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1207Re: Vietnam War history

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  • Ram Lau
    Oct 31, 2005
      A Google search gives:


      "Published on Monday, October 31, 2005 by the New York Times
      Vietnam Study, Casting Doubts, Remains Secret
      by Scott Shane"

      The Vietnam War never seemed so noble before (comparatively speaking).


      --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@y...>
      > I got this article from a friend at
      > Central_Asia_Now@yahoogroups.com and thought you all
      > might be interested. Sorry there's no link to the
      > article.
      > Message: 1
      > Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2005 14:52:20 -0000
      > From: "awjfire" <williamfeuer@h...>
      > Subject: Vietnam Study, Casting Doubts, Remains Secret
      > A little off-topic maybe, but may be of interest...
      > October 31, 2005 By SCOTT SHANE in the NYTimes
      > WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 - The National Security Agency has
      > kept secret
      > since 2001 a finding by an agency historian that
      > during the Tonkin
      > Gulf episode, which helped precipitate the Vietnam
      > War, N.S.A.
      > officers deliberately distorted critical intelligence
      > to cover up
      > their mistakes, two people familiar with the
      > historian's work say.
      > The historian's conclusion is the first serious
      > accusation that
      > communications intercepted by the N.S.A., the
      > secretive
      > eavesdropping and code-breaking agency, were falsified
      > so that they
      > made it look as if North Vietnam had attacked American
      > destroyers on
      > Aug. 4, 1964, two days after a previous clash.
      > President Lyndon B.
      > Johnson cited the supposed attack to persuade Congress
      > to authorize
      > broad military action in Vietnam, but most historians
      > have concluded
      > in recent years that there was no second attack.
      > The N.S.A. historian, Robert J. Hanyok, found a
      > pattern of
      > translation mistakes that went uncorrected, altered
      > intercept times
      > and selective citation of intelligence that persuaded
      > him that
      > midlevel agency officers had deliberately skewed the
      > evidence.
      > Mr. Hanyok concluded that they had done it not out of
      > any political
      > motive but to cover up earlier errors, and that top
      > N.S.A. and
      > defense officials and Johnson neither knew about nor
      > condoned the
      > deception.
      > Mr. Hanyok's findings were published nearly five years
      > ago in a
      > classified in-house journal, and starting in 2002 he
      > and other
      > government historians argued that it should be made
      > public. But
      > their effort was rebuffed by higher-level agency
      > policymakers, who
      > by the next year were fearful that it might prompt
      > uncomfortable
      > comparisons with the flawed intelligence used to
      > justify the war in
      > Iraq, according to an intelligence official familiar
      > with some
      > internal discussions of the matter.
      > Matthew M. Aid, an independent historian who has
      > discussed Mr.
      > Hanyok's Tonkin Gulf research with current and former
      > N.S.A. and
      > C.I.A. officials who have read it, said he had decided
      > to speak
      > publicly about the findings because he believed they
      > should have
      > been released long ago.
      > "This material is relevant to debates we as Americans
      > are having
      > about the war in Iraq and intelligence reform," said
      > Mr. Aid, who is
      > writing a history of the N.S.A. "To keep it classified
      > simply
      > because it might embarrass the agency is wrong."
      > Mr. Aid's description of Mr. Hanyok's findings was
      > confirmed by the
      > intelligence official, who spoke on condition of
      > anonymity because
      > the research has not been made public.
      > Both men said Mr. Hanyok believed the initial
      > misinterpretation of
      > North Vietnamese intercepts was probably an honest
      > mistake. But
      > after months of detective work in N.S.A.'s archives,
      > he concluded
      > that midlevel agency officials discovered the error
      > almost
      > immediately but covered it up and doctored documents
      > so that they
      > appeared to provide evidence of an attack.
      > "Rather than come clean about their mistake, they
      > helped launch the
      > United States into a bloody war that would last for 10
      > years," Mr.
      > Aid said.
      > Asked about Mr. Hanyok's research, an N.S.A. spokesman
      > said the
      > agency intended to release his 2001 article in late
      > November. The
      > spokesman, Don Weber, said the release had been
      > "delayed in an
      > effort to be consistent with our preferred practice of
      > providing the
      > public a more contextual perspective."
      > Mr. Weber said the agency was working to declassify
      > not only Mr.
      > Hanyok's article, but also the original intercepts and
      > other raw
      > material for his work, so the public could better
      > assess his
      > conclusions.
      > The intelligence official gave a different account. He
      > said N.S.A.
      > historians began pushing for public release in 2002,
      > after Mr.
      > Hanyok included his Tonkin Gulf findings in a
      > 400-page, in-house
      > history of the agency and Vietnam called "Spartans in
      > Darkness."
      > Though superiors initially expressed support for
      > releasing it, the
      > idea lost momentum as Iraq intelligence was being
      > called into
      > question, the official said.
      > Mr. Aid said he had heard from other intelligence
      > officials the same
      > explanation for the delay in releasing the report,
      > though neither he
      > nor the intelligence official knew how high up in the
      > agency the
      > issue was discussed. A spokesman for Gen. Michael V.
      > Hayden, who was
      > the agency's. director until last summer and is now
      > the principal
      > deputy director of national intelligence, referred
      > questions to Mr.
      > Weber, the N.S.A. spokesman, who said he had no
      > further information.
      > Many historians believe that even without the Tonkin
      > Gulf episode,
      > Johnson might have found a reason to escalate military
      > action
      > against North Vietnam. They note that Johnson
      > apparently had his own
      > doubts about the Aug. 4 attack and that a few days
      > later told George
      > W. Ball, the under secretary of state, "Hell, those
      > dumb, stupid
      > sailors were just shooting at flying fish!"
      > But Robert S. McNamara, who as defense secretary
      > played a central
      > role in the Tonkin Gulf affair, said in an interview
      > last week that
      > he believed the intelligence reports had played a
      > decisive role in
      > the war's expansion.
      > "I think it's wrong to believe that Johnson wanted
      > war," Mr.
      > McNamara said. "But we thought we had evidence that
      > North Vietnam
      > was escalating."
      > Mr. McNamara, 89, said he had never been told that the
      > intelligence
      > might have been altered to shore up the scant evidence
      > of a North
      > Vietnamese attack.
      > "That really is surprising to me," said Mr. McNamara,
      > who Mr. Hanyok
      > found had unknowingly used the altered intercepts in
      > 1964 and 1968
      > in testimony before Congress. "I think they ought to
      > make all the
      > material public, period."
      > The supposed second North Vietnamese attack, on the
      > American
      > destroyers Maddox and C. Turner Joy, played an outsize
      > role in
      > history. Johnson responded by ordering retaliatory air
      > strikes on
      > North Vietnamese targets and used the event to
      > persuade Congress to
      > pass the Gulf of Tonkin resolution on Aug. 7, 1964.
      > It authorized the president "to take all necessary
      > steps, including
      > the use of armed force," to defend South Vietnam and
      > its neighbors
      > and was used both by Johnson and President Richard M.
      > Nixon to
      > justify escalating the war, in which 58,226 Americans
      > and more than
      > 1 million Vietnamese died.
      > Not all the details of Mr. Hanyok's analysis,
      > published in N.S.A.'s
      > Cryptologic Quarterly in early 2001, could be learned.
      > But they
      > involved discrepancies between the official N.S.A.
      > version of the
      > events of Aug. 4, 1964, and intercepts from N.S.A.
      > listening posts
      > at Phu Bai in South Vietnam and San Miguel in the
      > Philippines that
      > are in the agency archives.
      > One issue, for example, was the translation of a
      > phrase in an Aug. 4
      > North Vietnamese transmission. In some documents the
      > phrase, "we
      > sacrificed two comrades" - an apparent reference to
      > casualties
      > during the clash with American ships on Aug. 2 - was
      > incorrectly
      > translated as "we sacrificed two ships." That phrase
      > was used to
      > suggest that the North Vietnamese were reporting the
      > loss of ships
      > in a new battle Aug. 4, the intelligence official
      > said.
      > The original Vietnamese version of that intercept,
      > unlike many other
      > intercepts from the same period, is missing from the
      > agency's
      > archives, the official said.
      > The intelligence official said the evidence for
      > deliberate
      > falsification is "about as certain as it can be
      > without a smoking
      > gun - you can come to no other conclusion."
      > Despite its well-deserved reputation for secrecy, the
      > N.S.A. in
      > recent years has made public dozens of studies by its
      > Center for
      > Cryptologic History. A study by Mr. Hanyok on signals
      > intelligence
      > and the Holocaust, titled "Eavesdropping on Hell," was
      > published
      > last year.
      > Two historians who have written extensively on the
      > Tonkin Gulf
      > episode, Edwin E. Moise of Clemson University and John
      > Prados of the
      > National Security Archive in Washington, said they
      > were unaware of
      > Mr. Hanyok's work but found his reported findings
      > intriguing.
      > "I'm surprised at the notion of deliberate deception
      > at N.S.A.," Dr.
      > Moise said. "But I get surprised a lot."
      > Dr. Prados said, "If Mr. Hanyok's conclusion is
      > correct, it adds to
      > the tragic aspect of the Vietnam War." In addition, he
      > said, "it's
      > new evidence that intelligence, so often treated as
      > the Holy Grail,
      > turns out to be not that at all, just as in Iraq."
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