PAGE FOUR THANK YOU AGAIN FOR COMING!!David Hackworth's Colume 7/27/98
This is a spontaneous event that is not directed, funded, nor assisted by any agency of any type.
JUNE 8, 1998 GEN. PERRY SMITH BEGINS INVESTIGATION FOR CNN
Gen. Perry Smith begins an independent investigation into the allegations made by his employer, CNN. Smith interviews the pilots, and checks documentation, including the USAF munitions records for the aircraft involved.
JUNE 8, 1998 DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
First calls go out for an official investigation into the allegations broadcast by CNN/Time. Initial due date for a formal report is 30 days from the start date.
JUNE 9, 1998 HOLDEN, MISSOURI
Jay Graves is interviewed by telephone, concerning the out-takes shown by CNN/TIME. He states that he told CNN that he was never on the ground during Tailwind, and had only offered to explain about the SOG policies towards Americans found in enemy territory. He states the SOG policy was to place rescue of such Americans ahead of any other mission objectives and that there were substantial rewards to be given to any team that brought back any.
His claims of being assigned elsewhere are verified by two other veterans, and his military orders place him well away from the unit assigned to carry out operation Tailwind.
JUNE 9, 1998 AUTHOR OF "SOG," JOHN PLASTER
Plaster begins an investigation into Tailwind, in conjunction with the Special Forces Association (SFA) and Rudi Gresham.
Plaster will remain in the media as a private citizen, to contradict the CNN/TIME allegations over the coming weeks.
JUNE 10, 1998 VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT ISSUES STATEMENT
Hanoi's response to questions raised by Arnett's revelations: "It's a surprise to us. You'll have to ask Arnett about it."
JUNE 10, 1998 FIRST EDITORIAL QUESTIONING THE CNN/TIME ALLEGATIONS
Joseph Farah, on the Internet website WorldNewsDaily, publishes the first editorial questioning the allegations, based on the research of Tom Marzullo.
JUNE 10, 1998 SFA AND SOA ANNOUNCE SPOKESMAN
Rudi Gresham, an investigator on retainer from the SFA, is announced as the joint spokesman for SFA/SOA. Gresham immediately orders all contact with the media stopped,and that all communications must originate with him. Gresham is a former press aide in the Reagan White House, and has had a long standing professional and personal relationship with Tom Johnson,now CEO of CNN.
JUNE 11, 1998 DISTORTED TESTIMONY
Gen. Singlaub and Admiral Moorer denounce the CNN/TIME Newsstand story,the "Valley of Death", as having grossly distorted their statements. The SOG ground unit commander during Operation Tailwind, Gene McCarley, states that the video out-takes CNN/TIME show are entirely the opposite of his testimony.
JUNE 12, 1998 GENERAL SMITH IS OFFERED INVESTIGATION ASSISTANCE
Responding to his request on the Internet, Tom Marzullo and his associates begin to correspond with Gen. Smith, are and provided assistance in obtaining documentation and interviews.
This correspondence has continued up to the present, and was in
some measure the key to Gen. Smith's resignation in protest over
the refusal of the company's CEO to withdraw the story.
JUNE 14, 1998 CNN/TIME NEWSSTAND SECOND BROADCAST AND KEY EVENTS.
The morning of the 14th, Gen. Perry Smith gives his resignation to Tom Johnson, CEO of CNN, after Johnson refuses to accept Smith's investigation results that show the story is without foundation, and states he will continue to broadcast the allegations. In addressing the veracity of the CNN allegations, Smith states that, "There was a time when CNN had quite high standards - the downhill slide in the past year has been frightening."
The second broadcast still alleges the use of nerve gas, but makes no mention of the targeting of American defectors or the killing of women and children. The show is shorter than expected, appearing to have been hastily cut, as the flow of the production was uneven and choppy.
JUNE 15, 1998 TIME MAGAZINE TO CONDUCT IT'S OWN INVESTIGATION
The Editor of TIME magazine announces it will begin its own independent investigation into the allegations broadcast on the CNN/TIME Newsstand program.
JUNE 15, 1998 GRESHAM REFUSES ASSISTANCE
SFA spokesman Rudi Gresham is offered a half hour of television time on the FOX NEWS channel and refuses it. SFA president, Jake Jacobson states that they will go on the air on ABC in six to eight weeks. This refusal causes Tom Marzullo and the activist minded veterans to proceed without SFA or SOA.
WEEK OF JUNE 14, 1998 WITNESSES, DOCUMENTS, AND PRESS RELEASES
Using the Internet and networking with veterans groups, a number of confirmed USAF munitions workers, stationed at Nakom Phanong (NKP),
Thailand and Danang, RVN, are located and debriefed. These men say that there were no lethal chemicals at NKP or Danang. These men explain that the level of precautions, equipment, and storage, required by USAF procedures to handle nerve agents, are not present at either location, and that they are familiar with these procedures from other assignments outside of Southeast Asia.
In addition, there is no "Status of Forces Agreement" between the US and Thailand, so all shipments must clear regular customs inspections to be allowed into that country. Gen. Walter Busbee (US Army Chemical Corps, Ret.) comes forward to make a written statement concerning CNN's dismissal of his expert evaluation in favor of the untrained activist's opinions.
The chemical Officer for the II Corps region in Vietnam during 1970 makes a written statement denying that there were any lethal chemicals in the theater.
Reporters for the Washington Times, New York Post and the Weekly Standard begin writing exposes of the CNN/TIME allegations.
The Washington Post's Dana Priest refuses to print anything that questions the CNN/TIME position, even though witnesses and documents are offered to her.
CNN is challenged to a debate by the publisher of Soldier of Fortune magazine, and Tom Marzullo assembles an expert panel.
CNN announces a "free and open" debate to be held on the CNN show
"Reliable Sources" the following weekend between CNN and a representative who will take an opposing view of the CNN/TIME story.
JUNE 17, 1998 CNN'S OLIVER RESPONDS ON THE INTERNET
CNN producer, April Oliver, responded to criticism by posting a series of ten written comments, in message #935, on the CNN's Internet Tailwind bulletin board. One point she attempts to make is that the testimony of Van Buskirk was seen as valid by CNN, despite all contrary evidence and credibility problems, because of his earning a Silver Star. She fails to mention her rejection of the Tailwind medic's eyewitness testimony, that contradicted the story line, despite his Distinguished Service Cross,medical expertise, and no criminal or other history that would adversely affect his credibility.
She also fails to mention the contradictory testimony of Manuel Orozco, who also won the Silver Star, and was teamed with Van Buskirk for the entirety of the last two days. Note: CNN has now removed the Tailwind related bulletin boards from their Internet web site. Numerous copies were made by veterans before the removal.
JUNE 23, 1998 WASHINGTON PRESS CLUB
CNN refuses to debate the panel, and a press conference is held. Among a large body of evidence, documents, and eyewitness testimony, the panel produces the first expert analysis of Operation Tailwind by well qualified Chemical Warfare experts. The analysis is based on a detailed debriefing of an eyewitness, the SOG medic on the mission, Capt. Mike Rose, USA, Ret. The analysis firmly rejects the claims of nerve gas use by CNN/TIME.
The US Ambassador to Laos in 1970, Ambassador Godley firmly refutes the claims of CNN/TIME regarding nerve gas and defectors in a written statement. Godley had both the clearances and the specific authority to approve all SOG missions and the methods that could be used, and had set the limits of the Tailwind mission.
Generals Singlaub and Aderholt present the press with a cogent discussion of the senior level aspects of SOG. Gen. Singlaub addressed the paste and cut methods of CNN with respect to distorting testimony he had provided to CNN. Capt. Rose is interviewed by the Department of Defense to aid in their investigation.
JUNE 24-26, 1998 POLITICAL ACTION BEGINS
Select Congressmen, sitting committees on Veterans Affairs and
Intelligence, are visited by Tom Marzullo, a member of the press club panel and briefed. The first requests for congressional hearings are made.
JUNE 24, 1998 CNN RECONSIDERS
CNN drops all advertising of their "free and open" debate to be held on the CNN show "Reliable Sources" the following weekend.
Floyd Abrams is brought in by Tom Johnson, CNN's CEO to look at the investigation results,and try to minimize CNN's exposure to legal action.
JUNE 25, 1998 NEW EYEWITNESSES
The only US advisor to the fledgling Thai Chemical Corps in 1970 writes a detailed statement that refutes the possibility of nerve agents on Thai soil. A US Army transport NCO comes forward with eyewitness information on the total lack of appropriate equipment and procedures to handle nerve agents in the logistical supply train that brings all munitions from the seaport to the US base at NKP, Thailand.
This reinforces the assertions by the USAF munitions workers.
JUNE 27, 1998 CNN DECLINES TO DEBATE
CNN declines to participate in their own staged debate, on their own show "Reliable Sources." The opposing journalist, Eric Felten presents so strong of a case, that the CNN host closes the show by saying the CNN had to either show their evidence or make the mother of all retractions.
JULY 2, 1998 CNN BACKS AWAY FROM ALLEGATIONS
Reading a prepared statement, CNN's CEO makes a public announcement that seems to retract the Tailwind allegations.
A thorough reading of the statement, and the 60 page report written by Floyd Abrams, indicates CNN has recanted nothing and has simply stipulated they can't prove their story "yet," while trying to position themselves for anticipated legal actions.
CNN fires April Oliver and Jack Smith for cause. Oliver and Smith begin an intensive campaign to bring their accusations to the public and are aided by a large number of television, radio, and newspaper companies. Requests for equal time from the veterans are ignored by the media.
JULY 2, 1998 CNN HEADQUARTERS, ATLANTA
In his 60 page analysis of the evidence collected by CNN investigators concerning operation Tailwind, Floyd Abrams stated the following concerning the testimony of Robert L. Van Buskirk, "Every interview he has given since the broadcast has made him seem still less reliable."
JULY 3, 1998 SFA/SOA AND RUDI GRESHAM
Rudi Gresham begins a series of television appearances to make demands of CNN/TIME, and hails the previous days announcements as an SFA and SOA victory.
JULY 9, 1998 DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
The promised final report of the DOD investigation is not issued. The official explanation is that further investigation is required.
Political sources questioned indicate that the reason for the delay of the report is CNN President Kaplan's personal relationship with SECDEF Cohen and President Clinton.
JULY 9, 1998 LEGAL ACTION DISCLOSED
The firm of Cochett, Pitre, and Simon are disclosed to be pursuing the legal actions against CNN. This firm has beaten CNN's Abrams in the legal arena in the past. The suit is expected in short order.
JULY 10, 1998 TIME-WARNER REACTS
Ted Turner makes an emotional appeal expressing his apologies. In the statement, Turner establishes the misconduct of CNN/TIME under FCC
guidelines for licensees. Indications are that Turner's speech is prompted by the previous day's announcement of the selection of the law firm.
JULY 10, 1998 GRESHAM CLAIMS TO REPRESENT "SOG"
Appearing on CNN, Gresham claims to represent the veterans of MACV-SOG,although he has no mandate or legal proxy to make the claim.
An independent investigation by the activist veterans into his actions and motivations begins in earnest.
JULY 13, 1998 APRIL OLIVER'S NEW SOURCE
Oliver reveals a new source for her nerve gas allegations. A Mr. Bob Worn of Louisiana claims to have been in the First Flight Detachment, Nha Trang, as an intelligence officer. A search of military assignment records reveals no such person as having been assigned to SOG. Verified First Flight Detachment veterans state they have no knowledge of Worn, and that there was never a intelligence officer position within the First Flight Detachment.An Internet search reveals Worn has authored a large number of poorly constructed "conspiracy theory" articles on the Internet.
JULY 15, 1998 KOA TALK RADIO, DENVER COLORADO
April Oliver and Jack Smith are interviewed by Mike Rosen on his
syndicated radio talk show. Tom Marzullo is also in the studio and is introduced by Rosen. Jack Smith clearly states that Peter Arnett conducted 20% percent of the "Valley of Death" investigation, contradicting Arnett's claims to have only read a script and to have had nothing to do with the investigation.
Oliver accuses Marzullo of lying about his interview with her, claiming that she never spoke with him and conversed only by e-mail.
When told that Marzullo's itemized telephone bill for the period disagreed with her statements, Oliver fell silent and did not dispute that she had told him that she had a set of (never produced) Department of Defense documents in front of her that clearly said that the US had used nerve gas in Laos. Oliver offers no apology for her previous outburst. Both Oliver and Smith refuse to answer any direct and reasonable question relating to what evidence they had failed to take into consideration.
JULY 16, 1998 SPECIAL OPERATIONS ASSOCIATION FIRES GRESHAM
In a letter to Rudi Gresham, the president of the Special Operations Association, Clyde Sincere, fires Gresham for conflict of interest. Gresham was employed by both the SFA and SOA as their joint organizational spokesman. Gresham had worked against the interests of the SOA by attempting to buy the silence of key witnesses and potential plaintiffs in an upcoming law suit.In addition, closely held information on the law suit and internal SOA/SFA plans are reported to have been leaked to CNN by Gresham.
JULY 16, 1998 CNN HEADQUARTERS, ATLANTA
A meeting between the CNN legal staff, Rudi Gresham, and certain other persons from the Special Forces Association is held to determine the price of silencing key witnesses.
JULY 21, 1998 DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE INVESTIGATION
Department of Defense issues their report of their investigation into Tailwind, denying the use of nerve gas, the targeting of American
defectors/deserters and the killing of American deserters.
Internationally, the response is one of disbelief or disinterest.
JULY 21, 1998 ADM MOORER
The Washington Times reports that Adm. Moorer, represented by Rudi Gresham, has struck a legal settlement with CNN for an undisclosed amount.Tom M - a Viet vet SOG Sgt.
CNN FAIRY TALES
By Lt. Col. Roger Charles, USMC, Ret. Chief of Staff SFTT
CNN and Time magazine issued retractions on Thursday, July 2, for their disgraceful actions in the Peter Arnett fairy tale, "Valley of Death." And the CNN public relations office earned its pay by having CNN News Group Chairman Tom Johnson include an apology to the Soldiers, Airmen and Marines involved in the 1970 raid. But more needs to be done.
The Washington Times titled its lead editorial of Friday, July 3, "Retraction and responsibility at CNN," and went on to say in the last paragraph of that piece: It isn't enough for a network to "take responsibility." Those who are [italics in the original] responsible have to be treated to objective manifestation of that responsibility: That is, they have to be fired. Until Mr. Arnett and Mr. Kaplan go, CNN's credibility will continue to suffer. There is additional reason to question whether CNN has told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth regarding this episode.
As a Vietnam veteran I paid particular attention to three basic points which composed the core of the CNN/Time story about a September 1970 Special Forces raid into Laos:
(1) that U.S. military targeted American defectors at a North Vietnamese camp in the Laotian jungle;
(2) that legally prohibited sarin nerve gas was used in the raid on the camp; and
(3) that American forces killed women and children at that site.
CNN/Time have apologized for their mistakes in making the first two claims and admitted that their conclusion "that United States troops used nerve gas during the Vietnamese conflict on a mission in Laos designed to kill American defectors is insupportable."
(Quoted from the report released by attorney Floyd Abrams who conducted the CNN in-house investigation for Time Warner Communications, the owner of both CNN and Time.)
It is the third point, ignored in the retraction statement issued by CNN,that deserves much more attention: Did the evidence available justify the claims by both CNN and Time that the Special Forces commandos killed "women and children" at the military camp deep in the Laotian jungle?
This accusation remains on the public record as a stain against the honor of the brave men who served their country on this four-day, running fire-fight.
And it is this charge that proves the lie to denials that Peter Arnett and his production crew intentionally manipulated information.
Mr. Abrams' report acknowledged the issue and cited as the source a member of the raid, former sergeant Michael Hagen.
In a section titled, "The Reference to Women and Children," Mr. Abrams wrote:The report touches on the possibility of noncombatants - women and children - being killed. This statement was juxtaposed with and thus implicitly supported by a statement by Hagen that "the majority of the people that were there [in the base camp] were not combat personnel.
Hagen's full answer was: "The majority of the people there that were there were not combat personnel. They were more of a transportation unit." The full context here clearly gives a different impression from the broadcast. [end of Mr. Abrams' text.]
First, the CNN transcript does not "touch on the possibility." It flatly states that women and children were killed by U.S. forces.
The segment starts with Hagen describing the Special Forces attack on the camp: "The majority of the people that were there were not combat personnel, the few infantry people that they had, we overran immediately. We basically destroyed everything that was there."
This CNN transcript follows Mr. Hagen's comment with one from the patrol leader (then-Captain Eugene McCarley):"... there were the dead bodies. The count was 90 some, up to 100." Peter Arnett then adds in a voice over, "Including women and children."
The question for CNN/Time is: What caused Mr. Arnett, this experienced war correspondent whose professional reputation has been largely built on his reporting from battlefields all over the world, to speak these three words?
(In the Time magazine article co-authored by CNN producer April Oliver and Mr. Arnett, the lead paragraph stated the Special Forces commandos had "wiped out a village base camp, killing about 100 people that included not only women and children...") Accusing soldiers of killing children in close combat where the firing distances are measured in feet, not hundreds of yards, is the most serious charge I can imagine a journalist making against a U.S. serviceman....It is also one of the most sensational, and if untrue, is rank calumny.
And if CNN chose to believe Mr. Hagen (as quoted by Mr. Abrams) that the base housed "more of a transportation unit," then surely Mr. Arnett understood that truck drivers in military units carry personal weapons. In U.S. Army terms, Combat Service Support personnel (truck drivers, cooks, etc.) carry weapons and are - according to the Geneva Convention -combatants.
Mr. Abrams must know that the description "not combat personnel" does not "implicitly" support making the sensational charge that Special Forces soldiers killed "women and children."
Mr. Hagen was explicitly reporting the true situation at the camp - large numbers of regular infantry did not defend it. This is exactly what one would expect at a camp in an area not normally threatened by U.S. or allied forces and whose function was to support North Vietnamese Army logistical efforts along that portion of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
But it is the inclusion of "children" that raises the most serious
questions about the true agenda of the CNN show. Both Arnett and Oliver, with the approval of CNN executive Rick Kaplan, apparently wanted to portray the SOG team as part of a military unit willing to do anything - to use any weapon, to violate any legal and moral standard governing the conduct of war.
CNN and Time cannot defend this blatant smear and even Mr. Abrams does not try to do so. Rather, he attempts to finesse the issue by including in his report a section that is basically unresponsive to this key issue. Mr. Abrams sprinkles fairy dust on the issue and hopes it will go away.
Before CNN and Time can legitimately claim their respective apologies and retractions constitute a complete, good faith effort to clean the slate, they need to deal with this patently false charge that these Special Forces soldiers killed women and children at this camp.
For those of you who may have missed the news items - Adm. Thomas Moorer,USN (Ret.), former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, has accepted a financial settlement with CNN for their portrayal of him in the Tailwind story.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Eugene McCarley, who led the SOG raid and was
wounded on the mission, has refused to accept a financial offer from CNN.
He also announced that he did not accept the apologies from CNN founder Ted Turner and Chairman Tom Johnson, calling their apologies insincere.
Stay tuned on this one. It ain't over.
And to those of you who send letters, faxes, emails or made calls to
CNN/Time and/or their advertisers to register you outrage and disgust at this smear, good for you - or as Navy vets understand, BRAVO ZULU.
UPDATE AUGUST 10,1998 FROM THE DAVID HACKWORTH COLUME.
CNN AND TAILWIND SMEAR
Reporter Gary Matsumoto of Fox News Channel broke the story Wednesday night that former SOG sergeant Keith Plancich would file on Thursday a 100 million dollar suit against Peter Arnett, CNN Inc., Time Inc., and Time Warner Inc., the corporate owner of both CNN and Time magazine. The next day the rest of the media reported on the press conference that officially announced the suit.
When this suit and the others that are likely to be filed get into the discovery phase, Arnett, CNN, Time and Time Warner Inc., can stand by for heavy seas. The wardroom furniture had better be lashed down tight 'cause the executive suites on the SS CNN will be taking severe rolls. Might even founder.
(My bet is that the defendants will settle before trial, if the SOG vets are willing to accept some very big bucks, but less than what they will ask for in their suits.)
"The ancients, taught by experience, preferred discipline to numbers."