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Posted September 5, 2000

- Contrary to statements from callers on a number of radio talk shows, FTW has not been sued and has not retracted any portion of its stories on the Tailwind Mission, the Moorer deposition or the repeated use of Sarin (GB) gas and other lethal chemical agents in Laos during the Vietnam era. From The Wilderness hereby gives notice that anyone who publicly and knowingly utters such falsehoods with the intent to damage our reputation or harm our business operations is subject to immediate legal action.

[Editor's Note - When researching my story on the Tailwind lawsuits for the July issue of From The Wilderness I contacted all of the named parties soliciting comments and responses. I gave my word to the Special Forces Association that I would print every word of what they wrote in response.  As of this date SFA is the only entity to respond. Henry Kissinger, John Singlaub, Peter Arnett and CNN have not.

The response below was received on August 4, 2000. Due to a death and the loss of an employee at FTW I have not been able to prepare this response and  post it until now. There was no unfair intent in this delay and I apologize to SFA . I just couldn't get it done sooner.

However, it is safe to say that this ongoing and highly emotional story is far from over. That is especially true as FTW is developing a story indicating that there are between 8 and 15 live and unexploded U.S. lethal chemical munitions currently on the ground in Laos. Some of those are less than 50 kilometers from the general area of the Tailwind mission and are believed, by EOD technicians on the ground, to contain Sarin (GB) or another lethal nerve agent known as VX. FTW will be breaking more news on that story as soon as we are confident that we have it nailed down. Suffice it to say that we have already accumulated a number of highly credible, on-the-record statements from qualified experts who have examined photographs of these devices - All have declared them to be consistent with U.S. manufactured, rack mounted aerial bombs constructed for the delivery of lethal nerve agents. This also includes the experts on the ground in Laos who examined and photographed the devices this year.

We have presented the SFA response here in its entirety. We have added notes in superscript [1] to direct the reader to our comments and responses. - MCR  ]                     

Special Forces Association (SFA) Response to From The Wilderness Stories on the Tailwind Lawsuits - Rec'd. 8/3/00



Dear Mr. Ruppert,

            This is in response to your article entitled "Moorer deposition in "Tailwind" [1] suits confirms allegations of Sarin use against Vietnam defectors, POW's- incriminates CIA, Kissinger".

            As director of the Special Forces Association investigation of the CNN horrific program "Valley of Death, Operation Tailwind", produced by April Oliver and Jack Smith, and having access to a footlocker full of evidence, letters, statements, interviews, video Tapes, audio tapes, photos, maps, etc, I believe myself to be fully qualified to respond to your interpretation of Admiral Moorer's deposition.

            First let me correct some remarks made in your opening statements.  One, you stated that the CIA directed "Operation Tailwind".  Dead wrong Mr. Ruppert, "Operation Tailwind" was directed by OP 35 of MACV-SOG and executed by B Company, FOB 2, CCC, and SOG.  Two, you stated that there was a series of Tailwind missions.  Dead wrong Mr. Ruppert; there was only one "Operation Tailwind" it was conducted in the vicinity of Chavane, Laos on 11-14 September 1970. [2]  Three, you stated that SOG was then commanded by CIA veteran and Army General John Singlaub.  Dead wrong Mr. Ruppert, SOG was commanded by Col. John "Skip" Sadler who obtained permission for and ordered "Operation Tailwind" be conducted.  John Singlaub commanded SOG from 1966 to 1968. [3]

            Now to the deposition of Admiral Moorer held on 24 June 2000 from 9:14 am to 17:34:25 pm.  That's right, 88 year old Admiral Moorer was questioned for over eight hours with only three short breaks (To change tapes and pass out documents) and one short lunch break. From tape marking 0014 to marking 0217, Admiral Moorer answered direct questions concerning the use of Sarin gas and the targeting of defectors over 55 times with one word, NO!  Also, during this same tape marking, over fifty times the Admiral wandered over on other questions and had to be asked the question again or did not understand the question. [4]

            From Tape marking 0218 to marking 0365, Mr. Simmons, April Oliver's Attorney, conducted his interrogation (The other attorneys called it an ambush) of Admiral Moorer.  During this interrogation, Mr. Simmons handed the Admiral documents of April Oliver's off camera interviews and memoranda from the JCS office that Moorer had not seen or remembered seeing before this time.  The Admiral asked to be allowed to take the documents home and study them before answering questions pertaining to them.  Mr. Simmons denied his requests over the protests of other attorneys present.  The Admiral was then directed by Mr. Simmons to read the questions of April Oliver and his response to those questions, and then Mr. Simmons would ask the Admiral if those questions and answers seemed to be correct. During this interrogation the other attorneys present objected to Mr. Simmons questioning and his presentation of documents not available prior to the deposition.  This should give the readers a background on the ambush of Admiral Moorer. [5]

            You stated in your article "both Singlaub and Moorer denied that they had used the gas or brought it any closer to Southeast Asian operations than the island of Okinawa.  Yet according to admissions made by Moorer near the end of the deposition, as much as 300 pounds of the gas was stored at a secret CIA controlled Thai Air\Operations base called Nakhorn Phanom or NKP".  (The correct spelling is Nakhon Phanom). [6] ON TAPE MARKING 0298 Admiral Moorer is reading a question by April Oliver in off-camera interview: Q.  "If the U.S. used nerve gas in combat in Vietnam, is it worthy to report". A. Admiral Moorer reads a very lengthy reply and states "so this would include GB weaponized in the U.S. Arsenal.  We know there was 4 million pounds of it manufactured and it was stocked at NKP".  Later on in the Admiral's reading of the same document, April Oliver asked, "So you were aware Sarin gas was used".  A.  Admiral Moorer read his answer "I am not confirming for you that it was used.  You have told me that".  (April Oliver must have smiled at this answer, that smile would soon leave her face during later testimony).  ON TAPE 0352, Mr. Simmons asks the question "You have referred, and there's a reference in these two interviews (April Oliver's interviews with Admiral Moorer), to NKP.  Was that Nakhorn Phanom (Spelled wrong again) in Thailand?"  Admiral Moorer's answer "No, that's in Okinawa".  (April Oliver's smile now leaves her face).  It is obvious to everyone; Admiral Moorer thought NKP was in Okinawa.  Admiral Moorer's stated throughout this deposition that Sarin gas was stored on Okinawa, he knew that much, but he didn't know where in the hell NKP was, Okinawa, Korea, Thailand, wherever.  The Special Forces Association has documented evidence that Sarin gas was only stored on Okinawa until the decision was made to destroy the gas on the Johnson Islands. Special storage facilities were necessary for Sarin gas and special handling and equipment were needed.  NO such facilities were available in Vietnam or Thailand.

            You stated in your article "Mr. Simmons secured a basic admission (hum--basic admission) from Moorer that the Tailwind missions in to Laos was controlled by Henry Kissinger and the CIA not the Pentagon".  Maybe so Mr. Ruppert, but it "taint so".  Lets visit a moment with documented SOG history.  On 1 November 1963, President Kennedy ordered that the CIA covert operation programs in Vietnam be transferred to the Military.  On 24 January 1964 the Studies and Observations Group (SOG) was formed to conduct these missions and reported directly to the JCS, via a special liaison, SACSA.  Then in 1969, the President directed a new program, Vietnamization.  To insure this program could progress without constant enemy interruptions, the President directed that SOG activities be increased in Laos and Cambodia.  This directive changed the rules.  Now SOG could conduct operations, up to company size, with approval of MACV (General Abrams) and notification to the American Ambassador in Laos and CINCPAC.  THE CIA HAD NOT HAD OPERATIONAL CONTROLL OVER COVERT OPERATIONS SINCE 1963.  Certainly, JCS was presented with up-dates on all operations, BUT NOT CONTROLL. [7]

            Concerning the Memoranda documents, entered as evidence by Mr. Simmons.  There were five documents given to the Admiral but Mr. Simmons only had specific questions on one, DOD 01159, dated 11 September 1970.  This Memo was addressed to DJS (Director of Joint Staff) with a hand printed 9\11 and the following words "Hold until President settles issue. Moorer".  Why only this document and not the other four?  When taken in context, the five documents tell a story that Mr. Simmons would not have liked, he only wanted one answer, and so he only directed tough questions to this memo. Mr. Simmons asked the powerful question "As you sit here today, what issue can you think of regarding Operation Tailwind that would have required Presidential approval".  Admiral Moorer answered " Any operation that involved the use of poison gas, for instance".  Wahoo! That's the answer Mr. Simmons wanted, however, the operative words in that answer were "For instance".  Those two words indicate that there was more than one case, on that mission, that would possibly need Presidential approval.  The five memoranda introduced at this deposition, give at least one more reason for a Presidential decision. (There are several more to include employment of nuclear weapons). DOD 01158 is a very important document, it was received on 5 September 1970, the original date for "Operation Tailwind" infiltration and forwarded from the JCS to be returned to the Chairman with remarks from DJSM recommend release on 9 September 1970.  This document covered 4 subjects (1) Number of Americans on this operation (2) CINCPAC and MACV had not received all the information on expanded Prairie Fire Operations (3) the suggestion that targets west of the EXISTING PF line would be favorably considered on a case by case basis (4) To inform CINCPAC\MACV of Sec. Def. position regarding use of U.S. personnel in PF exploitation phase.  It is obvious that CINCPAC\MACV were not fully informed of U.S. policy changes, policy changes that the President had made and a new suggested area of operation, west of the approved Prairie Fire line.  Both of these concerns could require a Presidential decision.  DOD 01157 tells of "Operation Tailwind" supporting "Operation Gauntlet".  Mr. Simmons did not want to talk about that operation, did he Mr. Ruppert.  We know why, Operation Gauntlet was a CIA\Hmong operation on the Bolevens Plateau and Operation Tailwind was to divert enemy troops, supplies and equipment from that operation. [7] DOD 0155 is the "I got you" memo.  Mr. Simmons presented these 5 documents into the records to show Operation Tailwind was involved, However, this document shows a 14 September 1970 date, subject: Operation Tailwind, From the Director for Operations, to the Director, Joint Staff "Recommend the attached memorandum be approved, signed and returned to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff".  As of this date, 14 September 1970, nothing had been approved.  Lets give the Pentagon credit for dedication and say they were at the office by 0700 hours, what time was it in Laos Mr. Ruppert?  You got it, Laos\Vietnam time 11 hours ahead of Washington, DC. It was 1800 hours on 14 September 1970 and the Operation Tailwind participants had already been extracted from Laos, were back at FOB2 in Kontum, Vietnam, had a beer or two, treated for wounds received in action and cleaned up all the blood, dirt and mud.  TOO LATE MR. RUPPERT FOR ANY DECISION TO HAVE AFFECTED OPERATION TAILWIND IN ANY WAY!  SORRY, PLEASE DO NOT WEEP. [8]

            April Oliver's "Contemporaneous notes" on her interviews with Admiral Moorer need no rebuttal.  On each subject, defectors or nerve gas, she began with statements that were hypothetical or suggestive.  Thus, the Admiral's answers were also hypothetical and suggestive.  The Admiral NEVER stated that Defectors were targeted and Sarin gas was used on Operation Tailwind.

            Mr. Ruppert, you listed eight confirmations that were made by Admiral Moorer, Let me close with this statement:  Of the eight you listed only one was correct, Operation Tailwind was successful, the Hatchet Force destroyed an enemy ammo complex, engaged the NVA in nine (9) separate fire fights and won, attacked and destroyed a NVA base camp, captured critical enemy documents and diverted enemy troops from the CIA "Operation Gauntlet".  The courageous Special Forces soldiers and Montagnards from SOG, Marine\ Air Force Pilots and Crewmen, deserve praise for their bravery and devotion to duty, not to be accused of war crimes as April Oliver and CNN attempted to do with this horrific program.  A program that the American Public did not believe and CNN could not support. 

In conclusion, April Oliver and CNN made three (3) allegations in their program " Valley of Death"; (1) defectors were targeted, (2) Sarin Gas was used, (3) and women and children were killed.  All three are lies.  No defectors were in the NVA Base Camp, Sarin gas was never used to "prep" The Base Camp or the extraction and no women or children were killed on this operation.  The SFA has documented evidence that these allegations are false.  CNN and April Oliver have no documented evidence.  That is why there will never be a case that goes to trial.  The SFA has obtained the services of an independent production company for airing of "Operation Tailwind, The Real Story".  The production should be released this winter.  Look for it Mr. Rupert and if you can force yourself to watch, it should be an educational and emotional experience.

James Dean


The primary issue is all of this debate is whether or not Sarin gas was used and whether or not defectors were targeted by the Tailwind mission. Here FTW agrees wholeheartedly with one of the foremost law reviews in the country, The Fulton County Daily Report of July 28, 2000 -  It is apparent that FTW read the Moorer deposition the same way that The Daily Report did.

 The story by R. Robin McDonald states:

 In that deposition, taken Jan. 17, the 88-year-old admiral confirmed he had made each statement attributed to him in Oliver's interview notes, including the following exchange, which he read aloud:

"We are going to report that [the] U.S. used nerve gas in combat during Tailwind," Moorer read from Oliver's notes. "Will we be correct in saying this is the first time the U.S. used it?"

"I said, 'You might want to qualify that a bit.'

"How?" Oliver asked.

"Well, I'm not so familiar with the European theater. But I think there might have been a few isolated pockets where poison gas was used," Moorer continued.

"You mean in World War II?"



"Yes, I think so."

"So we would be okay in saying first time in the Vietnam War?" Oliver asks, according to her notes.

"Yes," Moorer responded. "I think so."

Simmons, Oliver's attorney, then asked the retired admiral: "So to the best of your recollection, sir, does that accurately reflect what she [Oliver] asked you and what you said in December of 1997?"

"Well, I think that by and large this was exactly the way-what I said, but I don't understand the point of the question," Moorer responded.

Moorer also confirmed in his deposition that in May, 1998, a month before the broadcast aired, Oliver came to interview him again. According to Oliver's notes, Moorer acknowledged that the Special Forces group involved in Tailwind generally targeted defectors.

"So killing these defectors was the mission? And it was done to protect American lives?" Oliver asked.

"Yes," Moorer responded. "I have no doubt about that."

"Is that correct?" Simmons asked Moorer in the deposition after he read the exchange with Oliver aloud.

Said Moorer: "I assume that."

Says Oliver: "He told us to go with it. We had it right. ÉIt will be very hard for the men out in California to prove we acted recklessly, that we acted with malice.

Oliver says she remains committed to setting the record straight. "When they throw money at Moorer, when they throw money at Singlaub, it makes it look like I did something wrong when I didn't. I'm very, very committed to using the legal process to correct the public record where journalists failed.

"We had a story approved by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and we got crushed for going with that story," she says.

"It all goes down to the corporation not having the will to stay the course."

Oliver says she gave the broadcast script to Admiral Moorer to read, and that he approved it. The admiral has acknowledged that Oliver showed him the script, but said he neither read nor approved it.

Jack C. Doppelt, an associate professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism says CNN never should have fired Oliver and Smith.

"I never understood that, and thought it was excessive," he says "In this case, firing Oliver and Smith to me did not make the corporate leadership at CNN look any better. It made them look worse. They acted in a way that made it look like they were scapegoating two people."

FTW's Comments on the SFA response

[1]  - Your cake and eat it too? At FTW note [7] you specifically refer to a CIA operation connected to the Hmong and thereby establish a CIA connection to the mission. I could produce book after book, example after example of plausible deniability and the sheep-dipping of CIA personnel into military operations but that would lead astray from the basic issue.  Anywhere the Hmong went, there went CIA opium/heroin.

[2] -  You are quite correct. What is the relevance to whether the gas was used or not?

[3] - FTW made this statement only in one initial Subscriber Bulletin dated 6/23/00. As is common when a news organization report "breaking news" such errors are routinely announced and corrected. This we did in a subsequent Subscriber Bulletin dated 6/28/00. Also, in both out web postings and in the print copy of FTW  which  was dated June 30, the statement you accuse us of was never made. Again, what is the relevance to Sarin gas use?

[4] - A slight misinterpretation of the tape trying to make readers believe that Moorer is somehow confused or feeble of mind. Everyone we know who has read the deposition in its entirety has come to the conclusion that Moorer's mental acuity is as astonishing as is his apparent physical vigor.

[5] - The legal tactics used during the deposition were appropriate and within established procedure. Your use of the word "ambush" is the equivalent of saying that in a criminal trial there should be no cross examination of prosecution (or defense) witnesses. The Daily Review found no fault with it.

[6] - FTW  was aware of the spelling discrepancy for Nakhon Phanom. However, for consistency we decided to use the spelling used in the deposition which was, we believe, provided by one of the plaintiff's attorneys. Does that mean that the gas wasn't used?

[7] - I suggest that you sue me over this one and we can go to court and hash it out with witnesses and mountains of documentary evidence of how CIA operates. You might review the case of former U.S. Army Special Forces Captain John McCarthy who has some expertise in CIA operations in the area. You may view his story at FTW categorically and unequivocally stands by its assertion and belief that nothing - absolutely nothing - by way of a U.S. Government operation took place in Laos or Cambodia between 1958 and 1975 without the complete blessing and knowledge of the Central Intelligence Agency.

[8] - This is a very interesting point and we cannot dispute it. It does not establish that gas was not used, nor does it invalidate a time-honored practice in both the military and intelligence agencies of providing paper authorizations for missions that have already been carried out successfully. In fact this process occurred frequently during the Contra War when Presidential Findings and Presidential Decision Directives were issued after the fact to provide legitimacy to operations already carried out by the National Security Council and the CIA.

Nothing in anything written by the Special Forces Association invalidates the admissions made my Admiral Moorer that the gas was used and that it was used to kill defectors. FTW  is convinced that when the time comes, General Singlaub, under oath, will find himself in the same position that Admiral Moorer did. He will have to affirm his own confirmation that Sarin gas was used to kill American defectors.

[This continuing story will be covered in more detail in upcoming issues of From The Wilderness for our paid subscribers.]


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