John F. McCreary, a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst assigned to Kerry's committee, reported knowledge of Kerry's document shredding to Vice Chairman Bob Smith. A memorandum by McCreary explains: "Senator John Kerry ... told the Select Committee members that 'all copies' would be destroyed. This statement was made in the presence of the undersigned and of the Staff Chief Counsel who offered no protest." On April 9, 1992, McCreary verified that the original document was destroyed, as well as 14 copies. The memo continues: "On 15 April 1992, the Staff Chief Counsel, J. William Codinha ... ridiculed the Staff members for expressing their concerns; and replied, in response to questions about the potential consequences, 'Who's the injured party,' and 'How are they going to find out because its classified.'"
On April 16, Kerry stated that the original documents had remained in the Office of Senate Security all along, so nothing wrong had been done. Actually, this was not the case, according to McCreary: "the Staff Director had deposited a copy of the intelligence briefing text in the Office of Senate Security at 1307 on 16 April." In a classic CYA maneuver, Kerry had ordered a non-original copy of the document entered into the Office of Senate Security -- but only after protests from staff caused him to rethink complete destruction of the documents. As McCreary stated, this "constitute(d) an act to cover-up the destruction."
Mike Benge also told me that Kerry hung one POW/MIA testifier out to dry. Garnett "Bill" Bell was chief of the U.S. Office of POW/MIA Affairs in Hanoi when he testified before the Senate Select Committee. Benge says that he brokered a deal with Bell: Kerry would grant Bell immunity from retaliation by the Defense Department if Bell testified. Bell testified; the immunity never came. Bell was fired, Benge stated.
Normalization for Vietnam passed overwhelmingly in the Senate, largely due to Kerry's persistence. Kerry's pro-normalization views seem particularly strong when viewed in comparison with Kerry's other foreign-policy positions. Kerry has flip-flopped repeatedly on the war in Iraq, but his support for the Vietnamese government has been unwavering. According to Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, in 2002 Kerry blocked the Vietnam Human Rights Act from coming to a vote.
Is John Kerry committed to Vietnam veterans? Perhaps the ones back in the United States. But for the Vietnam soldiers who died because Kerry provided aid and comfort to the Viet Cong, or the POWs who may have lived out their lives in cages, Kerry's lack of commitment had tragic consequences.