America's journalists enjoyed their finest hour during Vietnam—indulging in reporting that overwhelmed all objective presentation of American military action. A recent book about Robert Garwood by two former reporters for the Washington Star suggests that our newspapermen are not done yet.
Marine Private First Class Robert Garwood, captured by the Vietcong in 1963 and released by his North Vietnamese masters in 1979, was the only American prisoner of war brought to trial by the Department of Defense for collaboration with the enemy. In 1981 a military court at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, found Garwood guilty of collaboration and physical maltreatment of an American prisoner, and dismissed him from the service.
During the trial, seven former Vietnam POW's who had known Garwood in the camps took the stand. All testified for the prosecution, none for Garwood. Their judgment of the "white Cong" they had encountered in the jungle was unanimous: Garwood had "crossed over." He lived separately from them in the compounds, ate with the camp cooks, and enjoyed a general freedom of movement around the camps. Garwood was friendly and familiar in dealings with his captors, and because of his acquired fluency in Vietnamese he served as the enemy's spokesman during political reeducation classes.
Garwood's recent biographers develop Garwood's personal story in the sympathetic...