Sarin Gas Tailwind
Commander - 'I rejected
CNN's settlement offer'
NEW YORK (AP) -- The officer who commanded Operation Tailwind in Laos says he rejected CNN's offer of a financial settlement after the network retracted its story that nerve gas was used against American defectors during the mission.
Eugene McCarley, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, has hired a lawyer to research a potential defamation lawsuit. He called apologies offered by CNN founder Ted Turner and Chairman Tom Johnson insincere.
CNN, which retracted its June 7 report about the Vietnam-era mission and fired its two producers, has quietly begun trying to reach settlements with potential lawsuit plaintiffs, Forbes magazine reports in its Aug. 10 issue.
At least two law firms have offered to sue CNN on behalf of men involved in the mission, Forbes said.
McCarley, who lives in Wilmington, N.C., would not reveal how much CNN offered him as a settlement. He also wouldn't say how much he asked for, but said he wanted money for each of the men on the Operation Tailwind mission and for a fund that helps widows and orphans of military personnel.
McCarley told The Associated Press he "couldn't look myself in the mirror" if he had taken money for himself and not for his colleagues.
"I just think they'd like for me to go away and forget about it," he said.
CNN's Johnson called McCarley with a personal apology on the day the story was retracted and Turner sent a "form letter" of apology, he said.
"I officially reject either or both apologies because I don't think either one of them contained a sincere thought," he said. "I don't think they were worth two cents. It was what they had to do."
CNN confirmed last week that it had reached a settlement with retired Adm. Thomas Moorer, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was used as a source for the story.
CNN had no comment on discussions with anyone else in the Tailwind story, spokesman Howard Polskin said.
The New Yorker magazine reported that Johnson ordered CNN's former military analyst, Perry Smith, to review the Tailwind piece before it was aired, but that the producers and CNN/USA President Rick Kaplan argued against it. Kaplan and the others believed that Smith was too close to the Pentagon and might leak the story, it said.
Feeling he was forced to choose between his journalists and Smith, Johnson agreed with Kaplan. Smith later resigned because of his lack of involvement.
Kaplan indicated regret at making Johnson uncomfortable with the story. "I should have just held it, and I'm going to kick myself till the last breath I take that I just didn't hold the piece for a week," he said.

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