My Lai Massacre Case Study

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The characterization and public appeal of the members involved determine the public reaction and allow for the government to make their decision. In the case of William Calley, he was described to be “undistinguished…college dropout…insecure” (Hamilton 132) and justified his frequent orders with “I’m the boss” (Hamilton 132). Calley’s portrayal as in an inefficient and impulsive leader of the company allowed for the justification of the cruelties at My Lai. While the direct orders for the search and destroy came from those higher in the chain of command than Calley, his characterization as a poor leader allowed for the American public to believe he was solely responsible. The predetermined image of Calley caused the American public to support …show more content…
During the My Lai Massacre, two members of a helicopter crew, Hugh Thompson and Larry Colburn, were attributed with lowering the death toll at the massacre by intervening after flying over the massacre (Salomon). A note from a meeting between chief of staff, Bob Haldeman and Richard Nixon directed Haldeman to use “Dirty tricks” (Salomon) and “discredit one witness” (Salomon) in order to “keep working on the problem”(Salomon). Nixon wanted to sabotage the My Lai trials because it was starting affect his public relations because he looked irresponsible during the war. By discrediting the words of Colburn or Thompson the reality of the massacre could be hidden from the public and the Nixon administration could control how the massacre was depicted in order to manipulate the thoughts of citizens. In the same way that Nixon attempted to disregard the law, the Obama administration did not give the legal thirty day notice to congress for releasing prisoners. However, President Obama justified the refusal to inform congress because “We [the administration] wanted to make sure we did not miss the window” (Barker). The regulation was ignored in order to ensure that the Bergdahl swap would occur. While congress had already been discussing a swap it was made without permission because the Obama administration was losing time to create a favorable legacy for the president. Nixon and Obama changed aspects of the legal process to suppress suspicion and control the public reaction. Both presidents did not just have a disregard for the law, but Calley and Bergdahl as well because they only acted to gain votes. By intervening with the cases, both presidential administrations attempted to control the public’s perspective and shape it to favor the

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