Reed Irvine - Editor
|September B, 1993|
NEW YORK TIMES SDI HOAX
In the decade since President Ronald Reagan announced his Strategic Defense Initiative, no part of the media has been more consistently hostile to the program than has The New York Times. During one six-month period commencing in December 1991, the Times ran 17 anti-SDI articles, op-ed pieces and editorials denouncing SDI as, among other things, a "bizarre, costly concoction....sciencefiction...lunacy...sheer fantasy..." The Times gave front-page plan- to Teddy Kennedy's Senate speech deriding SDI as "Star Wars." likening the idea to a science fiction movie or a video arcade game, and providing SDI foes their slogan-of- choice.
But in these repeated criticisms, the Times has been silent on the importance of SDI in, first, goading the Soviets into the most fruitful arms negotiations of the Cold War, and, perhaps most importantly, hastening the collapse of what Mr. Reagan correctly called "The Evil Empire." In the late 1980s Moscow recognized that it did not have the financial resources to match the technological challenge posed by SDI, and in essence decided to bow out of the arms race and to loosen its military grip over Eastern Europe.
These admissions have been made several times by former Soxiet leaders. At a February 1993 conference at Princeton, former Soxiet Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh and former Gorbachev aide Anatoly Chernyaev said SDI had a "decisive influence" on Soviet policies that accelerated the end of the Cold War. (The Washington Times and Washington Post reported these statements February 27, 1993.) In an interview from Madrid on ABC News in the same period, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grignrly Berdennikov stated, "The Soviet Union fell precisely because it could not afford 'Star Wars' and the arms race against the West."
For these reasons, SDI ranks as a seminal strategic accomplishment of the 20th Centurs---one that literally changed the course of history. But in its anti-SDI zealotry, the Times takes no note of the historic import of Mr. Reagan's program. The paper reached a new low of journalistic savagery--and irresponsibility--on August 18 with a front-page article headlined "Lies and Rigged 'Star Wars' Test Fooled the Kremlin, and Congress." Reporter Tim Weiner based these charges entirely on unnamed sources, identified as "four former Administration officials," several of whom were said to "still hold sensitive military and intelligence posts." The test involved, in June 1984, caused destruction of a target missile fired from California with an interceptor launched from a Pacific island.
The core accusation in Weiner's article came from an unnamed "scientist" who claimed, "'We rigged the test....We put a beacon with a certain frequency on the target vehicle. On the interceptor, we had a receiver.' In effect, the scientist said, the target was talking to the missile, saying, 'Here I am. Come get me.'" Weiner's sources said the fakery was intended to make the Soviets think that the SDI program was successful, and that the deception extended to Congress. The headline and the text used such words as "deception, rigged, fakes and lies" no less than 25 times.
The Times followed the Weiner article with an editorial the next day, August 19, headlined "Star Wars Hoax." It spoke of "official mendacity" and charged that "Pentagon officials did more than damage their own credibility; they may have committed a crime." The editorial called the allegedly rigged test "a thing of devilish deviousness" and said it "crossed the line of normal Pentagon misrepresentation."
There was indeed a "hoax" involving SDI--but the perpetrator was the Times itself. The record is clear that the Times' reporting on SDI denied readers information essential to their understanding of the controversy. What is worse, when the story finally collapsed, the Times continued to cling to a disproved thesis and did not give readers an intelligible account of the fact that Secretary of Defense Les Aspin had refuted it in every material aspect.
Within 24 hours, persons directly involved in SDI said that the scenario spelled out by Weiner's sources was technologically impossible. These persons included retired Lt. General Daniel Graham, who runs High Frontier, an SDI support group, and Frank Gaffney, who dealt with arms issues as a deputy assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan Administration. As both these per- sons said in statements given to the media (including the Times) the interceptor was guided optically, and not by radio signals. The radio beacon was aboard so that the target missile could be attacked. It had nothing to do, with the intercept.
Weiner and his editors thus were on notice that an essential element of the story was wrong. Weiner had an opportunity to correct his technical glitch in a follow-up story published on August 27. Instead, he chose to focus on a new absurd charge, that the target was artificially heated to make it more visible to an infra red sensor on the interceptor. Weiner gleaned this information from retired Maj. General Eugene Fox, who directed the 1984 test. Weiner did not report that Fox stated that the heating was irrelevant.
A reporter interested in giving readers an accurate account per- haps would have sought out Dave Montague, an executive for Lockheed Corporation's Missile Systems Division, who was responsible for the test in question, the "Homing Overlay Experiment." or HOE.A Lockheed spokesman tells us Montague would have told Weiner what he wrote in a September 3 letter to the Times:
"The Times finds a sinister motive in the fact that the target was artificially heated before launch. The Times reported that the purpose of this heating was to make the target more visible to the heat-seeking sensor, and thus easier to hit. The facts: all four HOE flight test targets were pre-heated to 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the launch pad. The purpose of the pre-launch heating was to assure a known initial temperature for the target, which was subject to long delays at the launch pad in the cold night air at Vandenberg AFB." Telemetry data showed that "the added temperature dissipated rapidly during flight. The difference in visibility to the HOE sensor caused by the pre-heating was neglible."
Although Montage was not named in the Times article. he is well- known in the SDI community and thus was smeared by implication. Nonetheless, the Times refused to publish his letter.
On September 9. Secretary Aspin issued a report on a Pentagon inquiry into the charges. Before joining President Clinton's cabinet, Aspin served as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and had little patience with Pentagon chicanery. A highly partisan Democrat while in the House, he could be expected to cast a critical eye at any Reagan Administration misconduct, especially if it involved deceiving Congress. Instead, his report totally refuted what the Times had published.
On the key charge about the beacon attracting the interceptor missiles, Aspin stated: "There was a radar beacon aboard the target vehicle" but "there was no receiver on board the interceptor for this radar. The beacon had been placed to assist in range and safety tracking of the target from the ground. The beacon was of a type not capable of the final guidance of an interceptor to the target. Our conclusion, then, is that the experiment was not rigged and, in fact, could not be rigged by the presence of the radar beacon."
Concerning the alleged deception of Congress, Aspin readily acknowledged that "there was a deception program" aimed at the USSR but that it was never carried out. He stated, "It consisted of an explosive charge aboard the target vehicle. The plan was to detonate the charge in order to give a near miss the appearance of a direct hit in order to give Moscow the efforts that we were doing appear more successful [sic] than they were. In the early flights, the interceptor did not come close enough to the target to allow detonation of the charge." In the 1984 flight "the charge was not activated and could not have been detonated." Aspin specifically denied that Congress was deceived.
(That deception was involved in SDI is no secret. Lou Cannon, who covered Mr. Reagan for The Washington Post, wrote in a Reagan biography published in 1991 that national security adviser Robert McFarlane argued that a ballistic missile defense, "whether or not it could actually protect civilians, would scare the Soviets because of the possibility that it would lead to U.S. technological breakthroughs." The idea, McFarlane said, was to use SDI to "leverage Russian behavior, to reduce nuclear weapons." McFarlane called this ploy "The Sting." and eventually it resulted in the START treaty which President Bush signed in 1991.)
Having a Secretary of Defense knock down a story as untrue can be a major embarrassment for the media. The Times hid its disgrace by burying Aspin's refutation on page B-9 of the Metropolitan Section. There has been no editorial page mention of the story's collapse. Several persons we know who had been following the controversy missed the story altogether until it was brought to their attention.
Even this story, by Eric Schmitt, led with a sentence on Aspin's confirmation that a deception program had existed. It stated, correctly, that the plan was never actually carried out. But not until the 14th paragraph did Schmitt allude to Aspin's statement that the core of the Times article was wrong. The sentence read, "The target missile carried a radar beacon aboard, but the interceptor had no receiver for the beacon to guide it to the target. The beacon was to help in range and safety tracking from the ground." We have asked Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., the Times publisher, why an editor did not insist that the gravamen of this sentence be spelled out for readers.
Senator Strom Thurmond was one of several members of the Armed Services Committee briefed on the Times story on September 9 by Dr. William Perry, deputy secretary of defense. As Thurmond told colleagues later, "Dr. Perry said the allegations in the article were not just wrong, but dead wrong. Moreover, he reminded us that all the technical aspects of the experiment which the article misrepresented so badly were a matter of public record, so there was clearly no deception involved in the June 1984 test....In light of such a flawed and shoddy piece of journalism, who is really guilty of deception? Is a falsehood no less a falsehood because it appears in The New York Times?"
In his unpublished letter to the Times, Dave Montague of Lockheed Corporation wrote, "If there has been an attempt to deceive Congress about the HOE program results, it occurred not high above the atmosphere in June of 1984, but in August of 1993 under the venerable masthead of The New York Times."
Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. faces his first crisis of conscience since succeeding his father as the publisher of The New York Times. His paper permitted a reporter to use anonymous sources to impute misconduct to the persons responsible for a major government program, and his editorial page expanded the attack to suggest criminal misbehavior. We asked Sulzberger on September 15, "Is this the sort of performance which you intend to tolerate as publisher of The New York Times?"
In his best-selling book, Conduct Unbecoming, Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military, Randy Shilts, an H1V-positive homosexual reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, says that Donald Dean Winn from Eureka, Kansas is "one of the many gay men named on the Vietnam Memorial." Winn, he says, was wounded in the head in a firefight in the "remote outpost of Quang Nagh, near the Cambodian border" during the Tet offensive of 1968 as he tried to rescue a wounded officer. He survived to fight again, Shilts tells us, but "he died in combat on January 1, 1971, according to the records in Washington."
Winn's brothers and his friends in Eureka were astonished and angered by the claim that Donald was homosexual. His brother David wishes there were some way he could take legal action against those, who in his opinion, made up this story. His half-brother, Bill, calls it "a damned lie." To which Randy Shilts replies that it is not surprising that Donald didn't tell his family that he was homosexual.
Shilts is one of a number of homosexual spokesmen who have asserted confidently that many of their persuasion fought and died in Vietnam and have their names on the Vietnam Memorial wall. Shilts acknowledges that Donald Winn is the only person whose name is on the wall who is identified in his 784-page book as a homosexual, and, to our knowledge, no one else has pinned that label on any of the other 58,191 names on the wall. That makes Donald Winn unique and important to the homosexual movement. Perhaps that is why Randy Shilts accepted what he was told about Winn without carefully checking those "records in Washington" that he refers to in his book.
The elaborate story Shilts tells about Winn to show that he was homosexual has been exposed as a fabrication by The New York Guardian. This is the conservative monthly tabloid that last December exposed the fact that The Liberators, a highly acclaimed public TV documentary, was a hoax. (See the Notes for more on this expose.) The Guardian began poking holes in the Shilts' story last July, at the height of the debate over homosexuals in the military. It said in a front-page story, "Supporters of lifting the ban on gays in the military have cited Conduct Unbecoming as documenting the inhumane treatment of the nation's gay war heroes. A key figure in Conduct Unbecoming, Gerald Rosanbalm. now a stockbroker in New York, dominates the first hundred pages of the book as the author details his bravery in Vietnam, which led to Rosanbalm being seriously wounded. Army sources and other personal accounts seriously challenge Gerald Rosanbalm's Vietnam war record and Shilts' depiction of it in Conduct Unbecoming."
Gerald L. Rosanbalm, a retired .4xmy captain, is the source of the claim that Donald Winn was homosexual. He claims that he and Winn were lovers. Here is the story as Shilts tells it.
Rosanbalm and Winn met in basic training. where they were assigned to the same company. Rosanbalm "cajoled" Winn to join him in applying to Officer Candidate School. Winn "washed out of OCS, but the pair maintained their relationship and were ultimately shipped to Vietnam at the same time." As they prepared to ship out from Fort Ord, Rosanbalm bought a pair of wedding bands, which each of them put on their little fingers. Winn sent Rosanbalm a snapshot of himself wearing his "fatigue-green beret" and the "wedding band." On the back he had written, "Jerry, notice it is where it has been since you saw me last & it will stay there." Rosanbalm. after spending several months in Saigon, briefing colonels and generals and enjoying the Saigon night life, developed guilt feelings and "gladly accepted an undercover intelligence job at the remote outpost of Quang Nagh near the Cambodian border." Winn visited him there, arriving just in time for the Tet offensive attack on January 1,1968. Rosanbalm was seriously wounded trying to drive the Vietcong out of a school they had occupied, and as he lay bleeding, Winn braved enemy fire to try to rescue him, only to be wounded himself. Rosanbalm was rescued, and survived to tell the story. All Shilts says of Winn is that he "died in combat" in 1971.
Virtually everything in this story that we have been able to check is false. The army records of the two men show that Rosanbalm could not have met Winn in basic training. Rosanbalm entered the Army in 1965 and was commissioned a 2d lieutenant January 13,1967. Winn joined the Army on April 25,1967, over three months after Rosanbalm was commissioned. Winn, a high-school dropout, never attended OCS. All his training was at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri. Rosanbalm had trained at Ft. Ord and Ft. Benning. Winn was a combat engineer, not a special forces green beret, as Shilts' description of his photo implies. Winn was never wounded. He died in his barracks of heart failure. Neither he nor Rosanbalm was ever in the remote outpost of Quang Nagh on the Cambodian border. There is no such place. Rosanbalm readily acknowledged that he was assigned to Quang Ngai, a provincial capital on the east coast of Vietnam.
When we pointed this out to Shilts, he said he would have this changed in subsequent editions of the book. He couldn't explain why he placed Rosanbalm in a nonexistent "remote, obscure village" on the Cambodian border. Rosanbalm had claimed that he had the hazardous assignment of monitoring traffic on the Ho Chi Minh trail. which ran through Laos to Cambodia. Perhaps Shilts looked at a map and realized that it would be impossible to monitor the Ho Chi Minh trail from a city on the East coast and opted to relocate Rosanbalm rather than risk having his account of his assignment called into question. This suggests that Shilts was not so gullible that he believed everything Rosanbalm told him, but he was not at all eager to poke holes in his claims.
There are a number of serious discrepancies in what Rosanbalm has told journalists and others about his military service and what research by the Guardian and AIM revealed. People magazine ran an article based on an interview with him in its February 2, 1993 issue. It said he had worked on the "top secret Phoenix program, which was an attempt to infiltrate and destroy the Vietcong from within." That was false. He had nothing to do with the Phoenix program. People said "military intelligence proved too comfortable an existence for him, and he volunteered for more perilous duty. He began monitoring enemy traffic on the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos." False. He was stationed in Quang Ngai, over a hundred miles from the Laotian border. People said he "received six bullet wounds while protecting other wounded soldiers in the city of Quang Ngai...Rosanbalm's actions saved the lives of six people, and he received a personal note from President Lyndon Johnson thanking him for his bravery."
That was totally at odds with the Shilts account of how Rosanbalm was wounded. The Shilts version was even more heroic than People's. According to Shilts, when his house came under attack, Rosanbalm escorted a group of Red Cross nurses who were staying with him to safety and then tried to singlehandedly clean out the Vietcong occupying a Catholic school by tossing grenades into the classrooms. Two VC shot him in his right arm, and as he tried to escape, he was hit in the shoulder, back and head.
Rosanbalm couldn't have escorted Red Cross nurses to safety because there were no Red Cross nurses in Vietnam. In fact, the Red Cross historian told us that the Red Cross hasn't had any nurses serving with our troops in battle since World War I. He was wounded and received a Purple Heart, but he received no medal for bravery. Among the records Rosanbalm sent to AIM was a copy of his note from President Johnson. It expressed joy that his wounds had healed and thanks for his service to his country. There was no mention of bravery.
Rosanbalm also sent us a copy of his Army fitness report signed by Major Robert B. Annenberg, dated March 6, 1968. While praising Lt. Rosanbalm for his industry and intelligence, it said that he "tended to overreact under conditions of stress, and on one occasion this resulted in a decrease of operational security." It said he lacked the temperament for operational intelligence assignments and recommended that he be considered for training in a related specialty or assigned to duties where he could be closely supervised. This was not the kind of fitness report one would expect for an officer who had just been seriously wounded while fighting heroically.
We contacted Robert Annenberg and found that he remembered Rosanbalm not as a hero, but as an officer who deserted his post during the Tet attack, leaving his two enlisted subordinates unsupervised. This was what he had referred to in the timess report as the occasion in which he had overreacted under conditions of stress resulting "in a decrease of operational security." He wanted to have Rosanbalm court martialed, but he didn't pursue it. He didn't recall how Rosanbalm had been wounded, but he didn't think there was anything heroic involved.
Despite this negative fitness report, Rosanbalm was assigned to the 513th Military Intelligence Group in Germany in May 1968. The following March he was found in bed with a male Czech national, who, according to another officer in Rosanbalm's unit, was under West German police surveillance. He was sent home immediately. Shilts says Rosanbalm was faced with possible courtmartial for both espionage and sodomy. But after over a year, much of the time undergoing psychiatric evaluation, he was retired with 50-percent disability.
The Guardian did what Shilts should have done; it checked Winn's Army records. When we told Rosanbalm that a comparison of his service records with those of Donald Dean Winn showed that they could not have met in either basic training or OCS, he exclaimed, "Gee, could there be two Donald Winns?" Perhaps, but there is only one whose name is on the Vietnam Memorial wall.
Shilts reacted by claiming that someone must have tampered with Winn's service records, implying that AIM was complicit in this. He refused to cooperate with us further. We sent him a memo rebutting each of his excuses for withdrawing his cooperation. We suggested that Shilts himself obtain Winn's service records directly from the Army archives and let us know if they differed from the copies we sent to him. Irvine concluded his memo with this challenge:
"I understand The National Enquirer is now working on this story. If you can prove that Jerry's [Rosanbalm's] Don Winn is the Eureka. Kansas Donald Dean Winn by providing his photo with an inscription to Jerry on the back in Donald Dean Winn's handwriting, you can stop this and any similar stories cold. I will be happy to help you do it and seek correction of the stories already published. If you refuse to do so, using the excuses that you gave in your memo, I will be forced to conclude that you are afraid you will see your story discredited and will write my analysis accordingly. I am sorry that you have chosen to interpret the questions I have posed as indicative of dishonesty on my part. As a reporter, you know that it is often necessary to reconcile conflicting stories and this necessarily requires asking questions that may be interpreted as questioning the veracity of the person to whom the questions are addressed. Those who are telling the truth and have nothing to hide usually don't take umbrage at being asked to substantiate their stories."
Shilts has not replied to AIM The National Enquirer made a similar request for a copy of Winn's photo. The request was not granted and the Enquirer story is slated to run very soon.
Of the "many gay men" whose names are allegedly on the Vietnam Memorial, the only one Shilts has named, Donald Winn, appears to have been falsely accused of being homosexual. Unless he can produce evidence to the contrary, Randy Shilts should apologize to Winn's surviving brothers and have all references to him omitted from future editions of Conduct Unbecoming.
Send the enclosed cards or your own cards or letters to Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., publisher of The New York Times; Randy Shilts, c/o his paper, The San Francisco Chronicle; and Chris Ruddy, editor of The New York Guardian. Chris deserves your commendation for his exposes. A year's subscription to The Guardian is $27. The address is 316 Great Neck Road, Great Neck, NY 11021.
AIM REPORT is published twice monthly by Accuracy In Media, Inc.. 4455 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20008, and is free to AIM members. Dues and contributions to AIM are tax deductible. The AIM REPORT is mailed 3rd class to those whose contribution is at least $22.95 a year and 1st class to those contributing $32.95 a year or more. Non-member subscriptions are $35 (1st class mail).
"EVERY REGULAR READER OF THE NEW YORK TIMES KNOWS THAT SOMETHING terrible has lately happened to this great paper. The radical changes taking place at the Times are now talked about everywhere .... "So wrote Hilton Kramer, editor of New Criterion magazine and a former Timesman, in his new column, "Times Watch," in the New York Post on Sept. 21. In this AIM Report we discuss an outstanding example of the deterioration that makes Kramer's point. On August 18 the Times ran a front-page story by Tim Weiner charging that a successful 1984 SDI test of the ability of a missile to destroy an incoming missile in space was faked. He quoted an unnamed scientist as saying that the target missile and the interceptor were electronically linked. Accepting without question the accuracy of this charge, the Times thundered in an editorial the next day: "By willfully misleading Congress about the system's capabilities, Pentagon officials...may have committed a crime. Congress must call those responsible to account."
THE SENSATIONAL CHARGES BY THE TLMES WERE QUICKLY SPREAD BY THE REST OF the media, both print and electronic. They were just as quickly rebutted by an array of experts familiar with the test in question. They pointed out that radar beacons were attached to both missiles to enable them to be tracked from the ground for monitoring purposes. They said there was no possibility of radio communication between the two missiles and the interceptor was not guided by radio signals. This was not made clear to the readers of the Times. In his first follow-up story on Aug. 19, Weiner continued to give the impression that the beacons were used to guide the two missiles. Gen. Daniel O. Graham of High Frontier promptly fired off a letter to the Times to make it clear that this was false. It was published 15 days later, after another lengthy article by Weiner expanded on the rigging charge and only mentioned in passing the denials.
ON SEPT. 9, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LES ASPIN REPORTED THE RESULTS OF AN official investigation of the charges leveled by the Times. He said the test had not been rigged as the Times had alleged and that the Times was wrong. Here is how some leading papers headlined this story. Washington Times: top of page A3: "Aspin: New York Times Story, on SDI Was Wrong." USA Today: top of page A4: "Aspin: Pentagon Didn't Fake '84 Test." Los Angeles Times: bottom page A6 (Washington edition): "'Star Wars' Tests Honest, Aspin Says." New York Times: just above the fold on B8 (Metropolitan section): "Aspin Disputes Report of 'Star Wars' Rigging." The story, written by Eric Schmitt, was carefully crafted and then buried deep in the bowels of the paper to conceal from all but the most persevering and knowledgeable readers the fact that Weiner's stories and the companion editorial had disgraced The New York Times.
THE TIMES WAS NOT THE ONLY PAPER THAT MISHANDLED ASPIN'S REBUTTAL OF THE rigging charges. While the Times buried its story on Aspin's report, the persevering reader did find in paragraphs 13 and 14 of Schmitt's 17-paragraph story Aspin's denial of Weiner's most sensational charge--that the interceptor had been electronically guided to hit the target. The Washington Post and the Associated Press went the Times one better. They totally ignored that key denial. Both focused entirely on Aspin's admission that there had been a plan to make the Soviets think that the SDI tests were more successful than they actually were by simulating a hit by detonating an explosive charge aboard the target missile if there had been a near miss. That plan was not carried out because there were no near misses in the first three tests and there was a direct hit in the fourth. The Post's headline read: "3 'Star Wars' Tests Rigged, Aspin Says." NBC News reported that Aspin had denied any test rigging. ABC and CBS said nothing about it.
ON SEPT. 8, THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTED AT LENGTH ABOUT ANOTHER VERY reluctant admission of error. This was the confession by WNET-TV, the leading public TV station in New York City, that its highly touted film Liberators: Fighting on Two Fronts in World War II had falsely claimed that the Nazi concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau had been liberated by the black 761st tank battalion. This had been exposed as false last December by The New York Guardian, the same publication that first exposed the fabrications of Gerald Rosanbalm that we discuss in our second story in this issue. The film had been aired by PBS on Veterans Day last November, and there was a special showing of it to a celebrity-studded audience of blacks and Jews at the Apollo Theater in New York City in December. As we reported in our February-B 1993 AIM Report (Notes) WNET -TV sent me a statement declaring their "absolute confidence in the veracity of this outstanding film" on Feb. 3 after AIM protested its continued showing by PBS stations. But on Feb. 11, they suddenly withdrew it from circulation "pending a full review of all the issues raised." Now, seven months later, after an extensive investigation, they have decided to admit that what The Guardian said last December is true. The station has asked that its name be removed from the film, which is now available on videocassette.
IN HIS LONG STORY ABOUT THIS PAINFUL DECISION, TIMES REPORTER JOSEPH Treaster never mentions the role of The New York Guardian in exposing the fabrications that WNET-TV has belatedly acknowledged. Nor does he mention the role played by The New York Times in giving credence to the myth that blacks liberated the two concentration camps. Guardian editor Chris Ruddy tells me that this first surfaced in 1988, when the Times quoted Jesse Jackson as saying that he had learned this from black soldiers who had participated in the liberation. One was Paul Parks of Boston who, Jackson said, had told him that he had led black troops into Dachau. Another was a Dr. Johnson who had participated in the liberation of Buchenwald. In two articles in May and June 1988, the Times focused on Parks, describing him as a member of a black unit that had liberated Dachau, and had broken through the gate. Ruddy says that Dachau was liberated by the 42nd and 45th Divisions, which were white. He later interviewed Parks, who told him that he was at Dachau, but he was attached to an all- white unit and that he led no troops. The gate was opened by the prisoners themselves. Dr. Johnson, Ruddy says, appears to be a Dr. Bass who was described in the Times on April 14, 1985 as a liberator of Buchenwald. Bass told Ruddy that he arrived at Buchenwald five days after the liberation, too late to earn the title of "liberator."
ON SEPT. 17. I WAS INTERVIEWED ON C-SPAN ABOUT DAN RATHER AND WALTER Cronkite. Both had been interviewed on C-SPAN a week earlier and both had made seriously inaccurate statements about the Vietnam War. Cronkite, for example, said that during the 1968 Tet offensive the Vietcong held the American embassy for 6 hours and that the offensive "went on for two months." These false statements exemplify the misleading reporting that misled the public into thinking Tet was a military defeat for our side. Dan Rather praised the young reporters who were responsible for this and other misleading reporting from Vietnam as superior to the World War II correspondents who believed what the generals told them, but at the same time he said that many people to this day don't know that Tet was a military victory for us. He didn't attribute that to the misleading reporting by those young reporters abetted by Walter Cronkite. Brian Lamb, the chairman and CEO of C-SPAN, deserves our commendation for interviewing me, giving me the opportunity to correct the record.
I THANK ALL WHO HAVE SENT CARDS AND LETTERS TO MRS. WALT DISNEY. AS OF Sept. 24, Mrs. Disney had received 3,161 cards and letters. They have poured in from every state in the Union plus Guam. Mrs. Disney has not been able to read all of them, but her staff has tabulated them and given her frequent reports, together with excerpts from many of them and complete copies of others. These reports have also been sent to her daughter Diane and to me. I have been deeply touched by the sentiments and words of encouragement that you have expressed, and I know that this is true also of Mrs. Disney and Diane. Diane has asked me to send all of you who wrote to Mrs. Disney this message from her mother and herself.
We are deeply gratified and strengthened by the overwhelming response to the AIM Report and appreciate the many additional kind thoughts and wishes that were written. We acknowledge your genuine interest in helping to understand our fight to eliminate the deception and indiscriminate handling of truth coming out of the media today. We will continue to pursue Walt Disney's dream and strive to keep alive the reputation for high moral values, truth and beauty that he brought to the world. Thank you for being part of our fight. We sincerely appreciate your continued support.
Lillian B. Disney and Diane Disney Miller