The Phoenix Program in Vietnam in many ways provides a blue print for our own times. Assassinations and torture are the essence of the war on terror. As are death squads and false flag terror attacks. As are mass surveillance of the populace.
Thanks to the work of Douglas Valentine in his classic book “The Phoenix Program” we have an extremely detailed account of the Phoenix Program exposing a classic example of the brutality of the CIA’s counter insurgency wars. By studying the Phoenix program one can gain a great deal of insight into the wars in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
How the book came to be written is an interesting story in it’s own right. Doug Valentine had written a novel about his fathers experiences in a prisoner of war camp during World War 2 called “Hotel Tacloban.”
He decided his next book would be on Vietnam and he decided to focus on the CIA role since little had been written on the topic. He approached former CIA Director William Colby for help. He sent him a copy of his book and the former CIA director decided that Valentine was a man who understood the harsh realities of war and agreed to meet with him. Valentine cut his hair, bought a suit and tie met with Colby and managed to gain his confidence. Colby believed Valentine would write a sympathetic account. After all the CIA is used to working with journalists who censor the truth in exchange for inside information. Colby arranged for him to meet hundreds of former agents.
Valentine had managed to penetrate the inner world of the CIA. Amazingly it took years for the CIA to suspect that Valentine had no intention of writing a sympathetic account of their crimes in Vietnam. By then it was too late he already had hundreds of hours of taped interviews. He wrote his book one of the most detailed accounts of a CIA program ever. However the CIA used it’s influence with the New York Times to kill the book with a bad review. The book was buried in obscurity. Valentine was forced to give up writing and became a private investigator but fortunately one of the contacts he made while writing Phoenix Program helped him find an even more scandalous story and he went on to write “The Strength of the Wolf” and the “Strength of the Pack” which expose in great detail the phony nature of America’s decades long war on drugs. Doug Valentine is one of the most fearless researchers alive today his works are required reading for anyone interested in the CIA, Organized Crime, and America’s corrupt establishment.
What was the Phoenix Program?
From the perspective of a Bureaucrat like Bill Colby it was merely an attempt to coordinate a number of pre-existing programs. Sort of like the Department of HomeLand Security or more precisely it’s fusion centers where military, police, and intelligence agencies pool information on their enemies the American people. Phoenix sought to provide cooperation between various Vietnamese and American agencies so that they could coordinate their war on the Vietnamese people. What was the Phoenix program? A massive campaign of torture and assassination aimed at destroying what the CIA called the VCI the Viet Cong Infrastructure. Amusingly this term was as confusing to Vietnamese as it probably is to you.
They had to hold a massive conference to attempt a translation and the word they ended up using only further confused the Vietnamese. By infrastructure the Americans meant not roads and bridges but the civilian Shadow government the Communist revolutionaries had set up across the country. In many places they were the ones in real control on the local level and they used their power to fight for land reform on behalf of the peasants. America’s South Vietnamese allies however were a corrupt class of elitists who supported the land lords against the peasants and were hated by the majority of the populace. For the Vietnamese the Vietnam war was a revolution aimed at land reform and re-uniting the country.