Collection Summary

Creator: McCue, Edward O.
Title: Edward O. McCue Records Pertaining to Westmoreland v. CBS
Accession: MSS 88-4
Description: 2 boxes; .75 linear feet
Location: This collection is stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections before your visit to ensure your papers are available.
Photograph Collection: View 0 digitized photographs
Digitized Content: 0 objects
Use Restrictions: There are no restrictions.

Collection Description & Arrangement

This collection contains records compliled by Edward O. McCue to disclaim assertions made against General William Westmoreland on a CBS program aired on January 23, 1982.

Biographical & Historical Information

Mike Wallace interviewed Westmoreland for the CBS special The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception. The documentary, shown on January 23, 1982 and prepared largely by CBS producer George Crile III, alleged that Westmoreland and others had deliberately underestimated Viet Cong troop strength during 1967 in order to maintain US troop morale and domestic support for the war. Westmoreland filed a lawsuit against CBS.

In Westmoreland v. CBS, Westmoreland sued Wallace and CBS for libel, and a lengthy legal process began. After the trial was in progress, Westmoreland suddenly settled with CBS for an apology, no more than CBS had originally offered. Some contend that Judge Leval's instructions to the jury over what constituted "actual malice" to prove libel convinced Westmoreland's lawyers that he was certain to lose. Others point out that the settlement occurred after two of Westmoreland's former intelligence officers, Major General Joseph McChristian and Colonel Gains Hawkins, testified to the accuracy of the substantive allegations of the broadcast, which were that Westmoreland ordered changes in intelligence reports on Viet Cong troop strengths for political reasons. Disagreements persist about the appropriateness of some of the journalistic methods of Mike Wallace in particular.

A deposition by McChristian indicates that his organization developed improved intelligence on the number of irregular Viet Cong combatants shortly before he left Vietnam on a regularly scheduled rotation. The numbers troubled Westmoreland, who feared that the press would not understand them. He did not order them changed, but instead did not include the information in reporting to Washington, which in his view was a decision that the data were not appropriate to report.

Based on later analysis of the information from all sides, it appears clear that Westmoreland could not sustain a libel suit because CBS's principal allegation was that he had caused intelligence officers to suppress facts. Westmoreland's anger was caused by the implication of the broadcast that his intent was fraudulent and that he ordered others to lie.

During the acrimonious trial, Mike Wallace was hospitalized for depression, and despite the legal conflict separating the two, Westmoreland and his wife sent him flowers. Wallace's memoir is generally sympathetic to Westmoreland, although he makes it clear he disagreed with him on issues surrounding the Vietnam War and the Nixon Administration's policies in Southeast Asia.


Wikipedia contributors, "William Westmoreland," Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

Acquisition Information

Date Received 2011
Donor Information These materials were donated to Special Collections by Mr. McCue in the fall of 1987 and transferred to Archives in October of 1988.

Content List

Box 1:       

Tab A:       

  • Portions of New York Times Indices on Vietnam for 1967-1968, 1973, 1975 and 1976 and Washington Post for 1975

Tab B:                 

  • 1967-1968 news articles on MACV reporting of estimates of enemy strength

Tab C:       

  • Newspaper articles reporting Sam Adams' appearance as witness for Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers trial alleging fabrication of enemy intelligence estimates by MACV and CIA

Tab D:                 

  • Photocopies of Harper's Magazine May 1975 issue index page and selected pages from Sam Adams article alleging cover up of enemy strenghths by CIA and MACV

Tab E:                  

  • Parts 2 and 5 of transcripts of hearings held by House of Representatives Select Committee on Intelligence on "the nature and quality of our intelligence operations in Vietnam in the period preceding the (1968) Tet offensive," September and December, 1975 including testimony of Sam Adams

Tab F:        

  • Photocopies of newspaper articles reporting testimony by Sam Adams and others before House Select Intelligence Committee

Tab G:                 

  • Photocopy of portions of The Village Voice of February 16, 1976 24 page Special Supplement alleged to be sections of House Select Intelligence Committee report based on September and December, 1975 hearings (otherwise known as "Pike Papers" fron name of committee's chairman, Otis Pike, Rep. from New York)

Tab H:       

  • 1982 New York Times and Washington Post indices portions on Vietnam

Tab I:                   

  • Pre-broadcast review newspaper articles

Tan J:        

  • Report of Mike Wallace and producer George Crile interview by Diana Sawyer on CBS Morning Program 1/21/82

Tab K:       

  • Post-program commentaries

Tab L:        

  • Photocopy of TV Guide May 29-Jue=ne 24, 1982 article, "Anatomy of a Smear," by Don Kowet and Sally Bedell.
  • Post-TV Guide and newspaper articles

Tab M:       

  • Memorandum of CBS News President, Van Gordon Sauter, regarding CBS' internal review of program production
  • Post-CBS' memorandum newspaper articles

Tab N:                 

  • Article on controversy by Colonels Zane F. FInkelstein USA and Donald P. Shaw USA
  • Article by Colonel Donald P. Shaw USA on unsuccessful efforts to get article on controversy published
  • Article on controversy by Commander Edward O. McCue, III, USNR (retired)
  • Article in Armed Forces Journal International, December 1982, p.8 citing articles by Colonels Finkelstein and Sahw and Commander McCue

Tab O:       

  • Letter dated 8/10/1982 from Gen. Westmoreland to CBS President Wyman requesting apology, retraction and compensation
  • Letter dated 8/24/82 from CBS Nes President Van Gordon Sauter to Gen. Westmoreland rejecting requests
  • Statement of General Westmoreland 9/13/82 announcing filing suit against CBS

Tab P:                  

  • Bill of Complaint filed by General Westmoreland

Tab Q:       

  • Gen. Westmoreland's Amended Answer to CBS' Interrogatory no.11

Tab R:       

  • Deposition of Michael B. Hankins, former U.S. Army officer in Order of Battle Branch, Combined Intelligence Center, Vietman, MACV J-2

Tab S:                  

  • Press Statementr dated 12/27/83 regarding affidavits and documents filed by Gen. Westmoreland

Tab T:                  

  • List of affidavits filed by Gen. Westmoreland 12/27/83

Box 2:       

Tab U:       

  • Documents filed by Gen. Westmoreland 12/27/83

Tab V:       

  • Gen. Westmoreland's Memo of Law in Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgement
  • Memorandum of Law Appendix A of Affidavits in support of Gen. Westmoreland's Opposition to Defedant's motion
  • Gen. Westmoreland's Counter-Statement of Undisputed Material Facts Pursuant to Local Rule 3 (g) and Appedix B- Important Documents Cited in Support of Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion
  • 1/22/1982; Electrostate Copy of full page of New York Times ad. for CBS program "The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception"

Associated People

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