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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  December 24, 2014 10:06am-10:53am EST

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10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span with the lighting of the national christmas tree followed by the white house christmas decorations with first lady michelle obama. and the lighting of the capitol christmas tree. and just after 12:30 p.m., celebrity activists talk about their causes. then at 8:00, supreme court justice samuel alito and former florida governor jeb bush on the bill of rights, and the founding fathers. on c-span2, at 10:00 a.m. eastern, venture into the art of good writing with steve pinker. and at 12:30 see the feminist side of a superhero, as jill lepore searches the secret history of wonder woman. at 7:00 p.m., author pamela paul and others talk about their reading habits. and on american history tv on c-span3 at 8:00 a.m. eastern, the fall of the berlin wall with c-span footage of president george bush, and bob dole. with speeches from presidents john kennedy, and ronald reagan. at noon, fashion experts on first ladies' fashion choices, and how they represented the styles of the times in which they lived. and then at 10:00, former nbc
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news anchor tom brokaw on his more than 50 years of reporting on world events. that's this christmas day on the c-span networks. for a complete schedule go to >> about 50 years ago on august 10th, 1964, president lyndon johnson signed the gulf of tonkin resolution, which in lieu of a declaration of war, gave him broad powers to wage war in southeast asia. that resolution was passed by congress in response to an august 2nd attack, and an alleged august 4th incident in the golf of tonkin involving u.s. destroyers and vietnamese torpedo boats. american history visited the national security archive at george washington university to learn about numerous declassified documents that have shed more life on the gulf of tonkin incidents. >> i'm tom blanton, the director of the national security archive. we are on the top floor of the main library at george washington university which is where we live. we are in a room full of boxes
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of declassified documents. it's really an artifact because most of the declassified documents we get today are actually digital. a lot of boring digital, scanned or made digital and certainly the people that use our collections are using them online. in fact, in the courses we teach here at george washington, for most of these kids, if it's not online, it doesn't exist. so part of our whole mission has been to get these primary sources, loose from the government through freedom of information act request, and declassification review, and then get them into digital formats, organize them, extreme them, curette them, index them, so then students can find them, journalists can find them. citizens can find them. and even we get calls from congress. they have questions, too. >> how are you funded and where did you come from? >> we really were started by a whole group of journalists and historians back in the
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mid 1980s, each of whom had used the freedom of information act to get documents declassified from the government. i think the piles were stacking up in the kitchens. and their spouses said get these papers out of the house. and to save their families i think they created the national security archive. not just as a repository, but as an institutional memory, and a follow-up, because we not only inherited boxes and boxes of documents from these pioneering journalists and thoirsians, but we also inherited their pending freedom of information requests. for the really sensitive documents where inside the government there is a debate about, well, is this really secret or is it just subjectively secret or can this be released? it can take years to get a declassification request through the system. it can take, in the case of the gulf of tonkin intercepts and intelligence intercepts, this has been an iterative story for
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50 years to get the documents loose. bits and pieces. not the whole truth. we're told to the public right at the time by the president of the united states. what is an intercept? >> an intercept is when a u.s. satellite ship station, ground station with really powerful directional antennas, mic microphones, pick up an electronic communication, radio communication, radio-telephone communication, or wiretap of somebody's message. and during this period of the 1960s, north vietnam was one of our top targets for all of our signals intelligence gathering. and so in the gulf of tonkin context, the key intercepts, the key conversations we were trying to listen to, were those between
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the north vietnamese boats, torpedo boats who could do some real damage on our boats offshore, and their headquarters, which was in haiphong. we in united states had taken over from the french as the main sponsor for the anti-communist forces that were basically gathered in south vietnam. after the french got beat by the communists, really at dien bien phu, we could probably track it back further but we probably made a mistake after world war ii by not recognizing the nationalist aspirations of countries like vietnam and backing up the former colonial power, france, in that case. there were some reasons we did that. europe was way more important to us than vietnam. france, we needed as part of our nato in rebuilding europe
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against stalin and the communist threat. that ultimately churchill called the iron curtain. we came in on france's side while france was trying to keep in charge of vietnam. the japanese had taken over. here you have the vietnamese. from their point of view, they're fighting a 50-year war versus colonial french. then the japanese came in and threw out the french. then the french came back with our support. and now the french got beat, they got thrown out and we came back. between 1953 and 1964 we had not really dramatically escalated our presence in vietnam. we had supported the southerners who had split their country and refuse to participate in any countrywide elections. i think largely because they knew at least by the late 1950s they would have lost. ho chi minh, the communists had borne the greatest weight in beating the french and fighting back against the japanese and
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they pretty much had the nationalist cause wrapped around them. they probably would have won a free election. at the same time, they were communists. so free elections are purely utilitarian. they are not part of the communist toolbox. generally. so there are a lot of arguments about this. are these folks in the south our friends and allies? we had just played a real key role right before president kennedy was assassinated in november 1963 in approving the replacement of their previous leader, previous eight years, by a bunch of generals in a coup. that was in retrospect, seems to be a turning point. american policymakers, including ones close to kennedy, had gotten sick and tired of diem. were hearing that he was actually wanting to cut a deal with hanoi. we had a lot of rhetoric about the south is the freedom and the north is the tyranny.
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diem was not fighting against the north very vigorously or as vigorously as we thought. we had a lot of counterinsurgency specialists. graham greene wrote a great book called "the quiet american." about our hubris in thinking we could do it right. and so here we had these generals who were in charge from late '63 on in to 1964. we had ramped up our support for the generals, some air support, some advisers. we were up to i think under kennedy we had been up to 10,000 or so advisers, and johnson was putting more in. we had not escalated the war by bringing in major ground troops yet. and we had not escalated the war by doing systematic bombing campaigns against the north. that would happen a year later in 1965.
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but in the summer of 1964, you had president johnson running for re-election against a very conservative figure, senator barry goldwater. you had the u.s. navy and the cia running all of these covert, op-plan 34 tests, pressures, against the north. to figure out what their defenses were. so it was an intelligence gathering piece of it. also to ratchet up the pressure. part of the american mindset at that time was this notion of game theory that you calibrate pressure and then your opponent will ultimately respond to the pressure and by escalating like that over time, you could ultimately force hanoi to make a deal or back down. this was a fundamental misconception by the americans because game theory doesn't work
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on people who are in their own minds defending their homeland against just another imperialist aggressor. to think the johnson administration in the summer of 1964 was learning some of the wrong lessons from the cuban missile crisis of 1962. the public myth of the cuban missile crisis in dean rusk's phrase, we met eyeball to eyeball with the ruskies and they blinked. we ratcheted up the pressure, we had military dominance in the area, we made it so tough for them by standing tough ourselves that ultimately they backed down. with this popular conception, we now know from underlying documents, especially from the soviet side, was wrong. we actually, to his credit, kennedy got scared about the strong idea that things were slipping out of control during the cuban missile crisis. khrushchev did, too.
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both of them had been reckless. before the missile crisis, kennedy was running covert operations trying to assassinate castro. khrushchev decided he could sneak in a bunch of missiles disguised as palm trees. and get away with it. it was reckless. to a fair thee well. then they got into the crisis and saw the possibility of nuclear exchange and armageddon and the end of human civilization. you read some of their letters and messages back and forth, and you read bobby kennedy meetings with the soviet ambassador and you get the strong sense that the top guys in the kremlin and the white house, they got it. they got it that things were slipping out of control. at the ground level, there were nuclear weapons all over the place. we now know things that kennedy did not know. that there was a cruise missile aimed at guantanamo. if we had invaded, which all the generals wanted to do, guantanamo would have a synonym for hiroshima today. it would be a smoking, radiating rubble. there were 100-some odd tact cal nuclear weapons in cuba waiting for an invasion. that kennedy and khrushchev made
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a secret deal was not the public perception. the public perception was that testosterone won. we stood tough, they backed down. the same thing was being applied to hanoi. what is fascinating now that we can look through the historians' work, the inside historians' work, at the national security agen, robert hanyak who pursued the story, had access, went and did the basic fundamental work that intelligence analysts should have done at the time, which was to put all of the intercepts in one pile. and go through them. and see what did they say? where did they contradict each other? and especially where did they contradict this highly selective chronology that have become the internal secret official story? then that historian wrote a highly classified article,
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because it is full of intercepted signals, intelligence that showed the capabilities of the u.s. government to listen to the north vietnamese as they're ordering their boats around, down there off the coast of vietnam. we can look through the historians' work, the inside historians' work. the actual text of the intercepts of the north vietnamese conversations. and then listen to president johnson's phone calls as he's talking with secretary of defense mcnamara. and begin to understand two huge realities that were not known to the public at the time. one, that the north vietnamese attacks on the 2nd of august, 1964, were actually provoked by us. they weren't the unprovoked aggression that was presented to the american public, as the basis for our bombing back. in fact, we were running all of
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the secret patrols, the de soto patrols. top secret. to test coastal defenses, to figure out how the north vietnamese radar worked. to see how they would respond and intercept their communications among their haiphong naval headquarters and their actual torpedo boats on the coast. as part of an ongoing pressure on the north vietnamese. so their attacks on our boats the 2nd of august were presented as unprovoked aggression, when actually we had provoked them. so this was one of the big secrets. the president knew it. the defense secretary new it. we have got them on tape talking about it. op plan 34 mcnamara says. you know, this certainly had something to do with that attack. president johnson knows about it. >> i think i should also, or we should also at that time, mr. president, explain this op plan 34-a, these covert
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operations. there's no question but what that had bearing on and friday night, as you probably know, we had four tp boats from vietnam, manned by vietnamese or other nationals attack two islands. and we expended over 1,000 rounds of ammunition one time or another against them. we probably shot up a radar station and a few other miscellaneous buildings. and following 24 hours after that with this destroyer in that same area undoubtedly led them to connect the two events. >> say that to dirksen. >> they're aware that we provoked it. it was our secret probes on the coastline that set off the north vietnamese attacks. they are just defending the coastline against our aggression. so we did not say that publicly. again, repeating from the same mistakes of the cuban missile crisis. what you say publicly becomes something that you're stuck with, that you have to defend,
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and you have to spin out more lies to keep it alive as your case statement for why we're there. >> my fellow americans, as president and commander-in-chief, it is my duty to the american people to report that renewed hostile actions against united states ships on the high seas in the gulf of tonkin have today required me to order the military forces of the united states to take action in reply. the initial attack on the destroyer maddux on august 2nd was repeated today by a number of hostile vessels attacking two u.s. destroyers with torpedoes. the destroyers and supporting aircraft acted at once on the orders i gave after the initial
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act of aggression. we believe at least two of the attacking boats were sunk. >> at that moment of the 4th of august, you have this false warning from a -- summarizing from an intercept, not really giving an intercept, false warning, everybody is on edge. the destroyers start reporting sonar torpedo attacks. takes them a couple of hours to figure out maybe that is our own wakes. we are moving the destroyers like this which is what you do to have evasive action if you are under attack from a torpedo boat. but these destroyers are really fast boats with big propellers and big engines, and they're built for speed on the open ocean. so they make maneuvers. they set off all kinds of wakes. the wakes are picked up by the other destroyers' sonar. then all of a sudden you got
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this reinforcement, oh, my god, torpedoes in the water. then you have commanders of two boats saying, we're under attack, we're under attack, we're under attack. and it takes about two hours for commander hairic to finally figure out well wait a second, on the 2nd of august, we actually saw some of the torpedo boats. we saw them. we took pictures of them, zoom in across the bow. some of these pictures in navy historical collections. they had photographs of the north vietnamese torpedo boats. but here nobody had an eyesight confirmation at all. when they change the personnel and the sonar screens, the next sonar guy does not see anything. wait a second? what am i reporting? so between 11:00 washington time when the commander reports torpedo attacks, and a little bit after 1:00, when the commander says, wait a second, i'm -- i'm thinking that didn't really happen.
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i think it was just sonar error, and the airplanes overhead aren't seeing anything either. i don't -- maybe it was blind fishes. but already, in that two-hour window, washington had made a decision to go bomb, to go shoot back. anybody shoots at us, we're going to shoot back. >> secretary mcnamara, 9-0. >> mr. president, we just had word by telephone from admiral sharp that the destroyer is under torpedo attack. >> i think i might get dean rusk, and have him come over here and we'll go over retaliatory actions. >> i think i'll agree with that. >> i'll call the two of them. where are these torpedoes coming from? >> we don't know. presumably from these unidentified craft that i mentioned to you a moment ago. we thought that the unidentified craft might include one pt boat which has torpedo capability.
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and two s.w.a.t. top boats which we don't credit with torpedo capability, although they may have it. >> washington and lyndon johnson's view and mcnamara's view, could -- wanted to shoot. they wanted to be tough. they are in an election season. they have to be seen to be tough. false reports gave them an excuse to do something they wanted to do. you see, some of the back and forth, and i give mcnamara some credit on this, because mcnamara actually paid attention when the ship captain harrick sends him the 1:00 message. mcnamara already advises the president we're under attack, we're going to shoot back. we're going to do that. mcnamara gets the follow-up where the ship commander says, don't think so. mcnamara goes ballistic. he is a pretty powerful,
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forceful follow, robert mcnamara. among other things, he calls up the admiral in charge of pacific command and says, what is this? they don't think -- you don't understand that we're already in motion here. we've already had the meetings with the principals. president's already signed up. we're gearing up. we are ready to fly those b-52's. those hanoi commies better watch out, we're coming after them. what's up with these messages saying there's no attack? right at that moment a composite intercept rolls in. it is a summary of those north vietnamese naval communications during the period 1 to 5 august which demonstrate irrefutebly that their naval boats did, in fact, engage in preplanned combat against our troyers when the actual attack, aggressive intent as early as the first of august, and then they gist the communications. gist means to summarize without giving exact source of where they picked it up. but they were just summarizing.
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this top-secret code word dinar document is what the national security agency provided top policymakers like mcnamara to continue to defend the position that the second attack did take place 73 it was aggressive intent and they basically left out of this chronology all the messages that did not support that story. we shot down two enemy planes in the battle area and one other plane was damaged. this is north vietnamese communication. "we sacrificed two ships. all the rest are okay. combat is very high. we're starting out on the hunt. that's one version of translation. another version is that "one of the torpedo boats reports to headquarters. we shot at two enemy airplanes. not we shot down. at least one was damaged. one other plane was damaged. the summary which the top policymakers used, we sacrificed
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two ships. all the rest are okay. in the original. we sacrificed two comrades but all our brave. and recognize our obligation. so when you go back to the original, you see the word comrades. when you go to the summaries, you see the word boats. two comrades becomes two boats. two boats sounds like a huge attack took place. two comrades, we now believe, are people who were wounded on the 2nd of august. not shot on the 4th of august. there was no attack on the 4th of august. so you can -- it's by going back and looking at these originals, which is what the national security agency should have done at the time, but didn't. instead they prepared a chronology that would show irrefutebly what the president had said on national television. and the story we now know is two
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different intercept detachments in the philippines pick up some of the same messages but one of them, the marine corps interpreters, reads the messages as a warning of an imminent attack. but it wasn't actually a translation of a north vietnamese message. it was their interpretation of a separate message that was about just refuelling the boats that were attacked on the 2nd of august. so you have this error. but understandable in the sense of you got guys sitting there with head phones on their head translating from the vietnamese, listening in on the north vietnamese conversations, and on the edge of their seats because there had been an attack on the 2nd. and their mission is to get those communications ahead of time, give warning, protect american sailors' lives. you can see where that, well, better warn if there's a hint of it.
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same communications are being intercepted by another unit. but that unit translates as refueling of those boats, that are being replenished. i think is the word that we use. but because it's not a warning of an attack, that translation goes out at a lower frequency than the warning of an attack. one's at the critic level, the other is at the priority level. so the critical one comes throughs system in washington and on the employers hours and hours ahead of the other one even though it's a translation of the same intercept. you can see what that does. that puts the people on the on the destroyer's on edge. mcnamara did a little checklist, five reasons why now we are sure a second attack took place. but two of them came from just that one false message. two more were from the false torpedo sightings. so this cobbled together
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message, confirms something that they want to believe because they had already made a decision to hit back. >> the u.s. sorties were launched for one purpose, as a warning to the communists that unprovoked attacks will bring prompt response. >> why would just an attack on the 2nd not be enough for the resolution or the escalation? >> because the attack on the 2nd wouldn't be enough for a blank check resolution to pursue war for a couple reasons. one is president mcnamara and some members of congress like senator dirksen, the minority leader, according to those phone calls that we published, knew that we were running our own covert operations against the north vietnamese and so they were responding to us. so you couldn't present the 2nd of august as unprovoked aggression. but in public statements, after
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the 2nd of august, on the 2nd and the 3rd, the president and mcnamara and others had said, if they attack us again, we're going to whack them. if they attack us again, we're going to shoot back. if they shoot at us again, i cannot be seen to be weak. we are going to whack them. they prepared contingency plans, including b-52 bombers. flying off guam over north vietnam. >> yes? >> secretary mcnamara on 9-0. >> mr. president i put up those meetings with the senate and house leaders. i thought of that was agreeable, i would say to them that some months ago you asked us to be prepared for any eventuality in the south east asia area and as a result of that we have prepared and just completed very detailed target analyses of the targets of north vietnam. in 10 minutes i'm going over with the chiefs the final work on this. we have analyses, numbers of sorties, bomb loading, everything prepared for all the
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target systems of north vietnam and i would describe this to the leaders, simply indicating that your desire that we be fully prepared for whatever may develop. further more, we've prepared detailed movement studies of any contingeagesy forces required, air squadrons, et cetera. >> obviously now, if you put this in the paper. >> i'm going to tell them that. >> and your enemy reads about it, then he thinks we're already taking off and obviously you've got us in a war. i've got to be candid with you. >> i was going to start my remarks by that. to be damn sure it doesn't get in the papers. >> as soon as those reports come in, even though within two hours they are being disproved by the commander of the destroyer being attacked, in those two hours you have made -- you are committed publicly. hit them back. >> the people are calling me. i talked to a new york banker. i talked to lubbock, texas. they think we responded wonderfully.
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that is good. but they want to be damn shire i don't pull them out and run and they want to be damn sure we are firm. that is what all the country wants because goldwater is raising hell about how is going to blow them off the moon. they say we ought to do anything that the national interest doesn't require but we sure ought to always leave the impression that if you shoot at us, you're going to get hit. >> swift and sure has been u.s. retaliation for pt boat attacks. on the high seas. this is the maddox, one of two sfr destroyers attacked in the gulf of tonkin in north vietnam. warplanes from two carriers avenged the unwarranted assault with 64 sorties to north vietnam pt bases, 25 boats, more than half the fleet, were destroyed. and north vietnam oil reserves badly depleted. it is estimated 10% went up in flames after direct hits.
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>> during the second of august attacks, there was a time of electronic intelligence and signals intelligence in between the boats directing them all the way through the period of the attack and withdrawal and damage to the ships. during the 4th of august, at the very moment you have the destroyers reporting torpedos in the water, there is no electronic signaling. there is no communications being picked up. coordinating these attacks. it's -- i think the historian for the national security agency hanyak said it's like a sherlock holmes story, the dog that didn't work. when the dog on the inside does not bark, it means it is an inside job. if there is no electronic intelligence, are the boats talking to each other? means there's probably not an attack.
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to me, maybe the most telling of all the, we now have thousands of pages of primary sources. we have the internal sources. we have the tape recordings. we have the photographs of the attack. we have the state department intelligence histories. we have joint chiefs of staff histories. but to me the document that leaps out of the whole batch is the white house senior staff meeting. this is the day after. this is on the 5th of august, 1964. we really only have these notes because the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, maxwell taylor, has been a top kennedy aide. being sent over to the pentagon to bring the joint chiefs in line. they had been uppity against kennedy during the cuban missile crisis. curtis lamay compares kennedy to chamberlain, appeasing hitler. this is amazing insubordination. max taylor had gone to the pentagon but he kept his white house passes. and he sent his staff over to
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the senior staff meeting to make sure that he, max taylor, sitting over there knew what they were thinking. these notes were taken by an air force major named billy smith. he was a korean war veteran. a four-star general himself. he is sitting in that staff meeting the morning after. so the night before, he had that series of intercepts, torpedoes, the decision to bomb. the bombers have gone off guam. north vietnam taking a huge pummeling. they come in early morning staff meeting. george bundy, national security advisor is presiding. then he says, we actually have less, there was a lot more uncertainty. we have less information this morning and we had last night. bundy says, on the first attack, the evidence would be pretty good. on the second one, the amount of evidence we have today is less than we had yesterday.
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this resulted primarily from correlating bits and pieces of information eliminating double counting and mistaken signals. so you got less information today than you had yesterday and you already bombed them. so sitting in on his first staff meeting is an nbc news reporter who just moved over from nbc to the white house staff. edward r. murrow had moved over from cbs to run voice of america. this was normal, i guess in those days. douglas cater is sitting in his first staff meeting and raises a question about the congressional resolution. the gulf of tonkin resolution to give the president authority to do whatever he wanted to fight back against the vietnamese. it became the ultimate underlying legal authority for the entire vietnam war escalation. only two u.s. senators voted against it. one from alaska and one from oregon. cater says, but i'm wondering,
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hadn't thought it through completely, but the logic really troubles him somewhat. but if this attack on forces, you're going to do a resolution, freedom of all of southeast asia, and you have less information today than you did yesterday? so george bundy says, i'm quoting here, bundy, in reply, jokingly told him, perhaps the matter should not be thought through too far. for his own part, bundy's, he welcomed the recent events as justification for a resolution the administration had wanted for some time. they had drafted a resolution like this back in june to give the president authority to do whatever he wanted in southeast asia. as commander in chief. that he wanted congress' blessing. a blank check. he had been sitting there, because in part we had the upper hand.
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the north vietnamese were a little bit on the defense. we were probing them with all these covert operation, op plan 34. here was this aggression. except provoked by us. but the events, the recent events justification for something we wanted to do for some time. this is the quintessential cherry picking of intelligence to reinforce prearranged rereached conclusions. it is a chilling discussion because you have got them admitting they are less certain but this gives them leverage. the parallel with other disasters, cher picking of intelligence of iraq weapons of mass destruction. oh, the yellow cake, oh, the aluminum tubes. that doesn't pan out? that's all right. we've been wanting to do this anyway.
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it's a big -- it illustrates a perpetual temptation from policymakers, and partly it is human nature. everybody comes to subjects with their biases and prejudices. the thing you're just picking up the information that reinforces what you already think. this was the beginning of escalation. those bombing raids from the 4th of august. the beginning of the escalation. the really big escalation wouldn't happen until the following february of '65, when george bundy, who is joking here, saying he wanted to do this anyway, happens to be in vietnam when the vietcong attack an outpost. happens to be at that outpost. takes it personally. says oh, they're targeting me. they weren't. we now know from vietnamese sources they weren't. they didn't even know he was there. took them three months to organize this attack. to get the supplies down by the north, all that stuff.
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it was on a prearranged schedule but bundy takes it as a reason, oh, they are attacking. aggression by the north. targeting me. we're going to escalate. this is plaiku, north of saigon, the air base that was ripped by vietnamese commune guerrillas. eight americans died in the attack that brought swift retaliation by u.s. and south vietnamese forces. meanwhile president johnson's special assistant for security affairs mcgeorge bundy arrives at the scene of the vietcong raid. he was in vietnam when the attacks took place and holds a battle front conference with the lieutenant general before returning to washington. while he conferred with vietnamese officials the national security council was meeting in washington. it was these meetings that brought the swift decision to strike back at the vietcong. to reemphasize our resolve to continue to defend the cause of freedom in southeast asia. >> and that leads them into this
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incredible escalation of forces. you go back and you listen to the mcnamara and johnson tapes on the 2rd, 3rd and 4th of august, and you see that sort of automatic response in place. somebody is going to shoot at us. we are going to shoot back. not, we're going to try to figure out what it is that they're reacting to, what it is they want. what is it they're trying to do, put ourselves in their shoes, figure out what's a way out of this. no. they shoot. we're going to shoot back. and you just get into the es ka laer to dynamic. and goes through '65, goes all the way through 1975, when the last americans get pulled off the embassy in helicopters. >> mr. bundy arrives back in washington the next day. and he immediately goes into conference with the president and the security council. he tells reporters that he found political and religious factions in vietnam united in their belief that the vietcong is
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their common enemy. >> i think it's fair to say that the americans in vietnam are in very good heart, and are prepared to continue, even against this kind of danger, this kind of sneak attack. >> i think for american citizens the lesson is what ronald reagan used to say to gorbachev about arms control. trust, but verify. i think for policymakers the lesson is, do necessarily terrorist your gut. look for dissent and debate. and this is one of the questions that the insider historian asked, why would my agency, the national security agency that's supposed to present unbiased intelligence, policymakers, why would we slant it? he has three or four conclusions. one is the pressure of the moment. two ways precursor messages that shows attack for coming.
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three, you know what the top policymakers want to hear. four, you saw the president on tv announcing the bombing attack. now you're going to be the one to walk into the oval office and say, whoops. nope. wrong. maybe shouldn't have done that. no, you are not going to be that intelligence analyst. and the other reasons, in part, is that once the top policymakers take those steps, then they really only want to listen to the folks who reinforce the decisions they are already made. the course of action they've been intending to take for awhile. and the people who are dissenting from it, are bringing inconvenient facts to the table, either get pushed away from the table, the most famous story, hubert humphrey gets elected
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vice president of the united states in november '64. sworn in in january 1965. in february 1965, writes a long, personnel heartfelt, eyes-only to the president memo about how our policy in vietnam is just wrong. and we should not be doing what we're doing and we should be figuring out a get-out plan. we know a lot about that memo. it's been declassified. we have the memoirs of humphrey of johnson, of humphrey's staff people who helped draft it. johnson ostracized him for a year. cut him off. refused to let him come to vietnam policy discussions. humphrey hadn't dissented publicly. he hadn't leaked anything. he hadn't tried to build an internal coalition against the president. but he'd written a critical dissenting memo that didn't agree with what the president was doing. so the president decided, you're disloyal. the vice president.
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you're disloyal. you're not coming to the meetings anymore. it was a year of on seek wesness before humphrey got to come back to the table. if that's how dissent and the facts are being received at the very highest levels. what happens if you're national security agency intercept analyst? oops. i guess the final lesson of the tonkin gulf, here we had the ability to listen in on north vietnamese conversations, and yet we did not seem to have an understanding of what it was they were fighting for, how long they would fight, and what that meant for what we ought to do. we were listening, but we were not hearing. >> finally, i have today met with the leaders of both parties, and the congress of the united states. and i have informed them that i
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shall immediately request the congress to pass a resolution making it clear that our government is united in its determination to take all necessary measures in support of freedom and a in defense of peace in southeast asia. assurance by these leaders of both parties that such a resolution will be promptly introduced, freely and expeditiously debated, and passed with overwhelming support. and just a few minutes ago, i was able to reach senator goldwater, and i'm glad to say that he has expressed his support of the statement that i'm making to you tonight.
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you've been watching c-span's american history tv. we want to hear from you. follow us on c-span history. connect with us on facebook at history where you can leave comments, too. and check out our upcoming programs at our website. >> and we would like to tell you about some of our other american history tv programs. join us every sunday at 8:00 p.m. to midnight eastern for a special look at the presidency. learn about presidents and first ladies, their policies and legacies and hear directly from historical archival speeches. every sunday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern on american history tv on c-span 3.
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here's a look at some of the programs you'll find christmas day on the c-span networks. holiday festivities start at c-span eastern on c-span with a lighting of the national christmas tree, followed by the white house christmas decorations with first lady michelle obama and the lighting of the capitol christmas tree. and just after 12:30 p.m., celebrity activists talk about their causes. then at 8:00, supreme court justice samuel alito and former florida governor jeb bush on the bill of rights and founding fathers. on c-span 2 at 10:00, venture into the art of good writing with steve pinker and at 12:30, the secret history of a wonder woman. at 7:00 p.m., author pamela paul and others talk about their reading habits. and at 8:00 eastern, follow the berlin wall with george bush and bob dol.
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at noon, fax experts on first lady fashion choices and how they represented the styles of the times in which they lived. and then at 10:00, tom broe ka on his more than 50 years of reporting on world events. that's this christmas day on c-span networks. for the complete schedule go to >> each week american history tv's american artifacts takes you to museums and historic places. next yes take you inside the u.s. capitol to learn about the history of the house of representatives page program. the program began in the early 1800s and continued up to 2011 when due to technological and staff changes house leadership decided pages were no longer critical to the legislative process and the program was end


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