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News management may have reached an embarrassing low in the Los Angeles Times for March 23 where an article by staff writer John M. Glionna purports to offer selections from the FBI file on soon-to-be Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry, who was under surveillance by the G-Men as a member of the executive board of the pro-Viet Cong Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Presenting items from 50 documents carefully selected from what it reported were 14 boxes of related government papers 12 feet high, the Times confirmed from the FBI and other witnesses that Kerry had resigned from the VVAW leadership in November 1971 at a Kansas City board meeting to run for Congress.
For years Kerry claimed that he had resigned after a July 1971 meeting in St. Louis and had not been present for the Kansas City meeting that was moved from venue to venue to try to avoid FBI surveillance of the group’s most secret plans.
The reason official confirmation that he did not leave the group until after the Kansas City meeting is important, say specialists on radical activities during the Vietnam era, is that the FBI documents confirm earlier reports by those present that Kerry participated in a closed-door discussion of a proposal to assassinate seven U.S. senators who were special targets of Hanoi, with whose agents selected leaders of VVAW had been meeting.
The Los Angeles Times made no mention of this part of the story, broken 10 days earlier in the New York Sun by founding New York Times books editor Tom Lipscomb and since spiked by editors coast to coast.
Kerry reportedly voted against the killings but did not leave the meeting and call a cop. Until the FBI surveillance report surfaced to put him in the middle of the assassination discussion, Kerry claimed to have resigned before the meeting at which VVAW discussed the murder plan.
After Kerry left the board of VVAW, with which he had made his national reputation, the FBI ceased surveillance of his activities according to a bureau memo in early 1972.
Scott Stanley is the deputy managing editor of Insight magazine.