he's a saint...
Source Jim Devine
Date 04/07/23/01:47

Kerry's war didn't end in the Mekong

Tarred as a flip-flopper by Bush, he hasn't wavered since Vietnam

Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday July 22, 2004
The Guardian

John Kerry's political education is far deeper than that of senators who
have merely legislated. He has journeyed to the heart of darkness many
times and emerged to tell the tale. It was not simply that Kerry's
commander in Vietnam was the model of the blood-thirsty bombastic
colonel in Apocalypse Now. Kerry's combat experience didn't end in the
Mekong, but moved into the dangerous realm of high politics. From his
first appearance on the public stage, giving voice as a decorated
officer to the anti-war disillusionment of Vietnam veterans, when
Richard Nixon and his dirty-tricks crew targeted him, he has uncovered
cancers on the presidency. This is why the Bush administration fears
him. He has explored the dark recesses of contemporary history, often
without political reward. Tarred as a "flip flopper" by Bush's $85m TV
ad campaign, Kerry in fact is one of the most consistent politicians of
his generation.

In his first month as a senator, in January 1985, he discovered the
thread that would unravel the Iran-contra scandal - the creation of an
illegal foreign policy apparatus run out of the national security
council by Reagan's military aide, Oliver North, and the CIA director,
William Casey. Kerry had the training and instincts of a prosecutor. As
a district attorney in Massachusetts, he smashed the local mafia. Now,
as senator, he has surrounded himself with tough investigators. In south
Florida, they found men accused of drug-running who were shipping guns
to the Nicaraguan contras and claiming to be instructed by the NSC. They
tracked down a contra adviser in Costa Rica known as "Colonel Flaco",
who had evidence that North was involved in financing the contras with
Colombian drug money. The path led further, to Panamanian dictator
Manuel Noriega and to Saudi funding sources. Kerry won support from
Republicans on the Senate foreign relations committee to launch an
official investigation, in large part because of the drug aspect.
(Concerned about heroin addiction among Vietnam veterans, Kerry had
followed the geopolitics of drugs.)

North learned of Kerry's work and told the Secret Service and the FBI
that Kerry was protecting a possible presidential assassin. The FBI
harassed "Flaco" and determined he was no threat, but he was intimidated
into silence. Republican staffers leaked information about Kerry's
investigation to the Reagan White House and justice department. An
assistant US attorney in Florida, prosecuting a case based on Kerry's
leads, was ordered by the justice department to drop the matter.
Virtually the entire Washington press corps dismissed Kerry's effort as
a fantastic delusion and ignored it.

In October 1986, Kerry questioned the neoconservative assistant
secretary of state for Latin America, Elliot Abrams, who brazenly lied
about foreign funding for the contras. This testimony led, in time, to
Abrams pleading guilty to a felony. (He was pardoned by Bush Snr and is
now NSC chief for Middle East policy.)

A month later, the Iran-contra story broke in a Lebanese newspaper.
However, Kerry was excluded from the congressional investigating
committee for the sin of having been prematurely right. As consolation,
he was given chairmanship of the subcommittee on terrorism, narcotics
and international operations. After three years, he reported that
"individuals who provided support for the contras were involved in drug
trafficking; the supply network of the contras was used by drug
trafficking organisations; and elements of the contras received
financial and material assistance from drug traffickers. In each case,
one or another agency of the US government had information regarding the
involvement, either while it was occurring, or immediately thereafter."

Kerry's work on the contra-drugs connection led him to discover a link
to BCCI, an international banking operation that was a front for drug
running, money laundering and terrorism. He launched an investigation
that exposed its criminal "corporate spider web" in 1992. His report
pointed to new areas that should be investigated, including "the extent
to which BCCI and Pakistan were able to evade US and international
nuclear non-proliferation regimes to acquire nuclear technologies".

From Vietnam onwards, Kerry has probed the inner recesses of government,
pursuing a persistent and cumulative investigation into the underside of
national security and terrorism. If the Democrats had held the Senate
for a sustained period of time, his proposal to regulate the netherworld
of money laundering, which was not enacted, might even have helped
stymie al-Qaida. He has experienced the abuse of justice; had his
patriotism impugned; battled enemies foreign and domestic; tried to
restore accountability; and fought on, down to today - which is why he
is running for president.

* Sidney Blumenthal is former senior adviser to President Clinton and
Washington bureau chief of

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