The Department of Homeland Security:
When The Phoenix Comes Home To Roost

By Douglas Valentine, March 2003

"The implication or latent threat of terror was sufficient to insure that the people would comply." William Colby, RIP

On 12 December 1970, the big American brains running the Vietnam War issued a report titled, Internal Security in South Vietnam-Phoenix. The report was significant at the time insofar as it recognized that, "the contest with the Communists has shifted to a new level." Main force operations had given way to political proselytizing, terrorism, and penetrations into the Government of South Vietnam, all of which were managed by the Viet Cong Infrastructure, or VCI. The report described the VCI as, "the political and administrative organization through which the Communists control or seek to control the people of South Vietnam."

According to the report, defense against the new VCI strategy would depend on the ability of the CIA's Phoenix Program to provide the corrupt Government of South Vietnam (GVN) with internal security. Phoenix did this first by coordinating all US and GVN agencies that contributed to the identification and neutralization of the VCI. ("Neutralization" meant to kill, capture or make to defect, and the CIA went about this in typical corporate fashion: it imposed an 1800-per-month neutralization quota on its men in the field.) Secondly, and more importantly, Phoenix provided the GVN with Internal Security by compiling a computerized blacklist of political opponents, which included anyone espousing peace. Those who found their names on the Phoenix blacklist could be assassinated, or kidnapped, detained, and tortured indefinitely on the false accusation of one anonymous informant.

Granted, the "war on terror" is unlike the Vietnam War, but based on his innate illegitimacy, Bush is obsessed with internal security, and has created the Department of Homeland Security under former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge to pacify the American people. It is the largest reorganization of the US government in 50 years, and according to Lawrence Korb at the Brookings Institute, might, "bankrupt the country." But at a cost of $50 billion in taxpayer s money, it will provide Bush with the "internal security" apparatus he needs to assure the continuity of political power in his hands, indefinitely, at the expense of our democracy and liberty.

And it brings the Phoenix Program home to roost.

Phoenix As The Conceptual Precedent For Homeland Security

The Phoenix "concept" is that terror is an organizing principle of society. This includes every type of terror, from the A-Bomb that incinerated Hiroshima, to the "collective punishments" Israel uses to deny Palestinians jobs, health, education, pride. It s National Guardsmen patrolling airports, and hooded policemen armed with automatic rifles, searching cars without probable cause. It is color-coded warnings of terror attacks that never occur, and unsubstantiated reports brought to you by Network News.

The concept also includes selective terror, which was perfected by the Viet Minh and involved the murder and mutilation of French colonial officials and their Vietnamese suppletifs. The Viet Minh, like the Palestinians, were so incredibly out-gunned they had to choose between submission, annihilation in an open rebellion, or selective terror - including suicide bombers. The purpose of selective terror was to psychologically isolate the oppressor, while demonstrating the ability to strike small blows for freedom, until a general uprising was possible.

In 1964 the CIA concluded that in order to win the Vietnam War, it had to neutralize the VCI through selective terror, so it set in place the foundation stones upon which Phoenix was built: 1) Counter Terror Teams; 2) the Province Interrogation Center (PIC) Program, which consisted of a US engineering firm building an interrogation center in each of South Vietnam s 44 provinces, one of which was managed in 1972 by Representative Rob Simmons (CT-R): and 3) the Hamlet Informant Program (HIP), designed to identify VCI suspects at the grass roots level of society. The similarities are between HIP and Attorney General John Ashcroft s short-lived Operation TIPS (the Terrorism Information and Prevention System) are obvious.

These programs worked in tandem. On the basis of a false accusation made by a single anonymous HIP informant, a Counter Terror team would "snatch or snuff (assassinate)" a VCI suspect. If snatched, the suspect was detained indefinitely under "administrative detention" laws in a PIC, or one of the hundreds of detention centers the CIA constructed across South Vietnam. VCI suspects were shuffled back and forth between PICs, detention centers, and squalid jails until they died or defected. Otherwise they were sent for "disposition" to a military tribunal or a CIA-advised Security Committee. Disposition meant imprisonment on Con Son Island, 90 miles off the southern tip of South Vietnam. Referred to as Ho Chi Minh University, Con Son Prison was the Phoenix version of Bush s hideous detention camp in Cuba.

Administrative detention, detention centers, and military tribunals are principal Phoenix-derived elements of the illegitimate Bush Regime s homeland security apparatus.

In June 1967 these CIA programs were combined to form the Phoenix Program, which coordinated all the existing US intelligence, police advisory, and military units in the attack on the VCI. Phoenix ostensibly had no operational units of its own, but as is true of homeland security personnel, Phoenix advisors organized and participated in terror missions, even in countries outside South Vietnam.

Phoenix employed every weapon of terror available to it, including assassins who performed what Israeli euphemistically refers to as "targeted kills", military cordon and search operations like the one that generated the My Lai massacre, massive round-ups of civilians, and indiscriminate air and artillery strikes like the ones in Afghanistan.

Under Phoenix, due process was non-existent, and corrupt US and Vietnamese officials used the Phoenix blacklist to extort innocent civilians as well as VCI. It was the greatest blackmail scheme ever invented: if you didn t do what the President and his clique wanted, your name appeared on the blacklist - and you were as good as dead.

Be forewarned: the Bush Regime is already compiling its blacklists: the INS-State Department TIPOFF blacklist; the "No-Fly" blacklist of peace activists, which is distributed to airlines by the FBI and the Transportation Security Administration; and local blacklists like the one kept by the Denver police department.

The Method In Their Madness

After the uninvestigated terror attacks of September 11, Bush s rationale for "eternal war on terror" evolved, and on 20 September 2002, it was set in stone with the promulgation of "The National Security Strategy of the United States," through which Bush conferred upon himself the right to launch preemptive attacks on any nation he can characterize as a terrorist threat. This First Degree Murder strategy makes Americans feel safer, but it has a sinister, unstated purpose: by generating more human misery and terrorists around the world, Manifesto Bush will generate more domestic dissidents, and provide Bush with the pretext he needs to impose the internal security apparatus that will terrorize and repress Americans, and allow his Regime to maintain its dominance.

Manifesto Bush is a function of Bush s paranoid belief - based on his innate illegitimacy - that the American people must be pacified to ensure their support for his eternal war on terror. In fact, homeland security is the lynchpin in the Bush Regime s plan for world domination, for without political "internal security," it cannot wage the eternal war on terror abroad (with all the economic benefits to Bush and his clique that entails). There is no other need for the Department of Homeland Security; it is a Trojan Horse through which Bush will unleash his ideological storm troopers on America, and exploit his ill-gotten power to achieve personal and political gain.

The Bush Regime is creating this fascist police state through the Big Lie. Case in point: the Homeland Security website says that the threat of terrorism, "is a permanent condition," that "requires our country to design a new homeland security structure."8 In "Metaphoric Entrapment In Time," sociologist Anthony Judge tells how terror is the key to creating the new homeland "security structure." "Personal violence is for the amateur in dominance," but, "structural violence is the tool of the professional. The amateur who wants to dominate uses guns; the professional uses social structure. The legal criminality of the social system and its institutions, of government, and of individuals at the interpersonal level is tacit violence. Structural violence is a structure of exploitation and social injustice."

Now that the Department of Internal Security has been voted into law, Bush has laid the groundwork for America s new "legally criminal" social structure. And the Phoenix has landed in our midst.

Phoenix As The Organizational Model For Homeland Security

Upon its creation in 1967, Phoenix was managed by a committee of five senior CIA and military officers. The Phoenix Committee functioned like Bush s Homeland Security Council; as a board of directors that advised the chairman and formulated policy.

Directly under the committee was a Directorate, which the CIA hid in the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) component of the Military Assistance Command/Vietnam (MACV). A senior CIA officer served as Phoenix Director, and was assisted by a staff of CIA and military personnel. The Directorate planned and conducted anti-VCI operations, managed the judicial processing of 200,000 Vietnamese civilians caught in the Phoenix dragnet, and made sure that CORDS and its six divisions (for defectors, security, refugees, public safety, civil affairs, and psychological warfare) stayed focused on anti-VCI operations.

CORDS is the organizational model for the Department of Homeland Security, which consists of directorates for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection, Science and Technology, Border and Transportation Security, and Emergency Preparedness and Response. The critical Office of Intelligence, which will include 1000 analysts from dozens of contributing agencies, is hidden within the Directorate of Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection. Former CIA officer John Gannon will head this Office, which, insofar as it will coordinate the other directorates in terror operations, is the homeland security equivalent of the Phoenix Directorate.

Phoenix personnel were assigned at national, regional, province, and district levels. A province in Vietnam is the equivalent of a state in the US, and the Province Coordinator was the main man in the Phoenix chain of command. He managed the CIA s Counter Terror teams, and its interrogation and informant programs. And just like the Phoenix Directorate eclipsed CORDS, the CIA managed DHS Intelligence Office unit will wag the homeland security dog - by coordinating intelligence, sending warnings to state, local, and private sector officials, and managing terror operations. The DHS will employ close to 170,000 people and operate at an annual budget of about $50 billion, but, as Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) has said, "(I)f we don t create a very strong coordinator and analyzer of intelligence, we have not completed our work."

Employees from the CIA s Counter-Terror Center will fill the most important positions within the DHS Intelligence Office. The Counter-Terror Center has also posted officers within terrorism task forces in 56 US localities, to "plan daily operations." These 56 CIA officers serve the same function as the 44 Province Phoenix Coordinators.

The involvement of CIA officers in domestic law enforcement means the suspension of our civil liberties, for in their search for opponents of the Bush Regime, the CIA will reach into every corner of society, including our homes, workplaces, public facilities and computers.

But worse abuses than blanket surveillance will occur. The problem of internal security is tactical - sniffing out terrorists and launching preemptive attacks that kill them before they strike. That is what the Phoenix Directorate did, and the Department of Homeland Security ostensibly will do. But just as the Phoenix Committee managed the strategic "internal security" function in Vietnam, Bush s Homeland Security Council will wage political warfare against its domestic opposition in America, and this operation will not appear on any organizational chart.

Phoenix As The Prototype Of Political Warfare

The greatest danger facing America is the Bush Regime s secret political warfare program within its internal security structure. The precedent is the Phoenix Program.

In 1968, through the Phoenix Program, South Vietnam's President Nguyen Van Thieu sabotaged peace negotiations with the North because, like Bush, he had stolen his office and thus preferred political "internal security" over a settlement that would allow for majority rule. Thieu s actions led to Congressional investigations, which in 1970 revealed that the CIA had used Phoenix as, "an instrument of mass political murder," to "neutralize" politicians and activists who opposed Thieu or espoused peace.

"By analogy," said Representative Ogden Reid (D-NY), "if the Union had had a Phoenix program during the Civil War, it targets would have been civilians like Jefferson Davis or the mayor of Macon, Georgia." Nowadays such "neutralizations" are made to look like accidents, as in the Senator Paul Wellstone and Missouri Governor Carnahans plane crashes. Like the anthrax letters mailed to Democratic senators, it takes only a few such black propaganda operations to silence Bush s political opposition.

The Bush Regime policy of using terror as an organizing principle of society was clearly summarized by right wing pundit Michael Ledeen when he said, "New times require new people with new standards." These new people will have the will power to, "stamp out," the, "corrupt habits of mind," manifest in the thoughts or actions of anyone who opposes Bush Regime aggression. According to Ledeen, "The entire political world will understand it and applaud it. And it will give Tom Ridge a chance to succeed, and us (the fascists) to prevail."

This is the maximum danger of homeland security, and it happened here before, when Oliver North established his infamous "off the shelf" Counter-Terror network to side step Congress and wage the illegal Contra War, and enable Reagan to sell missiles to Iran without notifying Congress. This Counter Terror network evolved into the CIA s Counter Terror Center, which will staff the DHS Intelligence Office, and, in liaison with 56 terror task forces, will provide the Bush Regime with the same political "internal security" it has provided right wing regimes since Eisenhower. Blackmail is the key, and hundreds of businesses and institutions across the country have already been placed on the CIA s homeland security "Watch List." According to Bob Woodward, one Bush official said that merely being on the list "could destroy the livelihood of all those organizations&without a bomb being thrown or a spore of anthrax being released."

According to Elizabeth Becker of the New York Times, "the leaders of many federal departments and agencies have been scrambling to figure out& how they can influence the outcome (of the impending Department of Homeland Security) without appearing disloyal."

According to James Bamford, "pressure has been building on the intelligence agencies to deliberately slant estimates to fit a political agenda," and "a growing number of military officers, intelligence professionals and diplomats &charge that the administration squelches dissenting views..." What this boils down to is mandatory self-censorship: no one will probe Bush s relations with the bin Laden family, or ask why he whisked them and members of the Saudi Royal family out of the country in the wake of September 11. And no one will ask about Israeli spy rings in the US, and their "false flag" relationship with the people who flew the planes into the Twin Towers.

Phoenix As Psychological Warfare Precedent for Homeland Security

Information management is key in the Bush Regime s effort to make terror the organizing principle in American society, while at the same time making its homeland security apparatus appear to be legal, moral, and most importantly, popular. And the way that is done is through a concerted psychological warfare campaign. The first step is organizing a political cadre to spread the word, and again we look to Phoenix as a model. The soldiers slated to participate in Phoenix were trained at a CIA-managed Special Forces motivational indoctrination school at Fort Bragg. These Phoenix advisors were the first political cadres to infiltrate the American military. In return for adopting the right wing party line, a successful career was guaranteed. Several former Phoenix officers now enjoy important internal security posts, like Major General Bruce Lawlor, Chief of Staff of the Department of Homeland Security.

At Fort Bragg, CIA unconventional warfare experts instructed Phoenix advisors in using Armed Propaganda to wage political warfare. A training manual on the subject was reprinted in the early 1980s by a former Phoenix operator involved in the Reagan Regime s illegal Contra War. Titled "Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare," it states that, "the human being should be considered the priority objective in a political war. And conceived as the military target of guerrilla war, the human being has his most critical point in his mind. Once his mind has been reached, the "political animal" has been defeated, without necessarily receiving bullets."

Homeland security personnel will pass through the same political and motivational indoctrination courses before they go to work. Critical Infrastructure personnel will spy on colleagues who may inadvertently or maliciously serve as "terrorist surrogates," by publicly or privately revealing information on infrastructure vulnerabilities. They will "covertly identify" and watch these people, until it becomes necessary to expose them in the media as being under investigation. No one will want to be identified, even falsely, as "inadvertent" or "malicious terrorist surrogates," knowing that once they have been defined in these terms they are subject to being "stamped out," as right wing pundit Michael Ledeen has suggested.

The Bush Regime already has its political cadre, Ledeen s "new people" who have been defeated by implicit threat and have embraced the fascist principles they were subliminally indoctrinated with for years through the corporate propaganda machine. These "new people" are fast joining "front" organizations like the Freedom Corps, the Citizen Corps, Community Emergency Response Teams (which will train kids at school to prepare for the disasters the illegitimate Bush regime and its Timmy McVeighs will surely visit upon America); the Neighborhood Watch Program that will allow the Bush Regime to detain its drunk and disorderly political opponents as terrorist surrogates; and the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), through which overpaid doctors will monitor patients within the faltering health care system.

Within these front groups, as stated in the Guerrilla Warfare manual, are the cadre trained "in techniques of persuasion over control of target groups" to support the Bush Regime. In a national emergency, including the preordained war on Iraq and economic depression, the cadre will be mobilized; they will attend mass meetings, carry placards, shout slogans, and if necessary grab guns and ropes and form lynch mobs.

As in Vietnam, only five percent of the people need to be organized in this fashion in order to wield control over the indifferent ninety percent, and defeat the five percent that form the resistance.

Again, we look to Phoenix for what s to come. In 1969 Phoenix became a massive screening operation, and generating defectors became its main objective through the Popular Information Program. Under the banner of, "Protecting the People From Terrorism," Phoenix psychological warfare teams crisscrossed the countryside, Michael Savage-style radio shows, leaflets, posters, and movies to appeal to peoples cultural beliefs to get them to denounce Communism and accept the corrupt Government of Vietnam. CIA officers taught Vietnamese district chiefs how to teach classes on government ideology: "problem individuals" were given a motivational indoctrination course, and everywhere "the populace was encouraged to report the activities of the VCI by dropping a note addressed to the police in local mailboxes." This method accounted for 40% of the information used in Phoenix operations in one province.

Psychological operations in support of the Phoenix attack against the VCI were so effective that in 1970, the Pentagon s Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities described Phoenix as, "the number one MACV PSYOPS priority."20 Likewise, when Bush publicly his proposed legislation for the Department of Homeland Security on 6 June 2002, he stressed that the organization s primary mission was to "mobilize and focus& the American people "to accomplish the mission of attacking the enemy where he hides and plans." By which he means the enemy within.

Phoenix As The Model For Maximum Abuses

In a national emergency, the CIA will form "special units" within the 56 terror task forces around the country. And it will form hit teams within the special units for political "internal security" operations, just like Phoenix Coordinators formed hit teams under cover of the security forces at their disposal.

Phoenix psyops also included "compromise and discreditation" operations, like the one the FBI used against Martin Luther King before they killed him. Information about his personal life was leaked to discredit him; he was blackmailed about extramarital affairs; and he was sent a message with the suggestion that he should commit suicide. "There is only one way out for you," the forged document read. "You better take it before your filthy, abnormal, fraudulent self is bared to the nation."

Forged documents like the one used against King are an important facet of internal security. One political opponent jailed by Thieu through the Phoenix Program revealed the existence of, "a systematic campaign of vilification by use of forged documents." Forged documents used to justify false arrests or conceal illegal operations often emerged as "captured documents." Aides to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigating Phoenix in 1970 wryly reported that "There seems to be captured documents to prove any point or to support, retrospectively, almost any conclusion."

Forged documents and "compromise and discreditation" operations will become a tool of the Bush Regime s homeland security apparatus, just as they are in the eternal war on terror overseas. We have already seen Network News broadcast "edited" videotapes of Osama bin Laden, and in the Afghanistan war, captured documents were routinely used as a form of black propaganda to justify military actions that resulted in "collateral" damage.

We can also expect a slew of false rumors from the homeland security cadre, designed to ruin the reputations of politically incorrect families in their villages and towns, especially environmentalists who pose a threat to critical infrastructure corporations. The paranoia that currently infects the Arab-American community will spread nationwide, until no one is sure who is a spy for the Thought Police. Midnight arrests and disappearances into "administrative detention centers" will become commonplace, as the definition of a "terrorist surrogate" achieves political connotations, and, as happened in Vietnam, the definition is expanded to include people deemed dangerous to the "public order." As Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker wrote in 1972, this "means that virtually any person arrested&can now be held on criminal instead of political charges."

No specific charge will be required; a homeland security cadre will simply accuse someone of disturbing the public order. The definition of sedition will grow to include disseminating information about government corruption, or undermining the will of the State (as Ashcroft is fond of saying) by challenging its authority. Calling for civil disobedience will be equated with threatening homeland tranquility. Cadre in the Office of Cyberspace Security will expose you as a terrorist surrogate for sending sarcastic or satirical emails. How can you prove you were only joking when you blamed Bush for the terror attacks on the World Trade Center, and said that Cheney s refusal to investigate the attacks proves that Bush did it?

A Final Word Of Warning

Already we passively permit paramilitary policemen in hoods to search our cars, without probable cause, for snipers who may or may not be connected to Al Qaeda. These policemen are helping us, right? They would never turn their guns on us, right? As stated in the CIA s terror manual, and as is known to the homeland security cadre like Michael Ledeen, "Implicit terror always accompanies weapons, since the people are internally "aware" that they can be used against them."

Knowing this, every town will form a Homeland Security Committee, chaired by the Bush Regime s local political cadre, who will process "confidential" reports from concerned citizens about the activities of terrorist suspects. These reports will pass through an ideological filter as they work their way up to the DHS Intelligence Office, where motivationally indoctrinated CIA officers will gleefully pull the plug on peace activists, environmentalists, people espousing national health care, and anyone else posing a challenge to the reactionary right wing and the internal security forces that are firmly in its grip.

What makes this possible is that Ashcroft has vowed to "arrest and detain any suspected terrorist who has violated the law," but he has yet to define what a suspected terrorist is. This is what happened in Vietnam too. There was never any consensus about the definition of a VCI sympathizer. Four years after the Phoenix Program was initiated, the New York Times revealed that 26,843 VCI and VCI sympathizers had been "neutralized" in the previous 14-month period. During Congressman Hearings that were being held at the time, Representative Ogden Reid (D-NY) asked William Colby, "Are you certain that we know a loyal member of the VCI from a loyal member of the South Vietnamese citizenry?" Colby said, "No."

So the definition of a terrorist suspect or surrogate is deliberately left open, paving the way for political repression through institutionalized terror. The anti-terror legislation passed by Congress and signed by Bush allows for secret searches of the homes of people who meet the nebulous criteria of "suspected terrorist." No doubt these secret searches violate the Fourth Amendment, so Ashcroft, again lifting a page from the Phoenix playbook, has vowed to "employ new tools that ease administrative burdens."

Ashcroft was laying his meaning between the lines, but what he meant was that the Bush Regime s political police will be empowered to detain US citizens without probably cause. When four Congresspersons charged that the administrative detention laws under the Phoenix Program violated that part of the Geneva Conventions guaranteeing protection to civilians in time of war, CIA legal experts argued that Article 3 applied, "only to sentencing for crimes, and does not prohibit a state from interning civilians or subjecting them to emergency detention when such measures are necessary for the security or safety of the state."

In this way indefinite detention, torture, and summary execution, all carried out without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, were perfectly legal, because they were the result of "administrative procedures" and did not involve a "criminal sentence."

This is Phoenix, and it s what the Bush clique of crazies has in store for America.

2003 Douglas Valentine