Murder of Anti-Vietnam War Monk Thomas Merton in 1968 Was a CIA Hit Linked with Assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK, New Book Argues

For five decades, the circumstances of the sudden death of the famed anti-Vietnam War monk Thomas Merton have remained cloaked in the confusion of assorted stories having very little commonality, except for the most basic facts of date and place. 

The date—December 10, 1968—and place—in a cottage located at a Red Cross conference center near Bangkok, Thailand—are about the only undisputed points of yet another death of a hero in that very violent year.  Even the time of death, approximately 2:00 p.m. local time, was disputed by the police report, a fake witness statement and biographer Michael Mott—all stating the time was one hour later.

Everything else about the circumstances of Merton’s death depends upon the version told by those who had any familiarity with it, a result of the absence of an autopsy and the rapidity of how his body was removed by the U.S. Army, embalmed, and flown back to the United States on a military aircraft also transporting other casualties of the Vietnam War being fought nearby. The presence of Father Louis (as Merton was known in the monastery) on that plane, among the bodies of soldiers, sailors and Marines killed in a war which he had long opposed, added even more irony to the mystery surrounding his death.

Authors Hugh Turley and David Martin, in their 2018 book, The Martyrdom of Thomas Merton, have effectively deconstructed nearly all of the assertions of Brother Patrick Hart (Merton’s secretary at the Kentucky abbey regarding the scene he described).

Not only was there no evidence that Merton had taken a shower, or collapsed into a disheveled pile onto the floor, a large cut and contusion on the back of his head was not noted at all, and photographs taken immediately after his death—which had been kept virtually hidden for 49 years—show that his body was lying perfectly straight, with his arms lying beside his body, just as it might be placed into a coffin.

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From the Gulf of Tonkin to the Baltic Sea. Seymour Hersh

Why Norway? In my account of the Biden Administration’s decision to destroy the Nord Stream pipelines, why did much of the secret planning and training for the operation take place in Norway? And why were highly skilled seamen and technicians from the Norwegian Navy involved?

The simple answer is that the Norwegian Navy has a long and murky history of cooperation with American intelligence. Five months ago that teamwork—about which we still know very little—resulted in the destruction of two pipelines, on orders of President Biden, with international implications yet to be determined. And six decades ago, so the histories of those years have it, a small group of Norwegian seamen were entangled in a presidential deceit that led to an early—and bloody—turning point in the Vietnam war.

After the Second World War, ever prudent Norway invested heavily in the construction of large, heavily armed fast attack boats to defend its 1,400 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline. These vessels were far more effective than the famed American PT boat that was ennobled in many a postwar movie. These boats were known as “Nasty-class,” for their powerful gunnery, and some of them were sold to the US Navy. According to reporting in Norway, by early 1964 at least two Norwegian sailors confessed to their involvement in CIA-led clandestine attacks along the North Vietnam coast. Other reports, never confirmed, said the Norwegian patrol boats where manned by Norwegian officers and crew. What was not in dispute was that the American goal was to put pressure on the leadership in North Vietnam to lessen its support of the anti-American guerrillas in South Vietnam. The strategy did not work.

None of this was known at the time to the American public. And the Norwegians would keep the secret for decades. The CIA’s lethal game of cat-and-mouse warfare led to a failed attack on August 2, 1964, with three North Vietnamese gunships engaging two American destroyers—the USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy—on a large body of contested water known as the Gulf of Tonkin that straddled both North and South Vietnam.

Two days later, with the destroyers still intact, the commander of the Maddox cabled his superiors that he was under a torpedo attack. It was a false alarm, and he soon rescinded the report. But the American signals intelligence community—under pressure from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who was doing President Johnson’s bidding—looked the other way as McNamara ignored the second cableand Johnson told the American public there was evidence that North Vietnam had attacked an American destroyer. Johnson and McNamara had found a way to take the war to North Vietnam.

Johnson’s nationally televised speech on the evening of August 4, 1964, is chilling in its mendacity, especially when one knows what was to come.

“This new act of aggression,” he said, “aimed directly at our own forces, again brings home to all of us in the United States the importance of the struggle for peace and security in Southeast Asia. Aggression by terror against the peaceful villagers of South Vietnam has now been joined by open aggression on the high seas against the United States of America.”

Public anger swelled, and Johnson authorized the first American bombing of the North. A few days later Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution with only two dissenting votes, giving the president the right to deploy American troops and use military force in South Vietnam in any manner he chose. And so it went on for the next eleven years, with 58,000 American deaths and millions of Vietnamese deaths to come.

The Norwegian navy, as loyal allies in the Cold War, stayed mum, and over the next few years, according to further reporting in Norway, sold eighteen more of their Nasty Class patrol boats to the U.S. Navy. Six were destroyed in combat.

In 2001, Robert J. Hanyok, a historian at the National Security Agency, published Skunks, Bogies, Silent Hounds, and the Flying Fish: The Gulf of Tonkin Mystery, 2–4 August 1964,a definitive study of the events in the gulf, including the manipulation of signals intelligence. He revealed that 90 percent of the relevant intercepts, including those from the North Vietnamese, had been kept out the NSA’s final reports on the encounter and thus were not provided to the Congressional committees that later investigated the abuse that led America deeper into the Vietnam War.

That is the public record as it stands. But, as I have learned from a source in the US intelligence community, there is much more to know. The first batch of Norwegian patrol boats meant for the CIA’s undeclared war against the North Vietnamese actually numbered six. They landed in early 1964 at a Vietnamese naval base in Danang, eighty-five miles south of the border between North and South Vietnam. The ships had Norwegian crews and Norwegian Navy officers as their captains. The declared mission was to teach American and Vietnamese sailors how to operate the ships. The vessels were under the control of a long-running CIA-directed series of attacks against coastal targets inside North Vietnam. The secret operation was controlled by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington and not by the American command in Saigon, which was then headed by Army General William Westmoreland. That shift was deemed essential because there was another aspect of the undeclared war against the North that was sacrosanct. US Navy SEALs were assigned to the mission with a high-priority list of far more aggressive targets that included heavily defended North Vietnamese radar facilities.

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Ukraine Proves We Learned Nothing From The Vietnam War

Days ago marked 50 years since the signing of the Paris Peace Accords which effectively ended American participation in the Vietnam war. One of the consequences, according to Georgetown University international affairs scholar Charles Kupchan, was that an “isolationist impulse” made a “significant comeback in response to the Vietnam War, which severely strained the liberal internationalist consensus.”

As the Cold War historian John Lamberton Harper points out, President Jimmy Carter’s hawkish Polish-born national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, scorned his intra-administration rival, the cautious, gentlemanly secretary of state Cyrus Vance as “a nice man but burned by Vietnam.” Indeed, Vance and a number of his generation carried with them a profound disillusionment in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. And for a short time, the “Vietnam Syndrome,” (shorthand for a wariness and suspicion of unnecessary and unsupportable foreign interventions) occasionally informed American policy at the highest levels and manifested itself in the promulgations of the Wienberger and Powell Doctrines which, in theory anyway, represented a kind of resistance on the part of the Pentagon to unnecessary military adventures.

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Vietnam considers limiting who can post “news” on social media

Vietnam is working on new rules to limit news content on social media accounts. The new rules will limit the accounts that can share news, according to sources familiar with the matter.

“The government wants to fix what it sees as the ‘news-lisation’ of social media,” a source told Reuters. ‘News-lisation,” also called báo hoá in Vietnam, is a term used by the government to describe misleading social media users into believing that a social media account is an authorized news outlet.

According to the sources, the government has been holding private meetings with internet companies and platforms to discuss the accounts that will be allowed to post news content. Under the new rules, the government would have the authority to order social media companies to ban accounts that violate the rules.

The rules on news content, and other social media rules, are expected to be introduced later this year or early next year.

Vietnam is among the countries with the strictest internet and social media rules. The government has made many efforts to control the flow of news from unauthorized sources.

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‘We’ll Leave No Stones Unturned’: Last Living Member of The Monkees Sues the FBI to Get Full, Unredacted File on the Iconic Rock Band

The last surviving member of The Monkees is suing the FBI for full access to the agency’s file on the legendary rock ‘n’ roll band.

George Michael Dolenz, Jr., better known by his stage name, Micky Dolenz, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday.

The litigation comes over a decade after the FBI’s partial file on the band was released and posted on the agency’s website in 2011.

“The television show “‘The Monkees’ is,” the popular group’s file reads before a section of redacted text in the document dated July 26, 1967.

The Los Angeles-based rock band’s file appears to be contained in a broader case file regarding the “Radio-TV Industry” in “the Hollywood area” based on an informant’s impressions. The information on The Monkees is specifically slotted under the title: “Additional Activities Denouncing the U.S. Policy in the War in Vietnam.”

“This series, which has been quite successful, features four young men who dress as ‘beatnik types’ and is geared primarily to the teenage market,” the file says. “During recent weeks, the four stars of the show have been making public appearance tours throughout the U.S.”

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Vietnamese man gets 5 years in jail for spreading Covid

A man in Vietnam has received a 5 year jail sentence for breaking home quarantine rules and spreading Covid. 28 year old Le Van Tri has been convicted of “spreading dangerous infectious diseases to other people” after he went to his home province in Ca Mau from Ho Chi Minh City in July, says the Vietnam News Agency.

Le Van had been accused of breaking a 21 day home quarantine when he travelled to Ca Mau. He tested positive for Covid on July 7. The 28 year old’s decision to leave quarantine had dangerous consequences for his fellow citizens.

“Tri’s breach of the home medical quarantine regulation led to many people becoming infected with Covid-19 and one person died on 7 August 2021,” says the court report.

In contrast to the court report, Vietnam’s state media says 8 people died from the man’s negligence. Throughout the last year, Covid numbers remained low in Vietnam. Now, Vietnam is facing their worst Covid outbreak since the pandemic started. They have reported almost 540,000 infections and over 13,000 deaths. Most of the infections and deaths have come since the end of April. Both Vietnam’s capital Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City have been under a tight lockdown for the last couple of months.

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The Gulf Of Tonkin Incident: The Lie That Sparked The Vietnam War

In August 1964, the United States entered the Vietnam War after reports of an unprovoked attack in the Gulf of Tonkin. But the reports were false — and the president knew it.

In August 1964, the USS Maddox destroyer was stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam.

On August 2, it was attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. And then, two days later, on August 4, the Johnson administration claimed that it had been attacked again. After the second attack, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution almost unanimously allowing the federal government to “take all necessary measures” to protect U.S. forces in Vietnam.

It was as close to a declaration of war that the Johnson administration would ever get. But it was based on a lie.

After decades of public skepticism and government secrecy, the truth finally came out: In the early 2000s, nearly 200 documents were declassified and released by the National Security Agency (NSA).

They showed that there was no attack on August 4. U.S. officials had distorted the truth about the Gulf of Tonkin incident for their own gains — and perhaps for Johnson’s own political prospects.

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Kamala Harris’s Flight Delayed After ‘Possible Anomalous Health Incident’

Kamala Harris’ trip to Vietnam was delayed by several hours because of a “report of a recent possible anomalous health incident.”

That term is the way that the United States government has referred to what is called the Havana Syndrome, CNN reported.

“Earlier this evening, the Vice President’s traveling delegation was delayed from departing Singapore because the Vice President’s office was made aware of a report of a recent possible anomalous health incident in Hanoi, Vietnam. After careful assessment, the decision was made to continue with the Vice President’s trip,” Rachael Chen, a spokeswoman for the US embassy in Hanoi, said.

Aboard Air Force Two, Harris’ chief spokeswoman Symone Sanders told traveling reporters that Harris is “well, all is fine and looking forward to meetings in Hanoi tomorrow.” Later she said of the delay: “This has nothing to do with the vice president’s health,” according to a pool report.

The intelligence community still doesn’t have an official explanation for Havana syndrome, which is a perplexing mix of sensory experiences and physical symptoms that have now sickened hundreds of US diplomats, spies and troops around the globe — some severely enough to force their retirement.

CNN has not reported any cases of Havana syndrome in Vietnam.

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