Caldera and the Whitewash of the No Gun Ri Massacre During the Korean War
Louis Caldera during his term as Secretary of the Army under Clinton was also responsible for reviewing the No Gun Ri massacre that happened during the Korean War. This was a mass killing of refugees by U.S. Army troops in July 1950 at the hamlet of No Gun Ri, 100 miles southeast of Seoul. U.S. troops fired on retreating refugees and killed many under a railroad bridge in this area. Survivors and GI’s who were there continued to tell the story of this massacre, with estimates of deaths in the several hundreds. At least 300 people were killed in the mass shooting, this after 100 died in an air attack. Caldera became a loyal soldier and conducted the review, or cover-up.
For many years survivors of the killing petitioned to get justice. In 1997 survivors filed a claim with the South Korean Government Compensation Committee but was rejected because it was past the 5 year statute of limitations. Other investigations conducted by the Pentagon showed no wrongdoing. Attention got renewed in 1999 with an Associated Press investigation, later turned into a book, that made the U.S. government respond. A dozen army veterans cooberated the survivors accounts. A Petitioners of No Gun Ri group gained popularity and support in South Korea. They issued demands that both the U.S. and South Korean governments launch investigations, that the U.S. issue an apology and compensation, and the U.S. build a memorial to the victims at the site. They gained support from the U.S. National Council of Churches and their general secretary Rev. Joan Campbell. The survivors wanted closure after so many years.
In response, then-Defense Secretary William Cohen in 1999 ordered Army Secretary Caldera to conduct a top-level investigation on this incident. Cohen wanted a “thorough and quick inquiry” that was needed to maintain “the confidence of the American people” in the military. Massacres seem to sap support of the U.S. military to the public, even those that endorse their ongoing massacres abroad today.
Caldera said the new information should be looked into, called the allegations very disturbing, and later hinted that prosecutions of perpetrators may be on the table. Previous inquiries did not have any interviews. He said that the investigation would take about a year. There was opposition to the investigation by right wing veterans groups.
Before the investigation started Caldera stated that the early weeks of the Korean conflict were chaotic and that troops were ill-trained and ill-equipped, while also saying it was not an excuse for the reported acts.
When the report was fininshed, in December 2000, just after the election and now that Caldera and the rest of the Clinton administration were going to be lame-ducks, the conclusion exonerated those responsible. One of the findings was what Caldera said above, along with the finding that there were no orders from above ordering the killings. This despite a memo clearly stating to shoot fleeing refugees on sight.
Caldera served as Clinton’s yes-man on another issue. The survivors may never get justice from the United States. It can’t be expected to have much more from Caldera, who has shown he is in service to the empire.
Choe, Sang-hun. “South Koreans Seek Answers, Solace: Probes Into Massacre Planned.” San Antonio Express-News. October 1, 1999. Pg. 19A.
Briscoe, David. “Cohen Orders Inquiry Into No Gun Ri Accounts: Military Feels Heat About 1950 Incident.” San Antonio Express-News. October 1, 1999. Pg. 19A.
Burns, Robert. “Army Secretary Says Prosecutions Possible In Investigation Of No Gun Ri.” Associated Press. February 3, 2000.
Burns, Robert. “No orders from above at No Gun Ri.” Associated Press. http://web.caller.com/2000/december/15/today/national/12238.html