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FEBRUARY 9, 2001


First Fonda Fan Barbara Walters, in her February 9, 2001 “20/20” TV show, has again given Hanoi Jane a multi-million viewer platform from which to issue a pseudo apology for her reprehensible activities in wartime
North Vietnam. 


Once before on Walters’ show (1988), Fonda said that her pose on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun, used to shoot down American aircraft, was “a thoughtless and cruel thing to have done.”  She was sorry she had hurt the prisoners in the Hanoi Hilton, she had been “thoughtless and careless.”  This feigned regret was hollow and self-serving, for a year later she stated, “I did not, have not, and will not say that going to North Vietnam was a mistake . . . I have apologized only for some of the things that I did there, but I am proud that I went.”

Apparently, Fonda still is. Walters, supposedly known for her tough, no-holds-barred questioning of celebrities, threw Fonda a few soft-ball questions on Vietnam, and Fonda made three statements that I am in a unique position to rebut, having just finished a book on her 1972 trip to wartime Vietnam.


Walters said Fonda had been “against the war,” and the actress agreed, leaving the implication that being against the war justified her propagandizing for the enemy from its own soil.  Yet, millions of loyal Americans, who also opposed the war – including some much more prominent than Fonda – never traveled to the capitol of a country that was killing our troops and torturing our prisoners.

Fonda said, “It just kills me that I did things that hurt those men,” apparently referring to our POWs.  It’s obvious she never bothered to find out how she hurt “those men” -- men who were injured, sick, debilitated, and treated by their captors in a manner that, even in my book, I could hardly bring myself to describe.  She made no effort to learn the toll her activities took on the morale of our prisoners and men still in the field, nor the punishment some received for upholding their honor and refusing to meet with her.  Worse, after repatriation was concluded on April 1, 1973 and the details of our POWs’ ordeal were revealed, Fonda called the returned POWs “liars and hypocrites” for reporting that they had been brutally tortured.

Finally, Fonda told Walters and her viewers that hurting the prisoners was “not my intent.”  In my book, I spend dozens of pages discussing Fonda’s intent. While space  does not allow elaboration here, this is what the trial judge instructed the jury in the first treason case to reach the Supreme Court (Cramer v.
United States): “[C]riminal intent and knowledge, being a mental state, are not susceptible of being proved by direct evidence. . . . * * * If the defendant knowingly gives aid and comfort to one who he knows or believes is an enemy, then he must be taken to intend the consequences of his own voluntary act. . . .” 


What were Fonda’s activities in wartime North Vietnam?  She made at least six propaganda broadcasts, some of which were played relentlessly to our POWs; in the company of North Vietnamese civilian and military personnel, she toured an alleged “war crimes” museum; she gave press conferences; she met with downed American airmen, some of whom were forced to see her; she fraternized with high-ranking North Vietnamese – all this while the cameras rolled and the journalists wrote. 

One wonders what Fonda’s answer would have been if Walters had had the journalistic integrity to ask Fonda what her intent was.

So, once more, the Jane and Barbara show allowed Fonda to offer yet another glib, superficial “apology,” just like her earlier ones, aimed at convincing the gullible that Hanoi Jane is truly sorry for what she did in
North Vietnam. 

She is not.  She never was.  Once the full truth is known, even the gullible will not take seriously any more Fonda “apologies.”