Elected Reps. chose to hide details from American public for fear of reprisals from “the big forces” that run the media and the presidency
Over 1,100 pages of previously classified Vietnam-era transcripts released this week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee highlight the fact that several Senators knew that the White House and the Pentagon had deceived the American people over the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident.
The latest releases, which document skepticism over the pretext for entry into the Vietnam war, date from 1968.
Four years into the war, senators were at loggerheads with Lyndon B. Johnson. At the time Foreign Relations Committee meetings were held behind closed doors.
It would take over thirty years for the truth to emerge that the Aug. 4, 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, where US warships were apparently attacked by North Vietnamese PT Boats – an incident that kicked off US involvement in the Vietnam war – was a staged event that never actually took place.
However, the records now show that at the time senators knew this was the case.
In a March 1968 closed session of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Albert Gore Sr. of Tennessee, the father of former vice president Al Gore, noted:
“If this country has been misled, if this committee, this Congress, has been misled by pretext into a war in which thousands of young men have died, and many more thousands have been crippled for life, and out of which their country has lost prestige, moral position in the world, the consequences are very great,”
Senator Frank Church, Democrat of Idaho, said in an executive session in February 1968:
“In a democracy you cannot expect the people, whose sons are being killed and who will be killed, to exercise their judgment if the truth is concealed from them,”
Other senators were keen to withhold the truth about Tonkin in order not to inflame public opinion on the war:
Senator Mike Mansfield, Democrat of Montana, stated, “You will give people who are not interested in facts a chance to exploit them and to magnify them out of all proportion.”
Mansfield was referring to the proposed release of a committee staff investigation that raised doubts over whether the Tonkin incident ever took place.
The committee decided in the end to effectively conceal the truth, with Senator Church noting that if the committee came up with proof that an attack never occurred, “we have a case that will discredit the military in the United States, and discredit and quite possibly destroy the president.”
He also noted that if the senators were to follow up on their skepticism over Tonkin, “The big forces in this country that have most of the influence and run most of the newspapers and are oriented toward the presidency will lose no opportunity to thoroughly discredit this committee.”
The LBJ Presidential tapes, declassified and released in 2001, prove that LBJ knew the Tonkin incident never happened. After dressing down his Defence Secretary Robert McNamara for misleading him, Johnson then discussed how to politically spin the non-event and escalate it as justification for air strikes.
“You just came in a few weeks ago and said they’re launching an attack on us – they’re firing at us,” Johnson tells McNamara in one conversation, “and we got through with the firing and concluded maybe they hadn’t fired at all.”
The NSA also deliberately faked intelligence data to make it appear as if two US ships had been lost in the “attack”.
Johnson used the 1964 false flag event to expand dramatically the scale of the Vietnam War by ushering in the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, as well as to rope in much needed domestic support with the Congress and public.
Perhaps if the Foreign Relations Committee hadn’t been so afraid of “the big forces” controlling America, a large percentage of the almost 60,000 American soldiers and 2 million Vietnamese people wouldn’t have lost their lives.
Sadly, modern day elected representatives have failed the American people in exactly the same way over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.