VIETNAM

Analysis

F - Z

Ford, Harold P. CIA and the Vietnam Policymakers: Three Episodes, 1962-1968. Washington, DC: History Staff, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 1998.

Clark comment: The former officer in CIA's Office of National Estimates and, later, Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC) provides "a candid view of the CIA's intelligence assessments concerning Vietnam during three episodes between 1962 and 1968 and the reactions of senior US policymakers to those assessments." (Foreword, i) The episodes presented are:

"Episode 1, 1962-1963: Distortions of Intelligence";

"Episode 2, 1963-1965: CIA Judgments on President's Johnson's Decision to 'Go Big' in Vietnam"; and

"Episode 3, 1967-1968: CIA, the Order-of-Battle Controversy, and the Tet Offensive."

Anderson, Intelligencer 9.3, calls Ford's book "one of the best studies on the Vietnam War." Goulden, Intelligencer 10.2, is similarly very positive about this book, noting that the author describes the policy debates in Washington "[w]ith consummate skill." For Shryock, IJI&C 13.4, this is an "exceptional piece of work." Three quibbles that the reviewer has with the work are that "Ford's footnotes are sometimes a mite meaty,... the index is maddeningly incomplete,... [and] there is no bibliography."

According to Bob Brewin, "Web Docs Show NSA Forecast Bloody Tet Offensive," Federal Computer Week, 2 Oct. 1998, Ford's book shows that "[i]ntercepts of enemy radio communications collected and collated" by NSA "provided U.S. commanders in Vietnam with more than two weeks' notice of the bloody 1968 Tet Offensive.... [Ford] told Federal Computer Week that he received permission from NSA to refer to its still-classified history of NSA operations in Vietnam."

Ford, Harold P. "Unpopular Pessimism; Why CIA Analysts Were So Doubtful about Vietnam." Studies in Intelligence (1997): 85-95.

The author discusses the "principal factors and forces ... for the doubts exhibited by so many of CIA's Vietnam analysts."

Fuller, Kenneth C., Bruce Smith, and Merle Atkins. "'Rolling Thunder' and Bomb Damage to Bridges." Studies in Intelligence 13, no. 4 (Fall 1969): 1-9.

Rolling Thunder, the air campaign against North Vietnam, began on 2 March 1965. After some months, the CIA was tasked with preparing an assessment of the bombing campaign. The work on bomb damage to bridges is only one example of the reporting done on Rolling Thunder.

Hiam, C. Michael. Who the Hell Are We Fighting? The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars. Hanover, NH: Steerforth, 2006.

Sinclair, Studies 50.4 (2006), sees this as "a clear-sighted account of the man and his era." The author "did a huge amount of research.... Hiam provides a rich picture of the Viet Cong numbers debate, the people involved in Sam's battles, and the controversies that took up the rest of Sam's life. He includes too much tedious play-by-play when he comes to the Westmoreland trial, but his account of Sam's earlier struggles is excellent." Who the Hell Are We Fighting? "is an excellent study of this one important episode in the Vietnam saga. For a sense of the role of intelligence through the whole war, however, one must turn to [other] accounts."

For Kovar, IJI&C 20.3 (Fall 2007), this is "a thoroughly researched and well-argued justification of the life of an American intelligence hero." The author has produced "a highly readable and persuasive" work. At the same time, Hiam offers an "unsparing and frequently unflattering description of his hero's obsessive and ultimately tragic pursuit of the truth." See Samuel A. Adams, War of Numbers: An Intelligence Memoir (Hanover, NH: Steerforth, 1994).

Hughes, Thomas L. "The Power to Speak and the Power to Listen." In Secrecy and Foreign Policy, eds. Thomas M. Franck and Edward Weisband. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974.

Jones, Bruce E. War Without Windows: A True Account of a Young Army Officer Trapped in an Intelligence Cover-Up in Vietnam. New York: Vanguard, 1987.

Lewis, Anthony Marc. "Re-examining Our Perceptions on Vietnam." Studies in Intelligence 17, no. 4 (Winter 1973): 1-62.

The author looks at "the finished intelligence concerning two periods of the Vietnam story -- 1954-1956 and 1961-1963 -- for presumptive evidence of analysts' attention or inattention to [the] intercultural and psychological dimension of the data involved."

National Intelligence Council. Eds., John K. Allen, Jr., John Carver, and Tom Elmore. Intro., Lloyd Gardner. Estimative Products on Vietnam, 1948-1975. Washington, DC: NIC 2005-03, Apr. 2005.

The print copy of this important set of documents contains, in whole or in part, 38 of the 174 documents declassified at this time. The accompanying CD contains all of the documents in their entirety. The documents "show how the US Intelligence Community viewed critical developments over a 27-year period, ranging from analysis of the implications of the post-World War II breakup of colonial empires to the Communist takeover of Saigon in 1975." ["Preface," p. i] Gardner's excellent introduction seeks "to provide the context within which the Vietnam analysts worked and how they viewed developments in South Vietnam until the fall of Saigon in 1975." ["Introduction," p. xi]

Hanyok, I&NS 20.4 (Dec. 2005), finds Gardner's introduction "both useful and insightful about the content and makeup of the Estimates." This compendium "is a useful tool for scholars interested in the Indochina conflict and the way the US intelligence community arrives at the intelligence it delivers to the administration."

For Brooks, NIPQ 22.2 (Apr. 2006), Gardner's introduction "does an excellent job of presenting the history of our Vietnam involvement juxtaposed with what the [NIEs], Special NIEs and estimative memoranda were saying." This "is a very cleverly organized and well-presented book.... [It] would have profited from some commentary on the diversity of views within the IC and the impact this had on policy decisions."

Sinclair, Robert. "One Intelligence Analyst Remembers Another: A Review of Who the Hell Are We Fighting? The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars." Studies in Intelligence 50, no. 4 (2006): 1-9.

While this is a review article, veteran analyst Sinclair also provides an interesting view of the order-of-battle controversy and the dilemmas associated with the Vietnam war. He makes the point that "intelligence was only a peripheral player in the policy debates. The focus was on what our side should do, not the capabilities or intentions of the other side."

Wirtz, James J. "Intelligence to Please? The Order of Battle Controversy during the Vietnam War." Political Science Quarterly 106, no. 2 (Summer 1991): 239-263.

Wirtz also decides that, to the CIA and MACV analysts who were in opposition to each other, the dispute came to override the analytical goal. In the end, "the Order of Battle controversy became a self-sustaining phenomenon that exerted a disproportionate and ultimately counterproductive influence over commanders and analysts." Adams' "conspiracy" pales in the face of the "far more detrimental" effect of the breakdown in the distinction between the roles of intelligence analysts and policymakers.

Return to Analysis Table of Contents

Return to Vietnam Table of Contents