it was. It was something like “civilian air regular defense group,” but it was one of the elitist organizations where they are authorized a certain amount of draft deferments a year.

I asked if I could get one for him. They said they would try. They didn’t succeed, so they simply gave me the money overtly for him to buy his way out of the draft board’s review in Da Nang City. That cost us, if I remember, 15,000 piasters every quarter, and he was working for me for several months and so it may be 3 or 4 months I gave him one payment, I remember initially, of 15,000 piasters and then some incentive gifts to give to people involved in the draft selection program. But the 10,000 piasters was the main payment.

So, yes; we definitely had to pay people out of the draft. I can remember two examples in Quang-Ngai Province where I had agents reporting well and who were of a draft age and who were susceptible to that and who reported through channels to me or to the principal agent who they thought they were working for that they thought they were in danger of being drafted and we sent payments of 5,000 piasters apiece and got results inasmuch as the individual kept reporting. Whether he said that or whether he was really threatened or what. But I know the 5,000 piasters which was very inexpensive, kept the agent operating, which was our prime operation. That is the nature of the current system in the draft as I experienced it firsthand.

How it goes beyond that I don’t know.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Osborn, were you ever ordered to terminate any person? By this I mean to terminate with “extreme prejudice.” I mean where you were ordered to murder any Vietnamese citizen?

Mr. Osborn. Ordered. It was suggested by my operations officer, who was a major, American major in the Intelligence Corps at one point that I neutralize in terminating a principal agent whom I had and who had been found guilty of corruption in the intelligence game.

Let me describe that.

This person was — had been an interpreter for the coordinator of CIA activities in I Corps. He was simply an interpreter. He had no collective function. He was trilingual; he spoke French, English, and Vietnamese.

In the spring of 1967 he had been translating by interpreting for the CIA. They found that he was doing this: when they would have {p.324} two agents in for debriefing a day he would interview them either on the side, at his house the night before, or somewhere else but not with the knowledge of his boss, the CIA personnel. He would coordinate their material. He would debrief one and take information from that person and give it to the other and cross-inform them of certain facts and tell them to include that in their briefing. That way there was a coordination of information and the agents were assumed to be accurate.

Their payments went up; they increased their own income, and the interpreter took a percentage of that increase. So this was a corruption game he was into.

He was found doing that by the CIA. He was terminated without prejudice by them.

In the fall — this was in the spring of 1967. In the fall of 1967 military intelligence personnel found him in his native context, found he spoke English and went through the whole procedure to rerecruit him. He sent his name for clearance and came back from Saigon marked with all the markings appropriate, saying (a) he was not on the suspected Vietcong list; (b) that he had never worked for American intelligence before; and (c) for all intents and purposes he was okay and could be hired. He was recruited.

He was trained as a principal agent and at that time he was asked if he had ever worked for American intelligence before. He saw obviously there had been a bureaucratic lack of communication and he said, as he know it was necessary to say: No, I never have: because if he had admitted it it would have flapped him, compromised him. He was operational as a principal agent until March of 1966, about 6 mouths. He had really gotten his net developed for about 3 months. He was my main principal agent.

Mr. Moorhead. He was one of your main agents?

Mr. Osborn. Yes; he was running the net. That was my main net at that time.

A black list or list of undesirable personalities came out from the CIA on March 25 of 1968, and he was on that list, which surprised me and it was pointed out to me by my operations officer that this person had obviously done something to deserve being included on the black list.

I went to him; I questioned him again as to whether or not he had worked for American intelligence before, and he said: Why did I ask, and I said because I had learned of his previous activities. I learned that, the details of it from his previous employer, the coordinator of CI activities in I Corps. I know him operationally and simply went to him and asked him why and he told me.

At that time the agent admitted yes: that he had worked for intelligence before: that he had been accused of this, but actually he had not done it and that there had been an ulterior motivation by the CIA to let him go and use that as an excuse. I was told by military intelligence to go and to terminate him, to get rid of him and to neutralize him and that was it; to terminate him with prejudice.

I went to him and told him that he had to return all the equipment he had, which were things like a radio which we used for emergency communication; a motorcycle which he used for transportation which I had lent to him, a Yamaha; and some other miscellaneous things, {p.325} maps and so forth which I had given him for his reports. He returned those things to me; (a) because I needed the things for other operations, and (b) because the maps and so forth were American maps and which compromised him.

We sterilized him of any equipment I had given him and told him what I had been told to do by my superiors.

Mr. Moorhead. What had you been told to do?

Mr. Osborn. I had been told to kill him, to terminate him or neutralize him, which are all the same term. To terminate him, let him go, would be one; then terminate him with extreme prejudice would be to kill him. I was told by this major to go to terminate him, to neutralize him, which is to terminate him with extreme prejudice.

I met him by the Da Nang River and told him what I had been told to do. By the nature of our personal relationship, I was going to do this — I know his wife and several children. I said I would rather not do that but I was going to extract one promise from him and that was that I would not see him in any context, even on the street, for 6 months and he promised me that I would not see him at all and I didn’t. I know where he lived. It wasn’t far from my house, and his wife worked at an American installation right by my house. There was every reason to see him, but I never did see him for 6 months.

After that I saw him with regularity driving on the streets of Da Nang. It is a very small community.

I didn’t terminate him although I was told to. I went back and told my superior that I had been not been able to find him; that at that time he probably suspected — from having got the equipment back and so forth, he suspected my plans for termination and that he had evaporated; that he had gotten loose. That was — that is what I reported on what I was told to do,

An agent handler in the Army is given such autonomy that he can do what he darn well pleases if he produces the information. Military Intelligence knows of its record of production and record of competence, which is low.

Any Military Intelligence personnel who has been with operations, especially in Vietnam, will tell you that the return rate is either inaccurate or insensitive, one of the two. I would tend to think it is inaccurate and insensitive. The terminations were in two forms. The agents were either the one I described in Da Nang, that kind of thing, and the official report went in from the battalion headquarters. But he was taken off the rolls and considered neutral.

The VCI were overt in murder, and that is the experience that I had firsthand.

Mr. Moorhead. Do we have questions from the other members at this time?

Mr. Reid.

Mr. Reid.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like first to thank Mr. Uhl and Mr. Osborn for their testimony. I recognize that it is extremely serious: that it is not easy to testify on these matters. I know that you are doing so out of concern for a principle and hopefully putting an end to practices which most of us think are totally reprehensible.

I would like to ask both of you several questions. Some of them are broad in scope and sensitive. Should you feel that you can better testify {p.326} in executive session or feel, out of concern for the rights of the individual that you should, I wish you would feel completely free to so state.

I gather, Mr. Osborn, that you were present when one individual was terminated by being thrown out of a helicopter, and then you referred subsequently to three instances where individuals were tortured; one with a dowel going in the ear to the brain; the second was a woman who died of hunger in a cage. I think you mentioned one other instance.

Were you present on each of those occasions?

Mr. Osborn. Each. Let me describe that.

The first individual, the one with the dowel in his ear, had been reported by my agent and I went back to follow up the report. I was told: Yes, they were in the course of interrogating him then and would I like to see the interrogation.

I went next door to the hooch, the interrogation building with the lieutenant who was the team chief. As we got to the hooch they were carrying out his dead body. They were embarrassed to say that they had punctured his brain and killed him in the course of interrogating him. They had gotten no information from him; they had only tortured him to death and they were embarrassed, because at that time it became obvious, the brutality with which they treated this person.

The main crime in their minds, of course, they made a mistake in not having extracted information before this. They were embarrassed in having gone too far and having been too brutal.

The Vietnamese woman who was starved to death was in a small cage. There were four divisions of that same cage. She was in one of them daily as I would go there. I kept observing her there, along with no furniture, no facilities of any kind, just a bare hooch, bare cage. I would see her daily and finally one day I asked what happened to her. I noticed physical — for one thing she became weaker. She used to stand up and rattle the cage when I first got there. Then she was sitting cross-legged on the floor daily. Then she was in a prostrate position when I last saw her.

If it is to be graphic, that is how I saw her. One day she wasn’t there. I asked the lieutenant what happened to her. He said: “She died of malnutrition.” I asked had they fed her. “No.” Had they provided water. “No.”

Mr. Reid. In each of these cases you testified an officer was present. Was that a Marine officer or military officer of the Army?

Mr. Osborn. Marine Intelligence.

Mr. Reid. And this was attached to the 1st Marines of the 3d Amphibious Force?

Mr. Osborn. The 1st Marine Division.

Mr. Reid. Did you, as an individual, in any one of these three cases talk to high authority or a superior officer to express your horror or concern over what had happened; in the case of the woman who was starving to death, did you do anything to raise the question of her health and her conditions with any higher authority?

Mr. Osborn. No; I did not. Let me explain that my status there was illegal and the activity which I performed was illegal. That was by mutual agreement between all agent handlers and the Armed Forces.

Mr. Reid. Let me ask by way of clarification what you are subsequently going to say. {p.327}


At Fort Holabird or subsequent operations with CIA or with the Marines or Army officers concerned was anyone aware of something called “The Geneva Convention,” or the convention concerned with the protection of civilians, of which the United States is a signatory? Were you ever explicitly told to pay no attention to these documents and were you told explicitly you were to do illegal things irrespective of the convention?

Mr. Osborn. The first questions dealing with the Geneva Accords, let me say they were never mentioned during the 6 months training course at Holabird. I believe if they had been raised they naturally would have had to be dealt with. It was impossible to say these are the rules and these aren’t; for instance, the rules of humanity involved, and we were going to supersede them without demoralizing some of the trainees. They weren’t dealt with at all.

The easier way to deal with them is to avoid them, and that is what they did, in fact.

Mr. Reid. Does Holabird deal with termination by extreme prejudice?

Mr. Osborn. Yes, it does. Termination is described along with all other modus operandi of agent operations in a classified manual which advocates the extralegal, illegal, and covert activities which I described in a manual called “the Defense Collection Intelligence Manual.”

Mr. Reid. Mr. Chairman, without objection I would hope that we might direct the committee staff to obtain a copy of that manual.

Mr. Osborn. Yes; that is a classified manual an inch thick and about 8 by 10 and classified, I believe, “Secret.”

Let me describe this. The Defense Intelligence Collection Manual acronym is DICOM, and that was my base reference for the course which is given at Holabird to train people in — now it is a course under the cover of Area Intelligence Specialists, and the MOS numbers are for Officers 9668 and enlisted men 9640.

The base reference for that is an illegal manual.

It describes termination, to answer your question, in all respects, as I remember.

Mr. Moorhead. If you want to give us classified information, please tell us and we will go into executive session. But otherwise we will assume what you are giving us is just the names of documents.

Mr. Osborn. I wouldn’t say anything in reference to that that hasn’t been in print already.

Mr. Moorhead. Thank you.

Mr. Reid. I wanted to ask you next whether this kind of activity, for example, as you mentioned, was known to higher headquarters and to commanding generals, or was this an operation kept so secretly that only those intimately involved were aware of it?

Mr. Osborn. The operations in Vietnam?

Mr. Reid. Of the kind you are talking about.

Mr. Osborn. Yes; those were the official operations and the only kind performed by my battalion of the 525 MI Group. The first battalion in Da Nang City, four battalions, one, in each corps, had the function of coordinating covert collection activity. That was its mission.

Yes; it was official. And: yes; it was known by superior officers. They were visited regularly at our operational building, which was on {p.328} the command post of the 1st Marine Division outside Da Nang and where we operated in a classified manner under the cover of classification programs by colonels who came up from headquarters to review our operations and we briefed them with regularity. So they were quite aware of what was happening and they advocated more of the same.

Mr. Reid. When we talk about the PIC, the Province Intelligence {sic: Interrogation} Center, did this center have liaison with the CIA as well as MI or intelligence officers?

Mr. Osborn. I am sorry, Mr. Reid, I can’t answer that because I didn’t know the PIC inasmuch as I didn’t cooperate at all with Vietnamese operations. As I say, I was there extralegally and my job was, in part, to keep all that secret from and compartmented from the Vietnamese. So I wasn’t into any of their—

Mr. Reid. Did you have access or see any of the dossiers prepared beforehand?

Mr. Osborn. The dossiers on my agents which worked for and supplied information to Phoenix and for which Phoenix acted without any further need of proof were kept in my files. That was in a large safe in my office. I saw no other agent files from the Phoenix coordinator program because I was — each agent handler, as each agent, is compartmented from one another for security reasons.

Mr. Reid. Mr. Chairman, I think both Mr. McCloskey and I would like permission to have Congressman Jerome Waldie’s statement inserted at the appropriate point in the record.

He wanted to be present today, but was unable to do so. But he did ask me to ask one or two questions.

Mr. McCloskey. Will you yield for just a minute?

Mr. Reid. Certainly.

Mr. McCloskey. If I may, Mr. Chairman, I have a copy of Mr. Waldie’s statement. I offer it for insertion into the record at this point.

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


(Mr. Waldie’s prepared statement follows:)


Prepared Statement of Hon. Jerome R. Waldie, a Representative in Congress from the State of California

Mr. Chairman, during the Easter vacation my colleague from California, Paul McCloskey, and I visited Vietnam and visited Laos, and a series of reports will be forthcoming from that visit. Tonight will be the first report, involving a program that is a part of Vietnamization, as is apparently the case, a program designed, in my view, to suppress political dissent in that country at a time when the war is over, as well as the program that is presently in existence in Vietnam during this war period. It is a program that is called the Phung Hoang program, otherwise known as the Phoenix program.

My first introduction to the program occurred upon the initial briefing that was provided Congressman McCloskey and I in Saigon by the CORDS people.

At that time they were giving what they called “neutralization” figures. They reported that in Military Region 1 in 1971 we had “neutralized” 5,380 members of the Vietcong infrastructure and political dissenters in that country.

The breakdown of the neutralization figures is as follows: ¶

Kills,” 2,000. They are obviously “neutralized,” the briefing officer said, when they are killed. I suspect that is a fair assessment.

Rallied, 17,000. These are the Chieu Hoi ralliers to the flag of South Vietnam, as they become “neutralized” when they rally.

Sentenced, 1,680. These are people that were sentenced to more than 1 year for their offenses as being identified as part of the Vietcong infrastructure.

Captured, 4,000 people. These are not considered to be “neutralized” because they received sentences of less than 1 year and were not determined to be a {p.329} part of the Vietcong infrastructure but were people that were determined to have been in opposition to the existing government in South Vietnam.

So of a total of over 9,000 people in Military Region 1 in five northern provinces 5,380 of them were considered to be neutralized whereas 4,000 of them were not considered to be neutralized because they were not given sentences up to 1 year in length.

The figure that startled us who were listening to the briefing was the fact that 2,000 people under the Phoenix program were killed and thereby considered to be neutralized.

We sought additional information on precisely what this particular program was, and one document that immediately came to our attention was a MACV — Military Assistance Command Vietnam — directive 525-36 dated 18 May 1970. It was entitled “Military Operations Phoenix — Phung Hoang — Operations” and it was a directive to all U.S. military personnel acting as advisers to the South Vietnamese in that program.

This is part of that statement and, Mr. Chairman, at this point I include this MACV directive in full with my remarks:

{Image: pages 329-330, 131kb.pdf}

U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam

APO San Francisco, Calif.
May 18, 1970.

Directive Number 525-36Military Operations


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.

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.

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.


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.


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 know, already.


Part of the statement is:


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.”

I emphasize the latter sentence.

It continues:

“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.”

Please listen carefully to the next sentence:

“Thus, they are specifically unauthorized to engage in assassinations.”

I will read that sentence again, Mr. Chairman:

“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.”

It seems to me to be a rather absurd requirement that a MACV directive to U.S. Army personnel cooperating with the Government of South Vietnam in the operation of the Phoenix program must state American military men are “specifically unauthorized to engage in assassinations.”

The directive further says:

“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.

“d.  There are Individuals who find normal police work or even military operations repugnant to them personally, despite the overall legality and morality 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.”

The directive goes on, Mr. Chairman, but the words in the sentence “they are specifically unauthorized to engage in assassinations” is ominous in the extreme. {p.331}

Mr. Chairman, looking further into the program we discovered a briefing paper that was provided us from the director of Military Region 1 in Da Nang, which was apparently a document prepared for the U.S. military advisers to the Phoenix program. ¶

The document is entitled “An Analysis of Province Security Committee.” ¶

I will read just portions of the document and will request at the end of my reading from the document that the text be printed in its entirety following my analysis.

The document follows:



“Province Security Committees (PSC) were created in 1957 to provide the CVN with an administrative method of settling the status of political detainees considered threats to the national security. Their purpose is political; their method is administrative detention of those persons reasonably believed to endanger the national security, but against whom sufficient evidence for a trial is lacking.


“Suspect detainees may appear before the committee but do not have the right to demand such appearance. Due to the administrative nature and political mission of the PSC, procedures are far less exacting than those of the courts.


“Where evidence for trial is lacking, but it is apparent that the suspect is a threat to the national security, the committee may impose administrative (“an tri”) detention. This is a type of preventative detention to protect the state from a known threat to its security. There is the additional provision of continual extension of 2 year terms if the individual remains a threat to the national security. “an tri” detention is nonjudicial and administrative in nature. A violation of the national security laws need not be proven; all that must be demonstrated is that a reasonable belief exists that the suspect threatens the national security. Once “an tri” detention is imposed there are no judicial remedies. The duration and place of detention are governed by GVN administrative regulations.

“Basis of Determination

“The purpose of the PSC is to protect the state from those persons threatening its existence. Thus its power goes beyond that of the courts into the area of emergency political detention necessitated by the need of the state to survive. ¶

There is no defined burden of proof, as utilized by courts, because the committees are not engaged with violators of law. The committee is concerned with those cases which, due to a lack of evidence, cannot be prosecuted under existing judicial standards. Rather than a judicial determination, these cases call for an administrative determination. ¶

The decision of the committee is based on a prosecution dossier. There is no rigid rule regarding the amout of evidence necessary for detention, and the criteria may vary significantly from province to province. Each committee determines the existing threat to national security based on conditions within the particular province, and the function of the detainee within the VCI. This process, because it is administrative and political in nature, reflects the political “facts of life” in the province. It is encumbent {sic: incumbent} upon each Phoenix coordinator to determine these local variances and tailor his advice accordingly. ¶

The PSC does not need evidence of the type required by a court; on the other hand, a dossier which contains nothing but an interrogation report cannot be expected to convince the committee that a maximum detention is warranted. What is necessary is sufficient intelligence to reasonably indicate that the suspect is a threat to national security. ¶

Thus the test applied by the PSC is not one of proven guilt. This is the distinguishing factor between the PSC and a military court. The court is concerned with guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, or the existence of a proven violation of national security, whereas the PSC is concerned with preventing danger to the state by a suspect who appears to threaten the national security. The military court is punitive; the committee is preventive in nature.” {p.332}

And, finally, in this document prepared for the elucidation and information of American military advisers to this program there is a section called “Observations”:


“First. The PSC’s are, by definition, political tools, and are governed from province to province by the political facts of life.

“Second. PSC existence is extra-constitutional and nonjudicial, based upon the right of a state to survive.

“Third. These committees, although in possession of power to administratively detain anyone reasonably believed to threaten the national security, have acted with remarkable restraint.

“Fourth. The nature of these committees, and their strictly political function, dictate a hands-off policy by all U.S. personnel and agencies.

“Fifth. U.S. advisors, specifically Phoenix coordinators, should direct their efforts to insure that their counterparts provide the PSC with the necessary evidence for the committee to reach an informed decision. This evidence should be in accordance with the minimum considered necessary for detention by the Chief of Internal Security. Additional emphasis should be placed upon providing the committee the type dossier specified by GVN MOI Circular 2212 and Phung Hoang SOP 3. If all available intelligence is in the dossier, an informed intelligent, and equitable decision can be rendered.

“Sixth. The varying quality of dossiers presented to the committee has caused an imbalance in proof, resulting in reliance upon the interrogation report to the exclusion of the Phung Hoang dossier. In far too many cases, the quality of the dossiers provided to PSC’s can only be described as poor and incomplete. It is advisable for both Phoenix coordinators and their counterparts to screen the dossiers before they leave the PIOCC, if this is accomplished regularly, a comparison can be made between the amount of evidence presented to the committee, and the relative decisons reached by the committee. Thus, by reviewing the decisions of the PSC, in conjunction with the dossiers presented to the PSC, the Phoenix coordinator and his counterpart can determine what type of dossier the committee considers to be sufficient for detention.

“Seventh. Guidance had been provided to the PSC’s in GVN MOI Circulars Nos. 757 and 2412. Utilization of this guidance, coupled with an understanding of the political realities of the province, will provide the coordinator with an understanding of dossier deficiencies. The critical official to satisfy is the Chief of Internal Security, the second most influential member (after the Province Chief) of the PSC. The Chief of Internal Security is the central figure in determining what burden of proof the committee adheres to, as it is his recommendation which usually determines the duration of detention. It is essential to determine what minimum content a dossier must contain to conform to his standards.”

Mr. Chairman, I have described the advice given by the U.S. authorities, by the military advisers, to the South Vietnamese in the administration of a program concerning which our military people as of May 18, 1970 “are specifically unauthorized to engage in assassinations” and concerning which in military region 1, five provinces, 1970, 2,000 people were killed, 1,700 were sentenced and 4,000 were captured. All of these people were people that could not have been convicted in any court given the basis of the ANTRI detention law because “evidence was insufficient to convict them of a crime.” These are people that, in fact, have not committed a crime but have been deemed to be by reasonable belief detrimental to the security of the State.

Mr. Chairman, those documents that I just read to you were the documents that prompted our interest in delving into this program in greater detail. In the process of doing so, we visited six provinces, five of which are located in military region 1 and one in military region 2.

We discovered some very interesting facts concerning this program, Mr. Chairman, that led me again to the conclusion with which I commenced this presentation, that we are leaving a structure that has been defined by American military authorities as a part of Vietnamization that produces a great possibility of political suppression in that government when we are no longer a part of it and, in its present operation, clearly presents an actual political suppression and, perhaps, of other dangers if our military people deem it necessary to “specifically unauthorize” American military people who are participating in this program from participating in assassinations. {p.333}

The basic document governing the operation of the Phoenix program is called SOP 3, which is the Government of Vietnam instructions to the Vietnamese who participate in this program as to how the program works, and what the burden of proof must be in determining whether a man is subject to administrative detention.

The SOP 3, though a Vietnamese document, has been translated into English, and is used by our military advisers at all stages of this program.

Query:  “Translated into English”?

Don’t you mean, translated back into English?

Back into its original text? Drafted by the CIA? Before it was then translated into Vietnamese?  CJHjr

“ The following documents are submitted for the Committee’s information as they all result, at least in substantial part, from the CORDS’ advisory effort.

(a) The Prime Minister’s Directive of December 20, 1967, on the Neutralization of VCI.

(b) Presidential Decree of 1 July 1968 establishing the Phung Hoang program.

(c) Phung Hoang Standard Operating Procedures:

(1) 23 July 1968

(2) 1 November 1968

(3) 1 February 1970”

William E. Colby, July 25 1973.

Let me read just a few standards and criteria set forth in SOP 3, so that you might have a general idea of the type of person and the type of objective that this program has.

In referring to intelligence that is sought to be obtained about citizens in Vietnam, or activities that are antithetical to the best interests of the South Vietnamese Government, SOP 3 states such intelligence

“is not only of immediate value, but also will be needed in the future in any postwar political struggle with the Vietcong.{”}

It further states:

“It is most important to indoctrinate and impress upon local residents the duties of defending their villages and hamlets, and serving as the Government’s eyes and ears.”

In the area called information collection, this document describes the type of information they desire.

“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.”

SOP 3 continues and describes how an informer can tell whether his neighbor should be reported through the Phoenix program for action by the Province Security Committee:

“Those who act suspiciously:

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

(b)  contact with those whom we suspect;

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

Then they have a category called duties of the political subsection, or DIOCC. DIOCC is a term I will go into in greater detail later, but it is called the District Intelligence Operation Coordinating Committee.

The duties of the political subsection of the DIOCC are, among others:

“Maintain a district, village and hamlet picture album, the photos to be taken in front of the family residence, photos to be provided by the National Police.”

And then how to prepare file cards upon people who will be entered into this special program.

One important category that they are cautioned to fill out is “marital status:”

“Is he single or married? What is the number of his children?

“This can be useful in exploiting family sentiment to obtain his arrest or afterwards.”

It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that in the three documents I have just read I have described not an instrument of a reasonably free society, let alone a free society, but an instrument of a totalitarian society. ¶

I doubt seriously that the documents describing a similar program of the North Vietnamese or in Communist China would be any different from the documents I have just read devised by the American advisers to the South Vietnamese Government, as an instrument of such government which we will leave them as part of Vietnamization.

We discovered that the way the system works is this: Each province is divided into villages, districts, and province capitals. ¶

Each village has a village intelligence operations coordination center wherein all of the information concerning your neighbor described in the general terms I read from the SOP 3 is fed into the village intelligence center — ¶

if he is using expressions which distort the Government of Vietnam policies; or ¶

if he is spreading false rumors which confuse and frighten the people; or ¶

if he is creating division and hatred among the populace and between the populace and the Government of Vietnam cadre{;} and ¶

if he acts suspiciously by the hesitant or fearful attitudes of a dishonest person: ¶

then his name goes into the VIOCC in the village — and from the VIOCC it goes to the DIOCC and the DIOCC is the district intelligence coordinating operation center where all the information is gathered from the village and fed into the district and the district intelligence operation center.

They process the information further and they then start programing what are known as dossiers. A dossier is a file on a category A or B suspect in the Phoenix program. {p.334}

The dossier of a category B suspect means that there is in his dossier intelligence from three sources. That they identify him as being a part of the Vietcong infrastructure. If he is of top level Vietcong infrastructure, according to the three intelligence sources in his dossier, he is listed as category A and he is then “targeted.”

Now, “targeted” means theoretically that he can he arrested or should be arrested so that he can he processed through the province security committee.

If he is a category B suspect and has three intelligence references in his dossier as to his connection with the Vietcong infrastructure, he is similarly “targeted” for arrest and process.

If he has no such references in the dossier identifying him as part of the Vietcong infrastructure, he is categorized as category C — a fellow who is just not quite right — he may have expressed some disagreement with the South Vietnamese government in Saigon — he is that kind of fellow — a troublemaker — and it might be better to let him know what the central government thinks about troublemakers. ¶

So he is picked up by the DIOCC and sent to the PIOCC, the province intelligence operation coordination center, at which time he is detained. Then he can be sentenced ultimately to up to 1 year. ¶

He is frequently released, but there is no man of whom I am aware who would believe any neighbor picked up for expressing disagreeable statements about the government and processed through one of these centers into a detention center would thenceforth feel free in any way to criticise, the central government of Saigon.

Query:  “Any neighbor”?

And what of the neighbors of that neighbor?

If they are seen talking to that neighbor, is a dossier created on them? For “contact with those whom we suspect”? And if they fear the same treatment, does their “fearful attitude” also designate them for a dossier?

Homeland Security. You can’t be too careful.

About what you say. And who you say it to.


Then it is category C which is perhaps the most troublesome of all the categories. Although category A and category B afford equal concern because of failure to comply with a standard of evidence sufficient to convict in a court before imprisonment.

After information on a suspect has been processed through the PIOCC, the province intelligence operation coordinating center, and the dossier is prepared upon him, he is then arrested.

They can be arrested in a number of ways — in military operations by the regional and popular forces where they pick up a lot of people in enemy territory or in contested territory. ¶

Quite a number of these people have found their names listed in the “blacklists” or in the “greenlists” that they carry around and they trace them from those lists to the dossier on them and then they are arrested and taken to the PIC, the province interrogation center.

They can also be arrested by a process known as the cordon and search process, where the national police with the regional forces or the popular forces cordon off a village and send everybody in that village through a single file line where they are looked at and examined and searched by the national police and are checked against theblacklist” or the “greenlist” and if they are identified as a part of an A or B category having a dossier in existence, they are arrested and sent to the province interrogation center.

“ Most of the detainees appeared to be in their twenties or thirties; one appeared to be at least 70. The soldiers photographed the detainees’ identification documents and then the detainees’ faces. An interpreter, whom the soldiers called “Terp,” wrote down the names on the back of a piece of cardboard torn from a pack of mixed fruit. The names were then compared with aBlack List” — a computer printout of suspected terrorists. ...

As the men sat, some with their heads tipping forward, others looking around, a soldier yelled, “Get The Source.”

The Source, still wearing the borrowed uniform and black ski mask, came forward. He was asked to point out the terrorists in the group. He walked down the rows of detainees, putting his hand on the head of one man here, another there. As he did, a soldier would pick up the fingered detainee and separate him from the group.

“All of the village, they are terrorists,” The Source told two journalists after he finished. ...

Asked how he could be sure, he said: “Yes, they are terrorists. They all have the long beard. They had the beard, but some of them they shaved.” ...

The detainees whom The Source had patted on the head were loaded into the Strykers, flex-cuffed and blindfolded. By the end of Tuesday, 49 men were in custody, said Army Capt. Nathan Terra. “This was the most we’ve ever had, by far,” he said. The detainees were so numerous that the soldiers ran out of flex cuffs and blindfolds.

U.S. military officials said the detainees would be held at a detention center inside Forward Operating Base Sykes, outside Tall Afar. Most would be held no more than 48 hours for interrogation, they said, then released.”

Steve Fainaru, In Retaken Iraqi City, Perils Lurk: Masked Informer Leads U.S. Search For Insurgents (Washington Post, Sept. 15 2004).

The province interrogation center is the most remarkable instrument in this whole procedure. It was not until the second province we toured that we discovered an interesting fact about the province interrogation center.

You would assume that since CORDS and the military forces working through CORDS have the responsibility of advising the South Vietnamese Government concerning this program, that the American advisers in the province interrogation centers where the people who are arrested are taken for interrogation — an interrogation that can last up to 45 days — and that is their last step prior to going before the province security committee for judgment — you would assume that the American advisers of the province interrogation center would be military advisers, such as is the case at every other step or procedure in the Phoenix program. In fact, that is not so.

The way this was revealed to us is an interesting sidelight in the problems of a Congressman attempting to elicit facts in any trip that he makes in dealing with any bureaucracy — military or civilian.

Talking to one of the American advisers in one of the provinces, I asked that province adviser who is a military man working for CORDS, to show me the province interrogation center. He said he had never been to the Province Interrogation Center. I asked him why this was so, inasmuch as he was the American adviser to the Phoenix program.

He said because the CIA operates the province interrogation center. ¶

I said: “You must be kidding.”

He said: ¶

“I only know that from rumor. No one has proven that to me as a fact, but I have been told not to go near the province interrogation center, {p.335} because that is not within the responsibility of CORDS or the military advisers. That is a CIA operation.”

That evening I puzzled over his statement and concluded that he was suffering from delusions of a conspiracy that were not warranted by the briefing given us in Saigon as to who operates and advises this program and by all information given to us up to that point on the operation of this program.

The next day we visited another province. At that province, in the middle of the military briefings, I asked the briefing officer if he would excuse me from the military briefing and instruct his Phung Hoang Phoenix adviser to take me to the province interrogation center, which he did. ¶

At the province interrogation center I was met by two civilians, American civilians. I asked them by which agency they were employed. They told me the pacification security coordination division.

I said: ¶

“Is that a cover for the Central Intelligence Agency?” ¶

They both said: “Yes, it is.”

I said: ¶

Are you employees of the Central Intelligence Agency?” ¶

They both said: “Yes, we are.”

From there on we were told that the province intelligence centers were run by the Central Intelligence Agency, and that information and intelligence was confirmed when we got back to Saigon, after great anguish on the part of our briefing officers, who had been instructed not to reveal that fact to us, and who had been instructed that if we were to inquire of them, they were to respond that they were unable to answer that question.

What alarms me and disturbs me about the Central Intelligence Agency operating the province interrogation centers is that this is the most sensitive part of the entire Phoenix program. This is where the civilian, who is not accused of a crime, because there is evidence insufficient to convict him of a crime, is taken in order to question him and to get a confession from him.

Our American military advisers, when they pick that suspect up again after he leaves the province interrogation center and is taken before the province security committee, are advised not to give too much weight to confessions that are obtained or declarations obtained in the province interrogation center.

Now, I must suggest this, too, that we were given free access from that point on to all province interrogation centers, and we were given that access on no notice whatsoever to those who were running the center or advising them, and I saw nothing in any of the centers to which I had access that led me to believe that abuses, in fact, did occur in the province interrogation centers — with one exception.

Query:  “No notice”?

You mean, U.S. commanders were ignorant?

That a Member of the U.S. Congress was on tour of their area? And hence had no opportunity to notify their operatives? To clean up their operations? For the duration of that tour?

Or am I merely “suffering from delusions of a conspiracy”?

Something else to puzzle over. When you find yourself blinded. By an ism:




There was testimony from an American adviser who had gone to his particular province interrogation center on other business that he had seen a detainee being taken blindfolded into an interrogation room with a rubber hose in the hands of the South Vietnamese interrogator. He also said that when he saw the prisoner come out of the interrogation room, there was no sign of abuse of that prisoner.

We found out in another district, in a district operations coordination center, that the American adviser to the DIOC had found a rubber hose on the desk of the district intelligence officer at the coordinating center and had advised that district official that a rubber hose should have no part in the district interrogations.

Beyond those indications that abuses did exist there was nothing I saw in the operation of the province intelligence centers that would lead me to believe the abuses did in fact exist.

What disturbs me, then, is the necessity for a cover for the operation of the CIA in the operation of the province intelligence center. If military advisers are going to advise the South Vietnamese at every step of this process up until the detainee enters the interrogation center, and they close the door and shroud it in the secrecy of the CIA, and then pick up that detainee after he goes out the door of the province security center, there is cause for concern as to what happens in that vacuum.

The CIA agents do not report to the Phung Hoang administrators. They report directly to the Ambassador in Saigon, Mr. Bunker. Mr. Bunker is not within the chain of command of the Phoenix program. It seems to me to be a mistake of great proportions to include the Central Intelligence Agency as advisers and operators of the province interrogation centers.

Once the detainee has gone through all this process and has been interrogated for up to 45 days at the province interrogation center he goes before the prov- {p.336} ince security committee. ¶

The province security committee does not have the function of finding guilt or innocence. They only have the function of establishing the length of the sentence.

On the category C detainee, they can release him, and frequently do. He is the fellow, you recall, that is not identified as a part of the VCI, Vietcong infrastructure. He is the fellow who may have been spreading rumors about the Government, who was picked up and brought through this thing to cow him into refraining from that sort of action.

But the category A or B, who has been identified in his dossier by three separate intelligences as being a member of the VCI is brought before the province security committee for sentencing.

The province security committee consists of seven members: The province chief, the chief of the court of that province, a representative of the province council, the intelligence officer of the ARVN army, the national police chief of the province, the military security service chief, and the political service chief of internal security of the province.

These are the people who prepare the dossier and who participate in the interrogation. These are the people who are sitting in judgment as to whether the dossier was adequately prepared to convict the detainee of this program.

I talked in one province to the only elected official on that particular security committee, who was the elected chief of the provincial council, and he told me that this was a great concern to the members of the security committees throughout the nation, and they had met in a national meeting and expressed concern to Saigon on two bases:

First, there are too many policemen on this security committee making judgments as to whether or not the policemen did their work right.

Second, he said there are too many representatives of Saigon on this committee, and that opens this committee to great political abuse. I asked him if abuses had in fact occurred, and he said “No,” but he was afraid because abuses could occur; and I could not agree more.

We asked how many cases were heard by the province security committee and how long was devoted to a case. They meet once a week, on Friday, generally between 9 and 12 in the morning. They average 40 to 50 cases between 9 and 12 in the morning in the province security committee.

The defendant is not permited {sic: permitted} to be present. There is no defense attorney. The public is not admitted to the hearings of the province security committee. ¶

Now, that does not seem to me to provide much opportunity for even vestigial due process. Neither does the province interrogation center seem to me to provide much opportunity for even vestigial due process.

I think that this area or this program is subject to fantastic abuse.

Let me clarify one figure that was startling to us. In the neutralization figures for 1970 in these five provinces they listed with great pride a category of “kills” numbering 2,000. They had neutralized 2,000 members of the VCI, against whom, mind you, there was insufficient evidence to convict of a crime, by killing. It occurred to us that there was an area for possibility of abuse. This is an awful lot of “kills” occurring in view of the number of arrests made.

We inquired further and found out that of the number of 2,000 listed as “kills” and, therefore, as results of the Phoenix programs and credited to that program, that 99 percent of the 2,000 were in fact not attributable to the Phoenix program at all but were bodies found on the field of battle after a fire fight and after the clash and identified from papers on their bodies as being members of the Vietcong, which was a reasonable assumption since they were found in a battle fighting the Government soldiers. That is a reasonable assumption that they would be Vietcong. They were listed, however, as a result of a neutralization of the Phoenix program, which is a wildly erroneous and misleading figure.

Query:  “Bodies found on the field of battle”?

You mean, after a U.S. ambush or sniper team targets and murders a non-combatant in cold blood, they then go and “find” the body? To recover the victim’s papers? To claim credit for their kill?


I asked of the 2,000 that were found on the battlefield and identified as members of the Vietcong infrastructure how many of those men had dossiers in the PIOCC or province intelligence center before their bodies were found: how many of them had been “targeted” as class A or class B Vietcong infrastructure. The answer was very few. Less than 20 or 30 out of the 2,000 probably had been identified by anybody as being a member of the Vietcong infrastructure.

So what happened here is that you have the traditional weakness of the American authority when they are trying to show progress in the war in Vietnam. They always show progress in the war in Vietnam by raising charts with statistics on them and an ever-increasing graph and thus they show “progress” in the neutral- {p.337} ization program. The Phoenix program was shown by an increasing graph with 2,000 killed of the Vietcong infrastructure attributable to this program while they were not attributable to all to this program.


Mr. Chairman, I am recommending to the Secretary of State, who, in fact, has the primary administration of this program, that category C detainees — and you will recall of the 9,000 neutralization statistics attributable to Military Region I that 4,000 of them were category C detainees — people who were not identified as part of the Vietcong infrastructure but people who were nosy as far as their neighbors are concerned — I am recommending that these category C detainees not be a part of this program. ¶

If this is an American-constructed program, as reprehensible as the entire program might appear to be, category C is absolutely incomprehensible. ¶

It is incomprehensible that we would permit, advise, and suggest to a government that their neighbors who happen to express opposition to the central government should be run through an interrogation process and sentenced for up to 6 months.

Mr. Chairman, I am also suggesting that we not put goals in each province as we now do. American advisers have goals. Next year they have to get so many “kills” and so many “sentences” and so many “neutralizations” in their provinces. ¶

That has this effect: Unless a man is sentenced to a year or 2 years he is not considered “neutralized.” Anything less than a year in category B or less than 2 years in category A is not considered a neutralization. ¶

So we had a province adviser tell us that his great concern with the functioning of his Province Security Committee was that it was not attempting deliberately enough to bring in those maximum sentences so that he could take credit for a neutralization.

It is the incentive system that we have established in America that we have told our province advisers, you have got to better your program, you have got to get more “kills” next year, you have got to get more “sentencings” and you have got to get more “neutralization.”

It does not seem to me to have the remotest semblance to justice.

There is not a word in this document about justice being done to people picked up under this system.

Then, Mr. Chairman, I would recommend that the Central Intelligence Agency be denied any further control of the Province Interrogation Centers, that they be placed in the chain of command of CORDS and that the chain of command and advice and monitoring not be interrupted at any point from the time the suspect is picked up until he is sentenced.

I am recommending further that the “kill” statistics be reported realistically: that the people who are found dead on the battlefield and where in their pockets there are found papers identifying them as a Vietcong, that they not be ascribed as a “success” of this program because they have nothing to do with this program and are not a part of this program.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, just one final comment. ¶

I can understand at a time when a nation is perhaps subjected to an onslaught from without and an onslaught from within that due process as we know it in this country and which, even here, has been an evolutionary thing that is continuing to evolve, may not have equal application to such a country. ¶

I recognize that this process under the conditions of war that exist in South Vietnam cannot be accorded to the extent that we accord them in this country. ¶

I also recognize that in making a determination in the interest of national security that you are going to deprive a man of some due process, you are going to permit his detention even though there is insufficient evidence to convict him of a crime, that you must monitor that program exceptionally carefully in order to see that abuses in sentencing, that abuses in detention, and that abuses in interrogation do not occur. ¶

I am, personally, not convinced that abuses in sentencing, abuses in interrogation, and abuses in detention do not occur.

I would hope, Mr. Chairman, that if we leave this remnant of American know-all to the South Vietnamese as a part of their civil society, then we will do much to improve it. ¶

It is a terrible situation as it presently exists.



Mr. Reid.  He made the point to me, there were three categories of dossiers on Vietcong infrastructure: A, B, and C; C being suspects and least reliable. He said it was his impression that material he had seen was very fragmentary; not in the main reliable, and so far as he knew not subject to any kind of cross-check or cross-verification, and that frequently those in category C were those who had said things that {p.338} were politically unpopular and not necessary from what limited judgment he could bring to bear from looking at these and talking to those in Vietnam, not necessarily VCI at all.

Would either of you, either Mr. Uhl or Mr. Osborn, care to comment on the reliability of the dossiers?

Mr. Uhl. Well, as I think that was made implicit in my statement: we have no dossiers. People that were classified as VCI as a result of my MI patrols were done so after they had been killed, and other VCI classified by the MI team were people who had been classified as civil defendants. These people were, in most cases, as I stated: women, children, or perhaps old men. They were classified as members, as low as you could get, members of women’s associations, farmers’ associations, children’s associations: such as this.

So, at that level there was not even — this is the concept of dossiers not even being implemented.

Mr. Reid. Well, the thrust, I think, of some of your testimony, Mr. Uhl, was: there might be as many as thousands upon this list who could, because of the casual character of the information, be quite improperly placed on that list and be quite innocent of what that list implied. ¶

Is that a correct inference from your testimony?

Mr. Uhl. Yes; that is correct.

Mr. Reid. If I understand you correctly, Mr. Osborn, there were times when someone was on a list which was the equivalent of really sealing and signing a death warrant by virtue of the fact that he was merely on there and therefore subject to what you term “immediate neutralization,” or subject to capture and as per the procedures outlined in the quotas, subject to quota sentencing?

Mr. Osborn. That is correct.

Mr. Reid. Mr. Chairman, I have utilized my 5 minutes and I would like to yield.

I would simply like to say that I think this program is without parallel in U.S. history. ¶

I have long felt that we should never have had anything whatsoever to do with it and the sooner we stop it completely and insist that the South Vietnamese stop it dead in its tracks and anything to do with it, the better; that it is a total and clear violation of the Geneva Convention. ¶

It places our officers and men in totally impossible situations and it is precisely the kind of thing the United States is opposed to.

Here we are participating in it or directing it, as the case may be. ¶

It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, in the wisdom of the committee, and perhaps in Executive session we should call higher officers in higher authority to hear in greater detail how they can continue to permit this to go on. ¶

I would assume that such testimony the committee might wish to hear, both from the commanding general of the Marine Corps and appropriate officials from the Army, and other officials. ¶

I do not see how this committee can, with any kind of conscience at all, permit this to continue.

I merely would like to thank our witnesses for their statements today.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. McCloskey.

Mr. McCloskey.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Osborn, what was your rank in 1967-68 when you were in Vietnam? {p.339}

Mr. Osborn. My actual rank was a Pfc., that of a private first class.

Mr. McCloskey. Yet as part of this battalion, you were in charge of a network of 40 or 50 people working under two primary agents?

Mr. Osborn. Yes, sir; I was.

Mr. McCloskey. Your period in Da Nang City was in the period precisely—

Mr. Osborn. Precisely from November 1967 until December 1968 in Da Nang.

Mr. McCloskey. Mr. Osborn, you have described Marine officers present in what you referred to as airborne interrogation. Would pilots of those helicopters also be Marine officers, to your recollection?

Mr. Osborn. They were Marine helicopters. I know.

Mr. McCloskey. They were Marine helicopters, and from what place in Da Nang did you take off for these airborne interrogations?

Mr. Osborn. From the Marine Air Wing, which is on the East — I am sorry — it is on the far side of the Da Nang Air Base from Da Nang City on the near side of the First Marine CP.

Mr. McCloskey. Now, you were present on two such airborne interrogations?

Mr. Osborn. Right.

Mr. McCloskey. Do you recall the type of helicopters used?

Mr. Osborn. Yes, I do. They were Sikorsky helicopters.

Mr. McCloskey. Sikorsky helicopters?

Mr. Osborn. I am afraid I am lacking in specific number descripition.

Mr. McCloskey. They are entered by a door on the side?

Mr. Osborn. They are.

Mr. McCloskey. With a pilot and co-pilot sitting forward in a separate compartment?

Mr. Osborn. That is right.

Mr. Reid. Would my colleague yield?

Would they have been called Hueys?

Mr. Osborn. No: they were not Hueys.

Mr. McCloskey. In these airborne interrogation operations, who exactly were in the compartments besides yourself?

Mr. Osborn. One Marine officer, two Marine enlisted men, American; two Vietnamese, the suspect.

Mr. McCloskey. The two—

Mr. Osborn. Vietnamese suspects.

Mr. McCloskey. In each case, was one of those Vietnamese thrown out of the helicopter at the direction of the Marine officer present?

Mr. Osborn. Yes, sir.

Mr. McCloskey. Do you recall the rank of the Marine officer?

Mr. Osborn. Yes, I do. It was the same individual both times.

Mr. McCloskey. And this was from the counter-intelligence section?

Mr. Osborn. That is right.

Mr. McCloskey. Of the First Marine Division.

Mr. Osborn. That is right. As a matter of fact, to be clear, the first time we had an airborne interrogation this individual was the first lieutenant. The second time he was a captain. He had been promoted in the Marine Corps.

Mr. McCloskey. The same individual?

Mr. Osborn. Same individual. {p.340}

Mr. McCloskey. And, Mr. Osborn, to your knowledge what was the highest ranking Marine officer during your period there who was familiar with the operations of this Military Intelligence or Counter-intelligence operation?

Mr. Osborn. The highest ranking would have been the full colonel who was the Marine G-2 that I know of.

Mr. McCloskey. The G-2?

Mr. Osborn. The G-2 officer, the intelligence officer of the Marine Division who worked under, I believe it is, General Davis, who is a brigadier general and a commander of the First Marine Division. He has, as you know, a five-piece staff: G-1 through G-5, and this was the G-2 officer who was the first lieutenant of our management and promoted to full colonel during his tour there.

Mr. McCloskey. Can you state the precise facts that support this statement that this colonel was fully familiar with these airborne interrogations and the deliberate murder of the Vietnamese detainees? How did he know this: what did you see him do or say?

Mr. Osborn. Sir, he was aware of the counter-intelligence mission, the methods of operation and specifically he was familiar with my operations, because I was his main supplier of agent information. We had a good liaison and a clear rapport.

Whether or not he was knowledgable {sic: knowledgeable} of those airborne interrogations I do not know, although he was totally familiar with the commander of that CI team and what they were capable of and the nature of their facilities there to include interrogations hooch there, but I don’t know—

Mr. McCloskey. Let me go to that interrogation hooch. Where was that located with reference to the Marine operation?

Mr. Osborn. Within a small confine of maybe half a dozen hooches of the counterintelligence team.

Mr. McCloskey. Is that on the Marine Corps base?

Mr. Osborn. That was adjacent — that was between the 1st Marine Division CP and the Da Nang Air Base within the confines of the Marine air wing, which is the Marine subdivision of the Da Nang Air Base.

Mr. McCloskey. Did you personally see this colonel in this hooch?

Mr. Osborn. No; I say he was totally familiar with the operations as they existed. Whether or not he knew of the results of his airborne interrogation or whether he knew specifically of the man who died with the dowel in his ear or the particulars, I don’t know. I know that I briefed him several times on agent findings, and he was the commander of the intelligence effort and under him came that CIT.

Mr. McCloskey. The problem that we face is, of course, that the generals and the ambassadors who testified for us say unanimously that they have no knowledge of any torture, or any brutality that is reported occasionally and comes to their attention.

Mr. Osborn. Yes.

Mr. McCloskey. We have had unequivocal testimony from the people engaged in the collection as to these facts. Can you give us any enlightenment of where this procedure breaks down. Were the generals lying? Are the ambassadors lying when they produce documents such as their Phoenix directives that no one is to engage in assassinations? Where is the breakdown? {p.341}

Mr. Osborn. The breakdown is in the vested interest of the individuals who must participate in these programs, to approach whatever programs are authorized in the interest of their own promotions.

Mr. McCloskey. Let me see if I can particularize that. I can understand the attitude of a lieutenant, sergeant, or captain charged with producing intelligence, who uses illegal methods to get that intelligence and declines to tell his superiors what methods he had used. Can you give us any examples of this?

Mr. Osborn. Yes. The nearest I can come would be the briefings we gave army colonels of our operations and when we described an agent net and its coverage and its capacity and so forth, size; we never mentioned the interrogations which were a result of the information collecting that was done. It wasn’t considered necessary and nowhere would it ever appear in an official report.

Mr. Reid. If my colleague would yield on that point.

You mentioned in the first of the airborne interrogations that one of two suspects was there because of information you had supplied.

Mr. Osborn. Yes.

Mr. Reid. Did you subsequently report either what happened to that individual or the individual that was in the plane, another suspect, and who I believe you said was pushed out on orders of the first lieutenant. Did you report that incident of what happened to any authority?

Mr. Osborn. No. Let me make that clear. I think this covers both questions.

Mr. McCloskey, you asked where the breakdown in that system is. The breakdown comes, obviously, between the field and the command level, or as the command level reports officially the programs which they are commanding.

Now, the way that happens is this: The programs in Vietnam are administered without any kind of cultural orientation to the Vietnamese.

I was trained for 6 months at Fort Holabird to run agent operations and subsequently my only assignment before being released from active duty before 3 years was Vietnam, and I stayed an extra 3 months to finish up those operations.

I got to Vietnam and found myself, for all intents and purposes, totally incompetent to do the job I had been assigned to do because I didn’t know Vietnamese. I spoke German. I didn’t know anything about the Vietnamese. It wasn’t until right before the Tet offensive that I knew of the existence of Tet. I can give you numerous examples of lack of insight, not only the context which I was working — that is the structure, even the American structure, let alone the Vietnamese value system, priorities, and so forth.

Mr. McCloskey. My concern, though, is this: How far up in the command structure does the intelligence collection procedure — how far up in the command structure is the torture, the brutality, the assassinations fully known to those in command and in charge of completing the mission? Does it go up to the captains, the majors, the colonels, the generals, the Ambassador?

The reason I ask this question is that we have something unique in American history here. We have a U.S. Ambassador in overall charge of what goes on in Vietnam and the generals serving under him. ¶

You have described a private first class in the Army running a network of {p.342} 50 agents in the military, and yet your funds come from a civilian agency in the Government — the CIA — in order to implement this. ¶

The CORDS operation has been described us an interrelationship of AID with one budget and the military with another, but with a chain of command where military and civilians intermix. ¶

Somewhere in this procedure, in the chain of command, the professional military officer who is charged with not permitting assassinations or brutality is aware of this and either he does not report it to his superiors or does not disclose it to anybody. ¶

Where in that chain of command — how far up does this knowledge go? ¶

We have been told here in the Congress — we make the laws here — by the highest ranking people in our State Department and military, that torture is not permitted, assassination is not permitted, that written documents are put out that preclude any of these things. Do those gentlemen know that are telling us these things? ¶

Are we receiving lies or ignorance?

Mr. Uhl. Mr. McCloskey, I would like to speak to that. The principles of Nuremberg were codified by the United Nations, I think, in the early 1950’s and later ratified by the Supreme Court, thus becoming the supreme law of the land.

“ While the My Lai Massacre was a horrible thing, I really don’t think that’s the worse that happened. The worse thing that happened was ... indiscriminant fire ... free fire zones ... And it was just a horrible thing. And it certainly killed many, many more people than the My Lai Massacre did.”

Robert S. McNamara (Secretary of Defense, Jan. 21 1961-1968 Feb. 29), April 25 1995

Anthony B. Herbert, and see Herbert v. Lando, 441 U.S. 153 (April 18 1979).  CJHjr

Policies we have used in Vietnam are in direct violation of these treaties and the convention in which they are signatories. It is these policies that establish constraints on combat behavior in Vietnam.

When you operate in free-fire zones, when you use a body count to measure your success, the inevitable outcome of this type — using these types of policies is what we are discussing here today. Many people have testified in ad hoc hearings before the press, et cetera, et cetera, concerning these instances you mentioned.

One person I would like to mention by name, because he is a perfect example, is Lieutenant Colonel Herbert, who brought charges against a general and a colonel for dereliction of duty for allowing torture to go on in their commands. I would make a recommendation that this committee, if possible, hear Lieutenant Colonel Herbert.

Mr. McCloskey. Let me go back on this. The point I am getting at is the search for truth. This committee is in charge of Government information. We try to search for the truth. Somewhere we are not getting it from the higher echelons. Do you have any record or any experience where you were told by higher command authority not to discuss these things, not to make written reports which included reference to brutality. Are there any references to Holabird, for example, in which you were instructed that these were not to appear as public record if brutality and tortures were conducted?

Mr. Osborn. Let me answer that question this way, Mr. McCloskey. During that course at Holabird we were taught primarily the necessity to have illegal and uncondoned operations in the interest of getting information. The basic premise to the whole 6 months of training, including exercises all over the United States where we infiltrated cities and operated covertly under cover names and so forth, was all to one point, and that was that we would learn to think and operate in a mentality that was illegal and against the values of the society in which we were operating based on the rationalization that this had to happen in order to extract information which is (a) not the truth, and (b) a process which inevitably leads to the kind of illegal and inhuman activity which is then promulgated in the field. {p.343}

If you start with the euphemistic direction and instruction to disregard any values which are involved with the society or the context in which you are working and that is officially condoned, and you get to the field where you experience the kind of cross-cultural lack of communication and the resulting frustration and the racist kind of treatment which is given to the Vietnamese from the point of training in the United States, and the mentality that accompanies it, as a result you inevitably end up with indiscriminate murder, torture, and whatever other horrors are involved.

Mr. McCloskey. Mr. Osborn, what I am trying to do is put myself in the position of this Marine colonel who was the G-2 at the Marine base. I know the training the marine gets and the professional standards which he adheres to and which he is held to and no part of it justifies torture or brutality by anyone under his command. ¶

You have described this, and what I am trying to understand is how a Marine colonel could run an operation of this kind or be in charge of operations. ¶

Does he deliberately stay away from learning about these facts? Does he not get near these areas so he won’t have to see or report or understand what is going on? ¶

How do you appraise that G-2 officer at Da Nang City who has had these things going on under his command?

Mr. Osborn. I know him and I think that I could speculate. This man would have a real reason not to know what the method of collection was under him, and if he had a sniff or a suspicion of it he would not go down to that interrogation hooch to see what was happening. ¶

He would send a directive to his field grade officer or his captain, asking what was happening, and there lies the answer to your question.

The directive which would be returned to him would obviously not be: ¶

“Yes, as a matter of fact, we are starving people to death down here or torturing them to death or throwing them out of helicopters indiscriminately.”

The answer that he would get would be that the CI team is, in fact, extracting the information which is necessary to feed such condoned programs as the Phoenix coordinator program and that would satisfy him.

Mr. McCloskey. Was this also true in your Army chain of command when you reported up and briefed the colonels, did you describe the torture?

Mr. Osborn. No: anything but.

Mr. McCloskey. You had been instructed, however, at Holabird by Senior Army officers that torture was a necessary part—

Mr. Osborn. No; that illegal activity was a necessary part.

Mr. McCloskey. But never torture?

Mr. Osborn. They never said at that time that torture was advocated, but they constantly said that anything that was necessary was a logical step in order to obtain what ends you had been assigned.

Mr. McCloskey. Now, were the questions ever raised at Holabird by any of the trainees, or any subsequently in your own training or your observation of training as to whether we are justified, sir, in imposing torture?

Mr. Osborn. No; I don’t think people at that time were aware they were going into a program that would lead to the kind of torture and indiscriminate murder that we are involved in. {p.344}

Mr. McCloskey. What was the highest ranking Army officer of your battalion that was ever present at a torture, to your knowledge?

Mr. Osborn. This was what I observed in the Marines and the highest ranking officer was a captain.

Mr. McCloskey. I might ask one final question. A number of Congressmen have been privileged to go to Vietnam to try to understand the facts there. Do you have any recollection of any congressional team investigating the armed services ever being briefed in the nature of these brutalities and tortures that you have described?

Mr. Osborn. No; I don’t.

Mr. McCloskey. Do you recall any discussion or instruction from higher authority as to what your position would be if any Congressman asked you any questions?

Mr. Osborn. We were never approached with an official investigation, but this I will say will apply: we lived our covers as part of the USAID pacification program with Americans as well as everyone else. ¶

So I met State Department people of a high rank I was always Mister so and so of the pacification program. This was an overt lie.

Mr. McCloskey. Was this known to the State Department people with whom you dealt and talked?

Mr. Osborn. They were about— half of them were knowledgeable. I would say.

Mr. McCloskey. What was the highest rank or office of the State Department office there in Da Nang City that knew that you were not an AID at all, but military intelligence operating an illegal intelligence-gathering program?

Mr. Osborn. FSO-3.

Mr. McCloskey. FSO-3, deputy CORDS?

Mr. Osborn. That is right.

Mr. McCloskey. State Department deputy CORDS personnel in Da Nang knew that military personnel would be operating under cover, ostensibly as members of AID?

Mr. Osborn. Yes.

Mr. McCloskey. Did they also know you were getting CIA funding?

Mr. Osborn. They knew we were working with Phoenix and they had been briefed on arrival in the country that any cooperation with the “Agency” and that was the CIA, under CSD there was part of their mission, and as a matter of fact, FSO-3 operated as an unwitting safe housekeeper for me because I used to use his facilities to debrief and administer polygraphs to my agents.

Mr. McCloskey. I just want to add for your own information, Mr. Osborn, and for the committee’s that on several occasions I have been privileged to visit Da Nang City to ask for full briefings on the Phoenix intelligence-gathering proceedings by Marine and pacification CORDS personnel, and on no occasion has there been any reference to activities you have described.

The individuals who briefed us indicated that the facts were completely opposite to those that you and Lieutenant Uhl have described this morning.

I might ask: Were you decorated by the Army for your services in this capacity? {p.345}

Mr. Osborn. I hold the Bronze Star.

Mr. McCloskey. What does the citation mean?

Mr. Osborn. I never read it.

Mr. McCloskey. Thank you.

Mr. Moorhead.  Thank you, Mr. McCloskey.

Mr. Uhl, in your prepared statement you stated most of your CD’s were women and children. Why was that?

Mr. Uhl. Well, we operated in Quang Ngai Province and Quang Ngai Province has been traditionally a stronghold of the NLF. Whenever we would go out on the trail and battalions would go out on sweeps they would find there were no men around or if there were men they were older men. Therefore, the people picked up by these battalions or by us on our operations were necessarily women and children.

The children, I say — young girls — I would say anybody under 21.

Mr. Moorhead. You say that you could arrest and detain at will any Vietnamese civilian we described. By whose order or authority could you do that?

Mr. Uhl. Well, I remember one operation we had to try to tighten up base security. I was supposed to, at that time, single out any men of military draft age. At this one particular time when we arrested and detained military-aged males it was on the order of the S-2 who was the major for the brigade.

On other occasions we did this unilaterally, just to harass people in the city of Duc Pho. In fact, there were occasions where there were operations planned where people suspected of being VCI were to be detained, had their families kidnapped and to be detained in our interrogation center on the brigade base camp.

Mr. Moorhead. You state on page 6 that the information was used for input to artillery strikes or bombing and so forth. Would the information be that there are a group of VC in a certain village; is that the kind of information on which air strikes or artillery strikes would be based?

Mr. Uhl. It was generally even vaguer than that. We would get information, a coded source would come into the brigade, come into the CI hooch for debriefing and would indicate, for example, that there was a patrol of a particular force group operating in the areas, vicinity coordinates such and such. That type of information was so vague that we could not stage a military intelligence patrol. In other words, if we could— if we got information that said there was a possible rice cache, weapons cache, VCI spy or whatever, we would try to initiate a patrol on our own. However, it was so vague and just referred to the VC movement.

We would type out this report and send a copy over to the artillery and other liaison officers. They would use this unverifiable information as input that evening for harassment and interdiction or if they had some other information they would try to feed into that.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Osborn, I think one point in your testimony you used the word “illegal green dollar operation.”

Mr. Osborn. Yes, sir.

Mr. Moorhead. Are those the correct words?

Mr. Osborn. Yes, sir: that is a vague reference which I made for it. We had discovered in the course of my getting all kinds of miscel- {p.346} laneous information reported by my agents that there was a green dollar net in the Da Nang area, which meant that that was probably the central point for collection of green dollars in North and South Vietnam.

Mr. Moorhead. What do you mean by “green dollars?”

Mr. Osborn. American green dollars as opposed to military payment certificates.

The idea was that these green dollars would be scraped up in the bars, the houses of ill repute, and other Vietnamese establishments, which is the heart of the economy there, and exported to an unknown spot where they would be used as the most stable type of currency in Asia to procure whatever supplies would be used by the enemy, and we tried to get an operation organized to trace that net of green dollar supply, export, and during the time of my tour in Vietnam I guess I worked toward that end for about 6 months, worked on that for about 6 months on and off and never got it established.

My successor there, who I met in the States after he returned, said that they eventually scrapped the program, although we did spend considerable time and energy trying to justify this as an operation to military intelligence. Phoenix wasn’t interested in it. Military intelligence decided it wasn’t worth funding, so we never got off the ground. That was the green dollar concern.

Mr. Moorhead. No interest in tracing down how this operation took place?

Mr. Osborn. No: they have what they call an operational plan for that, which was simply a long and involved report on how you would go about an operation. First the justification for it, the need for this operation. Second, the idea of what you would accomplish, and third, the implementation of it. This was quite an extensive report that you would submit to MI Headquarters in Saigon of any operations that you would start. At that time I got the official reading from Saigon, one of the few official directives I ever got in Vietnam, was that that was of no peripheral concern to our mission and that was that.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Reid.

Mr. Reid.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Osborn, did you have any subsequent government employment when you returned from Vietnam?

Mr. Osborn. Only casually. I was approached again by some people with whom I was operational there under Phoenix, one person in particular, and asked if I would help motivate some of the agents who had worked while I was there. I had described hiring these people on the basis of the personal loyalty out of necessity for lack of any other way to motivate them. When I left they were not dependent on me as their coordinator or handler, but the standard operating procedure was not to say that you were leaving or going back to the States, say, after a year’s tour or stop your chore in leading them, having stuck their necks out and operating covertly and with a good bit of danger involved, that you were going to give them up and go back to the States: pat them on the back and leave them there for recrimination to your enemy.

Rather, you would introduce them to your successor, you had to go back for a while so that the two of you would be working together and one day you had announced to them in a briefing that you had some {p.347} very good news: that you were promoted and sent to Saigon and that you had been promoted and would be back in several months, if not before. It was up to the new case handler or agent handler to follow through and say Mr. So and So would send his records and give him a commentary on how your family was and so forth.


It was all a sham so we wouldn’t demoralize agents.

Mr. Reid. Specifically did you serve at CIA for a period of time?

Mr. Osborn. Yes; I am sorry. That was my role there, to keep in contact and promulgate the myth that they were still working under the same program in personnel and so forth.

In other words, that we were being as consistent as they were.

Mr. Reid. You were on the CIA payroll?

Mr. Osborn. I received casual payments from them for expenses.

Mr. Reid. Casual payment for expenses.

Second: were you ever aware of a written order or an oral order requiring that you as officers be present in interrogation centers during any interrogation and/or torture?

Mr. Osborn. No; not at all aware.

Mr. Reid. Do you know of any interrogation that you witnessed or heard about of significant character wherever a U.S. officer was not present?

Mr. Osborn. The man who was killed by the dowel in his ear was killed during a session with two enlisted men and under — the officer during part of that interrogation, I know, was with me in an adjacent hooch and was not there during the death of the prisoner.

Mr. Reid. But during earlier interrogation he was present and was aware of the dowel?

Mr. Osborn. He had directed the start of the interrogation; definitely.

Mr. Reid. Are you aware, do you have any knowledge of torture, killing, or other mistreatment of prisoners of war?

Mr. Osborn. Taken in combat action?

Mr. Reid. Yes.

Mr. Osborn. No, sir.

Mr. Reid. Taken in noncombat operation.

Mr. Osborn. The detainees, you see, were taken by the military and detained as Vietcong suspects. They are not prisoners of war as a regular combat troop would be, but as part of the VC infrastructure, part of the enemy and when arrested are termed detainees and those are the people I speak of today.

Mr. Reid. You have no knowledge of those specifically mistreated who were classified prisoners of war?

Mr. Osborn. No; I don’t.

Mr. Reid. Mr. Uhl, one of the matters in your testimony on page 6, which is shocking, is the following: You say, “The unverified and in fact, unverifiable information” that is to say, if I may interpret that, has no basis in fact, “nevertheless, was used regularly as input to artillery strikes, harassment, and interdiction of fire (H.&I.), B-52 and other air strikes often on populated areas.”

Then I think you indicated that you turned out a certain number of IR’s, I think you said a dozen per week.

Would you care to comment on that? Am I correct in assuming that therefore information which you had no great confidence in was used {p.348} for B-52 strikes and interdiction fire on villages and on civilian population?

Mr. Uhl. As a matter of SOP we classified our reports as unverifiable information. Often the coordinates that were given of VC movement were — located this movement right in the middle of populated areas. So these, as I pointed out before, these reports are then sent over to the artillery liaison officer and used without further verification.

Mr. Reid. Were you aware or did you subsequently verify or check the reports which you had sent in which had clearly noted as being unverified were nevertheless used as a basis for and resulted in interdiction fire, artillery or a bombing by B-52’s?

Were there instances of that, to your knowledge?

Mr. Uhl. Yes; there were.

Mr. Reid. Did you ever raise the issue with higher authorities that it was one thing to provide information that was verified and another when it wasn’t verified and that obviously unverified information should not be used as a basis for strikes?

Mr. Uhl. This was a matter of policy in my unit. Every tactical operations center had a map. I assume that every general and senior officer is capable of reading a map and they are capable of noting perhaps even more cleverly than I am when coordinates fall in populated areas.

Our responsibility was to provide them with these reports. They were clearly marked as unverifiable and they chose to use them in this way.

Mr. Reid. You are familiar, are you not, with the overall figures of Phoenix that indicate about 21,000 civilian insurgents have been killed as part of the overall neutralization of killing, rallying or capture, sentencing, and I note here that you say that: (a) Phoenix is a hoax; and (b) that thousands of Vietnamese are indiscriminately classified as VCI based on no specific targeting procedure; based on no evidence.

Is the inference from that what it appears to be, that thousands got onto the Phoenix list with no real evidence and made them subject either to killing or assassination or trial with no due process?

Mr. Uhl. That is correct. I would like to detail one or two instances for the record.

One was a patrol in which one of our coded sources came in with information indicating that several VC infrastructure, several cadre members, would be operating in a particular area in Quang Ngai Province that particular day. If we went to that area with American troops, say a platoon of DICOM, that they would withdraw to designated spider holes. It was normal whenever we were on patrol for the Vietnamese to be hiding in their bunkers and spider holes.

Generally the only people we did find in these holes were women and children and old men, as I pointed out. On this particular occasion we felt this was pretty good information. We called up the S-2 of one of the battalions, which we often did. We went right to the battalion with our information so we could exploit it immediately.

The Lieutenant Colonel was impressed with the information. He sent over his helicopter to pick us up. We briefed him and he assigned his reconnaissance platoon to us for this operation. {p.349}

When we got to the area — we had an interpreter — we put a cord around the area where we suspected the VCI to be, and we proceeded to look for the spider hole. We found it. ¶

We did not follow the procedure you are supposed to follow when you find a spider hole. That is, we did not open the hole with a long stick and offer the people inside the opportunity to choose force, surrender, or rally. ¶

We put several Claymore mines on top of the hole and destroyed the entrance; threw in a couple of M-26 fragmentation grenades and several bursts of M-16, subsequently caving in the hole. This forced us to go around to the other side of the tree and open up another entrance with a blast of plastique. ¶

Three bodies were pulled from the hole. As I remember, every one of the men — they were, I would say, two of them in their fifties and one appeared to be younger. ¶

They all had Government identification cards. None of them had any information on them, any documentation that could lead us to suspect they were, in fact, VC infrastructure. And one man — two men were killed, two of the men were dead, and one man was living. At first he appeared to be dead and somebody noticed that he was breathing.

But one thing I would like to point out in this particular instance is that this was my first patrol in Vietnam. I wasn’t really very sensitive to what the SOP’s in intelligence or combat—

Mr. Reid. Were these men subsequently reported as VCI?

Mr. Uhl. Yes; one was reported as a tax collector and one was reported as an economics cadre.

Mr. Reid. That was a pure figment of imagination because they had regular Government documents?

Mr. Uhl. Right.

Mr. Reid. Let me, Mr. Chairman, ask one final question. Then I would appreciate both of you commenting, if you would.

I want to be totally fair and totally objective, because I think it reaches in part to the heart of the responsibility for this reprehensive operation which the United States has been involved in.

This is the question I asked Mr. Colby, Ambassador Colby. I might say, parenthetically, for the record, both I think in his testimony before the committee and privately with me he took full responsibility for the Phoenix program.

Mr. Reid. The reason I am pursuing this a little bit is that the testimony before the Senate is replete with some indications and from {sic: some} explicit reports that at times the district coordinating center or the senior advisers {sic: 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. 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 on seeing {sic: to see} them improved. I think they are considerably improved. As I said, I do not think they need {sic: meet} the standards I would like to see applied to Americans today.

Could either of you comment on either the standards or procedures in any degree to your knowledge while you were there as to their being improved or changed? {p.350}

Mr. Uhl. I was in Vietnam for only 5 months. During this period there was no change in those procedures. One change I would like to mention.

The interrogation officer in my team was a second lieutenant at the time that I was assigned as a chief of the team. He remained with the team for about 4 months. He was relieved of his duty because he refused — and I would like to stress — he refused to continue practices of torture and the classification indiscriminately of women and children, or any suspect, any detainee, I should say, as a Vietcong infrastructure or cadre member.

Mr. Reid. Finally, there is another question I put to the Ambassador.

Mr. Reid. Another point, Mr. Ambassador, that I would like to place in as clear a 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 neutralization or elimination at {sic: 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 of them being Vietcong suspects. ¶

One was then interrogated and shot.

What I would like to ask is this: ¶

The testimony refers to an earlier {sic: early} period where there is {sic: was} a counterterrorist 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 involved {sic: 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. Congressman.

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.

Well, the inference from that Q and A, I believe, is that what happened earlier might have included assassination, but it was not condoned and did not occur, at least from his testimony, after an early period

It is your understanding, is it not, that it did occur during a period you were there, which would be in 1968?

Mr. Osborn. Yes, sir; what Ambassador Colby says there, whether it is based on a motivation to deceive the committee, or whether it is based on what you called earlier “ignorance,” it is categorically wrong. ¶

That program which I described that I was trained in for illegal participation in, any breach of international or local law is still being taught by the Army. ¶

It still advocates the same kind of procedures and there has been no attempt whatsoever in all of my experience to censure it. {p.351}

I was peripheral to the Phoenix program on a casual basis until June of 1970. ¶

If anything, they had by all means intensified the kind of indiscriminate illegality we have described here today. ¶

Any cleanup that anybody would refer to officially before a committee under oath is a sad distortion, especially considering the fact that we have sworn to tell the truth and the whole truth.

Mr. Reid. And your reports as related to Phoenix or information as provided as part of Phoenix would have gone off the chain of command to Ambassador Colby?

Mr. Osborn. Certainly if Ambassador Colby took the responsibilities as you say, for the full Phoenix program.

Mr. Reid. That is what he took.

Mr. Osborn. Then I would think he, as a matter of confidence, would have the knowledge to be confident on the whole, especially on the wholesale basis that I saw it occur in Vietnam, the indiscriminate basis, and that knowledge was not designedly compartmented from anyone if they would have just gone to the location, been available to be briefed on the particulars.

Mr. Reid. When you say “wholesale” I take it you mean during your period there there was sufficient assassination so it could be described as immediate neutralization, which was another phrase you used, or assassination on the spot, frequently with no evidence beyond fragmentary rumors, if that, and in some cases after the fact identifications were made on allegedly the CI, who may not have been the CI at all?

Mr. Osborn. In fact, the intelligence reports we got as summaries were the reports of that kind of standard operating procedure and the provisional reconnaissance units which I described earlier which the CIA called goon squads, unofficially had the primary mission of the assassinations which were euphemized by Ambassador Colby and others as neutralization; yes.

Mr. Reid. Finally, Mr. Chairman, again I repeat that I feel this investigation should continue, that higher officers should be called in executive session until otherwise all the facts are rooted out fairly and until this program is totally ended both by the United States and South Vietnam.

I would like to ask one final question of Mr. Uhl, because I think you have put it very clearly in your last sentence.

You talk about ¶

those scarred psychologically from having been executioners of brutal policies will not only seek medical and financial relief, but in a real sense, represent a human resource no longer willing or able to believe in the worth of American institutions.

Do you both feel that those who have been in these programs or given orders under those programs, now seriously doubt whether this is a country concerned with law, with human rights, with due process, and part of these hearings must be an attempt at redemption, an attempt at making clear that this kind of thing will not be tolerated by a new generation of Americans and that this must be totally rooted out if we are to have any moral position in the world hereafter?

Mr. Uhl. I think the voices of the men I am referring to have been strong over the last 20 months or so since the Mylai massacre received such notoriety. {p.352}

In the summer of 1970 some 50 veterans testified in Washington, D.C., at which one Congressman-elect was present. There were ad hoc hearings in Congress. There was the winter soldier investigation. There have been many, many occasions where veterans have spoken out. ¶

It is only recently that they find that the institutions that supposedly represent their needs are beginning to listen.

I believe that this opens it up. ¶

I believe our testifying today might be the first time veterans have testified before a legitimate congressional committee with the one exception I think, of John Kerry during the veteran opportunities. ¶

I think that more emphasis should be placed on getting the perspective of the low-ranking GI from the field since this seems to be the problem, the discrepancy between what the policymakers tell us and what goes on in the field. ¶

I think this could benefit greatly from hearing more veterans from all NOS’s {sic: MOS’s} and all branches of services.

Mr. Reid. Well, I thank you for that and your comment triggered one more brief question.

Was Mylai related to Phoenix in any way, shape or form, or was any of the information used in that operation based on materials supplied by Phoenix?

Mr. Uhl. Since I was an intelligence officer for that particular brigade, that particular division, I can only comment on the procedures. I have no personal knowledge of Mylai.

We often would use, as I said, Phoenix rationale for creating and implementing of combat operations. We would send intelligence personnel on these search and destroy missions with black lists, with numbers, lists of VC infrastructure. ¶

This was a common procedure in this particular division and in other divisions from what I have been able to gather in talking to hundreds of veterans.

Mr. Reid. Was Mylai this type of operation? ¶

You said you had no precise knowledge of Mylai, but was it a search and destroy type of operation that could have carried on this kind of endeavor?

Mr. Uhl. To my knowledge it was a search and destroy.

Mr. Reid. It was?

Mr. Osborn, do you have any comment on that?

Mr. Osborn. I would just say this sir: ¶

The kind of thinking that created spontaneously the complete destruction of everything alive, as the record shows, in Mylai is the same kind of thought that we really haven’t touched on and I don’t want to go into detail here today, but it is a lack of respect of the Vietnamese human beings which causes the Phoenix coordinator to advocate agent nets which report for whatever reason people who inevitably die, people because they report them, whether it is an infantry unit going in and slaughtering a village or whether it is a body count on another basis; it doesn’t matter.

Mr. Reid. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. McCloskey.

Mr. McCloskey.  Gentlemen, both of you were military intelligence personnel gathering information for essentially military operations. ¶

When I was in Da Nang, Mr. Osborn, in December — excuse me, January 1969, just prior to Tet, I gather you were there?

Mr. Osborn. Yes; I was. {p.353}

Mr. McCloskey. I was there in 1970 and again in 1971. ¶

I was impressed by the fact that in that interval of time a number of hamlets and villages were destroyed by military operations. ¶

As a result, and Mr. Uhl has testified this was the purpose of your MI team, to get combat intelligence by using torture in military operations, did your operations in Da Nang City range all over Quang Nam Province?

Mr. Osborn. Yes, sir.

Mr. McCloskey. In gathering military combat intelligence, was unverified information or unverifiable information gathered by you used by either infantry or air units to destroy villages thereafter?

Mr. Osborn. Yes, sir: the 1st Marine Division, when I first approached them, did not want to cooperate with the civilian type because they have a good bit of espirit d’corps.

Mr. McCloskey. Did they think you were a civilian?

Mr. Osborn. Yes; they did. ¶

The only way I — reason I was able to establish a proper rapport with the officer was the fact I was capable of a lot of information-gathering, which I was, but not to go to him as a PFC in the Army and beg his cooperation because I am sure that I couldn’t have gained it. But he looked at me as an individual and said: I am not really sure where I stand, so you try it and I will see how it comes out. I was offering him the use of agent collection procedures in order to obtain information.

The only way they had of obtaining intelligence at that time was the Marine long-range patrols, which are extremely limited. They don’t speak Vietnamese. They have no perception of what they are seeing in the cultural context to which they are foreign. ¶

I explained that nuance to him, which I was surprised to see he didn’t feel previously or know, and he said perhaps that was a way of getting information he wasn’t capable of.

I organized nets and that was my primary user for a long time. ¶

At first I found them, to make a long story short, receiving them, smiling and throwing the reports away because they were not Marine reports; they were anything else, but they were not Marine. ¶

I went about appealing to him on a retrospective basis. What I said is: if you don’t believe the reports are worthwhile, we are going to save you lives, logistics, or whatever, then let’s plot what I have reported and see what happens. ¶

By that method over a period of about 6 weeks I was able to convince him he would save himself a lot of personnel problems and so forth by having the vacancy reports.

In other words, they were accurate and timely.

So, on that basis he started to cooperate with the agent reports, and I submitted them regularly thereafter and also upgraded my activities in order to collect information for the 1st Marine Division and at that time we had approximately half a dozen — I don’t know how many — five or six B-52s which were coming over Quam which were assigned to the 1st Marine Division operations, and it was their tactical area of responsibility to which these planes were assigned.

If they had targets for them they would use the B-52s. If they didn’t they wouldn’t. ¶

So, after I was reporting several months for the 1st Marine Division the accuracy of the reports were such and the limited — they had such a limited access to that kind of information that I could submit a report to the 1st Marine Division and within {p.354} an hour get a B-52 strike destroying an entire grid square on a map, and we did that.

Mr. McCloskey. You say a “grid square;” a kilometer?

Mr. Osborn. One square kilometer; right.

Mr. McCloskey. In February of 1970 when I was there the top CORDS Advisor of I Corps told me that out of 555 hamlets in Quam Nang Province 307 had been destroyed by American military action, either to generate refugees or to destroy the areas that were of potential support to the Vietcong.

In the period you were there, 13 months, do you have any estimate of the number of hamlets that were destroyed by American military action during that period and if so, how many by B-52s or air strikes or infantry acting on intelligence such as you had?

Mr. Osborn. I apologize for the fact I don’t have that kind of information codified. I do know that at the height of our operational period, which was certainly more than 6 months, that I was targeting B-52s from my own verified reports and which in fact, did do what they called “B-52 plows.”

Mr. McCloskey. What was that?

“ For its Arc Light role in Vietnam, the B-52D models were given the “Big Belly” mod to carry up to 108 Mk 82 (500-pound) bombs internally and on underwing pylons.”

  Operation Arc Light

“ Their normal bomb load was 84 bombs internally and 24 bombs under the wings. Each bomb weighed 500 pounds. (Sometimes they carried 750 lb bombs.) That’s 54,000 pounds of HE, a lot of bang from each aircraft.”  Arc Lights

Mr. Osborn. Released a row of bombs and as they fall they simply fall one in front of the other by virtue of the momentum and simply leave a large scarred plow in the earth. They are done by pattern, calculated pattern to the ground. That is called a bombing pattern. With a B-52 it is designed to destroy a grid square. This is accomplished with one mission. That is a lot of fire power and also it is brought in on the basis of information from an agent in a sub-net and so forth that there is or was recently an enemy unit varying from squad to battalion in the area within that grid square, and that would justify destroying the entire grid square.

Mr. McCloskey. I think I interrupted you. You were talking about a 6-month operational period. What was the number of grid squares destroyed?

Mr. Osborn. I would approximate them as two a week for 6 months. That was about 50 that, I can think of.

Mr. McCloskey. Did those grid squares at any time include hamlets where civilians were living?

Mr. Osborn. Probably all of them did.

Mr. McCloskey. Was this true of Quang Ngai Province? Were you operating there, Lieutenant?

Mr. Uhl. I remember that every time I walked into the S-2 office, which was probably once a day, there were what we call “arc lights,” B-52 strikes planned, actually outlined on the map in our areas of responsibility. I don’t have any way of estimating how many of these were performed every week nor how many of them fell in populated areas.

Mr. McCloskey. I have no further questions.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Phillips.

Mr. Phillips.  Mr. Osborn, I think you testified that your activities in Vietnam were completely apart from any related activity or knowledge of the South Vietnamese; that they were unilateral?

Mr. Osborn. That is correct.

Mr. Phillips. You also testified, I believe, that some of your actions were directed at South Vietnamese citizens. {p.355}

Mr. Osborn. They were, in fact.

Mr. Phillips. What would have happened if GVN units had apprehended you or questioned your activities anywhere along the line; what would have happened to you?

Mr. Osborn. That would be a matter of speculation. The reason that I lived undercover was, you understand, so that the United States could deny my presence and my activity. So, when one is compromised and take several agent handlers compromised at a time, they would simply move from the area and send either their real names or a different cover name altogether.

So, this made the whole thing completely evaporable. That is the kind of thing they have described to the Vietcong and specifically the VCI. We have that as more of a standard operating procedure as far as an illegal activity and an official lack of condoning that. We were told informally that — we were briefed in Saigon when we first got there the first week, and I went with a group of half a dozen people for a briefing at which we were told, I think, as a standard line, I believe, compromise and there will be a denial of this and there were delusions of how bad the Vietnamese jails were, so watch yourselves and don’t get caught.

Several people were compromised and they immediately left the area, and I had a couple of people compromised. I had never felt at any time that I would get any official backing or aid from the people who assigned me there, and as a matter of fact, from that briefing was told explicitly that I would not.

Mr. Phillips. You wore civilian clothes? You didn’t wear a uniform.?

Mr. Osborn. Not at all. I wore civilian clothes only in attending civilian clubs and Navy officers clubs and so forth, which was appropriate to the rank of GS-9.

Mr. Phillips. Did you use any kind of special identification papers that would identify you if you were questioned? How did this Marine Colonel verify the fact that you were what you represented yourself to be?

Mr. Osborn. I had several different identities and for each of them I had a complete set of documentation. They were made in Saigon and they were just as official as anybody else’s. They were made up from blanks there, and as a matter of fact, I had several people look at me and wonder who I was and say: All right; who are you really? Are you really so and so as a member of the State Department CORDS this and that; whatever I happened to be using at the time, and I could look them straight in the eye and produce my documents and say: Yes; this is my identification card.

Mr. Phillips. They were interchangeable?

Mr. Osborn. They were, in fact. I had to interchange them several times, twice in one change in order to obtain access to which one status wouldn’t constitute and the other one such as a classified map of the Da Nang Air Base and was told that was only by military access and had I been an officer of the military I could obtain that. I went back in my house in Da Nang and got into fatigues, about the only time I wore fatigues in Vietnam, got my documentation which proved unequivocally that I was a first lieutenant and went back and asked the same intelligence officer and he just gave it to me out of frustration. I signed for it and— {p.356}

Mr. Phillips. Suppose you had been captured by the Vietcong? Do you think you would have been treated as a military prisoner? Or to put it another way, do you know of any of your colleagues that were captured?

Mr. Osborn. No; I had quite a number of friends that were surrounded by the NVA at a covert house in Hue during the Tet offensive. Their ranks went from major on down to PFC. PFC the agent handler, and the major happened to be our operations officer there in Hue when the shooting broke out. They were trapped there for 4 days in a house and they got together and decided the one thing if they were captured, the one thing they would not have on is their civilian documentation and they were going to appear as military administration-type personnel who had just come back from R.&R. and got caught up in that thing and they had done nothing; they were not associated with that at all.

So that is how they would have tried to fulfill the cover, by not fulfilling it, but certainly without any official documents, to answer your question.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Reid.

Mr. Reid. Mr. Osborn, was a Chinese woman who worked with you assassinated by U.S. personnel? ¶

What were the circumstances?

Mr. Osborn. Yes; I had a Chinese national interpreter, female, who was multilingual and educated in France. She was a native of Hue, and worked for me for several months. She became essential to my insight into the Vietnamese scene because I had no cultural understanding by way of education and training, and I used her knowledge, not by way of training, but as couriers and also other support functions. She made contacts so I wouldn’t be seen as a Vietnamese agent and that kind of thing. She was exposed to our operations.

There was an American captain who had wanted to be an agent handler himself and found only the enlisted men could do this kind of thing and found himself without a job. Officially he was in charge of intelligence contingency fund money: that is, money for the Army for agent operations. There was no money and no job for him. He lived in Da Nang peripheral to the intelligence community and had no function.

One afternoon after lunch we left our club and I went back to my house and he drove in the driveway and my interpreter was coming back from lunch and he shot her through the neck with a .45 and then drove out and went to his house, which was down the street a couple of blocks. ¶

His reason his motivation for doing this was for one thing: he had a complete disdain for the Vietnamese or any role that they might have that would be of more construction than his; and second: his rationale was when I confronted him with this, that the woman was only a slope anyway and it doesn’t matter. That is a derogatory form {sic: term} for any Vietnamese.

This goes in the category of slope, gook, and whatever else.

Mr. Reid. And what else? What did you report as a result of this?

Mr. Osborn. Nothing. ¶

The individual, by the nature of our activities — well, his official rationalization had been that she was overexposed to operations, that she know too much and that she was dangerous, which in fact was quite far from the truth. ¶

She was es- {p.357} sential to the success of the operations because we had no competence in it ourselves.


Mr. Reid. So there was no subsequent inquiry into it at all?

Mr. Osborn. None.

Mr. Reid. Mr. Osborn, one other question.

The piece in the Sunday paper, the New York Times, entitled: “This Phoenix is a bird of death,” next to the last paragraph says: ¶

“At high level United States insistence an inventory of all those imprisoned under the Phoenix program is being conducted. American officials contend they do not know how many such prisoners they are; whether they are scattered in jails and interrogation centers all over the country. The purpose of the inventory is to weed out the real Vietcong suspects from others who are framed, imprisoned, and whatever.”

Do you have any knowledge of the inventory and prior to your departure from Vietnam were there anything representing accurate reports as to where the VCI detainees or insurgents are being held?

Mr. Osborn. No; as I said before, I never knew in the course of all those operations any detainee to live through his interrogation. They all died.

Mr. Reid. They all died?

Mr. Osborn. They all died. There was never any reasonable establishment of the fact that any one of those individuals was, in fact, cooperating with the Vietcong, but they all died and the majority were either tortured to death or things like thrown from helicopters.

Mr. Reid. Could some of those have been incarcerated or interrogated for political reasons as General Minh has suggested, that Phoenix has been used politically?

Mr. Osborn. Very definitely. I would say this: with a program as treacherous as that, with as little control as that, it could be used to whatever ends were indiscriminately applied to it; yes, definitely.

Mr. Reid. We have been apprised there were approximately 600 officers in the Phoenix program. A number of them field grade; the others captains and lieutenants. ¶

About how many teams were there in Vietnam carrying on MI functions similar to yours?

Mr. Osborn. Oh, I would say in the I Corps area I knew of half a dozen agent operators; that is, agent handlers like myself.

That is because I knew of them having been in Fort Holabird with them and in Saigon with them and so forth. We pretty much knew who each other were. ¶

There was a fellow I knew as a USAID personnel with the pacification program about my age and who I was sure was not an agent handler.

When I got back to the United States and was assigned to Fort Meade, thereafter he came back from Vietnam and joined my unit. Sure enough, he had the same job as I, except he used his cover better than I.

Mr. Reid. There were each one of these teams in the four corps areas?

Mr. Osborn. There were, in fact. Originally when I got there the 525 I group was set up like this: in each corps area there was a battalion for unilateral covert collection activity for each of the four corps areas. Then it was, in other words, my function.

There was a battalion which covered all Vietnam. Now, there is a battalion in each corps area which covers all functions and that was reorganized in— {p.358}

Mr. Reid. How many of the agent handlers were those that were operating nets such as yours who spoke Vietnamese or individuals and officers in Phoenix who spoke Vietnamese, and was there any requirement in Fort Holabird that because this involved working with Vietnamese that first one should learn the language?

Mr. Osborn. Very few of the American people I knew in Vietnam spoke Vietnamese.

Mr. Reid. So the bulk would have to rely on interpreters who might or might not be accurate?

Mr. Osborn. That was true; that was one of the main causes of paranoia. ¶

That was one of the main rationales of the captain who murdered the interpreter, based on a summary value that Vietnamese are not to be trusted because we are overly dependent upon them. ¶

That is a standard value, being aware of your agent or not falling in love with your agent or losing your objective.

That is treating with what we call officially at Holabird, a healthy suspicion or something close to that. ¶

It is not healthy.

Mr. Reid. One final question.

If I understand your testimony correctly, when you were talking about the Defense Intelligence Collection Manual, and also about procedures and training at Fort Holabird, if I understand you correctly it was either oral or written discussion of termination, both with prejudice and with extreme prejudice; is that correct?

Mr. Osborn. That is correct.

Mr. Reid. That was in writing as well as in the course orally?

Mr. Osborn. Yes; I quite remember having been assigned one day to study the intelligence cycle which goes from looking for an agent, the termination of an agent all the way through, and the last section in that chapter was termination. ¶

With prejudice was a subcategory and without prejudice was a subcategory, but never did I ever see it codified in school that they were to be tortured to death or murdered. ¶

That came later in the field. That is how that kind of illegal training is supplied, in fact.

Mr. Reid. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Moorhead. Would you gentlemen be willing to answer written questions that members of the committee would like to submit to you later?

Mr. Uhl. I have no objection.

Mr. Osborn. No objection.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Phillips, do you have any questions?

Mr. Phillips. Yes; one more, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Moorhead. Excuse me.

Mr. McCloskey. I just have one or two, Mr. Osborn.

I was struck by something you said, that only enlisted men could do these jobs, such as you held.

Mr. Osborn. That is right.

Mr. McCloskey. Why was that?

Mr. Osborn. It was because the agent handlers who were trained and are trained in the Army are told that there is no official way to get information. There is the DICOM which we mentioned, but that won’t do it, and you have to be flexible enough and willing enough to go out on a limb to accomplish these things in order to obtain the information. ¶

In exchange for that kind of autonomy or that kind of a {p.359} mission they will give you the autonomy necessary to operate as a civilian.

In other words, to the enlisted man they can say, “Would you rather vegetate or be a subordinate in the Army — a majority of these people have college degrees and are capable of being an officer — or would you rather be autonomous and free?

As I mentioned, a number of people take this course and go to Vietnam and do nothing, straight Army. The majority of these — eight out of 10 people — do nothing in their whole year.

Mr. McCloskey. Viewing a commissioned officer, we used to call them an officer and a gentleman by act of Congress. ¶

Officers were deliberately precluded from participating as agent handlers?

Mr. Osborn. They are, in fact. ¶

The only agent handler course that is given in the Army is given to enlisted men. ¶

That is not based on the myth that officers are gentlemen by act of Congress.

Mr. McCloskey. I believe that myth does exist.

Mr. Osborn. It is a myth.

Mr. Uhl. I have friends in Quang Ngai city who were at Fort Holabird with me and took the 1968 course and were, in fact, agent handlers.

Mr. Reid. That was a course for officers?

Mr. Uhl. Yes.

Mr. McCloskey. The previous testimony where you described the presence of officers in interrogation and torture, these were all Marine officers not connected with your chain of command?

Mr. Osborn. That is true, sir.

Mr. McCloskey. Whom did you report to? ¶

Who was your next highest official when you were in Da Nang City?

Mr. Osborn. For that? I should tell you it depends on the program. I had gone out and found the Phoenix program. I had no superior. It was a matter of having accepted the nets, getting the information and feeding it to whom I thought it was necessary to feed it to. If I wanted to go back to Saigon and live there on the economy, fine; or some province capital or whatever.

Mr. McCloskey. Who was your next military superior in the Army?

Mr. Osborn. I was compartmented from the military because they would have denied my existence. ¶

The only connection I had with them was to receive my pay by covert meeting once a month and to get an R.&R.

Mr. McCloskey. Whom did you get your pay from, where, and when?

Mr. Osborn. Administrative captain from the 1st Battalion 525 MI Group, who I knew from my club and who used to slip me my pay under the table at dinner.

Mr. McCloskey. Was your civilian club in Da Nang?

Mr. Osborn. No; a Navy officers’ club where we all belonged.

Mr. McCloskey. This is once a month you got your pay from an Army captain who came in in civilian clothes to a Navy officers’ club?

Mr. Osborn. That is right; and in fact had several dinners himself and would pull out civilian documentation and go pay the people, his people who he was administratively responsible for. ¶

He was an RA, a Regular Army officer, and had planned to go career and finish 20 years {p.360} in service, but after his service in Vietnam and seeing the effectiveness of the program he resigned his commission. ¶

He is now a civilian.

Mr. McCloskey. I am overcome by this testimony.

I have no further questions.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Phillips, do you have a question?

Mr. Phillips. Yes, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Uhl, you described the intelligence contingency fund on page 6 of your statement, and you have referred to it as your classified fund. Do you mean it was classified as a security document, having a security classification? ¶

It that what you mean?

Mr. Uhl. The existence of the fund was supposed to be classified, I believe, secret.

Mr. Phillips. Secret?

Mr. Osborn. Yes; it was secret.

Mr. Phillips. Do you have any way of knowing what kind of funds were funneled into ICF; were they military funds or CIA or AID funds or where did they come from?

Mr. Uhl. I believe the funds funneled into ICF were Defense Department funds allocated specifically for that purpose.

Mr. Phillips. How did you obtain money from this fund? Did you put in a voucher? What was the procedure that you followed?

Mr. Uhl. There was an ICF officer at division. Once a month he would fly to Saigon and see the designated amount of money. He would disburse this, then, to the various — his military intelligence people located at the brigade level. They had three brigades, so he would disburse it to three different people and he would keep a certain amount at division for — I don’t have any remembrance about the amount of money.

Mr. Phillips. That was going to be my next question. Do you have any rough estimate of how much money want through this fund a month.

Mr. Uhl. I remember we paid our coded sources approximately $50 a month. We paid out incentives, mostly liquor and cigarettes, which were provided for us in that form. And we paid also bonuses and incentives for weaponry or ordnance turned over to use or if a particular source was responsible — information was responsible for rendering a body count or rice cache or weapons cache.

Mr. Phillips. Just one general question. ¶

Do either of you know instances where the targeting and neutralization of alleged VCI might have been used to eliminate a political rival or a potential political rival? ¶

I can see the potential is there for this type of abuse where you are paying an informant. ¶

There is no way for you to verify the information that he gives you so you go ahead and send out a patrol or arrange an artillery or B-52 strike on that particular village to eliminate them. ¶

Do you know of any political ramifications to this kind of elimination?

Mr. Uhl. I know of no specific instance. ¶

I can only speculate that it is one of the uses it is probably used for.

Mr. Phillips. Do you know, Mr. Osborn, any such cases?

Mr. Osborn. I know of no — I would ask political rival of whom? Would you say— {p.361}

Mr. Phillips. I mean that perhaps the province chief or the village chief might get to your informant and bribe him to help eliminate a potential political rival.

Mr. Osborn. No; I would only say this, that the VCI constitutes, by official definition, even the central corps of people who are trying to gain legitimate entrance to the Government as it does not exist in the provinces now and never has since I have been involved in government; so naturally anybody who would be on that list by definition as a member of the VC infrastructure because they have political rivals who are now ruling the provinces which we have seen, is an illegitimate process.

Mr. Moorhead. Mr. Cornish.

Mr. Cornish. Yes. This is addressed to both of you. ¶

Did you at any time in your military service receive any orientation at all on the Geneva Convention?

Mr. Osborn. Categorically; no.

Mr. Uhl. I attended infantry officers school before I went to officers school, and if I remember there was some vague reference made to it in 1-hour block of instruction of military law or something like that, but nothing very substantial.

Mr. Osborn. Mr. Uhl was trained as an officer and I was trained as an enlisted men. If they received an hour of instruction, one 1 hour out of what, a 5-month course—

Mr. Uhl. Twelve weeks.

Mr. Osborn. Twelve weeks, 1 hour on the Geneva Accord, it would be, by the nature of the program, there in order to be able to be knowledgeable of the document. ¶

In fact, as we have said before, the enlisted men are the ones who are the operatives and they are not instructed.

Mr. Cornish. Mr. Uhl, I don’t think we got for the record what happened to the third man that came out of the spider hole. ¶

Was there something else you were going to tell us about that? You said that he was still alive, but I don’t think we heard the conclusion of that particular episode.

Mr. Uhl. Well, what happened was, one of the counterintelligence agents who served under me had been in Vietnam for some months, had been on a number of these patrols, took out his .38 snub-nosed revolver and put it up to the man’s head and was about to kill him, at which time I prevented him from doing that and he turned to the ranking officer, a captain S-2 from battalion, and asked him why he could not proceed and kill this man and this was: ¶

(1)  the way they generally proceeded; and ¶

(2)  it was necessary because if they didn’t kill the man he would just be turned over to corrupted VN officials who would let him out again and he would be out planting mines again. ¶

So the captain told me that I could make the decision since it was the military intelligence operation. ¶

He just washed his hands of the matter. ¶

So I told the man that he would not — that I would not countenance his killing this civilian and that if he did that I would report it.

As a result, most of the CI agents, counterintelligence agents, wouldn’t go put on patrol with me, but I know this was common behavior in Vietnam.

August 11 1950—Attacking north towards Kosong on the east coast of South Korea. 1st Provisional Marine Brigade. Corporeal “Logan Parnell” (a pseudonym) (pp.117-119):

“ Near sunset on August 11, I stood by the side of the road watching and listening to an old Korean man being questioned by a ROK second lieutenant and a Marine Lieutenant Colonel.

One of the guys nearby who’d been watching longer than I had said,

“We’ve got one now”.

A little earlier the old Korean had been caught under a bridge with a case of North Korean belted machine-gun ammunition. The man wore the traditional white Korean costume, although now it was dirty and wrinkled. He knelt on the ground.

The ROK officer asked the old man what he was doing carrying ammo. Was he a spy? Was he a communist? The man kept his head bowed and did not answer. He was ordered to empty his pockets and remove his shirt. He laid a crumpled pack of Korean cigarettes and a box of matches on the ground. Then without getting-up he took off his shirt. A red mark around his shoulders clearly showed where he had carried the ammo case with its rope sling. The lieutenant placed the muzzle of his carbine against he back of the old man’s head and threatened to kill him if he didn’t answer the questions. Still the old man refused to say anything. In disgust the lieutenant jabbed the old man’s head with his carbine and cursed him. The old man said nothing.

The ROK officer turned to the Marine Lieutenant Colonel:

Sir, if you turn him loose, he’ll go right back to the enemy and help them again.”

The Lieutenant Colonel turned and caught my eye.

“Take him back to the Korean police”, he ordered, “and have him shot.”

Everybody then just drifted away, leaving me alone with the old man.

I motioned for him to get-up and put-on his shirt. He gestured he would like his cigarettes. I nodded. After he lit one I marched him to the rear where I met the South Korean police detachment which was assigned to the brigade.

To a police sergeant I explained I had orders to have the old man shot and that I needed someone to do the job. The sergeant elected a young man not much older that I who spoke English.

The young policeman, the old man, and I walked along the road. I was looking for a suitable place to hold the execution. I noticed the policeman was unarmed, I figured I’d let him use my carbine.

I found a spot down by a shallow river which afforded the privacy I was looking for. We moved down off the road and walked to the near-by river-bed. The old man asked if he could wash his hands. The policeman translated. I nodded.

By now I was confused and scared. I was about to have a civilian killed. Suddenly, it seemed ludicrous that I was allowing the old man to wash his hands when in a few minutes he would be dead. I hollered. The old man stood-up. He shook his wet hands to dry them. He still didn’t know he was going to be shot. I motioned for him to walk on.

About 25-feet away he stopped and turned. Why weren’t we behind him? Was he free to go? I offered my carbine to the policeman. He pushed he weapon away and backed-off. In broken English he told me he didn’t know how to use it. His voice was shrill. I yelled at him to take it.

At this, the old man realized what was going to happen.

“No! No!”,

he pleaded in Korean.

The policeman backed-away. I shouted some more. The old man began to cry. Falling to his knees he clasped his hands as if he was praying. Between sobs he continued to plead for his life. Something had to be done. I ordered the old man to stand up. The policeman yelled to him to stand up. He did, I shot him twice. He fell like a stone.

I ran to the road. I didn’t check to see if the old man was dead—he had to be. I walked until I came to the battalion HQ area.

I told the Lieutenant Colonel what I’d done.

He made no comment.

I decided not to rejoin the company but to spend the night where I was. After I settled down, I couldn’t sleep. Nearby, 2 officers quietly spoke to each other. I heard one say:

“That Marine had to shoot the old man”.

The other said,

“I don’t think I could do that”.

By the shallow river everything had happened so fast. Everyone was screaming at once. No one but the policeman and I would have known if I’d let the old man go. It had all happened so fast.

In the morning, when I rejoined my company, one of the sergeants told me. “Don’t worry about it, think of Tome and Smythe”. They’d been killed a few days before. I never learned how the sergeant knew what I’d done.

On the road that day I tried to swagger. We passed hundreds of Korean civilians.

They all seemed to look at me.”

Donald Knox The Korean War, Pusan to Chosin: An Oral History, pages 117-119 (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York and San Diego, 1985).


The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade had 3 battalions. This account does not state which battalion “Parnell” was in.

The first battalion was commanded by U.S. Marine Lieutenant Colonel Joe Stewart.

Murdering prisoners is a long-standing practice of the U.S. military. There are many other such accounts in this book. And in many other books.  CJHjr.

Mr. Cornish. Were you aware of any competition between these intelligence units in regard to your operations? {p.362}

Mr. Uhl. The lists of the prisoners of war and civil defendants and all were published, I believe, on a weekly basis. ¶

There was a constant competition among the military intelligence agents over who would have the highest number of CD’s represented or PW’s represented or rice caches found.

I would like to stress also the rice cache was often nothing more than the supply of rice that was necessary for the livelihood for a particular hamlet or village. We would go out looking for rice and we would find rice, because people need rice to live.

Mr. Cornish. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Moorhead. Thank you both very much.

We thank you, Mr. Reid, for bringing these witnesses to the subcommittee.

The subcommittee stands adjourned.

(Whereupon, at 1 p.m., the hearings were adjourned.)




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): August 2 1971 hearing, pages 287-362, 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}.

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 June 12 2004. Updated May 2 2009.


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