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March 22, 2004
LA Times, Star Tribune Spin Kerry Participation in VVAW Assassination Meeting

As I posted late last week, John Kerry's campaign has backed off its earlier assertion that Kerry hadn't attended the November 1971 Vietnam Veterans Against the War meeting, where the Phoenix Project was debated and put up for a vote. The Phoenix Project was a plan by Scott Camil to assassinate several pro-war elected officials, including Senators John Stennis, John Tower, and Strom Thurmond. Their recantation sprang from the discovery of FBI informant reports -- at least five of them -- of the meetings, which put Kerry firmly in the debate in Kansas City, unearthed by pro-Kerry historian Gerald Nicosia. This was reported earlier in the month by Thomas Lipscomb at the New York Sun, in an excellent piece of journalism.

So what does the Los Angeles Times and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (who reprinted the article) highlight on this episode? The trampling of John Kerry's rights by J. Edgar Hoover, of course:

As a high-profile activist who crossed the United States criticizing the Nixon administration's role in the Vietnam War, John Kerry was closely monitored by FBI agents for more than a year, according to intelligence documents reviewed by the Los Angeles Times. ... Kerry, now the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, has long known he was a target of FBI surveillance but only last week learned the extent of the scrutiny, he told the Times. The information was provided late last week by Gerald Nicosia, a San Francisco Bay Area author who obtained thousands of pages of FBI intelligence files and who gave copies of some documents to the Times.

The Times wastes no time allowing Kerry to spin this as an affront to Kerry's civil rights:

Kerry said he was troubled by the scope of the monitoring documented in the papers. "I'm surprised by the extent of it," he said. "I'm offended by the intrusiveness of it. And I'm disturbed that it was all conducted absent of some showing of any legitimate probable cause. It's an offense to the Constitution. It's out of order."

Kerry took part in debating the ways and means of assassinating prominent political figures, and he wonders why the FBI was conducting surveillance on him and the VVAW? In fact, the VVAW meeting was moved - twice - because VVAW leadership wanted to avoid FBI surveillance on that particular meeting, for obvious reasons. Kerry knew that the FBI was watching the VVAW. But in 2004, the knee-jerk response for this political debacle is to blame the whole thing on Hoover, and Kerry obviously has people in the media willing to play along.

John Kerry debated the assassination of Americans as a political means to an end of the war, and during this campaign lied about his whereabouts in order to cover it up. It's telling that the only issue the LA Times and Strib cares about is FBI surveillance on the VVAW. (cross-posted at Oh, That Liberal Media)

UPDATE: I decided to e-mail the LA Times' reader representative about this article. I'll let you know if I get any response.

UPDATE II: Welcome, Instapundit readers! If you're coming from Instapundit, you've probably already seen Junkyard Blog's excellent post -- but if not, check it out. He catches another spin in the same issue of the LAT. I also cleaned up some poor grammar.

UPDATE III: More here.

UPDATE IV: Reason linked back to this post but disagrees that this is an issue:

Surely, no one believes his attendance at meetings where Vietnam Veterans Against the War supporters bruited about plans to assassinate American officials means that the Kerry of today intends to frag Bill Frist and Tom Delay anytime soon.

So why did he lie about his attendance there, and try to pressure witnesses to change their story? It's about his character. I don't think that Kerry will frag DeLay, although I suspect that Brian Doherty might not be too unhappy with that result. (Just kidding, Brian, just kidding.) But it tells me something about the man that he could participate in a meeting where the Phoenix Project could be seriously discussed and not go to the police to make sure the plot wasn't carried out, especially as he planned to run for office again.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 22, 2004 9:59 AM

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