The Children of Vietnam-II, Ramparts (1970)
In January 1967, we printed a photographic essay on children of Vietnam who had suffered horrible disfigurement as a result of the American presence in their country. At that time we were criticized for “tastelessness” in printing stark images of their suffering—skin melted by napalm, sightless eyes, limbs shattered almost beyond recognition. Our response, of course, was that these children were victims not of bad taste, but of an unconscionable war. In the following feature, compiled by French journalist Claude Johnes, we are again taking up the subject. These children’s drawings and their brief, impressionistic thoughts on scenes from what has become daily life, show that violence of the war is subtle as well as grotesque.
A few years ago I interviewed Ramparts executive editor Warren Hinckle. Here he is describing the impact this issue of the magazine had on the mainstream discussion of the JFK assassination:
Then I heard about this guy [Penn Jones Jr.]—a little editor down in Texas who had found everybody, all these people who had died [that were] connected to the Warren Commission—and went down to see him and he was the genuine item. He had this stuff, you know. So I told Bill Turner, I said lets just make sure all these motherfuckers are dead. And they were!
It broke a lot of stuff open because Mark Lane had his books out and they weren’t treated in any way seriously—even though they made a lot of sales and got on lists. The New York Times, the networks, nobody would treat this stuff. Crazy people sell books, but that’s the category it was in. And that story, of all these people being dead connected to the Kennedy assassination, got the networks going. Walter Kronkite got into it and he came out, [Chet] Huntley and [David] Brinkley were the big guys at NBC then, and they were out at Ramparts for two days. They all went to Texas, and, all of a sudden, it became a sort of mainstream discussion. Not that it wasn’t a national discussion before, but it broke it open to a much wider conversation, it was almost a conspiracy niche before, it wasn’t taken seriously.
& here’s the article: “The Legacy of Penn Jones, Jr." by David Welsh
I just got back from Chile, and I did a number of TV shows there, and everybody said, “We’re trying to hold our own people accountable here for the atrocities that took place during the Pinochet regime, but why isn’t Henry Kissinger being held accountable? Why isn’t the United States held accountable for the role that they played in the atrocities that were committed in Chile, starting with the coup itself and then going on with the repression that followed?” And Kissinger really is the—not only the key survivor of the policy-making team of that era, but truly when you go through the declassified documents that are laid out in the book, The Pinochet File, you see that he is the singular most important figure in engineering a policy to overthrow Allende and then, even more, to embrace Pinochet and the human rights violations that followed.
He had aides who were saying to him, “It’s unbecoming for the United States to intervene in a country where we are not—our national security interests are not threatened.” And he pushed them away. “Nope, we can’t—we can’t let this imitative phenomena—we have to stop Allende from being successful.” He had aides that came to him the day after the coup and said, “I’m getting reports that there’s 10,000 bodies in the streets. People are being slaughtered.” And he said, “Go tell Congress that this new military regime is better for our interests than the old government in Chile.” And we have this fabulous document of him talking to Pinochet, a meeting in 1976, in which his aides have told him, “You should tell Pinochet to stop violating human rights.” And instead he says to Pinochet, “You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende. We want to support you, not hurt you.”
Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File, in conversation with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now.