Andy Martin remembers being targeted for presidential abuse because of his Viet-Nam War reporting
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Conservative columnist and corruption-fighter Andy Martin
remembers being the target of presidential fury during the crisis over the Viet-Nam War’s My Lai massacre
“I know what the reporters are going through,” Andy says. “I lived through the same experience in the pre-Internet age.”
(WASHINGTON, DC) (May 23, 2013)
I have a sense of what James Rosen, Fox News, The Associated Press and Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News are feeling. I went through a similar experience with President Nixon forty-four years ago in 1969.
Yesterday I received a call from a New Hampshire journalist who asked my views on the current media scandals. As his questions probed, I started to drift back in time to 44 years ago when I was the target of presidential anger and earned my place on the first of three presidential enemies’ lists.
In 1969 there were no cell phones, no Internet, no 24-hour news cycle. Media had barely advanced since World War II. I was a recent law school graduate who among other endeavors was selling news and commentary and deciding what to do with my life. But then as now I knew people around the world and could draw on sources and resources that were otherwise not available.
One day in September, 1969 I opened the Chicago Sun-Times and saw the Evans-Novak “Inside Report” headline: “Presidential fury at Robb affair.” Evans-Novak were reporting that President Richard Nixon was furious. At me.
It was not a pleasant experience.
Seymour Hirsch had blown open the My Lai massacre and on a trip to Washington he and I met very briefly.
My experiences were unusual because I had spent time in northern South-Viet Nam in 1967 and 1968, and particularly in “I Corps” which was a U. S. Marine area of operations. I remember my first meeting with Captain Charles Robb, President Johnson’s son-in-law, who was commanding a Marine company southwest of Da Nang. Commanders rotated, so a company might have more than one officer during the course of a year. Robb was a relatively recent commander. He mistook me for one of his replacement troops.
The Marines had thrown up a perimeter around Robb and no media were allowed to be with Robb when he was in the field. I slipped through the cordon due to friends in the Marine Corps.
Not far from Robb’s base was an area called the “Arizona Territory.” The men told me they had gone into the Arizona Territory over and over again, and engaged in indiscriminate killing. My Lai was about indiscriminate killing. I connected My Lai with the Arizona Territory. The Arizona territory was a similar “killing field;” (please see link #1) today there are tours to visit this blood-soaked region (link #2)
The resemblance between My Lai (a U. S. Army operation) and what happened in the “Arizona Territory” was uncanny. The “Arizona Territory” was also a surprising area because in I Corps Marines had developed one of a small number of successful counterinsurgency formulas. They would position platoons in harm’s way, and encourage the men to work with and get along with local people. They called them “CAP” units (please see Link #3). Mass killing was against the Marines’ overall policy except in a pitched battle such as the Tet Offensive or combat assaults.
Because counterinsurgency and special operations were my specialty I paid particular attention to the question of why operations in the “Arizona Territory” were treated differently than Marine operations in other areas.
As I write today in 2013 I don’t have a clue how or where I published my Captain Robb/Arizona territory story. Back in 1969 there were no blogs, no email blasts and no Internet PR services. There was no instant communication (wire services, of course, existed but there was a definite news “lag”).
Someone picked up my story and ran with it.
While I can’t remember how I published my story, I do remember one fact very distinctly: my report reached the White House immediately. Even before the Internet, the White House still had ways of rapidly receiving information.
My remarks were simple and factual. Indiscriminate killing had not been an American “policy” per se, but indiscriminate killing had taken place and been tolerated across the war zone, particularly in I and II Corps. (IV Corps in the Mekong Delta was largely a South Vietnamese operation and III Corps was closer to Saigon and received much greater scrutiny). I believed it was wrong to retroactively punish soldiers for what had been acceptable conduct and widespread practices in an earlier period of the war. Retroactive punishment amounted to political scapegoating.
President Nixon blew his stack when he was made aware of my report. Nixon was trying to maintain a close relationship with former President Johnson and thought my writing was an effort by his political enemies to drive Johnson and Nixon apart by targeting Johnson’s son-in-law. In reality, I had no political motive whatsoever for my writing. I merely restated the facts as I had found them in Viet-Nam.
Shortly thereafter I passed the Illinois bar exam and found myself in a Star Chamber inquisition orchestrated by corrupt justices of the Illinois Supreme Court. The justices already had a reason to hate me because while still a law student I had helped expose corruption and helped set the stage for the removal of two justices from the court.
You can guess the rest of the story: what did the Illinois Supreme Court’s “character and fitness” representatives ask me about? Some things never change, from Andy Martin and My Lai in (by then) 1970 to the Tea Party in 2012:  Who and what were your sources in Vietnam?  How much did you receive for your writing?  Who purchased your reporting?  Where are the records of your Viet-Nam research?  What was your relationship to Professor Bernard Fall? And so on. The Illinois Supreme Court “investigated” me for three years before deciding I was too honest to practice law in Illinois.
And so, while I was not one of the first names on President Nixon’s enemies’ lists I had pride of place for telling the truth and standing up to a president who later shredded the Constitution. I stood up for the GI's and tried to help them avoid being scapegoated. I told the truth.
Mr. Rosen, AP, and Ms. Attkisson, “welcome to the club.” I know what it’s like to be in your shoes.
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Andy is a legendary New Hampshire, New York and Chicago-based muckraker, author, Internet columnist, talk television pioneer, radio talk show host, broadcaster and media critic. Andy’s family immigrated to Manchester 100 years ago; today his home overlooks the Merrimack River and he lives around the corner from where he played as a small boy. He has forty-five years of background in radio and television. He is the author of “Obama: The Man Behind The Mask” [www.OrangeStatePress.com] and he produced the Internet film "Obama: The Hawaii’ Years” [www.BoycottHawaii.com]. Andy is the Executive Editor and publisher of the “Internet Powerhouse,” www.ContrarianCommentary.com. He comments on New Hampshire, national and international events with more than four decades of investigative and analytical experience both in the USA and around the world. For more, go to: www.AndyMartin.com
Andy has also been a leading corruption fighter in American politics and courts for over forty-five years and he is executive director of the National Anti-Corruption Policy Institute. He is currently sponsoring www.AmericaisReadyforReform.com. See also www.FirstRespondersOnline.us; www.EnglishforAmerica.org
He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law and is a former adjunct professor of law at the City University of New York (LaGuardia CC, Bronx CC).
Andy's columns are also posted at ContrarianCommentary.blogspot.com ContrarianCommentary.wordpress.com
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