The Most Secret Place On Earth
The Most Secret Place on Earth is a 2008 film by German director Marc Eberle, dealing with the secret operation waged by the CIA throughout the sixties and early seventies against communist guerrillas in Laos, particularly in the city of Long Chen.
Marc Eberle talks to the protagonists of Laos civil war - on both sides. The film features interviews with State Department, CIA and Air America officials, as well as Hmong general Vang Pao and some of his critics - Fred Branfman and Professor Alfred McCoy.
Despite being the center of the covert operation and, at its peak, one of the world’s busiest airports with a population of 50,000 people, Long Chen’s location was never marked on any map.
Long Chen remains off limits to foreigners and most Lao due to clashes with remnants of the CIA’s Hmong army. Until recently it formed part of a special administrative zone under the direct control of the Lao army.
I've no idea how old the comments on this doco are, but being a gabby old Koala I can't help chucking in my two bobs' worth. In case it's not obvious, I'm from Oz, as some of you seem to regard this information as important.
In 1975, my parents visited by father's twin brother in Laos - my uncle was the Oz ambassador. While there, my parents visited the old royal capital in Luang Prabang. At this time, the Pathet Lao (pseudo-communists - led by a prince of the royal family and unwillingly subject to substantial North Vietnamese and Soviet influence) and the royalist and non-royalist right and centre were in dual government, having recently signed a treaty. Of course, the Pathet Lao later overthrew the others to take full control.
Despite being warned of the danger by a friend, my parents decided to take a bus journey from Luang Prabang back to the political capital, Vientiane. On the way, gunmen stopped the bus and carried out a robbery. I've been told various stories by odd Americans in various parts of Asia, but have no reason to believe any of them.
The bus was a new one, set up like a truck, with the driver's cabin separate from the passenger area. Like a truck, there was a bench seat in the driver's cabin, and the driver invited my parents to sit up next to him, as they would get a much better view on the scenic road trip. When the gunmen stopped the bus, they used the brutal technique of hiding a heavy machine gun on a corner and firing straight into the driver's cabin. My parents were killed, along with the driver. The gunmen undertook their robbery of the passengers and left.
When the US embassy staff arrived at the scene to investigate, the evidence of the passengers made it pretty clear the gunmen were Hmong mercenaries, currently working for the non-Pathet Lao forces. One story I've heard from an Australian source is that a rival bus owner paid the Hmong to put the new bus out of action.
Whatever, the Hmong were desperate to support their families as their employers had pretty much stopped paying them. The reason they were located well away from their homes was that they were on the receiving end of an NV and PL drive pushing them out of their mountain strongholds.
This was a serious problem for the Hmong, as they had been making good money from the CIA to arm and fight against the so-called communists. The Hmong lands were in some of the worst farming areas in Laos. Constantly on, and occasionally over, the edge of starvation the Hmong were keeping their heads above water growing and selling opium, mostly into Asian markets.
In return for doing the CIA's bidding, and greatly increasing their market for and income from opium, the Hmong leaders, like the appalling drug lord who was their "general", agreed to sell their young men to the US death machine and take up the fight against the PL and NV.
Oh, yes, the increased income. That came not directly from the CIA, even it couldn't afford the money involved. The CIA made a devil's deal, and did pretty well out of it as well, as one can imagine of those slimy scumbags. The CIA built up a fleet of aircraft, under a couple of labels, the best known being Air America. Then they shipped the Hmong opium from the Lao mountains into Thai heroin factories. This heroin was, at first, shipped from Thailand into what was then South Vietnam, where it was sold to disaffected US soldiers.
The CIA mustn't have believed its luck (although, maybe they had just lost control of what was happening, having, as usual, implemented an outrageous process without considering the future consequences with any level of intelligence at all, and/or maybe a few of them felt some guilt, which might explain how the story eventually leaked out) when the soldiers, upon returning to the US, took their addictions back with them, spreading the demand for heroin into the peace movements and other sources of young people, effectively creating the drug "war" of the last 50 years. And a lovely big market for heroin, from which the CIA earned a good income, from which they were able to fund the Hmong.
The CIA, and, when they found out, other organs of government, including elements of Congress, worked hard to hide the reality. So, when the story started to surface it was hard to find supportive evidence. The last 30-40 years however have managed to see sufficient evidence to convince even a very hard-to-convince historian like me.
Anyway, to cut this story shorter than book length, when the NV and PL pushed the Hmong out of the mountains, they could no longer grow their opium, and their defeat greatly reduced their value to the CIA, and Burma was largely fulfilling the demands of the new heroin markets. The CIA chucked the Hmong to their fate, which explains why they were reduced to shooting up buses to survive.
While not part of my story here, anyone who doubts the US damage to Laos should go trecking across the Plain of Jars. It won't take long before you will find the truth. Unfortunately, your legs will probably be blown off in the process. The bombs in Laos come from two sources, both of them controlled by the US. The bombing of Hanoi, Haiphong and other parts of what was North Vietnam was heavily shot up by NV anti-aircraft artillery, and weather systems could sometimes be unpredictable, so some planes returned to the huge airbases in Thailand and Laos with partial or complete bomb loads. It was dangerous for these planes to land, so they just dropped their bombs, like so much garbage, on Laos, which they crossed on their way "home". As the armies in World War 1 learned, if you drop bombs (or in WW1's case, shells) into mud or soft earth, they don't explode, and sit there for some unfortunate farmer to hit with a bullock drawn plough. The other source, was the US airforce, again, trying to unsuccessfully stop or even slow the NV supply routes along the Ho Chi Minh trail, which NV illegally ran through Laos. This trail was really multiple trails which the US couldn't see. It's response was to drop anti-personnel weapons, designed and marketed by companies like Honeywell, all over the countryside. The greater proportion of these weapons involved a primary bomb which spread little yellow balls around the place. These balls, around the size of a baseball or cricket ball, really appeal to kids who otherwise have nothing. They pick them up, play with them, and blow themselves up. Laos is the most bombed nation on earth, more bombs were dropped on Laos than were dropped by all sides during World War 2 (especially if one counts the only nuclear weapons ever used in war, those dropped on Japan by the US). Every single one of those bombs were dropped by US controlled planes. Apart from an occasional pittance, including that recently (I'm writing in 2017) donated by Obama, Australia, which had absolutely no involvement in Laos, has spent more on cleaning up this military hardware than the US.
Anyway, after my parents were murdered by US-trained, equipped, paid, then deserted mercenaries, like some of the people commenting on this site, I hated all Americans. I never blamed the Hmong, they just did what they had to do. The CIA had choices, and it made the wrong ones, as it usually did and does.
But, unwillingly, I accompanied my partner to a conference in Boston in the early 1990s. We arranged for our subsequent holiday to be in Canada (which we loved, by the way!), but I had to spend a week in Boston on my own while my partner attended her conference. Then we had to drive up to Canada. Every single person I met in Boston and elsewhere in the US was absolutely lovely. I'm a very shy, uncommunicative person, but wonderful person after wonderful person drew me out and chatted. I was worried how I would react, because of the depth of my hatred and prejudice. But, of course, the matter never came up. I was forced to reconsider my hate.
Yes, the US society is a creation of its people, but why should I assume each individual had the knowledge and understanding, let alone the capacity, to influence the decision-making of their government, let alone a secretive organisation like the CIA. We in Australia don't, and I hate it when people blame me for the iniquities of my government, which I often haven't voted for! My hate is much more targeted these days. I will even acknowledge that if I had to choose between a world being dominated by the US, or Russia, or China, I would choose the US unquestioningly.
Not that I would be happy about choosing the US, because of the US propensity to interfere with anyone opposed to themselves. I still bear in mind the evidence produced in a spy trial in the US (the Falcon and the Snowman, as in the film based on the story) giving evidence of US/CIA interference in Australia during the period of Labor government between 1972-1975, when a barely-if-at-all constitutional coup was undertaken to sack the Prime Minister, the great but flawed Gough Whitlam.
Yes, there's much I detest about the US, and I certainly oppose the craven way Australian governments act like the US's Deputy Dawg in Asia, but while the government and US politics in general are appallingly hypocritical in almost every regard, and many of its people allow themselves to be constantly misled about the nature of US involvement in the rest of the world, the US is at least based on principles I believe to be important to all humanity, and many, if not most, of its people implicitly believe in these principles.
By the way, I don't include your bizarre attachment to a perceived "right" to carry any sort of gun you want, indeed, any gun at all. Oh, and your tendency to believe implicitly in religion. But as with so much of US policy (and myself, for that matter) no-one's perfect.
I believe very strongly one of the answers to government iniquities is to educate our kids thoroughly in the importance of and techniques for questioning and analysing anything they are told (including this!). Only then, by informing themselves, staying informed, questioning and analysing can they prevent themselves endlessly dancing on some puppet master's strings. This doesn't mean rejecting everything. Oh, no. It means that when they choose to dance it's in accord with their own wishes, and not because some puppet master is jiggling their strings.
I totally reject the argument humans are innately evil. Evil is a religious construct, and religion is only a human construct to try and explain the otherwise inexplicable. Oh, and to provide an instrument for governments to exercise a degree of control over the populace.
Arguments over humans being innate anything seem to me to simply be a way of lazily refusing to take responsibility for our actions and, more importantly, the work necessary to overcome various socially inflicted impulses, like violence, war, power dominance, etc.
So, I hope the haters learn to love, for in the end only love can take us forwards. Hate keeps us locked into mindsets tens of millennia old. No, I'm not some dope-smoking hippy sitting up a tree and shitting into a bucked some acolyte empties for me. Nor am I some commie apologist. I'm simply a person who has seen, experienced and learned a lot in my 62 years, including the murder of my parents when I was 19, in 1975.
Though this documentary has some great footage and interviews I find it somewhat sensationalist & one-sided. Some examples:
The narrator notes that the US officially supported Lao royalist/neutralist armed forces while the CIA supported the Hmong forces and "the result was civil war" - as though the two were battling each other. In fact they fought together (with US air support) to counter the invading North Vietnamese (NV) and the NV-backed Pathet Lao.
Similarly, very little attention is given to the role played by NV during this time. The US and NV both signed the Geneva Convention saying foreign powers would stay out of Laos - it was once NV showed no signs of withdrawing its troops from (the north east of) Laos that the US was forced to disobey the convention and act covertly.
No mention is made of the Hmong's historical battles with NV invading forces. These two had battled long before the arrival of the CIA and in fact in much the same manner. When the French were in Laos they also supported the Hmong as a military force (around the 1950's - correct me if I'm wrong). Thus as the documentary suggests, the US were not the first to 'manipulate' the Hmong into fighting their battles.
This impact of war after war goes some way towards explaining why some Hmong children as young as 14 were soldiers - it was necessity. Gen Vang Pao himself first experienced battle at age 13 & was trained in France. I'm not saying they didn't demand child soldiers from villages in exchange for resources but providing the full story would be better.
Lastly, it was only with assent from the Lao royalist government that the US could perform bombing operations in Laos. Admittedly, the strength of the US may have ensured this assent but still, I feel like the documentary suggests the US was so arrogant they just walked in and started bombing willy-nilly.
I am not American and though this rant sounds like I'm defending their actions that is not my intention. Rather, as someone who currently lives in Lao and is interested in this subject I am reading a book on this subject. It provides much more factual detail than this documentary and so I felt compelled to point out some shortcomings. The book is called Ravens by Christopher Robbins.
This is perhaps the greatest act of terrorism in history.
I remember putting together that the US was bombing northern Laos in 1968 from reading a single issue of The New York Times. In two articles in two separate parts of the newspaper you could read that (a) the US was offloading so many bombs and other ordnance from ships every day it had run out of warehouse space and (b) it was sending off fleet after fleet of B-52 bombers on "surveillance" or "reconnaisance missions" towards northern Cambodia and Laos. Living 8 miles from the biggest B-52 base in the world, I knew you didn't send an 8-engine bomber on that kind of mission. But by that time I had already been too smartass about my other deductions and predictions and my professor -- now head of a major insitute on international affairs here in Canada -- asked me to leave her seminar. Shame. I had a lot of other things to tell her, including some that STILL haven't come out. (Saying that LBJ would probably not run for president again, five days before LBJ himself knew that proved to be the last straw.)
I agree that our mind is our greatest responsibility, but to say if I fail at that responsibility , brings you down as well just excuses you from the responsibility of your own mind. Make up your mind "wink". @StillRV we all learn from someone. You didn't wake up one morning reading and writing on your own. So it would be fair to say that since you didn't invent the english language or the written or spoken word, you are just as much a "parrot". It's often far easier to find others faults than our own. But what good is it to know how stupid everyone else is, if they know you are just as stupid? I have a GED I got a fourteen a perfect example of how ridiculous "academic standards" are in the USA, but have learned everything else I know about the world from other people. Admittedly I don't take everything I'm told as definitive fact, it also doesn't take a genius to figure out, unless you plan on fitting the 100,000 years of discovery humans have been embarked on into the 100 years of a (long) life, you are going to have to assume that at least a few people through that 100,000 years knows wtf they are talking about.
In my time in laos, I found the people to be extremely laid back and forgiving. When meeting loatian people, I was often asked where I was from. When I responed, "USA", I was suprised by the congenial manner with which I was treated, often by someone who was missing a limb thanks to our illegal war and left-over land mines. Most Americans do not even know about this secret/illegal war. We signed a treaty in the U.N. declaring several nations off limits to war, Laos was on the list. This is yet another instance of U.S. hypocracy. If you wonder why we are hated by many, educate yourself and stop wondering!
Funny thing is, America sends other ppls children to war, kill thousands of innocent ppl, feed hatred and insanity. The remaining survivors, son of a murdered wife, father of murdered sons, etc finds a idiot faction that gives 'em the opportunity of "payback" against America, we call'em "terrorists".
When they kill 1 (one) of us it's a tragedy but when we kill thousands of 'em, it's all good.
I can't accept the crap of "nothing we can do to stop government" because the government represents every single American (you like it or not).
Just one word to describe Laos: - GENOCIDE.
These moment is extremelly important. People are questioning themselves and others. We are bombarded by information. Now more than ever vital changes are happening, we need to collaborate with peaceful thoughts. We must avoid negativity. It is hard work, but it is the beginning.
Me must learn now more than ever, not to be judgemental, and always remember that we can help even with our thoughts. What we think what we do comes to us. Is a law. Cause and effect. Our thoughts of peace, harmony , comprehension goes all over the planet and beyond. .
wow this is terrible to send kids in the war wtf is the CIA thinking
I can´t understand why all of you are trying to reach some points expressing your states of mind when the problem is us... Human race is a disgrace our feelings are no longer belong to us...
To all the ppl living in the US:
Sometimes, I suffer from a very human problem that I even feel some shame about: I cannot decide who I hate more - the liars, or the people that bought the lie until it became a truth.
He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God - Aeschylus (525 BC - 456 BC).
I used to say "I hate America", but now, what I say is that I hate those in power. Many Americans are now getting clued in to what their government is up to, though I'm not sure if it's a majority or a minority, if you group them all together I'm positive there's enough people now with the knowledge of what's going on and the power to change things.
The problem we have is that the group that supports the government are united in their beliefs, but the group opposing government policy are split. Some may disbelieve the government due to the Gulf War Syndrome deception, others about 9/11, others after doing some research and learning about the "Economic Hit-Men" that the CIA use to obtain (steal) unsustainable resources from other countriest.
A current example of the latter is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The DRC has 70% of the worlds Coltan and 30% of the worlds Diamond reserves, when the DRC refused a loan from the world bank in return for cheap Coltan and Diamond sales the UK sent operatives to Rwanda in order to start a war which drained the DRC's economy and left it unable to export and therefore profit from its own natural resources, finally in 2003 the DRC accepted a loan from the world bank of 1.3 Billion dollars, hostilities stopped, and when of course when they are unable to pay back the loan, they will be forced to sell off their resources to the various UK and US based companies already set up in the region (such as the London owned Katanga Mining Company).
My point is, amyone who does not support the government for whatever reason, should come together to force change, various small factions will never be able to manage it but together it just might be a big enough force to change the world for the better.
For more on this .."Bomb Harvest" on this site
@Psinet Well,THAT was certainly constructive..But honestly,How do you REALLY feel about us?
i did not know that there was such a history of laos. but i dont totally judge the americans. its not like the communist are innocent of killing. thats is why i hold my view that humans are inherently evil.
The US debacle in southeast Asia still unearths more lies,treachery and shame.Yet,Americans blind themselves in denial to the inhumanity of our governments culpability,notably the covert agendas of the CIA.Fifty years later,America still closes her eyes preferring not to know.Or care.The less we know,the better.Malheureusement,c'est la Guerre,le Jeu,la Honte.Rien va plus
When the Allies liberated Birkenau in 1945,the villagers were forced to see the horror of the death camp their army had built.They were then made to help exhume mass graves of murdered prisoners.Today our public is kept dumb,distracted diverted from reality. Let the Goddamn Good Times Roll
Excellent Vlatko. Fascinating, and truly disturbing. I HATE the US, and I always will, until they finally destroy themselves or plain fizzle out - not like terrorists hate the US, but in the way I hate drunken bullies on a Saturday night. Moronic, violent, mindless, deceitful bullies. I pity you, and feel utter revulsion at the same time. Your entire country and way of life is a lie, and documentaries like this prove it.
If we could have only given them our scrap Davy Crockett Variable yield weapons we would own that place now. Sad I must say so many dead and all we got was mot tram dong and Indonesia, to bad we could have not moved the communist guerrillas to East Timor "wink wink". Oh well guess you cant win them all or no one would step up to be next if we did.....Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!
A week of secrets.
The most secret place on earth
Secrets of the Koran
The secret life of your bodyclock
The secret evidence we are not alone
how come i never heard about this when i studied vietnam war briefly in school
After watching this doc it helps me understand why most of the world calls the U.S.A. the Great Satan, the C.I.A. has distroyed to much life it needs to be disbanded.
Lol! And they say secular states are way better than religious ones :D
It is so sad to see the same story unfold over and over again. As the west's bastion of freedom has moved ever closer to becoming a police state it has taken the role of the world's bully. Personally, this tragedy is compounded by my admiration and respect of many ordinary Americans I meet, trapped in a system that resists change as strongly as any autocracy or theocracy. In the waning days of American Empire look back and ask "why?"