Episode 16. An not communists!

                                Chapter 4. An not communists!

                Episode 16. An not communists!

                ““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.””

  1. Bui Tin, a North Vietnamese colonel and intelligence agent, knew An’sstory.

                “Not even military officials as highly placed as Bui Tin, a North Vietnamese colonel and intelligence agent, knew An’sstory. Working as deputy editor of the North Vietnamese army newspaper, Tin rode a tank up to the Presidential Palace on April 30. After witnessing the surrender of the South Vietnamese government, Tin sat down at the former president’s desk to file a dispatch for his newspaper. Like most journalists newly arrived in Saigon, the next thing he did was go looking for Pham Xuan An. As Tin recalled, “On the morning of May 1, I went to meet An at his office in the Continental Palace Hotel. I had no idea at the time that he was a spy. All he told me was that he was a correspondent working for Time-Life. He intro- duced me to all the journalists in town, and I helped them send their articles abroad. Three months after the end of the war, I still didn’t know An was a spy.” An was supposed to follow his family to Washington and carry on his work as a Vietnamese intelligence agent, but this assignment was blocked at the last minute. Hints of the power struggle over An—between the military intelligence agents who wanted to send him to the United States and reticent of-ficials in the Politburo—were revealed to Bui Tin only when the government moved to get An’s wife and children repatri-ated to Vietnam. Bucking the tide of refugees flooding out of the country, An’s family would spend a year trying to get back into Vietnam by means of a circuitous route that passed through Paris, Moscow, and Hanoi.” (The spy who loved us, Thomas A. Bass, page 222)

                Reviews:Not even military officials as highly placed as Bui Tin, a North Vietnamese colonel and intelligence agent, knew An’sstoryWere revealed to Bui Tin only when the government moved to get An’s wife and children repatri-ated to Vietnam. ” (as well as people)

  1. My son didn’t know anything.

““Alison Krupnick came to check on me,” recalled An, “and wanted to know what my son knew during the war. I told her I had no network, there was no one else who helped me, and that I was a lone wolf. Therefore, my son didn’t know anything; he was completely ignorant of what I did. He only learned in 1976 when I was made a Hero.”.”  (Perfect Spy, Chapter 7, Page 18/23)

  1. An “saved” Trần Kim Tuyến.
  2. Really?

                “Dr. Tran Kim Tuyen had missed several chances to leave. His wife, Jackie, and children were already in Singapore, having gone earlier under the auspices of the British Embassy. Tuyen had spent the last twelve years either in prison or under house arrest.54 He was still in Saigon because several of his supporters and friends had been jailed in early April under trumped-up charges of coup plotting and general opposition to the Thieu government. Tuyen refused to leave Vietnam without securing their release.

                Tuyen was high on the CIA’s evacuation list. His agency contact, William Kohlmann, assured him the CIA would not let him down. Dr. Tuyen saw Kohlmann at least twice during the last week, including when he came to see Tuyen at An’s home.55(Perfect Spy, Chapter 6, Page 16/24)

                Reviews: Tuyen was high on the CIA’s evacuation list.

Why go through An help?

                “But Kohlmann had problems of his own getting out. Stricken with polio twenty-five years earlier, he walked slowly with the assistance of braces and could not use his right arm.56 He would need extra time and assistance boarding a helicopter; by the time Tuyen was ready to depart on the twenty-ninth of April, Kohlmann was gone.

From his home, Tuyen first tried calling his contacts at the British, U.S., and French embassies as well as fellow journalists, but all the phone lines had been cut. Tuyen found a small coffee shop on Cong Ly Street with a phone that still worked. He tried calling the U.S. Embassy, but the lines were jammed. Tuyen finally got through to Bob Shaplen at the Continental, who explained that he was on his way to the embassy and promised to do all he could to get Tuyen on the list of foreign journalists who were departing later that morning. Shaplen told Tuyen to go home, pack one suitcase with whatever personal belongs he could carry, and be back at the Continental by 11:00 a.m.

By the time Tuyen returned, the reporters were being ordered to board a bus in front of the hotel that would take them to Tan Son Nhut for their helicopter evacuation.

                “It is hopeless,” said Shaplen, who had been unable to get Tuyen onto the list. He tried calling the embassy again, but after ten minutes the reporters on the bus were becoming impatient. It was time to go. There was little else Shaplen could do than reach into his pocket and hand his friend all the money he had, plus another spare key to his hotel room, telling him, “Stay with An!” ” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 6, Page 16/24)

  1. An knew better: “No, impossible. You must try to leave!”?

One of the final entries in Shaplen’s notes is “I left the Continental at about 10:15. Waited. Tony [Tuyen] and Nghiem in room just before I left. Told them to stay there with An and gave Tony the 22 Gia Long information (he finally went there, hopefully not too late.)”57

Tuyen went to the Time office and asked An if he was leaving. “No. Time got my wife and children out. But I cannot leave now. My mother is very old and ill and she needs me. Of course you must go.”58 An’s other close friend, Cao Giao, whose wife had introduced An to Thu Nhan, tried reassuring An and Vuong, telling them that the new regime would look favorably on Vietnamese nationalists. “Why do you have to leave? There is nothing to be afraid of.”59 An knew better: “No, impossible. You must try to leave!”

An and Tuyen decided to take a chance by returning to the embassy. Getting into An’s green Renault, they drove there, but the crowds were so large that there was no way to get close to the gate. They drove back to Time in order to run through An’s contact list in a desperate attempt to reach someone who could help, but the phone lines were either busy or dead. Out of frustration, Tuyen suggested they drive back to the embassy again, but the situation was even worse than before and they retreated to the Continental.” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 6, Page 17/24)

                Reviews: An knew better: “No, impossible. You must try to leave!” “?

                “Super spy of the Communists” not trust the Communist?

““In case you can’t leave, don’t go back to your house anymore,” An told Tuyen. “You can come temporarily to live in my house.”

By now it was after 5:00 p.m. The two men sat forlornly at Time, not knowing what else to do. “I thought of my wife and children in Singapore,” said Tuyen. “I might not see them again.”

Then out of the blue, An’s desk phone rang. “You see, this was another lucky day; this time for Tuyen,” An told me. Christian Science Monitor correspondent Dan Southerland was calling An to see how he was holding up and to check on the evacuation. An cut Dan off before he could say another word. “Dan, we need your help! I have no time for anything else. Quick, see if you can reach the embassy and tell them Dr. Tuyen is here with me and they need to get him out. Call the ambassador.” Before hanging up, Tuyen asked to speak with Southerland. In French, Southerland promised Dr. Tuyen to do whatever he could, telling An and Tuyen to stay off the line until he called back.

An and Tuyen sat in silence for thirty minutes until the phone rang. Southerland had reached the embassy and spoken with CIA station chief Tom Polgar. It was going to be impossible for them to send a car to pick up Tuyen, but it was imperative to get Tuyen back to the embassy. Polgar would be waiting and had already confirmed that Tuyen was on the marines’ security list by the gate. “Tell him to take one piece of luggage,” Polgar said to Southerland.60

If Tuyen was unable to get to the embassy, Polgar said he should go to 22 Gia Long Street, an apartment building that had been used by the United States Agency for International Development, the same place that Shaplen had told Tuyen to go hours earlier.” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 6, Page 17/24)

                “The top floor of that building had been used by the CIA’s deputy station chief, and it was now being used to support helicopter evacuations. Tuyen’s name would be added to that list as well.61 “If you can’t come here, go there quickly. Very soon, the last helicopter will be there. Tran Van Don is there, with twenty or thirty other people.”62

Tran Van Don had been vice premier and minister of defense in the last Thieu cabinet and, ironically, a longtime secret source for An. After handing over power to Big Minh on April 29, Don was also having difficulties getting out of the country. He first called Ted Overton in the embassy’s CIA office, who told him to get to the embassy right away. Don’s wife was already in France, but his son, a skilled pediatrician, was home waiting for his father. Don went home and before heading to the embassy with his son, took a few minutes to go into his library with an empty valise, taking only the draft of his memoir and some money.63

By the time Don reached the embassy, he confronted the same chaotic scene as Tuyen and An; he called Overton who said to drive to the office building that the embassy rented, but when they got there it was so crowded, the helicopters could not land. Overton then sent Don to Polgar’s house, but that too was mobbed. Overton next suggested getting back to the embassy and try using the side gate. By now, however, the popular Tran Van Don had been spotted by other South Vietnamese seeking to find a way out. A line of cars and people on foot followed him to the embassy, but he could not get in.

In a final desperate call to Overton, Don was told the only chance was 22 Gia Long. Don also got lucky when he reached the building, seeing the CIA’s Nung guards, who immediately recognized Don and let him in. The Nung were extremely loyal to Americans and served in U.S. civilian agency programs, U.S. Special Forces units, and security units guarding the U.S. Embassy and other sensitive installations. Don was on the roof by the time Tuyen, with Pham Xuan An behind the wheel, arrived at the building. They would not be as fortunate as Tran Van Don. The guards were rolling down the gate and locking up.

An jerked the car to a stop, jumped out shouting, “By order of the ambassador, this man must get in.”64” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 6, Page 18/24)

                “The guards said no one else was to enter; the last helicopter was about to depart. On the rooftop, CIA employee O. B. Harnage was making his final pickup of the day. He had been landing a silver Huey on the elevator shaft and shuttling fifteen people at a time to Tan Son Nhut, where larger helicopters took them to ships in the South China Sea. He would later receive a CIA medal for his heroism that day.

The situation seemed hopeless, but as the gate was being closed, An instinctively reached under the gate with his left hand and used his right to push the diminutive Dr. Tuyen under the gate. No more than eighteen inches separated the gate from the ground. There was no time to say good-bye or thank you. “Run,” An said as tears ran down his face. Tuyen was also crying and could say nothing except “I can never forget.”65” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 6, Page 18/24)

  1. He never gave even the slightest clue.

THREE DECADES LATER Dan Southerland recalled that day in April 1975: “An rushed Tuyen to the designated address—and to freedom. I can only say with certainty that on the last day of the war he helped to save the life of a man who strongly opposed the goals that An secretly worked toward most of his life. I will always remember An for that.”69

Dr. Tuyen would never forget what An did for him. When reports surfaced about An’s espionage, Tuyen easily forgave An, expressing his gratitude in a secret message carried into Ho Chi Minh City by Henry Kamm. “He thanked me and told me he understood,” said An. “I wrote back telling him that I did not want to see his children orphaned, and we had known his wife for such a long time. I also knew how much he loved his wife and they loved each other. He was a friend, and we were Vietnamese, and he had helped many on both sides.”

Tuyen later told friends that he trusted two people more than any others: An and Pham Ngoc Thao. When he learned that both had long been working as Communist agents, Tuyen said that in retrospect he could see Thao, but it was impossible to believe that An had worked for the Communists; he never gave even the slightest clue. “Dr. Tuyen, that was an act of the heart,” An told me. “His wife was expecting a baby. He could have left anytime earlier, but he stayed to get his men out, and then it was too late. The CIA could not help him. Bob Shaplen could not help him. It was up to me.”” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 6, Page 20/24)

                Reviews: If “saved” Tran Kim Tuyen story is true. The more it proves:  “He was an “April 30 revolutionary,” “, “1987, Lansdale refused to believe that An was anything more than a quick change artist who had flipped to the winning side at the last minute.

                III. An is an anti-communist.

  1. An is an anti-communist – were more on the mark than anything I could obtain from other sources.

“That was it. No mention of spying; of being a Hero or even a general. An was doing what he had done for five decades, presenting himself to others as he wanted to be seen by that person. So much remained secret to so many, yet he seems to have been friends with almost everyone. It was as if he still lived the compartmentalized life from the war, a journalist to the Americans; a hero to his nation. When the war was over, someone who thought he knew An as well as anyone, wondered how it was possible that the person whose advice he had relied on for so long had been a Communist agent without ever giving him the Communist line. “He was surely one of the best informed men in town and had countless news sources that no one else seemed to have,” wrote Bob Shaplen. “In our conversations over the years, often lasting for hours, I discovered that the facts and opinions he furnished about the Communists, the government, and the many contending individuals and groups—including Buddhists and Catholics who opposed both sides of the conflict—were more on the mark than anything I could obtain from other sources, not excluding the American Embassy, which often knew surprisingly little about what was going on among the non-establishment Vietnamese.”9(Perfect Spy – Epilogue , Page 6/10 )

  1. An steered his fellow journalists away from stories about atrocities committed by the Republican side in the war.

                “In 1962, NLF soldiers launched an attack on the military outpost at An Lac village, thirty kilometers from Saigon on Highway 4. When Turner and An arrived on the scene, they found that local militiamen had been killed along with their family members, including women and children. Turner thought the local townspeople should be outraged by these “atrocities.”

Instead, they were happy with the gruesome outcome. “We hated these people,” they told An. “The soldiers and their wives and children took advantage of us. They came to the market and stole food without paying. If you didn’t bribe them, they would open fire and kill you.”

An also learned that the militiamen stationed in the village were refugees from the north. Their outpost had been attacked from the outlying rice fields. The guerrillas had crawled through the plants, ducking under water to avoid the searchlights which raked the surface. This was their only possible approach, and the soldiers’ family quarters happened to lie in the way. The women and children had died accidentally in the crossfire.

“Nick Turner wanted to report these details. I advised him to tone down the story. ‘If you write it this way, Reuters will get in trouble with the government.’ A journalist faces this kind of situation all the time. You don’t dare write the story the way it happened.

“The same was true for the atrocities committed in Vietnam by the South Koreans. In one operation, the Koreans rounded up the women and children in a village and dropped them in a dry well to kill them. Anyone who tried to save them was shot.

Fortunately an American soldier found them and intervened.

I was working for an American journalist at the time. She wanted to write this story. I said, ‘Please, this is too awful. The Koreans rely on the Americans, and you’re an American too.

Remember, an American saved the villagers, and no one was killed.’” The reporter dropped the story.

This was one of numerous incidents when An steered his fellow journalists away from stories about atrocities committed by the Republican side in the war—stories that would have made the Communists look good by comparison.

…I ask An if running the Korean story might have prevented similar atrocities from occurring in the future. “You cannot prevent them from happening,” he says, before repeating, “You cannot.” ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 134)

                Reviews: “This was one of numerous incidents when An steered his fellow journalists away from stories about atrocities committed by the Republican side in the warstories that would have made the Communists look good by comparison. “

  1. An write:Vietnam Journalist Aims to Fight Red Propaganda.

                “A week later the Bee did an in-depth feature about An with the title “Vietnam Journalist Aims to Fight Red Propaganda.53 “I used everything Lansdale taught me for this article. He was an excellent teacher,” recalled An. The article is reprinted below.

Member of a family of four, Pham was employed by the psychological warfare department of Vietnam during the 1954 campaign against the Communist military attack which divided the country.

He explains the success of the campaign by the fact the Red leaders never preached open Communism at the time, but branded their movement as a nationalist fight against the French who still were ruling Indochina.

This fact made him decide, he said, that the best way to help his country would be to become a journalist so he could explain to the public the real goals and methods of Communism.

He said the Vietnamese government now maintains a tight censorship on all newspapers as a matter of necessity because otherwise the Reds would have a field day in spreading their ideas throughout the country.

                The article turned An into something of a local celebrity…

….53. “Vietnamese Journalist Aims to Fight Red Propaganda,” Sacramento Bee, July 5, 1959, B4..” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 3, Page 14/20)

                Reviews: An is an anti-communist character!

  1. An write: “Red Program for South Vietnam: One Bite at a Time.”

“On July 5, 1965, special correspondent Pham Xuan An published his own article in the New York Herald Tribune,  entitled “Red Program for South Vietnam: One Bite at a Time.”

When I brought a copy of this article to An during one of our visits, he elaborated on its origins. “The article explains the Communist strategy, the program. Before the Americans sent in combat troops, they should know what the reaction of the Communists would be. That’s why I wrote the story.”

The article says that the Communists, at that point in the war, had sixty-five thousand troops in the south, supported by one hundred thousand regional and village militia. “These numbers are correct,” An says. “The Americans and Vietnamese captured a lot of documents from the enemy. They gave them to the CID [Criminal Investigation Department] to be translated. I relied on the Vietnamese Central Intelligence Organization [CIO] and on Vietnamese military intelligence, Vietnamese military security, and the Saigon secret police to show me this material, which I read and analyzed every day.” An covered his tracks by publishing only information that was already known in the south, and never anything that he got from his Communist bosses. “It was a one-way street,” he says. “This was for security reasons.”

“I couldn’t say I was using these documents from the CIO.

I had to say I was quoting ‘reliable sources.’ Communist documents are reliable enough,” An says with a laugh, amused by the thought of “reliability” in this most unreliable of wars. An’s editorials also served to alert the Communists to what was known about them in the south. “They should know that anything I wrote about the Communists relied on captured documents. They had to be careful. All the Communist resolutions, for example, I know better in English than in Vietnamese. This is the trouble with me,” An says, smiling. ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 147)

  1. Anwas now preparing Dr. Tuyen’s anti-Communist agents for their covercarefully.

When An saw that Tuyen’s men were not taking his classroom training seriously, he went directly to Tuyen: “Look, I refuse to teach them unless you order them to understand how important having a cover is because they will be caught immediately unless they learn this trade” is how An recalled his argument. “They need to pay attention to detail, know how to file a story, interview, and develop sources. If they do not learn this job, they will be caught and you will be embarrassed.” The agents returned to Vietnam Press with orders from Tuyen to take their journalism training seriously. Pham Xuan An, himself an undercover Communist spy, was now preparing Dr. Tuyen’s anti-Communist agents for their cover. In Vietnam, nothing was ever as it seemed to be.”   (Perfect Spy, Chapter 4, Page 3/27)

  1. An “electronic listening devices” gumshoe “Provisional Revolutionary Government.”

“Another curious offer came from the CIO, just after the signing of the Paris Accords in 1973. Knowing that the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) delegation was staying at a nearby hotel, the CIO hatched a plan to bug Givral with electronic listening devices, certain they could obtain valuable information from their conversations concerning plans for a “coalition government.” Givral was privately owned, so the CIO wanted An’s wife to buy Givral with CIO funds. An wanted no part of this, but the bugging of Givral proceeded, and part of the shop was renovated into an ice cream and milk café to disguise the real purpose of the renovations, which was to install the equipment. “It was an easy way to get caught. No one can protect you but yourself,” An said.67(Perfect Spy, Chapter 5, Page 16/25)

  1. Cause An not evacuated: “My mother is very old and ill”

One of the final entries in Shaplen’s notes is “I left the Continental at about 10:15. Waited. Tony [Tuyen] and Nghiem in room just before I left. Told them to stay there with An and gave Tony the 22 Gia Long information (he finally went there, hopefully not too late.)”57

Tuyen went to the Time office and asked An if he was leaving. “No. Time got my wife and children out. But I cannot leave now. My mother is very old and ill and she needs me. Of course you must go.”58 ” (Perfect Spy, Chapter 6, Page 17/24)

                Reviews: This is the cause Bop not evacuated: But I cannot leave now. My mother is very old and ill and she needs me.

  1. Not An modest!

This is the truth: “Forty years after last seeing Lee Meyer, the young newspaper editor he had fallen in love with at Orange Coast College, An wrote her a lengthy e-mail: “Now it’s time to summarize what I’ve done since I left Orange County. In the summer of 1959 I did my internship at the Sacramento Bee then it took me seven days to cross the country alone in my twelve-year-old Mercury to New York City to observe the press in activities at the United Nations and returned to Vietnam. I worked for Vietnam Press Agency in 1960 and then Reuters Ltd. Agency till summer 1964 to pick up a treat with the New York Herald Tribune until the national edition was folded in the summer 1965. So I was hired by Time magazine and I worked for them until the end of the war and then Time magazine office was closed in the summer of 1976 by the new regime. My dear profession was ended and the new regime made me a jack of all trades consultant.”8(Perfect Spy – Epilogue , Page 4/10 )

  1. Little An, is not a member of the Communist Party

                “An tells me that Little An, because he is not a member of the Communist Party, has reached a glass ceiling in his career.

He earns a salary of two million Vietnamese dong,  about a hundred and sixty dollars a month. When I ask An why his son is not a Party member, he pushes the question aside. “My son is too old to join the Party,” he tells me. “It’s very difficult to learn Marxism and Leninism. You have to start when you are young.”

Is it more difficult to learn Marxism than to get a law degree from Duke University? I am wondering how to phrase this thought when An tells me that I am asking too many questions and writing too slowly.

“I too was a slow writer,” he confesses, “but Bob Shaplen was very fast. He just took his notes and wrote them up, no problem.” ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 251)

                Reviews: “When I ask An why his son is not a Party member, he pushes the question aside. “My son is too old to join the Party,” he tells me. “It’s very difficult to learn Marxism and Leninism. You have to start when you are young.”

Is it more difficult to learn Marxism than to get a law degree from Duke University? I am wondering how to phrase this thought when An tells me that I am asking too many questions and writing too slowly.”

  1. Actors forget the role.
  2. Actors forget the role.

                “As we sit talking in his living room, An keeps himself positioned near the telephone and a pad of paper, and there is always a pen tucked in his breast pocket. Old colleagues call to ask him out for coffee. Foreign visitors request meetings. News arrives that old friends have died. An keeps these conversations brief. We always return to where we left off. In this case, I ask him what he means when he talks about an area being infested with Viet Minh in need of pacification.

                “I use this language because I had to think like an American,” he says. “I had to think like a nationalist. If I had thought like a Communist, I would have been finished, finished completely.” ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 124)

                Reviews: “In this case, I ask him what he means when he talks about an area being infested with Viet Minh in need of pacification.

                ““When we lost the battle in southern Laos in 1971, we were hoping to cut off the Ho Chi Minh Trail, after an earlier raid into Cambodia to cut off the Sihanouk Trail,” An says.

What do you mean when you say we  lost the battle?” I ask.

“I am referring to the nationalist side. I am sorry. I am confused,” An says, laughing.

It is my turn to be confused when he continues talking about the battle from the southern perspective, perhaps to de-flect attention from the lethal consequences of his spying. “

(The Spy Who Loved Us, page 217)

                Reviews:  What do you mean when you say we  lost the battle?”

  1. I have told too many lies

“As we stare at the papers heaped in the driveway, An laughs. “My wife tells me it’s time to make room for the younger generation, but I can’t die yet. There’s nowhere for me to go. I can’t go to heaven because I have told too many lies; hell is reserved for crooks, but there are so many of them in Vietnam, it’s full.” ” (The Spy Who Loved Us, page 13)

                Reviews: “hell is reserved for crooks, but there are so many of them in Vietnam, it’s full

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