(September 28, 2010) Over 40 years ago, I was in Vietnam, part of an American military effort draped with shame and failure. My Lai was the crowning achievement of the war, nearly 600 women and children mowed down by automatic weapons fire.
The man we know as General Colin Powell helped shove it under a rug. Lt. Calley, worse than many of Himmler's SS executed for war crimes during World War II, became a hero to many Americans.
Killing civilians was "policy" in Vietnam. You could murder anyone you wanted as long as they could be made to look like enemy combatants. If you killed them with a knife, even if others held them to the ground, you were awarded a Silver Star. This isn't conjecture, I know this to be a fact.
When the Bush Administration sought legal protection from accusations of war crime, shopping the dregs of the legal world and coming up with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, someone willing to sign off on virtually anything, we could see it coming.