Taking Back Our Stolen History
Phoenix Program
Phoenix Program

Phoenix Program

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(1965-72) A program designed, coordinated, and executed by the CIA (Nelson Brickham as the primary architect), U.S. special operations forces, special forces operatives from the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV), and South Vietnam security apparatus during the Vietnam War. It was designed to identify and “neutralize” (via infiltration, capture, terrorism, torture, and assassination) the infrastructure of the National Liberation Force or Viet Cong. The CIA described it as “a set of programs that sought to attack and destroy the political infrastructure of the Viet Cong”. The major two components of the program were Provincial Reconnaissance Units (PRUs) and regional interrogation centers. PRUs would kill or capture suspected NLF members, as well as civilians who were thought to have information on NLF activities. Many of these people were then taken to interrogation centers and tortured in an attempt to gain intelligence on VC activities. The information extracted at the centers was then given to military commanders, who would use it to task the PRU with further capture and assassination missions. Similar efforts existed both before and after Phoenix. By 1972, Phoenix operatives had neutralized 81,740 suspected NLF operatives, informants and supporters, of whom between 26,000 and 41,000 were killed.1

CIA Support of Death Squads William E. Colby on July 19, 1971, before Senate Subcommittee testified that CIA’s Operation Phoenix had killed 21,587 Vietnamese citizens between January 1968 and May 1971. Phoenix-style programs continue to exist and operate worldwide today (eg Iraqi and Palestinian civilians), was seen in Nicaragua under the code-name Operation Pegasus, and in El Salvador with the El Mozote massacre, and in Indonesia with the Santa Cruz Massacre.

The following excerpts from Douglas Valentine’s 2017 book, “The CIA As Organized Crime; How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World,” demonstrate unequivocably that today’s “Global Gestapo”/GISTAPO-666/organized stalking-mind control-electronic torture operations are a direct descendant of the secret, civilian “neutralization”/”elimination” Phoenix program that the CIA and US military waged against the citizens of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

Phoenix was a bounty-hunting program, an attempt to eliminate the opposition, by which I mean the opposition to us, the Americans, getting what we wanted, which was to control the Vietnamese through our clients- the Diems, the Kys, the Theius.

Phoenix was far worse than the things attributed to it. It was heinous, but no worse than the bombing.

In order to get into military intelligence school, I had to write an essay on the debate about the Vietnam War. The thrust of my paper was, “What we do in Vietnam will come back to haunt us.” It was a one-world thesis. Well, I go to Vietnam and see the bulls#$t (Phoenix program) going down. Then I come back to the United States and see the same thing going on here. I’m at the 116th MI (Military Intelligence) Group in Washington, DC, and as you leave the room, they have nine slots for pictures, eight of them filled: Rennie Davis, Abbie Hoffman, Ben Spock, Jerry Rubin. And I’m being sent out to spot and identify these people. This is Phoenix. THIS IS PHOENIX.

… The point is, it (Phoenix Program) was used in Vietnam, it was used in the United States, and it still is used in the United States.”

— Sergeant Ed Murphy, counterintelligence specialist, 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam, 116th MIG Group in Washington, D.C.,

In 1967, when Nelson Brickham was forming Phoenix to neutralize the leaders of the insurgency in South Vietnam, James Angleton and the CIA’s Counterintelligence staff were creating the MHCHAOS program in Langley, Virginia, to spy on members of the anti-war movement, and turn as many of them as possible into double agents.

Chaos was the codename for the Special Operations group within Angleton’s Counterintelligence staff. The CIA’s current Counterterrorism Center (CTC), was established in 1986, a direct descendant of Chaos.

Starting in 1967, White House political cadres, through the IDIU in the Justice Department, coordinated the CIA’s CHAOS program, the FBI’s COINTELPRO Program, and military’s domestic spying programs.

In 1970 the Chaos squad started entering its information on radicals onto IBM cards and compiling it in a data base condenamed HYDRA that ultimately contained the names of some 300,000 people. HYDRA was developed domestically at the same time as the Phoenix information system (PHMIS) in Vietnam, by the same people.

By 1972, the Chaos squad was working with (President) Nixon’s infamous Plumbers. One Chaos agent may have been involved in the botched Watergate burglary that brought Nixon down.

Incredible power was concentrated in the Chaos office. CIA officer Richard Ober worked with the National Commission on Civil Disorders, the protean Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, and the Special Services units (Red Squads) of America’s major metropolitan police departments. The CIA has always recruited cops as contractors to organize and advise foreign police forces, and local police forces certainly helped the CAI amass its Chaos files.

In 1972, CIA Director William Colby made Ober chief of the CIA’s International Terrorism Group (ITG)…. After the official termination of Chaos in March, 1974, the ITG continued to occupy the same space in the CIA’s basement. As of 1975, no Chaos files had been destroyed, because the CIA could not adequately define a “dissident.”

Under CIA Director William Casey’s direction, every government agency established a counterterror office as part of a secret apparatus.

… The CIA’s control of international drug trafficking is America’s darkest secret.”

The (CIA’s) Vietnam War (1952-1975)

“When the CIA moved into Vietnam (in 1952), the first thing it did was buy a lot of property. This was during the First Indochina War and they did this clandestinely, through cut-outs, so they’d have safe houses to set up organizations later on. It’s always best for them to buy real estate during times of crisis when prices are down.

The CIA bought huge tracts of property in Saigon in between 1952 and 1955 during the First Indochina War, when there was blood on the streets. …. The next thing the CIA does is seize control of a nation’s secret services; they offer training and high-tech gadgetry to people in the secret services; they corrupt them and use them for their own purposes.

Vietnam was a laboratory for military weapon and psychological warfare experimentation. Helicopter gunships made their debut, along with futuristic “psywar” strategies for pacifying civilian populations.

The communists organized the people of South Vietnam to fight the oligarchy that was working for the CIA and following American policies. The guerilla war in the villages baffled the Americans, so the CIA started experimenting with a lot of political and psychological ways of fighting the insurgency in the villages. They called it “the other war.” Pacification. The job fell to the CIA because it involved killing civilians not soldiers. The military isn’t supposed to go into a village and kill everybody. They did it anyway, plenty of times, but it turned the people against the US and its puppets in the South Vietnamese government.

So the job of killing civilians was given to the CIA, which isn’t hampered by any rules of engagement related to the laws of any country. There is nothing to stop the CIA’s hired killers from going into the villages and snuffing snatching Uncle Ho’s cadres. The cadres are teachers, laborers, mailmen, farmers, but they’re not soldiers. They provide support for the NVA and the guerrillas. They’re the backbone of the insurgency.

The CIA realizes it has to “eliminate” these people to win the war. It works through its assets in a country’s judicial system to create administrative detention laws that allow Americans and their subsidiary counterterrorism teams to snatch the cadres from their homes at midnight, without charging these targeted cadres with having committed criminal offenses. It builds secret interrogation centers where the cadres and their friends and families can be tortured and turned into double agents. It creates a system that terrorizes everyone, in order to create millions of informers. Once it finds out who the cadres are, the CIA sends out its death squads. The CIA calls them counterterrorism teams like the ones it uses today in Afghanistan and Iraq and other countries around the world. They creep into the cadres’ homes in the middle of the night, drag them away to the interrogation centers, or slit their throats and kill their friends and families for psychological reasons, and run away before anybody knows what happened.

In 1967 the CIA brings together all these methods of fighting the guerilla war in the Phoenix program. It coordinates everybody that’s involved in the war and brings every resource to bear on the political people in the villages, in an effort to wipe them off the face of the earth. That’s what the Phoenix program is. The total number of people killed was between 25,000 and 40,000.

(Phoenix program veteran Major Stan Fulcher stated): “Greedy Americans were the cause of the (Vietnam) war. The supply side economists were the emergent group during Vietnam…. It was a war that became distorted through our ability to create fiction. But really, there were only economic reasons for our supporting the fascists in Vietnam, just like we did in (the Shah’s) Iran.”

The Phoenix Program (1967-1971)

From Wikipedia:

The program was in operation between 1965 and 1972, and similar efforts existed both before and after that period. By 1972, Phoenix operatives had “neutralized” 81,740 suspected VC operatives, informants and supporters, of whom between 26,000 and 41,000 were killed.[14][15] During the same 1965–1972 period the VC killed 33,052 South Vietnamese village officials and civil servants.[16]

Valentine: “The CIA created the Phoenix program in 1967 to “neutralize” the leaders and supporters of the Communist-led insurgency in South Vietnam. Referred to by the CIA as the Viet Cong Infrastructure (VCI), the targets were civilians who were working at regular jobs while secretly engaged in administrative and support functions for the armed guerillas. These people were patriots resisting foreign aggression and seeking to take back their country, but they were considered spies and terrorists. American officials wrote laws that allowed US military forces to detain, torture, and kill them by every means possible, including B-52 raids, battalion-sized “cordon and search” operations, and death squads.

Phoenix was originally called ICEX-SIDE for Intelligence Coordination and Exploitation- Screening, Interrogation, and Detention of the Enemy. The name was quickly changed for symbolic purposes. In time, the mere mention of Phoenix, the omnipotent bird of prey with a blacklist in one claw and a snake in the other, was enough to terrorize not only targeted members of the VCI, but the entire civilian population.

Phoenix evolved from a “rifle-shot” approach to neutralize enemy leaders into a program of systematic repression for the political control of the South Vietnamese people. It sought to accomplish this through a highly bureaucratized system of disposing of people who could not be ideologically assimilated.

…In a concerted effort to “scare” an entire population into submission, the CIA went “unconventional” in Vietnam, establishing Phoenix centers and conducting “selective terrorism” in each of the country’s 240 districts. The state policy was to replace the bludgeon of B-52 bombings and My Lai-style search and destroy operations (which had alienated the people) with the scalpel of assassinations of selected VCI. Phoenix co—creator Dr. Robert Komer called this the “rifle shot” approach.

… Komer was (President) Lyndon Johnson’s personal aid on pacification in Vietnam, what was called “the other war.”

CIA officer Nelson Brickham, actually organized the Phoenix program. Phoenix was political warfare.

… In Vietnam, the CIA built an archipelago of secret torture centers to process the hundreds of thousands of suspects that were kidnapped by its mercenary army of “counterterrorists.”

Director of the CIA, William Colby, was the person most associated with Phoenix, the controversial CIA “assassination” program that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands (estimated 25,000 to 60,000) Vietnamese civilians during the Vietnam War….. (the media) obscured the inhuman brutality that pervaded “death squad” operations like the Phoenix Program. (American officers were)/are free to murder to their hearts’ content, because murdering civilians is unstated policy.

The Special Police in Vietnam were the stepchildren of (Englishman) Robert Thompson, whose aristocratic Norman-English ancestors perfected torture in dingy castle dungeons, on the rack and in the Iron Lady, which thumbscrews and branding irons. (Techniques deployed) included rape, gang rape, rape using eels, snakes or hard objects, and rape followed by murder, “the Bell Telephone Hour” rendered by attaching wires to the genitals or other sensitive parts of the body; waterboarding; “the airplane,” in which a prisoner’s arms were tied behind the back and the rope looped over a hook on thte ceiling suspending the prisoner in midair while he or she was beaten; beatings with rubber hoses and whips; and the use of police dogs to maul prisoners. All of this and more occurred in PICs (Provincial Interrogation Centers).

The CIA found a legal basis for the program in “emergency decrees” and “administrative detention” laws that enabled American “advisors” to detain, torture, and kill “national security offenders” (as the VCI were legally referred to) without due process. The program was implemented over the objections of Government of Vietnam (GVN) officials who understood that it undermined their national sovereignty.

Within this “extra-legal judicial system, with its Stalinist security committees, a member of the VCI was anyone who didn’t actively support the government. To be neutral or advocate for peace was viewed as supporting terrorism. Proof wasn’t required, just the word of an anonymous informer.

… Modeled by its creator, Nelson Brickham, on Ford Motor Company’s “command post” structure, Phoenix concentrated power in a chief executive officer and an operating committee at the top of the Embassy’s organizational chart. The Chief Executive position- the Deputy for Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development- oversaw the Phoenix Directorate in Saigon. The Directorate was headed by a CIA officer supported by a statistical reporting unit, which assigned a quota of 1800 neutralizations (i.e., kills) a month to the Phoenix “coordinators” who ran the program in the field.

But Phoenix was a CIA program and deniability was one of its main objectives, so the CIA left gaping holes in its safety net in order to facilitate the systematic corruption that ensured the program’s true but unstated objective of terrifying the entire civilian population into submission.

The program existed in relative secrecy until June 1969, when numerous South Vietnamese legislators complained in open session about Phoenix abuses. Everyone knew that thousands of innocent people were being extorted, jailed and killed, but the complicit American press corps never reported it…. It was not until late in 1970, when a handful of anti-war Phoenix veterans exposed the program’s many abuses, that Congress finally launched an investigation.

(Vietnamese reporter, Dinh Tuong An, was author of “The Truth About Phoenix”. An was) led to conclude that America was never interested in ending the war. The goal was total victory, “even if many lives must be lost.” Phoenix, for An, was a mechanism to extend the war indefinitely with a minimum of American casualties. It was a cynical ploy used to pit the Vietnamese against each other and undermine their efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement by fueling the conflict with money, lies, and psychological operations designed to destabilize the society.

…. Phoenix dragged everyone into its trap. …. The CIA’s patronage system of corruption turned into the greatest blackmail scheme ever invented. Anyone- including cops and soldiers- who visited family members in VC-controlled areas was put on the Phoenix blacklist and extorted by government security forces. They were surveilled, harassed, and forced to become informants in order to protect their family members from CIA “hunter-killer” teams and US military assaults.

Adding to the terror of being falsely accused, detained, tortured, and even killed, was the fact that the CIA rewarded security officials who extorted the people.”

The “Global Phoenix Program”

“America’s ruling national Security Establishment has expanded covert paramilitary operations from 60 nations in 2008 to 120 in 2013.

… All around the world, CIA officers and their military sidekicks teach modern torture techniques and design the torture centers concealed within the National Security Establishment’s network of military posts. Along with the CIA’s stations (at least one in every nation), these posts are the secret government’s infrastructure for Full Spectrum Dominance.

…. As DCI (Director of Central Intelligence, in 1976-77), George H.W. Bush laid the groundwork for the off-the-shelf counter-terror network that facilitated the Enterprise and the illegal selling of arms to Iran to finance the illegal Contra war in Nicaragua. He laid the basis for the global Phoenix Program.

…. Phoenix fulfilled its destiny in the wake of 9/11 and became the template for policing the (American) empire and fighting its eternal War on Terror. So successful were Phoenix operations in overthrowing the Ba’athist Party regime in Iraq that David Kilcullen, one of the US government’s top terrorism advisors in 2004, called for a “global Phoenix program.”

The threat of a global Phoenix program is that it will become fully activated in the United States. If the CIA and military are successful at politically and psychologically neutralizing suspected terrorists, what is to stop them applying the full systematic extent of Phoenix-style operations to include political dissidents, immigrants, and despised minorities in America, just as they did in Vietnam?

….. Security officials are adept at using double-speak to hide repressive “covet actions” within “intelligence” operations, and they are using the exact same advertising campaign they used in Vietnam: when the Phoenix first arrived in American in the form of Homeland Security, it was advertised as “protecting the people from terrorism,” just as it was in Vietnam.

… Thanks to media complicity, Phoenix has already become the template for providing internal political security for America’s leaders. The 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- like Kamal Derwish, killed by a drone strike in 2002, and cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, killed by CIA drone stikes in 2009.

Since then, the government has steadily sought to expand its powers to target Americans. In an editorial correction to an article written in 2010 by Dana Priest, the Washington Post said: “The military’s Joint Special Operations Command maintains a target list that includes several Americans. In recent weeks, U.S. officials have said that the government is prepared to kill U.S. citizens who are believed to be involved in terrorist activities that threaten Americans.”

The list of targeted individuals is growing too, and the intent to kill them is there. 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. In 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that President Obama “has authority to use drone strikes to kill Americans on US soil.”

The bureaucratic groundwork is being laid as well. Just as Phoenix “Intelligence Operations and Coordination Centers” (IOCC) (also National Interrogation Centers NIC- and Provincial Interrogation Centers- PIC) were established in every province and district in South Vietnam, the Department of Homeland Security has now established fusion centers, and the FBI has established Joint Terrorism Task Forces, to coordinate representatives from every police, security, military, and civic organization in every state and major city.

The fascist 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 coordination 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.

CIA and military intelligence units now operate out of a global network of (1000) bases, as well as secret jails and detention sites operated by complicit secret police interrogators.

Throughout this book I’ve given examples of how the CIA uses “civic actions” as a cover for “invisible” armed teams aimed at political enemies. Ensuring deniability is the first step, and to that end Phoenix employed the motto “Protecting the People from Terrorism” to present itself as goodness and light. And yet the CIA was inserting secret hit teams inside the Self-Defense Force that were ostensibly “Protecting the People from Terrorism” in order to kill (without trial and based on all the flawed sources we have discussed) those whom they presumed might be aiding the Viet Cong in some way- people who were civilians and had rights as such.

It is exactly this type of duplicity that informs the Homeland Security apparatus. The DHS has even adopted the Phoenix motto, “Protecting the People from Terrorism,” and for the same exculpatory purposes. The big question is: will these security forces conduct Phoenix-style paramilitary and psywar operations against dissident Americans in a crisis?”

(ETK Comment: The answer to that question, of course, is yes, and we refer to this program here The Global Gestapo, GISTAPO-666, and/ or organized gang stalking.)

The Death Lists

“In Vietnam via the Phoenix program, and now in Iraq and Afghanistan through the new and improved version, the CIA sends its hit teams after a long list of targeted individuals. Targets included tax assessors and collectors; people operating business fronts for purchasing, storing or distributing food and supplies to the resistance, public health officials who distribute medicine; security and judicial officials who target American collaborators and agents; anyone proselytizing to the general population; officials involved in transportation, communication, and postal services; political indoctrination cadres; military recruiters; guerilla leaders and their forces; and anyone who funds and staffs front organizations.

As in Vietnam, all these categories of people- and their sympathizers and supporters- find their names on computerized, Phoenix–style death lists in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

The Phoenix Program Goes to Latin America

… “Latin America was, for economic reasons, the place the US aimed its aggression after Vietnam. The Phoenix people brought their techniques and ideas into South and Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico and began applying and perfecting the Phoenix model in various ways in these countries.

In fact, the people who created and imposed the “Salvador Option” were Phoenix veterans. The “Pink Plan” approved by Vice President Bush for use in El Salvador in 1981 was developed by CIA officers Donald Gregg, Rudy Enders, and Felix Rodrigues in Vietnam, and exported to El Salvador and Iraq.

By 1973, the people who had been running Phoenix were overthrowing the elected socialist government in Chile. One of them was Ted Shackley, who’d been station chief in Saigon. By 1973, Shackley was head of the CIA’s Western Hemisphere Division and helped engineer the coup in Chile. From there the CIA and military fanned out through Latin America. If you review the history, you’ll see that there’s an infusion of American covert forces into Latin America as the war in Vietnam winds down.

Nowhere was this more evident than in El Salvador, where lieutenant Colonel Stan Fulcher served from 1974 until 1977 as an intelligence advisor with the US Military Advisory Group, Fulcher had run Phoenix operations in Binh Dinh Province in South Vietnam in 1972. Two years later in El Salvador, as he told when I interviewed him, he saw the same “old boys” who’d run the war in South Vietnam. The big difference in El Salvador was that the CIA effected US policies through proxies from allied countries as a result of the reduction in the XCIA’s paramilitary forces.

Fulcher watched while Israeli advisors taught El Salvador’s major landowners how to organize criminals in vigilante death squads. The death squads used intelligence from El Salvador’s military and security forces to target and murder labor leaders and other opponents of the oligarchy. But they were deniable.

Fulcher watched while Taiwanese military officers taught Kuomintang political warfare techniques at El Salvador’s command and General Staff College: Phoenix-related subjects like population control through psychological warfare, the development and control of agent provocateurs, the development of military officers in the civilian security forces. He saw political prisoners put in insane asylums he described as being “like Hogarth’s paintings.”

Fulcher saw Americans smuggle weapons and money to the death squads. He was outraged by what he saw and organized at his own home a study group of young military officers who supported land reform, nationalization of the banks, and civilian control of the military. In 1979 these reformist officers staged a successful but short-lived coup. As a result of that coup the Salvadoran National Security Agency (ANSESAL) which the CIA had formed in 1962, was disbanded and reorganized as the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

This reorganization didn’t put an end to the death squads. Instead, the landowners and the fascist military officers moved to Miami and Guatemala, where they formed a political front called Arena, to which the CIA channeled funds for the purpose of eliminating the reformers. Major Roberto d-Aubuisson was chosen to head Arena. D’Aubuisson was a former member of ANSESAL, and he transferred its files to general staff headquarters where they were used to complete blacklists. Operating out of Guatemala, under CIA supervision, D’Aubuisson’s death squads murdered Archbishop Oscar Romero and El Salvador’s attorney general in early 1980. In December of that year, six members of El Salvador’s executive council were kidnapped, tortured, and killed by a death squad. The death squads went on a rampage which included the murders in January 1981 of the head of the land distribution program, along with his American advisors, Michael Hammer and Mark Pearlman.

At this time, according to Salvadoran Army officer Ricardo Castro, death squad supervision passed to Department 5, the civil affairs branch of the Salvadoran general staff. “Department 5 suddenly started coordinating everything,” said Castro, a West Point graduate with a master’s degree in engineering.

Formed in mid-1970’s by the CIA, Department 5 became “the political intelligence apparatus within the general staff. “ Although it was designated as an investigative, not an operating agency, Department 5 had “a large paramilitary force of people dressed in civilian clothes,” and because it targeted civilians, “They can knock someone off all by themselves, or capture them,” Castro said.

When military as opposed to political targets were involved, Department 2, the intelligence branch of the general staff, would send information from its informant nets to Department 3 (operations), which then dispatched its own death squad. Whether the people to be killed were guerillas or civilians, Castro explained, “The rich people- the leading citizens of the community- traditionally have a great deal of input. Whatever bothers them, if they’ve gone someone who just came into their ranch or their farm and they consider them a bad influence, they just send a messenger to the commander.”

(ETK Comment: The CIA-instigated civil war in El Salvador resulted in the deaths of about 80,000 people, whereas the CIA-instigated civil war in Guatemala resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 people.)

Major Joe Blair, the Director of Instruction at the School of the Americas (1986-1989), described the training the US gave to Latin American officers as follows:

“The doctrine that was taught was that if you want information you use physical abuse…. False imprisonment…. Threats to family members… and killing. If you can’t get the information you want, if you can’t get that person to shut up or to stop what they’re doing, you simply assassinate them, and you assassinate them with one of your death squads.”

A Salvadoran army officer, Ricardo Castro, who was running a death squad in El Salvador described what they would do as a sort of daily routine. He said: “Normally you eliminate everyone. We usually go in with an informant who is part of the patrol and who has turned these people in. When you turn somebody in, part of your obligation is to show us where they are and identify them. We would go in and knock on people’s houses. They’d come out of their house and we’d always tell them we were the left and we’re here because you don’t want to cooperate with us or whatever. And then we’d eliminate them all, always with machetes.”

Corrupting the leadership of a country in order to keep it in your pocket is integral to maintaining an empire. It is a well-established colonial policy. The two main facts of Phoenix- controlling the “upper tier” people in a foreign government by corrupting them, and terrorizing the lower tier into submission- come together in the mid-70s in Central America and explode with Iran-Contra in the 1980s.

Corruption is the best way of destabilizing a country. If a nation’s top officials are corrupt and don’t represent the people, then it’s not the people’s government.

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