DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
7 July 98

GRUNT POWER WORKS

Vietnam-era vets, all 14 million of them, won a major battle last week. Finally, after three weeks of protesting that they got their story right, the head liars at CNN and Time Magazine retracted their despicable work of fiction -- that lethal nerve gas was used by our warriors in Laos during America's long and cruel war in Southeast Asia -- and ran up the white flag.

Our bloodied, battered, but not beaten Vietnam vets rallied and zapped the CNN/Time storytellers. Reinforced by an amazing number of vets from World War II to the Gulf War to tens of thousands of serving soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to hundreds of thousands of other concerned citizens, they bombarded their attackers with repeated salvos. Round after round, they blew away the lies.

Honor was at stake.

The good guys' primary weapons against these so-called guardians of the public trust were thousands of e-mail/snail mail/faxes/phone calls to Atlanta and to the rest of the media.

Advertisers were also barraged, and when they got the message I'm sure CNN and Time got hit where it hurts. Members of Congress were contacted with requests for an investigation, and press releases and media conferences were held.

Talk radio and Fox News were first to respond and slowly the truth began to get out as more and more people joined the crusade.

For 26 days the tempest grew from a light drizzle to a hard rain to a thunderstorm. Interestingly, the big networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC -- stayed quiet, giving strength to the belief that the big boys all scratch each other's backs. The old "You don't rat on me when I sin and I'll do the same for you" shell game.

Finally, CNN and Time magazine admitted to being caught red-handed in one of the most egregious press manipulations I've ever witnessed.

Now CNN's top enabler Tom Johnson says the fairy tale he green-lighted "cannot be supported." And "there is insufficient evidence that sarin or any other deadly gas was used."

What weasel words: "Cannot be supported." "Insufficient evidence". What a crock of slick lawyer double talk! There was nothing to support because there was no evidence -- none, nada, zilch, zip. Because it never happened!

CNN's reporters, producers and executives simply made up a grotesque story that put American fighting men in the same dirty death business as Saddam Hussein's monsters.

Like so many members of today's American press corps, the manipulators of this story had become so arrogant that they figured they could present whatever they wanted and no one would challenge them.

Boy, were they wrong! This accusation was one too many for the Vietnam Vets, who've been abused and dishonored by an ungrateful nation since Lyndon Johnson sent them to Vietnam to stop the dominoes from falling.

Since the 1960s the survivors of the doomed generation that fought in Vietnam have been spit upon, called "baby killers" and "losers." The self-proclaimed elite who didn't serve -- including CNN's New Zealand born Peter Arnett and America's Richard Kaplan, both key fabricators of this outrage -- seem to openly loath Vietnam-era soldiers and have always gone out of their way to savage those who stood tall in Vietnam. It's probably because of their own obvious and well earned guilt over dodging the draft when their countries called.

This story has done grievous damage to America. When it broke it was the lead story right around the world. CNN's retractions will be given a tiny spot back by the comic strips. The world will continue to believe we are the same as Saddam Hussein unless CNN shouts over and over that it lied.

Vietnam proved that winning battles doesn't win wars and this fight is far from over. The pressure must continue on CNN until it does the right thing. Arnett must be fired and returned to his beloved Baghdad, and Johnson and Kaplan should both be given 10,000 hours of community service to be done at a VA hospital. They could care for the broken vets while learning about honor, integrity and humility. Along the way, they might just pick up a decent value system from those good souls who fought so valiantly to preserve our way of life.

Let justice be served!

The End