Thursday, September 02, 2004

E I G H T

KERRY’S ANTIWAR SECRETS

“Kerry’s turncoat performance in 1971 in his grubby shirt and his medal-tossing escapade, coupled with his slanderous lies in the recent book portraying us that served, including all POWs and MIAs, as murderous war criminals, I believe, will have a lasting effect on all military veterans and their families.”

CAPTAIN CHARLES PLUMLY, USN (RETIRED)
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth Press Conference
Washington, D.C., May 4, 2004

“My plan was that on the last day at a certain time, probably 11:30 or 2:30 (either right before or after lunch), we would go into the offices—in our schedule with our congressmen, we would schedule the most hard-core hawks for last—and we would shoot them all. . . I was serious. . . ”

SCOTT CAMIL
VVAW leader and Kerry companion to June, 1971 Cavett Show debate; discussing his February, 1971 and November, 1971 formal assassination proposal voted down by VVAW. University of Florida Oral History Program Interview of Scott Camil, Oct. 20, 1992


The VVAW Plot Kerry Doesn’t Want You to Know About

At the VVAW steering committee meeting in Kansas City in November 1971, Florida regional coordinator Scott Camil brought up an assassination plan that he had first proposed during the April 1971 Dewey Canyon III event in Washington, D.C. Camil proposed that the VVAW assassinate a group of United States senators who supported the war, including Senator John Tower of Texas, Senator John Stennis of Mississippi, and Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Camil had termed his plan Operation Phoenix, calling to mind a CIA assassination program in Vietnam that had targeted Viet Cong leadership cadres.

Known as Scott the Assassin, Camil was a firebrand within the VVAW ranks. He advocated the creation of VVAW assassination squads who could emulate the CIA Phoenix Program in Vietnam. The idea, as proposed by Camil, was that the VVAW assassination squads would kill politicians who opposed ending the war, beginning with prominent senators. The problem for John Kerry and the other VVAW members present at the Kansas City meeting was that a conspiracy to commit murder may itself be a crime, whether or not any murder is actually committed. Camil had a well-known fascination with weapons, and his plot may have been more fantasy than reality. Still, those present listened to the proposal and even took a vote on it. Arguably, those present, including Kerry, had an obligation to report the proposed plot to authorities to avoid becoming complicit in a conspiracy to commit murder.

Investigative reporter Tom Lipscomb broke the VVAW assassination story in the New York Sun with a series of articles appearing in March 2004.1 When presented with the details of the assassination plot from the Kansas City meeting, his first reaction was to lie. A spokesperson for the Kerry presidential campaign simply denied that John Kerry had attended the meeting. Then Lipscomb found two VVAW members, Randy Barnes and Terry DuBoise, who had attended the meeting and were willing to go on record stating that they remembered Kerry being there.

Kerry’s recent biography, Tour of Duty, claimed that he had quit the VVAW on November 10, 1971, several days before the Kansas City assassination meeting, and that his resignation letter was at the VVAW archive in Madison, Wisconsin.2 The trouble was that nobody could find the November 10 resignation letter in the files. Finally, Tour of Duty author Douglas Brinkley admitted to Lipscomb that he did not have a copy of the letter in question; instead, he had been relying on Kerry’s own report that the letter existed. To date, no resignation letter has been located. When Lipscomb asked Brinkley who had told him that Kerry was a no-show at the Kansas City meeting, Brinkley’s response was that his source was Kerry himself.

At about the time the Kerry presidential campaign was denying that he had attended the Kansas City meeting, the FBI surveillance file on the VVAW and Kerry was beginning to be made available on the Internet. Previously, these records had been available only to Gerald Nicosia, the pro-Kerry writer and VVAW historian who had launched the original Freedom of Information Act request that led to the release of the documents.

As noted in the previous chapter, close inspection of the FBI reports indicates that Kerry was present at the Kansas City meeting as a member of the VVAW executive committee. The FBI reported that Kerry told the steering committee that he planned to resign from the executive committee, but that he would continue to speak for the VVAW and that his resignation from the executive committee would not take effect until a replacement for him had been selected. The FBI file was clear that Kerry was resigning only from the executive committee, not from the VVAW itself.

On Friday, March 19, 2004, writer Scott Canon published an article in the Kansas City Star that supported Lipscomb’s research. Canon’s article suggested that the Kerry campaign was backing away from its initial denial in light of the information in the FBI reports: “A statement Thursday by Kerry’s camp said the Massachusetts Democrat did not recall the meeting, although FBI surveillance material and the group’s archives clearly show that Kerry resigned from his national coordinator post at that November 1971 meeting.”3 Still, campaign spokesman David Wade tried to save face by advancing a barely believable statement: “John Kerry had no personal recollection of this meeting thirty-three years ago. John Kerry does recall the disagreements with elements of VVAW leadership. . . that led to his resignation. If there are valid FBI surveillance reports from credible sources that place some of those disagreements in Kansas City, we accept that historical footnote in the account of his work to end the difficult and divisive war.”

So, faced with documentary evidence to the contrary, the Kerry campaign quickly shifted ground. The denial that Kerry had attended the meeting was replaced with a convenient statement that he could not recall the meeting—besides, so what, the meeting was a footnote to history. Again the limits of credibility were stretched. This particular footnote to history evidently involved the consideration of a conspiracy to assassinate U. S. senators, something that most people would probably remember for the rest of their lives.

The Kansas City Star also reported that John Hurley, an organizer of veteran volunteers for Kerry’s presidential campaign, had called several former VVAW members to pressure them to change their stories about the assassination meeting, in particular, one John Musgrave of Baldwin City, Kansas. As the Star reported: “I asked him to be very sure of his recollection, not to change his recollection,” Hurley said. “I would apologize to John Musgrave if he thought in any way I was pressuring him.”4

If there was nothing to hide in this Kansas City meeting or in Scott Camil’s assassination plot, then why didn’t Kerry just tell the truth about the meeting from the start? That Kerry’s campaign continues to insist that he has no recollection of the meeting strongly suggests that there is more here that Kerry simply does not want the public to know.

The Medals Kerry Doesn’t Want You to Think He Threw Away

The day after John Kerry’s testimony to the Fulbright Committee, the VVAW assembled on the front steps of the Capitol for what was to be the culminating event of Dewey Canyon III.5 One by one, the VVAW protesters approached a microphone and threw their war decorations over a fence into a bin that had been marked “trash.” Kerry, too, approached the microphone, said his piece, and threw away a handful of what everybody assumed were his medals.

A film clip of the event in the VVAW short feature Only The Beginning captured several of the protesters as they shouted into the microphone before throwing their medals over the fence. The protest was not just political theater; it was angry political theater with a radical antiwar message:

My name’s Peter Brannigan, and I’ve got a Purple Heart here, and I hope I get another one fighting these motherf—ers. (loud cheers)

Robert Jones, New York, and I symbolically return all Vietnam medals and service medals given me by the power structure that has genocidal policies against non-white peoples of the world. (shouts of “Right on!”)

22nd Cavalry Squadron in Da Nang, and I hope they realize this is their last G-dammed chance. (cheers)

We don’t want to fight any more, but if we do it will be to take these steps! (screams of approval)

The VVAW film clip ends there, to the sound of automatic weapons fire.

Questions about this incident arose when John Kerry ran for the Senate in 1984. Some thirteen years after the medal-tossing demonstration, Kerry found it politically expedient to have his medals back, as evidence of the war-hero status that even in 1984 was at the core of his campaign. Many visitors to Kerry’s office reported surprise at seeing Kerry’s medals framed and hanging on his Senate office wall. At the demonstration itself, Kerry gave no explanation of what he was throwing over the fence. A reasonable assumption was that he was throwing away his own medals, as were many of the other protesters at the event. No, Kerry explained, he had thrown away only the ribbons he had been wearing on his fatigues; he did not have the medals with him at the time, and there was no time to go home to New York and get them.

Another explanation crept in over the years. Kerry maintained that, yes, he had actually thrown away some medals, but they weren’t his own medals; they were the medals of two other veterans he had met. His own medals, he continued to insist, were always in safekeeping; hence, there was no surprise that they were now on his wall. One more small detail creeps into the story. Sometimes the current location of the medals is described as not on the senator’s office wall but in a desk drawer in his study at his home in Boston, or some other office location in Boston, but definitely not lost over a fence.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, the controversy resurfaced when ABC News found a 1971 television interview Kerry gave in which he did claim that what he had thrown away during the protest were in fact his own medals. As ABC News reported: “I gave back, I can’t remember six, seven, eight, nine medals,” Kerry said in a November 6, 1971, interview on a Washington, D.C., news program on WRC-TV called Viewpoints.

The controversy picked up steam when Kerry appeared on Good Morning America and called the whole question a “phony controversy instigated by the Republican Party.” He was belligerent, insisting that he was always accurate about what had taken place: “I threw my ribbons. I didn’t have any medals. It is very simple.” He also said that the military did not make a distinction between medals and ribbons, so he could not understand why the news media was making such a big deal out of it: “We threw away the symbols of what our country gave us for what we had gone through.” Now, campaigning as a war hero, Kerry wanted to maintain he had always been proud of his war decorations, even though that was not the impression he gave in the famous 1971 medal-tossing ceremony.6

When ABC News confronted Kerry with the old videotape from the Viewpoints show, he appeared angry. “This is being pushed yesterday by Karen Hughes [former director of communications] in the White House on FOX. It shows up on several different stations at the same time. This comes from a president who can’t even show or prove that he showed up for duty in the National Guard. And I’m not going to stand for it,” he told ABC’s Good Morning America while still on the air. When pressed on the discrepancy, Kerry became more combative: “George Bush has yet to explain to America whether or not—and tell the truth about whether he showed up for duty. I’m not going to get attacked on something that I did that is a matter of record.” Finally, insisting that he had never said he had given back his combat medals, Kerry insisted, “Back then, ribbons, medals were absolutely interchangeable.”

Then, at the end of the interview, when he was off-camera, Kerry made an additional comment that was recorded as he was unclipping the microphone: “God, they’re doing the work of the Republican National Committee.” Rather than address the contradiction directly, Kerry fell back on what for him was a familiar response technique— he attempted to shift the subject away from himself and the question he had been asked, making the new focus on an enemy presumed to be attacking him.

What is clear is that in 1971, when Kerry was still presenting himself as an antiwar activist, he encouraged the conclusion that he threw his medals away. Ever since he began running for public office, Kerry has wanted those medals back.

Most veterans who win decorations in time of war cherish those decorations as a symbol of the sacrifice they made for their country. Any veteran loyal to America witnessing a demonstration in which veterans threw away their medals would be appalled. After all, this was the purpose of the entire event—to shock America by showing it that Vietnam veterans so little valued their service that they were throwing their decorations in the trash. The April 1971 medal-tossing ceremony in front of the U.S. Capitol was intended as an insult to the American government, a government that the VVAW was directly calling immoral in its pursuit of the war. No one watching the ceremony in 1971 could fail to capture the meaning of the event.

U.S. service personnel were dying that day in 1971 as John Kerry demonstrated in front of the Capitol, and Kerry insulted them by his own act of disrespect. The core of John Kerry’s protest in 1971 was what he told the Fulbright Committee: He believed that the war was a mistake. John Kerry wanted the war in Vietnam to end regardless of the outcome. That was his clear meaning, no matter what he threw over that fence. Today, John Kerry wants the American people to see his medals on the wall, as if they had always been there, not his ribbons thrown away in the trash bin.

The New Soldier—
The Book Kerry Doesn’t Want You to Read

Late in 1971, MacMillan Publishers brought out Kerry’s book The New Soldier in a hardcover first edition.7 John Kerry is listed at the top of the cover page, as author, and the two editors listed are Kerry’s longtime friends David Thorne and George Butler. David Thorne, the twin brother of Kerry’s first wife, Julia Thorne, first met Kerry when they were freshmen at Yale and are still friends. Thorne continues to advise Kerry in his 2004 presidential campaign. George Butler met Kerry in 1964, introduced through a mutual friend, Dick Pershing. Butler took the photographs in The New Soldier, and he has been photographing John Kerry ever since, now over a period of more than thirty-three years.

The New Soldier is divided into several distinct parts. Thorne and Butler wrote the preface. The first major section of the book is an edited version of Kerry’s testimony before the Fulbright Committee, testimony that already was in the public domain. The next section of the book presents a chronology of Operation Dewey Canyon III from April 19, 1971, to April 23, 1971.

Dewey Canyon III permitted Kerry to emerge as the national spokesperson for the VVAW, a role that grew out of his visible presence on the stage throughout the event and his televised appearance before the Fulbright Committee on April 22, 1971. Kerry has acknowledged raising approximately $50,000 to cover the expenses of Dewey Canyon III, with the assistance of his friend Adam Walinsky, who had written Kerry’s prepared testimony before the Fulbright Committee. Walinsky and Kerry arranged a private meeting with donors at the Seagram Building in New York, a meeting that included Seagram’s chief executive, Edgar M. Bronfman Sr., and some twenty New York businessmen who shared Kerry’s antipathy to the Vietnam War.

A large section at the core of the book reprints testimony given at the Winter Soldier Investigation, with testimony juxtaposed against photographs of Dewey Canyon III.

The text of the book contains passage after vitriolic passage expressing strong antipathy for the American cause in Vietnam, with charge after charge of war crimes and atrocities, hitting whenever possible the theme that the war was racist in nature. Kerry’s epilogue continued the themes of his testimony before the Fulbright Committee:

We will not quickly join those who march on Veterans Day waving small flags, calling to memory those thousands who died for the “greater glory of the United States.” We will not accept the rhetoric. We will not readily join the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars—in fact, we will find it hard to join anything at all and when we do, we will demand relevancy such as other organizations have recently been unable to provide. We will not take solace from the creation of monuments or the naming of parks after a select few of the thousands of dead Americans and Vietnamese. We will not uphold the traditions which decorously memorialize that which was base and grim.

One wonders if John Kerry remembered this passage in 2004 as he attended Memorial Day ceremonies and courted veterans’ groups. No wonder suppressing the book has become the order of the day for the Kerry presidential campaign.

A questionnaire appearing at the end of the book is equally radical. Dr. Hamid Mowlana, who administered the questionnaire, admits that only about two hundred surveys were distributed to an estimated 2,300 participants in the Dewey Canyon III demonstration. Only 172 forms were returned, and Dr. Mowlana presents no discussion of any biases he might anticipate regarding which individuals selectively decided to return the questionnaires and which did not, or why this decision was made. No attempt to follow up or conduct additional interviews to correct for bias was discussed. No attempt to sample the Vietnam veteran population in general was made. So we are left with no way to determine whether these protesters were in any way representative of Vietnam veterans as a group.

The respondents are portrayed as young (nearly 75 percent between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-five), educated (nearly 56 percent with some college), Northeastern (54 percent), and single (84 percent). Most were enlisted (65 percent). Most were either students (41 percent) or not working (nearly 37 percent). The key point that the authors drew from the study was that most of the respondents characterized themselves as radical (nearly 49 percent) or extremely radical (an additional 18.5 percent). Over 40 percent reported that their attitudes had begun to change and become more radical during the first three months of their service in Vietnam, 20 percent toward the end of their service in Vietnam, and 16.6 percent upon returning home. In other words, the conclusion was that Vietnam had radicalized the respondents, a conclusion drawn even though Dr. Mowlana and his associate had no way of knowing who actually filled out the questionnaires.

Dr. Mowlana’s conclusion, which ends the book, presented as though it were scientifically valid, is that Vietnam was such a terrible experience that those who fought there were overwhelmingly radicalized against the war: “The important thing for this study is the shift of opinion and attitude. In the men, previously characterized as moderates, has developed an attitude by which nearly half of the veterans now accept their position vis-à-vis the political, economic, and social status of the United States as radical. In fact, nearly one-fifth classified themselves as extremely radical.”

One of the most incendiary aspects of the book is the photograph on the front of the dust jacket cover, supplemented by a second photo on the inside. Here, we see a ragged group of bearded youths in various types of what appear to be military outfits, carrying an American flag upside down, an international sign of distress, with the demonstrators arranged in a formation that mocks the flag raising at Iwo Jima.

The photograph on the cover was a slap in the face to all those who treasure the legendary photograph taken at Iwo Jima by Joe Rosenthal, as well as to those thousands who every year visit the memorial statue based on his photograph at Arlington Cemetery, dedicated to the memory of all Marines killed in action since 1775. We are drawn to remember that 6,821 Marines gave their lives at Iwo Jima so that these activists, John Kerry included, had the freedom to publish The New Soldier with its cover photograph insulting the flag-raising on Mount Suribachi in 1945.

The book’s 120 photographs convey the same radical message. In photograph after photograph protesters appear in various makeshift military outfits, holding their clenched fists in the air and shouting in protest. Senator Ted Kennedy appears in one, the only person in a suit, sitting on the ground in a group of ragged protesters, a microphone held forward to capture his words. Al Hubbard and Ramsey Clark stand on the stage, right hands clasped in what looks like a Black Power salute, with John Kerry standing in the background. We see men and women made up in whiteface, wearing uniforms, carrying what look like toy weapons, moving threateningly as if in hostile fire, presenting what at the time would have been recognized as a street form of guerrilla theater. The photographic messages go hand in hand with the text. Dewey Canyon III gave participating protesters, whoever they truly were, a chance to act out their antiwar, anti- American sentiments in military costume with our nation’s Capitol as their stage.

John Kerry first realized what a liability The New Soldier could be when he lost his first election, in Lowell, Massachusetts, running for the U.S. Congress against Republican challenger Paul Cronin and a third candidate, Roger Durkin, an independent who dropped out of the race four days before the election and endorsed Cronin. Durkin started the problem for Kerry by running newspaper ads with “CENSORED” stamped over a photograph of The New Soldier cover. Durkin wanted to bring to the public’s attention that Kerry had refused to grant him the rights to reprint the book’s cover in his campaign materials.

Even more than thirty years ago, Kerry and his supporters were prepared to counterattack. Any criticism of Kerry’s antiwar activities was considered an “unfair” attack on his patriotism. Yet Kerry himself clearly wanted to keep his radical activism out of the limelight; otherwise, he would have granted Roger Durkin the rights to reprint The New Soldier cover, which he had evidently once been proud to put forward. Kerry’s defeat in this 1972 congressional race marked the moment when he began to think that running as a war hero might take him farther than running as a war protester. From 1972 on, Kerry attempted to recast his protester days to deny that the triumph of the Communists in Vietnam was ever his goal.

In an op-ed article published in the Wall Street Journal on May 4, 2004, John O’Neill wrote:

John Kennedy’s book, Profiles in Courage, and Dwight Eisenhower’s Crusade in Europe inspired generations. Not so John Kerry, who has suppressed his book The New Soldier, prohibiting its reprinting. There is a clear reason for this. The book repeats John Kerry’s insults to the American military, beginning with its front-cover image of the American flag being carried upside down by a band of bearded renegades in uniform—a clear slap at the brave Marines in their combat gear who raised our flag at Iwo Jima. Allow me the reprint rights to your book, Sen. Kerry, and I will make sure copies of The New Soldier are available in bookstores throughout America.8

John Kerry’s supporters have purchased copies of the book wherever they appear so the book will vanish from circulation. First edition copies typically cost over $1,000 each on Amazon.com and very few are available for sale. On eBay.com, copies of the book have sold for $500 and signed first editions have gone for as high as $1,500. Kerry supporters have gone to extreme lengths to distance him from the book, arguing that it just has his name on it and that he did not actually write it. Yet the book was a collaborative effort between John Kerry and his two good friends of over forty years, David Thorne and George Butler, and Kerry’s initials document that he took responsibility for writing the epilogue.

Why has John Kerry sought for so long to suppress his own book, The New Soldier? If Kerry were not concerned that his antiwar activism could be a political hindrance, if he did not feel he had crossed the line from responsible protesting to radical activism, then he would have no objection to allowing us the rights to reprint his book. What does John Kerry have to hide?

The War Crimes Kerry Doesn’t Want Investigated

The day before the start of the Dewey Canyon III protest on April 18, 1971, Al Hubbard and John Kerry appeared together on NBC’s Meet the Press. Kerry was directly asked if he himself had committed any war crimes or atrocities in Vietnam. He answered affirmatively that he had. This is the exchange according to the NBC transcript:

MR. CROSBY NOYES (Washington Evening Star): Mr. Kerry, you said at one time or another that you think our policies in Vietnam are tantamount to genocide and that the responsibility lies at all chains of command over there. Do you consider that you personally as a Naval officer committed atrocities in Vietnam or crimes punishable by law in this country?

MR. KERRY: There are all kinds of atrocities, and I would have to say that yes, yes, I committed the same kinds of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free-fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used .50-caliber machine guns, which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search-and-destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare, all of this is contrary to the Geneva Convention and all of this is ordered as a matter of written established policy by the government of the United States from the top down. And I believe that the men who designed these, the men who designed the free-fire zone, the men who ordered us, the men who signed off on the air raid strike areas, I think these men, by the letter of the law, the same letter of the law that tried Lieutenant Calley, are war criminals.9

On May 6, 2004, during the presidential campaign, John Kerry appeared once again on Meet the Press. Host Tim Russert replayed for him his April 1971 appearance on the show. The following is their exchange:

MR. RUSSERT: Thirty years later, you stand by that?

SENATOR KERRY: I don’t stand by the genocide. I think those were the words of an angry young man. We did not try to do that. But I do stand by the description—I don’t even believe there is a purpose served in the word “war criminal.” I really don’t. But I stand by the rest of what happened over there, Tim. I mean, you know, we—it was—I mean, we’ve got to put this war in its proper perspective and time helps us do that. I believe very deeply that it was a noble effort to begin with. I signed up. I volunteered. I wanted to go over there and I wanted to win. It was a noble effort to try to make a country democratic; to try to carry our principles and values to another part of the world. But we misjudged history. We misjudged our own country. We misjudged our strategy. And we fell into a dark place. All of us. And I think that we learned that over time. And I hope the contribution that some of us made as veterans was to come back and help people understand that.10

The problem was that in 1971 John Kerry had charged that the Vietnam War was racist in nature, aimed at the Vietnamese people because they were Oriental. That charge had become central to the false image of America fighting an immoral war. Kerry is caught in a dilemma: As a supposed war hero, he would like to repudiate what Kerry the antiwar activist said to the Fulbright Committee and repeated many times elsewhere in 1971 and 1972. Even in trying to distance himself from Kerry the antiwar activist, however, war hero Kerry cannot help from suggesting that war crimes did occur, that the stories told at the Winter Soldier Investigation, despite scholarly debunking, were based in fact. At this point, the argument comes full circle. If the atrocities did occur, and Kerry’s comments in 2004 seem to suggest that he stands by his earlier statements to that effect, then Kerry’s admission that he personally committed war crimes must remain true as well.

Here the entire argument becomes tortured for Kerry. Even in 1971, when pressed to answer if he had committed war crimes himself, Kerry really had to say that yes, he had committed war crimes himself or at least that he had witnessed them being committed. Otherwise, all his testimony about war crimes was nothing more than hearsay, a recital of what others had said, testimony that he had not verified according to any standards of evidence, legal or academic. The problem was that if Kerry himself had committed war crimes, he might face legal consequences. There is no statute of limitations on murder. If Kerry witnessed war crimes, then he had a responsibility at that time to bring the matter forward to authorities so the offense could be investigated and the responsible parties prosecuted. If Kerry did not come forward in either instance, he was guilty of covering up potentially criminal offenses.

John Kerry has created problems for himself, questions that today he still has not answered. If John Kerry did commit war crimes in Vietnam, what were they? He should come forward with the incidents and accept responsibility for his actions. If he witnessed war crimes in Vietnam, why didn’t he come forward at the time? Kerry should list the specifics of what he saw—who, what, when, and where—so the incidents can be investigated as thoroughly as possible thirty-five years after the fact. If John Kerry did not commit war crimes in Vietnam, then why is he lying?

Why Kerry Does Not Want You to Know about His Last Conversation with Al Hubbard

At an impromptu press conference at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, March 11, 2004, Marc Morano, a reporter for CNSnews.com, asked Senator Kerry if he was still in contact with Al Hubbard. Kerry appeared surprised by the question and his response was defensive. He claimed that he had not seen Hubbard since the week of the 1971 Meet the Press appearance. Then he defended Hubbard: “To [Al Hubbard’s] credit, he did serve his nation. He had simply exaggerated his particular position. But nobody knew it at the time. And those things happen.”11

As discussed earlier, the Department of Defense finally discredited Hubbard by releasing information that he had been a sergeant, not a captain or a pilot, in the Air Force. Hubbard had not served in Vietnam, and the Defense Department had no record that Hubbard had ever been in Da Nang, let alone received a shrapnel wound landing there. The disclosures about Hubbard were not sufficient to cause the VVAW to throw him out, even after it was revealed that he was not a Vietnam veteran. As has been seen, Hubbard was a major player at the VVAW steering committee meeting in Kansas City in November 1971, where he described to the group the negotiations he had conducted with the Vietnamese Communists in Paris, attempting to effect a release of POWs to the VVAW around Christmas of that year.

Hubbard had become a fixture within the VVAW, even if he was a fraud. Moreover, he was a fraud with Communist connections and strong ties to the PCPJ. According to FBI surveillance reports, at least one of Hubbard’s trips to Paris had been paid for by the Communist Party of the USA. Discussion of Hubbard’s Communist connections was increasingly appearing in the press. FBI surveillance files record that John Kerry knew about Hubbard’s falsifications regarding his service record and his Communist-supported trip to Paris.

Kerry’s insistence that he had not talked to Al Hubbard since the week of the Dewey Canyon III protest in Washington, D.C., was not accurate. The FBI surveillance reports clearly indicate that both Hubbard and Kerry were at that historic November 1971 VVAW meeting in Kansas City, and that the two had a heated exchange, prompting Kerry to tell the group that he intended to resign from the VVAW executive committee.

By March 24, 2004, with enough time for investigative reporters and independent researchers to examine the FBI files and to question VVAW members who remembered Kerry and Hubbard being together at the meetings in question, Kerry’s presidential campaign spokespersons changed their stories. They now admitted that Kerry had spoken to Hubbard after the week of April 18, 1971, and that Kerry had attended both the St. Louis VVAW meeting in July 1971 and the Kansas City meeting in November 1971 with Hubbard.

Why did Kerry lie when asked when he had seen Hubbard last? Very possibly, Kerry did not want the public to know that he continued to be associated with the VVAW even after Defense Department statements had established beyond doubt that Hubbard was a fraud. If such an important VVAW member had lied about being a Vietnam veteran, then perhaps much of the testimony given at the Winter Soldier Investigation was also a lie. If Kerry left the VVAW over this, would he then have to admit that he had no basis for the statements he had made to the Fulbright Committee that U.S. military war crimes and atrocities were commonplace in Vietnam, a direct result of the chain of command?

Now in the presidential campaign of 2004, Kerry lied (or had a convenient lapse of memory, one sustained for days by his campaign spokesman) and insisted that he had not talked to Hubbard once Dewey Canyon III was over. That was simply not the case.

What John Kerry Does Not Want You to Know about When He Quit the VVAW

The public record indicates that Kerry gave several speeches in 1972 representing the VVAW. The New York Times reported on January 12, 1972, that Kerry had given a speech at Dartmouth College, representing himself as a spokesman for the VVAW: “John Kerry, the war critic and spokesman for Vietnam Veterans Against the War, told a Dartmouth College audience of 300 persons here last night to ‘get into politics and make the system work.’”12

On January 26, 1972, the Times reported that Kerry, again representing himself as a spokesperson for the VVAW, participated in a panel discussion organized by Senator Fred Harris of Oklahoma in an event billed as “The People’s State of the Union Address.” Ralph Nader also participated alongside Kerry as a panelist. The Times reported Kerry’s antiwar message, continuing to identify him with the VVAW: “John Kerry, a leader of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, criticized the President for not ending the war at once. ‘What was a mistake a year ago or a month ago or a day ago is a mistake now,’ he said, ‘and one simply does not send men to kill or be killed for a mistake.’”13

A full-page advertisement in the Times on April 16, 1972, announced an Emergency March for Peace on Saturday, April 22, 1972. The advertisement, paid for by a group named the National Peace Action Coalition, listed John Kerry as a speaker. An Associated Press report was issued on April 22, 1972, stating, “Antiwar protesters in New York planned a mile-long march from the edge of Central Park to Bryant Park in mid-Manhattan for a rally featuring speeches by John Kerry, a leader of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Sen. Mike Gravel, D-Alaska.”14

By the end of 1971, the VVAW was moving in an increasingly violent direction. A group of sixteen VVAW demonstrators seized the Statue of Liberty in New York on December 26, 1971. Al Hubbard, who even then was still representing himself as the executive secretary of the VVAW, explained the Statue of Liberty takeover to the press: “Through a spokesman at the headquarters, Al Hubbard, a statement was issued that said: ‘We, as a new generation of men who have survived Vietnam, are taking this symbolic action at the Statue of Liberty in an effort to show support for any person who refuses to kill.’”15

Through the summer of 1972, the VVAW became involved in increasingly radical and violent protests. Consider the following:

From July 8, 1972, through July 22, 1972, Jane Fonda made her famous visit to Hanoi, where she delivered radio broadcasts to American and South Vietnamese military personnel encouraging mutiny and desertion, while repeatedly claiming that the United States was responsible for war crimes and atrocities. Fonda visited American POWs in Hanoi, reporting in broadcasts from Hanoi that the American prisoners were being “well cared for” and that they wished to convey their “sense of disgust of the war and their shame for what they have been asked to do.” A photograph was taken of Fonda sitting in a North Vietnamese antiaircraft gun, wearing a Vietnamese helmet, surrounded by North Vietnamese military. Upon leaving North Vietnam, Fonda accepted from her hosts a ring made from the wreckage of a downed American plane.

From July 29, 1972, through August 12, 1972, former attorney general Ramsey Clark traveled to Hanoi on behalf of the Stockholm International Commission for Inquiry. Clark denounced the United States bombing of Vietnam and visited American POWs, reporting that their health was good and the conditions of their imprisonment “could not be better.”

In the summer of 1972, both the Democratic and the Republican Parties decided to hold their national conventions in Miami Beach, Florida. The VVAW organized a protest called The Last Patrol, urging VVAW members to travel to the protest campsite set up in Flamingo Park. On the last night of the Republican National Convention, when President Nixon gave his re-nomination acceptance speech, a riot broke out in the streets of Miami Beach, and over nine hundred demonstrators were arrested.

In his campaign for congressional office in Lowell, Massachusetts, John Kerry’s early efforts were quite successful. Through winning the Democratic primary for that office in October 1972, Kerry continued to emphasize his antiwar activities and his association with the VVAW. When UPI announced John Kerry’s primary victory, he was still being described as a spokesman for the VVAW: “In another race where the Vietnam war was a pivotal issue, John Kerry, spokesman for Vietnam Veterans Against the War, won the Democratic nomination for Congress in Lowell, Mass.”16

Tom Tiede, a reporter who followed Kerry’s campaign in Massachusetts, wrote a UPI article right after Kerry’s primary win, when he was strongly ahead in the polls, clearly identifying his association with the VVAW:

Kerry, you’ll recall, is the thrice-wounded Vietnam naval veteran (his boat took 188 enemy hits) who brought GIs to the front lines of antiwar battle in 1969. He didn’t invent the organization known as Vietnam Veterans Against the War, but he became its most eloquent spokesman. (“I knew the first day I got there it was wrong and I was ashamed to be part of it.”) The Kid Korps of America embraced him. So did the national media. He became a new kind of war hero—a man who won a Silver Star for bravery and then gave it back to the government out of resentment for its occasion.17

The record shows that up until the time he lost the 1972 congressional contest, Kerry continued to present himself as an antiwar activist. Yet when campaigning for president in 2004, Kerry tried to advance the argument that he had resigned from the VVAW in November 1971. The only reason to advance this lie was to hope that he could disavow VVAW radical activities occurring during the time Kerry associated his name with theirs.

What John Kerry Does Not Want You to Know about His Naval Reserve Status

Early in the 2004 campaign, Kerry presented his Navy service record with a convenient gap. The year 1971 was presented as if John Kerry had no military obligation at this time. The year was important because 1971 was the time of many important VVAW protest activities. Early in 2004, the following language describing Kerry’s military service appeared on Kerry’s campaign website, www.JohnKerry.com. By June 2004, this paragraph had been removed:

John Kerry is a Decorated Combat Veteran of the Vietnam War: Kerry volunteered for the United States Navy after college and served from 1966 through 1970 rising to the rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade. Afterwards, Kerry continued his military service in the United States Naval Reserves from 1972 though 1978.18

The year 1971 is left out of the description. This omission was deceptive.

In response to a request by Senator Kerry, the Department of the Navy released a letter detailing the missing period. In a letter dated May 24, 1986, the Navy listed the following:

18 Feb 1966: Enlisted as an OCSA (E-2), USNR (inactive)

19 Aug 1966: Commenced Active Duty as an OCIU2 (E-5)

15 Dec 1966: Honorably Discharged as an OCIU2 to accept commission in United States Naval Reserve

16 Dec 1966: Accepted Commission, Ensign, United States Naval Reserve, continued active duty

16 Jun 1968: Date of Rank as Lieutenant (Junior Grade) (0-2), United States Naval Reserve

1 Jan 1970: Date of Rank as Lieutenant (0-3), United States Naval Reserve

3 Jan 1970: Released from Active Duty, transferred to the Naval Reserve (inactive)

1 Jul 1972: Transferred to the Standby Reserve (inactive)

16 Feb 1978: Honorably Discharged from the United States Naval Reserve as a Lieutenant (0-3)

This record makes it clear that John Kerry was always in the Naval Reserves while he served in the military. He enlisted in the Naval Reserves and was initially inactive. He commenced his active duty in August 1966 and was commissioned as an ensign, again in the U.S. Naval Reserves, in December 1966. John Kerry enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserves, and he never left the U.S. Naval Reserves.

The letter dated January 2, 1970, releasing John Kerry from active duty and transferring him to inactive duty in the Naval Reserve stated in paragraph six:

You are advised that your release from active duty does not terminate your status as a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve. On the day following the effective date of your release from active duty as specified in paragraph 3 of this endorsement, you will assume the status of a member of the Naval Reserve on inactive duty. While on inactive duty you are subject to involuntary recall to active duty to the extent authorized by federal statute.19

There is an important distinction between being in the Naval Reserves on inactive duty and being in the Standby Reserves on inactive duty. Standby Reserve status would permit a person to argue that he was a civilian for all intents and purposes. A person in the Naval Reserves is still considered in the Navy; inactive duty means that the individual or the unit to which that individual has been assigned has not been called up for active duty. Again, note the similarity: John Kerry, when he entered the Navy on February 18, 1966, entered the Naval Reserves on inactive duty. He did not commence active duty until August 19, 1966.

As a member of the Naval Reserves, Kerry would have held a Naval Reserve identification card; he would have received Navy pay; and he would have had continuing, though minimal, obligations to report to official Navy requests for training and to respond to any Navy inquiries advanced to him. In 1971, John Kerry was still in the Navy even though his status was Naval Reserves, inactive duty.

To put Kerry’s antiwar activities in context, we must remember that he was a member of the Naval Reserves until July 1972, when he was placed on Standby Naval Reserve. Kerry’s antiwar activities included:

Meeting with the enemy in Paris and coordinating ongoing meetings with various members of the VVAW, both in Paris and Hanoi, to arrange the release of American POWs to the VVAW. These meetings also provided aid and support to the North Vietnamese Communists in the form of radio broadcasts and other indoctrination methods aimed at encouraging U.S. soldiers in the field to lay down their arms and desert the military.

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the United States was implementing a military policy in Vietnam that caused American soldiers to commit war crimes and atrocities, and that this criminal military policy extended up the entire chain of command.

Giving a press conference in Washington, D.C., in which he advocated a Vietnamese Communist peace proposal that would have called for a complete withdrawal of the United States military and an abandonment of the government of South Vietnam, in other words, a surrender on enemy terms, followed by the payment of war damage reparations by the United States to the Vietnamese Communists.

Continuing his representation of the VVAW even after he was aware that various VVAW leaders had falsified their credentials and were not in fact Vietnam veterans.
Telling many slanderous and otherwise damaging lies in numerous public speeches, the effect of which was to malign the purpose and morality of the United States service personnel in the field in Vietnam, fighting and dying as he spoke.
Allowing his speeches and testimony to be used by the enemy in their propaganda efforts, including but not limited to the replaying of these speeches and testimony to American POWs being held in captivity by our enemies.

What is clear from the record is that Kerry lied or otherwise misrepresented his continued service in the Naval Reserves so as to give the impression that he was not affiliated in any way with the U.S. military when he engaged in his radical protest activities. The truth is that Kerry was still in the military when he protested against his own brothers in arms. This raises the additional concern that Kerry’s antiwar activities may well have been in direct violation of the obligations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which prohibit him from making adverse charges against his chain of command or statements against his country, especially in time of war.

Copyright © 2004 by John E. O’Neill and Jerome L. Corsi