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Watergate 1973 (8:30 VXtreme)
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July 21: The LBJ Tapes IV
July 21: The LBJ Tapes III
June 30: Capitol Steps
June 12: Watergate Anniversary
Feb. 20: The LBJ Tapes II
Feb. 20: The LBJ Tapes
Feb. 4:State of the Union
Jan. 20: Inaugural 1997
The LBJ Tapes, Part III
Americans were told that on Aug. 2 and Aug. 4, 1964, there were two unprovoked attacks by North Vietnamese patrol boats on U.S. destroyers in international waters.
Congress reacted quickly, passing a resolution which effectively gave President Lyndon Johnson a blank check to wage war in Southeast Asia.
Recently released recordings of calls between Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara show that on the morning of Aug. 4, they were expecting the second attack and had planned a response.
An hour later McNamara called back to report the attack had begun.
But no one ever reported visual confirmation of a North Vietnamese patrol boat or torpedo. The commander of the destroyer Maddox later suggested the initial report might have come from an overeager sonar operator.
On Aug. 8, the day after Congress gave Johnson his Gulf of Tonkin resolution, McNamara was on the phone again, advising the president on how to respond to the charge that the U.S. ships had been involved in attacks by South Vietnamese forces against North Vietnamese islands.
McNamara then explained to the president that the U.S. was behind those South Vietnamese missions as part of a covert plan.
These recordings suggest that when President Johnson ordered air strikes in response to the Gulf of Tonkin attacks and asked Congress for approval for more military action, he believed that North Vietnam had attacked first. But just two years ago, when Robert McNamara visited Hanoi, and met with his old enemies, he confessed that he never knew what really happened.
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