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04 January 2011


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It was a fitting & healing gesture when BHO included Khe Sanh in the litany of American battles to preserve our freedom. That siege was emblematic of the whole war and dominated the news when i was in high school. (Two years later, I was on the DMZ myself.)

I"m not making a judgment as to its tactical or strategic significance but pointing out the sacrifice involved.


"Mad" Mike Adams

Col. Sir,
By May of 1968 the "Peace Movement was heavily penetrated by COINTELPRO. The "Peace Movement" was appealing to G.I. and commiserating with them for the most part. This was seen by the authorities as trying to subvert the soldiers and freaked the Military and the FBI. Thus, the FBI assets within the "Peace Movement" on orders from higher up introduced the idea of harassing and spitting on GIs returning from Nam. Whereas most of the early spitting incidents were committed by FBI assets, the MSM pushed the meme to the point that it was picked up by the unorganized youth of the time. Actual non-FBI incidents occurred especially on the West Coast.

There were many organized "Peace Movement" meetings to try to stop the practice and huge altercations broke out in some of the meetings. Many suspected agents provocateur were tossed from the organizations because of their obvious intent. However, the FBI penetration was so deep that they eventually became the major funders of the "Peace Movement".

Of this I have positive knowledge.

I have no doubt that you were spat upon, who spit on you and what their affiliations were, we will never know.

Mike Adams

The COINTELPRO program was successfully kept secret until 1971, when a group of left-wing radicals calling themselves the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI burglarized an FBI field office in Media, Pennsylvania, and took and exposed several dossiers by passing the information to news agencies. Many news organizations initially refused to publish the information. Within the year, Director Hoover declared that the centralized COINTELPRO was over, and that all future counterintelligence operations would be handled on a case-by-case basis.[10]


FBI records show that 85% of COINTELPRO resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI deemed "subversive,"[4] including communist and socialist organizations; organizations and individuals associated with the civil rights movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Congress of Racial Equality and other civil rights organizations; black nationalist groups; the American Indian Movement; a broad range of organizations labeled "New Left", including Students for a Democratic Society and the Weathermen; almost all groups protesting the Vietnam War, as well as individual student demonstrators with no group affiliation the National Lawyers Guild; organizations and individuals associated with the women's rights movement; nationalist groups such as those seeking "independence for Puerto Rico" and a United Ireland; and additional notable Americans, such as Dr. Albert Einstein. The remaining 15% of COINTELPRO resources were expended to marginalize and subvert "white hate groups," including the Ku Klux Klan and National States' Rights Party.[5]


Colonel, best to have a few before reading this older article:


I remember this topic came up before a year or two ago and I commented on it. I had read another CounterPunch article which I can't locate now, it's probably from about 2 years ago, same theme as the above link.

My cooment then was about a young lady at the Univ of Illinois, Champaign who went on a date with me. As we walked down her dorm hall she was harassed by a lot of her fellow students (mostly male) about not having any sort of self-esteem for going out with a "baby killer" and not a "normal" guy. Nothing ever came of the date but I do remember her and always will. I'm proud of her to this day.

Phil Giraldi

Colonel - I too was spat upon in the Spring of 1969 at Union Station in Baltimore, while going home on leave from intelligence training at Ft. Holabird. We were required to travel in uniform to take advantage of reduced fares and it was sometimes an ordeal. In my case, I was heading towards my gate when I was surrounded by five or six young men and women in what in those days might have been described as hippy attire. They danced around me chanting something or other and then one of them spat. Two cops approached and they ran off. I know other Army trainees in Baltimore had similar experiences. There was an extremely active SDS faction at Johns Hopkins and also at the University of Maryland.

Green Zone Cafe

While in uniform, I got called "baby killer" by a long haired guy at DFW airport, May 1975.



There is a lot of propaganda flying around. I have no doubt that your memories and anger are real. In my last year at Fort Lewis I never wore my uniform off base. If asked what my job was, a supply specialist in the Army, a look of disgust of “What a Loser” crossed my contemporaries’ faces. I’ve never seen that look on a Vietnam Veteran’s face.

On the other hand, I saw the disintegration of the US Army. I was very lucky to be assigned to a front line Airborne Company. The support units were in revolt. There were fraggings at LZ English.

What I really do not understand is today. Is it Generational, is it the collapse of the Soviet Union, or is it Crony Capitalism? The federal government is literally doing the exact wrong things, if life, liberty and the happiness of American Citizens were its basic goals. Instead, there are never ending wars, union busting (government employee unions are the latest target), cutting of government non-defense spending in the face of near 20% unemployment, and perpetual fear campaigns from Stratfor, et.al. Yet, I do not even hear a whimper of protest of this when it really is needed.

Medicine Man

A cowardly act. Good money says that young woman wasn't at Birmingham with King, or any other place of value.


In April 1969 I flew into McChord AFB after a tour in Korea. I got a flight to San Francisco Airport to be picked up there by my folks and go to their home in Berkeley. I was traveling in uniform.
They picked me up without incident and we headed for the East Bay via the Bay Bridge.
I was sitting in the front passnger seat; as we were going across the Bay Bridge, a beat - up VW bug passed us on my side.
The kid driving the VW was pure Bay Area hippie, long hair from both the top of his head and his beard blowing in the wind.
As he passed our car, he casually looked over at me and then did one of the most comical double - takes ever after he processed the fact that I was in uniform.
He stared at me (almost collding with our car), grimaced and then, sticking his left hand out the window repeatedly flashed me the two - finger "peace" sign.
We held this formation almost all the way across the bridge.
I thought briefly about using my index finger to make as if I were shooting back, but didn't.
I was home and in one piece, so who cared?

Charles I

Horrible, but however painful dishonourable or disappointing, its about the spitters, be they pinheads or provocateurs.

All they are, you know what you are.

Whatever the literal truth, Cohen could be writing metaphorically. Of course that would wrong too.


What a start to 2011!


What a better way to plant spitters/morons to discredit the Military/who are only messengers to make the Nascar folks vote for the endemic system?

Carl O.

You should keep in mind one thing. It's that generation that's running the country now. How many of them were spitters, I have no way of knowing, but a lot of those people who joined the counterculture in the 1960's (and made a mockery of legitimate reasons to oppose the war) gave up all commitment to truthfulness and morality, which remains the case to this day.


Cohen doesn't seem to care about getting his facts right first, just like in his pro Iraq war writings.

Stephen Sossaman

There is a vast difference between one veteran being spat upon, and the myth that the whole peace movement spat upon veterans in general. I was not spat upon when I returned from Vietnam. I believe that years ago someone offered being spit upon as a metaphor for the general neglect of or disinterest in veterans, and it became a myth that this was literally, frequently, true. At least three books have been written that challenge the mythic nature of the general claim (I am not challenging your personal account). One reason I believe that spitting happened only rarely was that most of us would have punched out the spitter reflexively, man or woman, 24 hours after being in Vietnam, yet I have read no accounts at all of that happening. The author of "Spitting Image" says his research showed no police reports, even after big alleged incidents (e.g. mass melees in railway stations, veterans beaten nearly to death) that would have made the police blotter. As a metaphor for neglect or disinterest, spitting probably fits well, and agent-provocateur false-flag attacks by COINTELPRO agents might well have happened. But no one should think that the average GI returning from Vietnam was spit upon.

Medicine Man

Wait, are we talking about an article by this Richard Cohen? http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/11/24/hack_list_1

Yeah, I think I'd probably trust my memory instead of his opinion too -- regardless of the topic.


Carl O

"a lot of those people who joined the counterculture in the 1960's (and made a mockery of legitimate reasons to oppose the war) gave up all commitment to truthfulness and morality, which remains the case to this day."

You mean people like Bush and Cheney that are willing to put their countrymen at risk by going to war based on fixed intelligence reports and fear mongering?

I agree. What is worse, getting spit on or losing life and limb based on deceit?

William R. Cumming

The American Experience in Viet Nam has not yet ended!
While most of the citizens of this country alive and most who were or became adults during the years 1962-1975 have an opinion on whether American involment was correct policy or not [my opinion is that it was a mistake in both adoption and execution] others have no opinion. Only the passage of time will result in any concensus.

I am always fascinated in the term used by economists "opportunity costs" and wonder if those conducting foreign policy and foreign relations have a similar tool to apply to their choices.

Again even on the basis of boots on the ground choices I WOULD ARGUE taht US choices are unsound and do not withstand critical analysis from any standpoint! Assuming you consider US Armed Forces those of a democracy and not mercenaries [which I consider the former] we have higher priorities NOW!

Medicine Man

Some of the responses in this thread are illuminating.

Or host makes a post countering Cohen's lazy attempt at whitewash. The "American Left wants to absolve itself of its bestial attitude towards American soldiers during Vietnam"-he accuses. Then follows some rather elaborate musings about agent provocateurs, COINTELPRO, and at any rate such incidents couldn't have been common because there weren't police reports... etc etc.

I think I see Pat Lang's point.


I was never spat upon, fortunately. But I do remember garbage and red paint being dropped off the Golden Gate Bridge onto the deck of the USS Midway, as we sailed to war in 1971. But there were also a few signs and banners of support too.

Sidney O. Smith III

Then and now. Take, as a prime example, those neoconservatives at the Pentagon who, in 2002, called Vietnam vet General Zinni a traitor because he opposed Shock and Awe. Their cultural lineage traces back to the spitters of 68. It’s as plain as day.

Future historians, no doubt, will examine how and why so many leaders of the US Military acquiesced to the desires of these neoconservatives. Off hand, it would seem to suggest that not all who wear the uniform see military life as a vocational calling.

DE Teodoru

San Fransisco is where a lot of returning Viet Vets were spat upon. At an all night session between VVAW and VVJP during the 1972 Maiami Republican Convention, numerous anti-Vietnam VVAW vets told of how they were spat upon by freaks who spit-and-ran. But Cohen that's as much a myth as the 1956 blood-bath in North Vietnam's land reform and the 1975 blood-bath in South Vietnam. Unfortunately, he doesn't read Vietnamese so he had no way to see the Viet Party's reports on these collection of "blood debt" from "class enemies." This is the only nation in the world where-- until recently-- what you refuse to know won't hurt you.

Keith Harbaugh

"Future historians, no doubt,
will examine how and why
so many leaders of the US Military
acquiesced to the desires of these neoconservatives."

Come on, Smith. Don't play dumb.
We all saw what happened when the Army Chief of Staff,
General Eric K. Shinseki,
a distinguished Vietnam war veteran
who suffered loss of limb in that war,
and who as Army chief of staff
was speaking for the whole Army,
told a committee of Congress that
the forces going in to Iraq were too small for the task they would confront.

Mr. Smith,
just who in the "elite" supported General Shinseki?
He was left twisting in the wind,
put down by a man billed as
the former Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced ... Studies.

Don't blame the Army, you *****.

Keith Harbaugh

This issue never dies.
The left keeps denying it.
See the 2012-06-01 screed
The Legend of the Spat-Upon Veteran.

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