Let me put some things in perspective. The first thing that I saw when I began to look at this evidence was something very strange about Medina's order. Medina was charged initially based upon the theory of the government that he had ordered this inexcusable carnage. As I began to read the evidence, a couple of things emerged about the order. There is no doubt that there was a pep talk, and we can talk about the nuances of that and whether it was permissible or not. It is debatable, but there are certain kernels that come out. There was a pep talk. The village was to be burned. The livestock was to be killed. The dead livestock was to be used to poison wells. If it was not military necessity, probably all three of those were wrong, legally and morally. Make no excuse for that. But I am going to hone it right now on the unresisting noncombatants, the people. Everyone said there was a pep talk, but strangely enough the more I looked, only those who said they received a specific order were the ones who killed. Large numbers of men did not shoot. Large numbers of men simply put their guns down and just did nothing.
I became very concerned about that as I looked at it, and as time progressed, F. Lee Bailey, who defended Captain Medina, requested a polygraph. Polygraphs are made up of two parts: You question someone, and then you test whether their responses are true or false about the best way you know how to do it on a machine. The law is that what they tell you is admissible in court, but the machine is not. We wanted the answers to about sixty-five questions, and we worked for about four days to see what answers we could get. We used the president of the Polygraph Association. He was the most reputable and the best polygraph examiner in the United States, if not in the world. Over a series of weekends, we put Medina on the box as they say, and that is what I need to talk about in relation to the order.
Two questions were pertinent. Medina was truthful in response to this question: "Did you intentionally infer"---note all the connotation to that as to whether he had ordered directly or showed a want to do it or not---"to your men that they were to kill unarmed, unresisting noncombatants?" His answer was no. That was truthful. The next question was what did he know. We did a "peak of tension" test. It is the way, for example, that policemen find dead bodies. Basically, you hook somebody up, and as you move across a map, the person without saying anything reacts. The question was put to him: "Did you know that your men were killing unarmed, unresisting noncombatants?" We listed ninety-minute segments of the day before, the day of, and the day after the massacre. It was flat for the day before, but between seven-thirty and nine in the morning of the massacre, the needle went off the chart, not reacted, went off the chart. It went down and then went off. Medina told us, orally, that he learned about this when he, for the first time, saw a group of bodies at the edge of the village between ten and ten-thirty. The law is that you can use, as we did, that particular statement of time. We couldn't use the polygraph chart, but the government's duty was clear. No one knows what happened, but what probably happened was that this group got out of control and he refused to stop it.
MY LAI HOMEPAGE