June 17, 1998
Dear Mr. Ambassador:
Thank you for taking my call this evening. It was an honor
privilege to speak to you again, As I mentioned in our conversation, we
are faced with an urgent Problem.
On June 7, 1998, CNN-Time Warner News aired a segment on their "News
Stand" program produced by April Oliver and narrated by Peter Arnet that
accused the United States government of using GB-Sarin nerve gas to kill
Laotian civilians, North Vietnamese soldiers, and American "deserters"
in a village near Chavane Laos, Base Area 614.
The program alleges that a Company sized Hatchet Force consisting
U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers and 133 Montagnards from Command and
Control Central, MACVSOG, was inserted into Laos from the Launch Site at
Dac To with the mission of killing as many as twenty American
"deserters." The operation was code named Tailwind. CNN alleges that
GB-Sarin was used on the village prior to the insertion on September 11,
1970, and again to facilitate extraction of the Hatchet Force four days
As you may recall, this operation did actually occur. However,
objective was to divert NVA pressure from several Laotian Groups Mobile
operating on the Bolivians Plateau and to interdict a major NVA supply
and personnel transfer point. Which it did. There were never any
American Deserters and there was no mission to kill them. Any use of
GB-Sarin or any nerve Gas would have required Presidential authority, as
well as involving the entire military and civilian chain of command.
That use never occurred anywhere in the theater. Unfortunately these
specious charges have awakened many of the old anti-war, anti-government
partisans who unquestioningly accept them as fact.
The Mainstream Media has been resoundingly silent on this issue.
However, a number of editorial writers, media critics, and
news/discussion shows are now questioning not only the veracity of the
CNN-Time piece, but the intent as well. This does not appear to be an
inept or mistaken effort to get at the truth, but appears to be a wilful
attempt to distort the facts in an effort to achieve a political agenda.
The Special Operations community attempted to provide Ms Oliver with
verifiable facts regarding this operation for months prior to final
production. She made it clear that she was only interested in
developing the Nerve gas/mission to kill Americans theme.
We, the Special Operations community, the Veterans groups, and
especially the former POWs and the families of those men who remain
unaccounted, are attempting to refute the malevolent claims by CNN-Time
The National Press Club will host a three hour discussion of the
of the "Tailwind" program next Tuesday, June 23, 1998. If you could
provide us with a written statement regarding the fallacy of these
allegations, it would be of great help.
With Best Regards
Walter Robert (Bob) Lewelling, Master Sergeant, U.S. Army Special
Long Tieng and Phou Khao Khouai Laos, 1971-1972