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War Crimes

Former senator Jeremiah Denton, who was tortured for more than seven years as a prisoner-of-war, told the press recently that since President Clinton has normalized relations with Vietnam, the U.S. Congress should begin a "war crimes investigation of those responsible for torturing American prisoners-of-war during the Vietnam War.

He said the United States must not "bow to arrogance" of Hanoi communists.

"There is no question that the government of Vietnam caused unlawful mistreatment of POWs, resulting in some cases in loss of life and in most cases in long-lasting physical and/or psychological problems to surviving POWs," Denton said.

Denton's plane was shot down over North Vietnam 30 years ago this July.

He was captured and spent seven years and six months in a Hanoi prison.

In 1966, Denton's North Vietnamese guards brought him into a sterile room in one of Hanoi's prison camps.

The North Vietnamese had spent four days and three nights torturing him, in preparation for an interview with a Japanese newsman, known for his sympathy to the North Vietnamese cause.

For the four days, Denton's torturers used their "standard" techniques of torture - they had starved him and then subjected him to "the ropes and iron bars."

Returned prisoners described the torturers' use of "the ropes".

They said the North Vietnamese would pull the prisoners arms behind him and tie them together at the elbows.

The prisoner's wrists were then locked in "torture cuffs" and "jumbo irons" were placed over his ankles.

A two-inch thick bar was slid through the "jumbo irons".

The torturers then looped a rope around the bar, over his shoulders, pulling the prisoner's head between his knees.

The prisoners were then forced to sit on a stool for days at a time.

"They took me right off of that {the ropes}, with me like a vegetable, up all night for three nights, telling me that I was going to go before this interviewer," Denton said describing the incident.

The cameras moved in for a close-up shot of the haggard Navy pilot, who the North Vietnamese expected to make a statement condemning the United States war effort.

Denton, who was slumped in a chair, rolled his eyes widely, staring at the ceiling.

He began to systematically blink his eyes as he was questioned in heavily accented English.

The blinking eyes, which gave Denton the appearance of a man who had lost his senses, spelled out in Morse Code the word "TORTURE".

Then, surrounded by his tortures, Denton gave this statement,

"Whatever the position of my government is, I believe in it, yes sir... I am a member of that government and it is my job to support it, and I will as long as I live."The North Vietnamese in the room questioned the Japanese interviewer.

What had Denton said?

Was it damaging to the North Vietnamese cause?

The interviewer obviously impressed by Denton's resistance and loyalty told them the statement was unimportant and managed to get it out of the country.

Later, the North Vietnamese, after discovering what Denton had done to them, brutalized him again and again.

Denton's warnings of POW torture drew international attention.

So, what about Congressional hearings on Vietnamese "war crimes"?

Before his death in April 1999, Former POW Col. Ted Guy wanted to know why not?

He is a retired Air Force colonel and one of ten U.S. fliers captured in Laos by the North Vietnamese.

He was held prisoner for 5 years in North Vietnam, and because he was a Senior Ranking Officer (SRO), he was singled out and tortured for encouraging other U.S. prisoners to resist.

Guy said, Clinton made a "tragic mistake" in rushing to normalize relations with Vietnam.

He said Clinton acted with apparent disregard for the feelings of former Vietnam prisoners-of-war, especially the "Seniors" who were held in the "dungeons" of the prisons in and around Hanoi.

"These men, in the grade of Lt. Col. and above, were subjected to the most barbaric tortures known to mankind,"

Guy told the U.S. Veteran Dispatch.

"If we are to welcome Vietnam into the family of nations, I think the least we can do, prior to granting any diplomatic plums, is to investigate Vietnam's actions towards prisoners-of-war.

I believe that we should insist that the Communist government of Vietnam tell the American people, why they did not comply with the Geneva Accords, which dictate specifically the conduct that should be used with POWs,"

Guy said.

The use of torture was an official Vietnamese Communist Party policy.

It was also a horribly blatant violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949, which hold that prisoners-of-war are

"victims of events", who merit "decent and humane treatment."

Vietnamese torture took many forms, but basically, according to returned POWs, it boiled down to four types:

beatings which either permanently crippled or killed the prisoner,

deprivation of food and rest,

solitary confinement for months at a time,

and the intentional denial of medical treatment.

The U.S. Department of Defense estimated in 1973 that the Communist Vietnamese had tortured to death more than 55 U.S. prisoners.

Today no one in the U.S. government seems to know or wants to talk about the actual number of U.S. POWs murdered by the Vietnamese.

There is also some question as to whether the U.S. Congress is willing to investigate and hold public hearings on the countless atrocities, torture, and mass murder ordered during and after the war, by such top Vietnamese officials as Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet and Vietnam's General Secretary, Do Muoi?

During the war, Kiet was a Central Committee member of the former National Liberation Front (the Viet Cong).

Muoi was a senior North Vietnamese political cadre.

Why the U.S. government has refused to acknowledge that top Vietnamese officials like Kiet and Muoi,

[who U.S. government officials deal with on a daily basis],

were responsible for the systematic and abhorrent policy of torturing U.S. prisoners-of-war.

Kiet's history of war crimes is clear.

As a ranking Communist Party member of the secret Central Committee of former National Liberation Front (Viet Cong), he was part of a small clique responsible for setting policies.

He also directed the Communist war which was waged against the pro-democracy Vietnamese, and their allies in South Vietnam.

As a senior Central Committee member, Kiet was not only responsible for ordering American POWs to be punished by execution, but he gave the orders which resulted in the murder of the thousands of pro-U.S./South Vietnamese in Hue, during the Tet Offensive of 1968.

Kiet's Communist Party henchmen executed over 3,000 men, women, and children.

They buried many of them alive in mass graves in that historic ancient Vietnamese city [Hue], which Kiet's political cadre and North Vietnamese troops briefly held during the offensive.

In their efforts to produce what they thought, erroneously, would be the ultimate utopian society, Kiet and other members of the Central Committee,

"set official Viet Cong policies that resulted in the deaths of many American POWs".

They labeled them "reactionaries", because the prisoners refused to verbally denounce their country.

These prisoners,

"in violation of international law" were tortured, with many of them purposely exposed to the elements.

They were also starved to death for refusing to embrace atheistic international communism.

The following names are just a few among hundreds of American prisoners labeled reactionaries by Viet Cong cadre:

Sgt. Harold G. Bennett,

U.S Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), from Perryville, Arkansas.

He was held as a prisoner for six months, before, according to a National Liberation Front radio broadcast, being publicly murdered June 24, 1965.

He was shot in the back of the head, execution style.

Capt. Humberto "Rocky" Versace,

U.S. Army Special Forces, of Norfold, Virginia.

He was held prisoner for two years before, according to a National Liberation Front radio broadcast, he was publicly murdered in September 1965.

Fellow prisoner, Lt. Nick Rowe said Versace, who Kiet's Viet Cong had labeled a "reactionary", was being tortured by guards in an indoctrination hut a few feet from Rowe's cage, when Versace defiantly told one of Kiet's Viet Cong cadre,

"I'm an officer in the United States Army. You can force me to come here, you can make me sit and listen, but I don't believe a damn word of what you say!"

Rowe said those were the last words any American ever heard from Versace.

Sgt. Kenneth Mills Roraback,

U.S. Army Special Forces, from Baldwin, New York.

He was held prisoner for two years before, according to a National Liberation Front radio broadcast, being executed.

A U.S. government report says, a Viet Cong guard, acting on Central Committee orders, walked up behind Roraback's bamboo cage, and shot him in the head, while Roraback was eating his daily bowl of rice.

Sgt. Leonard M. Tadios,

MACV, was held prisoner for nearly two years.

He was starved and intentionally denied medical treatment.

Tadios, from Lanai, Hawaii, died March 18, 1966 after being isolated from other prisoners and left to die alone.

Capt. Orien Judson Walker, Jr.,

MACV, was held prisoner for nearly a year before, according to the Vietnamese, he became sick from the effects of starvation.

He was intentionally denied medical treatment and was separated from other American prisoners, so they could not care for him.

According to the Vietnamese, Walker, of Boston, Massachusetts, died February 4, 1966.

SFC Joe Parks,

MACV, from Cedar Lane, Texas.

He was held for two years as a prisoner of the Viet Cong.

He became ill as a result of starvation and the Viet Cong denied him medical treatment.

Parks died as a result.

Capt. Donald Cook,

U.S. Marine Corps, was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for jeopardizing his own health , by sharing his meager supply of food and scarce medicines with other U.S. prisoners who were more sick than he was.

Cook, from Essex Junction, Vermont, became legendary for his refusal to betray the military Code of Conduct.

On one occasion, Kiet's cadre put a pistol to Cook's head, demanding that he denounce the United States.

Cook resisted and calmly recited the nomenclature of the parts of the pistol.

The Viet Cong were so infuriated at Cook's continued resistance that they isolated him from other American prisoners and refused him food and medicine.

Today, Hanoi claims Cook died as a result of malaria, and like all the others listed above, the Vietnamese Communists claim they do not know where his remains are buried.

Kiet and other Hanoi leaders, who still decide the life or death of their own people on a daily basis, are unrepentant communists - no different than the Nazis of the Third Reich, responsible for the deaths and murder of thousands of American POWs during World War II.

Would our political leaders, who today are rushing to shake the hands with Kiet and Muoi, be equally willing to shake the hands of Nazi SS Chief Heinrich Himmler or the infamous Japanese General Hedeki Tojo, if those two World War II criminals were alive today?

The establishment of diplomatic relations means the United States is more likely to grant Vietnam a most-favored nation trading status, qualifying some U.S. companies, [who plan to tap into Vietnam's slave labor market], for U.S. tax dollar subsidies.

As much as 30 to 40 percent of all money, including U.S. tax dollars, invested in Vietnam goes into the coffers of Vietnam's Communist Party, and subsequently into the private bank accounts of Vietnamese officials.

Don't the American people deserve to know which Vietnamese war criminals are receiving U.S. Tax dollars?





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