When photos tell a lie

Mar 2019
But the point is that we can't tell any of this from the photo. What it *appears* to show is the execution of a helpless civilian by an army officer. Well. helpless he might be bur a civilian he was not, and certainly not an innocent one.

And lest we are too quick to judge - if a Jew had a chance to shoot Heydrich or Himmler dead during WW2 under the same circumstances, I'm sure he would have done it and we would have applauded the act.
Wont dispute that with you at all. One of the reasons I have never judged the actions in the photo, even knowing the back story. War is 99% emotion and 1% thinking. I was really only debating (knowing the back story of the photo) the legality of the actions in the photo.

History is full of incidents of soldiers in the heat of battle acting far worse than this. And to be honest I could not say with any certainty I would not act in the same manner. Which I believe automatically disqualifies me from judging such actions.
May 2011
Navan, Ireland
No in 1969 an illegal combatant was a criminal. The whole modern definition of an illegal combatant did not surface until 2006 as a result of shenanigans of the US government
And as the Wiki quote says he was an illegal combatant, a criminal, and was open for immediate execution


Forum Staff
Apr 2010
T'Republic of Yorkshire
And as the Wiki quote says he was an illegal combatant, a criminal, and was open for immediate execution
What the convention means is that he can be summarily executed as a criminal if the law of the land permits that - it does not, in itself, permit summary execution. It just means that summary execution *can* be legal in such cases.
Apr 2018
Neither does bashing babies brains against walls because they were biracial. But that's what the Viet Cong did in Hue
The problem with broadening the argument like that is you'll get a dump of defoliants and a barrel of napalm at your face. That'll be a whole lot harder to justify.

And while people don't generally call the backstory of the photo propaganda as it is well known what VC was doing in Saigon, there's a near general consensus that the Hue figures were blown out of proportion
Oct 2009
San Diego
He was an illegal combatant, and therefore NOT entitled to treatment as a prisoner of war.
There is no such thing as an illegal combatant in the Geneva accords.
He was a soldier in the NVA.

And let's indulge your characterization... if he wasn't an enemy combatant- then he was just a murderer... in which case he should have been jailed, tried and sentenced.

It is STILL a war crime to commit extrajudicial murder under the color of authority.

By your reasoning, Germany was perfectly okay for killing all those french resistance fighters.
Oct 2009
San Diego
And here are some more details about the incident. However it seems establishing the exact circumstances in which Captain "Bay Lop" was caught is a bit difficult. Most of the sources mention a mass grave. However the term is a bit misleading. It appears to be a place where they kept some kidnapped Saigon Cops and civilians (apparently family members of the cops). It seems the media in those days completely ignored the backstory just to provide a cheesy stuff and left everything to the readers' imaginations. And quite a few of the readers happened to be crack pumped Hippies and attention seeking aerobics trainers.

The Story Behind the Man Who was Killed in the Famous "Saigon Execution" Photo

More on this later..........

He was a "captain"- ergo not a criminal and not an 'illegal combatant'.

There is no provision in the geneva accords for summary execution of ANY ONE captured.

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