Today, the Viet Minh is known only to careful students of Vietnamese history. Just about everyone else in the literate world knows them as the Viet Cong, or simply as the VC. That term, "Viet Cong," was the creation of a US Army Psychological Operations officer by the name of Everest Bumgardner, and the true origins of that label is now so lost to us that a Google search for "origins of the name Viet Cong" doesn't even find what I am about to tell you in the first few pages of search results, if it is to be found at all. Fortunately, it is preserved by Neil Sheehan in A Bright Shining Lie, John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam, p.189:
Around this time, Bumgardner remembered, USIS discovered that “Viet Minh” was an appellation of patriotism and that Diem was doing the Communists a favor by identifying all Viet Minh as Reds. The American psychological warriors invented the term "Viet Cong," an abbreviation of "Vietnamese Communists," and persuaded the Saigon newspaper to start substituting it for "Viet Minh" later in 1956.Obviously the US PsyOps warriors enjoyed much more success than the violent ones because even though the US lost the war, it is remembered that they lost it to the North Vietnamese Army and the "Viet Cong" or "VC," few people even remember the name Viet Minh.
Bumgardner recalled how difficult it was to get Diem to say "Viet Cong" consistently instead of "Viet Minh." (Americans assumed the new term was derogatory because in their dictionary "Communism" was a synonym for "evil.") Diem was not the only one who had difficulty growing accustomed to the USIS artifice. As late as the spring of 1959, Maj. Gen. Samuel Myers, the returning deputy chief of the MAAG, spoke with satisfaction of the Denunciation of Communist Campaign to a hearing of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He boasted that "the Vietminh guerrillas...were gradually nibbled away until they ceased to be a major menace to the Government."
The term "Viet Cong" eventually did come into common usage within the American community and the Saigon government by the early 1960s, as a result of hard work by Bumgardner and his colleagues.
While such propaganda tricks as Bumgarder's word games played a role, the foundation of America's strategy for winning the Vietnam War was sheer military power. First President Johnson and then President Nixon assumed it would win the war for them. It was simply and coldly a matter of slaughtering enough of the opposition. They both assumed that if they killed enough people, the opposition would cry uncle and give in, but they were wrong.
This is also President Bashar al-Assad's strategy for defeating the revolution in Syria, and like the American Presidents, who together killed more than three million Vietnamese, Assad finds it most efficient to create this carnage with something his opponents don't have, air power. In Vietnam, the US dropped the equivalent of 640 Hiroshima-size nuclear bombs on that country. They also used chemical weapons in the form of Agent Orange and like Assad, they used cluster bombs, jellied gasoline and incendiaries to burn crops and starve the civilian population.
At the time, the US media did little or no reporting on this aerial terror campaign of "Death from Above." For example, Nixon's illegal air war against Cambodia, which took 800,000 lives in that small country, was kept secret from the American people and the world until well after the war. Of course, it wasn't a secret to the Cambodians.
What the media and the government did talk about was alleged Viet Cong terrorism. There was no end to the reporting on the "VC terrorist." This 1965 article from the St. Louis Post Dispatch will give you the flavor of such news coverage [Friday June 25, 1965]:
While there is little doubt that the Viet Cong did carry out what could be called terrorists attacks, we have every reason to doubt the veracity of such one sided reports.
Forty eight (48) are killed as Terrorists Bomb Saigon Restaurant- 18 Americans Among Dead - 100 Wounded.
Terrorist bombs shattered a floating restaurant on the Saigon river here tonight and killed at least 29 persons, including eight Americans.
Two big explosions sounded almost simultaneously from the river bank. Witnesses said they believed that as many as 50 persons may have died in the crowded restaurant, the My Canh, and on the riverside boulevard nearby.
Police said that 17 of the dead were Caucasians, and presumably most of these were Americans. Of six Viet Namese dead in the initial count, most were women. A United States military spokesman said the dead included five U.S. servicemen and three American Civilians. He said 30 persons injured were targeted at American installations. One hundred or more persons were wounded.
In sheer power the blasts were exceeded by several others, including the bombing last Christmas eve of an officers hotel and the bombing in March of the United States Embassy. Although Viet Namese police patrol the Saigon waterfront, the My Canh restaurant has not been regarded as a likely prime terrorist target. There were no American military police near the establishment when the blasts occurred. The scene is about 500 yards from the U.S. Embassy, which is heavily guarded since it was damaged March 30 by a terrorist bomb that killed 30 persons.
Here is a bit of the narrative from my film, Vietnam: American Holocaust:
When Martin Sheen first read those lines in the studio he added "That was very true. I met one of those guys. Nuttier than a fruit cake. But they were so self destructive."
PRU was the enforcement arm of the Phoenix program and the Phoenix program was the CIA organized program of assassination and terror in Vietnam. Among other things, Americans on these teams would often carry out operations while dressed to look like the Viet Cong.
This means we must take news reports like the one offered to us by the Post Dispatch above with something like a table spoon of salt because we don't really know if the described terrorist attacks took place, and if they did, we don't know who was really behind them. But as Bumgardner knew all to well, effective propaganda is as important as bombs in winning wars and we can guess that blowing up restaurants and the like benefited the US and the Saigon governments a great deal more than it did the National Liberation Front.
We see a similar pattern in Syria today. Assad is covering a massive bombing campaign against civilians by reporting one grotesque terror attack after another which he charges are carried out by his opposition while keeping quiet about his own air assaults that are doing a lions share of the killing, and sadly many on the Left are only too happy to repeat uncritically each new report from Russia Today or the Syrian government news service as though it were gospel.
Is there any reason to doubt these reports? Consider these ten items:
The Assad regime has a long history of collaborating with Islamic terrorists and other extremists. This type of activity started with Bashar al-Assad's father, Hafez Assad. In the 1970's and 1980's Syria and Syrian occupied Lebanon became a safe haven for some of the most violent terror groups in the region and beyond. This is what the US State Department "1995 Patterns of Global Terrorism" had to say about Syria:
Syria provides safehaven and support for several groups that engage in international terrorism. Spokesmen for some of these groups, particularly Palestinian rejectionists, continue to claim responsibility for attacks in Israel and the occupied territories/Palestinian autonomous areas. Several radical terrorist groups maintain training camps or other facilities on Syrian territory and in Syrian-controlled areas of Lebanon, such as Ahmad Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC), which has its headquarters near Damascus. Syria grants basing privileges or refuge to a wide variety of groups engaged in terrorism. These include HAMAS, the PFLP-GC, the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Japanese Red Army (JRA).Item 2
The terrorist group Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) continues to train in the Al Biqa' (Bekaa Valley), and its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, resides at least part-time in Syria. The PKK in 1995 conducted with limited success a violent campaign against Turkish tourist spots frequented by foreigners, as well as other terrorist violence in Europe.
During the US-Iraq War, Bashar al-Assad provided safehaven and ran the "rat-line" for al Qaeda fighting in Iraq. Speaking of the 2003-2011 Iraq War, Rowan Scarborough, writing in the Washington Times says:
Mr. Assad allowed al Qaeda operatives to set up a “rat line” through his country and into northeastern Iraq. Hundreds of young terrorists, many recruited from North Africa, took airline flights into Damascus and joined networks ready to sneak them across the border.For the purpose of this discussion, the ethics of Assad's use of al Qaeda to combat US imperialism in Iraq is besides the point, which is that the Assad Regime has enjoyed close contact and a good working relationship with some of the same forces, and even some of the same personalities, that it now claims are 80-90% of the people it is now fighting against in Syria.
Thousands of al Qaeda recruits moved through Syria into Iraq in the mid- to late 2000s, said a former military intelligence official who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss what he did in Iraq. In some instances, the U.S. intercepted 10 to 20 in one group trying to make their way to the homes of a network commander.
“Inside Syria, they moved from safe house to safe house,” the former official said. “They crossed the border at check stations where they had sympathizers or paid off dirty guards.”
[Retired Army] Gen. [John M.] Keane, recalling briefings he received in Baghdad, said the Assad regime actively promoted the flow of terrorists into Iraq.
“Syria intelligence services facilitated the movement of al Qaeda fighters from Damascus airport to the eastern border of Syria,” he said.
At Damascus airport, he said, they were easy to pick out: “Bearded. One-way ticket. Very little luggage.”
After the US withdrew from Iraq, Assad had these al Qaeda terrorists locked up, saying they were a threat to state security. He also announced that he was now a willing partner in the US "War on Terror" and began cooperating with the CIA's torture and special rendition program. Using Seymour Hersh as a conduit, he sent a message to Obama [6 Apr 2009]:
Assad, in his interview with me, acknowledged, “We do not say that we are a democratic country. We do not say that we are perfect, but we are moving forward.” And he focused on what he had to offer. He said that he had a message for Obama: Syria, as a secular state, and the United States faced a common enemy in Al Qaeda and Islamic extremism.After mass democracy protests broke out in March 2011, he declared an amnesty and released them from prison. In fact, between March and June of 2011, Assad declared three separate amnesties. Al Jazeera reported, 21 Jun 2011:
Bashar al-Assad, Syria's president, has ordered a new general amnesty for all crimes committed in the country up until June 20, in another apparent attempt to calm months of protests against his rule.That last was a big deal because in Assad's Syria, mere membership in the Muslim Brotherhood could get one the death penalty. Bashar al-Assad said these amnesties were meant as concessions to the democracy movement, but that explanation just doesn't stand up to scrutiny because while he was releasing Islamic terrorists and even common criminals from his prisons, he was shooting unarmed peaceful protesters in ever increasing numbers.
The state news agency, SANA, announced the move on Tuesday, nearly a month after Assad issued a similar amnesty for all political crimes.
"President Assad has issued a decree granting a general amnesty for crimes committed before the date of June 20, 2011," SANA reported, without giving details.
The president ordered a reprieve on May 31 for all political prisoners in the country, including members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Hundreds of detainees were released, according to rights groups.
It is recognized that some of those released in these amnesties eventually found new homes in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIS] and al Nusra Front, and given his past cozy relationships with these people, it is very easy to imagine that some of them became his covert agents and are working for him still.
Farid Ghadry, a Syrian writer from Aleppo, summed up the situation recently, 19 Dec 2013, in a piece titled "Assad is al-Qaeda:"
During the Iraq War, Assad trained, supplied, and facilitated al-Qaeda’s terror against US troops causing over 4,400 casualties and 32,000 wounded. In response, the US chose not to confront him. Not one shot was fired to weaken Assad with the exception of one raid on the Syrian-Iraqi town border of Bou Kamal that netted an al-Qaeda facilitator recruited by the Assad regime to wreak havoc on US troops. Most people have forgotten how and by whom US troops were killed in Iraq.Item 3
Forward to today’s civil war in Syria where Assad, fearing US threats to strike him, re-deployed the same Iraqi tactics by empowering and inviting the same al-Qaeda he trained to join the war in Syria against his rule. This was a high price gamble Assad reasoned would scare once again the Americans into submitting to the threat of al-Qaeda as they did in Iraq. Never forget that Assad is the arsonist and the firefighter both at once. All those voices screaming “better Assad than al-Qaeda” are but fools who fell for Assad’s ploy once again.
Abdullah al-Omar is a defector that claims he worked in the press office of the presidential palace in Damascus, as part of a 15-person team under the direction of long-time government spokeswoman and presidential adviser Bouthaina Shabaan. After he defected in Sept 2012, CNN conducted a four hour interview with him and reported:
Until he defected and fled the Syrian capital last month, al-Omar said, the bulk of his work consisted of lying.Item 4
"Our job was to fabricate, make deceptions and cover up for Bashar al-Assad's crimes," he said.
It is impossible to independently confirm al-Omar's claims. The fact that he freely admits to a career as a government propagandist makes him a somewhat unreliable whistle-blower.
However, the editorial director of a pro-rebel media organization who asked not to be named for security reasons confirmed to CNN that he knows al-Omar worked for Syrian secret police.
"He is the biggest informant for the Al Jawiya," the Syrian journalist said, referring to Syria's much-feared air force intelligence agency. "He was a very strong informant who worked for the palace and worked for Bouthaina (Shabaan)."
During a four-hour interview in Istanbul, al-Omar described in detail some of the propaganda methods used by pro-government media.
During the government's artillery bombardment of the rebel-held neighborhood of Baba Amr in the city of Homs, loyalist women were brought in and disguised as locals for government television interviews, he said.
"The women would say that the massacres against men, women and children were perpetrated by armed gangs, when it was actually the Syrian regime, security forces and the Shabiha" -- the pro-government militia -- "who were behind these horrendous acts," al-Omar said.
These claims are backed by the accounts of residents of Homs, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal at the hands of Syrian security forces.
"I remember that day as if it was yesterday, when state TV showed Assad parading through Baba Amr, not a single resident was from the area," said a native of Homs, now exiled to neighboring Lebanon. "They brought them from neighboring towns from the countryside so they could pretend he was getting a hero's welcome, that he was greeted as a beloved leader, when in reality everyone in Homs knew he was behind the destruction of every house and the killing of every innocent civilian on Homs and every other city in Syria."
Al-Omar said al-Assad worked out of an office about 30 meters down the corridor from the room where the press department was stationed. He claimed the beleaguered president was obsessed with foreign media coverage of Syria.
"Bashar al-Assad has 16 TV screens in the meeting room, in his office, and also in the press office," the defector said. "Most news channels on the top row of the TV screens were Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, BBC, CNN. ... He considered media people his first enemy. He hated them more than the revolution of the Free Syrian Army, especially the foreign reporters who enter Syria, because these were people who were showing the true picture and truth about what's happening in Syria. ...
"He would get very angry and swear, cursing the secret police and security forces saying, why can't they find out where these reporters are, capture them and 'bring them to me so that I can kill them.'" [Al Jazeera video now blocked in the US]
Adham Saif al-Din, writing for Asharq Al-Awsat, 4 Jan 2013, spoken to an anonymous "Syrian regime media defector, who previously worked at the pro-Assad Addounia TV" and reported:
Al-Arabiya published a video, leaked by the same media defector, which shows a young Syrian woman – her features blurred to protect her identity – relating the story of how she was kidnapped by Syrian rebels in the city of Harasta in Rif Dimashq governorate. Following this, we see a clip of one of the young men confessing to his part in this kidnapping; the only problem is that the story is a complete sham. In fact, the compete video clip shows the young Syrian woman – her features uncovered – relating the same story, only this time smiling and stumbling over her lines.Item 5
The Syrian defector informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the scene will have been pre-prepared at one of the security branches. Following this, Syrian state media correspondents will go to record confessions with the speaker being prompted in what he must say to harm the Syrian revolution and revolutionary forces.”
He added “the large number of security branches and their lack of coordination means that sometimes blatant contradictions appear on television such as with regards to the killing of Sarriya Hassoun, the son of Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmed Badreddin Hassoun. Syrian state television broadcast the confession of two separate terrorist cells – telling two different stories – regarding Sarriya Hassoun’s death. Of course, both stories highlighted the aspects that the Syrian regime wanted highlighting.”
Nawaf Fares, formerly Syria's ambassador to Iraq, defected in July 2012. He was interviewed by James Bay of Al Jazeera live on Inside Syria. Among the many interesting things he said was that all the large explosions in Damascus were not the work of terrorist but of the regime. He said the explosion that struck the intelligence headquarters, most people got a 15 minute notice to get out of the building. that's how he knew it was the work of the regime. He said they had also done this sort of thing in Iraq. [Al Jazeera video now blocked in the US]
From my blog post Senior Syrian Officers Defect, June 2012:
And with these defections, more of the gory details of the Assad regimes crimes came out, as with this June 3 report in Al Arabiya News:
Syrian air force officer defects, tells horrors of Houla massacreThe Assad regime has insisted all along that "terrorists" committed the Houla massacre and Mother Agnes-Mariam has backed it up on this, just as Assad's nun has backed his story that jihadist terrorists used sarin gas in Damascus in August. The UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch all looked into the Houla massacre and came to the conclusion that the regime did it, nevertheless the regime stuck to its story as expressed in this New York Times headline: Assad Condemns Houla Massacre, Blaming Terrorists.
A senior Syrian military officer decided to defect and join opposition forces after witnessing hundreds of pro-regime militiamen massacring more than 100 civilians in the town of Houla one week ago, a newspaper reported on Saturday.
However, the witness account of Major Jihad Raslan to the UK-based Observer online newspaper, defied the Syrian government’s propaganda and “made-up” scenarios.
Raslan’s account is considered to be the most important of the testimonies to have emerged since the massacre.
Raslan, who served until last Saturday in the Syrian Air Force in the strategic port city of Tartous, said he had been in Houla on leave when the town was shelled just after 1 p.m. last Friday. It was then invaded by a civilian and gang-like militia, known as the Shabiha, he said.
Raslan said he was in his house, around 300 meters from the site of the first massacre in the village of Taldous, when several hundred men, whom he knew to be Shabiha members, rode into town in cars and army trucks and on motorbikes.
“A lot of them were bald and many had beards,” he told The Observer. “Many wore white sports shoes and army pants. They were shouting: ‘Shabiha forever, for your eyes, Assad.’ It was very obvious who they were."
“We used to be told that armed groups killed people and the Free Syria Army burned down houses,” he said. “They lied to us. Now I saw what they did with my own eyes.”
All Voices has provided this English language description of the video:
Syria - Corrupt Syria Cops sell Video Clip of themselves planting fake arms evidence to smear pro Democracy movement. - 15000 lira was earned by one dirty cop who sold a hidden video of other dirty Cops opening packages of brand new weapons and then putting them in a pile with a bunch of weapons allegedly seized from the pro Democracy protesters. Yes - The Syria Security forces are so dirty they even will make hidden videos of each other committing crimes and evil acts and then sell the video for money.Item 8
I broke this story myself when I showed that a photo which many Assad supporters, like the FARS News Agency, were claiming to be of children massacred by al Nusra in Tal Abyad, Syria on 5 Aug 2013, was actually a picture of children killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan a year before and credited to Daniel Berehulak of Getty Images and published on 23 July 2012. See BREAKING NEWS: Fake Photo Exposes Assad Regime Lie about Rebel Massacre in Tal Abyad
Iran's PressTV Promotes Fake Syrian Rebel Massacre Video is a blog post I wrote about another false charge of Islamic terrorism in Syria made this August by Assad and friends:
The PressTV video does depict the very ugly scene of three men being burned alive but this didn't happen in Syria, and it wasn't done by "the al-Qaeda-affiliated group al-Nusra Front militants" as the pro-Assad propaganda outlet claims.Item 10
That video came from Iraq and was posted on-line 09 April 2011, almost two years before the events PressTV claims it is showing. It shows up as a link in a posting to the Islam Watch website on 9 April 2011 with the title Islamic Barbarism: Gays Burned Alive in Iraq. The link leads to a video posted on Zandiq.com.
Writing for World Affairs, Michael Weiss criticizes the snap conclusions made by the Assad regime and Guardian reporter Jonathan Steele that al Qaeda has behind a Damascus bombing that took place just before Christmas two years ago on 23 Dec 2011:
Steele might wish to revisit the Assad regime’s narrative that Bin Ladenist forces are now setting things off in Damascus in coordination with not only the Syrian opposition but the United States and Israel. Surely a Guardian contributor will have found it suspicious that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem last week predicted that an al-Qaeda attack would occur in the country on the eve of the much anticipated arrival of an Arab League team of observers. Al-Moallem’s deputy, Faisal Mekdad, wasted no time lamenting his boss’s prediction come true: “On the first day after the arrival of the Arab observers,” Mekdad told the BBC shortly after the explosions were reported, “this is the gift we get from the terrorists and al-Qaeda. But we are going to do all we can to facilitate the Arab League mission.”The timing of this attack in relationship to the arrival of Arab League observers has a troubling similarity to the timing of the August sarin gas attack in relationship to the arrival of the UN chemical weapons inspectors. Weiss continues:
I love the use of the word “facilitate” in that sentence. As the prominent Syrian oppositionist Ammar Abdulhamid writes on his Syrian Revolution Digest blog, the whole purpose of Friday’s al-Qaeda Surprise story was to distract the world from witnessing yet another massacre in Idleb Province, this one focused on the village of Kafar Ouaid, where an estimated 95 people were killed in the time it took for Western eyes and ears to train on Damascus.
According to the Syrian state media, suicide bombers drove two cars rigged with explosives to points just outside two hard-to-reach facilities: the State Security Administration building and the Military Security base in Kafarsouseh, a neighborhood in central Damascus. These facilities are preceded by several military checkpoints, and any person or vehicle desiring access to them will need to carry a special permit. Cars also tend to be searched thoroughly before being able to roll right on up to the doorstep of secret police headquarters.While al Qaeda is usually in the habit of taking credit for its attacks, especially when they are as audacious as this one, upon hearing that they were being blamed, the al-Qaeda–linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which are based in Lebanon, issued a communiqué stating:
When a terrorist attack is perpetrated, it takes oodles of man-hours of forensic analysis and data-gathering to determine the party responsible and the methods used. Not so in Syria. The regime’s Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported in an impressive 13 minutes that al-Qaeda was the culprit and that a man called Munir al-Binjali “conducted” the attack. The only problem is, al-Binjali is alive and well in Saudi Arabia, not blown to bits in Damascus.
Ah, but temporal contradictions are no match for Baathist logic. Syrian television cut straight to one of its many dolled-up talking heads, who reassured a troubled nation of the “arrest of the terrorists who blew themselves up today.”
“The mujahideen have no connection whatsoever to these sinister bombings [in Damascus] … Those who are truly responsible are the beneficiaries, the Assad regime and its intelligence agents.”There is much more, but these 10 items should be enough to discourage anyone from just taking the Assad Regime's word that the terror threat to Syrians is coming from the sources the regime claims.
Colin Powell is now best remembered for advancing President George Bush's false claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the United Nations, claims that were used to justify a war that cost something like a half a million lives, but he had blood on his hands long before that.
This My Lai cover story began to unravel because a courageous 21-year-old soldier by the name of Tom Glen wrote a letter to the top general in Vietnam, General Creighton Abrams. Colin Powell, then a 31-year-old major, was assigned to investigate further and he whitewashed it, contradicting Glen's letter and saying "In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between Americal Division soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent." The true facts, as we know them today, came out because an investigative reporter by the name of Seymour M. Hersh did his job and published his findings. While the US is entirely capable of carrying out massacres and has done so far too often, to its credit, its reporters don't have to defect and worry about the safety of their families, before they tell the truth.
Wars need more than a continuous supply of ordinance to sustain them, they also require a continuous supply of lies and fabrications, at least on the side that is waging an unjust war, and every war has at least one party without justice on its side.
The view that both sides have committed war crimes, both sides have committed atrocities, has emerged as the principal excuse for not interfering with the Assad Regime's slaughter of its own people for demanding a government where people don't have to defect to tell the truth. While there is no doubt that there is some truth to the charge that "both sides have committed war crimes" because that is a cliché applicable to absolutely every war without exception, the scales of injustice are not nearly so balanced as Assad and his supporters would have you believe.
"Truth is the first causality of war" is another cliché because at least one side in every war must resort to lies to sustain it and as we can see from the above examples, the Assad regime has had to regularly resort to the most outrageous lies to justify and coverup its crimes. Wars are fought with both the pen and the sword. Therefore, all those who publish and repeat Assad regime propaganda stories as though they were facts, without having verified them quite independently of the usual unreliable sources, must be considered a part of Assad's war machine with much blood on their hands. Sadly, this includes much of the US Left.
UPDATED: [23 Dec 2013] I have just been made aware of this:
The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces reports:
Assad Admits to having Groups Fighting “Within the Ranks of Opposition”
December 5, 2013
Arab newspapers reported that lawyers from the Jordanian bar association stated that during a meeting, Assad mentioned to them that he has “allies and fighters working for him even within the ranks of opposition.”
These remarks, by the head of the regime, shed light on some of the violations that took place in liberated areas. Some groups with agendas, that do not serve the Syrian people’s interests, still work for the regime and receive support from it, while claiming to be fighting against it. These groups continuously take actions that have adverse effects on the revolution. Furthermore, they pose a threat not only to Syria but to the whole region. More...