February 24, 2004

Where are Iraq's Pentagon papers?:

"I've been here before. On my first full-time day of work as a high-level staff aide in the Pentagon, Aug. 4, 1964, I heard President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara explain our first bombing raids against North Vietnam as a response to 'unequivocal evidence' of an 'unprovoked' attack on our destroyers 'on routine patrol' in the Tonkin Gulf. Already that night I knew, along with many other Pentagon insiders, that each of these statements was a lie..."

The captain of the destroyer in question attributed the scare to "freak weather effects and an overeager sonarman" and sent a cable recommending that no further action be taken. But the Senator who managed passage of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which launched the USA into the Vietnam War, did not know of that cable.

"He hadn't known of that cable because I, among many others, didn't tell him. I didn't dream of doing such a thing at the time; and if the thought had occurred to me, I'm sure I would have rejected it. Now I wish fervently that I had made those cables ... available to Congress and the electorate that same autumn, before the bombs had started falling. When I finally did so belatedly in 1971, former Senator Wayne Morse, who had cast one of the two dissenting votes in 1964, told me that if I had given him those documents at that time, "The Tonkin Gulf Resolution would never have gotten out of committee. And if it had been brought to a vote, it would never have passed." That's a heavy burden to bear."


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