|Unfit for Command - chapter eight continued|
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