Episode 15. Too talent and luck – Story “square snake” (Length = width)

Chapter 3. The communist bites the hand that feeds? No! The truth is something more than that!

                Episode 15. Too talent and luck – Story “square snake” (Length = width)

                “Saucy – Disobeyed.” – But… until 1975 – “He was acting on orders from above.”                               

*. Summary:

  1. An storytelling performed Spies.
  2. Jokes: Careers Communist spy has finished = Work at the post office for the Deuxième Bureau.

                Reviews:  “As a newly recruited spy = An began moonlighting as a press censor at the Saigon post office.)”

  1. Story “Pham Xuan An” ARVN soldiers.
  2. An was drafted in 1954 into the Armée Nationale Vietnamienne

                Reviews: “In spite of his freelance work at the post office for the Deuxième Bureau, An was drafted in 1954 into the Armée Nationale Vietnamienne. “

  1. Soon grew.
  2. As a quadruple agent.
  3. Among this farrago of spies
  4. An was out of a job.
  5. Pham Xuan An: Too talent and luck – Story “square snake” (Length = width)
  1. Pham Xuan Giai to flee – Pham Xuan An be Promoted.
  1. The boss and his brother: arrested – Pham Xuan An: no arrest.
  2. Tran Kim Tuyen: guilty – Pham Xuan An: Not guilty.
  3. Twenty-five agents in his unit who were killed ” – “The family of An no one hurt”
  4. I urged the Vietcong to organize a counteroffen-sive.
  5. I told them to stop the shelling.
  6. An convinced them that the moment had finally come to seize Saigon.
  7. Saucy – Disobeyed.” – But until 1975 – An was afraid.
  8. Saucy – Disobeyed.”
  9. I could just wash my hands and walk away.

                “If they didn’t trust me I didn’t care,”

  1. “I was too busy,”
  2. But until 1975 – An was afraid.

 He was acting on orders from above.”

**. Reviews:  Story is not so!

***. In detail.

  1. An storytelling performed Spies.
  2. Jokes: Careers Communist spy has finished = Work at the post office for the Deuxième Bureau.

                “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. The Communists feared that An would end up as a colonel—not high enough in rank to be a good source of information. The sleepy world of the Indochinese customs house yielded little news, so An began moonlighting as a press censor at the Saigon post office. Here he was told to black out the dispatches written for British and French newspapers by Graham Greene, a “troublemaker” the French assumed was working for British intelligence.

                Sitting under the soaring iron columns and revolving ceiling fans that decorated this impressive building designed by Gustave Eiffel, An worked at the post office in the late afternoon. Journalists posting stories from Saigon faced delays from faulty transmissions and other technical problems, but their biggest hurdle lay in the censor’s office. An, a self-taught English speaker with a loose grasp of the language, was instructed to censor dispatches from Graham Greene, one of the great literary ironists of the twentieth century.

                “The French gave us orders to watch Graham Greene very closely,” An says. “He had worked for British intelligence during World War II. Then he came out to Indochina to cover the war. While he was in Asia, smoking opium and pretending to be a journalist, the Deuxième Bureau assured us he was a secret agent in MI6, British intelligence. We were also ordered to watch very closely anyone who worked for the CIA. ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 54)

                Reviews:  “As a newly recruited spy = An began moonlighting as a press censor at the Saigon post office.)”

                ““One day Graham Greene came to the post office to file a story. His report was placed on my desk. It was a long report.

                ‘What do I do with this?’ I asked my supervisor. ‘You have to be very careful,’ he said. ‘If there are any words you are not sure about, just cross them out. Your English isn’t very good, but there’s nothing he can do about it. He can’t argue with you. So just go ahead and cross out the words. Mark it up and then give it to the man who types the telegram. They never give him a chance to argue anyway. ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 55)

                                Reviews: Jokes!

  1. Story “Pham Xuan An” ARVN soldiers.
  2. An was drafted in 1954 into the Armée Nationale Vietnamienne

                “In spite of his freelance work at the post office for the Deuxième Bureau, An was drafted in 1954 into the Armée Nationale Vietnamienne. To avoid getting shot during the waning days of the French colonial war in Indochina, he played on the family connections by which business gets done in Vietnam.

He asked his cousin, Captain Pham Xuan Giai, for help. “He was the head of the family,” An says of Giai, the eldest son of his father’s elder brother. Eight years older than An, Giai was born in Hué. Trained as a military officer by the French, he fought alongside Ho Chi Minh in 1945 and then switched sides the following year, going back to work for the French. Captain Giai was ambitious and smart, earning quick promotions as he moved through the ranks of the French intelligence services until he emerged as head of G5, the psychological warfare department of the army general staff.

Giai made his cousin an adjutant, the highest-ranking non-commissioned officer, and put him to work at army headquarters on the rue Gallieni, near Cholon.” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 64)

                Reviews: “In spite of his freelance work at the post office for the Deuxième Bureau, An was drafted in 1954 into the Armée Nationale Vietnamienne. “

  1. Soon grew.

                “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 expert in psychological warfare, had been sent to run the CIA’s covert operations in Vietnam.

                …Finding a promising student in the young Pham Xuan An, Lansdale and his colleagues began teaching him the tradecraft that he would employ for his next fifty years as a Communist spy. “I am a student of Sherman Kent,” An says, referring to the Yale professor who helped found the CIA, including what today is called the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis.

                “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.” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 65)

  1. As a quadruple agent.

                “In addition to the writings of Sherman Kent, An was given Paul Linebarger’s classic text, Psychological Warfare (1948).

                “The Communist magic is a strong, bad magic,” writes Linebarger of the “hostile operators” at work in psywar. “Psychological strategy is planned along the edge of nightmare.” As a quadruple agent who was moonlighting for France’s Deuxième Bureau while working for his cousin’s indigenous Vietnamese intelligence organization and its CIA sponsor, and at the same time reporting to his Communist handlers, An was beginning to live along the edge of his own personal nightmare.

                “I was never relaxed for a minute,” he says. “Sooner or later as a spy, you’ll be captured. I had to prepare myself to be tortured. This was my likely fate.” ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 66)

  1. Among this farrago of spies

                “It was scant solace that most of An’s colleagues in G5 were in a similar predicament. “The guy in the office who worked for the CIA was fighting against my cousin, who worked for the Deuxième Bureau. They were keeping track of each other’s activities, reporting back to their bosses on what was happening.

But they were good friends. They played around all the time.

This is the Vietnamese way, pure Vietnamese. We were thrown together like a bunch of crabs from the world’s five oceans.”

“When we weren’t spying on each other, we smoked opium and played together as friends. That was just the way things worked. I had to compartmentalize. It was hard. First you do it by reflex, and then, after a long period of time, you become accustomed to it. I always had to be vigilant. My cousin, my boss, was pro-French. So I had to pretend to be on the French side, while I was actually against the French. I was also against the interventionists, the Americans, while at the same time I was working for them. But you can’t kill all the time. When the war was over, these were the people I would have to live with.”

Among this farrago of spies were two men who would become An’s fast friends. Cao Giao was a bespectacled man with a wispy goatee who worked for the Communists. Nguyen Hung Vuong, who had the caved-in face of an opium addict, worked for the CIA. An and his colleagues spent so much time together, palling around town and sipping coffee on the rue Catinat, that they came to be known as the Three Musketeers. They tipped each other jobs and information and remained loyal friends throughout Vietnam’s numerous wars. In the beginning, An played little brother to his more experienced colleagues, as they taught him what they knew about the business of spying.” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 66)

  1. An was out of a job.

                “When he left Reuters in 1964, An was out of a job but not out of work. The American presence in Vietnam was building. From seventeen thousand “advisers,” the United States was preparing to introduce half a million combat troops.

                …An freelanced for this flotsam of American journalists, his two major clients being Robert Shaplen, veteran correspondent in Asia for The New Yorker,  and Beverly Ann Deepe, a twenty-seven-year-old, fresh-faced reporter with bangs and a beehive hairdo who was freelancing for Newsweek,  the International Herald Tribune,  and the Christian Science Monitor.  ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 145)

                Reviews:  Being “a quadruple agent“, Is it necessary to go to study in USA? To lead to a situation: “An was out of a job“?

Pham Xuan An: Too talent and luck – Story “square snake” (Length = width)

  1. Pham Xuan Giai to flee – Pham Xuan An be Promoted.

                “An’s career as a spy was inadvertently advanced when his cousin, Pham Xuan Giai, was forced to flee the country after a failed coup attempt. “The French gave him money to pull off a coup against Diem in December 1954, but the coup failed.

The Americans found out about it and spoiled it, so he had to go into exile in Laos.”

 “While he was there, the CIA people used him to work for the Americans, and the Deuxième Bureau used him to work for the French. He got involved in cooking another coup in In-donesia. It was all very complicated,” An says, waving his hands in front of his face. “These people had too many brains. I was one of the stupid men.”

                From being an elf in Giai’s shop producing psywar pam-phlets and rumor campaigns, An moved up to being the point man at TRIM responsible for sending Vietnam’s military officers for training in the United States. This is when he began accumulating the skein of contacts and favors that made him the best-connected man in Vietnam. “I picked out the likely candidates, assembled their CVs, and arranged their security clearances with Vietnamese intelligence and the U.S. embassy. The Vietnamese were sent to schools in the U.S. to learn about counterinsurgency, like Nguyen Van Thieu, who later became South Vietnam’s president. He was sent to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. I filled out his paperwork and followed the reports that were sent back to MAAG.”” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 97)

                – Jokes.

                “The last time An had shot a gun was when he fired on a platoon of French soldiers moving through the Mekong delta in April 1946, but he was armed again when he went into the field with two American soldiers in January 1956. He was carrying the pistol given to him by his cousin before he fled into exile. “It was a Walther 7.65 millimeter, with a brown handle and a shiny, blue-green barrel. This is what we call a ‘love pistol.’ It is designed to be carried in your handbag or in your pocket and removed when it is required to shoot your spouse or her lover.”

                “I had never used it, and I didn’t even know how it worked, until I went into the field one day as liaison officer for Colonel Glenn and Colonel Hicks, two American advisers. We were going into the delta to watch Diem’s troops fight the last Communist forces which had been left behind. We drove to Long Ha by jeep and then took boats from there to Moc Hoa, in the Plain of Reeds, near the Cambodian border. While out in the field with Lansdale’s men, I tied the pistol with a string to my belt loop, so if it fell out of my pocket, I wouldn’t lose it.”

                When they demanded to see what was in An’s pocket, Colonel Hicks and Colonel Glenn laughed at his little pistol. Like all American advisers, they carried big Colts. They asked if An had ever fired his gun and then shook their heads in disbelief.

                “An, you are the worst soldier we have ever seen in our lives,” they said. “You are smart, but you have no initiative. What you need is a brain transplant. You need an American brain grafted onto your Vietnamese brain. Then you might be able to go out in the world and accomplish something.’”

                After a crash course in the field, An knew how to break down his pistol and clean it. He also knew the correct way to smoke cigarettes. The advisers noticed that An was puffing Lucky Strikes without inhaling. He had the profligate habits of a customs inspector who got his cigarettes and other contraband for free. “They taught me how to get the smoke into my lungs and blow one part out through my mouth and the other part out through my nose, and then they taught me how to smoke cigars. ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 99)

  1. The boss and his brother: arrested – Pham Xuan An: no arrest.

                ““My brother was arrested while I was in America,” An says.

                “They asked him about Muoi Huong and why he had come to visit me at my house. My brother was detained by the Saigon police until after Têt in 1958. My cousin got him out of jail—the one who worked for Ngo Dinh Can as chief of security and head of the police in central Vietnam. He came to Saigon to see the chief of police. My brother was released directly into his custody.

                “My brother wrote me a letter implying that my two direct superiors had been captured. He gave me enough hints so that I understood.” As An tells me this story, one of his birds starts screaming in the background like a police cruiser with its whoopee siren going full blast. If his younger brother Dinh got off relatively easily, the same was not true for Muoi Huong.

                He was tortured in the Nine Caves prison in central Vietnam for six years. He did not reveal An’s name, but it was a perilous moment for all the agents in his network. ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 111)

                Reviews: “They asked him about Muoi Huong and why he had come to visit me at my house.”

  1. Tran Kim Tuyen: guilty – Pham Xuan An: Not guilty.

                “Tuyen was An’s patron for three years, until he fell from power after an attempted coup in December 1962. “Whenever he cooked up something he discussed it with me,” An says. “When he was planning to pull off a coup, he asked me to come to his office and help him.” After his failed coup attempt, Tuyen spent the next thirteen years under house arrest, schem-ing to bring down one government after another. The bonds of friendship and obligation between An and Tuyen held fast up to the last day of the war, when An helped his friend escape the Communist forces advancing on Saigon. “I helped Dr. Tuyen get out of here. I knew I would be in trouble. This was the chief of intelligence, an important man to capture, but he was my friend. I owed him. He had been nice to me. He helped me with everything.”” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 127)

  1. Twenty-five agents in his unit who were killed ” – “The family of An no one hurt”

                ““The information he gave us was very important,” Tu Cang says of Pham Xuan An, the preeminent spy in his Saigon network. “He knew in advance where the Americans would send their forces. He alerted us to upcoming attacks and air raids. In 1967, for example, he told us when B-52s would be bombing our headquarters. This allowed us to get away. He saved the lives of lots of people. We also found out from An what the Americans knew about us. This too was very important.” Then Tu Cang tells me about the twenty-five agents in his unit who were killed running Pham Xuan An’s intelligence out of the city. ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 204)

  1. I urged the Vietcong to organize a counteroffen-sive.

                ““The plan was to liberate all of South Vietnam in one stroke,”

An says. “I doubted you could do it in one stroke, but I supported the Têt Offensive. After the United States began sending troops into Vietnam, I urged the Vietcong to organize a counteroffen-sive. By 1966 I was convinced they needed to do this to raise morale. This is why Tu Cang moved to Saigon two years before the offensive. He had to start planning. We had to do it.” ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 198)

  1. I told them to stop the shelling.

                “As organized by Tran Van Tra, the Têt Offensive was to be followed by a second wave of attacks in May 1968. At the onset of what was called the mini-Têt offensive, the Communists began shelling Saigon indiscriminately with 122 mm Russian rockets, blowing up buildings and killing scores of civilians. “I sent a message to the commanders in the field asking them to stop firing on the city,” An says. “I told them to stop the shelling. It had no military objective and was alienating people.”

                “What happened next?” I ask.

                “The shelling stopped. Maybe thanks to my request. Maybe on their own. They were my superiors… ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 199)

                “By January 1973, the Paris Peace Accords had been signed, ushering in the “Vietnamization” of the war, and by March most of America’s ground forces had left Vietnam. Throughout the Paris negotiations, relying on leaks from the head of South Vietnam’s Central Intelligence Office (CIO), An had kept both Time  and the Communists informed about Henry Kissinger’s negotiating feints and South Vietnam’s opposition to the accords, which President Thieu saw as a sellout leading to the south’s eventual demise. Thanks to An’s information, the Communists trumped Kissinger in Paris and Time  trumped Newsweek in New York. “We scooped them with a better story. It was a good day for us,” he says.”(The Spy Who Loved Us, page 218)

  1. An convinced them that the moment had finally come to seize Saigon.

                “An once again deftly interpreted the political situation when he witnessed the Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon’s resignation in August 1974. He knew that Congress would never allow the president to reintroduce U.S. ground forces into the war. With American military power constrained, An urged the Communists to mount their final assault. They were timid militarily, until An convinced them that the moment had finally come to seize Saigon. The last of An’s military exploit medals was awarded for the role he played in the Ho Chi Minh campaign the final battles in the war which ended with the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975. ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 218)

                Reviews:An convinced them that the moment had finally come to seize Saigon.

  1. Saucy – Disobeyed.” – But until 1975 – “He was acting on orders from above.”
  2. Saucy – Disobeyed.”
  3. I could just wash my hands and walk away.

                “I ask An if he ever photographed secret documents. “Yes, sometimes I did this, but it was very dangerous,” he says. “These documents were stamped secret, eyes only, top secret. You had to be very careful about how you handled this kind of material.

They might be baiting you. Somebody hands you the document and you take it home and photograph it. Suddenly the police break into your house and arrest you. This is why I developed the habit of speed reading these documents and returning them immediately. This was sufficient for what I needed. Remember, I worked in strategic intelligence. I wasn’t a spy. Spying is a different thing. You steal documents. You take pictures of documents. The material you send into the field is transmitted verbatim. I wasn’t supposed to do this sort of thing, unless they forced me to do it. This happened when they didn’t trust my way of analyzing things. They would demand proof, and I would give them some documents to support my analysis. ‘Without the documents, we can’t understand what you are telling us,’ they would say to me.”

As the war continued and An became increasingly important and his situation ever more perilous, he became less deferential to his superiors. He had access to secret documents and was privy to every aspect of the enemy’s war plans and intelligence. His Communist bosses—like intelligence agents everywhere—were hungry for this material. When they pressured An to steal it and film it, he refused. He was not going to die for trafficking in pieces of paper marked top secret. Instead, he would narrate what he had read and recount the facts in reports written to Ho and Giap. They had to believe him, because An’s word was gold.

“If they didn’t trust me I didn’t care,” he says. “For me it was very simple. I worked for them. I worked for the right cause, for the Vietnamese people. I didn’t work for any individuals. If they didn’t trust me, I could just wash my hands and walk away.  Sometimes they said, ‘We trust you, but we need more detail to understand what you’re saying.’ In that case, I might send them pictures of the documents. But this was a dangerous practice, to photograph documents that were never supposed to be removed from someone’s office.” ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 178)

                Reviews: But until 1975: he was acting on orders from above.”

  1. “I was too busy,”

                “For example, I was at dinner talking to someone who told me that Norodom Sihanouk was about to be overthrown in a coup. This was the start of the American invasion into Cambodia in April 1970, when they attacked the Sihanouk Trail. This was important information, but I didn’t report it to the Communists. I should have, and if I had, I would have saved a lot of lives.”

                “Why didn’t you report it?” I ask.

                “I was too busy,” he says. “I had hundreds of other things to report. My friends gave me the details of the coup, but I didn’t pass them along. This was a big mistake. I deserve to be blamed.

                I should have told the Communists. Later I told them I had made a mistake.” This rates as one of An’s rare apologies to his handlers. His attitude toward them was generally dismissive. He was better informed and smarter than they were. They were poor northerners in tattered clothes and flip-flops, a dour, dis-trustful race, compared to the more jovial and privileged southerners. “Sometimes they challenged me,” he says. “They doubted my information. Whenever they asked me for the names of my sources, I would say, ‘I am the source. If you don’t believe me, forget about it.’”” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 180)

  1. But until 1975 – “He was acting on orders from above.”

                 He was acting on orders from above.”

                “When I went to visit him for the last time, in January 2006, we were preparing for what I thought would be a long night of conversation, the usual mix of stories and jokes, when he told me this would be our last meeting. There was no going back on his decision. We would never see each other again.

I knew by this point that An was working with another “official” biographer. “What’s the difference between my book and this other book?” I asked. “Your book is being written from inside Vietnam,” he said, implying that I had access to sensitive information that should not be revealed. I took this as a compliment to my Vietnamese research assistants, whose legwork and tenacity were sometimes as remarkable as An’s back in the days when he was the hardest-working journalist in Vietnam.

I was hurt by An’s decision not to see me again, and I took the news personally, until I learned that he was acting on orders from above. ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 7)

                Reviews:…!!!

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