Thursday, May 20, 2010

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Paul Jay's new blog post on
May 19, 2010

Hello TRNN viewers,

Paul Jay, Senior Editor of The Real News Network has a new blog on, one of Canada's busiest news websites. Please click through to read the blog and help drive up the views.

Below is an excerpt from Paul's first blog post;

On reality and bitter truths

I'm often asked what I mean by "real news" or "reality". I receive a decidedly skeptical "Do you think you have the 'real' truth?"

I don't think there's an absolute truth. But I do think there's an objective world and there are facts. I know we will always have a partial understanding of things. But we can strive to base our opinions on evidence, or we can just say things that seem to be in our interest. Or just make stuff up to sound worldly and worthy of being booked on a talk show.

That's the problem with most news these days. Journalists know that people with power publicly say things that are in their interests, and often not what they really think or want; that there is an economic and political elite and when they say "for the good of the nation", they mean themselves. That we live in a class society is a fact everyone knows but few journalists acknowledge in their work.....

A couple of weeks ago I interviewed Josh Stieber on The Real News Network. He's a former US soldier who was a member of the company that was involved in the WikiLeaks video.

He told me that in basic training they marched to the following song:

"I went down to the market where all the women shop

I pulled out my machete and I begin to chop

I went down to the park where all the children play

I pulled out my machine gun and I began to spray."

He told me that if soldiers didn't accept the need for shooting civilians and psychologically prepare themselves for it, they would be punished. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan are not accidental "collateral damage"; they are part of the deliberate strategy of modern warfare.

When I say 'reality asserts itself', it also means understanding the global anger against US military policy and increasingly, Canada's role in it.

You can watch the WikiLeaks video and Josh Stieber interview here.

Continue reading the article, and read or post comments:

'On reality and bitter truths'

Thank you for your support

The Real News Team

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Whistle-Blowing in Afghanistan, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq
"If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every postwar American president would have been hanged."
Noam Chomsky spoke in 1990 and went on to cite their crimes against humanity

No US President Hanged Under Nuremberg Principles
Obama Bellicose Bombs On Tempts Fate

By Jay Janson
April 12, 2010

.....Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at a meeting with American Veterans yesterday in Hanoi, urges the United States government "to take responsibility for solving the aftermath of its war with Vietnam" emphasizing that more than two million Vietnamese were killed, millions more were injured, and more than 300,000 are still missing, three million were exposed to toxic chemicals like Agent Orange sprayed by the U.S. military during the war. He further urged the U.S. government to "listen to its conscience." Some future Vietnamese PM might be emboldened by a weakened U.S. to seek prosecution rather than to merely urge.

When U.S. power wanes as a half century of living beyond its means takes its toll, will the world not revolt against this American immunity from prosecution only begrudgingly respected by other large nations today? When no longer forced to accept American hegemony for being so inextricably interlocked in the U.S. dominated global capitalism system, will nations put up with such arrogance? When no longer feeling compromised by their reluctant acquiescence or collaboration in U.S. crimes against humanity?

When the U.S. is forced to renege on its debt to international creditors, is unable to do otherwise but sell off enough to survive bankruptcy, will it not lose the economic preeminence that backs up its claim to exceptional treatment before international laws?....


Friday, May 07, 2010

Are we being prepared for yet another illegal, unprovoked, unnecessary and unimaginably destructive war based on more lies and false fears just for the profits of the war mongers, this time against Iran?

A Timetable For War

By Philip Giraldi
May 06, 2010 "

Readers of my articles will know that I am extremely pessimistic about the prospects for peace in the Middle East. I do not believe for a second that the leaders of Israel actually consider Iran to be an "existential" threat but the fact that they have cried wolf so often has convinced the Israeli public that it is so.

Worse still, Israel’s friends in the US have convinced the American public of the same thing even though Iran does not threaten the United States at all.

Relying on a complaisant media that has fully embraced the fabricated narrative of fanatical Mullahs brandishing nuclear weapons shortly before handing them over to al-Qaeda, a majority of Americans now believes that Iran must be dealt with by force and that it already has a nuclear weapon.

As in the case in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, the fictitious threat has taken on an ominous reality because the lie has been repeated often enough to appear to be truth....

So what can Obama do to stop this?.....The only option that I believe would actually work is for Obama to go public preemptively on the issue and proclaim that there is no casus belli with Iran, that any Israeli attack will not be supported by the United States and that furthermore the United States will take the lead in condemning such an act in the United Nations and in all other appropriate international fora.

Is that likely to happen? I think not.

And that is precisely the reason why I think a new war in the Middle East is inevitable and will take place this year, probably by August.

Click here to read the full story

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is a contributing editor to The American Conservative and a fellow at the American Conservative Defense Alliance.


Loose Lips on Iran Can Sink America

By Ray McGovern

....This is a lesson that members of Congress and Washington's media honchos should have learned from the disastrous invasion of Iraq; especially the ones whose lips helped President George W. Bush portray Saddam Hussein as a monster bristling with “weapons of mass destruction.”

In that time frame, of course, cooperating with Bush was “the smart play” for one’s career, even for many Democrats and liberal opinion leaders.

But those politicians and pundits now should share responsibility for having allowed Bush to mislead the nation into a war that has maimed and killed thousands of American soldiers, not to mention hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, [Actually,
1.2 million Iraqis have been killed - mostly civilians.] with millions more driven from their homes into fetid refugee camps.

The complicit lawmakers also helped sail the American ship of state into a vast iceberg of debt.

However, holding such powerful people accountable has become what former White House counsel and then Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, would call “quaint” or “obsolete” — like adhering to the Geneva Conventions.

But wait; unless our Constitution has been relegated to the same status, we do have a chance every two years to make a judgment about politicians, whether they should continue to represent us or be driven from office. (Sadly, there’s less public leverage over the fate of pundits.)

Yet, recently I have been looking on in disbelief as some of the same Democrats (and media personalities) who helped grease the skids for the unnecessary, unprovoked attack on Iraq, are doing a reprise — changing the script from Iraq to Iran.

The same kind of macho language (by no means limited to testosterone-prone men) is coming from lips of lawmakers who think that hyping the “threat” from Iran will position them well in winning an election (or perhaps buy some street cred with some campaign funders or the media mainstream).

‘Real Men Go to Tehran!’

Think back seven years and recall the Blackwater-style bravado from the lips of neoconservatives like Donald Rumsfeld’s crony Kenneth Adelman — the fellow who assured us all that Iraq would be a “cakewalk.”

Even as this proved to be a fantasy, his neoconservative colleagues were beating their breasts like Tarzan and setting their eyes on Iran. The neocon joke at the time questioned what the next target should be – Syria or Iran? – with the punch line, “Real men go to Tehran!”

Both then and today, however, it was not just Tarzans who were spoiling for a fight in the Middle East, but some Janes, in particular – Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat who was a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of the Iraq invasion.

From her position on the Intelligence Committee, Harman was better positioned than most of her colleagues to know that Bush was hyping or inventing the evidence of Iraq’s alleged WMD, but she still joined the stampede to war.

After the invasion and an exhaustive investigation, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller concluded that the Bush/Cheney administration “presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

However, back in 2003, it would have taken some political courage to call out Bush and his team on their flimsy “evidence” or their outright lies. Career-wise, there was plenty of upside – and no discernable downside – to go along.

But why am I reprising this history now, you ask? Because it turns out Jane and some of the Tarzans are at it again, hyping the “threat” from Iran, where “real men” — and apparently some “real women” — still want to go.

Speaking on the floor of Congress on April 22, Harman said:

“I am often asked to name those countries I think pose the greatest threat to the security of our country and the world. … My answer every time is Iran, Iran, Iran. … Given its myopic obsession with the destruction of Israel … and its implacable, duplicitous march toward a nuclear weapons capability, in my view no other country comes close.”

(More objective observers might say, “Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan,” an unstable Islamic nation that actually acquired nuclear weapons with the acquiescence of the Reagan administration in the 1980s and is today the home for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, including the trainers of alleged Time Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. Shahzad's father, Bahar Ul Haq, was a former Pakistani air vice marshal reportedly with some responsibility over the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.)

[To rewrite Harman: I am seldom asked to name those countries I think pose the greatest threat to the security of the world, but my answer would be the USA and Israel (the regime occupying Palestine). Given their myopic obsession with the destruction of Iran, and Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and their implacable, duplicitous march toward a nuclear war, in my view no other countries comes close. - BRUCE]

Iran Obsessed

But Harman is focused on Iran, which is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has renounced any intention of having nukes, and is considered years away from building one even if it wanted to.

To punish Iran for its speculative interest in nuclear weapons, Harman called for sanctions to “cripple Iran’s ability to import refined petroleum products.” (As a Harvard-educated lawyer, she should be aware that, under international law, such a blockade would be an act of war. It also would inflict widespread hardship on the Iranian people.)

But Israel’s right-wing Likud government and America's neocons have identified Iran as the new enemy. So, in line with that assessment, Harman ended her oration thusly:

“Iran with nuclear weapons not only poses an existential threat to Israel; it poses an existential threat to us [vocal emphasis hers] and to countries everywhere which espouse democratic values.”

Not even hawkish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton goes that far. At a formal press conference in Qatar, she said, “Iran doesn’t directly threaten the United States,” though she added that Iran was a threat to U.S. friends in the region.

Clinton’s momentary deviation from the more alarmist rhetoric that Official Washington favors when discussing Iran came while answering a question at a formal press conference in Doha, Qatar on Feb. 14. (Check it out; last time I looked, it was still on the State Department’s Web site.) Clinton said:

“Part of the goal … we were pursuing was to try to influence the Iranian decision regarding whether or not to pursue a nuclear weapon. And, as I said in my speech … the evidence is accumulating that that [pursuing a nuclear weapon] is exactly what they are trying to do, which is deeply concerning, because it doesn't directly threaten the United States, but it directly threatens a lot of our friends, allies, and partners here in this region and beyond.”

When his turn came, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Al-Thani did not join in the fear mongering, even when asked directly about “the danger that the Secretary just alluded to … if Iran gets the bomb.”

In answer, he implied, diplomatically but clearly, that he was at least as much afraid of what Israel and the U.S. might do, as what Iran might do. [For more, see’s “Is Iran Really a Threat?”]

Unspoken Friend

The chief unspoken “friend” that Secretary Clinton claims is “directly threatened” by Iran is, of course, Israel, a nation which already has 200-300 nuclear weapons, has refused to sign the NPT and won’t even acknowledge its own nuclear arsenal in defiance of U.S. policy favoring adherence to the NPT and greater transparency on nuclear weapons..

The Israeli arsenal could easily incinerate Iran – if Iran does manage to build one or two nukes and is eager to commit suicide by attacking Israel.

But let’s just assume, for argument’s sake, that the Israeli leaders really do consider non-nuclear Iran an “existential threat” to Israel. Should American lawmakers and opinion leaders hype a theoretical threat to Israel as a threat to the United States?

On one level, Clinton’s candor that Iran is not threatening the United States was refreshing. She seemed to be following the example of the Director of National Intelligence and his subordinates, who are carefully hewing to the judgments of the most recent formal National Intelligence Estimate, “Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities,” approved unanimously by all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies in November 2007.

That Estimate began with these words: “We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons…

“We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons…

“Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005.”

That National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is now being updated, but recent congressional testimony by senior intelligence community officials has been consistent with the judgments of late 2007.

Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Gen. James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed these issues in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 21.

Answering the question as to how soon Iran could have a deliverable nuclear weapon, Gen. Cartwright said:

“Experience says it is going to take you three to five years” to move from having enough highly enriched uranium to having a “deliverable weapon that is usable.”

The NIE of 2007 stated that if Iran does decide to pursue nuclear weapons, “We judge with moderate confidence that Iran probably would be technically capable of producing enough HEU [highly enriched uranium] for a weapon sometime during the 2010-2015 time frame.”

It appears if anything the time line for the hypothetical Iranian “threat” is slipping backward, not leaping forward.

According to press reports, the NIE-update will not be ready until August, and the Obama administration won’t release its key judgments, as was done in late 2007. It is a safe bet, though, that we shall learn of the revisions in due course and thus have a better take on any changes in Iran’s nuclear capabilities and intentions.

Getting Played Again

What concerns me greatly, however, is that the American people are being played again by those both in government and the media who wish to zap Iran.

“Do you think Iran currently has nuclear weapons, or not?” Americans were asked in a CNN poll taken earlier this year (Feb. 12-15). 71% of Americans polled answered incorrectly, Yes.

That’s very close to the percentage of Americans misled into believing that Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear weapons before the attack on Iraq in March 2003. Only later was the Bush administration forced to admit that its claims about an active Iraqi nuclear program were bogus.

Of equal concern to me are the statements of politicians who apparently believe we have forgotten the hype that got us into the Iraq mess — and are trying again to stoke a confrontation with Iran.

The front-burner question today is whether loose lips and looser thinking will lead to an even more disastrous war with Iran BEFORE the intelligence community finishes its update on Iran’s nuclear capabilities and intentions.

Given the consistency of the recent testimony of top intelligence officials, I will be much surprised if the NIE update comes to conclusions that differ substantially from the judgments of November 2007.

Ironically, that possibility provides more incentive for those who wish to attack Iran sooner rather than later, much as President Bush pushed United Nations inspectors out of Iraq in March 2003 and rushed ahead with the invasion before Americans woke up to the fact that the inspectors weren't finding any Iraqi WMD stockpiles because none existed.

I worry that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will take the initiative now and provoke hostilities with Iran, judging that political realities in the United States would then leave President Barack Obama little choice but to “finish the job.”

No Confidence in the FCM

Another concern is that the Fawning Corporate Media remains as easily manipulated by the neocons and other hardliners as it was in 2003. Again, there are plenty of career rewards for talking tough about Iran and none for showing moderation.

In this overheated climate of anti-Iran hysteria, politicians also will be tempted to ratchet up their rhetoric to come across as tough and “realistic.” That, in turn, might convince Netanyahu that the time is right to force Obama’s hand.

One might have hoped that after the Iraq fiasco, American voters would be smarter – and more resistant to clever propaganda – but the CNN poll on their misplaced confidence about Iran having nukes provided little reassurance.

As for Harman, she is facing a strong Democratic challenger, progressive Marcy Winograd, in the June 8 primary for California’s 36th district.

Because Harman has a personal fortune of about a half-billion (that’s right, billion) dollars from which to draw – and Winograd says she is accepting “not one dime” of corporate money – the race is viewed as a test of whether it is possible for candidates to win without heaps of money for ad buys and other expenses.

The race also could measure whether Democratic voters will demand some accountability for lawmakers who sided with President Bush and the neocons in rushing the United States off to war in Iraq – and who now are spoiling for another fight with Iran.

I don’t know how those tests will work out, especially given the continued sludge of one-sided propaganda that flows from the FCM.

What I do know is that incendiary rhetoric from lips like Harman’s about the option of a military strike on Iran, her strident advocacy of an act of war (blockade), and her pretense that Netanyahu’s claim of an “existential threat” from Iran applies also to the United States is a highly flammable mix.

It is just the kind of rhetoric that could give Netanyahu confidence that he can take matters into his own hands.

This will go in spades if Harman proves to be correct in deeming that her constituents are just as gullible as the ones who answered CNN pollsters in mid-February.

Ray McGovern works for Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. An Army infantry/intelligence officer in the early 60s, he then served as a CIA analyst for 27 years, during which he chaired National Intelligence Estimates and prepared/briefed The President’s Daily Brief. Exactly four years ago, he confronted Donald Rumsfeld on live TV, an encounter that is still garnering hits on YouTube.

This item was first posted at


To avoid being suckered by the propagandists of the bogus "war on terror", always keep these words in mind!

"The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the 'devil' only in order to drive the TV watcher to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US . . ."

-- Former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Public Policy Examiner

May 3, 8:25 PM
Public Policy Examiner
Armen Gabrielian

Ahmadinejad speech at NPT Conference and strange behavior of US and its allies

Today, May 3, 2010, was the start of the UN conference reviewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

As the only head of state attending, President Ahmadinejad of Iran was the first regular speaker.

Ahmadinejad's arrival in New York earlier was the source of unnecessary controversy since the US delayed issuing visas to the Iranian delegation even though it is required to honor all requested visas for attending UN functions.

At the end, it provided visas to the officials attending but inexplicably denied visas to the Iranian press. Apparently, since the US press is so unbiased, they did not want to allow an alternative view to be represented.

As in a walkout in Geneva last year that was planned long in advance, the US, British and French delegations childishly walked out of Ahmadinejad's speech at the NPT conference when he mentioned the fact that all three are possessors of numerous nuclear weapons and they threaten to use them against other countries.

In particular, in his recent Nuclear Posture Review Report President Obama threatened to use nuclear weapons against Iran which does not itself have any nuclear weapons. This policy was formulated despite the fact that President Obama himself has essentially admitted that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.

Following Ahmadinejad's speech, the current chief US propagandist, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, repeated the usual accusations against Iran.

Apparently Mrs. Clinton, is still totally unaware of the latest IAEA report or recent statements by President Obama about the Iranian nuclear program.

She also proposed '.. that the nonproliferation treaty be strengthened by introducing "automatic penalties" for noncompliance, rather than depend on such drawn-out council negotiations.' Thus, rather than looking at the facts and having the onus of proving facts, the US essentially would create a mechanism to automatically strangle other countries. Such a proposal has no chance of passing since acclamation is required for changes to the NPT.

Ironically, Hillary Clinton later announced that the US possesses 5,113 nuclear warheads in its stockpile and 'several thousand' more retired warheads that await dismantling.

It is amazing that with such a huge stockpile of nuclear weapons, the US is trying to impose a fourth round of sanctions on Iran when all the US officials now readily admit that Iran does not have any nuclear weapons and is not building any.

President Obama and Secretary of Defense Gates now only complain that Iran may be able to develop one or two nuclear weapons in 3-5 years, if it chose to do so. It is really hilarious to think that even if Iran did develop one or two such weapons it would be a threat to a country with more than 5,000 such weapons.

Also, note that the US defense budget is at least 80 times the size of the Iranian defense budget.

The following video reviews the Ahmadinejad NPT speech and related issues. At the end, it discusses a late report in the Guardian that the US and Russia 'have drafted an initiative to ban nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.'

As stated in the video, certainly Iran would welcome such an initiative. The problem is that it is very unlikely that Israel which has reportedly about 200 nuclear weapons would agree to such a ban.

Analysis of speech by President Ahmadinejad of Iran at the New York NPT Conference

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Video By Russia Today

Full Video And Transcript Of Ahmadinejad Speech

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused Washington of double standards, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed Tehran for using evasive tactics.

Check carefully, and decide for yourself who speaks the truth!

May 04, 2010

Full Video: Ahmadinejad Speech at UN Nuclear Conference

Monday, May 03, 2010

Viet Nam President Nguyen Minh Triet (from the south) delivers a speech at the ceremony.

Water taken from the country's northern and southern parts was poured into the Ben Hai River at a ceremony in central Quang Tri Province on April 30 as a symbol of the desire and resolve to maintain territorial integrity and national unification of all Vietnamese people.

The Ben Hai River was selected as a "temporary military demarcation line" under the Geneva Agreement of 1954, at the end of the U.S.-funded French War.

This was a "temporary division, not a territorial boundary" - so, contrary to the US war propaganda, the Geneva Agreement did NOT create two countries of North and South Viet Nam.

This temporary division was meant to be dissolved two years later in national democratic elections, under international supervision, to decide one government for the reunited country.

However, the U.S.-supported southern regime (which began as the French puppet State of Vietnam) refused to implement the national election, knowing they could not win against the vastly popular Ho Chi Minh.

Even US President Eisenhower later wrote that if the 1956 national elections had been held about 80% of the Vietnamese people would have voted for Ho Chi Minh, rather than the leader supported by America.

So, denied certain victory at the ballot box, the Vietnamese were forced into the criminal American War instead!

So much for the U.S. lie of supporting "freedom and democracy"!

The American War against Viet Nam, Cambodia & Laos was an illegal aggressive war for imperialist self-interest, control of vital resources, and to punish any independent state outside U.S. dominance as an example to others.

For the exact same reasons, there are imperialist wars now in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc., and perhaps against Iran next.

"Viet Nam is one country, one nation. Rivers may run dry, mountains may crumble, but this truth will never change."
- President Ho Chi Minh.


On the offensive

Vietnam’s biet dong guerrillas gave everything they had to free the country from imperialism. And they’d do it all again

The attack upon the US embassy in Saigon during the 1968 Tet Offensive was one event that left an indelible impression upon the minds of the American public (File photo)

Vu Minh Nghia, a Viet Cong guerrilla who attacked the presidential palace during the Tet Offensive in 1968, says she never was the GI-Jane type.

Nghia, now a 65-year-old grandmother, says she was “small and rather weak” as the offensive approached. So much so that she had been denied the opportunity to participate in previous military operations and worked only as a messenger.

When she learnt about her mission, only an hour before H-hour, she was nervous. She says she and her comrades did not fear death, but as the only woman in a 15-man squad, she hesitated for a moment: “Am I up to this? Can I keep up with the men?

Her squad, led by To Hoai Thanh, opened fired on guards at the Independence Palace at around 1 a.m. on February 1, 1968, the first assault of the Tet Offensive in downtown Saigon, then the capital of the US-backed South Vietnam regime. A few minutes later, and a few hundred meters away, another squad blew a hole in the surrounding wall of the US Embassy and charged through. Three other targets in downtown Saigon – the South Vietnam Army General Staff, the Naval Headquarters, and the Saigon Radio Station – were also attacked.

Vu Minh Nghia, one of the 15 biet dong combatants who attacked the presidential palace in the Tet Offensive.

Of the nearly 100 combatants that staged the assaults for nearly three days, only a few dozens survived, most of whom were captured. The biet dong Saigon, as the squads like Nghias were known, incurred the greatest losses of their 30-year history during the Tet Offensive.


The Biet dong, or special task force, dated back to 1945 when the newly-born Democratic Republic of Vietnam, founded by Ho Chi Minh, fought to protect its newly-gained independence against the colonialist French army. Undercover biet dong agents were tasked with eliminating personnel and sabotaging military infrastructure in enemy-occupied areas. In the south, the force has transformed many times with different names, among them cam tu quan (Suicide Units) and doi vo hinh (Invisible Teams).

The Biet dong in Saigon regrouped after a hiatus period between 1954 and 1959 in which they had waited in vain for the implementation of the Geneva Accords on Indochina, which had called for national elections to unify the country. But knowing that Ho Chi Minhs coalition would sweep any such polls, the leaders of South Vietnam, with US support, refused to allow the elections. During the period, many biet dong were killed under the brutal anticommunist policies of the South Vietnamese regime.

“We were an armed force of the people, from all walks of life, and everyone had his or her own position and task,” said Colonel Nguyen Duc Hung, aka Tu Chu, the biet dong Saigon commander.

Nguyen Van Trois attempt to assassinate US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in May 1963 made him the most well-known biet dong Saigon member

“We were an armed force of the people, from all walks of life, and everyone had his or her own position and task,” said Colonel Nguyen Duc Hung, aka Tu Chu, the biet dong Saigon commander.

At his execution, his famous last words were: “You are journalists and so you must be well informed about what is happening. It is the Americans who have committed aggression on our country, it is they who have been killing our people with planes and bombs… I have never acted against the will of my people. It is against the Americans that I have taken action.” A priest then offered him absolution and he declined: “I have committed no sin. It is the Americans who have sinned.” He would not have his eyes covered before he died – “Let me look at our beloved land,” he said. As the shots were fired, he yelled: “Long live Vietnam!”

The biet dong forces strengthened their activities 1964-1966, carrying out many operations that employed car bombs against South Vietnam and American military personnel.

Nghias husband Nguyen Thanh Xuan, aka Bay Be, was the biet dong behind several famous 1964 bombings targeting the Caravelle Hotel and Brink Hotel, where American army officers were billeted, and the assault on the US Embassy in 1965. Nghia said four of her own family members, including her mother, were also biet dong. She said that to this day visitors to her village in Cu Chi District who ask to meet the biet dong family will still be introduced to her relatives.

“We were tasked with carrying out high quality yield attacks which could eliminate important enemy personnel,” Hung said. Operations were focused and specific with agents infiltrating or approaching as closely as possible to avoid collateral damage, according to Colonel Hoang Dao, aka Tu Sac, head of the Regional Intelligence Agency of the regional General Staff of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NFL), otherwise known as the Viet Cong.

In early 1965, the force prepared for a major offensive.

“I thought if the American ground troops hadnt joined the war [in Vietnam in mid 1965], we could possibly have won in early January 1966. The Tet Offensive would have occurred in January 1966, not 1968,” said Hung.

“So, we continued preparing ourselves for the opportunity,” Hung said.

Once in a thousand years

In late 1967, Nghias squad was informed that they would attack the Saigon Military Command in District 5. They were all astounded to find out at midnight January 31, 1968 that they were to attack a target “hundreds of times larger” – the Presidents residence: Independence Palace.

Ngo Thanh Van, aka Ba Den, commander and the only survivor of the 17-man biet dong squad that attacked the US embassy compound during the Tet Offensive.

The US embassy was also a surprise target for the biet dong commanders. They received orders to attack it less than 10 days before the offensive.

“Kiet [Vo Van Kiet, then Communist Party Secretary of the Saigon-Gia Dinh zone and later Prime Minister of Vietnam] said attacking Saigon without attacking the US embassy would be like no attack at all,” said Tran Minh Son, then the biet dong Saigon chief of staff. Since all troops and weapons had all been directed to other targets, a new unit was formed in haste, with eight out of 17 members being non-combat agents – messengers, secretaries, typists – who were then trained in a military crash course.

But Son said the new unit commander, Ngo Thanh Van, alias Ba Den, had no reservations. “He said the spirit was decisive,” Son recalled.

The day before the attack, Nghia said the squad ate very little, as they were too excited and focused to think about food. They also had to prepare all their weapons.

Twelve hours before H-hour, Son told the new unit that they would attack the US embassy and that “some of you may die.” He said that he would willingly let anyone who felt hesitant go back to the headquarters. “They cried, and I cried too,” Son said, bursting into tears. “They said that I was underestimating them, and that they were willing to die for the country.”

Nghia said all members of her unit were determined too. She said her comrades had joined the offensive believing that it was a “once in a thousand years” opportunity.

According to the plan, the squad would try to capture and hold their positions for a few hours, by which time reinforcements were to arrive to relieve them. However, the NFL troops were not able to pass the South Vietnamese defense lines on the outskirts of the city and the American and South Vietnamese troops were reinforced only a few hours after the offensive broke out. The biet dong squads suffered heavy casualties and a shortage of ammunition, and their enemy gradually regained control of the targeted facilities

“They cried, and I cried too... They said they were willing to die for the country,” said Colonel Tran Minh Son, then the biet dong Saigon chief of staff, of the biet dong squad that would later attack the US embassy compound during the Tet Offensive.

At the US embassy, more than six hours after the assault began, 16 biet dong agents were killed and commander Ba Den was arrested.

Sticks and stones

After penetrating the palaces walls, Nghias squad was surrounded by enemy fire.

“I heard a heavy falling sound, and my commander cried, Nghia, Im hit,” Nghia said. In his dying breath, the commander asked his comrades to hold their position and “fight to the last bullet.” They held out through the morning of February 3 – by then the seven exhausted and injured survivors had only bricks and sticks with which to fight back.

“None of us felt dispirited,” said Nghia, who lost three brothers and sisters in the liberation war. “We had all sworn to fulfill our task and never surrender, and the deaths of our brothers only strengthened our determination.”

Most of the Viet cong survivors were captured and later sentenced to life terms, including Nghia. But Nghia and most other biet dong returned to NFL in 1973 under the Paris Accords, which was signed in late 1972.

The biet dong Saigon expanded after the offensive until 1975, but “the quality was not the same because all the elite combatants had either been killed or jailed,” Colonel Hoang Dao said. But he doesnt think the losses were for nothing.

“We did suffer heavy losses, but we brought the war to the enemys headquarters and made American leaders realize they could not win this war. And we gained precious experiences”

“Without 68, there wouldnt have been [the Paris Accords in] 72, and without 72 there wouldnt have been [the liberation day in] 75,” Dao said.

The new mission

After the war, the now 85- year-old man and his surviving comrades have moved on and assigned themselves another task: identifying their fallen biet dong brothers and recovering their remains. Both are extremely difficult endeavors. Biet dong agents mostly only knew only one anothers alias, and the South Vietnamese and American armies dumped the dead biet dong bodies into unmarked mass graves.

“We want to have the names of many of the fallen to get them their proper recognition as heros,” Dao said. “But we just cant.”

Nghia, said that although many biet dong had died, the spirit of the corps was still alive.

“I would do the same thing if our country was invaded again.”