“It was just confusion, and events afterwards showed that our judgment that we’d been attacked that day was wrong. It didn’t happen.” ~ Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense in 1964
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.
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.
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.