As a former prisoner of the Communist Vietnamese, held in a brutal jungle camp in Cambodia, the first thought that enters my mind upon seeing the events in Iraq is, "Gee, where were all you caring people when I was being starved, abused and held up to ridicule?"

But I push that aside and concentrate on the present. The perpetrators are going to be tried and, if convicted, put away for a long time. We also tried and convicted soldiers in the Vietnam War for abusing civilians and POWs though you would never know that from watching an Oliver Stone movie.

In the same week the major papers and magazines honored the elderly Vo Nguyen Giap, I see the same publication calling for the head of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and even President Bush. Again, where is your story on the torture and murder of American and Allied POWs under the direction of the much-venerated Vo Nguyen Giap and until his death, Ho Chi Minh? Though systematic torture stopped the day the left’s hero Ho died, individuals continued to be tortured under Giap.

Even some of the lower ranking guards apologized quietly for our suffering, abuse and deprivations: "It is the party policy". Well, it is not Bush administration policy to abuse POWs and there has been an investigation into that matter since January. Though this was not played up in the press, it was covered in a press release at the time, released by the U.S. Military.

Your writers, both professional and those writing into the paper, should know what they speak of when talking about the "Geneva Convention". They should also know that there are rules called "Law of Land Warfare". Both of these conventions cover uniformed military personnel and innocent civilians. They also allow for the harshest punishment and a lack of protection for those operating, armed and in civilian attire, or using the populace as a shield. We are allowed to hunt them down and shoot them dead. Under the conventions they receive no better treatment than spies.

With all the above being said, the United States Military will again punish those found to have killed, tortured, abused or even took and released photos of prisoners, be they POWs or others detained. The media also is in violation of these conventions if demeaning photos are shown of prisoners or or the dead.

As far as political implications of this during an election year, John Kerry has no right to even comment. The reason? He stands accused of murdering an enemy combatant who no longer had the means to resist. This crime is punishable even today with no statute of limitations.

Those who abused the Iraqis will be punished. Giap will be venerated and Kerry will run for President. That is the way of the left, rules only apply to the right and men and women in uniform. Rumsfeld may consider resigning the day Kerry drops out of the race and answers the questions about his own battlefield actions.

Up in Lopburi, Thailand, the Thai Army Special Forces Colonel, Retired Chaicharn Harnevee must be wondering where all those caring Thai people were when he was not released from Hanoi with his fellow American POWs. Strange, many of your Thai editorialists and letter writers care more about Iraqis than they did about Colonel Chaicharn. This Thai is home today only because his fellow American POWs and Thai soldiers demanded he be released. John Kerry and too many leftist Thais, including the media, were silent at the time. Perhaps as we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Royal Thai Army Special Forces, some from the left in Thailand and the USA along with the media should stop demanding further apology from President Bush and the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld and take time to honor and apologize to Colonel Chaicharn. To many of we American POWs, he is a hero and larger than life itself.


Copyright 2004, by Mark A. Smith, DSC,
Major, USA, Retired
7/192 Vipavadi/Rangsit Rd
Soi 36, Chatuchak
Bangkok 10900

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