From Shane, Scott. 2005. “Vietnam war intelligence ‘deliberately skewed,’ secret study says.” The New York Times, Friday, December 2.
In 1964, the National SecurityAgency (NSA) told officials and the public that North Vietnamese ships had attacked American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. Immediately, on August 4, 1964, President Johnson authorized airstrikes to “retaliate” for the “attack”. This expanded the American commitment to the Vietnam War.
The 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened.
We do not yet know who engineered or authorized the false Gulf of Tonkin story.
NSA historian Robert J. Hanyok’s research uncovered the lie. “The overwhelming body of (intelligence) reports, if used, would have told the story that no attack had happened,” his 2001 study finds. “So a conscious effort ensued to ‘demonstrate’ that an attack occurred.”
Many of the NSA’s 30,000 employees had not considered the release of false intelligence ethical, and when historians submitted a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to see Hanyok’s study in 2003, the NSA worked to make the study and the research documents available to the public. They are now available at http://www.nsa.gov/vietnam/index.cfm.