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Republican-funded Group Attacks Kerry's War Record
Annenberg Political Fact Check ^ | August 6, 2004

Posted on 08/07/2004 7:42:37 AM PDT by syriacus

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

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.



"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 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.


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.

TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: ads; annenberg; brooksjackson; factcheck; foxnewswatch; janehall; kerry; kerrysattackdogs; nealgabler; politicalfactcheck; sethgoldman; swiftboatveterans
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To: Puppage
"But one accuser quickly recants"


Absolutely! I went to the link for the email addy to contact them and quickly sent them an email to please check all the *facts* before they report the *facts* which are misleading. That if they did a little research before presenting *facts* they would have known that Elliot said Kranis and the Globe misquoted him and that he did NOT recant or retract his statement.

21 posted on 08/07/2004 8:01:14 AM PDT by Billie
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To: syriacus

I have to go to an appointment, but could you check and see which Elliott affadavit the author is quoting, please. If he does not have the second affadavit, you need to ask him , why not.

22 posted on 08/07/2004 8:01:20 AM PDT by Eva
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Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

To: Wphile

18. What else can I do to help?

E-mail this information and the quotes from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth from the initial press conference to as many people as you can. Ask them to e-mail it to their friends. With few exceptions, the mainstream media is trying to ignore our story. We need the help of every American to prompt Senator Kerry to disclose what he did and did not do in Vietnam, and the importance of all this to our country.

If Senator Kerry’s claims about his military service are true, then he has no reason to further delay fully disclosing his records since the missing documents will support those claims.

But in fact his claims are not true. We were there. We saw what did and did not happen, and we intend to set the record straight.


Point everyone to:

Original press release:

Goals are to restore honor of Vietnam vets; Rebut John Kerry’s unanswered lies; Bring the truth about Kerry’s service to the public
(May 4-Washington, D.C.) Today, a group of Swift Boat veterans from the unit in which Senator John Kerry served announced the formation of an organization, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The organization has been formed in order to bring the truth about Kerry to the American people. The organization intends to discuss Kerry’s war crimes charges, Kerry’s record and to request that Kerry authorize the Department of Defense to release the originals and the complete files relating to his military service and medical military records.

The group released a historic letter expressing the overwhelming opposition of those who served with Kerry or in his unit to his misrepresentation of his record and the unit’s record. The letter is signed by Swift Boat veterans at all levels and from the entire political spectrum; the entire chain of command during the period Kerry served in Vietnam; veterans who participated in the engagements resulting in his medals; and the majority of officers who served with him in Coastal Division 11, the unit in which he spent most of his four month tour of duty. Public circulation of the letter began one week ago and collected hundreds of signatures. The signers already make up a majority of the Swift Vets whose addresses can be found. The complete record of signers and comments will be posted on

Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann, USN (retired), Commander of Coastal Surveillance Force Vietnam (Commander Task Force 115) and chair of the group said, “I signed this letter because I do not believe John Kerry is fit to be the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States. This is not a political issue. It is a matter of his judgment, truthfulness, reliability, loyalty and trust - all absolute tenets of command.”

“We don’t understand why Kerry would make the centerpiece of his campaign an exaggerated account of his four month service in Vietnam 33 years ago, but since he is, we believe the American public is entitled to the truth about his service and about his charges about war crimes and atrocities,” explained John O’Neill, a Swift Boat veteran who took charge of Kerry’s boat a few months after Kerry’s departure and who debated Kerry in 1971.

The Swift Boat Vets for Truth include the entire chain of command above Kerry: Lt. Commander Grant Hibbard, Lt. Commander Elliott, Captain Charles Plumly, Captain Adrian Lonsdale USCG (retired) and Rear Admiral Hoffmann (retired), as well as enlisted men, officers, men who served with Mr. Kerry, men who served in the same group of Swift boats and men intimately familiar with the operations and conduct of Swift boat operations during the war. The group also includes James Zumwalt, Lt. Colonel, U.S.M.C. (retired), representing his father, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, and brother, Lt. Elmo Zumwalt III, both deceased.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is a Special Purpose Political Action Committee.

Chairman, Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann (retired)
Treasurer, Weymouth “Wey” Symmes
PO Box 26184
Alexandria, VA 22313

24 posted on 08/07/2004 8:04:29 AM PDT by gilliam
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To: syriacus
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

At least the Boston Snotglob "reporter" says that one of the veterans has recanted.

That's not what the veteran says.

Who ya gonna believe - a veteran, or a Left-wing indoctrinated "journalist"?

25 posted on 08/07/2004 8:04:57 AM PDT by an amused spectator (FOXNews: Because We Already Know What Teddy Kennedy's Opinion Is)
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To: Wphile
Does John Kerry have the sole right to be labelled a war hero just because he went into public office?

As long as he is a democrat and plans to continue his agenda to overthow our American system of government.
26 posted on 08/07/2004 8:07:32 AM PDT by Delphinium
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To: Ron in Acreage
Liberal hacks furthering Kerrys lies.

Yes. One of their two researchers, Seth Goldman, worked "at Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's campaign committee."

Here's some information on Brooks Jackson, the Director of Annenberg Political Fact Check

Brooks Jackson is a journalist who covered Washington and national politics for 32 years, reporting in turn for The Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal and CNN. At CNN he pioneered the "adwatch" and "factcheck" form of stories debunking false and misleading political statements starting with the Presidential election of 1992. His investigative reporting for The AP and the Journal won several national awards. He is the author of two books: Honest Graft: Big Money and the American Political Process (Knopf, 1988) and Broken Promise: Why the Federal Election Commission Failed (Twentieth Century Fund: 1990).

27 posted on 08/07/2004 8:08:42 AM PDT by syriacus (Daschle on National Missile Defense debate -- "THIS ISN'T ROCKET SCIENCE." June 8, 2001)
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To: syriacus

Hmmmmmmmmm. Didn't I see the Annenberg Center described as 'non-partisan' on another post this morning? At the very least, they should do some more 'fact-checking'. They seem to have left out a few here.

28 posted on 08/07/2004 8:10:01 AM PDT by CaptRon (Pedecaris alive or Raisuli dead)
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To: syriacus
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.

I think the buttocks wound was when Kerry thew a grenade into a small boat filled with rice and he got too close. The arm injury occurred when he was thrown against the bulkhead of his pilot house as the mine exploded. If I have the story correct.

29 posted on 08/07/2004 8:10:03 AM PDT by gilliam
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To: sergeantdave
The Marxist liars are worried.

Yes. They are.

30 posted on 08/07/2004 8:10:56 AM PDT by syriacus (Daschle on National Missile Defense debate -- "THIS ISN'T ROCKET SCIENCE." June 8, 2001)
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To: Ron in Acreage

Already posted--the Globe and it's pro-Kerry writer LIED about Elliott's retraction. This article snips and dices Elliott's "retraction" statement to make the outcome what this guy at Annenburg wants.


31 posted on 08/07/2004 8:11:07 AM PDT by vaudine
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To: an amused spectator

Since Kerry's mouthpiece works for the Globe which is owned by the NY Times, isn't this the same as saying Kerry says one has recanted.

Who would the public believe if they knew the accused (Kerrry) was again lying about his accusers?

Goebbels was nothing compared to the DNC & DNPartei!

32 posted on 08/07/2004 8:14:58 AM PDT by Prost1 ("A free country requires a free press")
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To: syriacus

Yesterday a post was made stating that the gentleman you say retracted his statement actually did not retract it. Someone better get their facts straight.

33 posted on 08/07/2004 8:15:38 AM PDT by pctech
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To: syriacus

I thought it was

34 posted on 08/07/2004 8:23:49 AM PDT by BenLurkin ("A republic, if we can revive it")
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To: Delphinium
If American Dino-Media was actually ethical and principled stories like this would be of no matter. The problem is the standards reporters (and headline writers) apply to their reporting vary greatly between coverage of liberals and conservatives.

Harken back to the (still-running but totally-refuted) Bush-AWOL non-story. A story which first was made 'credible' by the likes of 'Lumpy Riefenstahl,' AKA Michael Moore, then covered to death by the usual suspects at the NYT, NBC, ABC, CBS, and the rest.

No mention is made, or is not made that 'the story'against Bush is being advanced by partisan elements. No, the media picks them up as though they have merit (despite having already investigated them in 2000).

Now consider that triple-draft-dodger, William the Impeached received scant mainstream press investigation into his military records.

Bottom Line: Big News is in a Death-Spiral, and may not ever fully recover. Its too easy to pick them apart. Their operations will continue to shrink unless they can be subsidized. And the only thing going for them is if they can convince the US body politic to return some of their democrat allies to positions of power.

Free Republic and other sites like it is where this is all taking place. We are laying bare the big lie that supposedly objective media is truly unbiased.

35 posted on 08/07/2004 8:25:14 AM PDT by CT (Oppose Left Wing Anti-American 'Hatriotsim)
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To: wardaddy
FNC has jumped the shark over this. Only Hannity and Gibson showed any real stones over the ad.

Yep. It seems that FNC is drifting to the rats side just like C-span did years ago. If they keep it up, I don't see any point in paying extra satellite costs to get FNC.

36 posted on 08/07/2004 8:27:14 AM PDT by Mogollon
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To: pctech
"Someone better get their facts straight."

That "someone" is you, pctech.

Follow the threads here and you would have seen the new affidavit by Capt. Elliot which affirms his first affidavit and which asserts that the globe "reporter" lied.

Be an informed citizen by doing your own research here rather than dropping catty comments displaying your ignorance of an important event.


37 posted on 08/07/2004 8:30:14 AM PDT by Atomic Vomit (Have a look:
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To: All

Demonrat funded Group attacks GWB EVERYDAY

Demonrat funded Group attacks GWB EVERYDAY
38 posted on 08/07/2004 8:31:26 AM PDT by The Wizard (DemonRATS: enemies of America)
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To: CT
Big News is in a Death-Spiral, and may not ever fully recover

But they are going down fighting and lying like never before.

Notice they are using the same lying, destroying tactics against Fox like they do everyone else?

And there are people worried about the Vietnam Vets ad being too harsh?

Don't they know we are in a war?
39 posted on 08/07/2004 8:34:08 AM PDT by Delphinium
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To: pctech
Yesterday a post was made stating that the gentleman you say retracted his statement actually did not retract it. Someone better get their facts straight.

Yes. But, we may have to wait until Monday, for them to correct their mistake.

I'll bet the Networks use this Factcheck web page to bolster the "facts" they broadcast this weekend. They will do that even though they know Elliot was not really recanting his statement.

If I understand correctly (thanks to what I've learned on FR) Elliot was merely making clear, in his second statement, that Kerry's and Kranish's published story says Kerry shot the young man in the back.

Elliot has no first hand knowledge of the event and is relying on Kerry's own admission for this version of Kerry's story.

40 posted on 08/07/2004 8:34:27 AM PDT by syriacus (Daschle on National Missile Defense debate -- "THIS ISN'T ROCKET SCIENCE." June 8, 2001)
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