Unhappy band of brothers

Mr. Kerry is the type of person who lives and survives only on the war weariness and fears of the American people. This is the same little man who on nationwide television in April spoke of, quote, “crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command,” who was quoted in a prominent news magazine in May as saying, quote, “war crimes in Vietnam are the rule and not the exception,” unquote.
Who brought 50 veterans down to Washington to testify about alleged atrocities in April, the same 50 who after they had appeared on every major news network refused to provide any depositions or provide any details of any kind.

Never in the course of human events have so many been libeled by so few.
[John O'Neil, member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971 in a debate with John Kerry.]

John Kerry and the Democratic Party have made Vietnam, ancient history as it is, a live issue in this campaign. The fact that there might be a downside to doing so shouldn't be a surprise.

When Democrat officials slander Bush they do it with impunity. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic national committee chairman, asserted Bush was AWOL and there was blood in the water.

"I look forward to that debate - when John Kerry, a war hero with a chest full of medals, is standing next to George Bush, a man who was AWOL in the Alabama National Guard," Mr McAuliffe said. "George Bush never served in our military in our country. He didn't show up when he should have showed up." Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic National Committee Chairman

Does anyone remember that media feeding frenzy? How the press kept asking Bush, "Where are your band of brothers?" and, "Can you produce anyone who can say you were there?"

Well, the Swift Boat Veteran's For Truth were there in Kerry's case. They were there when Kerry came back to the US and said they had committed war crimes, killed babies, and tortured prisoners, etc, etc. I suppose they are a bit teed off about that. And now they see Kerry trying to wrap himself in the flag and Vietnam. Obviously John O'Neil has some history with Kerry and is passionate about this issue. Let's just say it's a sore spot. Regardless of how their refutations of Kerry's military service turns out, the whole issue of Kerry's post-combat Vietnam activities deserves an airing. As it is, I think the real bone of contention for John O'Neil are the anti-war activities and slander of veterans as war criminals.

Mr. Kerry has faced criticism for years within the fractious world of Vietnam veterans. Many have never forgiven him for his role as a leading anti-war activist who said his fellow American soldiers committed war crimes.

But the new allegations are among the gravest he has faced and his public accusers now include the admiral who was in charge of his unit.

Mr. Kerry's war record is a cornerstone of the Democratic campaign, which has worked to make stars of the five surviving men who served on Mr. Kerry's boats, calling them his "band of brothers".

They appeared on stage before his key acceptance speech to the recent Democratic convention. One, Gene Thorson, told reporters: "These assertions are garbage. These people weren't there with John Kerry." telegraph.co.uk

The free speech of these Veterans is as much a repudiation of the anti-war movement as it is against John Kerry. In that sense it is an important issue that overshadows this campaign as I'm sure Vietnam itself has and will continue to do for some time.

But a comprehensive 1980 survey commissioned by Veterans' Administration (VA) reported that 91 percent of those who had seen combat in Vietnam were "glad they had served their country;" 80 percent disagreed with the statement that "the US took advantage of me;" and nearly two out of three would go to Vietnam again, even knowing how the war would end.

Today, Sen. Kerry appeals to veterans in his quest for the White House. He invokes his Vietnam service at every turn. But an honest, enterprising reporter should ask Sen. Kerry this: Were you lying in 1971 or are you lying now? We do know that his speech was not the spontaneous, emotional, from-the-heart offering that he suggested it was. Burkett and Whitley report that instead, "it had been carefully crafted by a speech writer for Robert Kennedy named Adam Walinsky, who also tutored him on how to present it."

But the issue goes far beyond theatrics. If he believes his 1971 indictment of his country and his fellow veterans was true, then he couldn't possibly be proud of his Vietnam service. Who can be proud of committing war crimes of the sort that Kerry recounted in his 1971 testimony? But if he is proud of his service today, perhaps it is because he always knew that his indictment in 1971 was a piece of political theater that he, an aspiring politician, exploited merely as a "good issue." If the latter is true, he should apologize to every veteran of that war for slandering them to advance his political fortunes. nationalreview.com

Posted by Eric Simonson at August 6, 2004 3:03 AM