Books And Authors I’ve Read (101-119)

106. “The Phoenix Program” by Douglas Valentine

nugget 1:

“The story of Phoenix is not easily told. Many of the participants, having signed nondisclosure statements, are legally prohibited from telling what they know. Others are silenced by their own consciences. Still others are professional soldiers whose careers would suffer if they were to reveal the secrets of their employers. Falsification of records makes the story even harder to prove. For example, there is no record of Elton Manzione’s ever having been in Vietnam. Yet, for reasons which are explained in my first book, The Hotel Tacloban, I was predisposed to believe Manzione. I had confirmed that my father’s military records were deliberately altered to show that he had not been imprisoned for two years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in World War II. The effects of the cover-up were devastating and ultimately caused my father to have a heart attack at the age of forty-five. Thus, long before I met Elton Manzione, I knew the government was capable of concealing its misdeeds under a cloak of secrecy, threats, and fraud. And I knew how terrible the consequences could be.” – Douglas Valentine -pg 12

nugget 2:

“Under Phoenix, or Phung Hoang, as it was called by the Vietnamese, due process was totally nonexistent. South Vietnamese civilians whose names appeared on blacklists could be kidnapped, tortured, detained for two years without trial, or even murdered, simply on the word of an anonymous informer. At its height Phoenix managers imposed quotas of eighteen hundred neutralizations per month on the people running the program in the field, opening up the program to abuses by corrupt security officers, policemen, politicians, and racketeers, all of whom extorted innocent civilians as well as VCI. Legendary CIA officer Lucien Conein described Phoenix as “A very good blackmail scheme for the central government. ‘If you don’t do what I want, you’re VC.'” -pg 13

nugget 3:

“[Edward] Landsdale was not unaware of what he was doing. The first objective of a covert action program is to create plausible denial – specifically, in South Vietnam, to cloak the CIA’s role in organizing the GVN [Government of Vietnam] repression. The CIA did this by composing and planting distorted articles in foreign and domestic newspapers and by composing “official” communiqués which appeared to have originated within the GVN itself. This disinformation campaign led predisposed Americans to believe that the GVN was legitimately a elected representative government, a condition which was a necessary prerequisite for the massive aid programs that supported the CIA’s covert action programs. Insofar as language – information management – perpetuated the myth that Americans were the GVN’s advisers, not its manufacturer, public support was rallied for continued intervention…

“For example, during Senate hearings into CIA assassination plots against Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders, “plausible denial” was defined by the CIA’s deputy director of operations Richard Bissell as the use of circumlocution and euphemism in discussions where precise definitions would expose covert actions and bring them to an end.” -pg 47

nugget 4:

“Here it is worth pausing for a moment to explain that in recruiting cadres for the Korean CIA, the CIA used the same method it used to staff the Vietnamese CIO [Central Intelligence Organization]. As revealed by John Marks in The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, the CIA sent its top psychologist, John Winne, to Seoul to “select the initial cadre,” using a CIA-developed psychological assessment test. “I set up an office with two translators,” Winne told Marks, “and used a Korean version of the Wechsler.” CIA psychologists “gave the tests to 25 to 30 police and military officers,” Marks writes, “and wrote up a half-page report on each, listing their strengths and weaknesses. Winne wanted to know about each candidate’s ability to follow orders, creativity, lack of personality disorders, motivation – why he wanted out of his current job. It was mostly for the money, especially with the civilians.”

“In this way secret police are recruited as CIA assets in every country where the agency operates. In Latin America, Marks writes, “The CIA… found the assessment process most useful for showing how to train the anti-terrorist section. According to results, these men were shown to have very dependent psychologies and needed strong direction” – direction that came from the CIA. Marks quotes one assessor as saying, “Anytime the Company spent money for training a foreigner, the object was that he would ultimately serve our purposes.” CIA officers “were not content simply to work closely with these foreign intelligence agencies; they insisted on penetrating them, and the Personality Assessment System provided a useful aid.” -pg 77 (Compare that account with the explanation for the same recruitment process and goals laid out in Noam Chomsky & Edward Herman’s “The Washington Connection And Third World Fascism,” on page 53.)

nugget 5:

“But in pursuit of total victory, the size and pace of military operations were steadily escalating in 1966, more and more to the exclusion of the concerns of the civilian agencies involved in pacification. For example, the military was more concerned with gathering intelligence on the size and location of enemy combat units than on its political infrastructure. Military agent nets and interrogators zeroed in on this type of information, reflecting what [Nelson] Brickham termed the police mentality, the object of which is “to set up a battle.” The police mentality, according to Brickham, is “to arrest, convict, and send to jail,” while the intelligence mentality “is to capture, interrogate, and turn in place.” -pg 114

nugget 6:

“”My experience had been as cadre officer in Quang Ngai, where I ran the PATs, the PRU, and Census Grievance,” added [Bob] Wall. “[?] Forbes was the Special Branch adviser but there was no coordination between us and the military or AID. There was about fifteen separate programs in Quang Ngai, and it took me awhile to realize this was the problem. Then I got transferred to Da Nang, where as a result of Walt’s inability to make contact with the enemy, I personally proposed Phoenix, by name, to establish intelligence close to the people. Based on a British model in Malaya, we called it a DIOCC, a District Intelligence and Operations Coordination Center.” – pages 124 & 125

nugget 7:

“Sam Adams has said that “the reason [Phoenix] did not work was that its needs, although recognized in theory, were never fulfilled in practice. The divorce between hope and reality became so wide that the program degenerated into a game of statistics, in which numbers were paramount, and the object of the exercise – the crippling of the Communist Party – was never even approached.”

“Likewise, Ralph McGehee found the CIA sqaring statistical facts with ideological preconceptions in Vietnam, just as it had in Thailand. “The station’s intelligence briefings on the situation in South Vietnam confirmed all my fears,” he writes. The briefers “talked only about the numbers of armed Viet Cong, the slowly increasing North Vietnamese regular army, and the occasional member of the Communist infrastructure. They made no mention of the mass-based Farmer’s Liberation Association, or the Communist youth organization, all of which in some areas certainly included entire populations.”

“The reason for this deception, McGehee contends, was that “U.S. policymakers had to sell the idea that the war in the South was being fought by a small minority of Communist opposed to the majority-supported democratic government of Nguyen Van Thieu. The situation, however, was the opposite… The U.S. was supporting Thieu’s tiny oligarchy against a population largely organized, committed, and dedicated to a communist victory.”

“McGehee blames the American defeat in Vietnam on “policy being decided from the top in advance, then intelligence being selected or created to support it afterwards.” In particular, he singles out William Colby as the principal apostle of the Big Lie. A veteran of the Far East Division, McGehee at one point served as Colby’s acolyte at Langley headquarters and bases his accusations on firsthand observations of Colby in action – of watching Colby deliver briefings which were “a complete hoax contrived to deceive Congress.” Writes McGehee of Colby: “I have watched him when I knew he was lying, and not the least flicker of emotion ever crosses his face.” But what made Colby even more dangerous, in McGehee’s opinion, was his manipulation of language. “Colby emphasized the importance of selecting just he right words and charts to convey the desired impression to Congress. He regarded word usage as an art form, and he was a master at it.” -pg 274

107. “The Real Terror Network – Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda” by Edward S. Herman

nugget 1:

“For example, there has been a steady flow of reports coming out of Argentina, Brazil and Chile of real and simulated torture of children in front of their parents as a method of eliciting “information.” For one woman “they made her son Facundo, cry in the ‘operating theatre’ next to the one in which she was being tortured… For another, they made her listen to her daughter’s screams while they interrogated her.” That is Argentina. In Brazil, among the large body of first-hand evidence of the torturing of children is one case of a three month old baby tortured to death in front of its mother by police in Sao Paulo’s Tirandentes Prison. In Santiago, Chile, to deal with a woman already tortured but refusing to talk, “Her torturers brought in her one-year-old son and used flat-nosed pliers to jerk out his fingernails.” This method was effective.” -pg 4

nugget 2:

“I have tried in this book to state my views straightforwardly and without the usual gentility of language. This is because the issues are urgent, the cruelty and hypocrisy discussed here are mind-boggling, and I want these views to be heard. If this is not possible, for those who do read this book I want my position to be “perfectly clear.” Since the message is not one appealing to the mass media, according to my own analysis (and experiences) it will not be allowed to reach a mass audience in any recognizable form. The highest probability is that it will be ignored. Where not ignored it will be shown to be unscholarly (evidenced by calling things by their right names, instead of using a pedantic appraratus that would have justified suppression on grounds of tedium); or it will be dismissed as unbalanced on the implicit principle that while it is appropriate to write about Gulag without mentioning the U.S.-sponsored set of torture-prone clients, each critical work on the United States must take Gulag fully into account. This principle reflects pure political bias, and it manifests itself in a system of bias whereby criticism of the enemy can be unconstrained, criticism of ourselves must be mealy-mouthed.” – Edward Herman -pg 19

nugget 3:

“In 1976 six National Security States of Latin America – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay – entered into a system for the joint monitoring and assassinating of dissident refugees in member countries. The program was directly initiated under the sponsorship of Chile and its head of secret police (DINA), Manuel Contreras. Chile provided the initial funding, organized a series of meetings in Santiago, and provided the computer capacity and centralized services. However, the United States deserves a great deal of credit for this important development, partly as the sponsor and adviser to DINA and other participating security services, but also because Operation Condor represented a culmination of a long sought U.S. objective – coordination of the struggle against “Communism” and “subversion.” In 1968, U.S. General Robert W. Porter stated that “In order to facilitate the coordinated employment of internal security forces within and among Latin American countries, we are… endeavoring to foster interservice and regional cooperation by assisting in the organization of integrated command and control centers; the establishment of common operating procedures; and the conduct of joint and combined training exercises.” Condor was one of the fruits of this effort.” – pages 69 & 70

nugget 4:

“The really massive3 and significant growth of terrorism since World War II has been that carried out by states. And among states, the emergence and spread of the National Security State (NSS) has been the most important development contributing to state terrorism and thus to the growth of overall world terrorism, using the word in its basic sense – intimidation by violence or the threat of violence. Contrary to [Claire] Sterling’s foolish remark about the “colossal” armaments of retail terrorists, state military resources are vastly larger, and the power of even small states to intimidate is much greater than that of non-state violence because it is rooted in relatively permanent structures that allow terror to be institutionalized, as in the case of Argentina’s numerous and well-equipped detention and torture centers. Retail terrorists are frequently transitory, and they are often produced by the very abuses that state terror is designed to protect…” – pages 83 & 84

nugget 5:

“The establishment analysts of terrorism have strained hard to find ties and surrogates that would link the assorted retail terrorists of the left to the Soviet Union. Their job would have been so much easier if they had looked at the acres of terrorist diamonds in their own backyards! The linkages between the United States and the NSSs are clear and powerful – one can show interest and purpose on the part of the superpower, ideological harmony, and a flow of training and material aid that is both massive and purposeful. It is, once again, a testimonial to the power and patriotism of the Free Press that, not only is the terrorism of the NSSs underrated, but the role of the United States as the sponsor – the Godfather – of this real terror network is hidden from view.” -pg 119

nugget 6:

“Retail terror is overblown for political reasons, to distract attention from more substantial terror, and to allow a manipulation of public fears and a more efficient “engineering of consent.” -pg 212