9. PETER MARTINSEN

Testimony and Questioning


Gisele Halimi: Mr Martinsen, please tell to the Tribunal your role in the army: your grade, your branch of service, the date of your enlistment - I believe you were a volunteer - and afterwards we will speak about Vietnam.

I enlisted in the army in June 1963 and was trained initially as a cook. However, I was then sent to a foreign language school, where I learned Italian, and from there I was sent to the US Army Intelligence School in Fort Holabird, Maryland, where I was trained as a prisoner-of-war interrogator. The Vietnam build-up began, and I was assigned to a unit, the 541st Military Intelligence Detachment, which was to go to Vietnam. The 541st Military Intelligence Detachment was attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. We left for Vietnam in the middle of August 1966 and arrived in September. I was in Vietnam from September 1966 to June 1967, as a prisoner-of-war interrogator.

Halimi: Did you, in 1965, go to a training school, called USAINTS, and could you please indicate to the Tribunal what you learned there?

The USAINTS, or `U-saints' as it is called in the army, is the {249} US army's intelligence school. There were several curricula there, and I was trained to interrogate prisoners of war. This training involves certain classified things, which are not really relevant, and a mass of techniques taught at the school which are not in any way illegal.

Halimi: Did you receive any decorations?

Yes, I have several decorations. Should I present them?

Halimi: No. No, just specify which ones you have got.

I have the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Expeditionary Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Medal and several marksmanship medals.

Halimi: Mr Martinsen, you are here to testify about two series of facts. I am well aware that it must be very difficult for you to say exactly what you yourself did while interrogating prisoners. But you understand that we need to get your direct testimony. You told me (because you remembered this particularly) that the first time you had interrogated and tortured a Vietnamese was in Lon Giao camp. It was on your arrival in Vietnam in November 1966. I wish you to please repeat to the Tribunal the account you already gave me.

This was some time after I arrived in Vietnam. We established our base camp in Lon Giao, which is in Long Kien, twelve kilometres south of Xuan Loc, and during this time we were receiving quite a few prisoners. The troops were very nervous and arresting just about everyone in sight, and we were interrogating these prisoners. While we were moving our base camp to this area, one of the men of the detachment was killed in an ambush. Later on, we received a group of prisoners, eight or nine I believe, I don't remember exactly. I interrogated one and I had no data on where he was captured or what he was doing. He was just presented to me. I started to question him and he kept saying that he was not a Viet Cong, that he didn't know where the Viet Cong was, etc. I was quite sure that he was lying. I was not certain if he belonged to the Viet Cong, but I was quite sure he was lying about not knowing where they were. I decided to beat him. This did not help. I struck him with my hand. This did not produce anything except a long string of `I don't knows' ... and then - as was often the case - another interrogator took my place, an interrogation officer. I told the {250} officer, a lieutenant, that I couldn't get anything out of the prisoner. The lieutenant proceeded to do the same thing as I had been doing, finally beating the prisoner, and this did not work. The lieutenant had an Army field telephone, which runs on batteries and generator. You crank it and it gives a nasty shock, a very nasty shock, quite painful. The interrogation commenced with the prisoner being tortured by field telephone. The telephones were first placed on his hands and then the field telephone wires were placed on his sexual organs. I left, I could not watch it.

Halimi: Later on, you witnessed torture done by an American lieutenant on a captain from the Viet Cong - particularly electrical tortures and torture consisting of inserting bamboo splinters under his nails. Could you please explain this to the Tribunal?

Yes. This particular case occurred on Operation Cedar Falls. This was a very big allied operation in the so-called `Iron Triangle' to the north of Saigon. A North Vietnamese army captain was captured. He admitted he belonged to the North Vietnamese army. He was not a Viet Cong. I was to interrogate him and they kept telling me: `You must get information now. Now.' While I interrogated him, my section leader, who was another enlisted man, was torturing him with a field telephone. When I could not get anything out of the prisoner they replaced me by another lieutenant. The lieutenant kept interrogating him with the field telephones. Finally he became quite frustrated; he then inserted bamboo splinters under the man's fingernails.

     This produced some criticism on the part of the commander of our unit, because the prisoner had been scarred. The electrical torture generally does not leave scars, and beating generally does not leave scars, but the use of bamboo was forbidden, because it left marks and there was blood. After that, the use of extreme forms of electrical torture became less frequent. But it was understood that, if we did not leave scars, we could do exactly as we pleased.

     We had absolute power over our prisoners - absolute power. We had the power of life and death over the prisoners. I never did this, but it is quite possible that a prisoner could be killed in anger or out of carelessness or for a special reason - perhaps to intimidate other prisoners. On the other hand, it was possible that {251} nothing might ever happen to them.

Halimi: Mr Martinsen, you told me that one day you saw a Vietnamese die after torture. You said that you were not yourself present during the torturing, but that you saw the Vietnamese enter the neighbouring tent, where he was interrogated by an American captain. I should like you to indicate to the Tribunal who did the interrogation, and that afterwards the American captain came out of the tent saying: `He is dead.' You also told me that you saw yourself the dead body of this man in the same place where he had been tortured. Could you add other details to the Tribunal in order to complete this declaration?

Yes. The case referred to occurred during Operation Cedar Falls, when I witnessed more torture than I had seen on any special operation in Vietnam. We were cooperating with the 172nd Military Intelligence Detachment, which is attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade. We received a large group of prisoners, and we had a `Chieu Hoi'. A Chieu Hoi is a deserter from the Viet Cong. He is generally used as an informer to give information about his former comrades. A certain prisoner was pointed out by the Chieu Hoi as being some sort of local cadre in the Iron Triangle - and this also goes for Ben Suc by the way; this was during the same operation that included Ben Suc. The prisoner was taken into the tent in the afternoon. Our unit stopped interrogation in the evenings because our tents were so full of holes from bullets and other things that our light seeped out and attracted enemy fire. Anyway, another unit continued to interrogate at night and all of a sudden an enlisted man from that unit came over and said: `We just lost a prisoner.' I said, `What?' I couldn't believe it. And he said, `We have. The captain was wiring him, and he just fell over and died.' The captain came over a little later and said: `Yes, I was wiring him. He was about to break. He was just on the verge of telling me something when he died.'

     There are certain papers which must be kept in regard to the prisoners. It is a very informal thing but you have to fill in the disposition of the prisoner. In this case the prisoner was dead, so a doctor was called, a brigade surgeon, as I recall, in the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He diagnosed the cause of death of the prisoner as being heart failure, which is logical. The man had been electrically tortured to death. He probably bad a weak heart. {252}

Halimi: Could you indicate whether the man in charge of the interrogation was an American captain? And that South Vietnamese translators were present?

In 100 per cent of the interrogations performed in our unit and in other units I watched, there was always a Vietnamese interpreter present, because Americans do not speak the language well enough to conduct a complicated interrogation. This creates much difficulty and a lot of misinterpretation during the interrogations. It probably provokes the use of torture, because one becomes angry with the interpreter and the prisoner. Yes, there was a Vietnamese interpreter present. There had to be and there always is. The captain couldn't speak Vietnamese. I can say that I did not personally see which interpreting sergeant was there but I know that one was there. The captain was, I believe, a section leader of either the counter-intelligence section or of the interrogation section of the 172nd Military Intelligence Detachment. I don't recall who he was. The captain said he had `wired' the prisoner and we were waiting for information from the prisoner that would implicate other prisoners. There were more prisoners - and this was documented by press reports - taken during Operation Cedar Falls than in any other, literally thousands of people.

Halimi: After the death of this prisoner, did the officer give a report?

There was no formal report concerning the death except for an informal log kept by the military police who guard the prisoners. The disposition of a prisoner can involve one of several things. For example, he can be recommended for further interrogation. In that case you go on to another unit, a higher unit in the echelon - at that time it was the 1st Infantry Division. A prisoner can also be recommended to be a civil defendant, meaning he is guilty of a civil crime and that you don't believe him to be a Viet Cong. A civil crime can be not having an ID card or travelling without travel papers, or anything you want. He can be an innocent civilian which is not often the case or his can be a doubtful case. In the latter event, he is interrogated further, and the doubtfulness of his case is marked under `disposition' in the record book. In this case, disposition was `death due to heart failure' - and very simple! No one ever reviews it. No one cares. The International Red Cross is not there. I don't know where they are, in fact. They were {253} not on any operation except for their recreational girls. They were not present at any operation I was on, and I was on every major operation in III Corps Tactical Zone during that time that I was there.

Halimi: You also told me about an interrogation which you conducted yourself a few kilometres from a Michelin plantation, when you were given a prisoner who you took to be a Viet Cong cadre. Would you please tell me, repeat for the Tribunal, the methods you used to make him talk?

That was during Operation Manhattan which was in May of this year. We were carrying out a village `sweep'. The village was surrounded, all the people were herded into one area and screened. The people we thought should be interrogated were interrogated. A certain prisoner had been found hiding in a drainage ditch with a weapon, so immediately I knew he was a Viet Cong. There was still the question of determining his rank; second, if he was important or not. We were about four kilometres south of the Michelin plantation of Yan Tieng. I started the interrogation. My interpreter was beating this man with a wooden mallet that he had found in the house we were working in. He beat the man on the kneecaps and the shoulder blades and I did not stop the interpreter. This didn't yield much information. We were being watched by my commanding officer and I got very frustrated. I decided to try out a new idea.

     I had the man dig his own grave with a gun at his head, and he dug his grave until I counted off the minutes that he had to live. I counted them off in Vietnamese so that he knew I wasn't kidding. He broke down and cried. This is the absolute power the interrogator has. The prisoner was quite certain he was going to die. I described what death he was going to have. He had a rifle or an M-79 grenade launcher being pointed at him the whole time. The interpreter occasionally beat him while he was digging his grave. He was quite certain he was going to die. This is what is known as `breaking the prisoner'. After he was `broken', to keep him broken I just kept reminding him, in Vietnamese, that he was not yet dead.

     I have read the 1949 Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war. Coercion is quite illegal. It is a war crime. It is specifically stated that prisoners must not be harassed or coerced. {254}

Halimi: Mr Martinsen, in the brief time that we spoke together, you enumerated a number of cases of torture in which you and other Americans participated. I also remember that you declared, `If I am going to be questioned seriously and for a long time I could speak of many cases, many hundreds of cases, of torture.' Would you confirm it?

This is quite true. Electrical torture was very common for a while in Vietnam but was not common towards the end of our assignment. Beatings were extremely common. An interrogator came to me and said, `My hands are getting tired from hitting this man in the mouth.' It was something that occurred in almost every interrogation and it was tacitly condoned by the officers. The commanding officer of the unit stated for the record that there must be no torturing or the use of force during an interrogation. However, he allowed it to continue and watched it. He knew of it. The commanding officer, the section commander, knew of it.

Halimi: I would like to ask you to give some details concerning that young girl of seventeen who was not tortured but who was gassed. You remember that you said to me that the Americans threw tear gas into a tunnel ten kilometres long that you believe was occupied by the Viet Con g. You said that there were many wounded, including several young girls. You said you were a witness to the case of a young girl of seventeen who was badly wounded and who was not given medical aid in time because they wanted to get information from her. You said her condition worsened and the doctor was called. She died while you were there. Would you please confirm this for the Tribunal?

This was a particularly odious thing. I heard that it involved several girls. I was not there when the people were captured but there are `capture circumstances' tags that each prisoner has. There were some people in a tunnel, and the Americans found the tunnel entrance. They looked inside the tunnel and found it was occupied. They immediately gassed the tunnel with tear gas. It might have been `antiriot' gas. Then they proceeded to chase the people from the tunnel. The tunnel was so long they chased the people for twenty-four hours, until the people came out the other end of the tunnel very badly gassed and coughing. All of them sounded as if they had serious damage to their lungs. The prisoners {255} were brought into us, and I only looked once. Four or five of the prisoners were girls between the ages of sixteen and twenty. They were nurses and labourers. The girls were brought to us in very bad physical condition. They were coughing, wheezing and gasping, as if they had bad - very bad - asthmatic attacks. I took one look and called the doctor. The doctor gave them all injections and dosages of adrenalin. The prisoner compound was nothing but a tent with barbed wire around it. The prisoners were not segregated by sex as the Geneva Convention calls for. The prisoners were not given proper bedding. The girls were lying on the ground, which was rather damp, and one girl grew more ill. It was the policy that all prisoners must be interrogated. I kept calling the doctor to say `Doctor, she has pneumonia.' I knew that because I have had pneumonia. The doctor kept saying: `No, No. She'll get better,' and she kept getting worse. She was finally evacuated to Lai Khe, to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division field hospital, where I hear she died. I denounced the stupidity of the doctors and the stupidity of the commanders for trying to keep her there to interrogate her, and I almost got court-martialled for it. That was one of the most odious things I saw there.

Halimi: Mr President, I have finished asking my questions about the torture. You can ask Mr Martinsen directly about the use of weapons such as white phosphorus, the M-16 rifle, tear gas and anti-personnel weapons like canister and beehive, which are fragmentation weapons. I think it would be better now to ask the witness questions directly concerned with the question of torture.

Vladimir Dedijer: Thank you very much. In accordance with our rules the questions posed by the President will come last. Members of the Tribunal are invited to present their questions to Mr Martinsen.

Peter Weiss: Mr Martinsen, you said during your experiences in Vietnam you became acquainted with the Geneva Conventions about the treatment of prisoners of war. When you went through your military schooling, did the officers speak to you and to your comrades about the Geneva laws?

Yes, it was stressed in the school that torture was not permitted in the army but that was before the Vietnam war got very large. That was in July and August of 1965, I forget exactly when {256} Johnson made his speech for the escalation but it was at that time. Our troops did not arrive until after large amounts of interrogations had been completed. After I went to school, they may have changed policy, but I doubt it. They didn't teach us about the Geneva Conventions. They taught that war crimes must not be committed, that prisoners must not be tortured nor mishandled, nor harassed, coerced or forced into doing anything. The instructors say privately, `Yes, I know they do it in Vietnam, but we don't officially admit it.'

Weiss: When you came to Vietnam, is it true you found that in practice the prisoners were tortured? Was it a sort of rule? Was it quite common that the prisoners went through this procedure?

It was a pattern of the interrogations. The army had classified field manuals on interrogation. Several different techniques are discussed but, without saying anything classified, I would say you begin by being nice to the prisoner. If you start out by torturing the prisoner where do you go from there? It's only logical. You must start out by being nice to the prisoner. Afterwards it depends upon the information that you get. I cannot think of an interrogation that I saw in Vietnam during which a war crime, as defined by the Geneva Conventions, was not committed. I cannot think of one without harassment or coercion. Even where force was not used, coercion, such as beating, torturing and harassment (such as screaming and yelling), was used. This was coercion, and it was specifically stated that one ought not to do this. The army has a field manual called The Law of Land Warfare, I forget the number, and it's the entire 1949 Geneva Convention. This field manual is easily obtained but no one ever reads it. I read parts of it, but it was not required that it be read.

Weiss: Mr Martinsen, I think you must have gone through a tremendous moral development when you came to Vietnam. When you changed your views, you went through a lot of experiences and you have a different view on these experiences now, to when you came to Vietnam?

When I went to Vietnam, I was for the Vietnam war. I thought it was an open case of Communist aggression and that the majority of the Vietnamese people wanted us in Vietnam. I received a short course in the Vietnamese language before I went. Then I always tried to speak to my interpreters as much as possible, and I {257} speak to the people as much as possible. I developed a small knowledge of Vietnamese, and I understood that the government in Vietnam, which states that it supports the Vietnamese people, does not really. If this government wants us there, the people don't. I know this and the Vietnamese people have told me this. This is the major absurdity of the war, not the fact that the war crimes are committed. War crimes are committed in every war. War has war crimes, by definition.

Weiss: Were you taught that the Vietnamese people were of less value than the Americans, for example, or the people of Western nations?

The general viewpoint of the American troops was that the Vietnamese were apathetic, ignorant, dirty and were really not worthy of our efforts to be there. That was the general feeling, and the general feeling was, `Well, we might as well be here and show them the right way, clean them up, build them suburbia houses, and put two cars in every garage.' That's the American dream for Vietnam.

Weiss: Mr Martinsen, could you tell a little about the development you went through? How did it happen that you changed your attitude?

My development came about with a number of things. It has partly to do with seeing all the little things in a war. If you've read Joseph Heller's Catch-22, you think it is pure fiction, but that such things don't really happen. Then you see things happen constantly. If you encounter a man who likes to shoot water buffaloes, you may ask him, `Why do you like to shoot water buffaloes?' and he says, `Because I like to shoot water buffaloes.' It's so absurd. I remember a man who was a helicopter door-gunner and he likes to kill people on the ground, but only after playing with them like a cat plays with a mouse with his machine gun, chasing them around, etc. I saw rice captured from the Viet Cong, in American bags, and you don't really know if the rice is American rice but the bags are American bags. They have `US NATO rice' written on them. It's all these ten thousand things. It's also the torture, the torture that shouldn't really happen. Then you realize, because everybody participates in the torture - unless we have a special group of sadists working as interrogators, which I don't believe; I believe they are just normal people - you realize {258} that there is an innate capability to do harm to your fellow-man in proper circumstances, and these circumstances are provided by the war in Vietnam. It's so horrifying to recall an interrogation where you beat the fellow to get an effect, and then you beat him out of anger, and then you beat him out of pleasure. That is what is horrible to say.

Weiss: Have there been others of your comrades who had the same experience as you did?

I don't think they talk about it. A lot of the men are still in the army and if there is ever any kind of trial they'll be subpoenaed of course. This would affect their careers. So I won't name any names. I will not ruin careers, but someone has to say that Americans believe that an American doesn't commit any war crimes, simply because he is an American. They must understand that it does not take a Nazi to commit a war crime, it does not take a Nazi to kill six million Jews. They must understand this and no one is willing to speak because there is quite a bit of pressure. In my case it was mainly family pressure, dragging the family name through the mud or losing my inheritance, etc. - and the fact there probably is going to be a lot of pressure on my family from the press, etc. But even they don't think Americans do wrong. Even they misunderstood what is happening. Even they say, `My country right or wrong.' In this case it's wrong, and I can't accept it if it's wrong, and they still say, `My country right or wrong.' That's the way they think and this manner of thinking must be changed.

Weiss: One final question. You mentioned an expression used by an officer who tortured a prisoner, the prisoner who was killed. He said, `I was "wiring" him.' Later on it was stated that the cause of death was heart failure. If one has studied the German concentration camps, there were methods of killing people by phenol, by gas and other means, and the death certificate used the same phrases. I suppose you were too young to remember what happened during the Second World War, but did you, before you left the States or perhaps when you returned and were more concerned with this problem, did you know anything about the Germans? About the killings by the Nazis during the Second World War?

Yes, I came across some of it while doing research. But I don't {259} see what inference you're trying to draw. I'm quite aware of what the Nazis did.

Weiss: I am referring to the terminology: `I was wiring him', and then: `death by heart failure'. This phrase I was wiring him' was exactly the same term the Germans used, `Ich hab ihn eingespritst.'

This is true. The common term is `wiring' or `phoning him up', one or the other - and at least the Germans used a death certificate. This man, no one knows he died. No one even knows if he was ever alive. He probably didn't have a birth certificate and he certainly didn't have a death certificate.

Dave Dellinger: As you'll probably be able to tell from my accent, I'm an American too. And even before you mentioned the pressures that your family was subjected to, I just wanted to congratulate you for your courage. Although I know there will be many pressures I think the day will come when not only many Americans, who will do it today, but all of the American people will hail you as a hero and thank you for helping their country to get its better self back. Now on this question of pressures, you mentioned that after the girl was not given medical treatment, and after several girls were brought in coughing and gasping and put into interrogation, you considered this odious and you complained about it, and almost got court-martialled. Could you tell us a little bit about the circumstances of that? What kinds of pressure were brought on you? What makes you say that you almost got court-martialled?

Well, you see, I was being insubordinate. It doesn't matter what you're being insubordinate about. If you're insubordinate, you're insubordinate. I called it foolish. I called it stupid. It was so obvious to me that the girl was very ill, that there was no reason for her to die. When I heard that she died, the evening that she died, I just got so angry that I went around telling every officer in the place what I thought of him, what I thought of his personal stupidity for keeping the girl there while there was a possibility of her dying.

Dellinger: Did you file a complaint, or did you simply mention it?

Would that I had had the courage to file a complaint or to go to jail for my beliefs then. {260}

Dellinger: I believe that in all the instances you talked about, or at least the majority of them, the American was either doing the torturing or the beating or supervising the interrogation. in the United States, when instances of torture have been revealed, the explanation usually given is that it is the Vietnamese committing it and that the Americans either couldn't stop them or weren't even there. You mentioned there is always a Vietnamese present. Is it possible that, in these reported instances, the Vietnamese acted as the interpreter and the American was conducting the torture?

It could very well be. At every interrogation there has to be an interpreter and there are many hundreds of interrogators in the country.

Dellinger: Many hundreds of American interrogators?

Yes, and each one of the American interrogators has a `pool' of interpreters to choose from. All of our interrogators had participated in actual torture.

Dellinger: They had all participated?

They had all participated at one time or another. It is foolishness and lies to say that only the Vietnamese torture. I never saw an interrogation conducted by Vietnamese. I don't know what they do when they interrogate. I assume they do exactly what we do, but I don't think they have any compunctions about leaving marks.

Dellinger: Did you hear of any cases, among the hundreds of interrogators, where people insisted on interrogating without beating or torture? Did you hear of cases where people refused to do this, and if so do you know what happened to these people?

     No, I don't know of a single case. I almost refused, but unfortunately I was too cowardly to actually refuse. I don't know any percentages, but what is torture? Is torture electrical torture or is torture beating? I don't know. Personally, I had a lot of success when I learned to speak Vietnamese. I had a lot of success with pure coercion, because I'm a fairly large person. I was able to intimidate the rather small Vietnamese, specially when I learned to speak their language. I was able to tell them `I know you're lying', and in their language.

Dellinger: I want to ask another question. One of the soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, who refused to go to Vietnam and who is now serving a sentence in the penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, {261} testified at his court martial that in his training in the United States he was told that it was his duty `to kill the little brown Asians'. According to Gisele Halimi's summary report this morning, one of the people who has testified, I think on tape, said that he was told, `You can kill anyone with slanted eyes.' Concerning this whole question of interrogation, were there any instructions or indoctrination or common talk that would have implied that to use torture wasn't so serious because of race, because of Asian qualities?

The common American GI term for a Vietnamese was either a `gook' or a `slant'. Our unit was not a typical unit; it was a military intelligence unit. The people were more intelligent, and the unit was small. It was more or less a family, and I spent most of my time with the unit. Concerning the line troops, during Operation Cedar Falls, I was in the Iron Triangle. I had a prisoner who had volunteered to lead us to tunnels. I had to use force on him: I didn't beat him but I interrogated him for eighteen hours. I finally broke his resistance. We took him to find the tunnels in the 173rd Airborne's territory, and we found them. The men there told me they weren't taking prisoners. They said, `We aren't taking prisoners because one of our platoon leaders was killed three days before.' One fellow, eighteen years old, I think he was, said to me with a grin, `You should've seen the girl I shot yesterday.' This is the absurdity of war: an eighteen-year-old telling me about killing a girl. They wired the dead with explosives so when the Viet Cong came to get their dead, they were blown up.

Dellinger: As I understand it, the Vietnamese place a particular significance upon a proper burial and keeping the graves of their ancestors. Is that common knowledge among those who wire the bodies with explosives?

I don't think so. Normally the soldiers going over there are given a short orientation on things you should and shouldn't do in Vietnam. You know, don't pat people on the back and things like that. But the soldiers generally ignore this, because to the soldiers the Vietnamese people are whores to sleep with, servants to supply the cold beer and the Coca-Cola. They're the people who make the beds and sweep the floors and shine the boots. But they aren't thought of as real people. Their status is that of a Negro in the United States in, say, 1850. {262}

Dellinger: Did you find that the Vietnamese in the American-occupied areas did not like the Americans much?

You can only say an area is American-occupied if the Americans have placed a barbed-wire fence around it. But in areas where the American control is more strong, you can say that the Vietnamese don't like us for several reasons. First of all is the indiscriminate shooting and bombing. The Americans have a policy of `free-fire zones', where the Vietnamese provincial chief sets off an area and says it's a free-fire zone. Then he tries to tell all his people not to go into that area - then of course the logic being that he'll tell the people on the right side not to go in there. But, invariably, innocent people do get killed. I heard this in a report. Two peasants were riding in an ox cart, it was spotted in a free-fire zone and they called for permission to fire on an ox cart loaded with rice, as they later found out. They fired and killed the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese hate us also because the whole thing is turning into a big brothel. Fulbright was right. Saigon is a large whorehouse. It is. I was there. I saw it. Bien Hoa is, too. Xuan Loc is, too. You can still see the French heritage there in Vietnam where, I understand, the French used Sudanese soldiers, so you can see mixed Negro-Oriental babies - no longer babies now, but children, and, in another three or four years you're going to see a tremendous amount of mixed Caucasians with the Vietnamese. A tremendous amount. We're corrupting the whole country. The money a prostitute in Vietnam can make is $300 a day, whereas the average wage I believe is $30-40 a month. How would you feel if your daughters or your sister became a prostitute?

Dellinger: I visited both Saigon and Hanoi and it was my impression, my experience, that the Vietnamese in Saigon felt more hostility to the Americans than the Vietnamese in Hanoi, because they experienced the unconscious arrogance that we Americans too often display, and the race prejudice and the things of that kind, directly and personally.

Well, it's not only the race prejudice. There's nothing more obnoxious than a drunk GI. And there are thousands of drunk GIs in that country, whistling at the pretty schoolgirls - and the Vietnamese women are really pretty. And the students, the high-school students, wearing an ao-dai, are really a very charming {263} sight. An American GI when he arrives there, and probably even when he leaves there, thinks that the woman is a prostitute. He'll proposition her, lay his hands on her, and expect the Vietnamese to like it.

Mahmud Ali Kasuri: Mr Martinsen, please forgive me for asking some questions which may appear to you to be very ordinary but I want some basic facts. May I know if you were in many camps, or only in one camp?

We had a base camp which was in Lon Giao.... . This is where the unit was headquartered, but every time they had a major operation the unit was attached to a larger unit - one of the infantry divisions - for support. You see, we were an armoured unit. We had tanks and armoured ears - armoured personnel carriers actually. And these were excellent weapons for shock value - tremendous fire-power, etc. So we were attached to an infantry unit to provide convoy support, to spearhead attacks, etc. If you're in any way familiar with the operation there - Operation Attleboro and Operation Cedar Falls, Operation Junction City and Operation Manhattan - all very big operations involving forty, fifty, sixty thousand troops in the III Tactical Corps Area, Second Field Force Area. And these were all over the area. I was in Bien Hoa, I believe it is, where they just had that recent battle. Loc Ninh - I was very close to Loc Ninh. I was throughout. I was every place in the III Corps Zone where you could take a tank.

Kasuri: ... What were the names of the four major operations you were in?

Operation Attleboro, Operation Cedar Falls, Operation Junction City, Operation Manhattan - which carried on into early June of this year.

Kasuri: And apart from these four major operations, you were in a number of smaller operations?

Yes.

Kasuri: Smaller. And would it be right to understand that what you have testified about in a number of cases was the common practice in all the places you were in?

It was the common practice in every operation except Junction City. In Junction City we did no interrogation. We had no prisoners. We were there, but there were no prisoners in Junction {264} City, in our area. There were prisoners in other areas, but in the area that we were in, we had no prisoners. And from what I observed and from the other units that I worked with, the 172nd Military Detachment - I worked with them - the 4th Military Intelligence Detachment, which is attached to the 4th Infantry Division (I worked with them on Operation Manhattan, and I know they torture, well ... they said they did ... I'd have to say it's hearsay). . . . They said, `Why don't you wire him up a little?' They had a special field-phone apparatus, as a matter of fact, that they showed me, for placing wires on.

Kasuri: What about Operation Cedar Falls?

During that operation we were just outside Ben Cat. We were working closely with the 173rd Airborne Division. It was during that operation that the Iron Triangle was taken. Thousands of people were moved out of the Iron Triangle. Thousands upon thousands. My task was to `screen' people, to select individuals for questioning from among the refugees. This is a tremendous power to be given one man. The Iron Triangle is bordered by the Saigon River and another river whose name I forget. It has been a VC area for years and it is heavily fortified by the VC. They even have concrete bunkers. The population was `evacuated'. We had helicopters and psychological warfare specialists. We took some Chieu Hois, that is deserters from the Viet Cong, and they flew over the villages, and we said, `Come out. Lay down your arms and come over to our side.' This was quite effective. We got quite a number of Chieu Hois during Operation Cedar Falls. There were also several hundred people running around who didn't want to leave the Iron Triangle. These people were shot on sight.

Kasuri: You said that during Operation Attleboro there were not many people captured by your unit. Were there many people captured by other units?

Both Time and Newsweek reported that a tremendous number of prisoners were taken during that operation. Reports of interrogations are not always made if it is unimportant and we decide to release the prisoner, but during Operation Cedar Falls our detachment made over 100 reports of interrogations. There were also hundreds and hundreds of `screenings' which took place. Sometimes, during `screening' you just look at a person and you say, `You, come with me.' The refugees were kept in a {265} barbed-wire enclosure and they were passed in front of me, an interpreter, maybe a few interpreters. The Vietnamese national police were there. Anyone could be selected for interrogation. The thousands of refugees had their belongings with them, their oxen, chickens, pigs and all they could carry. The people were sent on army flat-bed trucks to Phu Loi. Afterwards, according to Life, they were placed in a refugee camp, which was just another concentration camp, with barbed-wire fences and guards.

     I was in the battle zone in the Triangle on two occasions. At the time there was little fighting. Many of the domestic animals - livestock like water buffaloes, oxen, as well as chickens - were running around free. The villages were being demolished. I watched Ben Sue being demolished. I saw the remains of the villages. The bulldozers just came through and tore everything down. Livestock and personal possessions were left behind. There may have been people in tunnels beneath the houses. `Tankdozers' - a tank with a bulldozer blade - were also used. On both sides of the road crossing the Iron Triangle, army engineers cleared the area back to 400 metres off the road, to decrease the chances of ambush. The area was pockmarked with bombs. A thousand-pound bomb makes a huge crater up to fifty feet across and forty feet deep. You can hear a B-52 raid from a distance of twenty or thirty miles. It sounds like distant thunder. You wonder what the hell they were bombing.

     Our unit had something called a `Zippo', named after the American lighter. It was a flame-throwing armoured personnel carrier. We used it to burn away the foliage. I don't know if it was ever used in combat but it was a very destructive machine. It can fire napalm for a distance of almost 100 metres. It fires a thick spray of napalm, which clings to everything and burns rapidly. I saw napalm being dropped from planes. I saw it at a distance, and I don't know what it was being used against.

Kasuri: Were you also in Operation Junction City?

Yes, I was there during phase two, but not during the first phase.

Kasuri: In that operation did the unit you were operating with capture many prisoners?

This time we were again assigned to road reconnaissance security. I and an interpreter worked as an interrogation team. In Vietnam, interrogators do not exhibit their ranks, as they normally {266} should on their arms. If the prisoner has a higher rank than the interrogator, it is harder to interrogate him. We wore the `US' collar insignia which has no rank significance and represents quite a bit of power of intimidation. For example, I might be a captain. I had complete freedom and I conducted the interrogation as I wanted to. They arrested seven rubber workers for not having identification, but I released them very quickly. It was obvious that they knew something, but it wasn't worth going after.

     There were no regiments where we were, about ten kilometres from the Cambodian border, at a small plantation called Xa Cat. We had seen some action in War Zone C, but at Xa Cat there was no action at all. There was no sniping and there were no mortar attacks. The captain who had rounded up the prisoners said he had just become bored and threw them in the tank and delivered them to me. It was obvious they were rubber-plantation workers. If they were also Viet Cong I could not determine. You never can know that. So I just released them. They had been brought to me for interrogation because they didn't have ID cards, and many people were arrested for that reason. In Operation Junction City there were many prisoners, but not many in our area. In Operation Manhattan, there were again many prisoners. This time our unit, because of increasing experience, also took many prisoners. Many of them had been classified Viet Cong and admitted to being Viet Cong. This was when I had the prisoner dig his own grave. There was no `wiring' done on this operation, but there was quite a lot of beating. It was then that I heard the remark, `My hand is getting tired from beating this prisoner.' We had perhaps fifty or sixty interrogations.

Kasuri: This was during Operation Manhattan?

Yes. I am just speaking about our unit, of course. Our unit was the smallest unit on a low combat echelon, and I had a great amount of freedom. I could do anything I wanted to do. I knew that if a prisoner happened to die, then there would be no formal report and nothing would ever happen to me. There would be perhaps an explanation such as, `shot trying to escape' or `died of heart failure'. My unit never killed a prisoner under torture, but if it had happened, there would have been no official action.

Kasuri: Were there any superior officers higher than captain {267} present who performed interrogation?

Perhaps. I don't know. Our unit had a major as a commanding officer and a captain as section leader. The other officers performed some of the most brutal interrogations I witnessed. The only time I saw electrical torture applied to the sex organs it was an officer who was doing the torturing. The only time I saw bamboo placed under fingernails was by an officer.

Kasuri: Would it be correct to say that the superior officers are cognizant of what occurs during interrogation?

No.

Kasuri: Why do you say no?

They aren't. The interrogator's job is to obtain information. The superior officers do not care how the information is obtained. I don't know if the command in Saigon knows about the torture, but the commanding officers of lower echelon units do know and they condone it tacitly. It is not expressly forbidden. General Westmoreland might have gotten a hint that torture was being used to get information, because he sent out a directive reaffirming the Geneva Conventions of 1949 concerning the treatment of prisoners of war. So in Vietnam they know it, this is at MACV level. But I don't know if the officers in the Pentagon know about it and that is why I'm here.

Kasuri: I was not concerned with the officers in the Pentagon. I wanted to know if officers with a rank much higher than captain or major know that torture is used during interrogation.

Lieutenant-colonels know about it.

Kasuri: Do they know about it for sure?

They know about it because they are the squadron commanders, and occasionally they witnessed interrogations in which beatings occurred. I can't speak for our regimental commander. I don't remember him ever witnessing an interrogation. Interrogations are private affairs. You don't have officers looking over your shoulder. You have complete control and you don't want people distracting you.

Kasuri: Do you know any officer or soldier of the United States who has been punished for using torture?

No.

Carl Oglesby: Were you selected for training as an interrogator {268} or did you volunteer?

I volunteered for the language school, and after I finished my language training I was sent to the intelligence school. I wanted to get into counter-intelligence training, which is not exactly like James Bond. Instead I was placed in interrogation training; after that I was not used because I had a useless training. I was trained to interrogate prisoners of war, and at that time there wasn't a big war. I was also trained to speak Italian and the army has very few persons in Italy. So I was not used.

Oglesby: Did the army direct you into interrogation training?

Yes.

Oglesby: Was this training generalized or was it intended for interrogation in Vietnam?

While I was there they were changing the curriculum to include Vietnamese-style interrogation. The training had formerly concentrated on Soviet interrogation; we had to memorize Soviet terminology' and so on.

Oglesby: When they began to train you for Vietnamese interrogation did you notice whether or not any new attitudes appeared? Was there any kind of racialist cast to the training for Vietnamese interrogation?

I can't say: I believe that there were four hours devoted to Vietnamese interrogation and that was all.

Oglesby: What kind of person, generally speaking, found himself in this sort of school? Was it a more-than-average intelligent soldier?

Yes. Military intelligence is correlated with tested intelligence. In the army tests you have to have a score of 110 with 100 being the average, to get into the intelligence school.

Oglesby: Do most of the people have college education?

The officers did. But most of the people did not have a college education; I think 100 per cent had high school education. Some, like me, had some college education; but I can't think of anybody in interrogation training with a college degree. In counter-intelligence training there were many people with college educations.

Oglesby: So far as you know, how many Negroes were doing interrogation work in Vietnam?

None.

Oglesby: You never saw any Negroes interrogating? {269}

No.

Oglesby: Do you know of any Negroes doing that kind of work?

I have to change what I just said. A Negro captain in the 172nd Military Intelligence Detachment was working as an interrogation officer, although I never saw him interrogate. I believe we also had a Negro in our interrogation class; I don't know if he went to Vietnam or not.

Jean-Paul Sartre: Have you come here to be a witness for your conscience's sake or because you think it is in the interest of your country and in accordance with the principles of your country's constitution?

By coming here I want to show several things. But the main thing I want to do is to show that an American isn't necessarily good because he's an American. If I told the average American that I committed war crimes, he would say it was horrible; but it doesn't reach any level of consciousness. To the average American a war crime is something incomprehensible. To him, it is inconceivable that Americans commit war crimes. Frankly, I'm the stereotype of an American college student; I want to show that it's not perhaps some long-haired freak from Berkeley campus with a beard who commits war crimes, but it's perhaps Mrs Jones's son down the street. I'm hoping to develop that consciousness. I'm hoping to get someone to honestly consider that war causes war crimes and that all wars are bad because they cause war crimes.

Halimi: I would like to supplement what Mr Martinsen has said by explaining the circumstances in which he agreed to come. He wanted to know about the Tribunal and its orientation. He indicated that he did not wish to serve any political line, and more particularly he said that he did not want to serve the Communist line. I told him that he would be able to speak quite freely and that he would be able to express any opinion he held. I said that we would only question him on the facts. I would like Mr Martinsen to confirm this.

This is quite true. Everything you have said is true. You see, Americans try to find Communists under every rock they pick up. Of course, the Tribunal will be used for Communist propaganda. Personally, I do not embrace Communism as an ideology. I don't like Communism and what it does. But neither do I like war. But {270} this is an anti-war issue that may be used for Communist propaganda. That it is anti-war is the important thing. It's not necessarily important that it may be used for Communist propaganda.
 

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