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Hanoi John: Kerry and the Antiwar Movementís Communist Connections
Original FReeper research | 10/11/2004 | Fedora

Posted on 10/11/2004 12:27:07 PM PDT by Fedora

John Kerry’s Fellow Travellers

A 5-part series exposing John Kerry’s Communist connections.

Part 3: Hanoi John: Kerry and the Antiwar Movement’s Communist Connections

By Fedora

*NOTE: The term “fellow traveller” as used in this article series refers to someone who is not a member of the Communist Party (CP) but regularly engages in actions which advance the Party’s program. Some apparent fellow travellers may actually be “concealed party members”: members of the CP who conceal their membership. Which of these classifications is applicable to the Kerrys is a question this series leaves unresolved. This series does not argue for any direct evidence of Richard or John Kerry or other members of the Kerry family belonging to the CP. What this series does argue for is a consistent pattern of the Kerry family working with Communists and Communist fellow travellers in a way that advances the Communist program.


Part 1 of this series, ”John Kerry’s Red Roots”, traced the roots of John Kerry’s foreign policy views to the influence of a faction of the State Department led by Dean Acheson, protégé of the Communist fellow traveller Felix Frankfurter. Part 2, "Forging a Paper Hero", exposed how Kerry managed to conceal his left-wing background by cloaking himself in the guise of a war hero. This article picks up the story with Kerry’s abuse of his stolen valor, when he came home from Vietnam and wore an American uniform while speaking on behalf of groups representing America’s Communist enemies.

John Kerry’s Antiwar Career Summarized

Summary of John Kerry’s Antiwar Allies

Individual/Group Relation to Communist movement Relation to Kerry
1969-1970+ Vietnam Moratorium Committee (VMC): Organized mass antiwar demonstrations Formed by associates of Communist front group American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Communist-infiltrated group SANE;

interlocked with the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (New Mobe), an antiwar mobilization group formed following instructions from Hanoi by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), a Trotskyite group infiltrated by the Soviets and friendly to Cuba

Peggy Kerry worked for VMC in 1969 and recruited John to fly New York VMC leader Adam Walinsky to VMC demonstrations in October 1969, while John was still on active duty;

John then asked VMC for support in his 1970 Congressional campaign and worked for them afterwords;

subsequently was supported by VMC founder Jerome Grossman throughout political career into Senate terms

1970+ Father Robert Drinan: Left-wing priest and lawyer Associate of antiwar activist Daniel Berrigan; officer in Communist front group National Lawyers Guild (NLG);

travelled to Vietnam on behalf of Communist front group Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR);

politically endorsed by Communist lawyer Ramsey Clark

1970 Congressional campaign chaired by Kerry;

as Congressman sought to pass “Kerry Amendment” lowering age requirements to allow Kerry to run for Senator in 1972;

supported Vietnam Veterans Against the War while Kerry was a VVAW member;

advised Kerry’s 2004 Presidential campaign

1970-1973+ Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW): antiwar veterans’ group Inspired by Veterans for Peace (VFP), offshoot of front group set up by the Communist Party (CP) to protest the Korean War;

initially run out of offices of Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade Committee (FAVPPC), which networked with numerous Communist front groups;

formed alliances with New Mobe and VMC;

leadership interlocked with Communist front group People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice (PCPJ);

politically allied with politicians tied to Communist lobbying groups such as George Ball, Allard Lowenstein, Eugene McCarthy, Robert and Ted Kennedy, Bella Abzug, George McGovern, Mark Hatfield, John Conyers, Ron Dellums, Charles Rangel, Michael Harrington, Paul McCloskey, etc.

financed by left-wing sources such as Jane Fonda, United Auto Workers (UAW), Edgar Bronfman, Ted Kennedy, etc.

legally represented by Communist lawyers such as Peter Weiss, Ramsey Clark, William Kunstler, Mark Lane, etc.

jointly sponsored events with various Communist-linked individuals and groups including Black Panther Party (BPP), Citizens’ Commission of Inquiry into War Crimes in Indochina (CCI), Jane Fonda, Yippies, National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC), Venceremos Brigade (VB), etc.;

met domestically and abroad with representatives of North Vietnam, Soviet Union, Cuba, European Communist groups, and Arab terrorist group Palestine Liberation Front (PLF)

Introduced to VVAW by sister Peggy; attracted VVAW attention through work for VMC and Drinan and joined group around May 1970;

served on VVAW National Executive Committee 1970-1971;

afterwords remained VVAW leader and spokesman into at least 1973;

continued to associate with former VVAW members throughout career to present day

Contrary to his current posture as someone who went to Vietnam out of “a sense of duty and responsibility” and “never considered not serving”,1 John Kerry was actually already opposed to the Vietnam War before going to Vietnam, and he tried to avoid the draft. At Yale in 1965 and 1966 he opposed the war in at least two speeches.2 He claimed in a 1970 interview that he tried unsuccessfully to persuade the draft board to let him study abroad in France before he decided to enlist in the US Naval Reserve.3 While undergoing his Naval Reserve training, Kerry wrote letters in 1968 to his friends Michael Dalby and David Thorne expressing his opposition to the war, and while he was in Vietnam, Kerry and his fellow skipper Donald Droz—whose wife Judy was already active in the antiwar movement in 1968—planned to protest the war upon their return, according to Judy’s account of Donald’s letters home.4

After being transferred out of combat duty, Kerry was restationed in New York in early 1969. By late 1969 his older sister Peggy was already involved in the antiwar movement, working for the Vietnam Moratorium Committee (VMC). That October, she recruited John as a pilot to fly Adam Walinsky, a key leader of the New York office of the VMC, to VMC-organized antiwar demonstrations.5 Kerry, who was still on active duty in the US Naval Reserve,6 later boasted that he had been “smart enough not to put down ‘Moratorium’ on the Navy signout sheet for that Tuesday and Wednesday”.7

On November 21, 1969, Kerry requested an early release from active duty so he could run for Congress on an antiwar platform. In January 1970 he was transferred to inactive duty, and his younger brother Cameron tried to recruit support for his campaign from VMC founder Jerome Grossman. Grossman, who had links to the Democratic National Committee, was a leader of a Massachusetts antiwar activist group called Massachusetts Political Action for Peace (Mass PAX, later renamed Citizens for Participation in Political Action, CPPAX), which had previously supported antiwar Presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy in 1968 and had created the VMC in 1969. Mass PAX’s coalition was now seeking an antiwar candidate to unseat prowar Congressman Philip Philbin. However by the time Cameron got in touch with Grossman, Grossman had already decided to support another, better-known antiwar candidate, Father Robert Drinan. In February 1970 Mass PAX’s caucus voted to support Drinan over Kerry, and at the urging of Grossman, who was Drinan’s campaign manager, Kerry quit his own campaign to become chairman of Drinan’s campaign.8 At the same time he was chairing Drinan’s campaign, Kerry also did work for the VMC. 9

While Grossman and Kerry were supporting the VMC and Drinan, they began supporting a veterans’ antiwar group, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). Kerry’s speaking activity for Drinan and the VMC brought him to the attention of leaders of the VVAW’s New York headquarters, and he joined the VVAW shortly after his marriage on May 23, 1970. Grossman introduced him to veterans from an antiwar group called Legal In-Service Project (LISP) which was operating out of Mass PAX’s office, and these veterans helped Kerry set up a Massachusetts branch of VVAW based in Mass PAX’s office.10 Meanwhile for their honeymoon Kerry and his wife travelled to Paris, and during their stay there they met leaders of the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG), a delegation representing the North Vietnamese government’s proposed ruling body for South Vietnam.11

Kerry emerged as the VVAW’s star spokesman during a September 1970 speech at Valley Forge for the VVAW’s Operation RAW. After Operation RAW he was appointed to the VVAW National Executive Committee by VVAW leader Al Hubbard because of his speaking ability and his contacts with the Democratic National Committee and Ted Kennedy. His prominence in the organization grew through his participation in its Dewey Canyon III rally in Washington in April 1971. Kerry remained prominent in the VVAW until at least July 1971, after which there are conflicting accounts, largely perpetrated by Gerald Nicosia, a writer friendly to Kerry. Nicosia initially wrote in a 2001 book that Kerry developed differences with Hubbard which led him to resign from the VVAW National Executive Committee at a VVAW meeting in St. Louis in July 1971.12 However, Kerry’s biographer Douglas Brinkley reported in a 2004 book that Kerry resigned from the VVAW on November 10, 1971.13 After other researchers publicized evidence that Kerry had attended a VVAW meeting in Kansas City in November 1971 during which VVAW leaders proposed kidnapping and assassinating pro-war politicians,14, Nicosia provided the media with FBI documents confirming Kerry had attended this meeting.15 The actual FBI reports on the Kansas City meeting record that on November 13 “JOHN KERRY, a VVAW national leader from Massachusetts, arrived and spoke to the committee. He resigned from the National Executive Committee of VVAW for ‘personal reasons’ but added he would still be active in VVAW and available to speak for the organization” and would be holding his office “until new members are elected in January 1972”.16 Prior to Nicosia’s release of the FBI documents, the Kerry campaign had issued statements that “Kerry was not at the Kansas City meeting” and had resigned from the VVAW “sometime in the summer of 1971”.17 After Nicosia’s release of the documents, the Kerry campaign issued statements that “Senator Kerry does not remember attending the Kansas City meeting.” VVAW members who attended the meeting have issued conflicting statements about whether or not they remember seeing Kerry there.18 Subsequent research has uncovered articles reporting Kerry speaking at VVAW events and on behalf of the VVAW as late as at least April 1972 and representing himself as a VVAW member to the press as late as October 1972,19 and a newspaper photo dated January 24, 1973 is accompanied by a caption describing Kerry as “head of Vietnam Veterans Against the War”.20 Kerry would remain associated with former VVAW members such as Chris Gregory into his Senate career,21 and in 1979 he joined former VVAW associate Bobby Muller in cofounding the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), which lists him as a lifetime member.22

Kerry’s Introduction to the Antiwar Movement: The Vietnam Moratorium Committee (VMC)

As the above summary indicates, Kerry’s introduction to the antiwar movement came through the Vietnam Moratorium Committee (VMC). In October 1969 Kerry’s sister Peggy recruited him as a pilot to fly Adam Walinsky, a key leader of the New York office of the VMC, to VMC-organized antiwar demonstrations.23 Peggy was at that time already working for the VMC.24 In January 1970 Cameron Kerry sought VMC support for John’s Congressional campaign,25 and after John joined Drinan’s campaign in February 1970 he did additional work for the VMC.26

The Vietnam Moratorium Committee was conceived by Jerome Grossman and grew out of Grossman’s work for Massachusetts Political Action for Peace (Mass PAX), which was in turn an outgrowth of the 1962 Massachusetts Senatorial campaign of antinuclear candidate H. Stuart Hughes. Hughes, then teaching history at Harvard, was a lifelong Communist sympathizer who had opposed the Cold War from the beginning and was described in FBI files as having “strong convictions towards communism”.27 In 1959 he had been recruited to the antinuclear group SANE (National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy) by his friend David Riesman.28 Riesman was a longtime fellow traveller who had begun his professional career under the tutelage of Felix Frankfurter and Louis Brandeis, two of the foremost front men for the US Communist movement.29 SANE likewise had numerous Communist associations, prompting investigations by the FBI and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in the 1960s.30 SANE and allied antiwar groups supported Hughes when he decided to run for Senator on an antinuclear platform in 1962, and Hughes went on to become SANE’s cochairman in 1963 and its chairman in 1967. In those capacities he organized opposition to the Vietnam War, prompting the FBI to place him under surveillance when it received information that he was going to visit Moscow on a trip to Paris in 1966.31

Meanwhile Hughes’ SANE activity brought him into contact with Grossman. Grossman had been recruited to the antinuclear movement in the 1950s through the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC),32 an old Communist front group,33 and had subsequently become a SANE activist.34 Through SANE’s support of Hughes in 1962, Grossman became Hughes’ campaign manager.35 After the campaign, Hughes’ organizers transformed his campaign into an ongoing antiwar organization, Massachusetts Political Action for Peace.36 Grossman continued to work with Mass PAX as it opposed the Vietnam War after 1964 and as it supported Eugene McCarthy’s Presidential campaign in 1968.37

At an April 1969 Mass PAX meeting, Grossman proposed the idea of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee: a committee to coordinate a nation-wide, grassroots-generated series of antiwar demonstrations.38 To help him organize these demonstrations, Grossman recruited the help of 1968 antiwar Presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy and former McCarthy campaign organizers Sam Brown, David Hawk, David Mixner, and Marge Sklencar.39

Through Brown, the Moratorium’s national director and principal organizer,40 the VMC joined forces with the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, or “New Mobe”,41 a national coordinating group for antiwar protests. The New Mobe was so called because it was an outgrowth of an earlier national coordinating group called the Student Mobilization Committee (SMC), or “Mobe”. The Mobe was in turn an outgrowth of the National Student Strike for Peace Conference. The National Student Strike for Peace Conference had originally been organized in 1966 by the Communist Party (CP) and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).42

The SWP was a Trotskyite group which had been infiltrated by the Soviet Union since the 1930s and had more recently developed connections with Castro’s regime in Cuba through groups such as the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. It was accordingly designated as subversive by the Attorney General and became a high priority for FBI surveillance from 1961 on.43

The SWP element in the Mobe had become dominant by 1968, and the FBI regarded the Mobe as controlled by the SWP. A 1967 Congressional report found that “Communists are playing dominant roles in. . .the Student Mobilization Committee. . .”44

The Mobe lost momentum after the 1968 Presidential campaign and was revived by the SWP in July 1969 as the New Mobe. From its inception the New Mobe coordinated its actions with the Soviet Union and North Vietnam through the KGB-linked World Peace Council (WPC) in Stockholm. A 1970 Congressional report found that the New Mobe was under “communist domination”.45

From its beginning, the New Mobe worked in close coordination with the VMC. The VMC was represented on the New Mobe’s steering committee from the New Mobe’s first meeting; the New Mobe shared its headquarters with the VMC at 1029 Vermont Avenue NW in Washington, DC; and Sam Brown organized for the New Mobe while he directed the VMC.46

New York VMC activity was coordinated by the Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade Committee (FAVPPC, also known by various similar names). The FAVPPC had been organized by Norma Becker, a member of a Communist front group called the War Resisters League (WRL), and it operated out of the same 5 Beekman Street address as numerous inter-related Communist front groups and fellow-travelling groups, such as the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), the Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA), and the Catholic Peace Fellowship (CPF). It was described in a 1970 Congressional report as “dominated by communists”.47

The most prominent leader of the New York VMC was Adam Walinsky, former legal and speechwriting assistant to Robert Kennedy.48 John Kerry’s sister Peggy was also working for the New York VMC in 1969, and she recruited John to fly Walinsky around to VMC-organized demonstrations that October,49 while John was still on active duty.50 After John was transferred to inactive duty in January 1970 his brother Cameron contacted VMC founder Jerome Grossman to seek VMC support for John’s Congressional campaign. Failing to win VMC support in a February 1970 caucus, John accepted Grossman’s request to drop out of the campaign and chair the campaign of the VMC’s favored Congressional candidate, Father Robert Drinan. While chairing Drinan’s campaign, he also worked for the VMC and came to know Sam Brown, as he later recalled on the Senate floor in 1994 while defending Brown’s nomination as US ambassador to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Grossman in return would continue to support Kerry throughout his political career, into his 2004 Presidential campaign.51

Transition from the VMC to the VVAW: Robert Drinan

In February 1970 Kerry began chairing Drinan’s campaign, which culminated in Drinan being elected to Congress that November.52 Kerry’s relationship with Drinan continued after the campaign. Kerry spoke favorably of Drinan during his 1971 Senate testimony, saying “certain individuals are in Congress today, particularly in the House, who several years ago could never have been. I would cite Representative Dellums and the Congresswoman Abzug and Congressman Drinan and people like this. I think this is a terribly encouraging sign. . .”53 Drinan in return used his Congressional position to help Kerry and the VVAW. He tried to change the law in order to let the then-28-year-old Kerry run in the 1972 Senatorial election by co-proposing a Constitutional amendment to lower the minimum age for Senator from 30 to 27, a proposal which came to be referred to as the “Kerry Amendment”.54 Drinan also supported the VVAW by calling for a Congressional follow-up to the Winter Soldier Investigation’s allegations of war crimes by US troops, and by drafting a bill authorizing government mental health-care support for Vietnam veterans diagnosed with “Post-Vietnam Syndrome” (now known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), a diagnosis invented by VVAW ally Robert Jay Lifton.55 After Kerry called for Nixon’s impeachment in February 197256—six months prior to the Watergate break-ins—Drinan became the first member of Congress to introduce a resolution of impeachment against Nixon on July 31, 1973.57 In 2004 Drinan has been an advisor to Kerry’s Presidential campaign.58

Father Drinan’s background was a maze of Communist connections. While studying for the priesthood in the 1940s he had been a classmate of Daniel Berrigan,59 a left-wing priest who later became active in the antiwar movement.60 After earning degrees in law and becoming a lawyer, Drinan joined the faculty of Boston College Law School and eventually was promoted to Dean. As a lawyer he supported left-wing social causes and became in 1968 national vice-president of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG),61 identified in a 1950 Congressional investigation as the “legal bulwark of the Communist Party” and linked in the late 1960s and early 1970s to Communist-connected terrorist groups like the Weather Underground Organization (WUO, also known as the Weathermen).62 In 1969 Drinan travelled to Vietnam on behalf of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR),63 a Communist front group64 which his old classmate Daniel Berrigan vice-chaired.65 Drinan spoke at a New Mobe event in March 1970,66 a few months before a Congressional report found that the New Mobe was under “communist domination”.67 Drinan’s Congressional campaign received an endorsement from former Attorney General Ramsey Clark,68 who during this period also defended Daniel Berrigan’s brother Philip against charges of conspiring to kidnap public officials, represented the VVAW and the Communist-infiltrated New Mobe offshoot National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC) in a legal dispute with the Supreme Court, assisted the Communist front group Committee for Public Justice (CPJ) in a campaign to discredit the FBI, led a Black Panther inquiry into the Chicago Police Department, and travelled to North Vietnam to denounce US bombing.69 Drinan was under FBI surveillance while Kerry was working for his campaign.70

Kerry in the Spotlight: The VVAW

Kerry’s relationship with the VVAW emerged out of his relationship to Grossman, the Drinan campaign, and the VMC. Kerry’s speaking activity for Drinan and the VMC brought him to the attention of leaders of the VVAW’s New York headquarters. He subsequently joined the VVAW shortly after his marriage on May 23, 197071 and helped the group set up a Massachusetts branch.72 The VVAW remained relatively unknown and Kerry maintained a low profile in the organization until a Labor Day 1970 rally at Valley Forge called “Operation RAW” (Rapid American Withdrawal) showcased his public speaking skills.73 After this the VVAW tried to attract media attention by going to Detroit in January 1971 to stage a “Winter Soldier Investigation” (WSI) into alleged war crimes by US soldiers.74 When this failed to generate publicity, VVAW co-leader Al Hubbard appointed Kerry to the group’s National Executive Committee so that Kerry could use his contacts with the Democratic National Committee and Ted Kennedy to help organize a major rally in Washington, DC.75 During the rally, held in April 1971 and called “Dewey Canyon III” after the codename of a US military operation, Kerry testified to the Senate about alleged war crimes and attracted national media attention to the VVAW cause.76 Following this Kerry became the VVAW’s most prominent national spokesman. He resigned from the VVAW’s National Executive Committee citing “personal reasons” in November 1971,77 shortly before he began to campaign for the 1972 Congressional elections, but he continued to identify himself as the VVAW’s national leader and to speak on behalf of the organization throughout 1972 and into at least 1973.78 During this period the VVAW became increasingly militant and engaged in violent activity such as running guns to black militant groups in Cairo, Illinois starting in August 1971; plotting the assassination of pro-war politicians in November 1971; taking over the Lincoln Memorial and Statue of Liberty and other national symbols in December 1971; dumping blood on United States ambassador to the United Nations George H.W. Bush in May 1972; and physically attacking delegates and police at the Republican National Convention in Miami in August 1972.79

The VVAW before Kerry: From the FAVPPC to the Black Panthers

The VVAW had been founded in New York in 1967 by Vietnam veteran Jan Barry Crumb, who called himself Jan Barry. Barry’s involvement in the antiwar movement began in April 1967 when he attended the April 7 Peace Parade. The parade had been organized by the Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade Committee (FAVPPC). The FAVPPC was led by Norma Becker, a member of a Communist front group called the War Resisters League (WRL), and it operated out of the same 5 Beekman Street address as numerous inter-related Communist front groups and fellow-travelling groups, such as the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), the Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA), and the Catholic Peace Fellowship (CPF). It was described in a 1970 Congressional report as “dominated by communists”.80 Participating in the FAVPPC’s rally were some members of Veterans for Peace (VFP), an outgrowth of American Veterans for Peace (AVP), an antiwar group which the Communist Party had originally formed in 1951 to protest the Korean War.81 Barry joined Vietnam veterans among the VFP marchers and inquired about a banner some of them were carrying which read “Vietnam Veterans Against the War”. When Barry learned the phrase was just a slogan and there was no formal group by that name, he decided to form one. After talking with the older VFP members and studying their tactics, he recruited five Vietnam veterans from a Memorial Day VFP rally, and on June 1, 1967 the six of them held the first VVAW meeting in his apartment.82

On June 4, 1967, VVAW treasurer Francis Rocks opened up a PO Box for the VVAW, telling the post office the VVAW’s address was 5 Beekman Street, the same address as the FAVPPC. The New York VVAW maintained a close relationship with the FAVPPC, holding early meetings in another building used by the FAVPPC at 156 Fifth Avenue and later moving into the same building. On September 9, 1967, the Communist magazine The Worker covered the VVAW in an article giving the organization’s address as 17 East 17th Street and reporting that the organization now had about 20 members, including half a dozen graduates of Columbia University. As the VVAW grew it attracted members with links to other antiwar groups, notably Carl Rogers, a member of an antiwar group called Negotiation Now! which shared space with the FAVPPC at 156 Fifth Avenue. Leaving Negotiation Now! to help run the VVAW, Rogers helped the VVAW network with such contacts as the Mobe, Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam (CALCAV, later shortened to CALC), antiwar diplomat George Ball, antiwar Congressman Allard Lowenstein, antiwar Senators Ernest Gruening and J. William Fulbright, and the 1968 Presidential campaign of antiwar candidate Eugene McCarthy. Over the course of the 1968 campaign the VVAW split into a faction supporting McCarthy and a faction supporting Robert Kennedy. Kennedy was assassinated in June, McCarthy dropped out of the campaign in August, and Richard Nixon won the election, leaving the VVAW disillusioned, without a sense of direction, and financially weak.83

During this period from 1967-1968, prompted by the mention of the VVAW in The Worker, the FBI opened a file on the VVAW and investigated whether it was a Communist front or infiltrated by Communists . At this time the Bureau found no evidence of direct Communist Party control of the VVAW, but noted indications of the VVAW fellow travelling with Communists, such as the VVAW’s common address with the FAVPCC and the participation of VVAW leaders in events linked to groups such as VFP, the SWP, and the Mobe. A May 16, 1968 document from the FBI’s VVAW file mentions TASS, the official Soviet news agency. The declassified version of the document is so heavily blacked out that the full meaning of the reference is unclear, but in context it appears to relate to an ad the VVAW ran in The New York Times on November 19, 1967. Later, after the FBI had opened an active investigation of the VVAW in 1971, a New York FBI office report would note that in September 1968 the VVAW had participated in a protest organized by the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee (NECLC), a Communist front group linked to the National Lawyers Guild.84

Regrouping after the 1968 election, the VVAW leadership temporarily left management of the organization in the charge of Jim Boggio, leader of the VVAW’s Los Angeles chapter, from fall 1968 to fall 1969. During this period the FBI noted that Boggio attended meetings of the Socialist Workers Party and that his VVAW branch was successfully infiltrated by the SWP’s youth branch, the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA).85

Meanwhile VVAW leaders Barry and Rogers and their friend Steve Wilcox turned their attention towards forming a new organization called Serviceman’s Link to the Peace Movement, or LINK. LINK’s purpose was to connect the civilian antiwar movement with the antiwar movement among active-duty GI’s. It supported GI’s facing court-martial and participated in high-profile cases such as the trials of Susan Schnall, the Presidio 27, and Roger Priest.86. Schnall was a Navy nurse court-martialed for demonstrating against the war in uniform and using a plane to drop antiwar leaflets on military installations.87 The Presidio 27 was a group of 27 mutineers who were being defended by Terence Hallinan, son of the prominent Communist lawyer Vincent Hallinan.88. Priest was a Pentagon employee who had initially dodged the draft but then decided to join the Navy anyway to challenge the system. While on active duty he had published an antiwar newspaper which advocated desertion to Canada, insubordination, and the assassination of President Nixon. Priest’s paper was funded by the Stern Family Fund, a left-wing charity which was then also funding such groups as the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a KGB-connected think tank, and today helps fund Teresa Heinz-Kerry’s Tides Foundation. Priest designated the War Resisters League as the beneficiary of his GI life insurance policy, saying he hoped to start a trend so that every time a GI died, the WRL would become $10,000 richer. LINK joined in the defense of Priest, and after the Navy gave him an early release from his enlistment in mid-1969, Priest joined LINK’s staff as a counsel to other antiwar GI’s.89

While the VVAW leaders focused their energy on LINK from late 1968 to late 1969, the remnant of the VVAW worked towards the election of antiwar Congressmen like Allard Lowenstein and Paul O’Dwyer90 and participated in Mobe-organized rallies. The Mobe alliance served to rejuvenate the VVAW when the New Mobe was formed in July 1969.91 The meeting which created the New Mobe followed a May 1969 meeting in Stockholm between members of the original Mobe, the Soviet-linked World Peace Council, and a North Vietnamese delegation. Participants in the meeting discussed planning antiwar activities in Washington, DC that fall. Following this meeting the Socialist Workers Party called the July meeting which resulted in the formation of the New Mobe.92 Joining the steering committee of this meeting was Carl Rogers of the VVAW and LINK. Soon after the meeting LINK began sharing a headquarters with the New Mobe and VMC at 1029 Vermont Avenue NW in Washington, DC.93

Through its relationship with the New Mobe and VMC, the VVAW rapidly attracted hundreds of new members following major VMC demonstrations in fall 1969.94 One of the most important new members was Al Hubbard, a black veteran who claimed to have held the rank of captain and have been wounded in Vietnam, though it later turned out that he had only been a staff sergeant, he had never served in Vietnam, and his injuries were old sports injuries.95 Despite his fraudulence, Hubbard was a charismatic speaker and effective organizer. He was appointed as the VVAW’s executive secretary, and he developed a plan to expand the VVAW from a one-issue antiwar group into a veterans political organization. As part of this plan, he took the step of incorporating the VVAW as a 501(c)(3) corporation, giving the organization tax-exempt status and eligibility to receive public and private grants. He sent VVAW recruiters to veterans hospitals, college campuses, and high schools. He introduced programs for networking with veterans by providing social benefits and services like regular veterans organizations did. He got the VVAW involved in political lobbying and supporting antiwar politicians. He conceived publicity stunts to attract media attention to the VVAW. Finally, he helped the VVAW network with other antiwar groups, particularly among the militant faction of the civil rights movement led by the Black Panthers.96

The Black Panther Party (BPP), considered by the FBI to be “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country”, had been formed by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland in 1966. The Panthers espoused a violence-oriented interpretation of Maoism which related the black civil rights cause to “capitalist oppression” of Third World countries like Vietnam, and on this basis they supported the North Vietnamese cause, volunteering to send fighters to Vietnam to aid the Viet Cong. The Panthers took their name from the logo for the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, an Alabama black political group which had been organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).97 SNCC was a civil rights group which had been infiltrated by the Communist Party and was allied with the Castro regime through the Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) and later the Venceremos Brigade (VB). Leading SNCC organizer Stokely Carmichael had become a Marxist in high school after meeting the son of Eugene Dennis, a prominent Communist Party figure who led CP efforts to infiltrate the civil rights movement in the late 1950s. After joining SNCC in the early 1960s, Carmichael networked with members of the Alabama CP to form the Lowndes County Freedom Organization in 1965. The next year Carmichael was elected chairman of the SNCC and abandoned the group’s nonviolent policy. In 1967 he travelled to Cuba, China, North Vietnam, and finally Guinea, where he met with Guinea Communists representing an anti-colonial movement known as Pan-Africanism. From Guinea Carmichael returned to the United States with the intent of forming Black United Front groups throughout the country. In 1968 he left SNCC and became prime minister of the Black Panther Party, forming a temporary BPP/SNCC alliance. This alliance began to break up in summer 1969, fueled by Carmichael’s disagreement with the BPP’s policy of allying with white activists.98

In a parallel development, by 1969 the white student antiwar movement—centered around Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)—had divided into anti-Panther and pro-Panther factions. The pro-Panther faction was linked to the Weather Underground Organization (WUO, or Weathermen), a Cuban/North Vietnamese-trained terrorist group which sought to advance the antiwar and civil rights causes through violent tactics. Starting in 1969 the Weathermen branch of SDS, SNCC, and other groups began coordinating efforts with a pro-Castro group called the Venceremos Brigade to send groups of Americans to Cuba for intelligence training by Cuban and North Vietnamese agents.99

It was during this period, following the VMC demonstrations of late 1969, that Hubbard joined the VVAW and began building a VVAW-BPP alliance. Hubbard took VVAW members to BPP meetings with him and built a BPP chapter of the VVAW in Harlem. He coordinated a BPP convention with a VVAW demonstration at Valley Forge in fall 1970. Meanwhile Hubbard advocated turning the VVAW into a “weather vets” group, modeled on the Weathermen.100

Enter the Kerrys

It was also following the VMC demonstrations of late 1969 that the VVAW came into contact with the Kerrys. VVAW member Sheldon Ramsdell, through working as a press aide for Eugene McCarthy’s campaign, had become involved with the New York Press Service and the Democratic Party in New York.101 The New York branch of the VVAW was at this time sharing office space with the New York branch of the VMC,102 and Ramsdell became acquainted with the leading figure of the New York VMC, Adam Walinsky.103 Peggy Kerry was then working for the New York VMC,104 and she was introduced to Ramsdell by New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug,105 a cofounder of the Communist-infiltrated group Women Strike for Peace (WSP).106 Through Peggy’s work with the New York VMC, John met the New York VVAW,107 and the New York VVAW leaders took interest in John after he began speaking for Drinan and the VMC. John joined the VVAW shortly after his marriage on May 23, 1970. He was soon appointed to the VVAW’s National Executive Committee by Al Hubbard, and he began to help the VVAW set up a Massachussetts branch in the office of Mass PAX.108 Meanwhile for their honeymoon Kerry and his wife travelled to Paris, and during their stay there they met leaders of the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG), a delegation representing the North Vietnamese government’s proposed ruling body for South Vietnam.109

Operation RAW and The Winter Soldier Investigation

Kerry emerged as the VVAW’s leading spokesman through his participation in Operation RAW (Rapid American Withdrawal), a rally held at Valley Forge over Labor Day weekend in September 1970. Operation RAW had been conceived by Al Hubbard to help the VVAW network with active-duty GIs and veterans, to forge links between the VVAW and the civil rights movement, and to promote an investigation into alleged war crimes by US troops in Vietnam—an investigation which came to be called the Winter Solder Investigation (WSI).110

What became WSI was originally the project of a group allied with the VVAW, the Citizens’ Commission of Inquiry into War Crimes in Indochina (CCI). The CCI in turn had initiated its inquiry in November 1969 in response to a call from the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, founded in 1963 by British antiwar leader Bertrand Russell. Russell and his wife Dora had worked with various antiwar groups since World War I, many of which were linked to the Communist movement in Britain and America. During the Cold War Russell came to sympathize with the Soviet Union, Cuba, and North Vietnam. In 1963 he began opposing the US in the Vietnam War in direct alliance with the North Vietnamese, using his Foundation to attempt to obtain passports for North Vietnamese and broadcasting propaganda over North Vietnamese radio. In 1966 he called for an International War Crimes Tribunal which would apply the principles of the Nuremberg Trials to investigations of alleged war crimes by US troops in Vietnam. The International War Crimes Tribunal began meeting in Sweden and Denmark in 1967 and became independent of Russell’s Foundation.111 It was supported by leading Marxist intellectuals from Europe and America, notably Jean-Paul Sartre, a leading French philosopher who was a periodic member of the French Communist Party and had worked with the Soviet-linked World Peace Council;112 and Noam Chomsky, an American linguist who travelled in 1971 to North Vietnam, where among other things he “negotiated” POW releases as a propaganda ploy to show the “benefits” of cooperating with the North Vietnamese.113 Also participating in the Tribunal were Stokely Carmichael of SNCC and the Black Panthers;114; Carl Oglseby, president of Students for a Democratic Society;115 Peter Weiss, prominent member of the Communist front group the National Lawyers Guild, chairman of the board of the KGB-linked Institute for Policy Studies, and husband of Cora Rubin Weiss (daughter of Communist Party financier Samuel Rubin), who collaborated with the North Vietnamese to extort POW families through the group Committee of Liaison with Families of Servicemen Detained in North Vietnam (COLIFAM);116 and Wilfred Burchett, a KGB agent working for the pro-Vietnamese propaganda outlet Dispatch News Service.117 Dispatch News Service provided Seymour Hersh’s story on American war crimes at My Lai to The New York Times in November 1969,118 which stimulated Russell’s War Crimes Tribunal to launch an American branch of its investigation.119 The same month Hersh’s story broke, Russell’s secretary Ralph Schoenman placed an ad to promote the American investigation. He received a response from Tod Ensign of the New Mobe and Black Panthers and his associate Jeremy Rifkin, who had been working with Larry Rottmann of VVAW. Ensign and Rifkin founded the CCI and began forming a coalition with other antiwar leaders and groups, including Chomsky, who had participated in the International War Crimes Tribunal; Richard Fernandez of the Communist-infiltrated group Clergy and Laity Concerned and the Vietnam Moratorium Committee, who travelled to North Vietnam with Chomsky in 1971; Phil Spiro of the Communist Party; participants in an unofficial Congressional war crimes panel which included testimony from psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, a coauthor of Richard Falk, cofounder of the Institute for Policy Studies, who had previously travelled to North Vietnam with Cora Weiss and was then assisting government whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg in preparing the Pentagon Papers for publication; and antiwar Senator Charles Goodell.120

Rifkin and Ensign had their office across the street from VVAW headquarters, and in January 1970 they invited the VVAW to join the CCI’s coalition. At first the VVAW could only afford to share their mailing list with the CCI, but in August 1970 the VVAW decided to launch its own supplementary investigation after picking up funding from Jane Fonda.121

Fonda had become opposed to the Vietnam War while living in France from 1965 to 1969. After returning to the United States in 1969, she called Sam Brown of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee and offered her help to the antiwar movement. She spent much of 1969-1970 touring the country promoting the antiwar movement and various associated left-wing causes, particularly American Indian militant groups and the Black Panthers. She arranged bail money for a Panther arrested with sawed-off shotguns and invited Panther leader Huey Newton to use her penthouse to hold a press conference, prompting the FBI to place her under surveillance. The House Internal Security Committee later reported that from January 8-10, 1971, Fonda participated in a National Coalition Conference which included representatives of the Communist Party and the Black Panthers.122

Fonda came into contact with the VVAW through Mark Lane, a left-wing attorney she met while she was involved with the Black Panthers. Lane had been a 1960 New York State Legislature candidate for the Democratic Reform Movement, a left-wing faction of the Democratic Party led by former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and former New York Governor Herbert Lehman. Through his work with the Democratic Reform Movement, Lane became a manager for the New York campaign of 1960 Presidential candidate John Kennedy. Following Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Lane became a lawyer for Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother, formed a Citizens’ Committee of Inquiry to investigate the assassination, and wrote articles and books defending Oswald. Lane’s work was published with support from Bertrand Russell, and it attracted favorable attention from the KGB, which began covertly arranging funding for Lane’s investigation and placing agents in his orbit to encourage his research (whether Lane was aware of this is not confirmed in KGB files, though the KGB suspected he had guessed the source of the funding). KGB agent Genrikh Borovik began maintaining regular contact with Lane, and the KGB arranged funding for Lane to visit a Communist front meeting in Budapest in 1964 to promote his views on the assassination. Lane would serve as a legal advisor to VVAW members.123

In early 1970 Lane met Fonda.124 Meanwhile, Lane was assisting Rifkin and Ensign’s CCI in finding war crimes witnesses.125 Lane convinced Fonda to raise funds for the VVAW to launch its own Winter Soldier Investigation to supplement CCI’s investigation, and Hubbard persuaded Ensign to join forces with Fonda. Fonda was appointed the VVAW’s Honorary National Coordinator.126

The VVAW planned to promote the WSI by announcing it at at the Operation RAW rally to be held in Valley Forge over Labor Day weekend in September 1970. The rally was scheduled to coincide with the nearby Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention (RPCC),127 which brought the Black Panthers together with a coalition of other ethnic militant groups, Students for a Democratic Society, the Youth International Party, feminist groups, and gay rights groups.128 Al Hubbard arranged for the VVAW’s rally to be joined by the Family of Man, a coalition of black civil rights groups marching from Washington to New York via Philadelphia, the site of the RPCC.129

Also attending the RPCC and originally scheduled to join the Operation RAW rally were members of the Youth International Party (YIP, or Yippies).130 The Yippies had been founded in 1967 by Abbie Hoffman, a former SNCC organizer; and Jerry Rubin, a cofounder of the Vietnam Day Committee (VDC), a Communist-allied group that had organized some of the earliest protests against the Vietnam War. The Yippies tried to generate publicity for the antiwar cause by staging flamboyant confrontations, which tended to provoke violence. Hoffman and Rubin were convicted in February 1970 of inciting a riot at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. After their conviction, Hoffman published a how-to book for anarchists which included directions for bombmaking.131 While Hoffman and Rubin were serving their sentence, the Yippies agreed to participate in Operation RAW by helping VVAW marchers stage mock skirmishes where the veterans would play US troops and the Yippies would play Viet Cong. However upon reconsideration the VVAW leaders became worried that this might lead to violent confrontations with observers and police, so they cancelled the skirmishes and instead asked the Yippies to play Viet Cong prisoners. The Yippies decided that this would be boring and declined to participate.132 But Yippie cofounder Dick Gregory, who was now associated with Jane Fonda’s antiwar “F.T.A.” troupe, still supported the Winter Soldier Investigation,133 and Yippie tactics inspired later VVAW publicity stunts like Dewey Canyon III.134 TheYippies would join the VVAW at Dewey Canyon III and in rioting at the 1972 Republican National Convention.135

The Operation RAW rally was sponsored by Fonda, Lane, their associate Donald Sutherland, and several antiwar politicians,136 notably Michigan Congressman John Conyers, Jr., a cofounder of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), who became a key Congressional link to the Institute for Policy Studies and the World Peace Council;137 and antiwar Senator George McGovern, who was first elected with funding from the IPS-linked Council for a Livable World (CLW), would run as the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidate in 1972, and was described in an 18-page FBI memorandum as having pro-Communist sympathies and being involved in various subversive activities.138 Speakers included Hubbard, who expounded Marxist theories of “capitalist imperialism”; Lane and Fonda, who advocated violently overthrowing the capitalist system; Sutherland, who read an antiwar drama written by Dalton Trumbo, a Communist screenwriter who had helped write the scripts for Fonda and Sutherland’s F.T.A. and Lane’s Executive Action;139 Congressman Allard Lowenstein, who criticized Nixon’s Vietnamization strategy;140 civil rights and Mobe leader James Bevel, who called for a march to the UN to deliver a petition charging the US with genocide in Vietnam;141 and Kerry, who defended the VVAW’s patriotism and attacked Nixon’s.

The same month as Operation RAW, the CCI sent one of its coordinators, Mike Uhl, to Sweden to attend the Stockholm Peace Committee, a similar war crimes investigation staged by a Communist-influenced coalition. Mark Lane also attended, and during the proceedings he behaved like a prosecutor, scolding the veterans for the war crimes they confessed to, and also criticizing Uhl because his testimony was not sensational enough. Afterwords, Lane attacked Uhl at a joint CCI/VVAW meeting, and the CCI members in turn complained to Al Hubbard that they could not work with Lane any longer. Hubbard agreed that Lane was intolerable, but Jane Fonda would not allow Lane to be removed, and Hubbard, fearful of losing her financial support, consented to let Lane stay. Lane, meanwhile, was preparing to publish a book on war crimes that December. But even before publication, critics began complaining that Lane emphasized sensational allegations involving physical and sexual mutiliation, used fictitious names for his interviewees, and did not cross-reference the allegations he recorded against military records. Lane’s reputation grew so bad even among his antiwar colleagues that Robert Jay Lifton called Tod Ensign to warn him that the CCI/WSI investigation’s credibility would be compromised if Lane was allowed to participate. Communist Party leaders who visited Moscow in 1971 would complain that Lane was motivated by his own self-aggrandizement. Because of the dispute over Lane, CCI and WSI split into two separate investigations, with the CCI investigation becoming known as the National Veterans’ Inquiry. Lane and Fonda remained with WSI.142

The CCI and WSI had originally planned to hold their joint investigation in Washington, DC, but because Fonda wanted to hold the investigation somewhere she deemed more representative of working-class America, the WSI investigation ended up being moved to Detroit. The hearings were held at Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge from January 31 through February 2, 1971 and were followed up by a meeting between some of the WSI participants—including Fonda—and a group of North Vietnamese students at a United Auto Workers (UAW) union hall in nearby Windsor, Canada.143 Housing for organizers and witnesses was arranged by a group of antiwar clergy which included Daniel Berrigan.144 Funding came from Michigan political figures and organizations, including Emil Mazey of UAW145 and Michigan Secretary of State Richard Austin;146 from Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace (BEM, later renamed Business Executives Move for New National Priorities), a group of antiwar businessmen founded by Henry Niles of Baltimore Life Insurance Company; 147 from benefit concerts by rock singers David Crosby, Graham Nash, 148 and Phil Ochs; 149 and from Fonda and Lane. Political support came from SDS cofounder and Mobe leader Tom Hayden, who had travelled abroad regularly to meet with North Vietnamese representatives and had been convicted of inciting a riot at the 1968 Demoratic National Convention;150 Ralph Abernathy of the Communist-infiltrated Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC);151 Yippie cofounder Dick Gregory;152 and over a dozen members of Congress, including Operation RAW sponsors Conyers and McGovern, as well as Congressional Black Caucus cofounder Ronald Dellums, who endorsed the Black Panthers and shortly after his election had addressed a meeting of the Soviet front World Peace Council in November 1970.153 Dellums offered the VVAW office space in Washington so they could follow up the WSI with an official Congressional investigation. A number of other members of Congress joined in promoting this idea, including McGovern; Conyers; Congressional Black Caucus cofounder Charles Rangel;154 Students for a Democratic Society cofounder Michael Harrington, who would later found Democratic Socialists of America (DSA);155 Women Strike for Peace cofounder Bella Abzug;156 Robert Drinan;157 and Senator Mark Hatfield, who belonged to an IPS-linked antiwar lobby in Congress called Members of Congress for Peace Through Law (MCPL, later renamed the Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus, ACFPC).158 Hatfield read portions of the WSI testimony into the Congressional Record. Publicity for the hearings came from the Communist propaganda station Pacifica Radio;159 the underground press; a few major Midwestern papers; The New York Times, which had previously picked up Seymour Hersh’s My Lai story from the IPS-linked propaganda outlet Dispatch News and would soon help Daniel Ellsberg and IPS publicize The Pentagon Papers;160 CBS, then airing the antiwar broadcasts of Walter Cronkite;161 Beacon Press, who signed a contract to publish excerpts of the WSI testimony;162 Nash, who wrote a song called “Oh! Camil (the Winter Soldier)” inspired by the testimony of VVAW member Scott Camil; the Winterfilm Collective, a group of antiwar activists who shot a film of the WSI which was screened in the office of Francis Ford Coppola, an admirer of Fidel Castro;163 and Hugh Hefner—a funder of the Vietnam Moratorium Committee and a former employer of Dick Gregory—who donated an ad for the VVAW in the February issue of Playboy to coincide with the WSI hearings.164

During the hearings IPS associate Robert Jay Lifton spoke as the keynote speaker and served on one of the panels.165 Serving on other panels were Lifton’s coauthor Richard Falk of the Institute for Policy Studies, who had travelled to North Vietnam in 1969;166 Falk’s IPS associate Peter Weiss, a member of several Communist front groups who had participated in the Bertrand Russell Foundation’s International War Crimes Tribunal and had travelled to North Vietnam in November 1970, and whose wife Cora had collaborated with the North Vietnamese to exploit POW families through the group Committee of Liaison with Families of Servicemen Detained in North Vietnam (COLIFAM);167 Howard Zinn, a former SNCC organizer who had travelled to North Vietnam with Daniel Berrigan in 1968 to “negotiate” POW releases;168 and Sidney Peck, a Marxist sociologist who had travelled to North Vietnam and co-led a New Mobe spinoff called the National Coalition Against War, Racism and Repression (NCAWRR, soon to be renamed the People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice, PCPJ), a CP-linked coalition which had recently negotiated a “People’s Peace Treaty” with North Vietnamese students.169

One participant who came to the hearings with Camil and Kerry, Steve Pitkin, would later allege that his testimony had been coached and coerced by Kerry and others.170 During the hearings some of the veterans talked about shooting President Nixon, and had to be discouraged from engaging in this kind of talk by WSI attorney Ken Cloke.171 The testimony included allegations of a secret February 1969 US mission in Laos, reportedly code-named Dewey Canyon I. This revelation allegedly forced the Pentagon to change the code-name of an upcoming Laos operation which was to be called Dewey Canyon II. It also inspired the name of the VVAW’s next major operation, Dewey Canyon III.172

Dewey Canyon III

Planning for Dewey Canyon III began during the WSI when the VVAW leaders met to address how to generate more publicity than the event seemed to be getting. Kerry claims that it was he who suggested the idea of a march on Washington. Jan Barry has a similar recollection, but other VVAW members contradict this, recalling that a spring demonstration in Washington was already being planned, it was only the details that had not been determined. In fact the April 18-23, 1971 date the VVAW selected for the event was chosen to coincide with major demonstrations the North Vietnamese government was coordinating with the two major factions of the antiwar movement that had emerged from the New Mobe.173

During 1970 the New Mobe had divided into factions over the issue of whether to emphasize massive civil disobedience or mass organized demonstrations. After a May 9, 1970 New Mobe demonstration in response to Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and the Kent State shooting, the Socialist Workers Party decided to break away from New Mobe elements advocating civil disobedience and form its own organization oriented towards mass organized demonstrations. Following the SWP’s direction, in June 1970 the Detroit and Cleveland branches of the New Mobe split off to form a new national organization, the National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC), coordinated by Jerry Gordon, an Ohio union leader linked to the SWP, and James Lafferty, a Detroit lawyer prominent in the National Lawyers Guild.174 Meanwhile, in September 1970 the faction of the New Mobe advocating civil disobedience, led by Sidney Peck, formed the National Coalition Against War, Racism and Repression (NCAWRR).175

These two factions soon came together in a tenuous alliance negotiated by the North Vietnamese. After Nixon’s April 1970 invasion of Cambodia, NCAWRR’s Rennie Davis—who had previously been convicted of inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago176—began planning for massive civil disobedience to shut down Washington, DC in May 1971 if the war had not ended by then. Meanwhile the NPAC held a rally on October 31, 1970, but the turnout was so poor that afterwords NPAC leaders invited NCAWRR to participate in a December meeting for planning future events. At the meeting the NPAC insisted on holding its rally on April 24, 1971 despite NCAWRR’s request to delay settling on a date until after a NCAWRR meeting scheduled for early January. NCAWRR leaders felt that the NPAC was deliberately trying to control the antiwar movement by scheduling their event in April in order to reduce the number of participants who would be able to attend the May event Davis was planning. During NCAWRR’s January meeting there was heated debate over the issue, and the participants were only able to agree on a very general program to implement a symbolic “People’s Peace Treaty” which had previously been negotiated by Davis, Tom Hayden, and others with Vietnamese students; but the date conflict remained divisive. The next weekend NCAWRR and NPAC met and failed to reach an agreement on a date. Shortly afterwords NCAWRR dissolved and became the People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice (PCPJ),177 a coalition that included the Communist Party178 and various Communist front groups such as the Fellowship of Reconciliation,179 the War Resisters League,180 and the American Friends Service Committee.181 Meanwhile in February South Vietnam invaded Laos with US support, prompting North Vietnamese ambassador Xuan Thuy to plead for unity between the factions of the US antiwar movement in order to pressure the Nixon administration into a cease-fire agreement. Subsequently the New Mobe’s Sidney Lens helped mediate an agreement that the PCPJ would support the NPAC’s April 24 event and not organize any civil disobedience or violence on the week of April 24, in exchange for the NPAC not interfering with any disobedience or violence during the PCPJ’s May event, which came to be called Mayday.182

While NCAWRR/PCPJ leader Sidney Peck had been involved in negotiating a date with the NPAC that January, he also participated in the VVAW’s Winter Soldier Investigation,183 which concluded with the aforementioned meeting to plan Dewey Canyon III.184 At this time the VVAW and PCPJ had offices across the street from each other in New York at 155 and 156 Fifth Avenue respectively.185 After the NPAC and PCPJ had settled on a date for their Washington demonstration, the PCPJ and VVAW both set up office space on the 9th floor of 1029 Vermont Avenue NW in Washington, DC, the same building the VVAW affiliate LINK had previously shared with the New Mobe and VMC in 1969. The 8th floor of the same building was rented by the NPAC. The 10th floor was rented by a violent faction of the PCPJ led by Rennie Davis, the May Day Collective (which came to be known as the May Day Tribe).186

Joining the activities would be other antiwar veterans groups, including a group of active-duty GIs supported by the CCI and Mark Lane, the Concerned Officers Movement (COM), who had been working out of the office of Congressman Ron Dellums and were scheduled to hold ad hoc war crimes hearings before members of Congress at the same time the VVAW would be demonstrating.187 Various other antiwar groups and leaders would also participate, notably Ruth Gage Colby of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), an old Communist front group; Ralph Abernathy of the Communist-infiltrated Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and Jerry Rubin of the Yippies, whose flamboyant theatrics had inspired those the VVAW would employ at Dewey Canyon III.188

Dewey Canyon III was scheduled to run from Sunday, April 18, 1971 through Friday, April 23. During this time the VVAW planned to join the PCPJ in forming a “People’s Lobby”, which would involve staging sit-in demonstrations outside major government buildings and lobbying Congress to convene a special joint session to hear war crimes testimony. If as expected Congress failed to grant a session by Friday, the VVAW planned to have sympathetic members of Congress hold a symbolic session, during which veterans would return their medals. This would be followed up on Saturday, April 24 by the NPAC’s “March Against War” down Pennsylvania Avenue, which would kick off a week of events culminating in the PCPJ’s Mayday civil disobedience on Monday, May 3. Hundreds of VVAW participants in Dewey Canyon III would end up remaining for the Mayday demonstrations, including Al Hubbard.189

To raise money for Dewey Canyon III, John Kerry began a speaking tour.190 A week before the event, Kerry was informed that 5,000 of the participants still needed money for bus tickets, so he had Adam Walinsky arrange for a fundraiser to be held by a group of antiwar New York businessmen hosted by Seagram’s chief executive Edgar Bronfman,191 who had organized crime connections.192 Bronfman’s associates raised about $50,000 in one hour, Walinsky later recalled.193 At the time an FBI informant reported that “the VVAW had received fifty thousand dollars from United States Senators McGovern and Hatfield, who. . .obtained the money from an unknown New York source” to be ascertained. Later FBI documents identified Bronfman as a source of VVAW funding.194

Senators McGovern and Hatfield belonged to an IPS-linked lobby called Members of Congress for Peace Through Law (MCPL) which supported the antiwar protestors during Dewey Canyon III and the subsequent NPAC and PCPJ demonstrations. During the April 24 March Against the War, the VVAW was addressed by MCPL Senators McGovern, Ted Kennedy, Walter Mondale, and Philip Hart, along with two MCPL Congressmen. Meanwhile eight MCPL Congressmen addressed a PCPJ group.195 Political support also came from other antiwar Congressmen and Senators.196 Most notably, Senator Hart and Senator Claiborne Pell, a critic of US policy towards Cuba as well as Vietnam,197 hosted a VVAW fundraiser which was attended by Senator J. William Fulbright. Fulbright, who sat with Pell on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and shared Pell’s views on Cuba and Vietnam, had led Senate opposition to the Vietnam War since 1966,198 and during the fundraiser he invited Kerry to speak to his committee about war crimes. Other members of Fulbright’s committee who listened to Kerry sympathetically during his testimony were Stuart Symington, who had been Dean Acheson’s favored choice for Democratic Presidential candidate in 1960,199 and Frank Church, who would soon lead a Congressional attack on the US intelligence community which was supported by the VVAW, the National Lawyers Guild, the Institute for Policy Studies, and Cuban and Soviet agents.200

Dewey Canyon III would receive considerably more national publicity than the Winter Soldier Investigation. VVAW publicists were able to convince Time and Newsweek to run stories on the VVAW to make up for the lack of coverage of the WSI. In March Congressman Michael Harrington, who had supported the WSI, lent the VVAW his office for a press conference, resulting in coverage from national papers including The Washington Post and The New York Times, as well as TV coverage from CBS’ 60 Minutes. On the Sunday which started Dewey Canyon III, NBC’s Meet the Press hosted Kerry and Hubbard. During the week of the event, CBS’ antiwar reporter Walter Cronkite ran two sympathetic pieces on the VVAW. Afterwords, Life ran a story quoting extensively from VVAW war crimes testimony, and the Macmillian Publishing division Collier Books published John Kerry’s book memorializing the event, The New Soldier.201 Kerry’s book recorded that the protestors were addressed by I.F. Stone,202 a pro-Soviet journalist who a Soviet defector recently alleged had worked for the KGB periodically from 1944 to 1968.203 The Communist newspaper Daily World covered Dewey Canyon III closely.204

Dewey Canyon III was coordinated with the Communist movement and the North Vietnamese government from beginning to end. Prior to the conception of Dewey Canyon III, Rennie Davis and others in Sidney Peck’s NCAWRR/PCPJ coalition had negotiated a “People’s Peace Treaty” with North Vietnamese students, which was to be ratified the week of April 24, 1971.205 Peck participated in the Winter Soldier Investigation,206 which included planning for Dewey Canyon III207 and was followed up by a meeting between WSI participants—including Jane Fonda—and North Vietnamese students in Canada.208 The VVAW held its event on a date which had been chosen by the NPAC and agreed to by the PCPJ at the request of the North Vietnamese ambassador.209 During the preparations for the event, the VVAW sent representative Mike Hunter to join Jane Fonda and Mark Lane on a trip to meet North Vietnamese representatives in Paris in March.210 Funding for the event was transmitted to the VVAW through Senators McGovern and Hatfield of the IPS-linked MCPL lobby, and political support for the event was provided by MCPL Congressmen and Senators.211 Legal support for the protestors was provided by Ramsey Clark212, who had previously assisted the protestors who disrupted the 1968 Democratic National Convention213 and was now representing several other Communist front groups.214 (Clark and another VVAW lawyer, Peter Weiss,215 would soon join the National Lawyers Guild, the legal bulwark of the Communist Party,216 in defending the Communist terrorist group the Baader-Meinhof Gang.217) The Mayday demonstrations which followed Dewey Canyon III culminated in an attempt to shut down the traffic in Washington, DC and bring the federal government to a halt in order to pressure the Nixon administration into accepting a cease-fire based on the terms of the People’s Peace Treaty. The attempt failed due to poor logistical planning on the protestors’ part, but in order to control the demonstrators and preserve the government’s functioning law enforcement agencies were forced to resort to imposing what was called a state of “qualified marital law”, in which 14,000 police and National Guardsmen arrested 13,500 of the demonstrators.218 During the demonstrations, North Vietnamese foreign minister Nguyen Thi Binh issued a statement from Paris praising the demonstrators,219 and some of the demonstrators displayed the North Vietnamese flag.220 A Congressional investigation of the demonstrations found that they were “under substantial Communist influence”.221

Meanwhile, FBI reports on Dewey Canyon III noted that, “During VVAW activities, Al Hubbard. . .and others were overshadowed by a more popular and eloquent figure, John Kerry.”222

From Dewey Canyon III to the Kansas City meeting

During Dewey Canyon III, a few days after Kerry and Hubbard had appeared together on Meet the Press, the show’s host Lawrence Spivak called Kerry to complain that he had learned Hubbard was lying about his rank and possibly about having served in Vietnam, which called into question Kerry’s own credibility. After this Kerry’s relationship with Hubbard grew strained, leading to a confrontation at a VVAW meeting in November 1971 in Kansas City.223

The deterioration of Kerry’s relationship with Hubbard paralleled broader tensions between growing factions within the VVAW. By June 1971 VVAW founder Jan Barry was no longer associated with the VVAW (though he would later return in 1972), and the VVAW was no longer run by its national office in New York but by a six-member National Executive Committee which included Kerry; Hubbard; Hubbard’s supporters Mike Oliver and Craig Scott Moore (aka Scott Moore), of the VVAW’s New York chapter; Larry Rottmann, of New Mexico; and George “Skip” Roberts, of Connecticut.224 Among the committee’s members and between the committee and the VVAW’s regional coordinators there were several different political viewpoints in varying degrees of conflict.

Kerry felt the VVAW could be most politically effective by initially focusing on the single issue of ending the war and waiting until the war was over to work towards a broader social agenda. He also advocated working within the system rather than engaging in what he called “confrontational poltics”. In speeches at 1971 VVAW events he stressed that the VVAW was against violence, and he encouraged listeners to work to end the war by voting for antiwar politicians. This led many VVAW members to regard him as an opportunist seeking to use the VVAW to advance his own career as an antiwar politician.

Roberts held a position similar to Kerry’s, wanting to use the VVAW as a vehicle for recruiting campus veterans to organize mass demonstrations to end the war.

Hubbard in contrast sought to use the VVAW to advance a broad Marxist social agenda encompassing issues such as civil rights and anti-imperialism as well as ending the war. Kerry was not opposed to Hubbard’s goals on these issues, but he did not see the VVAW as a means towards achieving these goals in the immediate present, preferring instead to wait until the war was over to work towards these goals through the political system. Hubbard also differed from Kerry on tactics, tending to use more confrontational, Yippie-style tactics than Kerry preferred, and envisioning the transformation of the VVAW’s hardcore membership into a vanguard of “weather vets” modelled on the Weathermen.

Aligned with Hubbard but taking his position one step further were a group of VVAW regional coordinators calling themselves the “Anti-Imperialists’ Coalition”, led by Barry Romo and Sam Schorr of California, who were linked to Communist groups and the Weathermen faction of Students for a Democratic Society. Romo and Schorr’s coalition also included Gary Steiger of the Ohio VVAW, Scott Camil of the Florida and Southeastern VVAW, and the Idaho VVAW. The Anti-Imperialists’ Coalition advocated using the VVAW to advance a multi-issue social agenda, and was willing to employ extreme confrontational tactics, including assassination and violent demonstrations.225

The internal tensions in the VVAW mirrored external tensions between antiwar groups in contact with the VVAW, particularly between the neo-Trotskyite National Peace Action Coalition and the neo-Stalinist People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice. During Dewey Canyon III the tenuous alliance between the NPAC and the PCPJ began to break down into renewed rivalry, which intensified over the course of 1971. The rivalry revolved around the same issues that divided Kerry and Hubbard, with the NPAC like Kerry insisting on a political agenda limited to ending the war and tactics limited to nonviolent mass demonstrations, while the PCPJ like Hubbard advocated a broad social agenda and used civil disobedience tactics.226

Kerry, networking through Adam Walinsky and Jerome Grossman’s political contacts in Massachusetts and Washington DC, focused on building his VVAW faction’s relationship with the antiwar wings of the Democratic and Republican parties. Democratic Massachusetts Congressman Robert Drinan, whose campaigns were managed by Grossman, spoke at a May 1971 Massachusetts VVAW event Kerry co-organized, Operation POW, and worked to get Congress to pass an amendment that would lower age requirements enough to allow Kerry to run for Senator in 1972.227 Democratic Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy donated to the VVAW and spoke at Massachusetts VVAW events.228 1968 Democratic Presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy, for whom Grossman had organized, spoke at VVAW events.229 1972 Democratic Presidential candidate George McGovern was also linked to the VVAW. McGovern had supported the VVAW since 1970, endorsing Operation RAW and the Winter Soldier Investigation and speaking to the VVAW during Dewey Canyon III. Grossman organized for McGovern, and Grossman’s associate Emily Frankovich, who was McGovern’s key Massachusetts contact in 1971, demonstrated with the VVAW during Operation POW in May 1971. In June 1971 the VVAW organized a hunger strike to lobby in support of the McGovern-Hatfield Amendment, an amendment consponsored by McGovern which aimed to cut off Congressional funding for the Vietnam War. McGovern joined Kerry in speaking to a Colorado student union meeting in August 1971.230 Also joining Kerry and McGovern at the August 1971 meeting was Senator Paul McCloskey, a liberal Republican who had proposed the idea of Richard Nixon’s impeachment after the South Vietnamese invasion of Laos that February. McCloskey had previously spoken to the VVAW at Dewey Canyon III, and in January 1972 Kerry delivered a speech favoring him as the best Republican to challenge Nixon in the New Hampshire primaries.231

Meanwhile, Skip Roberts spent the summer after Dewey Canyon III touring with the F.T.A. troupe of Jane Fonda.232

At the same time, Al Hubbard maintained contact with the PCPJ and other groups. After Dewey Canyon III the Washington DC branch of the VVAW and the PCPJ continued to share office space, and the PCPJ and VVAW continued to co-organize demonstrations into at least 1972.233 PCPJ literature from this period listed Hubbard on the PCPJ Coordinating Committee, where he sat alongside Jarvis Tyner, the Communist Party’s 1972 Vice-Presidential candidate, and Gil Green, a high-ranking member of the New York CP.234 The PCPJ and War Resisters League cosponsored an August 1971 trip to Hanoi by Joe Urgo, whom Hubbard was training to assist his leadership of the VVAW.235 Hubbard and Urgo joined the Anti-Imperialists’ Coalition in pushing for the VVAW to become an armed revolutionary organization.236

As part of this trend towards militancy, Hubbard, Urgo, New York VVAW coordinator Ed Damato, members of the Anti-Imperialists’ Coalition, and certain VVAW regional chapters networked with various Communist and militant groups, some of which were trying to infiltrate the VVAW. In “Operation Heart of America”, a joint operation with the Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade Committee, the War Resisters League, and other Communist front groups in New York, Damato used the pretext of donating clothes and medical supplies to smuggle guns collected from VVAW regional chapters to the United Front,237 a black militant group in Cairo, Illinois linked to a St. Louis gang called the Black Liberators.238 Damato, Urgo, Scott Camil of the Southeastern VVAW, Brian Adams of the Colorado VVAW, and members of other VVAW regional chapters joined forces with the Revolutionary Union (RU), a Maoist offshoot of Students for a Democratic Society which sought a united front with other left-wing groups and had been infiltrating VVAW chapters around the country.239 Regional VVAW chapters also networked with or were infiltrated by the Communist Party;240 the Socialist Workers Party and its National Peace Action Coalition front;241 and the New Party led by Bob Kunst, a civil rights and gay rights activist (currently president of;242 among others.

The VVAW’s interaction with external groups extended abroad to foreign Communist groups and state sponsors. From late June through early July 1971, VVAW members joined members of the Citizens’ Commission of Inquiry into War Crimes in Indochina, Women Strike for Peace, and other antiwar groups as part of a US delegation to a conference of the International War Crimes Tribunal in Oslo, Norway. During the trip the delegation visited among other places Moscow, where they met with representatives of the Soviet Peace Committee and the North Vietnamese embassy; Helsinki, headquarters of the Soviet front group the World Peace Council; and Paris, where they met with a North Vietnamese delegation. Upon returning to the US, the delegation was met by William Kunstler, a lawyer who specialized in defending Communist and terrorist clients (including Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing).243 A little over a month later, in late August 1971, Kerry told VVAW members at a Colorado meeting that he had just returned from a trip to Paris to visit with the North Vietamese delegation.244 In November Al Hubbard also visited the North Vietnamese delegation in Paris, and at some point during this period Hubbard travelled to Moscow to receive an award, which was covered in the Communist newspaper Daily World, prompting Kerry to rebuke him for indiscretion.245 Meanwhile Hubbard’s protégé Joe Urgo travelled to Hanoi in August 1971.246 Several VVAW chapters also supported the Venceremos Brigade, a group which sent members to Cuba for intelligence training by Cuban and North Vietnamese advisors.247

As VVAW factions grew closer to Communist and militant groups after Dewey Canyon III, VVAW chapters became increasingly involved in subversive and criminal activity, and the FBI began to investigate the VVAW more actively.248 The VVAW’s Philadelphia chapter, co-coordinated by Kerry’s associate Joe Bangert, came under FBI suspicion in June 1971 when a group it shared its office with, the Philadelphia Resistance (PR), distributed classified documents stolen from the FBI’s Media, Pennsylvania office that February.249 Later that year Daniel Ellsberg, who had recently leaked classified military documents with the help of VVAW associate Richard Falk, began speaking at VVAW events.250 The VVAW’s New York headquarters and Southeastern region raised money through drug-dealing,251 and the New York VVAW coordinated regional chapters’ smuggling of guns to a black militant group in Cairo, Illinois.252 VVAW chapters in Los Angeles and Cincinnati were investigated in connection with bomb threats reported at the time of the Dewey Canyon III and Mayday demonstrations.253 In September 1971 a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania VVAW rally was addressed by Neil McLaughlin, who was then out on bail and being defended by VVAW attorney Ramsey Clark in relation to charges of conspiring with Daniel and Philip Berrigan and others to kidnap Henry Kissinger and blow up heating systems in federal buildings in Washington.254 Two months later at the VVAW’s November Kansas City meeting, VVAW leaders discussed plans to kidnap or assassinate pro-war politicians, along with plans to disrupt next year’s Democratic and Republican National Conventions. One of the proposed assassination targets, Senator John Stennis, was in fact shot during an apparent robbery approximately a year later.255

During the Kansas City meeting, Kerry and Hubbard’s conflicts over personal issues and tactical differences came to a head. Roberts had devised a plan to remove Hubbard from the National Executive Committee by calling for all committee members to resign and be replaced by new members. Kerry joined Roberts in trying to get Hubbard removed from the committee. Their plan failed, but they ended up resigning anyway. According to the FBI documents, Kerry “resigned from the National Executive Committee of VVAW for ‘personal reasons’ but added he would still be active in VVAW and available to speak for the organization” and would be holding his office “until new members are elected in January 1972”.256

On the second day of the meeting Hubbard left, but Kerry remained, and was present during subsequent sessions where Scott Camil tried to persuade VVAW leadership to support a plan to assassinate pro-war politicians. Confusion over whether or not Kerry was present during these discussions has been perpetuated by Kerry’s campaign and writers friendly to Kerry, particularly Gerald Nicosia and Douglas Brinkley, but declassified FBI documents have established that, as Nicosia was eventually forced to admit, “A full review of the FBI files shows that Kerry not only was in Kansas City, but he also attended the most controversial and explosive session the group ever held. . . At the time of the Washington march, Camil proposed ‘taking out’ the prominent senators and congressmen who consistently voted in favor of the war. His assassination plan had little support, and he had put it aside as impractical. But now in Kansas City, in an effort to ‘push people's buttons’. . .Camil says he again brought up his assassination plan. . . The meeting descended into chaos, according to several people who were there. . .Someone found bugs planted by the FBI. The group decided to move to a more secure location. . .The meeting reconvened at St. Augustine's Catholic Church, 7801 Paseo Blvd., in Kansas City, and it was again closed--meaning only national officers and regional and state coordinators. Several things about it are still unclear, especially the chronology, but there is no doubt. . .if the files and witnesses are to believed, that Kerry was present for all of it.”257

This has raised the question, did Kerry support or oppose Camil’s assassination proposal? The answer is, we don’t know for sure. The declassified FBI files on the Kansas City meeting are heavily censored and do not include complete information which would enable a definitive answer. However based on the information available, the best guess is that it’s most likely Kerry did not support the proposal. VVAW members are consistent in recalling that Kerry typically opposed Hubbard and the Anti-Imperialists’ Coalition’s confrontational tactics, and the FBI files are consistent with this, recording for instance that just prior to arriving in Kansas City Kerry had given a speech in Oklahoma emphasizing that the VVAW did not condone violence.258

However this is not the whole story. Even if Kerry did not support Camil’s assassination proposal, there is no evidence that he reported it to law enforcement authorities. Furthermore, in addition to his prior support of the VMC and VVAW while he was still in the Naval Reserve, there is evidence that he continued to associate with the VVAW after the Kansas City meeting, when it moved into an overtly violent phase.

After Kansas City

After the Kansas City meeting, Kerry turned his focus towards the 1972 elections. Congressman Drinan had failed to pass the “Kerry Amendment” that would have lowered age requirements enough to allow the 28-year-old Kerry to run for Senator in 1972, so instead Kerry ran for Congress again, moving to another Congressional district in order to avoid having to compete with Drinan this time.259 Kerry also supported other antiwar Presidential candidates. During a January 1972 speech at Dartmouth College he expressed favor for antiwar Democrat Ed Muskie and antiwar Republican Paul McCloskey in the New Hampshire primaries, and added that if George McGovern won the Democratic nomination he would support McGovern over McCloskey.260

During his 1972 campaign Kerry continued to associate with the VVAW. A Portsmouth paper covering Kerry’s January 1972 Dartmouth speech described him as “head of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War”, while a New York Times article on the event described him as “spokesman for Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The FBI files on the VVAW include a clipping of an April 4, 1972 Boston Globe article announcing Kerry’s Congressional run which states, “Kerry has led the Vietnam Veterans Against the War since returning from Vietnam two years ago.” Kerry was again described as “a leader of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War” in an Illinois newspaper article covering a New York demonstration he spoke at on April 22, 1972 which was organized by the NPAC and PCPJ and coordinated with the VVAW. Papers continued to describe Kerry as a VVAW representative throughout his Congressional campaign, and even afterwords into 1973.261 VVAW financial statements from early 1972 list a significant percentage of income and expenditures related to Kerry’s November 1971 book The New Soldier and the book’s editors George Butler and David Thorne.262 Thorne, who was Kerry’s best friend and the brother of his first wife, served as Kerry’s campaign manager in 1972.263 Chris Gregory, who became one of Kerry’s most active campaign staffers in subsequent years, remained associated with the New England VVAW in 1972.264 Kerry’s sister Peggy joined leading New York VVAW member Sheldon Ramsdell at a hotel where the VVAW protested the August 1972 Republican National Convention.265

During this period internal tensions in the VVAW continued to divide the organization, as conflict increased between the National Executive Committee and regional VVAW representatives who wanted more voice in the organization. During the November 1971 Kansas City meeting where Kerry and others had resigned from the National Executive Committee, a proposal to move the VVAW National Office from New York to another location had been debated, and a motion had been passed to have the committee members elected by regional coordinators for limited 1-year terms However despite this, Al Hubbard and his allies from the New York area remained on the committee and in effective control of its decisions, provoking dissatisfaction from regional coordinators who had personal and political differences with Hubbard.266 Resentment at Hubbard grew so intense that some VVAW members began plotting to kill Hubbard and his fellow National Executive Committee member Jon Birch, the FBI learned through surveillance of a Harisburg, Pennsylvania VVAW meeting in January 1972.267 The next month at a Denver, Colorado VVAW National Steering Committee meeting regional VVAW coordinators made proposals for for a decentralized structure which would shift power from the National Executive Committee to regional representatives and in the process move VVAW headquarters out of New York. Some proposed changes were accepted, while discussion of others was deferred to the next National Steering Committee meeting, to be held in Houston in April 1972.268 As the April meeting approached, the FBI was informed by an Oklahoma VVAW member that regional VVAW chapters were planning to oust Hubbard and Kerry during the meeting.269 However when the meeting arrived, Hubbard was able to reassert his control and maintain power, at least for the time being.270 Over the next few years the VVAW would splinter into several factions as it was infiltrated and taken over by other groups.271

The struggle between the VVAW’s internal factions reflected the influence of external groups struggling for control of the VVAW. Hubbard continued to affiliate with the Communist Party-linked People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice, opposing VVAW members who wanted to exclude the PCPJ from the VVAW.272 At the same time, Hubbard opposed infiltration attempts by the Socialist Worker Party-linked National Peace Action Coalition, singling out the NPAC and a related French group as the only antiwar groups not welcome in the VVAW coalition.273 Meanwhile the Revolutionary Union continued its infiltration of regional chapters of the VVAW, increasingly taking over the organization’s national structure after 1973. Some RU-linked VVAW chapters would eventually join forces with overtly terrorist groups like the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), whose members kidnapped Patty Hearst and attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford.274

While maintaining affiliation with the PCPJ, the VVAW national leadership also maintained contact with foreign Communist groups. The VVAW continued to participate in demonstrations at Hanoi’s request and to send delegations to North Vietnamese representatives in Paris and Hanoi.275 Some VVAW delegations joined Cora Weiss’ Committee of Liaison with Families of Servicemen Detained in North Vietnam (COLIFAM) in helping the North Vietnamese extort POW families,276 and one VVAW delegation to Paris to arrange a POW-related trip to Hanoi was sent two weeks before the infamous July 7, 1972 Hanoi trip of Jane Fonda, who was in close contact with the VVAW during this period.277 The VVAW also sent delegations to Moscow and the Soviet-linked World Peace Council;278 continued to support the Venceremos Brigade in sending delegations to Cuba;279 and met with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), a terrorist group linked to Achille Lauro hijacker Abu Abbas (captured by US troops in Iraq in 2003).280

While in contact with these foreign groups, the VVAW helped antiwar groups gather intelligence on US military installations, operations, and troop movements.281 Meanwhile to pressure the Nixon administration to halt US bombing against North Vietnam, the VVAW engaged in a series of increasingly militant actions beginning in late 1971. Over the 1971 Christmas holiday, VVAW members—among them Kerry’s associate Joe Bangert—protested US bombing by taking over several national monuments around the country, including the Lincoln Memorial and Statue of Liberty, and defacing them with antiwar messages.282 In April 1972, at Hanoi’s direction, the VVAW sent members to Washington to participate in “Dewey Canyon IV” and related demonstrations organized by the NPAC and PCPJ. In coordination with these demonstrations the NPAC staged a simultaneous demonstration in New York, at which Kerry spoke.283 In May 1972, to protest US bombing and mining operations, VVAW members cornered George H.W. Bush, then United States ambassador to the United Nations, and dumped blood on him.284 In August 1972, the VVAW helped a PCPJ-linked coalition of antiwar groups disrupt the Republican National Convention in Miami by physically attacking delegates and police.285 While this was going on outside the convention, Nixon’s Republican rival Senator Paul McCloskey—a VVAW ally whom Kerry had expressed support for in his January Dartmouth College speech286—gave three wheelchaired VVAW members passes so they could try to sneak in and make a scene by pretending to offer to shake President Nixon’s hand and then physically grabbing and detaining him until he agreed to listen to VVAW demands.287 Staying with VVAW member Sheldon Ramsdell in the hotel where the convention was held was John Kerry’s sister Peggy.288

The FBI’s surveillance of the VVAW had alerted the White House to the VVAW’s plans for the Republican National Convention, and the White House assigned the FBI and CIA to take pre-emptive action. In May 1972, the FBI had learned that the McGovern campaign had lent the VVAW a station wagon to do a barnstorming tour of college campuses.289 In June, as part of what would become known as the Watergate break-ins, members of Nixon’s re-election committee with links to the CIA were arrested after they broke into Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters seeking, among other things, evidence of links between the DNC—headed by Ted Kennedy’s associate Larry O’Brien—and the VVAW.290 Then early in July on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, where the VVAW was planning to lobby and speak with Democratic politicians, the FBI served subpoenas on Scott Camil and 22 other VVAW members involved in planning the convention activities. 8 of these would ultimately be indicted for conspiring to incite a riot and become known as “the Gainesville Eight”.291 Their defense would be provided by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a legal center linked to Communist lawyers William Kunstler and Peter Weiss.292 Jane Fonda helped raise money for the defense fund.293

In September 1972, while the trial of the Gainesville Eight was progressing, John Kerry’s younger brother Cameron was arrested for breaking into the building which served as the headquarters of the Kerry campaign and one of Kerry’s rivals in the Democratic primary election. Police arrested Cameron near the trunk line for all the building’s phones. Kerry would later claim his campaign had been set up in what he termed “a Watergate in reverse”, wherein Cameron had allegedly been lured to the scene by an anonymous phone call threatening to cut their campaign’s phone lines on the eve of their get-out-the-vote effort. A more likely explanation seems to be that the Kerry campaign was concerned about their phone lines being bugged. In any case, Kerry lost the campaign, temporarily ending his political career.294

Kerry did not, however, end his association with the VVAW. A newspaper photo dated January 24, 1973 is accompanied by a caption describing Kerry as “head of Vietnam Veterans Against the War”.295 Kerry would remain associated with former VVAW members such as Chris Gregory into his Senate career,294 and in 1979 he joined former VVAW associate Bobby Muller in cofounding the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), which lists him as a lifetime member.296


The record shows that Kerry began fellow traveling with the Vietnam Moratorium Committee even while he was still on active duty, and he remained a spokesman for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War even after the VVAW had begun plotting and executing violence against the United States government. In the face of these facts, the controversy over whether or not Kerry specifically approved of Camil’s assassination plot is ultimately beside the point. The greater point is that in order to advance his career as a politician running on an antiwar platform, Kerry was willing to promote Communist and even revolutionary groups at the expense of national security. And this is not merely a “historical footnote”, as one Kerry spokesman tried to dismiss the evidence of Kerry’s participation in the Kansas City meeting; for Kerry’s association with America’s enemies did not end with his unsuccessful 1972 Congressional campaign, but has continued into his Senate career.

Next: “Part 4: Subversion in the Senate: Kerry’s Communist Constituency”

TOPICS: Extended News; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: communism; communist; fellowtravellers; hanoijohn; johnkerry; kerry; moratoriumcommittee; napalminthemorning; peggykerry; robertdrinan; vvaw; wot
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To: LaGrone

I agree--he is dangerous indeed, and a risk we can't afford at this point in our nation's history. We were lucky we survived Clinton. After 9/11 if we make the same mistake in allowing someone like that to be elected, I shudder to think what will happen.

41 posted on 10/11/2004 1:58:57 PM PDT by Fedora
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To: Gucho

Yes; and what also gets me is how the Democrats and media surely know his true nature and yet they support him anyway.

42 posted on 10/11/2004 2:00:30 PM PDT by Fedora
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To: Fedora


43 posted on 10/11/2004 2:11:24 PM PDT by Pietro
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To: Fedora
Some of the stuff in the footnotes also touches on groups linked to Shrillery which may prove useful info in the future.

I'm all ready for Hillary 2008. They are two birds of a feather. The more I can add, the better.

44 posted on 10/11/2004 2:16:44 PM PDT by christie (John F. Kerry Timeline -
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To: Fedora

"media surely know his true nature and yet they support him anyway."

MSM to me equels WMD Incorperated.

45 posted on 10/11/2004 2:17:59 PM PDT by Gucho
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To: christie

One thing I noted about Hillary I wanted to make sure I mentioned to you is the VVAW/Bob Kunst connection--see Note 242 for the link to Kunst's pro-Hillary site.

46 posted on 10/11/2004 2:38:16 PM PDT by Fedora
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To: Gucho

"MSM to me equels WMD Incorperated."

LOL! That should be the name of an ABC affiliate! :)

47 posted on 10/11/2004 2:44:19 PM PDT by Fedora
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To: Fedora
Thanks. I'll take a look at it.
48 posted on 10/11/2004 2:51:17 PM PDT by christie (John F. Kerry Timeline -
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To: Fedora

Kerry's got more Commie connections than Pete Seeger! (Thanks for the ping!)

49 posted on 10/11/2004 2:53:49 PM PDT by NotJustAnotherPrettyFace (Michael <a href = "" title="Miserable Failure">"Miserable Failure"</a>)
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To: Fedora
A seminal work.

Congratulations. And thanks.

50 posted on 10/11/2004 3:19:49 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: ARROGANCE & IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: NotJustAnotherPrettyFace

LOL! Kerry's band probably used to tour with Pete Seeger :)

51 posted on 10/11/2004 4:05:39 PM PDT by Fedora
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To: Fedora

You know what is so damned disgusting, no one seems to care!For crying out loud, where is Senator McCarthy?

52 posted on 10/11/2004 4:10:49 PM PDT by matchwood
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To: okie01

Thank you!

53 posted on 10/11/2004 4:15:06 PM PDT by Fedora
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To: matchwood

Yeah, Kerry's somehow managed to insulate himself against this whole area of discussion. Even Clinton's antiwar activity got more press coverage during the 1992 campaign.

54 posted on 10/11/2004 4:26:08 PM PDT by Fedora
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To: JohnOG; Sean Osborne Lomax; Blindboy16; Paul Ross; DarkWaters; Tailgunner Joe; Grampa Dave; ...


55 posted on 10/11/2004 6:07:40 PM PDT by GOP_1900AD (Stomping on "PC," destroying the Left, and smoking out faux "conservatives" - Right makes right!)
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To: Fedora

Bookmarked and bumped.

56 posted on 10/11/2004 6:16:56 PM PDT by ladyinred (The simple lie always conquers the more complex truth. (propaganda))
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To: Fedora

Bookmarked and bumped.

57 posted on 10/11/2004 6:19:45 PM PDT by ladyinred (The simple lie always conquers the more complex truth. (propaganda))
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To: ladyinred

OOPS Didn't mean to post this twice!

58 posted on 10/11/2004 6:20:25 PM PDT by ladyinred (The simple lie always conquers the more complex truth. (propaganda))
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To: Fedora

Thank you.

JFKerry's politics seems to be one and the same as his religion. The boldness with which he has used Vietnam as foundation giving him qualification to be president is a perversion of the highest order.

The man is not mentally stable, he actually is beginning to remind me of that mental "Il" of N. Korea demanding respect.

You have done admirable work here and I am most apprecative of your tireless effort, including all others that helped put together the trails and paths that connect to JFKerry.

JFKerry has become the warlord of Vietnam, slipped through with his good friend, fellow senator McCain, normalization of that nation which neither ever promote. We rarely ever hear the status of Vietnam these days. One does have to be curious why.

59 posted on 10/11/2004 7:30:23 PM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: Just mythoughts
The man is not mentally stable

I've gotten that impression during the debates. He wants to play the moderate, but his need to attack authority as represented by the President gets the better of him, leading him to shrillness despite himself. He doesn't think twice about not only lying but in the process disowning his own core beliefs and values--it's obvious he's liberal but he has no problem saying he's not if it will get him elected, in contrast to a liberal who is honest enough to admit what they are. His flip-flops are symptomatic of someone who is out of touch with any reality except that which revolves around himself and his desire for attention and power.

60 posted on 10/11/2004 7:58:03 PM PDT by Fedora
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