M.I.A. Cover UpAs the Vietnam War was coming to a close, President Nixon was in such a hurry to get out of there, and put the experience behind us, that he allowed up to 700 American POWs and MIAs to be left behind. At least, that is the belief of many, and the story is a cause that Sidney Schanberg has never forgotten. As late as August 3rd he has written about it. You remember Sidney, the NYT columnist who was the driving force and a main character in "The Killing Fields," played by Sam Waterston. This story is something of an obsession for Sidney, who not only has written many stories about it, but he, even though he is a committed liberal, blames the cover up on John Forbes Kerry more than any other person.
Of course, this liberal has somewhat softened his take on J.F. Kerry in his latest column, but back in February, when the democrat nomination was up for grabs, and he thought that JFK would not make it, or perhaps he hoped he wouldn't, he was merciless about Kerry's involvement.
Senator John Kerry, a decorated battle veteran, was courageous as a navy lieutenant in the Vietnam War. But he was not so courageous more than two decades later, when he covered up voluminous evidence that a significant number of live American prisoners—perhaps hundreds—were never acknowledged or returned after the war-ending treaty was signed in January 1973.Schanberg's latest missive softens his criticism of Kerry somewhat. He seems to feel the need to explain himself, and try to excuse his blame of his party's nominee.
The Massachusetts senator, now seeking the presidency, carried out this subterfuge a little over a decade ago— shredding documents, suppressing testimony, and sanitizing the committee's final report—when he was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on P.O.W./ M.I.A. Affairs.
In his Democratic convention speech last week, Kerry said: "We have it in our power to change the world again. But only if we're true to our ideals—and that starts by telling the truth to the American people."Interestingly, I agree with him, at least this far: today, with Kerry under attack for his mewling performance in the war and its aftermath, he could improve his standing with Americans somewhat if he were to come clean. As Schanberg points out, this is a secret and a cover up that has spanned seven presidencies. This is an important issue, and to me, it rises above electoral politics.
I hope John Kerry will turn out to be a different kind of leader. I hope he digs deep and tells us the truth about the band of men—not the "small number" they were reduced to in his committee's report—who were left behind in 1973 in Vietnam. That would truly be a fresh start.
I hate John Kerry for betraying his nation and his "Band of Brothers" after he came home from the war, and believe that his election would be a terrible thing for this country. But if there were really 700 Americans who were left behind, and JFK could shed light on their status, I would rather hear the true story, and let the electoral sequelae fall where they may. Thirty years later, this nation deserves to hear the truth. And if, as I believe will happen, Kerry refuses to come clean about those 700 imprisoned, forgotten men, he deserves election even less. Keeping Richard Nixon's dirty secret suits him better than doing the right thing to help servicemen in trouble. But there is a first time for everything. C'mon John, prove me wrong.
[Hat Tip to John Dunshee]