11 Comments

Bringing it all back home Thank you

Expand full comment

We should remember that our skirts are not clean in this regard.

Expand full comment

Excellent piece. I'm glad you noted that our hands are not clean on this. Britain also assassinated several IRA members over the years. Once this starts it's difficult to end the cycle of violence.

Expand full comment

"the CIA’s Phoenix Program, assisted by U.S and Saigon military units, “neutralized" 81,740 people suspected of Viet Cong membership, of whom 26,369 were killed, with the remainder captured or surrendering, according to a 2006 study by Dale Andrade and James Willbanks."

Perhaps. But most "body counts" were inflated, and the major function of Phoenix was to get different people to keep files together and work together in centers. I know of several Centers in Districts that were overrun by VC and left intact. The records did not seem to concern them. Perhaps they spent too much work to get false information into the system.

Expand full comment

Excellent piece, as always. I do think the Phoenix program and even our "GWOT" drone strikes are qualitatively different than the assassinations a la India's recent one in Canada and Russia's recent ones in the UK and elsewhere. The two former were much closer to acts of war against combatants than to assassinations of civilians. But this is a debatable distinction that most will view as a distinction without a difference. The key point is that assassinations, like covert actions in general, most of the time have negative consequences that are both unintended, and outweigh the "benefits" of the assassination, and that, of course, does not even consider the vital element of how such "operations" erode the very values that the US, and the operations themselves, at least when done by the US, are supposedly trying to defend or advance. The CIA, however, even with regard to the Chilean coup issues, tried to resist and say the proposed covert action would not work, and would have bad consequences. But then, as we know, in the end did what it was ordered to do...

Expand full comment

The Phoenix program was up and running by late 1966 when I first came into contact with it in Tuyen Duc province, home to Dalat, former summer capital for the French colonizers and the Vietnamese elite, where I spent about six months. The program was originally meant to capture or induce VC cadres to surrender and then be interrogated for intelligence collection purposes. A legitimate objective. It didn't turn out that way, of course, and in some provinces the units became efficient killing machines. And worse.

Individual political and religious assassinations, such as the one attributed to Modi, invite retaliation, and he and his cronies should indeed watch their backs. Such actions can lead to more and broader attacks on opponents. Putin has thus far limited himself to knocking off or neutralizing Russian enemies, but what if he should decide that individual Russians living in the US, or even Americans, must be eliminated? Or CIA officers or US diplomats? Scary thoughts, but there are scary people out there capable of going too far to achieve their goals.

Expand full comment

I had a good friend in the Marines who went into Phoenix in the 1966 era, he came by my tent in Da Nang at intervals and was pretty upset at what was happening and asked for a place to hide when it was all over, as he was sure someone was going to be coming for him.

Expand full comment
author

Helluva story, Joe. I shared some anecdotes from my time there as an MI case officer (68-69) in this Newsweek story. https://www.newsweek.com/2017/10/27/us-army-officer-returns-vietnam-chase-enemy-spymaster-686709.html

Expand full comment

Hello SPYTALK,

I am new here and read this good past article on India.

However I was hoping about current SPY talk about operating

Intelligent Agents here in the United States. Is there any one

here with any current stories or discussion on current espionage

in the United States. How about Disney and thier forey into the

murky world of Intelligence maybe a story on Mickey with those

all to big ears. How about espionage in the Central Coast of California

any stories or espionage activity there? Anything? What are those

Russian's doing now in the United States?

Howard Walther, Santa Barbara California in the Central Coast

of California.

Expand full comment
author

Welcome to SpyTalk, Howard, and thanks for writing us. I've been writing about US and foreign intelligence operations here and abroad for 40+ years, here on Substack, back through my years at other news organizations, as well as freelance magazine pieces and books. Just Google my name and specific topics and I think you'll find plenty of stuff you're looking for.

Expand full comment

Hello Jeff,

The articles here are very well written and give ALOT of infomation about PAST

Intelligence matters. What I am looking for are CURRENT Intelligent matters

and operations here in the US. I have found no articles on this except the article

that I provided to SPYTALK on the closure of the Russian San Francisco Russian

Consulate named at this weblink >>> https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/12/14/the-secret-history-of-the-russian-consulate-in-san-francisco-putin-trump-spies-moscow/

Reading the above article gives one the impression that the Russian Consulate was closed

because Russia was running agents out of this Consulate for a long time and it became a

matter of Closure simply because it became to big of a problem. And indeed it was for certain.

Does anyone have any stories or information on the Russian Agents run out of that Russian Consulate

in San Francisco and subsequently in the State of California? Any information of same?

Howard Walther Santa Barbara California

Expand full comment