Monday, October 31, 2005

NSA Keeps Distortion of Vietnam Intelligence Secret

nsa
Distortion of Vietnam intelligence kept secret

By Scott Shane
The New York Times
10-31-05

     WASHINGTON The U.S. National Security Agency has kept secret since 2001 a finding by an agency historian that NSA officers deliberately distorted critical intelligence during the Tonkin Gulf episode that helped precipitate the Vietnam War, according to two people familiar with the historian's work.

     The historian's conclusion is the first serious accusation that communications intercepted by the NSA, the secretive eavesdropping and code-breaking agency, were falsified so that they made it look as if North Vietnam had attacked American destroyers on Aug. 4, 1964, two days after a previous clash.

     President Lyndon B. Johnson cited the supposed attack to persuade Congress to authorize broad military action in Vietnam, but most historians have concluded in recent years that there was no second attack.

     The NSA historian, Robert Hanyok, found a pattern of translation mistakes that went uncorrected, altered intercept times and selective citation of intelligence that persuaded him that midlevel agency officers had deliberately skewed the evidence.

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