In Laos it was known as the ‘secret war’, a covert operation waged by CIA throughout the sixties and early seventies against communist guerrillas in Laos and the most secret location in this clandestine war was the former CIA air base of Long Chen, in central Laos, a place that remain off limits even today.
Little is known about the Lao conflict despite the fact that it remains the largest and most expensive paramilitary operation ever run by the U.S. It was completely run by the CIA using largely civilian pilots from the agency’s own airline, Air America, and mercenaries recruited from the Hmong, an ethnic tribe living in mountainous areas in central and northern Laos. However, the evidence speaks in totality to CIA's direct involvement with the drug trade when opium was transported in huge volume from the nearby areas.
Learning about CIA' drugs trade around the world makes me realize how similar the American CIA is with the former British East India Company in the 15th century. Both leaves a debris of destruction and misery in their quest to control the world. The only difference is that the British was doing it openly but under the disguise of trade license, the CIA now is doing exactly the same but with covert operations and disguised proxies. But both of them are in many ways exactly the same. They set their feet on someone else soil merely because they want to plunder and they have no problem on killing innocents lives.
Renewed interest in the Laos’ secret war was briefly rekindled in 2003 when two Western journalists made contact with members of the Hmong resistance, the first white people they had seen since the CIA abandoned them 27 years ago. Although pictures from the encounter were printed in Time Asia and won a world press award, U.S. media failed to pick up the story and it died.
The decades-old conflict again made headlines when U.S. authorities arrested 78 year-old Vang Pao, the head of the CIA’s Hmong forces in the sixties, and indicted him on terrorism charges relating to his alleged involvement in a plot to over throw the Lao government.
The maker of this film believes what happened in Laos in the sixties is relevant in that it shares strong parallels with the conflict in Iraq.
The conflict began in the late fifties, as Washington sought to counter communist Pathet Lao forces and their North Vietnamese allies who had began building the Ho Chi Minh trail through the jungles running down the eastern border of Laos. The operation was placed under CIA control to get around Laos’ supposed political neutrality and the conditions set by the Geneva Accords.
The covert nature of the conflict meant that U.S. forces were able to ignore virtually all the rules of engagement operating in Vietnam. Every building was a potential target and the civilian toll was huge. The situation grew worse in 1970 when U.S. President Nixon authorised massive B-52 bombing strikes on Laos, which remained classified information until many years later. American planes dropped an average of one planeload of bombs on targets in Laos every eight minutes, 24 hours a day for nine years, making it the most heavily bombed country on earth per capita in the history of warfare.