Friday, August 06, 2004

FactCheck.org Investigates Attacks on Kerry's Military Record

The attempts to distort John Kerry's war record have been a major news story for the last couple of day, but have most likely backfired against the Republicans who have bankrolled this attack. Rather than raising questions about John Kerry--clearly a legitimate war hero--the event is raising more questions about the ethics and validity of the Republican attack machine.

Factcheck.org has issued a report on their investigations of these attacks. Here is how they summarized their findings:

"A group funded by the biggest Republican campaign donor in Texas began running an attack ad Aug. 5 in which former Swift Boat veterans claim Kerry lied to get one of his two decorations for bravery and two of his three purple hearts. However, one of the veterans who appears in the ad has already recanted his principal accusation against Kerry, in an interview with the Boston Globe .

"Some other veterans who accuse Kerry are contradicted by Kerry's former crewmen. One of the accusers says he was on another boat "a few yards" away during the incident which won Kerry the Bronze Star, but the former Army lieutenant whom Kerry plucked from the water that day backs Kerry's account."

The full report is available on their web site

Additional text from their report is in the comments section.

9 Comments:

Blogger Ron Chusid said...

Republican-funded Group Attacks Kerry's War Record

Ad features vets who claim Kerry "lied" to get Vietnam medals. But one accuser quickly recants, and other witnesses disagree.

August 6, 2004

Modified:August 6, 2004
Summary



A group funded by the biggest Republican campaign donor in Texas began running an attack ad Aug. 5 in which former Swift Boat veterans claim Kerry lied to get one of his two decorations for bravery and two of his three purple hearts. However, one of the veterans who appears in the ad has already recanted his principal accusation against Kerry, in an interview with the Boston Globe .

Some other veterans who accuse Kerry are contradicted by Kerry's former crewmen. One of the accusers says he was on another boat "a few yards" away during the incident which won Kerry the Bronze Star, but the former Army lieutenant whom Kerry plucked from the water that day backs Kerry's account.

Analysis

"Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" is a group formed March 23 after Kerry wrapped up the Democratic nomination. It held a news conference May 4 denigrating Kerry's military record and his later anti-war pronouncements during the 1970's. The group began running an attack ad Aug. 5 in which 13 veterans variously say Kerry is "not being honest" and "is lying about his record."

SBVT Ad "Any Questions?"

John Edwards: "If you have any questions about what John Kerry is made of, just spend 3 minutes with the men who served with him."

(On screen: Here's what those men this of John Kerry)

Al French: I served with John Kerry.

Bob Elder : I served with John Kerry.

George Elliott: John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam.

Al French: He is lying about his record.

Louis Letson: I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart because I treated him for that injury.

Van O'Dell: John Kerry lied to get his bronze star...I know, I was there, I saw what happened.

Jack Chenoweth: His account of what happened and what actually happened are the difference between night and day.

Admiral Hoffman: John Kerry has not been honest.

Adrian Lonsdale: And he lacks the capacity to lead.

Larry Thurlow: When he chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry.

Bob Elder: John Kerry is no war hero.

Grant Hibbard: He betrayed all his shipmates...he lied before the Senate.

Shelton White: John Kerry betrayed the men and women he served with in Vietnam.

Joe Ponder: He dishonored his country...he most certainly did.

Bob Hildreth: I served with John Kerry...

Bob Hildreth (off camera) : John Kerry cannot be trusted.

There is reason to doubt the ad . For one thing, one of the men who appears in it, George Elliott, told the Boston Globe he had made a "terrible mistake" by accusing Kerry of not deserving one of his awards. Elliott appears in the ad saying "John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam." Another reason for doubt is that the group's financing is strongly partisan.

Where the Money Comes From

The source of the Swift Boat group's financing wasn't known when it first surfaced, but a report filed July 15 with the Internal Revenue Services now shows its initial funding came mainly from a Houston home builder, Bob R. Perry, who has also given millions to the Republican party and Republican candidates, mostly in Texas, including President Bush and Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose district is near Houston.

Perry gave $100,000 of the $158,750 received by the Swift Boat group through the end of June, according to its disclosure report .

Perry and his wife Doylene also gave more than $3 million to Texas Republicans during the 2002 elections, according to a database maintained by the Institute on Money in State Politics . The Perrys also were among the largest Republican donors in neighboring Louisiana, where they gave $200,000, and New Mexico, where they gave $183,000, according to the database

At the federal level the Perrys have given $359,825 since 1999, including $6,000 to Bush's campaigns and $27,325 to DeLay and his political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, according the a database maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics .

"A Terrible Mistake"

Several of those who appear in the ad have signed brief affidavits, and we have posted some of them in the "supporting documents" section to the right for our visitors to evaluate for themselves. However, one of those affidavits already has been recanted by the man who signed it, Lieutenant Commander George Elliott, who had been Kerry's commanding officer. Elliott was quoted by the Boston Globe Aug 6 as saying he had made a "terrible mistake" in signing the affidavit against Kerry.

George Elliott: It was a terrible mistake probably for me to sign the affidavit with those words. I'm the one in trouble here. . . . I knew it was wrong . . . In a hurry I signed it and faxed it back. That was a mistake.

The statement Elliott now says was wrong had suggested that Kerry did not deserve the Silver Star -- his highest decoration -- which was awarded for an incident in which Kerry beached his boat and then pursued and killed an enemy soldier on the shore. Elliott had previously defended Kerry on that score when his record was questioned during his 1996 Senate campaign. At that time Elliott came to Boston and said Kerry acted properly and deserved the Silver Star.

It was Elliott who recommended Kerry both for the Silver Star and for the Bronze Star, his other decoration for valor. Despite recanting his affidavit regarding the Silver Star, Elliott told the Globe he has come to believe Kerry didn't deserve the second award, based on what the other anti-Kerry veterans have told him.

Elliott: I have chosen to believe the other men. I absolutely do not know first hand.

The Bronze Star & Third Purple Heart

The most serious allegation in the ad is that Kerry received both the Bronze Star, his second-highest decoration, and his third purple heart, which allowed him to be sent home early, under false pretenses.

Van O'Dell, a former Navy enlisted man who says he was the gunner on another Swift Boat, states in his affidavit that he was "a few yards away" from Kerry's boat on March 13, 1969 when Kerry pulled one of his crewmen from the water. According to the official medal citations, Kerry's boat was under enemy fire at the time, and Kerry had been wounded when an enemy mine exploded near his own boat. O'Dell insists "there was no fire" at the time, adding: "I did not hear any shots, nor did any hostile fire hit any boats" other than his own, PCF-3.

Others in the ad back up that account. Jack Chenoweth, who was a Lieutenant (junior grade) commanding PCF-3, said Kerry's boat "fled the scene" after a mine blast disabled PCF-3, and returned only later "when it was apparent that there was no return fire." And Larry Thurlow, who says he commanded a third Swift Boat that day, says "Kerry fled while we stayed to fight," and returned only later "after no return fire occurred."

Kerry Ad "Heart"

John Kerry: I was born in Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Colorado, my dad was serving in the Army air corps. Both of my parents taught me about public service. I enlisted because I believed in service to country. I thought it was important, if you had a lot of privileges as I had had, to go to a great university like Yale, that you give something back to your country.

Del Sandusky: The decisions that he made saved our lives.

Jim Rassmann: When he pulled me out of the river, he risked his life to save mine.

Narrator: For more than 30 years John Kerry has served America.

Vanessa Kerry: If you look at my father's time and service to this country, whether it has been a veteran, prosecutor, or Senator, he has shown an ability to fight for things that matter.

Teresa Kerry: John is the face of someone who is hopeful, who is generous of spirit, and of heart.

John Kerry : We're a country of optimists...we're the can-do people, and we just need to believe in ourselves again.

Narrator: A lifetime of service and strength: John Kerry for President.

None of those in the attack ad by the Swift Boat group actually served on Kerry's boat. And their statements are contrary to the accounts of Kerry and those who served under him.

Jim Rassmann was the Army Special Forces lieutenant whom Kerry plucked from the water. Rassmann has said all along that he was under sniper fire from both banks of the river when Kerry, wounded, helped him aboard. Rassmann is featured in an earlier Kerry ad, in fact, (see script at left) saying "he (Kerry) risked his life to save mine."

The Kerry campaign put Rassmann and some of Kerry's former crewmen on a conference call with reporters to rebut the new ad.Gene Thorson told reporters, "These assertions are garbage; these people weren't there with John Kerry."

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth further says Kerry didn't deserve his third purple heart, which was received for shrapnel wounds in left buttocks and contusions on right forearm. The affidavits state that the wound in Kerry's backside happened earlier that day in an accident. "Kerry inadvertently wounded himself in the fanny," Thurlow said in his affidavit, "by throwing a grenade too close (to destroy a rice supply) and suffered minor shrapnel wounds."

The grenade incident is actually supported by Kerry's own account, but the shrapnel wound was only part of the basis for Kerry's third purple heart according to official documents. The evidence here is contradictory.

Kerry's account is in the book Tour of Duty by Douglas Brinkley, who based it largely on Kerry's own Vietnam diaries and 12 hours of interviews with Kerry. "I got a piece of small grenade in my ass from one of the rice-bin explosions and then we started to move back to the boats," Kerry is quoted as saying on page 313. In that account, Kerry says his arm was hurt later, after the mine blast that disabled PCF-3, when a second explosion rocked his own boat. "The concussion threw me violently against the bulkhead on the door and I smashed my arm," Kerry says on page 314.

And according to a Navy casualty report released by the Kerry campaign, the third purple heart was received for "shrapnel wounds in left buttocks and contusions on his right forearm when a mine detonated close aboard PCF-94," Kerry's boat. As a matter of strict grammar, the report doesn't state that both injuries were received as a result of the mine explosion, only the arm injury.

The official citation for Kerry's Bronze Star refers only to his arm injury, not to the shrapnel wound to his rear. It says he performed the rescue "from an exposed position on the bow, his arm bleeding and in pain." The description of Kerry's arm "bleeding" isn't consistent with the description of a "contusion," or bruise.

In any case, even a "friendly fire" injury can qualify for a purple heart "as long as the 'friendly' projectile or agent was released with the full intent of inflicting damage or destroying enemy troops or equipment," according to the website of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. All agree that rice was being destroyed that day on the assumption that it otherwise might feed Viet Cong fighters.

Another major discrepancy raises a question of how close Kerry's accusers actually were to the rescue of Rassmann. Tour of Duty describes Rassmann's rescue (and the sniper fire) as happening "several hundred yards back" from where the crippled PCF-3 was lying, not "a few yards away," the distance from which the anti-Kerry veterans claim to have witnessed the incident.

First Purple Heart

Two who appear in the ad say Kerry didn't deserve his first purple heart. Louis Letson, a medical officer and Lieutenant Commander, says in the ad that he knows Kerry is lying about his first purple heart because “I treated him for that.” However, medical records provided by the Kerry campaign to FactCheck.org do not list Letson as the “person administering treatment” for Kerry’s injury on December 3, 1968 . The medical officer who signed this sick call report is J.C. Carreon, who is listed as treating Kerry for shrapnel to the left arm.

In his affidavit, Letson says Kerry's wound was self-inflicted and does not merit a purple heart. But that's based on hearsay, and disputed hearsay at that. Letson says “the crewman with Kerry told me there was no hostile fire, and that Kerry had inadvertently wounded himself with an M-79 grenade.” But the Kerry campaign says the two crewmen with Kerry that day deny ever talking to Letson.

Also appearing in the ad is Grant Hibbard, Kerry’s commanding officer at the time. Hibbard’s affidavit says that he “turned down the Purple Heart request,” and recalled Kerry's injury as a "tiny scratch less than from a rose thorn."

That doesn't quite square with Letson's affidavit, which describes shrapnel "lodged in Kerry's arm" (though "barely.")

Hibbard also told the Boston Globe in an interview in April 2004 that he eventually acquiesced about granting Kerry the purple heart.

Hibbard: I do remember some questions on it. . .I finally said, OK if that's what happened. . . do whatever you want

Kerry got the first purple heart after Hibbard left to return to the US .

McCain Speaks Up

Sen. John McCain -- who has publicly endorsed Bush and even appealed for donations to the President's campaign -- came to Kerry's defense on this. McCain didn't witness the events in question, of course. But he told the Associated Press in an August 5 interview:

McCain : I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable. As it is none of these individuals served on the boat (Kerry) commanded. Many of his crewmates have testified to his courage under fire. I think John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam.

At this point, 35 years later and half a world away, we see no way to resolve which of these versions of reality is closer to the truth.
Sources

Michael Kranish,“Veteran Retracts Criticism of Kerry ,” The Boston Globe, 6 August 2004 .

Jodi Wilgoren, "Vietnam Veterans Buy Ads to Attack Kerry," The New York Times, 5 August 2004.

Douglas Brinkley, Tour of Duty, (NY, HarperCollins, 2004).

Ron Fournier, "McCain Condemns Anti-Kerry Ad," Associated Press, 5 August 2004.

Michael Kranish, "Kerry Faces Questions Over Purple Heart," The Boston Globe, 14 April 2004: A1.


http://www.factcheck.org/article.aspx?docid=231#

8:50 PM  
Blogger Pamela Leavey said...

'Unfit for Command' Co-author Jerome Corsi: Not just Anti-Kerry; Media Matters for America Documents Bigoted, Inflammatory Comments

Fri Aug 6, 5:40 PM ET

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Media Matters for America (MMFA) today documented and disclosed inflammatory comments by Jerome R. Corsi, co-author of the anti-Kerry book 'Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry' with Swift Boat Veterans for Truth founder John E. O'Neill. Corsi's offensive online comments reveal his active participation in discussions on FreeRepublic.com, a far-right website.

The book, published by right-wing publisher Regnery, has received wide media attention in recent days partly as the result of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth anti-Kerry attack ad and has skyrocketed up the Amazon best-seller charts.

According to MMFA's analysis, Corsi, who received his PhD in Political Science from Harvard University in 1972 and is currently the Vice President of Development and Senior Editor of U.S. Financial Marketing Group, has posted to the FreeRepublic.com website under the pseudonym "jrlc" since 2001 and has expressed anti-Catholic and anti-Muslim rhetoric, as well as hateful and inflammatory smears against Democratic politicians.

Following are examples of some of rhetoric by "jrlc" as posted on http://www.FreeRepublic.com --

on Catholics and the Pope:

-- "Boy buggering in both Islam and Catholicism is okay with the Pope as long as it isn't reported by the liberal press."

-- "So this is what the last days of the Catholic Church are going to look like. Buggering boys undermines the moral base and the laywyers rip the gold off the Vatican altars. We may get one more Pope, when this senile one dies, but that's probably about it."

on Islam:

-- "Let's see exactly why it isn't the case that Islam is a worthless, dangerous Satanic religion? Where's the proof to the contrary?"

-- "Islam is like a virus -- it affects the mind -- maybe even better as an analogy -- it is a cancer that destroys the body it infects."

-- "Islam is a peaceful religion as long as the women are beaten, the boys buggered, and the infidels killed."

-- "Think the liberal press will ever let out that these 2 were lovers -- typical Islamic boy-buggering -- older man, younger man -- black Muslims? I doubt it. Not a pretty picture, but one certain to be hidden by PC media."

-- "RAGHEADS are Boy-Bumpers as clearly as they are Women- Haters -- it all goes together."

on Kerry:

-- "First let's undermine the US in Vietnam. Then we can go for gay marriage. When you get to be Pres. JFK-lite, there will be no end to how much of America we can destroy."

-- "Just don't let anybody put a tablet with the Ten Commandments in front of the school where that girl wants to wear a Muslim scarf -- OH, No --- then the RATS would complain. Anti- Christian, Anti-American -- just like their Presidential Candidate -- Jean Francois Kerrie."

-- "After he married TerRAHsa, didn't John Kerry begin practicing Judiasm? He also has paternal gradparents that were Jewish. What religion is John Kerry?"

-- "Kerry has a long history of Communist supporters."

-- "Kerry offers a clear choice. Anti-American hatred."

-- "John F-ing Commie Kerry and Commie Ted discuss their plan to hand America over to our nation's enemies."

on President Clinton:

-- "When is this guy going to admit he's simply an anti- American communist? Won't he and his leftist wife simply go away???? Enough already."

-- "Hey, Bill, didn't you steal enough when you had the chance?"

-- "Clinton doesn't get it. Afganistan, and other Moslim countries, are not poor because they lack money. The culture itself is anti-modern. But then, maybe Slick did get it and he just wants to create another bork barrel from which he and his wife can draw slop."

-- "Clinton was more interested in gays in the military than going after OBL. Clinton had Janet Rhino pushing the FBI (news - web sites) to deport a child to Castro's nondemocratic Cuba, not searching out OBL sleepers in the USA. Clinton was too busy getting BJs in the Oval Office to do more than Wag the Dog after the Cole was hit."

on Senator Clinton:

-- "HELL-ary loves the Arabs so much (kiss, kiss Mrs. Arab- RAT) -- wonder how she would look in a Burkha?"

-- "Mullah Ali'Gore-ah is very proud of his new Bin Laden beard and he hopes others in the Democratic Party will follow his lead. Hell-ary is disappointed she cannot grow a beard, but her press secretary reminds us she can still enroll in flight school."

-- "Let the FAT HOG run!!!" (Regarding a possible presidential bid.)

-- "Hellary should resign and go away. What ever happened to the people she ran over with her car at Westchester Airport? Can't anybody sue this b-tch?"

-- "Anybody ask why HELLary couldn't keep BJ Bill satisfied? Not lesbo or anything, is she?"

More analyses of conservative misinformation can be found at Media Matters for America's website: http://www.mediamatters.org

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=669&ncid=669&e=2&u=/usnw/20040806/pl_usnw/_unfit_for_command__co_author_jerome_corsi__not_just_anti_kerry__media_matters_for_america_documents_bigoted__inflammatory_comm

9:42 PM  
Blogger Sergeant America said...

A word to the unwise...

Why don't you just post excerpts of articles rather that plagiarize?

Oh! That must be the Johnny Four Months way....

SA

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an average student, I ran across this blog on J.F.Kerry's cite. I have to agree. I am utterly disgusted with the Republicans in this election. Give me a break! These men in the "Swift Boat" ad didn't serve with Bush. This is a message for Kerry: continue to fight, do not let this draft dodging, National Guard serving Republican cowards get away with this mess. The American public is tired of Republicans and their lies.


Michigan

7:38 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

I just find it interesting that Kerry and his cronies will not release his complete military record. They also do not deny many of the facts stated by the Swift Boat veterans. The best they can do is state standard phraseology of military citations and reference the hacks that have alot invested in their fake stories already. If the truth came out, the gravy train would come to a stop. The truth is that John Kerry cannot be trusted, is a man of low character, and will not follow through with his promises. I seen many of his low-life kind when I served in the Navy for 6 yrs.

Sincerely,

Tom Heidel
U.S. Navy Veteran

6:03 PM  
Blogger Ron Chusid said...

John Kerry's military records were released quite a while back--as soon as this controversy started. The Bush supporters keep raising the issue because they know people like you are too gullible to actually check the facts yourself.

The records are available on line at http://www.johnkerry.com/about/john_kerry/military_records.html

7:27 PM  
Blogger Ron Chusid said...

While Kerry's records were released a while back, we are still waiting to see Bush's records. Or are they lost again?

The Bush supporters repeatedly lie to discredit a legitimate war hero, while ignoring Bush's past as a drunk who went AWOL from the national guard before going onto a series of business failures, repeatedly requiring rescuing from his daddy's friends.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Ron Chusid said...

Veteran Who Served With Kerry Praises Him



Hannity & Colmes (Fox News Network); 8/5/2004; Susan Estrich


Hannity & Colmes (Fox News Network)

08-05-2004

ESTRICH: Welcome back to HANNITY & COLMES. I'm Susan Estrich, sitting in tonight for Alan Colmes.

Coming up later, new Fox polls are in. We'll have the latest in what continues to be an incredibly close race for the White House.

But first, our next guest, unlike our last guest, actually served with John Kerry in Vietnam and says that Kerry saved his life.

Joining us now is Vietnam veteran Jim Rassman.

Jim, our last guest, Van Odell, I think is his name, who didn't serve with John Kerry on the crew boat says you are a liar. Is that true?

JIM RASSMAN, SERVED WITH JOHN KERRY: No, it's not. He couldn't quite bring himself to directly call me a liar.

ESTRICH: It was close. It was close, wasn't it?

RASSMAN: It was close. It's a shame. You know, this happened a long time ago. People's recollections fade.

But the bottom line is, I submitted John Kerry for the Silver Star, because he pulled me out of the water under fire. Mr. Odell doesn't remember it that way. I think he's wrong. I think he has partisan motives, that will have to be explored by other people. What is disappointing is that Mr. Odell, Roy Hoffman, Admiral Hoffman, John Kerry and all of those men in the Navy that served on the swift boats served admirably. They were very courageous. They were in a very difficult situation, and they all did well.

I'm a little upset that, in addition to calling me a liar, these people are now calling the United States Navy a liar. All of these decorations are vetted at every link in the chain of command. The time to have questioned this request for a medal was 35-years-ago, not now.

I think the timing is very suspicious. I find it a little upsetting, but I can live with it. What I do have great difficulty with is that I have heard that on the Web site that the swift boat veterans operate, they have referred to the my nong (ph) Chinese soldiers as assassins. I take great offense to that. I think whoever wrote that should retract it.

Those men are mostly dead. They're not here to defend themselves, and I'd love to defend them.

ESTRICH: Mr. Rassman, can I ask you a question? You're not a Democrat, are you?

RASSMAN: I turned Democrat in January. Previous to that, I had been a Republican for 33, 35 years. I didn't always vote Republican. But much of the time, I did.

HANNITY: I noticed that Senator McCain, who was himself a former prisoner of war called this dishonest and dishonorable.

Why are these guys doing this?

Why are they reopening these wounds, in your view?

RASSMAN: You have to talk to them directly about that. I suspect it has strictly partisan motives, but I'm not an investigative reporter.

HANNITY: Mr. Rassman, welcome back. Sean Hannity here.

I think these guys earned the right to give their recollections, having they served -- they having their country, just as you have the right to tell your story. And I think the American people are going to have to vet this out. I wasn't there. I don't know if what you're saying is true or what he's saying is true. That's why we have both of you on, so our audience can decide.

But we do know that a lot of these guys served with John Kerry and served closely with him in Vietnam. And John Kerry himself brought some of these other guys, the swift boat guys, Elliot and Lonsdale (ph), for example, to campaign for him. Now they've -- now they're against him, but in 96. You're upset that they're calling the U.S. Navy liars, you said, and the use of the word assassin. Well, John Kerry when he got back before the Senate committee, accused hits fellow Vietnam vets of being rapists, people that cut off heads and limbs and taped wires from portable telephones to genitals, turned on the power, cut off limbs and blew up bodies and razed villages.

He himself admits he violated the Geneva Convention and, quote -- and by the way, I misspoke earlier. I said the Senate Committee when he was and he said he admitted he committed atrocities and burned villages and violated the Geneva Convention. Does that bother you?

RASSMAN: No. From my own experience I know some of these things occurred. I never saw any of the swift boat people do it. I did have a problem with the idea of a free fire zone and shooting at any fisherman who ran about in sampan in the free fire zone. Beyond that, I never witnessed anything.

HANNITY: Well, Mr. Rassman, I'm just going to say I appreciate you serving your country and John Kerry for that extent, too. But I do have concerns, and I mean this sincerely.

And I wrote in my first book how I praise Kerry for this service to this country, even though he disagreed with the war. I have concerns about his attacks against his fellow soldiers. I have concerns that he admitted he committed atrocities. In this new book that is coming out, and I am told and I just got a copy earlier today, that he shot and killed a teenage Viet Cong. He admits he burned down villages.

Should we not vet these things through and find out what the truth is, let all sides be heard and let the American people decide?

Shouldn't we try to get to the truth?

RASSMAN: I think so but I think the time is long past to have done that. I think the timing now is suspicious.

HANNITY: Maybe the timing is, but he never ran for president before.

And he admitted he committed atrocities. Those are his words, Susan. He said it. "I committed the same kinds of atrocities." Those are his words.

I'm concerned about that. I think we have a right to vet this out now. I am more concerned, I've got to tell you politically, with his record on defense issues after he got out of Vietnam. I'm concerned that he was on the wrong side of history in the Cold War and wanted a nuclear freeze when Reagan was winning the war. I'm concerned about the Kerry amendment that would have cut $7 million from our intelligence community after the first Trade Center attack. I'm more concerned about his votes cutting major weapons systems.

But I think we out to -- I think for the benefit of our country, we ought to go through this and let the American people hear all sides. Is that fair?

RASSMAN: The American people certainly will be the final arbiters of this and that's as it should be.

ESTRICH: I would like to thank Mr. Rassman, who I would point out did serve on the swift boat with Mr. Kerry unlike our previous guest. Thank you for being here and for your service to our country.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Ron Chusid said...

All Things Considered (NPR); 8/6/2004; MELISSA BLOCK


All Things Considered (NPR)

08-06-2004

Profile: Controversial new anti-Kerry ad hits airwaves amidst questions about its accuracy

Host: MELISSA BLOCK
Time: 9:00-10:00 PM

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

A new TV ad is one of the week's hot topics on the presidential campaign trail. It accuses Democratic nominee John Kerry of lying about his record in the Vietnam War. But there are questions about whether the ad is truthful and where the money came from to put it on the air. More from NPR's Peter Overby.

PETER OVERBY reporting:

To demonstrate his leadership and toughness, John Kerry has surrounded himself with crew members from his days commanding a swift boat, a small assault boat, in the Mekong delta three decades ago. The new ad comes from a political group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. They accuse Kerry of lying, not being honest, betrayal, dishonoring his country, 13 such attacks in 60 seconds. The litany starts this way.

(Soundbite of ad)

Unidentified Man #1: I served with John Kerry.

Unidentified Man #2: I served with John Kerry.

Mr. GEORGE ELLIOTT: John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam.

OVERBY: But that last speaker, George Elliott, Kerry's former commander, has kicked up a controversy of his own. Elliott's main argument is that Kerry didn't deserve a Silver Star for which Elliott had recommended him. Elliott signed an affidavit to that effect; it's an essential document in a new book attacking Kerry's war record. This morning The Boston Globe quoted Elliott as regretting that affidavit. He called it, quote, "a terrible mistake." Was Elliott breaking ranks with Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? Absolutely not, says Mike Russell, a spokesman for the group. He says The Globe distorted what Elliott said.

Mr. MIKE RUSSELL (Swift Boat Veterans for Truth): He was misquoted in that piece. He is reaffirming his commitment and affiliation or alliance with Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. And this has not changed anything that the organization is doing.

OVERBY: It's hard to tell who wins and who loses in all of this back-and-forth. Kerry's campaign released a flood of information supporting his record. For starters, it notes that Elliott was with Kerry when similar questions came up in the 1996 Senate race. And of the surviving crewmen who actually served on Kerry's boat, all but one are on Kerry's side in this fight. Democratic lawyers are now warning TV stations that they consider the ad to be false and libelous.

And then there's the question of where the ad came from. This morning on NPR's "Morning Edition," Kerry asserted there's a direct connection between Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and President Bush.

(Soundbite of "Morning Edition")

Senator JOHN KERRY (Democratic Presidential Nominee): It's funded by a very close friend of the president's. It's right-wing politics, attack politics.

OVERBY: But to the extent that the funders are known, they appear to be Bush sympathizers but not friends. Of the money disclosed so far, 95 percent came from three Texans. Big donor number one is lawyer John O'Neill, a Navy veteran and a minor appointee in the Nixon administration. With encouragement from the Nixon White House, he debated Kerry on TV in 1971. Now he's a co-author of the new book, and he said he can't give interviews until the book comes out next week. Big donor number two is developer Harlan Crow, a trustee of George H.W. Bush's Presidential Library. And number three is home builder Bob J. Perry. Perry is so lavish with his political money that in the last round of Texas state elections he put in nearly $4 million, more than double the total for the next closest donor. What Crow and Perry haven't done is take on high-visibility fund-raising roles in the Bush campaign, as so-called Pioneers or Rangers. Craig McDonald is with the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice.

Mr. CRAIG McDONALD (Texans for Public Justice): Neither one is a Pioneer or Ranger, and they don't have much of a history of giving directly to Bush's gubernatorial campaigns. However, both of them have been very strong and continuing givers to Texans for Lawsuit Reform, which is a group of primarily business executives who pooled a whole bunch of money starting in '94, and really that PAC helped propel Bush into office.

OVERBY: It's all reminiscent of Campaign 2000, when two Bush allies ran an independent ad attacking presidential primary rival John McCain. Yesterday, Senator McCain told ABC News that the Swift Boat ad is dishonest and dishonorable.

(Soundbite of ABC News programming)

Senator JOHN McCAIN (Republican, Arizona): I hope that the president will also condemn it.

OVERBY: Instead, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said neither side should be running negative, independently financed ads like this. In McClellan's words, `The president thought he got rid of this kind of unregulated soft money when he signed the bipartisan campaign finance reforms.' McClellan was referring to the law sponsored by McCain, a Republican who's endorsed President Bush but inconveniently keeps defending John Kerry. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

7:35 PM  

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