The communist regime in Hanoi monitored closely and looked favorably upon the activities of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War during the period Senator Kerry served most actively as the group’s spokesman and a member of its executive committee, two captured Viet Cong documents suggest.
The documents — one dubbed a “circular” and the other a “directive” — were captured in 1971 and are part of a trove of material from the war currently stored at the Vietnam Archive at Texas Tech University at Lubbock. Originally organized by Douglas Pike, a major scholar who is now deceased, the archive contains more than 20 million documents. Many are available online at the Virtual Vietnam Archive and, as the election has heated up, have been the focus of a scramble for insights into Mr. Kerry’s anti-war activities. The Circular and the Directive are listed as items numbered 2150901039b and 2150901041 respectively. Their authenticity was confirmed by Stephen Maxner, archivist at the Vietnam Archive.
The two documents provide a glimpse of the favorable way the Viet Cong viewed the activities in which Mr. Kerry was involved. They are from many documents of a kind that were ordinarily sent to a unit called the Captured Document Exploitation Center at the United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, which was headquartered in Saigon. Documents like these that were sent to the center were immediately translated into English and processed for battlefield intelligence for targeting or operations as required, or filed.
The CDEC cover sheet of the “Directive” indicates it was “acquired” on May 12, 1971. The cover sheet itself is dated June 30, 1971, and is entitled “VC Efforts to Back Antiwar Demonstrations in the United States.” It shows a detailed knowledge of such VVAW activities as the Dewey Canyon demonstration on the Mall in Washington in April 1971, mentioning the “return of their medals.” And the Saigon American military intelligence cover sheet dates the information in that document as being assembled in Vietnam only a week after the Washington VVAW demonstration had taken place.
The CDEC Viet Cong document titled “Circular on Antiwar Movements in the US” notes, “The spontaneous antiwar movements in the US have received assistance and guidance from the friendly (VC/NVN) delegations at the Paris Peace Talks.” It also notes that “The seven-point peace proposal (of the SVN Provisional Revolutionary Government) [the Viet Cong proposal advanced by one of its envoys, Madame Binh, operating out of Paris] not only solved problems concerning the release of US prisoners but also motivated the people of all walks of life and even relatives of US pilots detained in NVN to participate in the antiwar movement.”
The significance of the documents lies in the way they dovetail with activities of the young Mr. Kerry as he led the VVAW anti-war movement in the spring of 1971.
It was in April that he gave his testimony to the Senate, in which he accused American GIs of having committed war crimes and belittled the idea that there was a communist threat to America. Mr. Kerry had already had, in June of 1970, a meeting in Paris with enemy diplomats, ostensibly, he has indicated, to get a sense of how American prisoners held in Hanoi might be freed. Two historians believe Mr. Kerry made a second trip to Paris in the summer of 1971 and held further talks with the North Vietnamese. The Kerry campaign has denied this.
FBI surveillance and Mr. Kerry’s own statements have established his two visits to Paris to meet with the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong delegations to the Paris Peace Talks as taking place in June of 1970 and August of 1971.
An FBI surveillance report dated November 11, 1971, has also established that Mr. Kerry and Al Hubbard, the executive director of the VVAW who had brought Mr. Kerry into the organization, planned to return to meet with them again in Paris on November 15, 1971.
A November 24, 1971, FBI surveillance report disclosed that Mr. Hubbard had also had meetings on his own with the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong delegations in Paris. It noted that he had reported at a national meeting of the VVAW in Kansas City that the Communist Party of the United States had paid his expenses for the most recent one.
The purpose of these meetings by the two top VVAW members, Messrs. Hubbard and Kerry, has always been assumed to be informational. But the documents in the Texas archive suggest another possibility. On July 23, 1971, The New York Times reported that Mr. Kerry held a demonstration in Washington in support of the “seven-point peace proposal” and, according to the Times, “Mr. Kerry, who is 27 years, introduced wives, parents and sisters of prisoners to plead for support.”
The Times‘s dispatch stated that Mr. Kerry charged “…the latest Vietcong peace offer in Paris, which promises the release of prisoners as American troops are withdrawn, is being ignored by Mr. Nixon…”
The circular in the Texas archive states, “The antiwar movements in the US are trying to find means to cooperate… They are also trying by all means to support the seven-point peace proposal (of the PRG) [Viet Cong] and oppose the distorted interpretation made by the White House, the Pentagon and CIA.”
(This article first appeared in the New York Sun.)