Intelligence on Vietnam War 'faked'
By New York
Age" -- -- ONE of America's top spy agencies faked
key intelligence used to justify its intervention in the Vietnam
War, it has been revealed.
But the revelation was kept secret by the National Security Agency,
partly because of fears that it would boost criticism of the
intelligence services over the war in Iraq.
According to material uncovered by the NSA's own historian, Robert
Hanyok, middle-ranking officers altered material relating to the
Gulf of Tonkin incident.
Two US destroyers, Maddox and Turner Joy, were attacked by North
Vietnamese craft in the gulf on August 2, 1964. Two days later, amid
bad weather and considerable confusion in the US chain of command,
Maddox reported that it had been fired on a second time.
Although its commander soon cast doubt on the reports, signals
intelligence reported that the North Vietnamese admitted "we
sacrificed two ships".
In revenge president Lyndon Johnson ordered air raids against North
Vietnamese naval facilities and Congress authorised "all necessary
steps including the use of armed force" to defend South Vietnam.
But Mr Hanyok found that timings on key intelligence intercepts had
been changed and the "two ships" probably referred to the loss of
two sailors in the first attack.
He blamed middle-ranking staff who realised the NSA's mistakes
almost immediately but covered them up, not for political reasons
but to hide the original mistakes.
At the time, senior administration officials cited the faked
paperwork in testimony before Congress. It has even been suggested
that President Johnson was so keen to deploy troops that he
fabricated the whole episode.
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