Monday, April 18, 2011

The National Disinterest

By Bob Mack

Originially posted on Crockett Lives

I learned two important things during my long-ago stint in the U.S. Army. One was that you could depend on the guys stuck with you in whatever remote sh*thole the powers that be currently deemed vital to the national interest. The other was that you could never depend on the pr**ks in Washington that sent you there. In fact, a dispassionate study of the actions over time of our professional political class leads one to conclude that they generally share the sinister sentiments of former President ‘Tricky Dick’ Nixon’s eminence grise:

In [Alexander] Haig‘s presence, [Henry] Kissinger is claimed to have referred pointedly to military men as “dumb, stupid animals to be used” as pawns for foreign policy.

And ‘pawns’, of course, are the pieces on the chess board most readily sacrificed to protect the King.

Former U.S. Congressman Bill Hendon and co-author Elizabeth Stewart, in An Enormous Crime, document the betrayal of Vietnam-era prisoners of war by a government that should have been moving heaven and earth to get them back. The book alleges that

In 1991, the Senate Select POW/MIA Committee was created to investigate the possibility that U.S. servicemen continued to be held prisoner in Southeast Asia. Senator and fellow Vietnam War veteran John Kerry was the chair of the committee, and its third key member was Senator and former Vietnam War POW John McCain. Kerry and McCain–the Gruesome Twosome. The Committee’s conclusion was predictable:
"when the American government withdrew its forces from Vietnam, it knowingly abandoned hundreds of POWs to their fate…an Enormous Crime brilliantly exposes the reasons why these American soldiers and airmen were held back by the North Vietnamese at Operation Homecoming in 1973 and what these men have endured since.

Despite hundreds of postwar sightings and intelligence reports telling of Americans being held captive throughout Vietnam and Laos, Washington did nothing. And despite numerous secret military signals and codes sent from the desperate POWs themselves, the Pentagon did not act. Even in 1988, a U.S. spy satellite passing over Sam Neua Province, Laos, spotted the twelve-foot-tall letters “USA” and immediately beneath them a huge, highly classified Vietnam War-era USAF/USN Escape & Evasion code in a rice paddy in a narrow mountain valley.

 The letters “USA” appeared to have been dug out of the ground, while the code appeared to have been fashioned from rice straw.

Tragically, the brave men who constructed these codes have not yet come home. Nor have any of the other American POWs who the postwar intelligence shows have laid down similar codes, secret messages, and secret authenticators in rice paddies and fields and garden plots and along trails in both Laos and Vietnam.

An Enormous Crime is based on open-source documents and reports, and thousands of declassified intelligence reports and satellite imagery, as well as author interviews and personal experience. It is a singular work, telling a story unlike any other in our modern history: ugly, harrowing, and true.

From the Bay of Pigs, where John and Robert Kennedy struck a deal with Fidel Castro that led to freedom for the Bay of Pigs prisoners, to the Paris Peace Accords, in which the authors argue Kissinger and Nixon sold American soldiers down the river for political gain, to a continued reluctance to revisit the possibility of reclaiming any men who might still survive,

 we have a story untold for decades. And with An Enormous Crime we have for the first time a comprehensive history of America’s leaders in their worst hour; of life-and-death decision making based on politics, not intelligence; and of men lost to their families and the country they serve, betrayed by their own leaders.

It's well worth it...



  1. Thanks for the link, Grumpy--when I started researching the POW sightings, I had no damn idea they were so many and so credible. The idea that our own government may have left those guys over there to rot makes me sick.

  2. Thanks for doing the reaseach and putting the story together Bob.. If you hadn't documented everything so completely I wouldn't have touched it.

    As I told you last night, I knew there were some that we hadn't been able to get out.... I had not idea there were so many, or that so much evidence about their status and wherabouts had been ignored.

  3. We had a small band of brothers in Germany, if the Czechs came, the Army gave us 14 hours survival, we had other plans.

  4. Madpole, We're getting into an entirely different story, but

    My battalion had a fuel depot in Fulda.. Fulda was expected to last less than two hours, but the depot was supposed to remain operational for two days.... Battalion Ops Sargent said it was simple. Refuel American Tanks on the right side of the pumps, Russian on the left, for as long as there were any American Tanks left

  5. A very sad and criminal footnote in American History. Just as it was in 1945 and Korea. I have no doubt that there were POW's/MIA's left in Vietnam.

  6. Grumpy, I found some more info in an interview with a civilian AID worker captured at Ban Me Thout during Tet:


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