Vietnam War Documents
|Vietnam War Documents
|The Pentagon Papers
US History Encyclopedia: Pentagon Papers
Popularly known as the Pentagon Papers, the "History of U.S. Decision Making Process on Vietnam Policy" is a forty-seven volume, 7,000-page, 2.5 million-word study that traces the involvement of the United States in Vietnam from World War II to 1968. Four thousand pages of the study consist of republished government documents; the balance comprises historical studies prepared by thirty-six civilian and military analysts and focused on particular events. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara commissioned the study in 1967 during the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Vietnam War had sparked serious dissent within the United States, and U.S. foreign policy was dominated by Cold War thinking that emphasized the importance of containing the spread of communism. Directed by Leslie H. Gelb, the study was completed shortly before Richard M. Nixon was sworn in as president in January 1969. The fifteen copies made were classified "top secret sensitive."
The first volumes of the study reviewed U.S. policy toward Indochina during and immediately following World War II, as well as the U.S. involvement in the Franco–Viet Minh War between 1950 and 1954, the Geneva Conference of 1954, and the origins of insurgency from 1954 to 1960. Most of the study, however, was devoted to the years following the election of President John F. Kennedy in 1960. It included detailed reviews of the overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem; the Tonkin Gulf episode; the decision to begin and expand the air war against North Vietnam; the decision to deploy U.S. ground forces in Vietnam; the buildup of those forces; the strategy for the use of troops; and the history of the war's diplomacy from 1964 to 1968.
As a history, the Pentagon Papers had shortcomings. The staff did not collect White House documents or conduct interviews, and the Central Intelligence Agency as well as other branches of government with held documents. Because the historical studies were based solely on the collected documents, the subjects analyzed were narrowly conceived and treated.
Believing that the public disclosure of the Pentagon Papers might shorten the war in Vietnam, Daniel Ellsberg, a defense department consultant working at the Rand Corporation, made the study available to the New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan in early 1971. On 13 June 1971 the New York Times published the first of a ten-part series on the Pentagon Papers under a headline that read: "VIETNAM ARCHIVE: PENTAGON STUDY TRACES 3 DECADES OF GROWING U.S. INVOLVEMENT." The opening paragraph of that first article sounded a theme that many thought distilled the salient meaning of this government study: the U.S. government had through successive administrations misled the American public about "a sense of commitment to a non-Communist Vietnam, a readiness to fight the North to protect the South, and an ultimate frustration with this effort."
Initially the Pentagon Papers drew little public attention or comment, but when the United States obtained a temporary restraining order barring the New York Times from publishing its fourth installment, the dry and tedious study captured national attention. The government initiated litigation premised on the claim that further publication would endanger national security at a time when U.S. combat troops were fighting a land war in Vietnam, and proceeded frantically through all three levels of the federal courts. Eventually the Washington Post and other newspapers became involved. On 30 June 1971, in New York Times Co. v. United States,403 U.S. 713, the United States Supreme Court, by a vote of 6 to 3, denied the government's request for a prior restraint on the ground that the government's evidence fell short of what the constitution required. The outcome was widely hailed as a landmark in the history of free press.
The United States criminally prosecuted Ellsberg and Anthony J. Russo, who had helped in photocopying the study, mainly on charges of espionage, but in 1973 U.S. District Judge William M. Byrne dismissed the charges because of government misconduct. There is no evidence that the public disclosure of the Pentagon Papers injured national security as the government contended it would. The disclosure had no discernible impact on the course of the war, did not appreciably reignite the antiwar movement with in the United States, and did not result in the commencement of war-crimes prosecution against high-level U.S. officials.
The entire Pentagon Papers episode was, however, a critical turning point for the Nixon administration, which located within the White House a group that became known as the "Plumbers Unit." Ostensibly charged with investigating the improper disclosure ("leaks") of classified information, in the fall of 1971 this group burglarized the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist in search of information about Ellsberg and his accomplices. Nine months later it broke into the headquarters of the Democratic Party at the Watergate building complex in Washington, D.C. Thus, the Pentagon Papers indirectly led to the Watergate scandal, which caused Nixon to resign the presidency on 9 August 1974.
Herring, George C., ed. The Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War: The Negotiating Volumes of the Pentagon Papers. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983.
The Pentagon Papers: The Defense Department History of United States Decision-Making on Vietnam. 4 vols. Boston: Beacon Press, 1971.
Rudenstine, David. The Day the Presses Stopped: A History of the Pentagon Papers Case. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
Sheehan, Neil, et al. The Pentagon Papers: As Published by the New York Times, Based on Investigative Reporting by Neil Sheehan. New York: Bantam, 1971.
Ungar, Sanford J. The Papers and the Papers: An Account of the Legal and Political Battle over the Pentagon Papers. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.
|The Truth About Vietnam's Tet Offensive
The Lies of Tet, published in the Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2008, by Arthur Herman. Arthur Herman is the author of "Ghandi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age," published by Bantam Dell
The First Tet Offensive of 1789, by Spencer C. Tucker. The original Tet Offensive in 1789 was a masterpiece of surprise that became the model for the 1968 attack.
Tet 1968 - "I WAS THERE AND THAT'S NOT THE WAY IT WAS," by Leonard Magruder, October 23, 2006. In the 60's-70's, my thing was walking out in the middle of a campus anti-war protest and handing out literature showing that they were idiots. One of these protests took place at the University of Nevada in 1968, the year of the Tet Offensive. Vets returning home told me the media was lying about it coming and going.
The Legacy of Tet, by J. R. Dunn, December 20, 2005, American Thinker. Military historian J.R. Dunn analyzes the communist Tet offensive of February 1968, showing how an adversarial U.S. media misrepresented a decisive American and South Vietnamese military victory as a disastrous defeat.
In commemoration of the Tet Offensive of 1968, Dr. Bai An Tran, a former RVN judge and professor of criminology at the Vietnamese National Police Academy, wrote a new perspective (Viet Catholic News, Feb 2008), regarding Eddie Adams' Pulitzer prize winning picture, "AFTER 40 YEARS OF THE TET OFFENSIVE IN THE VIETNAM WAR: HALF OF THE TRUTH DECIPHERED."
Dr. Bai An Tran is a graduate of Saigon Law University with a Law Degree in 1964. He was appointed to Saigon Municipal Court and was the youngest and one of the most respected Judges at the time. In 1967, the Vietnam National Police Academy invited Dr. Tran to teach Criminology and Criminal Procedures at the Academy. He also taught Criminology at Van Hanh University in Saigon. In 1974, Dr. Tran received his Doctor of Law degree (Ph.D.) from the same Saigon Law University. His Doctoral Thesis was highly praised by the Committee of Examiners. After the fall of Saigon, Dr. Tran resettled in San Jose, Northern California. Dr. Tran was instrumental in the establishment and development of the Vietnamese Catholic Community in San Jose. To serve his community, Dr. Tran published the Chinh Nghia (Good Cause) Weekly Magazine from 1986 to 2001 and he developed a weekly radio program Tieng Vong Tinh Thuong (Echoes of Love) where he served as Editor in 1992 through 2005. He continues to write for various Vietnamese language newspapers in the States and, on many special occasions, has been invited as guest speaker.
Genral Nguyen Ngoc Loan executes Vietcong Captain Nguyen Van Lem, alias Bay Lop.
In the morning of the second day of Tet, January 31st, 1968, when general Nguyen Ngoc Loan was leading a fierce fight near An Quang Pagoda in Saigon's Chinese quarter, two of his officers brought to him a communist cadre who had murdered many innocents in cold-blood in the past couple days. He was Captain Nguyen Van Lem, alias Bay Lop.
Minutes before he was captured, Bay Lop had killed a RVN policeman's wife and all of his family members including his children. Around 4:30 A.M., Nguyen Van Lem led a sabotage unit along with Viet Cong tanks to attack the Armor Camp in Go Vap. After communist troops took control of the base, Bay Lop arrested Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Tuan with his family and forced him to show them how to drive tanks. When Lieutenant Colonel Tuan refused to cooperate, Bay Lop killed all members of his family including his 80-year-old mother. There was only one survivor, a seriously injured 10-year-old boy.
Nguyen Van Lem was captured near a mass grave with 34 innocent civilian bodies. Lem admitted that he was proud to carry out his unit leader's order to kill these people. Lem was in his shorts and shirt. His arms were tied from the back. The pistol was still in his possession. General Loan executed Nguyen Van Lem on the spot.
Eddie Adams, a photographer of AP was on scene. He took the picture. General Loan explained to Adams: "This Viet Cong killed many Americans and many of my men."
On Nguyen Ngoc Loan and his famous photograph, Adams wrote in Time: "The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapons in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn't say was, 'What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American people?"
General Nguyen Ngoc Loan passed away on July 14, 1998. Eddie Adams wrote this eulogy in Time magazine, July 27, 1998.
The Press and the TET Offensive, a flawed institution under stress, Air University Review, November-December 1978.
Big Story book review. The best book on the Tet Offensive was by the Saigon bureau chief of one of America's most liberal newspapers.
The Silent Tears in Hue City. "In the darkness of the 1968 Tet's Eve, North Vietnamese Communist Army units conducted a surprise attack at Hue City, while the two sides were in a truce that had been agreed upon previously. South Vietnamese Army units defending the city were not in good positions to fight as they expected that the enemy would abide by their 4-day cease-fire promise, as they did in the preceding years. On the first day of the new year - the Year of the Monkey - Hue City streets were filled with NVA soldiers in baggy olive uniforms and pithy hats." To read about the Tet Offensive and massacre at Hue, please follow this link, http://www.vietquoc.com/war-frame.htm
Viet Quoc is the shortened form of VietNam Quoc Dan Dang (also known as VNQDD, or Vietnamese National Party). The Viet Quoc Spirit has been one that leads generations of Vietnamese in struggling for independence, freedom and prosperity of Vietnam since 1927. This homepage is of a group of Viet Quoc members of all ages, to express their opinions about VietNam and promote the Viet Quoc Spirit in the common struggle for the better life of the Vietnamese people. Permission was granted to use their information for this site.
During the Tet Offensive of 1968, the communists attacked and seized control of the central city of Hue for a month. During this time, they executed around 3,000–6,000 people that they had taken prisoner, out of a total population of 140,000. The communists had compiled a list of "reactionaries" to be liquidated before their assault. Known for their virulent anti-communism, VNQDD members appeared to have been disproportionately targeted in the massacre.
After the Fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War, the remnants of the VNQDD were again targeted by the victorious communists. As Vietnam is a single-party state run by the Vietnamese Communist Party, the VNQDD is illegal. Some VNQDD members fled to the West, where they continued their political activities. The VNQDD remains respected among some sections of the overseas Vietnamese community as Vietnam's leading anti-communist organization. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viet_Nam_Quoc_Dan_Dang
|U.S. Army Special Warfare School (Fort Bragg, North Carolina)
Reference material for the military advisor in Vietnam. This handbook reflects the doctrine taught at the Special Warfare School in the 1960's and early 1970's. The handbook was prepared for use in the MATA (Military Assistance and Training Advisory) courses of instruction and served as a ready reference for advisors in Vietnam. There's also the more currentFOUO (For Official Use Only) MNF-I COIN handbook, published in May 2006. Although this is not an "Advisor Handbook", it does have sections specifically targeted to those in advisory positions.
For Official Use Only (FOUO) is a document designation, not a classification. This designation is used by Department of Defense and a number of other federal agencies to identify information or material which, although unclassified, may not be appropriate for public release.
There is no national policy governing use of the For Official Use Only designation. DoD Directive 5400.7 defines For Official Use Only information as "unclassified information that may be exempt from mandatory release to the public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)." The policy is implemented by DoD Regulation 5400.7-R and 5200.1-R.
|V I E T N A M P R I M E R, Lessons Learned
The Vietnam Primer, Lessons Learned book is a A critique of U.S. Army tactics and command practices in the small combat unit digested from historical research of main fighting operations from May, 1966 to February, 1967. The material presented in this document was prepared by Brigadier General S. L. A. Marshall, U.S.Army, Retired, and Lieutenant Colonel David H. Hackworth, Infantry. Foreward by HAROLD K. JOHNSON, General, United States Army, Chief of Staff.
|Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform, 10 part series, Vietnam and the Media
From the archives of Vietnam Veterans for Academic Reform, Leonard Magruder, Founder/President, Former professor of psychology - Suffolk College, N.Y., Member: National Association of Scholars.
|Vietnam War Combat Artists
Click here to read more about the U.S. Army Vietnam Combat Artists, and artist Jim Pollock
The National Constitution Center (NCC) in Philadelphia is mounting a major exhibit called ART OF THE AMERICAN SOLDIER. One of the components of the exhibit is a WEB GALLERY, which is open to any former soldier, any branch of any era that has current or past art relating to their military experience.
NCC main web site located at http://constitutioncenter.org/. Click on the ART OF THE AMERICAN SOLDIER box to go to the online gallery and get an overview of the show
To submit your art go to the submit page http://constitutioncenter.org/artOfTheAmericanSoldier/website/forms/submit.aspx. Tell a little about the art and your experience in the text part of the submit form.
To view the online gallery go to http://constitutioncenter.org/artOfTheAmericanSoldier/website/gallery/timeline.aspx
You can view the posted artwork of Vietnam Veterans Randall, Fairrington and Pollock by going to the gallery http://constitutioncenter.org/artOfTheAmericanSoldier/website/gallery/timeline.aspx. To search by artists put in their last name.
|The Vietnam War: Why It Was Impossible for the U.S. to Stay Uninvolved
U.S. complicity in the overthrow of South Vietnam's president made it impossible to stay uninvolved in the war. This article was written by Colonel William Wilson, U.S. Army (ret.) and was originally published in the April 1997 issue of Vietnam Magazine
General William C. Westmoreland, who seven months after Diem's assassination replaced General Paul Harkins as commander of MACV, summed up the consequences of President Kennedy's involvement. “In his zeal, the young president made a grievous mistake in assenting to the overthrow of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963,” Westmoreland said. “In my view that action morally locked us in Vietnam. If it had not been for our involvement in the overthrow of President Diem, we could perhaps have gracefully withdrawn our support when South Vietnam's lack of unity and leadership became apparent.”
|Why would anyone need to lie about having been in Vietnam?
O, the stained souls, the small-hours doubts, the troubled manhood of so many American men who didn't go to Vietnam when they could have -- the strange guilt they seem to feel when they confront Vietnam veterans.
By Henry Allen, Thursday, May 20, 2010; A21, The Washington Post
|Heroes of the VIETNAM Generation
My heroes are the young men who faced the issues of war and possible death, and then weighed those concerns against obligations to their country. Citizen-soldiers who interrupted their personal and professional lives at their most formative stage, in the timeless phrase of the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, "not for fame or reward, not for place or for rank, but in simple obedience to duty, as they understood it."
By Former Secretary of the Navy, James Webb. The American Enterprise, September 2000
Former Secretary of the Navy James Webb was awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star, and Bronze Star medals for heroism as a Marine in Vietnam. His novels include The Emperor's General and Fields of Fire.
CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence
On 13 March 2009, the CIA Center for the Study of Intelligence released "six volumes of previously classified books detailing various aspects of the CIA's operations in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the 1960's and 1970's. The works were distributed and discussed at a conference hosted by Texas Tech University's Vietnam Center and Archive." The documents were written by CIA historian Thomas L. Ahern Jr., and "draw on operations files as well as interviews with key participants." Cory Chandler, CIA Releases Newly Declassified Assessments of Vietnam War-era Intelligence, Texas Tech Today, 16 Mar. 2009.
CIA and the House of Ngo: Covert Action in South Vietnam 1954-63
CIA and the Generals Covert Support to Military Government in South Vietnam. Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, . From Gerald K. Haines, "Foreword": This work "traces the tortuous course of events in Saigon following the fall of President Ngo Dinh Diem. Ahern strikingly illustrates Saigon Station efforts to work with and understand the various military governments of South Vietnam which followed Diem, and carefully details CIA attempts to stabilize and urge democratization on the changing military regimes."
CIA and Rural Pacification in South Vietnam. Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, . From Gerald K. Haines, "Foreword": "Convinced that the export of democracy and economic prosperity would solve South Vietnam's problems, despite the lack of democratic traditions or institutions, US leaders began an experiment in nation building in that small country. The CIA played a key role in these efforts.... Ahern tells this ultimately tragic story from the perspective of the CIA Saigon Station and the field operations."
CIA's Estimates Arms Traffic through Sihanoukville Cambodia During the Vietnam War. Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 2004. From "Foreword": "Sihanoukville as an analytical problem arose in a welter of raw reports, some of them alleging an arms traffic that did not exist for a full two years after the first claims for it. As an analytical failure, however, it emerged only after the bulk of the empirical evidence, gradually increasing in volume and improving in source authenticity, began contradicting Agency estimates. Understanding a failure to modify conventional wisdom, rather than assigning responsibility for not seeing the pattern in a chaos of dots, is thus the main object of this study."
Black Entry Operations into North Vietnam 1961 to 1964. Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 2005. From "Introduction": This "story of the agents and black teams inserted into North Vietnam is offered as an object lesson in what happens when eagerness to please trumps objective self-analysis, when the urge to preserve a can-do self-image delays the recognition of a failed -- indeed, archaic -- operational technique."
Undercover Armies CIA and Surrogate Warfare in Laos 1961 to 1973. Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 2006. From "Introduction": "[U]ltimate failure, in Laos at least, is an inadequate criterion by which to judge the quality of the effort devoted to a lost cause. CIA's performance there was certainly not without flaws, but the story of the 'secret war' in Laos reveals an admirable record of flexible, economical management and sound tactical judgment. An even more remarkable aspect of that record is the Agency's steady, pragmatic accommodation of cultural sensitivities and of amorphous, competitive command relationships." (p. xvii)