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Monument to Deceit

Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars

C. Michael Hiam

Publication Year: 2014

It was an enigma of the Vietnam War: American troops kept killing the Viet Cong--and being killed in the process--and yet their ranks continued to grow. When CIA analyst Sam Adams uncovered documents suggesting a Viet Cong army more than twice as large as previously reckoned, another war erupted, this time within the ranks of America's intelligence community. Although originally clandestine, this conflict involving the highest levels of the U.S. government burst into public view during the acrimonious lawsuit Westmoreland v. CBS. The central issue in the suit, as in the war itself, was the calamitous failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to ascertain the strength of the Viet Cong and get that information to troops in a timely fashion. The legacy of this failure--whether caused by institutional inertia, misguided politics, or individual hubris--haunts our nation. In the era of Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden, Sam Adams' tireless crusade for "honest intelligence" resonates strongly today.

Published by: University Press of New England

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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Foreword to the Paperback Edition

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pp. vii-xii

The ordeal of Sam Adams began with his failure to grasp, or to accept, what it is that a national intelligence agency is really intended to do. I didn’t grasp it either, when I first met him in the mid-1970s, but watching the passionate intensity with which he waged the “war of numbers” gradually helped me understand what was going on....

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Prologue: Tet, 1968

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pp. 1-5

In defeat, Sam Adams readied his classified files for the transfer downstairs. Appearing far younger than his thirty-four years, Adams was a man of patrician good looks and an all-American affability, although that affability would have been subdued on this day. There were a lot of files to go through, indeed four safes’ worth of files, and each file was in its own...

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1 | A Downwardly Mobile WASP

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pp. 6-26

My dear Mrs. Gordon” wrote Dorothy Adams. “Enclosed is my check for seven hundred dollars. This, I understand, is half the yearly tuition. Sammy is very enthusiastic about going to you.” In the same letter Dorothy also wanted to arrange for her son’s trip to his new boarding school. Dorothy’s wish was to have her Sammy make the journey alone:...

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2 | Crisis in the Congo

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pp. 27-40

The gleaming new CIA building in Langley, Virginia, was next to the Potomac and so close to Washington, D.C., that Sam Adams’s new agency colleague Robert Sinclair made the trip to work from his home in Georgetown by canoe, paddling along with beavers and Canada geese as his fellow commuters until arriving at headquarters, ready for another...

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3 | Vietnam

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pp. 41-56

With his accomplishments on the Congo behind him and Vietnam to look forward to, Sam Adams spent a well-deserved vacation on Hoel Pond in the Adirondacks. He would have fed the chipmunks just as he had done as a child, played with his little son Clayton in the water, and enjoyed quiet afternoons reading on the cabin porch with Eleanor. At almost this...

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4 | George Allen’s War

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pp. 57-71

When Sam Adams departed Tan Son Nhut, George Allen was just completing a two-year tour of duty in South Vietnam. Allen was permitted only the occasional trip back to the States to see his wife and four daughters, and so he made a home for himself in Saigon. Evenings he would retire to the house he shared with another member of the CIA station. The...

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5 | The Crossover Point

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pp. 72-89

Back after four months abroad, Sam Adams reported to headquarters in northern Virginia on May 2, 1966. For professional reasons Adams was happy to be back at work, and for personal reasons he was probably relieved also. The holiday in Greece had not been a success, and his marriage...

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6 | Told to Lie

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pp. 90-104

At Camp Smith overlooking Pearl Harbor the newest MACV J-2, General Joseph A. McChristian, took his place at the center of the curved conference table. A West Point graduate, McChristian had piercing blue eyes, a beribboned uniform, and a reputation for professionalism. General Grover C. Brown, head of intelligence for CINCPAC, was also...

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7 | SNIE 14.3-67

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pp. 105-128

Robert S. McNamara no longer trusted his military men. In April 1967 he quietly asked the CIA for an objective assessment of the war, and the appraisal he received was not encouraging. Viet Cong strength, Langley told him, was five hundred thousand; the American pacification program had stalled; and the air campaign against North Vietnam would not achieve its desired results....

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8 | A Lugubrious Irony

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pp. 129-143

One legacy of the September order of battle ruckus was a hardening of lines between CIA and MACV working-level types in Saigon. After the summit J-2 staffers treated their local CIA counterparts as if they were foreign agents, and agency personnel resented both this and what they felt was the military’s continued foolery with the numbers....

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9 | The Adams Phenomenon

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pp. 144-162

By the spring of 1968 CIA director Richard Helms realized the numbers debate with MACV would have to be reopened. The figures he’d acceded to the previous fall had proven, of course, to be unsupportable in light of the Tet Offensive. On the sixth floor at Langley, George Carver informed Adams. “I went ‘whoo-ee!’ and dashed downstairs and wrote a...

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10 | A Thoreau Type

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pp. 163-185

Adams was sorry to see Klein go. It was late 1970 and, Adams said, “By now my fortunes had sunk to a low ebb. For the first time in seven years, I was given an unfavorable fitness report.” The report was shown to Adams by the same person who wrote it, his boss, Ronald L. Smith. According to Smith, “Mr. Adams does not take direction well and has had...

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11 | Investigations

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pp. 186-206

Newly freed from the CIA and eager to publicize U.S. intelligence failures in Southeast Asia, Adams almost immediately published op-ed pieces in the New York Times (“Truth in the Balance”) and the Wall Street Journal (“The Foe We Face in Cambodia”). From W. W. Norton he received a twenty-thousand-dollar advance for a book to be titled, in honor of the SNIE...

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12 | CBS Reports

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pp. 207-221

The Adams daily routine appeared certain to continue on indefinitely. He had switched the title of his book from Fourteen Three to Who the Hell Are We Fighting Out There? but there was no finished manuscript as yet, and Adams had already outlived his editor at W. W. Norton. The routine changed, however, when George Crile showed up again in his life one...

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13 | Cravath

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pp. 222-239

Robert H. Baron took the first flight of the day, at six A.M., down to Washington, D.C. It was September 13, 1982, and he arrived at the Army-Navy Club early. Baron kept a low profile, and when the press conference got under way he listened intently as William C. West more - land announced that he was filing a $120 million libel suit against CBS...

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14 | The Libel Trial of the Century

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pp. 240-255

The trial got under way on October 10, 1984, in overheated Room 318 of the U.S. Courthouse in Lower Manhattan. Judge Pierre N. Leval delivered a one-hour-and-fifteen-minute lecture to the members of the jury, discussing libel law and the historic nature of the case that they were about to hear. Leval told the jurors that they would not be sequestered, but he cautioned...

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15 | The Colonels’ Revolt

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pp. 256-277

Boies continued with his velvet-gloved “cross” of Crile at the reopening of the trial, January 3, 1985, and Crile’s ninth and last day on the stand as Dan Burt’s hostile witness ended quickly the following morning. Jurors could now make plans for the weekend. On Monday, Burt, fast using up what remained of his 150 hours and unwilling to spend it on Mike Wallace...

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16 | Reckless Disregard

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pp. 278-294

Westy Raises White Flag,” the New York Daily News screamed. A cartoon in the San Francisco Chronicle depicted a mad scramble for the last helicopter lifting off the U.S. Courthouse roof: “Westmoreland Declares Victory and Pulls Out,” the caption read.
At Regine’s nightclub, 59th and Park, a huge celebration was held on short notice. CBS rented the place for the occasion, and over the din of...

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pp. 295-296

I would like to thank Clayton Adams for approving and supporting my plans to write a biography of his father. I also thank Eleanor McGowin Adams and Anne Cocroft Adams for their help and encouragement over my four years of research and writing. I thank as well Abraham Adams and the other members of the Adams and Clark families who were so...

Abbreviations and Acronyms

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pp. 297-298


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pp. 299-310


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pp. 311-312

Photo Credits

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pp. 313-314


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pp. 315-328

Image Plates

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pp. 329-340

E-ISBN-13: 9781611686005
E-ISBN-10: 1611686008
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611685985

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2014