No Gun Ri
Official Narrative and Inconvenient Truths
Author: Charles J. Hanley
Although South Korea's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has investigated many of more than 200 alleged cases of what it categorizes as civilian massacres committed by U.S. soldiers during the Korean War, the U.S. government has investigated only one, the refugee killings at No Gun Ri. The U.S. government's 300- page report on that inquiry exonerated the U.S. military of wrongdoing. Then president Clinton said the evidence was not clear that there was responsibility "high enough in the chain of command." In reporting their findings, however, the U.S. Army investigators ignored and left undisclosed many of the most relevant documents and testimony. The most significant example is the "Muccio letter," in which the U.S. ambassador to South Korea informed the State Department that the Army, fearing infiltrators, had decided to fire on South Korean refugees approaching U.S. lines despite warning shots. The No Gun Ri carnage began the next day. Only in 2007 did the Army acknowledge it knew about and deliberately omitted the Muccio letter from its 2001 report. Archival research and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests found many other examples of crucial material unreported or misreported by the Army, including fighter-bomber mission reports that discuss attacks on refugees, a high-level communication confirming an Air Force policy of strafing refugees, and more than a dozen other documents showing colonels and generals ordering or authorizing attacks on civilians. Such undisclosed documents were found in the Army investigators' own files.