Jeff Stein, the former editor of The VVA Veteran , today writes the “SpyTalk” blog on the Washington Post web site. His latest column , headlined “Nixon-CIA Spy Ploy in Vietnam Backfired, New Records Show, ” deals with new information about the 1970 Cambodian incursion–new and enlightening information about how Nixon and his Vietnam War guru Henry Kissinger operated.
As Stein–who served as a U.S. Army intelligence officer in Vietnam–notes, Nixon and Kissinger, his national security adviser, “deliberately ‘leaked’ word to North Vietnam that U.S. forces planned to invade Cambodia, in a failed attempt to intimidate Hanoi into retreat.”
That info came from recently declassified data in a new volume of Foreign Relations of the United States , the official State Department history of the era. The news was unearthed by Merle Pribbenow, a retired CIA expert on Vietnam who found hitherto undiscovered documents in State Department records.
Stein quotes Pribbenow as saying that the idea behind Nixon and Kissinger’s psychological ploy “was to make the North Vietnamese believe that they had obtained advance knowledge of a planned U.S. operation in order to frighten them into pulling their forces back. The end result was that, not only were the North Vietnamese not frightened out of doing what Nixon wanted to scare them out of doing, Nixon unintentionally gave them advance warning of what the U.S. was about to do.”
What’s more, Stein notes, “the ploy, in short, ended up foiling Nixon’s main goal for invading Cambodia: to annihilate Hanoi’s command post for staging attacks on South Vietnam.”