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Hiding the Gulf of Tonkin Lie
It should come as no surprise the NSA “has kept secret a 2001 finding by its own historian that its officers deliberately distorted critical intelligence during the Tonkin Gulf episode that helped precipitate the Vietnam War,” according to the New York Times. “Most historians have concluded in recent years there was no second attack [against US destroyers on August 4, 1964], but they have assumed the agency’s intercepts were unintentionally misread, not purposely altered. The research by Robert Hanyok, the agency’s historian, was detailed four years ago in an in-house article that remains secret, in part because agency officials feared its release might prompt uncomfortable comparisons with the flawed intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq, according to an intelligence official.”
Of course, it makes perfect sense for the NSA to hide the findings, especially now as the American people are beginning to realize Bush and crew “deliberately distorted critical intelligence” (in other words, they lied) in regard to the fantasy Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. “This material is relevant to debates we as Americans are having about the war in Iraq and intelligence reform,” Matthew Aid, an independent historian, told the Times.
Lies are employed invariably to sell wars. Recall “Nayirah,” supposedly a normal fifteen year old Kuwaiti girl, who claimed to witness “Iraqi soldiers come into the [al-Addan hospital] with guns, and go into the room where …  babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die.” As it turns out, “Nayirah” was a member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family. “Her father, in fact, was Saud Nasir al-Sabah, Kuwait’s Ambassador to the US, who sat listening in the hearing room during her testimony,” according to John R. MacArthur (Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf WarBerkeley; see How PR Sold the War in the Persian Gulf). Nayirah’s tearful story was a lie fabricated by Hill & Knowlton, then the world’s largest PR firm, in collusion with California Democrat Tom Lantos and Illinois Republican John Porter.
Three months passed between Nayirah’s testimony and the start of the war. During those months, the story of babies torn from their incubators was repeated over and over again. President Bush told the story. It was recited as fact in Congressional testimony, on TV and radio talk shows, and at the UN Security Council. “Of all the accusations made against the dictator,” MacArthur observed, “none had more impact on American public opinion than the one about Iraqi soldiers removing 312 babies from their incubators and leaving them to die on the cold hospital floors of Kuwait City.”
“[C]onscious, manipulative lies were also at the root of American attacks on Cuba in 1898, US intervention into World War I in 1917 and in Vietnam. These lies are as proven and irrefutable as the unconscionable deception that dragged the US into Iraq in 2003,” writes Harvey Wasserman. “In Cuba, the 1898 sinking of the battleship Maine brought the US into war with Spain. The people of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines were in revolt against the crumbling Spanish empire. Media baron William Randolph Hearst, the era’s Rupert Murdoch, wanted a war to sell papers and promote ‘jingo’ power. He portrayed the Spaniards barbaric rapists and worse. In the name of democracy and freedom, Hearst and pro-war fanatics like Theodore Roosevelt demanded US intervention.”
The sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania on May 7, 1915 was portrayed as a barbaric crime by the “Huns” of Germany and was used to get the United States involved in World War I. As it turns out, the Lusitania “carried, under the guise of bales of fur and cheese boxes, 3 inch (76mm) shells and millions of rounds of rifle ammunition. These materials comprised ‘a contraband and explosive cargo which was forbidden by American law and… should never have been placed on a passenger liner,’” according to the historian Colin Simpson (The Lusitania; see this Wikipedia entry). Immediately after the sinking, Germany accused Britain of deliberately conspiring to have the Lusitania sunk to draw the United States in World War I on the side of the Allies. “A substantial majority of Americans angrily opposed US intervention, saying only bankers would profit and that war,” adds Wasserman.
But in April 1917, reviving bloody images of the Lusitania, Wilson dragged the US into the slaughter. More than 100,000 Americans died. Under cover of war, federal marshals burned and blew up offices of the Socialist Party and radical unions like the Industrial Workers of the World. Wilson shredded the Bill of Rights and jailed, deported or killed thousands of organizers. Eugene V. Debs, the beloved leader of the American labor movement, was thrown in federal prison.
As Charles C. Tansill, professor of diplomatic history at Georgetown University, notes, the bankers and corporate bosses, through their appointed presidents and bought and paid for “representatives” of the American people, plan their profitable wars far in advance. “The policy of pressure upon Japan antedated [President Roosevelt’s Secretary of War Henry] Stimson some two decades,” writes Tansill.
Under Woodrow Wilson, a three-pronged offensive was launched against Nippon [Japan]… In January, 1915, the American minister at Peking… sent to the Department of State a series of dispatches so critical in tone that they helped to create in American minds a fixation of Japanese wickedness that made eventual war with Japan a probability.
“Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars,” Roosevelt lied during the 1940 election campaign. “FDR’s military and State Department leaders were agreeing that a victorious Nazi Germany would threaten the national security of the United States,” writes Doug Cirignano. “In White House meetings the strong feeling was that America needed a call to action. This is not what the public wanted, though. Eighty to ninety percent of the American people wanted nothing to do with Europe’s war. So, according to Stinnett, Roosevelt provoked Japan to attack us, let it happen at Pearl Harbor, and thus galvanized the country to war.”
Americans are generally ignorant of this sordid history of war waged under false pretense, as the so-called Plame Affair demonstrates. At the core of the Plame Affair is the conspiracy to invade the Middle East, bomb defenseless countries, sow chaos, destroy recalcitrant societies and culture, and steal natural resources. The NSA kept the Tonkin Gulf report secret because they knew releasing the information would “prompt uncomfortable comparisons,” in other words the American people would put two and two together and arrive at the conclusion that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was predicated on lies, as was the Vietnam War.