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I Had Ray Davis's Job, in Laos 30 Years Ago Same Cover, Same Lies
By Robert Anderson
The story of Raymond Allen Davis is one familiar to me and I wish our government would quit doing these things. They cost us credibility.
Davis is the American being held as a spy working under diplomatic cover out of our embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. You can understand why foreign countries no longer trust us and people are rising up across the Middle East against the Great Satan.
In the Vietnam War the country of Laos held a Geo-strategic position, as does Pakistan to Afghanistan today. As in Pakistan, in Laos the CIA conducted covert military operations against a sovereign people.
I was a demolitions technician with the Air Force who was reassigned to work with the CIA's Air America operation in Laos. We turned in our military IDs cards and uniforms and were issued a State Department ID card and dressed in blue jeans. We were told if captured we were to ask for diplomatic immunity. We carried out military missions on a daily basis all across the countries of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.
We also knew that if killed or captured, we would probably not be searched for and our families back home in the US would be told we had been killed in an auto accident of some kind back in Thailand and our bodies not recovered.
Our team knew when the UN inspectors and international media were scheduled to arrive. We controlled the airfields. We would disappear to our safe houses so we could not be asked questions. It was all a very well planned operation, 60 years ago, involving the military and diplomats out of the US Embassy. It had been going on a long time when I was there during the 1968 Tet Offensive. These operations continued, until we were routed and had to abandon the whole war as a failure.
In Laos, the program I was attached to carried out a systematic assassination of people who were identified as not loyal to US goals. It was called the Phoenix program and eliminated an estimated 60,000 people across Indochina. We did an amazing amount of damage to the civilian infrastructure of the country, and still lost the war. I saw one team of mercenaries I was training show us a bag of ears of dead civilians they had killed. This was how they verified their kills for us. The Green Berets that day were telling them to just take photos of the dead, leave the ears.
Mel Gibson made a movie about all this, called Air America. It included in the background the illegal drug operation the CIA ran to pay for their operations. Congress had not authorized funds for what we were doing. I saw the drug operation first hand too. This was all detailed in "The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia" by Alfred McCoy. I did not connect the drug smuggling with the Phoenix program until Oliver North testified about it at the Iran-Contra hearings. Oliver North was a leader of the Laos operation I was assigned to work with.
Our country has a long history of these types of programs going back to World War II. We copied this form of warfare from the Nazis in WWII, it seems. We justified it as necessary for the Cold War. One of the first operations was T.P. Ajax run by Kermit Roosevelt to overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953 and take over their oil fields.
In that coup the CIA and the State Department under the Dulles Brothers first perfected these covert, illegal and immoral actions. Historians have suggested that Operation T.P. Ajax was the single event that set in motion the political force of Islamic fundamentalism we are still dealing with today.
Chalmers Johnson, also a former CIA employee, wrote a series of books on these blow backs that happen when the truth is held from the American public.
If we had taken a different approach to our problems in those days an approach that did not rely on lying to our own and the people of other countries and killing them indiscriminately our country would not be in the disastrous situation abroad today.
I was young and foolish in those days of the Vietnam War, coveting my Top Secret security clearance, a big thing for an uneducated hillbilly from Appalachia. We saw ourselves much like James Bond characters. But now I am much wiser. These kinds of actions have immense and long reaching consequences and should be shut down.
I see from the Ray Davis fiasco in Pakistan that our government is still up to its old way of denying to the people of the world what everyone knows is true.
When will this official hypocrisy end, when will our political class speak out about this and quit going along with the lies and tricks? How many more of our people and others will die in these foolish programs?
Davis is in a bad situation now because most of the people of the world, as we see across the Middle East, are now aware of the lies and not going to turn their head anymore.
I say "most" everyone knows, because our own public, the ones supposed to be in control of the military and CIA, is constantly lied to. It is so sad to see President Obama repeating the big lie.
This article originally appeared in Counterpunch.
Robert Anderson lives in Albuquerque, N.M. he was Air Force EOD, E3, in SEA 1967-68. Last stationed officially at NKP, Thailand where he was assigned to work off and on with the CIA in the covert war in Laos. Got out, helped start the VVAW in Albuquerque. He now teaches political science at a local community college.