I got this on another list that I'm on. Thought it might be of interest to
folks on this list.
>Date: Sun, 7 Jun 1998 23:01:44 -0700 (PDT)
>From: Payman Arabshahi <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: US used nerve gas in Vietnam - 100 killed
>Retroactive sanctions on the U.S.! International War Crimes Tribunal!
>Exhume Nixon from his grave! Blah Blah Blah ... !
>(i.e. "We" can do whatever we want; but "you" better watch out)
>U.S. used nerve gas during Vietnam War
>Mission targeted American defectors in Laos,
>100 people killed, including women and children
>WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States used lethal nerve gas during a
>mission to kill American defectors in Laos during the Vietnam War in 1970,
>according to the results of an eight-month investigation broadcast Sunday
>on the premiere of "NewsStand: CNN & Time."
>The report was based on interviews with 200 people, including dozens who
>fought or flew on the mission, called Operation Tailwind.
>Retired Adm. Thomas Moorer, a Vietnam-era chief of naval operations and
>former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN that the Nixon
>White House's national security team had to approve use of the nerve gas,
>and that the CIA had partial responsibility for Operation Tailwind.
>He confirmed that nerve gas was used, and acknowledged in an off-camera
>interview that the mission's target was indeed American defectors.
>At the time, Nixon had pledged the United States to a policy of "no first
>use" of nerve gas. The American government had also signed a treaty
>restricting chemical weaponry, though the Senate had not ratified it.
>Pentagon official said the Army "has found no documentary evidence to
>support CNN's claims that nerve gas of any type was used on Operation
>"NewsStand's" investigation reveals that on September 11, 1970, a "hatchet
>force" of 16 U.S. soldiers and approximately 140 Montagnard mercenaries
>helicoptered 60 miles deep into Laos from a Vietnamese base, Dak To.
>The Montagnard are a group indigenous to the central mountains of Vietnam.
>These soldiers were part of SOG -- the Studies and Observations Group -- a
>small, elite unit of the U.S. Special Forces.
>SOG commandos carried out "black operations" against unusual targets,
>using unusual weapons. On Operation Tailwind, officers were briefed that
>anything in the non-nuclear U.S. arsenal would be available to them. That
>arsenal included a weapon known as "sleeping gas."
>According to military officials with knowledge of the operation, that
>"sleeping gas" was, in fact, a nerve gas known as sarin -- the same gas
>that was used in the attack on a subway in Tokyo on March 20, 1995. The
>military name for the nerve gas was GB.
>Tailwind's commander, U.S. Army Capt. Eugene McCarley, told CNN that he
>equipped all his men with M-17 gas masks -- masks that are designed to
>protect against nerve gas. The men also carried atropine, a nerve gas
>A few days before the hatchet force was deployed, a reconnaissance team
>had been scouting the area in Laos, looking for defectors. Jay Graves, a
>reconnaissance team leader, saw what he called "roundeyes," meaning
>Caucasians, in a village base camp. He radioed the sighting back to his
>superiors. Graves was told to stay hidden and wait.
>Jim Cathey, who was a U.S. Air Force non-commissioned officer in charge of
>resupply for the SOG commandos, also was in the area before the hatchet
>force team dropped in. He spent five hours closely observing the village
>base camp. Like Graves, he spotted what he believes were Americans in that
>village base camp.
>"I believe that there were American defectors in that group of people in
>that village, because there was ... no sign of any kind of restraint," he
>>From the time the SOG commandos were put on the ground, they were in
>constant firefights. By the third day, more than half the commandos were
>wounded and getting low on ammunition.
>According to military officials, during the evening, American planes
>gassed the camp with deadly sarin, using a special weapon, CBU-15, a
>cluster bomb unit designed to drop the nerve gas.
>The next morning, the hatchet force attacked the camp, killing more than
>100 people, according to McCarley and other Tailwind veterans.
>1st Lt. Robert Van Buskirk, a platoon leader, spotted two Caucasians. They
>ran from him and slid into a spider hole. Convinced they were defectors,
>Van Buskirk threw a white phosphorous grenade down the hole. Van Buskirk
>believes he killed both of the men.
>"It was pretty well understood that if you came across a defector, and
>could prove it to yourself beyond a reasonable doubt, do it, under any
>circumstance, kill them," Van Buskirk said. "It wasn't about bringing them
>back. It was to kill them."
>The commandos, firing automatic weapons and tossing grenades, wiped out
>the camp in approximately 10 minutes.
>John Singlaub, a former SOG commander, told "NewsStand" that it could be
>more important to the survival of U.S. troops to kill defectors than enemy
>soldiers because the defectors' knowledge of communications and tactics
>"can be damaging."
>Montagnard fighters reported to their U.S. superiors that there were
>bodies of people who "look like Americans" dead in the village's huts. Van
>Buskirk and other SOG commandos say no bodies were identified and no
>bodies were brought out.
>Several former senior military officials confirmed to CNN that eliminating
>defectors was Tailwind's objective, but McCarley denies that was the
>"We weren't looking for any village," he said. "We stumbled upon it by
>After the camp was overrun, the hatchet force prepared to evacuate. But
>enemy troops were gathering on a ridge line with anti-aircraft guns.
>Desperate, the SOG commandos called for gas and put on their gas masks.
>Two A-1 Skyraider planes dropped the special sarin-filled weapon CBU-15 on
>the enemy positions.
>The effect of the gas was immediate. Tailwind veterans describe enemy
>troops convulsing and throwing up. "I don't think too many of them got up
>and walked away," said Tailwind veteran Michael Hagen.
>Many of the American and Montagnard commandos had lost or damaged their
>masks during the four days of fighting. They describe mucus coming from
>their membranes, vomiting and convulsing -- all classic signs of nerve gas
>But the SOG force got a milder dose because the down draft from the
>helicopters coming to rescue them dispersed the gas. All 16 Americans,
>though wounded, survived the operation.