[Peter Brimelow writes: OK, we promised to give our running Hmong joke a hrest! But reader mail was decisively in favor of it.]
The army was so secret there is no U.S. government information on who actually served in it.
Indeed, the only person who knows who really served in the secret army is the secret army's leader, one General Vang Pao. He was recently in the news when his son's McMansion in St. Paul, Minn was firebombed during ongoing Hmong inter-clan violence.
OK, so we don't really know who was in the army. But can we get an idea of how many were in the army?
Ten thousand is the number most often cited by experts.
But we've resettled no less than 130,000 Hmong refugees in the U.S. (The community has since grown, according to the last census to an estimated 186,000—and that's probably an undercount.) So have we fulfilled our obligation to our secret allies?
Well…it turns out there are still some secret soldiers in need of rescue from a refugee camp in Thailand. So this year the U.S. agreed to move another 15,000 Hmong to America under the refugee program.
Over 60% of this group was born more than 10 years after the last American left Vietnam. Better to call them the grand nephews and great grand children of the army vets.
In fact, only 1,900 of this latest refugee group are over 45 years old. And that 1,900 is about half female. Which leaves less than 1,000 who could have served with the U.S. in any capacity during the Vietnam War… possibly.
Of this 1,000 or so, a State Department spokesman would only say that some of these may have served.
So it's very likely, but alas, unverifiable, that only a few hundred of the 15,000 had any relation to a secret army that fought with the U.S. during the Vietnam War.
But at least we can say we have done right by refugees in Southeast Asia before moving on to other refugee crises in the Middle East and Africa, right?
No. Sorry, all new refugee flows will be in addition to current flows—not instead of current flows.
According to Arthur Dewey, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, the bureau which sets refugee policy for the U.S., the President has a "steadfast commitment to a vibrant, diverse and secure refugee resettlement program."
Speaking before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship, Mr. Dewey—a Bush appointee!—said his agency is set to "realize the President's commitment to grow the program—even in the challenging environment after 9/11."
Using the good offices and recommendations of the U.N. and federal government contractors, his bureau will be "identifying other populations in Southeast Asia in need of resettlement"—along with groups from virtually every corner of the globe.
During his September 21, 2004 report before the Subcommittee, Mr. Dewey explained that last year the refugee program was
"at a crossroads. We had two choices: limit the size and scope of our program, allowing the program to wane; or mount the most extensive and expensive rescue operation in the history of the U.S. refugee admissions program. Of course we chose the latter."
Of course he chose more refugees!
And this won't be the last we hear of secret armies (and maybe black helicopters) to justify it all either.
Thomas Allen (email him) is a recovering refugee worker.