HOW LBJ LEARNED THE TRUTH ABOUT THE WAR
The Burris Back Channel to LBJ
On March 16, the same day McNamara was telling Congress how the U.S. was winning the war, Lyndon Johnson was in his office reading about how the U.S. was losing the war.
By the middle of March 1962, one’s view of the war depended entirely on who gave you your information. Why the vice president was reading an opposite and, as shall be seen, true account of the battlefield situation is one of the most significant enigmas of the Vietnam War during the Kennedy years. There is incontrovertible proof that accurate details of the failing war effort were provided to Johnson through a privileged intelligence back channel, and an unassailable certainty that he deliberately withheld this information from Kennedy.
LBJ Never Shared What he Learned from Burris With JFK
Where was the vice president’s information coming from? In an interview with me, Burris says he “got a lot of raw information” passed to him from the “boys in the woodwork.” He explained “the figures, facts, and circumstances were tailored to make them look good.” Did the vice president talk to Burris about this? “Oh sure,” Burris states. “We talked about it a lot.” The vice president told Burris to “find out what the hell was going on.” Johnson felt McGeorge Bundy and McNamara were “working hand in hand.” Burris said LBJ did not like them, and told him: “Keep me posted on what they’re doing and what they’re up to.”