Of late, Jane Fonda’s been accusing her critics of “slander” for calling “treasonous” her widely publicized 1972 trip to Communist North Vietnam, with whom the United States was at war.
Why address this old controversy now? Because a few days earlier, the television shopping network QVC, after receiving many protests, had abruptly canceled a scheduled appearance by Fonda to promote her new memoir.
The legal definition of “slander“ is the harming of a person’s good name or reputation through the spoken word, which results in decreased respect or regard for that person, or which induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against that individual.
According to Wikipedia, in law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more serious acts of betrayal of one’s nation. Oran’s Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as a “citizen’s actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation].” Treason is the only crime that is specifically defined in the United States Constitution. Article III, Section 3 specifies that “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
Fonda visited Hanoi in July 1972. In North Vietnam, she was photographed seated on an anti-aircraft battery— the kind that was used by the VietCong to shoot down U.S. military aircraft.
In her 2005 autobiography, she claims that she was “manipulated” into sitting on the battery. In a recent entry at her official website, Fonda further explained: “It happened on my last day in Hanoi. I was exhausted and an emotional wreck after the 2-week visit.”
During her trip, Fonda made ten radio broadcasts in which she denounced American political and military leaders as “war criminals”. When POWs returning to the United States recounted their having been tortured, Fonda called them “hypocrites and liars” because “These were not men who had been tortured. These were not men who had been starved.” In 1973, Fonda told The New York Times that although “I’m quite sure that there were incidents of torture … but the pilots who were saying it was the policy of the Vietnamese and that it was systematic, I believe that’s a lie.” Then she stated that the POWs were “military careerists and professional killers” who are “trying to make themselves look self-righteous, but they are war criminals according to the law”. [Source: Wikipedia]
You tell me if what Fonda did and said was “treasonous” or not!
Now comes newly discovered information that before, during, and after her Hanoi trip, Jane Fonda was in contact with a North Vietnamese intelligence officer. That is not the behavior of someone who is innocent — who is being “slandered” by false accusations of “treason.”
Below are excerpts from Merle L. Pribbenow, “Jane Fonda and Her Friendly North Vietnamese Intelligence Officer,” Washington Decoded, August 10, 2011:
One of the strongest charges lodged against Ms. Fonda has been that she was acting as a North Vietnamese agent when she took these actions, and therefore was guilty of treason. If that was the case, then she would presumably have been acting under instructions from a North Vietnamese official, probably a North Vietnamese intelligence officer. The next logical question, then, is whether Ms. Fonda had contacts with North Vietnamese intelligence?
Since intelligence officers of all countries operate “under cover,” not revealing their true affiliation, answering this kind of question is usually extremely difficult. In this case, however, it turns out that the Vietnamese have answered the question for us. They have not only revealed that Ms. Fonda was in contact with a North Vietnamese intelligence officer in 1972; they have also told us the officer’s name, his operational alias, the cover he was using, as well as his operational instructions and what his goals were in targeting American citizens.
A 2005 article published in Thanh Nien, the official newspaper of the Vietnamese Communist Party’s Ho Chi Minh Youth Group, describes an interview with a retired Vietnamese official named Ho Nam, who in 1972 was a consular officer assigned to the North Vietnamese diplomatic mission in Paris. Ho Nam describes how he met with Fonda when she came to the mission to request a travel visa to North Vietnam. He and another consular officer taught Ms. Fonda a North Vietnamese army fighting song that she wanted to learn for to use while in Hanoi. He quotes her as saying, “I want to sing it as a gift to your soldiers.” Ho Nam also recalls that when Ms. Fonda left Hanoi after completing her visit, she called him from Bangkok, and asked him to meet her at Paris’s Orly International Airport when she returned to France, which he did.
Who was this Ho Nam? […]
“Ho Nam” was actually a covert Public Security intelligence officer working for Department A13 (North Vietnam’s Foreign Intelligence Directorate). His true name was Hoang Gia Huy, and he had been especially selected to work under diplomatic cover in Paris, with specific instructions to target and recruit American citizens. The name of Ho Nam, which he used on his passport and to conduct all his operations in Paris, was a brazen operational alias. The family name “Ho” was selected to honor North Vietnam’s leader, Ho Chi Minh, and the given name “Nam” was selected because it is the last half of the name of his country, Viet Nam.
[Ho Nam was instructed to “]do everything you can to recruit people from among the ranks of Americans whose revolutionary consciousness has been awakened, from among those Americans who oppose the American war […] You need to know and understand the targets you intend to recruit as agents; you need to know how to select them and to direct them to the right places in order to obtain the greatest possible amount of information, information that will help us and that will help our people back at home to defeat the enemy and that will support the negotiations being conducted by our delegations, etc.”
[…] While Ho Nam, quite naturally, does not reveal the identities of the Americans he targeted and recruited, he does state that he had considerable success. He blandly writes, “After studying and absorbing these instructions, I was able to select and recruit a network that worked actively and supplied us with important information that helped to reduce our casualties and to gain victory.”
All this does not in any way prove, or indeed even imply, that Jane Fonda was a witting, recruited agent of North Vietnamese intelligence. […] However, as an extremely well-known personality, with a wide circle of social and political contacts in Paris, including many Americans, she could easily have served, probably unwittingly, as an “access agent” or “social broker”—in other words, as a vehicle of introduction to other individuals who did have access to the kind of information Ho Nam had been tasked to seek out.
The point here is […] that Jane Fonda […] knowingly placed herself in a position in which a hostile intelligence service could exploit her fame and her contacts for both covert intelligence collection and covert propaganda operations, and that, according to the North Vietnamese themselves, one of her close contacts was a covert intelligence officer whose entire purpose in 1972 was to exploit people just like her. To imagine that he would not at least try to manipulate and exploit her is naïve in the extreme.
An e-mail correspondent of mine who had fought in Vietnam wrote this: “Jane Fonda was anti-USA – pure and simple – and likely that has not changed. It is fine for her to be an entrepreneur – to raise money for personal gain – but this does not mean she respects capitalism, or freedom – or has the slightest common ground with what we would call our national interests.”
And that is why Jane Fonda will continue to be reviled.
H/t my friend Bob W.