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« Open Thread #1 | Main | Ruffians Leap--Basilisk »

June 21, 2012


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Full Disclosure:

PL does not like this piece. He ran Vietnamese agents during the war, and I think it is his view that this fiction story casts unfair aspersions on the loyalty of turned agents.

I did not run Vietmanese agents. My experience is with agents of other nationalities. My experience was that those we induce to betray are often quite willing to betray us in turn. This is only a fiction story, I leave it to you to judge.


W. Patrick Lang


I ran all kinds of Vietnamese, Montagnard, Cambodian, Laotian and/or French espionage agents during the war. I ran them or my team ran them. That is the same thing really. I ran intelligence espionage agents who had been NVA officers. I recruited thm out of PW camps. Basilisk does not understand what I told him. I never trust any recruited foreign agent. Use them? Yes. Trust them? No. I wouldn't trust anyone who I had under positive control as an agent. This is not because he has "betrayed" his own side. It is because the motivations of such a person are too complex to be completely understood. What I objected to in this story was that the man was portrayed as a Kit Carson Scout. These were enemy soldiers who decided without compulsion to change sides and to fight with us and for us as members of American combat units. To my knowledge, which is considerable, KCSs when they came over to our side, came over altogether. I know of no case in which they played a double game. They were soldiers and true to their comrades. When they came over, they came all the way. They were nothing like the Muslim recruited agents that Basilisk managed. Furthermore, I do not think it at all likely that a KCS would or could have been integrated into the ARVN. They were our people not the ARVN's. All fiction is fantasy, but this piece does not meet my criteria for plausibility. Basilisk and I have had this conversation. In the spirit of full disclusure, I also reject the plot device that makes Abraham Lincoln a vampire hunter in his spare time in the new movie.
"A report given to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February, 1970 listed 230 Kit Carson Scouts killed in action and 716 wounded." wiki pl


PL makes good points, no surprise there. The story—with its faults—has been with me for a long time. It serves as an object lesson about where stories come from.

I was on a business trip in LA long ago. I was dining with a friend who is in the movie world. We saw a distinguished-looking Asian man dining with a beautiful woman at a nearby table. I had a deja vu moment, " I know that guy from someplace is he an actor?"

My friend, who is a comparative youngster, said, "No, he's a local guy. He used to be somebody in Vietnam, I think. He owns some liquor stores around here."

It finally came to me, The man was Nguyen Cao Ky. That germinated for a long time. I finally wrapped some imagined detail around it. Maybe not well, but that's just how it works.

I saw PL have the same kind of moment on our recent trip when we met a young fellow. I know he will be in The Deacon's Song.

I just hope I don't have to wait too long to see it.



We were in the museum on the new Market battlefield. The VMI Corps of Cadets fought there with some effect. A cadet, probably hired for the summer break, was working behind the reception desk. He reminded me of what they are and were like. Someone like him will be in the book. pl

William R. Cumming

So what is the most simplistic but most honest word to be placed on the struggle for dominance in Viet Nam by that country's citizens? Civil war? Insurgency? Revolution? Religious warfare labeling Communism as a religion? Etc.?

And gentle steps are being taken to encircle and contain China and Viet Nam seems interested in taking part! Amazing!


WRC - They called it the War of Re-unification. And Viet feelings on China are not so amazing since the they consider the Chinese their hereditary enemy.

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