Scapegoated

Last month a Vietnamese peacemaker and a U.S. Christian entered federal prison to serve 15-year sentences for their efforts to promote U.S.-Vietnamese reconciliation. The final appeal of the 1978 convictions of David Truong and Ronald Humphrey on charges including espionage and the unauthorized use of government information was turned down in January by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"From one generation to the other in my family everyone has been in jail for political reasons," David Truong explained. His father had been sent to jail by President Thieu after coming in second as a peace candidate in Vietnam's 1965 elections.

With his father in prison, Truong began working in the U.S. for an end to the Vietnam War. His quiet diplomacy, humility, and keen insight made him one of the most respected anti-war lobbyists on Capitol Hill.

After 1975 David pressed for reconciliation between the U.S. and his homeland. Though never a partisan during the war, he sent relevant information on postwar reconstruction and normalization of U.S.-Vietnamese relations to friends in Paris, where negotiations on that subject were under way.

Ronald Humphrey, a United States Information Agency (USIA) employee, had married a Vietnamese woman while serving in that country. The war's abrupt end left Humphrey's wife, Kim, and her four children in Vietnam, unable to leave. Humphrey made determined efforts to be reunited with her, including helping Truong's activities to promote diplomatic reconciliation between the two countries.

Toward this end, he gave Truong various materials and documents from USIA, including some classified cables. Before passing them on he cut off the "confidential" and, in two cases, "secret" labels. Truong included these with materials he was sending through a courier to his friends in Paris. The courier, however, was a CIA agent.

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