In the fall of 1967, political and military leaders in Washington said the Vietnam War was approaching “the crossover point”: More Vietcong soldiers were dying in battle each week than could be recruited. CIA analyst Sam Adams, however, was insisting the good news was an illusion. His estimates of enemy ranks and morale varied wildly from those being released by military intelligence for public consumption, and for use by commanders in the field. Adams' findings indicated the war was unwinnable, and when US leaders failed to acknowledge basic facts, he knew the intelligence was being politicized.
From inside the CIA and then after quitting the agency in 1973, Adams embarked on a one-man crusade to expose the truth. He loved intelligence work, and his enthusiasm for it shines throughout this illuminating memoir. Thanks to Adams, newsman Mike Wallace produced his influential CBS News documentary “The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception;” General William Westmoreland was called to account, and his book dramatizes in clear, compelling prose how America’s involvement in Southeast Asia became such a tragedy.
Adams, an intelligence analyst with the CIA, discovered evidence in 1966 that the number of Vietnamese communist soldiers in Vietnam was closer to 600,000 than the 280,000 count made by the Pentagon. Unable to persuade CIA director Richard Helms to convene a board of inquiry, he unsuccessfully took his appeal to Congress and the White House, then resigned from the agency in '73 to write this account of the affair. His central argument is that General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, had deliberately overlooked some 300,000 Vietcong militiamen in order to buttress the government line that the U.S. was winning the war. In 1980 Adams was hired as a consultant for the CBS documentary The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception , based largely on the evidence he had uncovered; the film caused Westmoreland to file a much-publicized libel suit against the network, with Adams a co-defendant. Westmoreland dropped the suit before it went to jury. Adams died in 1988, leaving the memoir unfinished, but far enough along to explain how the CIA and top military brass--with White House encouragement--misled the Congress and the American people about enemy strength before the 1968 Tet Offensive. The expose offers a convincing inside look at CIA analytical techniques during the Vietnam war.