John Kerry's 1971 Senate Testimony

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Washington, D.C.

The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 11:05 a.m., in Room 4221, New Senate Office Building, Senator J. W. Fulbright (Chairman) presiding. Present: Senators Fulbright, Symington, Pell, Aiken, Case, and Javits.

Opening Statement of the Chair

"The committee is continuing this morning its hearings on proposals relating to the ending of the war in Southeast Asia. This morning the committee will hear testimony from Mr. John Kerry and, if he has any associates, we will be glad to hear from them. These are men who have fought in this unfortunate war in Vietnam. I believe they deserve to be heard and listened to by the Congress and by the officials in the executive, branch and by the public generally. You have a perspective that those in the Government who make our Nation's policy do not always have and I am sure that your testimony today will be helpful to the committee in its consideration of the proposals before us."



  • John Forbes Kerry's military service
  • "Upset over President Richard Nixon's denigration of antiwar veterans and his escalation of the war into Laos and Cambodia, Kerry started mixing with members of the antiwar movement." [1]
  • Vietnam Veterans Against the War
  • Winter Soldier Investigation was "a meeting of American Vietnam War veterans, civilians and media convened with the objective of publicizing war crimes and atrocities by Americans and allies in Vietnam, while showing their direct relationship to American policies. The event took place in Detroit, Michigan, over a period of three days from January 31-February 2, 1971, and was organized by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. 109 Vietnam veterans and 16 civilians gave testimony about war crimes they had either committed or witnessed during the years of 1963-1970. Journalists and film crews recorded the event, and a transcript of the testimony was later read into the Congressional Record." The most complete transcript of the testimony is available here.

John Kerry did not testify at the Winter Soldier Investigation. The painful stories he heard had a major impact on his life. For him, Winter Soldier proved to be a key event in his evolution from wounded war hero to antiwar protester. "Detroit was the great eye-opener for John Kerry," historian Douglas Brinkley, author of the 2004 Kerry war biography, "Tour of Duty," said in a recent interview. "It was a kind of intellectual turning point. It was a moment that helped jar him out of kind of a complacent antiwar protester to one that was on a mission to charge the Nixon administration with war crimes." [2]

John Kerry's Testimony to the US Senate

  • "I would like to talk on behalf of all those veterans and say that several months ago in Detroit we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. ... we feel because of what threatens this country, not the reds, but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out. In our opinion and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom, which those misfits supposedly abuse, is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart."

April 23, 1971

the 2004 Political Rancor

In the 2004 Presidential Campaign, anti-Kerry activists have attempted to blame John Kerry for the testimonies of those OTHER 150 veterans; and have portrayed those testimonies as false and unpatriotic and even treasonous.

the nefarious examples

Other Testimony