As a high-profile activist who crossed the country criticizing the Nixon administration’s role in the Vietnam War, John F. Kerry was closely monitored by FBI agents for more than a year, according to intelligence documents reviewed by The Los Angeles Times.
In 1971, in the months after the Navy veteran and decorated war hero argued before Congress against continued U.S. involvement in the conflict, the FBI stepped up its infiltration of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the protest group Kerry helped direct, the files show.
The FBI documents indicate that wherever Kerry went, agents and informants were following – including appearances at VVAW-sponsored antiwar events in Washington; Kansas City, Mo.; Oklahoma City; and Urbana, Ill. The FBI recorded the content of his speeches and took photographs of him and fellow activists, and the dispatches were filed to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and President Nixon.
The files contain no information or suggestion that Kerry broke any laws. And a 1972 memorandum on the FBI’s decision to end its surveillance of him said the agency had discovered “nothing whatsoever to link the subject with any violent activity.”
Kerry, now the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, has long known he was a target of FBI surveillance, but only last week learned the extent of the scrutiny, he told The Times. The information was provided by Gerald Nicosia, a Bay Area author who obtained thousands of pages of FBI intelligence files and who gave copies of some documents to The Times.
The FBI files shed new light on an early chapter in Kerry’s public life and are another example of the extent to which the U.S. intelligence apparatus monitored and investigated groups opposed to government policies during the Vietnam era, especially the Hoover-run FBI.