The Nation: Pentagon Papers: The Secret War

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around their ears, pull in their necks and ride it out." Finally, in April 1965, he put his thoughts on a paper circulated among top-level Government officials. The memo predicted events with uncanny accuracy. The bombing strikes had not demoralized the North Vietnamese, McCone argued. "If anything, the strikes to date have hardened their attitude. With the passage of each day and each week, we can expect increasing pressure to stop the bombing. Therefore time will run against us in this operation and I think the North Vietnamese are counting on this. We can expect requirements for an ever-increasing commitment of U.S. personnel without materially improving the chances of victory. We will find ourselves mired down in combat in the jungle in a military effort that we cannot win, and from which we will have extreme difficulty extricating ourselves."

In a sense, McCone and the CIA were only doing what they were paid $600 million a year to do: provide accurate information to guide American policymakers. Allowed to go its own way, largely immune to the pressures that cause other agencies to oversell policies, the CIA takes pride in its detachment. When he once briefed McNamara, the late respected operations chief, Desmond FitzGerald, expressed doubt that the data reflected the actual situation. "Why?" demanded McNamara. "It's just a feeling," replied FitzGerald. McNamara gave him a stony stare and later ordered: ''Don't ever let that man in here again."

Equally prescient and independent was Under Secretary of State George Ball. Unswayed by the technocrats around him, he kept warning respectfully that their course was wrong. His memo to President Johnson on July 1, 1965, took account of souls, and French history, as well as weapons. It concluded: "No one can assure you that we can beat the Viet Cong or even force them to the conference table on our terms, no matter how many hundred thousand white, foreign [U.S.] troops we deploy. Once we deploy substantial numbers of troops in combat, it will become a war between the U.S. and a large part of the population of South Viet Nam. U.S. troops will begin to take heavy casualties in a war they are ill-equipped to fight in a noncooperative if not downright hostile countryside. Once we suffer large casualties, we will have started a well-nigh irreversible process. Our involvement will be so great that we cannot—without national humiliation —step short of achieving our objectives. I think humiliation would be more likely —even after we have paid terrible costs." Congressional Outrage

The revelations of the Pentagon papers angered war critics on Capitol Hill, who claimed vindication for their long-held feeling that Congress had been misled by the Executive Branch. "These documents," fumed Idaho Democrat Frank Church, "secure Johnson's position as a liar." Declared Maryland Republican Charles Mathias: "I am outraged—but I'm worn down with outrage." Yet the Congress made no immediate move to grasp control of the war from the Nixon Administration.

The Senate promptly defeated the McGovern-Hatfield amendment to cut off all funds for the war by the end of this year. The vote was 55 to 42, a margin only six votes smaller than that on a similar motion last year. A compromise to set the deadline at

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