Sued for Writing about experiences
The remarkable case of retired Lieutenant Colonel Dan Marvin has become a special focus of this paper. We believe it to be a matter of grave national importance and are as dismayed by the virtual blackout of coverage of it in the media as we are appalled by LTC Marvin's story itself. Thus we plan to cover it as long as it's active. We feel we're already helping with our limited resources to get Dan Marvin a voice nationally -- and this is exciting. Now, some more background on the matter as a critical trial date approaches. If the major media will not report what counts, this humble paper will.
LTC Marvin commanded a U.S. Army Special Forces A-Team as a Captain in An Phu, Vietnam from 1965 to 1966 where he assisted the Hoa Hao (Wa How, a Buddhist sect originating among the oppressed rural people of the Delta area of Vietnam) with their civilian defense against their Vietcong enemy as well as other civic action projects such as education, medical/dental care, personal hygiene, and food production.
Because of the Top Secret nature of his independent mission to attack the "safe havens" of the VC that parallel the border in supposedly neutral Cambodia, Marvin was sworn to secrecy about his mission - a mission the government denies ever happened. In addition to aiding the South Vietnamese in launching mortar rounds into VC camps in Cambodia, then Captain Marvin was asked by the CIA to send an indigenous team to assassinate Cambodian Prince Sihanouk - a mission he at first agreed to, but ultimately refused since President Johnson reneged on a counteroffer. "How could I forget the situation that evolved in my Special Forces Camp at An Phu, South Vietnam," recalls LTC Marvin, "when I aborted an assassination mission initially accepted by me when offered by a CIA operative named Walter Mackem because my quid-pro-quo demanding an end to the enemy's sanctuaries provided them by our White House was ignored." Such a refusal brought the wrath of the CIA down on Captain Marvin and his men by way of an ARVN Regiment, under the direction of the CIA sent to kill him and all of his men. (see Fort Fairfield Journal, Dec. 23, 2005, p. 2)
He wrote of his experience in a book released in 2003: Expendable Elite: One Soldier's Journey Into Covert Warfare - a book that the Special Forces Association and the CIA would rather he not have written. Since the government couldn't sue LTC Marvin for writing the book and releasing the Top Secret information of his covert operation (they would have to admit the information was in fact true), LTC Marvin believes they may have harassed and intimidated the men of his former command at An Phu into initiating a libel lawsuit against him and his publisher, Trine Day Press. Even though advanced copies of his manuscript were forwarded to his men for their approval, and they helped him refine it and added to it with written and audio taped suggestions, the threat of losing their retirement pay seemed to be enough of a government-induced strong-arm tactic to get them to sue their former commander for libel and defamation of character.
I have read the book Expendable Elite and have found not one case of libelous content or defamation of character toward any of LTC Marvin's men or those around him at the time. On the contrary, he spoke very highly of them and heaped praise and kudos on a team that was woefully undermanned, but rose to meet the extreme challenges of a covert operation in the midst of a war half a world away from home - all the while keeping their wits, morality and a high degree of professionalism. On the few occasions that LTC Marvin recalls those above him in command, as well as some civilians acting less than tactfully, he brings that information forth in a forthright, professional manner with no seeming maliciousness or "axe to grind" whatsoever. LTC Marvin's men in An Phu should be praised after reading his account of them and their actions in his book, and none should be ashamed or feel their character was defamed in any way. Indeed, I would have been proud to serve with them (but couldn't since I had not yet even been born)!
LTC Marvin explains to the Fort Fairfield Journal what motivated him to write this book: "After I retired from the U.S. Army in May of 1973 I began having troubled thoughts about some of what I had been trained to do and what I actually perpetrated as a Special Forces Officer - a Green Beret - under the guise of serving my country, of doing my 'patriotic best,' of being a part of a 'no-holds barred' organization comprised of men who were taught to disregard norms and to focus their fervor, their performance and their loyalty to the unconventional modus operandi expected of them."
For the first five years of retired life LTC Marvin recalls having flashbacks to those days as an unconventional warrior, recalling how matter-of-fact was the acceptance of the fact that they were trained in assassination, terror and sabotage techniques. "So accepted was it that many of the wives thought of those roles as being what was expected - why the Special Forces were often times called 'beady-eyed-killers' or just plain 'crazy.'"
"Finally, in 1978 I decided I had to tell the world about what I had personally experienced in the hopes that someone powerful enough would demand that our forces not be used for illegal functions. But, at the same time, I feared what our government might do - send someone like me to silence me. I queried Department of the Army in 1978 about writing a fictional book based on fact telling of my experiences and was discouraged - advised of National Security Interests." 'National Security Interests' is just a fancy way of the government saying it doesn't want people to know the truth, years after the fact.
"In December 1983 I submitted 5 chapters of
a novel covering the same things as Expendable Elite now covers (similar
to Robin Moore's THE GREEN BERETS) to Scott Meredith Literary Agency.
Within 30 days I received encouragement and critical comments to help
me on re-write. The more I thought about it - the less excited I was
in presenting the truth as a novel."
There are three primary reasons why LTC Marvin wanted to have this book published:
1. To tell of the courage of the South Vietnamese, and in particular the Buddhist Hoa Haos, that populated An Phu.
2. To tell of the tremendous work that the members of his team did in Civic Action functions.
3. Tell of the illegal and immoral things that are perpetrated by the Special Forces.
LTC Marvin's trial will commence at the U.S. District Court in Charleston, South Carolina on January 23, 2006. Our thoughts and prayers are with him as he battles to let the truth be known in a fair and unbiased manner - the truth of a group of men who once served so honorably under him, but now have turned on him at his hour of need.