The Phoenix Program (Vietnamese: Chiến dịch Phụng Hoàng) was a program designed and coordinated by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Vietnam War, involving cooperation between American, South Vietnamese and Australian militaries.
The program was designed to identify and destroy the Viet Cong (VC) via infiltration, torture, capture, counter-terrorism, interrogation, and assassination. The CIA described it as "a set of programs that sought to attack and destroy the political infrastructure of the Viet Cong".
The major two components of the program were Provincial Reconnaissance Units (PRUs) and regional interrogation centers. PRUs would kill or capture suspected VC members, as well as civilians who were thought to have information on VC activities. Many of these people were taken to interrogation centers and were tortured in an attempt to gain intelligence on VC activities in the area. The information extracted at the centers was given to military commanders, who would use it to task the PRU with further capture and assassination missions. The program's effectiveness was measured in the number of VC members who were "neutralized", a euphemism meaning imprisoned, persuaded to defect, or killed.
The program was in operation between 1965 and 1972, and similar efforts existed both before and after that period. By 1972, Phoenix operatives had "neutralized" 81,740 suspected VC operatives, informants and supporters, of whom between 26,000 and 41,000 were killed.
The interrogation centers and PRUs were developed by the CIA's Saigon station chief Peer de Silva. DeSilva was a proponent of a military strategy known as counter-terrorism, which encompasses military tactics and techniques that government, military, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies use to combat or prevent terrorist activities, and that it should be applied strategically to "enemy civilians" in order to reduce civilian support for the VC. The PRUs were designed with this in mind, and began targeting suspected VC members in 1964. Originally, the PRUs were known as "Counter Terror" teams, but they were renamed to "Provincial Reconnaissance Units" after CIA officials "became wary of the adverse publicity surrounding the use of the word 'terror'".
In 1967 all "pacification" efforts by the United States had come under the authority of the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support, or CORDS. CORDS had many different programs within it, including the creation of a peasant militia which by 1971 had a strength of about 500,000.
In 1967, as part of CORDS, the Intelligence Coordination and Exploitation Program (ICEX) was created, from a plan drafted by Nelson Brickham partly inspired by David Galula's Counterinsurgency Warfare (1964), a book based on Galula's experiences in the Algerian War which Brickham was "very taken" with and carried with him around Vietnam. The purpose of the organization centered on gathering information on the VC. It was renamed Phoenix later in the same year. The South Vietnamese program was called Phụng Hoàng, after a mythical bird that appeared as a sign of prosperity and luck. The 1968 Tet offensive showed the importance of the VC infrastructure, and the military setback for the U.S. made it politically more palatable for the new program to be implemented. By 1970 there were 704 U.S. Phoenix advisers throughout South Vietnam.
The chief aspect of the Phoenix Program was the collection of intelligence information. VC members would then be captured, converted, or killed. Emphasis for the enforcement of the operation was placed on local government militia and police forces, rather than the military, as the main operational arm of the program. Author and journalist Douglas Valentine states that "Central to Phoenix is the fact that it targeted civilians, not soldiers".
The Phoenix Program took place under special laws that allowed the arrest and prosecution of suspected communists. To avoid abuses such as phony accusations for personal reasons, or to rein in overzealous officials who might not be diligent enough in pursuing evidence before making arrests, the laws required three separate sources of evidence to convict an individual targeted for neutralization. If a suspected VC member was found guilty, he or she could be held in prison for two years, with renewable two-year sentences totaling up to six years. According to MACV Directive 381-41, the intent of Phoenix was to attack the VC with a "rifle shot rather than a shotgun approach to target key political leaders, command/control elements and activists in the VCI [Viet Cong Infrastructure]."
Heavy-handed operations—such as random cordons and searches, large-scale and lengthy detentions of innocent civilians, and excessive use of firepower—had a negative effect on the civilian population. Intelligence derived from interrogations was often used to carry out "search and destroy" missions aimed at finding and killing VC members.
Methods of reported torture detailed by author Douglas Valentine that were used at the interrogation centers included:
Rape, gang rape, rape using eels, snakes, or hard objects, and rape followed by murder; electric shock ('the Bell Telephone Hour') rendered by attaching wires to the genitals or other sensitive parts of the body, like the tongue; the 'water treatment'; the 'airplane' in which the prisoner's arms were tied behind the back, and the rope looped over a hook on the ceiling, suspending the prisoner in midair, after which he or she was beaten; beatings with rubber hoses and whips; the use of police dogs to maul prisoners.
Military intelligence officer K. Barton Osborne reports that he witnessed the following use of torture:
The use of the insertion of the 6-inch dowel into the canal of one of my detainee's ears, and the tapping through the brain until dead. The starvation to death (in a cage), of a Vietnamese woman who was suspected of being part of the local political education cadre in one of the local villages ... The use of electronic gear such as sealed telephones attached to ... both the women's vaginas and men's testicles [to] shock them into submission.
The torture was carried out by South Vietnamese forces with the CIA and special forces playing a supervisory role.
Phoenix operations often aimed to assassinate targets, or resulted in their deaths through other means. PRU units often anticipated resistance in disputed areas, and often operated on a shoot-first basis. Innocent civilians were also sometimes killed. William Colby claimed that the program never sanctioned the "premeditated killing of a civilian in a non-combat situation", and other military personnel stated that capturing VC members was more important than killing them. Lieutenant Vincent Okamoto, an intelligence-liaison officer for the Phoenix Program for two months in 1968 and a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross said the following:
The problem was, how do you find the people on the blacklist? It's not like you had their address and telephone number. The normal procedure would be to go into a village and just grab someone and say, "Where's Nguyen so-and-so?" Half the time the people were so afraid they would not say anything. Then a Phoenix team would take the informant, put a sandbag over his head, poke out two holes so he could see, put commo wire around his neck like a long leash, and walk him through the village and say, "When we go by Nguyen's house scratch your head." Then that night Phoenix would come back, knock on the door, and say, "April Fool, motherfucker." Whoever answered the door would get wasted. As far as they were concerned whoever answered was a Communist, including family members. Sometimes they'd come back to camp with ears to prove that they killed people.
Between 1968 and 1972, Phoenix "neutralized" 81,740 people suspected of VC membership, of whom 26,369 were killed. A significant number of VC were killed, and between 1969 and 1971 the program was quite successful in destroying VC infrastructure in many important areas. By 1970, communist plans repeatedly emphasized attacking the government's pacification program and specifically targeted Phoenix officials. The VC also imposed quotas. In 1970, for example, communist officials near Da Nang in northern South Vietnam instructed their assassins to "kill 1,400 persons" deemed to be government "tyrant[s]" and to "annihilate" anyone involved with the pacification program. Several North Vietnamese officials have made statements about the effectiveness of Phoenix. According to William Colby, "in the years since 1975, I have heard several references to North and South Vietnamese communists who state that, in their mind, the toughest period that they faced from 1960 to 1975 was the period from 1968 to '72 when the Phoenix Program was at work." The CIA claimed that through Phoenix they were able to learn the identity and structure of the VCI in every province.
The Phoenix Program was not generally known during most of the time it was operational to either the American public or American officials in Washington. One of the first people to criticize Phoenix publicly was Ed Murphy, a native of Staten Island, New York in 1970.
There was eventually a series of U.S. Congressional hearings. In 1971, in the final day of hearing on "U.S. Assistance Programs in Vietnam", a former serviceman named K. Milton Osborn described the Phoenix Program as a "sterile depersonalized murder program." Consequently, the military command in Vietnam issued a directive that reiterated that it had based the anti-VCI campaign on South Vietnamese law, that the program was in compliance with the laws of land warfare, and that U.S. personnel had the responsibility to report breaches of the law.
Former CIA analyst Samuel A. Adams, in an interview with CBC News, talked about the program as basically an assassination program that also included torture. A former Phoenix Intelligence Officer, Barton Osborn, in an interview broadcast in 1975, talked about the torture practices used by the Americans and detailed a case in which a man was dragged out of the interrogation's hooch with a dowel protruding from his ear. The dowel had been tapped through in the course of torture to hit the brain. These were activities performed by American Marines.[citation needed to support] They would also kill people by throwing them out of helicopters to threaten and intimidate those they wanted to interrogate.
Abuses were common. In many instances, rival Vietnamese would report their enemies as "VC" in order to get U.S. troops to kill them. In many cases, Phung Hoang chiefs were incompetent bureaucrats who used their positions to enrich themselves. Phoenix tried to address this problem by establishing monthly neutralization quotas, but these often led to fabrications or, worse, false arrests. In some cases, district officials accepted bribes from the VC to release certain suspects.
After Phoenix Program abuses began receiving negative publicity, the program was officially shut down, although it continued under the name Plan F-6 with the government of South Vietnam in control.[b]
|title=(help) For copies, see Cornell and Southern Illinois University.
The US Army Foreign Intelligence Assistance Program, was a 1960s program. One part was "Project X", a military effort to create intelligence field manuals drawn from counterinsurgency experience in Vietnam, specifically from the CIA's Phoenix program in South Vietnam, an assassination program designed to identify and "neutralize" the infrastructure of the Viet Cong. The manuals influenced the "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation-July 1963", "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual-1983" as well as intelligence manuals used at the School of the Americas.CIA activities in Vietnam
CIA activities in Vietnam were operations conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency in Indochina and then Vietnam from the 1950s to the late 1960s, before and during the Vietnam War. Historically, Vietnam became a part of French Indochina in 1887. Although Vietnam became independent after World War II, the French continued to rule the country until 1954, and did not encourage any CIA activity. Also, the year of 1954 was when Ho Chi Minh was in power and the country started to be separated into two parts. While the north was controlled by the communist forces and under Ho Chi Minh's leadership, the south, with the assistance of the U.S., was anti-communist. The economic and military aid supplied by the U.S. to Vietnam continued until the late 1960s. The Central Intelligence Agency participated in every aspect of the wars in Indochina, political and military. In addition to paramilitary supplies, the U.S. CIA tried to block the Ho Chi Minh Trails, an important activity that strategically prevented the North Vietnamese from using the trail for combat. Further, the CIA provided suggestions for political platforms, supported candidates, used agency resources to refute electoral fraud charges, and manipulated the certification of election results by the South Vietnamese National Assembly. Ethnic minorities who allied with the anti-communist Vietnamese and the U.S. CIA included the Montagnards, Hmong, and Khmer. There are 174 National Intelligence Estimates dealing with Vietnam, issued by the CIA after coordination with the intelligence community of the US government.Communist rebellion in the Philippines
The CPP–NPA–NDF rebellion refers to the ongoing conflict between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the communist coalition of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People's Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front (NDF).
In 1969, the NPA was formed, and the first violent incident took place in 1971. A year later, President Ferdinand Marcos introduced martial law. Until 2002, the NPA received a considerable amount of aid from outside the Philippines, although later developments forced it to rely on support from local sources. Between 1969 and 2008, more than 43,000 insurgency-related fatalities were recorded.Ed Murphy (activist)
Ed Murphy (born August 6, 1945) is an American peace and labor activist and the Executive Director of the Workforce Development Institute. He was a former military intelligence soldier who exposed the CIA's Phoenix Program in April 1970.Esperança (non-profit)
Esperança (non-profit), the Portuguese word for hope, is a registered 501(c)(3) based in Phoenix, AZ. Founded in 1970 by Luke and Gerald Tupper. It currently operates programs in Mexico, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru, Mozambique and Phoenix, Arizona.Fall of Saigon
The Fall of Saigon, or the Liberation of Saigon, was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the Viet Cong on 30 April 1975. The event marked the end of the Vietnam War and the start of a transition period to the formal reunification of Vietnam into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.The PAVN, under the command of General Văn Tiến Dũng, began their final attack on Saigon on April 29, 1975, with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces commanded by General Nguyễn Văn Toàn suffering a heavy artillery bombardment. This bombardment at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport killed the last two American servicemen killed in combat in Vietnam, Charles McMahon and Darwin Judge. By the afternoon of the next day, the PAVN had occupied the important points of the city and raised their flag over the South Vietnamese presidential palace. The city was renamed Hồ Chí Minh City, after the late North Vietnamese President Hồ Chí Minh.
The capture of the city was preceded by Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of almost all the American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians who had been associated with the southern regime. The evacuation was the largest helicopter evacuation in history. In addition to the flight of refugees, the end of the war and the institution of new rules by the communists contributed to a decline in the city's population.Fenghuang
Fenghuang (simplified Chinese: 凤凰; traditional Chinese: 鳳凰; pinyin: fènghuáng; Wade–Giles: fêng⁴-huang²) are mythological birds found in East Asian mythology that reign over all other birds. The males were originally called feng and the females huang but such a distinction of gender is often no longer made and they are blurred into a single feminine entity so that the bird can be paired with the Chinese dragon, which is traditionally deemed male.
The fenghuang is also called the "August Rooster" (simplified Chinese: 鹍鸡; traditional Chinese: 鶤雞 or 鵾雞; pinyin: yùnjī or kūnjī; Wade–Giles: yün4-chi1 or k'un1-chi1) since it sometimes takes the place of the Rooster in the Chinese zodiac. In the Western world, it is commonly called the Chinese phoenix or simply Phoenix, although mythological similarities with the Western phoenix are superficial.Félix Rodríguez (soldier)
Félix Ismael Rodríguez Mendigutia (born 31 May 1941) is a former Central Intelligence Agency Paramilitary Operations Officer in the famed Special Activities Division, known for his involvement in the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the execution of communist revolutionary Che Guevara as well as his ties to George H. W. Bush during the Iran–Contra affair. He is a Cuban American.MF Grimm
Percy Carey (born 11 June 1970), also known by the stage names MF Grimm, Grimm Reaper, GM Grimm and originally Build and Destroy, is an American underground rapper, music producer, CEO, and Eisner Award-nominated comic book writer from New York City. Grimm has released five solo albums, five collaborative albums and two compilation albums.MF Grimm discography
The discography of American hip hop artist MF Grimm consists of seven studio albums (including two collaborations), three EPs, three mixtapes and two compilation albums. Although MF Grimm's rapping career began in the late 1980s, his debut record did not come until 2000 in the form of the MF EP, a collaborative project with MF DOOM. Grimm had previously executive produced DOOM's debut solo album Operation: Doomsday, as well as aiding with the mixing and recording, on top of having a solo track on the project. Grimm's debut album, The Downfall of Ibliys: A Ghetto Opera was released in 2002. His latest album, the third collaborative project with Drasar Monumental in the Good Morning Vietnam series was released November 25, 2014.
On February 4, 2015, it was announced that a compilation of love songs would be released for Valentines Day. This compilation is slated to be called "MF Love Songs" and will cover the majority of Grimm's career.
Grimm's discography is also notable in that his album American Hunger is the first triple disc album of original material by a solo hip hop artist.Nelson Brickham
Nelson Henry Brickham, Jr. (23 January 1927 – 1 February 2007) was a Central Intelligence Agency officer, best known for his role in developing the Phoenix Program.Operation Dragnet
Operation Dragnet was a security operation conducted by the 1st Cavalry Division in Bình Định Province, lasting from 26 May 1967 to 27 January 1968.Psychological warfare
Psychological warfare (PSYWAR), or the basic aspects of modern psychological operations (PSYOP), have been known by many other names or terms, including MISO, Psy Ops, political warfare, "Hearts and Minds", and propaganda. The term is used "to denote any action which is practiced mainly by psychological methods with the aim of evoking a planned psychological reaction in other people". Various techniques are used, and are aimed at influencing a target audience's value system, belief system, emotions, motives, reasoning, or behavior. It is used to induce confessions or reinforce attitudes and behaviors favorable to the originator's objectives, and are sometimes combined with black operations or false flag tactics. It is also used to destroy the morale of enemies through tactics that aim to depress troops' psychological states. Target audiences can be governments, organizations, groups, and individuals, and is not just limited to soldiers. Civilians of foreign territories can also be targeted by technology and media so as to cause an effect in the government of their country.In Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes, Jacques Ellul discusses psychological warfare as a common peace policy practice between nations as a form of indirect aggression. This type of propaganda drains the public opinion of an opposing regime by stripping away its power on public opinion. This form of aggression is hard to defend against because no international court of justice is capable of protecting against psychological aggression since it cannot be legally adjudicated. "Here the propagandists is [sic] dealing with a foreign adversary whose morale he seeks to destroy by psychological means so that the opponent begins to doubt the validity of his beliefs and actions."Richard Helms
Richard McGarrah Helms (March 30, 1913 – October 23, 2002) served as the United States Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) from June 1966 to February 1973. Helms began intelligence work with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Following the 1947 creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) he rose in its ranks during the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy administrations. Helms then served as DCI under Presidents Johnson and Nixon.As a professional, Helms highly valued information gathering (favoring the interpersonal, but including the technical, obtained by espionage or from published media) and its analysis. He also prized counterintelligence. Although a participant at planning such activities, he remained a skeptic about covert and paramilitary operations. Helms understood the bounds of his agency role as being able to express strong opinions over a decision under review, yet working as a team player once a course was set by the administration. He saw it as his duty to keep official secrets from press scrutiny. While DCI, Helms managed the agency following the lead of his predecessor John McCone. In 1977, as a result of earlier covert operations in Chile, he became the only DCI convicted of misleading Congress. His last post in government service was Ambassador to Iran, 1973–1977. Yet he was a key witness before the Senate during its investigation of the CIA by the Church Committee in the mid-1970s, 1975 being called the "Year of Intelligence". This investigation was hampered severely by Helms having ordered the destruction of all files related to the CIA's mind control program in 1973.Theodore Shackley
Theodore George "Ted" Shackley, Jr. (July 16, 1927 — December 9, 2002) was an American CIA officer involved in many important and controversial CIA operations during the 1960s and 1970s. He is one of the most decorated CIA officers. Due to his "light hair and mysterious ways", Shackley was known to his colleagues as "the Blond Ghost".In the early 1960s, Shackley's work included being station chief in Miami, during the period of the Cuban Missile Crisis, as well as the Cuban Project (also known as Operation Mongoose), which he directed. He was also said to be the director of the "Phoenix Program" during the Vietnam War, as well as the CIA station chief in Laos between 1966–1968, and Saigon station chief from 1968 through February 1972. In 1976, he was appointed Associate Deputy Director for Operations, second in charge of CIA covert operations.William Colby
William Egan Colby (January 4, 1920 – April 27, 1996) was an American intelligence officer who served as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) from September 1973 to January 1976.
During World War II Colby served with the Office of Strategic Services. After the war he joined the newly created Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Before and during the Vietnam War, Colby served as chief of station in Saigon, chief of the CIA's Far East Division, and head of the Civil Operations and Rural Development effort, as well as overseeing the Phoenix Program. After Vietnam, Colby became director of central intelligence and during his tenure, under intense pressure from the United States Congress and the media, adopted a policy of relative openness about U.S. intelligence activities to the Senate Church Committee and House Pike Committee. Colby served as DCI under President Richard Nixon and President Gerald Ford on January 30, 1976 with George H. W. Bush.
Easter Offensive (1972)
Post-Paris Peace Accords (1973–1974)