Senator Bob Kerrey
Serves on Official Commission Despite War Crimes Charges
Despite evidence that Senator Robert Kerrey was involved in the commission of war crimes in the Vietnam war, he was appointed to the Official Commission to Investigate the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.
Kerrey commanded a special operations unit of Navy SEALS during the war. In February of 1969 he led a midnight commando raid against a tiny hamlet of Thanh Phong, resulting in the deaths of 21 unarmed women and children. 1
This story was first uncovered by investigative journalist Gregory L. Vistica in 1998. Employed by Newsweek, Vistica established that in the raid on the village in the Mekong Delta, a squad of commandos led by Kerrey knifed to death three children and an elderly couple, and then gunned down a group of women and children. Kerrey is thought to have directly participated in at least the killing of the elderly man, holding him down with his knee while another member of his team slit his throat. Instead of being reprimanded for the murders, Kerrey was cited and awarded the Bronze Star for killing 21 Vietcong. 2
When Vistica confronted Kerrey about his findings, Kerrey acknowledged that the citation was false, and expressed regret for the killings. Kerrey, who was seeking the nomination of the Democratic Party for the 2000 presidential race, withdrew himself as a candidate, prompting Newsweek to spike the story.
Finally, in the spring of 2001, Vistica succeeded in placing the story. It was published in the New York Times Magazine on April 29, and aired on 60 Minutes II on May 1. The story set off a media frenzy in which commentators rushed to Kerrey's defense. Mark Shields, Brit Hume, and Mara Liasson were among those who attacked the suggestion that the incident should be investigated. Within about a week, the story mostly vanished from mainstream media, and Senator Kerrey has yet to answer for his involvement in the massacre.
Vistica's investigation of Kerrey's involvement in the massacre was based on accounts of both the attackers and victims. Gerhard Klann, a member of Kerrey's team, provided critical details of the event, which were then independently corroborated by Vietnamese eyewitnesses. 3 Vistica went on to write a book on the subject, entitled "The Education of Lieutenant Kerrey". 4
2. The Uncovering and Reburial of a War Crime, 8/2001 [cached]
3. Bob Kerrey's Vietnam, alternet.org, 5/8/01 [cached]
4. The Education of Lieutenant Kerrey, GregoryVistica.com,