Here is David Truong's inspirational statement at his sentencing 7 July 1978. [Italics used here for the underlining in original.] He alludes to the "petty political vendettas" by those in the U.S. administration to delay inevitable normalization of relations with Vietnam. As David predicted, "They cannot reverse history."
See also our earlier post, as revised, which links to our online Subversity audio interview where Prof. Ngo Vinh Long elaborates on why and how the government set David up. - Daniel C. Tsang
STATEMENT AT SENTENCING
July 7, 1978
To experience one's own trial always leaves oneself with
definite impressions of what justice, dignity, and honor are.
But this case, which at least for its absurd and senseless
character, reminds me of the Viet Nam war, begs for comments.
Let me say first that whatever happens today will not
change my love and affection for the warm people of this country
whom I've known for more than a decade and in the course of this
trial. A few of them are here today, most in other cities, so it
would take many courtrooms if they all came. Whether close or
afar, I want to thank them for their boundless love, friendship,
and solidarity. I also thank my counsels, Michael, Marvin, and John,
for their untiring work and compassion--these are things I will,
What did take place about this case and in this court will,
for a long time, cast large shadows on this Administration,
notably the Justice Department and the intelligence agencies--
the CIA and' the FBI. There is a very serious and fundamental
credibility problem for the government when such intelligence
agencies run amuck in a land where some justice is supposed to
rule. This, I believe, is and will increasingly be, an important
question for all Americans and alien residents here. Aside from
not inspiring additional confidence in the carrying out of justice,
my case, and where it will lead, will also sap the government's
credibility to a severe extent.
To talk about credibility in specifics: What about this myth
of the danger of flight? It would really hurt, would it not, if
the alleged Vietnamese spy is out of jail, refuses to flee, stays
put; and fights the government every step of the way. Gentlemen,
one may be poor, one may tighten one's belt because of enduring
_hardships, one may even have to give up one's life--but no Vietnamese
will ever flee before this government.
In addition to the credibility question, there is the question
of human rights. In his April 30, 1977 speech in Athens, Georgia,
Secretary of State Cyrus Vance defined human rights as such: "The
right to be free from governmental violation of the integrity of
the person. Such violations include torture; cruel, inhuman, or
degrading treatment or punishment; and arbitrary arrest or imprisonment,
as well as denial of fair public trial and invasion of the
My case stands clearly as a violation of human rights in the
U.S. and will be seen as such by peoples everywhere.
Thirdly, today will do no honor to this country. Many will
remember this years from now. No matter how hard the government
tries, this case can never erase the horrors and destruction that
were unleashed upon the people of Viet Nam for decades. Frankly,
your honor, even a life sentence for me would look pale beside the
untold number of war crimes and countless Vietnamese women,
children, and men who died during the term of four Administrations.
If I would add a personal level, I know of a government
that came to southern Viet Nam, crippled my father for his views
by imprisoning him for more than five years at hard labor, and
then left in April of 1975. In between, it managed to jail my
little brother for a while.
The heavy legacy of Viet Nam--those bombings of Christmas,
1972; those millions of Vietnamese uprooted, wounded and killed;
those hundreds of thousands of undetonated explosives in Viet Nam--is
something no Administration can wash away.
One day, younger Americans, perhaps the children and grand-children
of many present here, will ask after having visited
Viet Nam, whether what happened there for thirty years was and
is deserving of this country's honor and conscience. But, up to
now, it will remain for the first time in mankind's history such
a powerful country chose to turn its back to the massive destruction
perpetrated on a small country. President Carter's words summed
up things well: "Without morality, no nation can maintain its
position in. the world."
Finally, your honor, I did not wrong anyone in this country-or
this country. I am not a spy or anybody's agent, and reaffirm
I would have liked to see peace and normalization of relations
instead of more war. And I would like in my modest way to help
rebuild Viet Nam, like tens of thousands of Vietnamese living
abroad. Instead, all I see are petty political vendettas by some
elements within this Administration in vainless attempts for
revenge, including a major effort to stifle the drive of Vietnamese
living abroad to help heal the wounds of war. Zbigniew Brzezinski
and his lieutenants can only bring disgrace and shame with their
actions, they cannot reverse history.
If one learns anything from history, and, of course, from the
tragedy of the Viet Nam war, it would be that the people always
count. They shape and mold history. And they stood together, in
difficult and good times alike--that is the history of two peoples,
Americans and Vietnamese, during the war.
And now, they will stand even more firmly together in their
pursuit of healing war wounds in Viet Nam and here, and of normalization
of relations between two countries. Nothing can change that.
With that certain knowledge, my mind is totally at peace, ready to
climb the highest mountain and go down the deepest valley, no matter
how long it takes.
History will once again show that the peoples will decisively
turn that new page in the history of US-Viet Nam relations. They
will win, and so will I.