- This is true. It happened. And it happened
in the United States of America and in Vietnam.
- Continued suppression of the following
facts and circumstances provides history to repeat itself. It already
- The United States Government claims that
publication of this matter will be inimical to the National Security of
our country. A more accurate phrase would be National Embarrassment.
Stonewalling on this issue has worked for thirty years. Stonewalling works.
It is time to take down the wall.
- On January 30, 1968, a Top Secret General
Court-Martial concluded that United States Army Special Forces Captain
John McCarthy had murdered a Cambodian "peasant". Although facing
the Death Penalty, the court sentenced McCarthy to "..be confined
at hard labor for the term of your natural life." Deliberation on
sentencing took all of three minutes. Amazingly enough, the sentence to
confinement for life DID NOT include reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay
and allowances, nor dismissal from the service. This remains a precedence
in the history of Military Justice, i.e., an accusation followed shortly
by a conviction.
- McCarthy was the Case Officer in Saigon,
of a CIA directed covert operation code-named PROJECT CHERRY. The operational
mission of CHERRY was a redundant, three-pronged assassination team targeted
against Prince NORODOM SIHANOUK, the Head of State of Cambodia.
- Although McCarthy was technically a member
of the United States Military and Special Forces, his role as Case Officer
of PROJECT CHERRY necessitated an elaborate Cover Story as a member of
the Department of Defense and covered by identification issued by the United
States Embassy in Saigon under an assumed name. This included absolute
directives not to openly associate with any members of the our military
forces in Vietnam.
- PROJECT CHERRY was not a Special Forces
mission. This CIA activity employed Special Forces personnel who were
selected for their expertise in relevant skills necessary for the conduct
of BLACK TERROR and ASSASSINATION. The Project was buried deep within
a Military Intelligence unit which itself was operating under the guise
of a Civic Action Team, a common CIA cover for covert operations world
wide. Although members of the Civic Action team wore various military
uniforms and carried on activities as though they were legitimate military
officers, some were full time CIA Agents.
- The "operational" members of
PROJECT CHERRY were CAMBODIANS recruited from the KHMER SEREI, the Government-in-Exile
from Cambodia, violently anti-SIHANOUK and dedicated to the overthrow of
the Cambodian Government. The KHMER SEREI was recognized by the Vietnamese
Government and operated openly in Vietnam. PROJECT CHERRY employed twelve
members of the KHMER SEREI. Their missions included the conduct of BLACK
TERROR against the civilian population of Cambodia, while leaving evidence
of their atrocities blaming Cambodian forces for their actions. The purpose
of these activities was to create CIVIL UNREST and a rebellion against
the SIHANOUK Regime. It worked. Similar operations utilizing KHMER SEREI
were also directed from the United States Embassy in Bankok, Thailand.
- PROJECT CHERRY, it turns out, had been
compromised by the penetration of an individual who, while holding the
rank as the First Secretary of the KHMER SEREI, was the PRINCIPAL AGENT
of PROJECT CHERRY and also an operative Agent of the SOVIET KGB. He was
also employed by the SIHANOUK Government at the same time. This information
was provided to the United States Embassy in Saigon in February, 1967,
by the Leader of the KHMER SEREI, SON NGOC THANH. The Americans of PROJECT
CHERRY were not notified of this revelation. This Triple Agent's name
was INCHIN LAM. As Principal Agent, LAM coordinated the activities of the
Cambodian members of PROJECT CHERRY and also packed the parachutes used
by all team members, including the Americans. Lam was also involved in
the murder of one of the Cambodian members of PROJECT CHERRY.
- During the course of events in November,
1967, McCarthy was directed to disband PROJECT CHERRY, supposedly for budgetary
considerations, and disburse its members to collateral organizations.
All Cambodian members of PROJECT CHERRY were subsequently rehired by Special
Operations Groups targeting Cambodia, with the exception of INCHIN LAM,
the Principal Agent, who could not be rehired due to unknown reasons.
The only response from those employing other members of PROJECT CHERRY
was that, "..they would not touch LAM with a ten foot pole".
LAM's association with the Soviet KGB and the SIHANOUK Regime was not
known to McCarthy at that time. (It was later learned that the CIA was
frantically attempting to re-double LAM against the KGB and was releasing
him from all covert activities in this attempt).
- LAM was taken from his "Safe House"
in Saigon by McCarthy and one of his sergeants, and driven during the hours
of darkness north from the city to an area occupied by a Special Forces
Detachment at Ho Ngoc Tao. The purpose of this trip was to question LAM
because of other issues which had just come to light during attempts to
re-hire him. During the ride LAM was shot and killed from outside the
vehicle by persons unknown. By McCarthy's direction, the vehicle was driven
to the Special Forces Detachment and directives were given to contanct
an individual to assist in the temporary disposal of LAM. It was anticipated
that LAM's remains would be turned over to the KHMER SEREI, as were other
members in case of death.
- Shortly after returning to Saigon, McCarthy
was arrested and accused of the murder of INCHIN LAM. Within three days
the United States Embassy in Saigon provided a $25,000 Death Gratuity to
the KHMER SEREI in hopes of appeasing them over LAM's death. The KHMER
SEREI were somewhat confused. Although they did not express surprise or
anger in LAM's death, they could not understand why the United States government
was going to prosecute McCarthy. After all, they had told the Embassy
months earlier of LAM's true allegiance. The KHMER SEREI subsequently
presented McCarthy with a plate of gold and a commendation, since the US
government had provided McCarthy's real name as the culprit in this matter.
The KHMER SEREI kept the $25,000 but they wondered how anyone could be
tried for such a "revolutionary" act.
- After sixty five days of confinement
at Long Binh, Vietnam, in a 5 x 7 foot "box", topped with chicken
wire, a continuously burning light bulb, and a tin roof, McCarthy was tried
and convicted of Premeditated Murder. The TET offensive of January 30,
1968, began twenty five minutes later.
- The governments key witness at trial,
held virtually en-camera, was a pathologist. Captain Richard T Mason testified
as an 'expert" witness that LAM was killed by a .22 caliber bullet
with the muzzle of the weapon held loosely or tightly, "but in any
case against the neck" of the victim, LAM. This testimony compelled
the jury to convict, dispite contrary evidence. There was also testimony
about "stingers" at trial; single shot .22 caliber devices made
for the CIA as assassination weapons. Although McCarthy had a .38 caliber
revolver, and the sergeant with him that night had a 9mm pistol, it was
Mason's expert testimony that won the day.
- After five months in the 5 x 7 foot "box",
McCarthy was transported to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in a "prison
- During September, 1968, Mason recanted
his in-court testimony, in writing. He sent the recantation to Lieutenant
Colonel PIERRE FINCK, his boss at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology,
in Washington, D.C. FINCK had conducted the autopsy on President John
F Kennedy, in November of 1963, and testified before the WARREN COMMISSION.
FINCK was contacted in 1969 by one of McCarthy's lawyers but denied knowledge
of any new or relevant information in the case. Mason didn't think it necessary
nor appropriate to advise McCarthy or his lawyers of his recantation.
- In 1970, a lawyer working for FINCK approached
McCarthy's attorney in the Pentagon Cafeteria and asked if he had seen
the "McCarthy File".
- Expressing surprise, both attorneys proceeded
to FINCK's office and located the filing cabinet. The first document in
the file was Mason's recantation. The second item was an FBI Lab report
signed by J Edgar HOOVER. This lab report was in response to a request
for analysis of a bullet fragment removed during the autopsy of LAM. The
FBI Lab report, dated February 9, 1968, ten days after trial, states that
the make, caliber and manufacturer of the bullet fragment could not be
determined. However, the report continued, a piece of quartz was stuck
to the bullet fragment. When LAM was shot, the front windshield of the
vehicle had shattered, and there had been a hole in the windshield two
inches from the passenger side post. Again, Mason had not thought it necessary
nor appropriate to notify defense attorneys or McCarthy. The FBI sent the
bullet fragment back to Vietnam seperately from the Lab report. The bullet
fragment was lost in the REGISTERED mail. McCarthy's defense team never
had the opportunity to independently analyze the fragment.
- McCarhy's lawyers immediately filed a
brief with the appellate court, which cited Mason's recantation as "newly
found evidence and fraud on the court". The conviction was set aside
and a new trial was ordered. One of the three appellate judges disagreed
with the recommendation for a new trial. To him, McCarthy's "record
in intelligence and intelligence related operations, as well as the military
skills associated therewith, which he has developed," made it in defiance
of "logic" that he would have murdered "the victim in the
manner developed by the Government at trial and urged upon us during appellate
argument." Terming McCarthy a "proven officer, thoroughly trained
in intelligence operations, well-disciplined and sensitive to the ramifications
of all actions, not only with regard to the United States but to other
political entities whose interests might be affected," that judge
said the court should have forbidden a retrial. Then Government prosecutors
described the possibility of a conviction at a new trial as "highly
unlikely" and the charge of Premeditated Murder was dismissed on January
8, 1971. Immediately followling the dismissal, the following organizations
were friefed because of anticipated fallout; CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY,
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, STATE DEPARTMENT,
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNSEL, and THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT (NIXON).
- The US Government was so anxious to obtain
a conviction at trial they had resorted to FABRICATING evidence in the
guise of Mason's EXPERT testimony. Statements by the ranking member of
the court-martial board revealed that had Mason's recantation been known
or the FBI Lab report been available, the court would not have reached
a guilty verdict. However, this same board member did state that if the
Government had thought McCarthy innocent, they certainly would not have
tried him for Murder, and the court had their duty to convict. Therein
lies the rub and the miscue of Military Justice. The statement of "we
don't know how he did it but we think he did it" exemplifies the issue.
- In 1984, under the Freedom of Information
Act, a search of the files in the STATE DEPARTMENT was requested with negative
results. No files existed with respect to the above. Howeveer, in the
office of the ASSISTANT CHIEF OF STAFF FOR INTELLIGENCE (ACSI) in the Pentagon,
an affidavit dated 1968, written by the Assistant Chief of Staff addresses
the concern by the STATE DEPARTMENT over the issue of granting McCarthy's
civilian attorney a Top Secret clearance in order to review the files in
the above matter. STATE's concern was that information in the McCarthy
matter, if leaked, would seriously effect the Foreign Policy of the United
States. And, of course, STATE was briefed on January 8, 1971. During
the summer of 1968, STATE had requested copies of the Record of Trial and
allied paperwork from McCarthy's defense counsel in ;the Pentagon. After
reviewing the material for a week, the representative from STATE returned
the documents with the comment; "Had we known that this information
was going to be revealed, WE would never had allowed the trial to proceed
in the first place." And yet there are no records on this matter
at the STATE DEPARTMENT. This is of greater significance than just denying
the existence of files. What it really means is that STATE was not aware
of PROJECT CHERRY to begin with, and although BLACK TERROR and ASSASSINATION
missions were under the purview of the CIA, the STATE DEPARTMENT would
have known of these activities when sanctioned by the President. Because
STATE was not privy to these activities in Cambodia, there stands a very
good chance that the operations conducted by PROJECT CHERRY were a ROGUE
CIA directed activity designed to prolong and extend the war in South East
- On February 8, 1970 in an article in
the Washington Post entitled "Terminated Agent May Haunt U.S., Murray
Marder would write: (W)hile comparatively obscure, the McCarthy case carries
a larger potential for international complications than the celebrated
Green Beret case." Eleven months later the charge was dismissed.
- The Constitution of The United States
guarantee all citizens the right to seek redress for grievances against
the Government. The exception to this First Ammendment Right is the FERES
Doctrine adopted by Congress in 1952, which states that no member of the
Armed Forces may seek redress for grievances which is "incidental
to service". Therefore, those citizens who wear their countries uniform
into battle in order to protect the Constitution, forfeit their Rights
under the Constitution. There is no recourse.
- John McCarthy honorably left the service
on August 2, 1971 after eleven years and six months active duty. His written
statement on request for release from active duty was simply put: "I
no longer have the desire to serve as a commissioned officer in the United
- The Author Los Angeles 1997
- A personal note; the utter devastation
of incarceration, loss of wife and children, mother and father, friends
and relatives, and employment and other issues is far too voluminous for
inclusion in this synopsis.