About This Story

Gerald Nicosia is the author of "Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans' Movement" (Crown Publishers, 2001, forthcoming in a new edition from Carroll & Graf this August).

His research for the book included a Freedom of Information Act request to the FBI in 1988 for records of the agency's surveillance of an antiwar group, Vietnam Veterans Against the War. On June 21, 1989, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts wrote a letter urging the Justice Department to open the files to Nicosia because they would "contribute significantly to the public's understanding of the government's role in Vietnam. . . ." The FBI began releasing the documents nearly 11 years after Nicosia's request, and, eventually, 14 boxes containing 20,000 pages were delivered to his home. By then, however, his manuscript was finished.

The documents sat unread until this year, after Kerry became the expected Democratic Party candidate for president. In preparing this article, Nicosia reviewed the documents, interviewed more than two dozen people and drew upon the original reporting for his book. On March 25, after CNN broadcast a report about the files in his possession, three of the boxes were stolen from Nicosia's home in Marin County. The Twin Cities Police Department continues to investigate the theft.

In this article, direct quotations from the files are from a variety of documents, including reports by FBI agents and news clippings the agency saved. The accuracy of those reports could not always be verified.

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