Democratic Senator Harry Reid has been on the Senate floor praising Republican Senator John McCain for urging the presidential campaigns to avoid the issue of the Vietnam War. Reid knows that the George W. Bush presidential campaign has read the New York Times, and that the paper has published evidence that can derail the Kerry campaign. Reid apparently hopes that McCain will pressure the Bush campaign not to use it. The evidence is that Kerry was at an anti-war meeting in 1971 where people discussed assassinating members of the U.S. Senate who supported the Vietnam War.
What’s more, David M. Halbfinder of the New York Times confirms that the Kerry campaign tried to pressure a vet to deny that Kerry attended the controversial meeting.
The April 24 Times story ran under the vague headline, “Kerry’s Antiwar Past Is a Delicate Issue in His Campaign.” But the story itself, building off material already published by The New York Sun’s Thomas H. Lipscomb and the Kansas City Star, was dynamite. Halbfinger confirmed that John Hurley, the Kerry campaign’s veterans coordinator, had called John Musgrave, an ex-Marine, urging him to change his story that Kerry had been at the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) meeting in 1971. Hurley wanted Musgrave to tell reporters that he had been mistaken about Kerry being there. Hurley told Musgrave, “I’d like you to refresh your memory.”
Halbfinger pressed the issue, interviewing Kerry about his antiwar activities. He reported that Kerry “said that he knew nothing of attempts by his campaign to tinker with the past and that he disapproved.” Kerry said, “People’s memories are people’s memories.” Kerry claimed that he had no memory of the meeting.
It’s one thing to criticize a politician or a policy. But to be a member of a group that discussed killing people? It’s no wonder that Kerry’s VVAW came under FBI surveillance. Kerry calls that surveillance a “badge of honor” and had been denying that he attended that meeting. Finally, the Kerry campaign seemed to fess up, saying that the documents and witnesses must be right.
It matters little that Kerry did not endorse the assassination plan. What counts is that Kerry was part of such a group and didn’t report what happened.
If this information is used in millions of dollars of campaign ads, citing the New York Times, Kerry could be finished as a candidate. Peoples’ eyes will be opened about the insidious nature of the anti-war movement that Kerry embraced. But does the Bush campaign have the political will to use this information? Or will the Democrats and their Republican and media friends try to stop such an advertising campaign before it begins on the ground that it would be too “polarizing?” or too much of a “personal attack?” That seems to be what’s behind Reid’s coddling of Senator McCain, a close friend of Kerry who has collaborated with him on Vietnam issues.
Recognizing the damage already inflicted on Kerry over the relatively minor matter of whether he threw his Vietnam war medals or ribbons away, McCain has said that both Kerry and Bush performed honorable military service and that the debate should move on. Offering similar advice on the MSNBC Deborah Norville Tonight show, former NBC News reporter Ken Bode said he wonders why some Republicans are raising questions about Kerry’s medals when Bush’s National Guard service was still a subject of dispute. Bode was either unfamiliar with the facts about the assassination meeting or realized that the matter was too explosive to bring up. It was an issue that Tim Russert avoided when he interviewed Kerry on Meet the Press on April 18.
Not only is the assassination meeting a matter of public record, the FBI documents confirm that Kerry’s close collaborator, Al Hubbard, who appeared with him on NBC’s Meet the Press in 1971, was suspected by Kerry himself of being a phony and was collaborating with the Communist Party USA and the Hanoi Communists. The documents also reveal VVAW plans to do propaganda broadcasts for Radio Hanoi urging Americans soldiers to stop fighting. Kerry himself met with the Viet Cong, the Hanoi-sponsored military force killing Americans in South Vietnam
When Bill Clinton ran for office, there were suspicions about his travels abroad, his protests against the Vietnam War on foreign soil, and whether he was compromised by a foreign intelligence service. The foreign agent charge was never proved, despite the services he provided as president to the Communist Chinese in exchange for campaign cash. In Kerry’s case, there is solid evidence of involvement in a subversive group that was a security threat to the U.S.
It’s a story that should be told. The most explosive part has already been confirmed by the Times.