Tonight, Frontline on PBS aired a fantastic – and absolutely frightening – piece of journalism, Terror In Saigon. The show normally posts episodes online so sometime tomorrow probably, it should be available for streaming and I urge you to watch it because it was earth shattering on several levels.
This story took months of leg work by the journalist from ProRepublica and the premise was this: After the Vietnam War was over, a little known Vietnamese General gathered a small army on the Laos -Thailand – Vietnam border to reignite the conflict. Meanwhile, a Vietnamese journalist was killed in Houston.
Those two events seem worlds apart both in substance and distance. Turns out, they are related. The General belonged to a group called ‘The Front’. The journalist in Houston was assassinated by the group’s black ops unit called ‘K9’ made up of soldiers from the Vietnam War.
Frontline uncovered FBI evidence that the journalist in Houston was only one of a long list of assassinations and attacks carried out by K9 in the United States during the 1980s. All the murders and attacks remain officially unsolved.
That reason – as well as why Police in Houston and San Francisco refused to speak to the Frontline but it made them look bad all the same – may lay in the fact that The Front was connected to the National Security Council and the Pentagon. Frontline uncovered paperwork exposing the ties and naming Richard Armitage in particular as a contact. Needless to say, no one from the NSC, Pentagon, CIA or anyone else wanted to speak.
But investigators who worked the cases did speak and vented their frustration at the lack of prosecution. Frontline also was able to speak to a leader of The Front as well as one of the suspected assassins in K9. It was a disturbing but fabulous piece of journalism.
Remember, the 1980s were a time when the Reagan administration flaunted Congressional law by supplying the Contras, selling arms to Iran and a host of other criminal acts. We know now that CIA was involved in drug smuggling into the USA and other violence that no one at the time imagined feasible.
Questions from the episode remain unanswered; Why is info still classified after all this time? Was the long term goal of the Pentagon to reignite the Vietnam War, most of the players were vets? Why has NONE of the murders, political murders, been prosecuted and why won’t the cases be re-examined even now? How high up did this go inside the USA government?
When we’re stuck with second-rate news reporting on Cable News outlets it is a relief to discover that hard nose, old school, journalism still exists on outlets like PBS and Frontline. For the sake of society, let us hope it remains that way. Like I said, WATCH this even if you stream it online.