One of the most common criticisms we receive regarding our The American War: the U.S. in Vietnam episode goes something like this: "How can you say the Gulf of Tonkin Incident never happened? It did happen! You cats are wrong! How dare you conspiracy theorists suggest that the U.S. government used a fraudulent event that never happened to plunge our nation into war... blah blah blah."
Enter a recently declassified National Security Agency study - Spartans in Darkness: American SIGINT and the Indochina War, 1945-1975 (download the entire report here). The study is a comprehensive analysis of U.S. codebreaking and eavesdropping work during the Vietnam war - the government's official history of e-spying if you will - and the Gulf of Tonkin incident receives a full analysis from a signals intelligence perspective in Chapter 5. The conclusion of that analysis? The Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened.
Thank you, we will be accepting written apologies at our usual e-mail address.
But seriously, you know what's really annoying? These people who e-mail us about how we make up stuff to back up our arguments don't seem to do any research themselves before firing off angry e-mails. The thing is, we were able to figure out that the Tonkin Affair never happened after doing just a few days worth of research into the 'incident'. It wasn't difficult to find out that it never happened and we certainly don't have any high-level security clearances that allow us access to top secret information. We just read normal books and reports that anybody can find in any decent library. So as nice as it is to have the NSA back us up on our "rediculus lies and claims", this kind of information really is already out there.
Annoying thing #2: The release of the NSA study and its findings were not covered in any of the mainstream U.S. news outlets. None of them. Maybe there'll be a hailstorm of reports about it next week, but I doubt it. I had to find out about it from a French newswire. Crazy huh.