Source: Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 3, pp. 729-30
"Viet-Nam Action Called 'Collective Defense Against Armed Aggression,'" [Department Statement read to news correspondents on March 4, 1965 by Robert J. McCloskey, Director, Office of News], Department of State Bulletin, March 22, 1965, p. 403.
The fact that military hostilities have been taking place in Southeast Asia does not bring about the existence of a state of war, which is a legal characterization of a situation rather than a factual description. What we have in VietNam is armed aggression from the North against the Republic of Viet-Nam. Pursuant to a South Vietnamese request and consultations between our two Governments, South Viet-Nam and the United States are engaged in collective defense against that armed aggression. The inherent right of individual and collective self-defense is recognized in article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
If the question is intended to raise the issue of legal authority to conduct the actions which have been taken, there can be no doubt that these actions fall within the constitutional powers of the President and within the congressional resolution of August 1964.
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