From Vietnam Veterans Against the War, http://www.vvaw.org/veteran/article/?id=3433

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The CIA and the Phoenix Poem

By Sanford Kelson (reviewer)

The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World
by Douglas Valentine

(Clarity Press, 2017)


Douglas Valentine details that the CIA created the Phoenix Program in 1967 during the Vietnam War to "neutralize" the leaders and supporters of the Communist-led insurgency in South Vietnam. Phoenix was directed against Vietnamese patriots resisting US aggression in their country. The US considered these patriots the enemy. The Phoenix Program, used laws written by American officials for the South Vietnamese "government", to allow the US to identify, detain, torture and kill Vietnamese patriots by any means possible.

Phoenix was a bureaucratic model that used spying and systematic repression for population and political control. It targeted those who could not be ideologically assimilated, as well as those who actively opposed the US war. Everyone who did not actively support the US war effort became targets. People who simply did not want a foreign power fighting a war in their country or who believed that the war should be ended by negotiation were targeted. The fear created by Phoenix was so pervasive, people had to watch every word.

Phoenix paid bribes for information and led to arrests and torture based upon hearsay and rumor from anonymous informers. The CIA knowingly used false accusations to terrorize the Vietnamese people into compliance. Innocent people who were arrested and tortured would only be released if friends and relatives paid a bribe to those on the CIA payroll. Valentine explains that the unstated yet obvious goal of the program was to terrify the entire civilian population into submission. The Phoenix Program changed how America fights its wars. Political and psychological warfare became and continues to be an integral part of all American military actions.

Douglas Valentine explains that the US National Security Establishment, represented most directly and clearly by Hillary Clinton, believes all its enemies, foreign and domestic, must be suppressed both ideologically and militarily. Valentine's book explains that, in the wake of 9/11, the Phoenix concept of employing all forms of terror to control, organize and pacify societies has become the preferred template for policing the American empire and fighting its eternal so-called war on terror. For example, the Phoenix approach was so successful in overthrowing the Ba'athist Party regime in Iraq, one of the US government's top terrorism advisors called for a "Global Phoenix Program."

Valentine warns us that the Department of Homeland Security has brought Phoenix to America. The Department's bureaucratic structure is like that of the Phoenix Program in Vietnam and similarly claims to be "protecting the people from terrorism." The laws written by the US for the South Vietnamese "government" legitimized the Phoenix Program. The Patriot Act has done the same thing in America; legitimizing spying and systematic repression against US citizens for population and political control.

US history extensively and clearly documents that our government has frequently spied on peaceful and lawful dissident movements. Labor unions, opposition political parties, and many anti-war, environmental and civil rights groups — such as Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter and NO DAPL — have been targeted by the US government. Police and intelligence services have infiltrated such groups and engaged in illegal acts, including the threat and use of violence, to oppose and destroy them. No one is held accountable or punished for these gross and repeated breaches of the law.

Today, the US government relies on spies, rumor, hearsay and mass surveillance systems, such as the NSA program exposed by Edward Snowden. These more pervasive, secret surveillance activities against Americans expose the frightening truth. The Deep State brands ordinary Americans who are simply exercising their democratic freedoms and constitutional rights as dangerous domestic enemies.

James Madison, author of the US Constitution, disdained democracy and the average American. He intended the Constitution to keep governmental power in the hands of a few elites; wealthy, white, male land owners. He disrespectfully called all other US citizens, members of the "grazing multitude." Other "founding fathers" were equally dismissive of the people, calling them the "great beast." Walter Lippmann agreed with these elitist founders, describing the public as mere "spectators of action," not participants. Lippman's 1922 book, Phantom Public, claimed the public could not truly be well-informed. It described ordinary people as easily convinced to side with an educated minority, while believing they were part of a system of majority rule. Similarly, Edward Bernays, creator of many modern propaganda techniques, described the role of the elites in a democracy as the "manufacturing consent." He believed the public should not engage in democracy, but merely ratify the decisions of their betters.

More recently, Karl Rove, a Republican political operative, said something very similar to Madison, Lippmann and Bernays. He described how reality is manipulated to keep power away from the people and in the hands of a few elites. Rove said, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Doug Valentine's warnings came before Donald Trump's election. Trump's rhetoric is utterly confusing, but still discloses that he has not been fully ideologically indoctrinated into the policies of the controlling members of the Deep State. Trump said that he wants to work with Russia and not engage in regime change or nation building overseas. Trump has opposed the intelligence community's efforts to vilify Putin and Russia to gain American citizen support for yet another war.

There is widespread speculation that the CIA may be engaging in a soft coup. Is a Phoenix-style CIA operation being used to identify and purge Trump supporters, like Michael Flynn, who favor better relations with Russia. Has Trump's administration acquired Phoenix capabilities that are being used to identify and purge his "enemies," real or imagined?

A few quotes from Doug Valentine's book appear to suggest some answers.

"The Phoenix process began immediately after 9/11 with the repressive Patriot Act and a series of Presidential executive orders that have since legalized the administrative detention and murder of American citizens said to be involved in terrorism."

"As part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, the military (no mention is ever made of the CIA) was given the right to administratively detain and assassinate US citizens without due process."

"The fascistic merging of government and corporate forces against the public interest is the most insidious facet of Phoenix in American society. And it is done with the full cooperation of the corporate media, which exploits each and every mass murder we endure, whether it is a terrorist attack or not — like the gay attacker's assault on the gay nightclub in Orlando — to terrorize the public into consenting to greater restrictions on civil liberties and more wars overseas."

"Through their control of the media, political and bureaucratic systems, America's secret rulers engage in terrorism abroad and at home for economic purposes... The objective is to maximize profits and concentrate wealth and political power in fewer and fewer hands. The Global War on Terror and its domestic homeland security counterpart are flip sides of the same coin. They are the capitalist ideology applied to foreign and domestic security policy. And like the capitalist system it serves, an unstated national security policy is consolidated in fewer and fewer ideologically correct hands as the empire expands and its contradictions become more apparent."

Douglas Valentine's book is based largely on CIA insider information. He has used that first-hand information to provide us with names, dates, and documents regarding a continuous process of USG criminality, including treason, against the interests of the American people. Additionally, facts and knowledge Valentine has accumulated as an investigative journalist over many decades are included in this book. I believe Valentine's collective writing has shown him to be one of the most important journalists in US history. If you haven't yet heard of Doug Valentine, it may be because corporate media outlets have been doing the job envisioned for them by elitist founders such as Madison and subsequent commentators, like Lippmann and Bernays. The corporate media may only be printing the news they believe you need to "ratify" the decisions of the wealthy, white, male, corporate elites and not printing what might just arouse us, the "great beast", who the founders feared, into action.



Sanford Kelson was in the US Army from 1963-66, Sgt E-5, 171st Infantry Brigade, Alaska. He is former national president VFP. He is a lawyer, mediator, and educator.

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