Six years after declaring the U.S. killing of Korean War refugees at No Gun Ri was “not deliberate,” the Army has acknowledged it found but did not divulge that a high-level document said the U.S. military had a policy of shooting approaching civilians in South Korea.
The document, a letter from the U.S. ambassador in South Korea to the State Department in Washington, is dated the day in 1950 when U.S. troops began the No Gun Ri shootings, in which survivors say hundreds, mostly women and children, were killed.
Exclusion of the embassy letter from the Army’s 2001 investigative report is the most significant among numerous omissions of documents and testimony pointing to a policy of firing on refugee groups â undisclosed evidence uncovered by Associated Press archival research and Freedom of Information Act requests. . . .
More than a dozen documents â in which high-ranking U.S. officers tell troops that refugees are “fair game,” for example, and order them to “shoot all refugees coming across river” â were found by the AP in the investigators’ own archived files after the 2001 inquiry. None of those documents was disclosed in the Army’s 300-page public report. . . .
Despite this, the Army’s e-mail to the AP maintains, as did the 2001 report, “No policy purporting to authorize soldiers to shoot refugees was ever promulgated to soldiers in the field.” . . .
There’s a lot more detail in the AP piece about how the 2001 report which exonerated the Army left out or mischaracterized key pieces of evidence from the Army’s own records.
It’s never too late to get this sort of thing right, and given the looming historical accounting America will have to do on Iraq and the War on Terror, we better learn how to do it right.