September 30, 1964
"My fellow Americans, As President and Commander in Chief, it is my duty to the American people to report that renewed hostile actions against United States ships on the high seas in the Gulf of Tonkin have today required me to order the military forces of the United States to take action in reply." - Lyndon B Johnson
The US destroyer Maddox was busy conducting a signal intelligence operation against North Vietnam when they fired three warning shots at approaching enemy subs. The subs returned fire, leaving one bullet in the Maddox. This incident on August 2, 1964 happened, but the US was there supporting covert raids from the South, so it was hardly "unprovoked".
Just 48 hours later, the Maddox and a reinforcement ship claimed they were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin. Except they weren’t. There were no torpedoes; no subs—just “ghost” radar pings. This deception was used as a pretext to dramatically ramp up a fierce, costly, and protracted war in Vietnam.
We may not have known the full extent of the government’s misleading story if it were not for I.F. Stone’s meticulous close reading of documents tied to the incidents.
His exhausting analysis and questioning of the events that transpired in August, 1964 did cost him. He was the only American journalist questioning the word of President Lyndon B. Johnson - making him an outcast in mainstream media circles, but also one of the most important journalists working in his day.
Read I.F. Stone's coverage of the Gulf of Tonkin from his original newsletters.
I.F. Stone used his weekly newsletter to challenge the narrative being told by the US government by researching inconsistencies in official documents and publishing his findings.