FW: Cuban involvement in the torture of GIs in Vietnam... ?

Subject: FW: Cuban involvement in the torture of GIs in Vietnam... ?

Something else I've never heard of!
This column was originally published at www.aim.org  

Whatever one thinks of President Barack Obama’s overtures to Cuba and the accompanying prisoner exchange, an important consideration in need of immediate attention is an accounting of our servicemen captured in the Vietnam War and imprisoned in Cuban-operated POW camps. Of utmost importance is an accounting of the 17 American airmen captured in North Vietnam and then taken to Cuba for medical experiments in torture techniques.

Most Americans are unaware that Cuba was deeply involved in the Vietnam War. In fact they had an engineering battalion called the “Girón Brigade,” that was maintaining Route Nine, a major enemy supply line into South Vietnam. Their facilities included a POW camp and field hospital very near the DMZ, just inside North Vietnam. Meanwhile Cuban interrogators worked in Hanoi at a prison known as the Zoo. We know of these operations and some of what happened to our servicemen after so managed to survive and be repatriated in the winter of 1973, during Operation Homecoming.

Following his release Major Jack Bomar, a Zoo survivor, described the brutal beating of Captain Earl G. Cobeil, an F-105F electronics warfare officer, by Cuban Major Fernando Vecino Alegret, known by the POWs as “Fidel.” Regarding Captain Cobeil, Bomar related, “he was completely catatonic. … His body was ripped and torn everywhere…Hell cuffs appeared almost to have severed his wrists…Slivers of bamboo were imbedded in his bloodied shins, he was bleeding from everywhere, terribly swollen, a dirty yellowish black and purple [countenance] from head to toe.”

In an effort to force Cobeil to talk “Fidel smashed a fist into the man’s face, driving him against the wall. Then he was brought to the center of the room and made to get down onto his knees. Screaming in rage, Fidel took a length of rubber hose from a guard and lashed it as hard as he could into the man’s face. The prisoner did not react; he did not cry out or even blink an eye. Again and again, a dozen times, [Fidel] smashed the man’s face with the hose.”

Because of his grotesque physical condition Captain Cobeil was not repatriated but instead was listed as “died in captivity,” with his remains returned in 1974. (Miami Herald, August, 22 1999, and Benge, Michael D. “The Cuban Torture Program, Testimony before the House International Relations Committee, Chaired by the Honorable Benjamin A. Gilman, November 4, 1999.) Incredibly, Fidel’s torture of Major James Kasler is well known as he somehow managed to survive the Cuban’s torture.

Much less is known about our 17 captured airmen taken to Cuba for “experimentation in torture techniques.” They were held in Havana’s Los Maristas, a secret Cuban prison run by Castro’s G-2 Intelligence service. A few were held in the Mazorra (Psychiatric) Hospital and served as human guinea pigs used to develop improved methods of extracting information through “torture and drugs to induce [American] prisoners to cooperate.”

After being shot down in April of 1972, U.S. Navy F-4 pilot, Lt. Clemmie McKinney, an African-American, was imprisoned near the Cuban compound called Work Site Five. His capture occurred while then-Cuban president Fidel Castro was visiting the nearby Cuban field hospital. Although listed as killed in the crash by DOD, his photograph standing with Castro, was later published in a classified CIA document.

More than 13 years later, on August 14, 1985, the North Vietnamese returned Lt. McKinney’s remains, reporting that he died in November 1972. However, a U.S, Army forensic anthropologist established the “time of death as not earlier than 1975 and probably several years later.” The report speculated that he had been a guest at Havana’s Los Maristas prison, with his remains returned to Vietnam for repatriation. (We also paid big money for the remains—delivered in stacks of green dollars to Hanoi aboard an AF C-141 from Travis AFB, California.) Unfortunately, our servicemen held in the Cuban POW camp near Work Site Five (Cong Truong Five), along with those in two other Cuban run camps were never acknowledged nor accounted for and the prisoners simply disappeared.

If our honor code of “Duty, Honor, Country,” and our national policy of “No man left behind,” are more than meaningless slogans, then before our relations with Cuba can be normalized, their murderous leadership must account for our POWs—especially the 17 airmen taken to Cuba. The civilized world and American veterans demand it.

Additional research on this topic, by John Lowery, is below:

Cuba’s Vietnam War Involvement

Research by John Lowery


“Torture of American Prisoners by Cuban Agents,” Juan O. Tamayo, Miami Herald, August 22, 1999.www.aiipowmia.com/testimony/cubanews5.html  

“ Cuban War Crimes Against American POWs,” Michael D. Benge, Cuba Program Research Paper, October 4, 1999. www.vvof.org/cuba_res.htm  

“The Cuban Torture Program …Torture of American Prisoners by Cuban Agents,” Testimony of Michael D. Benge, before the House International Relations Committee Chaired by the Honorable Benjamin A. Gilman. November 4, 1999. www.aiipowmia.com/testimony/cuba_benge.html .

“Cuban War Crimes Against American POWs During the Vietnam War,” Mike Benge, National Alliance of Families, www.nationalalliance.org/cuba/benge2.htm (Undated)

“The Evidence is Clear,” POW/MIA Freedom Fighters,www.powmiaff.org/evidence.htm , May 23, 2006.

“ Benge, Michael Dennis, Bio” Loss/Capture report, 31 January 1968.


CharlieE said...

"Accuracy in Media" is the sort of name we usually see in Republican bills, such as the "Clear Skies Initiative", which actually proposed loosening pollution standards.

In this case, "Accuracy in Media" kind of means, "putting forth far-Right conspiracy theories."

Their article on the recent same-sex marriage case was titled, "Overthrow the Judicial Dictatorship."

Accuracy, indeed.

More on these loons at Rationalwiki: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Accuracy_in_Media

gruaud said...

Doesn't it seem a little surprising that no one besides AIM had reported this? You'd think the corporate media would be all over this.

Link 1 not found
Link 2 is a report written by Michael D. Benge, former POW
Link 3 not found
Link 4 is just the AIM article again

Even if this happened, that is not a reason to not normalize relations with the millions of Cubans who had nothing to do with it. Germany and Japan are our allies and they didn't follow the Geneva Convention, either.

Randall said...

If the author is pissed about Cuba, wait till he finds out that the U.S. embargo on Vietnam was lifted in 1994 and that you can find all sorts of stuff in the U.S. that have "Made in Vietnam" stamped on them.

Mr_Creosote said...

Good observation there Randall.

While all these piss & vinegar cold-warrior chickenhawk types may still look under their beds for hidden "commies", the PTB of the conservatives they carry water for will sell them ( and everyone else ) down the river if they can make a buck by tapping a supply of cheap, desperate labor. A la China, Vietnam and the like.

Randall said...

@ Creosote

It is tiring and ridiculous, these morons want to spit hairs stating we shouldn’t lift the embargo, because Cuba has unverified claims that their troops were in Vietnam and may or may not have tortured POWs. When the country that actually did torture and mistreat POWs we have done away with the embargo and been trading with for 20+ years.

I’m sure if someone with an “R” after their name was pushing to lift the embargo, these idiots would be claiming that it is the best idea on the face of the Earth; however Obama is pushing it so they have to be against it.

Obama should tell everyone they shouldn’t jump off of bridges just to see how many right wingers run out and jump of a bridge just to defy him.

gruaud said...

If foreigners want to understand the eternal, fundamental truth about US society and US politics, it can be summed up in two words.

Slave country.

And many people here seem to be fucking proud of that.

ferschitz said...

It's irrelevant whether Cuba did or did not torture POWs in Viet Nam. Totally irrelevant.

US Citizens have NO rights to point fingers of blame at ANY country who may have tortured some citizens somewhere - whether citizens within their own country or other country's citizens. The USA is the current TOP DOG for torturing citizens from numerous countries, including citizens of the USA.

Unless or until we clean our own Augean stables of the debased, disgusting and perverted torture that we inflict on people around the globe, including ironically in Gitmo, which is on the island of Cuba no less... US citizens have no cause to call out any other country who may have engaged in torture.

I suppose RWD actually believes that the USA didn't engage in torture during the Viet Nam War???? Wake up, grandpa. Team USA was torturing the Viet Cong then, just like we torture whomever we feel like now.


ferschitz said...

Removing the embargo on Cuba in order to open up trade is motivated solely by the corporations who've been sniffing around Cuba for decades just itching to EXPLOIT Cuba and its citizens. The ideal time to push forward this agenda is under the aegis of a black "Democratic" President. Perfect!

As evidenced here and elsewhere, the so-called "GOP" can then play the usual victim card about the perfidy of the Blah in the White House who a major giant COMMIE BASTARD ruining everything for all the "good whites" in this nation.

What a load of bull. The corporations pushed this agenda, and what you see in the District of Criminals, plus on any of the mainstream media (most especially, but not only, on Fox) is the usual dog and pony show that somehow hoodwinks a majority of citizens into believing "lesser of two evils" hokum about the alleged, much ballyhooed "difference" between the 2 branches of the UniParty (aka the Plutocrats Party).

Figure. It. Out.

Unknown said...
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