Why isn't this stuff being discussed more in the media? Older story from the Wall Street Opinion Journal: His antiwar activities deserve more scrutiny from the press. Monday, March 29, 2004 12:01 a.m. EST http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110004881 John Kerry mentions his service in Vietnam so frequently that it has become a running joke on the campaign press plane. He seldom if ever mentions his postwar activities as a national coordinator and principal spokesman for Vietnam Veterans Against the War, a group he says he quit in 1971 because he was concerned about its radical agenda. One reason may be that a credibility gap has started to widen over his antiwar history, and he clearly doesn't want to discuss it at length. His campaign is issuing misleading and evasive statements on his antiwar service in a way that would do the Pentagon spinners of the Johnson and Nixon administrations proud. In fact, Mr. Kerry acts as if he can't remember much about the VVAW at all. This month his campaign several times said he "never, ever" attended a Kansas City meeting of antiwar leadership where members discussed and voted on an assassination plot against pro-war U.S. senators. Then, when confronted with FBI surveillance records of the meeting, the campaign acknowledged his presence as "an historical footnote." Mr. Kerry told a Boston radio station the whole story was "such ancient history." It was time to move on. Not so fast. Mr. Kerry's campaign has done more than contradict itself. It has been in full coverup mode. John Musgrave, one of the six witnesses who placed Mr. Kerry at the Kansas City meeting, says the head of Veterans for Kerry, John Hurley, called him twice and pressured him to change the story he had already told a Kansas City Star reporter about the 1971 meeting. According to Mr. Musgrave, Mr. Hurley told him that the senator "was definitely not in Kansas City." The New York Sun reports that Mr. Musgrave, who received three Purple Hearts in Vietnam, told Mr. Hurley that "I remember what I remember." Mr. Hurley then said, "Why don't you refresh your memory and call that reporter back?" Mr. Hurley says he thinks Mr. Musgrave is mistaken and was simply insisting Mr. Musgrave be very sure of his recollection. "I would apologize to John Musgrave if he thought in any way I was pressuring him," he told the Kansas City Star. There's another reason the issue shouldn't just die. Last month Democratic chairman Terry McAuliffe gave the party's imprimatur to the claim that George W. Bush's had gone AWOL during his Vietnam-era service in the Air National Guard. Earlier, a supporter of then-candidate Wesley Clark had accused Mr. Bush of desertion, a felony. Reporters spent days hounding White House spokesmen for records on the subject. In the end, it became clear that Mr. Bush chose to serve stateside during the war, was lax in attending guard duty during his last year, and had to feverishly make it up before he was honorably discharged. It's clear President Bush doesn't want to talk about his service, but reporters pressed for answers anyway. It's time they do the same for Mr. Kerry, who has laid down his actions in the Vietnam era as a marker for his character and, according to the Boston Globe, has refused to release his military records. Instead, Jack Kelly, a respected military columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, believes many journalists are "more interested in defeating President Bush than in providing readers with potentially important information which reflects poorly on Sen. John Kerry." Mr. Kerry burst onto the national political stage in 1969 when he returned from Vietnam after receiving a Silver Star and a Bronze Star for heroism in combat. The New York Times reported that Mr. Kerry had "asked for, and been given, an early release from the Navy so he could run for Congress on an antiwar platform." He unsuccessfully sought election in two different Massachusetts districts, in 1970 and 1972. The Globe reported that in the space of two months in early 1972 he lived in three congressional districts while deciding where to run. In April 1971, Mr. Kerry captivated television audiences with his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His testimony went far beyond the now-uncontroversial position that Vietnam was a mistake. Mr. Kerry took a benign view of the Viet Cong and urged immediate withdrawal. He told the senators that American servicemen had committed atrocities, including the razing of villages "in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan." These were not isolated incidents, Mr. Kerry claimed, but happened "on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." He said that 200,000 Vietnamese a year were "murdered by the United States of America." A Kerry spokesman now distances the candidate from the word "murdered," saying he "never suggested or believed and absolutely rejects the idea that the word applied to service of the American soldiers in Vietnam." But as the New Hampshire Sunday News put it, if he wasn't saying U.S. soldiers murdered 200,000 people a year, then who in the world could he have meant? The USO? Mr. Kerry now says he was relying on the "highly documented and highly disturbing" stories he heard at a Detroit conference funded by Jane Fonda. The Naval Investigative Service later found that some of the most grisly testimony there was given by false witnesses. Even Daniel Ellsberg, the famous leaker of the Pentagon Papers, rejected the argument that the most horrible U.S. atrocity in Vietnam, My Lai, was in any way a normal event. But Mr. Kerry spent over a year rehashing the Detroit hearsay allegations in speeches and on national television even though he had no personal knowledge of the events. After his testimony, Mr. Kerry became the celebrity voice of the VVAW, at the same time that he became increasingly alienated from the group. The controversy about Mr. Kerry's presence at a meeting of the VVAW steering committee on Nov. 12 through 15, 1971, seven months after his testimony, erupted this month after writer Thomas Lipscomb broke the story in the New York Sun that several veterans remembered Mr. Kerry being present at the meeting when Scott Camil, a key leader of the VWAW from Florida, proposed the assassination of key pro-war senators, including Republican Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Democrat John Stennis of Mississippi. Mr. Camil was known to fellow VVAW activists as "Scott the Assassin." He says he got the name in Vietnam for "sneaking down to the Vietnamese villages at night and killing people." He says he organized eight to 10 former Marines to plan the project. Gerald Nicosia, a historian who supports Mr. Kerry and whose 2001 book "Home to War" sympathetically chronicled the activities of the VVAW, told the New York Sun that "Camil was deadly serious, brilliant and highly logical." In his book he reports that "what Camil sketched was so explosive that the coordinators feared lest government agents even hear of it," so they moved their meeting to a Mennonite hall. There, according to six eyewitnesses interviewed by the Sun, the plan was discussed and voted down, with Mr. Kerry speaking out against it, although there is disagreement about how narrow the margin of defeat was. On the third day of the meeting, Mr. Kerry and three other people resigned from their posts as national coordinators of VVAW. Historian Douglas Brinkley says Mr. Kerry told him he quit because of "personality conflicts and differences in political philosophy." Mr. Kerry also told Mr. Brinkley that he was a "no show" in Kansas City. Mr. Camil doesn't dispute the Nicosia book's accounts. "I'm sorry about those discussions now, but they did take place," he says. He says he doesn't remember Mr. Kerry attending the Kansas City meeting. He says he plans to accept an offer from Mr. Kerry's Florida campaign to become an active supporter and was invited to a meeting for the senator last week in Orlando, although the two did not meet face-to-face. Mr. Nicosia says the incident raises some valid issues. "Was John obligated to go to the police on this?" he asks. "I think if the thing ever got off the ground, Kerry would do something to stop it." Indeed, in June 1971 National Review quoted Mr. Kerry as describing less violent tactics the VVAW employed as "horrible. . . . Ripping out wires from cars, slashing tires--it's criminal. It should be punished." But did he resign from the group itself at the November 1971 meeting in Kansas City, or just from its national leadership? Two months after Kansas City he represented VVAW at a speech at Dartmouth College. On Jan. 26, 1972, he was at a Washington protest meeting where the New York Times described him as "a leader of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War." "The question is: Did Kerry quit [VVAW] before Kansas City or did he quit after Kansas City?" Mr. Brinkley told WABC Radio's Steve Malzberg. "If he quit after Kansas City, that means he clearly knew about this assassination plot against the senators and never went to the authorities." Mr. Kerry's memory on all of these issues is very fuzzy. At a Capitol Hill news conference this month he was asked if he thought his credibility had been affected by his close ties to Al Hubbard, a key player in the VVAW, who had appointed Mr. Kerry to the group's leadership. He and Mr. Hubbard subsequently appeared together many times, including on NBC's "Meet the Press." It later turned out that Mr. Hubbard never served in Vietnam, was never wounded as he had claimed, and wasn't the officer he claimed to have been. Mr. Kerry responded that he had not spoken to Mr. Hubbard since April 1971. But the New York Times places both men at an August 1971 VVAW fund-raising party in the Hamptons (on New York's Long Island), and Mr. Musgrave, the veteran who claims the Kerry campaign pressured to change his story, says he recalls Mr. Kerry challenging Mr. Hubbard's credentials at the November 1971 Kansas City meeting. Normally, one shouldn't make too much of Mr. Kerry's inability to recall in detail events of 33 years ago, even though they were the most formative of his political career. But he has "misremembered" a lot of key facts about the period. The circumstantial evidence indicates that he is desperate to avoid discussion of those days. Two Kerry defenders called Mr. Lipscomb a "liar" on national TV. The candidate's veterans' adviser apparently tried to pressure someone to deny he attended the Kansas City meeting. The story is unlikely to go away completely. Last week Gerald Nicosia, the historian who first uncovered evidence the FBI tailed Mr. Kerry back in 1971, reported to police that three of the 14 boxes of the FBI files he obtained under the Freedom of Information Act were stolen from his California home and that other individual files from the remaining 11 boxes were also swiped, including documents about Mr. Kerry that Mr. Nicosia hadn't yet reviewed. "Those revelations are lost now, at least to me," Mr. Nicosia told the Associated Press. Someone, either friend or foe of Mr. Kerry, apparently knew what he was looking for. The ghost of Vietnam and the culture war it has engendered won't go away. Now the controversy over what Mr. Kerry knew and when did he know it has been spiced up by the whodunit of the third-rate burglary of his FBI files. Sounds like a story to me.