Headline News

About Us About Us
Advertising Advertising
Archive Archive
Art & Literature Art & Literature
Classifieds Classifieds
Commentary Commentary
Commentary Consumer News
Contact Us Contact Us
Guestbook Guestbook
Guest Forum Guest Forum
Headline News Headline News
Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor
Opinion Poll Opinion Poll
Our Links Our Links
Quotations Quotations
Trading Post Trading Post
Home Home


Note: Links to other sites will open in a new window.


Submitted by Don Stacey
Feb. 3, 2005

In May of 1959 the Government of the Republic of Vietnam passed an anti-terrorism law known as Law 10/59. With America still several years away from heavy involvement in the Vietnam war, the RVN needed a law to combat a wave of sabotage and general destruction of property sweeping South Vietnam, now in the grip of war with the Communist north. The 10/59 law was actually very similar to the U.S. "patriot" act of 2001and the various related Executive Orders and Pentagon policies enacted shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Vietnam Law 10/59 re-categorized a number of criminal acts such as destruction of property, sedition and arson as terrorist acts punishable by death or lengthy prison sentences. Association with such persons was also considered a crime under the act. Law 10/59, it was said, was to be used as a weapon against North Vietnamese and Viet Cong terrorists and sympathizers. Naturally, it wasn't long before Law 10/59 was being employed against any enemy, real or imagined, of the corrupt and draconian Ngo Dinh Diem regime. Flagrant abuse of the law on the flimsiest of pretexts ran rampant throughout the Diem and subsequent eras.

The centerpiece of the legislation was the establishment of "Exceptional Military Tribunals" used to try and convict suspects under military law. The tribunals consisted of several military officers along with a provincial chief from the area where the tribunal was to be held, or one of his representatives. The accused had no right of appeal to a civilian court though he was granted the right of representation by a lawyer, a detail that is lacking in the current American policy.

If any of this sounds familiar it may be due to the fact that the man who was largely responsible for writing the patriot act is an immigrant from South Vietnam. His name is Viet D. Dinh, Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Justice Department. Dinh was born in South Vietnam in 1968 and emigrated to the United States in 1978. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and has served as an assistant to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor among many achievements. Dihn is a brilliant lawyer who specialized in constitutional law as an academic. One has to wonder if Viet D. Dinh did not perhaps borrow at least a little from the infamous Vietnam Law 10/59 for use in America's anti terrorist legislation. Though virtually unknown to the average westerner, Law 10/59 is still a very vivid and painful memory to many Vietnamese. It is virtually impossible that a man of Dinh's education and background could not be aware of it's former existence.

If Dinh did, in fact, use Vietnam Law 10/59, much maligned and for good reason, as a sort of framework to construct the U.S. patriot act, it does not bode well for the future of a free society in America. Given the abuses of the past, the question must be asked; is history repeating itself yet again? It has already been demonstrated by many journalists and civil rights activists that elements of the U.S. patriot act are already being used in cases that have no connection to terrorism whatsoever such as tax evasion and racketeering. In Vietnam, abuse of Law 10/59 by the various regimes to target Vietnamese citizens with no connection to terrorism of any kind is well documented.

Shortly after the passing of the Patriot act in late 2001it was noted my many civil rights activists and others that the act of blocking traffic during a protest, could under the patriot act, be considered a terrorist act. Curiously, Law 10/59 dealt with that very issue. Article 2, section 2 stated: "Holding up traffic on road or water by means of terrorizing or threatening with arms or any other means." was a crime punishable by life imprisonment. Those civil rights activists may have actually been closer to the truth than any of us know.

A special thanks to the men and women of the Patriot Action discussion group for their help in researching this story. Assistant Attorney General Dinh was contacted by e-mail and given an opportunity to comment. Mr. Dinh... did not respond/his comments are reproduced below.

Original Article

(Enhanced for Netscape)

top Top

Previous Page

World News Alaska News

ptbas.jpg - 5185 Bytes
Web Alaska Copyright 2006. All Rights Reserved