SAIGON, Sept. 30 (LNS)—The Green Berets have gotten away with murder.
After announcing that it would press forward with a court martial, the Pentagon suddenly reversed field and dropped all charges against the six Special Forces officers accused of killing a Vietnamese interpreter.
The official reason for the switch, offered by Secretary of the Army, Stanley Resor, in a statement on September 29, is that the CIA “has determined that in the interest of national security it will not make available any of its personnel as witnesses” in the court martial. Without CIA testimony the prosecution, presumably, would have no case.
The CIA, then, has determined that the Green Berets should go free. It is unlikely, however, that the CIA made that decision independently.
The U.S. establishment, despite its internal conflicts, has been anxious to bury the Green Beret -case without exposing more dirt to the public eye. To drop the charges was probably a “team” decision designed to prevent the truth from being aired in a courtroom.
But it doesn’t matter. The phony glamour of the Green Berets has already been popped.
Far from an elite outfit of skilled counter-guerrillas, the Green Berets have never been more than overpaid thugs—half-grown men acting out their juvenile fantasies with tattoos and pearl-handled pistols. Now everyone knows it.
In all their years in Vietnam, the Green Berets have not in the least interfered with the operations of the National Liberation Front. They are accomplished only in the gangster-style killing of innocent civilians.
Nor do they focus on civilians living in liberated areas, for the Green Berets dare not venture there. They choose instead people like Thai Khac Chuyen, who was actually working for them.
Chuyen’s widow, a refugee from the north has learned something.
She says: “I left the North because I didn’t like Communism. But before I left I saw that the Communists gave people an open trial. Even the landlords could defend themselves in public. I came South because I thought the United States would give us more freedom. But here the only freedom is the freedom for Americans to kill. Now I realize that if I want to be on the side of freedom I should go back to my home in the North.”