[Committee Reprint]

The Gulf of Tonkin, The 1964 Incidents - Part II

Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Relations
United States Senate
Ninetieth Congress
Second Session

Supplementary Documents to February 20, 1968
Hearing With Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara,

December 16, 1968


COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS

J. W. FULBRIGHT, Arkansas, Chairman

JOHN SPARKMAN, Alabama

     

BOURKE B. HICKENLOOPER, Iowa

MIKE MANSFIELD, Montana

     

GEORGE D. AIKEN, Vermont

WAYNE MORSE, Oregon

     

FRANK CARLSON, Kansas

ALBERT GORE, Tennessee

     

KARL E. MUNDT, South Dakota

FRANK J. LAUSCHE, Ohio

     

CLIFFORD P. CASE, New Jersey

FRANK CHURCH, Idaho

     

JOHN SHERMAN COOPER, Kentucky

STUART SYMINGTON, Missouri

     

JOHN J. WILLIAMS, Delaware

THOMAS J. DODD, Connecticut

     

 

JOSEPH S. CLARK, Pennsylvania

     

 

CLAIBORNE PELL, Rhode Island

 

 

EUGENE J. MCCARTHY, Minnesota

 

 

Carl Marcy, Chief of Staff

Arthur M. Kuhl, Chief Clerk

[II]


PREFACE

The Committee on Foreign Relations on February 20, 1968, authorized the release of the transcript of an executive hearing on the Gulf of Tonkin incidents of 1964. This hearing was essentially a review with former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara of the 1964 incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin which led to the first U.S. bombing of North Vietnam.

The hearing was released after a review of the transcript for possible security matters within 48 hours because of the high public interest in the hearing. As a result, a number of items asked for by committee members for insertion in the record were unavailable at the time of publication.

These inserts to the record and other supplemental material, published herein as Part II, are clearly part of the public record of the February 20, 1968, hearings. Because of the possible historical interest of these supplemental documents, they are now being made public. As in the case of the original hearing the Department of Defense has examined these supplemental documents for possible security matters and the few deletions for such reasons have been noted in the text.

During the 1968 hearing there was considerable discussion of the breadth of the territorial waters claimed by North Vietnam. It was the position of the Defense Department in February of 1968 that because North Vietnam had not formally claimed 12 miles as the breadth of its territorial sea until September of 1964 the United States was not violating North Vietnam's self-proclaimed territorial waters in August of 1964 when U.S. naval vessels came no closer than 3 miles from North Vietnam. Because a number of Senators during the 1964 Senate debate on the Southeast Asia resolution assumed that North Vietnam claimed the 12-mile limit the documents included in this report should be of particular interest.

Another point of difference between some members of the committee and the Secretary of Defense was the relative credibility of two North Vietnamese officers captured by the U.S. forces. The exchange of letters between the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and Paul Warnke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, should help to resolve this issue.

These documents are not offered with the view to revive the controversy over the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin but to complete, to the best of the committee's ability, the public record.

I take this opportunity to re-emphasize that the committee's examination of Secretary McNamara as well as the material published here is based exclusively upon official documents provided by the Department

[III]


[IV]

of Defense. While several participants in the Tonkin incidents--or individuals in some way associated with the incidents--have voluntarily offered information, it was decided early during our reexamination of this incident to limit published material to that related directly to official documents or communications. I might add, however, that nothing of an unofficial nature which has come to the committee's attention would, in my opinion, alter in any significant way conclusions which might be reached by a careful examination of the printed record.

J. W. Fulbright, Chairman.


CONTENTS

 

Page

Preface

III

Initial exchange of letters

1

The deployment of air units

8

Territorial seas

9

Subsequent exchange of letters

11

[V]


THE GULF OF TONKIN, THE 1964 INCIDENTS
PART II


A. INITIAL EXCHANGE OF LETTERS AFTER

FEBRUARY 20, 1968 HEARINGS

United States Senate,
Committee on Foreign Relations,
Washington, D.C, March 1, 1968.

Hon. Clark M. Clifford,
Secretary of Defense,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Secretary: When Secretary of Defense McNamara appeared before the Committee on Foreign Relations on February 20, 1968, to review the incidents which occurred in the Tonkin Gulf in August 1964, he agreed to provide the following information for the record:

1. The exact number of American troops stationed in Vietnam at the end of 1963.

2. Whether recommendations were made by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to extend the war to North Vietnam.

3. The number and location of air units deployed to Southeast Asia between August 5, 1964, and February 1965.

4. Measures taken, if any, by American troops to prevent infiltration by North Korean troops into South Korea.

5. The status of the command and control report evaluating the Tonkin Bay incidents.

I enclose a copy of this testimony for your information. [Omitted here.]

In addition, could you provide me with the document referred to by Secretary McNamara in which North Vietnam, on September 1, 1964, declared that her territorial seas extend 12 miles.

I would also appreciate having the names and affiliations of all men aboard the Maddox in July and August 1964 who were not part of the regular crew.

I am grateful for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely yours,

J. W. Fulbright, Chairman.

[1]


[2]

Assistant Secretary of Defense,
Washington, D.C., April 4, 1968.

Hon. J. W. Fulbright,
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations,
U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Chairman: Secretary Clifford has asked me to reply to your letter of March 1, 1968. The following is provided in answer to the correspondingly numbered questions contained in your letter:

1. 16,263.

2. During the first part of 1964 prior to the Tonkin Gulf incidents of August, the Joint Chiefs of Staff examined several possible types of military action which might be brought against North Vietnam in order to deter that country from continuing its aggression against South Vietnam. Contingency planning for these actions was taken. However, no definitive recommendation for extending the war to the north had in fact been made by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

3. See enclosure (1).

4. See enclosure (2).

5. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has again reviewed the status of the so-called command and control study to which your letter refers. He confirms the fact that this was an internal study and one of a series directed to the mechanics of the national military command system. It was not intended to be, nor does it constitute, a comprehensive evaluation of the incidents themselves. It was not prepared for review by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As you have previously been informed, the author of the study did not have access to sources of information that would be essential to an overall evaluation of the incidents. In light of the foregoing, the study is not considered appropriate for dissemination outside the Department.

In response to your additional requests, enclosure (3) is an opinion by the Judge Advocate General of the Navy as to the breadth of the territorial sea claimed by North Vietnam. Paragraph 8 of that document and enclosure (2) thereto is the source of Secretary McNamara's statement as to the North Vietnamese "claim" made on September 1, 1964.

Enclosure (4) gives the names and affiliation (at that time) of all men aboard Maddox in July and August 1964, who were not part of the regular crew.

Sincerely,

Paul C. Warnke.


Enclosure (1) to Letter From Assistant Secretary Warnke, April 4, 1968

Air Units Moved to South Vietnam and Thailand Between Tonkin Gulf Incidents and End of February 1965

The chronology regarding the movement of air units to South Vietnam or Thailand between the Tonkin Gulf incident (August 4, 1964, and February 1965) is listed below:


[3]

AUG. 4, 19641

Type of aircraft

Number

From--

To--

KB-50

4

Yokota Air Base, Japan

Takhli Air Base, Thailand.

B-57

36

Clark Air Base, Philippine Islands

Bien Hoa Air Base, South Vietnam.

F-100

4

do

Takhli Air Base, Thailand.

RF-101

2

Misawa Air Base, Japan

Tan Son Nhut Airfield, South Vietnam.

F-102

6

Clark Air Base, Philippine Islands

Da Nang Airport, South Vietnam.

F-102

6

do

Tan Son Nhut Airfield, South Vietnam.

F-105

18

Yokota Air Base, Japan

Korat Air Base, Thailand.

AUG. 7, 19641

C-123

16

CONUS

Tan Son Nhut Airfield, South Vietnam.

SEPT. 4, 19641

RB-57E

2

CONUS

Tan Son Nhut Airfield, South Vietnam.

FEB. 7, 1965

Vietcong attack Pleiku
Flaming Dart I (reprisal strike) authorized by President. 49 7th Fleet aircraft attack Dong Hoi area north of DMZ.

FEB. 8, 1965

COMUSMACV ordered redeployment of following air units as a precautionary measure against possible Vietcong reprisal attacks:

Type of aircraft

Number

From--

To--

F-100

18

Da Nang, South Vietnam

Takhli, Thailand.

F-105

12

do

Korat, Thailand.

B-57

10

Bien Hoa, South Vietnam

Clark Air Base, Philippine Islands.

FEB. 9-28, 1965

No additional deployments.


Enclosure (2) to Letter of April 4, 1968

Comparison of 2d U.S. Division and ROK Divisions, DMZ Incidents and Casualties

1. Approximately three-fourths of the Korean DMZ firing incidents and nearly one-half of the DMZ firefights occurred in the 2d U.S. Division sector. Of 438 DMZ firing incidents during 1967, 359 occurred in the 1st U.S. Corps (GP) sector; 333 in the 2d U.S. Division zone. Of the total incidents 123 were actual firefights. Seventy-four


4

of these were in the 1st U.S. Corps (GP) sector, 56 in the 2d U.S. Division.

2. The U.S. troops are involved in firing incidents much more frequently than the [deleted] ROK divisions deployed on the DMZ and U.S. casualties were higher than the average ROK DMZ division. During 1967, 16 U.S. troops were killed and 63 were wounded while the [deleted] ROK DMZ divisions suffered a total of 73 troops killed and 165 wounded in DMZ actions for an average of eight killed and 18 wounded per ROK division.

3. The 2d U.S. Division also accounted for more North Korean casualties than the average ROK division. Thirteen North Koreans were killed and two captured in the 2d U.S. Division sector while 75 North Koreans were killed by the [deleted] ROK DMZ division. It is impossible to determine the total number of infiltrators or the percent of those effectively neutralized.

4. There are several reasons accounting for the high level of activity in the 2d U.S. Division area. The division lies astride the main approach from North Korea to Seoul. This route is the shortest, has some of the best transportation lines, and flat terrain leading to Seoul. This area is therefore subject to many attempts to infiltrate agents into Seoul and deeper into Korea.

5. There is also political motivation for concentrating on the 2d U.S. Division. North Korea gains more by hurting and embarrassing an American unit than a ROK unit. These missions also serve to test U.S. reaction to North Korean hostilities, and to support Pyongyang's propaganda theme that the presence of U.S. troops in Korea is the cause of current tension [deleted].

6. [Deleted.]


Enclosure (3) to Letter of April 4, 1968

Memorandum for the Secretary of the Navy From the Office of the Judge Advocate General,
Dated February 1, 1968

Subject: North Vietnamese territorial waters.
Enclosure:

(1.)  DNI message to ALUSNA, Saigon, dated May 1, 1963.

(2.)  International law file note concerning foreign broadcast intercept service No. 42 of September 1, 1964.

(3.)  [Deleted.]

1. The following information is submitted concerning the breadth of the territorial sea claimed by North Vietnam.

2. During the period between acquiring independence from French control and the Tonkin Bay incident of August 1964, North Vietnam issued no public announcement of a new claim to a territorial sea broader than the 3-mile claim of the French. Enclosure (1) dated May 1, 1963 noted:

"According best information, DRV has not publicly proclaimed limits of territorial seas or baselines and points from which measured. Absence of such proclamation possibly due fact DRV did not participate in 1958 or 1960 Conferences on Law of Sea. In absence of such a proclamation, it is assumed they possess the 3-mile limit established by international law. However, there is good possibility DRV will


5

subscribe to 12-mile limit claimed by other Communist nations if issue were raised. "

3. When the Sixth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution calling for a conference to consider the International Law Commission's draft articles on the Law of the Sea to be held in the spring of 1958, the French delegate, Mr. Pinto, stated that France wanted to maintain its traditional position in favor of a 3-mile limit. Furthermore, the prepared study for the U.S. delegation to the Second United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (1960) listed France as claiming a 3-mile territorial sea and further stated that she desired the least possible extension via any compromise that may arise.

4. Cambodia, a state previously under French rule, stated that although Cambodia had no legislation of its own on maritime law drafted since gaining its independence, it applied the principles of French law. This statement was contained in a letter of April 2, 1956, from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cambodia, and appears in the American Journal of International Law, volume 50 on page 1044. This letter further stated that Cambodia follows the rule of French law, under which the territorial sea has a breadth of 3 miles. Parenthetically, it is noted that Cambodia subsequently has increased its territorial seas claim.

5. It is a general principle of international law that the legal system of the former state remains in force in the territory of the succeeding state until modified by municipal legislation of the new sovereign or by the international conventions that have created the new state. The Geneva Accords are silent on the point of territorial seas, and as noted above North Vietnam has not made public any proclamation on this matter prior to the Tonkin Bay incident.

6. It is concluded therefore, that foreign states were entitled to rely on the application of the French claim of 3 miles in regard to the extent of the North Vietnamese claims to territorial sea limits. The fact that a sister successor state, Cambodia, publicly adopted the French 3-mile rule gives further justification to this reliance.

7. The United States was further free to rely on this position in view of the official announcement of the United States contained in the statement of Ambassador Arthur H. Dean, chairman to [sic] the American delegation to the Law of the Sea Convention in which he stated at the closing session of the 1958 conference in part as follows:

"We have made it clear that in our view there is no obligation on the part of states adhering to the 3-mile rule to recognize claims on the part of other states to a greater breadth of territorial sea. And on that we stand. (U. N. Conference on the Law of the Sea; Department of State Bulletin, June 30, 1958. )"

8. Even after the Tonkin incident, it is debatable whether Hanoi has made an official assertion sufficient to place other nations on notice of a 12-mile claim. Enclosure (2) reveals that Hanoi made a claim to 12 miles, on September 1, 1964, in a radio broadcast concerning the Tonkin incidents but no documentary substantiation of this claim appears to exist.

9. [Deleted.]

10. As a matter of fact, all Communist countries do not claim a 12-mile territorial sea. Examples are Cuba and Poland which claim 3 miles and Yugoslavia and Albania which claim 10 miles.


11. In summary, Indochina under French control had a 3-mile territorial sea. When North Vietnam became independent, it made no attempt to modify this 3-mile claim until after the Tonkin Bay incidents. Even following these incidents, North Vietnam has not officially promulgated a 12-mile claim, but only most informally indicates that it presently claims 12 miles.

Wilfred Hearn.


Director, Naval Intelligence Message to Saigon, Dated May 1, 1963
(Enclosure (1) to Memorandum for the Secretary of the Navy)

FM: DNI.
To: Alusna Saigon.
Info: CINCPACFLT, North Vietnamese International Waters.
A. Your 010339Z (NOTAL).

1. According best information, DRV has not publicly proclaimed limits of territorial seas or baselines and points from which measured. Absence of such proclamation possibly due fact DRV did not participate in 1958 or 1960 Conferences on Law of Sea. In absence of a proclamation, it is assumed they possess the 3-mile limit established by international law. However, there is good possibility DRV will subscribe to the 12-mile limit claimed by other Communist nations if issue were raised.

2. DRV and CHICOMS have two known agreements:

(a) "Maritime Transport Agreement" signed December 12, 1956, permits ships of both nations to use each others ports and facilities; gives preference to ships carrying goods and passengers; offers to exchange information on port facilities.

(b) Fishing agreement signed April 25, 1957, believed renewed in 1962, deals exclusively with exchange of mutual fishing rights.


International Law File Note Concerning Broadcast Transcript Service No. 42 of September 1, 1964
(Enclosure (2) to Memorandum for the Secretary of the Navy)

Vietnam (North) T. W. Claim

Foreign broadcast intercept service 42 of September 1, 1964. North Vietnam radio Hanoi stated concerning Gulf of Tonkin incident: "DRV declares the territorial sea is 12 miles."

[Deleted.]


Enclosure (4) to Letter of April 4, 1968

Men Aboard the "USS Maddox" in July and August 1964, Who Were Not Part of the Regular Crew

Name, rate, branch

Duty station

Allaire, Matthew Brian, Sgt, USMC

First Composite Radio Co. , Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii

Atchison, Ronald Stephen, CT2, USN

Naval [deleted] Activity, Taipei, Taiwan

Delaney, Samuel Warren, Sgt, USMC

Naval Communication Station, San Miguel, Philippines

Bolton, Victor James, CT2, USN

Naval [deleted] Activity, Kamiseya, Japan

Burdette, Harvey Nelson, CT2, USN

Naval [deleted] Activity, Taipei, Taiwan

Dixon, Thomas Luvern, CT2, USN

Naval Communication Station, San Miguel, Philippines

Gaughan, Thomas Anthony, Sgt, USMC

First Composite Radio Co. , Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii

McMahan, Arthur Blane, Cpl, USMC

First Composite Radio Co. , Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii

Moore, Gerrell Dean, Lt, USNR

Naval [deleted] Activity, Taipei, Taiwan

Prouty, David Alexander, Cpl, USMC

Naval Communication Station, San Miguel, Philippines

Stanton, James Harold, Cpl, USMC

First Composite Radio Co. , Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii

Zimbelman, Lyle, Jr. , CT1, USN

Naval [deleted] Activity, Taipei, Taiwan

Mitchell, Dennis Edward, CT1, USN

Naval Communication Station, San Miguel, Philippines

De Courley, Charles D. , CT2, USN

Naval Communication Station, San Miguel, Philippines

O'Rourke, Richard L. , CT3, USN

Naval Communication Station, San Miguel, Philippines

Bahm, Jack C, CT3, USN

Naval Communication Station, San Miguel, Philippines


B. THE DEPLOYMENT OF AIR UNITS

During the February 20, 1968 hearing the Chairman asked General Wheeler to check whether the United States was considering sending air units to South Vietnam and Thailand prior to the Tonkin incidents. General Wheeler said he would check that particular point.

The following information was later supplied and included in the published version of the February 20 hearing:

"We have not identified any air unit which had been alerted for movement into South Vietnam or Thailand prior to the Tonkin Gulf incidents. A check of the records is continuing. "

Subsequently the Joint Chiefs of Staff provided the following information on the further check of records:

Air Units Alerted for Movement to South Vietnam and Thailand Prior to the Tonkin Gulf Incidents

"The Joint Chiefs of Staff have not identified any air unit which had been alerted for movement into South Vietnam or Thailand prior to the Tonkin Gulf incidents."

(8)


C. TERRITORIAL SEAS

On the question of the territorial seas claimed by North Vietnam the February 1968 hearings contained the following text:

The Chairman. Mr. Secretary, why was the Maddox ordered to go within what the North Vietnamese believed to be their territorial waters and why, once the Maddox had received information that the North Vietnamese were in an uproar about the activities of the Maddox, did the ship not break off its patrol?

Secretary McNamara. Mr. Chairman, as I explained earlier, the North Vietnamese had not claimed waters beyond 3 miles, so I do not think the question is pertinent.

Senator Morse. Could I put in the record at that point, because I am confused about this--I take you back to page 24 of the May 24, 1966, executive hearings. The Chairman was examining Mr. John McNaughton and on the top of page 24 he first quoted from Secretary McNamara's testimony of August 6, 1964:

"As part of that, as I reported earlier to you this week, we understand the South Vietnamese sea force carried out patrol action around these islands and actually shelled the points they felt were associated with this infiltration. Our ships had absolutely no knowledge of it, were not connected with it, and in no sense of the word can be considered to have backstopped the effort."

Senator Morse. That is the quote from Secretary McNamara. Now to quote the Chairman on May 24, 1966:

"First, I want to ask you: Had your ships within days before the incident gone within territorial limits recognized by North Vietnam? "Mr. McNaughton. Within the 12-mile limit, Mr. Chairman. "The Chairman. That is the territorial limit.

"Mr. McNaughton. I think that it is. If that is the case, the answer is 'Yes'. "The Chairman. That had been the limit.

"Senator Pell. May I interject for a moment. Is 12 miles the territorial limit that we recognize?

Mr. McNaughton. No, sir, it is the one--the Chairman, I understood the Chairman to say territorial limits recognized by North Vietnam.

"Mr. [U. Alexis] Johnson. Claimed by North Vietnam.

"The Chairman. That is right. Many countries have different ones.

"Senator McCarthy. Texas claims the 12-mile limit.

"The Chairman. They vary, but they claimed 12 miles. But our ships had gone into it.

"Mr. McNaughton. Yes, sir; that is correct."

Senator Morse. I still think it is a little vague, but we certainly--and in those hearings--asked the Defense Department if they were within the 12-mile limit.

You now say they did not claim the 12-mile limit, and we were advised they did.

Secretary McNamara. Senator, if I understood, the testimony you read from were the hearings of May 24, 1966.

(9)


(10)

Senator Morse. That is right.

Secretary McNamara. I do not believe during the hearings of 1964 any of us stated that North Vietnam claimed a 12-mile limit. I believe further that it is rather ambiguous in the testimony you read as to whether it was Mr. McNaughton or the Chairman who was stating North Vietnam claimed the 12-mile limit; but to the extent Mr. McNaughton either stated or acquiesced in the Chairman's statement of it, he was wrong.


As a supplement to this report the committee includes the following excerpt on the matter of 1964 "assumptions" as to North Vietnam's territorial seas taken from an interview with the Honorable Cyrus Vance who was Deputy Secretary of Defense in August of 1964. This excerpt contains an exchange over the question of North Vietnamese territorial seas between Secretary Vance and Richard Fryklund of the Washington Evening Star. The interview took place over the Voice of America on Saturday, August 8, 1964 (one day after Senate approval of the Southeast Asia Resolution).

Richard Fryklund. Is there any dispute about the Tonkin Gulf being international waters? Do, for instance, Communist China and North Vietnam claim the gulf as their territorial waters?

Secretary Vance. Not to my knowledge. I think that they do claim a 12-mile limit as opposed to a 3-mile limit, but there is no claim that the Gulf of Tonkin is territorial waters.

Richard Fryklund. Does the United States recognize the 12-mile limit?

Secretary Vance. No, it does not. The United States recognizes 3 miles as the territorial limit.

Richard Fryklund. Do our naval units ever sail closer than 3 miles to the shore?

Secretary Vance. They do not.

Richard Fryklund. Are they under specific orders not to? Secretary Vance. They are.

Jack Raymond. Well, the real issue here is, I think, do they sail closer than 12 miles?

Secretary Vance. They have sailed----

Jack Raymond. They have.

Secretary Vance. Sailed closer than 12 miles.


D. SUBSEQUENT EXCHANGE OF LETTERS

May 29, 1968.

Hon. Clark M. Clifford,
Secretary of Defense,
Washington, D. C

Dear Mr. Secretary: Over the past few weeks the staff of the Foreign Relations Committee has been assembling what will become the final record of the Gulf of Tonkin hearing with former Secretary of Defense McNamara on February 20, 1968. This process involves the final submission by the Department of Defense of material for the record asked for by the committee during the hearing and not available at the time the transcript was published.

One such piece of unfinished business was brought to my attention last week. This concerns the interrogation reports of North Vietnamese naval officers. After reviewing the records and examining the inserts submitted by the Defense Department on May 6, I wish to bring to your attention what I believe to be an important and disturbing discrepancy between the published record and the documentation offered on May 6 to support Mr. McNamara's statement now in the public transcript.

The apparent discrepancies I refer to below may simply be a matter of misinterpretation on the part of the committee staff or an oversight on the part of your staff. Whatever the circumstances, I feel it is necessary to clarify the issue and set the record straight if indeed there are discrepancies.

The point at issue is the relative weight the public should give to two interrogation reports of two North Vietnamese naval officers captured by U.S. forces. These two naval officers had knowledge of the August 4 incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin.

The record of February 20 shows [pp. 74-75] that I introduced into the record the text of an official U.S. Navy interrogation report on a North Vietnamese naval officer captured by U.S. forces in 1966. This naval officer stated after his capture by U.S. forces that the North Vietnamese had indeed attacked the U.S.S. Maddox on August 2, but there was no attack on August 4 of the U.S.S. Maddox and the U.S.S. Turner Joy. The interrogation report I quoted, stated in part:

"Extensive interrogation of all potentially knowledgeable sources reveals that they have no information concerning a NVN attack on U.S. ships on 4 Aug 1964. They say definitely and emphatically that no PT's could have been involved * * * possibility that Swatows could have committed the August 4 attack has also been carefully explored. Here again, however, all sources disclaimed knowledge of such an attack."

Because the Department of Defense had sent this interrogation report to the committee at my request, Mr. McNamara chose to refute this testimony in the following way:

(11)


(12)

"As a final point on this issue, U.S. naval forces in the 31/2 years which have elapsed since the August 1964 incidents have captured several North Vietnamese naval personnel. These personnel were extensively interrogated. One of these, captured in July 1966, stated he had taken part in the August 2, 1964, attack on the Maddox, and his account of that attack coincided with our observations. He professed no knowledge of the August 4 attack and said that he believed that PT boats were not involved in that attack. He stated that Swatows could have been used for that attack. His disclaimer of PT participation is contradicted by information received from a later captive. A North Vietnamese naval officer captured in July 1967 provided the name of the commander of a PT squadron. In intelligence reports received immediately after the August 4 attack, this commander and his squadron were identified by name and number as participants."

When I raised the question with Mr. McNamara as to why the committee was not given the information that the Department of Defense had knowledge of an interrogation report of another prisoner taken in 1967, Secretary McNamara replied:

"I must say I wish we had. We would have avoided some of the controversy because the testimony of a 1966 prisoner was not nearly as comprehensive or as illuminating on the participation by North Vietnam in the August 4 attack as was the testimony of the prisoner of July 1967 which, I think, came to light only within the past few days."

At my request, the Department of Defense on May 6 provided the committee with the interrogation report Mr. McNamara described as the basis of this "comprehensive" "illuminating" report on the 1967 prisoner. It is important to point out that this second interrogation report in Mr. McNamara's opinion contradicts the information received from the earlier captive and adds substantial proof to the Defense Department's contention that the August 4 attack had actually taken place. The May 6 inserts state that the 1967 prisoner was a "senior captain in the NVN Navy" and that he provided the new and important information of the identity of a North Vietnamese commander and his squadron. Again according to the insert of May 6, the identity of this commander "was a mystery, since it is an uncommon name. " Fitting this new information in with what Mr. McNamara described as "intelligence reports of a highly classified and impeachable nature" the Department of Defense contends it now has additional proof not only that the attack took place but the prior testimony of the naval commander whose testimony was used by the committee was wrong.

The staff of the Foreign Relations Committee has now read the 1967 interrogation report and the letter of enclosure, and compared this information with the large study of the interrogation of the 19 North Vietnamese Navy personnel taken in 1966. I invite you to comment on the accuracy of the following conclusions drawn from the comparisons of these two texts:

(1) The name of the commander of the torpedo boat battalion was not a "mystery" until 1967. The July 1966 report from which the committee drew its own information contains the name of the commander of the torpedo squadron in question. Thus, this information was available to the Department of Defense long before the second interrogation report.


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(2) The source of the second report Secretary McNamara made so much of was indeed a senior officer in the North Vietnamese Navy. However, he was in the political cadre in the naval headquarters, and according to the Defense Department's own report "had no knowledge of navigational methods and/or naval tactics." Moreover, despite the emphasis given to this second interrogation report given by Secretary McNamara the source never said that there had been an attack on August 4. The entire contribution of the second source was to give the Department of Defense the name of a man already known. Therefore, the second report added nothing substantial to the Defense Department's case.

(3) What the material provided on May 6 does not contain is that the officer who was second in command of the squadron mentioned in the second interrogation report was the naval officer whose testimony the Foreign Relations Committee used on February 20. And this officer said that there was no attack on August 4.

In sum, I can see nothing in the material provided on May 6, which in any way contradicts the information used by the committee. Moreover, I find the Defense Department's contention that this second interrogation report provides comprehensive and illuminating information on the August 4 attack as totally without foundation.

I would appreciate it if you would ask your staff to review the May 6 information in light of Mr. McNamara's testimony of February 20 and the interrogation reports provided the committee dated August 9, 1966.

Sincerely yours,

J. W. Fulbright, Chairman.


Assistant Secretary of Defense,
Washington, D. C, June 17, 1968.

Hon. J. William Fulbright,
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations,
United States Senate,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Chairman: Secretary Clifford has asked that I reply to your letter of May 29, 1968, concerning apparent discrepancies between the published Gulf of Tonkin hearing report and the documentation, provided you by the Department of Defense on May 6, 1968, supporting Mr. McNamara's statements at the February 20, 1968, open hearings (and again in closed session).

Reexamination of the NVN PT boat exploitation report shows that the discrepancy noted in your letter was a result of an oversight in the Department of Defense due to changes in cognizant personnel, through normal duty rotation, from 1964 to 1968.

As you know, the interrogation of the 19 NVN naval personnel, captured in July 1966, was initially reported in 91 SITREPS (copies of which were provided to you as enclosure (1) of SECNAV's letter dated December 18, 1967). The SITREPS, which did not contain the name of [deleted] were processed by personnel who were primarily concerned with identifying intelligence of tactical value. These personnel


(14)

had not been directly involved in the 1964 incidents and were not directed to look for information correlating with those events. When the finalized interrogation report became available in August of 1966 the significance of the name [deleted] was overlooked among 150 NVN naval personalities listed. From that time until the initiation of your November 16, 1967, inquiry, there was no Department of Defense requirement to review material on the 1964 incidents.

As a result of the Senate committee's recent inquiry into the Tonkin Gulf incidents, it was necessary for personnel who had no close familiarity with the 1966 interrogations to research the files and become familiar with all the data. The later interrogation report, based on a 1967 capture, which mentioned the name of [deleted] (enclosure (1) of my letter of May 6, 1968) did not come to the attention of these personnel until early January 1968. The key point of this new report was not the source's own knowledge of the events of August 1964, but the fact that he identified [deleted] as the individual mentioned in the sensitive evidence which was shown to you and Senator Russell by Secretary Nitze on December 14, 1967, but which was not made available to your staff because of classification. This information provided the basis for Mr. McNamara's statements on February 20, 1968, and was indeed illuminating as it was the first time that any one familiar with the [deleted] message of [deleted] mentioning the name [deleted] had been furnished with information identifying that individual. The listing of [deleted] name in the final report of the interrogations of 1966 was not noted within the Department of Defense until mentioned in your letter of May 25, 1968.

I hope that this information will satisfactorily respond to the questions that you have raised.

Sincerely,

Paul C. Warnke.

 


Footnotes

1 Date authorized by the Secretary of Defense.


Source: The Gulf of Tonkin, the 1964 Incidents, Part II, Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Ninetieth Congress, Second Session, Supplementary Documents to February 20, 1968 Hearing with the Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, December 16, 1968, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC: 1968.

Related Resources:

The Gulf of Tonkin, The 1964 Incidents--Part I (Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Nintieth Congress, Second Session, With the Honorable Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense, on February 20, 1968)

Tonkin Gulf Crisis, August 1964