1971 Winter Soldier Hearings: Weapons Panel

Iraq Veterans Against the War is holding a new round of "Winter Soldier" hearings in Washington, DC, March 13-16. Selections from the original hearings, held in Detroit in 1971, are published here for interested readers.


MODERATOR. This afternoon the people on this panel are going to be testifying about weapons. And, I would like to take this time to introduce myself and the members who are going to give testimony. My name is David Braum and for military purposes my serial number was RA13766564. The Pentagon has a record of it and the paper can check it out. In Vietnam, in 1963 and 1964, I was a helicopter crew chief with the 119th Aviation Battalion, assigned to 52nd Combat Aviation Battalion, headquartered at Pleiku, and operating out of II Corps. I went there under the adviser myth during the administration of John F. Kennedy and later Lyndon Johnson and I worked in I Corps, II Corps, and the Delta, so I've seen a fairly good section of Vietnam. My qualifications to be the moderator this afternoon for the Weapons Panel are that in civilian life I was, for five years, purchasing all materials and supplies for the United States Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the Atomic Energy Commission, the Army and the CIA, and I worked for Columbia University's Government Contract Purchasing Division. The members of the panels this afternoon are: Dr. Bert Pfeiffer, whose subject will be defoliation in Vietnam; Mr. Art Kanegis, who will discuss automated battlefield equipment and anti-personnel weapons; Mr. Doug Hostetter, who will document actual effects of chemical and biological warfare programs on people, animals and crops in the Southeast Asian area; Mr. Richard Ward, who will show you the results of bombing in North Vietnam and Laos, and Mr. Wilbur Forester, former 1st Lieutenant with the American Marine, 11th Marine Division. He was an artillery officer and he will be here to provide testimony relevant to Art Kanegis' material on battlefield electronic equipment. I would like to make an opening statement and I quote, "Every violation of the law of war is a war crime," as published in the United States Army Field Manual 27-10, the Law of Land Warfare, page 179. We are going to be able to, if you need it, document the applicable laws under the Geneva Convention and various treaties should these questions arise later. I would like to begin by having Dr. Bert Pfeiffer introduce himself and give you his qualifications to discuss the subject of defoliation. Dr. Pfeiffer.

DR. BERT PFEIFFER. Thank you very much, Dave. I want to say that it's a real honor for me to have been invited by this outstanding group of Vietnam war veterans to participate in this very important meeting. First, I'd like to say that I am a biologist, professor of zoology at the University of Montana. I've taken my degree in Biology at the University of California, at Berkeley, some years ago. With respect to the thing I want to talk about, which is the chemical war in Vietnam, with particular reference to anti-plant chemicals, I would say that I, like many of my colleagues, have been greatly concerned about this massive use of these chemicals; they've never before been used for military purposes and we have been very concerned about what the short and long-term effects were. Our concern, which dates way back to when they were first being used, has been thoroughly confirmed by the evidence that I am going to present and some others will. My concern has led me to Indochina on three different trips. In '69 I went, sponsored by a group of scientists, Social Scientists for Social Responsibility. We spent about two weeks mostly with the DOD people with the Air Force. I flew with the 12th Air Commando Squadron on a couple of defoliating raids. We made one raid up into the Plain of Reeds, a heavy suppression mission. We'll get into that a little bit more later on. On my second trip, I was fortunate enough to be the guest of the Royal Government of Prince Sihanouk, the man who I still consider to be the legal ruler of Cambodia. We were in his country as his official guests, just about a year ago, 13 months ago, to inspect the damage caused by American defoliating aircraft in his neutral country, at that time, and I want to talk about that. A third trip took me into Laos and parts of North Vietnam. I might also say, I suppose it's pertinent to indicate that I had five years from '40 to '45 in the Armed Forces fighting the war against Fascism which we all know has not been completely won yet. I want to, as I say, talk about chemical war and go through this rather lengthy paper that I want to summarize and then show you some slides. The chemical war that the Americans have been carrying out in Vietnam and other areas in Indochina as we will see it, is of two components: one, anti-plant warfare, anti-herbicidal warfare and anti-personnel gases. I'm going to say a little bit about gases. Not very much, and spend considerable time with the anti-plant chemicals. These are known as herbicides because they do kill plants; they also in lesser amounts defoliate them; they remove the leaves; and they also damage plants (some of the agents) by drying them up. The one we use against the rice, Agent Bile, is a desiccating agent. It makes the plant die. Now, the other agents are synthetic plant hormones. When we put the slides on I'll show you the chemical formulations for them, but they are essentially called briefly 24D and 245T and picklerram and I want to emphasize one should not confuse these with things like DDT or pesticides. These chemicals act more or less like plant hormones.

They interrupt plant metabolism and in relatively low amounts do not have too much effect on animal systems although it has been found, and we'll hear more about this, Agent Orange the one most commonly used--something like 120,000 tons of this agent has been dropped upon Vietnam in the past 7 years by the United States--this has now been found to be highly toxic to experimental animals because it causes in a wide range of animals, chicks, rats, and guinea pigs a very high incidence of malformed offspring and stillborn young. Now the levels at which this will produce these pathologies in experimental animals is such that if the Vietnamese women are as sensitive as a laboratory rat is, they can very well ingest enough of these chemicals to produce malformed infants. As you know, there are many reports in Vietnamese papers about increasing numbers of malformed infants and this is a possibility. It's not proved yet that we may have created a really catastrophic situation with respect to future generations because of the use of these chemicals. The Department of Defense has recognized the toxicity of this Agent Orange which until last year was the most popular one in use and they have, as you probably all know, banned the use of this agent for any more activity at all in Vietnam. It's one of the most irresponsible situations, I think, one can imagine where for eight years they used a thing that they finally realized was too toxic and had to be removed. Now, there have been several groups of scientists who have assessed the effects of this chemical war, anti-plant warfare, on Vietnam. Dr. Shirley of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, myself, Dr. Orient, Dr. Westing and, very recently, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, concluded a study--in fact, they got back in September of '70, and they have summarized what all of us who have been there have found, and I want to quote now their summary--rather briefly--from their official publication called Science. This, that I'm going to read was published in the January 8, 1971 issue. It says, "As a result of the anti-plant chemicals dumped upon Vietnam, one-fifth to one-half of South Vietnam's mangrove forests have been utterly destroyed and even now, years after spraying, there is almost no sign of life. Half of these trees in the mature hardwood forests north and west of Saigon are dead and the massive invasion of apparently worthless bamboo threatens to take over the area for decades to come. Six point two billion board feet of merchantable timber has been destroyed at a loss to the South Vietnamese economy of a half a million dollars minimum. The army's crop destruction program which seeks to deny food to enemy soldiers has been a near total failure because nearly all the food destroyed would actually have been consumed by civilian populations, particularly Montagnards."

This AAAS team, made up of Dr. Maiselson, one of the country's leading biologists, found evidence of shocking deficiencies in the precautions taken by the U.S. military authorities to protect the civilian populations from needless attack under the Army's Crop Destruction Program. About five hundred thousand acres of arable land have been sprayed, good cultivable land, have been sprayed according to the Army's figures, the actual figures probably much more. This amounts to enough food, Maiselson and his group calculated, on the basis of that many acres having been destroyed, to feed six hundred thousand persons for one year was destroyed. This is concrete proof that the main purpose of this was not to deny food to NLF soldiers but to deny it to civilian populations in areas that we did not control. Most of this spraying has been in the food-scarce central highlands which is principally inhabited by Montagnards. This AAAS team this summer was flown over an area in Guang Ngai Province. (I'll show you one of the slides that they have lent me) where crop destruction operations had been conducted only a few days previously. They were accompanied by the chemical operations officer, a colonel, who had planned the operation, and he assured them that the fields destroyed were growing food for the NLF. The reasons given for his assessment were found by this official team to be all false. Although the officer said there were no dwellings below and none could be seen from the air, aerial photographs taken by the AAAS and a map in 1965 indicated more than nine hundred dwellings in the area suggesting that that target area had housed about, or was inhabited by, some five thousand, mostly civilian people. The boundaries of the fields seen in the photographs compared with ones in 1965 indicated no major crop expansion. The AAAS team concluded the land cultivation was just about enough to support people apparently living there. They said, "Our observations lead us to believe that precautions to avoid destroying crops of indigenous civilian populations have been a failure. Nearly all the food destroyed would actually have been consumed by such populations." Now I want to ask the question, "Does the use of these anti-plant chemicals violate the terms of the Geneva Protocol of 1925?"

This, as you know, outlaws chemical and biological warfare. The Nixon administration maintains that the use of anti-plant chemicals does not. However, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution last year making clear that those countries that voted for it viewed the Geneva Protocol as prohibiting herbicides in war. The resolution declares that any chemical agents of warfare which might be employed because of their direct toxic effects on animals, man or plants, is prohibited by the generally recognized rule of international law. The vote was 80 to 3 to ban anti-plant chemicals. Only Australia and Portugal joined the United States in opposing this resolution. Crop destruction involves violating more than the Geneva Protocol of 1925. It involves violation of two other rules of international law. They are both embodied in treaties which the U.S. has ratified. As you know, we have not ratified the Geneva Protocol, so we are not theoretically violating a law there. The first rule is from a 1907 Hague Convention. It prohibits employing poisons or poisonous weapons in war. The U.S. Official Army Field Manual on the law of warfare, which we've just heard referred to, clearly implies that this 1907 rule bans the use of defoliants to kill crops intended to feed civilian non-combatants, whether enemy or not. One of the crimes against humanity of which the German leader Goering was convicted was the denial of food, the removal of food, from occupied territory to supply German needs, and if this resulted in starvation, this was one of the crimes with which he was charged. The U.S. also supported the prosecution of Japanese military officials for the destruction of crop-growing lands in China. In 1949, the Geneva Convention, relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war, forbids occupying powers from destroying enemy farm lands except in the event of absolute military necessities. So we have the Hague Convention and the 1949 Geneva Convention which specifically ruled out poisoning food for civilians. According to Professor George Bun, who spoke three weeks ago at the AAAS convention in Chicago, a professor of law at the University of Wisconsin and formerly General Consul of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, he concluded that American spraying of Vietnamese civilian food crops with herbicides is totally inconsistent with the rules of international law. In addition to spraying anti-plant chemicals in Vietnam, the U.S. has sprayed the neutral kingdom of Cambodia in April and May of '69, exactly one year before Nixon openly invaded the country.

As I said, I had the honor with Dr. Westing of Windham College in Putney, Vermont, to be the guests of the Royal Government who took us on a ten-day tour all through the defoliated areas. I'll show you some photographs. About 180,000 acres of Eastern Cambodia, what is called Fishhook, was sprayed by an agency of the United States government, the name of which we cannot find. The U.S. government is negotiating to pay something like twelve million dollars damage for this violation of Cambodian neutrality, but when one asks (I've asked Senator Mansfield, Senator McIntyre of the Armed Services Committee), they cannot find what agency of the government mounted this massive attack. It's a rather bizarre phenomenon that the files got lost or something. As a result of this attack, which most Americans probably don't know even happened, one-third of the rubber trees in production in Cambodia were damaged and it has very severely knocked out Cambodia's principal source of foreign exchange--rubber. In the area actually hit, rubber production fell 35% to 45%. Damages to crops other than rubber were estimated by the Cambodian government to be approximately 1.2 million dollars. The area that was hit was inhabited by about 30,000 people and their crops of pineapple, guava, jackfruit, and papaya were simply destroyed. Approximately 45,000 jackfruit trees were killed, and I think you know that the jackfruit tree is one of the principal sources of food for the peasants of Indochina. Now, in addition to anti-plant chemicals, we are, of course, using anti-personnel gases. The only ones that I know much about are CS, DM, and CN. CS is a fast-acting tear-gas. As you know, we have CS2 now which is very persistent. It is spread as small silicanized pellets and will last for many, many weeks. DM is a vomiting agent. CS and CN are so-called tear-gases. The U.S. has maintained that since these agents are in routine civilian use that they're just anti-personnel weapons. They do not constitute gas war. They are not lethal. However, I want to categorically state that there is conclusive proof that adamsite DM gas has killed people, civilians, and I want to read the letter. In 1967 I received a letter from Dr. Algy Vetama, the medical director of the Canadian Aid Mission to Vietnam. And he directed the TB hospital at Quang Ngai. Dr. Vetama wrote me as follows:
During the last three years I have examined and treated a number of patients, men, women, and children, who have been exposed to a type of war gas, the name of which I do not know. The type of gas used makes one quite sick when one touches the patient or inhales the breath from their lungs. The patient usually gives a history of having been hiding in a cave or tunnel or bunker, into which a canister of gas was thrown in order to force them to leave their hiding place. These patients that have come to my attention were very ill with signs and symptoms of gas poisoning similar to those that I have seen in veterans from the First World War treated at Queen Mary Hospital in Montreal. The mortality rate of adults is about 10%, while the mortality rate in children is about 90%.
This is from a respected member of the Canadian medical profession whom I have met and he has attested to the veracity of this letter. It seems clear to me that in using herbicides and anti-personnel gases, the U.S. is violating several international rules of law, some of which have been ratified by the U.S. government. I want to conclude by briefly mentioning another very serious violation concerning conventional weapons, the results of which I personally witnessed and photographed in Cambodia. This was about 200 miles north of where the defoliation occurred. It was an attack upon a Cambodian anti-aircraft position in late November 1969 in which 25 Cambodian soldiers were killed by 500-lb. bombs by F-100 fighter planes. It is the post at Dak Dahm, which is right across from the Special Forces camp at Bu Prang. I don't know if you people know where that is, up in the central highlands. Now, the reason for the attack was that the Cambodians had defended their air space by shooting an American observation plane, shooting it down, that had been flying over them. In response, the United States Air Force attacked this position, killed these Cambodian soldiers and attacked a hospital. I'll show you the destroyed, well-marked hospital; and they also attacked an ambulance. The United States government, on February 20th, 1970, issued a statement in which it apologized for this. The U.S. government expressed its profound regrets and condolences and requested the Royal Cambodian government to facilitate the payment of the equivalent of $400 to the next of kin of each twenty-five persons killed. I don't know how you assess the life of a Cambodian at $400 per person. I'm quoting the State Department now. "In addition, the U.S. expresses its special regret and apologies for the attack upon an ambulance, the character of which the pilots concerned inadvertently failed to distinguish." I saw photographs of this ambulance; it was a white vehicle, well marked with a red cross.

This incident was investigated by the International Control Commission. I talked with the Indian, the chief of that commission; he verified what the Cambodians told us and what we saw. This was sold in the United States as an attack upon a North Vietnamese Army artillery position inside Cambodia. This was the justification given for this attack. This was a complete lie. I can verify this. The only places that were attacked were well-marked Cambodian installations. There were no North Vietnamese anywhere in the area. I'd like to conclude this short presentation; then we'll switch to the pictures. It should be recalled that President Nixon, in his May 1st speech announcing the invasion of Cambodia, stated that the U.S. had always scrupulously respected the neutrality of Cambodia, and it was the North Vietnamese who were violating the territorial integrity of that kingdom. The attack upon Dak Dahm, with the destruction and killing of twenty-five Cambodian soldiers and the defoliation attack that I just described and that I will show you pictures of, show, I think, how far from the truth the President of the United States can stray. Could somebody get the lights and we'll run through these pictures, so you can see I wasn't making these things up. This is just a slide of types of chemicals, just to show I really am a scientist. I can go into… dicholorphenoxyaceticacid, that is.

(Next Slide) Now the next slide simply shows how it's escalated and only takes it up to about '68. I want to say that my friend, Art Westing, who just came back, has calculated that about 12% of the total land surface has been sprayed with these chemicals, something like 50% of the hardwood forests of Vietnam have been hit, a very high percentage of them having been killed, the merchandizable timber. This is not a Tarzan-type useless jungle. The timber industry is a very important part of the economy of Vietnam.

(Next Slide) Now this slide shows the way in which the spraying has been done. These are C-123 aircraft. They carry 1,000 gallons in their fuselage of the defoliant. The raid that we went on was a heavy suppression mission. We were accompanied by F-100 fighter bombers dropping CBUs because we have to get down just above treetops and fly quite slowly about 130 knots and then this is applied at a rate of about 27 pounds per acre. The maximum in my home state is two pounds per acre, so you can see there's quite a difference in the amount of stuff we put out over there. (Next Slide) These are some slides given to me by Dave Braum.

It shows you again C-123s. Now the interesting things are the Vietnamese markings on this one, but I'm told by Dave that this is flown by American pilots with Vietnamese markings on the aircraft so the U.S. government can say, of course, that this is the Vietnamese doing it, not us.

(Next Slide) Here's another shot. If you focus that, I think that they have pipes with nozzles. I think there's something like sixteen nozzles coming out the wings and tail and they lay down a very wide swath of this chemical. It comes out as an aerosol, and it falls on the roofs of houses if they're down below and this is what's pertinent here. I took this on the border between Cambodia and Vietnam. This is a typical situation in a village. The people during the monsoon collect their drinking water off rooftops. This pipe runs into a great big earthen cistern. You see, they sell them (the cisterns) in the marketplace. They're huge; they hold, oh, forty, fifty gallons, I guess, and we have calculated that, at the rate of application a spray plane dumped this Agent Orange on the roof of that house during the rainy season, enough stuff could wash into the drinking water of a pregnant woman so that if she's as sensitive as rats, she'd get enough dose to make a malformed offspring. Now, keep in mind that thalidomide, which also does this (what I'm saying is this Agent Orange is a thalidomide type agent), if it's like thalidomide, women are much more sensitive to it, in terms of malformations, than the rats were, but we don't know but what this isn't true of this Agent Orange.

(Next Slide) That's why it's been banned. It's no longer in use. This is what it does to chicks. We'll just run through these in a hurry. I was given samples of all three agents, Agent Orange, White and Blue, that we use over there, by the chemical operations at Tan-Son-Hut Air Base. I had them tested for toxicity by a (look at these malformed limbs on these chicks) U.S. Food and Drug Administration doctor, Dr. Jacqueline Veret. She found all of the agents that we use over there highly toxic to chick embryos in her preparations. Keep in mind that we're dumping tons and tons of this on these people.

(Next Slide) We now know that all of them are toxic. Now here's the way it looks when you fly over a sprayed area in the Saigon River Delta. This is down near Vung Tau and you can see a swath of gray.

(Next Slide) This is a healthy mangrove swamp. The reason that we sprayed in here was the freighters coming up from the South China Sea to supply Saigon have to go through these narrow channels and the military felt that it would prevent ambush if we defoliated the area, so just hundreds of square miles have been killed.

The next picture shows you what it looks like. We went sixty-five miles on PBRs down through there and these mangroves are killed. They're not sure whether they'll ever come back. Westing, who's a forester, the second time he was in there, couldn't see any sign of regeneration. These things were sprayed maybe eight years ago. There's nothing green at all. No birds, no nothing.

(Next Slide) Here's a close-up that Art Westing took. This is what you call a free fire zone and we went down on a BBR with our flak jackets and all. He made a landing here and took these pictures and took soil samples in August of this summer (1970). Now, I want to say a word or two about this because the same PBR that took the AAAS scientists down went down a week later and at the precise point where this picture was taken, where the Americans had made a landing, the NLF had brought up a forty-millimeter rocket and wiped out that PBR one week after my friends got off. Now, there's a lesson here, because it proves that this defoliation did not prevent the ambush. The other side got in there even though it was defoliated and did the damage that the Army said it was preventing.

(Next Slide) There's a very serious erosion problem. I think those of you who have had some ecology, know that happens when you remove the top comver of a forest. Now, here's a hardwood forest. These are dead trees; these trees are probably 150 feet high. They're logostromia…We saw a lot of them in Cambodia. They're a very, very valuable source of timber. This is the sort of tree that I said 6.2 billion board feet have been killed, particularly up and around war zone C & D, Tay Ninh northwest.

PFEIFFER. (Next Slide) Now, this is the valley in Quang Ngai that was sprayed. You see the brown swath right down that valley. The Ranch Hand boys, the ones who defoliate, the Twelfth Air Commando Squadron. I think it was that did this, got almost all that rice. Now, the colonel told the AAAS team that was all destined for NLF soldiers. In fact, they found out from the USAID people that it was all Montagnards living there.

(Next Slide) Now, we're on the Cambodian border now. I just want to show you what's really there. This is in Me Mot. This is the place, if I can diverge a little bit and get a little political, that President Nixon pointed his finger to this town and said it'd been the headquarters of the NVA in Cambodia for the last five years. He said this place was completely controlled by the NVA. Well, there they are, but if you know Indochina, they're all Cambodians.

As you know, the Vietnamese look very different from Cambodians. Cambodians are much larger, much darker, they wear totally different dress, the women do. I should also point out that in this so-called communist sanctuary in Cambodia, the Sihanouk government had invited and actually took through this area, this commie sanctuary, four American experts in July of 1969. They were taken all through, they flew over the commie sanctuaries in helicopters. One of them is Charles Minnerick from Fort Detrick and it doesn't seem logical to me that if it was what Nixon characterized it to be, that they would have allowed officers from Fort Detrick and Washington, D.C. to wander all through those sanctuaries so I think he was misinformed on that. I'm going to take you all through these communist sanctuaries in Cambodia. Here we are flying over 'em now. This is in a Royal Cambodian airplane. You see over the right wing is Black Virgin Mountain in Tay Ninh. I don't know if anybody's been up on that. A lot of people died on that mountain. It now belongs, I think, to the NLF.

(Next Slide) Here we are flying over a defoliated Cambodian rubber plantation. This, as I say, Nixon said, was completely under NVA control. The facts are these were very lucrative French-owned rubber plantations and there were many, many French people living there and Belgian, the plant pathologists with their wives and children. We asked them, "Have you seen any military activity, any soldiers?" "None at all, just a few of the Royal Cambodian Army troops." It's interesting that the rubber plantations of Cambodia were the world's second largest source of natural rubber. I dare to think of what the first source is. It's U.S. Firestone in Liberia. I don't know if there's any connection between the destruction of the second-French-owned one and the first.

(Next Slide) Cambodian rubber production is now completely destroyed. Here's the way it looked on the ground. We are now in the heart of the sanctuaries. The Vietnam border is just down that road. It was through this road that many of the American troops came across into Cambodia. I saw them on TV shooting right into this very plantation.

(Next Slide) Now, I want to show you some of the other…(you saw what happened to the rubber trees) now this is jackfruit tree. There's a little Cambodian boy. It's perfectly obvious the difference.

See, they look very different from Vietnamese. These jackfruit were killed with a single application. They're like the mangroves. They don't just defoliate, they die. See, there's a big branch of one of the earlier fruits remaining. It's a very good source of food for these people.

(Next Slide) As I say, thirty thousand people were in the area. Now this is interesting from the standpoint of a biologist because we're taking these pictures eight months after the attack and this is what is known as a custard apple. It should be about the size of a grapefruit and a nice, big, green, juicy thing, but due to this chemical (we don't yet know exactly what it was because it's hard to get anything out of Uncle Sam about this attack), whatever it was, it caused these fruits to dry out and go black. And this was very rough on these peasants. They're subsistence farmers. There are no supermarkets for them to go down and buy food. They grow most of their own food.

(Next Slide) Now this is what it did to papaya. These are leaves they have eight months later and the tree is still sick as a dog. The leaves have refoliated by now they're dying and the fruit is very, very deformed. Keep in mind, these herbicidal weapons are very, very effective against subsistence farmer populations of the sort that we have in Indochina, Africa, and South America and if we don't put a stop to their use now, I think we're going to see them employed against Third World peoples on a tremendous scale. We were told when we were in Vietnam the only limits to the operation at that time was the fact that they did not have enough C-123s and crews to do it. Now, I want to conclude by showing you--I just can't resist showing you--what happened to the Cambodians at Dak Dahm. That is a Soviet thirty-seven millimeter aircraft gun, which they have every right to have, and it had fired at an American plane. While we were there, we saw at least three aircraft openly violate, fly right over, right across Cambodia--American aircraft. The whole gun crew here was killed, of course.

(Next Slide) Here's a trench. About fifteen of them were dug out of this trench where they were taking cover. On the skyline there is Vietnam and the Special Forces camp at Bu Prang. We can see it. What made the Americans mad and was that they want to be able to fly over Cambodia to maintain good aerial reconnaissance and because the Cambodians had the gall to defend their air space, they decided to take out this post.

(Next Slide) There is the smashed up hospital. And it was well-marked. There were bomb craters about one hundred feet away from this. We picked up medicine, etc. The point about this hospital was it was at least a quarter of a mile from the gun positions. It was deliberately attacked. I'm ashamed to have to…it breaks my heart to have to say this about…what our government had done. Whether this is an aberrant phenomenon, I don't know…but I saw this with my own eyes. Here are the broken bottles.

(Next Slide) This is Art Westing down in one of these craters. This is a five hundred pound bomb crater. This is the one that knocked over the hospital. It was not aimed at the military installation at all.

MODERATOR. Thank you very much, Dr. Pfeiffer. In order to facilitate a considerable amount of questioning later, rather than allowing questions now (we had fewer panelists here than we had with the other group), we'll go on with the testimony and then we'll all tie it together for you in the end. The next person to speak to you will be Mr. Doug Hostetter, who will discuss the actual effects of chemical-biological warfare programs on people, animals and crops in the Southeast Asian area.

DOUG HOSTETTER. My name is Doug Hostetter. I'm a resident of Harrisonburg, Virginia, currently in school in New York City in the New School for Social Research, graduate study in Sociology. I worked for three years for Vietnam Christian Service from July 1966 until June 1969 in Community Development in the village of Dahm Ke in the Province of Quong Thimh, South Vietnam. During that time, I learned to speak Vietnamese and lived in the area and learned to know the people quite well. I recently got back from a National Student Association trip both to Saigon and Hanoi during the month of December. I spent ten days in Saigon and at that time and eight days in Hanoi and surrounding areas. I'll speak a little bit first about the use of defoliation and the movement of personnel, specifically refugees. Quong Thinh Province has a population of about 300,000 people. According to the government statistics in 1966, over 100,000 people in this area were refugees. The people from western Quong Thinh from about a kilometer west of Route 1 all the way to the Laotian border, were almost completely removed with the exception of two Special Forces camps--one at Dien Phuk and one at Han Duc. The movement of these refugees was done in a number of ways. Earlier there had been attempts to move them by taking American troops in with helicopters and bringing them out by helicopters. They were unable to get all of the people in this method, and in some areas, it was too insecure to take in American choppers. So for these areas, they would go across the areas, heavily defoliating the areas. I speak Vietnamese and I would go out to the Vietnamese in the reception center and ask them about the situation in the homes where they had come from.

All of the areas west of Quong Thinh have been heavily defoliated. The reason why most of the people came in was because there was no more food to eat or because they were forcibly brought in by American helicopters. The people said that usually right around the harvest time, the planes would come over and defoliate the whole area. It would destroy all of the rice crop and any other above-the-ground vegetation. Sweet potatoes and peanuts that were reasonably developed could be dug up and could be lived on for a short period of time, but if an area was repeatedly defoliated, they were not able to subsist from one planting to the next on sweet potatoes and peanuts and so they would be forced to come in. During this time I did have the chance at times to go into areas which were defoliated by American planes out of Da Nang. In March of '68 I went into villages, the village of Ke Phu, Quong Thinh Province, and talked with the farmers and villagers in this area. They informed me that about four or five days before I had come there, the area had been defoliated. I checked back and the attempt had been to defoliate the village of Ke Ahn, which at that time was under the control of the National Liberation Front, but that morning there had been heavy coastal winds which had lifted the defoliants up over one village and landed them down in Ke Phu and Ke Troung villages. I spoke with farmers and they informed me that they had lost cattle, pigs, water buffalo, ducks, and chickens.

Another farmer showed me the dead animals.

I talked to quite a number of the farmers and I made up a list of how many water buffalo, pigs, and cattle the farmers had lost because this was in a Saigon government village. I took the list with the names of the villagers, the hamlets, and the villages which they had come from, and took it to the MACV headquarters in Dahm Ke. I spoke with the Deputy Province Adviser for Quong Thinh Province and also with a number of CORDSC people--Civilian Organization Revolutionary Development Support Command. I spoke with both of these men and I informed them of the villages that had been defoliated and according to CORDSC regulations, they had to go back and pay these villagers for their losses in livestock and losses in rice, peanuts, and sweet potatoes. When I told the officers about the cattle, pigs, and water buffalo being lost, they referred me to the Army Manual which assured me that these defoliants do not in any way harm or injure any human beings or animals so, therefore, these animals did not die. I gave them the names of the farmers, the hamlets from which they came, and the villages and districts, and asked them to go out and speak with the farmers and persuade them that their animals had not died. They all declined at this point. There were no reparations paid for crops or animals killed during this time. You were informed by Dr. Pfeiffer that after much pressure from American scientists, Agent Orange has been discontinued officially by the American forces in South Vietnam. What has happened is that these defoliants have been turned over to the Vietnamese government so that the Americans no longer have control over Agent Orange and its use. According to American officials.

Two weeks ago, Judy Coburn of the Institute of Policy Studies was in the airport of Da Nang and saw the barrels of Agent Orange standing in the airport. When asking about it, she was again informed that these are no longer under American control. You also noted from the photographs that the airplanes which are now flying the defoliation missions are marked with Vietnamese markings so that it is an official Vietnamese operation now. However, due to the fact that they have no Vietnamese pilots that can fly C-123s they have to be flown by American pilots. But it is a Vietnamese operation now and the Americans officially are not using Agent Orange in Vietnam. You will be glad to hear that, I'm sure. While I was in Hanoi, I spoke with Dr. Nguyen Swong Nguyen of the Bien Vinh Hanoi Hospital. He works in the ward that is dedicated to Southerners, which treats the Southerners, that come up to the North. I will read just a few quotes from his report from our interview:
In our hospital we have 903 patients from the South. One hundred seventy-nine of these show the effects of chemicals; of these, 90 are men, 19 are women, and 70 are children. They have lived in the affected zones for periods of two months to five years. When speaking of the symptoms, the first symptoms (this is in people who have been exposed to defoliation) appear in 24 hours to a few days. These are irritations of the eyes and nose. After this time there is disturbance of the digestive system, vomiting and diarrhea. Those hit directly also have irritation of the skin and later swelling. In addition to these symptoms, there are other symptoms which appear later, perhaps as complications of the earlier effects, and some as direct but chronic effects. The most important is malaise and asthenia (general weakness). Treatment involves five to six months in bed. Another symptom is weakness of the eyes. Patients can read no more than three to five minutes. Ocular complications result in hyperocudidity, lesions affecting up to 24.6% of the eye. Of the 19 women we have treated in North Vietnam, four of them were pregnant. One was delivered in South Vietnam, the other three in the north. One child was normal, the other three were abnormal. One child was one month premature. All of the mothers had been in the defoliated areas, at least through the sixth through the eighth week of pregnancy. The mothers were all normal, and had not taken any medication during pregnancy, and none had ever been x-rayed. There were no abnormalities in any of their families for three generations. One of the abnormal children was a typical Mongoloid, and another was a Mongoloid plus microcephalic, and the third was a Mongoloid with many other abnormalities. Mongoloidism usually occurs in older women, but these women ranged in age from 23 to 37. For three of the women, it was her first child, and for the fourth, it was her third. The first child, which I met, and talked with the mother and saw the child (these pictures I've all taken personally) is Wang Thi Tute, 3 years old, and his mother is Lei Ting Yu Mai. She was from Quong Nam Province, Phuk Shan village. The mother lived four years in the defoliated zone, but was never hit directly by the chemical spray. She drank water and ate food from the area. The child shows effects of being a typical Mongoloid; the eyelids have an extra wrinkle typical of Mongoloidism, and there is only one crossline across the palm. Feet and hands can both be bent back in the wrong direction, and the heels can easily be made to touch the ear. The child cannot walk or talk, except to say "Mama." The second child is Nguyen Thi Thi, and the mother is Trang Thi Chuc, Quang Tri Province, the village of Trich Phung. The mother lived two months in a defoliated zone. When seven weeks pregnant, she was hit directly with defoliation chemicals. She went to the North when she was four months pregnant and the child was born there; this was her first child. The child has one line across the palm, has a small head, and shows symptoms of having no cerebrum. The child convulses with legs crossed and head tilted backwards. The hard palate of the mouth is much higher than normal; there are lesions in the respiratory system. When the child breathes, the neck immediately above the chest collapses inward. The child can only eat, defecate, and urinate. The third child is Wang Thi Aich; the mother had two previous. The mother Wang Thi Li, 37 years old, Quang Tri Province, Cam Lo village. The mother had two previous children, 15 years of age and 17 years of age. Both are normal. The mother was hit directly with chemical spray when seven weeks pregnant. The child was born in North Vietnam. The child's head is flat from behind with prominent forehead; index finger is flat, three toes are abnormally long. The left foot has six toes. Tear ducts, instead of running out onto the eyes, run down into the nose, causing choking when the child cries. Tears run into the nose cavity and back into the throat, and it also causes permanent infection of the eyes. The child can neither stand nor walk, has very low intelligence, can cry, but cannot talk. And here's another shot of two of the mothers with some of the NSA team that met with them and talked with them in the North. Thank you.
MODERATOR. Thank you very much, Doug. Our next testimony will come from Mr. Art Kanegis. The information we will be discussing is with reference to automated battlefield equipment, electronic equipment, detection and anti-personnel weapons which are specifically covered in the laws and rules of Land Warfare. Art, introduce yourself.

ARTHUR KANEGIS. My name is Arthur Kanegis and I work with NARMIC, which stands for National Action and Research on the Military Industrial Complex. I'm not a veteran, but I'm very pleased to be invited to come to this meeting. I'm not like most of your other panelists, speaking from first hand experience, but rather from research that we've done on the staff of NARMIC. NARMIC, by the way, is a special project set up by the American Friends Service Committee which is the Quaker organization. I'd like to start off by trying to give you some sense of the military's projections in the automated battlefield area by starting off with a simple science fiction scenario. The earthman leaves his hut, to slip through the rainy forest, to an isolated spot where he will join his comrades in the struggle against the invading masters. Jungle sounds penetrate the dark night air, but otherwise the woods are quiet. No one is in sight, and there is no indication that the invading masters are in the area. The earthman feels confident. He does not know it, but his every step is being felt by ADSID sensors. Every word he speaks is being listened to and recorded by Acousid. He is smelled by an XM-3. If he is carrying a hoe or a gun, that too is registered by a magnetic sensor. This information is relayed through a communication link to an EC121R Relay Platform in the sky. As he makes his way toward the spot in the jungle where he will join his comrades, a blip appears in the SRP, Sensory Reporting Post of the STANO Control Room. Computers whir, lights flash, and a blip appears on the screen. The lone earthman is watched as he and five other blips approach the same spot. The computer measures his speed, 2.31 miles per hour. It measures the speed of his comrades, and computes when they will reach their destination, figuring in the terrain and other relevant factors. With a flash of electricity this information is fed into the huge ADSAF computer network, which instantaneously correlates this information with previous intelligence data and with information from the SLAR radar and the ICR night vision device to determine the mission of the grouping earthman. The mission, the IBM 360 decides, is dangerous.

Another bolt of electricity carries the word to the Tacfire Central computer. This computer determines the appropriate tactical response and flashes this information to one of the interlinked data processing systems in the field. Seconds later, the field computer sends coordinates of the earthman to a fully automated high firepower aircraft with an array of night vision capability sensors.

From a point high above the gathering earthmen, the B57G and a nearby F4 are automatically steered over the target. One aircraft releases a laser guided bomb automatically released by the computer at the appropriate time. Another releases an EO or Wall Eye television guided bomb with a television camera in its nosecone focused clearly on the six earthmen. This Wall Eye Two bomb follows this picture on a self-contained TV screen correcting its course with a wave of its movable fins until it reaches the target. The highly lethal firepower eliminates this threat to the invading masters and successfully sanitizes the area. Meanwhile in Zone F, another blip appears on the screen. Does this sound as if it were set in the year 2000 by a science fiction writer? It's actually set for the 1970s by the U.S. Pentagon. In fact, at this very moment, in a war room in Fort Hood, Texas, the MASTER group, which stands for Mobile Army Sensor Systems Test Evaluation and Review, is evaluating reports on TAC fire, Tactical Fire Direction System in the integrated battlefield control system. In July of 1969, the U.S. Army set up a program called Surveillance Target Acquisition and Night Observation to plan, test, and put into operation a totally controlled and computerized electronic battlefield. William Westmoreland, who commanded the U.S. forces in Vietnam and is now Army Chief of Staff, discussed the automated battlefield in a speech to the Association of the U.S. Army last year.

"On the battlefield of the future," Westmoreland said, "enemy forces will be located, tracked, and targeted almost simultaneously through the use of data links, computer assisted intelligence evaluation and automatic fire control." These weapons, the computer systems for detection, have been used both in Cambodia, Vietnam, and in Laos--largely, so far, on an experimental basis. They have been testing detection systems which amplify the light of the stars, and numerous other detection systems which are integrated into the ADSAF, Automatic Data System for the Army in the Field.

Some of the information on these sensors was released by the Senate Armed Services Committee in hearings released last week and they do show pictures of some of these sensory devices, but they're probably too small for many of you to see. But in this case the Accuboy is a sensor that's camouflaged, dropped in a jungle and it catches in the trees. Here it's camouflaged and it looks like part of the jungle, but it actually picks up voices and during the hearings in Washington, they played tapes in which you could hear the Vietnamese talking as they walked by, hear what they were saying…very clear detection of everything that was being said in the jungle below. And this APSID is a seismic detector that falls down into the ground and gets buried in the ground with just the antenna sticking up. It, too, can continue to transmit data to the data links and to the computers. They're moving more and more toward the computers, but they're starting with a lot of man-controlled elements.

During these hearings, they mentioned specific use of this in the EGLO White program in Laos; it's a specific operation called Commando Bolt. An assessment officer monitors the sensor activations in the area of interest. When he recognizes the target signature from a particular sensor stirring, he calls up on his cathode ray tube a sketch of the road net which that string of sensors is monitoring. The computer automatically displays and updates on the CRT the movement of the target along the road. He then can instruct one or a number of the F4s, which I mentioned earlier, to enter these coordinates into the aircraft's computer. This gives the aircraft a course to steer to that point and produces an automatic release of ordnance at the proper time, to hit the target.

Now this automated battlefield program has been a very top-priority item within the Pentagon. It was originally conceived as the McNamara Line, or it was derisively called that, which was the idea of setting up a line that would cut off all infiltration from the North. It would cut off infiltration from North Vietnam, but when that seemed to be failing, the Army response, rather than dropping a program that seemed to be failing, was to put more money for a larger program into it.

The Defense Communications Project Group, which oversees this, is authorized to use the highest industrial priorities, according to these hearings, to guide its development and procurement efforts. "This speeds up work by putting us at the head of the line," this general says, "for materials, facilities, and contracting." He says that virtually every U.S. ground unit in South Vietnam is now applying sensors to detect the enemy. Also training programs have been set up in a Central Sensor School in Vietnam to train the Vietnamese in using these, who, according to these hearings, have taken over 47% of the use of sensors in ground tactical operations in Vietnam.

The U.S. Border Patrol in the United States is also using some of these sensors to patrol the borders of the U.S. You may have read of some recent incidents like in Mexico where they were using these to detect possible border crossings with marijuana and things of this sort. The Justice Department has also put out contracts for surveillance-type data of this sort to bring home some of this technology to use on the home front. So what they bragged about during the hearings was that they've been able to reduce the normal five to seven year defense development cycle by a factor of four. That is, the period elapsed from the time that the need was discerned for these sensors until the time they were placed in the hands of the troops was fifteen to twenty-two months rather than the usual five to seven years. So it has been, as I mentioned, a top priority item within the military. When the army outlined its eight major items for the '70s, automated battlefield components composed most of the list. The expenditures on this according to these hearings are $1.6 billion, which is, when you think about it compared to anything else like the poverty program or HEW, is just phenomenal. Much larger than expenditures for federal aid to education or anything else.

However, according to columnist Jack Anderson, this figure is actually an underestimate. You get that feeling clearly from the hearings, too, when they talk about various parts of it that are funded under other agencies. So, in fact, it probably comes closer to four billion that's been spent on developments for the automated battlefield. An important part of this is not that these sensors are tied in to a total system. The automated battlefield concept is not just a concept of sensors, but as it comes through in these hearings it's using these sensors and in tying them in through the data links and through the various data processing equipment to automatically release the weapons that are actually used in Vietnam.

Most of the weapons outlined in the hearings are anti- personnel weapons. Well, many of them are anti-personnel weapons, some of which has been used before in North Vietnam and South Vietnam, but which are constantly being modernized and improved with newer and better versions. I want to show these slides. This is Ken Kirkpatrick who is with the American Friends Service Committee office in Seattle. He took the pictures that you are about to see. With him is one of the girls who is a napalm victim. You can see her hands. Here's a Laotian holding up what they call the pineapple bomb.

PFEIFFER. I actually took those pictures with Ken. This is in a Laotian refugee camp outside of Vietnam. These people had been moved forcibly from the plain of Jars, their ancestral northern part--well, I wouldn't say forcibly, they told us they couldn't withstand the bombing, so they agreed to come down near Vietnam in the American-held area. They brought with them this souvenir, a pineapple bomb, which did not go off. These people had fashioned a little war-wick lamp out of this. They're very innovative, I think. They put it to positive use.

KANEGIS. I can just say that the last one has little fragments embedded in its side. When it explodes it spews out in all directions, tearing into people's flesh. Even if it just struck them in their arm, the pellets could run up through their body and be almost impossible to remove. Now let me go on to these other things. This particular one shown here, what do the Laotians call it?

PFEIFFER. This is a guava bomb.

KANEGIS. This is the one where the strings are shot out. The term for it was spider bomb, the term used in the electronic battlefield hearings is wide-area anti-personnel munition, which they abbreviate Wampum. In the picture in the automated battlefield hearings, they show a large canister that looks like an egg box with all the little wide-area anti-personnel munitions falling out. These have a spring in them that shoots out a string in all directions.

Moderator. It's not a proximity type device; it has a chemical timing fuse in it. These are tripped as the spring goes out as it passed out of the casing of the bomb. It can spread destruction in a wide area, somewhere as much as a 60-yard circle which is representative of about the size of a rice paddy. It has the possibility of getting five or six people immediately. If these bombs do not go off immediately, a slight jar will set them off later. So people who have been in an area that's been bombed could conceivably come back into the area to work, feeling they were secure from no air raid, and dislodge one of these, or disturb it, committing havoc again as a result of it.

KANEGIS. In this particular one, the springs shoot out a string that's triggered. This is a mine, rather than a bomb. But if anyone walks through the area and touches the string, this immediately explodes, and like the guava bomb, it would have pellets embedded in it that would tear into people's flesh. The military nomenclature is a wide-area anti-personnel weapon. It's not aimed at, and wouldn't even be effective against, sandbags or military installations, only against unprotected human flesh. It couldn't be considered a flak suppressant or anything of that sort. It is not something that you would shoot at people below who are shooting back at you in the plane. I guess they would call it an area denial mine. In any case, it's something that would be set off at some later point and it would kill any people who happen to be in the area and across the string. Here's both the pineapple bomb that you saw before and the guava bomb with the little pellets inside of it. Over on the other side you see what the Vietnamese call a cloth mine. Is that correct?

PFEIFFER. A leaf mine.

KANEGIS. Ken Kirkpatrick mentioned to me that sometimes the Vietnamese children would see those things on the ground and would think they were toys or something and pick them up. Basically, that's also mentioned in the hearings. They're referred to as gravel mine, the XM41-E1 gravel mine. According to [the hearings] it's an anti-personnel mine system. The only kill mechanism is blast. Gravel will blow a man's foot off, but it will not blow a hole in a truck tire. It's not even a weapon aimed at killing anybody in the area, but rather causing them a maximum amount of suffering--blowing off their leg or something like that. It's purposely not powerful enough to kill people, but rather to maim them for whatever military reasons you can figure out. Perhaps it's to demoralize the population or to tie down other people in aiding these peoples. Of course, the Hague Convention specifically says that it's illegal to employ arms projection or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering. But clearly this is its only purpose. It wouldn't put somebody out of commission, it would just cause them unnecessary suffering.

PFEIFFER. This shows again the leaf mine, as the Vietnamese call it. It's a little bit of black powder plastic with holes in it. It's just enough to split the foot. That knocks you off balance and then you fall, put your hand out, and split your hand. The ground will be covered with hundreds of these. If people come to help you, they'll get their foot split, too. It's almost impossible to detect; there are no metal components in it and it's only about two or three inches square. The one on the right is Bouncing Betty. They told us that the 7th Fleet used to put these into the villages. What happens is that they have a canister fired from a Naval gunnery gun. It explodes thousands of these things. They come down and are designed to hit at a specific detonating point. This then sends up another bomblet at about five feet height, which then goes off with little pellets and catches you right in the face and chest.

KANEGIS. On the next one, you can see the writing on it. It says "Mine Apers, A-P-E-R-S," which means anti-personnel M-14 with fuse interval. The one right next to that looks like a little bat, which is the term they used on that one. In the terminology used in the automated battlefield hearings (talking about the use of these munitions as a part of this complete system, though of course it can be used even without the sensory devices and so forth) in the complete cycle, it is talked about as the dragon tooth anti-personnel mine system. Major Anderson, in the hearings, said, "It is purely anti-personnel. If a person steps on it, it could blow their foot off. If a truck rolls over it, it wouldn't blow up the tire." So again, this is one of the purely anti-personnel weapons. They showed a picture in the hearings of a long sort of tubular thing that drops down from the plane, opens up, lets all of these dragon teeth spin out and fly over a wide area, and the arming begins as it's dropped. Do you want to talk about the next one?

PFEIFFER. That's a picture we took on our first trip, 20 miles out of Saigon. This was what one B-52 would do to manioc fields. Each B-52 has about one hundred and eight 500-lb. bombs or 750s and that's just part of the load from one. Keep in mind, we're now making strides in Laos with up to thirty in one strike. You see what one B-52 does; what is the daily bombing of the B-52s doing to the countryside up there?

KANEGIS. I forgot to comment on one that was shown before. They're BLU 66, which is another one used in the CBU 46. That's another bomb whose primary kill mechanism is fragmentation. There BLUs can make up a complete CBU when they're combined with the SUU, called colloquially "the mother bomb." It can be a dispenser that stays on the plane. Or the mother bomb, which is like a big 750-lb. bomb case, drops out, opens up, and all these little bomblets (sometimes there are a variety of different types of them inside) spread out over a very wide area. As soon as they stop spinning (they have different type fuses and some are jungle proximity fuses), some detonate as soon as they touch ground; some detonate above the ground and some wait until people are coming to pick up survivors and then go off. But in any case, they spring off with just thousands of tiny pellets that tear into any flesh in the area. Again, they're useless against another industrialized power. They're aimed particularly at a particular type of warfare in Vietnam, where you're fighting a Third World people who don't have the advanced technology that we do. The whole automated battlefield is oriented in that direction.

In other words another advanced industrial nation could jam the sensors, but supposedly a simple people like the Vietnamese couldn't. In fact, there have been a number of incidents where they have been successful in using very simple methods to knock out this advanced electronic equipment. For instance, Mark Lane mentioned talking with one of the GIs who said that the NLF would put buckets of urine under "the people sniffers" and this would totally knock their sensing perspective out of whack. There have been other things like this.

Each of these is looked upon by the military as simply another experiment, another research and development contract for another company to come out with a sensing device that won't be put off by urine buckets. They had the same type of problem when they were dropping the acoustic sensors. First, when they were dropping these into Cambodia the "enemy" would walk very softly in order not to be detected by them. So they dropped tons of these button bomblets which were little bombs that would make a cracking sound when they were stepped on. That would just alert the sensor in the area. But these were also detected so they had some more manufactured that were disguised as animal dung.

A similar problem could be overcome with the planes, the ones that are parachuted down and land in the trees. The microphones for the Accousits were originally able to be detected by the parachutes sill staying up there even though the thing itself was camouflaged. According to one source I talked to, they asked International Playtex to devise a parachute that would disintegrate as soon as it reached impact with the tree. Apparently it has very, very fine wires running all through it which instantly disintegrates the parachute when it touches down.

There have been a lot of failures in the development of this thing over such a short period of time, but they have been simply used as an experiment result for them to move on to the next more lethal experiment. I think it took many of the GIs who have been talking here a long time and a lot of soul-searching to be able to come out publicly and talk about the war crimes they've been made to commit. But there are many officers, generals, that aren't so shy about their war crimes and, in fact, br

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.