From the New York Times, July 14, 2010…
“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 Albert Gore Sr. of Tennessee, the father of the future vice president, said in March 1968 in a closed session of the Foreign Relations Committee.
And yes indeed, the country had been misled, but there were no consequences for any of the liars who lied us into Vietnam.
At another point, the committee’s chairman, Senator William Fulbright, Democrat of Arkansas, raised concerns that if the senators did not take a stand on the war, “We are just a useless appendix on the governmental structure.”
And thirty years later, in 2001 and 2003, that same “useless appendix,” the United States Senate, was once again stampeded into endorsing useless wars based on nothing but lies.
Even at the time, there was widespread skepticism about the Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which the North Vietnamese were said to have attacked American destroyers on Aug. 4, 1964, two days after an earlier clash.
In the end, however, the senators did not further pursue their doubts. As Mr. Church said in one session that was focused on the staff report into the episode, 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.”
“We have a case that will discredit the military of the United States,” said Frank Church, but this was a ridiculous exaggeration.
Would their case have discredited private soldiers on the field of battle, bravely advancing against the enemy?
Would their case have discredited junior officers or even brigade or division commanders?
But their case would have totally discredited the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the CIA, and the President of the United States, and was saving those goddamned liars more important than the 58,000 American soldiers who were killed in Vietnam?
Was saving those goddamned liars more important than the 2,000,000 Vietnamese civilians who perished in that senseless war?
And the answer was yes, for the Washington elite, and even for liberal Democrats like Frank Church and William Fulbright.
But would the American public have been so eager to sacrifice so many lives for nothing, if they had known the truth?
“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,” said Senator Frank Church.
“You cannot expect the people to exercise their judgment if the truth is concealed from them.”
And how was the truth concealed?