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|InsightMag.com - fair comment
Public Television Owes An Apology to American POWs of Vietnam War
By Henry Mark Holzer
As part of my research for a book I'm writing about Jane Fonda's July 1972 pilgrimage to Hanoi, I watched with great interest public television's November 2000 documentary Return With Honor, the inspiring story of U.S. airmen imprisoned in Hanoi during the Vietnam War.
Immediately after the film was shown, PBS offered on its American Experience/Return With Honor Website a forum where viewers could ask questions of five of the former prisoners of war (POWs) and receive their answers.
In addition to the five, there was one other forum participant.
Here is the bio PBS provided: "Bui Tin. Author of the important
Following Ho Chi Minh: The Memoirs of a North Vietnamese Colonel. Bui
enlisted at age 18 in the Vietnamese People’s Army. He worked as a
journalist and editor for the Communist army newspaper in Hanoi during
the Vietnam War. In this position, Bui worked in close proximity to Ho
Chi Minh - and the American POWs. In 1990, Bui made the dra matic
decision to leave Vietnam forever and live as an exile, in order to
express his growing
However, despite Col Tin's alleged "growing dissatisfaction
with Vietnam's Communist leadership and political system," his
answers to forum questions parroted the Hanoi line on the war in general
- and the POWs in particular - and, in doing so, he insulted every
American ever held captive in Vietnam. For example: While Tin asserted
that POWs were not tortured, the fact is that following repatriation,
various Pentagon studies - and a plethora of POW memoirs - documented to
a fare-thee-well the nature and extent of torture visited upon U.S.
prisoners of the Viet
Tin asserted that the POWs were well-treated with regard to food, clothing, reading material and the like and that punishment consisted only of being "forced into the tiny cells with their feet cuffed to the floor. Sometimes they were paraded/ walked in the streets, although that was done in order and without violence, only verbal attacks."
Patently untrue. As to food, in the south prisoners existed mostly
on a sub-subsistence diet, a description of which would make some
readers of this essay throw up. In the north, the food was not much
better. Food in both places had one thing in common: the staple - rice -
was shot through with rat feces. As to clothing, POWs in the south often
Tin's "tiny cells with their feet cuffed," indeed. The fact is that not only were cells tiny, they often were pitch black. Solitary confinement - sometimes as long as three years - was common. Leg stocks were tight and rusty, kept on sometimes for weeks while prisoners lay in their own urine and excrement.
But as untrue as all of Tin's statements are, perhaps the worst is
that POWs were "paraded/walked in the streets." He is
doubtless alluding to the infamous "Hanoi March," when
American prisoners, in a long file, two-by-two, were marched through the
streets of that enemy city to a stadium. On the way, they were
surrounded and attacked by a
Public television has committed a grievous wrong by providing an international forum for Tin who, defector or not, remains a propagandist for communists who brutalized American prisoners, a man who is still telling lies about what happened to American POWs incarcerated in the jungle camps of the south and the prisons of the north.
Henry Mark Holzer is professor emeritus at Brooklyn Law School and
writes on issues of law and politics from Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Subject: Insight Magazine article...Hank Holzer, author
The article is just as I wrote it, except the editor omitted my last sentence: "Public Television owes an apology to every American who was captive in Viet Nam." This omission does not change the article.
If you can think of anyone else who might like to read the article, please pass this email on to them.
Subject: Hanoi Jane
HENRY MARK HOLZER --- Professor Emeritus, Brooklyn Law School, and former counsel to Ayn Rand --- is pleased to announce his forthcoming book, "AID AND COMFORT": JANE FONDA IN NORTH VIETNAM. Further information may be found at http://www.HANOIJANE.NET