A week before he attended a 1971 meeting of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War in Kansas City–at which a plan to assassinate U.S. political leaders was debated and dismissed–John Kerry told reporters he could envision a scenario in which “those who are talking about seizing it (the government) will have every right to go after it.”
At the same time, Kerry stressed he was opposed to violence.
Kerry would later falsely insist he resigned from VVAW in June 1971, six months before he attended the now-notorious Kansas City gathering.
Historian Gerald Nicosia, author of Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans Movement, wrote an 8,000-word piece for the May 23, 2004, edition of the Los Angeles Times Magazine based on FBI files on VVAW he retrieved through the Freedom of Information Act. In the piece, Nicosia briefly notes that “in Oklahoma City, he [Kerry] warned, according to a newspaper account, that the country must change its political power structure to avoid violent efforts to seize power.”
In fact, the article is a Nov. 7, 1971, piece in the Sunday Oklahoman headlined: “Veterans Against War Chief Asks Power Structure Change.” It is publicly available today both in the VVAW FBI files released via FIOA and in the online archives of the Daily Oklahoman.
The article begins: “The political power structure within the United States can and must change if the nation is to avoid violent efforts to seize power, John F. Kerry, a member of the executive committee of the-Vietnam Veterans Against the War, said in Oklahoma Saturday.
“Meeting with reporters before speaking at the University of Oklahoma, Kerry said, ‘If it (the government) doesn’t change we are asking for trouble. If it is not done, those who are talking about seizing it will have every right to go after it.’
“Kerry,” said the article, “emphasized that he and those he represents are totally opposed to any such violence.”
A week later, on Nov. 12-15, 1971, according to Nicosia’s Los Angeles Times piece, “A full review of FBI files shows that Kerry not only was in Kansas City, but he also attended the most controversial and explosive session the group ever held.” At this meeting the group debated and dismissed a proposal to assassinate U.S. political leaders who supported the war, and Kerry resigned from the group’s leadership.
In the Times, Nicosia reports: “Kerry still claims that ‘he has no personal recollection’ of the tumultuous Kansas City meeting, though he qualified this with a statement from his spokesman David Wade on March 18 that ‘if there are valid FBI surveillance reports from credible sources that place some of those disagreements [with Al Hubbard and other VVAW leaders] in Kansas City, we accept that historical footnote in the account of his work to end the difficult and divisive war.'” [Brackets in original.]
“Whether Kerry should have reported the ‘assassination plot’ to authorities is a question some critics have raised,” wrote Nicosia. “The FBI documents say the proposal ‘seemed to be only an idea for discussion’ rather than an actual conspiracy to kidnap or murder.”