Wanted: William E. Colby 1973
This set contains a single photo of a “wanted poster” for William Colby after he was nominated for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief in 1973.

The posters were plastered throughout Washington, DC. Colby was targeted for his part in murdering civilian Vietnamese while head of the “Phoenix Program.”

Between 1968 and 1972, Phoenix "neutralized" 81,740 people suspected of National Liberation Front (NLF—the indiginous opposition to the South Vietnamese government) membership, of whom 26,369 were killed.

Heavy-handed operations—such as random cordons and searches, large-scale and lengthy detentions of innocent civilians, and excessive use of firepower—had a negative effect on the civilian population.

There was eventually a series of Congressional hearings. One former participant in the program, K. Barton Osborne, described the Phoenix Program as a "sterile depersonalized murder program."

Lieutenant Vincent Okamoto, intelligence-liaison officer for the Phoenix Program for two months in 1968 and a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross described the program as follows:

“The problem was, how do you find the people on the blacklist? It's not like you had their address and telephone number. The normal procedure would be to go into a village and just grab someone and say, 'Where's Nguyen so-and-so?'

“Half the time the people were so afraid they would not say anything. Then a Phoenix team would take the informant, put a sandbag over his head, poke out two holes so he could see, put commo wire around his neck like a long leash, and walk him through the village and say, 'When we go by Nguyen's house scratch your head.'

“Then that night Phoenix would come back, knock on the door, and say, 'April Fool, Motherfucker!' Whoever answered the door would get wasted. As far as they were concerned whoever answered was a Communist, including family members. Sometimes they'd come back to camp with ears to prove that they killed people.”

It was reported that rival Vietnamese would often report their enemies as "VC" [Viet Cong—a slang name for the NLF] in order to get U.S. troops to kill them.

Colby led the program from 1968-72. He served as Executive Director of the CIA from September 1973-January 1976. Colby was found dead in water May 6, 1996. He had been reported missing April 27, 1996 after having gone canoing near his home in Rock Point, MD. His death was ruled accidental.

This image was scanned from a contact print. The original negative is apparently lost. Non-commercial use of this image should be credited to Reading/Simpson. Commercial use of this image is prohibited without express permission.
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