For what I've read in the thread, is seems that the Phoenix program was not so secret...at least to the Vietnamese . It was an "official" program that tried to fight communist cadre (an illegal organisation ....) on the RVN territory.
Phoenix operatives were the "good ones", communists were the "bad ones" . VC had to hide (more or less) and the Phoenix operatives involved in intelligence collection from Vietnamese populace, obviously,had to have some visibility (I understand that there was a number of permanent Phoenix offices in SVN, correct?).
Of course, it was a different story for the US operative/military involved in the program: "elimination" of the VC was not seen as politically correct by the US public.So, "plausible denial" had to be just that:plausible.No direct obvious link (like insignias...) between US military and the Phoenix program was a good thing.
And, by the way, the patch doesn't say "I murder Vietnamese", but "I fight Communism". I think that the Vietnamese that suffered "liberation" by the VC were quite happy that someone tried to stop them.
I would add that the context of the war on the SVN territory was totally different from WW2 allied operations in the occupied Europe (or SEA):
WW2 was an anhiliation war, there was no such things as bombing restrictions,or limitation in what could be done to defeat the enemy,Vietnam had to be an "acceptable, limited" conflict, that could be admitted by US public opinion.
There was no such question during WW2 (neither during Korean War, I guess the fate of the communist guerrillas in South Korea wouldn't have raised outrage in the USA, at the time
Edited by 8240th A.U., 04 January 2011 - 10:37 AM.