7 July 1998

Mr Gerald M. Lavin Chairman/CEO
Time Warner, Inc.
Time Warner Building
75 Rockerfeller Plaza
New York, New York 10019

Subject: Tailwind.

Mr. Lavin

   For almost a month, your errant step-children, Time and CNN have been in
the public eye.  It goes without saying that their performance has been less
than exemplary. Their publication and airing of the blatant lie entitled
Tailwind, essentially branded this nation and its armed forces as war
criminals. It has done great harm to this country, all of its citizens and the
honor or every man and woman who has fought and died in the defense of this
great nation. Most seriously, it has given our potential enemies such as Iraq,
Libya, North Korea and others, a solid argument that the United States has
used these internationally banned weapons, not only in war but against its own
citizens.  A crime comparable to the German use of this type gas against
innocent Jews during the Second World War.
 
 

   I write this letter not as a former officer of Special Forces but rather as
 a concerned citizen.  We are not representatives of a secret society sworn to
 some secrecy oath to cover this countries excesses, but rather, just one of
 many retired members of the armed forces whose honor has been insulted. We and
 this nation have been grievously wronged.  The damage is done, but wrongs can
 be righted or at least mitigated.  To clarify our position, the following
 brief points are submitted for your consideration.

-  This so called Black Operation was black only because it was conducted in
 Laos when we were telling the world that we did not conduct operation across
 borders.  In reality, it was cross border Reconnaissance by Fire to draw the
 NVA away from CIA position in the vicinity.

-  This so called village was not observed nor targeted.  In fact it was not a
 village, but rather a NVA logistic way station manned by logistic forces.  It
 is a fact the our forces witnessed two dogs and followed them to this
 encampment and found by chance this station and a cache of munitions.  They
 engaged these forces, destroyed them and the munitions, captured a cache of
 classified documents and exfiltrated to the extraction point while engaged by
 a superior forces.

-  The report stated that there were numerous Caucasian bodies, (20 or so).Yet
 is it not strange that no-one of this intelligence gathering operation would
 have taken the time to search them, recover document, dog tags, and evacuate
 the remains to graves registration.  We put a high premium on POW recovery and
 would have been greatly interested to recover same, alive and well.  It is a
 fact, that there was never a policy to kill defectors.  In fact every effort
 was made to recover any and all US and Allied personal regardless of
 classification.

-  It is a fact that all US personnel were wounded.  They were being subjected
 to increasing enemy pressure.  US air did come to their support and owing to
 this pressure, used CBU bomblet dispensers to disperse CN Tear Gas on the
 advancing forces.  It should be noted that our indigenous forces did not have
 masks.  US personal did have protective masks and atropine.  Only half used
 the masks and none utilized the atropine injectors.  Had GB been used, no-one
 or at least few on the ground would have survived along with the helicopter
 crews who came in to rescue them.

-  Had these reporters had even a modicum of military training and
 understanding of Chemical Warfare and tactics they would have immediately
 recognized the following.

  --Lethal War Gas just as Nuclear weapons cannot be used without the explicit
 approval of the President of the United States.  It goes without saying that
 Admiral Moorer as CJCS would have been an active member of such deliberations
 prior to approval as would many members of the cabinet.  Such approval was
 never given, consequently such weapons could not be moved much less loaded or
 employed.

 --  As Gen Parry Smith stated prior to his resignation, his investigation of
 logistic records and discussions with the crews of the aircraft which flew
 these mission confirmed that it was CS not GB gas. It is a fact that NKP,
 Thailand did not have the facilities to store or secure these agents.

  --  April Oliver continually used the term “Knock Out Gas”.  There is no
 such thing.  The closest thing that would meet this description is a gas
 called BZ. This gas incapacitates by taking away the will to fight.  GB
 (Serin) does only one thing well. It kills very effectively.  One only needs
 to spray a fly with insecticide to realize how well.

  --  April Oliver was basically correct in that she states that only a mask
 is necessary to protect against GB as it is an aerosol weapon.  One must,
 however, have the correct mask equipped with the “black war filter” and it
 must be used. It must be noted that GB can penetrate the skin with difficulty,
 but can readily enter open wounds which all possessed. If inhaled, as all did,
 the single salvation is to immediately decontaminate and use the Atropine
 injectors.  Atropine was never used and all members survived.

  -- Pictures are available showing the extraction and the return of our
 forces to base camp.  It is immediately apparent that none had died from
 exposure to this agent or for that matter were they ill.  In fact, those that
 could walk immediately went and had a cold beer in celebration of their
 successful return.

    Time Warner has always enjoyed a reputation of integrity.  It is now time
 for you and your board to take these errant children to the wood shed for a
 sound spanking to help them realize their civic responsibility.  While CNN and
 Time have made some solid first steps, the record must now be corrected in
 order to amicably bring this problem to a speedy resolution. Only you and your
 board as the focus of ultimate corporate decision making power can insure that
 this right is wronged.  You can be assured that if it is not, we the vast
 multitude of veterans, their organizations and private individuals will with
 the help of the internet, continue to keep this story before the public until
 justice and truth is realized. It goes without saying that we will take all
 necessary legal actions available to us to realize this goal. As noted in my
 letter to Mr. Tom Johnson, this problem is not that difficult to correct.  It
 will, however, depend upon Time and CNN to take strong proactive steps.  Here
 is all that is necessary, and yes, I know it will stick in the throat.  But
 this problem was not of our making.

-  Publicly brand this story for what it is. A fabrication.  CNN has retracted
 but has not stated that the story was false, only that it couldn’t be proven.
 It is a lie and must be branded for what it is to remove this stain from our
 honor.

-  Insure that all guilty parties who had a hand in the production of this lie
 be discharged immediately.  This includes Mr. Arnett and possibly Mr. Kaplin.

-  Host a totally neutral airing of a program that tells the whole story as it
 existed.  It should be under the expert hand of an independent arbiter with
 the single criteria that the truth is told and let the chips fall where they
 may. The Special Forces and Special Operations Associations can provide any
 number of formerly classified documents, the crews of the fighters,
 helicopters and those who participated on the ground.  Any and all expert
 witnesses can be aired who have competent knowledge of chemical warfare,
 weapons, tactics and use.  It would be especially useful to hear the testimony
 of the confidential witnesses that Ms Oliver so lavishly uses to justify her
 allegations.

- That a complete copy of the transcripts, out takes, and all other pertinent
 information held by CNN and Time be provided to the Special Forces and Special
 Operations Associations for inspection.

- That a public, on air apology be made to this nation, its citizens and those
 many veterans who have fought and died in its defense to right this grievous
 wrong.

   It is in everyone’s interest that the truth be complete and forth coming.
 It serves no-ones interest that this lie continues to fester with the
 destruction of everyone’s good name.  All we want is that the truth prevail.
 If told, we and this country will regain our honor and good name. Time Warner
 with its affiliates will again regain its reputation as honest journalists,
 one in whom the public can again trust.  Mr. Lavin, we respectfully request
 that you do the right thing and insure that this hateful presentation be given
 a quick and final funeral.

Very Respectfully
 

Richard E. (Jim) Laritz
LTC (Ret) US Army Special Forces

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