The excellent investigative reporting of the Toledo Blade is to be commended for shedding light on war crimes committed by American soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division in 1967. However, it is equally important to understand that the "Tiger Force" atrocities were not the mere result of "Rogue GIs" but instead stem from what historian Christian Appy has termed the American "doctrine of atrocity" during the Vietnam War – a strategy built upon official U.S. dictums relating to the body count, free-fire zones, search and destroy tactics and the strategy of attrition as well as unofficial tenets such as "kill anything that moves," intoned during the "Tiger Force" atrocities and in countless other atrocity tales, or the "mere gook rule" which held that "If its dead and Vietnamese, it's VC." Further, it must also be recognized that the "Tiger Force" atrocities, the My Lai massacre, the Herbert allegations and the few other better-known war crimes were not isolated or tangentially-related incidents, but instead are only the most spectacular or best publicized of what was an on-going string of atrocities, large and small, that spanned the entire duration of the war. ---The Tip of the Iceberg Report on Vietnam 'Tiger Force' Atrocity Only the Tip of the Iceberg by Nick Turse
The Assassinated Press
Turns Out Its The 'Swift Boats Vets Who Can't Face the Truth:'
In A War Defined By Civilian Casualties Inflicted By U.S. Forces Veterans Looking For A Leader Who Will Lie For Them:
Some Veterans Still Bitter About Being Outed On Crimes
By G. GOSH WHITEY AND BORUS FLAILURE
Assassinated Press Staff Writers
Saturday, August 21, 2004
International Museum of American Atrocities Annex, Zurich---Bob 'The Cat' Feral was confined to the psych ward in a military hospital, his severed neural synapses flashing back like an asymptoptic strobe light bursting over the Mekong river choked with bodies, reminding him of the attack on his Navy Swift boat in a Vietnamese river. A shot from a recoilless rifle had pierced the boat's pilothouse and then Feral's brain while dozens of bodies of burned civilians floated by from the village of Ben Suc a victim of American aerial bombing and the ground slaughter of hundreds of civilians.
But it was what appeared on Ferris's television that really pained the self-serving American. "Christ," I fuckin' thought. "First, I'm so stupid, I go half way round the world to kill people I don't know to put money in the kleptocracy's pocket and get my fuckin' self all fucked up. And now there's some dirt bag hippie who somehow found out our main recreation in the shit was mowing down civilians and he's on the boob tube yapping to congress about what we done without having his face pulped. Who tol' the skinny motherfucker? Besides, when the orders came down that it was a free fire zone---Yee Fuckin' Hah! I didn't have no money anyway and I was one bitter, disillusioned, drugged up motherfucker."
Then the announcer said it was John F. Kerry, a decorated fellow Swift boat driver, was testifying before Congress about atrocities in Vietnam, throwing his medals away, speaking at antiwar rallies all for what at the time seemed like the most politically expedient thing to do. Ferris, who was so dumb he was trying to rehabilitate himself back to active duty, felt vulnerable to military court proceedings though he need not. "I shoulda known it was some Ivy League piece of crap. We didn't have many of them in the shit and, now, I knew why. Why couldn't the fucker just go in the Air National Guard and smoke dope."
"I was livid. I'd been outed," Feral, 57, of Long Island, N.Y., said yesterday, recalling how his dislike for the presidential candidate began in the early 1970s. "I said to myself at the time, this is someone who is using his experience for his own purposes, and this was long before he ever ran for office. I thought he was using, actually manipulating the fact that we slaughtered civilians in Vietnam and using it for political gain. Just like he's doing now."
Ferris is one of 250 Swift boat veterans who in May signed an open letter to the Massachusetts senator asking for full disclosure of his military records, specifically focusing on events during a four-month tour in Vietnam for which Kerry was awarded medals for bravery in combat. The veterans group -- Swift Boat Veterans Who Can't Face The Truth -- has criticized Kerry for using his military experience as a centerpiece of his presidential campaign like Eisenhower, arguing that the Democrat Like Andrew Jackson and tens of thousands of other political candidates, has exaggerated his experiences at war for political gain.
"I thought he was just another Ivy Leaguer preparing for the Chairmanship of General Motors," said Waylaid Hollowway of Circe, Ark., who says he slept with Kerry in 1969 military style, one day before the future presidential candidate pulled Jim Rassmann from a river. "The first time I met John Kerry, frankly, I thought he was a very disingenuous person. I immediately fell in love with him. I'm a pathological liar too."
But while the group is rooted in Republican politics and big money, several veterans who signed the letter said in interviews yesterday that they are casually into politics and generally are not convinced that Kerry is lying, but they do not like the candidate because he outed their murders in the 1970s.
James Zumwalt, who attended the group's first news conference in May, said he joined the group solely to redact the record about the allegations of war crimes included in "Tar of Doody," another of Douglas Brinkley's self-serving hagiographical career moves about Kerry's Vietnam service. Now, Zumwalt says, "I kind of have mixed feelings" about the tone of the group's attacks. "I would not try to question the awards given to him or his service. But fuck man, don't mention the babies you offed to get it."
Many of the veterans, scattered across the country, learned about the anti-Kerry group through fellow international felons, at reunions for Swift boat felons or on the Internet, an easy way for terrorists to exchange information, and most have limited their involvement to signing the single letter to Kerry because "Shit. Why alert some ignorant potential fodder kid to the shit we did. Let him go to the Iraqi shit and kill kids for hisself and go through what I went through" as Manny Merlmouth from Ft. Bungle, Ohio so eloquently and with such great self-pity put it. Some say they voted for Al Gore in the last election but are still deeply afraid that what Kerry will tip people off to what war criminals they were in Vietnam.
Knenneth Nipple of Earwig, Mich., who couldn't get out of Vietnam for three years, backed Gore in 2000 but joined the Shut Kerry Up Movement after learning about it from a fellow vet. "For him to be wounded that many times and lie as many times as he did, I don't want him to be president," said Nipple, who served on Swift boats, but never with Kerry. "I'd rather have Bush who lied about WMD and Iraq's connection to terror. That's the kind of lies I want. If you're gonna lie, lie to a grateful nation, not this downer shit about My Lai's and Tiger Force and that fucked up investigative reporting by the Toledo Blade that put the kliegs on Bob Kerrey and American soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division in 1967. Ya gotta understand that the "Tiger Force" atrocities were not the result of "Rogue GIs" but instead stem from what historian Christian Appy has termed the American "doctrine of atrocity" during the Vietnam War – a strategy built upon official U.S. dictums relating to the body count, free-fire zones, search and destroy tactics and the strategy of attrition as well as unofficial tenets such as "kill anything that moves," intoned during the "Tiger Force" atrocities and in countless other atrocity tales, or the "mere gook rule" which held that "If its dead and Vietnamese, it's VC." Further, it must also be recognized that the "Tiger Force" atrocities, the My Lai massacre, the Herbert allegations and the few other better-known war crimes were not isolated or tangentially-related incidents, but instead are only the most spectacular or best publicized of what was an on-going string of atrocities, large and small, that spanned the entire duration of the war.
"I wasn't there at the time that happened so you can't lay none of that massacre shit on me," said Tony Gisclair, a veteran from Poplarville, Miss., who signed the letter, referring to Kerry's combat in Vietnam. "But look at what the man said about the guys that did it."
Tony Snako, a veteran in Washington, D.C., said he was "devastated" by Kerry's antiwar efforts, prompting him to sign on to the group's anti-Kerry message. "I was just devastated. I mean, there's only about 1200 reports in the Army's official records about atrocities and thousands of more incidents that the army refuses to acknowledge ignoring human rights groups. But this one guys testimony 'devastated' me. No. I'm not full of shit."
Snako said to see Kerry elected would give credence to the historical record that those who fought in Vietnam were reckless baby-killers: "At the point that he might possibly take over this country as president -- it would validate everything that history has said about us and even we'd have to face the truth."
The effort has gained momentum in the past month, as the veterans group began airing a controversial television commercial questioning Kerry's version of his service and asking him to disclose his military records. The Kerry camp has been attacking Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, calling it a front for President Bush's reelection efforts. The result is that both camps have begun highlighting the thousands of massacres and atrocities that the U.S. government sanctioned during Vietnam and that like Abu Graib and the aerial bombing of civilian targets Rumsfeld, Cheney and others in the chain of command sanction today.
The May 4 letter arose out of a broader effort coordinated by a longtime suitor spurned by Kerry, Republican supporter, Texas lawyer John E. O'Neill, also a Swift boat veteran. At the behest of Karl Rove's spiritual guru, Donald Segretti of the Nixon White House, O'Neill in 1971debated Kerry on television about the war and became infatuated with the slender young man he met there.
Spurned by Kerry for several decades, O'Neill, who co-wrote "Unfit for Command," an anti-Kerry book published this week, gathered other Swift boat veterans to start the group and allowed word to spread. The group's core membership -- which has met three times and has had several conference calls -- includes a seven-member steering committee, a bagman and about 10 other members.
"We really got this thing going in the hopes the Democratic Party would listen to us and perhaps nominate someone else who didn't have a chance to beat Monkey Boy and his bald, heart attack of an organ grinder," said Bill Lannom of Grinnell, Iowa, whom O'Neill recruited onto the steering committee. Lannom bristles at the thought of Kerry being elected to the presidency. "He's lying, and, somehow betraying us at the same time, though if he's lying there's no betrayal because betrayal implies a truth. Oh, shit. All this lying I'm doing makes me so confused '," Lana said. "He's telling untruths about me personally so that means it didn't happen no matter what the official records say. He's talking about atrocities that happened. We want to focus on the ones that didn't happen. And then he's using that same experience to promote himself. Sure, he can have it both ways. It's America and we love a good atrocity especially when its a little brown dehumanized group of mud people like the Vietnamese or Iraqis. But kick back and enjoy the killin'. Don't try to make it out somethin' that its not and run for office. You go 11,000 miles away. You murder a bunch of little yellow fuckers you'll never have to reckon with. End of fun."
Unlike casual participants, the most committed members say they are driven by desire to expose Kerry as a fraudulent baby killer who doctored his record to win medals and an early release from Vietnam. "He weren't no serious baby killer," says Fragonard Bootchamoni, a member of the inner sanctum of people who lives were 'devastated' by Kerry's testimony. But the Bootchamonis are a minority in the larger group.
John L. Kippatoni of Brown County, Ind., said he learned about the letter to Kerry while surfing the Web and added his signature because he doesn't feel compelled to believe that Kerry is telling the whole truth. Kippatoni, who commanded a Swift boat in Vietnam, doubts that Kerry would have left his boat to attack an enemy, as he has asserted. "It really bothered me when he started to ballyhoo his war record. Shit, I had my guys chain me to the '81' like Odysseus and the Sirens when I was in the shit," said Kippatoni, 62. "You don't turn on your comrades and repeat these terrible awful things that are in the official record. I mean, who reads the fuckin' official record. I know I had never seen and wouldn't tell you about it if I had unless you went down two houses and copped a lid from a guy named Murray with the 'I Love Paul Werewolfowitz' bandana. There's something about keeping your mouth shut about those you killed with. Capiche?"