Contact Us

Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?

- DR. Abdul-Qayum Mohmand

Analysis of “CIA World Factbook” (1981-2012): Dimensions of anti-Pashtun Conspirac

Afghan Fury at Planned Pakistan Pact
What Happens When the U.S. Leaves Afghanistan?
Trying to leave Afghanistan proves to be as troublesome as being there: A Closer Look
Afghanistan: “It’s Just Damage Limitation Now”
Zero Dark Thirty Review-Analysis; Eleven Instances of Disinformation
Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?
US forces in Afghanistan nearly destroyed vital airfield
We Are Those Two Afghan Children, Killed by NATO While Tending Their Cattle
Former Islamist Warlord Vies for Afghan Presidency
Pakistan releases top Afghan Taliban prisoner in effort to boost peace process
Losing the War in Afghanistan
Obama’s troop increase for Afghan war was misdirected
Afghan security vacuum feared along "gateway to Kabul"
Objections to U.S. Troops Intensify in Afghanistan
The Great Afghan corruption scam
War zone killing: Vets feel 'alone' in their guilt
Was Osama for Real? And Was He Killed in 2001?
Afghanistan withdrawal: The risks of retreat
The Real Reason the US Invaded Afghanistan
The Definition of a Quagmire
Huge Uncertainty' in Afghanistan
Controversial ID Cards Expose Ethnic Divisions In Afghanistan
Afghanistan: The Final Curtain Call for NATO?
Afghanistan After 9/11: A Mission Unaccomplished
Why Should Taliban and Other Insurgents Refrain from Negotiation With the US & NATO? By: Dr Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, Ph

Exclusive: Karzai family looks to extend boss rule in Afghanistan.

Intrigue in Karzai Family as an Afghan Era Closes
For Afghans, Two Outrages, Two Different Reactions
Double blow to west’s Afghan strategy
Does the Taliban need a diplomatic voice?
Afghanistan: Lessons in War and Peace-building for US
Afghan women opposed by former allies
Q+A - Haqqani: From White House guest to staunch U.S. enemy
Haqqanis: Growth of a militant network -BBC
Afghanistan shelves plans for ambassador accused of fraud
Afghan nominated as ambassador to Britain was accused in US of fraud
U.S. deal with Taliban breaks down
The Loneliness of the Afghan President: Karzai on His Own

NATO's Third Alternative in Afghanistan

On the Road: Interview with Commander Abdul Haq:- The Tragedy of Abdul Haq
When the Lion Roared: How Abdul Haq Almost Saved Afghanistan
Pakistan’s ISI: Undermining Afghan self-determination since 1948
Mineral Wealth of Afghanistan, Military Occupation, Corruption and the Rights of the Afghan People
M. Siddieq Noorzoy
Why Isn’t the UN Investigating and Prosecuting the U.S. and NATO for War Crimes Committed in Afghanistan?
Corruption and Warlordism:
Abdul Basir Stanikzai
In Afghanistan, U.S. contracts aren’t crystal balls, but they come close
The great Afghan carve-up
Anatomy of an Afghan war tragedy
Terry Jones Actually Burns a Qur’an and No One Notices
Q+A-Are Afghan forces ready to take over security?
Guantánamo Bay files rewrite the story of Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora escape
Winning Afghan hearts, minds with explosives
Afghanistan’s Mercenaries
Who is winning Afghanistan war? U.S. officials increasingly disagree
Afghanistan: The Trouble With The Transition
From the Archives: In Quest of a ‘Greater Tajikistan’
The 1980s mujahideen, the Taliban and the shifting idea of jihad
Afghanistan's Karzai complains about interference
Karzai, US ambassador at odds over private security

Karzai Tells Washington Post U.S. Should Reduce Afghan Operation Intensity

Excerpts from Afghan President Hamid Karzai's interview with The Washington Post
What the Afghans Want
New US approach to Afghanistan insurgency: Vindication for Pakistan?
Putting Some Fight Into Our Friends
Afghans 'abused at secret prison
Why We Won’t Leave Afghanistan or Iraq
Indo-Pakistan proxy war heats up in Afghanistan
Canada’s elite commandos and the invasion of Afghanistan
U.S. retreat from Afghan valley marks recognition of blunder
Five myths about the war in Afghanistan
Marine who resigned over ‘conscience’ speaks at MU
The Afghan media may have grown since Taliban rule ended, but not so press freedoms
Mystery holes and angry ants: another Afghan day
Kabul Bank's Sherkhan Farnood feeds crony capitalism in Afghanistan
Marjah War
Operation Moshtarak: Which way the war in Afghanistan?
Q&A: Why Marjah, why now?
In Jalalabad, hope is fading
Seeking reconciliation, US units meet remote Afghanistan tribes
Once Again, Get the Hell Out! "Ending the War in Afghanistan"
Blackwater Kept a Prostitute on the Payroll in Afghanistan; Fraudulently Billed American Tax Payers
Wild West Motif Lightens US Mood at Afghan Bas
In southern Afghanistan, even the small gains get noticed
 Afghanistan war: US tries to undercut Taliban at tribal level
 Soviet lessons from Afghanistan
Are actions of 'super-tribe' an Afghan tipping point
Taliban: Terrorist or not? Not always easy to say
Q&A: Who else could help in Afghanistan?
Vietnam Replay on Afghan 'Defectors'
Washington's Refusal to Talk about Drone Strikes in Pakistan Meets Growing Opposition
Afghanistan summit: Why is the US backing talks with the Taliban?
Taliban's leadership council runs Afghan war from Pakistan
Why buy the Taliban?
2 Afghanistan conferences: No solutions
An Alternative to Endless War - Negotiating an Afghan Agreement?
Do the Taliban represent the Pashtuns?
Afghanistan asks ex-presidential contender to tackle corruption

Tehran Sets Conditions For Attending London Conference On Afghanista

Pakistan says reaches out to Afghan Taliban
Taking It to the Taliban
The Afghan Taliban's top leaders
How significant is Mullah Baradar's arrest?
Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander
What's the Quetta Shura Taliban and why does it matter?
What's behind latest Taliban attack on Kabul? See Images of the Attack By WSJ

Pakistan Version of Islam and Taliban ?????
Lahore fashion week takes on Talibanization in Pakistan

Loyalties of Those Killed in Afghan Raid Remain Unclear

After Attack, Afghans Question Motives or See Conspiracies
Gates: Taliban part of Afghan ‘political fabric’

IG: Afghan power-plant project ill-conceived, mismanaged

Taliban intensifies Afghan PR campaign

Taliban Overhaul Their Image in Bid to Win Allies
Karzai plans to woo Taliban with 'land, work and pensions'
Peace scheme mooted for Taliban
Bombs and baksheesh
But By All Means, Continue the Happy Talk on the Afghanistan War
Karzai Closing in on Taliban Reconciliation Plan
Last Exit Kabul
How To Get Out Without Forsaking Afghanistan's Stability
Afghan Recovery Report: Taleban Buying Guns From Former Warlords

'Jesus Guns': Two More Countries Rethink Using Weapons with Secret Bible References

Gun bible quotes 'inappropriate'
Text of Joint declaration of Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan trilateral meeting
Garmsir Protest Shows Taleban Reach
Rugged North Waziristan harbors US enemies
The Arrogance of Empire, Detailed ( The Untold Story of Afghanistan )
Appointment of Afghan counter narcotics chief dismays British officials
In Afghanistan attack, CIA fell victim to series of miscalculations about informant
Rebuilding Afghanistan: Will government take hold in this post-Taliban town?
Rare bird discovered in Afghan mountains
Blackwater, now called Xe, in running for work in Afghanistan despite legal woes
How Soviet troops stormed Kabul palace
Afghan children 'die in fighting'
Afghanistan war: Russian vets look back on their experience
U.N. Officials Say American Offered Plan to Replace Karzai 
Learning From the Soviets
U.S. faults Afghan corruption body's independence
Intensify fight against corruption, says Afghan meeting
Afghan ministers cleared of charges
Drone aircraft in a stepped-up war in Afghanistan and Pakistan
U.S. Air Force Confirms 'Beast of Kandahar' Secret Stealth Drone Plane
Kissinger's fantasy is Obama's realit
Taliban shadow officials offer concrete alternative
Talking with the Taliban
20. Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart
'Yes, there was torture and people were certainly beaten': Afghan warden
Why we should leave Afghanistan
US pours millions into anti-Taliban militias in Afghanistan
Pakistan to US: Don't surge in Afghanistan, talk to Taliban
A Plan C for Afghanistan
Finding decent cabinet is Karzai's big challenge
A way to get around Karzai in Afghanistan
Corruption fight boosted by 'Afghan FBI'
US demands Afghan 'bribery court'
Afghanistan plans court for corrupt ministers
The man leading Afghanistan's anti-corruption fight
Win hearts and minds in Afghanistan to win the war
Gates blocks abuse photos release
New U.S. Afghan prison unveiled, rights groups wary
War in Afghanistan: Not in our name
How the US Funds the Taliban
Afghan gov't says UN representative out of line
Cabinet of Warlords
Afghanistan and the lessons of history
Clinton says Karzai ‘must do better’
Recognizing the Limits of American Power in Afghanistan
After Afghanistan election, governors seek distance from 'illegal' Karzai
Karzai was hellbent on victory. Afghans will pay the price
Matthew Hoh: Please refute what I'm saying, we are stuck in the Afghan civil war
As US looks for exit in Afghanistan, China digs in
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistani
The Afghan '80s are back
Pashtun peace prophet goes global
Afghan Road Builder's Dream Thwarted by Violence
A white elephant in Kabul
The Afghan Runoff: Will It Be a No-Show Election?

Ashraf Ghani- Afghanistan's Disputed Election Complicates U.S. Strategy

On Assignment: Into the Maw at Marja

Patrick Witty & Tyler Hicks
The New York Times

Afghanistan Cross Road CNN

The last frontier

Bruce Richardson


CIA: Buying peace in Afghanistan?

With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan
CIA Ghost Money: Karzai Confirms U.S. Gives Funds To Afghan National Security Team
What the CIA’s cash has bought for Afghanistan

Khalilzad: A Satan Whispering in the Hearts of Men
The Afghan trust deficitt
Will We Learn Anything from Afghanistan? Part 1
Getting Out of Afghanistan: Part 2
William R. Polk
General’s Defense on Afghan Scandal Ducks Key Evidence
Afghans want Taliban peace talks
Bombing Weddings in Afghanistan: It Couldn't Happen Here, It Does Happen There
Hekmatyar's never-ending Afghan war
Covert American Aid to the Afghan Resistance; A Top-Secret U.S. Foreign Policy Plot to Induce and Effect Soviet Military Intervention
Afghan brain drain fears as Karzai urges education reforms

US considers launching joint US-Afghan raids in Pakistan to hunt down militant groups

Real security in Afghanistan depends on people's basic needs being met
Intractable Afghan Graft Hampering U.S. Strategy
Former Taliban Officials Say U.S. Talks Started
Taliban ready for talks with US, not Karzai government
Emboldened Taliban Try to Sell Softer Image
Leaked NATO Report Shows Pakistan Support For Taliban
Insight: Few options for Afghan, U.S. leaders after Kandahar massacre
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Daoud Sultanzoy, Tolo Television
NATO’s measured exit plan in Afghanistan faces new obstacles
BFP Exclusive: Karzai Clan Attorney Threatens US Journalist, Uses Intimidation Tactics
Afghanistan Chronicles
Arduous path to Afghan 'end-game'
Fear in the classrooms: is the Taliban poisoning Afghanistan's schoolgirls?
A comment on the recent events of student poisoning in Afghanistan
Rape Case, in Public, Cites Abuse by Armed Groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s Peace Talks Hit Brick Wall
King Karzai
A Federal System of Government is Not Suitable for Afghanistan
Analysis: Where Afghan humanitarianism ends and development begins
U.S. Envoy: Kabulbank Was 'Vast Looting Scheme'
Speaking with the enemy: how US commanders fight the Taliban during the day and dine with them at night
Afghanistan: Operation Enduring Musery
How to Win Peace in Afghanistan
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Criticism of Afghan War Is on the Rise in Britain
Troops 'fighting for UK's future'
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Afghans still skeptical about Obama
US Defence Department struggling with public release of report on bombing in Afghanistan
Afghanistan on the Edge
Q+A: Who are the Pakistani Taliban insurgents?
Afghanistan Past & Present
Bombs for Pashtoons and Dollars for Punjab
Help! I'm being outgunned on K Street!
ANGELS CHASING DEMONS: “Jesus Killed Mohammad”!
U.S. tested 2 Afghan scenarios in war game
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama hearing range of views on Afghanistan
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Afghans tricked into U.S. trip, detained
In the Afghan War, Aim for the Middle
Obama pulled two ways in Afghanistan
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Gates: Mistake to set time line for Afghan withdrawal
Afghans question what democracy has done for them
High stakes in Afghan vote recount
Two Perspectives On Resolving The Afghan Postelection Crisis
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistanis
The Afghan '80s are back
How to Lose in Afghanistan
US in Afghanistan proposes revamped strategy
US 'needs fresh Afghan strategy'
US looks to Vietnam for Afghan tips
Lessons from Vietnam on Afghanistan
Afghan Pres. Skips Country's 1st TV Debate
A proud moment for Afghanistan
Rival to Karzai Gains Strength in Afghan Presidential Election
Afghan presidential candidate withdraws in Karzai's favor
America and international law
Hamid Karzai pulls out of historic TV debate just hours before broadcast
Karzai says no to first Afghanpresidential debate
Afghan election: Can Karzai's rivals close the gap?
Karzai opponents hope to beat him in second round
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Karzai’s gimmick
Well-known traffickers set free ahead of election
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Why the Pentagon Axed Its Afghanistan Warlord
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
The Irresistible Illusion
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit
We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Echoes of Vietnam
A Response To General Dostum
Obama orders probe of killings in Afghanistan
Obama admin: No grounds to probe Afghan war crimes
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
The Irresistible Illusion
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit

We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan

The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Stakes High in Afghanistan Ahead of August Elections
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse
Petraeus Is a Failure -- Why Do We Pretend He's Been a Success?
Fierce Battles and High Casualties on the Frontlines of Afghanistan
End the Illegal, Immoral and Wasted War in Afghanistan, says BNP Defence Spokesman
Outside View: Four revolutions
Pakistan's Plans for New Fight Stir Concern
France: liberty, equality, and fraternity – but no burqas





Echoes of Vietnam

Even the Coalition commanders in Afghanistan wonder if they can win the war
Will history repeat itself in Afghanistan?

British military intervention in Afghanistan has a chequered history, making it easy to conclude that British forces will fail again


Vietnam Replay on Afghan 'Defectors'  
Source: ConsortiumNews By:    

While the CIA relies on cartoons to sell itself, the Taliban go from person to person, proving that technology was no substitute for human contact. Ultimately, the United States was defeated in Vietnam for just this reason, notes Douglas Valentine.

After waging an eight-year “dirty war” against the Taliban, the US government is acknowledging that the “insurgent” enemy is part of the “fabric” of Afghan society and is encouraging low- and mid-level Taliban defectors to switch sides.

US and NATO officials are offering bribes drawn from a billion-dollar “Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund” to get Taliban fighters to defect. Taliban leaders have condemned the buyout strategy as a “trick” and warn that offers of reconciliation will be futile unless all foreign troops leave Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, the gesture toward “peace” has resonated well with opinion leaders and with elements of the US public tired of war. But there is a darker side to such “reconciliation” plans. In the past, defector programs have been essential parts of brutal US pacification efforts.

For example, the so-called Chieu Hoi “Open Arms” program in Vietnam is touted by US military strategists as having produced positive results by offering “clemency to insurgents.” But even the publicity surrounding the “Open Arms” program had an offensive, propaganda component, seeking to make “pacification” of the Vietnamese countryside appear more humane.

Indeed, defector “amnesty” or “clemency” or “open arms” programs had little to do with genuine “reconciliation,” but rather were just one component of the overall, aggressive CIA intelligence and counterinsurgency operations.

Former CIA Director William Colby told me that CIA political action teams in Vietnam (like Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan) employed defectors whose job was to “go around the countryside and indicate to the people that they used to be Vietcong and that the government has received them and taken them in, and that the Chieu Hoi program does exist as a way of VC currently on the other side to rally.”

Defectors “contact people like the families of known VC,” Colby said, “and provide them with transportation to defector and refugee centers.”

Managing Language

Master spy Colby, who died in 1996, would certainly have agreed that information management – language – is the essence of political warfare in general and defector programs in particular, not just aimed at the indigenous population in the field but also at the American body politic back home, which starts to see the war in a kinder, gentler light.

The first step in this process is concocting a slogan that appeals to the sensibilities of the target audiences – and particularly Americans – which is why defectors programs are given names like “amnesty” or “clemency” or “open arms.”

Such cleverly crafted slogans may have no basis in reality. Instead, by appealing to American (if not Vietnamese or Afghan) sensibilities, these slogans serve as the first step in creating an aura of necessity around the violent repression of those Vietnamese or Afghans who won’t do the “reasonable” thing and come over to the American side.

Apart from using Madison Avenue-style slogans, the CIA also garners public approval by composing and planting distorted articles in foreign and domestic newspapers. The stories often portray the CIA’s operations as pleasant-sounding Civic Action programs that are advertised as fostering freedom, patriotism, brotherhood, democracy.

In CIA jargon, this manipulation of language is called “black propaganda” and is the job of political and psychological (PP) warfare officers in the covert action branch. “PP” officers played a major role in packaging the Phoenix Program for sale to the American public as a program designed "to protect the people (of Vietnam) from terrorism."

Intelligence Potential

Despite the warm and fuzzy language, these intelligence programs also have a nasty side. The CIA launches a covert action program like the Taliban defector program only if it is seen to have “intelligence poten¬tial,” such as collecting information on an enemy's political, military and economic infrastructure.

And defectors have superlative “intelligence potential.”

Not only are defectors valued for their ability to sap the enemy's fighting strength and morale, but having worked on the inside, they can provide accurate and timely intelligence on enemy unit strength and location. They also can serve as guides and trackers, and after defecting, many are immediately returned to their area of operations with a reaction force to locate hidden enemy arms or food caches.

Others defectors, after being screened and interrogated by security officers, are turned into double agents. Defectors who return to their former positions inside enemy military units or political organizations are, as Colby explained, provided with a "secure" means of contacting their CIA case officer, to whom they feed information leading to the arrest or ambush of enemy cadres, soldiers, and secret agents.

Defector programs also provide CIA “talent scouts” with cover for recruiting criminals into counter-terrorist and political action programs. Burglars, arsonists, forgers and smugglers have unique skills and no compunctions about conducting brutal interrogations. In Vietnam, the entire 52nd Ranger Battalion of the South Vietnamese Army was recruited from Saigon prisons.

With President Barack Obama’s Afghan “surge” providing cover for more expansive covert actions, CIA political and psychological warfare experts are moving to the forefront of the occupation; and their Provincial Reconstruction Teams are at the forefront of this “intelligence” surge, which explains why the Taliban defector buyout program is being launched now. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Afghan ‘Dirty War’ Escalates.”]

A Case Study

Already, under cover of Civic Action, the CIA has been waging “a dirty war” against the Taliban using black propaganda, defectors, criminals, assassinations, selective terror, indefinite detention and a slew of other devious tactics disguised as bringing freedom and democracy, but in fact providing internal security for President Hamid Karzai and his corrupt regime.

The CIA refined these practices in Vietnam, where it waged clandestine political and psychological warfare, often working within the US Information Service (USIS).

Ostensibly, the US Information Agency had as its raison d'être the promotion of the "Amer-ican way." In its crusade to convert the world into one big happy Chamber of Commerce, the USIS employed all manner of “media,” from TV, radio and satellites to armed propaganda teams, wanted posters, and selective terror.

Frank Scotton, a CIA officer under cover with the USIS, played a large role in political and psychological operations (psyops) in Vietnam. A graduate of American University's College of International Relations, Scot¬ton received a government graduate assistantship to the East-West Cen¬ter at the University of Hawaii. According to legendary CIA officer Lucien Conein, it was there that Scotton was recruited into the CIA.

About the CIA-sponsored East-West Center, Scotton said, "It was a cover for a training program in which Southeast Asians were brought to Hawaii and trained to go back to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos to create agent nets."

After arriving in Vietnam in 1961, and initiating his vast agent net, Scotton turned his attention to “energizing" the Vietnamese through political action that advanced American policies.

Finding Assets

In looking for individuals to mold into unilateral political cadres, Scotton turned to the CIA's defector program, which in April 1963 was placed under cover of the Agency for International Development and named the Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) amnesty program.

There Scotton found the raw material he needed to prove the viability of CIA political action and psywar programs. In Pleiku Province, Scotton worked with Vietnamese Special Forces Captain Nguyen Tuy (a graduate of Fort Bragg's Special Warfare Center who commanded the Fourth Special Operations De¬tachment) and Tuy's case officer, US Special Forces Captain Howard Walters.

As part of a pilot program designed to induce defectors, Scotton, Walters and Tuy set up an ambush deep in Vietcong territory and waited until dark. When they spotted a VC unit, Scotton yelled in Vietnamese through a bullhorn, "You are being misled! You are being lied to! We promise you an education!" Then, full of purpose and allegory, he shot a flare into the night sky and hollered, "Walk toward the light!"

To his surprise, two defectors did walk in, convincing him and his CIA bosses that "a deter-mined GVN unit could contest the VC in terms of combat and propaganda."

Back in camp, Scotton told the VC defectors that they had to divest themselves of untruths.

“We said that certainly the US perpetrated war crimes, but so did the VC. We acknowledged that theirs was the stronger force, but that didn't mean that everything they did was honorable and good and just," Scotton said. (Today, you could substitute Taliban for VC.)

The chief of CIA covert action programs, Tom Donohue, recognized the value of intelligence obtained through defectors, and authorized the establishment of Chieu Hoi programs in each of South Vietnam’s provinces. In typical CIA style, there was nothing in writing, and nothing went through the central government.

The CIA’s security officer would oversee the Chieu Hoi Program in the provinces. If a defector had potential, the province security officer put him on an airplane and sent him to the central CIA re-indoctrination center, where he was plied with special attention and wowed with CIA gadgetry. The food was spectacular, full of protein, and the bullets weren’t flying.

Reeducation and Brainwashing

The training was vigorous, but the defectors were treated well, receiving medical care for infections while putting on weight. Other defectors would explain the beauty of the American Way, and other applicable lessons of the day.

This brainwashing is "precisely" what political warfare is all about: Having been selected into a "special" program and given "special" treatment, defectors are taught the corporate sales pitch, cross-trained as interchangeable parts for efficiency, then given one last motivational booster shot of schmaltz.

Scotton called his program “motivational indoctrination.”

While sounding almost comical – brimming with the over-the-top enthusiasm of an Amway convention or a religious revival – these programs, in reality, were deadly serious business. Today, they are conducted secretly at high-security CIA bases in Afghanistan.

All defector debriefing reports are certainly sent to the CIA station in Kabul for analysis and collation. Translations are, typically, never considered accurate unless read and confirmed in the original language by the same person, but that rarely happens.

The defector program also will likely be exploited by Taliban secret agents, just as the Chieu Hoi program was penetrated in Vietnam.

According to Douglas McCollum, who monitored the Chieu Hoi program in three provinces in Vietnam, “It was the biggest hole in the net. They'd come in; we'd hold them, feed them, clothe them, get them a mat. Then we'd release them, and they'd wander around the city for a while, and then disappear.”

Defectors and Phoenix

In June 1967, the CIA’s Chieu Hoi defector program was incorporated within its newly established Phoenix Program, as it was organized by CIA officer Nelson Brickham, who appreciated Chieu Hoi as "one of the few areas where police and paramilitary advisers cooperated."

The Phoenix program was designed to coordinate all intelligence programs in South Vietnam so the CIA could better identify and neutralize Viet Cong political cadre. As Brickham said, “My motto was to recruit them; if you can't recruit them, defect them (that's Chieu Hoi); if you can't defect them, capture them; if you can't capture them, kill them."

Brickham also emphasized that Chieu Hoi was a means for the CIA to develop “unilateral penetrations unknown to the [South Vietnamese] police." In other words, if the CIA follows a similar approach in Afghanistan, the Taliban defector buyout program would be conducted unilaterally by the CIA, apart from the Karzai government.

From 1967 onwards, all "rallied" VC cadre were included in Phoenix neutralization statistics, and by 1969 more than 100,000 defectors had been processed through 51 Chieu Hoi centers.

The Phoenix Program sought to resolve the “revolving door syndrome” by arranging through the SIDE (Screening, Interrogation and Detention of the Enemy) Program the construc¬tion of permanent detention facilities; a registration system coordinated with Chieu Hoi programs; and judicial reform aimed at the rapid disposal of pending cases, as devised by Robert Harper, a lawyer on contract to the CIA.

Through Phoenix, the CIA also began a policy of offering Chieu Hoi status to informers.

From the language of the Phoenix reports, one could easily think that the Chieu Hoi program was a great success. But many Chieu Hoi defectors simply regurgitated the American line in order to win amnesty, make a quick visit to their families, enjoy a few home-cooked meals, and then return to the war for independence, fat and rested.

Genuine Chieu Hoi defectors were pariahs who were not accepted back in their villages.

Jim Ward, the senior CIA officer in charge of Phoenix in the Delta (1967-1969) described the Chieu Hoi defection process as follows: Upon arriving at the Chieu Hoi center, the defector was "interviewed" and, if he had information on the Vietcong infrastructure (VCI), was sent to the CIA’s Province Interrogation Center; if he had tactical military information, he was sent to military interrogators.

Next came political in¬doctrination, lasting from 40-60 days, depending on the individual. "They had a formal course," said Ward. "They were shown movies and given lectures on democracy."

Upon graduation each was given an ID card, a meal, some money, and a chance to repent.


Despite his praise for the Chieu Hoi program, Ward said that "Amer¬icans should have been targeted only against the North Vietnamese and left the South Vietnamese forces to handle the insurgency," even though such a strategy would have precluded Phoenix.

The same lesson applies in Afghanistan. In the eight-plus years of occupation, the US and NATO forces have come to be viewed by many Afghanis as occupiers responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. So, the United States must rely on psychological ploys, rather than any appeal to nationalism, to win the Afghanis over to the American Way of doing things.

That is how rewards and bounty programs have become business as usual. That is why the US is instituting a defector program, with a publicity campaign managed in the field by psyops teams replete with radios, leaflets, posters, banners, TV shows, movies, comic books falling from planes, and loudspeakers mounted on trucks to spread the word – much as happened in Vietnam.

On Jan. 22, 1970, 38,000 leaflets were dropped over three villages in Go Vap District. Addressed to specific VCI members, they read: "Since you have joined the NLF, what have you done for your family or your village and hamlet? Or have you just broken up the happiness of many families and destroyed houses and land? Some people among you have been awakened recently, they have deserted the Communist ranks and were received by the GVN and the people with open arms and family affection.

“You should be ready for the end if you remain in the Communist ranks. You will be dealing with difficulties bigger from day to day and will suffer serious failure when the ARVN expand strongly. You had better return to your family where you will be guaranteed safety and helped to establish a new life."

Similar psyops leaflets will be aimed at creating defectors in Afghanistan. The Taliban will be portrayed as a socially disruptive force that will inevitably lose. But the Americans can only reach the "people" only through "media" like leaflets and loudspeakers – an indication of just how far removed the CIA is from the reality of life in Afghanistan’s rural villages.

And while the CIA relies on cartoons to sell itself, the Taliban go from person to person, proving that technology was no substitute for human contact. Ultimately, the United States was defeated in Vietnam for just this reason.

Though packaged as a new initiative, the Taliban defector buyout program simply heralds a replay of the Vietnam experience in Afghanistan – nothing new in the grim world of counterinsurgency.

Douglas Valentine is author of The Phoenix Program as well as The Strength of the Wolf and the new book Strength of the Pack. His Web site is DouglasValentine.com.




The articles and letters are the opinion of the writers and are not representing the view of Sabawoon Online.
Copyright © 1996 - 2024 Sabawoon. All rights reserved.