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How the military cooked the books: the uncounted Vietcong.

How the Military Cooked the Books

Sometime late this summer, in Manhattan's Foley Square courthouse, a Federal judge will rule whether to dismiss the case of Westmoreland v. CBS or permit it to go to trial, a decision with profound implications for the future of investigative journalism in the United States. The $120 million libel suit brought by Gen. William Childs Westmoreland, commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam and later Army Chief of Staff, is the first ever filed by a high Federal official for media criticism of his or her public conduct. The result could be a resounding victory for First Amendment rights or a deep chill on probing reportage about the nation's leaders.

If this unprecedented case does come before a jury, it promises to provide the biggest legal sideshow of the decade, with possible witnesses including a succession of top Army brass, Directors of Central Intelligence and such Kennedy-Johnson Administration brain trusters as Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, Walt Rostow, William Bundy and Maxwell Taylor. Already the pretrial discovery process has yielded a treasure-trove of fascinating material: tens of thousands of pages of depositions and affidavits and a rich hoard of secret government documents--some of which we are making public here for the first time--that will force historians of America's longest and most unpopular war to revise important facts and interpretations.

Who would have thought that a serious television documentary with a low audience rating could set off so many reverberations?

On January 23, 1982, CBS News broadcast its ill-fated program, "The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception,' produced by George Crile. Correspondent Mike Wallace led off:

The fact is that we Americans were misinformed about the nature and the size of the enemy we were facing, and tonight we're going to present evidence of what we have come to believe was a conscious effort--indeed, a conspiracy at the highest levels of American military intelligence--to suppress and alter critical intelligence on the enemy in the year leading up to the Tet offensive.

The main culprit of the piece was General Westmoreland. He and others were said to have systematically under-reported figures on enemy strength in Vietnam in order to promote the illusion that progress was being made in the war and that there was "light at the end of the tunnel.' Westmoreland denied the accusation on the program and in a well-publicized press conference several days later.

In some respects the CBS account was a twice-told tale, since a less detailed version had surfaced several years earlier. But this was not one of those sprawling documentaries that rehash stories from the print media and deal in windy generalities. It made charges and offered proof. Eight men who had served as C.I.A. or military intelligence analysts appeared on camera and claimed personal knowledge of the suppression or falsification of enemy strength statistics in Westmoreland's command.

Much of the extensive media coverage that followed, however, concentrated on alleged journalistic misdemeanors committed by the makers of the documentary. Ignored in all the sound and fury about the sacred principles of journalism has been the crucial question, Is the substance of the documentary true?

In the nearly 2,000 pages of his pretrial deposition, Westmoreland emerges as a man who, though he believes firmly in his own rectitude, is evasive and has a tin ear for moral overtones. Asked by CBS attorney David Boies whether in his official capacity he had ever been confronted with a moral dilemma, Westmoreland answered: "I am reflecting back over my years of service in three wars. I can't think of any.' The general marched smartly into the interlocutory ambushes laid for him by Boies, as this exchange about the C.I.A.'s notorious Phoenix program shows:

BOIES: Was it a matter of concern to you personally, individually, that charges were being made that this program that had been initiated and expanded under your command or during the time that you were the American military commander in Vietnam, involved the assassination of political cadres?

WESTMORELAND: The purpose of the program was a worthy one, in view of the type of war being fought. If there were any indiscretions involved that was . . . a matter . . . I was not happy with; if such was the case.

BOIES: Would it surprise you, sir, if I were to tell you that C.I.A. director Colby testified in Congress that more than 10,000 political cadre were killed under the Phoenix program?

WESTMORELAND: I'm unaware of that.

BOIES: And that would surprise you, would it, sir?

WESTMORELAND: Well, that magnitude does; yes.

BOIES: . . . that would be more than an "indiscretion' in your mind; would it not, sir? . . .

WESTMORELAND: Well, it would be a serious indiscretion.

But the testimony and documents available in Westmoreland v. CBS go far beyond the general's character and opinions. They provide overwhelming backing for the controversial program's main contentions: that for political reasons Westmoreland set an arbitrary ceiling on the number of enemy forces in South Vietnam reported by his command; that to keep under the ceiling, a cabal of military intelligence officers withheld and falsified data; and that the American people, Congress and President Johnson were thereby fooled, and encouraged to believe we were winning the war.

However, in one important respect the CBS account was incomplete. The newly released documents disclose that key figures in the Johnson Administration participated in the cover-up. General Westmoreland was the initiator, and his intelligence officers manipulated the figures. But the President's advisers, increasingly divorced from reality, were the ones who cynically abetted the Army's suppression of disheartening statistics. If the tormented man in the Oval Office was sometimes kept in the dark, not only Westmoreland but also the White House palace guard were to blame.

A good starting point is a February 1966 document from Westmoreland's files. It shows that a number of those intellectuals whom David Halberstam has dubbed "the best and the brightest' met with the nation's military leaders in Honolulu and jointly drafted a Vietnam war plan. By the end of 1966, according to the plan, Westmoreland's armies were to "attrite' enemy forces "at a rate as high as their capability to put men into the field.'

Attrition was the strategy that supposedly would enable the American Goliath inexorably to grind down the foe, but it was a flawed concept. The Vietcong could replenish their losses indefinitely, by recruitment within South Vietnam and by infiltration from the North. In South Vietnam there was a vast pool of sympathetic peasants in the insurgent countryside, where more than 80 percent of the people lived. And given North Vietnam's population of 18 million, its army of 450,000 and its high birth rate, the dispatch of a few tens of thousands of troops to the South each year would never be an impossible burden. The arithmetic was simple, but the military and the best and the brightest were operating in an airy realm beyond logic or rationality, and failed to add up the figures. It was a victory of ideology over common sense.

Proof that attrition was a hopeless strategy came from an unexpected discovery. At Westmoreland's headquarters in Saigon the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) produced monthly intelligence estimates of the size of enemy forces in South Vietnam, known as the Order of Battle. The O.B. total included several categories of enemy strength: main force units, guerrilla irregulars, service (quartermaster) troops and political cadre. Washington officials planning the war relied on those figures, and the press cited them frequently; but, in fact, the numbers had little validity. Three of the four O.B. categories consisted of long-outdated statistics inherited from French or South Vietnamese intelligence. Thus in the summer of 1966, when a young C.I.A. analyst, Sam Adams, studied fresh documents captured from the Vietcong, he concluded that the enemy's guerrilla irregulars were far more numerous than the O.B. figure indicated.

That was an important if unwelcome finding, and the C.I.A. immediately notified Secretary of Defense McNamara, Secretary of State Rusk and the White House that "recently acquired documentary evidence now being studied in detail suggests that our holdings on the numerical strength of these irregulars . . . may require drastic upward revision.' A few months later, when evidence was firmer, George A. Carver Jr., Special Assistant for Vietnamese Affairs to Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms, informed Presidential assistant Robert Komer that MACV's "estimates of the strength of Vietcong irregular forces may have drastically understated their growth, possibly by as much as 200,000 persons.'

Meanwhile, other captured documents were yielding more bad news for Administration hawks. Adams determined that the official MACV figures for two other categories of Vietcong forces, service troops and political cadre, were also far too low. In January 1967 Carver sent a memorandum to the C.I.A.'s deputy director for intelligence that would have made headlines had it been known to the press and Congress. Carver's dramatic recommendation was that MACV's O.B. total of 277,150 "should be raised, perhaps doubled.'

By that time, Sam Adams's discovery had produced anxiety in official circles. Gen. Earle Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, summoned an intelligence conference in Honolulu. Adams attended and learned that MACV intelligence officers, who flew in from Saigon, also had been examining captured documents and had reached conclusions similar to his. All agreed that MACV's official enemy force totals had to be increased sharply. But standing in the way were formidable political obstacles. How formidable can be gathered from a March 9, 1967, cable from General Wheeler to General Westmoreland, commenting on some related intelligence data. Wheeler warned: "If these figures should reach the public domain they would, literally, blow the lid off Washington. Please do whatever is necessary to insure that these figures are not repeat not released to news media or otherwise exposed to public knowledge.'

On April 15, 1967, Dr. Benjamin Spock and Martin Luther King Jr. linked arms and led a vast sea of hundreds of thousands of peace marchers to the United Nations. In Congress, particularly the Senate, criticism of the Administration's Vietnam policy was rising. To counter the burgeoning opposition, President Johnson ordered Westmoreland home for a series of public appearances. On April 27 the two men discussed strategy at the White House while an aide took notes. Not long before, Westmoreland had received a detailed report from MACV's chief intelligence officer, Maj. Gen. Joseph A. McChristian, predicting that enemy strength would increase considerably throughout 1967, with gains from infiltration and recruitment exceeding losses. Yet Westmoreland gave no hint of that sobering news in his recorded remarks to Johnson, even when the President asked a searching question about the futility of the attrition strategy:

PRESIDENT: When we add divisions can't the enemy add divisions? If so, where does it all end?

WESTMORELAND: The Vietcong . . . strength in South Vietnam now totals 285,000 men. It appears that last month we reached the crossover point in areas excluding the two northern provinces. Attritions will be greater than additions to the force.

No sooner had Westmoreland returned to Saigon than he faced a crisis. General McChristian recalled in a recent affidavit that in May 1967 he showed Westmoreland a cable to be sent to top military and civilian officials in Washington that reported "far higher' estimates not only for guerrilla forces but also for political cadre: "After reading the cable, Gen. Westmoreland said to me that if he sent it to Washington it would be a "political bombshell.'' Westmoreland retained the cable and never sent it. That was the beginning of the cover-up.

McChristian's assistant, Col. Gains B. Hawkins, was the Army's leading expert on the Vietcong Order of Battle. Recently he testified that in spring 1967 he "presented General Westmoreland with newly completed MACV analysis indicating far higher enemy strength than was being reported in the official reports.' The general "refused to accept the updated figures' and "voiced concern about the political impact.' Hawkins admitted he then "arbitrarily reduced these figures,' but Westmoreland rejected those also.

Back in the United States, on May 23 the C.I.A. sent Secretary McNamara a pessimistic top-secret analysis on Vietnam. A month earlier Westmoreland had told the President that attrition was succeeding; the C.I.A. informed McNamara that it was failing. The report stated that the strength of the insurgent apparatus in South Vietnam was probably "in the half-million range,' and concluded:

If the Communists have an organized manpower base of anywhere near this size to draw upon for their combat units it is hard to visualize how they can get into serious trouble in the near future in obtaining the necessary replacement personnel.

Also in May representatives of all government intelligence agencies met at C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to frame a report for the President and other top officials that would influence their outlook on the war: the National Intelligence Estimate on "The Capabilities of the Vietnamese Communists for Fighting in South Vietnam.' For weeks the discussions were stymied. Both Colonel Hawkins and Gen. George A. Godding, head of the MACV delegation, have since testified that they arrived at the conference with orders to adhere to a fixed ceiling on enemy strength previously approved by Westmoreland. Others have indicated that the ceiling was approximately 300,000. The C.I.A. leadership, on the other hand, was reluctant to accept MACV's figures. There was no benefit to the agency and considerable risk in endorsing palpably false statistics that would be widely disseminated.

To break the impasse, the C.I.A.'s George Carver flew to South Vietnam and met with Robert Komer, whom the President had by then appointed "pacification' chief with ambassadorial rank. Komer, a militant advocate of positive thinking on the war, flaunted his White House credentials by displaying six pictures of Johnson on the walls of his Saigon office and, according to Westmoreland, was regarded by MACV brass as a "political commissar.' That Carver approached Komer first suggests that the C.I.A. believed the decision to underestimate the Order of Battle totals was being heavily influenced by the White House palace guard.

After Carver's return, he received a cable from Komer that, in effect, dictated to the C.I.A. what the National Intelligence Estimate should say. Komer insisted that the estimate should not even mention many Vietcong guerrilla forces whom he described as "low grade part-time hamlet self-defense groups, mostly weaponless.' In fact, those were the irregulars who used punji stakes, booby traps and mines made from dud U.S. munitions, and were known by the military command at the time to cause about one-third of all American casualties.

The next day Gen. Creighton Abrams, Westmoreland's deputy, cabled General Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, urging that the figures for self-defense irregulars be omitted entirely from the National Intelligence Estimate. He warned that if the press was to learn of those figures, "all those who have an incorrect view of the war will be reinforced.' Wheeler passed the message on to Director of Central Intelligence Helms.

Meanwhile, continued pressure for what Abrams's cable termed "projecting an image of success' was corrupting the intelligence process and unhinging some of its practitioners. MACV's new intelligence chief, Brig. Gen. Phillip B. Davidson Jr. sent a report to Westmoreland in which he described the enemy as "frenzied,' "desperate,' "hysterical' and "frantic.' "The "crossover point' has been reached,' he claimed.

The arrival of that longed-for point was no doubt assured by a blunt memorandum Davidson had just sent to all his intelligence analysts. The message stated:

The figure of combat strength and particularly of guerrillas must take a steady and significant downward trend as I am convinced this reflects true enemy status. Due to the sensitivity of this project, weekly strength figures will hereafter be cleared personally by me.

Predictably, those who received that message were shocked and demoralized. One of them, Lieut. Bruce E. Jones, stated in a recent affidavit that he and his fellow analysts reacted by "questioning why record keeping and analysis . . . should be conducted at all.'

In a last effort to arrive at a formula that would permit the inclusion of reasonably accurate figures on Vietcong strength in the National Intelligence Estimate, Helms sent Carver to Saigon as his personal representative on an intelligence team. On September 10, 1967, Carver cabled Helms, describing the situation he had encountered:

So far, our mission frustratingly unproductive since MACV stonewalling, obviously under orders. . . . Variety of circumstantial indicators--MACV juggling of figures its own analysts presented during August discussions in Washington, MACV behavior, and tacit or oblique lunchtime and corridor admissions by MACV officers, including Davidson-- all point to inescapable conclusion that Westmoreland (with Komer's encouragement) has given instructions tantamount to direct order that VC strength total will not exceed 300,000 ceiling. Rationale seems to be that any higher figure would not be sufficiently optimistic and would generate unacceptable level of criticism from the press. . . . I hope to see Komer and Westmoreland tomorrow (11 Sept) and will endeavor to loosen this straitjacket. Unless I can, we are wasting our time.

Helms cabled back, instructing the team not to return to Washington without his approval. It was doubtless his way of saying that Carver had to reach an agreement, one way or another. The Director of Central Intelligence had assessed the political situation and had caved in.

The next day Carver reported that Komer was adamantly opposed to any quantification of the irregular forces and had "launched into an hour-plus monologue, reviewing his and Westmoreland's problems with the press, their frustrating inability to convince the press (hence the public) of the great progress being made, and the paramount importance of saying nothing that would detract from the image of progress.' Carver also informed Helms that Westmoreland's intelligence chief, General Davidson, had handed him a white card that bore the notation: "No quantification. Optimistic atmosphere in National Intelligence Estimate.'

The result of the conference was that the total was held to below 300,000. To accomplish that, two categories of enemy forces, self-defense irregulars and political cadre, were dropped from the O.B. Moreover, Carver conceded that the irregulars would not be quantified anywhere in the report.

General Davidson immediately created a form that went to all analysts. It stated, "This addition of ---- in enemy strength does not increase total enemy strength in excess of that agreed upon at the September 1967 CIA/DIA/MACV Enemy Strength Conference.' Four officers had to approve or disapprove any proposed additions to enemy strength figures, with final approval coming from Davidson.

Soon after, MACV sent the C.I.A. a draft of a press briefing on the new Order of Battle figures. A high-level agency official, Paul V. Walsh, commented in an internal memorandum:

I have reviewed the draft statement and . . . I must rank it as one of the greatest snow jobs since Potemkin constructed his village. . . . This briefing and similar fictions that MACV proposes to present in the near future present a series of vulnerable intelligence judgments that cannot be substantiated at this time and promise almost certainly to lead to even graver credibility problems. . . . The truly impossible aspect of the MACV briefing is its unbelievably cavalier and shocking consignment of the thousands of militia and self-defense forces into the realm of fellow-travelers or sympathizers.

The draft of MACV's press briefing had also been sent to the White House for final approval. There it was reviewed by President Johnson's national security adviser, Walt Rostow, a true believer in victory in Vietnam and a devoted collector of hopeful statistics and anecdotes to raise the flagging spirits of his President. On October 28, 1967, Rostow received an "eyes only' cable about the MACV draft from U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ellsworth Bunker.

"One aspect of it still bothers General Westmoreland, Bob Komer and myself given the overriding need to demonstrate our progress in grinding down the enemy,' Bunker confided. The bothersome "aspect' was the self-defense guerrillas; Bunker urged Rostow to expunge from the briefing all mention of those forces, which were estimated to number at least 120,000. The purpose, Bunker stated, was to "forestall many confusing and undesirable questions.'

By the fall of 1967 the Administration had set in motion a public relations campaign to sell the unpopular and unphotogenic Vietnam War to the press and the people. A "psychological strategy committee' set up by Rostow met almost weekly in the White House Situation Room. Its theme was progress. George Allen, the C.I.A.'s occasional representative on the committee, recalled in a recent affidavit that his "loyalty to the team' was sometimes questioned if he objected to a prospective publicity ploy as "a distortion of reality.' One day Rostow asked Allen for a report demonstrating progress in the pacification program. When Allen replied that he could provide a study but could not guarantee that it would show progress, Rostow, according to Allen, "expressed shock at my "unwillingness to support your President.' I protested that . . . I would not "be a party to cooking the books.''

Probably the single most successful gambit of this campaign was a domestic public relations tour by General Westmoreland. Summoned back to the United States in November 1967 by his hard-pressed Commander in Chief, Westmoreland appeared on television, addressed the National Press Club, briefed the Senate and House Armed Services Committees and met with the President and other government officials. On all those occasions, he informed General Abrams afterward, "I presented . . . the following concept: We are grinding down the Communist enemy in South Vietnam, and there is evidence that manpower problems are emerging in North Vietnam.'

A sampling of headlines from across the country shows how effectively Westmoreland conveyed his upbeat message:

Westmoreland's Report to Senate Group Optimistic (Minneapolis Tribune, November 17)

Gen. Westmoreland: "The Enemy Is Running Out of Men' (Washington Daily News, November 18)

Westmoreland Declares Allies Are Winning War of Attrition (The New York Times, November 20)

Victory Within Grasp, Westmoreland Says in Outlining Plan for War (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 21)

Westmoreland Says Ranks of Vietcong Thin Steadily (The New York Times, November 22)

Meanwhile, MACV carefully orchestrated the release of the Order of Battle figures so that Westmoreland could make optimum propaganda use of them during his visit. On November 11, military officials in Saigon informed the press, according to The New York Times, that the "fighting efficiency' of the Vietcong had "progressively declined' in the previous six months and that enemy strength had dropped from 285,000 to 242,000.

Of course, the total of 242,000 did not really represent a decline. Yet about ten days later, Westmoreland held a press conference at the Pentagon--scene of a massive protest against the war just a month earlier--at which he compared the new O.B. total with the old as proof that the enemy was weakening.

President Johnson also was victimized by this numbers game. A remarkable recently discovered memorandum signed by Rostow describes several charts prepared by MACV which Westmoreland used to brief the President. One chart showed Vietcong strength declining from 285,000 to 242,000. A footnote explained that the total did not include a political infrastructure of about 80,000. The Rostow memorandum contains no hint that the President was informed that thousands of irregular forces had simply been marched out of the estimate.

Finally, on November 24, when the news was stale, a spokesman for MACV conducted a detailed press briefing in Saigon, instructing journalists that the new O.B. figures "cannot be used in conjunction with old data for any firm comparisons of past and present enemy strengths.' A few periodicals picked up on the fact that intelligence estimates of Vietcong strength had actually increased, but most did not.

In Saigon that fall, calculations relating to the infiltration of North Vietnames troops into the South may also have been falsified. The CBS documentary charged that in the last few months of 1967 MACV intelligence analysts detected a "near invasion' of enemy forces moving down the Ho Chi Minh trail, but those forces never found their way into official MACV records. Since the airing of the program, six former MACV analysts have confirmed that under oath; several of the men testified that their estimates of greatly increased enemy infiltration were systematically rejected by the MACV command and replaced with lower figures.

Official Order of Battle summaries emanating from MACV each month continued to indicate that the Vietcong forces were declining. From 242,000, the total given to the President and the press in November 1967, the O.B. figures decreased to 225,000 by the end of January. Thus on January 31, 1968, Americans were stunned when the supposedly dwindling Vietcong forces struck with vigor in more than 100 towns and cities throughout South Vietnam. Simultaneously, the guerrillas brought much of the countryside under their control.

Less than a month after the start of the Tet offensive, Westmoreland announced that the enemy had "committed' about 84,000 troops to the battle and that some 45,000 of those had been killed in action. To this day Westmoreland and his supporters endorse those statistics, and they are used in many historical accounts of Tet. But George Allen, then the C.I.A.'s senior expert on Vietnam, has now revealed that 84,000 was an arbitrary figure that was doubted by some in the intelligence community at the time. His best judgment, he says, would be that the number of Vietcong forces used in the offensive exceeded 400,000.

Many intelligence reports on Tet show that the self-defense guerrillas who had been so neatly excised from Vietcong strength estimates participated in the attacks in the cities and the countryside. When they became casualties, MACV resorted to Alice in Wonderland logic: those who had not been counted when alive were subtracted from the Order of Battle when dead.

In Saigon, Commander James Meacham, a Naval officer assigned to MACV intelligence as chief of O.B. studies, wrote home to his wife:

March 2, 1968: Tomorrow will be a sort of day of truth. We shall then see if I can make the computer sort out the losses since the Tet offensive began in such a manner as to prove that we are winning the war. If I can't, we shall of course jack the figures around until we do show progress. Every month we make progress here. . . . The MACV bunch is definitely on the defensive (mentally as well as militarily).

March 13: You should have seen the antics my people and I had to go through . . . to make the February enemy strength calculations come out the way the general wanted them to. We started with the answer and plugged in all sorts of figures until we found a combination the machine could digest, and then we wrote all sorts of estimates showing why the figures were right which we had to use. And we continue to win the war.

March 21: We had a crash project to prepare a briefing for the press on enemy strength as of 29 Feb--complete with viewgraphs. . . . I have never in my life assembled such a pack of truly gargantuan falsehoods. The reporters will think we are putting on a horse and dog show when we try to sell them this crap.

When the February figures Meacham and his co-workers labored over became public, they did indeed inspire incredulity. On March 15, a colleague from the Defense Intelligence Agency called George Allen at the C.I.A. to discuss the 204,000 O.B. total just released by MACV. "We think MACV figures are phony,' the Defense Intelligence man stated, according to notes of the conversation made at the time. Allen responded that based on his recent trip to Saigon, "MACV was living in the clouds, "blind' to realities.' The C.I.A. moved quickly to protect its image and leaked an estimate to the press that was nearly three times that issued in Saigon.

In April 1968 another Order of Battle conference was convened; this time the C.I.A. prevailed. After delivering a lengthy dissent to Helms that upheld the discredited 1967 figures, the MACV representative returned to Saigon. Westmoreland notified Wheeler that the C.I.A. was about to report an Order of Battle in the 600,000 range, which would include the political infrastructure at "about twice the previously agreed figures' and would quantify irregulars. "There is a much larger issue involved here than intelligence methodology,' Westmoreland commented. "The acceptance of this inflated strength . . . is contrary to our national interest. The effect that its inevitable public announcement would have on the American public . . . is obvious.'

Commander Meacham wrote a letter to his wife on May 11. Fighting near Saigon was heavy at that time, and Meacham reported:

The war goes on in Saigon. The official releases make light of it, but we have large number of main force troops in the outskirts of the city delivering heavy attacks. . . . they have truly struck some heavy blows--much, much worse than the sabotage and terror incidents of the last of January. And the Paris talks are just beginning. . . . The Third field Hospital is right by CICV [Combined Intelligence Center Vietnam] and they are bringing the casualties in there in almost a steady stream, by chopper and ambulance. Legs and arms torn off and such--only the seriously wounded get this far.

By the end of June, Meacham's tour was drawing to a close. A group of investigators from Washington was visiting the intelligence center where he worked, and he was re-examining his own experiences there:

June 23: More and more the Washington bunch is beginning to dig into this strength business, and they are beginning to smell a rat, I think. Someday it may come out how we have lied about these figures.

June 24: They know we are falsifying the figures, but can't figure out which ones and how.

July 1: I had a talk with the CICV director today and let him know the truth about the doctoring of the strength figures. Now my conscience is clear.

Meacham's last letter before leaving Saigon conveys a sense of futility. "We own the base camps and the big cities and a few areas . . . [that] are staunchly pro-government,' he observed. But "they' owned the country.

This month CBS attorneys in the Westmoreland case will submit the voluminous pretrial material to the court in support of a motion for summary judgment, a request that Federal Judge Pierre Leval dismiss Westmoreland's complaint without further ado. Westmoreland's chief counsel, Dan Burt of Washington, D.C., will file answering papers soon after. CBS will then have an opportunity to reply before the court settles in to study the mountain of documents.

Whether or not a trial is held, the Vietnam War documents and depositions now available provide us with an instructive record--a parable for the present era, as U.S. involvement in guerrilla warfare in Central America threatens to become another Administration's nightmarish obsession.
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Title Annotation:falsification of Vietcong troop strength figures
Author:Schneir, Walter; Schneir, Miriam
Publication:The Nation
Date:May 12, 1984
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