Comment: Through A Glass Darkly is Cynthia's substack. Just below the opening sentences, Cynthia adds three quotes, two from Col. Fletcher Prouty's The Secret Team and one from Douglas Valentine's The Phoenix Program.

On their own, both books are recommended reads.

For another look, see The Truth Perspective: Interview with Douglas Valentine: The CIA As Organized Crime

HAL 9000
The following is a short story written by Col. Fletcher Prouty describing true events that occurred in Vietnam during the war that sound like something out of a sci-fi dystopic movie. This is extremely useful for anyone who wishes to understand the techniques that are presently being waged against the American people and the west more broadly.

This story serves as an addendum to my paper "How the CIA and US Special Forces Manufactured a Migrant Crisis and Orwellian Police State in Vietnam Before Going to the Americas," which also discusses in detail the origin of the "smart city" prisons that are being built throughout the world today.
"Anyone who doubts that this nation building and police activity has not become real and very effective right here in the United States need only visit the area around Fort Bragg to find one of these early paramilitary CIA-oriented specialist, General Tolson, sending his American soldiers out into the countryside with nation-building programs for the citizens of the United States. If such tactics continue, it is possible that an enlargement of such a program could lead to a pacification program of areas of the United States, such as the CIA and the US Army have carried out in Indochina."

- Col. Fletcher Prouty "The Secret Team" (1972). Prouty served as a liaison officer between the Pentagon and the CIA between 1955 and 1963.
"In an effort to account for the success of its work with these 'refugees' the SMM [Saigon Military Mission] declared its tactics to include 'psychological warfare.' Today, we would more accurately call it terrorism. Is it any wonder that the program labeled 'Communist-inspired insurgency' that emerged in the south arose because this horde of displaced people was forced to fight for food, shelter, and the necessities of life? This is the way that the CIA and its sponsors made war in Vietnam. By late 1960 our own forces had created the concept of 'counterinsurgency'."

- Col. Fletcher Prouty "The CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy"
"Under Phoenix, or Phung Hoang, as it was called by the Vietnamese, due process was totally nonexistent. South Vietnamese civilians whose names appeared on blacklists could be kidnapped, tortured, detained for two years without trial, or even murdered, simply on the word of an anonymous informer...At its height Phoenix managers imposed quotas of eighteen hundred neutralizations per month on the people running the program in the field, opening up the program to abuses by corrupt security officers, policemen, politicians, and racketeers, all of whom extorted innocent civilians as well as VCI [Viet Cong Infrastructure]...By scrutinizing the [Phoenix] program as a symbol of the dark side of the human psyche...[it will aid] to articulate the subtle ways in which the Vietnam War changed how Americans think about themselves. about terror and its role in political, as successive American governments sink deeper and deeper into the vortex of covert operations - ostensibly to combat terrorism and Communist insurgencies - the American people gradually lose touch with the democratic ideas that once defined their national self-concept. This...asks [the question] what happens when Phoenix comes home to roost."

- Douglas Valentine "The Phoenix Program"
How the CIA and US Special Forces Manufactured a Migrant Crisis and Orwellian Police State in Vietnam Before Going to the Americas

Hell on Earth
These "smart city" concentration camps were first implemented in Vietnam under Lansdale's "Civic Action" program and were tasked to the US Special Forces/Green Berets (to which Lansdale had revived and reformed for these very purposes) under the Phoenix Program in Vietnam, and later in central and south America under Operation Condor.

The Magic Box with the Red Eye

By Col. Fletcher Prouty [a chapter from his book CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy]

"This is the story of a people who endured war for thirty years, who were driven from farm and home, and who had no way to get food, water, and the other necessities of life other than banditry.

As veteran bandits they became good fighters - so good that we credited their success to Ho Chi Minh, to General Giap, to Mao Tse-tung, to the Soviets, and, at times, to our own doves. They fought to earth, to live. Some called them the Vietcong. IN their own country they were known as the 'dangerous brothers' rather than the enemy. They were terrorized refugees in their own homeland, the beggars, the people of a ravaged land.


Glorified in the pages of National Geographic magazine as the home of the carefree, naked, little brown man, Vietnam has for centuries been considered one of Earth's garden spots, a place where man had only to exist to live comfortably. Deep in the forest on the mountains, the Rhade (Rah-Day) tribesmen have lived for hundreds of years. They grow crops. They raise chickens and pigs. They have been lumbermen. They lived easily with the French for generations and managed to coexist with the neighboring tribes, because they were strong. The Rhade are a closely knit, self-disciplined group.

After the great defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu by the Vietminh army under General Giap, the French lieutenant of police left the Rhade area, taking with him his family and his few belongings. In his place a Rhade corporal took over the police powers, and things continued about the same, except that European-style law and order ended. The village elders, or Huong-ca, resumed their political functions under their own traditional council.


[Search for food] often this search becomes banditry, and banditry, that last refuge of the desperate and starving - is a violent business - so violent that in this case it led to the uninitiated to believe that there was a wave of 'Communist-inspired subversive insurgency' in the land, under the command of General Hunger.


During the early, amateurish days of the ten-year Diem dynasty, in that newly defined piece of real estate that was called South Vietnam, there was considerable misinterpretation. Little did Ngo Dinh Diem, that foreign mandarin and erstwhile Father of His Country, realize that by issuing an edict removing French influence he was bringing an end to law and order, such as it was. Nor did he realize that by promulgating a second edict banning the Chinese, he was causing the basic tribal economy - marketplace bartering and produce movement - to vanish.

The French did not return; neither did the Chinese. But one day the old padre [Cynthia's note: French Catholic priest, likely Jesuit. Recall from part III of my series that the Jesuits had been heavily involved in Vietnam for centuries before the Vietnam War] came back...This fragile gentleman [French priest] had new clothes and new shoes, and he rode into the village in a jeep...The padre dismounted and spoke to his old friends. Then he introduced the young driver of the jeep, explaining that this young white man was American, not French, and that the other passenger was a Vietnamese from the faraway city of Saigon.

The padre said the French no longer govern the country but that a great man named Ngo Dinh Diem was the president of this new bit of land called 'South Vietnam' and that his palace was in Saigon.

The padre avoided mention of Ho Chi Minh and the northern government. He knew it would be useless to try to explain that Ho Chi Minh's Nationalist government was not the government of all Indochina. It would be too complicated, it would not be believed, and the Rhade would not care much one way or the other anyhow. The Rhade had lived in their ancestral areas for centuries and cared little for the outside whether it was represented by Japanese, French, American, Vietminh or Saigonese officials.

The padre, the young American, and the Vietnamese official returned many times. After a while, the American was welcomed without the priest and often stayed for weeks. He was interested in animal husbandry and agriculture. He bought with him some poultry and a new breed of hog that he taught them to raise...the American became a familiar figure, and his hard work and gifts of chickens, pigs, candy, and cigarettes were always welcome. Then one day he came with the Magic Box.

...The Magic Box rested on the hood of the jeep while several young men dug a hole in front of the patriarch's hut...Now a tall, sturdy, upright pedestal stood in front of the chieftain's hut. To this, the American affixed a tin roof as shelter. Then he removed the shiny jet-black Magic Box from the jeep and nailed it firmly to the post, about four feet above the ground, just the right height for the Huong-ca and above the prying hands of the children.

After the box was secured, the padre told the villagers all about the Magic Box and how it would work, about the wonders it would produce to save them from communism. He told them that this box was a most miraculous radio and that it would speak to their brothers in Saigon. It was, in their language, powerful medicine.

At the same time, he warned that only the village patriarch could touch the box. If anyone else did so, the kindly government in Saigon would be most angry, and the village would be punished. The padre told the villagers that whenever they were attacked, the patriarch should push the big red button on the box, and that was all.

At this point in their Village Defense Orientation Program, the Viet soldier and the American interrupted the padre and ordered him to repeat that if the village was attacked by the Communist Vietcong from the forest - emphasizing the "Communist Vietcong" - the patriarch was to push the button. To the Viet solder and the American, the men in the forest were not starving and frightened refugees, they were the enemy.

Because the elderly padre knew that these native people had never heard of the Vietcong, he explained that his friends called all bandits from the refugee camps in the forest "Vietcong" and that the Vietcong were to be greatly feared because they were the puppets of the National Liberation Front, who were the puppets of Hanoi, who were the puppets of the Chinese, who were the puppets of the Soviets, ad infinitum.

The padre explained that when the patriarch pushed that shiny red button on the Magic Box, the powerful gods of Saigon would unleash vengeful armies through the air, and the dreaded Vietcong would be blasted by bombs from airplanes and napalmed from helicopters. And the village would be liberated and pacified. He also told them that every village that had been selected by the Father of His Country in Saigon to receive the Magic Box would forever thereafter be furnished food, medicine, and special care.

The Rhade would receive these 'benefits' whether they wanted them or not. For they knew only too well that the villages that had plenty of food and medicine and that were the special elect of Saigon were always the first targets for the starving bandits. They knew enough to know that they would live in fear of the Magic Box and its munificence.

Ever since the day when the padre had returned with the American, the village had received special medicine and food relief. The 'Extended Arms for Brotherhood' program of the new president of Saigon was caring for these tribesmen. Shortly after the first time this extra food had been delivered, the village had been visited by some young men from the camps in the woods. They sat with the patriarch all day and quietly but firmly explained that they came from a refugee camp that was hidden in the hills and that was caring for thousands of homeless natives from the south (Cochin China) who had been driven from their homes by the Diem-backed police and hordes of northern (Tonkinese) invaders.

These people had fled from their wasted homes. They had been enemies in every new region they came to, and now, terrorized and starving, sick and dying, they had had to turn to that last resort of mankind, banditry and pillage. These countless refugees, in their own homeland, had fled the careless deprivations and brutal massacres of the benevolent forces of Saigon. They wished to be peaceful, but they desperately needed food and medicine. They demanded that the village share some of its plentiful goods with them. This arrangement, although unappealing to the village, was accepted, and for a while it kept a fragile peace between the two worlds. However, the refugee numbers swelled, and their demands became greater and greater.

It wasn't long before the Saigon political observer and the padre reported to the American that they suspected that the patriarch was collaborating with the 'enemy'...The refugees had become the 'enemy', and the Americans' word for 'enemy' was Vietcong. The political leader had explained to the patriarch that collaboration with the Vietcong meant death for him and removal of the village people to a Citizens' Retraining Camp or a 'Strategic Hamlet', as the Americans liked to call it. No matter what their benefactors chose to call these displacement centers, they were prisons to the natives.

The more or less peaceful demands of the refugees became adamant orders as their needs increased. What had begun as a reluctant sharing of food became submission to force and banditry. The ranks of the refugees swelled as the exodus from such areas as the no-man's land of the once-prosperous and fertile Mekong Delta area of the Camu Peninsula turned into a vast and relentless human wave.

Comment: From: "How the CIA and US Special Forces Manufactured a Migrant Crisis and Orwellian Police State in Vietnam Before Going to the Americas"
Tonkinese refuges
Images and their captions are from Proutyโ€™s book The CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy.

A situation not unlike that of the Native American migrations westward took place. Each tribe, displaced from its ancestral homeland by the white man, became marauders and attackers in the territory of the next Indian nation. Thus it was that tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of once-peaceful, docile, and reasonably well-to-do rice farmers became the feared, terrorized bandits called the Vietcong.

Several nights later, the village was raided...For the first time since the installation of the radio, the old man crept out of his hut and stood before the Magic Box. In the deep darkness of the forest night, the red glow of the buzzer filled the sky with its talismanic power...knowing that he would be calling down the might of the Village Self-Defense Forces and that he would bring down the full wrath of the dread People's Arms of Brotherhood upon his village.

Yet if he did not push that button, he and his people would suffer the fate of collaborators. He had no real choice.

...Hunger is the general of these armies. Hunger provides a terrible motivation of its own. It needs no ideological boost from Moscow or Peking. The blind, ignorant actions of General Hunger are all it takes to create a war...This explains why napalm, bombings, and defoliation tactics created more instead of less war and created it in a short time. The victims were deprived of food and had to fight for it, without delay. The people who had raided the village were of this hunger, refugee populace.

...He knew that many other elders had resisted the refugees and had been slain by them out of the necessity for food. He knew that others who had sympathized with the refugees had been brutally taken to retraining camps (prisons) by the political observers and had suffered cruelly there. He knew that there was no hope. No alternative. The good, the medicine, and 'Operation Brotherhood' from Saigon had sealed the fate of the villagers and doomed them to the dread final tactic called 'Pacification.' He pushed the glowing red button. The Magic Box did the rest.

A sleep-dulled South Vietnamese Special Forces elite trooper saw the flickering warming light on the situation map. Grid Code 1052 was hostile!...There was no two-way capability with the village radio equipment, no way to discuss the attack or to evaluate the warning from the village chieftain. Any signal was hostile in the Village Defense Network, and 'hostile' meant 'retaliate.'

...The Viet trooper took one look at the American Green Beret soldier of the Special Forces 'A' Team who was sleeping in a native hammock nearby. He knew that after two minute the flickering red light would cease automatically. On so many other occasions when the American had been out in the village drinking beer with the other 'A' Team members and with the young girls of the 'White Dove Resistance Sisters,' he had let other warning lights flicker out without sounding the alert. He realized that the Pandora's box problem caused many red-light [false] alerts.

...They appeared to be 'enemy' on both sides [from an American point of view], and the general rule was to shoot at anyone who ran, regardless of who that person might be. From such a 'rescue' the villagers had but one alternative, and that was to flee with the refugees and become 'Vietcong,' or 'enemy' in their own homeland.

...The Green Beret veteran of Fort Bragg's stern indoctrination grabbed the single-sideband radio mike and called Division Alert. In minutes, sirens sounded and engines began to roar. Truckloads of South Vietnamese Special Forces - the elite civilian, CIA-trained troops of Ngo Dinh Nhu - roared off into the early-morning quiet of Ahn Lac Air Base.

Helicopter maintenance crews readied the ungainly craft. Twenty pilots dashed to the briefing room. Twenty crews were being assembled. This one was going to be all-out; it was the first attack reported from the Rhade zone.

Intelligence had predicted a vast enemy buildup in the area, including a reportedly heavy preparatory movement on the trails of Laos. The dread border of Cambodia was seen to be a beehive of activity. Everything pointed to a massive National Liberation Front/North Vietnamese masterstroke against a new attack zone. The enemy must be stopped not with a resolute counterattack.

As the semitropical dawn burst in all its pink brilliance over Ahn Lac, twenty helicopter stirred up a hurricane of dust as they prepared for the convoy flight to Thuc Dho. Six of the choppers were gun carriers; the remaining fourteen carried 140 armed troops.


The Village Self-Defense Network helicopter force was an incredible organization. Each helicopter could carry ten armed men one hundred miles in one day. With a one-hundred-mile radius for the helicopter and a convoy speed of twenty-five knots, it would be four hours each way, for a total of eight hours in the air.

Since army/civilian helicopter maintenance was operating at a commendable 49% in-commission rate, it took no fewer than forty choppers to assure the availability of twenty for the Thuc Dho mission. The forty helicopters were supported by two aviation companies of about two hundred men each, a total of four hundred men.

These companies were in turn supported by a supply squadron and a maintenance squadron of two hundred men each. And all of these squadrons were supported by house-keeping units, transportation units, base-defense units, fuel-storage units, and fuel-delivery units. Never before in the history of warfare had so much been expended to accomplish so little as was being demonstrated by sending 140 fighting men in response to the flashing red light of the Magic Box of Station #1052.

[Cynthia's note: no wonder helicopters today are rarely ever used in war zones due to the poor performance, however, they have found a use patrolling within American cities.]

Comment: As Col. Fletcher Prouty also mentions in his book, The Secret Team:
Few people realized how some of these operations got started, and how important some of these seemingly small things were in the escalation of Vietnam. The Agency brought a squadron of helicopters down from Laos, and immediately these complicated machines needed a great number of skilled men to support them; then these vast agglomerations of men and machines created their own requirements for additional men to protect them and to feed, house, and support them. The first helicopters came in under the wraps of secrecy. No one seemed to know how they got there; but once they were there the great logistics tail that was essential to keep them operating had to be built in the open, without classification. It could not have been kept secret, even if anyone had tried.

...In the direct sunlight of early afternoon, the airborne force arrived at Thuc Dho...The gunships hovered over the area, ready to suppress any movement below with direct machine-gun fire.

...Crewmen saw to it that the silent South Vietnamese Special Forces elite troops jumped out immediately...In the commotion and difficulty of this maneuver, the second and third choppers of the third wave had touched blades as they neared touch-down. Both machines had disintegrated.

As the last wave settled on the field, two circling gunships opened fire into the high grass near the forest. This was the opening action. The troopers on the ground flattened out and fired rapidly and blindly...The circling, unarmed Hueys began to back away. At that instant, two of them dropped back to the ground...the natives had learned that a crude bow held by the feet of a man lying on his back in the grass could be most effective against low-flying choppers. The arrow was a heavy stick that trailed wire, rope, or even a vine. Since the rotor is the most vulnerable part of the helicopter, this crude weapon, fired to 'hang' this hazard in the air, brought down many a chopper. First reports indicated engine or rotor failure, since there was no gunfire or other hostile action observed.

...Sixteen of the 120 were of a Green Beret "A" Team. The radio man was in contact with the spotter aircraft, which directed them to the village. Here in the smoldering ruin of grass huts there was not a sign of life...With only a few hours of daylight left, the "A" Team lieutenant placed his troops into defensive positions for the night. Thuc Dho had been regained. The Magic Box had proved its value.

In the early morning hours when the first word about Thuc Dho had been relayed to the Division Combat Center, it was also relayed to USMACV (US Military Assistance Command - Vietnam) Headquarters in Saigon.

Here all Village Self-Defense Forces information was collated into a report that was sent directly to the Pentagon. With the twelve-hour time differential, the Pentagon and the intelligence community were able to compile all data relayed from Southeast Asia into an early-morning briefing for the President and his immediate staff.

...[the briefing explained that] Green Beret "A" Team troops established their base...and sent out South Vietnamese Special Forces scouting teams to establish contact with the 'enemy'. The efforts of these elite troops were ineffectual. The 'enemy' had slipped away. A few elderly villagers, along with young children, were found cowering in holes and huddled in the forests.

When interrogated concerning the attack and the whereabout of the village patriarch and the able-bodied men, the captives stared in ignorance. Most of all, they were confused when asked about the 'enemy.' They kept referring to the 'Viet Kha' - the Vietnamese term for 'beggars': the refugees - but the overzealous interpreter translated this to mean the Vietcong. This confirmed for the eager lieutenant [present during the president's morning briefing] that he had stumbled upon a major Vietcong encampment...All the dead were Vietcong. They had to be.

...Although it was no secret, it was not generally known that Ngo Dinh Nhu's elite Special Forces were under the absolute control of the CIA. Since they were, it was in the interest of the intelligence community to assure that the role of these elite troops be at least the equivalent of the US Army's. Saigon's CIA headquarters outdid itself building up all information available about Thuc Dho. The US Army Special Forces "A" Team, all Fort Bragg trained, were bona fide army soldiers, but their commander, a rather unorthodox major, was a CIA man on an army cover assignment.

...[a larger meeting was organised to discuss the 'findings' of the Thuc Dho situation] If, as reported by the captive villagers, the battalion had fled into the woods, and if, as reported by the Green Beret (CIA) major, the battalion was now surrounded in the woods by the elite South Vietnamese Special Forces troops, then why wasn't the Vietcong battalion being flushed out, then annihilated or captured?...The secretary designate grasped the significance of what had been said and fired another question at the briefing officers and at the room in general 'If we can create the capability to go to the aid of a beleaguered village, as we have done at Thuc Dho, but then having done this we find the village vacant and the enemy fled, how can we ever expect to win the war? We must destroy the enemy.'

An acorn had been planted, and a vast oak grew. Immediately one of the CIA men half-raised a hand...'Sir,' he said, 'that is a most searching question. It gets to the root of our problem...You have seen the example of Thuc Dho. Fortunately, the village had been prepared by one of our agents and they had a transmitter that linked them to the Village Self-Defense Network. As a result we were able to strike back at once. But this is too little. No network is any good if it is full of holes. We must organize every hamlet, every village, every tribe. Then this Communist-supported enemy can be driven from this peaceful country...

The secretary bought it.

By January 1961, an 'Advanced Counterinsurgency Course', designed specifically to train thousands of Green Berets for Vietnam, had been hastily lifted from Civil Affairs and Military Government School at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and put at Fort Bragg.

...But a corner had been turned. Quietly and efficiently, the orders went out. One of the key items was the radio transmitter. The one at Thuc Dho had been a test unit. Within weeks a special order for thousands of these transmitters had been placed with the manufacturer and given the highest priority. Shortly after the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, these transmitters were being bolted to posts in village after village to augment and facilitate the Strategic Hamlet campaign.

Not too many months later, the new secretary of defense, Robert McNamara [part of the RAND Whiz kids], made his first visit to South Vietnam...By the time the secretary saw it...the South Vietnamese Special Forces elite troops, and the American Green Berets had worn paths through the area rehearsing and reenacting the famous attack for visiting dignitaries [Cynthia's note: through Fun and Games tactics, mock battles staged for unaware observers.]

The once-lush hills had been dug up by bombs, seared by napalm, defoliated by chemical genocide. But the center of interest was always the black plastic box with the red eye, the famous Magic Box number 1052, the trigger of the expanded war in Vietnam."

[Prouty's Note: There were many such villages as described in this story. Thuc Dho is a name created to represent a typical one. The story was compiled from the author's personal trips to Vietnam and liaison with the CIA between 1955 and 1964.]