CAN BASIC SYSTEM BE MADE TO WORK?
Have you yourself arrived at the point where you believe that basic
structural changes must be brought about in our system or do you
believe it can be made to work?
Mr. KERRY. I don't think I would be here if I didn't believe that it
call be made to work, but I would have to say, and one of the traits
of my generation now is that people don't pretend to speak for other
people in it, and I can only speak as an individual about it, but I
would say that I have certainly been frustrated in the past months,
very, very seriously frustrated. I have gone to businessmen all over this
country asking for money for fees, and met with a varying range of
comments, ranging from "You can't sell war crimes" to,"War crimes
are a glut on the market" or to "well, you know we are tired now, we
have tried, we can't do anything." So I have seen unresponsiveness on
the racial question in this country. I see an unwilliness on the part
of too many of the members of this body to respond, to take gutsy
stands, to face questions other than their own reelection, to make a
profile of courage, and I am - although still with faith - very, very,
very full of doubt, and I am not going to quit. But I think that unless
we can respond on as great a question as the war, I seriously
question how we are going to find the kind of response needed to meet
questions such as poverty and hunger and questions such as birth control
and so many of the things that face our society today from low income
housing to schooling, to recent reaction to the Supreme Court's
decision on busing.
But I will say that I think we are going to keep trying. I also agree
with you, Senator. I don't see another system other than democracy,
but democracy has to remain responsive. When it does not, you create
the possibilities for all kinds of other systems to supplant it, and that
very possibility, I think, is beginning to exist in this country.
The CHAIRMAN. That is why I ask you that. The feeling that it cannot
be made responsive comes not so much from what you have said
but from many different sources. I can assure you I have been frustrated
too. We have lost most of our major efforts. That is we have not
succeeded in getting enough votes, but there has been a very marked
increase, I think, in the realization of the seriousness of the war. I
think you have to keep in perspective, as I say, the size and complexity
of the country itself and the difficulties of communication. This war
is so far removed. The very fact, as you have said, you do not believe
what happens there to be in the vital interest of this country, has from
the beginning caused many people to think it wasn't so important.
GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT OF CONCERN ABOUT VIETNAM WAR
In the beginning, back in the times that I mentioned when we first
supported the French and throughout the 1950's up until the 1960's,
this whole matter was not very much on the minds of anybody in the
Congress. We were more preoccupied with what was going on in Western
Europe, the fear, particularly during Stalin's time, that he might
be able to subjugate all of Western Europe, which would have been a
very serious challenge to us. This grew up almost as a peripheral matter
without anyone taking too much notice until the 1960's. The
major time when the Congress, I think, really became concerned
about the significance of the war was really not before 1965, the big
escalation. It was a very minor sideshow in all the things in which this
country was involved until February of 1965. That was when it became
a matter that, you might say, warranted and compelled the attention
of the country. It has been a gradual development of our realization
of just what we were into.
As I said before, I think this came about not because of bad motives,
but by very serious errors in political judgment as to where our interest
lies and what should be done about it.
I am only saying this hopefully to at least try to enlist your consideration,
of the view that in a country of this kind I don't believe
there is a better alternative from a structural point of view. I think
the structure of our Government is sound.
To go back to my own State certainly, leaving out now the war, its
affairs are being well managed. The people are, as you may say, maybe
too indifferent to this.
Mr. KERRY. As it does in Massachusetts, too.
The CHAIRMAN. I have often thought they were too indifferent to it,
but they have responded to the arguments as to where our interest lies
quite well, at least from my personal experience. Otherwise I would
not be here. But I think there is a gradual recognition of this.
WAR'S INTERFERENCE WITH DEALING WITH OTHER PROBLEMS
I also feel that if we could finish the war completely Within the
reasonably near future, as some of the proposals before this committee
are designed to do if we can pass them, I think the country can right
itself and get back on the track, in a reasonably quick time, dealing with
the problems you mentioned. We are aware and conscious of all of them.
The thing that has inhibited us in doing things about what you
mention has been the war. It has been the principal obstacle to dealing
with these other problems with which you are very concerned, as, I
think, the Congress is. Always we are faced with the demands of the
war itself. Do you realize that this country has put well over $1,000
billion into military affairs since World War II?
I think it now approaches $1,500 billion. It is a sum so large no one
can comprehend it, but I don't think outside of this war issue there is
anything fundamentally wrong With the system that cannot be righted.
If we can give our resources to those developments, I don't have any
doubt myself that it can be done. Whether it will be done or not is a
matter of will. It is a matter of conviction of the various people who
are involved, including the younger generation.
In that connection, I may say, the recent enactment of the right of
all people from 18 years up to vote is at least a step in the direction
where you and your generation can have an effect.
I hope that you won't lose faith in it. I hope you will use your talents
after the war is over, and it surely will be over, to then attack these
other problems and to make the system work.
I believe it can be made to work.
Do you have anything else you would like to say?
Mr. KERRY. Would you like me to respond at all, sir?
The CHAIRMAN. If you care to.
Mr. KERRy. Well, my feeling is that if you are talking about the
ideal structure of this country as it is written down in the Constitution,
then you or I would not differ at all. Yes, that is an ideal structure.
DEVELOPMENTS IN UNITED STATES REQUIRING FUNDAMENTAL CHANGES
What has developed in this country, however, at this point is something
quite different and that does require some fundamental changes.
I do agree with you that what happened in Vietnam was not the
product of evil men seeking evil goals. It was misguided principles
and judgments and other things.
However, at some point you have to stop playing the game. At some
point you have to say, "All right we did make a mistake." At some
point the basic human values have to come back into this system and
at this moment we are so built up within it by these outside structures,
other interests, for instance, government by vested power which, in
fact, you and I really know it is. When a minority body comes down
here to Washington with a bill, those bodies which have the funds
and the ability to lobby are those which generally get it passed. If
you wanted to pass a health care medical bill, which we have finally
perhaps gotten to this year, we may, but in past years the AMA has
been able to come down here and squash them. The American Legion
has successfully prevented people like Vietnam Veterans against the
War from getting their programs through the Veterans' Administration.
Those bodies in existence have tremendous power.
There is one other body that has tremendous power in this country,
which is a favorite topic of Vice President Agnew and I would take
some agreement with him. That would be the fourth estate. The press.
I think the very reason that we veterans are here today is the result
partially of our inability to get our story out through the legitimate
That is to say, for instance, I held a press conference here in Washington,
D.C., some weeks ago with General Shoup, with General
Hester, with the mother of a prisoner of war, the wife of a man who
was killed, the mother of a soldier who was killed, and with a bilateral
amputee, all representing the so-called silent majority, the silent so-called
majority which the President used to perpetuate the war, and
because it was a press conference and an antiwar conference and
people simply exposing ideas we had no electronic media there.
I called the media afterward and asked them why and the answer
was, from one of the networks, it doesn't have to be identified,
"because, sir, news business is really partly entertainment business
visually, you see, and a press conference like that is not visual."
Of course, we don't have the position of power to get our ideas out.
I said, "If I take some crippled veterans down to the White House
and we chain ourselves to the gates, will we get coverage?" "Oh, yes,
we will cover that."
So you are reduced to a situation where the only way you can get
your ideas out is to stage events, because had we not staged the events,
with all due respect, Senator, and I really appreciate the fact that I
am here obviously, and I know you are committed to this, but with all
due respect I probably wouldn't be sitting at this table. You see this is
It goes beyond that. We really have a constitutional crisis in this
country right now. The Constitution under test, and we are failing. We
are failing clearly because the power of the executive has become
exorbitant, because Congress has not wanted to exercise its own power,
and so that is going to require some very fundamental changes.
So the system itself on paper, no, it is a question of making it work,
and in that I would agree with you, and I think that things are changing
in a sense. I think the victory of the ABM was a tremendous boost.
The CHAIRMAN. SST.
Mr. KERRY. SST, excuse me.
The CHAIRMAN. I hope the ABM. [Applause.]
Mr. KERRY. Wrong system.
I think the fact that certain individuals are in Congress today, particularly
in the House, who several years ago could never have been. I
would cite Representative Dellums and Congresswoman Abzug and
Congressman Drinan and people like this. I think this is a terribly
encouraging sign, and I think if nothing more, and this is really sad
poetic justice, if nothing more, this war when it is over will ultimately
probably have done more to awaken the conscience of this country than
any other similar thing. It may in fact be the thing that will set us on
the right road.
I earnestly hope so and I join you in that.
But meanwhile, I think we still need that extraordinary response to
the problem that exists and I hope that we will get it.
IMPACT OF VIETNAM WAR AND OTHERS ON CONSTITUTIONAL BALANCE
The CHAIRMAN. I am glad to hear you say that. I have the same feeling.
But you must remember we have been through nearly 30 years of
warfare or cold war, or crises which I think have upset the balance, as
you say, in our constitutional system. Senator Javits has introduced a
bill with regard to the war powers in an effort to reestablish what we
believe to be the constitutional system in which you say you have confidence.
I introduced and we passed a commitments resolution. There
are a number of others. I won't relate them all, but they are all designed
to try to bring back into proper relationship the various elements in
our Government. This effort is being made.
I think the culprit is the war itself. The fact we had been at war,
not just the Vietnam war but others too, diverted the attention of our
people from our domestic concerns and certainly eroded the role of
the Congress. Under the impact of this and other wars we have allowed
this distortion to develop. If we can end the war, there is no
good reason why it cannot be corrected.
REPRESENTATION OF CONSTITUENCIES
You mentioned some new faces in the Congress. After all, all these
people get here because of the support back home, as you know. They
are simply representative of their constituents. You do accpt that,
Mr. KERRY. Partially, not totally.
The CHAIRMAN. Why not?
Mr. KERRY. As someone who ran for office for 3 1/2 weeks, I am aware
of many of the problems involved, and in many places, you can take
certain districts in New York City, the structure is such that people
can't really run and represent necessarily the people. People often
don't care. The apathy is so great that they believe they are being
represented, when in fact they are not. I think that you and I could
run through a list of people in this body itself and find many who
are there through the powers of the office itself as opposed to the fact
they are truly representing the people. It is very easy to give the illusion
of representing the people through the frank privileges which
allow you to send back what you are doing here in Congress. Congressman
insert so often.
You know, they gave a speech for the Polish and they gave a speech
for the Irish and they gave a speech for this, and actually handed
the paper in to the clerk and the clerk submits it for the record and
a copy of the record goes home and people say, "Hey, he really is doing
something for me." But he isn't.
The CHAIRMAN. Well--
Mr. KERRY. Senator, we also know prior to this past year the House
used to meet in the Committee of the Whole and the Committee of the
Whole would make the votes, and votes not of record and people would
file through, and important legislation was decided then, and after the
vote came out and after people made their hacks and cuts, and the
porkbarrel came out, the vote was reported and gave them an easy
out and they could say "Well, I voted against this." And actually they
voted for it all the time in the committee.
Some of us know that this is going on. So I would say there are
problems with it. Again I come back and say they are not insoluble.
They can be solved, but they can only be solved by demanding leadership,
the same kind of leadership that we have seen in some countries
during war time. That seems to be the few times we get it. If we could
get that kind because I think we are in a constant war against ourselves
and I would like to see that come -- they should demand it of
each other if we can demand it of people.
The CHAIRMAN. Take the two cases of what goes on in the House
about the secret votes. That is not a structural aspect of our Government.
That is a regulation or whatever you call it of the procedures
in the House itself.
NECESSITY OF INFORMED ELECTORATE
Fundamentally you said that the people can bamboozle their constituents;
they can fool them. Of course, that is quite true of any
system of a representative nature. The solution to that is to inform
the electorate itself to the extent that they recognize a fraud or a
phony when they have one. This is not easy to do, but it is fundamental
in a democracy. If you believe in a democratic system, the electorate
who elect the representatives have to have sufficient capacity for discrimination.
They have to be able to tell the difference between a phony,
someone who simply puts pieces in the record, and someone
who actually does something, so that they can recognize it in an election,
if they are interested.
Now if they are apathetic, as you say they are apathetic, and don't
care, then democracy cannot work if they continue to be apathetic
and don't care who represents them. This comes back to a fundamental
question of education through all different resources, not only the
formal education but the use of the media and other means to educate
them. Our Founding Fathers recognized that you couldn't have a
democracy without an informed electorate. It comes back to the informing
of the electorate; doesn't it? That is not a structural deficiency
in our system. You are dealing now with the deficiencies of
human nature, the failure of their education and their capacity for
discrimination in the selection of their representatives.
I recognize this is difficult. All countries have had this same problem
and so long as they have a representative system this has to be '
met. But there is no reason why it cannot be met.
A structural change does not affect the capacity of the electorate
to choose good representatives; does it?
COST OF ELECTION CAMPAIGNS
Mr. KERRY. Well, no, sir; except for the fact that to run for representative
in any populated area costs about $50,000. Many people
simply don't have that available, and in order to get it inevitably
wind up with their hands tied.
The CHAIRMAN. That is a common statement, but we had an example
during the last year of a man being elected because he walked through
Florida with a minimum of money. As he became attractive to the
people he may have received more, but he started without money.
You are familIar with Mr. Chiles.
Mr. KERRY. Yes, I am familiar. I understand it.
The CHAIRMAN. I know in my own state, our Governor started without
any money or with just himself and came from nowhere and
defeated a Rockefeller. So it is not true that you have to have a lot
of money to get elected. If you have the other things that it takes,
personality, the determination and the intelligence, it is still possible.
There were other examples, but those are well known. I don't think
it is correct to say you have to have a lot of money. It helps, of course.
It makes it easier and all that, but it isn't essential. I think you can
cite many examples where that is true.
ESSENTIAL QUESTION WILL BE RESPONSE TO VIETNAM ISSUE
Mr. KERRY. Senator, I would basically agree with what you are saying
and obviously we could find exceptions to parts of everything
everywhere and I understand really the essential question is going to be
the response to the issue of Vietnam.
The CHAIRMAN. I agree with that. I can assure you that this committee
and, certainly, I are going to do everything we can. That is what
these hearings are about. It is just by coincidence you came to Washington
in the very midst of them. We only opened these hearings on
Tuesday of this week. I personally believe that the great majority of
all the people of this country are in accord with your desire, and certainly
mine, to get the war over at the earliest possible moment. All we
are concerned with at the moment is the best procedure to bring that
about, the procedure to persuade the President to take the steps that
will bring that about. I for one have more hope now than I had at any
time in the last 6 years because of several things you have mentioned, I
think there is a very good chance that it will be brought about in the
reasonably near future.
COMMENDATION OF VIETNAM VETERANS AGAINST THE WAR
I think you and your associates have contributed a great deal in the
actions you have taken. As I said in the beginning, the fact that you
have shown both great conviction and patience about this matter and
at the same time conducted yourself in the most commendable manner
has bcen the most effective demonstration, if I may use that word.
Although you have demonstrated in the sense that has become disapproved
of in some circles, I think you have demonstrated in the most
proper way and the most effective way to bring about the results that
you wish and I believe you have made a great contribution.
I apologize. I am not trying to lecture you about our Government.
I have just been disturbed, not so much by you as by other things that
have happened, that the younger generation has lost faith in our
system. I don't think it is correct. I think the paranoia to which you
referred has been true. It arose at a time when there was reason for it
perhaps, but we have long since gone out of that time, and I think your
idea of timing is correct. But I congratulate you and thank you very
much for coming. [Applause.]
Senator Symington would like to ask a question.
Senator SYMINGTON. Yes. Mr, Kerry, I had to leave because we are
marking up the selective service bill in the Armed Services Committee,
But I will read the record.
ATTITUDE OF SERVICEMEN TOWARD CONGRESSIONAL OPPOSITION TO WAR
The staff has a group of questions here, four of which I would ask.
Over the years members of this committee who spoke out in opposition
to the war were often accused of stabbing our boys in the back. What,
in your opinion, is the attitude of servicemen in Vietnam about congressional
opposition to the war?
Mr. KERRY. If I could answer that, it is very difficult, Senator, because
I just know, I don't want to get into the game of saying I represent
everybody over there, but let me try to say as straightforwardly
as I can, we had an advertisement, ran full page, to show you what the
troops read. It ran in Playboy and the response to it within two and
a half weeks from Vietnam was 1,200 members. We received initially
about 50 to 80 letters a day from troops there. We now receive about 20
letters a day from troops arriving at our New York office. Some of
these letters - and I wanted to bring some down, I didn't know we
were going to be testifying here and I can make them available to
you - are very, very moving, some of them written by hospital corpsmen
on things, on casualty report sheets which say, you know, "Get us
out of here." "You are the only hope we have got." "You have got to
get us back; it is crazy." We received recently 80 members of the 101st
Airborne signed up in one letter. Forty members from a helicopter
assault squadron, crash and rescue mission signed up in another one.
I think they are expressing, some of these troops, solidarity with us,
right now by wearing black arm bands and Vietnam Veterans Against
the War buttons. They want to come out and I think they are looking
at the people who want to try to get them out as a help.
However, I do recognize there are some men who are in the military
for life. The job in the military is to fight wars. When they have a war
to fight, they are just as happy in a sense, and I am sure that these men
feel they are being stabbed in the back. But, at the same time, I think
to most of them the realization of the emptiness, the hollowness, the
absurdity of Vietnam has finally hit home, and I feel if they did come
home the recrimination would certainly not come from the right, from
the military. I don't think there would be that problem.
Senator SYMINGTON. Thank you.
Has the fact Congress has never passed a declaration of war undermined
the morale of U.S. servicemen in Vietnam, to the best of your
Mr. KERRY. Yes; it has clearly and to a great, great extent.
USE OF DRUGS BY U.S. SERVICEMEN IN VIETNAM
Senator SYMINGTON. There have been many reports of widespread
use of drugs by U.S. servicemen in Vietnam. I might add I was in
Europe last week and the growth of that problem was confirmed on
direct questioning of people in the military. How serious is the problem
and to what do you attribute it?
Mr. KERRY. The problem is extremely serious. It is serious in very
many different ways. I believe two Congressmen today broke a story.
I can't remember their names. There were 35,000 or some men, heroin
addicts that were back.
The problem exists for a number of reasons, not the least of which
is the emptiness. It is the only way to get through it. A lot of guys, 60,
80 percent stay stoned 24 hours a day just to get through the Vietnam -
Senator SYMINGTON. You say 60 to 80 percent.
Mr. K ERRY. Sixty to 80 percent is the figure used that try sornething,
let's say, at one point. Of that I couldn't give you a figure of habitual
smokers, let's say, of pot, and I certainly couldn't begin to say how
many are hard drug addicts, but I do know that the problem for the
returning veteran is, acute, because we have, let's say, a veteran picks
up a $12 habit in Saigon. He comes back to this country and the
moment he steps off an airplane that same habit costs him some $90 to
support. With the state of the economy, he can't get a job. He doesn't
earn money. He turns criminal or just finds his normal sources and
in a sense drops out.
The alienation of the war, the emptiness of back and forth, all combined
adds to this. There is no real drug rehabilitation program. I
know the VA hospital in New York City has 20 beds allocated for drug
addicts; 168 men are on the waiting list, and I really don't know what
a drug addict does on the waiting list.
And just recently the same hospital gave three wards to New York
University for research purposes.
It is very, very widespread. It is a very serious problem. I think that
this Congress should undertake to investigate the sources, because I
hcard many implications of Madam Ky and others being involved in
the traffic and I think there are some very serious things here at stake.
Senator SYMINGTON. In the press there was a woman reporter. I
think her name was Emerson. In any case she stated she bought drugs
six or nine times openly, heroin, in a 15-mile walk from Saigon. The
article had a picture of a child with a parasol and a parrot. She said
this child was one of the people from whom she had bought, herself,
these drugs; and that the cost of the heroin was from $3 to $6.
If we are over there, in effect, protecting the Thieu-Ky government,
why is it that this type and character of sale of drugs to anybody,
including our own servicemen, can't be controlled?
Mr. KERRY. It is not controllable in this country, Why should it be
controllable in that country?
Senator SYMINGTON. It isn't quite that open in this country; do
Mr. KERRY. It depends on where you are. [Applause.]
Senator SYMINGTON. We are talking about heroin, not pot or LSD.
Mr. KERRY. I understand that, but if you walk up 116th Street in
Harlem I am sure somebody can help you out pretty fast. [Laughter.]
ACCURACY OF INFORMATION THROUGH OFFICIAL MILITARY CHANNELS
Senator SYMINGTON. Mr. Kerry, from your experience in Vietnam
do you think it is possible for the President or Congress to get accurate
and undistorted information through official military channels.
(Shouts of "No" from, the audience.)
Mr. KERRY. I don't know -
Senator SYMINGTON. I am beginning to think you have some supporters
Mr. KERRY. I don't know where they came from, sir, maybe Vietnam.
I had direct experience with that. Senator, I had direct experience
with that and I can recall often sending in the spot reports which we
made after each mission; and including the GDA, gunfire damage
assessments, in which we would say, maybe 15 sampans sunk or whatever
it was. And I often read about my own missions in the Stars and
Stripes and the very mission we had been on had been doubled in figures
and tripled in figures.
The intelligence missions themselves are based on very, very flimsy
information. Several friends of mine were intelligence officers and I
think you should have them comein sometime to testify. Once in Saigon I
was visiting this friend of mine and he gave me a complete rundown on
how the entire intelligence system should be re-set up on all of its
problems, namely, that you give a young guy a certain amount of
money, he goes out, sets up his own contacts under the table, gets intelligence,
comes in. It is not reliable; everybody is feeding each other
double intelligence, and I think that is what comes back to this country.
I also think men in the military, sir, as do men in many other things,
have a tendency to report what they want to report and see what they
want to see. And this is a very serious thing because I know on several
visits - Secretary Laird came to Vietnam once and they staged an
entire invasion for him. When the initial force at Dang Tam, it was the
9th Infantry when it was still there - when the initial recon platoon
went out and met with resistance, they changed the entire operation the
night before and sent them down into the South China Seas so they
would not run into resistance and the Secretary would have a chance
to see how smoothly the war was going.
I know General Wheeler came over at one point and a major in
Saigon escorted him around. General Wheeler went out to the field
and saw 12 pacification leaders and asked about 10 of them how things
were going and they all said, "It is really going pretty badly." The
11th one said, "It couldn't be better, General. We are really doing the
thing here to win the war." And the General said, "I am finally glad
to find somebody who knows what he is talking about." (Laughter.)
This is the kind of problem that you have. I think that the intelligence
which finally reaches the White House does have serious problems
with it in that I think you know full well, I know certainly from
my experience, I served as aide to an admiral in my last days in the
Navy before I was discharged, and I have seen exactly what the response
is up the echelon, the chain of command, and how things get
distorted and people say to the man above him what is needed to be
said, to keep everybody happy, and so I don't - I think the entire thing
It is just a rambling answer.
Senator SYMINGTON. How do you think this could be changed?
Mr. KERRY. I have never really given that spect of it all that much
thought. I wish I had this intelligence officer with me. He is a very
intelligent young man.
REPORTING OF VIETNAM WAR IN THE PRESS
Senator SYMINGTON. There has been considerable criticism of the
war's reporting by the press and news media. What are your thoughts
Mr. KERRY. On that I could definitely comment. I think the press
has been extremely negligent in reporting. At one point and at the
same time they have not been able to report because the Government
of this country has not allowed them to. I went to Saigon to try to
report. We were running missions in the Mekong Delta. We were running
raids through these rivers on an operation called Sealord and we
thought it was absurd.
We didn't have helicopter cover often. We seldom had jet aircraft
cover. We were out of artillery range. We would go in with two
quarter-inch aluminium hull boats and get shot at and never secure
territory or anything except to quote Admiral Zumwalt to show the
American flag and prove to the Vietcong they don't own the rivers.
We found they did own them with 60 percent casualties and we thought
this was absurd.
I went to Saigon, and told this to a member of the news bureau
there and I said, "Look, you have got to tell the American people this
story." The response was, "Well, I can't write that kind of thing. I
can't criticize that much because if I do I would lose my accreditation,
and we have to be very careful about just how much we say and when."
We are holding a press conference today, as a matter of fact, at
the National Press Building - it might be going on at this minute -
in which public information officers who are members of our group,
and former Army reporters, are going to testify to direct orders of
censorship in which they had to take out certain pictures, phrases
they couldn't use and so on down the line and, in fact, the information
they gave newsmen and directions they gave newsmen when an operation
was going on when the military didn't want the press informed
on what was going on they would offer them transportation to go
someplace else, there is something else happened and they would fly a
guy 55 miles from where the operation was. So the war has not been
I know from a reporter of Time - showed the massacre of 150 Cambodians,
these were South Vietnamese troops that did it, but there
were American advisors present and he couldn't even get other newsmen
to get it out let alone his own magazine, which doesn't need to be
named here. So it is a terrible problem, and I think that really it
is a question of the Government allowing free ideas to be exchanged
and if it is going to fight a war then fight it correctly. The only people
who can prevent My Lais are the press and if there is something to
hide perhaps we shouldn be there in the first place.
Senator SYMINGTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REQUEST FOR LETTERS SENT TO VIETNAM VETERANS AGAINST WAR
The CHAIRMAN. With regard to the letters you have mentioned, I
wondered about them. I have received a great many letters, but usually
particularly in those from Vietnam, the men would say that they
would not like me to use them or use their names for fear of retaliation.
Of course, I respected their request. If you have those letters, it
might be interesting, if you would like to, and if the writer has no
objection, to submit them for the record, which would be for the information
of the committee.
CHANGING MOOD OF TROOPS IN VIETNAM
Mr. KERRY. Senator, I would like to add a comment on that.You
see the mood is changing over there and a search and destroy mission
is a search and avoid mission, and troops don't - you know, like that
revolt that took place that was mentioned in the New York Times
when they refused to go inafter a piece of dead machinery, because
it didn't have any value. They are making their own judgments.
There is a GI movement in this country now as well as over there,
and soon these people, these men, who are prescribing wars for these
young men to fight are going to find out they are going to have to find
some other men to fight them because are going to change prescriptions.
They are going to have to change doctors, because we are not
going to fight for them. That is what they are going to realize. There
is now a more militant attitude even within the military itself, among
these soldiers evidenced by the advertisements recently in the New
York Times in which members of the First Air Cavalry publicly
signed up and said, "We would march on the 24th if we could be there,
but we can't because we are inVietnam." Those men are subject obviously
to some kind of discipline, but people are beginning to be willing
to submit to that. And I would just say yes, I would like to enter
the letters in testimony when I can get hold of them and I think you
are going to see this will be a continuing thing.
(As of the date of publication the information referred to had not
The CHAIRMAN. If you would like to we can incorporate some of
them in the record.
DOCUMENTARY ENTITLED "THE SELLING OF THE PENTAGON"
This is inspired by your reply to the Senator from Missouri's question.
Did you happen to see a documentary called, "The Selling of the Pentagon"?
Mr. KERRY. Yes, I did. I thought it was the most powerful and
persuasive and helpful. documentary in recent years.
The CHAIRMAN. But you know what happened to CBS? They have
been pilloried by the -
Mr. KERRY. They are doing all right.
The CHAIRMAN. You think they can defend themselves?
Mr. KERRY. I think they have; yes,sir. I think the public opinion in
this country believes that, "The Selling of the Pentagon." I was a
public information officer before I went to Vietnam, and I know that
those things were just the way they said because I conducted several
of those tours on a ship, and I have seen my own men wait hours until
people got away, and I have seen cooks put on special uniforms for
I have seen good come out for the visitors and everything else.
It really happens.
The CHAIRMAN. The Senator from New York has returned. Would
he care to ask a question?
RESOLUTION CONCERNING VIETNAM VETERANS' ENCAMPMENT
Senator JAVITS. I don't want to delay either the witness or the committee.
Senator Case was tied up on the floor on your resolution on
the encampment and the expected occurred, of course. It has gone to
Senator SYMINGTON. If you will yield, Senator. I have to preside
at 1 o'clock. I thank you for your testimony.
Mr. KERRY. Thank you, Senator. [Applause.]
Senator JAVITS. It has gone to the calendar but I think the point has
been very well made by, I think, the total number of sponsors. There
were some 27 Senators.
Senator Case was kind enough to express my view. I wish to associate
myself with the statement Senator Symington made when I was
here as to your credentials. That is what we always think about with
a witness and your credentials couIdn't be higher.
The moral and morale issues you have raised will have to be finally
acted upon by the committee. I think it always fires us to a deeper
sense of emergency and dedication when we hear from a young man
like yourself in what we know to be the reflection of the attitude of so
many others who have served in a way which the American people
so clearly understand. It is not as effective unless you have those credentials.
The kind you have.
The only other thing I would like to add is this:
EVALUATION OF TESTIMONY
I hope you will understand me and I think you will agree with me.
Your testimony about what you know and what you see, how you feel
and how your colleagues feel, is entitled to the highest standing and
priority. When it comes to the bits and pieces of information, you
know, like you heard that Madam Ky is associated with the sale of
narcotics or some other guy got a good meal, I hope you will understand
as Senators and evaluators of testimony we have to take that
in the context of many other things, but I couldnt think of anybody
whose testimony I would rather have and act on from the point
of view of what this is doing to our young men we are sending over
there, how they feel about it, what the impact is on the conscience of a
country, what the impact is on even the future of the military services
from the point of view of the men who served, than your own.
Thank you very much.
Mr. KERRY. Thank you, Senator. [Applause.]
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Kerry, I am sure you can sense the committee
members appreciate very much your coming. Do you have anything
further to say before we recess?
EXPRESSION OF APPRECIATION
Mr. KERRY. No, sir; I would just like to say on behalf of the Vietnam
Veterans Against the War that we do appreciate the efforts made
by the Senators to put that resolution on the floor, to help us, help us
in their offices in the event we were arrested and particularly for the
chance to express the thoughts that I have put forward today. I
The CHAIRMAN. You have certainly done a remarkable job of it. I
can't imagine their having selected a better representative or
Thank you very much. [Applause.]
(Whereupon, at 1 p.m. the committee was adjourned subject to the
call of the Chair.)
Last Updated Monday, March 01 2004 @ 09:36 PM MST; 30,473 Hits