Was Kerry Present at a Meeting of Veterans Against the War at which the Assassination of Conservative Politicians Was Discussed?

Roundup: Media's Take

Thomas H. Lipscomb, in Oregon Magazine (March 15, 2004):

The anti-war group that John Kerry was the principal spokesman for debated and voted on a plot to assassinate politicians who supported the Vietnam War. 

    Mr. Kerry denies being present at the November 12-15, 1971, meeting in Kansas City of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and says he quit the group before the meeting. But according to the current head of Missouri Veterans for Kerry, Randy Barnes, Mr. Kerry,who was then 27,was at the meeting, voted against the plot, and then orally resigned from the organization. 

    Mr. Barnes was present as part of the Kansas City host chapter for the 1971 meeting and recounted the incident in a phone interview with The New York Sun this week. In addition to Mr. Barnes's recollection placing Mr. Kerry at the Kansas City meeting, another Vietnam veteran who attended the meeting, Terry Du-Bose, said that Mr. Kerry was there. 

    There are at least two other independent corroborations that the antiwar group Vietnam Veterans Against the War, of which Mr. Kerry was the most prominent national spokesman, considered assassinating American political leaders who favored the war. 

    Gerald Nicosia's 2001 book “Home To War” reports that one of the key leaders of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Scott Camil,“proposed the assassination of the most hard-core conservative members of Congress,as well as any other powerful, intractable opponents of the antiwar movement.”The book reports on the Kansas City meeting at which Mr.Camil's plan was debated and then voted down. 

    Mr. Nicosia's book was widely praised by reviewers as varied as General Harold Moore, author of “We Were Soldiers”; Gloria Emerson, who had been a New YorkTimes reporter during the Vietnam War, and leftist Howard Zinn. Mr. Kerry himself stated in a blurb on the cover that the book “ties together the many threads of a difficult period.” Mr. Kerry hosted a party for the book in the Hart Senate Office Building that was televised on C-SPAN. 

    Another source is an October 20,1992, oral history interview of Scott Camil on file at the University of Florida Oral History Archive. In it,Mr.Camil speaks of his plan for an alternative to Mr.Kerry's idea of symbolically throwing veterans' medals over the fence onto the steps of the Capitol during the Dewey Canyon III demonstration in Washington in April of 1971. 

    “My plan was that, on the last day we would go into the [congressional] offices we would schedule the most hardcore hawks for last — and we would shoot them all,” Mr. Camil told the Oral History interviewer. “I was serious.” 

    In a phone interview with the Sun this week, Mr. Camil did not dispute either the account in the Nicosia book or in the oral history.He said he plans to accept an offer by the Florida Kerry organization to become active in Mr. Kerry's presidential campaign. Campaign aides to Mr. Kerry invited Mr.Camil to a meeting for the senator in Orlando last week, but they did not meet directly. 

    Mr. Camil was known to colleagues in the anti-war movement as “Scott the Assassin.” Mr. Camil told The New York Sun he got the name in Vietnam for “sneaking down to the Vietnamese villages at night and killing people.” 

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