Murder in Wartime

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The Green Beret murder case is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries and political cover-ups of the Vietnam War, a story that burst onto the front page of the New York Times and then suddenly disappeared into a fog of conflicting official explanations. In 1969, members of a top-secret Green Beret intelligence organization were arrested by the Army for the murder of a suspected North Vietnamese double agent. The officers thought they had killed the man with CIA approval, but now the CIA and the military were ...
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Overview

The Green Beret murder case is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries and political cover-ups of the Vietnam War, a story that burst onto the front page of the New York Times and then suddenly disappeared into a fog of conflicting official explanations. In 1969, members of a top-secret Green Beret intelligence organization were arrested by the Army for the murder of a suspected North Vietnamese double agent. The officers thought they had killed the man with CIA approval, but now the CIA and the military were hanging them out to dry in one of the most bizarre homicide investigations in the history of the U.S. Army. Defense attorneys for the Berets, including the famed Edward Bennett Williams, soon learned of assassinations being carried out under the CIA's Operation Phoenix, and used that to attack the Army for its hypocritical prosecution of the men. The case became an epic, behind-closed-doors courtroom struggle between two West Pointers: Robert Rheault, a decorated Green Beret colonel from a prominent New England family, and Gen. Creighton Abrams, the supreme American commander in Vietnam. It pitted the Special Forces--tough, bright, unfettered by the past, the fighters of a new kind of war--against an Army establishment that proclaimed its opposition to terror and assassination. When back-channel messages reached Washington that the slain agent's wife was making inquiries, top officials of the Pentagon and CIA jockeyed to avoid responsibility for the killing. But when a country lawyer ripped the lid off the case, it became an international sensation--and a heated debate on the floor of Congress over the morality of unconventional warfare. President Nixon finally stepped in to abort a trial that would have exposed worldwide CIA operations and the secret, illegal Cambodian bombings. But the government's handling of the case prompted Daniel Ellsberg to leak the Pentagon Papers, which changed the course of the war and led to Watergate. On one level, A Murder in

One of the greatest political cover-ups of the Vietnam War involved the CIA, the Army, and the White House. In 1969, a suspected double agent was executed by three young Green Berets, who were later charged with murder but never brought to trial. A Murder in Wartime reveals that President Nixon secretly intervened to quash the trial. 8 pages of photographs. Martin's. (Military History)

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A tale of intrigue between the CIA and the Green Berets during the Vietnam War, by the author of The Vietnam Fact Book (1987 paperback). In 1969, a captured photograph suggested that a Vietnamese employed by the Green Berets as an agent, one Thai Khac Chuyen, was actually a North Vietnamese soldier. Chuyen was involved in the gathering of intelligence to support the Nixon Administration's recently begun secret bombings of Cambodia. Green Beret operatives pulled him in, determined that he was compromised, and went to the CIA for instructions—which were, off the record, to kill Chuyen. The operatives asked for official confirmation, but it was late in coming, so, with the approval of the Green Beret commander, Col. Robert Rheault, the operatives shot Chuyen and dumped the body at sea. Then an official communication arrived from the CIA not to proceed, followed by an investigation by the Army and then a media blitz and a "show trial" of eight Green Berets in the US. The trial was quickly shut down because of its embarrassment to the Green Berets and to the Nixon Administration's secret conduct of the war. Stein, an Army intelligence officer at the time, is able to tell the full story because of the Official Secrets Act, which declassified relevant documents. He has interviewed the principals and here dramatizes their roles as a novelist might; he lays out clearly the convoluted chronology. What emerges is a high-minded Green Beret command sullied by covert operations, and an eternally sleazy CIA running death squads through its Phoenix program. Well done, and of historical interest because the trial prompted Daniel Ellsberg's leak of The Pentagon Papers to The New York Times,heralding both the end of the war and of the Nixon Administration. (Twenty-four pages of photographs and maps—not seen.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312929190
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1993
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein has taught mass communication at Wartburg College and Iowa State University and was co-founder and administrator of the Archives of Iowa Broadcasting. He authored the definitive history of Iowa radio and television, Making Waves: The People & Places of Iowa Broadcasting, and serves on the State Historical Society of Iowa board of trustees. He has more than 30 years experience in Iowa broadcasting.
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