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  Documents reveal FBI surveillance of Kerry in early 1970s
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Author Topic: Documents reveal FBI surveillance of Kerry in early 1970s  (Read 2509 times)
dunn
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« on: March 23, 2004, 04:38:57 am »

Documents reveal FBI surveillance of Kerry in early 1970s
 
 
NEW YORK (CNN) -- John Kerry's combat experience in Vietnam is central to his bid to become the next commander-in-chief, but Kerry's outspoken opposition to that war drew the personal attention of the president of the United States and FBI agents 33 years ago, documents reviewed by CNN reveal.

After Kerry became the national spokesman of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) in 1971, he came under continued surveillance by the FBI, which filed thousands of pages of reports on the VVAW and Kerry himself.

It was Kerry, the articulate Yale graduate and Navy lieutenant with three Purple Hearts for wounds and a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for bravery, who became the first veteran to testify about the war before Congress.

During his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 22, 1971, Kerry blamed President Richard Nixon for prolonging the war for fear of becoming the first U.S. leader to lose one.

"He was extremely effective," Nixon said the next day in an Oval Office conversation preserved on tape in the National Archives.

"He looks like a Kennedy," White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman said of the then-27-year-old Massachusetts native. "He talks exactly like a Kennedy."

Kerry had led a peaceful demonstration on the Washington Mall, where veterans camped out and called for the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam -- a pullout that would not come for four more years.

"He came back a hawk and became a dove when he saw the political opportunities," special counselor Charles Colson told Nixon the following week in a recorded conversation preserved in the archives. "We'll keep hitting him, Mr. President."

Afterward, undercover FBI agents were in tow as Kerry traveled extensively across the country, constantly speaking and raising money for the antiwar cause -- until a Kansas City gathering in November of 1971, when Kerry resigned as a national coordinator of the group, VVAW minutes show.

"Nixon and the FBI saw VVAW as a major, major threat to the United States," said historian Gerland Nicosia, who wrote the seminal "Home To War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans' Movement."

"They really believed that these veterans were going to come to Washington with rifles and armaments and create a coup, storm the White House, kill the president, take over the government," Nicosia says.

Kerry obtained his personal FBI files years ago, but the 20,000-page VVAW file, obtained by Nicosia in 1999, reveal a more persistent surveillance. Nicosia shared portions of the files during the past few days with CNN and the Kerry campaign.

"It is almost surreal to learn the extent to which I was followed by the FBI," Kerry said in a written statement to CNN Monday.

"The experience of having been spied on for the act of engaging in peaceful patriotic protest makes you respect civil rights and the Constitution even more."

For months, FBI agents recorded Kerry's every public move.

In Oklahoma City, "John Kerry & spoke to 150 to 200 people & against the war and encouraged young people to vote for candidates who will end the war," one typical FBI dispatch said.

"A second confidential source" reported that in a university speech, Kerry "related his impression of national frustration resulting from an apparent powerless[ness] to bring about a change," another dispatch said.

Infiltration of the VVAW by government agents was no secret to its members.

"All my mail including my utility bills came opened with a letter opener and had a piece of tape over the top," Randy Barnes, who headed the Kansas City chapter, told CNN.

"People who identified themselves as FBI agents came to my place of work ... talked to my neighbors," Barnes said. "What they were tying to do is intimidate us."

Bill Crandell said in an interview that his New York chapter knew its phones were tapped when they couldn't pay a phone bill.

"They said somewhat sheepishly that someone was paying the bill. They did not say it was the FBI, but it was made clear that's who it was. At that point, since our phone bill was being paid for, we started giving our credit card to people throughout the antiwar movement and said, 'Charge the calls to us,'" Crandell said.

Kerry's break with VVAW came at the end of 1971 during a four-day convention for VVAW national coordinators.

The organization's minutes record that Kerry and three other fellow moderates "resigned" their posts.

But before that gathering adjourned, there was some discussion about the idea of assassinating American leaders who voted to prolong the war, said Nicosia and three veterans who attended the gathering.

Scott Camil, a Florida vet who put forward the idea, says the notion didn't get very far.

"If people considered our plans to be so bad, we would have been charged, and they would have made a big stink about it."

Camil, who was later tried and acquitted with seven other vets for plotting an assault on the 1972 Republican National Convention, said Kerry's opponents are "trying to blacken him with my brush and my ideas, and that's not fair."

Kerry, whose campaign insisted that Kerry had not been present in Kansas City until the FBI reports and VVAW minutes proved otherwise, cannot recall hearing the radical idea.

Still, Barnes and Crandell said no violent plot was seriously considered.

"I don't think any discussion amounted to more than kind of the wisecrack level, because I don't think anyone took it seriously," Crandell said.

"It's just that VVAW was an absolute anarchy," Barnes added. "Everybody had to say something about something."

By all accounts, Kerry was a moderate voice in the group, who took a grim view even of civil disobedience. Many fellow antiwar vets felt he was too traditional.

"A review of the subject's file reveals nothing whatsoever to link the subject with any violent type activity," concludes a May 1972 FBI memo about Kerry provided by his campaign.

By this time, Kerry was engaged in his second, failed run for Congress, embarking on the three-decade political career that finds him one step away from the White House.

Kerry said in his statement Monday, "I'm proud of the way I stood up for veterans when I came home from Vietnam, and proud of what we achieved as veterans speaking up for our fellow veterans who were still carrying on the fighting."


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MarkDel
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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2004, 05:13:21 am »
« Edited: March 23, 2004, 12:27:28 pm by MarkDel »

You gotta live liberals!!! Follow the steps here:

1.  Kerry is the NATIONAL coordinator of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

2. Members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War get together in meetings where the MURDER of elected officials, including the President, is discussed.

3. The FBI puts Kerry and other members of this group under surveillance.

4. Even though Kerry rejects the violence and resigns, he's actualy SHOCKED that he was under surveillance.

Hey Kerry, you were a prominent member of a group which seriously discussed MURDERING the President of the United States...of course you should be on an FBI list.
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MarkDel
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« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2004, 12:28:01 pm »

Where are the usual Democratic suspects posting to defend Kerry in this thread???
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Gustaf
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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2004, 12:33:26 pm »

Where are the usual Democratic suspects posting to defend Kerry in this thread???

You're asking for it, I...ehhh...I didn't really have the energy tor read the whole thing, but it seems pretty non-story for me, basically.

1. Yes.

2. It, as far as I can see, says meeting, not meetings...there's no indication of how serious it actually was...

3. This is done before the meeting in question, right?

4. Yeah...?

IF they had been systematically advocating violence, it would've been another thing, but under the circumstances...anyway, Nixon and threats...you know... Wink
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12th Doctor
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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2004, 12:35:44 pm »
« Edited: March 23, 2004, 12:41:17 pm by supersoulty »

Some parts of this seem too good to be true.  "He looks like Kennedy and talks like him, too".  Come on, give me a break.  Your reading into this wrong MarkDel, the Dems will love this, they won't see any need to defend it.
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MarkDel
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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2004, 12:39:13 pm »

Gustaf,

You're just playing devil's advocate. The meeting in question was the final straw which made Kerry quit. There were actually NUMEROUS examples of members of this group advocating politically-based murders of US officials. Fortunately, the FBI did have them under surveillance before Kerry's departure, plus they had them infiltrated with undercover agents.

So you say it's only proper for them to be under surveillance if they were "systematically" advocating violence??? So announcing your intention to overthrow the government of the US is not enough to get them on the FBI list???
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MarkDel
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« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2004, 12:41:53 pm »

Supersoulty,

No, this stuff is true. Nixon HATED John Kerry and did have him under surveillance with the help of the FBI. If Democrats see nothing wrong with the head of their party once having sat in on a meeting where people advocated murdering the President of the United States...well, I say throw this into the air and let the American people decide whether or not it is an issue.
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Gustaf
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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2004, 12:45:17 pm »

Gustaf,

You're just playing devil's advocate. The meeting in question was the final straw which made Kerry quit. There were actually NUMEROUS examples of members of this group advocating politically-based murders of US officials. Fortunately, the FBI did have them under surveillance before Kerry's departure, plus they had them infiltrated with undercover agents.

So you say it's only proper for them to be under surveillance if they were "systematically" advocating violence??? So announcing your intention to overthrow the government of the US is not enough to get them on the FBI list???

I usually play devil's advocate, it's one of my cahracteristics... Wink

I didn't see any numerous examples getting states in the article, but if you say so, then it's different.

And I do think that if one, or a few, members make the odd statement about overthrowing the government, which is often not seriously meant anyway, then it isn't that a big deal to get under FBI surveillance. Of course it would have to be case-by-case, but I think you know what I mean. But I really don't know much details about this movement, so I'm not really taking a stand or anything. But from what was in the article it didn't seem like such a big deal to me...a lot of prominent Swedes were registered by a secret police, who's whole operations and almost existence was secret, as Communists during the Cold War. It was a big fuss as the time, but not really a big issue today.
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MarkDel
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« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2004, 12:48:28 pm »

Gustaf,

OK. Let me engage in a hypothetical here. Let's keep the same fact pattern, but replace Vietnam Veterans Against the War with the White People's Militia of Missouri, and replace John Kerry with George Bush. Would you and other Democrats still be as dismissive??? The answer is NO WAY...and you know it.
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angus
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« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2004, 12:49:32 pm »

It was a big fuss as the time, but not really a big issue today.

pretty much.  

Markdel, Nixon hated everybody.  "Henry, get some great big scary fellows to rough them up a bit, put the fear of god into them."  You should get ahold of the tapes.  This does not surprise me and it should not change anyone's vote.  Now get back to work!
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Gustaf
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« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2004, 12:50:51 pm »

Gustaf,

OK. Let me engage in a hypothetical here. Let's keep the same fact pattern, but replace Vietnam Veterans Against the War with the White People's Militia of Missouri, and replace John Kerry with George Bush. Would you and other Democrats still be as dismissive??? The answer is NO WAY...and you know it.

No, of course not...if we're assuming this article topic being the news, the WHOLE topic would be new. Everyone already know about Kerry beig part of the VVAW, so this story isn't that interesting in light of that.

But I'll readily admit that the 'White People's Militia of Missouri' would be worse to me than the VVAW...
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MarkDel
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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2004, 01:00:03 pm »

Gustaf,

Nice...so you admit that it's OK for Vietnam Veterans Against the War to advocate murdering the President of the United States, but it would bother you if a racist organization wanted to murder the President??? Nice consistent values there kid....perhaps I misjudged you in prior comments...perhaps you DO belong in the Democratic Party. You have their power to rationalize ANYTHING that suits your political views...


Angus,

I'm not working right now!!! I took off time to be with the baby.
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Gustaf
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« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2004, 01:03:08 pm »

Gustaf,

Nice...so you admit that it's OK for Vietnam Veterans Against the War to advocate murdering the President of the United States, but it would bother you if a racist organization wanted to murder the President??? Nice consistent values there kid....perhaps I misjudged you in prior comments...perhaps you DO belong in the Democratic Party. You have their power to rationalize ANYTHING that suits your political views...


Angus,

I'm not working right now!!! I took off time to be with the baby.

That wasn't my point at all and I thought you'd notice...if we're talkng strictly about murdering the president I don't make a differece. I just pointed out that I did see a difference in an organization that by the name you gave it sounds like a KKK organization and VVAW. That's all.
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MarkDel
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« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2004, 01:10:13 pm »

Gustaf,

I picked my example for a reason, to illustrate the inconsistency in defending an organization which advocated the muder of prominent government officials. So did I misunderstand what you said? Would you treat the Vietnam Veterans Against the War members exactly the same as the White Militia Group if both groups advocated killing the President?
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Gustaf
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« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2004, 01:22:39 pm »

Gustaf,

I picked my example for a reason, to illustrate the inconsistency in defending an organization which advocated the muder of prominent government officials. So did I misunderstand what you said? Would you treat the Vietnam Veterans Against the War members exactly the same as the White Militia Group if both groups advocated killing the President?

In that regard, yes I would. My only point was that I would probably view membership in a militant racist group with KKK-characteristics somewhat differently than membership in the VVAW.

As I said, it would have to be on a case-by-case basis when it comes to evalutaing threats.
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JohnFKennedy
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« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2004, 01:31:02 pm »

Where are the usual Democratic suspects posting to defend Kerry in this thread???

Some parts of this seem too good to be true.  "He looks like Kennedy and talks like him, too".  Come on, give me a break.  Your reading into this wrong MarkDel, the Dems will love this, they won't see any need to defend it.

He looks like Kennedy? No
He talks like Kennedy? No

Whoever said that has no credibility in my eyes lol.

Yes it is wrong to discuss the assassination of leading US officials, although it says Kerry strongly opposed that. Also, I think, although I could be wrong, former US presidents and probably the current have held meetings in which they discussed the assassination of world leaders.......
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Gustaf
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« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2004, 01:33:25 pm »

Where are the usual Democratic suspects posting to defend Kerry in this thread???

Some parts of this seem too good to be true.  "He looks like Kennedy and talks like him, too".  Come on, give me a break.  Your reading into this wrong MarkDel, the Dems will love this, they won't see any need to defend it.

He looks like Kennedy? No
He talks like Kennedy? No

Whoever said that has no credibility in my eyes lol.

Yes it is wrong to discuss the assassination of leading US officials, although it says Kerry strongly opposed that. Also, I think, although I could be wrong, former US presidents and probably the current have held meetings in which they discussed the assassination of world leaders.......

Yes, but those weren't Americans, so they don't count, silly. Wink
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