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tv   Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown  CNN  September 30, 2017 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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>> anthony: in the early 1960s, three idealistic, young cia officers arrived in laos, a sleepy, mountainous country of barely over 2 million people, mostly rice farmers. their mission? stop the spread of communism. recruit and train hill warriors to fight a shadow war against the north vietnamese, and the pathet lao. the war in laos was secret.
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the russians knew about it. the chinese knew. the vietnamese, the laotians, certainly knew. the only people who didn't, was the american public, and congress. ♪ i took a walk through this beautiful world ♪ ♪ felt the cool rain on my shoulder ♪ ♪ found something good in this beautiful world ♪ ♪ i felt the rain getting colder ♪ ♪ sha, la, la, la, la, ♪ sha, la, la, la, la, la, ♪ sha, la, la, la, la,, ♪ sha, la, la, la, la, la ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪
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history. a conflict that became known as "the secret war." there were three intelligence officers, key players in this secret war, who depending on who you talk to were either greatly loved, or greatly feared and despised. anthony poshepny, also known as tony po, had an extensive paramilitary background as a former marine and cia officer. bill lair, a texan and world war ii vet, was an influential cia case officer. vint lawrence was recruited right out of princeton, even though he was an art history major. they succeeded, at first, in impeding the flow of communist north vietnamese arms and troops on the ho chi minh trail. but by the end, they were arming children.
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what happened here, presumably in the cause of freedom of democratic western values, resonates still. an estimated 30% of the bombs dropped on laos failed to detonate. these and other uxo's remain in the ground and continue to take lives, and limbs.
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>> anthony: when you get off the plane -- >> james: yes. >> anthony: what's the first sort of recognizable smell that registers? >> james: wood smoke and grilling. river, as well. you know, it's just like the mekong. >> anthony: diesel, or whatever the fuel is here? a little bit of -- >> james: yeah, yeah. >> anthony: from the first time i heard of laos, i was hooked, and filled with a desire to see the place. once a storybook kingdom of misty mountains and opium. at one time, a protectorate of france. mysterious landlocked nation bordered by china, thailand, cambodia and as fate would have it, vietnam.
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>> james: i think the best restaurant view ever, are these women butchers. >> anthony: chef james syhabout earned his michelin star in san francisco. >> james: this is the first thing i eat. get off the plane and i -- i'm just gonna find some khao piak sen. >> anthony: he learned to cook from his mother, and never looked back, until recently. >> james: that's crispy pork, sliced pork. >> anthony: blood cake? >> james: blood cake in it. >> anthony: beef broth? >> james: beef broth, yeah. ah, it's like steaming hot. >> anthony: james' family, like many, fled the fighting in laos anthe communist takeov that followed it. >> james: mmm! >> anthony: nowadays, things are looking up a bit and some like james are returning,. >> james: oh man, this is, like, so homey. takes you to a place, takes me to a place. >> anthony: what's it like being back and having, it's only your second time, but what's it like? >> james: oh, man it's like home. more and more. i, i totally get it, like when mom's -- i want to go back home.
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i want to go back home. that's a common thing, you know? refugees from laos, live in the states for a couple years. once their children have their own careers and families they, they come back. and my mom's doing that now. you know, rice farming again. she said, "i want to move back to go and have a more relaxed life." i'm like, "that's hard work." you know? >> anthony: but she's happy? >> james: she's happy. super happy. she looks a lot younger now. [ laughter ] after she moved back. >> anthony: less stress, i guess. >> james: yeah, yeah. >> translator: this village, we call longlan. >> anthony: rice farming? >> translator: yes, ah, they're doing rice and also growing some vegetable. >> anthony: northern laos enchantingly beautiful, sparsely populated by remote mountain villages. for centuries, home to ethnic
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minority hill tribes, like the hmong. undredwhere the cia recruited, thousand fighters. >> m lee: we live in the mountains. we just farm along the sloping creek and mountain. >> translator: they, ah, start to build this road since ah, 1983. >> anthony: before that, how did you get up and down? walk? >> mr. lee: by foot only. >> other villager: using only a rocky trail with a very steep drop off. >> anthony: in these same mountains, but on the other side of the conflict, there were people like mr. lee, now in his 80s, who fought for the communist pathet lao. he is hmong. and during the secret war, he fought other hmong. >> anthony: oh, that's -- wow! >> translator: you grab the vegetable and dip it in the sauce.
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eat like young children do. >> translator: this is, ah, chicken. >> anthony: chicken! >> translator: this is chicken also, but with blood and some inner heart. every hmong family will know this. >> anthony: beautiful. >> translator: good. >> anthony: he was here when the french were here, yes? >> mr. lee: yes, i saw them. >> translator: was it after the french left that you joined the army? >> mr. lee: yes, yes. after signing the agreement, the french withdrew. and in 1963, the americans came. they came here and they made the hmong fight against the hmong and the lao fight against the lao. they made these people fight. it was, like, if you see me, then i die. if i see you, then you die. >> anthony: how was, ah, he injured? >> translator: how did you get
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injured? >> mr. lee: the very first injury was caused by a bomb. >> translator: a bomb from an airplane? >> mr. lee: yes, one hit here, one here and one here -- three places. >> translator: the shrapnel from the bomb is still there, right? >> mr. lee: yes, the bomb shrapnel is still here. it couldn't be removed. >> anthony: in the end, when the last choppers hurriedly left vietnam, laos, and many lao who fought with us, were largely left behind too. what had been a kingdom, was now a communist regime. yeah. the bad guys won. a few who'd most directly associated with the american effort, unwilling to face rehabilitation camps or worse, never surrendered. and are, all these years later, hiding in hills like these. >> anthony: hmong were killing hmong, bitterly, for many years, if the same people who were trying to kill him and who he was trying to kill, came back now, how would he feel about that? >> mr. lee: i would feel nothing.
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when we were fighting against each other, you didn't know me and i didn't know you. it's just as if a bear and tiger crossed paths. i'm still alive and you're still alive. we should be brothers again.
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days from now, on the last full moon in october, with a fire lantern festival. the symbolic casting away of your sins. >> anthony: but today, the lao are watching and drinking, as others pull at oars and race to the finish line. >> anthony: a boat festival? >> older sister: yeah, boat festival here. today is a the girl racing. >> anthony: each boat will be women from the same village? >> older sister: yeah, one boat, it's one village. >> anthony: for weeks, racing teams have been practicing on the mekong river, each team sponsored by a local buddhist monastery. >> older sister: eat, drink, enjoy view, enjoy boat. >> anthony: how old is this tradition? >> older sister: ah, it's a long time ago. many generation, we start maybe on 6th century. >> anthony: uh -- oh, what are
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we doing? >> older sister: >> anthony: lao --lao? >> both sisters: yes. lao --lao. we're doing some lao --lao. so made by the sticky rice, so -- >> anthony: yes. >> older sister: it taste good. [ laughter ] >> anthony: look, this is close! both of you born here? >> older sister: yeah, i'm the older sister, and she's the younger. >> anthony: how has the country changed since you were little kids? >> older sister: wow. the country change a lot. we open the tourism scene so it's good for the local economy and local people they can earn money direct from the visitor and tourists. >> anthony: well, president obama was just here a few months ago. >> younger sister: he was here. a few months ago. yeah, he got off a lot of, ah, helpful, the education and for the -- >> anthony: unexploded ordinance removal. i -- 90 million dollars. it's -- >> both sisters: 90 million,
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yeah, that's a lot. that's a lot. >> anthony: that's a lot of money? >> both sisters: help a lot. it's a lot of money. this one, the local snack. >> anthony: ah, chicken feet. good. >> older sister: and, ah, buffalo tendon. >> anthony: oh nice, good. yeah, i'm gonna try that. >> older sister: and the dried squid? >> anthony: dried squid. >> older sister: mmm. >> anthony: ah, i love this, this is delicious. >> older sister: when we eat and there, we enjoy food. in lao, we say "seplai." >> anthony: seplai. >> older sister: seplai. >> anthony: your hotel. >> mama vaughn: my hotel. >> anthony: how long has it been open? >> mama vaughn: well, it's been about twenty years. >> anthony: today, i'm having lunch at the ban lao hotel, during the secret war it was the offices for u.s. foreign aide mission. the building was also a cover for cia headquarters. >> mama vaughn: that big building used to belong to usaid. >> anthony: can we say wha -- >> michel: are you sure? usaid or cia, i don't know. >> anthony: well this is what i want to ask. generally speaking, in tho -- in tho --
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>> michel: at that time, we never know. >> antny: in those days, back in the '60s and '70s -- >> mama vaughn: 60, yeah. >> micl: yeah. >> anthony: usaid and cia had a lot of, let's say, overlap. >> anthony: mama vaughn, who i met here on my last trip is making lunch. an elaborate spread of dishes whose recipes are left over from imperial times. >> anthony: mm, so what do we have here? >> mama vaughn: this is lon song fish from mekong. we cook with shallots and garlic and chili, and coconut milk. and pork. >> anthony: crab? river crab? >> mama vaughn: crab. river crab, yeah. >> anthony: mm! >> mama vaughn: see? >> anthony: it's good. >> michel: mm-hm. >> mama vaughn: it's only in luang prabang >> anthony: you could eat the shell? >> mama vaughn: yes. >> anthony: mm. >> mama vaughn: and fish with pork grill. >> michel: all in banana leaves >> mama vaughn: banana leaves. mm. and then this is ginger sauce. eat the pork skin. >> anthony: pork skin, of course. and we have to have sticky rice. >> michel: yeah, sticky rice. >> mama vaughn: okay, bon appetit! >> anthony: food like this, uh, this is an imperial dish, a, a
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royal dish? >> mama vaughn: mmhm. >> anthony: have these disappeared, these recipes, or are they still here? they still are? >> mama vaughn: they're still here but you know, 'cause tony, it some time they do it not the way that sup -- not supposed to do it. they change ingredient a lot. my grandma teach me how to do this. >> anthony: now you were born here, yes? in luang prabang? >> mama vaughn: yes, in luang prabang. yeah, mmhm. >> anthony: and ah, michel, you -- >> michel: i was born in vientiane. >> mama vaughn: in vientiane. >> anthony: in ventiane? >> mama vaughn: yeah. >> anthony: have you lived here all your life? no, ah -- >> mama vaughn: in france. >> anthony: in france. >> michel: by the age of 11 i went to france to study. i came back in, in, in 1971. >> anthony: in difficult times, 1971. very, very difficult. >> michel: oh yeah, it was still the war. >> anthony: mama vaughns' long time friend michel is a journalist, though what that means in a communist one party state like laos is necessarily different than what you and i might define it as. >> michel: when i was in paris, i studied ethnology. when i came here, they said, ethnology can wait. what we need it journalists. >> mama vaughn: journalist. that's why you get your job. >> michel: that's how i became a journalist. >> anthony: american involvement here remained a particularly
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painful and even taboo subject with the lao government. >> anthony: obama, the united states president, just came here to visit. what do you think it means for lao? >> michel: well, i think one important thing is the uxo, unexploded ordinances. >> anthony: right. >> michel: american b52s, they came on bombing missions in laos. everyday, everyday, everyday. and after bombing, they have to cross mekong back for and, and land. but they are not allowed to land with bombs on board. so they have bombs left, they would drop them at random. that's why we have so, so many and in, in so many provinces. >> anthony: what do you think it means though, that the president came here? this is a, look, this is a small country. only 7 million and change people. >> mama and michel: yes. yeah. >> anthony: not a lot of mineral resources. >> michel: no, not really. >> anthony: uh, no oil. if you were a cynical person. >> michel: i'm not. [ laughter ]
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>> anthony: why do you think he came? >> michel: well you have china, you have russia, you have, ah -- lots of things. >> anthony: you think we need a -- we -- you think that maybe we think we need a friend in the neighborhood? >> michel: i think ah, everybody needs friends. [ laughter ] >> anthony: nice answer. you know who likes to be in control? this guy. check it out! self-appendectomy! oh, that's really attached. that's why i rent from national. where i get the control to choose any car in the aisle i want, not some car they choose for me. which makes me one smooth operator. ah! still a little tender. (vo) go national. go like a pro. can we at least analyze can we push the offer online? legacy technology can handcuff any company. but "yes" is here. the new app will go live monday?
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anthony: so you were born in a refugee camp? >> james: yes. >> anthony: moved to the states, what age? >> james: two. i don't really remember much. my dad never once talked about the secret war. he never explained why we had to come to the states, and you know, itas just like, we're here. enjoy. [ laughter ] >> anthony: almsgiving is a daily ritual, but this is special. >> mr. see: people always sit out along the street. >> anthony: right. >> mr. see: wait for the man coming and give sticky rice. most people they give sticky rice.
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>> anthony: with wan ok phansa approaching, today is super alms day. a once a year halloween -- like bonanza, where in addition to the usual sticky rice, monks are offered all manner of treats. >> mr. see: i was a novice, come from my home village to live in the temple in luang prabang. i finish a monk. >> anthony: in orange robes, the whole bit? >> mr. see: mm-hm. >> anthony: now, do most young men go to the temple to ah -- >> mr. see: to get education, yes. >> james: it's a little like public education, just to become a novice. >> mr. see: yes, yes. >> anthony: ahh! >> james: yeah, unless, unless -- >> anthony: so everybody. >> james: everybody, yeah. that's where you learn english. >> mr. see: yeah. >> james: and you speak french too? >> mr. see: no, no. >> anthony: mr. see lives with his extended family here in this compound, on the outskirts of luang prabang.
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>> anthony: looks awesome. so, what do we got here? >> james: or lamb is in a iconic ladish. with mushrooms, and dill. the key ingredient is the pepperwood. these, ah, wooden blocks with has like ah, white peppers. >> anthony: that infuses the dish, you don't eat it? >> james: it's like a -- you don't eat it. it's a very herbaceous, peppery, really rich. >> mr. see: yeah. >> anthony: unlike anything i've ever had. >> james: mmhm. we have two types of larb, one's raw, one's cooked. >> anthony: mmhm. so it's cooked buffalo, raw buffalo. >> james: buffalo. but yeah. >> anthony: man, it's really good. >> james: yeah. this was kinda improvised. um, "lut bang." lut bang translates to, ah, "fixed blood." so, it's buffalo blood. it's a really tricky way to prepare the dish, because you want the blood to set, so the way you do it is to dilute the blood with water. >> anthony: right. >> james: and just pour it over herbs and that's it. laos panna cotta. [ laughter ] >> anthony: mmm, this is really, really good. you know the balance is so beautiful. >> james: this meal kinda represents like the, lao table.
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you always got to have a soup. you always got to have some kind of larb, a stew. some kind of muddled salad. sticky rice, of course, and dip. >> anthony: and beer lao. >> james: and beer lao. yes. >> anthony: let's get some beer. >> mr. see: beer lao. [ all toast in foreign language ] >> anthony: your parents left laos, in what? ah -- >> james: ah, '81. >> anthony: '81. >> james: and you know, we migrated to a community of other laotians. and you know, it was pretty much a community like this. we all share, we barter. >> anthony: scratching out a living. i mean, if you were laotian and you wanted to make money back then, you were cooking thai food. >> james: exactly. my mom worked in thai restaurants, and -- >> anthony: what does your mom think your lao cooking? >> james: i thk she's pretty impressed, surprisingly. she's like, first thing she does when she walks through my kitchen is she goes to the waste bin. and she goes, looks in the trash, and goes -- >> anthony: why are you throwing this out? >> james: yeah. yeah, she's like, cilantro stems. >> anthony: so how many years were you a novice? >> mr. see: ah, three years.
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>> anthony: three years? >> mr. see: yes. >> james: well what's the minimum? can you just stay as a novice? >> mr. see: ah, minimum seven days. >> james: seven days. holy moly! >> anthony: wow, that's easy. >> mr. see: easy. >> anthony: i, i don't have time. >> anthony: what's life like at the temple? sleep on the floor? do you sleep in a bed? >> mr. see: normally we sleep on the floor. ah, lately i sleep on bed. yeah, bed. >> james: one meal a day, right? >> anthony: one meal a day? >> mr. see: two. >> james and anthony: two. >> mr. see: breakfast and lunch. >> james: oh, yes. they get a snack from, ah, almsgiving. >> mr. see: yes, snack and drink. coffee, ovaltine. >> anthony: coffee and ovaltine, did he say, yeah? >> mr. see: ovaltine. >> james: yeah. >> mr. see: this one in here? >> james: he got it, here's the cup. there you go. >> mr. see: oh, ovaltine. >> james: yeah. [ laughter ] >> mr. see: cheers! [ monks singing and chanting ]
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anthony: the american experience in this part of the world is something that everyone wants to pretend never happened. more bombs dropped here than all of world war ii.
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>> french guy: this is the gold medal of laos, is they say one ton per person. and if they continue to clean the country at that, more 600 years to clean. >> man 1: okay, come on, 'kay, come on! come on, come on! >> man 2: ah no, this is the strong stuff. >> man 1: you like? drink four times a day, good for you! hello! one, two, three! >> anthony: motorbike.
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the only way to see this part of the world. the thick, unmoving air. the smell past rice paddies, water buffaloes, what feels like another century. >> anthony: laos is a kind of place that could easily capture your heart, and not let you go. >> anthony: it's what you do, right? i mean, if you're thinking of a place to open a bar or a restaurant, you're gonna put it by the river. right? >> french guy: yeah, yes, yes. >> anthony: nice breeze, nice view. >> french guy: and you see lao, lao people, they come here during the afternoon. they have a drink. it's nice. >> french guy: perfect. >> anthony: more than a few people came here for vacation, and never went home like ben. >> anthony: so how long have you been in laos? >> french guy: in laos, oh, around 15 years. i haven't been back to france for a long time. >> anthony: when you first came here, what was it like? >> french guy: heh. know, it was beginning of 00. >> anthony: what do you mean by t opened?" >> french guy: before it was very difficult to avel, you know? no, if you have a permit to travel in luang prabang -- >> anthony: right. >> french guy: you can only visit luang prabang.
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you want to go another province, you need to have a special permit to change, and uh, i had a friend. my friend say, "noel, let's go to laos. it's more protected and more, more, more natural, more authentic." i say, "okay, why not?" the first time i arrived in luang prabang, i was feeling, like ah, indiana jones discovering a beautiful city. and the point is, i fell in love and i couldn't go back. >> anthony: what's your typical day here? like, what -- if you're not working, you're on a good day, you know, sunday. >> french guy: on a good day you have a party. you have a party with old friends, ah, that's before the -- again, there is nothing special to do. it's just a way of life. >> french guy: yeah. training. >> anthony: so how has it changed over the years? i mean, you go to saigon or hanoi? ah, money, money, money coming in, foreign ownership of everything.
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is -- that's not happening here? >> french guy: yes, i can see there is an acceleration now. when you go to the market and you say, where is it from? they say, thailand. vietnam, china, and to find local fruit, it's difficult. but if you talk to old people, they will say -- we are like the bamboo. we are not trees, so when there is too, too much wind, voila, we bend in the wind, we get up. >> french guy: i was a monk for little bit more than one month. in fact, i signed for three weeks. after three weeks i wanted to stay a little bit. they push a lot the way to not suffer. to learn how to disconnect the important things in life. that's why the people, they drink a lot. they like to enjoy, to share. if you don't share, you are poor. more you give, more you're rich. you have money a lot, you lose your money tomorrow, some people will be upset. when you go up and going down, it's never a good feeling.
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>> anthony: let us assume the best of the intelligence officers who served here, of the pilots and bombardiers who ran missions over laos. >> guide: watch your step. >> anthony: that they were doing their duty as they saw it, that they believed they were serving the interests of their country. >> anthony: so, this is a banana plantation? >> guide: yes, banana and lemongrass. >> anthony: that still leaves us with the unarguable fact that today, generations later, uxo's or unexploded ordinances remain a huge problem. >> anthony: what's here? a cluster bomb, mostly? or bombies? >> guide: yes, yes. in this area of 66,000 square meters, our team found more than 30 cluster bombs. >> anthony: organizations like uxo laos are tasked with cleaning up the mess.
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you go with a metal detector, dig them out by hand, no machines? >> expert: yeah. yes, yes. >> anthony: uh, detonate them? >> expert: the technology we use nowadays is the same that 20 years ago. >> anthony: right. >> foreign voice: attention to each watcher! please report your safety, over. >> radio voice: all is safe, over. all is safe, over! [ man on loudspeaker speaking in foreign language ] >> man: 3, 2, 1 -- shoot! [ explosion ] >> anthony: wow. [ explosion ] it's a big bang. wow. >> man: imagine how the children pick it up. >> anthony: yeah. laos is the most heavily bombed country per capita in the history of the world. 80 million is the number of cluster bombs that did not detonate. since the war in vietnam ended,
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and we left our secret war here behind, 20,000 people, many of whom were not even alive during the conflicts, have been killed or maimed. now most of the people who are blown up, who are they? mostly farmers? >> expert: nowadays, the, the pictures need, need to be changed to the children. right now, because the children is, is look like, like tennis ball. is good for playing, for children to pick up as, as a toy. >> anthony: so far, only half of 1% of the country has been cleared. >> expert: 80 million cluster bombs are still left in the country. >> anthony: right, right. >> expert: twenty years. what we need is 1.4 million. just for the -- >> anthony: in twenty -- in twenty years? >> expert: twenty years. >> anthonyso that's a lot left. >> expert: that's a lot, and, d, and, and many people asking me how many years to go, i, i have no answers.
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>> man: bomb! three, two, one, one. [ explosion ] >> translator: after the war,
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did you see any people injured or killed from unexploded bombs or ammunition? >> uncle: some people collected the big ammunition next to our village, and destroyed it to get metal for making knives. two people were killed at this time. another man removed the bottom of a bomb to make an opium lamp. he was killed as well. >> uncle: last year a child in a nearby village found a "bombie." the other children reminded him not to hit on it because it might explode. so he continued to hit on it with a rice stick. the bomb exploded and he died immediately.
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>> translator: oh uncle, you can prepare a meal for us. so this is bamboo soup. bamboo is very fresh because they just get it from the first up here. normally the bamboo is little bit bitter. >> anthony: um, hmm. >> translator: but he has to boil it. >> anthony: long time. >> translator: and then to take out the water. >> anthony: ah change the water. >> translator: yeah, change the water and cook it again with chicken or duck. >> anthony: right for flavor. >> translator: yes. >> anthony: so what year was he born? how old is the gentleman. >> translator: what year were you born? >> uncle: i was born in 1960. >> anthony: 1960, so born at the beginning of the, the war here. >> translator: yeah. when you were young, did you see the bombs coming down?
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>> uncle: i always saw them. during that time there were a lot of bombs on the ground. one day i saw a bomb. there were a lot of other kids around and i was worried they might touch it. so i picked it up and threw it out of the way into the garden. but it hit the bamboo fence and exploded immediately. the explosive hit one of my fingers, here. another piece hit my belly, one hit my lower leg, and one hit my upper leg. they took me to the american hospital and i received free treatment. >> anthony: while these days the effects of the secret war are receiving more attention, much of how we got here remains off-limits. the cia's relationship with the hmong in part because there are, to this day, insurgents deep in the jungle is well -- sensitive. where did the american doctors come from?
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>> translator: so, uh, actually it's, i think this not, this is it's, i think this not, this is not a question i think. >> anthony: okay. unfortunately, laos is a country where there can be repercussions from the government for talking politics with outsiders. you tell me whether we can talk about this or not, whether it's a comfortable subject or not. but here on one hand, we have americans dropping bombs that blow this, at the time, child, up. >> translator: yeah. >> anthony: and then there are american doctors that put him back together. given that, is he angry? >> translator: uh, what do you think about the americans who dropped the bombs on the village and houses?
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>> uncle: it does not matter. they hurt us, but they also helped and supported us. they also sent the doctors to provide treatment for the people who got injured. >> anthony: i mean all of the bombing, all of the suffering, all of the death, what did he think, what did he think it was all for? >> uncle: i don't know what the reason is. briathe customer app willw if be live monday. can we at least analyze customer traffic? can we push the offer online? brian, i just had a quick question. brian? brian... legacy technology can handcuff any company.
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this is the story about the highest ranking cia agent to ever be convicted of espionage. but also it's the story of betrayalal against a man against his country and the betrayalal of a man against his son. >> he would sacrifice his country. he would sacrifice his children for the money, for the lifestyle he wanted. and he's a traitor. in our line of work, it doesn't get much worse than that. >> why would a good cia officer become a traitor? it's just

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