President Lyndon Johnson used the Gulf of Tonkin incident to make his case to Congress for escalating the conflict with North Vietnam. The film examines newly released evidence used to justify attacking North Vietnam on August 4th, 1964. NSA intercepts, White House recordings and first hand witnesses conclude Johnson lied to the country and fabricated the case for war. Members of the USS Maddox crew, pilots from the US Constellation, Secretary of State Alexander Haig, foreign affairs advisor William Bundy, NSA and CIA analysts all review the newly released evidence and conclude the North Vietnamese attack never happened. In the documentary, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara is confronted with the NSA intercepts.
Behind The Scenes
Reenactments in the Oval Office and Pentagon Situation Room were shot in film to blend new content with original archival footage. The Pentagon permitted re-enactments to be filmed on the USS Maddox’s sister ship. Footage includes reenactments obtained from the National Archives that were filmed a week after the attack. The Pentagon crew filmed on the destroyers, carriers and aircraft involved in the alleged attack to use was war propaganda. The footage was classified “Top Secret” after Department of Defense analysts came to the conclusion the attack hadn’t happened. The film was originally released by the BBC under the name “Playing with the Truth.”