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These records are available in the National Archives and Records Administration to anyone with enough ambition to go there and photocopy them. Oliver and Smith choose not to do that, instead relying on confidential sources.
This reliance on confidential sources is the only reason the Tailwind controversy continues to swirl. Oliver and Smith explain every discrepency in their reportage by saying that a confidential source provided "proof". Using this defense is a perfect way to prevent others from refuting their allegations, since they can hide behind source confidentiality.
If you examine their named sources however, you get a sense that the sources who are reluctant to come forward have a darned good reason to want to remain anonymous. The reason is that they are probably frauds. An examination of their key named sources, Jay Graves, James Cathey, and Bob Worn reveals the following.
"I interviewed Mr. Graves; he told me on camera he was never in Laos; he was in Vietnam. I've got his military records; the military records shows that he was not in SOG, he was part of the mobile strike force, based at Nha Trang. That still wasn't good enough. I then tracked down his battalion commander, and two other members of his company in the strike force, who distinctly remember him on an operation in I Corp in the Happy Valley in Vietnam, not Laos."
Jay Graves transmitted a FAX to the Special Forces Association on June 26 stating catagorically that he did not participate in Operation Tailwind. This FAX was included in the Department of Defense Review of Allegations Concerning Operation Tailwind handout, released July 21.
James Cathey was an Air Force supply sergeant stationed at the Bien Hoa Air Base in southern Vietnam (III Corp). James Cathey's DA-201 file, obtained by the DOD from the Personnel Records Branch in St. Louis, Missouri, reveals that Cathey was a supply clerk, had no combat training, and certainly none of the specialized training that would have been required for him to have been "selected" to particpate in a covert cross-border raid into Laos.
At the Pentagon press conference on July 21, the Army historian who did the background searches on the alleged members of the Tailwind mission said this about James Cathey's claim to have been on the mission in Laos:
Cathey's story, as related to Oliver and Smith, is that he went to Saigon on a three-day in-country pass. While there, he was approached by "friends" who asked him to go on a secret mission into Laos as a "Rat-pack commando". He claims that the three-day pass, his only form of "proof", clearly shows he was not in Bien Hoa during September 11-14, 1970.
Oliver was directed to Cathey by Robert Van Buskirk. Cathey is in the prison ministry business as is Van Buskirk.
Both Oliver and Cathey claim that because of the "black" nature of the mission, no substantiation of Cathey's dubious claims can be provided. Oliver goes a step further and in a display of truly bizarre logic states that the "proof is that there is no proof". In other words, the very fact that there is no documentation to substantiate the wild claims of her named sources proves that what they claim is true, according to April.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that Graves and Cathey were not on the mission, Oliver simply falls back on the "black ops" defense to explain away the contradictions. Yet her logic seems woefully convuluted when you consider that everyone else on the Tailwind mission has documentary evidence proving that they were there. Yet no one, on the record anyway, has come forward to say that Graves and Cathey were what the said they were.
Here is the letter Worn sent to CNN:
Cable News Network
Re: Agent GB (Sarin)
I and several of my fellow airmen that served in Studies and Observation Group (SOG) are happy and relieved that the story on the use of the hideous agent GB (Sarin) finally was put before the American people.
Your Peter Arnett did a short, shallow expose on SOG on Impact several months ago. In my letter to you immediately after the airing of the segment, I urged you to look deeper, beyond the "tip of the iceberg" at SOG and Operations such as Tailwind (originally "Illwind"), Heavy Chain, Heavy Anchor, Star-light, Bright Boy, Phoenix, etc.
The stockpiling and use of agents such as GB (Sarin) and just-as-lethal CS (also used in the Waco raid) together with biological warfare agents was almost commonplace in "special covert ops" carried out by the air arm of SOG, First Flight Detachment, based at Nha Trang, RVN. As Mr. Arnett pointed out in the Impact article, if we could not recover "assets" shot down and/or captured by the Viet Cong, we would divert an Arc-Light air strike into the area. If an airstrike could not be diverted in a timely manner, close-in support aircraft were deployed to the area to dispense special, lethal chemical agents, sometimes referred to as "the worst of the worst". Assets could not be permitted to be exploited by the VC nor could the knowledge and expertise they possessed be compromised. At all times we had to guaranty that the president had total "plausible deniability".
The lab and storage area (among others) for such agents as well as other hideous weapons was "House 50" in Saigon. Logistics and delivery of "covert agents" was accomplished by the aircraft assigned to SOG, UC-123K "Tailhook" black birds, A1-E close-in support aircraft, UH1-E (twin engine) helicopters ("Huey 2") and F4-G(U) "Wild Weasel". The "Wild Weasel" aircraft assigned to SOG carried radiation seaking missiles that would home in on and destroy radio frequency sources, from enemy gun-laying and surface-to-air (SAM) control radars to the "special" one that would home in on civilian radio stations and agricultural truck transmitters used in the worst examples of psychological warfare.
Rest assured, this country of ours can never again sing the song, "Onward Christian Soldiers" ... Christian soldiers we're not!
Major Bob Worn (USAF, Retired)
Intell Officer, First Flight Detachment (the flying arm of SOG), Nha Trang AB, RVN
2305 Tilman Drive
Of particular note here are his references to "just-as-lethal CS", and a missle that homed-in on "agricultural truck transmitters". These should be a tip-off that this guy's assertions are suspect.
Further, Worn goes a (big) step beyond Oliver's claim that defectors were targeted and claims that B-52 strikes (Arclight) were "diverted" to kill anyone who was in danger of being captured by the VC because "Assets could not be permitted to be exploited by the VC nor could the knowledge and expertise they possessed be compromised".
This last statement pushes the bar up a few notches at the very least. Despite the fact that Worn recently recanted these wild accusations, Oliver is still, as recently as the July 22 Freedom Forum Breakfast, using Worn as an example of her credible "sources". Here is what Oliver had to say in defense of Bob Worn:
Then I had another call, in fact, there's a man who put a letter out on the Internet, a Major Bob Worn, put his name out there, he wrote to us the week after the broadcast and said, I and some other SOG Special Operations Wing pilots are so relieved that the word of sarin nerve gas use is finally out there. He went on to describe how 800 to 1,000 lbs of the nerve gas were kept at the House of Ten in Saigon, which was the CIA headquarters, but the main bulk of the storage was at NKP, the secret air base that we referred to. He came forward, I had a long conversation with him, he said he's a fundamentalist Christian he had great concerns about coming forward, because he knew his family would a huge toll, but he thought it was the appropriate thing to do. Three days ago, I got another E-mail from him, retracting saying that he'd been called by the Pentagon, that under pressure and duress from the Pentagon, he's retracting what he told, what he said in that letter. And his sign-off was, "God bless this once-great country of ours." This was a man who had courage to step forward, but then the other thing that letter said, "and now they're telling me that I never served in SOG, that they had no records of me ever having served." So, what seems to be happening, is every time some one takes the baby step forward, that they can clamp down on, and I'm not sure all of the language that's being used to shut them up, that, clearly, this is something that someone very much doesn't want to have legs, and it takes a lot of guts to come forward in this climate to begin with, when you see the kind of heat we're getting.
Everyone who agrees with Oliver, no matter how spurious their story and no matter how checkered their background, is credible. Everyone who disagrees with her is at the very least not credible, and at worst part of a conspiracy to discredit her. If a source recants a phony story, then it's because the source was subjected to pressure including death threats, according to April.
Oliver and Jack Smith also complained that the Floyd Abrams analysis of their reportage unfairly demands proof of their fantastic allegations. Both Oliver and Smith are outraged that anyone would demand proof, saying that they are reporters, whose job it was to report what people told them, and not to gather proof.
It should be clear why CNN fired these two goofs. What's not clear is how they got hired in the first place. Both have said that they are going to work as "free-lance" journalists for awhile. I guess in their lexicon "free-lance" means "unemployed". For the sake of good journalism, lets hope they remain "free-lance" for a long, long time.
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