The Phoenix Program, Open Road Edition, 2014

The Phoenix Program, William Morrow hardcover edition, 1990

The Phoenix Program, iUniverse edition, 2000

Doug Valentine July 2009

Interviews I've done on the subject of the Phoenix program


I conducted the interviews below with CIA and military officers involved in the Phoenix program



On Amazon and at Reddit people post misleading reviews and comments about The Phoenix Program. They pretend to have read it and to be honest, knowledgeable historians.They say I exaggerated or never interviewed anyone of importance, or that someone I interviewed misrepresented himself. Their posts are part of the relentless CIA campaign to discredit me and the book. So here I've named 99 of my sources, including Colby, station chiefs Shackley and Lapham, and Phoenix directors Parker and Tilton. It's sickening that Amazon and Reddit allow such slanderous posts. I'd love to sue them.
1. Tully Acampora, CIA advisor to Major Mau, General Loan, and Tran Si Tan.
2. Claude Alley, Phoenix advisor and Colonel Doug Dillard’s son-in-law, correspondence.
3. Paul Baillargeon, member of Phoenix Directorate
4. Clyde Bauer, CIA officer and Air America executive who brought to South Vietnam its Foreign Relations Council, Chamber of Commerce, and Lions' Club.
5. Colonel Randolph Berkeley, head of Phoenix Screening Interrogation and Detention program.
6. Colonel Carl Bernard, Province Senior Advisor.
6. Jerrry Bishop, Da Nang City Phoenix advisor, July 1968 until March 1970, and CIA officer Roger Mackin's deputy in the Da Nang City Intelligence and Operations Coordination Center.
7. Colonel Don Blackburn, SOG and SACSA commander.
8. LTC Richard Bradish, military liaison to Special Police at the National Police Interrogation Center.
9. Ed Brady, CIA at Phoenix Directorate.
10. Nelson Brickham, the CIA officer who created Phoenix.
11. Robert Brewer, CIA officer in charge of Quang Tri Province.
12. James Brogdon, military officer at the Phoenix Directorate
13. Walt Burmeister, III Corps senior Public Safety adviser
14. Fred “Phung Hoang Freddy” Carristos.
15. George Carver, CIA officer and Special assistant to the Director of the CIA on Vietnamese Affairs
16. Harold Child, FBI officer who investigated Phoenix
17. Colonel Chester McCoid, military deputy to CIA officer John Mason
18. Duane Clarridge, CIA officer
19. William Colby, Director of the CIA
20. Lucien Conein, CIA officer.
21. Colonel Paul Coughlin, chief of operations at the Phoenix Directorate 1971.
22. George Davis, attorney for Robert T'Souvas in My Lai case.
23. Col George Dexter Albuquerque NM 505-298-5363
24. Col Douglas Dillard Dillard, IV Corps Phoenix coordinator.
25. Bill Dodds, CIA officer who ran paramilitary operations in IV Corps.
26. Thomas Donohue, CIA chief of covert action.
27. William Donnett, CIA officer in charge off CIA SOG.
28. Sam Drakulich CIA officer and senior Special Branch adviser in III Corps.
29. Rudy Enders, CIA officer, III Corps paramilitary chief.
30. Colonel David Farnham, assigned to Vietnam Planning group.
31. CIA officer George French, Phoenix Directorate operations chief.
32. Major Stan Fulcher Stan Fulcher, the Phoenix coordinator in Binh Dinh Province.
33. Donald Gregg, CIA officer in charge of III Corps.
34. Col William Grieves, senior adviser to the National Police Field Forces from August 1965 till 1973.
35. Jack Harrell, CIA PRU advisor II Corps.
36. Jack Horgan, CIA officer I Corps region officer in charge,
37. Colonel Geroge Hudman, Phoenix Directorate
38. Colonel James Hunt, Phoenix training chief
39. Col Robert Inman, Phoenix Directorate.
40. George Jacobsen –mission coordinator.
41. Col Harry Johnson, on Colby’s staff at CORDS.
42. Lien Johnson, wife off CIA officer Ralph Johnson
43. Lieutenant Colonel John Kizirian, III Corps deputy intelligence chief.
44. Colonel Walter Kolon, Phoenix Directorate.
45. CIA officer Robert Komer, DEPCORDS before Colby.
46. General Edward Lansdale
47.Louis Lapham, CIA station chief in Saigon
48. Bruce Lawlor, CIA officer Quang Nam province officer in charge.
49. Daniel Leaty Bing Dinh Province officer in charge
50. Gen Mabry, in charge of military law enforcement in Vietnam
51. Walter Mackem, CIA officer, Ban Me Thuot, An Giang, Chau Doc, Sa Dec, and Vinh Long provinces.
52. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas P. McGrevey, Phoenix Directorate's operations chief.
53. Doug McCollum, Public Safety advisers to Field Police.
54. CIA officer Ralph McGehee Phoenix Advisor Go Vap District in Gia Dinh Province CORDS Team 44.
55. CIA officer Art Miller.
56. CIA officer Gary Maddox, PRU advisor III Corps.
57. Major Nguyen Mau, commander of Cong Tac IV and later Special Police.
58. CIA officer Stu Methven, creator of counter-terror teams.
59. Col Dang Van Minh, deputy director of the Special Branch.
60. Col Lew Millet, Phoenix chief II Corps in 1972
61. Warren Milberg, CIA officer in charge of Quang Tri Province
62. Major Ola Mize, SOG
63. John Muldoon, CIA officer in charge of the Provincial Interrogation Center Program
64. Sgt. Edward Murphy, Phoenix advisor.
65. Col James Newman, Phoenix Directorate.
66. Nguyen Ngoc Huy, Dai Viet politician.
67. Keith Ogden, Phoenix advisor.
68. Col Paul Ogg, CIA PRU advisor.
69. LTC Connie O’Shea, Phoenix Directorate and advisor in II Corps.
70. General Bruce Palmer
71. Evan Parker, CIA Director of the Phoenix Directorate, 1967-1969.
72. Robert Peartt, CIA officer.
73. Phan Van Tran, PRU chief in Da Nang.
74. Tom Polgar, CIA station chief Saigon, 1972-1975.
75. Author Nick Proffitt, Newdsweek Bureau Chief, Saigon.
76. Ron Radda, CIA officer liaison to Dang Van Minh.
77. Colonel Shelby Roberts, Phoenix advisor.
78. Lionell Rothblatt, State Department representative to Phoenix.
79. Jean Sauvegeot, CIA in charge of Census Grievance.
80. Col Paul Scoggins, PRU advisor.
81. Frank Scotton, USIS officer, friend to Daniel Ellsberg.
82. Gen Richard Secord, Air America.
83. Ted Shackley, CIA station chief 1969-1972.
84. CIA officer Rob Simmons, Special Branch and PIC advisor.
85. CIA contract officer Robert Slater in charge of PIC program.
86. CIA officer Howard Stone.
87. CIA officer John Tilton, in charge of Phoenix Directorate
88. Gen Charles Timmes.
89. Captain Sid Towle, Phoenix advisor.
90. CIA officer James Ward IV Corps ROIC.
91. Gunther Wagner, Public Safety advisor.
92. CIA officer Harold Wagner, Phoenix Chieu Hoi advisor.
93. CIA officer Bob Wall, advisor to Special Branch.
94. CIA officer Bernard Yoh
95. Stephen Young, State Department rep to Phoenix
96. Michael McCann, in charge of Public Safety in Vietnam
97. Frank Walton, in charge of Public safety in Vietnam.
98. Navy SEAL John Wilbur
99. CIA officer Charles Yothers


The Phoenix Program



The Douglas Valentine Vietnam Collection at the National Security Archive in Washington, DC, has been open and used by researchers since early 2007. The Collection contains the research material, including original handwritten interview notes and government documents obtained through FOIA requests, for my book The Phoenix Program. The Collection can only be used in the National Security Archive's Reading Room; it is not available for interlibrary loan and an appointment must be made to use it. The "resguide" link below will help anyone who wants to read the material.


Reviews of The Phoenix Program


Below are selected articles I've written about the Phoenix Program

Why The Phoenix Program Was Forbidden (and How it was censored) by Douglas Valentine at http:/​/​infraturbinal24.rssing.com/​chan-13023294/​all_p25.html

When I started working on The Phoenix Program in 1984, I approached the subject from two angles: I worked from the ground up, through veterans’ organizations, searching for enlisted men who had been part of the program; and I worked from the top down, by contacting William Colby. A former director of the CIA, Colby was the individual most closely associated with Phoenix, based on his staunch defense of the program before several Congressional committees.

To my surprise, Colby agreed to help me, and over the course of two years, he referred me to a number of senior CIA officers who had played prominent roles in Phoenix and its component parts. In many cases, these people spoke openly to me, and shared documents with me, in violation of their CIA oaths, simply because I carried Colby’s imprimatur.

Telling the truth about the CIA is forbidden, and the prohibitions encompass every facet of American life. When I initially decided to write the book, my first interview was with David Houle, the director of veteran services in New Hampshire. I asked David if there was a facet of the Vietnam War that had been concealed. Without hesitation he replied, “Phoenix.” After explaining a little bit about the program, he mentioned that one of the patients in the hospital had been in it. David added that his client’s service records had been altered to show that he’d been a cook in Vietnam.

I asked to meet Houle’s client, but the fellow refused to be interviewed: he was disabled and afraid the Veterans Administration would cut off his benefits if he talked to me. That fear of the government, so incongruous on the part of a war veteran, made me more determined than ever to uncover the truth about Phoenix.

In 1987, I filed a Privacy Act request. The ACLU took the case because the CIA initially used an obscure excuse to reject my request. They rejected it on the basis that it might reasonably lead to a “civil action or proceeding.” The ACLU assigned an intern to research the meaning of the clause and filed an appeal based on its interpretation. The CIA quickly changed its reason for rejecting my Privacy Act request to “national security.”

After several years of legal wrangling, a sympathetic judge, Michael Ponsor, in the federal district court in Springfield, Massachusetts, ruled that the CIA must release most of the documents in my file. Some remain classified.

Historian John Prados summarized the case in his book The Family Jewels (University of Texas Press, 2013):

Active measures can go beyond attempts to fiddle with the documentary record. Frank Snepp has written about how senior officers at Langley warned employees that he was at work on a CIA book and cautioned them against speaking to him. At least Snepp was a former CIA officer, but the agency applied the same logic in the late 1980s to a private individual, author Douglas Valentine, who was researching a book on the notorious “Phoenix” program during the Vietnam War. The historian collected numerous interviews for his research, and at first Langley had been cooperative, with CIA’s Retirement Division even forwarding his letters to former officers, and a number speaking with him on the strength of his early contacts with William E. Colby.

Valentine’s initial interviews proved the most productive. Elements at Langley became uncooperative after one retiree asked CIA lawyers, in the summer of 1986, what things were safe to talk about. When a Publications Review Board lawyer checked to see whether Phoenix was off-limits (the Board had previously cleared Phoenix material in works by Colby himself and agency officer Ralph McGehee), he was advised to caution interviewees not to talk to Valentine. The lawyer pointed out that the most he could do was warn veterans against unrehearsed, unprepared interviews and suggest that they “obtain the questions from Mr. Valentine in writing in advance and draft a written response for the Board to review.” Board lawyers gave this advice repeatedly, noting in an April 1987 instance that when Valentine’s questions were solicited and answers reviewed by the Board, “virtually all were found to be classified.” Some months later the same lawyer complimented an agency veteran for refusing to be interviewed.1

By April 1988 the Publications Review Board was advising clandestine service officers of a concern that Valentine’s “forthcoming book will contain so much detailed information about Agency operations and officers that . . . it may cause damage,” and asking that senior management of the Directorate of Operations should have the entire matter brought to their attention. Spooks, including some in the ostensibly impartial Inspector General’s office, were ranging the halls telling each other that the author was “bad news” and hoping they might escape his attention. Valentine eventually discovered this stonewalling due to the reticence of CIA veterans—and the materials quoted here emerged in the course of legal discovery in the lawsuit Douglas Valentine brought against the Central Intelligence Agency.1

As Prados explained in a recent essay on his blog, the CIA”s maneuvers to block my access and withhold my files failed the smell test:

Valentine was not an agency employee and its Review Board had no jurisdiction over him whatever. Second, the Board exists to approve written works and has no authority over speech. CIA officials exhorted colleagues to come to them if approached by Valentine, and congratulated those who did so. To give their intervention a patina of legality they encouraged employees to write down Valentine’s questions and the employees’ proposed answers–which could then be considered written materials that the Board could reject.


“Let me just emphasize,” Prados continued “that there was a category of information about the Phoenix program that was secret and could be denied under FOIA. But Doug Valentine’s approaches to retirees for interviews were, by definition, not secret. Derivatively, talks inside CIA about how to deal with Valentine’s interviews were also not secret. But CIA rejected the FOIA on national security grounds.”
However, the word that I was “bad news” had gotten out across the board. Indeed, it was the paragon of the establishment media, the New York Times, that dealt the death blow to my book The Phoenix Program when it came out in 1990. It did so because of the following passage on page 339:

Without the complicity of the media, the government could not have implemented Phoenix, in Vietnam or America. A full disclosure of the Province Interrogation Centers and the Provincial Reconnaissance Units would have resulted in its demise. But the relationship between the media and the government is symbiotic, not adversarial. The extent to which this practice existed was revealed in 1975, when William Colby informed a congressional committee that more than five hundred CIA officers were operating under cover as corporate executives and that forty CIA officers were posing as journalists. Case in point: reactionary columnist and TV talk-show host William Buckley, Jr., the millionaire creator of the Young Americans for Freedom and cohort of Howard Hunt's in Mexico in the 1950's.


When it comes to the CIA and the press, one hand washes the other. In order to have access to informed officials, reporters frequently suppress or distort stories. In return, officials leak stories to reporters to whom they owe favors. At its most incestuous, reporters and government officials are actually related-for example, Delta PRU commander Charles Lemoyne and his New York Times reporter brother, James. Likewise, if Ed Lansdale had not had Joseph Alsop to print his black propaganda in the United States, there probably would have been no Vietnam War.

In a democratic society the media ought to investigate and report objectively on the government, which is under no obligation to inform the public of its activities and which, when it does, puts a positive "spin" on the news. As part of the deal, when those activities are conducted in secret, illegally, reporters look away rather than jeopardize profitable relationships. The price of success is compromise of principles. This is invariably the case; the public is always the last to know, and what it does learn are at best half-truths, squeezed into five-hundred-word columns or thirty-second TV bites, themselves easily ignored or forgotten.

So it was with Phoenix.

In the course of four years researching and writing The Phoenix Program, Newsweek correspondent and author Nick Proffitt was the only Vietnam War news reporter to help me. Seymour Hersh refused. Gloria Emerson told me the story of the Phoenix program belonged to Hersh, and that because I was stealing his scoop, no one would help me.

Reporters, editors, and publishers have their own network, and it interlocks with the CIA’s. On many occasions, CIA officers told me of drinking in their offices in South Vietnam with specific reporters, who dutifully kept their mouths shut about the CIA’s murderous activities. So when the Times decided to kill my book, it got Vietnam War reporter Morley Safer to write a half-page review, ripping it to shreds. After that, my publisher William Morrow refused to spend a cent on promotion.

The Times allowed Safer to write the review, even though Safer’s book Flashbacks, about his 1989 return to Vietnam, was published only months before mine. I asked the Times why, in fairness, they didn't let me review Safer's book, given that they let him review mine? No response, of course. That’s how blatant the corruption is.

And the complicity is across the board. After Safer’s review, none of the publications representing the “compatible Left,” as the CIA calls it, would publish my writings on the CIA. That includes The Nation, The Progressive, and Democracy Now! As someone censored by it, I can testify that it becomes painfully clear who within the Left is “compatible,” not by what they say, but by the writers and subjects they intentionally ignore.

The only publications that would accept my work were John Kelly’s National Reporter and Lou Wolf’s Covert Action Quarterly, both of which were dedicated to exposing the CIA. It was not until 1998, when Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair invited me to write for CounterPunch, that my work on Phoenix made it into the larger light of day.

After publication, I was subjected to other forms of harassment as well, the kind any investigator of CIA war crimes must endure, including midnight calls threatening to kill me and my wife and burn our house down. My wife got in the habit of telling the anonymous callers to “take a number and stand in line.” We never took the threats seriously. Everything I was doing was legal, as Prados noted above, and I wasn’t trying to hide anything.

My work was also falsely discredited by a boatload of former Navy SEALs, who were angry about my portrayal of them as psychopathic killers on a murder spree, as well as by a clique of former Phoenix advisors, upset at my portrayal of them as war criminals who had conducted Gestapo-style operations against Vietnamese civilians. These fellows engaged in “swift-boat” tactics, including a smear campaign of nasty reviews full of untruths on Amazon.

One Phoenix advisor, who became a high school teacher in civilian life, went so far as to prompt one of his students to write a book specifically dedicated to refuting everything I said in mine. As a graduate student at Harvard, Mark Moyar approached me. He said my Phoenix program book was great and that he wanted to write a dissertation based on it. He asked if I would refer him to a number of senior CIA officers I had interviewed. I kindly did so. Moyar then went to these people and—as one of them told me—said, “Now is your chance to do unto Valentine what Valentine did unto you.”

The harassment was international in scope. In 1990, the BBC hired me as a consultant on a documentary it was making about the CIA in Vietnam. As part of my contract, I was given an all-expenses trip to Vietnam. But when I got to Saigon in February 1991, I was told there was nothing for me to do. The other consultants were staying in one hotel, and I was exiled to a burned out wreck on the other side of town, all by myself. It was no accident: I was the only consultant who openly accused the CIA of committing war crimes, and the other consultants refused to work with me.

The CIA has collaborators in news organizations, universities, industries, and governments worldwide; and their alliance corrupts our knowledge of one another, as well as our understanding of who we are. My book was forbidden, merely because I explained one facet of this vast conspiracy.

1United States District Court for the Eastern District of Massachusetts, Douglas Valentine v. Central Intelligence Agency, 92-30025-F. The documents quoted (officials’ identities redacted) are a CIA/​Publications Review Board (PRB) memorandum for the record of July 31, 1986, a PRB letter of April 7, 1987, a PRB letter (only referred to) of December 24, 1987, a memorandum from the PRB associate legal advisor to Directorate of Operations management staff of April 8, 1988, and an undated note (only referred to) from an employee of the Office of the Inspector General.

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