Did the Associated Press Misrepresent the Events that Happened at No Gun Ri?





Major Robert Bateman served with the 7th Cavalry Regiment, was associate professor of history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and is currently an Army fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He resides in northern Virginia. He is the author of No Gun Ri: A Military History of the Korean War Incident (Stackpole Books, 2002).

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Editor's Note In the following article Mr. Bateman criticizes the Associated Press account of the events that took place in late July 1950 at No Gun Ri during the Korean War. In an attempt at fairness, HNN sent Mr. Bateman's article to the authors of the Associated Press story. This prompted an interesting exchange. Readers may judge for themselves who gets the better of the argument.

In the fall of 1999 the Associated Press (AP) pushed out onto the wire a story that bore all the hallmarks of a blockbuster. It was a story about an incident that involved the deliberate killing of civilians during the Korean War. According to the story, this massacre took place under the direction or orders of American officers. In the story American soldiers slaughtered up to 400 South Korean civilians at a place called No Gun Ri. The story said that this occurred between 26 and 29 July 1950. It was an amazing account, made all the stronger because at first it was seemingly confirmed from both South Korean claimants and a host of American veterans. What made it all the more marketable was the apparent depth of the investigation conducted by the AP. They said, in their story and later interviews, that these interviews and research lasted over eighteen months. The whole account, however, later turned out to be plagued with problems. Problems of historical accuracy and problems of advocacy and an increasing sense of conspiracy theory not often found in major media outlets. It is a problem that appears to continue.

For my part, when I read their version of events something didn't seem right. But what could I know? I am just an academic historian. Eventually I researched and examined the primary source evidence myself, because what I was reading from the AP and hearing from the veterans with whom I was conducting interviews didn't match up. Nor did the archival material I examined. In one particular example, the AP witness who said that he was the machine-gunner who fired at point-blank range into the civilians, had problems with his facts.

This was the man who said that he was the one who turned his machine-gun, under orders, on the mass of defenseless refugees. The range, according to this witness, was about fifty yards. He was the ninth, of eleven American sources, but the only one that said anything nearly this direct and dramatic in print. (One other machine-gunner said he fired one belt of ammunition from “hundreds” of yards away in the general direction of the civilians, on his own, without orders, after some generalized shooting started.)

In the initial story only one other veteran even said that he'd heard any sort of order, and only a few others said that they'd fired a weapon anywhere in the direction of the civilians. The fact that this one man said that he'd done it all made him (in addition to a really juicy quote he gave about hearing the cries of the slaughtered) the AP's star witness. This man, Edward Daily, said that he fired a .30 caliber light machine-gun, at extremely close range, into a mass of civilians and sustained that fire until hundreds were dead. He said that the firing went, generally, on for days. On top of that he had been the AP's link to many other veterans. These facts combined to make him their star witness from the American side.

I discovered that Ed Daily was a fraud in the Spring of 2000. It was easy. Ed had a published bio in the front of his self-published books. The bio said that he won a battlefield commission on 10 August, was captured a few days later during fighting along the Naktong River, escaped, rejoined his unit and fought through the rest of the war. It listed his awards as including the Distinguished Service Cross, multiple Silver Stars, and three Purple Hearts.

The reason it was easy was because the Army does everything in triplicate. If Ed's bio was correct there should have been, at least, the following records: S1 records indicating his promotion to sergeant at around the time of No Gun Ri, S1 records at the regiment and G1 at Division records of his discharge for the purpose of accepting a commission, a listing in both of his status change to “missing” or “captured,” some account in the Regimental diary (along with all the others) that he was killed, captured or wounded, a G2 debriefing (when he re-entered friendly lines) at Division, a record of a stay in the hospital, G1 records again when he went back to his regiment, G1 records submitting him for the Distinguished Service Cross, and on and on. Near as I can tell, just in the months of July, August and September there should have been no less than 16 records that recorded Ed Daily's name. These were the records the AP used to create their account of No Gun Ri, which they claimed to have pored over exhaustively.

I figured it was only right to tell the AP reporters about the fraud in their midst, so they could publicly correct that aspect, at least, of their story. I talked to them, explained all the records and the problems. The lead reporter from the AP, Charles Hanley, blew me off telling me that they'd heard of doubts, but that he'd seen enough material to believe that Ed Daily was who he said he was. This stunned me, considering the mass of material the AP had. It was the Spring of 2000. (Hanley's emails, verbatim, are in my book. I didn't want to quote him out of context, so I put the e-mails in there complete from salutation to closing.)

Just a few days later the AP won the Pulitzer Prize.

“Ahhhhhhh,” I thought. Now I understand.

In late 2000 the now-defunct media watchdog magazine Brill's Content revealed that even as early as 7 December 1999, just two months after their story hit the wires, and weeks before the AP was to submit the story of No Gun Ri for the Pulitzer Prize, the AP learned that their central American witness (who had, in turn, given them other “witnesses”) was not exactly the battlefield-commissioned Distinguished Cross winner he portrayed himself to be, but was something far different. (Ed Daily was a not a battlefield hero, he was a clerk and a jeep mechanic at the time of No Gun Ri in a support unit in the rear areas.) Unfortunately for the reputation of American journalism the Brill's Content discovery was not to come for another year, and at the time the AP kept that knowledge of their source's false records to themselves.

The irony is that they could have had another good story there. You see, Mr. Daily had collected nearly $400,000 from the VA over the years in benefits for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since his uncovering was something even an amateur historian could uncover with ease, it should be expected that the AP would have found out about him as well. By simply reading the archival sources they made so much hay about in their original story they would have found the truth, if they'd been willing to look at it like historians. In those records Daily should have appeared no less than sixteen times in twelve different types of records ... if he actually was who he had claimed to be.

So it was that in April of 2000 the AP won its first ever Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, in large part upon the apparent strength of their “digging” into history and “uncovering” a story that had long been forgotten. (Ignoring the fact that the story of civilian deaths in the Korean War was neither a surprise to, nor “forgotten” by, academic historians of the Korean War.) In article after article the members of the AP team of reporters, Charles Hanley, Martha Mendoza and Sang Hun Choe, wrote about how exhaustive was their research into archives and played up the idea that the Pentagon was covering up the story, even to the point of denying that there were any troops at No Gun Ri at all.

At this point I should note that my own position on No Gun Ri, published in my book No Gun Ri, A Military History of the Korean War Incident , is that something bad did happen at No Gun Ri. I believe that civilians were killed there, anywhere from eight to thirty-five of them by direct fire during a 30-90 second fusillade of direct fire coming from elements of the Second Battalion, 7th Cavalry. I believe that this did not occur as a result of deliberate orders, but because of a screw-up on the part of one American sergeant, a lack of control by the officers, and some bad decisions on the part of a couple of South Korean guerillas who were among the civilians. I believe that it is also plausible that somewhere further up the valley, beyond line-of-sight from No Gun Ri, the USAF may well have strafed civilians as well. (That is no surprise to any historian. My position is mundane. Basically my opinion on the USAF in that period is that if it was bipedal and in Korea that summer, the USAF attacked it. That goes for civilians, friendly South Korean troops, North Koreans, and the US Army and Marine Corps. There are plenty of accounts of all of these occurring. The 7th Cavalry itself was strafed by the USAF on July 27, 1950, while at No Gun Ri!)

I am a 7th Cavalry officer, but more relevant is the fact that I am also a historian. Accuracy is what matters to me, but also justice. Along the same lines of my position on No Gun Ri, I believe (and am working towards) that the Army should rescind the Medals of Honor given to the soldiers and officers of my regiment in the wake of Wounded Knee in 1890. I'd also like to see the campaign streamer for that period (Pine Ridge) revoked and taken off of the regimental and Army colors. And as for my position on more modern events, I've published the opinion that former Senator Kerrey should stand trial for a war crime he committed in Vietnam, and that far more people than just lieutenant Calley should have stood trial for the massacre at My Lai 4. I think that Calley, his company commander, and at least half his platoon should probably still be in a military prison for their atrocity. So I am not exactly what one might call an apologist. But the AP, well, their story doesn't hold water. Never did. What's worse, they “sexed it up” by making it look like there was some sort of massive cover-up.

Their primary piece of evidence for this “Pentagon Denies” conspiracy-like sub-thesis was a statement from a civilian lawyer under contract to the Department of Defense who was then serving in South Korea as a counsel for the US Army. When queried about the South Korean villagers' claims this lawyer contacted a sergeant at another headquarters who apparently told her that there were no troops there at that time. The AP milked this “denial” for all it was worth, ignoring earlier statements by the Center for Military History which contradicted their version of reality.

See, the Army published it's official history of that period decades ago, and there in black and white it shows the units that were in the vicinity of No Gun Ri. One has to ask, “Why didn't the AP, when given the ‘official' (and historically inaccurate) denial by a low-level functionary ask a second question? Why didn't they point to the Army's own history, and the maps right there in black and white, and say, “Are you sure you weren't where your own history says you were?” That would seem like the honest thing to do. Instead they took this minor, low-level “official word” and went with it as is.

Just after the AP won their Pulitzer several bastions of American journalism, to include the New York Times, the Washington Post, and US News and World Report, revealed that the AP's central witness was a complete fraud. None of them could get Daily to admit it (he wouldn't talk to anyone but the AP by then) but the AP stood by their man. At least until they went back and examined all the documents that I'd told them about months earlier when they blew me off. Finally, after he was exposed in all of these bastions of American journalism, the AP managed to get him to say that he admitted that the records appeared to prove that he wasn't there. Wow, only three months after they told me that they believed in him and that my historical records weren't worth all the extensive and exhaustive research they had done using all the tools of journalism.

That man, Edward Daily, is now serving 21 months in a federal penitentiary for defrauding the government of more than $400,000 in VA benefits.

Then the AP's story shifted. “Ed Daily is not central to our story,” became the refrain . Cries for the AP to hand back the Pulitzer were heard for a short while, but the AP refused to do so, although their reporters certainly became defensive rather than contrite. Their major form of counter-attack was to allege the journalism equivalent of a “vast right wing conspiracy” by suggesting that the discrediting of their story was all orchestrated by the Pentagon to whitewash history.

Now one of the AP authors is at it again. In a recent article in the influential journalism magazine Editor and Publisher, which detailed the AP's most recent stories calculating the number of civilian casualties during the recent war in Iraq , E&P's reporter quoted Charles Hanley as saying this, "With No Gun Ri, we had to deal with a Pentagon that held -- essentially for years -- that the U.S. military was not even in the area of the massacre."

Mr. Hanley is changing the facts to meet his preferred position. As stated above, you can read for yourself the Army's official history that shows that, historically speaking, the Army darned well did say that it was in the area. Simply stated, the military published several thousand copies of its official histories of the Korean War, all of which contain detailed maps and descriptions stating exactly where the U.S. forces were, and when. And they all stated that the Army was, in fact, there. Mr. Hanley is claiming what appears to be a conspiracy to obfuscate. But conspiracies require central control and a plan, and what actually occurred was far more mundane. One lawyer talked to one sergeant and made a stupid historically inaccurate statement, which nobody asked a second question about.

The volume of these histories of the Korean War that deal directly with the troop disposition at the time of Mr. Hanley's version of events is Roy Appleman's book South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu (Washington, DC: Center for Military History, United States Army, US Government Printing Office, 1992). The book was first published in 1961 and was reprinted a decade ago. This volume is widely available in academic and research libraries around the world, and the text of the book is also entirely available online. (For those interested in getting a hard copy the book is still for sale by the Government Printing Office Superintendent of Documents, Mail Stop: SSOP, Washington , DC 20402-9328.)

Specifically, if one wants to evaluate Mr. Hanley's claim that the “Pentagon held that the US Military was not even in the area,” one might read pages 197-200 and 203-24 (if you're in a rush you can do this online) which give the locations of the U.S. forces as being between two towns named Yongdong and Hwanggan … not to belabor the point, but that is where No Gun Ri is located. Grab a map, take a look. The village itself was too small to be named independently on the maps used by the Army historian that wrote the book (Roy Appleman), but he's fairly detailed in explaining, in an official US Army history written almost 40 years before Mr. Hanley's factually challenged “scoop,” that U.S. troops were at that location at that time.

Mr. Hanley, it would seem, would like us to believe that “the Pentagon” (as though the military is some sort of monolith) was conducting a cover up with a denial that “no troops were in the area,” as he puts it. That would sure make him look a lot smarter, and make it appear that he really had to dig to prove that the Army was between Yongdong and Hwanggan in South Korea in the last week of July 1950. It would make it look like he really had to work hard for that Pulitzer. But to do that he himself has to cover up the fact that the military, long ago, published that very information and that it's been available in public libraries for decades, and online for half a decade.

But the AP didn't stop there. I wish they had, but they didn't. Instead they went after the author that told them about the problem with their sources in the first place! So there I was, an independent scholar, conducting historical research on my own and working towards the publication with a small publishing company (since the Pulitzer Prize winning AP team already cornered the market on New York major publishers for their version of events) when out of the blue one of the Pulitzer-Prize winning AP reporters tried to get my book crushed . (Another account of the AP attacking appeared here . ) (And another one here . ) They failed, fortunately, as just about every institution of American journalism supporting the First Amendment came to the defense of the solitary historian facing censorship from the largest news organization in human history. But the incredible thing is that they tried.

Eventually my book did come out. It's a fairly standard academic work. With thirty-seven pages of end notes (almost a thousand notes in all) documenting every single statement of fact, the location in archives for each source, to include the transcripts of every interview conducted, it has been hailed in sources as divergent as the Skeptical Inquirer magazine, H-War (part of MSU's “H-Net” academic resource network), the Journal of Military History (not available online yet, but it will appear through J-Stor eventually), and numerous other places. The research is eminently reproducible. That's why we historians use footnotes after all. (By the way, by way of issuing a mea culpa [since it's unlikely that there will ever be a second print run] there are two mistakes in the book. The 7 th Cav arrived at one location at 5 am not 5 pm in one area, and I never mentioned that at No Gun Ri, at the time the alleged massacre was taking place, there were numerous reporters visiting the 7 th Cavalry HQs from news organizations like the Times of London …to include one reporter from the AP! But then the AP neglected to mention that as well, and I thought that would be rubbing salt in their wounds at the time that I was writing the manuscript. I'm less generous now.) But my book was small, from a publisher in rural Pennsylvania, and the AP got a lucrative contract from Henry Holt publishing. Why has my book been getting solid academic accolades from historians when theirs has not?

The AP's version of the events at No Gun Ri, in their articles and in their later 313 page book, unfortunately, does not include footnotes. Publisher's Weekly got to the point in their review of the AP's book (seen right up front on the amazon.com website for their book) by saying, “The authors take pains to establish the men of No Gun Ri as dropouts and throwaways teenage rejects of a postwar society obsessed with prosperity and anti-communism. That in turn makes it easier to show them, as well as the Korean civilians, as victims of a government that sent them to Korea to fight a civil war on the side of squalid local tyranny. That perspective is defensible but, experts might argue, scarcely definitive. This volume, with its focus on personal experience, is correspondingly best understood as advocacy reportage, eschewing critical analysis by concentrating on the victims on both sides of the rifles.” Now I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want my work of history called “scarcely definitive” or “best understood as advocacy reportage.” Fortunately, as one can see, mine wasn't. Why? Maybe because I used historical methods, provided documentation for all my sources with almost a thousand end-notes, and wrote history.

For the AP's part, despite requests, they won't release any of their interview materials. They claim to have dozens of sources that confirm their version of events, but refuse to provide the names and transcripts of those sources, and they repeatedly claim that the depth of their research makes their work unassailable. In short, they keep asking us not to look behind the curtain.

I am a historian. Looking behind curtains, even those held by powerful institutions such as the Associated Press, is what I do when dealing with history.

RESPONSE OF CHARLES J. HANLEY, SANG-HUN CHOE, MARTHA MENDOZA, RANDY HERSCHAFT (Associated Press)

For four years, the writer of the above, an officer of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, has been engaged in a tiresome campaign to try to discredit the solid journalism that first brought to light the 7th Cavalry's mass killing of South Korean refugees at No Gun Ri, journalism whose strength was eventually recognized by eleven major national and international awards.

The bizarre character of this man's attack on our integrity is, we hope, self-evident.

Rather than detail the scores of egregious errors, misreadings, major omissions, baseless assertions, gross distortions and outright fantasies and fabrications he has purveyed, in this case on an otherwise respectable website, let us point out a simple salient fact he does not tell HNN readers:

The U.S. Army in January 2001, after a 14-month investigation, affirmed the central elements of AP's 1999 report on No Gun Ri, and the president of the United States issued a statement of deep regret.

We'll point out, too, one other fact, which should be enough to caution readers to beware of anything and everything this man asserts:

In the "thousand-endnote book" he is so proud of, he devotes only one citation to his single central ``finding,'' that "two guerrillas"' hid among the No Gun Ri refugees and fired on U.S. troops.

We checked the cited document, which the author, wisely, didn't reproduce.

It's a regimental logistics journal in which a lone sentence fragment inventories two enemy guns taken somewhere in the regimental area. It says nothing more. It gives no time, date, place or unit involved in finding the weapons. It says nothing about refugees, guerrillas, No Gun Ri or anything else. But Robert Bateman chose to hijack that irrelevant document and arbitrarily attribute those unrelated weapons to two imagined ``guerrillas'' among the refugees, apparently to give his useless volume a headline "revelation."

Is that what HNN readers consider "historical research"? If so, you'll find scores of similar, sometimes breathtaking assaults on the truth throughout his writing, both here in his HNN diatribe and in his book.

Readers interested in a factually based account will find that in our book, `The Bridge at No Gun Ri (Henry Holt and Company). Excerpts and reviews can be found online at this website: http://www.henryholt.com/nogunri/index.htm. At a link off that site, http://www.henryholt.com/nogunri/documents.htm, one will find dozens of declassified orders and other important and recently unearthed U.S. military documents, including thirteen showing that the U.S. Army resorted repeatedly to a policy of indiscriminately killing refugees in the early months of the Korean War.

Those orders are the most historically significant discoveries in our years-long investigation of No Gun Ri. Not surprisingly, Robert Bateman's polemic-apologia ignores them. We still await and are ready to help qualified, and honest, historians who are interested in investigating this landscape of civilian killings further, to determine how high in the chain of command responsibility lay.

ROBERT BATEMAN'S RESPONSE

One wonders why the AP continues to refuse to release the complete transcripts of their interviews with veterans, or their notes about interviews, or to footnote in any way their own book so that others might reproduce their research. I look forward to the day when they produce a work with even a single footnote. But then, I am a mere academic historian.

I believe that the web-based reproduction of a sliver of the selected documents the authors choose to share with the public is hardly the stuff of responsible history. My own book relies 100% upon materials that have been donated to public access archives (or originated in the same) and my research is completely reproducible. That, after all is what footnotes are for. I look forward to the day that the AP acts in a historically responsible manner when dealing with history and does the same.

I am also reminded that there appears to be in this story a validation for the assertion that journalists provide "the first swipe at history."

I dearly wish, and appeal to the Associated Press, to do as I have done and donate the complete and sum total of their research materials and interviews to a publicly accessible archive so that their research may be assessed by historians today and for centuries to come. Humanity is dimished if the AP fails to do so. After all, what has the AP to lose? They are the largest news organization in human history, and if I, a solitary historian can do so, surely they can as well. Only humanity may gain from the freedom of information and the release of this privately held and restricted information which AP retains and of which the AP has heretofore only reproduced portions which were already in the public record and domain.

It is, of course, somewhat ironic that the AP continues to refuse access to the public to this historically significant information. By not donating these materials to a public library or public archive of national standing but instead refuses to release it to anyone they abrogate their responsibility as public servants of fact, since they are now dabbling in history, not contemporary events.

Witnesses (in the AP clippings and my own long verbatim transcripts) said there was firing from among the refugees. The AP reported the Korean government found Soviet-weapon bullet casings in the area. A witness (cited verbatim and in context) said he saw the weapons there in the immediate aftermath. I told the AP about the S4 logs some time before they won the Pulitzer and gave them the information they needed to see the same information for themselves in the archives. (Also citied verbatim in my book. As is the exact location of the document in the National Archives.) The S4 log shows the weapons turned in after the event. Am I missing something? Is there a historian out there that could ask for more evidence than this?

Multiple witnesses to the event and the presence of the weapons, forensic evidence (the shell casings) uncovered by a separate sovereign government and documented by the AP itself, and documentary evidence that the weapons were properly turned in through channels...all cited (and footnoted so the research can be reproduced) in my book. What would satisfy the Associated Press? Must one present videotape as well?

The AP asserts that the government supports their version of events. I suggest reading the actual report, since it supports my version as well. I reproduced, verbatim, the executive summary in my own book. Something the AP ignores. Specifically the report stated that "an unknown number" died at No Gun Ri....hardly a resounding claim for the AP.

This is especially true since I also could (but am not inclined to) state something similar. I could, in honesty, say that, "the U.S. Army in January 2001, after a 14-month investigation, affirmed the central elements of Bateman's 2002 book on No Gun Ri." That would be sequentially illogical, but factual, since the U.S. Army's finding (also reproduced in my book) is equally as true for my work as it is for theirs.

But why not read the AP's book, and mine, and decide for yourself?

CHARLES HANLEY'S RESPONSE

Caught red-handed in a document shell game, Maj. Bateman sees no alternative but to brazenly claim again that the document says what it doesn't say. The document is here for HNN readers to see. They can see it says nothing to link two unattributed weapons in a combat zone to No Gun Ri, guerrillas, refugees, the critical date of July 26, 1950, the battalion that was involved at No Gun Ri, or anything else.

This is invention posing as history, to put it mildly.

Indeed, if one wanted to SPECULATE about the source of the inventoried weapons, an explanation is at hand: The regiment's war diary notes that ``two enemy'' were captured the day before, three miles from No Gun Ri, in a different valley.

Bateman asks, "Is there a historian out there that could ask for more evidence than this?"

What the historians I know ask for, Mr. Bateman, is fact, not fantasy. As for us, we ask only that you leave honest journalists alone.

ROBERT BATEMAN'S RESPONSE

Mr. Hanley's request that"As for us, we ask only that you leave honest journalists alone" is, to say the least, ironic. He has called my place of employment, he has called my boss at work (to try and get my boss to stop my research, before I'd even published a word), he called and wrote to my editor to try and get the book stopped. He has called and written to my friends. He has sent historians who had the temerity to write favorable reviews of my book scathing letters causing great emotional distress. All of this occurring"behind the scenes." I have engaged in public dialogue, using the accepted academic forums of reviews and articles (and finally my book), about the nature of our competing accounts. Yes, there is irony in his appeal.


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David Lowell Pelfrey - 7/19/2009

First Mr. Hanley let me thank you for taking the time to respond to my post, albeit, my thanks is about a year too late. It is gratifying that the post was taken seriously and read, I believed it to have generated no interest.

I very much hope that the question of the Japanese weapons and their disposition might be kept clear of your contest with Mr. Bateman. The issue of what types of weapons were in Korean hands, and in what numbers, is thought provoking.

I should politely remark that one should not necessarily be flabbergasted at the content and wording of the Muccio letter, particularly when the entire context of the document is read and absorbed. Here is a larger excerpt of the letter discussing discussions reached by U.S. Military and ROK authorities during a meeting that took place on July 25th, 1950:

1. Leaflet drops will be made north of US lines banning the people not to proceed south that they risk being fired upon if they do so. If refugees do appear from north of US lines they will receive warning shots, and if they then persist in advancing they will be shot.

2. Leaflet drops and oral warning by police within US combat zone will be made to the effect that no one can move south unless ordered, and then only under police control, that all movement of Korean civilians must end at sunset or those moving will risk being shot when dark comes.

3. Should the local tactical commander consider it essential to evacuate a given sector he will notify the police liaison officers attached to his HQ, who through the area Korean National Police will notify the inhabitants, and start them southward under police control on specified minor roads. No one will be permitted to move unless police notify them, and those further south not notified will be required to stay put.

4. Refugee groups must stop at sunset, and not move again until daylight. Police will establish check points to catch enemy agents; subsequently Social Ministry will be prepared to care for, and direct refugees to camps or other areas.

5. No mass movements unless police controlled will be permitted. Individual movements will be subject to police checks at numerous points.

6. In all cities, towns curfew will be at 9 p.m., with effective enforcement at 10 p.m. Any unauthorized person on streets after 10 p.m. is to be arrested, and carefully examined. The last item is already in effect.
Sincerely,
John J. Muccio

This is an excerpt from the Muccio letter showing that what Ambassador wrote concerning firing on refugees was hardly a straightforward order to indiscrimenently direct lethal force against Korean civilians in the South Korean war zone. This additional context makes plain that U.S. policy in Korea was not to indescriminently kill refugees.

Point three of the letter is instructive in that the document clearly illustrates that the South Korean National Police were to be deeply involved in preparing and conducting the movement through U.S. lines.

Mr. Bateman’s book did in fact discuss a document on page 241 whose content in several instances follows the Muccio letter’s outline, if not always the exact wording. Mr. Bateman identifies this document as being disseminated by the U.S. Eighth Army Korea in conjunction with the government of the Republic of Korea, 25 July, 1950 (although the document is not footnoted).

Mr. Bateman also makes the following point with respect to moving refugees through U.S. lines:

“ Eighth Army’s policy was intended to deny the NKPA their widely used infiltration tactic while also safeguarding civilians by prohibiting refugees from crossing battle lines (battle lines are the areas where there is contact with the enemy or contact is about to occur). The policy did not state that refugees could not cross friendly lines and contains instructions for the handling of refugees in friendly areas (friendly lines are the forward troop positions not in contact with the enemy). The policy emphasized the Korean government’s responsibilities for the control and screening of refugees to provide for their welfare. Nothing in this policy was intended to put refugees at risk.” (Bateman, p. 241)

Aside from the observation that refugees are by definition a class of people already at risk, it is clear that Mr. Bateman means that the policy was not intended to place refugees at risk of being killed by lethal force directed against them by the U.S. military. Mr. Bateman appears to cite points in the EUSAK document utilizing the verb “preclude.” One may venture to state that precluding in this sense also contained the ultimate measure of utilizing deadly force to preclude the passage of refugees across battle lines when all other measures to provide for their welfare failed.

A great deal of ink has been expended on this argument and all sides admit that Korean civilians were killed in the vicinity of No Gun-ri and other locations of the Korean peninsula during the war. However, after reading what you have written in several rebuttals, it is not clear to me that you have read Mr. Bateman’s work as closely as he has read yours. In fact there are a few points of research where your thesis may yet prove itself out, though perhaps not at No Gun-ri, and perhaps not anywhere near the scale so far suggested by Korean and some U.S. veteran accounts.

Mr. Bateman very clearly and objectively states on page 248:
“There are references that appear to authorize firing on Korean civilians in Army records. The first reference was an abbreviated message that appeared in an 8th Cavalry Regiment message log dated 10:00AM on July 24th, 1950, that stated: “No refugees to cross the frontline. Fire everyone trying to cross the lines. Use discretion in case of women and children.”

Even more tantalizing is the potential evidence Mr. Bateman was unable to confirm regarding orders to attack Korean civilians received by U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy assets. Bateman writes:

“The U.S. Review Team found two documents that refer to an unknown Army request to the Air Force and Navy to strafe civilian or refugee columns. The first reference is in a memorandum by Col. T. C. Rogers, Fifth Air Force ADVON (Korea), dated 25 July, 1950. The second reference is a Naval Activity summary for the same date from the Aircraft Carrier Valley Forge. The U.S. Review Team could not find any originating request from the Army that prompted these two references. (Bateman, p. 247)

As an historian, I find it unusual that two separate services are recording a similar Army request on the same date. Again, this suggests a lacuna worth tracking down. Is it possible the AP could take a crack at bird-dogging these two references?

I regret that your team’s oral histories from the Korean witnesses is a trade secret – I have a great deal of respect for the body of work collected and time expended on illuminating this forgotten and nevertheless tragically instructive event in 20th century history.

Kind Regards,
David Pelfrey


Charles Joseph Hanley - 8/10/2008


As a member of the Associated Press reporting team that confirmed the No Gun Ri refugee killings of July 1950 in South Korea, I generally refrain from posting rebuttals to criticism and attacks on the Web, since they are based almost exclusively on disinformation and misinformation spread by a single man who has not been to Korea, has not spoken with the Korean eyewitnesses, has barely spoken with any American witnesses, and has decided to ignore a mountain of documentary evidence showing that high-ranking U.S. commanders repeatedly issued blanket orders to shoot South Korean refugees.

I don't believe this one man's imaginings should be aired in the same forum as file cabinets full of hard-won facts gathered by experienced professional journalists.

In the case of Mr. Pelfrey's July 1 posting, however, which I've just spotted, his seemingly honest intellectual curiosity leads me to comment:

1) First of all, I must say I'm flabbergasted that Mr. Pelfrey somehow interprets the Ambassador Muccio letter, saying the U.S. military had decided to fire on refugees advancing toward U.S. lines, as NOT condoning the killing of refugees. That is just what the letter says, pure and simple. And the next day the refugee carnage began at No Gun Ri. And in the days and weeks that followed, U.S. regimental and division commanders repeatedly issued orders saying such things as ``fire on all refugees,'' and ``refugees are fair game.''
The fact that the policy outlined by Muccio stipulates that ``warning shots'' first be fired is a skimpy fig leaf for what any World War II war crimes judge would recognize for what it is, the illegal targeting of noncombatants. Does Mr. Pelfrey propose that some 23-year-old lieutenant could decide that two warning shots were sufficient, that a throng of refugees had not stopped moving, and that therefore he could order hundreds of women and children mowed down by machine guns?
The meaning of the Muccio letter was so transparent that the Army suppressed the letter in its 2001 investigative report on No Gun Ri, along with many other documents and much testimony attesting to a shoot-refugees policy. Fortunately, Harvard historian Sahr Conway-Lanz discovered the Muccio letter, and years of FOIAing, requests for declassification reviews, archival research and interviews by the AP exposed much more of the documentation and testimony.

2) Mr. Pelfrey's discussion of Japanese weaponry in Korea might be interesting if it weren't for the fact that it was prompted by a document flimflam perpetrated by the above-mentioned disinformant/misinformant. The logistics log listing a Japanese and a Russian gun in the regiment's possession does NOT say the guns came from No Gun Ri, from among refugees, from infiltrators, from guerrillas; it does NOT associate the guns with any date, location, regimental unit or anything else. They're simply two weapons turned up somewhere, sometime in the regiment's huge operational area.
The disinformant nonetheless, incredibly, decided to arbitrarily attribute the guns to what happened at No Gun Ri. But he had to do so in his book without replicating or quoting from the log, since then any reader could see through his sham.
It's not even ``circumstantial'' evidence of anything. It's humbug, an irrelevant document hijacked to ``prove'' the man's imaginings.

3) The carping over the fact that our book was not footnoted is unwarranted. ``The Bridge at No Gun Ri'' is not an academic history but a journalistic narrative. One might as well demand that Hersey have footnoted ``Hiroshima.''
The sourcing is clear throughout: Korean and American witnesses who are quoted were interviewed by the writers; documents that are cited are identified by unit, date and type. Four key documents evincing the shoot-refugees policy are reproduced photographically in the book. Even more, publisher Henry Holt and Company for several years maintained a Web site where readers could link to the documents themselves, some two dozen of them showing beyond doubt that U.S. commanders resorted repeatedly to such a policy.
Finally, a ``Notes on Sources'' epilogue gives details on where the documents can be found at the National Archives and other repositories. The research, therefore, can be easily replicated.
To suggest that ``professor'' Bateman is the better practitioner of ``historical craft,'' as Mr. Pelfrey does, is frankly outrageous, in view of the ineptitude, carelessness and untruths that characterize every page of his ``thousand-footnote'' book. Remember, the ``source'' document discussed in No. 2 above was footnoted, in the obvious hope that no one would track it down and expose him.
Mr. Pelfrey writes that our book ``purports to be non-fiction.'' I would ask that, if he has any basis for challenging any of the facts in our book, he come forward with it, and forego the cheap swipes.

4) As for posting all of our interviews on the Web or wherever, forget it. Journalism remains a competitive undertaking. And the AP, meanwhile, remains the bedrock of integrity in American journalism. No one was misquoted on No Gun Ri, and no relevant fact was suppressed. The original AP journalism even quoted one ex-soldier who claimed _ in inconsistent fashion _ to have seen North Korean infiltrators among the refugees. But it then also cited two others who disputed his contention that they were with him and saw the same.

5) Mr. Pelfrey's discussion of Ed Daily is off point. Daily, a secondary voice quoted in the 56th graf of our original journalism, became wholly irrelevant to No Gun Ri when the AP determined that his information was second-hand.
We have more than two dozen other ex-soldiers whose information is first-hand, plus three dozen Korean witnesses whose accounts match the Americans'. Why this focus on Daily? To answer my own question: Because Daily is the only thin reed No Gun Ri ``critics'' have to cling to, by dishonestly suggesting Daily's account was somehow vital to the story. If so, then where is Ed Daily in our book?

6) Mr. Pelfrey's suggestion that Daily did not serve in a combat arms unit in the war (when actually he did serve in the 7th Cavalry Regiment), along with other misapprehensions in his posting, is indicative of the kind of untruths, both petty and large, that permeate discussion of No Gun Ri on the Internet. The Wikipedia entry on No Gun Ri is so depressingly wrong on point after point, thanks to Bateman's destructive influence, that I cannot bring myself to look at it.
The root notion that has perverted this discussion since 2001 is the idea that a global, responsible news organization has a ``version'' or a ``view'' of an event, that it takes ``sides'' (as though there are ``two sides'' to the No Gun Ri story). This is simply not the case. What we do is collect and present the facts, as best we can. And we acknowledge the gaps in knowledge. Readers won't find a truer, more complete picture of No Gun Ri than in our reporting.
Meantime, the story moves on. South Korea's Truth and Reconciliation Commission is busy verifying other South Korean refugee/civilian killings in 1950-51. One of its investigators refers to 215 ``other No Gun Ris'' on its docket.

Best regards,
Charles J. Hanley




David Lowell Pelfrey - 7/1/2008

Sorry, I note that my citations did not post. Here are the sources for the quoted material in may comments.

Harold M. Tanner, Guerrilla, Mobile, and Base Warfare in Communist Military Operations in Manchuria, 1945-1947 , The Journal of Military History, Vol. 67, No. 4 (Oct., 2003), pp.1195-1196. This secondary source quotes the memoirs of General Lu Zhengcao in text.
·Stable URL: http:// jstor.org/stable/3396886www.

Max Hermansen, United States Military Logistics in the First Part of the Korean War (Dissertation in HistoryUniversity of Oslo
Spring 2000), Chapter 2, p.1
http://vlib.iue.it/carrie/texts/carrie_books/hermansen/2.html


David Lowell Pelfrey - 7/1/2008

This is my first post here and I find the discussion on this particular topic both interesting as well as instructive. Last weekend I saw a program from an earlier date on BookTV where Messrs. Hanley and Bateman appeared, and despite their differences, carried on a civil discussion regarding their monographs. I hope I may respectfully add to the comments already made. First, with respect to the State Department document cited above and excerpted below:

"If refugees do appear from north of US lines they will receive warning shots, and if they then persist in advancing they will be shot," wrote Ambassador John J. Muccio, in his message to Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk.

http://hnn.us/comments/90347.html

This document does not refute professor Bateman’s argument nor does it demonstrate that U.S. policy in South Korea condoned the killing of refugees. First, the sentence quoted above is conditional: “[i]f refugees do appear.” Second, this conditional clause limits the class of refugees to that class appearing “from the north of U.S. lines.” Third, such a class of refugees appearing from this direction “will receive warning shots.” Fourth, if such a class of refugees “persists in advancing they will be shot.” Thus, if refugee advancing from the north of a U.S. position fails to head warning shots, they will be classified as combatants. These rules of engagement do not indicate an official U.S. policy to fire on refugees; however, the misinterpretation of this policy could easily result in such a result.

One point regarding Professor Bateman’s work that bears repeating: his footnotes allow historians to not only check his primary sources, as well as the conclusions drawn from his primary source material, these citations allow the discussion to move forward.

One of the interesting aspects about this debate concerns the presence or absence of North Korean gorillas intermixed within fleeing groups of civilian refugees.

At this early stage of the war, the North Koreans, the South Koreans, the Soviets, and the Chinese Communists (the latter two groups not yet openly involved in the conflict) conducted a portion of their combat activities armed with weapons inherited from Imperial Japanese arsenals previously located in Manchuria as well as Korea (a Japanese province until 1945):

“In Shenyan, for instance, Lu Zhengcao [Communist Chinese PLA General] remembers that the Soviet Union had opened up Japanese Army warehouses in order to distribute grain, clothing, and bedding to the people of the city even before Communist troops arrived. In the chaos, some of the citizens of Shenyang also helped themselves to guns and ammunition.

It is also well-known that elements of the North Korean Army campaigned with Chinese Communist forces against Chang Kai-shek through the Nationalist Chinese collapse in 1949. Moreover, Japanese military equipment was used to arm the South Korean Army as well:

“President Truman had before the Soviet proposal of withdrawal, in April 1948 approved a planning paper saying the U.S. would train and equip a South Korean armed force. This force should be large enough to maintain internal order and public safety, but not so large as to strain the country's economy or so powerful as to provide means for aggression against North Korea. Japanese rifles and ammunition as well as American surplus equipment were used to equip Republic of Korea military forces. The most important of this had been 20 liaison airplanes, 90,000 rifles, 3000 machine guns, 700 mortars, 91 105-mm howitzers, 3000 radio sets and almost 5,000 trucks. The South Korean Coast Guard had received a total of 80 vessels ranging from mine sweepers to landing craft and picket boats. Republic of Korea's military force of June 1950 had 82.000 men, but no weapons like tanks, fighter aircraft, or medium and heavy artillery.”
http://vlib.iue.it/carrie/texts/carrie_books/hermansen/2.html

It might be of interest to determine how the United States disposed of the Japanese armaments among the Republic of Korea forces.

Thus, the presence of Japanese weaponry alone is, from my point of view, equivocal with respect to determining whether North Korean infiltrators were indeed the agents from whence these weapons came: in July of 1950, North or South Korean military elements may have carried Japanese armament southward (I do note that the Japanese rifle appears associated in the cited document with a Russian sub-machine gun, however, this is still circumstantial evidence.).

This discussion of Japanese weapons turning up in South Korea along U.S. military perimeters illustrates a point: the United Nations forces, predominantly American, were wading into a tangled bank of politics on the Korean peninsula whose physical manifestations, i.e., Japanese WWII weaponry, would be easy to misinterpret without a high degree of experience with Korean history since the Meiji Restoration (1867) and the annexation of Korea by Imperial Japan in 1910 in particular.

The Hanley monograph purports to be non-fiction; professor Bateman’s criticism of the authors’ lack of citation is on point and is, from the point of view of historical craft, the lack of documentation on such a hot-button topic is to be lamented. One may reasonably ask whether or not the Hanely et al. work actually adds more confusion to the historiography of the topic.

That being said, the Hanely work is noteworthy in the role it plays in recording the oral tradition associated with No Go Ri and it would be a great historical service to see this source material made accessible to the general public as well as the scholarly community. Ed Daily’s testimony has a place in such a work; however, such testimony, as professor Bateman suggests, should be highly qualified as it has little to bear on the events at No Gun Ri. Rather, Mr. Daily’s confabulation of his military service in Korea is part of a larger phenomenon of military psychology not thoroughly studied in conjunction with historical events such as the Korean War, Vietnam, and later conflicts. Such embellished after-the-fact testimony should be analyzed for its redactive intent and either discarded if outside the scope of the work to which the author seeks to use the narrative, or else placed within proper context within the work. Daily’s narrative is interesting, and as professor Bateman pointed out, the AP authors missed an opportunity to analyze a revealing aspect of the oral tradition one finds among veterans of America’s so-called forgotten wars, i.e., what one might call embellishment syndrome. Historiographically, how do such oral histories affect writers of later generations? What do these embellished narratives tell us about the historical viewpoint of the source? While Daily can not be said to be a primary source or witness to the events at No Gun Ri, he is nevertheless, a primary source of dubious quality for the Korean War as experienced at his level in the rear echelons of the U.S. Military. Did Daily’s embellished narrative result from a guilt at not having served in a combat arms unit?

In any event, I look forward to further discussion and comment on this topic.

Very Best Regards,

David Pelfrey

.


Gary L. Aguilar - 5/31/2006

On May 29 2006 the Washington Post published an AP dispatch quoting formerly sealed, official documents that prove that it was official U.S. policy to shoot Korean refugees. The No Gun Ri massacre, thus, was ordered and a part of official American policy.

The beauty of these inconvenient documents finally seeing the light is that they prove what the USA really thinks of human rights and human dignity, and they prove that, yet again, that the Pentagon can't be trusted to investigate itself, as if that should come as a surprise. The Pentagon reported it had exhaustively investigated No Gun Ri and yet somehow managed to miss stumbling upon these smoking gun memos.

Thus Mr. John H. Lederer was wrong to believe Bakeman was close to the truth and Mr. Bill Heuisler's conviction the original AP dispatches were mere excercises in anti-Bush radical liberalism betrays a no doubt sincere faith in the military that is entirely unwarranted.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of the latest round of disclosures is that our ally, South Korea, is claiming that there were other, similar massacres and is demanding the Pentagon investigate them, as of course it should.

But having been caught in the 50-yr, No Gun Ri cover-up, the Pentagon has no appetite for further humiliation. It announced there will be no investigations of any other massacres.

Such is the obeisance of the military to civilian rule in America. Such is the sort of integrity and accountability we can expect for our $450 billion per year.

Gary Aguilar

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/29/AR2006052900485.html

U.S. Policy Was to Shoot Korean Refugees

By CHARLES J. HANLEY and MARTHA MENDOZA
The Associated Press
Monday, May 29, 2006; 2:44 PM

-- More than a half-century after hostilities ended in Korea, a document from the war's chaotic early days has come to light _ a letter from the U.S. ambassador to Seoul, informing the State Department that American soldiers would shoot refugees approaching their lines.

The letter _ dated the day of the Army's mass killing of South Korean refugees at No Gun Ri in 1950 _ is the strongest indication yet that such a policy existed for all U.S. forces in Korea, and the first evidence that that policy was known to upper ranks of the U.S. government.

"If refugees do appear from north of US lines they will receive warning shots, and if they then persist in advancing they will be shot," wrote Ambassador John J. Muccio, in his message to Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk.

The letter reported on decisions made at a high-level meeting in South Korea on July 25, 1950, the night before the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment shot the refugees at No Gun Ri.

Estimates vary on the number of dead at No Gun Ri. American soldiers' estimates ranged from under 100 to "hundreds" dead; Korean survivors say about 400, mostly women and children, were killed at the village 100 miles southeast of Seoul, the South Korean capital. Hundreds more refugees were killed in later, similar episodes, survivors say.

The No Gun Ri killings were documented in a Pulitzer Prize-winning story by The Associated Press in 1999, which prompted a 16-month Pentagon inquiry.

The Pentagon concluded that the No Gun Ri shootings, which lasted three days, were "an unfortunate tragedy" _ "not a deliberate killing." It suggested panicky soldiers, acting without orders, opened fire because they feared that an approaching line of families, baggage and farm animals concealed enemy troops.

But Muccio's letter indicates the actions of the 7th Cavalry were consistent with policy, adopted because of concern that North Koreans would infiltrate via refugee columns. And in subsequent months, U.S. commanders repeatedly ordered refugees shot, documents show.

The Muccio letter, declassified in 1982, is discussed in a new book by American historian Sahr Conway-Lanz, who discovered the document at the U.S. National Archives, where the AP also has obtained a copy.

Conway-Lanz, a former Harvard historian and now an archivist of the National Archives' Nixon collection, was awarded the Stuart L. Bernath Award of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations for the article on which the book is based.

"With this additional piece of evidence, the Pentagon report's interpretation (of No Gun Ri) becomes difficult to sustain," Conway-Lanz argues in his book, "Collateral Damage," published this spring by Routledge.

The Army report's own list of sources for the 1999-2001 investigation shows its researchers reviewed the microfilm containing the Muccio letter. But the 300-page report did not mention it.

Asked about this, Pentagon spokeswoman Betsy Weiner would say only that the Army inspector general's report was "an accurate and objective portrayal of the available facts based on 13 months of work."

Said Louis Caldera, who was Army secretary in 2001 and is now University of New Mexico president, "Millions of pages of files were reviewed and it is certainly possible they may have simply missed it."

Ex-journalist Don Oberdorfer, a historian of Korea who served on a team of outside experts who reviewed the investigation, said he did not recall seeing the Muccio message. "I don't know why, since the military claimed to have combed all records from any source."

Muccio noted in his 1950 letter that U.S. commanders feared disguised North Korean soldiers were infiltrating American lines via refugee columns.

As a result, those meeting on the night of July 25, 1950 _ top staff officers of the U.S. 8th Army, Muccio's representative Harold J. Noble and South Korean officials _ decided on a policy of air-dropping leaflets telling South Korean civilians not to head south toward U.S. defense lines, and of shooting them if they did approach U.S. lines despite warning shots, the ambassador wrote to Rusk.

Rusk, Muccio and Noble, who was embassy first secretary, are all dead. It is not known what action, if any, Rusk and others in Washington may have taken as a result of the letter.

Muccio told Rusk, who later served as U.S. secretary of state during the Vietnam War, that he was writing him "in view of the possibility of repercussions in the United States" from such deadly U.S. tactics.

But the No Gun Ri killings _ as well as others in the ensuing months _ remained hidden from history until the AP report of 1999, in which ex-soldiers who were at No Gun Ri corroborated the Korean survivors' accounts.

Survivors said U.S. soldiers first forced them from nearby villages on July 25, 1950, and then stopped them in front of U.S. lines the next day, when they were attacked without warning by aircraft as hundreds sat atop a railroad embankment. Troops of the 7th Cavalry followed with ground fire as survivors took shelter under a railroad bridge.

The late Army Col. Robert M. Carroll, a lieutenant at No Gun Ri, said he remembered the order radioed across the warfront on the morning of July 26 to stop refugees from crossing battle lines. "What do you do when you're told nobody comes through?" he said in a 1998 interview. "We had to shoot them to hold them back."

Other soldier witnesses attested to radioed orders to open fire at No Gun Ri.

Since that episode was confirmed in 1999, South Koreans have lodged complaints with the Seoul government about more than 60 other alleged large-scale killings of refugees by the U.S. military in the 1950-53 war.

The Army report of 2001 acknowledged investigators learned of other, unspecified civilian killings, but said these would not be investigated.

Meanwhile, AP research uncovered at least 19 declassified U.S. military documents showing commanders ordered or authorized such killings in 1950-51.

In a statement issued Monday in Seoul, a No Gun Ri survivors group called that episode "a clear war crime," demanded an apology and compensation from the U.S. government, and said the U.S. Congress and the United Nations should conduct investigations. The survivors also said they would file a lawsuit against the Pentagon for alleged manipulation of the earlier probe.

The Army's denial that the killings were ordered is a "deception of No Gun Ri victims and of U.S. citizens who value human rights," said spokesman Chung Koo-do.

Even if infiltrators are present, soldiers need to take "due precautions" to protect civilian lives, said Francois Bugnion, director for international law for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, global authority on the laws of war.

After reviewing the 1950 letter, Bugnion said the standard on war crimes is clear.

"In the case of a deliberate attack directed against civilians identified as such, then this would amount to a violation of the law of armed conflict," he said.

Gary Solis, a West Point expert on war crimes, said the policy described by Muccio clearly "deviates from typical wartime procedures. It's an obvious violation of the bedrock core principle of the law of armed conflict _ distinction."

Solis said soldiers always have the right to defend themselves. But "noncombatants are not to be purposely targeted."

But William Eckhardt, lead Army prosecutor in the My Lai atrocities case in Vietnam, sensed "angst, great angst" in the letter because officials worried about what might happen. "If a mob doesn't stop when they're coming at you, you fire over their heads and if they still don't stop you fire at them. Standard procedure," he said.

In South Korea, Yi Mahn-yol, head of the National Institute of Korean History and a member of a government panel on No Gun Ri, said the Muccio letter sheds an entirely new light on a case that "so far has been presented as an accidental incident that didn't involve the command system."

___

AP Investigative Researcher Randy Herschaft in New York and AP Writer Jae-soon Chang in Seoul contributed to this report.
© 2006 The Associated Press


Michael Edward Piston - 2/29/2004

Hanley would like us to believe that because Bateman might have overstated one of his arguments therefore his undisputed (and indisputable) charge that AP acted with gross negligence in relying upon the testimony of a man they had been informed was a liar should be disregarded, and he should be condemned for pointing it out. He acts and sounds more like a spokesman for the Bush Administration than a journalist.


Michael Edward Piston - 2/29/2004

Hanley would like us to believe that because Bateman might have overstated one of his arguments therefore his undisputed (and indisputable) charge that AP acted with gross negligence in relying upon the testimony of a man they had been informed was a liar should be disregarded, and he should be condemned for pointing it out. He acts and sounds more like a spokesman for the Bush Administration than a journalist.


Bill Heuisler - 2/25/2004

Mr. Lederer,
We agree on the discussion of No Gun Ri. But allow me to add my outrage at the inherent bias and hubris of the HNN arrangement directly confronting Major Bateman's article that defends US motives and actions. Have you noticed HNN doesn't bother confronting so-called historians like Ruth Rosen when they attack US motives and actions.

Liberals maintain free-fire-zones against President Bush and the military (remember the alleged looting of Baghdad Museum and how US tankers and grunts were at fault?). But if a knowledgable military officer/historian like Major Bateman defends the military and corrects flawed Leftist diatribe, he's gratuitously given opposition. Are the HNN Editors afraid minds might be changed about AP coverage of a Korean War incident? Are these same editors likewise confident Rosen's misinformation needs no challenge?

Such displays of bias on a History site aren't just factually deviant, but they also tend to exhibit an ostentatious conceit and selective censorship that stifles real academic discourse and disappoints hoi polloi like me who expect something better.
Bill Heuisler


John H. Lederer - 2/24/2004

I was a child at the time of the Korean war, and I don't care to do original research on the incident.

So, how does one evaluate a debate like this?

Ad personam attacks are always a bad sign. There is a bit of that on both sides. Call it a tie.

Bateman seems to face up fairly squarely to Hanley's factual arguments. Hanley however, both ignores some of Bateman's facts (the shell casings, witnesses) and mischaracterizes other parts of Bateman's argument.

Moreover, there is the unpleasant fact of the false witness which Hanley largely ignores. A forthright "this witness duped us but there were other witnesses that are more solid because..." would have increased faith in Hanley's integrity. So would some discussion of why AP did not take action when Bateman first contacted them with the evidence about Daily.

Given that, if I had to bet solely on these exchanges, it would be that Bateman's account of the incident is more likely to be nearer the truth than Hanley's.

These exchanges are good in the sense that they improve the likelihood that we find the truth of events. They are unfortunate when they seem to involve, as this one may, not mere differences of opinion but a possible fraud based on concealed knowledge. History, and historians, have taken a lot of knocks of late. A perception of shoddy standards, shoddily adhered too, is increasingly taking hold.


Other's thoughts?


John H. Lederer - 2/24/2004

I was a child at the time of the Korean war, and I don't care to do original research on the incident.

So, how does one evaluate a debate like this?

Ad personam attacks are always a bad sign. There is a bit of that on both sides. Call it a tie.

Bateman seems to face up fairly squarely to Hanley's factual arguments. Hanley however, both ignores some of Bateman's facts (the shell casings, witnesses) and mischaracterizes other parts of Bateman's argument.

Moreover, there is the unpleasant fact of the false witness which Hanley largely ignores. A forthright "this witness duped us but there were other witnesses that are more solid because..." would have increased faith in Hanley's integrity. So would some discussion of why AP did not take action when Bateman first contacted them with the evidence about Daily.

Given that, if I had to bet solely on these exchanges, it would be that Bateman's account of the incident is more likely to be nearer the truth than Hanley's.

These exchanges are good in the sense that they improve the likelihood that we find the truth of events. They are unfortunate when they seem to involve, as this one may, not mere differences of opinion but a possible fraud based on concealed knowledge. History, and historians, have taken a lot of knocks of late. A perception of shoddy standards, shoddily adhered too, is increasingly taking hold.


Other's thoughts?


John H. Lederer - 2/24/2004

I was a child at the time of the Korean war, and I don't care to do original research on the incident.

So, how does one evaluate a debate like this?

Ad personam attacks are always a bad sign. There is a bit of that on both sides. Call it a tie.

Bateman seems to face up fairly squarely to Hanley's factual arguments. Hanley however, both ignores some of Bateman's facts (the shell casings, witnesses) and mischaracterizes other parts of Bateman's argument.

Moreover, there is the unpleasant fact of the false witness which Hanley largely ignores. A forthright "this witness duped us but there were other witnesses that are more solid because..." would have increased faith in Hanley's integrity. So would some discussion of why AP did not take action when Bateman first contacted them with the evidence about Daily.

Given that, if I had to bet solely on these exchanges, it would be that Bateman's account of the incident is more likely to be nearer the truth than Hanley's.

These exchanges are good in the sense that they improve the likelihood that we find the truth of events. They are unfortunate when they seem to involve, as this one may, not mere differences of opinion but a possible fraud based on concealed knowledge. History, and historians, have taken a lot of knocks of late. A perception of shoddy standards, shoddily adhered too, is increasingly taking hold.


Other's thoughts?


John H. Lederer - 2/24/2004

I was a child at the time of the Korean war, and I don't care to do original research on the incident.

So, how does one evaluate a debate like this?

Ad personam attacks are always a bad sign. There is a bit of that on both sides. Call it a tie.

Bateman seems to face up fairly squarely to Hanley's factual arguments. Hanley however, both ignores some of Bateman's facts (the shell casings, witnesses) and mischaracterizes other parts of Bateman's argument.

Moreover, there is the unpleasant fact of the false witness which Hanley largely ignores. A forthright "this witness duped us but there were other witnesses that are more solid because..." would have increased faith in Hanley's integrity. So would some discussion of why AP did not take action when Bateman first contacted them with the evidence about Daily.

Given that, if I had to bet solely on these exchanges, it would be that Bateman's account of the incident is more likely to be nearer the truth than Hanley's.

These exchanges are good in the sense that they improve the likelihood that we find the truth of events. They are unfortunate when they seem to involve, as this one may, not mere differences of opinion but a possible fraud based on concealed knowledge. History, and historians, have taken a lot of knocks of late. A perception of shoddy standards, shoddily adhered too, is increasingly taking hold.


Other's thoughts?

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