10 DONALD DUNCAN

Testimony and Questioning

Vladimir Dedijer: You served in Vietnam. How long, when did you go?

I went to Vietnam in March of 1964 and returned from Vietnam in September of 1965.

Dedijer: In which unit did you serve?

I was in the United States Army Special Forces, sometimes referred to as the Green Berets. I essentially had four different jobs while I was in Vietnam which took me from the northern provinces south of the 17th parallel to the Ca Mau peninsula.

Gisele Halimi: Mr President, I would like to ask you, to finish identifying the witness, to read to the Tribunal and the audience this piece of testimony. It is a letter of congratulation addressed to Sergeant Donald Duncan, which comes from the Headquarters of the 5th Special Forces Group of the US Army, because this will finish the witness's identification.

Dedijer: I will read it. This is from the Headquarters 5th Special Forces Group Airborne, First Special Forces, APO US Forces 96240, 22 July 1965. Subject: Letter of Appreciation, to M-Sgt Donald W. Duncan, Headquarters, 5th Special Forces Group, ABM, First Special Forces, APO US Forces 96240: 1. I wish to express my appreciation for your outstanding presentation of facts and information of Special Forces activities to the Honorable Robert C. McNamara on 19 July 1965. 2. Throughout the entire presentation your knowledge of Special Forces activities and lucid oral expression employed were exceptional. 3. The salient points which you so aptly presented to the Secretary of Defense may have significant results on future support of Special Forces in {271} the Republic of Vietnam. You are to be congratulated for a job well done. This letter will be made a permanent part of your military 201 file. William A. MacKean, Col. Infantry Commander.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, I may warn you that I will ask you a series of questions which will be numerous in connexion with your experiences in the army because as an instructor your competence will allow the Tribunal to grasp the principal points that went into that instruction. I would like to ask you first if you are in fact the author of the book, The New Legions, and if this book, the résumé of which I gave to the Tribunal yesterday, is, as you say, the hard truth on Vietnam, on the military practice there and on the foreign policy which has made more enemies than friends for the Americans.

Yes, the facts presented in the book are just that, facts. It is not a work of fiction. There are parts of it, as you know, that are, perhaps, polemic, in other words, opinion, when I'm talking about politics per se, but the actions, the specifics of any action in there is as it did occur.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, another preliminary question. I met Mr Robin Moore in New York, who is the author of two books, The Green Berets and A Country Team, and I asked him if he would come and testify before our Tribunal. He told me, after having accepted, that a publishing contract committed him to stay in the States. The important thing is that we have his book here, that we know that this book is not a work of imagination, that it cites methods employed by American parachutists in Vietnam, and I know, because I read it, that you wrote a review of this book in Ramparts. Do you have any objection to being questioned on the methods which are described by Mr Robin Moore in his book, and at the same time verify them?

Yes, I will testify to that.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, I would like to start with the first part of your military career when you were an instructor at Fort Bragg. You described in your book [The New Legions] ... how an effort was made to depersonalize and psychologically break down the recruits to prepare them for anti-guerrilla fighting, teach them interrogation methods, torture and the manner in which to get rid of prisoners. Would you indicate briefly to the Tribunal what were the methods used from the moment the recruits arrived until {272} the time when they were sent to Vietnam?

These methods which you discuss are not something peculiar to Special Forces. This is the standard method of training all young soldiers. I don't even believe it's peculiar to the United States army; it's essentially a method of depersonalization, isolation, the changing of a value system, the disorganization of an individual, a reorganization of an individual - and finally with a new value system he does become a soldier. This is in his first, let's say, eight weeks of army life. When he goes on to such places as the United States Army Special Forces or an airborne battalion, the training, of course, becomes much more severe, and essentially it's an extension of what's taught in basic training, just more emphasis, more physical. The main purpose, of course, is to take a man from civilian life, to give him a new set of values, to make him amenable to do things which normally he would not allow himself to do or would not be willing to do. In other words, it's a means of giving him a different rationale or a philosophy. This is all, of course, psychological; it's a method used not only in the army. It's a method used in prisons. It's a method used in insane asylums.

Halimi: I would like to ask you... how you, yourself, instructed the recruits on the methods to be used in anti-guerrilla warfare and, in particular, methods of interrogating a prisoner.

Fine. Now we're getting into a different area... into specialized training and the area to which you refer is at the United States Army Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the Special Forces school. ... I was an instructor at this school for a year and a half and I was teaching intelligence training, both conventional and unconventional, as well as interrogation techniques. There was such things as clandestine communications, the organization of guerrilla nets, escape and evasion routes, and so on and so forth.... They were trying to teach not only the methods, but an appreciation for the psychological methods of interrogation. By this I mean the non-physical methods of interrogation, an appreciation for how this type of interrogation produces the most valuable intelligence, the more accurate information. Essentially it follows the training, for instance, of a lawyer - a trial lawyer - through communication, using the tools of entrapment and so on for soliciting certain information. . . . You can appreciate . .. that {273} in ... classes of thirty or more people ... over a period of one week, it would be impossible to make each and every one of the students an expert in psychological interrogation techniques. He would know the methods, but he would not himself be a trained psychological interrogator. The specific purpose for teaching this is so the student in turn, once he is put in another country, can teach these methods to what we refer to as an `indigenous counterpart', somebody indigenous to the country. And he in turn then would become the interrogator.

     Very realistically, they admit that there are going to be those times and conditions when it will be impossible to conduct psychological methods of interrogation and ... also ... that it's very difficult to train any number of people in these techniques to the point where they are effective. Right after this block of instruction, there is another course taught as a sub-course which was the counter-measures to hostile interrogation. One of the references used in this particular course was the NKVD manual, the manual used by the secret police in Russia, where are detailed quite specifically any number of methods of torture. ... When I was a student . .. it seemed a little unnecessary to use this as a reference source, except to perpetuate the myth that the other people do this but we don't. ... In any event, throughout this course it becomes very apparent that, in fact, given a determined interrogator, given the methods of interrogation - that there are no real counter-measures to interrogation. ... In fact, we used to teach that the only person who could resist interrogation would be a fanatic, religious type or whatever - someone who would rather die, and his brain actually cuts off his senses so they don't feel the pain. . . . Having convinced us now that there were no real counter-measures to interrogation, it became the question then, well, why is the course being taught? This is a very highly classified class. By this I mean it has a security. There are guards on the doors, and strangers aren't allowed to walk in and hear this, and all the reference material to it is classified. Still and all, they cannot tell you that you are supposed to do this.... If I had only been a student, I would say, well, perhaps I just got something from the class that I was not supposed to get. However, I in turn became an instructor in this course, and this was what I was trying to teach, because this is what I was told to teach, and this {274} was how to imply it. Leave no doubt in anybody's mind that there are those times when you will have to use `other' ... methods of interrogation. Other methods, of course, are discussed beyond the NKVD manual, but again, you know, it's always the other person supposed to be doing it. Now there's a very important reason for this - why they have to be so careful even in their own classrooms. This is possibly more true of Special Forces than other elements of the army. They are very conscious, first of all, of the Rules of Land Warfare. And very conscious that they can be brought to task for these things. So they bend over backwards to at least give the outward appearance of legality and adherence to such things as the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the laws of land warfare.

     The army itself spies on itself. We used to make a joke of it at Fort Bragg: who is the CIA agent in the classroom? Or who is the man from Army Security Agency that could be pretending to be a student, but was, in fact, there to take notes to make sure what is taught. This carries over into our radio communications, and later on I will testify to an occasion in Vietnam where certain words are used on the radio that in fact mean something entirely different because our own Army Security Agency is monitoring these calls, and if there's a legal proceeding the man can say: `Well, I didn't say that, I said this', and they can check the record and yes, that's what he said; but the words, in fact, mean something else ...

Halimi: You have indicated that the young recruits did not understand very well those methods of interrogation taught to them, and the methods were justified to them by telling them that that is exactly what would happen to them if the Communists would take them prisoner in Vietnam. Would you like to confirm that?

No, I won't confirm that. They were not trying to justify it. That's what they were saying for the official record. But in fact it was presented in such a way that it left no doubt in anybody's mind that, if you need the information, these are other methods and you certainly can use them. In other words, they were not trying to justify to the troops. For the official record, if somebody said: `You're teaching methods of torture', they say, `No, no, no, no, all we're teaching is what the enemy does'. Again, it's for the official record. There's no doubt left in the student's minds. When {275} you say, `young soldiers', the people in this class were not all that young. First of all, there was an age limit at that time to get into Special Forces. You had to be a Regular Army soldier, and you had to pass certain mental qualifying tests and a physical test to get into Special Forces, and you had to have a minimum rank of sergeant to attend that class. So these were not naive eighteen-year-old boys that were sitting in this class as students. These are mature men, in years at least.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, in your book on pages 158 and 159 you write a dialogue between a recruit and his sergeant instructor, Sergeant Lacy, and this young recruit doesn't understand something. He says, `You are teaching me about counter-measures, but at the same time you tell me that there are none. Why don't you tell it like it is and say that we could actually use those methods?' And you indicate that the sergeant answers with a sarcastic air, `Yes, but we can't tell you directly because the mothers of America wouldn't approve.' Is this true or did you just make up the dialogue?

I have reconstructed that dialogue as accurately as I possibly could; the actual quote, `we cannot teach you that because the mothers of America would not approve', is a word-for-word quote. It is accurate; in fact it became almost a classic catch-all throughout training in discussing other things. It became a common phrase. It was used in the book to point out the ... cynical way in which these subjects were taught.

Halimi: Now, Mr Duncan, will you tell us very specifically which methods were taught at Fort Bragg to those who would have the job of interrogating or teaching interrogation methods to their indigenous counterparts in Vietnam?

Speaking just specifically of the NKVD teaching such things as the squashing of the male genitals, putting buckets over people's heads and beating them (they had various names for all these things which escape me right now); suspending a man from a chain or a rope with a wide belt around the waist and spinning him around. Also, complementing this manual there were certain other references which we were encouraged to read, detailing ... interrogation techniques used in such Communist countries as Hungary ... the isolation, the hot-and-cold treatment, the confusing of the man's mind, making it impossible for him to relate {276} time, for instance when is night and when is day... and how you break the person down. We were encouraged to read these things, and as a matter of fact, we were, in a way, interrogated or tested on these subjects. Of course, other methods that were discussed were such things as the use of electricity, field expedient methods such as using the double E-A telephone, just a standard Army field set - battery operated - attaching the lead wires to the genitals, or genital areas, for shock, and so on. And, of course, because we were an unconventional organization, we were encouraged to use our imagination. The specific thing was always suggested that you do not mark a person. In other words, don't leave physical evidence on his body. Use those types of interrogation where if somebody were to see the prisoner immediately afterwards you couldn't tell that he had been abused.

     Now, I think that for the record I should state something more about the training. The training in Special Forces breaks down into two categories: there is the guerrilla warfare category and the counter-insurgency category. The methods of interrogation as taught, were taught within the guerrilla warfare section of the training. I ask the indulgence of the court here - perhaps not too many people are familiar with the specific mission of Special Forces in a guerrilla war. So, I would like to explain that, perhaps we'll put it into some sort of context then. There was a theory back in the 1950s that attack from the Eastern European countries, Russia specifically, was somewhat imminent. It was realistically posited that, given an attack by the Eastern countries, we could not hope to hold them much short of the Atlantic Ocean. In other words, there would have to be a gradual pull-back until reinforcements could arrive and so on. To complement this pull. back, then, Special Forces were trained, as we used to say, to be used as soon as the balloon goes up, so that they would jump in behind the advancing enemy, into these Eastern countries. These would be twelve-man teams, essentially. The theory was that since these are Communist countries, everybody is unhappy, so it's a very ripe ground to start a guerrilla war. In other words, the people would flock to you, and you're automatically in business. To go on with that, of course, these teams are trained in area studies: each team has a particular area right down to and including the town and the village that he will be in or {277} near, and they're studying the habits of the people on the ground in those countries. So the idea would be that this twelve-man team, two officers and ten enlisted men, would go in. And these subjects that are being taught, such as interrogation, such as the organization of guerrilla units, assassination teams, sabotage teams, and the like, would be taught in turn to the people in this country, and they in turn would do the actual fighting. So the methods of interrogation were taught specifically with the idea that they would be used in a guerrilla context. As stated in the Special Forces Manual, one of the missions of Special Forces is to subvert foreign governments unfriendly to the United States. It's a stated admission. I have a copy of that manual here if you care to see it. Quite obviously, now, when we talk about Vietnam, we're talking about an entirely different thing. We are now talking about counter-insurgency, as it is called. We were talking about the guerrilla warfare aspect as compared to the counter-insurgency aspect. Now I just completed saying that our purpose was to go in and organize people against a government. Quite obviously, the rule is somewhat reversed in Vietnam. We're helping a government, the Saigon regime. So the whole structure had to change, quite obviously. We worked through the government. So, interrogations for the most part were done by the Vietnamese, the Saigon government troops, if you will. Now, we did, starting back in the fifties, train these people. We helped set up their police, we helped train their Rangers, we helped train their own Special Forces or the Luc-Luong Dac-Biet as they are called in ARVN, that's the Army of the Republic of Vietnam...

     The specifics of interrogation techniques sort of backfired on us, inasmuch as we were getting very bad information. It became very difficult to motivate these people into using psychological methods of interrogation, because they were not interested in using them, they weren't properly motivated to use them, they were tremendously unsuccessful using them, and... they reverted to the physical methods of interrogation. And of course, we got very bad information as a result of this. It became, I think, a runaway situation, to the point where the information was getting so bad that it was hurting us. However, I don't even know if we were really interested in stopping it. Because we found out that even when we sent our own interrogators who spoke Vietnamese {278} to carry on psychological methods of interrogation, they were relatively unsuccessful also. So everything sort of degenerated on that thing. We started using or developing our own means of gathering intelligence directly, instead of trying to get it through interrogation methods. The interrogation methods, I don't mean to imply, were stopped. You always keep hoping that something will turn up.... My specific job in Vietnam was gathering intelligence. We had to form a special unit to gather it, because we no longer could depend on Vietnamese intelligence sources for any accurate information. This was called Project Delta.

Halimi: What were the roles of Special Forces units in Vietnam when you were there? I read in your book and in your testimony during the Levy trial that there were three kinds of team: A-Teams, B-Teams, and Robin Moore, author of The Green Berets, speaks particularly of the achievements of C-Teams at Nha Trang. Can you explain these categories?

Yes, the A-Team, that's the team I've talked about, is a team of twelve men. Special Forces do not first of all, let me precede my remarks by saying that they would never commit a Special Forces company as a company - they're always deployed in small teams; one team in this area, and so on. The twelve-man team is composed of a captain, a lieutenant, and ten enlisted men. There's one operations sergeant, an intelligence sergeant, but in fact they do the same job, each one is trained in operations and intelligence. Two weapons men, two demolitions men, two radio men, and two medics. It's so designed that the team can be split down the middle. In other words, you can send six men, and the skills are compatible. Each man in turn is, theoretically at least, supposed to be trained in two other skills than his own. In my own particular case, I was a demolitionist, a radio operator and weapons specialist in addition to my primary speciality of operations and intelligence. The B-Team is an enlargement of the A-Team. Essentially they are supposed to do the same things as the A-Team. But they have additional personnel and it is commanded by a major, rather than a captain, and the major in turn has four captains under him, where they set up what we call the S-1, S-2, S-3 and S-4 sections - Administration, Personnel, Intelligence and Operations, and Logistics. The idea would be that for every three A-Teams in the field, you would then commit a B-Team for operational control {279} and coordination of the three A-Teams. But also within that B-Team, they would have an A-Team. In other words, there would be about nineteen people on a B-Team rather than twelve. The other's for operational control. And then for each two B-Teams you would have a C-Team. Again an enlargement of the B-Team. To make this specific for Vietnam, each of the camps that we had in Vietnam had one A-Team. And then back farther, away from the border, towards the larger urban areas, you had a B-Team. For instance, we had a B-Team at Quan Tho which directed the operations of the A-Teams along the Cambodian border and in the Delta. Their headquarters, in turn, was in Nha Trang to control the four B-Teams in the country. The potential of an A-Team, again theoretically, is that they have the capability of directing, controlling, equipping, training either guerrillas or counter-guerrilla units of regimental size. Each twelve men can supposedly control one thousand men.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, can you explain what you and Robin Moore call `CIDGs' [Civil Irregular Defence Groups]? And will you also tell us whether there was a direct liaison among these teams, and explain the workings of the information network between them and A- and B-Teams?

The primary job of Special Forces, up to the summer of 1964, was the field-implementing arm of the CIDG programme. This programme was started back in 1961, I believe, as a means of organizing ethnic groups within Vietnam, such as the various Montagnard tribes, and eventually it came to include the Hoa Hao and Cao Dai and some people of Cambodian extraction within Vietnam. The main purpose of this was, starting with the Montagnards, to neutralize their struggle against the Saigon regime. There have always been problems between the Montagnards, and the ethnic Vietnamese and the Saigon government. Hopefully, the idea was to build them into self-defence units, for village self-defence. It had the added advantage (I happen to have read this in an official report) of being one way of circumventing the Geneva Agreements of 1954. The Geneva Agreements of 1954 prohibited the establishment of new military bases within the southern zone of Vietnam. So, by calling these things village-defence units, or self-defence units, they in fact circumvented that provision of the agreement. Of course, the camps that they set up {280} are not in the village.

     They are invariably set up next to the village, isolated from it by mine fields, punji stakes, barbed wire, etc. In fact, in many areas the villagers are not allowed into the camp for security reasons, meaning they don't trust the people in the village that they're defending. And in many cases the strike force, the combat group of the civilian community-defence effort, was not even from the village itself. In other words, they were imported from other areas of the country. To give a specific example, I remember the Special Forces camp at Tan Phu, which is in the Delta. We could not recruit any what we call `strike force' from the local area, so we had to bring them from another area in there. The camp lasted for about six months. It became an untenable position and they moved out. Again, I say, this was the primary job, not the biggest, not necessarily, but the biggest that the Special Forces had up to 1964. In addition to their role with the CIDG programme, they also had other functions within Vietnam forming special little units. They had Project Delta, Project Omega, people were sent off with what was known as SOG, and they trained the MAAG forces, and they're also on detached duty for various purposes. The one thing we haven't mentioned, I don't know whether you want to go into it or not, is the origin of this programme called CIDG, originally it was, and it remained so up until 1964, a CIA programme. The CIA having come up with the idea, of course, did not have the field personnel to conduct the programme in the field. Special Forces, then, were made available to the CIA for this purpose, of running it in the field. All the funds, the money for the programme, came from CIA sources, directly or indirectly. Another purpose of the CIDG programme was to try to set up intelligence nets throughout the countryside emanating from these camps. Again the funds, the money for the agents, came from CIA sources.

Halimi: Mr Robin Moore said, in his testimony during the Levy trial, and reconfirmed it when he spoke to me, that there existed `assassination teams'. He told me that Americans trained and paid Vietnamese for them. He said, for example, that the assassination teams passed out black cards with white eyes on them, designed to frighten the enemy. Can you tell the Tribunal first, exactly what the assassination teams were; and second, what was their relationship {281} to the American forces and especially the CIA .. and third, the methods used by these teams?

The assassination teams, as they were called, grew out of Project Delta, which was the programme I helped start over there. Men who had worked with Delta were detached, and helped to train these assassination teams under the auspices of the CIA. They are organized as part of the overall organization - what they call the Rural Revolutionary Development Team, part of the pacification programme in the southern zone. In 1965 it was decided that something had to be done to break up the infrastructure within the villages in the southern zone. In other words, defeating the armed forces of the National Liberation Front on the battlefield, essentially, was not going to accomplish too much if in fact all they did was retreat back in the villages and consolidate its infrastructure. Possibly for the first time there was tacit admission of the success of the National Liberation Front within the villages, because it was declared, at the time, that the way to work in the village was to use the same methods that we claimed the National Liberation Front was using.

     In other words, to use the same instruments. It was realized, of course, that Americans themselves could not implement this programme. It would have to be Vietnamese. So Americans were detached from Special Forces Units to train the Revolutionary Development Cadres. After encircling a village, and making it secure from outside influence, they would go in there, and use psychological methods, and re-educate the people. It was realized, even in the planning stages, that there would be intransigence on the part of the people and there would be those within each village, very determined to see this plan not work. The idea was to find out who these people were and try to remove them from the village and imprison them, or, if that was not possible to do without upsetting the village (in other words, they might be respected members of the village and people would rebel if you took them out) there was always the method of removal by assassination. Provisions were made to train assassination teams. The methods they used are unlimited. There are a large number of ways to kill people. The training, the support, the transport and the weaponry of these teams are controlled by Americans. There are Vietnamese counterparts involved. When it was first announced that {282} we were going to use these new methods, we talked about the Revolutionary Village Development Cadre. The American military didn't speak about the assassination teams. It was said at the time it was run by the CIA. It was in our own newspapers. The rationale for this - why the CIA and not some branches of the military was in charge - was that the CIA had men in the field, on the place, and that they had the organization ready to go. As a matter of fact, this is much like the CIDG programme when it first started. The fact is that with the CIA there is no accounting for what they do, or the money they spend or where they get their money.

     So it can be a rather clandestine operation. Had it been just the Revolutionary Development Cadre going in to re-educate people, there would have been no need for clandestine methods. Since the assassination teams were part of this, the CIA was brought in. The white card that you referred to was a form of psychological warfare. In the initial stages, each time somebody was assassinated, a calling card would be left which varied from area to area. One of these calling cards was a card with a white eye on it. The plan was that in the future you wouldn't have to assassinate the people, leaving a card would be sufficient to stop them from trying to do what they were trying to do. Variations of this are used in other countries where Special Forces operate, in Guatemala specifically. In Guatemala, they use a black hand. You leave it as a little calling card to warn the people not to help the guerrillas.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, I believe your official title was `operations and intelligence officer', and that you changed your role ... and your operations thereafter were other than those in the first period. In the third period, the last one, I think it is important to emphasize that you especially and officially wrote a history of the Green Berets, the Special Forces. As a result, you had access to documents and secret information. I think it is very important that you specify your duties in Vietnam, to allow us to ask questions about the actions of American forces in Vietnam. So, can you be specific about the role of the Special Forces in Vietnam, and especially about your three different roles during your service there?

Yes, it can be divided into three phases, with one sub-division in the second phase. The first assignment I had in Vietnam was {283} with the Headquarters 5th Special Forces, as one of the three area specialists for III and IV Corps tactical areas. This would be characterized as the southern half of the southern zone of Vietnam. Specifically, there were two captains and myself. We were responsible for the briefing of teams coming into the country and the briefing of teams going out of the country. We were the coordinator between the various camps in this area. Of course, we were also in charge of the briefings for visiting dignitaries, VIPs and so on, and as part of this job it was our duty to go to the various camps and in my case to actually take part in patrols and combat actions, in order to evaluate the worthiness or the unworthiness of the various companies. These are again the CIDG camps, the strike forces. In the second phase, which is sub-divided, I was operations and intelligence officer in a group called Project Delta. In fact, I helped form this project from scratch. This project was initiated originally for the specific purpose of infiltrating teams into Laos. Later on, the programme was enlarged, and in addition to being an operations and intelligence specialist I was also a team leader, actually going with the teams. These are eight-man teams, consisting usually of two Americans and six Vietnamese, essentially started out as an intelligence-gathering agency and later developed into something that was given the name `hunter-killer team'. In other words, you went out and you hunted information but you also got involved in commando-type raid tactics. As I became more and more involved in the field and the operational end of that, I did less of the office work, and although I was still in an advisory capacity, that particular function was taken over by a major. And in the final phases I was assigned for the purpose - this is in the last six to eight weeks in Vietnam - of writing the official history for Special Forces in Vietnam, in addition to which I was also doing staff study papers, analysing various field situations, and submitting solutions to problems for study...

Mahmud Ah Kasuri: Would you, Mr Duncan, give us the dates to which these three periods are related?

The first period was sometime in the middle of March 1964, in fact, from the day I arrived... and that period ended on 24 May 1964. It was one month and a half. And then from 24 May 1964 through August, I was with Project Delta. I never was really {284} officially separated from Project Delta. In other words, I was still - after I was writing this history - I was still in an advisory capacity to the project; although I was no longer taking part in the field operations after August of 1965. And my service in Vietnam terminated somewhere around 15 September 1965.

Halimi: I would like to ask you a question about prisoner treatment in Vietnam. Almost all the witnesses agree on this point: the instructions that were given, after the capture of prisoners, to the Americans was to kill them if they became bothersome. You said it in your book, The New Legions ... Peter Bourne said the same thing at Captain Levy's trial. Also, Robin Moore in his book, The Green Berets, confirmed very forcibly that there were formal instructions to kill prisoners that were definitely considered dangerous - or Viet Cong, in most cases. Can you answer this first point?

Yes. I think, in the interest of brevity, I may be improper here on procedure. You have mentioned the Levy trial. The problem as I see it here, is to show pattern and practice in the treatment of prisoners, in other words, to separate pattern and practice from isolated, individual incidents. Perhaps I can clarify this by saying that between Peter Bourne, Robin Moore and myself, we have visited and been in at least seventy-five per cent of Special Forces camps that existed in Vietnam at that time. I myself have been at perhaps twenty-five such camps. Of course, I could not see all of these things myself. I will talk about things I actually have seen myself, but of course in my capacity of reading the intelligence reports, the after-action reports that came from these camps that was part of my duty, I have knowledge that, in fact, these are the practices throughout the country at Special Forces camps. Now, in the book, I related two incidents in some detail - one, in which a prisoner was disembowelled with a knife under interrogation, and another event, where civilians were picked up along the route of march and abused. Both these incidents took place in Tay Ninh Sul, which is a camp, an old French fort, as a matter of fact, just outside the city of Tay Ninh. This particular company was composed primarily from an ethnic minority group, the Cao Dai. The company leader was given the normal rank of lieutenant. His name was Dam. I understood that he was a former major in the now-defunct Cao Dai army. The strike force, like all strike forces, {285} brings in another problem - who controls these teams? And if I may, I'd like to digress here, just for a moment.

     It was contended by the US Army at the Levy trial that, in fact, these strike forces are under the command and control of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, the Saigon government. At Fort Bragg, North Carolina, it is taught as doctrine, that either in guerrilla warfare or counter-guerrilla warfare, when you are working with indigenous groups of people, you control these people by controlling the money, by controlling the supplies and by controlling the communications. At all of these camps, without exception, the money is supplied by the United States; the strike forces are paid by the United States through Special Forces; in fact, the supply base at that time was Nha Trang, and it was either funnelled through the B-Team to the A-Teams, or directly from Nha Trang to the A-Teams.

     The communications, both equipment and the operators, are controlled by the Americans. So, in fact, to say that the Vietnamese Special Forces are running these camps is an evasion of the grandest order; yet is a convenience that when something goes wrong it works conveniently both ways. The Vietnamese can say: we can do nothing, it was the Americans who are in charge. The Americans can say: we can't do anything because we don't have control. One hand rubs the other.... I have a specific example on by whom and how these camps are controlled. In the case of this story and this disembowellment, both of these patrols... were led by this Mr Dam.

     Both cases, the Special Forces people were there. A captain, excuse me, a first lieutenant - American - and two American NCOs. There was one Vietnamese Special Forces present, a sergeant. He was just there for whatever reason, more like an observer; he did not give orders. The orders were given through the interpreter, or indirectly from the lieutenant or one of the American sergeants to this Mr Dam. These acts were performed from this particular camp. In fact, the American Special Forces were able in the space of two months to have three camp commanders relieved. The one camp commander was relieved because he tried to put Mr Dam in jail. This is the Vietnamese camp commander, his official title. He tried to put Mr Dam in jail, and as a result of that - and I have personal knowledge of this because I happened {286} to be there for the changing of the guard ceremony when one was relieved - the new commander came in. They try not to interfere, in other words, as long as everything is going the way the Americans want it to go. Then, of course, the Vietnamese are given great sway as to how they conduct the camp. As soon as it does not meet with American approval, the pressure is put on and the man is relieved. As a matter of fact, United States Special Forces themselves were instrumental in getting the commander - the overall commander of the Vietnamese Special Forces - not only relieved but sent out of the country, which was Colonel Lamson, who I understand right now is in Laos, Vientiane.

     As for the specific incidents referred to in the book, in both cases Americans were present. All the instructions were: get the information. They knew what methods would be used to extract that information, and the thing is, then the Americans would turn their backs, light a cigarette, you know, until the nastiness was over. Now, this type of thing is very common throughout. Special Forces, perhaps more so than other organizations within the United States Army, are very sensitive about the ethnic differences. For instance, in training, you are told that you should never torture a prisoner; let your counterpart do it. You should never kill a prisoner; let your counterpart do it. This is the indigenous counterpart; in Vietnam, of course, that would be the Vietnamese. Now, there is no morality; this doctrine is not put forth on a moral issue, but a very pragmatic issue.

     The idea being that, since you are an American, it could be resented - your torturing or killing these people. In other words, you don't want the charge of prejudice or racism thrown at you.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, I would like to ask you about torture of prisoners by the South Vietnamese, in the presence of Americans. I would like to ask you about blanket orders given to the troops to get rid of prisoners. I ask this because in your book, in the testimony of Peter Bourne, in the testimony of Robin Moore which the Tribunal has, and in the deposition of Marine Campbell which the Tribunal will hear - we find references that indicate there were orders to execute prisoners. Can you say whether you know if there are general orders of this kind given to American forces?

I personally have never heard a blanket order of this type {287} given. However, such orders are given to individuals in specific circumstances, and I will relate a personal one.

     This was in the An Lao valley in 1965. We went into this area again, a team of eight men - this was an area that had been controlled for some time by the National Liberation Front. As a matter of fact, there hadn't been government troops in that area in a couple of years at least.

     Our mission was to last five days in this area, to put the valley under surveillance or whatever, and hopefully, on the way out, to pick up prisoners, if we could, for interrogation. As these things do happen when you are working in somebody else's territory, we inadvertently had to take prisoners. In other words we were in a position where we had to take prisoners for our own safety because they had walked in upon us. We would try to let them go by, but it just didn't work that way. However, we were faced with the problem: we were in this valley; we have four prisoners, there are only eight of us. Quite obviously, we can't carry these people around with us, we can't let them go. I radioed back to base, informed them of the situation, and my instructions over the radio were to `get rid of them'. I asked for a repeat on that, they said, `get rid of them'. I pretended to ignore - not ignore - pretended that I didn't understand the communication (of course, I fully understood the communication) and effected a helicopter transport out of there. When I got back to our base camp, the people were very angry, and when I say people, I am talking now about the commander of the project at that time, because I had brought the prisoners back and had not stayed in this area for four or five days. He made it very plain to me that what he meant by `getting rid of them', of course, as I well knew, was that they were to be murdered, and to carry on with the mission. I think that two other people were present at the time when that conversation took place. It would have been the standard practice in a situation like that to get rid of the prisoners, and the only way to get rid of them is, of course, by murder.

     This comes back again to something I said this morning. The captain that gave the order would not in all good sense ever say directly over the radio, to `kill the prisoners'. Because again, these radios are monitored, and if there should be some legal ramification later he could always deny that he ever gave them {288} such an order. It would be considered an illegal communication, in the Army, to say such a thing.

Halimi: I would like to ask you - I think that you have your text in English - what you wanted to say in your book on page 161, when you say: `There is a time to take prisoners and a time to dispose of them ...' and so on. You have the page. Could you explain what you wanted to say?

This particular page, I assume you mean where it starts: `This means of course, that you have a disposal problem. Prisoners who have not learned too much, can be turned back to their own, as propaganda weapons' and so on and so forth. Again, you are referring to this portion where I am talking about getting rid of prisoners. First of all, to put it in context, I have tried to reconstruct as closely as I could, an actual class at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

     It was very easy for me to reconstruct this because this is the same class I taught; in fact, I helped make up the lesson plans for it. This is in the context of a guerrilla warfare and counter-insurgency operation. In all of these things, one is perhaps applicable to the other. It in fact means that if you were in a guerrilla warfare area, for instance, if these teams were operating - let us say, in North Vietnam - and you took prisoners - quite obviously you could not set up a prisoner-of-war camp in North Vietnam. So, what do you do with the prisoners? Of course, you would have to dispose of them somehow, for security. It's a problem all guerrilla units have. Their existence is dependent upon mobility and it's very hard to be mobile when you're pinned down with a prisoner-of-war camp. So it is in that context that that information is given.

Halimi: But Mr Robin Moore as well as Captain Bourne and as well as the Marine, Campbell, speak only about the war in South Vietnam and say that their instructions in South Vietnam, not in counter-guerrilla operations, were to get rid of prisoners if they became burdensome.

Yes. Now we are referring to a combat operation. In the process of a combat operation you're on, maybe, a one-week patrol and you pick up a prisoner here, or a prisoner there, and it is pretty well decided that he is `hard-core' - the expression that is used there - `hard-core VC' - that of course, the man is jeopardizing {289} the security of the patrol. There is nothing else to do, if he is inconveniencing the patrol, then of course, the thing to do would be to dispose of those prisoners, which, of course, would mean killing. Perhaps I should add that the Americans, like any other army, are well aware of the value of prisoners as a source of information, and, if possible, they would bring them back to camp for interrogation - proper, thorough, interrogation. The exigencies of battle do not always allow that, of course. That would mean, that they would be in the middle of a battle, but they would be on a military operation and there would be no convenient method of sending these prisoners back. So, in that sense, they would have to get rid of them.

Halimi: Mr Duncan: you, Robin Moore, as well as Captain Bourne, Carl Campbell and Jones, whose testimonies will be heard on tape, said that it was in fact the Americans who taught the South Vietnamese the interrogation techniques they practise. Could you verify this? And then could you talk about the two incidents of torture that yourself saw that are described in your book?

Yes, it was the practice, at least certainly the time I was there, when you did have prisoners, after a rather superficial interrogation - and by this I mean a direct in-the-field type interrogation of a prisoner - that they were turned over to the Vietnamese (I'm talking now of the Saigon elements) for interrogation. Sometimes they were turned over at the camp level, sometimes at the - what they call - the province, or district, level. In any event, the type of treatment that they would receive in the process of interrogation and incarceration, was well known to the Americans; there is report after report of such things in the files in Saigon. There have sometimes been remonstrations against it, again not on moral grounds, but due to the fact it wasn't eliciting very good information.. As far as I know, it generally still is the practice, although we do now have our own interrogators. Specifically, it was done for two reasons: one, contrary to popular myth, very few of the Special Forces people in Vietnam spoke Vietnamese, of which I'm no exception. The other reason was that it helped to perpetuate the myth that in fact the Vietnamese were in charge of the operations. Interrogating anybody through an interpreter is a very awkward method of interrogation and ... it takes a very highly {290} trained interrogator to ever get any good information this way. So they were turned over to the Vietnamese with full knowledge of the treatment they would receive. More often than not, or - let me correct that - quite often the prisoner did not survive the interrogation.

     To answer specifically the second part of your question, which is an elaboration of these two incidents in Tay Ninh province, the one took place after a battle; there was ... what we call a fire fight - both sides shooting - the strike force was pinned down in a rather open area; aeroplanes were called in. You couldn't actually call this a hamlet - it was maybe a collection of twenty huts, twenty-five huts perhaps, many of which were destroyed; it was recognized that there would be many civilians in that village ... (we get a relative value problem here: who is it better to have killed, a few civilians that we don't know, or us?)

     After the fire fight stopped ... the strike force went on into the village. Those houses that were still left standing were searched; all material taken out of them that had any value at all, souvenirs mostly, and then the houses were put to the torch. In the process of this, of course, as you might fully understand, the people who owned the houses weren't too happy to see their houses burned, and in a couple of cases they protested to the soldiers and were beaten, and, in fact, one woman was shot by one of the soldiers. And, finally, one prisoner was brought forward with a broken leg. He was tied with what we call communication wire. It's a very thin wire with a plastic coating and with a steel core in it and it bites very deeply into the flesh. His arms were tied twice; once at the biceps and once at the wrists, behind his back. He was dragged into the centre of the village.

     First of all he was interrogated by what would be called the executive officer of the strike force, without any results. When I say interrogated, I mean that questions were shouted and screamed at him, while simultaneously one of the other soldiers was kicking the broken leg to the point where the bone finally was pushed through the flesh. During this interrogation a lieutenant had a knife in his hand - a type of knife called a Kabar, an item that is issued to the United States Marines, very popular with Special Forces in Vietnam and a treasured item amongst strike forces and he was teasing the prisoner with this knife: drawing - not {291} actually cutting - but scraping with the point, tracing marks on his chest and stomach. As time went on, of course, the prisoner was not speaking and finally the prisoner was literally pinned to the ground with this Kabar knife. A Kabar knife has a blade on it about nine inches long. It's like what we would call a hunting knife. The knife was pushed straight through his stomach. Then another platoon leader jumped on the prisoner, who was now almost in a state of shock, and he proceeded again to attack him with a knife, only this time ripping the stomach cavity open and going into the cavity and extracting the gall-bladder, which he treasured as a trophy. As a matter of fact some three weeks later he was still wearing the gall bladder around his neck in a little plastic bag as a good-luck token. I have been told - I have no way of verifying this - that he would probably eventually sell that gall bladder to a Chinese, to make some Chinese medicine, evidently valued for some reason.

     The other situation: again it was the same company, in Tay Ninh province. Different advisers this time - different Americans with them. We were not involved in a battle initially, but on the second morning we were out, as we progressed along the route of march - going generally east, towards a village called Suoi Da - we started picking up civilians. These were unarmed people, working in the fields with their water buffaloes, or with their little carts, going off somewhere. A couple of them were, I guess, of military age. But the others were older - older men. In fact, one man was almost the stereotype of the venerable elder, with a long beard, and so on. When I asked why they were being picked up, I was told, `because they are suspected Viet Cong'.

     Whether they were sympathizers with the NLF or not, who can say? The fact that they were living in peace in that particular area indicates that at least they were somewhat sympathetic to the National Liberation Front, but if you picked up everybody in South Vietnam who felt that way, you really would have a lot of people. In any event, during the next three days, as we picked up more and more people, the civilians were pressed into service as ammunition-bearers. They had one carrying a machine-gun, another one carrying the ammunition and another man carrying what is called a Browning automatic rifle, not of course to use but as a convenience for the soldiers. And eventually, on perhaps the {292} third morning, perhaps the fourth morning (I'm not sure which now), we did engage in an attack on a suspected village and these people were passed into the battle along with the soldiers. They had no weapons to use, they were just carrying other supplies along, sharing the same exposure to the shooting as the soldiers. And certain of the soldiers were detailed to keep pushing them in with the other soldiers. Shortly after the battle was over the patrol also was considered over. By this time these people were many miles from home. And having been picked up as Viet Cong sympathizers or suspects, they were then turned loose to make their own way back home. Also, during this period some of these people were treated very badly. One was beaten with a rifle butt, the old man was thrown to the ground and beaten again by this Mr Dam. I think that the significant thing about this is that this was considered one of the finest companies that we had operating at that time amongst the strike forces. And it was hoped that we could bring every company up to the standards of this company...

Halimi: Before passing to questions on the treatment of the civilian population, I would like to ask you to finish your testimony on the torturing of prisoners by confirming what you have already mentioned in your report - that these are not isolated incidents which you describe but occur on a large scale in order that the Tribunal be convinced that this is in fact established practice.

Yes, I will confirm this. It was brought out at the Levy trial. Captain Peter Bourne, Robin Moore and myself have discussed similar things in at least seventy-five per cent of the camps that existed at that time. It's interesting to note here, too, with Robin Moore, Peter Bourne and myself, when you put our times in Vietnam together, cover about a three-year period of time. So this is not something that went on one month but not the next month. It was consistent for at least three years.

Halimi: Would you describe to the Tribunal how you proceeded to arrest civilians during an operation, how they were screened and classified, and how they were put into camps...

Well, first of all there was no arrest in the proper sense of the word. The people were just forcibly taken away from whatever they were doing and there was an initial interrogation at that {293} point. For example, `Are you a member of the National Liberation Front?' or, `Are you a Viet Cong?' As you might suspect not too many people admit to that, under those circumstances. And then the following question would be, `Do you know where they are?' or, `Do you know who is?' And more often than not this is accompanied by violence, especially if you're operating in an area of contention of a known National Liberation Front stronghold or controlled area. The people are eventually broken down roughly into the categories of suspected hard-core VC, sympathizers to the National Liberation Front, or possibly innocent.

Halimi: I see, that's what you call innocent civilians?

Yes, innocent civilians.

Halimi: During the Levy trial, you were questioned on the existence of, and the conditions in, the refugee camps. You have said that these camps are `garbage pits'. Could you explain this and tell the Tribunal how many camps you have seen and what has led you to make this judgement?

I have seen three or four such camps. I used the word `garbage pit' for lack of a better euphemism, I suppose. The conditions under which these people are forced to live are, by any standards, appalling. There is usually a grave shortage of water, perhaps one water point for 200 people. In other cases water has to be brought in, if there is any water at all. They are fortunate to have enough water for cooking and drinking, leaving very little over for sanitary purposes. The latrine facilities, if they exist at all, are of the worst order. There is very little for these people to do, no form of creative work. It's simply a matter of sitting around and letting time pass by. I didn't, myself, see any evidence of physical abuse, in the sense of people going in there and just systematically beating up refugees, but there was overcrowding, in the number of people living in one cubicle, for instance, in the provisions made for beds, which are usually nonexistent. You could usually smell these camps long before you came to them, because of the lack of sanitation facilities.

Halimi: You have in your book, on page 95, alluded to a form of racism which exists even within the Special Forces, in their recruiting as well as in the destruction they carry out. And you have said that this racism took definite forms: for instance, your {294} officers told you not to recruit any Negroes, and that you must find some excuse for rejecting them. Could you give us an explanation of these racial prejudices?

Within the United States Army, and Special Forces is no exception, officially there is no such thing as prejudice for whatever reason. However, individuals within the service bring the prejudices from civilian life with them and, as I stated in the book many times, people with these prejudices get in rather high or official positions. Possibly (this is opinion) the ones that very emphatically and quite honestly state that they have these prejudices or racist attitudes perhaps are more honest than many of those that deny it. One is just a little bit more obvious. It is a fact that at the time I was sent out recruiting for Special Forces, the captain directly in charge of that programme made it quite clear and he used the term `Don't send any niggers.' He quite definitely did not want any Negroes at all, any surplus of Negroes, in the Special Forces. Again, this is not an official policy, but the prejudice does exist and it exists throughout the army. It shows up in peculiar ways. I've seen it with the American army in Germany, I've seen it with the American army at home, and I've seen it with the American army in Vietnam, too. One white and one black worked together, perhaps fixing a truck or as aeroplane mechanics. But at five o'clock the duty day is over, the white man goes to a white bar and the black man goes to a black bar. Now, in Vietnam. ... It's a strange phenomena. ... I just assume it still exists, it existed when I was there. Now these bars are not segregated by the Vietnamese. They are segregated, unofficially, by the American soldiers. A black man walking into a white bar is made to feel very unwelcome, and in a few cases I have actually seen them thrown out of the bar. Now, two men from the same unit, if two men sharing combat hazards, one white and one black, were to go to town and go in to the same bar, of course, nothing would be said. But a stranger, let's say a black man from a strange unit, coming into the bar, it could cause trouble. At least it did while I was there. Now this manifests itself in a very strange way in the relative value put on life in Vietnam. One rifle shot from a village is an excuse to wipe out a village. The idea being, to use the words that they would use, `There isn't one of those slopes, there isn't a hundred of those slopes, worth the life of one of my men. So {295} better to shell the village rather than risk getting one man shot.' And of course, they believe... it's a commonly held opinion, that most of these people are VC anyway, so what the hell.

Halimi: While working for our Tribunal, I heard strange revelations, and most of these deal with the penetration of the CIA into the Special Forces. I must say that the principal source of information is Captain Peter Bourne, who, as far as I know, is an apolitical doctor. He has explained objectively the role the CiA plays in the Special Forces in Vietnam, and it was especially the CIA who decided the location of the refugee camps, not according to military or to strategic criteria, but solely according to political criteria. On the other hand, Mr Robin Moore, who defended this viewpoint, answered very peremptorily that the CIA was in the Special Forces. That throughout the world where Special Forces are found, it (CIA) takes men from the Special Forces, uses them, and puts them back into uniform. Questioned on the extent of this penetration, Robin Moore said (I think this is his exact phrase), `They are all over the world.' He even gave details of the penetration of the Army of Peru, of the Tenth Group of Special Forces at Battols in Germany, and I believe that the only exception he agreed to make was Mexico. He said, `I am not sure whether we have this form of organization in Mexico.' So the question I would like to ask you, and this is my last question, could you explain to the Tribunal what are the official ties between the CiA and the Special Forces? Would you first describe the connexions between the CIA and the Special Forces in Vietnam?

Yes, I testified, I believe it was this morning, that the whole CIDG programme from the time of conception was a CIA operation, and Special Forces was the operation arm of the CIA in running the CIDG camps. This is one aspect. This would be an overt operation. Within Vietnam, and this is especially true when Special Forces first went there, many of the Special Forces men travelled in civilian clothes, out of uniform. They entered the country on civilian passports and were working directly with and for the Agency. However, they were still in Special Forces, still being paid by Special Forces. This would be a covert operation within Special Forces itself. This was a means of again circumventing the Geneva Agreements. At that time the number of {296} American soldiers in Vietnam was restricted by the Agreements and this was a way to have them in the country doing the job and being able to say they were not soldiers.

     Now in the operation I was on, Project Delta, we worked very closely with the CIA. We coordinated operations. We exchanged equipment: communications equipment, radio equipment. Project Delta ... was initiated for the initial purpose of infiltrating Laos, and of course we would have to cooperate or coordinate with the Central Intelligence Agency, essentially because they already had people in Laos and were we to go in there without coordination we might have compromised their operation. In other words, we could have jumped people in on top of their people. Their teams were called `Hardnose' teams at that time in Laos. There is another operation called SOG [Special Operations Groups]. Its main base is at Bien Hoa, and they have forward operational bases at Kai Sanh [Khe Sanh], Da Nang and a new camp just south of Da Nang. ... This particular operation, in 1964, was for the purpose of infiltrating teams into North Vietnam, north of the 17th Parallel. This was more or less a continuation of a programme started quite a while back by Colonel Lansdale, who was the head of the CIA at that time in Vietnam. The training, the direct training of the people on these teams, was done by Special Forces personnel, who were put on detached duty to the CIA for that purpose.

     The Project Delta itself branched out and had a satellite organization called Project Omega - again both a combined military and CIA operation. Project Omega was formed and its primary duties are to infiltrate teams into Cambodia. Complementary with that they have a similar operation in Thailand for infiltrating Cambodia from that border. They also infiltrated people into Laos from Thailand, again a combined CIA and military operation. Most of the funds for these operations came from CIA ... And I have already discussed the strike force operation and the assassination teams. Now this is a little different. The man is taken out of Special Forces, and it would amount essentially to a reassignment within the government. He would no longer be drawing his pay from Special Forces, he would be drawing it directly from the Agency. Special Forces then are both in covert and overt {297} operations with the CIA, but still within Special Forces, and they are detached and reassigned directly to CIA, and then often after that particular mission is completed they will come back to Special Forces. Training for the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba was done this way. The men were taken from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and sent to Latin America for training the Cuban invaders, and when that operation was over these people came back to Special Forces.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, do you know if the Combat Studies Group has given orders to the CIA to place teams in Vietnam?

CSG is just one of the names used for the CIA there, sometimes they are called `embassy officials' too, but CSG, CAS and SOG are all CIA of various echelons. The CSG was in control of the CIDG programme and, in fact, as you asked earlier, were responsible for the actual location of many of the CIDG camps. The location of them was not always picked out by the CIA, but in many instances and especially in the earlier stages they were. If I may anticipate your next question, why they were placed in certain positions, in many cases it was for political reasons. In fact many times these camps were placed, from a strictly military point of view, in incredible and very untenable places. I could name for instance the camp of Ban Sar Pa, which is directly west of Ban Methuot, very close to the Cambodian border, and which was sitting at the base of a hill with trees, large trees and dense foliage growing right up to one edge of the camp. In other words, no field of fire for gunners, and somebody wanting to attack the camp could virtually crawl right up to the wire without being seen. Of course the reason for the location of this camp which was in a Montagnard area, was that they wanted those people at least pacified, to stop them from harassing the government or stop the government from harassing them.

     You may recall this is a camp that went out of existence in 1964. This is one of the camps where the Montagnards' revolt took place against the South Vietnamese government. The camp was destroyed by the South Vietnamese Rangers, a company attached to Project Delta at that time.

Halimi: Mr Duncan, do you have any more to say to the Tribunal regarding the penetration of Laos, Cambodia or other countries? {298}

As a matter of fact, we did remove the overt element of Special Forces from Laos at the time of the Geneva Agreements, but we left the covert there and, of course, have put additional people in since that time. Again in Laos, even when they were initially in the relatively overt operation, they travelled on civilian passports and for the most part wore civilian clothes. Of course, this is a pattern of Special Forces. It was repeated again in the Dominican Republic. Long before the American Marines landed in the Dominican Republic there had been Special Forces teams there. They had been recruited from Spanish-American people within the United States, in other words people that could blend very well with the people of the countryside, and they were there to pick up intelligence, and, to use the expression, `win the hearts and minds of the people' in the countryside. This first came to my attention when a couple of people from the Peace Corps complained that Special Forces was also trying to enlist or recruit people from within the Peace Corps to supply them with information. These individuals took exception to that. The same was true in Guatemala. Special Forces are in Guatemala and have been for some time. Like any other type of military personnel, American military personnel in Guatemala, at least when they are in Guatemala City or any of the larger towns, do not wear uniforms. This is also true of the Air Force there. Of course, they are in Panama, in the Canal Zone, where we have our own school called the School of the Americas, where we take people from these countries, such as Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela and so on, and we send them to that school for training by Special Forces. All of these things are very closely coordinated, of course, with CIA.

Jean-Paul Sartre: In the International Herald Tribune 23 November 1967, General Westmoreland stated that the Vietnam war's major objective was to show the world that guerrilla war did not pay. Consequently there is a current military doctrine of anti-guerrilla war in the USA. Could you tell us what it is, and, more precisely, how it raises the problem of repression of the people supporting the guerrillas?

The doctrine - perhaps I would prefer to use the word policy - I think, has been stated many times by Mr Rusk, President Johnson, Mr McNamara and other officials in our country: that they're determined to make sure that wars of national liberation {299} will not work, will not succeed. And, of course, the whole counterinsurgency programme of the United States is set up to follow through with that programme, that John F. Kennedy set up, for special warfare: the School of the Americas in Panama and so on. It works, as so often happens, from what I consider a false premise. For instance, we have never admitted officially that the guerrillas, or the National Liberation Front in Vietnam, for instance, are anything other than just a very tiny minority of the population of South Vietnam. We justify our actions by saying, in fact, given a free choice the people would support us or support the government that we are backing at any given time. The ironic part of this policy is that it is tied in very closely with the economic systems in these other countries, what is to our economic and political advantage in these countries. I think if you will make a study of it, that in every country in Latin America where we are involved and certainly in South Vietnam, it becomes readily apparent to even a casual visitor that these people are in grave need, long overdue need, for some type of social-political-economic revolution. Invariably they are being run by oligarchies, dictatorships or juntas of one sort or another. Instead of going into these countries and giving these people a revolution, by dealing directly with the people, the policy always is to go in and help the government; in other words, to help the people through existing government. The rationale for this is, of course, that the government we're helping is anti-communist. And so we are willing to overlook many of the imbalances, injustices, in many cases the corruption, of these governments, and in fact, I ought to use an American colloquialism, it becomes a policy of `eating soup with a fork'. Because, in fact, what you are doing is helping the very people that are responsible for the very conditions that exist and that made it necessary for you to get involved in the first place. We are determined to say that wars of national liberation will not work. We realize on the other hand that they are indigenous but we claim that they are directed from outside the country and this is the rationale for that. Does this answer your question completely?

Sartre: Do you think that these methods used in this war were unavoidable, or that they are inevitably linked to this type of war wherein there is, on the one hand, a guerrilla, and, on the other hand, the bulk of the population which sympathizes with guerrilla {300} forces? Do you think that torture inevitably appears in those cases, as well as the extermination of an important part of the population, and a war related to genocide?

The methods could be avoided. They could have been avoided from the beginning. You get a cause-and-effect relationship. The excuse for many of the things done by the United States' military personnel or by those people under their charge or control is usually, `Look what the National Liberation Front does, look at the terrible things they do.' Again, I think there's a cause-and-effect here. The methods that first started this displacing of the population, things like the `strategic hamlet' programmes, perhaps might have had some validity in Malaya, given an entirely different political situation, given ethnic groupings and, of course, a different people, different terrain and so forth. Certainly it was a tragedy in Vietnam and one of the things that led to the situation that exists in Vietnam today. In other words, a self-defeating thing. It's common when you're dealing with Regular Army people or with military people that they always think in terms of the last war, the one that preceded this one, and you make all the mistakes and then you try to learn something. And in this case they made many mistakes and now, in my own opinion, it's impossible to rectify them. And to answer your question directly again, no, I don't think these methods were necessary, because I don't think it was ever necessary for the United States Army to be there in the first place.
 

Back to Table of Contents

Scanning & HTML Rae West. Zipfile 98-01-31