Minutes after 2 A.M. on November 21, 1970, more than one hundred U.S. war planes shattered the dark calm of the skies over Hanoi. Their mission: rescue sixty-one American POWs from Son Tay prison. Less than thirty minutes later, the raid was over, but no Americans had been rescued. The prisoners had been moved from Son Tay four and a half months earlier and that wasn’t all. Part of the raiding force landed at the wrong compound, a “school” bristling with enemy soldiers, but the soldiers weren’t Vietnamese . . .
Replete with fascinating insights into the workings of high-level intelligence and military command, The Raid is Benjamin Schemmer’s unvarnished account of the courageous mission that was quickly labeled an intelligence failure by Congress and a Pentagon blunder by the world press. Determined to ferret out the truth, Schemmer uncovers one of the CIA’s most carefully guarded secrets. From the planning and live-fire rehearsals to the explosive reactions of the Joint Chiefs of Staff watching the drama unfold to the aftermath as the White House and Pentagon struggled for damage control, Schemmer tackles the tough questions. What really happened during the twenty-seven minutes the raiders spent on the ground? Did the CIA know the whole time that the Americans were gone? Had the Agency in fact been responsible for the POWs being moved? And perhaps most intriguing, why was the rescue—though it never freed a single prisoner—not a failure after all?