The setting is the future of Earth, and a great war had just been won against an enemy race. Two men, Swift and Henderson, are debating over who really won the war for Earth: the giant strategy computer known as Multivac, or the men in charge of making the maneuvers and programming the computer. John Henderson is an excitable man, while Lamar Swift, the military captain, is calm but rational. While the people hailed the computer, the two really knew who the heroes were.
Henderson explained the fact that Multivac was nothing more than a large machine, only capable of doing what it was programmed to do. He stated that ever since the beginning of the war, he had been hiding a secret. It was the fact that some of its (Multivac's) data might have been unreliable. This conflict, as you will note later, helped win the war. The great computer was capable of creating a direct battle plan which Earth forces could use to attack their enemies. However, with Henderson inputting faulty data, this caused some of the battle plans to be unreliable. His internal conflict between himself losing his job and wanting to keep it made him jingle with the programming until it seemed right.
This foreshadowing helps the reader to see that someone is going to have to act upon Henderson's faults if the war is to be won. Swift, the military commander, received these battle plans that Henderson had printed up' out on the front (the front being the battle front).
He, realizing that some of these plans were outrageous, had to act upon a different form of machine. Swift's motivation for not always acting upon what was laid before him helped change the course of the war. He told Henderson that when faced with the difficult decisions, he didn't use Multivac's data all of the time. This conflict, making these tough...