About Frank Snepp


Peabody-Award winning investigative journalist and broadcaster; best-selling author; former interrogator, counter-intelligence operative and chief strategy analyst for the CIA in Vietnam; ex-CIA whistleblower; named defendant in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on free speech and national security; expert commentator on the Vietnam war, national security, and the First Amendment.

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‘We played God’: Saigon’s chaotic fall still haunts CIA strategist

April 30, 2015 12:30PM ET by Todd Reed & Michael Okwu – Forty years after Saigon fell, the CIA’s former chief strategist in Vietnam is haunted that more lives weren’t saved

LOS ANGELES – On the morning of April 29, 1975, Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” blared on the radio. The holiday classic was secret code for the start of the evacuation, dubbed “Operation Frequent Wind,” the largest airlift of its kind.

Those final moments before the fall of Saigon are seared into the memory of Frank Snepp, the CIA’s former chief strategist in Vietnam and one of the last Americans to get out. Snepp says Marine guards beat back the Vietnamese on the rooftop, so he could get a seat on the helicopter.

“It arched up and I could see on the edge of the city 140,000 North Vietnamese troops moving in with the lights on,” said Snepp. “We move out toward the coastline and we suddenly began taking ground fire … and the helicopter pilot wrenched the controls and we gained altitude and got out.”

More than 60 military and Air America choppers took part in the operation. Pilots flew more than 600 flights, airlifting 7,000 people out on that final day, including 900 from the U.S. Embassy alone.

Read the entire story at America Aljazeera

Brian Williams Goodbye

In reference to the LA Times Posting at http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/la-et-st-brian-williams-iraq-war-20150206-story.html

Frank Snepp, February 6, 2015
Brian Williams Controversy

Brian Williams

Brian Williams misremembers — and the Internet won’t let him forget it

As a former investigative journalist for NBC and a one-time CIA agent who served five years in Vietnam and knew many journalists inured to genuine close calls, I wonder how Brian Williams can flog such self-hype about an alleged near miss in Iraq and still stand for integrity in reporting. If he had told this tall tale over drinks at a bar near 30 Rock, maybe we could we laugh it off. Maybe. But his repetition of the untruth means that he got giddy on self-promotion. I doubt any of this would go over well with Bob Woodruff of ABC News who not only braved enemy fire in Iraq but was very seriously wounded there (along with his cameraman) three years after William’s imaginary encounter with a rocket propelled grenade. And now that brave colleagues are being beheaded, or gunned down in their offices, for simply doing their jobs, the image of an anchor awash in manufactured heroics is beneath parody. Williams ought to spare himself and his profession further embarrassment by resigning and devoting himself to helping veterans and the survivors of journalists whose bravery isn’t invented.

Point-Counterpoint: Rory Kennedy’s Oscar Nominated Vietnam Doc

Point-Counterpoint: Rory Kennedy’s Oscar Nominated Vietnam Doc
by Frank Snepp, January 26, 2015

On January 26, David Mattingly who had served aboard the U.S. evacuation fleet operating off  in April 1975 wrote a much appreciated response to my cautionary posts about Rory Kennedy’s documentary, “Last Days in Vietnam” in which I appeared as a “talking head” and as an ex-CIA strategy analyst in Saigon. I quote from Mattingly’s message and offer some thoughts about it.

David Mattingly:

“… I enjoyed reading your unique perspective on the ground in Saigon. I think Rory Kennedy did tell a very small part of the story of what happened in 1975.

USS Midway

USS Midway

“My ship the USS Midway is having a reunion in April to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the fall. The Vietnamese community including many that were on the ship attended the 35th anniversary…

“If ever passing thru the DC area it would be great to meet you.”

My response:


Those of us who came out of Saigon on April 29, 1975 are forever indebted to those of you who served with such commitment aboard the evacuation fleet and in the extraordinarily perilous final airlift.

But Rory Kennedy didn’t title her documentary “The Saigon Evacuation as seen from Shipboard” or “The Defense Attaché’s Office To the Rescue,” and her errors and omissions are not harmless or, I believe, coincidental.

She fixed on a story line shaped by her fascination with her key interviewee Henry Kissinger, certain military sources and newly available footage from Pentagon archives, and eliminated what didn’t fit.

One of the reasons I wrote to you specifically is that I had read your account of the evacuation and was grateful that you had mentioned the involvement of the CIA’s Air America. Except for my own brief reference in the documentary to the Air America helicopter in that famous rooftop photo in downtown Saigon, Kennedy omitted everything I had told her and written about CIA pilots carrying the brunt of the final airlift up through the early afternoon of April 29.

Henry Kissinger Former National Security Advisor

Henry Kissinger
Former National Security Advisor

Similarly, while giving Kissinger an unchallenged opportunity to speak his mind, she ignored the fact that what he said on camera about trying to negotiate a two-Vietnam stalemate as part of the Paris accords was at odds with now declassified Nixon White House tapes. In these recordings Kissinger can be heard declaring cynically that he was hoping simply to preserve the Saigon regime through the next U.S. election cycle and then meant to blame South Vietnam’s collapse on its own incompetence.

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Rory Kennedy’s Vietnam Doc Draws Fire

Rory Kennedy’s Oscar-nominated Vietnam Documentary Draws Fire from Journalists and her own On-Camera “Experts,” including CIA Veteran

By Frank Snepp, January 18, 2015

Rory Kennedy, daughter of the late Senator Robert Kennedy, has scored an Oscar nomination for her PBS-backed documentary “Last Days in Vietnamldiv_film_landing-date” about the evacuation of the Saigon embassy in April 1975.

But two of her key interviewees, backed by journalists who were in Saigon during the evacuation, are challenging the film’s objectivity and its portrayal of Henry Kissinger, who negotiated the 1973 ceasefire and helped shape Vietnam policy for the Nixon and Ford administrations.

The former Secretary of State was interviewed extensively for the documentary but was allowed to make allegations and self-serving remarks without any balancing perspective from Kennedy or anyone else.

Jim Laurie

Jim Laurie, former NBC correspondent

Jim Laurie, former NBC correspondent in Vietnam and one of Kennedy’s interview subjects, has delivered a cautionary letter to her, co-signed by other American reporters once based in Vietnam. It expresses concern about her handling of key events, including the breakdown of Kissinger’s ceasefire.

I am another of her featured “experts” who has faulted her treatment of the eyewitness testimony she got from me and others.

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Makers of Snowden Documentary Face Legal Showdown over Leaks

CIA Author Points to U.S. Supreme Court Precedent

By Frank Snepp, January 8, 2015

A recent “exclusive” from The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Edward Snowden’s producer, who helped turn his secrets-bust into an Oscar-contending documentary, could be facing a financial bust for her trouble.

Laura Poitras, Film director

Laura Poitras, Film director

A newly filed lawsuit alleges that Laura Poitras and her production associates are guilty of helping the former NSA contractor breach his fiduciary obligations to the government.

If they lose, they could be obliged to forfeit all profits from “Citizenfour,” the documentary they filmed about Snowden and his decision to expose some of the NSA’s most sensitive classified information.

Kansas attorney Jean Lamfers filed the suit on behalf of a former government worker who argues that Snowden and his collaborators should not be allowed to profit from his leaks. The plaintiff, Horace Edwards, who insists he is acting for the public, seeks to have a “constructive trust” imposed on the profits that would cause them to be turned over to the government.

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