May 18

This Day in History

Vietnam War

May 18, 1966:

Laird charges

U.S. Representative Melvin Laird (R-Wisconsin) states that because the Johnson administration is not providing the American public with precise information on planned troop deployments to Vietnam, a "credibility gap" is developing. Informed sources reported that 254,000 U.S. troops were serving in Vietnam, and that another 90,000 were performing tasks directly concerned with the war. These numbers were higher than those provided by the government. This was emblematic of the gap between what the administration said and what it did, leading to a growing distrust of the government among a large part of American society. This mistrust also plagued Johnson's successor, Richard Nixon, who made Laird his secretary of defense. Like the Johnson administration, Nixon's administration was marked by attempts to manage the information released about the war. Under Nixon, this included the secret bombing campaign of Cambodia, which was kept from the American public until it was exposed by William Beecher, a military correspondent for the New York Times, in May 1969.

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