The latest news continues the grisly tale of uncovering mass graves, and unearthing formerly classified documents. The number of leftists, political opponents, and just plain innocent citizens killed at the orders of then South Korean President Syngman Rhee, shortly after North Korean troops invaded the south. The number killed is estimated to be from 100,000 to 200,000 people, many of them lined up above hastily-dug trenches and shot by military police. Some apparently were buried still alive.
There were no charges or trials for these victims. Furthermore, though U.S. officials definitely knew about the killings, and maybe condoned or even ordered some, a number of U.S. military personnel seem to have had foreknowledge of the killings. The full story of U.S. involvement awaits the declassification and study of hundreds of previously classified documents.
The bulk of the evidence thus far shows that while some U.S. commanders on-site had qualms about the killings, General Douglas MacArthur, in charge of U.S. forces there, saw the killings as an "internal matter". Other officers appeared to approve, at least conditionally.
In what is the biggest exposure thus far of U.S. involvement, in an uncensored version of a narrative of events written at the time by U.S. adviser in Korea, Lt. Col. Rollins S. Emmerich admits he gave advance sanction to summary executions in the city of Busan (now Pusan). According to the AP report, a a South Korean regimental commander wanted "to execute some 3500 suspected peace time Communists, locked up in the local prison". Lt. Col. Emmerich at first thought such atrocities unnecessary, but then seemed to change his mind. (Emphasis in bold added)
"Colonel Kim promised not to execute the prisoners until the situation became more critical," wrote Emmerich, who died in 1986. "Colonel Kim was told that if the enemy did arrive to the outskirts of (Busan) he would be permitted to open the gates of the prison and shoot the prisoners with machine guns."Later that summer, hundreds of prisoners apparently were summarily executed in Busan.
There are plenty of atrocities to go around. A North Korean report describes the killings of 1,000 prisoners in Incheon in June 1950, supposedly at the orders of a U.S. military adviser. A British communist journalist at the time reported U.S. forces were supervising "the butchery" at Daejeon. One U.S. officer invited another to come witness the "turkey shoot" outside the city. While the officer so invited apparently declined, others went and took photos of the killings. (Warning: these are gruesome photos.) Today, U.S. historian Bruce Cumings at the University of Chicago finds the U.S. guilty of collaboration in the Daejeon killings, and also of a cover-up. Of course, during the Cold War the U.S. labeled all communist reports of massacres in Korea as "lies".
But, it was the United States that was involved this time in massive lying, covering up serious war crimes by its South Korean "ally", who was being sold to the world as a supposed democratic alternative to the godless communists. As I wrote when this story first broke last spring:
After "shock and awe" in Iraq, the carpetbombing of Vietnam, the mass executions of the Phoenix Project, and the thousands imprisoned and untold tortured at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and other "global war on terror" U.S. prisons (including the detention of thousands of minors), after these revelations and many, many more, it is time that Americans woke up and began to accept the reality of their history. That history is far bloodier than they care to imagine, and the fact that atrocities of this magnitude were done by or under the guidance of Americans is a hideous truth that we must not hide from.
More importantly, we should not let those implicated in crimes past and present escape without accountability. A civil commission of the most respected Americans -- none of whom should be from government or the military, as they are too tainted -- should be assembled to investigate the full extent of U.S. involved war crimes. This should include the evidence about use of biological weapons by the United States, as well, during the Korean War. [The cover-up of this aspect of the war has been implicated in the origins of the U.S. torture program at Guantanamo and throughout Bush's "war on terror" gulag.] The use of torture post-9/11 should also top the agenda.
We cannot have a clean start, a la Obama, without facing the truth, as ugly as it may be. I ask all of you: are we really a genocidal country? Do we let mass murder go unpunished? How has it come to this, that one has to even ask such questions in this day and age? Speak out now. U.S. militarism has led us to the gates of a moral holocaust. It is happening now.