Such is the case with a comment by Pete Rock on my posting of my NYT "Limited Hangout" article regarding torture and biological warfare in Korea. What follows is his comment from the Daily Kos posting of the article, where I gave it a different title (the rest of the body content was identical), How NYT Distorted My Daily Kos diary on SERE Torture. Note: I have quietly added a few edits for readability and to correct a few misspellings. I also have added a few links that might be of interest to readers. I want to make clear these are my links, and not those of Pete Rock. Hopefully making these small changes will be agreeable to everybody.
Very good deconstruction, repudiation of the NYT
We have to remember the main purpose of the trad[itional] newspaper media is to reinforce the dominant narrative,in this case the corporate rule and dominance and their associates and benefactors.
Two quick points: the "limited hangout" the partial admission of the story and a controlled release of other info for misdirection purposes is well established and a long term feature of the trad media.
Remember after Vietnam the CIA bragged hundreds of friends were present in the media. When a true story that reflects very badly on the administration or Defense Department gets aired, a counterattack by their allies in the media on the offending stories' veracity, or character or truthfulness of reporters and academics is sure to come out.
Millions of pounds of chemical weapons like Agent Orange (two versions, 2-4D, 2-4-5T used against either trees or forests) along with picloran compound, cacodylic acid, phenols, and even arsenates and arsenites were dumped or sprayed over wide areas of the countryside. These weaponized chemicals were intended to poison or kill off food crops with young leaves, rice, animals, and in the case of arsenates/arsenites man and other plants.
Part of the long resistance to addressing the toxicity of Agent Orange the most commonly used chemical weapon was to avoid revealing the extent and actual targeting of Vietnamese civilians as a byproduct of the struggle to help poisoned American veterans.
These weapons were an extension of research on those used during the Korean War on Korean civilians. That use was strenuously denied at the time. The documents you cite as withdrawn from the National Archive and destroyed was part of a cover-up, a protection racket. In a democracy, no political papers should be permanently hidden away, a decent interval even if it is as long as 25 or 40 years might elapse, but an honest accounting "truth and reconciliation" helps our democracy where as burying and hiding terrible and wrong things ensures their repetition later on, even on a wider and more terrible scale. As we have in our present politics and history.
One last note: The 1954 and 1956 Army field manual have a curious difference:
speaking of Land (based) Warfare and biological chemical agents thus: 1954: "Gas warfare and bacteriological warfare are employed by the United States against enemy personnel only in retaliation for their use by the enemy"
1956: (changed) "The United States is not a party to any treaty, now in force, that prohibits or restricts the use in warfare of toxic or non-toxic gases, or smoke or incendiary materials or of bacteriological warfare"
This came about because the USA refused the 1925 Geneva protocol on toxic weapons, and even in the 1930 disarmament conference pledged never to use CS gas but didn't sign along with Japan. The 1925 Protocol was signed, but not ratified by the Senate.
Sort of similar to the Global Climate change treaty of 1998. A show of words, but no concrete or binding pledge that mattered.
There was a widespread effort in the 1950's to humanize and make acceptable chemical and biological weapons, and that includes the use of drugs like hallucinogenics on prisoners and torture which is a much wider debasement and destruction of our culture even than the excellent points you raise here. See "OPERATION BLUE SKIES", in the Reporter, October 1, 1959 by Walter Schneir.
Not to hijack your excellent diary, but to show this is truly a long standing policy.