It's Time To Call a Truce in America's Longest War

  It's Time To Call a Truce in America's Longest War

Posted by CN Staff on April 18, 2006 at 16:30:28 PT
By Ron Ridenour 

USA -- I am Ron Ridenour, a 55-year-old Flathead County and Canyon resident of Montana. I stood before a federal judge on June 25th, 2004, the most critical reckoning day I had encountered in my lifetime. In order to reduce a 5 to 20 year prison term and a two million dollar fine to livable amounts, I was advised to plead guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. My prison term was 23 months in addition to the seizure of nearly half a million dollars by the Whitefish Police Department and the Northwest Montana Drug Task Force.
Seized items included my home, a collection of automobiles, a motorcycle, a ski boat, and some firearms. To initiate my arrest, a girlfriend with momentary objections to our personal situation dialed 911, and I walked away from the life I knew in handcuffs. The purchase of this property was made possible because of 35 years of employment in the railroad industry, construction trades, employment within my family's business, and legitimate entrepreneurial endeavors. The money made from sales of marijuana paled by comparison, but task force warriors rushed to seize nearly all assets of value.Regarding marijuana, I humbly appeal to all who judged me then and judge other people and me now to consider what I have learned through personal inquiry, observation, and experience:Cannabis sativa/marijuana/pot/hemp originated early in the history of the world. It was a product of evolution, intelligent design, or a compilation of both. The plant has existed and has been utilized by people and cultures for a long time. The oldest piece of fabric known to man was made from hemp -- cannabis sativa -- and dates to 8,000 years before Christ.At some point early in the history of man or his predecessors, the plant was discovered for its mood-altering and medicinal effects. Ancient China and India provide the earliest records of its use. At the turn of the 20th century, as many as two thirds of the world's cultures used marijuana for pain relief and its euphoric qualities. In 1937, the U.S. legislated marijuana illegal with the passing of the Marijuana Tax Act. Although doctors had been prescribing cannabis for a hundred years, the bill was rushed through Congress with no testimony by the American Medical Association. A clique of wealthy individuals and corporations employing and controlling the influence of newspaper and banking interests along with friends and relatives at high levels of government were able to manipulate views of the American public. This scheming would reap billions in personal and corporate income for the parties involved because there would be no competition from the hemp plant.When I was in my teens and going to school in Columbia Falls, alcohol was, as it still is today, the drug of choice for the community; it was only natural that consumption would find its way into the social scene of the youth. Binge drinking has probably been inherent with alcohol use since fermentation was discovered. My first contact with marijuana occurred when I was 18. Older friends returning from Vietnam brought their observations of war, and they told me about the enjoyable and relaxing effects of marijuana. Some brought samples smuggled in their duty-free stereos. We were compatriots in life and another taboo. I tried the stuff and I liked it. It didn't make me ill, I wasn't obnoxious when using it, and my friends and I weren't drunkenly racing our cars and forgetting what we had done on a previous evening.Throughout history, warriors have been returning to their homelands with different ideas . . . and plunder. The introduction of cannabis to western civilization is believed to have occurred when Napoleon's troops invaded Egypt. This is the way of people. This is the way of the world.The primary argument for marijuana's illegal status is the belief that it provides a gateway to more harmful drugs. It is a gateway. Alcohol and tobacco are also gateways and have killed millions of people. Which gateways are most harmful and which are less harmful? And, if in living, we walk through a gate into a dangerous situation but can find our way back to the relative safety of the gate -- are we always to be condemned?Lurking in a dark area well beyond this "gate" is a frightfully addictive drug called methamphetamine. If the increasing use of meth, a poison made from poisons, could be reduced by offering de-criminalized, and in this light, medical use of marijuana, wouldn't we benefit from the experiment? If the hemp plant could help our society decrease its dependence on foreign oil and forests of timber while providing farmers a durable, fast-growing, drought-resistant crop and offering industry a widely useable product, wouldn't we benefit from the experiment?The reason most people move from alcohol to marijuana is because an herb gives them a safer and more interesting experience than booze. Marijuana doesn't put its user over a toilet in the morning vomiting their guts out with a headache. Most people find marijuana more pleasurable than alcohol and easier on their lives. While under the influence of marijuana, an individual rarely loses control of his or her actions, or becomes obnoxious, mean, or violent. These undesirable behaviors are common with the consumption of alcohol or methamphetamine. The reason people move from alcohol or marijuana to methamphetamine is because meth has more kick than either and is more readily accessible; it can be made from easily obtainable ingredients in the basement. But the methamphetamine users I interviewed while incarcerated with them said a big reason for their use of meth is because a product they prefer -- marijuana -- is illegal. Many people who try meth would be delighted if they could legally return to the relative safety of marijuana use. The reason the government of the United States continues to wage a war on marijuana is shrouded in hypocrisy, deception, and lies.Study the issue. A good place to start is a book by Jack Herer called The Emperor Wears No Clothes. It tells the tragic story of how a few greedy, self-serving individuals managed to outlaw a plant that threatened their foreseeable wealth and their personal "moral values." A plant that had been prescribed by doctors for years and utilized by our nation and the world for paper, fabric, and food was demonized. William Randolph Hearst ran the smear with yellow journalism in his newspapers. The Dupont Corporation discovered how to make a resilient plastic fiber and fabric with petroleum. Until then, the country and military were reliant upon hemp for durable rope and fabric. The oil-based process was patented and called nylon. A combined effort of several key players organized the blacklisting and outlawing of marijuana and hemp. There was Hearst's media smear along with the racially motivated ranting of Harry Anslinger, basically our nation's first drug czar. Anslinger had been appointed to head the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs by Andrew Mellon. Mellon was Herbert Hoover's Secretary of the Treasury, and the Mellon Bank was the banking choice for the Dupont family. This self-serving pack of opportunists presented their information to Congress and convinced the government to outlaw marijuana and hemp. They all profited immensely.Another illuminating book about marijuana and its effects was the result of a study commissioned by Richard Nixon and his administration. They got a bunch of scientists and doctors together to realistically analyze the entire spectrum of information and fact surrounding the marijuana issue that had emerged in the 60s. The book from this study is Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding, likely the most comprehensive study of the plant and its effects in history. The 1972 report summarized: "The evils of marihuana," they spelled it with the harsher h, "are the result of 30 years of instilled fear," and that the plant was "incorrectly classified as a narcotic and should have fallen into the same category as alcohol and tobacco." One simple but poignant comment from the study said a reason for people to experiment with drugs is because America's social system "no longer inspires in people a feeling of purpose and meaningfulness." They concluded that the plant was not a significant problem and that the government should consider regulating the product like alcohol and re-evaluate the process of criminalizing people and destroying lives because of its use. Nixon and his group didn't like what they heard, and the study never saw the light of day. A follow-up report was also overlooked. Americans certainly weren't going to vote for a politician promoting decriminalization of a drug, and the tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical interests wouldn't be donating to political war chests if their incomes were challenged.Richard Nixon got caught because of his Watergate burglars and resigned. Jimmy Carter was elected. When the idea of decriminalizing marijuana came before Carter's administration, the fear-based hysteria prevailed. They realized the situation was out of control but couldn't be seen as "soft" on drugs. The economy was driven into failure and America elected an optimistic actor. Incarceration was Ronald Reagan's answer, and he ushered in the seizure of assets for drug offenders and the process of sentencing guidelines resulting in rampant prison growth. CIA-spawned George Bush wasn't soft on drugs either. With his zero tolerance policy, asset seizure and prison population growth continued. Bill Clinton had smoked but he didn't inhale. Bill couldn't be soft either, and an affair with an intern diminished whatever chance he might have had for addressing the smearing and blacklisting of marijuana and its users.Prison construction -- five to six federal joints a year, along with countless state and local holds -- prevailed every year throughout the 90s. Locking people up was providing America's most significant growth in jobs and revenue. George Bush Junior beat Al Gore with a Supreme Court ruling, and four years later he beat John Kerry with a mandate. The raging smear against marijuana and drugs goes on. Junior sent soldiers into harm's way to counter terrorism and secure America's supply of sweet crude oil. This unfortunate phenomenon might not have come upon the world and our country if we had been growing the hemp plant and deriving a significant amount of our needs -- food, fabric, oil, fuel, and biomass -- from hemp.The Declaration of Independence is written on paper made from hemp. George Washington advised farmers to grow the plant. He and Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and their perceptive cohorts might have taken some puffs from the mentally stimulating herb while contemplating a Declaration, Bill of Rights, and Constitution for a great nation. Wouldn't that have been a hoot?As dismal as moneyed interests and their bought-off politicians are who have written the law, America is sprouting little seeds of hope. More and more states are voting for medical marijuana privileges. Cities are voting to allow medical use, to decriminalize, or reduce marijuana regulation to a lowest priority.Even some law enforcement officers realize America's prohibition on drugs is a failed policy. One such group is called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. The following is an excerpt from their web site:After nearly four decades of fueling the U.S. policy of a war on drugs with over half-a-trillion tax dollars and increasingly punitive policies, our prisoner population has quadrupled over a 20 year period making building prisons this nation's fastest growing industry. More than 2.2 million citizens are currently incarcerated and every year we arrest an additional 1.6 million for nonviolent drug offenses -- more per capita than any country in the world. The United States has 4.6 percent of the population of the world but 22.5 percent of the world's prisoners. Every year we choose to continue this war will cost U.S. taxpayers another 69 billion dollars. Despite all the lives we have destroyed and all the money so ill spent, illicit drugs are cheaper, more potent, and far easier to get than they were 35 years ago at the beginning of the war on drugs. Meanwhile, people continue dying in our streets while drug barons and terrorists continue to grow richer than ever before. We would suggest that this scenario must be the very definition of a failed public policy. This madness must cease!Inform yourself. Watch a TV show called Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They Got That Way, which aired on the History Channel and discusses the reasons drugs were made illegal. Read The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herrer and Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding, a government study funded by your taxes. The latter is out of print but copies can be found. Read Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure by Dan Baum, and America's Longest War: Rethinking Our Tragic Crusade Against Drugs by Steven B. Duke and Albert C. Gross. Go online. The address for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is Discover why an ever-growing number of lawmen and judges are realizing prohibition has failed America once again. Truth about America's involvement with drugs is available. Law enforcement personnel and judges, prosecutors, voters, and the public at large need to know it.My analysis of this information prior to my arrest caused me to think a sense of understanding and decreased urgency concerning marijuana was beginning to prevail in our society, and consequently, in the courts and the minds of jurors. Even Montana's conservative legislature had voted 40 percent for allowing medical use of marijuana. While I was incarcerated, an initiative referendum to allow medical use was passed when this measure was placed before the voters of Montana, and an argument can be made that a large percentage of marijuana use is medical in nature. Mine was -- pain reduction and relief from stress and depression. Some of my customers were cancer patients. They got good deals on their choice for medicine from me.I broke the law and was arrested. I knew I risked imprisonment and financial loss if caught selling marijuana. I sold only to adults and advised my group of customers to do the same. I didn't think my entire life's income would be at stake, and had I known this would occur, I would not have taken the risk. Because I disobeyed the law of this land, I've had to accept the seizure of my possessions and serve my allotted time in prison.I apologize to my family, friends, and community for the pain, embarrassment, or monetary loss caused by my actions. I hope I can be a valuable contributor to our country's beneficial existence, and I think saving 70 billion a year on the drug war would be a good start. Ceasing to destroy the lives of those arrested would be a good start.It is beyond time for America to critically analyze the costs associated with the drug war. A U.S. Department of Justice/Bureau of Justice Statistics webpage titled "Direct Expenditures by Criminal Justice Function, 1982-2001" lists the amounts of money the government spent to cover judicial, police, and corrections costs between 1982 and 2001. Police expenses went from 19 million to 72.5 million per year, judicial costs rose from 7.7 million to 37.5 million, and the cost of corrections jumped from 9 million to almost 57 million. The total amount spent for these three departments between 1982 and 2001 was 1.846 trillion dollars. It is common knowledge that the primary reason for this increase was a result of the drug war. Extrapolating these figures into the future to the year 2025, hoping that the costs only increase at the rates they did between 1982 and 2001 -- 3.78 percent for police, 4.84 percent for judicial costs, and 6.3 percent for corrections -- reveals even more unbelievable amounts of money. The 2001 figure of 72.5 million spent for police times 24 years times the 3.78 percent rate of increase totals 6.57 trillion to be spent between 2002 and 2025; the 2001 37.57 million spent for judicial purposes multiplied by 24 and then by 4.84 adds up to 4.364 trillion; and 56.95 million dedicated to corrections in 2001 will grow by another 8.61 trillion between 2002 and 2025. Add these three figures up, and one comes up with a whopping 19.545 trillion to be spent arresting, trying, and incarcerating America's citizens between 2002 and 2025. And that's if there is no exponential increase exceeding what occurred between 1982 and 2001.These figures represent amounts the U.S. will spend to provide justice for all offenders -- murderers, child molesters, corporate raiders, thieves, drug users, drug dealers, etc. What percentage of these people will have been influenced directly or indirectly by the use or sale of drugs? Educated guesses range from 40 to 60 percent, depending on which professional you ask. Drug offenders surpassed violent offenders in 1990. If 40 to 60 percent of crime is either directly or indirectly related to drugs, America will be spending between 7.8 and 11.7 trillion to arrest, judge, and incarcerate drug offenders between 2002 and 2025.One million, 678 thousand, and one hundred ninety two people were arrested in America in 2003 for drugs. I was one. It won't be long before this nation will have fought and lost a hundred year war against drugs. As a result of our government's aggressive campaign to control the lives of its citizens, we have the fastest growing imprisonment rate in the world. In the last five years, we have arrested 9 million people for nonviolent drug offenses -- far more per capita than any country in the world. The people of this country, financially and morally, cannot afford the fight. And if America wants its problem with methamphetamine to decline, it will have to allow its citizens something more than alcohol to stimulate their lives. If allowing adults access to marijuana reduced this country's methamphetamine habit, significantly reduced our prison population, and provided farmers a plant that could lessen the nation's demand on petroleum and wood products, wouldn't our society benefit from the experiment? Can America continue to support this war? Can all of the broken lives be justified? Is there a better path for the "land of the free"?Legalize marijuana. Let folks have their pot. Regulate and tax it like alcohol and cigarettes. Demand responsible use and see what happens. The experiment couldn't be worse than where we are or where we're headed. It's time to call a truce in America's longest war -- the war against the people -- the drug war; and it's time to allow some amnesty for its millions of casualties.Ron Ridenour served in the Vietnam War. It was his letter that initiated the My Lai massacre investigation. Source: (VA)Author: Ron Ridenour Published: April 18, 2006Website: -- Cannabis Archives

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Comment #13 posted by ekim on April 19, 2006 at 19:20:16 PT
Christen-Mitchell good post thank you
ok thanks for posting about what Ben felt was national security.
--so here in the states we are loosing our [papermills while china and others are moving ahead on this renewable use of Hemp -- what does that do for our security. The current Gov't has to protect the people that means that we should be studying or partnering with others with the use of Hemp. Where are the History Professors who know the truth about our History and how it will help us today.Hemp Industry people-picket this exhibit now----- 
today on C-Span Wash Journal the chief curator for the Benjamin Franklin exhibit was taking the c-span show thru the exhibit and taking phone calls from the public about Benjamin's life. Among the more articulate callers was a most intelligent caller that I have heard call before. He asked the Chief Curator Page Talbott how Mr.Franklin would feel about the total prohibition of Hemp now in the U.S. as he had a paper mill that used Hemp and its paper was used for many items such as maps, books, the caller went on to mention other uses such as canvas and how wide spread Hemp was to keeping the U.S. safe from Britain control. --------you should have seen the deer- in the headlights look that this so called curator struck. When she came to--the most unbelievable and disgusting short answer was I don't know a thing about that. Soooooooo much for the great exhibit of one of the greatest thinkers of our Nations Time.
ON WASHINGTON JOURNAL Tuesday, April 18 Page Talbott, Benjamin Franklin Exhibit, Chief Curator - Constitutional Center
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Comment #12 posted by Christen-Mitchell on April 19, 2006 at 15:25:59 PT:
Freedom Shouldn't Have To Be Legislated
"Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country" so said Thomas Jefferson. His initial take on the Constitution was "Life, Liberty and Estate." It was Ben Franklin, the wag and only non presidential mug on our current folding money who added "The Pursuit of Happiness."One wonders if our present misgovernment ever saw a quote from the Founding Fathers. One need only note the skyrocketing costs to maintain our historic cemeterys. Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Company are all spinning in their graves.
Hemptopia - Our Greener Future
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Comment #11 posted by Sam Adams on April 19, 2006 at 13:26:41 PT
this says it all
Wow, the drug warriors must be REALLY excited about this! This one person right here, Ron Ridenour, probably justifies the entire 80 year, multi-billion dollar war on cannabis by itself.Just imagine how much every thug and killer with a badge or gun hates this guy! My lord. He's Jane Fonda and Hillary Clinton and Tod Mcmormick and Marc Emery rolled into one convenient package. The vindictive hater juices must have really been flowing when they put this guy away and stole his money.I mean, if it weren't for people like Ron, the military-industrial complex boys could have had one non-stop 50 year Viet Nam to Iraq conflict with no interruption!
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Comment #10 posted by afterburner on April 19, 2006 at 08:58:28 PT
Cannabis, safer than alcohol.Cannabis, safer than tobacco.Cannabis, safer than methamphetamine.Ron Ridenour, may his article spark a change in cannabis policy equal to the results of his letter revealing the My Lai massacre.
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Comment #9 posted by runderwo on April 19, 2006 at 00:46:28 PT
There is also a misconception in here regarding who was responsible for what documents. The Declaration of Independence was largely authored by Jefferson. Adams changed it to tone down some of the hostility towards King George III. The other founders did not contribute much to the text.The Constitution was not written by Washington, Franklin, or Jefferson, but by a convention of 55 people: and Adams were not even present. Madison and Adams were responsible for the intellectual foundation of the checks and balances system. Adams was accused of being a monarchist because of his support for a powerful executive, and because he was in England at the time unsuccessfully pursuing diplomacy. Adams also came under fire for supporting a Bill of Rights because it was thought that it would lend credence to the idea that citizens possess only those rights that are enumerated. Sort of eerie now that not only do our politicians make that exact mistake, but also toy around with seeing just how much they can get away with in practically gutting those inalienable rights without an explicit amendment permitting them to do so.What part of SHALL NOT INFRINGE is hard to understand?
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Comment #8 posted by runderwo on April 19, 2006 at 00:28:19 PT
In recent reading I discovered that John Adams called for ramping up hemp production while planning for the revolutionary war. So add him to Washington and Jefferson as "patriotic friends of cannabis".The reference is from John Adams by David McCullough, the reference is not in the text but is clearly shown in the first section of pictures as part of a handwritten list of tasks that was scanned in.
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Comment #7 posted by John Tyler on April 18, 2006 at 21:04:43 PT
a good guy
Ron seems like a good guy and an upstanding citizen. He is well read and writes very well also. What a shame our gov. sees fit to drag him down and destroy him. More drug war insanity. 
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on April 18, 2006 at 20:40:02 PT
I want to thank you for telling me about the interview with Neil on CNN. It was great! 
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Comment #5 posted by whig on April 18, 2006 at 19:06:49 PT

My Lai carnage at My Lai might have gone unknown to history if not for another soldier, Ron Ridenhour, who, independent of Glen, sent a letter to President Nixon, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and numerous members of Congress. The copies of this letter were sent in March, 1969, a full year after the event. Most recipients of Ridenhour's letter ignored it, with the notable exception of Representative Morris Udall. Ridenhour learned about the events at My Lai secondhand, by talking to members of Charlie Company while he was still enlisted. Eventually, Calley was charged with several counts of premeditated murder in September 1969, and 25 other officers and enlisted men were later charged with related crimes. It was another two months before the American public learned about the massacre and trials.Independent investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, after extensive conversations with Ridenhour, broke the My Lai story on November 12, 1969, and on November 20 Time, Life and Newsweek magazines all covered the story, and CBS televised an interview with Paul Meadlo. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) published explicit photographs of dead villagers killed at My Lai. As is evident from comments made in a 1969 telephone conversation between United States National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, revealed recently by the National Security Archive, the photos of the war crime were too shocking for senior officials to stage an effective cover-up. Secretary of Defense Laird is heard to say, "There are so many kids just lying there; these pictures are authentic."
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Comment #4 posted by whig on April 18, 2006 at 18:50:58 PT

Ron Ridenhour
                                                 Gentlemen: It was late in April, 1968 that I first heard of "Pinkville" and what allegedly happened there. I received that first report with some skepticism, but in the following months I was to hear similar stories from such a wide variety of people that it became impossible for me to disbelieve that something rather dark and bloody did indeed occur sometime in March, 1968 in a village called "Pinkville" in the Republic of Viet Nam.The circumstances that led to my having access to the reports I'm about to relate need explanation. I was inducted in March, 1967 into the U. S. Army. After receiving various training I was assigned to the 70th Infantry Detachment (LRP), 1lth Light Infantry Brigade at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, in early October, 1967. That unit, the 70th Infantry Detachennt (LRP), was disbanded a week before the llth Brigade shipped out for Viet Nam on the 5th of December, 1967. All of the man from whom I later heard reports of the "Pinkville" incident were reassigned to "C" Company, lst Battalion, 20th Infantry, llth Light Infantry Brigade. I was reassigned to the aviation section of Headquarters Headquarters Company llth LIB. After we had been in Viet Nam for 3 to 4 months many of the men from the 70th Inf. Det. (LRP) began to transfer into the same unit, "E" Company, 51st Infantry (LRP).In late April, 1968 I was awaiting orders for a transfer from HHC, llth Brigade to Company "E," 51st Inf, (LRP), when I happened to run into Pfc "Butch" Gruver, whom I had known in Hawaii. Gruver told me he had been assigned to "C" Company lst of the 20th until April lst when he transferred to the unit that I was headed for. During the course of our conversation he told me the first of many reports I was to hear of "Pinkville.""Charlie" Company 1/20 had been assigned to Task Force Barker in late February, 1968 to help conduct "search and destroy" operations on the Batangan Peninsula, Barker's area of operation. The task force was operating out of L. F. Dottie, located five or six miles north of Quang Nhai city on Viet Namese National Highway 1. Gruver said that Charlie Company had sustained casualties; primarily from mines and booby traps, almost everyday from the first day they arrived on the peninsula. One village area was particularly troublesome and seemed to be infested with booby traps and enemy soldiers. It was located about six miles northeast of Quang Nh,ai city at approximate coordinates B.S. 728795. It was a notorious area and the men of Task Force Barker had a special name I for it: they called it "Pinkville." One morning in the latter part of March, Task Force Barker moved out from its firebase headed for "Pinkville." Its mission: destroy the trouble spot and all of its inhabitants.When "Butch" told me this I didn't quite believe that what he was telling me was true, but he assured me that it was and went on to describe what had happened. The other two companies that made up the task force cordoned off the village so that "Charlie" Company could move through to destroy the structures and kill the inhabitants. Any villagers who ran from Charlie Company were stopped by the encircling companies. I asked "Butch" several times if all the people were killed. He said that he thought they were men, women and children. He recalled seeing a small boy, about three or four years old, standing by the trail with a gunshot wound in one arm. The boy was clutching his wounded arm with his other hand, while blood trickled between his fingers. He was staring around himself in shock and disbelief at what he saw. "He just stood there with big eyes staring around like he didn't understand; he didn't believe was happening. Then the captain's RTO (radio operator) put a burst of 16 (M-16 rifle) fire into him." It was so bad, Gruver said, that one of the men in his squad shot himself in the foot in order to be medivaced out of the area so that he would not have to participate in the slaughter. Although he had not seen it, Gruver had been told by people he considered trustworthy that one of the company's officers, 2nd Lieutenant Kally (this spelling may be incorrect) had rounded up several groups of villagers (each group consisting of a minimum of 20 persons of both sexes and all ages). According to the story, Kally then machine-gunned each group. Gruver estimated that the population of the village had been 300 to 400 people and that very few, if any, escaped.After hearing this account I couldn't quite accept it. Somehow I just couldn't believe that not only had so many young American men participated in such an act of barbarism, but that their officers had ordered it. There were other men in the unit I was soon to be assigned to, "E" Company, 51st Infantry (LRP), who had been in Charlie Company at the time that Gruver alleged the incident at "Pinkville" had occurred. I became determined to ask them about "Pinkville" so that I might compare, their accounts with Pfc Gruver's.When I arrived at "Echo" Company, 51st Infantry (LRP) the first men I looked for were Pfcs Michael Terry, and William Doherty.  Both were veterans of "Charlie" Company, 1/20 and "Pinkville." Instead of contradicting "Butch" Gruver's story they corroborated it, adding some tasty tidbits of information of their own. Terry and-Doherty had been in the same, squad and their platoon was the third platoon of "C" Company to pass through. the village. Most of the people they Came to were already dead. Those that weren't were sought out and shot. The platoon left nothing alive neither livestock nor people. Around noon the two soldiers' squad stopped to eat. "Billy and I started to get out our chow" Terry said, "but close to us was a bunch of Vietnamese in a heap, and some of them were moaning. Kally (2nd Lt. Kally) had been through before us and all of them had been shot, but many weren't dead. It was obvious that they weren't going to get any medical attention so Billy and I got up and went over to where they were. I guess we sort of finished them off." Terry went on to say that he and Doherty then returned to where their packs were and ate lunch. He estimated the size oif the village to be 200 to 300 people. Doherty thought that the population of "Pinkville had been 400 people.If Terry, Doherty and Gruver could be believed, then not only had "Charlie" Company received orders to slaughter all the inhabitants of the village, but those orders had come from the commanding officer of Task Force Barker, or possibly even higher in the chain of command. Pfc Terry stated that when Captain Medina (Charlie Company's commanding officer Captain Ernest Medina) issued the order for the destruction of "Pinkville" he had been hesitant, as if it were something he didn't want to do but had to. Others I spoke to concurred with Terry on this.It was June before I spoke to anyone who had something of significance to add to what I had alreadybeen told of the "Pinkville" incident. It was the end of June, 1968 when I ran into Sargent Larry La Croix at the USO in Chu Lai. La Croix had been in 2nd Lt. Kally's platoon on the day Task Force Barker swept through "Pinkville." What he told me verified the stories of the others, but he also had something new to add. He had been a witness to Kally's gunning down at least three separate groups of villagers. "It was terrible. They were slaughtering villagers like so many sheep." Kally's men were dragging people out of bunkers and hootches and putting them together in a group. The people in the group were men, women and children of all ages. As soon as he felt that the group was big enough, Kally ordered a M-60 (machine gun) set up and the people killed. La Croix said that he bore witness to this procedure at least three times.  The three groups were of different sizes, one of about twenty people, one of about thirty people and one of about 40 people. When the first group was put together Kally ordered Pfc. Torres to man the machine-gun and open fire on the villagers that had been grouped together. This Torres did, but before everyone in the group was sown he ceased fire and refused to fire again. After ordering Torres to recommence firing several times, Lieutenant Kally took over the M-60 and finished shooting the remaining villagers in that first group himself. Sargent La Croix told me that Kally didn't bother to order anyone to take the machine-gun when the other two groups of villagers were formed. He simply manned it himself and shot down all villagers in both groups.This account of Sargent La Croix's confirmed the rumors that Gruver, Terry and Doherty had previously told me about Lieutenant Kally. It also convinced me that there was a very substantial amount of truth to the stories that all of these men had told. If I needed more convincing, I was about to receive it.It was in the middle of November, 1968 just a few weeks before I was to return to the United States for separation from the army that I talked to Pfc Michael Bernhardt. Bernhardt had served his entire year in Viet Nam in "Charlie" Company 1/20 and he too was about to go home. "Bernie" substantiated the tales told by the other men I had talked to in vivid, bloody detail and added this. "Bernie" had absolutely refused to take part in the massacre of the villagers of "Pinkville" that morning and he thought that it was rather strange that the officers of the company had not made an issue of it. But that evening "Medina (Captain Ernest Medina) came up to me ("Bernie") and told me not to do anything stupid like write my congressman" about what had happened that day. Bernhardt assured Captain Medina that he had no such thing in mind. He had nine months left in Viet Nam and felt that it was dangerous enough just fighting the acknowledged enemy.Exactly what did, in fact, occur in the village of "Pinkville" in March, 1968 I do not know for certain, but I am convinced that it was something very black indeed. I remain irrevocably persuaded that if you and I do truly believe in the principles, of justice and the equality of every man, however humble, before the law, that form the very backbone that this country is founded on, then we must press forward a widespread and public investigation of this matter with all our combined efforts. I think that it was Winston Churchill who, once said "A country without a conscience is a country without a soul, and a country without a soul is a country that cannot survive." I feel that I must take some positive action on this matter. I hope that you will launch an investigation immediately and keep me informed of your progress. If you cannot, then I don't know what other course of action to take.I have considered sending this to newspapers, magazines and broadcasting companies, but I somehow feel that investigation and action by the Congress of the United States is the appropriate procedure, and as a conscientious citizen I have no desire to further besmirch the image of the American serviceman in the eyes of the world. I feel that this action, while probably it would promote attention, would not bring about the constructive actions that the direct actions of the of the United States would.                                                              Sincerely, 
                                                              /s/ Ron Ridenhour
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on April 18, 2006 at 18:37:46 PT

I am in this different deja vu mood. My Lai was one of my serious jolts in life. I was horrified. It was a wake up experience and it was hard to learn that we could do such a thing. Check out these articles. I feel like people are starting to understand that we weren't all wrong back in the 60s and 70s. Our ideas were important and we had to wait all these years but the warnings we spoke about are coming to be now. Neil's new album has been all over the news. It's wonderful. It makes me feel good inside. The Rust List which I read all the time is coming to life since it is not a political board but what can they do when Neil writes a song called: Impeach the President? I'll watch CNN at 11. Thanks for the heads up.We better stop, hey, what's that soundEverybody look what's going downStrange days indeed.***The Emerging Environmental MajorityThere's a thaw in relations between greens and hunters. It could heat up big-time over global warming. By Christina Larson Today's GOP-controlled Congress has shown itself to be no friend of the environment, but even by conservatives' own standards, last October's surprise was a standout. An amendment inserted at the last minute into a budget reconciliation bill would have opened up millions of acres of public lands, including tracts in national monuments and wilderness areas, to purchase by mining companies and other commercial interests. It was to be the biggest divestiture of public lands in almost a century, and it was happening completely under the radar, with no floor vote, no public hearings, and no debate.***An emerging environmental majority?
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Comment #2 posted by ekim on April 18, 2006 at 18:29:37 PT

and please add the Schaffer Library
Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy 
This page will contain full-text copies of the major studies of drugs and drug policy as they become available and as we have resources to scan them and put them on the web. Readers who wish to fund the addition of new research to the web should see How You Can Support the Schaffer Library.
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Comment #1 posted by mayan on April 18, 2006 at 18:14:06 PT

Ron Ridenour served in the Vietnam War. It was his letter that initiated the My Lai massacre investigation.Very interesting. Perhaps stealing everything Ridenour owns is retribution for embarrassing Uncle Sam?The My Lai Massacre:, Neil was on CNN Showbiz Tonight earlier for a short interview outside of Reprise Records (replay at 11 pm ET). He talked about the upcoming album and had to answer some stupid questions about being unpatriotic and Canadian. One of his responses was something like, "Red and blue is not black and white. We are all in this together." I thought he made the female interviewer look kinda' silly. He said Living With War will be realeased pretty fast as the manufacturing process has already begun!THE WAY OUT... Bush Defector To Demolish 9/11 Lies On May 6: Sheen Says Media Complicit In 9/11 Cover-Up: Dollar Auction at For 9/11 Truth:
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