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NYT: Kerry Can Now Prove Vietnam Stories

The "Paper Of Treason," the New York Times, tries valiantly to rehabilitate John Kerry’s long lost credibility:

May 28, 2006

Kerry Pressing Swiftboat Case, Long After Loss

By KATE ZERNIKE

John Kerry starts by showing the entry in a log he kept from 1969: "Feb 12: 0800 run to Cambodia."

He moves on to the photographs: his boat leaving the base at Ha Tien, Vietnam; the harbor; the mountains fading frame by frame as the boat heads north; the special operations team the boat was ferrying across the border; the men reading maps and setting off flares.

"They gave me a hat," Mr. Kerry says. "I have the hat to this day," he declares, rising to pull it from his briefcase. "I have the hat."

Three decades after the Vietnam War and nearly two years after Mr. Kerry’s failed presidential bid, most Americans have probably forgotten why it ever mattered whether he went to Cambodia or that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth accused him of making it all up, saying he was dishonest and lacked patriotism.

But among those who were on the frontlines of the 2004 campaign, the battle over Mr. Kerry’s wartime service continues, out of the limelight but in some ways more heatedly — because unlike then, Mr. Kerry has fully engaged in the fight. Only those on Mr. Kerry’s side, however, have gathered new evidence to prove their case.

The Swift boat group continues to spend money on Washington consultants, according to public records, and last fall it gave $100,000 to a group that promptly sued Mr. Kerry, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, for allegedly interfering with the release of a film that was critical of him.

Some of the principals behind the Swift boat group continue to press their claims. John O’Neill, the co-author of the group’s bestselling manifesto, "Unfit for Command," criticizes Mr. Kerry on television talk shows and solicits money for conservative causes and candidates. In a South Carolina newspaper, William Schachte recently reprised his allegation that he was aboard the small skimmer where Mr. Kerry received the injury that led to his first Purple Heart, and that Mr. Kerry actually wounded himself.

Swift boat message boards and anti-Kerry Web sites still boil with accusations that Mr. Kerry fabricated the military reports that led to his military decorations.

Mr. Kerry, accused even by Democrats of failing to respond to the charges during the campaign, is now fighting back hard.

"They lied and lied and lied about everything," Mr. Kerry says in an interview in his Senate office. "How many lies do you get to tell before someone calls you a liar? How many times can you be exposed in America today?"

His supporters are compiling a dossier that they say will expose every one of the Swift boat group’s charges as a lie and put to rest any question about Mr. Kerry’s valor in combat. While it would be easy to see this as part of Mr. Kerry’s exploration of another presidential run, his friends say the Swift boat charges struck at an experience so central to his identity that he would want to correct the record even if he were retiring from public life.

Mr. Kerry portrays himself as a wary participant in his own defense, insisting in the two-hour interview that he does not want to dwell on the accusations or the mistakes of his 2004 campaign. "I’m moving on," he says several times.

But he can also barely resist prosecuting a case against the group that his friends now refer to as "the bad guys." "Bill Schachte was not on that skimmer," Mr. Kerry says firmly. "He was not on that skimmer. It is a lie to suggest that he was out there on that skimmer."

He shows a photograph of the skimmer being towed behind his Swift boat, insisting that it could barely fit three people, himself and two others.

"The three guys who in fact were in the boat all say he wasn’t there and will tell you he wasn’t there. We know he wasn’t there, and we have all kinds of ways of proving it."

Mr. Kerry has signed forms authorizing the Navy to release his record — something he resisted during the campaign — and hired a researcher to comb the naval archives in Washington for records that could pinpoint his whereabouts during dates of the incidents in dispute. Another former crewmember has spent days at a time interviewing veterans to reconstruct every incident in question.

In February 2005, Mr. Kerry’s supporters formed their own group, the Patriot Project, to defend veterans who take unpopular positions, particularly against the Iraq war. One of their first tasks was to visit newspaper editorial boards in defense of John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat and veteran whose military record has been attacked by Republicans and conservative blogs since he called for pulling the troops out of Iraq.

The group has sent a letter to Mr. Schachte calling for a meeting with him, Mr. Kerry and two former veterans who maintain — as they did publicly during the campaign — that they were the only other people on the skimmer with Mr. Kerry and that he was wounded in a hail of enemy fire.

Members of the Swift boat group have not seen Mr. Kerry’s newly gathered evidence. But they seem unwilling to cede much.

Mr. O’Neill said he "would be thrilled to look at anything he wants to send." Still, he added, "I’m sorry he never apologized for his 1971 speech," referring to Mr. Kerry’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in which he told other soldiers’ accounts of ravaging Vietnamese villages and citizens. "I think it would have been a very positive thing to do in terms of the many thousands of people who survived Vietnam and felt that was very hurtful."

Mr. Schachte said that he held "no animus," but that "if they crank this thing up again, I’m not going to be quiet." One of the two men who say they were on the boat — he does not recall which — might have been there, Mr. Schachte said, "but I was in that boat with Kerry."

The veterans group, led by Mr. O’Neill, a former Swift boat commander who was recruited by the Nixon administration to debate Mr. Kerry on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1971, began its campaign in early 2004 by criticizing Mr. Kerry’s protests against the Vietnam War. But backed by Republican donors and consultants, they soon shifted to attack his greatest strength — his record as a military hero in a campaign against a president who never went to war.

Naval records and accounts from other sailors contradicted almost every claim they made, and some members of the group who had earlier praised Mr. Kerry’s heroism contradicted themselves.

Still, the charges stuck. At a triumphant gathering of veterans in Fort Worth after the election, Mr. O’Neill was introduced as the man who "torpedoed" Mr. Kerry’s campaign; the Swift boat group spent more than $130,000 for a "Mission Accomplished" celebration at Disney World. The president’s brother, Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, sent a letter thanking the "Swifties" for "their willingness to stand up to John Kerry." Even people within the Kerry campaign believed that the attacks had cost their candidate the presidency.

Some of Mr. Kerry’s friends and former Swift boat crewmembers made advertisements during the race to try to shoot down the group’s charges. But the campaign declined to air them widely because some strategists said that directly challenging the charges would legitimize them.

They approached Mr. Kerry after the election with the idea of setting the record straight.

So they have returned, for instance, to the question of Cambodia and whether Mr. Kerry was ever ordered to transport Navy Seals across the border, an experience that he said made him view government officials, who had declared that the country was not part of the war, as deceptive.

The Swift boat group insisted that no boats had gone to Cambodia. But Mr. Kerry’s researcher, using Vietnam-era military maps and spot reports from the naval archives showing coordinates for his boat, traced his path from Ha Tien toward Cambodia on a mission that records say was to insert Navy Seals.

Mr. Kerry’s supporters have also frozen frames from his amateur films of his time in Vietnam and have retrieved letters and military citations for other sailors to support his version of how he won the Silver Star — rebutting the Swift boat group’s most explosive charge, that he shot an unarmed teenager who was fleeing his fire.

Another photograph provides evidence for Mr. Kerry’s version of how he won the Bronze Star. And original reports pulled from the naval archives contradict the charge that he drafted his own accounts of various incidents — which left room, the Swift boat group had argued, to embellish them.

Mr. Kerry’s defenders have received help from unlikely sources, including some who were originally aligned with the Swift boat group but later objected to its accusations against Mr. Kerry. One of them, Steve Hayes, was an early member of the group. A former sailor, he was a longtime friend and employee of William Franke, one of the group’s founders, and he supported the push to have Mr. Kerry release his military files. But Mr. Hayes came to believe that the group was twisting Mr. Kerry’s record.

"The mantra was just ‘We want to set the record straight,’ " Mr. Hayes said this month. "It became clear to me that it was morphing from an organization to set the record straight into a highly political vendetta. They knew it was not the truth."

Mr. Hayes broke with the group, ending a 35-year friendship with Mr. Franke, and voted for Mr. Kerry. He has provided a long interview to Mr. Kerry’s supporters, backing their version of the incident for which Mr. Kerry received the Bronze Star.

Of course, plenty of disappointed and angry Democrats would like to know why Mr. Kerry did not defend himself so strenuously before the election. He had posted some military documents on his campaign’s Web site and had allowed reporters to view his medical records but resisted open access to them as unnecessarily intrusive.

Mr. Kerry and his defenders say that they did not have the extensive archival material, and that it was too complicated to gather in the rapid pace of a campaign. He was caught off guard, he says; he had been prepared to defend his antiwar activism, but he did not believe that anyone would challenge the facts behind his military awards. "We should have put more money behind it," Mr. Kerry says now. "I take responsibility for it; it was my mistake. They spent something like $30 million, and we didn’t. That’s just a terrible imbalance when somebody’s lying about you."

By the way, The Times posted a sidebar with various little blurbs which are meant to disprove the Swiftboat Veterans’ claims. Such as this:

The Swiftboat Veterans For Truth claimed that the boy who was shot was probably not armed…

And yet John O’Neill wrote in Unfit For Command (p. 83):

Kerry’s boat moved slightly downstream and was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade… A young Viet Cong in a loincloth popped out of a hole, clutching a grenade launcher, which may or may not have been loaded… Tom Belodeau, a forward gunner, shot the Viet Cong with an M-60 machine gun in the leg as he fled… Kerry and Medeiros (who had many troops in their boat) took off, perhaps with others, and followed the young Viet Cong and shot him in the back, behind a lean to.

The Times shows a photo which they purport to be the boy, which they crow proves that the boy was not in a loincloth but in a shirt and shorts. (Very important point there, NYT!)

And because the VC is lying face up in the photo (which, however, is very hard to tell), The Times claims the boy was shot "while approaching." Meaning Kerry could not have shot him in the back.

Unfortunately for Kerry and his lickspittles at The Times this does not comport with accounts from Kerry’s own allies, such as Fred Short. Nor does it match the official after action report:

AND MOVED IMMEDIATELY TO ASSIST. PCF 94 BEACHED IN CENTER OF AMBUSH IN FRONT OF SMALL PATH WHEN VC SPRUNG UP FROM BUNKER 10 FEET FROM UNIT. MAN RAN WITH WEAPON TOWARDS HOOTCH, FORWARD M-60 GUNNER WOUNDED MAN IN LEG. OINC JUMPED ASHORE AND GAVE PURSUIT WHILE OTHER UNITS SATURATED AREA WITH FIRE AND BEACHED PLACING ASSAULT PARTIES ASHORE. OINC OF PCF 94 CHASED VC INLAND BEHIND HOOTCH AND SHOT HIM WHILE HE FLED CAPTURING ONE B-40 ROCKET LAUNCHER WITH ROUND IN CHAMBER. OINC’S OF PCF’S 43 AND 23 LED ASSAULT PARTIES THROUGH BRUSH AND JOINED WITH PCF 94 GROUP. PARTIES FR[O]M 3 ACF’S [PRO]CEEDED TO SWEEP AREA AND [ILLEGIBLE]

The rest of Kerry’s new "proofs" are similarly dishonest or irrelevant.

This is the best he and his "researcher" could come up with after all this time?

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, May 27th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

17 Responses to “NYT: Kerry Can Now Prove Vietnam Stories”

  1. oldswimcoach says:

    I for one would love to see his OMPF. His OER must be fascinating!

  2. sheehanjihad says:

    The REAL after action report Kerry hoped no one would ever see:

    OAAR…OINC-94 ORDERED FULL STOP AND MOVED IMMEDIATELY TO ASSIST. PCF 94 BEACHED IN CENTER OF AMBUSH IN FRONT OF SMALL PATH WHEN VC SPRUNG UP FROM BUNKER 10 FEET FROM UNIT.KERRY WAS ORDERED AGAIN TO PUT DOWN THE MARIJUANA PIPE AND PICK UP A WEAPON. HE RETURNED FIRE WITH M-60 CAUSING DAMAGE TO PCF 94 AND HAD WEAPON TAKEN FROM HIM. WE SPOTTED A MAN RAN WITH WEAPON TOWARDS HOOTCH, FORWARD M-60 GUNNER HAD TO DUCK WHEN KERRY FIRED HIS SERVICE PISTOL AT “ALIENS” AND HAD TO BE SUBDUED AGAIN. KERRY YELLED LOOK I’M JOHN WAYNE AND THREW A LIVE GRENANDE ASHORE AMIDST MEDICS WOUNDED MAN IN LEG. KERRY JUMPED ASHORE AND HID BEHIND A FARMER AND AFTER BEING PROMISED GOOD CHINA WHITE HEROIN FINALLY GAVE PURSUITOF A WATER BUFFALO SCREAMING ‘”I’M SARGEANT ROCK” BUDDA BUDDA BUDDA!” WHILE OTHER UNITS SATURATED AREA WITH FIRE AND BEACHED PLACING ASSAULT PARTIES ASHORE WHILE TRYING TO AVOID KERRY’S ERRANT SHOOTING WITH VC AK-47. OINC OF PCF 94 CHASED REAL VC INLAND BEHIND HOOTCH AND SHOT HIM WHILE HE FLED CAPTURING ONE B-40 ROCKET LAUNCHER WITH ROUND IN CHAMBER. OINC’S OF PCF’S 43 AND 23 LED KERRY BACK TO PCF-94 BY DANGLING A BUNDLE OF FAKE PURPLE HEARTS IN FRONT OF HIM AND PROMISING TO VOTE FOR HIM THAT EVENING FOR ‘ACTION HERO OF THE MONTH’. KERRY WAS PLACED BELOW WITH A HALF POUND OF THAI STICKS AND ALLOWED TO COMMAND FROM THERE. PCF 23 AND PCF 43 OFFERED VC TOTAL AMNESTY IF THEY WOULD TAKE KERRY OFF THEIR HANDS VC LAUGHED AND REFUSED. KERRY OVERHEARD MUMBLING HAIL TO THE CHIEF TO HIMSELF WHILE HE PLAYED WITH PLASTIC ARMY MEN IN A MAKESHIFT DIAPER. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

  3. pagar says:

    I don’t think what John Kerry did when he was actually in Vietnam is near as important as what John Kerry did when he returned to the US and worked to handicap and defeat the Americans still fighting in Vietnam.

  4. Liberals Demise says:

    ……”when Kerry dropped his pants and bent over; thus pulling a hat out of his ass and saying,”Here, I still have my hat” and proceeded to pull his bloomers up followed by his pants.”

    Murtha has company and he too is a veteran with “NO” honor or valor.
    Sad……but true!!

    Kerry, cry me a DELTA!!

  5. canary says:

    I saw Kerry with my own eyes admit the medals he threw over the fence were fake, and I saw the old filmage of his throwing the fake medals over the fence in order to get soldiers to throw their real medals over the fence. I’d rather see his helmet than some hat.

  6. Liberals Demise says:

    You all want to see Honor…Commitment…Courage

    Tonight on HBO at 8:00 pm EST
    “Taking Chance”

  7. JohnMG says:

    …..”traced his path from Ha Tien toward Cambodia on a mission that records say was to insert Navy Seals……”

    I guess I could clain the same thing then. If one were to take our compass readings and coordinates for some of our patrols, we must’ve been headed for Cambodia too. If we were as clueless as Kerry we would have made the same mistake.

    …..”records say was to insert Navy Seals……”

    Insert them where? Same old tired bullshit from this traitor. He’s nothing but a chicken-shit publicity whore allowing other people to carry his water. If he had a set of balls he’d have put this to rest long ago. The reason he hasn’t is because he’s a f***ing liar, and he knows real patriots will hand him his own ass on a skewer.

    What a disgusting prick!

  8. jrmcdonald says:

    I recall Kerry saying he was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968, not on “1969: “Feb 12: 0800”

  9. DoctorRock says:

    Remember when Ann called him “a gigolo and a cad”? I thought that was great. Perhaps “Flipper” is gearing up for another run? Hey, if we’re “essentially a nation of cowards”, then Lurch has as good a chance as anybody.

  10. catie says:

    My husband’s old college roomie was in the DFAC when Kerry came in a few years ago, he couldn’t find anyone to sit by. He said in some small way he felt a bit sorry for him but then he remembered all the negative things he said about those who serve and then his sorrow left his mind and he just burst out laughing while Kerry still looked for a seat.

  11. Liberals Demise says:

    your telling me haha


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