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Oral History

Copyright 2016 the Miller Center Foundation and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Dale de Haan

My wife and I often end up here in Charlottesville because we like the area. I applied to teach here about 50 years ago. And Kennedy, of course, went to the law school.

Stephen Knott

Right. He visited in March. He spoke at the law school and then spoke here. He’s been very cooperative. He’s done 11 interviews with us.

de Haan

Oh really, that many?

Knott

That many, and there will be more. He’s pledged to do close to 50 or 60 or so.

de Haan

I knew he had done some interviews. His office said, “Do you want to do that?” and I said, “Do they think they need more information?”

Darby Morrisroe

We always think we need more information. It’s the nature of our job.

Knott

That’s right. Academics are neurotic.

de Haan

Then I started hauling out boxes. I have all these files stashed away. A lot on refugees and immigration has gone to the [John F.] Kennedy Library, so I don’t have a total record, but what I have will give most of the story from 1965 to 1978. When I went to the United Nations, the immigration subcommittees were combined into a new subcommittee, initially called the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and International Law. Kennedy of course was the chair.

Morrisroe

That’s a valuable contribution.

de Haan

I thought your briefing book was very helpful.

Knott

James, our PhD candidate, put it together. He’s the world’s foremost expert on you.

Morrisroe

We put together the briefing books to reflect the information that’s already out there, and not everything is out there for James to find.

de Haan

Yes, there are a lot of hearings, views, speeches, and articles, but there’s another interesting framework there.

Knott

That’s what we love to hear. Let me explain what’s going to happen. We hope that the people who participate in these interviews will think of this as a chance to talk to history. We’re not out to get some sort of scoop that’s going to appear on the front page of the Washington Post.

In fact, you’re going to control your transcript. Until you clear it, anything you say in this room stays in this room. Senator Kennedy is behind this 100 percent, and he believes that it’s important for all of us, including himself, to speak to the historical record, so that’s what we’re trying to encourage everybody to do.

You happened to be with Senator Kennedy at a very interesting time, an early time, and we’re interested in learning about your experiences with him. In about three or four months, you will receive a transcript of this interview. You can make any changes you wish at that time. You can add material, or you can pull something out if you have second thoughts about it.

de Haan

That’s fine.

Knott

Do you have any questions about what we’re up to?

de Haan

Not really.

Knott

We appreciate you coming up here and driving that long distance.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, about how you got into public service? Give us a little bit of background on your life.

de Haan

To start with, I wanted to be in Foreign Service going back to when I was a kid, literally, and we had a game called “Yankee Trader.” You’ve probably never heard of it. It was probably in the late ‘30s and early '40s, and it had to do with the whole world. I always found it interesting. That got me started, and unlike a lot of people, I had that in my head right from the beginning, and it never really changed.

It was always just a question of whether I would pursue a law or doctoral degree. I chose the latter, and then ended up working on international issues for the Senate. I interviewed with the State Department and the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] but in the end, I knew I was more advocative and politically oriented. The first campaign I ever worked in was [Harry] Truman’s in 1948—and remember his whistle-stop at Union Station in Grand Rapids. Coming out of a Democratic family, from an early age I heard a lot about labor unions and politics.

Knott

Where was this?

de Haan

In Michigan. I was brought up in Michigan. I remember, for example the Labor Day rallies: Democratic candidates would cover Detroit, Lansing, and Grand Rapids. I remember distinctly—I can see it—[Adlai] Stevenson came to Grand Rapids, and he was sitting on the platform. Everybody looked at his shoe: he had a big hole in his shoe. Everybody knows the story. One of his campaign buttons was a silver shoe with a hole in it. Of course, I have one.

I went to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, and from there I got a long-term fellowship to Georgetown University. I studied in the graduate school there, mainly foreign affairs. I majored at Calvin in political philosophy, history, and political science, that general area. Calvin College, of course, has a religious context. Georgetown has a religious context, so being educated by the Calvinists and the Jesuits—who think alike in many ways—was pretty good.

At Georgetown I studied Marxism, the Soviet system, and Eastern Europe. I was into the Russian language and Marxist philosophy. Dr. Jan Karski, the well-known World War II and Marxist expert, was my mentor. My PhD dissertation was on the Marxist theory of the state, so I was kind of a Soviet expert but I also focused on international organization and law. I taught at Franklin and Marshall College for three semesters, from '60 to '61.

Just before that, I had a Fulbright Scholarship to the Free University [Vrije Universiteit] of Amsterdam. I was particularly interested in contrasting Protestant and Catholic Christian Democratic parties in Europe, which were very popular at that point, and Communist or Socialist parties. I went to study the Dutch system because that portrayed the situation rather well. Then, for my dissertation, I went into the Asian parties, like the Chinese Communist Party. I went to Franklin and Marshall to teach and then also did some teaching at Georgetown School of Foreign Affairs. But I always had politics in the back of my mind.

While I enjoyed teaching, and lecturing, a great deal and still do, I was more of an advocate. I thought I was fairly astute politically on issues, so I got involved with that professionally and initially with Senator [Philip] Hart of Michigan. I had worked for him in the campaign in 1954 when he ran for Lieutenant Governor of Michigan, so he hired me.

Morrisroe

This is about 1960?

de Haan

Sixty-one. He was chair of the Refugee Subcommittee, and that’s how I actually got on the Refugee Committee, until Kennedy took over. Now about my political background: while at Georgetown, I worked, in 1956—I can’t explain how these things happen; sometimes they just happen because you’re in the right place at the right time.

Senator [Estes] Kefauver, who was running for Vice President, needed people to help him, and his administrative assistant, Phil Hannan, was in one of my classes. He’s no longer alive, but he was a prominent Democrat. He put me at Kefauver’s side, in effect. I prepared all the work for his campaign speeches. In other words, they had briefing books. I wasn’t an advance person, but he had to know the ethnicities in Omaha and that kind of thing, so that’s what I did all during the 1956 campaign.

I also worked, off and on, for Senator [Ralph] Yarborough of Texas on correspondence and various other things. Then I worked for JFK [John Fitzgerald Kennedy], also in late '59 and January 1960. At that point, Franklin and Marshall College asked me to come up there to teach. In the meantime, one of Kennedy’s campaign managers, David Hackett, a very important person in the campaign, came into the office and said, “We want you to take a job in the Kennedy campaign.” I thought, Well, let’s see here. What am I going to do? Stay in this campaign or go to teach? I went and taught.

Knott

Do you regret that?

de Haan

No, I really don’t.

Knott

Why do you think you came down on the side of teaching? You didn’t have doubts about JFK’s ability to win, did you?

de Haan

No, not really, but I had been an advocate of Adlai Stevenson, for one thing. I didn’t have any problem with Kennedy. I had met him, so it wasn’t like I didn’t know the man—not that I really knew him, but I knew enough about him. I just decided for teaching because I thought, Well, the politics is going to be there all the time, and maybe I should go teach a little bit. So, I taught political theory and philosophy, and international law and international relations at Franklin and Marshall. I enjoyed that tremendously, and when that temporary job was over—it was for three semesters—then it was a question of going back to Washington and what do I do?

Senator Hart had a job, and I said, “I’ll take it.” It was in that process that I applied to the University of Virginia and a lot of other places. Most of them said no. So that started, and how do you get out of it? In politics, you either like it or you don’t. There’s nothing in between. You can think of yourself as a little bit above the politician because you’re a policy person—which I am—so you don’t get involved in the nitty-gritty of the political strategies. They need good staff people—or they should. Some of them do, some of them don’t; it depends. Hart had very good people. Of course, there are offices with a lot of political hacks, and there are others with very good people.

That’s how I got involved. Kennedy, of course, was elected in 1962.

Morrisroe

Had you had occasion to meet him?

de Haan

I did not meet him until 1964. He was elected in 1962.

Knott

Let me make sure. We have you starting with Edward Kennedy in the spring of '63.

Morrisroe

That’s when he started with the committee, but it was Hart.

Knott

For the committee. You were still with Hart at the time.

de Haan

Oh, yes. I stayed with Hart until early 1965. Kennedy came to the Senate in 1963.

Morrisroe

But he wasn’t chair of the committee until '65.

de Haan

No, he was not. In fact, I don’t think he was even on the committee. He was on the Immigration Subcommittee, maybe. I don’t recall exactly. Then we had the assassination. I’d like to talk a little bit about the context. I think he came in 1964 to run immigration hearings, and that gets to something that I want to discuss.

There was a lot of concern about President [Lyndon Baines] Johnson, about how liberal he was going to be, and whether he was going to carry out JFK’s program. Of course, one of the big items was immigration. A bill was sent up to the Senate in 1963 and introduced on the Senate side by Senator Hart and on the House side by Congressman [Emanuel] Celler of New York, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. This was a bill to get rid of the national origins quota system [Immigration Act of 1965], and it was not going anywhere.

In January of 1964, President Johnson was persuaded to call the unions and the voluntary agencies, all the religious groups, to the White House. I remember the day very well because I went with Phil Hart, and there was about two feet of snow in Washington, which is a total catastrophe, particularly in 1964, when they didn’t know about snow. They had hundreds of people there. If it wasn’t hundreds, there certainly were an awful lot of people there, Members of Congress, Senator [James] Eastland and so on. The whole point of that meeting was for Johnson to indicate to the immigration community, so to speak, that he was in favor of this bill and intended to carry it out.

After that meeting, Ted Kennedy went back to the Senate and conducted the first hearings on the bill in 1964. It was in that context that I first met him. And of course at the end of 1964 we had the election: Johnson was reelected, and Kennedy was elected to a full term. Then when the Congress organized, the 89th Congress, late in January of 1965, the Judiciary Committee had organized, and Senator Hart gave up the Refugee Committee, and Kennedy took it over. The rest of the staff left, but I stayed there. He needed somebody on immigration, and I did have a previous association with his brother. It wasn’t that important, but at least he got the point that there was a tie there. So we had the interview.

Knott

He personally interviewed you?

de Haan

Oh, yes. I went to his office. I throw this in because of an observation I made at the time. A lot of Senators’ offices are very bright, with light coming in. At the time, I was struck by Kennedy’s office. It had very low lighting, and it has always remained that way. It wasn’t that you couldn’t see, but it was a very comfortable, hospitable kind of place. Some of them had stuff everywhere and bright lights. His office had a very interesting atmosphere, and I assumed that was conducive to many things. That’s where we had the first interview. I can’t remember all the questions he asked, but he certainly was a very serious person, no question about that.

Morrisroe

Did he leave any impressions with you about his level of knowledge about the refugee issue?

de Haan

Very definitely. Maybe not so much the level of knowledge, but it certainly was there. He knew about these things. He was interested in background, and he even asked, “How many languages do you speak?” or “What languages have you studied?” Well, I had studied many, many languages: Russian, Spanish, French—sometimes four and five years at a time—not that I spoke them all. But he was interested in that and in the courses I took in college and my background.

He mentioned in that context that he had gone to The Hague Academy of International Law, and I had gone to the Free University of Amsterdam. I also happen to be of Dutch origin, and I speak Dutch. I think he got a charge out of that; we had this commonality. He wanted me to know what was important and number one with him clearly was the Immigration Bill. Of course, I knew the Immigration Bill backward and forward. This was late January, and hearings were already scheduled for February 10. He was going to chair those hearings. Senator Eastland was chairman of the Judiciary and chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee, but Senator Kennedy was asked to chair these hearings, and that was a signal that something was going to happen on immigration.

What arrangements were made at that point, I don’t know. He was going to chair those hearings, so one of the first things we talked about was his opening statement. He had a pretty good idea of what he wanted to say. I can’t remember everything in it, but I said I had written dozens of speeches that Senator Hart had given all over the country. I had written things for Senator [Hubert] Humphrey and several other liberal Senators. I thought to myself, What in the world am I going to write for Kennedy? There’s not anything else to say.

But I tried to reword things and put it in the context of the way he would say it. A few days later, he went over the speech, as he tended to do. He was right into the stuff, and he would say something like, “Well, maybe we should put it this way: ‘No, the bill will not do this; the bill will not do that,’” because there were many charges that the bill would do this and let in all these Asians and so on. The whole point of his approach to this—which I call very politically astute from a policy point of view in terms of getting something done—was to establish what this bill would not do. In other words, he went immediately on the offensive against the opponents of the bill. His tack, as far as I was concerned, was very important to him.

So we redid the speech and put it in that context. It wasn’t a long speech. I happen to have it here. It’s not particularly heavy, but it made the point, and it put people on the defensive who were opposing the bill for all kinds of reasons that didn’t make any sense to us. So on the immigration stuff, he knew what he wanted.

I also have to point out that his grandfather, John Fitzgerald, “Honey Fitz,” was a Congressman in the 1890s. He was very active in immigration, and the Senator was very interested in his record—not that he didn’t know what was going on—but he said, “Can you find out a little more?”

Knott

Specifically about Honey Fitz’s record?

de Haan

Yes, very definitely. I went to the Library of Congress, where I spent a lot of time. I went through the Congressional Records of the 1890s to find out exactly what Kennedy did. Well, he had bills not to discriminate against Italians and Jews and Greeks and Eastern Europeans, involving literacy and health requirements. The history of immigration is very definitive and detailed. There were all kinds of things that people would introduce to stop the flow of immigrants into the country. Part of this, of course, had to do with race and national origin, although that wasn’t discussed at the time. But in any case, it was there.

It was also interesting that he was interested in refugees. He had bills for the relief of refugees from the Boer War, which I found interesting, and the Senator did, too, because he hadn’t been aware of that. There’s a little history on the question of immigration and refugees.

Knott

Was he surprised to learn these things?

de Haan

No. He knew the gist of what his grandfather did, but he didn’t know the specifics of it. He’s told the story a thousand times; I heard it many times. He’s the one who brought it up, but he didn’t know the details. I don’t think people are aware of this, and he spoke about these things. You know, back in the early 1900s, this question of national origins was very important. If you go back and look at the history of immigration in that period, there was the [William P.] Dillingham Commission [United States Joint Immigration Commission], for example, in 1907, ‘08, '09. They were trying eugenics and everything else under the sun to show that a certain species—Anglo-Saxons in particular, Western Europeans—were the top of the heap and the rest of them—We’re not sure we want these people.

That’s the origin of the national origins quota system, and they had many hearings on these things right in the Congress, where they talked about racial things, about nationalities and so forth. You read some of these things, and you can’t believe what you’re seeing. You think, Good heavens. The 1950s and '60s wasn’t that long ago. There were immigration bills all the way through. The national origins quota system, of course, came into effect in the 1920s, and it was reinforced in the [Immigration and Nationality] Act of 1952, which President Truman vetoed.

In any case, he was really interested in that. And of course JFK spent a lot of time on immigration. There were bills after bills after bills. There’s a whole family tradition there on the question of immigration.

Knott

Did EMK [Edward M. Kennedy] see immigration as a civil rights issue?

de Haan

Oh, absolutely. That was one of the reasons he pushed it so hard in the context of that time. I don’t think it was by accident by a long shot. For example, this is the best summary of the Immigration Act of 1965 in terms of what actually happened. This is his article. I happen to have written it, but he went over it, and it’s all there.

Knott

It’s his summary of the Immigration Act of 1965?

de Haan

It’s his summary. It’s in the American Political Science Association. It’s a very good article, and it really covers the waterfront. Johnson put it, “First come, first served, regardless of race, religion, or whatever.” The bill tried to do that and, in fact, did do that. Kennedy immediately put this in the context of civil rights, and it opened the way also to international human rights. He always thought of things in a global context, which was important on the question of immigration because there was a lot of appeal to the Italians and the Poles.

We have less of that today, perhaps, but at that period, ethnicity and the ethnic groups were very important politically in terms of votes. His appeal was not so much to individual things—except Irish immigration; he did have a thing about that—but he tried to put it into a global context in relation to other countries. That, of course, led to the issue of international human rights, which also was not very popular in those days. And that led to the Subcommittee on Refugees. The two were tied together very carefully; that was quite deliberate. Someone didn’t sit there and plot it out, but it all fell into place, and it was a question of his leadership that said this and that.

What might be interesting is the atmosphere of the day. I mentioned that there was a question about Johnson’s loyalty to liberal causes. I don’t know whether you call that an in-house kind of thing, but certainly unions and volunteer agencies were concerned about it. Liberals in the Congress were concerned about it. People used to talk about it. I would hear conversations about it between members of the Senate or members of the Senate and the House.

I’m sure that on the other side of the coin, some of the other Democrats like Eastland had their own ideas and had their own discussions. I don’t think there’s any question about that.

Morrisroe

As we’re getting into discussions of the Immigration Bill, can you paint us a picture of the committee membership at that time, with Eastland and [Birch] Bayh and Hart and [Everett] Dirksen? What were the politics of that committee? Let’s say on immigration, given that’s the topic we’re going to speak about mostly.

de Haan

I don’t remember exactly who was on the committee at that point, but certainly Eastland was chairman. [John R.] McClellan was a stand-in for Eastland. McClellan was always a member, for example, of the Refugee Subcommittee, forever and ever. He never interfered—not that he was going to—but people would ask why he was on the committee. We said, “Well, he’s a member of the Judiciary Committee. Maybe he has an interest in refugees; who knows?”

Morrisroe

But he didn’t take an active role.

de Haan

No. He never came to a hearing or anything. We had Eastland and McClellan.

Morrisroe

[Joseph] Tydings?

de Haan

Who else was on the committee? I was thinking of conservatives.

Morrisroe

[Kenneth] Keating? Or do you mean on the subcommittee?

de Haan

No. The full committee. The politics of the full committee were such that Dirksen was on that committee. He was the ranking Republican, if I’m not mistaken. I think Keating was on there too. [Jacob] Javits was on there, if I’m not mistaken.

Morrisroe

Yes.

de Haan

[Charles] Mathias of Maryland was probably on there. On the Democratic side, it was Hart. I can’t remember all the others, but a key Senator on the committee was Sam Ervin, and this was very important, as it turned out, because he is the one who turned the tide in terms of, “Well, Ted, I guess we can support that.”

Kennedy used to go to these people. He was an old-fashioned Senator, let me put it that way. We don’t see much of that today, at least that’s not my observation. Kennedy was the kind of guy who would go to the elders, and most of the elders happened to be in the South, believe it or not. We had Senator Eastland, and we had Senator McClellan and we had Senator Ervin and we had Senator [Richard] Russell. On Indochina, for example, he would talk with Senator Russell often, and he also met Senator [J. William] Fulbright. I’m talking about people like Senator [John] Sparkman. I can remember going to meetings with him with Senator Eastland late in the afternoon, where they—

[Break in Audio]

Knott

How were those interactions?

de Haan

Very good. There was no problem with them as chairman. They were very interesting meetings, and we got a lot of things done. You have to remember that in the political world, more so at that time I suppose than this time, you sat and you talked and you agreed, and that was the end of it. There weren’t emails and notes. I’m not even sure there was a shake of the hand, but people understood what you were talking about, and things just happened.

If there was a problem with one of Kennedy’s study missions, for example, the Senator would go there, and I’d go with him. “We just want this,” or “Can you do this?” There was kind of a quid pro quo sometimes, but everything worked, and—I hate to repeat myself—in a way I don’t see happening today.

In any case, in terms of immigration, he certainly talked with all these people, and the key person was Ervin. On the Republican side, I would say the key person—and I’m talking about power now, as opposed to in favor of immigration, like Keating, because he’s from New York—was Dirksen. He was from Illinois, and he had other views about certain things. The two key people were Ervin and Dirksen. Eastland was chair, and if he gave the green light for something to happen, it happened.

But then we got to the guts of the bill and what was going to be in it. Then we got into questions of ideology and policy and liberal and conservative, and numbers and what kinds of people. Kennedy was very good at talking about these things because he knew the details of these issues, as he does on health. There’s no Senator who knows more about health than Ted Kennedy. He can talk anybody under the table, and on immigration he could pretty much do the same thing. He had the figures, and they listened to him because he knew what he was talking about. I don’t know if that explains it a little bit.

Morrisroe

Yes, that’s helpful.

de Haan

On a lot of these questions—and particularly on something like immigration—you need leadership. If you don’t have a leader in the White House or certainly in Congress, things don’t get done. Historically, immigration reform happened once a generation.

Knott

On this question of whether Johnson was sufficiently progressive, I assume it was ultimately settled that he was, but we’re talking the early months here after he assumes the Presidency?

de Haan

That’s exactly right.

Knott

There were some serious doubts.

de Haan

Oh, there were. I can tell you there were very serious doubts, and they came from liberals. You know who they are: Senator Hart—I worked with him—and Kennedy.

Knott

Kennedy had his doubts as well?

de Haan

Oh, yes. There were questions about it. In the case of Kennedy, I wouldn’t put it so much in the context of “Will Johnson carry these out?” You have to remember, this really gets to the atmosphere at the time. In my mind, this is very important in terms of what happened. This whole business of refugees and immigration really needed attention because right from the end of the war all the way through, we had to have a Displaced Persons Commission. I don’t want to go into all the history here, but there was opposition to letting these people in the country, and Truman had to do Executive orders.

Then we had the Immigration Act in 1952, which kept the national origins quota system despite Truman and the liberals and the unions and everybody else. Of course he vetoed it, and the Congress overrode the veto. [Dwight D.] Eisenhower was a Republican, and he was sympathetic, but it was always “Democratic lite.” If we talk about “Republican lite” today, well, that was “Democratic lite.” Javits would have a problem even with that because these northeastern people thought like Democrats.

In any case, it was a policy that needed attention. It was immigration and it was refugees and it was international human rights. We had to move past the [Joseph] McCarthy era. That was very important. We had to move beyond captive nations because this was a very important thing. We had people like a professor at Georgetown University, [Lev] Dobriansky, whom I happen to have known very well. He was Ukrainian, and to these people the captive nations were very important. There was a lot of response to this, in the big cities in particular, because they had a lot of Eastern Europeans and Poles and Ukrainians. But we had to move beyond that. It was refugees from Communism.

When Kennedy came in, I think what happened in the three years he was President is very significant. This served as the basis not only of the Immigration Subcommittee—to the degree that Kennedy managed the Immigration Subcommittee as well as the Refugee Committee—but as chair of the Refugee Committee, he took these things up. It wasn’t so much a question of thinking about What’s Johnson going to do? It was more a question of How are we going to carry out this JFK program? That was the issue. It wasn’t anything that people sat there and discussed. It was just that we had these things to do. What’s the agenda? Well, it’s right here. Where did it come from? The Kennedy administration. To my mind, that’s a very important context in which to see this whole thing work.

Now, you have to remember that one of JFK’s first Executive orders—maybe number two or maybe even the first one—established the Cuban Refugee Program. I find that totally remarkable, because the Cuban refugees started coming in after [Fidel] Castro came to power—or even before that. I can’t remember the numbers now, and that’s not important, but the Eisenhower administration actually did something.

You have to remember, they were at the end of the term, so they didn’t go out of their way, or they didn’t want to establish things, and that probably was a good idea. But one of the first things Kennedy did was establish the Cuban Refugee Program. He did it by Executive order. There was no legislation; it just happened, just like that. If you go into the details, it was quite an incredible program that covered absolutely everything. It was very important, because for the first time in the history of the United States, we were a country of first asylum. We had never been a country of first asylum; this was the first time it ever happened.

Knott

What’s the significance of that?

de Haan

It’s when refugees cross into a country from another country. We never had that happen here before.

Morrisroe

People from Canada and Mexico or Caribbean countries were not making—

de Haan

That’s right, because our boundaries—

Morrisroe

To the extent we had refugees, they came through intermediary countries.

de Haan

That’s right.

Morrisroe

Eastern Europe or Latin America.

de Haan

That’s right. So, refugees fleeing a dictatorship came directly to the United States—by the thousands. That was the first time that had happened. In my mind, that was a very important thing. The second thing I attach great importance to is that he proposed to the Congress what became the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962. This provided funds for the Cuban Refugee Program and an authorization for the United Nations, a permanent authority of funds to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration, and to the whole apparatus of assistance to refugees.

This law was very important. It was important the day of the Vietnam evacuation. The law is still on the books in one form or another. This was a very important piece of legislation that had not existed. The other thing people forget is that Kennedy took a very strong initiative on Arab refugees back in 1962—I think it was '62—in line with UN Resolution 242, compensation to Palestinians. Today that’s such a controversial issue, and it was even into the '70s. We can go into more of that, because Kennedy was heavily involved in all this business.

Morrisroe

Was that by Executive order as well?

de Haan

He wrote letters. I don’t recall now exactly to whom they were written, but it was an initiative that would bring together countries under the United Nations to work out a plan for the compensation of Arab refugees in these UNRA [United Nations Refugee Agency] camps scattered around Egypt and Jordan. The West Bank, of course, was Jordanian at that point, and Lebanon and so forth.

The interesting part of it is that the person who rode herd on this in the White House was—His name escapes me. This was supported by the Jewish community, by the way, and this is what I wanted to get at. There was a basis there to do something in the Arab world with these refugees, and it was public knowledge. It was viewed as a diplomatic question in addition to a relief question, and he took the initiative on that.

Morrisroe

Given that you’re there, and you’re starting to work in Congress on refugee issues at approximately the same time, in a Hart subcommittee or in the Judiciary—or even in Congress in general, since this is a Congress Kennedy is now a part of—is there a similar impetus to move on these refugee issues, or is this mostly happening in the Kennedy White House?

de Haan

There was hesitation in Congress. Senator Hart laid a foundation for that, but as I pointed out, the focus on refugees in particular and international human rights was always on refugees from Communism in Eastern Europe and from China. Anything beyond that was a little bit shaky, and it needed leadership.

Morrisroe

So, Kennedy enters.

de Haan

Oh, absolutely.

Morrisroe

So, when Kennedy entered and inherited the committee, it was something of a task to mobilize the Senate on that issue.

de Haan

That’s exactly right. Senator Hart laid the foundation, because he started to do things in Africa. G. Mennen Williams, the former Governor of Michigan, was the Assistant Secretary for Africa, appointed by President Kennedy, and I happen to have known him fairly well. He was heavily involved in these African things, the Angolans and so on, so there was a movement in that direction for different parts of the world. But the mandate of the Subcommittee on Refugees covered refugees only from Communism.

Morrisroe

Really?

de Haan

The original name of the committee was “refugees and escapees.” You have to remember that at the time there was a Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, which was run by Senator [Thomas J.] Dodd at one point. In any case, it was very anti-Communist, and there was “a Communist under every bed” and that kind of nonsense.

So, any time you started going beyond that sort of thing, there was a great deal of hesitation. President Kennedy tried to change that; there’s no question about that, he talked about it. If you go back and read his speeches, you get that immediately. I mention the Alliance for Progress. That was very important also in terms of refugees. People forget that, but we had all these dictatorships in Latin America. We had the resettlement of Cubans who had to go places, and human rights questions. The Alliance for Progress was to help facilitate these humanitarian things in addition to the economic, trade, and so forth. And you must remember also that the administration abandoned the Bracero program for the illegal Mexicans.

Knott

What was that?

de Haan

In the 1950s, we had a program where we imported Mexicans to do farm labor and pick the apples. These people were exploited beyond belief; they were paid nothing, and it was really terrible. Out of that, of course, we had Cesar Chavez. Kennedy abandoned the Bracero program. I point all these things out because these were all things he did related to migration and refugees in the three years he was there. This was the agenda of the Refugee Committee. We also had things like aid to China during the Mongolian earthquake. The Chinese rejected the offer. All this stuff Ted Kennedy saw as a basis to expand and work through the Refugee Committee.

Morrisroe

Did he get any pushback from the leadership on either side of the aisle for taking the committee in that direction?

de Haan

Yes, from time to time he did. He tried to change as early as 1966. The committees are authorized every year in January, and in 1966—I have a memo, in fact, that talks about it—he tried to change the mandate of the subcommittee to include refugees from all over the world.

Morrisroe

To drop the focus on anti-Communism.

de Haan

That’s right, but that didn’t work at that point.

Morrisroe

Were there members of the committee who particularly stopped it? Obviously, Eastland would have the authority to do that.

de Haan

There were people who didn’t think it was the thing to do. You also have to remember that Kennedy, when he took on an issue, saw these humanitarian questions not just as a question of relief—"Let’s count the numbers"—he put it in a foreign policy context. So, when he talked about Vietnam, it wasn’t just about these refugees; he ended up talking about U.S. policy. When he did refugees in Cyprus, it wasn’t just these poor refugees in Cyprus; it had to do with relations with the Greeks and the Turks.

Bangladesh is a prime example of these refugee problems. In Bangladesh, we had ten million refugees, and that’s a horrible problem, but there were political problems that helped to cause this problem, and it existed in a very political context. There was a war. There was a question of U.S. arms policies, for example, to Pakistan. Every one of these problems was put in a foreign policy context. What I’m leading up to is that there were some people who weren’t so sure that he should be doing that. I’ll just be blunt about it. There were, from time to time, questions raised by the Foreign Relations Committee people: “Ted, why are you doing this? We’re doing this.”

Knott

In other words, this is not your purview?

de Haan

More or less. The committee was a kind of platform where he could talk about many foreign policy issues, and he would put them in a humanitarian context. This was an entry into these problems. He had other foreign policy interests that other people handled, but in the Subcommittee on Refugees, we handled these.

Morrisroe

So that committee became a wedge, essentially, to open up an entire avenue.

de Haan

Oh, absolutely. People were saying, “Oh, you’re running for President. You have to have this and you have to have that.” You can even find articles about Kennedy’s staff, all of whom were very good. He had a good staff. He used these things as a leader, to do—he wanted to get things done.

Knott

This raises an interesting question. Did you ever sense any resentment on the part of some of his colleagues about the fact that he was a Kennedy? He was still a young man, and yet he’s a high-profile figure because of the fact that his brother had been President. Did you ever pick up any of that, that he was getting an inordinate amount of attention because he was—?

de Haan

There was some of that. You couldn’t really put your finger on it, but every now and then, somebody would make a comment. I’m talking about the '60s and into the '70s. Today we’re way beyond that. There was also respect, so that if Kennedy or his staff did something—like me for example—sometimes people would apologize or write notes: “We’re sorry we did this because we didn’t know you were involved or the Senator was involved—”

It was a mixed bag, shall we say. But he certainly was a leader, and he was persistent in this. The other thing, as long as we’re on this subject, which I always found interesting—and he still does this, by the way. He’s a Kennedy, and they think of themselves as being something special, in a way, because of the history and the President and so forth. And in a sense they are. He won’t necessarily go on every Senate letter.

A very good example of that is the POW [prisoners of war] issue and Missing in Action [MIA] in Indochina. Now, I find that whole history absolutely and utterly fascinating simply because—talk about persistence! He was persistent on that issue from Day One in 1965 until the end of the war and afterward. He would be criticized left and right because he would not join in the debates with other people. Other people had knee-jerk reactions to the POW question, and they used it as a club to beat the heads of Hanoi all the time. They were always beating up on Hanoi for mistreating our prisoners.

Kennedy wasn’t interested in that at all. He was interested in finding out who these people were, how they were being treated. Can they get mail, can they do this, can they do that? He expanded that on and on as this whole episode—I’m the one who led most of this stuff all the way through, so I know the details of this whole business.

Morrisroe

If I understand correctly, he was resistant to sign on to broader, generic letters that simplified an issue like that.

de Haan

Oh, absolutely. I have no question. It was the same way in the Middle East. He had his own views on the Middle East. This is very important, because on the Middle East, everybody goes along with the crowd on the various things involving arms to Israel or whatever. Obviously, if 40 or 50 Senators sign a letter, well then, everybody’s going to sign it because why not? But he had other interests than catering to that kind of thinking. I’ll give you a prime example. He worked with Senator [Mark] Hatfield, a Republican, and Senator [Charles] Percy, a Republican, both of whom, to one degree or another, were considered Arabists. They weren’t against Israel, but they were considered Arabists as that term was used in the State Department and elsewhere.

Well, Kennedy was interested in UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees. He was interested that they get enough money to have good educations, to train people, to have food and the whole business, because he believed that if they didn’t take care of these people, there was going to be a problem. Sometimes these people weren’t being taken care of in a proper kind of way. So he was very much into this UNRWA business, and every year he would work with Hatfield, in particular, to make sure there was a Hatfield/Kennedy amendment or Kennedy/Hatfield bill to work on these Arab refugees.

Morrisroe

Did that engender any opposition from traditional Democratic organizations?

de Haan

Oh, yes. People raised questions about that. The first study mission he sent overseas was to the Middle East. I went to Israel and to the Middle East in 1966, before the '67 war. That’s the importance he attached to the Middle East and to the Arabs. We started out in Beirut, and then we went to Jordan and Egypt. We ended up in Israel. The point I’m making is that the first study mission he sent out under the Refugee Committee was to the Middle East to study Arab refugees. Senator Javits was a member of the subcommittee, so it was not a—He was criticized for that.

Morrisroe

And how did he respond?

de Haan

He didn’t. He’d just say, “I’m doing humanitarian things. We believe these people need to be helped, and we’re interested in solving this problem.” It was put in that context. He didn’t necessarily have solutions to the problem, because he said that people should talk about this in their areas. The Israelis should talk with other people. The point was that he didn’t want to create conditions where there would be problems. He wanted to get away from that. To illustrate it even more, immediately after the October Yom Kippur War in 1973, he sent a study mission to the Middle East. There were three people involved: me, and at that point, he had another staff member who did nonhumanitarian things.

Morrisroe

A committee staff member or a member of his staff?

de Haan

No, he was a member of his staff who did NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] things and Soviet things. And another person was associated with the Israeli part of it. I went to Beirut. I also went to Damascus. We had no embassy in Damascus as of 1967, and we certainly didn’t have one in 1973. I went there under UN auspices, in a UN car, but Kennedy insisted that someone go to Damascus. The State Department strenuously objected. They said, “Nobody has to go to Damascus. Henry Kissinger hasn’t even been there.”

Well, as it turned out, Henry Kissinger ended up going there, and after he went, they said, “Okay, if you really have to send somebody, you can send somebody.” So Dale de Haan went to Damascus to talk with the Foreign Ministry, and I carried a letter from Senator Kennedy—We had letters to all the heads of state, to President [Hafez al] Assad and so forth, and I did that. I talked with the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization], and I was roundly criticized. In Jewish communities, some people got very upset with me every time the PLO was mentioned. Well, the PLO was there, and we recognized that. Sometimes you have to talk with these people, and you have to recognize that they’re there, which doesn’t mean you approve or anything of the sort.

Kennedy’s approach was that way. The Damascus visit was very important to him. Then I went to Jordan and delivered a letter for King Hussein [bin-Talal]. My colleague went to Saudi Arabia to work on oil, and then we all ended up in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, to talk with the Israelis. He did this in defiance, almost, I must say, but that really wasn’t it.

Knott

Well, it was politically risky.

de Haan

It was politically risky, and he did it, and it was a very important thing because he established a—I don’t want to say rapport—but certainly a communication link with the Syrians that he was serious about this business, and he wasn’t a lackey of Israel or whatever these people wanted to call him. He was interested in solving these problems. I just throw that out because this was his approach.

I always find the POW issues the most interesting. He was accused of supporting Hanoi, and I was accused of being a Communist. I read it in the newspaper—even people in the State Department—I would pick up the paper sometimes and find myself called a “pinko,” right in the Washington Evening Star. There was a lot of stuff there, and a lot of Senators will not get involved in that kind of thing. They couldn’t deal with that, but Kennedy was the kind of person who could.

Knott

This is where his name gave him some protection.

de Haan

That’s exactly right.

Morrisroe

I have a question about the study trips abroad. I’m sure we’ll go into much greater detail on the ones to Vietnam and elsewhere, but I’m curious. How autonomous were subcommittee chairs to advance study missions abroad? Did that require the chair’s approval? Could a chair veto the expenditure of subcommittee resources on that?

de Haan

Yes. I don’t know of anybody who sent out more study missions than Kennedy, really, and it wasn’t just a question of two staff members looking at things. He would have experts: doctors and social workers. He would have people who had nothing to do with the Senate but who certainly knew about the issues they were looking at. As many as nine people at times would go on these study missions.

At one point, we had a study mission between the Subcommittee on Refugees and the Subcommittee on Health, of which he, of course, was also the chair. We studied refugees’ health, food, all the Third World problems. I can’t remember now if there were five or six or seven people on that particular study mission.

Eastland had to approve these things. He never rejected one. I always find that interesting. Sometimes the Senator would say, “I can’t go to Eastland again,” and we’d say, “We’ll write him a nice letter.” We’d have these kinds of conversations. “Why don’t you go talk with Joe Davis or somebody on the committee?” To make a long story short, there was never any question about it. If I couldn’t solve it with the clerk of the committee or the staff director, they would say, “You have to go to the chair.” Then I’d have to go to Eastland—or Kennedy would go to Eastland. But there was never a rejection of a study mission that I can think of.

Morrisroe

Do you recall any circumstance under which the chair put certain conditions or made suggestions about the nature of a study mission?

de Haan

Not really. That’s an interesting question. It’s always been a “behave yourself” kind of thing. How should I put it? I think all of us there—and certainly the Senator—were very astute politically and diplomatically. There was never a scandal, there was never a big issue that appeared in the paper as long as I was there. Now, there were some governments that didn’t like us and would call us nasty names in the local press. Sometimes he would go on TV [television]—or I would go on TV if we were traveling—and make a comment, and we would get clobbered. But we were protected by the fact that we were Americans and colleagues don’t treat people like that. It was that kind of thing.

I happened to be there one time when Eastland said, “You’re going after all these Vietnamese? We don’t need all those people here. Well, okay, I guess we have to take care of them, but can you find some? I might need some down in Mississippi.”

Morrisroe

Some Vietnamese?

de Haan

What is he talking about? We all knew what he was talking about. I throw that in because all this stuff was very serious, but you had to have a sense of humor, and you had to be amused from time to time because people make comments like that.

Knott

This relationship between Kennedy and Eastland is fascinating, because I can’t think of two more different people.

de Haan

Oh, they’re totally different.

Knott

Two totally different worlds, two different world views. I’m trying to figure out how it could possibly have worked. Was Kennedy somewhat deferential to this older man? Did he treat him in such a way as to win his confidence? How did he do that?

de Haan

No. He talked with him frequently; he never did things without talking to the chairman—and we always called him “the chairman.” He was very respectful. He went and talked with him many more times than the times I went with him. There were other staff people, other committees, but there was constant communication. He did this with a lot of Senators. That wasn’t anything unusual. Certainly in the context of the Judiciary Committee, this became very important; there was a mutual respect. I think it had to do with—How should I put it? Neither one was pulling tricks on the other.

It was like people used to say of Speaker [Thomas Philip] O'Neill and [Ronald] Reagan. You might put it in that context, only I think that Eastland drank bourbon. In fact, that’s probably a good example, because you always hear that story about O'Neill going to Reagan, and they certainly were at opposite ends, but they had to get things done—not just refugees, but the whole Senate had to be run.

Kennedy did the same thing with Ervin on immigration, and I remember distinctly on Vietnam with Senator Russell. He said, “I’m going to talk to Senator Russell because he wants to know whether this is right. Is this right? Are we sure about this kind of thing? Is this absolutely correct?”

Then he’d go talk with Senator Russell, and they were lulled: “Ted, if that’s the way it is, then we have to do something about it.” He never played games with people. Not that games weren’t played, but you know what I’m saying. It was factual. If you had something, it was, “This is the way it is.” Why is it the way it is? “Well, I talked with So-and-So,” or “Stansfield Turner, the head of the CIA, told me.” He did that with a lot of people. The Eastland thing was, of course, very important, as I said, because of the Judiciary Committee.

Morrisroe

Can you talk a bit about his relationship with Javits? It appears that on a number of occasions—the Immigration Bill of 1965 being one example—he partnered with Javits, often times in opposition to Dirksen.

de Haan

That’s right. You’re absolutely right on that.

Morrisroe

So it seems an interesting relationship.

de Haan

Javits, of course, was a liberal, so on all of these things on the Judiciary Committee, he would essentially vote with the Democrats. Senator Keating, the other Senator, was a little bit more conservative. Javits represented New York City, let’s say, whereas Keating was more upstate New York. But they did work together—for example, on the Middle East business. When he worked on UNRWA, he would talk to Javits. Javits was a very talkative person; he wasn’t a shrinking violet; he was not a wimp on anything. He was concerned about the Palestine Liberation Army at that point in the 1960s, so he would say, “Well, Ted, that’s fine. We should really do these things, but let’s make sure we’re dealing with this Palestinian Army, this PLO, because we don’t want those people getting rations and running schools and all that.”

And the Senator would say, “Of course not; we don’t want that.” There was always a discussion and an understanding about these kinds of things.

He was very important on the Immigration Bill because he was a counterweight to people like Dirksen. I hope you don’t mind my reverting here a minute to review the Immigration Bill. It was sent by Kennedy and then Johnson, essentially the same bill. It was really a very forward-looking bill. It put a lot of power in the hands of the President and the executive branch because it created, among other things, an immigration board that would follow the pace of immigration.

It wasn’t so much a question of wanting to get rid of these barriers to nationalities, but Kennedy was interested in choosing immigrants who would benefit our country. He was less concerned about catering to the Poles, let’s say, or the Jews or the Greeks. He was more interested in how this would assist the economic well-being and the security of this country.

So this board was established. I don’t remember all the details, but it was an important thing. His preferences in the Immigration Bill were very explicit about work. We need workers, and this board was to control that and make judgments every year. We would work with NATO. Here again is the international theme. We had worked with the United Nations. Immigration was geared to this, as it had been with President Kennedy.

There was a lot of objection to that because the strict constructionists of the Constitution on the House side, including some Democrats, said that Congress controls immigration. And if you read the Constitution, that’s exactly what it says. Now Manny Celler, who was the chair of the Judiciary Committee, went along with Kennedy, of course, and with Senator Hart and with President Johnson. But there was one Congressman—and he was thinking on behalf of many other Congresspeople as well as probably Senator Dirksen and some Republicans—who thought that the Congress controlled immigration, and there was too much power being put in the hands of the President and the executive branch. They didn’t like that.

So the actual bill that was approved by the Congress and signed by President Johnson at the Statue of Liberty is not the bill that President Johnson or Kennedy sent to the Congress. It was quite different. It did not say all refugees are welcome to the United States. It was all geared; it was a brokered kind of thing.

Okay, that’s fine. You do your compromises and you move on from there, which is what Kennedy did. But one thing happened, which I think we’re still paying the price for today, and this is very important. I give speeches around every now and then about various things, and lately we’ve been talking about immigration, so I’ve thrown this out.

People aren’t aware of this. In 1965 there was a big controversy about Western Hemisphere immigration, and the bill almost did not pass because the liberals, the pro-immigration people, wanted no quotas on the Western Hemisphere because there never had been a quota of any kind. Western Hemisphere people came to the United States any time they wanted to from anywhere. The flow was not heavy, but nevertheless, that’s the way it was. President Kennedy and President Johnson and Kennedy and Hart and Javits and all these people thought it was a good idea and we should leave it alone and see what happened. Well, Dirksen, and presumably Eastland—

Morrisroe

And certainly Ervin.

de Haan

Well, Ervin—There was a little question about that. They said, “Well then, no bill. We’re not going to have any immigration bill.” This is where Ervin played a role. You can’t put your finger on all these things, because they happen and you know who comes out on what side. But a Western Hemisphere commission was created to study the issue of immigration from the Western Hemisphere. That was a solution to the problem, and the bill was passed.

Now, if I’m not mistaken, Dirksen and Ervin promoted this commission, and so it was established. Kennedy sat on it, members of the House, members of the Senate. I worked with it, of course. It held hearings all over the country, worked on this and worked on this. And when push came to shove, they recommended that there not be any ceiling. They thought this was not the thing to do, and maybe we could have preferences, or something like that, or apply the eastern hemisphere laws to the Western Hemisphere.

That point of view didn’t win, and in 1965 the Senate and the House rejected the recommendations of the committee. Dirksen and Ervin got what they wanted in the first place. They put the cap at 120,000 refugees a year from the Western Hemisphere. I think close family relatives came above that, but anyway, there was this cap.

Kennedy immediately tried to change that in some way and kept pointing out that this was going to be a problem. The problem, of course, turned out to be the illegal alien problem because there were no controls anymore. The Bracero program had been thrown out because it was a bad bill, and I think Kennedy saw the problems, particularly with the Mexicans, as a political and diplomatic problem. It had nothing to do with numbers. It was political and diplomatic, and had to do with relieving the pressures in Mexico and also relieving work needs in the United States.

For two or three or four or five years, there was a whole discussion about commuter aliens, something that the commission actually recommended. There had been a program established—not by law, but by Executive order—where people who held green cards could work in the United States and go back home over the border at night. This is something that Kennedy really pushed. He said that to solve these problems—or at least contain them—we had to enhance this commuter alien program. They can work as maids in Austin if they want to, and go home at night.

But maybe we need some in Chicago, so let’s have this commuter alien system where people are given not green cards, but, as people used to say, purple cards—whatever color they want—to distinguish them from regular immigrants.

They really worked on that, and a lot of people believe that if this had happened, we would not have had all these pressures build up over the years into the problem we have today. That’s probably true. Kennedy predicted that if we didn’t do something about the border, because this got worse and worse, that we’re going to—We don’t need troops on the border. And he said we can’t reach the point where we have to put up walls. He talked about all these things.

Morrisroe

When was this coming out? Was this right after the ‘65 bill, or was this later in the '60s?

de Haan

This was in the late '60s, early '70s. Then we had Cesar Chavez and the farm workers, and the unions got involved. There’s a whole story there. But the origin of our problems today on the border really goes back to 1965, when we were more interested—We didn’t want all these people in here. It was a question of control, and nothing was done subsequently to deal with these pressures. There were commissions, obviously, later on.

Knott

You’ve mentioned the unions a couple of times. Did you have to deal with some union folks as part of your job? I would assume there was some tension between Senator Kennedy’s more generous position—or am I wrong on that?

de Haan

No, you’re wrong. The unions basically supported immigration. They were strong supporters of immigration. Some of the unions had slightly different views, but they were all pro-immigration, there’s no question about that. Now, when you start getting to the farm workers, that’s a whole different thing, but if you’re talking about the AFL [American Federation of Labor], the CIO [Congress of Industrial Organizations] and so forth, those people were all pro-immigration.

Kennedy went out of his way, which is another thing that’s very important in this. He talked to a lot of Senators, but he knew these voluntary agencies backward and forward. He would go speak to them; it didn’t have anything to do with whether they were on his side. He would talk to them anyway. It was religious groups, then we had the unions, and of course, in those days, the Republicans and the Democrats had nationality committees like the Democratic National Committee, because nationalities were important, and these were voting blocs. He had lines into all these things, and we knew these people by name. It was really quite incredible.

I have to throw something in here, because it was funny. Paul Kirk, of course, became the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. At one point, Kennedy was the Majority Whip of the Senate, and then at one point he lost out, which probably was a good idea. Paul Kirk came around at that point. There was always a question of room: where do we put all these people who work for Kennedy?

At one point, Paul Kirk ended up in the refugee office in the Russell Senate Office Building, Room 132, across the hall from Senator [Michael] Mansfield, who was very friendly to us. Next to him was Senator [Henry] Scoop Jackson, who was a little skeptical of us, and I won’t explain why. Down the hall there was Senator [Warren] Magnuson of Washington, who wasn’t sure about those refugees down there, and right next door to us was the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Paul Kirk came in because there was a desk in the refugee office. He was sitting here, and there was a division here, and I was sitting here. Somebody should have had a camera and a recording device, because we had the toughest pols come in to talk politics. Many of these people were unions, or they could have been Catholic priests or bishops—or cardinals, for that matter.

They’d come in, and they’d talk with Paul: “What did you come in here for?” “Well, we wanted to talk about immigration.” “Oh, Dale’s behind there.” So then they would talk nice to me. Or they would come in to me and say, “Who’s that guy sitting up there? Does he work here too?” And I’d say, “Well no, that’s Paul Kirk, he’s our political strategist for the Senator.”

Gary Hart used to come in. He became a Senator, of course, but he would come in because he was on [George] McGovern’s business. After the election, he’d come and he’d have to sit there and feel very bad, and Paul Kirk would take him in hand and say, “Don’t worry about it; there’s another day.”

Then he would come and talk to me and say, “What are we going to do with the Cambodians? What are we going to do about that?” Then, of course, he became a Senator. This room was a totally schizophrenic, fascinating room, where we had all of these different kinds of people coming in. It was really fun.

Morrisroe

That raises an interesting question, the relationship of the subcommittee staff to both the committee staff and the Senator’s staff. Can you paint us a picture of how those relationships worked?

de Haan

We always considered ourselves Kennedy staff people. There was never any question about that. We did a lot of stuff in addition to refugees. My interests were certainly broader than refugees. For example, I wrote his first statement on China. It wasn’t anything important, and other people wrote important speeches later on, but we did that kind of thing down there. I was the only foreign policy person for several years; there wasn’t anybody else there until the '70s.

We did a lot of stuff down there. He had talked to me about speeches, for example. I suppose at that point, at the very end, I probably was the only academic in the office. Most of the other people did not fall into that category. He was talking about giving speeches at various colleges. He was really interested in that, and so was I. He got together people like Ted Sorensen and Richard Goodwin and Bill Vanden Heuvel and me, and we’d sit down with him and talk about this. This went on for months and months. I took some of those notes with me.

Just in terms of, “Well, Senator, where should you speak?” I kept saying, “You should go to the Midwest.” I come from Michigan, and most of the other people came from Massachusetts or the eastern seaboard. But I kept thinking, Why don’t you go to Saint Olaf’s College in Minnesota, for example? They invited you. Why don’t you go here? Why don’t you go there? There was always discussion about all these sorts of things. “What are we going to talk about?” “You can talk about these things. Let somebody else handle these things.”

To make a long story short, he did give speeches here and there, but it wasn’t a series the way those of us who sat around that table tried to figure out. But it did end up in his book Decisions for a Decade, which was published in 1968. In this book he talks about health and all sorts of other issues. It was his first book. That was the end product of this big discussion of practically two years.

So we were involved in that, and then the other thing I had—and I don’t want to take all the credit for this. But working for Senator Hart, I was always very interested in local government and responding to constituents. I had mentioned it to the Senator, because he was saying, “What do people up there in whatever county—? I never go out there anymore. It’s too far.”

I said, “Listen, why don’t you hold a meeting of mayors of Massachusetts? Invite them to Washington; have them all down here.” If you mention things to him, he’ll say, “Well then, do it.” If he thought it was a good idea, that was it.

Knott

Did that get delegated to you?

de Haan

The onus was on you. In 1967 and in 1969, he actually ran mayor conferences in Washington, D.C. Of course, Senator Hart could draw a lot of people from the administration, but Kennedy did very well getting Cabinet people. He worked with Senator [Edward] Brooke on this—to the degree that Senator Brooke wanted to work on it—because sometimes the two of them didn’t necessarily want to work together. They had their own interests. But we had that on two occasions: we had all the mayors and local people come to Washington. They would meet with Cabinet people and have workshops about how to get poverty funds or who knows what, and they were very successful. In the end, they started holding them in the state.

Every now and then he would get letters from people. Once he got a letter—I just happened to take it because I happened to find it in the file. Somebody from an antique book place had all these signatures of President Kennedy, and he said, “They’re real.” The guy at Goodspeed in Boston or whatever this place is, said, “They’re real.”

The Senator sends me the letter and says, “What’s your reaction to this?” Why he sent it to me I really don’t know, but he did, so I checked into it a little bit, and the guy said they’re real, and he was asking so much money for them. I can’t remember the amount. I probably asked him, “You know we have a lot of signatures of President Kennedy here. What’s so special about these?” “They’re letters he sent to So-and-So.” To make a long story short, we didn’t want anything to do with it. But he would get stuff in like that, and then he would give it to somebody.

Members of the Refugee Committee were like his staff. If they had a staff meeting—which he didn’t have that often, but every now and then they would get together, and everybody would assign things that had to be done in six months or whatever. We were part of that, and the refugees wanted certain things done, and the health, and so on. Some of these subcommittees had big staffs, so there were always some principal people who would be part of the staff.

Morrisroe

How many were on the Refugee Subcommittee staff?

de Haan

I can’t remember. Never very many, but probably the highest number might have been six or seven or eight at one time. They didn’t all necessarily do refugee work, mind you, but they were related to what we did.

Morrisroe

Was there somebody on Kennedy’s staff who served as a primary liaison with the subcommittee staff? Was there someone apart from you who was permanently a member of Kennedy’s staff who hot-tasked it?

de Haan

I reported to the Senator, so any time there was a question, I would go to him or he would call me. There was never any intermediary. That didn’t mean other people weren’t called in if there was an issue, because there were other people who had other talents, shall we say—politically, for example.

Sometimes somebody would write a speech, and sometimes these speeches were circulated a little bit. Just to give you an example, I can remember somebody who speaks Spanish had written his speech. This might have been on the Chilean revolution or [Augusto] Pinochet. I can’t remember exactly, but in the context of that, he had thrown in a paragraph about Castro. The Senator believed right from Day One that we should talk with Castro about refugees. That’s a whole other story, but he was very keen on that.

The speech was praising Castro for doing all sorts of things and defending [Salvador] Allende, who then, of course, was overthrown. He gave me the speech, and I looked at it. I went to him and said, “Listen, I don’t think you should say that. I think this is the wrong thing to say.” We had the same thing on Vietnam from time to time; people would throw things in because sometimes there was question of, “Do you have any new ideas?” Sometimes it would come to me, and I would go directly to him and say, “I don’t think you should say this. This is not helpful. You’re trying to do A, B, C, and D, and this is not going to help you.”

Knott

He would listen?

de Haan

Oh, absolutely, no question. He would change a phrase or delete a phrase or add a word or a qualifier. He was very keen on that sort of thing.

Knott

Did it take you a while to build up a rapport with him?

de Haan

No, it really didn’t. It was fairly easy.

Knott

Really? Just because of the way he is, or because of your own confidence, or both?

de Haan

The way he was; we hit it off. I wasn’t telling him what to do. We had our own way of dealing with things, and he was very respectful. Now, as is true in lots of venues, but particularly in the political, there’s a question of loyalty. If he makes a judgment about your loyalty, you have carte blanche, almost, to do what has to be done, which our committee did. We did a lot of stuff he would say we should do—A, B, C, and D—and he didn’t care particularly how it was done. That wasn’t important to him. He knew we would be doing certain things to get it done. If there was an issue or if a question came up, he was right there to do it.

The POW question is a good example of that, going to Vietnam. We were the first government committee or U.S. representatives to go to Hanoi. Jane Fonda and all those people went to Hanoi. They all came into my office before they went, including Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden. But we didn’t go to Hanoi until 1973, even though we had many, many study missions to Vietnam, and I certainly went there several times. The Vietnamese invited him to send doctors and a group there. He proposed this—we should send a group there—so we did.

Knott

I was hoping we could get to Vietnam after lunch. I wanted to ask you one other question about him as a young Senator. He’s been there now for 44 years. He’s the dean of the Senate at this point, but I’m trying to get a picture of him in the early years. Was he sure of himself? Was he reliant on his staff? If you could paint a picture of how he operated as a Senator in the mid- to late '60s, it might be helpful for the historical record. Did you see any growth during the period?

de Haan

Oh yes, very definitely. There’s no question about that. He had a pretty good idea about what he wanted to do when he came in. In that sense, he was a serious person. He doesn’t always have that reputation; he has a playboy reputation and all that sort of stuff. To a degree, he did things that some people might raise an eyebrow about, but by the same token, he was very serious. He liked to have fun. He liked to be amused, and he liked to have certain kinds of people around him because they entertained him, or amused him or told him stories. Those were different people from some of his staff. These were people who came mainly from Massachusetts and people he worked with in the political minefield, shall we say. These were very good people.

He put a lot of trust in his staff. The staff was very important to him. He was very good at picking people he could rely on. But he grew over a period of time. In other words, he knew what he wanted to do, and he either thought of it or he talked with enough people to get his sights on certain things, and he was a leader. But after a while, he did change, there’s no question about that. He became more serious. It’s a question of degree. It’s hard for me to articulate it.

Knott

To what do you attribute that growing seriousness? Did you see any change in him after Robert Kennedy was killed?

de Haan

That probably was part of the maturing process. Let me put it this way. In 1965, he went to Vietnam with [John] Tunney and [John] Culver and Tydings, all of whom were a ball of wax together, so to speak. They were friends and they worked together, went to school together, some of them. They went all over Southeast Asia; they didn’t just to go Vietnam—that wasn’t necessarily their principal objective, actually. He had great discussions about other places, Singapore, and I can’t remember where else they went—India, I think.

They were young Senators and probably had a good time all the way through the trip. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, because they were accused of not being very serious, and those kinds of things were reported back. He would go to Geneva from time to time, and the same thing would come back: he’s not very serious, or he’s over here at the [Adolph de] Rothschild place, Pregny.

That may very well be true, and sometimes he went there with friends who were not part of the Senate, his friends in college. They went to Geneva, and they probably did have a good time. I don’t question that. He knew people in Geneva. The High Commissioner for Refugees at that time was Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, and they were in the same class. So, in those early days, if people wanted to criticize, they could find something; let’s put it that way.

But, having said that, he was very serious, and he gave speeches. He was persistent in what he went there for. In 1965, for example, he went to Geneva after Vietnam. I think he stayed with some of his friends, and I’m sure they had a ball. He gave a speech to the International Council of Voluntary Agencies on Indochina, which was very well received. He had a superb speech, I know. He went to the International Committee of the Red Cross to work on POWs in Vietnam.

After a while, some of this fun stuff, as I would put it—which was totally innocent, by the way; it wasn’t something anybody would pick at—just wore away and rubbed off, and he became more mature. I think after the RFK [Robert F. Kennedy] business, he became more serious because he was the heir apparent.

Knott

Do you recall anything that stands out from that particular period? We can hold off on that if you prefer. This is a common experience when we do these Kennedy interviews. People find it to be a very emotional experience. Why don’t we take a break? In fact, we’re close to lunch at the moment. We were going to break at noon. Let’s break.

[BREAK]

de Haan

It’s important to note that he covered a lot of the issues all the way through. Some important people and things were highlighted, like Vietnam and Cuba, of course, but Cyprus was a very important issue, both politically and diplomatically, and that still remains an issue. There’s the Lebanese civil war. These are smaller things that weren’t big and dramatic. That was another diversion, shall we say, that he would do that other Senators would not do.

Morrisroe

These are also the very things that probably we don’t have much information on, so even though they aren't—

de Haan

Senator [James] Abourezk was a member of our committee at that point. I had been in Beirut. The civil war started in April 1975, as I recall, and I had been there in '73. I think I was there in '75 also. He had an interest, and so as soon as the Lebanese civil war broke out, this became a very important issue. In this context, I have to point out that he also was very keen on getting the broadest swath of witnesses he could to any hearing.

His committee was the first to have a UN person testify before a congressional committee, and he was just torn apart for that: “You can’t have the UN come in here and testify before a congressional committee.” “I’m going to ask an American UN employee,” which he did in the end. It was the head of UNDP [United Nations Development Program], Brad Morse, who happened to have been a former Congressman, and nobody could object to that. So Kennedy won on that.

Then he would have UN people come in all the time, and nobody raised any question. I remember the first time that happened. He had the PLO Ambassador to the UN in New York come in to testify on the civil war in Lebanon. That, of course, raised all sorts of interesting attacks, shall we say, questions. But Lebanon was very important.

The other thing was Biafra, the Nigerian civil war. That was a very important issue in terms of his view of how things should be handled in the UN.

This Nigerian thing—Biafra started in 1966. We depended a great deal on voluntary agencies in the field. That’s why we kept such good relations. A priest or whoever would come by, we’d talk to him, and we wanted him to report to us. They were our CIA, if you will, our reporters in the field, because we often got a lot of information from them. Some of it was true and some of it was false, or it was perhaps exaggerated.

There were a couple of Irish priests whose names escape me. They were Holy Ghost fathers, as I recall. They came into the Senator’s office to see me and to talk about Nigeria. At some point they also talked to him, of course, and they said all these terrible things were going on over there. We know a lot of terrible things started to happen. I don’t remember the numbers, but hundreds of thousands of people starved to death. It was essentially the churches—joint church aid, the European churches, the World Council of Churches, the Vatican—that ran airlifts into Biafra to the degree it could be done, to bring in food. UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund] was involved to a degree with helping, logistics, but the problem always was, how do we solve this? This can’t go on like this.

So he gave speeches, which just burned up a lot of people. It really made them angry, particularly in Africa. The Nigerians got very angry with him, although he never really criticized the Nigerian government per se, because he wanted to act as a go-between.

The Biafra people came into our office all the time, but we could not go there because it wasn’t safe. It was one of the few places where neither he nor I nor staff people could go, because we thought we wouldn’t get back. In this context, the mandate of the High Commissioner for Refugees did not permit him to do certain things. The International Committee of the Red Cross tried to do certain things, but they had limited resources, and their mandate also made it difficult. The League of Red Cross Societies just wasn’t big enough to deal with this.

We’re talking about millions and millions of people having to be taken care of in one way or another. Furthermore, this was a very intense civil war. The Nigerian ambassador would come into the office, and the Senator, once, had to show him the door. He said, “If you don’t want to talk about these things, I don’t either. We have to talk about what’s really going on there.” I can’t remember the ambassador’s name. The Senator, who is usually very good, was very good, but this ambassador was just really something else.

Knott

Was he insulting to the Senator?

de Haan

Yes, he really was, and he kept saying, “You had your civil war.” The Senator tried to explain to him that they weren’t the same thing. Furthermore, that was very tribal and so forth.

So what to do? Well, he went to the UN, and he went to U Thant, the Secretary General. We all know he was a very mild, meek Burmese. We happened to think he probably was one of the more effective Secretaries General historically. He didn’t have his mouth open all the time, and he had a very good reputation. He would listen to things, and what the Senator wanted was intervention by the UN. This didn’t work out very well, because there was really no handle for him to move on in any deliberate way. Furthermore, the Department of State didn’t want anything to do with it if the UN were involved. In retrospect, I don’t understand that, but Joseph Palmer was the Assistant Secretary of State for Africa at that time, and they didn’t want anything to do with it.

President Johnson was just concerned about getting planes. [Richard M.] Nixon seemed to understand the problem, and the Senator would talk with Nixon about this, writing letters and talking with him, but somehow we couldn’t get things to move. This was a real problem. We know the civil war ended after millions of people were killed, and the Senator was ticked off that the UN couldn’t do anything. The UN can do things only if the governments permit it to. I was at the UN, so I know that very well. How do we solve that problem?

Kennedy proposed a United Nations Emergency Relief Force. He said there should be a ready force that cuts across mandates and should be prepared to go into areas where there are these terrible humanitarian problems. Nixon actually was very interested in this proposal.

And the UN did adopt a resolution creating what they called the United Nations Disaster Relief Organization, which was going to deal with natural disasters, so that was taken care of. The UN Emergency Relief Force never went into effect, but that was okay because it did open the way for the High Commissioner for Refugees to work in a good offices context at the request of the General Assembly, to get involved in these kinds of problems, so in some ways he made his point. He changed the apparatus of assistance in the UN context, in order to get the UN to focus on some of this stuff.

Now, that had two effects. Over the course of the years, they did in fact create various units in the United Nations, the UNACR [United Nations High Commission for Refugees], for example, and then the World Health Organization. I think the Swedes have units ready to be deployed to a disaster situation. Sometimes that works; sometimes it doesn’t. There was never a UN emergency force established, but the intent was carried out through some other kinds of arrangements, and the good offices function given to the High Commissioner of Refugees.

Having said that, Bangladesh, the Pakistani civil war, was a similar kind of thing, and we had ten million refugees pouring across the border into India. Most of them were Hindu, but some of them were not, and this was an absolutely horrible situation. The Senator, again, went to U Thant, but the High Commissioner for Refugees didn’t feel they could move on this. There was a big problem with it.

The Senator acted like the world president. I hate to say that, but he really did. He went there and said, “This has to be done.” He had everything right down, and lo and behold, suddenly the UN appeared in Dhaka; there was a High Commissioner of Refugees Office put there. They actually had a UN presence there. It didn’t always work, but the idea was to monitor food going into Bangladesh or into East Pakistan, and it had a spin-off, in that the UN at least recognized the need to have a presence in these kinds of situations.

Those are very important things. Talk about apparatus of assistance—This was very important. He did the same thing with the State Department, by the way.

Knott

In terms of getting them to move?

de Haan

Oh, absolutely. He pushed and introduced legislation for the Bureau of Humanitarian and Refugee Affairs, or whatever it was called [Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration], and today that exists. On the apparatus of assistance, so that we could more effectively respond, he did that internally, U.S.-wise, but also internationally in the United Nations, by expanding the UNACR and that sort of thing. I point those out because they’re important contributions.

The other thing in this context is he did a lot of things that didn’t get attention that had to do with international humanitarian law. He tells the story of running into Henry Kissinger and talking about these problems, frequently. One time he came back and said, “Do you know what Kissinger asked me? He said, 'Ted, what’s "humanitarian”? I don’t understand that.’“ I guess he explained what humanitarian was.

Knott

This alien concept.

de Haan

Anyway, he was interested in the diplomatic conference to update the Geneva Conventions in 1974-75, and we had those two protocols, which I never hear in all the discussions today. I know there’s a dearth of information out there, or a dearth of understanding about these protocols of the Geneva Conventions. But in any case, this business was very important because we had to deal with national liberation movements. We had to deal with issues in Vietnam and Indochina, with the PRG [Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam] and Pathet Lao. We had to deal with all kinds of soldiers and people who didn’t wear uniforms.

He took a great interest in that. He did not go himself, but as was often the case, he had what he called his "personal representatives.” I was a member of the U.S. delegation to the diplomatic conference. Frequently, that’s how he handled his participation in the overseas part of these issues. We were part of the American delegation.

Over there, he had a speech to be given, and I was to give it, of course, as I often did in some of these forums. But the State Department wouldn’t permit him to give the speech because he opposed some of the things the State Department and the Department of Defense stood for. He was much more sensitive, shall we say, to the kinds of munitions and guns and so forth—torture. He wanted this all done in the international context. Yes, there was an American point of view, but we had to be part of the international community.

After a great deal of pressure over here in Washington, while I was in Geneva, they could do his speech and release his materials. He was very active in helping to produce a more unified approach in the American delegation and also in supporting the protocols.

But he never got any credit for that. It’s not something that was ever in the newspaper or anything that was important. The only way he got credit for it or got attention to it is a press release that said that Senator Kennedy addressed the International Diplomatic Conference, and who was at the conference. In the context of who was at the conference, the Palestine Liberation Organization was mentioned again, which he did from time to time, and immediately there was this club: Why are you talking about the PLO?

Knott

A lot of people are unaware of how active he’s been on a number of foreign policy issues. Do you think that’s an accurate statement?

de Haan

Oh, absolutely. I think so.

Knott

Because he operates under the radar.

de Haan

You have to remember the knee-jerk reactions to humanitarian issues. They’re in the paper for a while, and then they disappear. Senators or Members of Congress get involved with them, but somehow they’re only responding to pressures or this church group or that religious group or this voluntary agency. They’re not really digging into the problem.

Like this Darfur business. I know it can be handled differently. He knows it can be handled differently than it’s being handled today—in a manner in which there’s understanding of what’s happening over there. We’re not being told the full truth about that. That’s my judgment. It’s being used to exploit politically people’s I don’t know what. It’s one of those things that illustrate his seriousness on these problems. That’s what’s important. He didn’t get a lot of credit for this kind of thing. And there are other things. The POW issue is another one.

Knott

Let’s talk about Vietnam. Where is the best place to start?

de Haan

I could just run over it. Kennedy became chair February 1, 1965, or something like that. Senator Hart had some hearings on Africa in late January 1965. Then he issued a report in early February, and in that report or in his comments, there was something about Vietnam, that this was a growing problem.

Kennedy asked for an agenda for the Subcommittee on Refugees—what should we talk about? He was aware of Vietnam, and he was certainly aware of the Cubans, and he mentioned the Arabs. All these things came up, and I told him that I thought that Vietnam was the top here; this is becoming very serious. He agreed with that. He asked about it, and I said, “Something has to be done here. Something’s happening over there that we have to look at and do something about,” so that’s what happened.

He started to talk with other people about it, voluntary agencies, the State Department, people he knew, professors. He was concerned initially about the humanitarian side. It wasn’t in a political context, because it’s fair to say that at that point most people supported what was going on, more or less. They weren’t sure about it, but we were dealing with a national security issue where the President had to be supported.

However, you may remember that in February 1965 President Johnson said all these troops were going to Vietnam, and that, of course, immediately put up a red flag in people’s minds, including his. Is it necessary? Of course, a lot of people didn’t think so, and this became immediately a controversial sort of thing.

But he was still focused on the humanitarian side of it, and we had quite a few hearings in ‘65. Then he decided he would go to Asia and would include Vietnam. He did that, and he saw what he saw. He came back, and we had to decide what to do about refugees and medical care and hospitals. That there were a lot of discussions and debates: “This isn’t Illinois or Massachusetts; this is Vietnam.” What you do and what you don’t do. What do you do in schools? What do you do in hospitals? Are there Vietnamese hospitals there? Do they have medical personnel? A lot of study had to go into this business, and he pursued that. This wasn’t something that was just pushed to the side.

It was supportive of the goals of U.S. public policy in Vietnam. That’s the word to use. So it became a question of the prosecution of the war, not the war itself. You may remember that even Robert Kennedy gave a speech in 1966, in the Car Barn of Washington, about Special Forces, counterinsurgency. Of course, JFK created the Special Forces, so there’s a whole history to that, too. I think Robert Kennedy talked about counterinsurgency, so it really got to the prosecution of the war. By this time, Robert Kennedy was a Senator from New York, so we had to divide up a little bit, so to speak, who was going to do what. That’s a fair judgment.

Knott

There was a division of labor on this?

de Haan

Yes, there was clearly a division of labor, and Senator Ted Kennedy was more focused on the humanitarian side—which also was political—whereas RFK was more focused on the whole framework of the war, the prosecution of the war—I always put it in that context because we had hearings. We had Roger Hillsman talk about counterinsurgency. We had Wesley Fishel from Michigan State and other people talk about that. Robert Komer was appointed, at one point, to have this kind of thing in Vietnam.

Doctors and other people had gone out to Vietnam and come back, and there were lots of reports. But it was becoming very clear that things weren’t changing enough, and the carpet bombing was going on, and it was getting pretty bad over there. The prosecution of the war wasn’t working out very well, as it was conceived by people who thought we should do more counterinsurgency types of things. I went to South Vietnam in 1967.

Knott

You went to South Vietnam?

de Haan

I went to South Vietnam. This was a study mission of one. I went all over the country, all the way up to the DMZ [demilitarized zone] in a plane that was forced to land in another place, and had some very interesting experiences. I did all of that and went everywhere with Air America. I went to every nook and cranny that was open. I remember distinctly that I had a long conversation with Komer. He was an extremely articulate person, and we discussed the prosecution of the war.

Of course, he says everything is rosy, rosy—and if it isn’t today, we’re doing this to make it better. I wasn’t totally persuaded of that, but I was of the mind that maybe we have to give them more the benefit of the doubt. That was my approach. When I came back, I gave a report—I have a copy of that here, in fact—saying, “Let’s look at this a little bit and see what this all means. Are they really changing?” That was debated. At this point, the prosecution of the war wasn’t an issue anymore in the minds of some people.

It was get out, stop the war, this is ridiculous. This is a civil war, and we have to end it. That was becoming more and more the case. That prompted the Senator’s visit there in January. He had sent E. Barrett Prettyman and other people, three or four of them. They went around and looked, and then he went and came back. The conclusion at that point was—I have a quote from one of his reports here: “We’re not losing the war, we’re losing a nation, and it’s not worth fighting anymore.” Then in 1968 we had the Presidential campaign and that business.

When Nixon came aboard, of course, Kennedy was really anti-war. He was very tough on the Nixon administration, there’s no question about that, right up until the end. He wasn’t a wimp at all. He was right out there, and if people threatened a bloodbath, he was out there to answer it. It just went on and on. I can’t remember how many speeches were written on Vietnam, but something was said almost every day. And if it wasn’t said, there was a telephone call, or somebody came in and we had a meeting. Then he got very heavily involved in the POW question. That started, of course, in 1965, but the letters started in 1966, if I remember, and the series of letters from that point on was very important in terms of finding out about the—

Knott

You’re trying to get information out of North Vietnam, is that right?

de Haan

Right. Do you want to go into a little more detail?

Knott

Do you ever recall him responding to the fact that President Kennedy had increased the American involvement in Vietnam, the accusation that the Kennedy brothers were reversing their position on the war? It became Johnson and Nixon’s war.

de Haan

Yes, I know what you’re saying. That’s a hard one to answer, frankly. You have to put that in the context of the prosecution of the war, and I don’t think we really know what would have happened under the Kennedy administration. There’s a mystery about it. But if we look at what occurred in the early 1960s, we can get some idea of the direction of things. There were enough people around in the Kennedy administration—and this was not all of them, by a long shot—who understood that this probably was a civil war as opposed to the “falling dominos” approach. Not everybody bought that, even though President Johnson and Dean Rusk talked about that.

Certainly George Ball didn’t talk about it, and even in '64 and '65, Ted Kennedy didn’t talk about that kind of thing. Neither did Robert Kennedy, for that matter. Neither did Averell Harriman talk that way. I can remember sitting with him and the Senator talking about Vietnam, and that never came up. I think here we had an agreement with respect to Laos. Averell Harriman had something to do with it. If you look at that and then look at some of these other problems, some of these things could have been resolved or accommodated or contained in a different way than pouring in a half million troops and creating Gulf of Tonkins. That’s my judgment. That’s the way I would answer it, and he might agree.

One of the important guidelines we always used was that we were prepared to talk politically and diplomatically and deal with what the Red Cross called the “seven war-affected areas of Indochina.” What were they? They were North Vietnam, South Vietnam, the PRG territories in the South, the Pathet Lao. They were the Laotian Royal Government, the Khmer Rouge, and Sihanouk or Lon Nol. Those were the seven war-affected areas of Indochina, and we dealt with them and were roundly criticized for it.

I don’t think a lot of people understood that Kennedy promoted talking with these people, that his personal representatives were designated to talk with the Pathet Lao and the Khmer Rouge and the PRG. That doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t have been military actions, because we really don’t know. But we do know that there is a history there, a very short one, which did not involve massive troops. That would be my answer.

Knott

I took you off course on the POW question. Why don’t we talk about that?

de Haan

That was really very important and political domestically. I have a report on the Middle East, the study mission after the October war, which was never published.

Morrisroe

I hope that someday that will find its way to the Kennedy Library.

de Haan

It will find its way out. This is a matter of record, really, for the most part. In 1965, as I indicated, he went to the UN about POWs, and he went to the Red Cross. There were discussions about this with various people, including [Nicholas] Katzenbach, the Under Secretary of State. I mention him simply because he was in the U.S. government, but there were other people involved who were not part of the U.S. government, but people who might know things, people like Richard Goodwin and so forth. I mention those two because those were people I would often talk to or he would talk to.

It was very interesting that he was not encouraged to do things on the POWs initially: “The UN won’t do anything about it, go to the Red Cross.” He really was discouraged about it. I hate to say that, but people in the State Department should have been pushing this thing. Why are we not interested in this? This was a new Democratic administration. There were some politics involved here, clear as a bell.

Knott

Politics being they didn’t want Edward Kennedy to get credit for this kind of work?

de Haan

Well, vis-a-vis Lyndon B. Johnson. There was always this rivalry between Robert Kennedy and LBJ, and it really never disappeared. And even though one would say it really isn’t there, in the end, it really was there. In any case, that was discouraged. I have it right here: “Although he didn’t rule it out, Katzenbach was lukewarm regarding an approach to U Thant on inspection of, condition of, communication with, release of, or exchange of POWs in North Vietnam.” This was the State Department; this was the Johnson administration talking.

Well, Kennedy would have none of that, and after he talked, he said, “Well, we’re going to do lots of things,” and he did. He went to U Thant and he went to the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross], and then he talked with wives of POWs. There were some in Massachusetts, as I recall. In 1966, he decided that maybe we should send a letter to Ho Chi Minh. I drafted most of these letters, asking all sort of things, but we didn’t get any answer to the letter in1966.

Knott

How do you get a letter to Ho Chi Minh? How do you actually do that?

de Haan

The usual channel was the French Embassy in Washington. We dealt with one of the ambassadors there. At one point, it was Ambassador [Henry Cabot] Lodge. We did it through the French Embassy, the early part of it. And we know they always got there, by the way.

Knott

Certified mail?

de Haan

Certified mail, stamped with a hammer and sickle. We didn’t get an answer in '66, so in 1967, he wrote another one. That letter was acknowledged by Ho Chi Minh’s office. I can’t remember exactly what it said; I was trying to find copies of these letters. Most of them are part of the record, but I couldn’t find them. In any case, the 1967 letter was acknowledged. He was encouraged to write another one in 1969, but, of course, Ho Chi Minh died in 1969. But the letter was answered by the succeeding President, Ton [Duc] Thang.

So the Senator wrote another letter in the 1970s to President Thang, and this is when they responded with a first list of U.S. pilots captured in the DRV [Democratic Republic of Vietnam]. His administrative assistant went to Paris to pick up the list. There may have been another person who went, one or two. This was a highly charged political event, needless to say. How did those people in the White House feel? What were they saying about that? Anyway, the list was there, and this was very important.

Knott

So this was the first time a list had been released with all the names.

de Haan

Yes, the very first time. As I recall, the list was accurate. There were some errors here and there, places where it was different from the record. I can’t remember the numbers now, but it was a list of captured U.S. pilots. Then in 1972 additional names were released on at least three different occasions. You see, the Vietnamese, in the early stages of the game, were not sure they could trust him—that would be my judgment—because there was a record there. The Vietnamese are very smart people. They know what’s going on, and they make their own interpretations.

But once they saw the persistence of his inquiry, and the fact that a little work was done diplomatically in different places by him and members of his staff and me, then the Vietnamese felt a little more relaxed about it, and at a certain point, they made the judgment that they should do this—not to the Nixon administration, but to the Senator from Massachusetts. So they did that, and that continued all the way through until 1973. There would be a name here and a name there.

That’s why, in 1972, he sent a delegation. He was concerned about war victims, and in each letter or communication he would add something new to his concerns, trying to get their response. There were more contacts with the DRV Embassy in Paris. I would go there sometimes, more than once. So we had these contacts, and we talked with the PRG. We were fed all kinds of information, off the cuff and on the cuff, and that was very important.

I noticed in your briefing book there was some issue about the delegation’s visit in 1973. There was never really an issue vis-a-vis the Vietnamese. The issue was that the cease-fire was signed in January of 1973, and the Vietnamese had suggested—because we had asked about it for November, December, and we never did things without getting the State Department’s okay. We weren’t power-mad people who were just going to go out there and do something.

The State Department said, “You can’t do that until Henry [Kissinger] goes.” So, after Henry finally went to Hanoi to see Lo Duc-Tho, the Kennedy mission could go to Hanoi, and that’s literally what happened. He went there, if I’m not mistaken, in early February, and we went there the first or second week of March, for a week. The delay had to accommodate the interests of the State Department and Secretary Kissinger’s negotiations. The excuse all the time was they’re negotiating, which in fact was true. It wasn’t until it was signed, sealed, and delivered that an official U.S. delegation, which we were, could go there.

Knott

You went to Hanoi?

de Haan

We went to Hanoi for a week.

Knott

Was there a lot of damage visible?

de Haan

Oh, absolutely. We had held hearings in 1970-71, Ramsey Clark and others went there and they had pictures. We had huge hearings, all kinds of page-one publicity, television, et cetera. We went to the Bach Mai Hospital and to the provinces and saw lots of damage, no question about it.

Knott

What was the attitude of the North Vietnamese toward a group of Americans visiting a country they had just bombed?

de Haan

They liked us a whole lot.

Knott

They liked you?

de Haan

Yes. We were received very hospitably. They put us in the Hoa Binh Hotel that they used for guests, hoa binh meaning “peace hotel.” I’m always amused there because it was an old French hotel that hadn’t been maintained very well, but they took very good care of us. It happened to be my birthday. They made a birthday cake.

Morrisroe

Somewhat surreal, I’d imagine.

de Haan

Exactly. They had French chefs there, Vietnamese or French. The Communist embassies were all there. The Malaysians were there, the Swedes were there. I think the Brits had a mission there. I can’t remember if the Italians were there. It was a very strange place in 1973, but we went all over. Outside the hotel was an American Jeep and we said, “Is that for us? Are you going to take us for a ride in this Jeep? Where did you get this Jeep?”

They probably carried it up the Ho Chi Minh trail. They had commandeered American vehicles, and they appeared in Hanoi. There was one sitting right in front of the hotel. We were really amused by that. But they treated us very well; there was no problem. They took us wherever we wanted to go. We had a minder, of course, but there was not—

They had things they wanted to show us. We went to schools. We traveled to different provinces. At Bach Mai Hospital, we met the doctors. We were particularly interested in their healthcare system and how they could deliver, because at this point, we were interested in reconstruction. We were way ahead of what people were thinking; the whole businesses of going there was reconstruction. Kennedy had already gone to the United Nations; he had already introduced legislation for this. He had talked with the administration and governments about reconstruction in Vietnam, and getting the UN involved.

This was a whole new picture now. We weren’t concerned about the war; we were concerned about implementing a cease-fire and getting things back to normal. He saw that as a political and economic problem, but it was essentially a political problem: Let’s get the act together.

Knott

You mentioned this morning about Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden. You had some interactions with them?

de Haan

Oh, yes.

Knott

Could you tell us about that?

de Haan

We often had movie star types come in the office. There were others who came in, but I remember her in particular with Tom Hayden.

Knott

They were lobbying?

de Haan

Yes. They were peace people, and we know, of course, that Jane went to Hanoi, sat on the tanks and all that. They would come into our office, use our phones. Who else came in? Anybody who was anti-war usually passed through our office, including John Kerry.

Knott

A young John Kerry.

de Haan

People, you name it, they probably sat in our office. It was quite incredible. I always remember John Kerry coming in, because we didn’t know who he was. The Senator didn’t really know him. He would come and sit at my desk like right here, and plead. He’d say, “We have to do this; we have to do that.”

That’s the kind of conversation we would have: “I have to talk to the Senator.” I said, “He’ll talk to you,” and he did, and they had the Vietnam encampment. The Senator went there; it was all done. I always remember that because we would have all these people coming in, including some very important political people today, and the movie crowd, the Hollywood crowd, the clergy, the [William] Sloan Coffins of the world. All these people sat there. [Joseph] Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago. They came there and sat.

Knott

Was there ever any concern that the Senator was being too closely identified with some of these anti-war activists on the Hill?

de Haan

I don’t think so. If people raised a question, he would answer them or ignore them. We would have that on the POW, for example, on some of the newspaper clips—I still have some of them—they’re really nasty. The wives would come in, and they were very pro-war people. They weren’t anti-war. It was like today, with some really hardcore types, and he would be criticized. Usually he wouldn’t answer; he would just ignore them. If he had to answer, he would try to explain that he was trying to help them. That’s the way he handled it. He didn’t panic the way some political people do: call a meeting and say, “What do we do about it?” There was a natural reaction about how to deal with these things.

Knott

You mentioned Cyprus earlier.

de Haan

Cyprus was very important because at the time of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, a junta in Greece ran the government. I had been to Athens in 1971. He sent us there on a study mission of sorts, to look into political prisoners in Greece and human rights detainees. I’m not quite sure why the junta let us in, because I remember we got off the plane, and I personally was attacked by the Greek press and on the radio, in the English press, and so was the Senator. They had pictures, and they were trying to do a “swift boat” job on us. I use that term because we all know what that means. They were trying to do that.

We were followed around all the time, and if I talked with anybody, I had to go out on a hotel balcony. We had to be very careful about it, and we were. I’m not sure that was useful, but it probably was. We were interested in that because we were interested in political prisoners in different parts of the world.

Then in 1974, there were coups here and attempted coups here and there, but the Turks invaded Cyprus. This was a serious thing because Cyprus had been divided for a long time into the Turkish and Greek parts. I think the Turks were afraid that the Greeks were going to absorb Cyprus, enosis (unity), take Cyprus into Greece, so they invaded. It was part of that, and it really was a mess there. If you ever saw middle-class refugees in their Mercedes fleeing a town, that’s where you saw it. To this day, I’m flabbergasted. This was really something. In any case, we had a lot of Greeks in Massachusetts (and there were a lot of Greeks all over), and they got very excited about this whole business. The Senator did, too, because you don’t invade countries that way and create all these problems.

So he dispatched a study mission over there, a staff member; a professor from Harvard, [Dennis] Skiotis, who spoke both Greek and Turkish; and me. He thought that was important, that he spoke both languages. The State Department didn’t want us to go. Larry Eagleburger called me in and said, “You can’t do this. You can’t go to Cyprus. They’ve just murdered the American ambassador.” He was killed, and they had a whole lot of other problems.

I said, “Why not?” He said, “There’s no way for you to get there.” I said, “We’ll find a way; that’s not the issue.”

We had this discussion, and finally they relented, as they did on Hanoi and Damascus and a few other places. We went to the British Embassy, and the British said, “We’ll take care of you,” and they did. We went to London. They put us on a military aircraft in London. You won’t believe it, but on the military aircraft with me were the staff member and Skiotis and the new American ambassador, [William] Crawford, who had been designated to succeed the one who was killed, the Director of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who we knew very well. There were several volunteer agency types from Britain. There were “spooks"—who knows where the call came from?

It was a big, motley group of people on this old British military aircraft. It didn’t take two hours to get to Cyprus—more like six, just a very slow thing. It landed in the middle of the night. It had all been arranged, and we were all whisked off in armed cars to wherever we had to go.

Then we went around, during the next few days, all over Cyprus, to all the camps, and talked with [Glafkos] Clerides, who had become the President on the Greek side, and we went to talk with [Rauf] Denktas, who was the President of the other side. That’s where I was walking in one of these towns along the coast, and it had been totally evacuated [gesturing to picture]. Then, of course, they played a little scene there by having troops put you against the—these Turkish troops are not to be dealt with—We had all these kinds of experiences.

We went all over the island and then reported back. We were on the radio and whatever television was there, and we tried to bring some levity, shall we say, to the situation, which really was very threatening. Whether we did I don’t know, but we also got the UN involved there. That was another important point, because this was an internal refugee problem, and there was no asylum involved in terms of crossing borders. We got the High Commissioner to have an officer there, and that was important.

Then we went to London and talked with [Archbishop, born Michael Christodoulou Mouskos] Makarios [III] about the whole situation; he had fled to London. The end of the thing in Greece, of course, was in 1976, when that junta was overthrown. In any case, at some point along the way, we kept after Cyprus and we had other study missions there. When the junta was overthrown, we went to Athens on a study mission again and talked to the Foreign Minister and all these people. The Senator went there in November of 1976.

Knott

Was he warmly received?

de Haan

Oh yes, very definitely because [Konstantinos] Karamanlis had been put in as the President of Cyprus—or was it Prime Minister? We went to his house for dinner. He was bringing democracy back to Greece; he was talking about the need for a crusade for democracy. He thought things were changing. He started talking about Thailand, for example, where they had had a coup like they have had recently. We had these kinds of conversations. That gives you a flavor of the things he did.

Knott

How did you become Deputy High Commissioner? Did Senator Kennedy help you with that?

de Haan

Yes. They needed somebody, and somebody recommended that I do it.

Knott

Who?

de Haan

Several people were pushing because there was new High Commissioner. Prince Sadruddin was leaving, and the new High Commissioner was a former Danish Prime Minster. The Deputy High Commissioner usually is an American—it always has been an American until recently—so it was a question of who.

A lot of people didn’t want some retired State Department person there, to be perfectly blunt about it. That’s normally who they put there, people who did not succeed in the Foreign Service or didn’t quite make ambassador. It didn’t mean they were bad people, but those were the people who, if they wanted to get rid of them, they put over in the UN, and Deputy High Commissioner was a good one.

A lot of people didn’t like that: they wanted somebody younger, and I guess my name came up. The [Jimmy] Carter administration thought it was a good idea. They went to the UN. You have to be elected by the General Assembly. It’s not an appointment, per se, so you have to clear it with a lot of people. Certainly the Senator was helpful in that regard, no question about it. He wanted somebody in the UN.

Knott

So you went right from the Senator’s staff to the UN position?

de Haan

Right. I didn’t know [Kurt] Waldheim all that well, and I would advise him on a lot of things. Lebanon was going on, and there were lots of issues going on that I happened to know a lot about. I did quite a bit with him. The High Commissioner was ill a good part of the time, so I was the Acting High Commissioner.

Knott

How long were you in that position?

de Haan

Until Reagan found me.

Knott

When did he find you?

de Haan

He was elected President and suddenly, "Dale de Haan, that liberal,” or words to that effect. I remember going to Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Knott

Aren’t you a UN official at this point? How can he?

de Haan

I was appointed. You’re absolutely right about that. I was a UN official, but the point is, I was nominated by an administration, and these are like ambassadors, who are not—

Knott

I didn’t realize it worked that way.

de Haan

Well, it does and it doesn’t. It was very well known who I was. They knew I was a Kennedy Democrat, to put it bluntly, and they didn’t want a Kennedy Democrat there. It was the Reagan administration, and they appointed somebody who supported the Vietnam War, specifically, somebody who was totally removed from where I stood on a lot of stuff.

It was the total opposite. It was a Foreign Service officer who did not make ambassador. I don’t know if he had to leave, but they resorted to that again, and his successor thereafter was the same thing. So there was a little area there where they had a slightly different approach, which fit in with the Carter administration, of course, because they were interested in human rights. I would have stayed, but they thought otherwise.

Knott

What did you do after you left your UN position?

de Haan

After that, I did a lot of work with the private sector. I was the director of Church World Service, of their immigration and refugee program. It was a small program in the National Council of Churches, and that’s where I was lodged. I did a lot of foreign kinds of things for the churches—and not just the Protestant churches. It was also the Catholic, the USCC [United States Catholic Conference, now United States Conference of Catholic Bishops], and the Vatican. I was on the Board of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies.

I also served on the Commission on International Migration, which was created by the Immigration Act of 1986. Congress created it, and Kennedy nominated me for it, and the Senate approved whatever was there. It was a congressional commission, and that was very good. Then in the early '90s, I was on the board of the Refugee Policy Group. I was on several boards of different things, so I had plenty to do.

I’m reminded of that today, because at one point, I was chair of the World Council of Churches Committee on Humanitarian Questions, which covered whatever the churches wanted to talk about. I did that, but I also worked with the Vatican and the International Migration Commission of the Vatican. The Vatican convened a meeting in Malta. I think it was 1990-91 maybe—which was a rather important meeting in the context of the times, where they called together Muslim and Christian for discussions in Malta. I chaired that with a Muslim, and the Muslim happened to be the head of the Islamic Call Society, which is the big Islamic World Council of Churches, or Vatican, and who was a Libyan.

It was interesting, because he had served in the Embassy in Washington, and of course the Libyan Embassy had been expelled, so he had been expelled. He was the cochair of this meeting of Muslim and Christians. The Europeans were heavily involved. The Americans didn’t get terribly involved with this; it was kind of foreign to them. The Europeans were very sensitive to all these things, particularly the French, because of their Muslim populations, so we had many discussions with many Muslim groups, people from the Vatican, and so forth, about how to deal with these.

It was more in the context of social kinds of things and what kinds of policies governments should follow; it was very interesting. I spent a lot of time on that. I think the current Pope [Benedict XVI, born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger] was involved in that. In fact, I think he had appeared at that meeting, because he was the head of the propagation of the faith or whatever.

Knott

Are you still in contact with Kennedy’s office at all? Do they occasionally get in touch with you?

de Haan

I haven’t seen him for a while, but I can any time I want, I guess. I don’t go to Washington very often. He always says to keep in touch, and from time to time they call about something or other. At this stage, it’s more in terms of documents for the Kennedy Library, or the Senator’s going to give a recording up in Boston. They have that new center up there, the U.S. Senate—

Knott

Oh, the Center for the Study of the Senate. They’re our sponsors.

de Haan

Oh, they are? I’m never quite sure how that all fits together.

Knott

It’s not actually there yet, but it’s going to be.

de Haan

I didn’t think so. In any case, I keep in touch. The administrative assistant, unless he has left, is Michael Myers, and I think he’s still there.

Knott

He’s still there. We interviewed him just last month.

de Haan

Oh, you did? Do you want to know the history of Michael Myers?

Knott

Sure.

de Haan

I’ll tell you. When I went to Vietnam in 1978, I was the Deputy High Commissioner, and the UN had called the first international conference on Indochina refugees. There was another one in 1979, but this was in 1978. Nobody wanted to be chair of that; they didn’t want to touch it. I was amazed.

They asked me to do it, and I said yes, I would do it, so I chaired the meeting. We had 70 governments and foreign ministers there. There was a big issue about whether the Vietnamese should be invited, and I said, “Well, of course; what’s the issue? The Lao should be invited, the Cambodians; if the Khmer Rouge want to come, it’s fine with me. We have to have all these people sitting here as members of this convention.” So they all came. I remember [North] Vietnamese Ambassador Vo Van Sung, from Paris, was afraid that he would be attacked by other speakers. I said, “I wouldn’t worry about it, because I’m the chair, so just mind your Ps and Qs. This is going to be a diplomatic conference, and we’re not going to have any arrogance.”

The conference was perfect, but in that context, the Vietnamese proposed that there be some movement or help—family reunions or whatever, I can’t remember all the ways—from Vietnam. Of course, there had been a million diplomatic discussions about this with the Vietnamese, starting with Kennedy, back in '76, '77. I carried that to the UN. I had to fight to do it because some people there, including the High Commissioner, said, “You can’t do that; these aren’t refugees.”

I said, “I don’t really care. We should be able to do this.” So we had all the governments in Geneva at meetings, and the governments, including the French, were all interested because they had family reunion cases and special humanitarian cases in Vietnam who couldn’t leave because the Vietnamese wouldn’t let them. The boats were driving people nuts at this point. People were getting on these boats and were being attacked by pirates.

In Geneva, I called the ambassadors together and discussed it, and the High Commissioner agreed with it, obviously. The Vietnamese proposed a mission to Hanoi, and they invited me to go. There’s a UNACR office in Hanoi, because when we went there in 1973 and spoke with Foreign Minister [Charles] Tran Van Lam, we asked him, “What are we going to do about these war victims? Who do you want to come here? Don’t you think you should have the UN here?”

He said explicitly, “UNICEF and the World Council of Churches are the two we will have come in here.” We immediately communicated that to the United Nations and the World Council of Churches, and also to the Vatican, and because of that, our working with the Vietnamese people, the UN suddenly appeared in Hanoi, and they had an office. In any case, there was a UNACR office there, which I felt a little bit responsible for. So we thought, We’re going to use them and see if we can’t do something.

They invited me, and I negotiated. I took five people with me from UNACR, and we had very interesting negotiations about the orderly departure of people from Vietnam—not to stop the boats, but to contain the movement of people by boats. We signed a memorandum of understanding. I signed it with the Foreign Minister, about the flow of people out of Vietnam. The UNACR then acted as a kind of broker, vis-a-vis the Canadians and the Australians and the Malaysians, for example. There were Muslim people in Vietnam whom the Malaysians would take and resettle in Malaysia. Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Germany—the UNACR actually acted as the broker. They also did it for the U.S. State Department and the U.S. government.

Now, it was geared more to the U.S. government because that’s where most of the people wanted to go. There were several who wanted to move to France, but we signed this memorandum of understanding. We went back there and had a big ceremony later in the month, and that became an official program of the United Nations. Everybody talked about it. It was a big deal, and it actually worked.

I can remember Paul Hartley saying it would never work. I said, “Just watch it. It’s going to work.” This is where Michael Myers comes in. I persuaded the Vietnamese that we had to have people there who could relate to voluntary agencies in the private sector, particularly vis-a-vis the United States. So I said, “I’m going to find for you some people who can deal with this vis-a-vis the United States.”

I wasn’t sure where to go, and of course immediately, when the voluntary agencies heard about whom I had told, the Catholics would say, “We want to do it!” Then the Protestants would say, “Maybe we’re not interested.” And the International Rescue Committee: “Oh, we’ll do it.” So I had this competition, and the solution was, “You can do it for two years, and then we’ll have somebody else.” I said, “The first person has to speak Vietnamese, and we’re going to find somebody who knows about Vietnam.”

Michael Myers is the son of Southern Baptist missionaries, and he speaks Vietnamese; he lived in the western part of Vietnam. His parents were missionaries there, apparently. I knew he worked for Church World Service, so I called them and said, “We need somebody here, and this is the arrangement. I gather you have somebody there who speaks Vietnamese. Maybe you will surrender him to the United Nations, for a year anyway, so he can help on this.” And that’s what happened.

I had never met Michael Myers, but he went there and did a very good job. He related very well with the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. He did an absolutely superb job. After his year was up, he was going back to Washington, and he came through Geneva. The head of the Asian section said, “He’s coming through here,” and I said, “He’s such a fantastic guy I should meet him.” So they arranged a lunch at a restaurant with him and the people I took with me to Vietnam to do the orderly departure, both men and women.

So we had a lunch, and Michael was introduced to everyone, and he got to me. Jacques Freymond said, “This is Dale de Haan,” and he said, “Oh, who are you?” I wasn’t insulted. Why would he know who I was? Jacques Freymond is Swiss, and he was just flabbergasted. He couldn’t quite deal with it.

I can’t remember what I said. He was very embarrassed. Then I went to work in Church World Service in '81 or 1982, and he was there. He had worked on the resettlement camps in Florida. I think he was a PhD student at Columbia, and he was trying to finish. I needed a person in Washington to advocate for the issues the churches were interested in and to work with the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] and other groups that were interested in the issues.

So I said to Michael, “How about going to Washington and heading up an office there for this office here?” And he did. He worked there for a few years, and then Senator Kennedy needed somebody. I sent Michael over there, and he was hired.

He was working on his PhD in foreign affairs. I don’t know exactly what it was, but he was staff director for the health committee. I think he’s still administrative assistant; that’s my impression. I haven’t talked to him in a while, but in any case—

Knott

We want to thank you very much. This has been terrific.

de Haan

You’re welcome.

Knott

We appreciate you driving all the way up from Florida. Thank you.

This is one of the many interviews that comprise the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History. For more information about the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History, including links to all interviews, please click here.

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