Unlike some fire-fights, this one was a clear victory. CNN and Time raised a white flag over their position and sent out a team to parlay for surrender conditions. Some of us wanted unconditional surrender (meaning Peter Arnett and Richard Kaplan would be fired). Others wanted to accept a partial victory, and that, to date, is where it stands.
CNN PRODUCTION CREW - DUMB AND DUMBER
I'd found two exquisite examples of why CNN/Time got into such deep kimchi on their "Valley of Death" story.
Number One - Producer Jack Smith on CNN's own Crossfire show, Monday, July
6, is responding to a question
about the proof that CNN had that the SOG fighters killed "women and children.
SMITH: Time out. Anybody who is familiar with the war in Vietnam knows that support troops, support troops, quartermaster, motor pool and drivers, always had their women and children with them. That's just a given. That's a given. Support troops of the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese had their women and children with them constantly.
(Gang, if anyone out there can provide a documented basis for Smith's claim, please let me know pronto. For 34 years I've studied the Vietnam War - I don't claim to have read everything or know it all, but there is nothing that substantiates this claim, and a hell of a lot that flatly contradicts it.)
Number Two - Peter Arnett is on the CBS radio network with host Gil Gross on Monday, June 8, the day after CNN's presentation of "Valley of Death." I've taken the time to transcribe part of that show. Decide for yourselves if Arnett's answer to Gross' question about the use of sarin nerve gas makes any sense.
ARNETT: It was used in desperate circumstances in places where no one was expected to know about it. And those places were in Laos, where the U.S. conducted secret operations for a decade. And also, we understand, in search and rescue operations for American pilots in North Vietnam. Where the enemy was closing in on them, they'd go in and drop sarin, pick up the pilot, inject him with atropine and whatever, and keep him alive and take him to the hospital and save him.
(Okay, anyone know what planet I've been on for the last 53 years? 'Cause Arnett and I cannot have been on the same one. Anyone with the slightest bit of slightly credible evidence that supports Arnett's "understanding" - please forward same to me or to SFTTruth@aol.com. Can all the hundreds of repatriated POW's, plus the hundreds of pilots that were rescued, kept this secret? If I'm wrong, I'll issue the biggest apology to Arnett he's ever seen, and quit claiming that I know anything about the Vietnam War, or the U.S. military in general.)
SITREP #1 - CNN/Time Fairy Tales
As far as an After Action report, I submit the following:
1. Hack ran to the sound of the guns, joined by:
(a) former SF/SOG'er Tom Marzullo (who had been fighting a largely one-man action since last fall when he first got wind of the perfidy of CNN) and
(b) Perry Smith (who had joined Tom to Smith's credit and the further honor of West Point a few days before "Valley of Death" aired in a vain hope to stop it). They started returning fire together while reinforcements were rushing to man the parapets.
2. Other fighters, the Weekly Standard, Accuracy In Media and The Washington Times Fire started bringing supporting fires to bear.
3. Soldier Of Fortune held a direct-fire assault at the National Press Club and destroyed the key bunker in the CNN/Time defense. Former medic Mike Rose stood up and said, I'm here and I'm alive. If it has been sarin, I wouldn't be. End of serious talk about sarin having been used.
4. SFTT President Carl Bernard and myself attended the press conference and worked the media representatives to get some fire in their belly (only limited success, but that's still better than not even trying).
5. Mainstream media (NY Times) began to pick up on the story.
6. The day after SOF press conference, CNN called in outside investigator.
7. CNN and Time issued retractions on two points: sarin gas used and defectors were targets.
8. Two producers were fired by CNN (April Oliver and Jack Smith - not same Jack Smith as vet of Ia Drang valley and ABC journalist), one vice president (Pam Hill) resigned.
9. CNN called Arnett to Atlanta for consultations - announced Arnett will not be fired. (AP flew in reporter from NYC to cover story of Arnett's surviving this crash. Turns out reporter is old chum of Arnett's from Saigon AP bureau,1970.)
10. I did a long (over one thousand words) letter to The Washington Times who ran it on July 13, under headline, "The outrageous allegation CNN and Time have yet to retract". (The letter pointed out that CNN and Time had not withdrawn the scurrilous charge that the SOG warriors killed women and children at the NVA camp in Laos.)
11. Conflicting word is now being received that there is, or is not, serious legal action in the wind. (I've been unable to verify.)
This CNN/Time debacle was something to watch and then end up in the middle of it. It isn't over either. Check out the NY Times op-ed page for Friday, July 17, 1998, and see for yourself. Christiane Amanpour wrote the newspaper of record and dared CNN to fire her - maybe that's what she wanted so she could go to CBS full time with 60 Minutes.