Never believe the first report!
April 3, 2020 10:43 PM   Subscribe

My father was a foreign service officer for many years, and vividly recalls on someone’s desk in the late 1960s or early 1970s probably at main State but perhaps at the Pentagon or even in an officer’s quarters in Vietnam a sign which was something to the effect of “general so-and-so’s rules for dealing with Southeast Asia.”

He thinks there were perhaps three or four listed, but the one which stuck with him (and was subsequently drilled into me in the 80s!) was, “Never, no never, believe the first report.” My google-foo over the years has failed me, and wonder if any of you wonderful people might have the full quote?
posted by eglenner to Grab Bag (2 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Is it this: “In battle nothing is ever as good or as bad as the first reports of excited men would have it.” -William Slim
posted by whitewall at 5:26 AM on April 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

Maybe this? From With Honor: Melvin Laird in War, Peace, and Politics by Dale Van Atta - 2008 biography

"(Laird had) ... a firm policy about military intelligence reports on any given incident: Never believe the first report, be skeptical about the second, and question the third."

Melvin Laird on Wikipedia.
posted by faineant at 6:56 PM on April 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

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