[sixties-l] Justice for Hanoi Janes Victims (fwd)

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    Date: Sun, 07 Apr 2002 22:03:28 -0700
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Justice for Hanoi Janes Victims

    Justice for Hanoi Jane's Victims

    FrontPageMagazine.com | March 26, 2002
    by Ronald Radosh

    A FRIEND OF MINE -- an ex-radical who became a conservative and Deputy
    Sheriff of a Vermont town -- has a bumper sticker on his pickup truck that
    reads "Hanoi Jane Not Welcome Here." I admit to always having felt
    uncomfortable reading it, since it seemed to me to be an unnecessary
    reminder of the terrible, polarized atmosphere surrounding the war in
    Vietnam. It was a time when ultra-conservative supporters of the war showed
    their anger by what I thought was an unjustified demand that she be tried
    for "treason," because of what she had said in her trip to North Vietnam in
    the 1970s. After all, Americans had a constitutional right to oppose what
    some thought was a wrong and immoral war, and it might have been poor tact
    to make those points in the country our troops were fighting, but it was no
    different than if she had made those arguments here.

    Now, decades after Jane Fonda's trip, Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer,
    both of them writers as well as lawyers, have published a book that seeks
    to make the case that in fact, Jane Fonda engaged in acts that make her
    guilty of the actual legal grounds for treason, which as laid out in the
    Constitution, defines the act as "levying War against them, or, in adhering
    to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." To be found guilty, a
    person had to have two witnesses to the overt act they committed, or have
    made a full confession in an open court.

    In their book, Aid and Comfort:' Jane Fonda in North Vietnam (Jefferson,
    North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2002. 206 pp. $39.95), Henry Holzer
    makes it clear in his introduction that when he began his book, he too had
    no opinion about whether Jane Fonda had committed treason when she traveled
    to Hanoi in July of 1972. He decided to take a closer look at the actual
    text of her propaganda broadcasts made in Hanoi, what she said and did
    during her visit there, and what effect it had on those GI's who were being
    held as POW's. His conclusion was simply that there was "enough evidence to
    submit to a jury, that the jury could have convicted her, and that a
    conviction probably would have been upheld on appeal." Of course, not only
    did that not take place, but Jane Fonda went on to resume an illustrious
    career in Hollywood, has received numerous awards, and has become, as
    Holzer writes, "an American icon."

    The Holzers' book, then, is written as an attempt to pursue justice. For
    this reader, the first part of the book is the most compelling, and indeed,
    a harrowing read. What the Holzers reveal is the full story of the torture,
    degradation and violations of common humanity inflicted upon American POWs
    by the North Vietnamese Communists. Of course, reports of this have been
    made by some of those who suffered directly. But with the attention of
    Americans and the media at the time, and long after, on the horrors of the
    war, somehow or other, the story of what happened to American prisoners of
    Hanoi got lost. The Holzers shed more light on this, and bring to the story
    the sordid role played by Fonda in responsibility for the misery they suffered.

    As the Holzers show, by the time Fonda left for Hanoi, she was already
    immersed in the radicalized New Left culture of the late 1960s, and had
    already issued statements accusing American soldiers of acting as virtual
    "war criminals," for engaging in acts of torture, rape and murder of
    innocent Vietnamese. But when she tied up with Tom Hayden, who had moved
    his activism in the direction of creating his own new anti-Vietnam war
    organization, she came full circle into the role that was awaiting
    her--chief propagandist in the United States for the North Vietnamese regime.

    Her activities took place in the context of the completely vicious and
    inhumane treatment of American prisoners of war--treatment that violated
    every main tenet of the Geneva Convention, and which was on the level of
    the treatment given to concentration camp prisoners by the Nazis and by the
    Japanese treatment of POW's during World War II. It was, one prisoner
    quoted in the book writes, "a nightmare of hellish proportions that
    transformed civilized human beings into primal animals struggling to cling
    to some fleeting sense of what it means to be alive." So brutal was the
    treatment that it will come as a shock to those former protestors of the
    War who spent so much time blasting their fellow Americans for inhumane
    behavior. After reading the horrendous details of their brutal
    treatment^Îworse than most of us can begin to imagine---we learn that it was
    this group of men who became "Jane Fonda's captive audience for her
    performance in wartime North Vietnam."

    What the Holzers do is to acquaint us for the first time to the full story
    of what Fonda said in her many radio broadcasts. These programs, in which
    Fonda obviously read aloud scripts often prepared for her by the North
    Vietnamese, accused the United States of purposefully bombing non-military
    targets, of using illegal chemical weapons, of forcing the troops to act as
    war criminals, and of fighting against the side of the people of Vietnam.
    The US goal, she had said, was to make Vietnam "into a neocolony of the
    United States." Repeating virtually every propaganda claim of the North
    Vietnamese Communists, Fonda sought to encourage mutiny and desertion by
    the troops, whom she told them, were only justifying the murder that they
    were "being paid to commit." If they knew the truth--which she was giving
    them--they "wouldn't fight^┼wouldn't kill."

    In addition, Fonda attended forced and staged meetings with American POWs,
    who refused to cooperate or talk with her, and who went out of their way to
    ignore the pleas of their captors to acquiesce in the propaganda.
    Nevertheless, Fonda immediately went on the air and lied about her
    meetings, presenting phony stories about how well the captured troops were
    being treated at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" POW camp. "They are all in
    good health," she said in yet another broadcast; "We had a very long^┼very
    open and casual talk. We exchanged ideas freely," and these men told her
    about their "sense of disgust of the war." None of what she said, of
    course, had an ounce of truth to it. As the Holzers put it: "These lies
    were simply more canned North Vietnamese propaganda, broadcast in
    furtherance of Fonda's intent to damage the United States and help the
    North Vietnamese."

    The second part of the book attempts to lay out carefully the case for a
    would-be prosecution, and to levy the indictment that never, but they argue
    should have, taken place. First, they argue that her activities clearly fit
    the bill of giving distinct "aid and comfort" to America's enemies. It
    demoralized many of the soldiers, made things worse for the POWs, humanized
    the enemy to Americans at home, and gave the Hanoi regime confidence that
    it should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses, because propaganda
    such as that by Fonda would eventually allow them to gain the upper hand.
    We read the words of analyses by propaganda experts of her words, which
    makes it clear, as one former Brigadier General wrote, the intent of which
    was "to demoralize and discourage, stir dissent, and stimulate desertion."

    Next, the Holzers lay out the legal record pertaining to those who in past
    cases were found guilty of having committed treason according to the legal,
    Constitutional prerequisite. They do this by a sustained and reasonable
    discussion of major cases that came before the Supreme Court of the United
    States, and after due deliberation, the court established propositions that
    had to stand for an individual to be found guilty of treason. They include
    treasonable intent and an overt act of betrayal; intent that can be proved
    circumstantially, and an overt act which must be witnessed or proved by two
    witnesses to have provided actual aid and comfort to an enemy, and which
    must be decided by a jury trial. They continue with a discussion of key
    World War II treason cases, including Chandler v. United States; Gillars v.
    United States; (the "Axis Sally" case) Best v. United States; Burgman v.
    United States and D'Aquino v. United States, (the famous "Tokyo Rose"
    case.) and finally, Kawakita v. United States. In all of these cases, in
    which the defendants were found guilty, they argue that the law of treason
    was legally settled, and clarity as to what treason is has been fully
    established. What remains is simply who has committed a crime, and whether
    a jury finds that an American had the intent of betrayal and had committed
    an overt act that offered the enemy aid and comfort. They then attempt to
    show how Fonda's broadcasts and activities fall into precisely the realm of
    treason as has been previously legally defined.

    A problem, however, exists in their discussion of some of the World War II
    cases. Stephen Schwartz has argued, for example, that the conviction of
    D'Aquino was really a case of "irresponsible journalism" and that she was
    in reality "a victim of an outrageous injustice." In her case, her
    broadcasts were not propaganda; others who broadcast with her were never
    prosecuted; many women aside from her made similar broadcasts and in fact
    she had already been exonerated before returning to the US by a full Army
    investigation, sustained by the Department of Justice. Nevetheless,
    D'Aquino was indicted and convicted on one count, and careful scrutiny
    indicates that the indictment was hardly fair. Eventually, D'Aquino was
    fully and unconditionally pardoned by President Gerald Ford in 1977, and
    her citizenship was restored. Similarly, the constitutional historian
    Stanley I. Kutler analyzes D'Aquino's case, and reaches the conclusion that
    she was a "relatively insignificant individual who classically confronted
    political justice" and whose broadcasts had a "legendary mystique that
    heightened her importance far beyond the innocuous substance of her
    activities." Her indictment was more the result of a campaign by
    unscrupulous journalists and timid bureaucrats who used her "to symbolize
    the stringent, politically expedient meaning of loyalty." Here, both the
    conservative journalist Schwartz and the left-liberal historian Kutler
    reach similar conclusions about the viability of "Tokyo Rose's" conviction.

    This, of course, does not mean that Fonda was not guilty of treason. It
    does, however, indicate how sometimes indictments and even convictions can
    be issued which upon examination, prove themselves unwarranted. In a way,
    the possible innocence of D'Aquino only makes it clear how much closer to
    the prerequisites of treason the words and activities of Jane Fonda were.
    What Fonda did, in fact, far exceeds the actual conduct and activities of
    some of those who were convicted and imprisoned for their treasonous
    activity in World War II. The section of their book on Fonda and the law of
    treason lay out, as a good prosecutor would, the actual grounds on which an
    indictment could have been handed down. They are, in fact, substantial. In
    her case, unlike that of D'Aquino, Fonda admitted that she had made the
    broadcasts, and one did not even have to find two witnesses to the
    broadcasts--although, since the GI's were forced to hear them, many could
    be found. And as the Holzers argue, the testimony in court of those expert
    witnesses on how the type of psychological warfare she engaged in could be
    seen as giving "aid and comfort" would have undoubtedly had a "profound
    impact on a Fonda jury."

    The question, then, is why no such trial was ever held. The Holzers have a
    simple answer. The US Government, worrying that an indictment and trial of
    Fonda could backfire given the strong anti-war protest and movement that
    had emerged at home, capitulated and backed away from any prosecution. Even
    the anti-Communists in charge of the House Internal Security Committee were
    so scared of taking on Fonda that they refused to subpoena her to testify
    despite demands from many in Congress that they do so. The Committee did
    raise issues pertaining to her trip, but the Justice Department refused to
    pursue the matter, issuing instead what the authors call a "glaringly
    deficient Memorandum of Law," that served as a legal excuse to avoid doing
    anything. The Department's representative for Internal Security, they show,
    offered what they call "an embarrassingly lame" attempt to stress concern
    for protection of Fonda's civil liberties! The result was that Justice came
    forth with the recommendation "that Fonda not be prosecuted for treason,"
    and the chief law enforcement officer of the US- the Attorney General-
    agreed. This was, they argue, a clear "political decision." The very fame
    that made her propaganda effective now worked to protect her at home, where
    she had become a major celebrity and star. If prosecuted, Fonda, with the
    aid of a mass movement and a sharp left-wing lawyer, would, the Department
    feared, "make a monkey out of us."

    And so the Holzers close with the legal indictment they argue could have
    been made, and never was. They are not na´ve, and they realize that such an
    indictment will never be made. But reading it is a shock and an eye-opener.
    In their conclusion, the Holzers argue that as ill-advised as the US role
    in Vietnam might have been, that should have no bearing on evaluation of
    what Jane Fonda did there. One could, if one wanted, oppose the war
    politically. Thousands did. What Jane Fonda did, however, was something
    else. It was, the Holzers attempt to prove, actual treason. Some will not
    agree, but few who read this book will come out of the experience
    sympathetic to her actions. What she did was sordid, vile, unpatriotic and
    unconscionable, and as the Holzers write, "beneath contempt." She could
    have been indicted, and a jury of Fonda's peers would have had the
    opportunity to judge her actions. Now, we have only the Holzer's book,
    which those who know that morality and decency have no statute of
    limitations have an obligation to read. They know that Fonda will never be
    indicted. But they are right that there is another kind of indictment--a
    moral one--and those who care about morality must never remain silent.

    With Jane Fonda still a celebrity and an icon, and as she goes on
    interviews and makes it clear that she has no intention of apologizing for
    what she did in Hanoi back in 1972--aside from vague statements that she is
    sorry she hurt the feelings of some troops--it is more important than ever
    to treat Fonda with the contempt that she deserves. In their closing
    sentence, Henry and Erika Holzer write: "When we pass this moral judgment
    on Jane Fonda, we recognize that moral values are a transcendent,
    indispensable, concern to civilized people--and in possessing, defending
    and living by those values, we rise above those who betray them." Amen.
    Ronald Radosh is author of Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New
    Left and the Leftover Left, (Encounter Books,2001,) and is a columnist for

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