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Friday, December 31, 2004

What if they gave a Watergate and there was no press?

   By Marion Delgado at 8:33 AM

Gerald Nicosia, author of Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans Movement, started out the year in possession of the only known copy of the FBI files on Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). The 20,000-plus pages included extensive surveillance reports on John Kerry, revealing details both flattering and unpleasant for the candidate. On March 25, somebody cracked open the sliding glass doors leading to Nicosia’s kitchen and made off with three boxes and some files Nicosia had extracted and left on the table.

The initial suspicion (inasmuch as any existed) focused on the Kerry campaign, which had just been forced to offer an embarrassing retraction about one event cataloged in the files. But Nicosia, who had offered to let the Kerry campaign know of any potentially damaging stories, told the Prospect that he “never bought that.”

And in August, just before the Corte Madera police consigned the burglary to their cold-case files, a more likely consumer for the stolen info appeared: the then-Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (later the Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth). Its book, Unfit for Command, and some of its later advertisements denounced Kerry’s anti-war activity -- and included some information, such as details of Kerry’s two trips to meet with a Vietnamese delegation in Paris, that Nicosia believes was only available in the files. “In the end, the Swift Boat guys did use a lot of material that was in those files,” Nicosia says. “They really milked that stuff.”

Did any of the stolen material fall into John O’Neill’s lap? Could the burglary have been tied to the Swift Boat group? If we can’t even discern how closely it was tied to the Bush administration, we’ll certainly never answer those questions. Then again, that’s how it seemed to George McGovern's supporters in 1972.

-- Jeffrey Dubner
In Other News (American Prospect)

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