On April 22, 1971, asked how a U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam would affect the South Vietnamese, a young John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “[Y]es, there will be some recrimination, but far, far less than the 200,000 a year who are murdered by the United States of America.” (See page 190 of the attached transcript of his entire testimony).
Kerry, who is now a U.S. senator from Massachusetts and the leading Democratic presidential candidate, was then a private citizen testifying two years after his return from naval service in Vietnam, where he had won a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts. In the course of his remarks to the committee, he complained of “the hypocrisy in our taking umbrage in the Geneva Conventions and using that as justification for a continuation of this war, when we are more guilty than any other body of violations of those Geneva Conventions.” (Pages 184-185.)
‘A Phony Deal’
The same day Kerry testified, Rep. Sam Johnson (R.-Tex.) was sitting in a cell in the infamous Hanoi Hilton POW camp, where he says he was tortured, underfed, and mostly cut off from correspondence, in violation of the Geneva Convention. Johnson told HUMAN EVENTS that his captors had moved him there recently after 42 months of solitary confinement.
“When [Kerry] testified against the war, his testimony was un-American and untrue, and I think he lost all credibility as a real military man,” said Johnson, asked to comment on a full 32-page transcript of Kerry’s testimony that was obtained yesterday by HUMAN EVENTS. Johnson, a retired Air Force Colonel, was a prisoner of war for seven years after being shot down in North Vietnam in 1966.
Johnson said the idea that 200,000 Vietnamese were annually “murdered by the United States of America” was “not true. Absolutely not true.” He also complained of Kerry’s liberal use of his Vietnam service in his presidential campaign, particularly the use of the slogan “band of brothers,” a Shakespearean reference to the camaraderie of men who have seen battle together.
“It’s a phony deal,” he said. “There are Vietnam veterans that you’ll see who will call you brother and commiserate with you over experiences over there, but his use of that is totally false, and I don’t know how anybody could fall for it.”
During the question-and-answer part of his 1971 testimony, Sen. George Aiken (R.-Vt.) asked Kerry if the South Vietnamese army and South Vietnamese people “would be happy to have us withdraw or what?”
“If we don’t withdraw,” Kerry said, “if we maintain a Korean-type presence in South Vietnam, say 50,000 troops or something, with strategic bombing raids from Guam and from Japan and from Thailand dropping these 15,000 pound fragmentation bombs on them, et cetera, in the next few years, then what you will have is a people who are continually oppressed, who are continually at warfare, and whose problems will not at all be solved because they will not have any kind of representation.
“The war will continue,” said Kerry. “So what I am saying is that yes, there will be some recrimination but far, far less than the 200,000 a year who are murdered by the United States of America.”
It is not clear from Kerry’s testimony when, where or how he believed these people were, or would be, “murdered by the United States of America.”
HUMAN EVENTS provided Sen. Kerry’s senatorial office with a copy of the full 32- page transcript and asked if he stood by the above statements or wished to offer some explanation for them. Later in the day, a spokeswoman for the senatorial office said she had forwarded the questions to Kerry’s presidential campaign. The campaign had not commented by press time.
The transcript indicates that later in the testimony, under sympathetic questioning from Sen. Clifford Case (D.-N.J.), Kerry drew laughter from the crowd when he dismissed the administration’s rationale for the war, to keep Communism at bay. “I think it is bogus, totally artificial,” he said. “There is no threat. The Communists are not about to take over our McDonald hamburger stands.”
In his testimony before Senators Case, Aiken, William Fulbright (D.-Ark.), Stuart Symington (D.-Mo.), Claiborne Pell (D.-R.I.), and Jacob Javits (R.-N.Y.), Kerry also gave and then quickly retracted testimony that the vast majority of soldiers in Vietnam got high on drugs literally all day, every day.
“A lot of guys, 60, 80 percent stay stoned 24 hours a day just to get through the Vietnam [War],” he said.
When Symington appeared incredulous, Kerry altered his testimony: “Sixty to 80 percent is the figure used that try something, let’s say, at one point.”