Myth: The Pentagon Papers showed conclusively that the US government had lied about every facet of the war, from its earliest stages to the end, and that the US should never have been involved in Viet Nam at all

Fact: The Pentagon papers revealed secrets about the US relationship with Vietnam but supported much of what the government said about the war effort.

  • The Papers revealed that the US never signed the !954 Geneva Accords or the addendum and neither did South Vietnam, contrary to antiwar activists' claims
  • The US supported the a cease fire, the reunification of Vietnam and national elections but only under rigorous international supervision
  • The communists opposed international monitoring and worked tirelessly to water down what monitoring there was
  • The NLF was a creation of North Vietnam, although the certainty of the intelligence was lower than one would have hoped
  • Ngo Dinh Diem was far from a US puppet, many times angering bureaucrats so much that they threatened to withdraw US support
  • The US was actively involved in the plot to overthrow Diem and naively shocked when he was assassinated along with his brother
  • US support for the French was reluctant and conditioned upon French cooperation in loosening its grip on the Vietnamese
  • US goals were consistently to stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia

Confirming Evidence

Myths and Realities in the Vietnam Debate

Rethinking the Pentagon Papers

The Official Pentagon Papers Archive

COVER STORY: Pentagon Papers: The Secret War