Pham Xuan An had no "special" knowledge about communism and spying (Episode 3) - Dân Làm Báo

Pham Xuan An had no "special" knowledge about communism and spying (Episode 3)

Nguyễn Hồn Việt (Danlambao) - “…successful espionage is derived from the piecing together of tiny items of information which, taken by themselves, appear to be unimportant, but which, when placed with dozens of other snippets, build up the picture from which commanders plan.”

I. Ẩn had no "special" knowledge about communism

1. “to enlist in the equivalent of Viet Minh” - voluntary leave “to care for his father.” (without permission)

“In October 1945 An dropped out of high school in Can Tho in order to enlist in the equivalent of Viet Minh boot camp and was soon fighting against the French in the jungle. When French cruisers shelled Hai Phong Bay in November 1946, full-scale war broke out between France and the Viet Minh. On December 19, 1946, Ho issued his appeal to compatriots throughout the country: “We would rather sacrifice everything than lose our country, than return to slavery. Compatriots! Rise up! Men and women, old and young, regardless of creeds, political parties, or nationalities, all the Vietnamese must stand up to fight the French colonialists to save the fatherland. Those who have rifles will use their rifles. Those who have swords will use their swords. Those who have no swords will use their spades, hoes, and sticks. Everyone must endeavor to oppose the colonialists and save his country. Soldiers, self-defense guards, militiamen! The hour of national liberation has struck! We must sacrifice to our last drop of blood to save our country. Whatever hardships we must endure, we are ready to endure them. With the determination to sacrifice, victory will be ours! Long live an independent and unified Vietnam. Long live the victorious resistance.”

An would not carry his rifle or even a stick into this battle. He was forced to return to Saigon in 1947 in in order to enlist in the equivalent of Viet Minh boot camp to enlist in the equivalent of Viet Minh order to care for his tuberculosis-ridden father. tuberculosis-riddento care for his father.There, he became an organizer of student protests against the French and later the Americans. An vividly recalled the day in March 1950 when the USS Richard B. Anderson visited Saigon, bringing supplies for the French in their battle against Viet Minh forces.20 He was one of the organizers of street demonstrations against the visiting American ship docked in Saigon harbor.” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 2, Page 8/19)

Comment: Never!

An has known "iron discipline" of "military Communism"?

An had no "special" knowledge about communism!

2. "Dr. Thach, an early close associate of Ho Chi Minh" meet.

“An’s career as a demonstration leader was quickly curtailed when his immediate supervisor, Dr. Pham Ngoc Thach, told him that he had another job to do in the revolution. Dr. Thach, an early close associate of Ho Chi Minh, ordered An to desist from participating in all street protests in order to reduce the chances of getting arrested or drawing undue attention to himself. An was puzzled and frustrated by these instructions and wondered what role the revolution had in store for him. He was soon summoned to the Viet Minh base north of Saigon in Cu Chi, where Dr. Thach informed An that he was being assigned to Vietnam’s first class of strategic intelligence agents.” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 2, Page 8/19)

Comment: Never!

A young man, not a party admission.

“to enlist in the equivalent of Viet Minh” - voluntary leave “to care for his father.” (without permission) (Sic)

Or being fired for not: “basic ingredients” - Someone who works for the government (enemy)

Be eligible for “Dr. Thach, an early close associate of Ho Chi Minh” meet and “Dr. Thach informed An that he was being assigned to Vietnam’s first class of strategic intelligence agents.”?

"Communist Vietnam" not as An speak!

3. Two agents to Saigon who provided An.

“Hanoi sent two agents to Saigon who provided An with the basics of intelligence work, but real education would come on the job. An had been working as a bookkeeper and accountant for the Caltex oil company but soon took an assignment to work as a French customs inspector, where he was to report on the dispatching of French troops in Vietnam and the resources being provided by the United States to France. He was also to learn whatever he could about the personalities of the French and Americans in Vietnam. “I was to observe and then write up some reports, not too much,” said An.” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 2, Page 8/19)

Comment: Who is this teacher? “two agents to Saigon who provided An” 

Undetected? (An (at the time) was civil servants of French.

(Sic)

4. “The most senior Viet Minh commissioner in southern Vietnam, Le Duc Tho, presided over the ceremony...”.

“…An became a member of the Communist Party in February 1953 at a ceremony held 350 kilometers from Saigon in Vietnam’s southernmost province of Ca Mau. The most senior Viet Minh commissioner in southern Vietnam, Le Duc Tho, presided over the ceremony and afterward took An aside for a private conversation. Tho had been an early member of Ho Chi Minh’s circle and one of the founders of the Indochina Communist Party. He had already spent over ten years in French jails, including forced labor at Poulo Condore, later called Con Son, a prison island known for its brutal conditions.

...“Mr. Six Hammer,” as Le Duc Tho was dubbed by his cadres, warned An that when the war with France ended, the United States would not allow the Vietnamese to decide their own future. New imperialists would replace the French colonialists, but this new war would be a long and destructive one. An was instructed to prepare himself for whatever mission the party assigned him for the defense of his country.9 ” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 2, Page 5/19)

"On the afternoon of April 7, a motorcycle arrived at General Dung’s headquarters carrying Le Duc Tho, the same man who had presided at Pham Xuan An’s induction into the Communist Party twenty years earlier. Tho was carrying a satchel containing the final attack order, titled “Forward to Final Victory,” which confirmed Dung as the overall commander with Tran Van Tra and Le Duc Anh as the deputy commanders." (Perfect Spy, Chapter 6, Page 10/24)

Comment: 1. "The most senior Viet Minh commissioner in southern Vietnam, Le Duc Tho, presided over "?

An had no "special" knowledge about communism!

Job “presided over the ceremony” the work of secretaries! (low-level)

Not the work of: “The most senior Viet Minh commissioner in southern Vietnam”!

Undetected? (An (at the time) was civil servants of French.

(Sic)

5. "An became part of the 25th ARVN Division in February 1956"

“An quickly turned his attention to efforts under way for building and training a new force structure for the South Vietnamese army.24 The Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) in Saigon had been established in 1950 “to supervise the issuance and employment of $10 million of military equipment to support French legionnaires in their effort to combat Viet Minh forces.”25 Within a short period, MAAG was also assigned responsibility for improving the South Vietnamese Army units as rapidly as possible. A skeleton staff was established with offices in MAAG for a new binational training organization that was given the name Training Relations and Instruction Mission (TRIM). One of TRIM’s responsibilities was to assist and advise the Vietnamese military authorities on rebuilding the Vietnamese armed forces. TRIM was composed of 209 French and 68 American officers (121 additional American officers would be assigned as the French departed), not one of whom could speak Vietnamese and less than ten of whom spoke French.26

An first learned English from missionaries in Can Tho during the Japanese occupation. He was then befriended by a Mr. Webster at the British Embassy in Saigon, who spent hours practicing with him. Then a Mr. Newell worked with him so that by the time An arranged a transfer to TRIM, he was among the most proficient of the Vietnamese, thereby enabling him to establish himself as a valuable asset to the Americans and Vietnamese, building relationships with dozens of future South Vietnamese commanders and influential Americans.

An became part of the 25th ARVN Division in February 1956, operating in the Mekong Delta with the aim of destroying the Viet Minh infrastructure. “I actually served in three armies,” said An. “The French during the transition; the Vietnamese as an NCO, where I helped set up the first light infantry division; and the Liberation Front Armed Forces.”27 When An was promoted to one-star general in 1990, he told the Communist leadership, “I was familiar with five armies—the Viet Minh, the French, the Viet Cong, the Americans, and the South Vietnamese—that I should have five stars. I don’t think they understood my sense of humor.”28

An recalled his two American adviser counterparts, Hicks and Glenn, with great fondness. “They were good men who wanted to help the people of Vietnam, and we had good talks about my country. They also helped me practice my English and then taught me to smoke the right way. I never knew how to inhale, and then they showed me and gave me the Lucky cigarettes. They did a good job,” said An with a smile.

The Combined Arms Training Organization (CATO), replaced TRIM in April 1956, and served as an operations staff for the chief of MAAG, which controlled all field detachments assigned to Vietnamese schools and commands. An transferred from TRIM to CATO and was now responsible for processing the paperwork and conducting interviews with the South Vietnamese officers traveling to the United States for command training.” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 2, Page 9/19)

Comment: 1. CIA blind?

Chappie “to enlist in the equivalent of Viet Minh” - voluntary leave “to care for his father.” (1947) , after 1950: 

“He was soon summoned to the Viet Minh base north of Saigon in Cu Chi, where Dr. Thach informed An that he was being assigned to Vietnam’s first class of strategic intelligence agents.” and “Hanoi sent two agents to Saigon who provided An with the basics of intelligence.” and “An became a member of the Communist Party in February 1953.” and “The most senior Viet Minh commissioner in southern Vietnam, Le Duc Tho, presided over…” 

So that: “I actually served in three armies,” said An. “The French during the transition; the Vietnamese as an NCO, so that is where I helped set up the first light infantry division; and the Liberation Front Armed Forces.”

6. See nothing ridiculous?

(The Spy Who Loved Us, Thomas A. Bass, May 23, 2005 - 

"An was an eighteen-year-old high-school student at the Collège de Can Tho, in the Mekong Delta, when he dropped out of school, in 1945, to enlist in a Vietminh training course. For more than a hundred recruits there were only fifty weapons, some left over from the First World War. Trainees had to pick up spent cartridges to make new bullets. Though he was involved in fighting first the Japanese and then the French, An dismisses this experience as little more than running errands. But a government Web site, recounting his activities as a Hero of the People’s Armed Forces, describes An as “a national defense combatant who participated in all battles in the western region of South Vietnam.” 

By 1947, An had left his position as a platoon leader, involved mainly in propaganda, and moved back to Saigon to care for his father, who would have a lung removed and spend the next two years in the hospital with tuberculosis. An organized student demonstrations in Saigon, initially against the French and then against the Americans. He worked as a secretary for the Caltex oil company until, in 1950, he passed the exam to become a French customs inspector. 

During the Tet New Year celebration in 1952, An was summoned into the jungle north of Saigon to meet the Communist officials who were setting up C.O.S.V.N.—the Central Office for South Vietnam. C.O.S.V.N. would lead the war against the Americans, who, even before the end of the First Indochina War, in 1954, were beginning to replace the French as the primary enemy. An was excited about this call to the war zone, where he hoped to join his sister, who had moved to the jungle three years earlier to become “the Voice of Nam Bo,” a radio broadcaster for the Communist network. An visited her sometimes, taking her food or medicine, and staying overnight in the Vietminh tunnel network, where the cooking fires were vented through termite mounds in order to evade the French spotter planes that flew overhead. (In 1955, An’s sister moved to North Vietnam to work for the state-run coal mines.) 

An was disappointed to learn that he wouldn’t be joining his sister in the jungle but, instead, was being recruited to work as a spy in Vietnam’s newly established military intelligence service. “I was the first recruit,” he says. An found his new assignment ignoble. Spying is the work of hunting dogs and birds of prey, he says. “I had been beaten by the riot police during student demonstrations in Saigon, and I had no desire to be a stool pigeon or an informer.” 

The first problem An confronted on slipping back into Saigon as a newly recruited spy was how to avoid being drafted into the French colonial forces. To practice the English that he was learning at the United States Information Service, he volunteered his services as a press censor at the central post office. Here he was told to black out the dispatches written for British and French newspapers by Graham Greene, a “troublemaker” who the French assumed was working for British intelligence during his frequent visits to Vietnam. 

An was formally inducted into the Communist Party in 1953, at a ceremony in the U Minh Forest presided over by Le Duc Tho."

Comment: Chappie: “in 1945, to enlist in a Vietminh training course.” and “By 1947, An had left his position as a platoon leader, involved mainly in propaganda, and moved back to Saigon to care for his father,” and “He worked as a secretary for the Caltex oil company until, in 1950, he passed the exam to become a French customs inspector.”

So that: “During the Tet New Year celebration in 1952, An was summoned into the jungle north of Saigon to meet the Communist officials ”?

Chappie: “An visited her sometimes, taking her food or medicine, and staying overnight in the Vietminh tunnel network,” and “was being recruited to work as a spy in Vietnam’s newly established military intelligence service”

So that: “he volunteered his services as a press censor at the central post office.”?

Comedy!

US readers are children?

7. See nothing ridiculous?

"In spite of his freelance work for the French intelligence agency, the Deuxième Bureau, An was drafted in 1954. To avoid getting shot during the waning days of the French colonial war in Indochina, An played on the family connections by which business gets done in Vietnam. He asked a cousin, Captain Pham Xuan Giai, for help. Giai, who commanded G5, the psychological-warfare department of the Army general staff, made An an adjutant, the highest-ranking noncommissioned officer, and put him to work at Army headquarters on the Rue Gallieni, near Cholon.

This is where Colonel Edward Lansdale found An when he came to offer his services—and money—to Captain Giai. Lansdale, a former advertising man and an expert in psychological warfare, had been sent to run the C.I.A.’s covert operations in Vietnam. Arriving in the country soon after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, Lansdale found G5 and the rest of the old colonial military apparatus in a shambles. They were totally demoralized, with no idea what to do with themselves, until Lansdale and his innocuously titled Saigon Military Mission began turning South Vietnam into a country, complete with an army, a President, and a flag. 

Finding a promising student in the young Pham Xuan An, Lansdale and his colleagues began teaching him the tradecraft that he would employ in his next twenty years as a Communist spy. “I am a student of Sherman Kent,” An says, referring to the Yale professor who helped found the C.I.A. Strategic intelligence, Kent wrote in his classic text, “Strategic Intelligence for American World Policy” (1949), is a “reportorial job” based on studying the “personalities” of world leaders. “It must know of their character and ambitions, their opinions, their weaknesses, the influences which they can exert, and the influences before which they are frail. It must know of their friends and relatives, and the political, economic, and social milieu in which they move.” " (The Spy Who Loved Us, Thomas A. Bass, May 23, 2005 - 

Comment: “French intelligence agency” blind?

"In spite of his freelance work for the French intelligence agency, the Deuxième Bureau, An was drafted in 1954."

Before, “An was formally inducted into the Communist Party in 1953, at a ceremony in the U Minh Forest presided over by Le Duc Tho.”

Nonsense!

US readers are children?

II. Go to school with money Viet Minh borrowers - Refusing the help of the CIA. - Is easily exposed! (was... a deadly loopholes)!

1. Refusing the help of the CIA.

"These early relationships later proved indispensable. One of An’s carefully developed strategies was never to get too close to anyone he knew or thought to be a Communist sympathizer; instead he sought out and attached himself to the most ardent and recognized anti-Communist figures in order to protect his cover and gain insights into American thinking.29 He started with Colonel Edward Lansdale, who arrived in Saigon in June 1954, the interlude between the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu and the signing of the settlement in Geneva, which partitioned Vietnam at a nominally temporary “line of demarcation” between North and South at the 17th parallel. The Viet Minh took control of the northern zone, and France and an alternative Vietnamese state controlled the south. The French forces would withdraw from the north and Viet Minh forces from the south, with free elections scheduled for 1956. Under the terms of the Geneva Agreement, any civilian would be permitted to move from North to south and south to North prior to May 18, 1955. About ninety thousand Viet Minh cadres went north at the same time as nearly one million Catholic refugees were coming south.

Lansdale was director of the Saigon Military Mission (SMM), a CIA unit separate from the regular organization.30 Vietnam now had two CIA teams in place, one under the station chief, responsible for conventional espionage and working undercover as diplomats attached to the U.S. embassy; the other, Lansdale’s Saigon Military Mission, handling paramilitary activities and working undercover on assignment to MAAG for Indochina.31

Already a legendary figure for his role in defeating the Communist Huk rebellion in the Philippines and making a national hero of Ramon Magsaysay, Lansdale was told by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to “do what you did in the Philippines.” “God bless you,” added his brother, CIA director Allen Dulles. Operating with the cover title of assistant air attaché, Lansdale sought to create a non-Communist national government in the south.

It was at Vietnamese army headquarters that the CIA’s Rufus Phillips first met An, who was working as a staff assistant to his cousin, Captain Pham Xuan Giai, helping with translations and related activities as a general staff secretary in the psychological warfare Department for the Joint General Reserve. Phillips had arrived in Saigon on August 8, 1954, just before the Geneva Accords went into effect. For his service to the Saigon Military Mission, Phillips would receive the CIA’s Intelligence Medal of Merit. Giai had already attended the French army’s psychological warfare school and then the American psychological operations school at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was the head of G-5, which was the general staff office responsible for troop information, training, indoctrination, and for psychological warfare, or psywar—a combination of propaganda targeted at the civilian population and psywar against the Viet Minh. “It was because he worked for Giai that Pham Xuan An got introduced first to Lansdale and then to me,” recalled Phillips.32

Phillips, Conein, and others in the Lansdale shop took an immediate liking to An because of his unassuming nature and wry sense of humor. That he spoke English better than almost any other Vietnamese made him very useful. Nothing An did for Lansdale or Phillips involved high-level work or access to secrets of any kind. An was merely fertilizing the human intelligence component in development of his cover, learning to schmooze and make small talk with Americans, putting them at ease and gaining their trust for access down the road.

An told me the following story of how he first met Lansdale. An was working alone in the G-5 office when one of Lansdale’s assistants came over and asked for the names of all G-5 employees. Later in the day when Giai returned, An told his cousin that he had given Captain Roderick the entire list. “Oh, An, you are so stupid. You know nothing about intelligence. How could you just give our list to Lansdale?” An ended his version of this story by telling me, “You see, after that Lansdale liked me very much right away because I helped him with that list, even though I did it by mistake. After that he always joked with me, ‘An, you would make a terrible spy.’”

Rufus Phillips and An developed a special friendship that lasted until the very end of An’s life. “I think An was one of the most acute and balanced of all the Vietnamese I knew as a perceptive observer of both the Americans and the Vietnamese during the long struggle,” Phillips told me. “I just don’t think he could have ever bought into the Communist Party propaganda line. I knew him as a patriotic nationalist and not a Communist and that is how I will always remember him.”33

Lansdale viewed An as a potential recruit in the war against Communism, offering to sponsor him at the NCO School of Intelligence and Psychological Warfare. This would allow An to get promoted quickly though the ranks once he returned to Vietnam. An took Lansdale’s proposal to his real bosses in Cu Chi, where his direct supervisor, Muoi Huong, told him to avoid this assignment because it was simply too risky. The Communists already had agents being planted in ARVN leadership who would eventually reach the rank of colonel, but no one was being groomed for his type of mission. By studying journalism, An would be able to attend college in the United States. If he joined the military this would not be possible. “An was the only agent we sent to the U.S.,” said Mai Chi Tho, who at the time was head of counter-intelligence of the Southern Regional Committee.34 Tho and others did everything possible to make certain An was properly trained and protected for his mission.

When An told Lansdale that he preferred studying journalism, Lansdale immediately offered to sponsor An and contacted the Asia Foundation" (Perfect Spy, Chapter 2, Page 10/19)

Comment: "An took Lansdale’s proposal to his real bosses in Cu Chi, where his direct supervisor, Muoi Huong, told him to avoid this assignment because it was simply too risky. "?

Jokes! Why not: His bats - hit his back? (Using money from the CIA - CIA attack.)

2. Go to school with money Viet Minh borrowers. 

“The Communist Party recruited An and turned him into espionage agent X6, a lone cell member of the H.63 intelligence network in Cu Chi, known as “The Heroic Unit of the South Vietnamese Liberation Army.” The party instructed An to choose a career in journalism as the best cover, raised the money to send him to the United States, and developed a carefully scripted artificial life history to support his cover. Party records created his alias as Tran Van Trung in order to protect him.”
(Perfect Spy, Prologue, Page 8/12) 

Comment: 

Oh, CIA did not ask: Where Money?

CIA poor too!

Strange story!

III. An had no "special" knowledge about spying.

1. He had given Captain Roderick the entire list.

“…It was at Vietnamese army headquarters that the CIA’s Rufus Phillips first met An, who was working as a staff assistant to his cousin, Captain Pham Xuan Giai, helping with translations and related activities as a general staff secretary in the psychological warfare Department for the Joint General Reserve. Phillips had arrived in Saigon on August 8, 1954, just before the Geneva Accords went into effect. For his service to the Saigon Military Mission, Phillips would receive the CIA’s Intelligence Medal of Merit. Giai had already attended the French army’s psychological warfare school and then the American psychological operations school at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was the head of G-5, which was the general staff office responsible for troop information, training, indoctrination, and for psychological warfare, or psywar—a combination of propaganda targeted at the civilian population and psywar against the Viet Minh. “It was because he worked for Giai that Pham Xuan An got introduced first to Lansdale and then to me,” recalled Phillips.32

…An told me the following story of how he first met Lansdale. An was working alone in the G-5 office when one of Lansdale’s assistants came over and asked for the names of all G-5 employees. Later in the day when Giai returned, An told his cousin that he had given Captain Roderick the entire list. “Oh, An, you are so stupid. You know nothing about intelligence. How could you just give our list to Lansdale?” An ended his version of this story by telling me, “You see, after that Lansdale liked me very much right away because I helped him with that list, even though I did it by mistake. After that he always joked with me, ‘An, you would make a terrible spy.’…” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 2, Page 11/19)

Comment: Self-determination? not ask superiors?

So: “Oh, An, you are so stupid. You know nothing about intelligence. How could you just give our list to Lansdale?”:

Lansđale "liked me very much right away" “even though I did it by mistake”?

Lansđale poor too?

“An, you would make a terrible spy”? Lansđale such conclusions? Although “even though I did it by mistake”?

“Nothing An did for Lansdale or Phillips involved high-level work or access to secrets of any kind. An was merely fertilizing the human intelligence component in development of his cover, learning to schmooze and make small talk with Americans, putting them at ease and gaining their trust for access down the road.” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 2, Page 11/19)

Lansdale "liked me very much right away" although the document: "Nothing involved high-level work or access to secrets of any kind."?

Lansđale "liked me very much right away" although "learning to schmooze and make small talk with Americans"?

Lansdale poor too?

2. Being a soldier, how An "decide" to go to school in the US?

"ON SATURDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 12, 1957, thirty-year-old Pham Xuan An arrived in California. He was fortunate to have made it because his visa had been mired in the bureaucratic depths of the Vietnamese immigration office.2 In desperation, An called a cousin who worked for the youngest of the Ngo brothers, Ngo Dinh Can, the overlord of central Vietnam, to see if anything could be done to expedite things. An’s file was referred to Dr. Tran Kim Tuyen with instructions to check with the Americans about An’s character and loyalties. Lansdale’s recommendation alone was sufficient for Tuyen to arrange immediate clearance of An’s paperwork, making the trip to the United States possible. From this moment forward, the lives of Communist spy Pham Xuan An and one of Vietnam’s most ardent anti-Communists, Dr. Tran Kim Tuyen, would be forever interwoven.

...If there was a silver lining to the visa problems causing An to delay his departure from Saigon, it was being home on September 24, 1957, the first day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, the day his father died in An’s arms at the age of fifty-seven." (Perfect Spy, Chapter 3, Page 1/20)

Comment: "An became part of the 25th ARVN Division in February 1956" but "ON SATURDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 12, 1957, thirty-year-old Pham Xuan An arrived in California."?

Minus time: "his visa had been mired in the bureaucratic depths of the Vietnamese immigration office." thus, An serving "ARVN" how long?

"ARVN" is the market?



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- Episode 2: The little little Vietnam had a big big Spy


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