A major theme of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) in 1971 involved sending representatives to Paris and to Hanoi to meet with communist leaders.
John Kerry has admitted to meeting in 1970 in Paris with Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, the Foreign Minister of the Provisional Revolutionary Government, the "waiting-in-the-wings government" ready to take over South Vietnam once the Communists won. The Viet Cong operated as the military arm of the PRG. Kerry also met with representatives of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the official name of the North Vietnamese communist government in Hanoi. North Vietnam's lead delegate at that time was Le Duc Tho, who along with Ho Chi Minh was one of the original founders of the Communist Party of Indochina and one of North Vietnam's chief strategists.
On June 16, 1971, the communist Daily World newspaper quoted Kerry as planning a month-long trip to South Vietnam in July to report on "what is really happening" to the American soldiers over there. Newly released FBI files on the VVAW also report that John Kerry made a second trip to Paris in the summer of 1971 to meet again with the Vietnamese communist peace delegations and try to arrange a prisoner release.
The national VVAW leadership gathered in Kansas City from Friday, November 12, through Sunday, November 14 for a raucous meeting. Sparks started flying a couple of hours into the meeting when Steering Committee member Al Hubbard arrived from the airport by taxicab. Hubbard, a former Black Panther and the man who had appointed John Kerry to the VVAW leadership in the summer of 1970, had just returned from Paris where he had met with the Vietnamese communist delegations to the Paris Peace Talks. Hubbard reported that he had just concluded negotiations with the Vietnamese Communists and they were ready to release a group of American POWs to the VVAW, provided that the VVAW would send a delegation to Hanoi around Christmas. Hubbard told the group that the Communist Party USA had paid for his trip.
John Kerry, also a member of the 5-man Steering Committee, had long had a contentious relationship with Hubbard. After sharing an appearance on the NBC television show, "Meet the Press," on April 18, 1971 Kerry learned that Hubbard had not been an Air Force captain as he claimed, but only a sergeant. Later investigations showed that despite his stories of being wounded flying in combat, Hubbard had never been a pilot, and in fact had never been assigned to Vietnam.
Now, according to the FBI files, Kerry made a motion to remove Hubbard from the Steering Committee -- a motion that was voted down. Kerry then stated that he intended to resign from the VVAW Steering Committee for "personal reasons," but agreed to remain on the Steering Committee until a replacement had been selected.
VVAW national staff member Joe Urgo was up next. According to an FBI report filed on November 24, 1971, Urgo reported that he had traveled to Hanoi in August 1971 to work directly with North Vietnamese leaders. Urgo brought home proposals for the VVAW to: (1) create tapes to be sent to North Vietnam for broadcast over Radio Hanoi urging US servicemen to stop fighting in Vietnam, and (2) send a delegation to Hanoi to negotiate the release of American POWs, a proposal that echoed Hubbard's report from Paris.
The now public FBI record clearly indicates that the VVAW of November 1971 had come under communist influence and was acting directly with the enemy to work against US military objectives in the war. Not only was the VVAW continuing to undermine support for the war in the United States through its false claims of war crimes and atrocities, but now the VVAW was negotiating with America's enemies to effect the release of POWs to enhance their credibility as an organization, and actively encouraging soldiers in the field to refuse orders to engage the enemy in combat.
This appears to violate US Code 18 USC 953, which directly forbids US citizens from negotiating with foreign powers, as well as Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution, which defines treason as giving aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war. The record reflects John Kerry's decision to tender his resignation from the VVAW Steering Committee, but that resignation was not to be effective immediately, nor did John Kerry stop acting as the group's public spokesperson.
It is clear that the VVAW leaders understood the seditious nature of their activities -- they relocated twice to avoid surveillance by government authorities. That turned out to be a vain hope, since the FBI had multiple informers inside the meeting. They then debated and voted down a proposal to assassinate several pro-war US Senators. John Kerry, who until recently claimed to have resigned from the VVAW the previous June, was also present for this session according to the FBI files and a number of eyewitnesses. Senator Kerry now says he remembers nothing of the Kansas City meeting.
John Kerry would continue to serve as the VVAW's primary spokesman for several more months. Newspaper reports indicate that he represented the VVAW in public appearances at least as late as April 1972.
The FBI files on the VVAW raise many questions, but one thing is clear: John Kerry and his VVAW comrades were welcome guests of the Vietnamese communists in both Paris and Hanoi, guests who could be counted on to actively support the leadership of America's wartime enemy.