Military Wiki
Nick Turse
Born 1975
Alma mater Columbia University
Occupation Journalist, historian and author

Nick Turse (born 1975) is an investigative journalist, historian, and author.[1][2] He is the managing editor of the blog[3] and a fellow at The Nation Institute.[4]


Turse received a Ph.D. in Sociomedical Sciences from the Columbia University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).[5] As a graduate student, Turse was a fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in 2000-2001[6] and at New York University's Center for the United States and the Cold War. He also worked as an associate research scientist at the Mailman School’s of Public Health Center for the History and Ethics at Columbia University.[7]

In 2001, while researching in the U.S. National Archives, he discovered records of a Pentagon task force called the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group that was formed as a result of the My Lai massacre. These records became the focus of his Ph.D dissertation, Kill Anything That Moves: United States War Crimes and Atrocities in Vietnam, 1965-1973.[8][9]

Journalism career[]

Turse is the managing editor of the blog[3] He has written for publications such as the New York Times,[10] the Los Angeles Times,[11] and the British Broadcasting[12] on subjects such as the video game industry,[13] street art,[14] the war in Afghanistan,[15] and the Vietnam War.[10][16] He has also reviewed books for the San Francisco Chronicle,[17] The Daily Beast,[18] Asia Times,[19] and other publications.[20] He is the author of several non-fiction works on foreign and military policy.

Los Angeles Times series[]

Turse is the co-author of a series of articles for the Los Angeles Times that was a finalist for the 2006 Tom Renner Award for Outstanding Crime Reporting from Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.[21] This investigation, based on declassified Army records, interviews, and a trip to Vietnam, found that U.S. troops reported more than 800 war crimes in Vietnam. Turse asserted that many were publicly discredited even as the military uncovered evidence that they were telling the truth.[22]

One article exposed water-boarding and electrical torture carried out by the U.S. 172nd Military Intelligence unit of the 173rd Airborne Division. Turse wrote, "Fifteen of them admitted the acts. Yet only three were punished, records show. They received fines or reductions in rank. None served any prison time."[22] Another article exposed the U.S. massacre of about 19 Vietnamese women and children by members of B Company. Military investigators determined that many men could be court martialed but official records give no indication that action was taken against any of them.[23]

Turse stated that official military documents show that on February 25, 1969, Sergeant Roy Bumgarner captured and executed Vietnamese civilians, then planted weapons on their bodies and reported them to his superior officers as enemy Vietnamese soldiers killed during combat. A military court convicted Bumgarner of manslaughter, reduced his rank and cut his pay. But he served no prison time for the killings of three innocent Vietnamese. Bumgarner remained in Vietnam and, approximately six months later, reenlisted for another tour, and remained in the Army until 1981.[22]

Operation Speedy Express exposé[]

In a 2008 expose in The Nation for which he won the Ridenhour Prize, Turse reported on a veteran whistle blower who served in Operation Speedy Express. This man told the Army’s top generals that Julian Ewell’s use of heavy firepower on the countryside resulted in a “My Lai each month.” In a letter to Army Chief of Staff General William Westmoreland, the whistle-blower wrote that official command policies in Vietnam had led to the killings of thousands of innocents.

In other letters, Turse reported, the Army informant complained "that artillery, airstrikes and helicopter gunships had wreaked havoc on populated areas. All it would take, he said, were a few shots from a village or a nearby tree line and troops would 'always call for artillery or gunships or airstrikes.'" "Lots of times," the whistleblower wrote, "it would get called for even if we didn't get shot at. And then when [we would] get in the village there would be women and kids crying and sometimes hurt or dead."[8][24][25]

Turse went on to assert that the veteran’s allegations were kept secret and an inquiry into them was suppressed by the Pentagon.[8][25]

A later Newsweek investigation concluded that as many as five thousand civilians were killed during Speedy Express. Turse clsimrf thst evidence showed that the U.S. military lied about the operation when contacted by Newsweek and that the military's own investigation estimated that as many as seven thousand civilians had been killed during the operation.[8][24][25]

Turse's reporting asserted that Newsweek partially suppressed its own investigation as a favor to the Pentagon and Richard Nixon's White House,[8][26] and that during the war, efforts by U.S. senators to look into Speedy Express were thwarted by Pentagon officials.[25][26]

Kill Anything That Moves[]

Turse has described Kill Anything That Moves (2013) as a history of Vietnamese "civilian suffering" at the hands of U.S. troops during the Vietnam War.[27] The book is based on archival materials Turse discovered and interviews he conducted with eyewitnesses in the U.S. and Vietnam, including a hundred American Vietnam War veterans.[28]

Writing in the Huffington Post, Peter Van Buren called the book "one of the most important books about the American War in Vietnam."[29] John Tirman of the Washington Post wrote, "Turse forcefully argues the narrower question of how the government failed to prosecute crimes committed in Vietnam or Cambodia."[30] Writing in Proceedings Magazine, the official publication of the U.S. Naval Institute, Richard Ruth, a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy wrote: "Turse argues that the enormous toll of civilian victims was neither accidental nor unpredictable. The Pentagon's demand for quantifiable corpses surged down the chain of command, through all branches of the U.S. military, until many units had become fixated on producing indiscriminate casualties that they could claim as enemy kills. Under this system, killing was incentivized: those with high body counts not only got promoted more quickly, their units were treated better and enjoyed greater safety than those who missed their 'killing quotas'... The incentivizing of death encouraged some U.S. soldiers to rack up thousands of kills over multiple tours. In a telling detail repeated in many of the case studies examined, the alleged Viet Cong eliminated by these American super killers often had no weapons on them when they were gunned down. Turse makes it clear that such high numbers would have been all but impossible without the inclusion of innocent bystanders."[31]

Kill Anything That Moves was criticized for downplaying the scope and importance of the contribution Vietnam veterans made to the antiwar effort in the United States. During the war, U.S. antiwar activists repeatedly pointed to atrocities that Turse claimed to have "discovered." Another criticism is that his book focuses on crimes by individual U.S. soldiers while ignoring policies such as the bombing of North Vietnam that killed tens of thousands of Vietnamese civilians.[32] Wrote Michael Uhl in CounterPunch, "(Turse) seems to weigh the vile handiwork of individual GIs operating in the field on a par with the far more deadly toll that sprang from coldhearted policies of mass murder designed by high level commanders, political bureaucrats and academics: the indiscriminate use of artillery and air power to remove and disrupt populations, and which caused the overwhelming number of deaths and casualties among the South Vietnamese."[33][34].

Writing in Proceedings Magazine, the official publication of the U.S. Naval Institute, Richard Ruth, a professor of SE Asian Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy wrote: "Turse combines original on-site investigations and fresh archival research with a rich sampling of supporting material from several well-known histories and memoirs. A journalist by training, he interviewed survivors from several massacres as a supplement to the Criminal Investigation Command files he uncovered. The disparity in details between the survivors' horrific recollections and the doubting tone of the official military files is jarring. In many of the cases the reported war crimes, most of them based on evidence from concerned GIs, are dismissed for lack of interest as much as for lack of evidence," and "Turse's study is not anti-veteran, anti-military, or anti-American."[31]

In Military Review, journalist and Vietnam war correspondent Arnold R. Isaacs states, "it would be a mistake to dismiss the facts set out in this book just because one dislikes the author's political slant. His conclusions may be overstated, but Turse makes a strong case that the dark side of America's war in Vietnam was a good deal darker than is commonly remembered. If the American war was not a crime against humanity, Turse confronts us with convincing evidence that there was an American war that it is hard to call anything else—and that we should not scrub this out of our history."[35]

In another review of Turse's book, Peter Zinoman and Gary Kulik have accused Turse of omitting crucial context, selectively quoting "inflammatory witness comments" without corroboration, and pursuing an "ideologically driven caricature of the war in Vietnam. They also criticized Turse’s approach as outdated and isolated from the current revisionist trends in the historical study of military violence against civilians. They stated that Turse's book continues following the orthodox approach--the "Americanist view of the war in Vietnam in history and memory". Turse's work was pointed out as partial, misleading, and flawed methodologically. "[36] Gary Kulik demonstrated that the works of Nick Turse and one of his mentors, Christian Appy, are overly- supportive to the official Vietnamese communist narrative of the war that attempts to erase any histories/memories of South Vietnam before and after the North Vietnamese communist government violated the 1972 Paris Peace Accord, attacked, and took over Saigon and the South Vietnam.[37]

U.S. military operations in Africa[]

Noting that the U.S. Africa Command (Africom) contends that it maintains only a token presence on the African continent, Turse found recent U.S. military involvement with 49 African nations.[3] He investigated the size and scope of U.S. military operations in Africa and concluded, "From north to south, east to west, the Horn of Africa to the Sahel, the heart of the continent to the islands off its coasts, the U.S. military is at work. Base construction, security cooperation engagements, training exercises, advisory deployments, special operations missions, and a growing logistics network, all undeniable evidence of expansion — except at U.S. Africa Command.[3]

Afghan War victims[]

With journalist Robert Dreyfuss, Turse investigated civilian casualties in Afghanistan in a special issue of The Nation magazine.[38] They found that no agency or entity had tracked civilian casualties over the entire conflict.[39] In 2008, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the U.S. military set up a Civilian Casualty Tracking Cell whose goal was to track and lower civilian casualties. According to Dreyfuss and Turse, most civilians who died in the conflict did so at the hands of the Taliban and its allies,[39] but that many thousands of Afghan civilians had been killed by U.S. and allied forces.[39]

Columbine as revolutionary act[]

In the winter 2000 issue of the journal 49th parallel, Turse wrote of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the perpetrators of the Columbine High School massacre, "Approve or disapprove of their methods, vilify them as miscreants, but don’t dare disregard these modern radicals as anything less than the latest incarnation of disaffected insurgents waging the ongoing American revolution."[40] Historian David Farber of Temple University wrote that Turse's assertion "only makes sense in an academic culture in which transgression is by definition political and in which any rage against society can be considered radical."[41]


During the global economic recession, Turse wrote about hard times at food banks, municipal meltdowns and other human costs of the economic crisis.[42][43][44][45]

He has written articles on the U.S. "empire of bases", reporting in 2010 that there were more than 700 military bases in Afghanistan,[46] and describing them by size and number of troops.[47]

Turse has written on the U.S. arms trade in the Middle East, including U.S. military-brokered arms sales to Yemen and Bahrain.[48][49][50][51][52]


  • 2009 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism[53]
  • 2009 MOLLY National Journalism Prize honorable mention[54]
  • 2006 Tom Renner Award for Outstanding Crime Reporting from Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc., Finalist[[55]


  • Turse, Nick. The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2008.
  • Turse, Nick. The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan. London: Verso, 2010.
  • Turse, Nick, and Tom Engelhardt. Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050. Lexington, KY: Dispatch Books, 2012.
  • Turse, Nick. The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Spies, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2012.
  • Turse, Nick. Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Co., 2013.

See also[]


  1. "Nick Turse Describes the Real Vietnam War". Moyers & Company Video. 
  2. "Profile Nick Turse". Al Jazeera. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Nick Turse. " The Pivot to Africa:The Startling Size, Scope, and Growth of U.S. Military Operations on the African Continent ",, September 5, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  4. The Nation author bios: Nick Turse
  5. Nicholas Turse. Kill Anything That Moves: United States War Crimes and Atrocities in Vietnam, 1965--1973. Ph.D. thesis, Columbia University, 2005.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Fellow NickTurse. Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Harvard University.
  7. "Nick Turse, PhD '05, Receives Prestigious Awards for His Investigative Reporting". At the Frontline, July 2009, vol. 4, no. 3.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Nick Turse. "A My Lai a Month", The Nation, December 1, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  9. Nelson, Deborah (2008). The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth about U.S. War Crimes. Basic Books. p. 192. ISBN 0-465-00527-6. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Turse, Nick (October 9, 2013). "For America, Life Was Cheap in Vietnam". Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  11. "Nick Turse: Featured Bios". The Nation Institute. Retrieved 09/02/2013. 
  12. "Was My Lai just one of many massacres in Vietnam War?". BBC News. August 28, 2013. 
  13. Turse, Nick (December 14, 2003). "The Pentagon Invades Your Xbox". Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  15. Turse, Nick (April 24, 2012). "Tet '68, Kabul '12: We still don't get it". Los Angeles Times. 
  17. Turse, Nick (March 22, 2013). "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Nelson, Deborah; Turse, Nick (August 20, 2006). "A Tortured Past".,0,6449035,full.story. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 
  23. "Civilian Killings Went Unpunished". Los Angeles Times. August 6, 2006.,0,7018171,full.story. 
  24. 24.0 24.1
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 Nick Turse. Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Co, 2013.
  26. 26.0 26.1
  27. "Nick Turse Describes the Real Vietnam War", Moyers & Company.
  28. Higgins, Jim. Book painstakingly recounts Vietnam War atrocities. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 3, 2013.
  29. Van Buren, Peter. Review: Nick Turse's Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. Huffington Post, March 18, 2013.
  30. Tirman, John. "Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam" by Nick Turse. Washington Post, January 25, 2013.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Ruth, Richard. [1] Proceedings Magazine, the official publication of the U.S. Naval Institute
  32. "The Christmas bombings of Hanoi, in retrospect" at
  35. [ Remembering Vietnam]; Military Review; September–October; Arnold R. Isaacs
  36. Kulik, Gary; Zinoman, Peter (September 2014). "Misrepresenting Atrocities: Kill Anything that Moves and the Continuing Distortions of the War in Vietnam". Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review. Retrieved 2014-10-22. 
  37. Kulik, Gary (March 15, 2015). "The War in Vietnam: Version 2.0". History News Network. Retrieved 2015-03-23. 
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 Robert Dreyfuss and Nick Turse. " America’s Afghan Victims", The Nation, September 18, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  40. "New Morning, Changing Weather: Radical Youth of the Millennial Age". Retrieved 2013-02-09. 
  41. In Watson, Justin (2002).The Martyrs of Columbine: Faith and Politics in Tragedy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 25.
  46. "Tomgram: Nick Turse, America's Shadowy Base World". TomDispatch. Retrieved 2013-02-09. 
  47. "Tomgram: Nick Turse, Base Desires in Afghanistan". TomDispatch. Retrieved 2013-02-09. 
  48. Tomgram: "Obama and the Mideast Arms Trade"
  49. Tomgram: "How to arm a dictator"
  50. Tomgram: "The Pentagon and murder in Bahrain"
  52. Turse, Nick (December 13, 2011). "Did America help stifle the Arab Spring?". Salon. Retrieved 14 October 2013. "This originally appeared on TomDispatch." 
  53. "Newsday's Les Payne Wins Aronson Lifetime Achievement Award At Hunter College". CUNY. 2009-05-04. Retrieved 2013-02-09. 
  54. "2009 Molly Winner Announcement", Texas Observer, February 10, 2010,. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  55. 2006 IRE Awards winners

External links[]

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