Democracy Now March 25, 2015
Fifty years after the U.S. ground invasion of Vietnam began, we look back at the 1968 My Lai massacre, when American troops killed hundreds of civilians. Journalist Seymour Hersh broke the story of the massacre and cover-up, winning a Pulitzer Prize for his work. But Hersh never actually went there — he interviewed soldiers stateside. Forty-seven years later, he recently traveled to My Lai for the first time, which he documents in a new article for The New Yorker, “The Scene of the Crime: A Reporter’s Journey to My Lai and the Secrets of the Past.” Hersh joins us to discuss how he exposed the massacre nearly five decades ago and what it was like to visit My Lai for the first time.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Fifty years ago this month, 3,500 U.S. marines landed in South Vietnam, marking the start of the U.S. ground war in Vietnam. The date was Sunday, March 7, 1965, the same day Alabama state troopers beat back civil rights protesters in Selma. By 1968, the U.S. had half a million troops in Vietnam. The war continued until April 1975. Some scholars estimate as many as 3.8 million Vietnamese died during the war. Up to 800,000 perished in Cambodia, another one million in Laos. The U.S. death toll was 58,000.
AMY GOODMAN: One of the most horrific massacres of the Vietnam War took place in the village of My Lai. On March 16, 1968, an American contingent of about a hundred soldiers, known as Charlie Company, attacked a village of civilians. Women were raped. Houses were burned. Up to 500 villagers were murdered, most of them women, children and the elderly. The world did not find out about the massacre until November 1969. That’s when freelance journalist Seymour Hersh broke the story about the massacre and its cover-up after tracking down soldiers who took part. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his exposé. Seymour Hersh recently traveled to My Lai for the first time and writes about his trip in the new issue of The New Yorker. His piece is titled “The Scene of the Crime.”
Seymour Hersh, welcome back to Democracy Now! What was it like to go to the place that has defined so much of your life, 47 years after the massacre?