Jewish World Review March 25, 2004 / 3 Nissan, 5764

Jack Kelly

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Lying when not necessary makes most wonder — but not the media | Suppose you are a journalist who — like many journalists — is more interested in defeating President Bush than in providing your readers with potentially important information which reflects poorly on Sen. John F. Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee. You would like simply to ignore the information. But the evidence is incontrovertible, and other journalists who do not share your hostility to Bush already possess it. How do you handle the story?

The facts are these: From Nov. 12-15, 1971, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), an organization Kerry helped found and of which he was the principal spokesman, held a meeting in Kansas City. The principal topic of discussion at the meeting was a plan proposed by Scott Camil, a former Marine who now lives in Florida, to assassinate U.S. senators who supported the war in Vietnam.

Kerry told his biographer, Douglas Brinkley, that he did not attend the Kansas City meeting, and (through a campaign spokesman) repeated his denial after a story about the meeting appeared in the both JWR and the New York Sun. But Gerald Nicosia, who wrote a history of the VVAW, claims that Kerry played a prominent role in that debate, and has the minutes of the meeting and reports from FBI informants (obtained through the Freedom of Information Act) to prove it. In addition, JWR contributor Thomas Lipscomb, the New York Sun reporter, interviewed four eyewitnesses — including Camil — who attested to Kerry's presence.

All the eyewitnesses agree that Kerry argued vociferously against Camil's plan — dubbed "the Phoenix project" — and orally resigned from the VVAW because the murder plot was given serious consideration. (It was subsequently voted down.)

With the evidence mounting that he had indeed been at the Kansas City meeting, Kerry changed his story. He now says (again through aide David Wade) the he "has no personal recollection of this meeting 33 years ago." Given the explosiveness of the subject discussed, the prominent role he played in the debate, and the fact that the meeting terminated his association with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the organization which launched his political career, this is implausible.

Since Kerry was on the side of the angels in the debate, and Sens. John Tower (R-Tex), John Stennis (D-Miss) and Strom Thurmond (R-SC) may have had their lives prolonged because of him, it is unclear why Kerry would choose to lie about his participation in it. Perhaps Kerry felt some voters would look askance at his leadership role in an organization that would seriously contemplate assassination, or was worried that voters would think him remiss for failing to report to the authorities that there were some in the VVAW who were plotting murder.

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If Kerry were irritated with Camil for having proposed assassination, his ire faded over the years. Camil told the Lipscomb that he plans to accept an offer from the Florida Kerry organization to become active in Kerry's presidential campaign.

So Kerry attended a meeting where a murder plot was the chief topic of discussion over three days, subsequently lied about it, and maintains ties to the foremost murder plotter. If you are a liberal journalist, how do you spin these facts to minimize political damage to him?

This is how the Los Angeles Times did it: "As a high profile activist who crossed the country criticizing the Nixon administration's role in the Vietnam war, John F. Kerry was closely monitored by FBI agents for more than a year, according to intelligence documents reviewed by the Times."

Nowhere in the lengthy story is there mention of the reason for the FBI surveillance of the VVAW leadership (the murder plot), and only in the 11th paragraph is there mention of the fact that Kerry lied about when he severed relations with the organization.

"(Intelligence documents) also suggest that some of Kerry's memories of his antiwar activities, including the date he left his position on the VVAW national steering committee, were inaccurate," the Times said.

The New York Times and the Washington Post also led with the FBI surveillance, without ever mentioning in their stories why it was being conducted.

That nasty, out of control FBI, watching people just because they've threatened to kill American political leaders. There won't be any more of that in a Kerry administration.

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

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