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Kerry made his Bones in secret club - like Bush

by Andrew Miga
Thursday, May 15, 2003

WASHINGTON - Sen. John F. Kerry expounds on many issues in his presidential campaign, but he's completely silent on one topic: his membership in Skull and Bones, Yale's infamous secret society.

``John Kerry has absolutely nothing to say on that subject. Sorry,'' said Kerry spokeswoman Kelley Benander.

Kerry is a respected senator and a decorated Vietnam War combat veteran, but 36 years after he was initiated into what has been called the ``ultimate old boy network,'' he's wary of breaking the ultra-exclusive club's strict secrecy code.

There's also another high-profile member of the club: President Bush.

Bonesmen already are buzzing over the prospect of the first Bones vs. Bones presidential race should Kerry win his party's nomination and face Bush in 2004.

``Bones don't care who wins,'' said author Alexandra Robbins, whose book ``Secrets of the Tomb'' pierced the secrecy shrouding the 171-year-old society. ``If Kerry wins, it's still a Bones presidency.''

Robbins calls the group ``probably the most secretive and successful club in America,'' and adds, ``It's also pretty bizarre.''

Every year, 15 Yale juniors are tapped for the club, which holds meetings twice a week in a crypt-like building known as the ``Tomb.''

Robbins described the interior, replete with skulls and skeletons, as a cross between the ``Addams Family'' and a slightly shabby English men's club.

There are bizarre initiation rites, including a ceremony where new members must spend an evening before a roaring fire in the Tomb recounting details of their sexual history to fellow members.

Kerry was tapped for the club in 1968, two years after Bush, whose father and grandfather were also Bonesmen. Kerry's brother-in-law from his first marriage, David Thorne, was Bones. So was the late husband of Kerry's current wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. The Bones alumni roster is flush with CIA officials, business moguls, congressmen and Supreme Court justices. The club owns a secluded 40-acre island retreat on the St. Lawrence River.

In 1986, Kerry allegedly tried to recruit Jacob Weisberg, then a college-age intern at ``The New Republic'' magazine.

Weisberg, now Slate magazine editor, said Kerry made his pitch during a private meeting in his Senate office. Weisberg declined, pointedly asking Kerry how he squared his liberalism with membership in such an elitist club that refused to admit women. ``Kerry got sort of flustered and said, `I've marched with battered women,' '' Weisberg told the Herald.

Five years later, Kerry was among those voting to force the club to admit women after a bitter court fight.



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