Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

There’s No Place Like CounterPunch

There's no place like CounterPunch, it's just that simple. And as the radical space within the "alternative media"(whatever that means) landscape continues to shrink, sanctuaries such as CounterPunch become all the more crucial for our political, intellectual, and moral survival. Add to that the fact that CounterPunch won't inundate you with ads and corporate propaganda. So it should be clear why CounterPunch needs your support: so it can keep doing what it's been doing for nearly 25 years. As CP Editor, Jeffrey St. Clair, succinctly explained, "We lure you in, and then punch you in the kidneys." Pleasant and true though that may be, the hard-working CP staff is more than just a few grunts greasing the gears of the status quo.

So come on, be a pal, make a tax deductible donation to CounterPunch today to support our annual fund drive, if you have already donated we thank you! If you haven't, do it because you want to. Do it because you know what CounterPunch is worth. Do it because CounterPunch needs you. Every dollar is tax-deductible. (PayPal accepted)

Thank you,
Eric Draitser

It’s How We Fought the War

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

Here’s one of the many unsettling things about Bob Kerrey, and it doesn’t even address the issue of what exactly he did in the Vietnamese village of Thanh Phong. Supposedly riddled with indecision whether to accept the Medal of Honor for a military action subsequent to the one now under dispute, he finally did so on May 14, 1970, just 10 days after after the Ohio National Guard killed four anti-war student protesters at Kent State.

In other words, at a moment of maximal national revulsion against the Vietnam War, former Sen. Kerrey went along with the Pentagon’s urgent desire for heroes and presented his chest to President Richard M. Nixon, who pinned the medal to it. So much for “ambiguity,” one of the words used now to salvage his reputation. And now, and only now, is he considering whether to give back the Bronze Star awarded him for the 1969 mission in which (if you believe, as we do, his fellow SEAL Gerhard Klann) he assisted in the throat-slitting of an elderly Vietnamese peasant and ordered the killing of 13 women and babies, or (if you believe him) less wittingly supervised the slaughter of an old man and 13 or more women and children.

It’s pretty clear that Kerrey’s raid was part of the CIA’s Phoenix program (as was My Lai, where “Task Force Barker” killed 504 men, women and children the preceding year). The intent of Phoenix was terror, precisely the killing of not only suspected Viet Cong, but also their families. The late William Colby, the CIA man who ran the program, told Congress that between 1967-1971, 20,587 Vietnamese “activists” were killed under the Phoenix program. The South Vietnamese declared that 41,000 had been killed. Other estimates go as high as 70,000.

Barton Osborn, an intelligence officer in the Phoenix program, spelled out in a congressional hearing the prevailing bureaucratic attitude of the agents toward their campaign of terror: “Quite often it was a matter of expediency just to eliminate a person in the field rather than deal with the paperwork.”

And who was classified as a “VC sympathizer” and, therefore, fair game to be slaughtered by units like Kerrey’s? The CIA’s Robert Ramsdell, one of the two men who developed the My Lai operation, said, “Anyone in that area was considered a VC sympathizer because they couldn’t survive in that area unless they were sympathizers.” Thanh Phong was in “that area,” which lends credence to Klann’s account of what Kerrey’s raiders did.

The death squads run by the CIA men supervising Phoenix were a particular favorite of the man who pinned the medal on Kerrey: Nixon. After My Lai there was a move to reduce funding for these killing programs. According to journalist Seymour Hersh, Nixon passionately objected: “No. We’ve got to have more of this. Assassinations. Killings.” The funding was swiftly restored.

When he was at Newsweek in 1998, reporter Gregory Vistica had Kerrey cold, but the newsmagazine’s editors decided that since Kerrey was no longer a presidential candidate it wasn’t worth exposing him. It was apparently OK for a U.S. senator to be an alleged war criminal. Then the New York Times finally decided to run Vistica’s story because Kerrey had left the Senate. Given the lack of disquiet among faculty and students, it’s also apparently OK for an alleged war criminal like Kerrey to be head of the New School University in New York, which in earlier days hosted refugees from Nazi Germany.

So will the Kerrey brouhaha nudge the nation or Congress into confronting the past and what the Vietnam War really involved? Of course not. Right before the last election, CounterPunch ran a story by Doug Valentine, who wrote “The Phoenix Program,” one of the best histories of what really happened in Vietnam. Valentine’s CounterPunch story concerned Robert Simmons, in the midst of an ultimately successful campaign to represent Connecticut in Congress. The specific charge against Simmons, originally leveled in the Connecticut paper New London Day in 1994 was that he routinely violated the Geneva Convention while interrogating civilian prisoners during his 20 months of service with the CIA in Vietnam. Simmons claimed he’d always steered clear of the dirty stuff. Same way Kerrey claims that when his unit cut the throats of the old folk in a Thanh Phong peasant hut, he was outside.

When Simmons was battling to become a congressman (after a long career in state government in Connecticut), no national paper cared a whit about the fact that a possible torturer and war criminal was on the hustings. Small wonder Congress is being protective of Kerrey, admonishing the Pentagon not to probe what happened at Thanh Phong. How many executive agents of the Phoenix program are strolling up and down the aisles of government? CP

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians