THE WILDERNESS is proud
to present the story of U.S. Army Special Forces Captain
John McCarthy, a real American hero. While some would challenge
hero status for a man who admittedly was ordered to train
assassination teams for the CIA during the Vietnam War
of which carried out a mission), no one can challenge the
fact that as a triple volunteer (airborne, ranger, Special
Forces), John served his country with bravery, honor and
distinction. Like so many of the young men who went to
he believed in his country and what he had been taught
the rightness of its mission in the world. But this is
the story of John's disillusionment and of his painful
which came at the cost of wife family and friends. It is
a story about how he stood alone, at a crucial moment,
his country broke its word to him and refused to capitulate
as he saw that the moral leadership of those who gave him
orders was an empty house of cards. - Mike Ruppert, 7/14/98
AN AMERICAN P.O.W.
-- IN AMERICA
By John McCarthy
This is true. It happened. And it happened
in the United States of America and in Vietnam.
Continued suppression of the following facts
and circumstances provides history with the opportunity
to repeat itself. It already has once.
The United States Government claims that publication
of this matter will be inimical to the National Security
of our country. A more accurate phrase would be National
Embarrassment. Stonewalling on this issue has worked for
over thirty years. Stonewalling works. It is time to take
down the wall.
On January 30, 1968,
a Top Secret General
Court-martial concluded that United States Army Special
Forces Captain John McCarthy had murdered a Cambodian "peasant".
Although facing the death penalty, the court sentenced McCarthy
to "...be confined at hard labor for the term of your
natural life." Deliberation on sentencing took all
of three minutes. Amazingly enough, the sentence to confinement
for life DID NOT include reduction in rank, forfeiture
pay and allowances, nor dismissal from the service. This
remains a precedent in the history of Military Justice,
i.e., an accusation followed shortly by a conviction.
McCarthy was the Case Officer in Saigon, of
a CIA directed covert operation code-named PROJECT CHERRY.
The operational mission of CHERRY was a redundant, three-pronged
assassination team targeted against Prince NORODOM SIHANOUK,
the head of state of Cambodia.
Although McCarthy was
technically a member
of the United States Military and Special Forces, his role
as Case Officer of PROJECT CHERRY necessitated an elaborate
Cover Story as a member of the Department of Defense (DOD)
and was covered by identification issued by the United
Embassy in Saigon under an assumed name (John McAlister).
This "cover" included absolute directives not
to openly associate with any members of our military forces
PROJECT CHERRY was not a Special Forces mission.
This CIA activity employed Special Forces personnel who
were selected for their expertise in relevant skills necessary
for the conduct of BLACK TERROR and ASSASSINATION missions.
The Project was buried deep within a Military Intelligence
unit which was itself operating under the guise of a Civic
Action Team, a common CIA cover for covert operations world-wide.
Although members of the Civic Action team wore various military
uniforms and carried on activities as though they were legitimate
military officers, some were full time CIA Agents.
The "operational" members
CHERRY were Cambodians recruited from the KHMER SEREI,
Government In Exile from Cambodia, violently anti-SIHANOUK
and dedicated to the overthrow of the Cambodian Government.
The KHMER SEREI was recognized by the Vietnamese Government
and operated openly in South Vietnam. PROJECT CHERRY employed
twelve members of the KHMER SEREI. Their missions included
the conduct of BLACK TERROR against the civilian population
of Cambodia, while leaving evidence of their atrocities
blaming Cambodian forces for their actions. The purpose
of these activities was to create CIVIL UNREST and a rebellion
against the Cambodian Regime. It worked. Similar operations
utilizing KHMER SEREI were also directed from the United
States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.
PROJECT CHERRY, it
turns out, had been compromised
by the penetration of an individual who, while holding
rank as the First Secretary of the KHMER SEREI, was the
PRINCIPAL AGENT of PROJECT CHERRY and also an Operative
Agent of the SOVIET KGB. He was also employed by the SIHANOUK
Government at the same time. This information was provided
to the United States Embassy in Saigon in February, 1967,
by the leader of the KHMER SEREI, SON NGOC THANH. The Americans
of PROJECT CHERRY were not notified of this revelation.
This triple agent's name was INCHIN LAM. As Principal Agent,
LAM coordinated the activities of the Cambodian members
of PROJECT CHERRY and also packed the parachutes used by
all team members, including the Americans. Lam was also
involved in the murder of one of the Cambodian members
During the course of
events in November, 1967,
McCarthy was directed to disband PROJECT CHERRY, supposedly
for budgetary considerations, and disburse its members
collateral organizations. All Cambodian members of PROJECT
CHERRY were subsequently rehired by Studies and Observations
Groups (SOG) targeting Cambodia, with the exception of
LAM, the Principal Agent, who could not be rehired due
unknown reasons. The only response from those employing
other members of PROJECT CHERRY was, "...they would
not touch LAM with a ten foot pole". LAM's association
with the Soviet KGB and the SIHANOUK Regime was not known
to McCarthy at that time. (It was later learned that the
CIA was frantically attempting to re-double LAM against
the KGB and was releasing him from all covert activities
in this attempt).
LAM was taken from
his "Safe House"
in Saigon by McCarthy and one of his sergeants, and driven
during the hours of darkness north from the city to an area
occupied by a Special Forces Detachment at Ho Ngoc Tao.
The purpose for this trip was to question LAM because of
other issues which had just come to light during attempts
to re-hire him. During the ride LAM was shot and killed
from outside the vehicle by persons unknown. By McCarthy's
direction, the vehicle was driven to the Special Forces
Detachment and directives were given to contact an individual
to assist in the temporary disposal of LAM. It was anticipated
that LAM's remains would be turned over to the KHMER SEREI,
as were other members in case of death.
Shortly after returning
to Saigon, McCarthy
was arrested and accused of the murder of INCHIN LAM. Within
three days the United States Embassy in Saigon provided
a $25,000 Death Gratuity to the KHMER SEREI in hopes of
appeasing them over LAM's death. The KHMER SEREI were somewhat
confused. Although they did not express surprise or anger
in LAM's death, they could not understand why the United
States Government was going to prosecute McCarthy. After
all, they had told the Embassy months earlier of LAM's true
allegiance. The KHMER SEREI subsequently presented McCarthy
with a plate of gold and a commendation, since the US Government
had provided McCarthy's real name as the culprit in this
matter. The KHMER SEREI kept the $25,000 but they wondered
how anyone could be tried for such a "revolutionary" act.
The Central Intelligence Agency offered John
a ten year sentence if he would plead guilty to murder,
avoid a trial, and go along with the CIA's murder of a triple
agent to protect the truth that they had turned LAM back
on his communist comrades. Because he was innocent of the
crime John flatly refused the offer.
After 65 days of pre-trial confinement at
Long Binh, Vietnam, in a 5 x 7 foot box, topped with chicken
wire, a continuously burning light bulb, and a tin roof,
McCarthy was tried and convicted of premeditated murder.
The TET offensive of January 30, 1968 began twenty-five
The government's key witness at trial, held
virtually in-camera, was a pathologist. Captain Richard
T Mason testified as an "expert" witness that
LAM was killed by a .22 caliber bullet with the muzzle of
the weapon held loosely or tightly, "Ébut in any case
against the neck" of the victim, LAM. This testimony
compelled the jury to convict, despite contrary evidence.
There was also testimony about "stingers" at trial.
These were single shot devices made for the CIA as assassination
weapons. Although McCarthy had a .38 caliber revolver, and
the sergeant with him that night had a 9mm pistol, it was
Mason's "expert" testimony that won the day.
Both Robert and Ted Kennedy responded to appeals
by McCarthy for assistance. They wrote letters and made
calls on his behalf which had no effect on CIA's directed
outcome of his trial. Bobby was assassinated on June 5,
After five months in
the 5 x 7 "box",
McCarthy was transported to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in
a "prison shipment".
In September, 1968
Mason recanted his in-court
testimony, in writing. He sent the recantation to Lieutenant
Colonel PIERRE FINCK, his boss at the Armed Forces Institute
of Pathology, in Washington, D.C. FINCK had conducted the
autopsy of President John F Kennedy, in November of 1963,
and had testified before the WARREN COMMISSION. FINCK was
contacted in 1969 by one of McCarthy's lawyers but denied
knowledge of any new or relevant information in the case.
Mason didn't think it necessary or appropriate to advise
McCarthy or his lawyers of his recantation.
In 1970, a lawyer working
for FINCK approached
McCarthy's attorney in the Pentagon Cafeteria and asked
if he had seen the "McCarthy File".
both attorneys proceeded
to FINCK's office and located the filing cabinet. The first
document in the file was Mason's recantation. The second
item was an FBI Lab report signed by J Edgar Hoover. This
lab report was in response to a request for analysis of
a bullet fragment removed during the autopsy of LAM. The
FBI Lab report dated February 9, 1968, ten days after trial,
states that the make, caliber and manufacturer of the bullet
fragment could not be determined. However, the report continued,
a piece of quartz was stuck to the bullet fragment. When
LAM was shot, the front windshield of the vehicle had shattered,
the there had been a hole in the windshield two inches from
the passenger side post. Again, Mason had not thought it
necessary or appropriate to notify the defense attorneys
or McCarthy. The FBI sent the bullet fragment back to Vietnam
"under separate cover" from the lab report. The
bullet fragment was lost in the registered mail.
McCarthy's defense team never had the opportunity
to independently analyze the fragment.
McCarthy's lawyers immediately filed a brief
with the appellate court, which cited Mason's recantation
as "newly found evidence and fraud on the court".
The conviction was set aside and a new trial was ordered.
One of the three appellate judges disagreed with the recommendation
for a new trial. To him, McCarthy's "record in intelligence
and intelligence related operations, as well as the military
skills associated therewith, which he has developed,"
made it in defiance of "logic" that he would have
murdered "the victim in the manner developed by the
Government at trial and urged upon us during appellate argument."
Terming McCarthy a "proven officer, thoroughly trained
in intelligence operations, well-disciplined and sensitive
to the ramifications of all his actions, not only with regard
to the United States but to other political entities whose
interests might be affected," that judge said the court
should have forbidden a retrial. Then Government prosecutors
described the possibility of a conviction at a new trial
as "highly unlikely" and the charge of Premeditated
Murder was dismissed on January 8, 1971. Immediately following
the dismissal, the following organizations were briefed
because of anticipated fallout: CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY,
STATE DEPARTMENT, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, DEFENSE
INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL, and THE
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, (PRESIDENT NIXON).
The US Government was
so anxious to obtain
a conviction at trial they had resorted to FABRICATING
in the guise of Mason's EXPERT testimony. Statements by
the ranking member of the court-martial board revealed that
had Mason's recantation been known or the FBI Lab report
been available, the court would not have reached a guilty
verdict. However, this same board member did state that
if the Government had thought McCarthy innocent, they certainly
would not have tried him for murder, and the court had their
duty to convict. Therein lies the rub and the miscue of
military justice. The statement of "we don't know how
he did it, but we think he did it" exemplifies the
In 1984, under the
Freedom of Information
Act, a search of the files in the STATE DEPARTMENT was
with negative results. No files existed with respect to
the above. However, in the office of the ASSISTANT CHIEF
OF STAFF of INTELLIGENCE in the Pentagon, an affidavit
1968, written by the Assistant Chief of Staff addressed
the concern of the STATE DEPARTMENT over the issue of granting
McCarthy's civilian attorney a Top Secret clearance in order
to review the files in the above matter. The information
in the McCarthy case, if leaked, would seriously effect
the Foreign Policy of the United States. And, of course,
STATE was briefed on January 8, 1971. Also, during the summer
of 1968, STATE had requested copies of the Record of Trial
and allied paperwork from McCarthy's defense counsel in
the Pentagon. After reviewing the material for a week, the
representative from STATE returned the documents with the
comment; "Had we known that this information was going
to be revealed, we would never had allowed
the trial to proceed in the first place". And yet
are no files on this matter at the STATE DEPARTMENT. This
is of far greater significance than just denying the existence
of files. What it means is that STATE was not aware of
CHERRY to begin with, and although BLACK TERROR and ASSASSINATION
missions were under purview of the CIA, the STATE DEPARTMENT
would have known of these activities when sanctioned by
the President. Because STATE was not privy to these activities
in Cambodia, there stands a very good chance that the operations
conducted by PROJECT CHERRY were a ROGUE CIA directed activity
designed to prolong and extend the war in
South East Asia.
On October 2, 1968
John, sitting in his prison
cell at Ft. Leavenworth, received a Western Union telegram
from Ted Kennedy which read, "Keep chin up. Stand by
for good news shortly." On Oct. 6, 1969 he was summarily
released from prison and remained in a state of limbo while
CIA and the Army decided what to do with him. He was sent
to the Army's premier intelligence post, Fort Huachuca,
where, as a convicted murderer, he was allowed to instruct
other troops, in spite of the fact that he had no security
On February 8, 1970
in an article in the Washington
Post entitled "Terminated Agent May Haunt U.S.",
Murray Marder would write: "(W)hile comparatively obscure,
the McCarthy case carries a larger potential for international
complications than the celebrated Green Beret case".
Eleven months later the charge was dismissed.
The Constitution of
The United States guarantees
all citizens the right to seek redress for grievances against
the Government. The exception to this First Amendment Right
is the FERES Doctrine adopted by Congress in 1952, which
states that no member of the Armed Forces may seek redress
for grievances which is "incidental to service".
Therefore, those citizens who wear their country's uniform
into battle in order to protect the Constitution, forfeit
their Rights under the Constitution. There is no recourse.
John McCarthy honorably
left the service on
August 2, 1971, after eleven years six months and six days
of active duty. His written statement on request for release
from active duty was simply put: "I no longer have
the desire to serve as a commissioned officer in the United
Los Angeles, 1998
A personal note; the utter devastation of
incarceration, loss of wife and children, mother and father,
friends and relatives, and employment and other issues is
far too voluminous for inclusion in this synopsis.
© COPYRIGHT 1998, 1999, 2000,
JOHN McCARTHY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. PERMISSION TO REPRINT
ONLY IF THE FOLLOWING APPEARS: "Permission to reprint
courtesy of John McCarthy and Michael C. Ruppert - FROM
THE WILDERNESS @ www.copvcia.com."
If you want to
know MORE about this subject,
may we recommend the following:
- The Carone Report
- The Tyree Papers
- The UCLA Oral History
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