Senate Foreign Relations Committee Releases Previously Classified Vietnam-era Transcripts

On Wednesday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee released over 1,100 pages of “previously classified Vietnam-era transcripts that show senators of the time sharply questioning whether they had been deceived by the White House and the Pentagon over the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident.”

Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Committee authorized the release of the declassified material.  Kerry said:

“These transcripts and testimony were selected because they shed light on an important period of American history and all of its lessons. It is incredible to read through these papers and hear the voices of many of the Senate’s giants wrestling with Vietnam and all its complexity at a time when many of us, including some of us on the Foreign Relations Committee today, were serving as young officers in Vietnam living out those very same questions in a personal way. As legislators and citizens, we can learn an enormous amount from the way our predecessors conducted business and struggled with some of the most difficult questions during a difficult period in our country.”

The release is Volume 20, in series of “releases of historical transcripts from the committee, which conducted most of its business in executive session during the 1960s, before the Senate required committee meetings to be public.”

The documents were edited by Donald Ritchie, the Senate historian, and cover 1968, when members of the committee were anguished over Vietnam and in a deteriorating relationship with the Johnson White House over the war.

Transcripts of Volume 20 are available here.

In related news, Senator John Kerry, who testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the Vietnam War, “expressed doubts yesterday about the course of the war in Afghanistan” and he said “it is not clear that the administration has a solid strategy for prevailing.”

He said the blood and treasure invested in Afghanistan since 2001 will be “irrelevant’’ in the absence of a serious strategy for building an Afghanistan that can provide for its own security.

“The problem is that the key element of this strategy is the one over which we have the least control, and that is the willingness and ability of Afghans to assume ownership of the efforts,’’ the Massachusetts Democrat said.

“Ultimately, we need a better understanding of exactly what the definition of success is in Afghanistan, and what an acceptable state looks like there, and how achievable it is,’’ he added.

It’s good to hear Kerry expressing doubt on Afghanistan. Obama needs to get the message that it’s time to end this other Bush war.

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