Jewish World Review March 16, 2004 / 23 Adar, 5764
Thomas H. Lipscomb
New Witness: Kerry Was Present at Dark Plot Meeting: Group Debated and Voted Down Plan To Assassinate Senators
A Kerry campaign spokesman, David Wade, has said Mr. Kerry did not attend the Kansas City meeting, and Kerry biographer Douglas Brinkley has said Mr. Kerry told him he was a "noshow."
"Kerry may have resigned shortly after that meeting or at the meeting…" recalled the VVAW Kansas State coordinator at the time, John Musgrave, in an interview that was published Saturday in the Kansas City Star. Mr. Musgrave is the third VVAW member at the time that has been named as seeing Mr. Kerry at Kansas City. Mr. Musgrave specifically remembered Mr. Kerry's attendance and his speaking against the murder plot against the senators.
The Star cited the national director of Veterans for Kerry, a former VVAW member, John Hurley, as saying: "I think he is confusing the St. Louis and Kansas City meetings."
But if Mr. Hurley is acknowledging that Mr. Kerry was present at the earlier St. Louis meeting, he is disagreeing with the Kerry spokesman, Mr.Wade, and calling into doubt a recent statement by Mr. Kerry.
At a Capitol Hill press conference Thursday, Mr. Kerry was asked by a reporter if he thought his credibility had been affected by his close association with Al Hubbard, a key VVAW colleague of Mr. Kerry's who had appointed him to the leadership of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Mr. Hubbard claimed to be a wounded Air Force officer who had served at Danang during the Vietnam War. He appeared with Mr. Kerry many times, including the "Meet the Press" interview after Mr. Kerry's Senate testimony about American "war crimes" in Vietnam. But Mr. Hubbard was never in Vietnam, was never wounded, and was not an officer, as subsequent research and Mr.Kerry himself have pointed out.
Mr.Kerry answered he had not spoken to Mr. Hubbard since the week of April 19, 1971. But in the New York Times of August 30, 1971, reporter Enid Nemy, covering an East Hampton fund-raising party for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, states: "Later, Mr. Kerry and Al Hubbard, another veteran, explained some of the aims of the organization…."
Those present included journalists Jimmy Breslin and Peter Maas, Bruce Jay Friedman, Tom Paxton, and Patricia Kennedy Lawford.
In separate interviews with The New York Sun, both VVAW member Terry DuBose and Kerry biographer Mr. Brinkley have confirmed Mr. Kerry's presence at the July St. Louis steering committee meeting of the VVAW.
Gerald Nicosia, author of the 2001 book "Home to War," also writes that Mr. Kerry was at that meeting. In a memorable account, Mr. Nicosia said Mr. Kerry "resigned from the executive committee" after a spectacular argument with Mr. Hubbard."Kerry made a long speech punctuated at frequent intervals by the demand: 'Who is Al Hubbard?'" and "challenged him to prove he was a Vietnam veteran." According to the book, Mr. Hubbard "freaked out" and screamed insults at Mr. Kerry.
In the Kansas City Star account, one of the three veterans who has placed Mr. Kerry at the Kansas City meeting, Randy Barnes, first was quoted as saying Mr. Kerry was in Kansas City, which is what he had stated in his interview with the Sun.
According to the Star, "upon reflection later in the day [Barnes stated] that he could 'not be absolutely certain' that Kerry was in Kansas City for the meeting."
Terry DuBose, who initially remembered a great deal, began having failures of memory on a third call. And Scott Camil, who in his interview with the Sun could not recall whether Mr. Kerry was at the Kansas City meeting, suddenly remembered in talking with the Star several days later that Mr. Kerry was not.
In a March 13, 2004, story, the New York Times cited concern among Democrats about "careless utterances of a fatigued, or undisciplined candidate," but Mr. Wade reassured that "every statement he made we stand by."
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JWR contributor Thomas H. Lipscomb, the founder of Times Books, is a contributing columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and The New York Sun, where a shorter version of this story first appeared. To comment, click here.