Why CIA Analysts Were So Doubtful About Vietnam
Operations. In traveling through Tonkin, every vil lage flew the Viet Minh flag, and had armed soldiers, many with Japanese weapons taken in raids. The women and children were also organized, and all were enthusiastic in their support. The important thing is that all were cognizant of the fact that independence was not to be gained in a day, and were prepared to continue their strug gle for years. In the rural areas, Ifound not one instance ofopposition to the VietMinh, even among former govern
... among former govern ment officials. OSS report, October J9452 It is well documented and well known that for decades CIA analysts were skeptical of official pronounce ments about the Vietnam war and consistently fairly pessimistic about the outlook for light at the end of the tunnel. Less well known is why the Agency s analysts were so doubt ful, especially because CIA was all the while a central player in US opera tional efforts to create and strengthen South Vietnam. Thus, it is important to examine the sources of CIA ana lysts doubts about successive administrations repeated assurances and claims. Not all CIA analysts thought alike, and at times there were substantial differences of view. Skepticism and pessimism about Vietnam were present chiefly among those officers who produced finished intelligence in the form of National Intelligence Estimates and in Intelligence Direc torate (then the DDI) publications: that is, analysts in the Office of National Estimates (ONE), the Office of Economic] Research and Reports, and the South Vietnam Branch of the Office of Current Intelligence (OCI). Such views were generally a bit less evident among officers of the North Vietnam Branch of OCT. many of whom had been transferred there from previous Soviet and North Korean assign ments. The situation among the missed the boat, or where Agency judgments were too wishy-washy to serve the needs of policymaking or, in a handful of cases, where analytic officers caved in to pressures from above and produced mistakenly rosy judgments. Despite these hazards, and, as Robert McNamara s recent 85 Report Documentation Page Form Approved OMB No. 0704-0188 Public reporting burden for the collection of information is estimated to average 1 hour per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Washington Headquarters Services, Directorate for Information Operations and Reports, 1215 Jefferson Davis Highway, Suite 1204, Arlington VA 22202-4302. Respondents should be aware that notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person shall be subject to a penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information if it does not display a currently valid OMB control number.