The mainstream media has done an extremely poor job of covering the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth story.
When the group first formed in April, the media largely ignored their explosive charges despite the fact that many of the people involved are vets and war heroes who knew John Kerry in Vietnam. Even after the group’s book, “Unfit for Command,” started selling like wildfire & conservative bloggers and talk radio hosts started talking about the story daily, most of the mainstream media continued to treat the SBVFT as a non-story.
Only after John Kerry attacked the SBVFT did most of the “dead tree” media begin to cover the story, if you consider parroting the line taken by the Kerry campaign on the ads and smearing the Swiftees for Truth for daring to attack John Kerry’s war record “cover(ing) the story”.
Perhaps the most disconcerting thing of all has been that much of the mainstream media seems to be simply rejecting the claims of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth out of hand without even bothering to familiarize themselves with many of the charges being made. For example, both Chris Matthews & Jim Lehrer seemed to be totally unaware that the Swift Boat Vets for Truth are claiming that John Kerry received 2 Purple Hearts for accidentally self-inflicted wounds. That’s just embarrassing.
So, in an effort to help everyone out there, journalists, voters, bloggers, you name it, try to get a handle on this whole “Swift Boat Vets thing,” I put together a list of 10 questions for John Kerry prompted by things said by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it covers most of the hot issues in the blogosphere. Moreover, I think you’ll find that these are important questions that John Kerry needs to answer if he’s going to prove the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth wrong when they claim he’s “Unfit for Command”.
1) Isn’t it true that you requested a year long deferment from your local draft board to study in France and only after you were turned down did you actually enlist in the military?
2) There have been numerous explanations of your trip or trips to Cambodia. In 1994, you said you were in Cambodia on Christmas Eve of 1968 and were shot at by drunken Vietnamese who were celebrating Christmas. US News and World Report Reporter Kevin Whitelaw says you told him that you went on “clandestine missions to deliver weapons to anticommunist forces” in Cambodia. Carl Cameron from Fox News says he was told by your staff that you were never in Cambodia, you were just near the country. Now, the latest variation of this story told by Douglas Brinkley is that you went to Cambodia “three or four times in January and February 1969 on clandestine missions. He had a run dropping off U.S. Seals, Green Berets and CIA guys.” Can you explain the discrepancies?
3) Assuming the latest story is the one you’re going with, can you provide any details that support your story? What were the dates of trips to Cambodia? Which Swift Boat Vets were with you on the boat? Who ordered you to go? What are the names of the SEALs or CIA agents you took into Cambodia? What happened on these trips that later led you to believe you were being shot at by your Vietnamese allies who were celebrating Christmas despite the fact that these trips were in January and February?
4) Back in 2003, you told Laura Blumenfield of the Washington Post that you had a “good luck hat” that you kept with you in a briefcase that was given to you by a “CIA guy as we went in for a special mission in Cambodia”. What was the CIA guy’s name and can you give all the relevant details (dates, crewmen who were with you, etc) for that trip?
5) The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth say that your first Purple Heart was obtained fraudulently. Their claim is that the tiny piece of shrapnel you had in your arm was not from enemy fire, but from an accidentally self-inflicted wound caused by firing your M-79 grenade launcher at a target that was too close. Interestingly enough, this passage which was written in your own biography, ‘Tour Of Duty’, nine days after the incident in which you won a Purple Heart, seems to support the Swift Boat Vets for Truth contention that you were not fired upon…
“They pulled away from the pier at Cat Lo with spirits high, feeling satisfied with the way things were going for them. They had no lust for battle, but they also were not afraid. Kerry wrote in his notebook, ‘A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn’t been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven’t been shot at are allowed to be cocky.”
Can you explain the discrepancy between your own biography and your account of how you won your first Purple Heart?
6) Did Louis Letson tend to the “wound” you received your first Purple Heart for and did he treat it with a band-aid as he claims?
7) Grant Hibbard, your commanding officer at the time you received your first Purple Heart, says he turned down your request for a medal because he said you were not under enemy fire that day and your “wound” was comparable to a scratch from a rose bush. Can you explain in detail who approved that Purple Heart, when they approved it, and on what basis they approved it after you’d already been turned down by your commanding officer?
8) Your third Purple Heart was based on “shrapnel wounds in left buttocks and contusions on (the) right forearm when a mine detonated close aboard“. The bruise on your arm alone would not have been enough to qualify you for a Purple Heart so without the wound to your the buttocks, you wouldn’t have received the medal. However, your own biography, “Tour of Duty,” seems to belie the idea that you received the wound in combat. Earlier in the day, you admitted that the wound to your buttocks was accidentally self-inflicted by grenades thrown at rice bins during a non-combat situation…
“I got a piece of small grenade in my @ss from one of the rice-bin explosions and then we started to move back to the boats.”
Can you explain the discrepancy?
9) A January 17, 2004 press release about the event in which you won your third Purple Heart and your Bronze Star says that the other boats fled the scene while your boat came to Jim Rassmann’s rescue,
“Rassmann, a Green Beret, was traveling down the Bay Hap river in a boat behind Kerry�s when both were ambushed by exploding land mines and enemy fire coming from the shore. Kerry was hit in the arm, while a mine blew Rassmann�s boat out of the water. With enemy fire coming from both sides of the river and swift boats evacuating from the area, Kerry�s crew chose to turn their boat toward the ambush to save Rassmann.
This is the basis for the “No Man Left Behind” theme that your campaign has used.
However, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth said that you lied and that YOUR BOAT was the only one to leave the scene and then return. Moreover, theWashington Post, after doing some research and concluding that you and the SBVFT were wrong about some things, seems to favor the SBVT on this particular issue…
“It is unclear how far down the river Kerry’s boat was when he turned around. It could have been anywhere from a few hundred yards to a mile.
O’Neill claims that Kerry “fled the scene” despite the absence of hostile fire. Kerry, in a purported journal entry cited in Brinkley’s “Tour of Duty,” maintains that he wanted to get his troops ashore “on the outskirts of the ambush.”
Could you clarify: Was your boat the only one to leave the scene or did all the other boats evacuate the area while your boat alone went back?
10) You claim that you’ve released your full military records already and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have said that you’re lying. However, after investigating, the Washington Post found that there apparently are large amounts of material in your records that have not been released…
“A Freedom of Information Act request by The Post for Kerry’s records produced six pages of information. A spokesman for the Navy Personnel Command, Mike McClellan, said he was not authorized to release the full file, which consists of at least a hundred pages.”
Why are you refusing to sign Pentagon’s Standard Form 180 which will allow the Pentagon release all of your records and can you explain why your campaign has said that all of your records have been released?
(*** Bonus Question ***) Why do you think it is that your former doctor, one of the men who served on your boat, the majority of crew members whose picture you used in a campaign commercial, every commanding officer you ever had in Vietnam, and large numbers of men who fought beside you in combat on other boats are all coming out and not just saying that they don’t support you, but that you’re telling lies about your war record? Is it just a “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” or is there something else at work here?