Thursday, October 20, 2005


In a moment I’ll continue our talk on why force, anger, and hard-handed efforts at manipulation, i.e. torture, are not only are ineffective, but can remove any chance of later getting information, confessions (GITMO?), or why hard-handed persuasion tactics in sales are tactics of the amateur

…when done correctly a successful agreement occurs because of a collection of events that lead up to the goal…which almost seems to have come to fruition on its own—ah the wonders of POWER PERSUASION!

First, I need to tell you about my friend, Knight Ridder military correspondent Joe Galloway, author of the bestseller We Were Soldiers Once..And Young: Ia Drang--The Battle That Changed The War In Vietnam

Joe sent me a copy of his latest column for Knight Ridder that is so well written and poignant (a remembering and passing of the guard), titled:
Gathering for a dose of fellowship, memories among old soldiers”

If you want to know what these guys went through, you’ve got to read the book or watch the DVD!

Back to PART II:

Most startling about that scene in “Platoon” was that NVA prisoner’s look of defiance…

Defiance is the response most to be avoided in any interrogation, personal interaction, or anytime you’re trying to convince or persuade: you’d be amazed how many are so willing to talk before an interrogation starts, and are so quickly to turned into allies just by letting them…without beating them on the head—physically or verbally…

If you saw the piddly, anger-filled interrogation of an Iraqi terrorista by that ning-nong LT in “Over There” last night, you know exactly what not to do in an interrogation…much less an attempt to persuade.

Would you believe that after my release from Vietnam in 1984, after getting one of those mindless office jobs, i.e. mailboy, at a stockbrokerage, I actually observed a broker yelling at a client to buy?!

Percentage-wise, hammer-handed tactics hardly ever work….and once you build a sense of defiance in your subject, you’ve lost for the very reasons that Lakhani mentions in his persuasion bible: “Persuasion: The Art of Getting What You Want”.

Back to the "Six Tenets of Persuasion" Lakhani describes in his book:

  1. Outcome based
  2. Best-Interest Focused
  3. Truthful
  4. Goal and Time Oriented
  5. Personal
  6. Ethical

Any negotiation, sale (even a piece of sales copy!)… basically every good persuasion event always starts with a detailed outcome if not on paper, then at least in your mind. All great negotiations, sales, and even an interrogation starts with an objective: closing a specific deal, completing sale, or even deciding whether you’re just after accurate information or you want much more—turn an enenmy combatant into a double-agent—all rely on your envisioned outcome.

Then, throughout the process of persuasion, you have to do a self-check to make sure that the whole event and “outcome” passes the “Best-Interest” filter: is this good for you and your subject? That may seem clear in a sales or negotiation: but an interrogation? Absolutely!

How will your subject fare during and after the successful interrogation: will he be taken out and shot ( or put through a mock-execution, as they stupidly did to me in Vietnam) or will the subject get better food, a softer bed to sleep in after being cooperative?

Remember we’re trained like this since childhood: the difference is whether we’re raised by abusive parents who actually beat a kid, or punish appropriately—in the long run, grounding is much more effective on a child than whipping (spare the rod, spoil the child is another topic way too long to get into here).

If you’ve verified the first two tenets, then the third is very easy to confirm: are you being truthful? Remember: all successful persuasion events are based on congruency. Everyone can tell in-congruency, either consciously or through subconscious reaction. If you’re untruthful and incongruent (like an insecure man trying to “act” confident in front of his woman of desire) this occurs, rapport is lost and replaced with lack of trust and ultimately defiance…

Depending on time constraints and environment you may be able to regain trust, but once you hit defiance the subject is basically lost: this is one of the reasons in law enforcement the worst one to interview either the subject or witnesses is the arresting officer—best to send investigators to the interview the list of names previously collected by officers at the scene of the arrest.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS have more importance than most people are willing to admit!

And so we’re brought back to your GOAL and TIME orientation with regards to outcome: you need to ask yourself what achieved goal within what time frame will be interpreted as a success? You need to do this BEFORE you approach the interaction!

Let’s say you’re a field interrogator in a jungle war: if the subject tells you where the boobytrap are placed around the village, and tells you within the next hour will this be a success? What if he/she tells you, but it takes two hours? Two days? Are these acceptable?

If you’re in a sales environment, what if you get the sale, but the customer can’t pay you in one payment—is this acceptable? What if she can pay the whole amount in one payment, but it’ll take one more week? Will you accept a contract to pay? Or word? These are all possible outcomes and it’s up to you to have them clear before going in, because….

Your goal and time objectives will be matched against the subjects.

Now for the hardest tenet for many, especially if you don’t take to heart first four: PERSONAL.

To this day, I still have no strong animosity to Mr. Le, one of my interrogators in Vietnam, who was also the translator. Why? He was very personable. Except for the time I tried to escape, he never hit me…unlike some of other apes. He also had a very likeable aura about him: he was after all a French language teacher at a local Saigon university…and during the war he had spent time in a South Vietnamese prison for his college demonstration participation. Once he realized I was just a kid on his first photo assignment, he softened up and was quite friendly…as much as permitted within an interrogator/political prisoner interaction.

My memory of him was recalled when I later studied one of the most effective German interrogators during WWII: master interrogator Hans Scharff at Dulag Luft. As one Allied prisoner said of him: “Hanns could probably get a confession of infidelity from a nun”


--he treated his subjects with “RESPECT and DIGNITY”. It’s that simple…well not THAT simple, but you get the drift...

Scharff was known for many acts of kindness and looking out for the well-fare of the prisoner—how many other prisoners who were hung for their warcrimes could say that? Would you believe that many of the Allied pilots he debriefed actually became friends after the war? Now that’s a GREAT PERSUASION—though he didn’t have access to Lakhani’s book, he intuitively knew all of six of Lakhani’s “Tenets of Persuasion”!

Many of Scharff’s most productive interrogations occurred while making a leisurely stroll around one of the compounds gardens…simple conversations in deep rapport—you can’t get into rapport if you don’t give of yourself, first: being PERSONAL. Very much in contrast to the fist and boot tactics of the SS, and Stalin’s KGB, or the amateurs of Abu Ghraib for that matter. And I bet you Sen. John McCain has no interest in writing to his interrogators…

And so we arrive at the last tenet: ETHICAL

Scharff had impressive ethics and they came through in his interactions which easily helped drop the defense (defiance) posture of his subjects, and also enabled him to reach rapid rapport: substitute “being one” for rapport and you get the deep meaning of “being in rapport”. He was able to become the “head” of this “body in rapport” (his subject) leading the body to speak and deliver what he needed.

Without an ethical center, rumors would have run rampant about Scharff’s in-congruency, bringing into question his truthfulness, personability, and best-interest focus. Without a center on some form of strong ethics, Scharff would have been labeled a person simply on the make…a manipulator: he would have been forced to act out of frustration, like the other interrogators, who physically tortured their subjects to arrive at questionable results.

As everyone successful in sales and business knows: your best customer is the one you already have—break the Six Tenets and the best you can expect is a one-time sale…and worse: a BAD REPUTATION!

Man, I love Lakhani’s book!

I wish I could spend days writing about all that he has written, but it’s best to just lead you there so that you can enjoy all the rest he has…especially his “Persuasion Equation”, where he has created a solid formula that can be minimized or expanded as you so desire.

What’s better about Lakhani’s book is that thought it offers you everything you need to know about amazingly effective persuasion, it’s a book about business and personal interactions, from a sociological and psychology point of view—very powerful!

Also, definitely check out this book on Scharff:

If you’re like me you like to make money not just when you’re actually working but also when you’re having fun…would you believe that I love to write not only for my full-time work, but also during play? Matter of fact, I use eBay to test new and innovative sales copy writing techniques. In the next installment, I’ll save you money on any TV course you might be thinking of buying on how to make money on eBAy. Until then, you can check out my play page: Cork’s eBay Page

I’ll also let you in on a NOT SO SECRET fundraiser for the Vietnamese-American community hit by the hurricanes in the Southeast: Joe Galloway, me and the actor, Don Duong, who played Lt. Col. Nguyen Huu An in “We Were Soldiers Once”, and who is signed to play my interrogator, Mr. Le, in the upcoming movie based on my memoir, will all be attending Nov. 18th in Washington D.C. Joe and I will be donating signed copies of our books to the cause!

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Flashback Central last week: I get an e-mail from my friend, fellow journalist and author, Zalin Grant (If you were in Saigon during the Tet Offensive of 1968, you’ll recognize the name). Anyway, Zalin had read my first memoir a while ago, and wanted to know what I thought about Bush preparing to veto Sen. John McCain’s torture amendment. Within that same week I was watching a re-run of Oliver Stone’s "Platoon", and my eyes keyed in on the defiant look of an NVA prisoner being slapped around during what I like to call a “Hollywood” interrogation. And finally, I’m in a wonderful interview with a man of impeccable credentials in persuasion, a best-selling author of the best business book on the fine art of persuasion…which is what an effective interrogation is really supposed to be—it helps that he’s also an ex-high-level military and DEA operator with a TOPSECRET clearance!

First, I must say that I’m confounded by Bush’s resistance: anyone who has been in the US military knows that personnel are prevented from torturing because of the Geneva Convention, and even the Army Field Manual states that torture is not only illegal, but ineffective. More importantly, signing the amendment removes another propaganda opportunity for the terrorists.

But, it’s torture's ineffectiveness that revolves around TOLERANCE that really makes me ask—have we not learned? See when the Vietnamese were torturing me, I would have said anything to get them to stop—there would have been no accuracy in anything I said. There would have been more effect in the fear of torture than in the actual beating because what we create in our minds is what we have no defense against. Like working out in a gym, we can all build tolerance against pain...

SIDE NOTE: Many of you have written to me after reading my memoir to find out if I was tortured more than I described: of course I was, but for me to mention that extra amount in the The Bamboo Chest would have been distracting and off the point of the story—I basically used the events that fit the “coming of age” and “healing PTSD” story that is “The Bamboo Chest”.

Now if I were to have written about torture and interrogation tactics which are all directed toward persuading and manipulating, then I would have included more, or done something more beneficial…reveal persuasion techniques that don’t involve torture and are light years ahead of the pack!

As a negotiation specialist hired by Fortune 500 companies and government agencies to teach the fine art of negotiation, I am always on the lookout for the latest information that can’t be ignored: such as Dave Lakhani has delivered in his brilliant collection of battle-tested ideas in “Persuasion: The Art of Getting What You Want”

Almost magical persuasion revolves not around beating someone on the head, or putting them into embarrassing positions in front of the camera as in Abu Ghraib, but in making them see the similarities, building on those similarities and showing how unlike the enemy the subject is: an effectively turned enemy can be one of your most effective allies—if for no other reason than the information they carry from the other side!

It all comes down to what Lakhani calls “Tenets of Persuasion: if you follow them you not only get what you want, but you leave the person as an ally and potential “true believer”.

Here are the "Six Tenets of Persuasion" Lakhani describes in his book:
  1. Outcome based

  2. Best-Interest Focused

  3. Truthful

  4. Goal and Time Oriented

  5. Personal

  6. Ethical

Lakhani listed these because he wrote a book for people in dealing with people in business deals, marketing, and sales, even for just making a profoundly efficient impressions on people in day-to-day interactions, but how many of you would find that effective interrogations need these same tenets, not just for how we look to other countries, or how to do contrary only offers more fodder for the TERRORIST public relations fires?

Well as you’ve guessed this is a subject that I’ve learned not to take lightly. So, I’ve realized that I’ll have to make this a two-part series…

You can wait until the next installment to find out what’s more amazing about Lakhani’s book…how there are NEVER BEFORE PRINTED persuasion secrets that only the most effective orators, salespeople, politicians, military interrogators, and marketers know…or you could just get reading now getting his book here:
NEXT INSTALLMENT: You think you don’t need to know the skills of persuasion offered by Dave Lakhani, yet they’re used on you everyday. You think it’s only for people in sales, politics, or interrogation…but you can’t understand why your loved one can’t understand you… you’re about to get into a divorce…your team is just not getting the objectives and you’ve supposedly made them all clear…all the reasons for this will be revealed and what you can do about!

Friday, October 14, 2005


In a moment I’m going to show you not only how you can make a very important decision about your family history, but also let you in on something that not only will turn a bad meal into a good one, but a good meal into the best!

Imagine my surprise when the only time in years that I’ve pulled out the old Thomson family tree was also the week I met a woman from the actual Scottish town that one side of my family comes from: Elizabeth “Lizzie” Thomson, Lizzie was born on May 25, 1851, on the old farm in Dhuloch, Kirkolm Parish, Wigtownshire, Scotland, and after traveling through Canada to the American Midwest, married my great-great-grandfather Samuel Allison Graham on June 3, 1869, in the Macksburg United Presbyterian Church, Iowa., and had a farm in Adair County.” The Descendents of Hugh Thomson, compiled by Donald C. Thomson of Stevensville, MD

Her grandfather, Hugh I, had three uncles who had been martyred during one of the persecutions in Scotland, which was one of the reasons, the Thomsons, like the Grahams (who had to leave Stirling and Dundee for Belfast and then South Carolina in time for the American Revolution), spent a lot of time in Ireland—a great number of Scots just kept moving west.

Now, Alison McQuade, who I met in San Francisco, reminded me of this back and forth between Ireland and Scotland, with the final run to the US of A. Her family is originally from Ireland, though she hails from Ayrshire, Scotland (where Hugh Thomson I first arrived back in Scotland): “a sunless place, where the moors stretch far”, but where her wee Granny McQuade prepared something so deliciously tropical—chutney!

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, and having spent 6 years in Singapore soon after independence from Great Britain, I have had a love of chutney ever since I can remember and jumped at the chance when she offered me some samples with which to experiment!

What is chutney?

As The Food Reference so well describes:
“The original chutney of India (Hindi: chatni) was usually a relish made from fresh fruits and spices. During the colonial era the British took it home (along with curry dishes) to their Island, and thence to their other colonial possessions, including South Africa and the Caribbean Islands. During this long journey the concept changed, until the commercially made mango chutney 'Major Grey's chutney' became the British standard chutney. Major Grey is a probably mythical colonial British officer who loved curries and made his own chutney to accompany them (no one has a copyright on his name - anyone can use it). These commercially made cooked chutneys are still popular in Great Britain, and are usually made of fruit (usually mangos, apples or pears), onions and raisins simmered with vinegar, brown sugar and spices for about two hours.”

Ask anyone about chutney and they always say it’s supposed to be served with Indian curry. Now, I can’t imagine enjoying a vindaloo, or tandoori without tamarind or mango chutney, but chutney goes a long further than that…especially with the numbers of chutney’s I’ve just been privy to through McQuade’s chutney product list....

I love figs fresh off the tree in our backyard and especially in chutney. That’s what I told Alison and within a week, I not only had her drop-you-on-the-floor-asking-for-more “Moray Fig and Ginger”, but also a jar of “Glasgow Spiced Apple” and “Mandarin Orange and Apricot”!

Now it’s a few days until duck season, and I’m out of wild boar, which would go well, I’m sure, with the apple chutney, but there’s fresh Columbian blacktail venison in the freezer and so after preparing my tried and true recipe I like to call Cerf aux Herbes de Provence, I matched it with the “Moray Fig and Ginger”.

First of all, if you know how to prepare good venison from field to freezer (age it a minimum of two to three days in 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit) there is no such meal as gamey venison. Secondly, if you pick a condiment effectively, it’s meant to not mask, but bring out the wealth of flavors already in the offering—some chutneys ARE just for curries, but then there are the others….!

You can save time by clicking on this link to get directly to Alison McQuade’s chutney page: McQuade's Celtic Chutneys

For my special recipe (works very well for bison meat): Cerf aux Herbes de Provence

I’m a strong proponent of “doing it right” by culling and butchering your own. But, if you can’t, these guys can help:

And while you’re enjoying your slices of Cerf aux Herbes de Provence, you might want to see who can do your own family tree, perhaps yourself? I guarantee you’ll meet some very interesting people if you do!

Genealogy Resources:

You Won’t Want to Miss This! (USE the RSS FEED/e-mail Links to the right to Subscribe):

TORTURE is always the question that comes up in conversation when an audience learns that I spent 11 months in a Communist re-education camp on trumped up charges of spying for the CIA: “Were you tortured?…What has your personal experience taught you about torture?” Considering the controversy of the John McCain torture amendment, in the next installment I’ll fill you in on the personal facts of torture and its effectiveness; and I’ll then introduce you to a best-selling author, ex-high level military and DEA operator with TOPSECRET clearance… a true master of persuasion, who gets paid a lot of money to help you in your business and personal interactions, making them more productive and enjoyable: and everything but torture!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

ASHAMED TO BE ECUADORIAN because of Fabian Basabe?

I like to see how the rich and famous are interpreted by Hollywood and the E! Channel, so I when I’m burnt after a long day of writing a new book or script, or sales copy that just has to get out to the client in time, I’ll lay back on the sofa and watch what they’ve got…

That’s when I was hit by this show called “Filthy Rich”…and I thought TV had reached rock-bottom when TV shows redirected their attention from high school graduate minimums to grade school…but, I’m always learning!

If it weren’t for the ranch hands trying to teach the spoiled rich kids something that might help them get out of just being known as members of what Donald Trump so aptly labels “the Lucky Sperm Club”, I’d be really ticked: those ranch hands (the Iacovetto family who owns the Saddleback Ranch) in Colorado have sure got my respect!

The one who really gets under my skin is Fabian Basabe, Jr…why? Well, like him, I also have an Ecuadorian identity…unlike him, I wasn’t raised as a spoiled brat!

My father met my mother in Quito in 1960, when he had come back from a trip to Peru: my mother was working at the Ecuadorian equivalent of the FBI and they met when he had his fingerprints taken for his visa renewal.

Hardworking my parents, and their parents, too. Sure, the Troncosos came from Spain with a lot of money in the 1800s. But, my grandfather was into wine, women, and song and blew all the family money on cards just after WWII!

I’ve wondered if he hadn’t would life have been much easier?…Would I have had the trials I had—no! Worse, I wouldn’t have been enriched by them…

Look at Fabian Basabe: his largest claim to fame is he has a wealthy father whose dealings with the IRS are shady at best. He’s famous for having dropped out of school, well I can relate…he loves to negotiate, I can relate, too…

But, when he interacts with people, especially when he’s drunk, he’s such an ass! And I can honestly say that if he was back in Ecuador: rich or not, he wouldn’t get off so lightly—shoot, I haven’t been back in awhile because I’m a prime target for FARC guerrillas kidnapping Americans and Europeans to bankroll their war in Columbia! I can only imagine what would happen to el bebe Basabe (who reminds me of “wasabi”)….

Then, you might ask, if I revile this person who shames the name of Fabian (one of my uncles in Quito is named Fabian) why do I even sully your time and mine with him?

Well, I’m always challenging myself to find the light and dark in everyone and everything: Fabian’s light is his keen understanding of LEVERAGE!

If you do any business successfully, whatsoever…interact with people in anyway…you are either affected by or using leverage…

“No!” you may say. All I do is write, or, program, or craft beautiful things out of wood—and I say, “EVERYONE EITHER USES OR IS AFFECTED BY LEVERAGE”.

And here is how el bebe Basabe used leverage according to a quote in the Washington Post:

"I was looking for somebody to help me in a marketing capacity," says David Drucker, formerly of Morgan Stanley, who hired Basabe. "He brought me a $10 million account for a publicly traded company and he handed the account to me on a silver platter. He's very street-smart, this kid, and knows a lot more about what he's doing than people give him credit for. I'll never say a bad word about him."

Now that is LEVERAGE…and do you notice how powerful leverage can be? David Drucker’s last words say it: “I’ll never say a bad word about him.” Now I’d never want to be in the same room as el bebe, but the kid has learned to wheel and deal: just imagine what would happen if he had a scrupulous bone in body, a sense of self-respect?

What good can you do if you consciously used leverage to improve the world?

It helped me get my first job as a foreign correspondent in Bangkok, Thailand, though I had no prior training and I was only 18 years old and had just graduated high school the year before. My leverage?

I would go anywhere, anytime to get a story: and I meant it!

Sure, those of you who’ve read my memoir say it got me thrown in a Vietnamese re-education prison for 11 months; and almost got me shot in an ambush on the Mekong River up by Laos…but those stories got me leverage in getting carte blanche on new story assignments throughout Central America and beyond…well worth it—YES, international FAME and NOTORIETY can be VERY EFFECTIVE TOOLS FOR LEVERAGE!

You don’t have to risk life and limb, like me, or face, like El Bebe, but fame, notoriety, and number of other qualities and components I’ll talk about soon can work wonders for your leverage and negotiations.

And so back to the original question so many of you have written to me about after seeing El Bebe Basabe on E!: asking, “Are you ashamed?”

Of course not!

Here’s why: Uncle Fabian Troconso, M.D.; Uncle Franklin Troncoso, architectural/construction engineer; Uncle Washington Troncoso, retired director of the Ecuador National Theater; cousin Eddy, environmental engineer and consultant; cousin Yvonne (Yaici), computer programmer; and my closest, Cousin Jose “Richard” Valencia Torres, Captain in the Ecuadorian Army Special Forces, highly decorated during the war with Peru in 1995, and who fell 12,000 feet to his death in 1999 during his jump team’s practice for the December 6th Founders Day celebration. The list goes on—big families in Ecuador (does el bebe Basabe even have a sibling?)…and the list in a very good way goes on for many others who also claim Ecuadorian heritage.

Every country has bad apples: but can we learn from them…if only how not to act like a spoiled little brat?

Here’s a Washington Post Article on Wasabi, I mean Basabe

NEXT TIME: Just met a wonderful lady from the “ole country” (Scotland), actually from near where the Thomson side of my family comes from. I’ll tell you what’s so cool about her business that’ll get you licking your lips and wanting to order what she’s got for your next family ceilidh…

Thursday, October 06, 2005


What is it with "The Game"? It's this new phenomenon that has come up in the last five to ten years...where guys go out "sarging" for women. For those unaware of this you can get hint as to what's out there by reading this book: The Game by Neil Strauss

A bunch of nerds and computer geeks turn themselves into masters of seducing women. Very controversial don't you think? And then I have to ask what is the controversy? Have you noticed how in the last ten years, something that was designed to keep governments and military departments hooked up has turned into a connection for people around the world?

But at the same time this web of interaction also has led to the normal skills of interaction we normally received through practice of person-to-person, face-to-face REAL communicaiton having gone to the it no wonder that something as historical "picking up/seducing women" has turned into a group event that doesn't just stop at the whatever group of friends you have locally...but has turned into a global event?

I think there's more to this than just a book can explain...


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Former-Investigator for POW/MIA Div. of the Pentagon clarifies statements about the case...

Well, it's good to know that people are actually doing searches under their names to find out what's been written. Here's an e-mail that my friend and ex-POW/MIA Division debriefer Bob Destatte asked I post to clarify a post from July awhile back:

"Please permit me to take this opportunity to respond to a note you posted on your BLOG back in July 2003 (see copy below). I serendipitously ran across the item this evening while searching for information on a separate topic.

In your note, referring to a passage in an e-mail (see copy below) that I had authored and that was posted on, you correctly pointed out that Rach Gia is located "...on the WEST side of Vietnam (not the east),..." In my e-mail I inadvertently and mistakenly wrote "...Rach Gia (a coastal town on the SE coast)..."

Charitably you refrained from pointing out a second typographic error in my e-mail, where I had written, "...1) the amount was far short of the $1,000,000,000.00 fine (read ransom) local authorities reportedly were trying to get from Schooley's 'associates',..."

I had intended to write "$1,000,000.00", but inadvertently added three-too-many zeros. The correct sum was one million dollars.

In your note you wrote: "And if Schooley was captured with Thais, then for sure he's still going to be in the Thai Gulf." It seemed to me that you were responding to a question posed by one of your correspondents. If that is the case, I was not able to find the question. In any event, although I am not at liberty to divulge the source of my knowledge, I can assure you that I and my office had unimpeachable knowledge of the date, location, and circumstances that Vietnamese maritime forces took Mr. Schooley and his associates into custody.

Also in your note, you wrote: "Funny that Senator Kerry went in after a drug dealer, such as Schooley..." I and some of my colleagues had urged Senator Kerry to press the Vietnamese regarding Mr. Schooley. I believe that Senator Kerry simply was trying to assist us in making a point we were trying to make with Vietnamese central authorities. His assistance proved helpful.

I knew the correct location of Rach Gia and the correct amount of the ransom Vietnamese authorities tried to extract from Mr. Schooley's colleagues. Unfortunately, my spell-checker was not able to compensate for my careless proof-reading of the factual content of my e-mail."

This was in regards to an e-mail I had read at

From: "Destatte, Robert J., OSD/DPMO"
Thought you might be interested in the following. You might wish to pass the following comments. The comments represent my personal views, not necessarily the views of my office. In the article Jack wrote:
QUOTE: No US citizen has been released from Vietnam since Operation Homecoming in early 1973. The ambassador/JTF has found no evidence of any US citizen being held against his will in Vietnam since then. END QUOTE
That statement, as worded, is not accurate. In fact, several American citizens have been held against their will in Vietnam since 1973. The number includes the crews and passengers of several yachts that Vietnamese coastal security forces seized and detained for varying periods up to approximately one year. One of the most unusual cases was a young American photographer named Fred Graham who accompanied a British adventurer, whose name escaped me at this moment, who was arrested in the early 1980s when they landed on an island off the southeast coast of Vietnam to search for the legendary buried treasure of the pirate Captain Kidd (no kidding). The Vietnamese detained them in various locations for approximately one year. The Vietnamese did not inform us of any of these incidents. We learned about every instance through our efforts to collect information about Vietnamese prisons to determine whether Vietnamese authorities continued to detain any American wartime captives after Operation Homecoming.
In my judgment, a significant aspect of these incidents is the manner in which they illustrate our intelligence community's ability to learn about the existence of Americans in Vietnamese prisons after the war--when Americans were in their prisons after the war. For instance, in approximately September 1987 Vietnamese coastal security forces seized a boat and its crew of one American and five or six Thais in waters off the southeast coast of Vietnam. The American, a man named Thomas Schooley, had fled the United States a step ahead of the sheriff to avoid prosecution for alleged illegal narcotics trafficking. When the Vietnamese seized him and his Thai companions, they reportedly were transporting illegal narcotics. Not surprisingly, neither Schooley's family nor his friends ever reported this arrest to U.S. authorities, and Schooley himself did not try to seek assistance from U.S. authorities. Nevertheless, through our efforts to collect information about Vietnamese prisons we knew what specific cell Schooley was in within several weeks after he was arrested. U.S. authorities passed this information to Schooley's next of kin, who not surprisingly remained reluctant to cooperate. U.S. authorities pressed Vietnamese central authorities for information about Schooley; however, Vietnamese local authorities continued to thwart those efforts for several years.
Some of Schooley's 'business associates' reportedly paid a large sum of money, reportedly in the neighborhood of $100,000.00, to local Vietnamese authorities in Rach Gia (a coastal town on the SE coast) in an attempt to gain his release. Unfortunately for Schooley, (1) the amount was far short of the $1,000,000,000.00 fine (read ransom) local authorities reportedly were trying to get from Schooley's 'associates', (2) local authorities reportedly told Schooley's associates their courier was ripped off and lost the $100,000.00 en route to VN, (3) in my opinion, the initial willingness of Schooley's associates to pay a portion of Schooley's fine (read ransom) convinced local authorities that his associates would eventually pay the "fine" if they held Schooley long enough, and (4) we did not have normal diplomatic channels for resolving what was essentially a consular matter until we opened our embassy in 1995. Schooley's associates reportedly refused to pay any additional fine (ransom). Consequently, local authorities continued to detain Schooley until late 1992 or early 1993--until shortly after Senator John Kerry, acting on information we supplied, made a surprise visit to Rach Gia to find Schooley. Local authorities hid Schooley from Senator Kerry and his central government escorts; however, a short time later the local authorities released Schooley and allowed him to depart Vietnam. Senator Kerry's visit apparently made it too risky for the locals to continue to stonewall. I heard that American and Canadian drug enforcement officials greeted Schooley when he arrived in Canada--apparently intent on resolving the matter that was left pending when Schooley departed the States a few years earlier.
In my judgment, the fact that we were able to learn about the postwar detention of Americans such as the several yacht crews, Fred Graham, Thomas Schooley, etc., despite Vietnamese refusal to inform us about these detainees or grant us access to them prior to 1995, is strong evidence that we also would have learned about the continued detention of any Americans who were captured during the war--if the Vietnamese had withheld any captives at Operation Homecoming.
Regards, Bob Destatte"

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

CORK GRAHAM on San Francisco's KFOG and KNBR Radio!

Radio interviews are fun! When given a choice I always prefer to come into the studio:

KNBR actually has a link to our recording which was on the 1st:

Just right click on my name, then "save as" and play from your computer.