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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Dellums Committee Hearings on War Crimes in Vietnam
Testimony of John Sack (writer)
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Dellums (House of Representatives) War Crimes Hearings Thursday, 4-29-71, Washg'tn, DC Opening Statements Testimony of John Sack The Committee met at 9:45am in the Caucus Room, Cannon House Office Building, the Honorable Ronald V Dellums, Chmn of the Committee, presiding.
Present: Representatives James Abourezk, Bella S Abzug, Jonathan B Bingham, Shirley Chisholm, John Conyers, Jr, Ronald V Dellums, Don Edwards, Robert W Kastenmeier, Abner J Mikva and John F Seiberling.
DELLUMS: The hearing will be in order. I Notice that this morning we have students from Kennedy High Schl observing the hearings. We would like to welcome you. Before we begin, I would like to make a few remarks for the record. When we began these hearings the requested the presence af all the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1965-67, who refused to come.
We invited the Nat'l Security Council from 65-67 they did not come. and we invited the foreign policy advisers back several years, who chose not to come. We also invited all of the generals whose names may not have been mentioned in the past several days, and I will read a brief paragraph from the SecDefense in response to our request for the presence of the generals.
"It is the intention of the DoD to keep the Congress fully informed on matters affecting nat'l security, working in an orderly manner through those standing committees designed by Congress itself as being responsible for defense matters.
The tragedy with that paragraph is no standing committee has seen fit to hold open hearings on the war atrocities in SEA. It just goes to point out, the difficulty that we have in trying to get the military to come forward to discuss the war crimes and atrocities in Indochina.
This morning is the final day of the testimony in this particular set of hearings and it will concern itself with the air war and pacification. We also requested the presence of Lt Calley before these hearings, and he was not free to come.
However, we do have Mr John Sack, author of the Confessions of Lt Calley, who is probably his closest confidant, a person who has spent more time with Lt Calley in recent weeks and months than perhaps even his own defense.
We have Mr Sack here with us this morning, and he would like to make a brief statement in regard to Lt Calley.
Statement Of John Sack
SACK: My name is John Sack. I am a writer. I went to Vietnam 5 years ago I wrote about that and, as you say, I have been very close to Lt Calley since then. Lt Calley wants to be here today he wants to testify here today he can't do that, of course, and I am very grateful to the Committee for letting me say something to you about him.
You met those other people from his Bgd, from his company yesterday, very beautiful people. I promise you Lt Calley is a person very much like them.
Idealistic, and intelligent, and sensitive, and I know it sounds strange, but considerate and compassionate.
I remember once at the trial with all of his other troubles, 1 day a fed'l marshal came over and said, "I am serving these papers on you, the people of My Lai are suing you for $400,000,000." and Lt Calley's 1st reaction was concern for the fed'l marshal: "Gee, I hope you didn't have to come far out of your way I hope it wasn't trouble to you." The prosecution witnesses came on and almost all of them Lt Calley invited over to his apartment afterwards for a beer. His girlfriend said to him, "I can't understand it, these people crucify you and you invite them over." and he said to her, "They were ay buddies in Vietnam I don't want them going around the rest of their lives feeling, gee, I really did that guy dirt. I want them to know there is no hard feelings." Finally, Capt Medina testified, and Lt Calley told his lawyers, "Well, if anybody has to be thrown to the dogs, I am glad it is me, and not Medina, because Medina has a wife and children, and if he goes to Leavenworth, his wife and children will lose their allotment." So you take a guy like this, and you ask how could he have done something like that? What was his motive? and it is very strange, sir, because in 4 months of that trial the prosecutor never once brought up the question of motive. What was his motive? You know, was it raping and pillaging there?
There was a lot of rape and pillaging going on in My Lai.
No 1 ever said that Calley participated in this. Calley, was he some sort of monster? You go through the record of the trial, and I think it would probably come a foot-2 high now, and the very worst thing that anybody said about Calley during that trial was 1 soldier said, "I didn't like him I didn't dislike him." Was Calley insane? He had 67 psychiatrists, mili, civilian, defense, prosecution, and all of them said he was sane and normal. and the judge came up to him afterwards and said, "Congratulations, you are the only person in this courtroom who is legally sane.
So what was his motive? Why did he do it? I will tell you why he did it. He did it because the Amer people wanted him to do it. I know the Amer people will say no, no, I didn't want him to do that. I saw those pictures in LIFE magazine I saw those dead women and children. I didn't want him to do that. I wanted him to go to those Vietnamese vills and some of the people there, they are Communists, yes. I wanted him to kill them.
But some of those people there, they are anti-Communist, and I wanted him to say, good morning, and give them a cookie. and some of those people there, they don't know if they are Communists or not, and I wanted him to win their hearts and minds, Pres Nguyen Van Thieu, and the Amer people say I know it is a very hard job these people all look alike they all wear black clothes they are all chewing betel nuts and saying hello, GI.
I never said it would be easy, but all we wanted him to do was win the war, win the war. So what does it mean to Charlie Company, win the war. That company goes into a Vietnamese vill, and there is nobody there but 10 women and children. and a soldier goes up to 1 of those women and says, "Where are the other people in this vill?" She says "Khongbiet," I don't know. The soldier says if she doesn't know, she doesn't know.
They go out of that vill, and when they are 100 meters out of the vill, somebody starts shooting at them with an AK-47, a Sgt is hit and carried off in a chopper. The soldiers maneuver back into the vill and say to the women again, "Where are the VC?" "I don't know." The soldiers say this is a very strange vill, somebody shooting with an AK47, and nobody seems to know about it. and they go out of that vill again and there is noise and soldiers are lying around on the ground. and 1 soldier is there, his name was Wilson, he stepped on a mine and the mine slit him from the crotch up to his chest he had slit in half and fallen on the ground like an exhibit in an anatomical class. All of his organs were exposed there. and then Medina and the medic came and laid out a rubber poncho and put him on top of the poncho. But under the poncho there was another mine and he blew up in the air again and the medic was covered with blood and shaken and crying and the Capt had to slap him, knock him to the ground and very carefully when the medic wasn't looking, take a piece of liver off his religious medal.
and the soldiers saw this happen and they say, they know everyone in that vill knew about those mines. and, nobody in that vill told them about it. and nobody in that vill helped them. and nobody even came to them afterwards and said, "Gee, we are sorry about that." and the soldiers go to the people of that vill and say, "Where are the VC, please." "Khongbeit," I don't know.
and the Amer people keep saying win the war, win the war. and 1 soldier finally says, "All right, I will win this war. This vill, this country, I am going to burn it, every straw, every house, every haystack, I am going to burn it, napalm, I will win this war." and you heard, you know, the testimony yesterday that is what is going on in Vietnam, that is what is going on. and the govt, Army says, "Yes, it is going on, and we found the guy who has been doing it we got him. Calley. We are going to put him in prison the rest of his natural life. We are going to put all our sins upon him and crucify him, Calley Christ." But those soldiers yesterday told you it wasn't Calley who was doing it.
The soldiers yesterday, the beautiful people, when they came to Vietnam, a few months before they came to Vietnam, Calley himself had said, "I am not going to do it any more," had gone up to his Col and, I am quoting, and told the Col, "I don't want to kill these people any more there must be a better way." When those soldiers yesterday came to their Bgd, Calley was the civic action officer, in charge of hospitals, medical aid, helping the farmers, getting them pigs, pig food. and every time there was an Amer attack, going up to the people afterwards and dusting them off and saying, "We are very sorry it happened, but we are really doing it for your own good." So there was 1 congressmen yesterday who said, who asked for amnesty for the draft resisters. Of course, he is right. and for amnesty for the people who are going to Canada, and, of course, he is right. I hope there would also be amnesty for Calley and for the 2 million other "Calleys" that Amer could go to them and say, "Forgive us. You gave us your faith you gave us your loyalty you gave us your service, and we delivered you into evil come with us now and help us to build a country that is dedicated to something higher than the deaths and the massacres of old men, women and children." Thank you.
DELLUMS: Thank you very much. I would like to introduce my colleague on my right, Congressmen John Conyers, of Michigan. Do you have any comments or questions?
CONYERS: Thank you, Mr Chmn. I was moved by this presentation. But did the Amer people tell Calley to do it?
SACK: Sir, if you know any other way that he could have accomplished, or the Americal Div could have accomplished their mission, I don't know about it.
You get to Vietnam and there is a sign there, the motto is "Win in Vietnam." I don't know, the soldiers don't know any other way of accomplishing that.
Other than the way they had to go about it. and some of them do what these soldiers did yesterday, and they drop out, they opt out.
Some of them just turn on with marijuana and heroin and say, I will try to get through the year. Some of them, I guess we have to say they are very naive, say, alright, I will try to do what the Amer people asked of me.
CONYERS: You may be right. On the other hand, it might be that they are given this impression. Because if you are right, I am wrong. My argument has been, since I have come to Congress, that the Amer people did not want the war in Vietnam, and do not want the war in Vietnam, and that 73% of them by impartial polling have indicated they want out of Vietnam, which tells me that is really a higher figure.
and so I would suggest to you that perhaps it is not the Amer people telling them but it is the Amer war machine telling them that the Amer people want war. That is, the Congress telling them that we want war, that we want them to commit war, that is the Pentagon telling them we want them to commit war. It is the Executive branch of this govt reiterating in its many ways this message that you suggest they heard. But it is not the Amer people.
SACK: I have enough love for the Amer people to agree with you 100%, yes, sir.
DELLUMS: Thank you.
DELLUMS: We have been joined to my far 1eft by Congressmen Seiberling from Ohio and Cngswmn Shirley Chisholm from NY.
Originally Congressmen Don Edwards was with us, but he had to leave in order to chair some hearings he is holding himself. Thank you very much we appreciate your comments and message from Calley.