Douglas Valentine just republished his classic action “novel” TDY—a barely fictionalized true story about an amazing Vietnam War era black op involving horrific blood, gore, trauma, and CIA drug dealing. Below is a transcript of the first 20 minutes of the interview, during which Valentine describes how he learned about the CIA’s domination of the global heroin trade directly from ex-CIA director William Colby and high-level associates—and how he met “Pete,” the photographer whose inadvertent plunge into the heart of black-ops darkness became the “novel” TDY.
Kevin Barrett: Hello, I’m Kevin Barrett with an intelligence test. Did you know that our intelligence agencies led by the CIA are the world’s biggest drug dealers? Did you know that the CIA and the Israeli Mossad work together to blackmail our top politicians by filming them in sexual activities with children? Did you know that our intelligence agencies are tools of international bankers who lend vast sums of money to countries around the world that’s designed to never be paid back so that those bankers can grab those nations’ resources as described by John Perkins in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man? Well, if you knew all of that, you pass the intelligence test. But if you didn’t, you’re not getting good enough intelligence. You need to listen to Truth Jihad Radio by way of truthjihad.com. Please subscribe to me, Dr. Kevin Barrett, on Patreon.com. Open source intelligence at its best!
Kevin Barrett: Welcome to Truth Jihad audio visual. I’m Kevin Barrett, doing a radio show that sometimes turns into a video show, bringing on the most interesting people who have things to say that the corporate controlled mainstream doesn’t want to hear, doesn’t want to report and doesn’t want you to know. I’m here today with a legendary investigator of CIA— what do we call it?—drug trafficking, I guess. This is one of the dirty little secrets in Washington, D.C.. And Douglas Valentine has done just about as much to expose this as anybody, especially relating to the Vietnam War. And there’s a reissue now of his novel T D Y, which is a thrilling Vietnam War novel, very closely based on reality, apparently. Douglas Valentine is the author of the Phoenix program The Strength of the Pack and other books that we’re going to talk about. So let’s do it. Welcome, Douglas Valentine. How are you, Doug?
Douglas Valentine: I’m pretty good. Thank you. And thanks for having me on your show.
Kevin Barrett: It’s good to have you back. Well, this there are so many Vietnam veterans who have stories relating to these kinds of black operations, drug dealing and so on. And yet this is not part of the official version of the Vietnam War. So maybe you could talk about how how important this was and how you got interested in this issue.
Douglas Valentine: Well, there was a confluence of events, a lot of things were developing at the same time. And my first book had come out about my father that was called The Hotel Tacloban. And my father had been a prisoner of war in World War Two. But he was in a camp that the military didn’t want anybody to know about. There had been a mutiny there. This was in the Philippines in 1944. And when the camp was liberated, my father was made to sign a nondisclosure statement saying he would never reveal what happened in this camp.
So that book came out in 1984 and I was wondering, well what should I write about next? And I wanted to write about was what you were just talking about, the number of covert actions happening in the Vietnam war that nobody had ever heard about. The Vietnam War was just loaded with all sorts of secret operations. It was a counterinsurgency. And somebody told me about the Phoenix program, which was one of the most secret operations. It was a CIA operation in the Vietnam War that went after the leadership of the National Liberation Front, not the soldiers that were fighting the war, but the civilian leadership of the insurgency. The CIA found ways of identifying these people through informants and all sorts of different ways, intelligence operations. So then they would send out death squads to assassinate these people or to capture them and turn them into double agents or get them to inform on other people.
And so I started to write about that book in 1984. And through a bizarre set of circumstances, William Colby, who was a former director of the CIA, and a person that ran the Phoenix program from 1968 to 1971, decided to help me write this book, The Phoenix Program. And he actually got on the phone. I went to see him in Washington, D.C. at his law office. And I gave him the pitch. And, you know, I was nobody from nowhere. But he read this book about my father. And he said, well, you understand what it means to be a soldier and you understand that sometimes soldiers have to do things that they can’t really talk about to civilians. And you understand that aspect of war. So he decided to help me because he was looking to find somebody who was sympathetic for what happened to all these American soldiers who participated in the Phoenix program and did these reprehensible, horrible things. And so I was glad to pretend that I was sympathetic to him.
And he started actually getting on the phone and calling people, senior CIA officers who had worked for him, and he had known for many, many years. For example, he introduced me to a guy named Evan Parker, who was the first director of the Phoenix program in South Vietnam, a CIA guy from 1967 to 1969. Colby and Parker had known each other since World War 2. So they had been longtime friends. They had both been in the OSS, the Office of Strategic Services, and they had both worked behind enemy lines in World War Two. Colby was in France, and this guy Parker was in Burma, where he worked for a general named Piers in what was called Detachment 101 in Burma. And these guys, you know, I saw I got to know Parker and he told me about himself. You know, these guys were actually working with the Kachan guerillas, in Burma. And the only way the Kachan indigenous tribes would help the OSS was if they gave them opium. They loved to smoke opium and they and they trafficked in opium. And the Japanese had occupied parts of Burma and cut them off from their opium supply.
So starting in World War II the OSS started trafficking in opium to help its allies. And then this guy, Piers, who Parker worked for, went on to to join the CIA along with Colby and partner up to the war. And Piers actually worked with these same opium smuggling tribes in Burma to run operations into China after World War Two. The only people that they could get to to run soperation into China were these drug trafficking Kachan guerrillas, as well as the Kuomintang Chinese who had relocated there. So I started hearing about opium and the CIA early on. And then William Colby also introduced me to one of his friends, a confidante, named Tom Donahue, who had run all the CIA’s covert action programs in South Vietnam from 1964 to 1966. And Colby called them up on the phone and said, “tell Valentine everything.” And like Parker, he actually thought that, you know, this meant everything! And these guys started talking about things that they were otherwise wworn to secrecy about. And one of the things Donahue said to me was that when he arrived in South Vietnam in 1964—this was right after the Diem coup where the CIA and South Vietnamese generals arranged for the assassination of the president of South Vietnam, a guy named Diem. That was in late October 1963. And this sent the government of South Vietnam into chaos. There were no firm leaders for about a year, during which time the National Liberation Front started making a lot of gains. Donahue arrived in early 1964 and he was telling me about how chaotic it was. And every month he said there was another general that he was in liaison with, another general from the South Vietnamese government who was working with Donahue to formulate covert action programs in South Vietnam. We were sitting in his living room and his wife was serving us coffee and cookies. And he said, “the first question every one of these generals asked me was how much opium is there in it for me? You know, I’ll go to go to work for you guys and I’m going to help you run covert action programs against the interests of my government here. So how much opium is there in it for me? Because basically the CIA was running the opium traffic out of the Golden Triangle, which was where Burma, Thailand, and Laos converged. And they were financing a secret war in Laos through the opium traffic. So I was talking right from the beginning about the Phoenix program, which had really very little to do with drug trafficking itself.
But everybody, including the senior CIA officers I was talking with, kept talking about it, and how and how the South Vietnamese generals wouldn’t do anything unless, you know, the CIA and the military and the State Department had divided South Vietnam into four regions, and every South Vietnamese general who was appointed to head one of these regions got the opium franchise for that region. And his subordinates would then arrange for the sale and distribution of opium in that particular region. And of course, Saigon, the same thing. And as American soldiers started arriving in South Vietnam in 1965 in divisions, several tens, hundreds of thousands of them, they all started to see that opium was available to them. And heroin. And it was just all over the place. So so then in the meantime, I read this book by Alfred McCoy called The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, that really opened my eyes to what was going on while I was researching this book about the Phoenix program. And I started putting things together that McCoy never did. Because I was interviewing all these senior CIA people. And I determined at that point that my next book would be about CIA drug trafficking.
Because the Phoenix program had nothing to do with it. I was wrapping up that (Pheonix program) book in late 1988 into early 1989. And I had a publisher, William Morrow, and they wanted photographs for the book. And I was living in Fitchburg, Massachusetts at the time, which is in the middle of Massachusetts up north. And it was coincidentally right near Fort Devens, where the 10th Special Forces were headquartered. And I had lived there for a couple of years and I met a bunch of these old Green Berets who were also all telling me all sorts of stories about how they worked very closely with the CIA. And they would mount operations into Laos. or illegal operations into Cambodia. And when they weren’t working, they would have get on what were called black flights, which would fly out of Saigon and into Laos. And from there these guys would be able to cross the border without anybody checking if they had a passport already. There’s these CIA planes and Air Force Special Operations planes going back and forth all the time from South Vietnam to Laos and then into Thailand. Then these Green Berets would laugh about how they would get on these black flights when they were working, when they were down, in their downtime, fly to Laos and buy opium or or jewelry or rubies, and then they would bring them back in to South Vietnam on these black flights, because they weren’t checked by customs. So there were just all sorts of things going on. And I had learned all about it.
And the photographer—the publisher wanted me to get photographs for the book, and I was living in Pittsburgh and I just looked for a local photographer, and I found a guy and he did family photography, weddings, bar mitzvahs, graduation, you know, just your mom and pop kind of a place, he ran it out of his house. And so I went there to get pictures taken for the book, the Phoenix program book. And we struck up a conversation and he said, I’m a Vietnam vet. And he read my book, The Hotel Tacloban about my father. And we started chatting as well as deciding what photographs we were going to use for the book. And he said one day, “I had a very interesting experience, just like your father had in the prison camp. I was involved in an operation that I was sworn to secrecy about, and I have never told anybody about it in my life. It was just so strange that we were standing in his darkroom in his house and we had gotten to know each other and struck up a friendship and he trusted me.
And he had read this book about my father and had been in Vietnam. And we knew that I knew Vietnam veterans had sympathized with them. And he told me the story that is TDY. And he was telling me the story. And of course, when you talk to somebody in these situations, and I had become adept at it by that point. I had learned how to interview people by talking to my father. And my father would break down and cry in front of me. I mean, and this was a hard ass guy. A disciplinarian, 70 years old, you know. All our fathers from those days who came out of the World War 2 generation were all hard guys. Most of them were, especially if they’d been in World War 2, disciplinarians and stuff like that. It was just wrenching to see my father break down and cry. And when I was talking with Vietnam veterans about their experience, even guys who’d been in the CIA or officers involved in the Phoenix program as well as enlisted men, it was the same thing. They would tell they would tell me things that they’d never told their wives about, And this was one of the themes of my book, is the damage that these secret operations caused people.
And this is the thing that I try to get across: the damage that covert operations, and being part of covert operations, does to people. Including people like William Colby and these senior CIA officers that I was talking with. They were they were revealing things that they had never revealed to anybody in their lives. And it’s just traumatizing for people. Veterans often suffer just from combat, from PTSD. And they have to go to therapy and talk about it and get it off their chest, because if they don’t and they just carry this burden, it makes them bad husbands, makes them bad fathers. They take out their anger on their families. And so there are just really important reasons on a very personal level to understand the damage that covert operations cause—not just that the Americans don’t understand their true history, and that they can’t understand who they really are as a nation. And that robs us of our self-knowledge. And thus we can’t realize who we really are as individuals. And we’re more easily propagandized and made to do things that we don’t want to do. The importance of covert operations in our history just makes us susceptible to all sorts of bad, unhealthy things. There are reasons to understand these covert operations beyond just the fact of understanding how they happen.
They have an effect on us as individuals and a nation that we have to expunge. And the only way you can expunge these these problems that we have as a country, and as individuals, is by revealing the truth. So it’s a cathartic event, too, for the people I was interviewing, to speak about the covert operations that they were part of. Just like it is for combat veterans to talk about the combat.
It was the same thing when I was talking to this photographer. He had never told anybody in his life about what happened to him, and what became the the the story of TDY. And he was remembering things that were just terrible and horrible. I remember his daughter walked into the darkroom and he just started. It was just like he’d been talking uninterrupted for an hour describing this operation. And his daughter walked into the room and it was…it’s just wrenching to go through this when people tell these stories. Anyway, that’s what I do. And by that, I was used to it. He told me the bare outlines of the story. I’ll let you ask me about the story itself. That’s the circumstances that brought me into a position where this guy was able to talk to me and to reveal something to me that he had never told anybody about before in his life.