Skip to comments.Republican-funded Group Attacks Kerry's War Record
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 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.
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.
Don't expect them to correct the facts. They have their lie and they will run with it. Right out of the Dem play book. With them it is not, "lie often enough and the lie takes on the ring of truth." It is lie once, the media will report it and then forever quote it.
We all know about the use of half-truths, deceptive labels, out of context quotes by the "impartial, unbiased" media. They are so afraid to let the American people see all the actual facts and decide for themselves the truth. I have no doubts that John Kerry LIED then and is LYING now. My experiences lead me to this conclusion. John Kerry's actions confirm my conclusions. Look at his voting record in congress, that is when he decided it important for himself to be in attendance. Look at his actions when he was in country and came back to the states. At every step he has fought any program to protect and defend the American people. Look deeply at his record, go back further to his youth and work forward, looking closely at every thing that happened before he "volunteered" to join the navy. Do not discount any thing you see as minor, all activities he perpetuated may no longer be in full view. His money has allowed him to bury events in his past, but he has missed things. I challenge you all to dig and dig deeply. Do this to benefit all Americans, not just a few. Time is short. Godspeed to all.
Yes. And you are correct to put the word non-partisan in quotes. :-)
The Director of Annenberg Political Fact Check did "fact checking" for CNN in the past.
One of the two researchers for Factcheck worked on a Ted Kennedy campaign and likes to berate people who fail to use politically correct language.
Turn them off.
Cancel your cable/satellite.
We did last January. There is no longer any real time tv in our home. We liked FNC but even it was becoming too much to bear to look at.
We are missing nothing without tv. We are better informed without it. The internet, books & magazines, and talk radio are what we rely upon.
The main reason for kicking the people on tv out of our home- We have a three.5 year old. She has an attention span of hours rather than seconds.
That never would have happened had we allowed the tv to teach her how to think in tiny pieces.
Turn it off. FNC wasn't worth it even a year ago. It's certainly not worth it now.
The fact is the reporter LIED. The veteran in question quickly challenged the article. John Kerry = LIAR.
If you haven't already joined the anti-CFR effort, please click here.
Yes. And they dispatch their lawyers like "men in black."
"I urge Ed to show to every American because I think every American should see this..." -- Fmr. NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani http://www.kerryoniraq.com/
Yes...It would be interesting to know who wrote the article....
Just Four people are listed on the About Us page
We are heading that way here, too.
Let them know they are wrong. I guess they are suppose to be legit:
Annenberg Public Policy Center
320 National Press Building
Washington DC 20045
Telephone: (Annenberg Public Policy Center)
Translation: 'We don't dare have this resolved, so let's just all pack it in and move on.'
Yes. The Democrats seem to have taken action as soon as they saw the vets might get some real attention.
And I suppose all the shadowy "527s" financed by George Soros aren't partisan?
Get a clue Mac.
They didn't even bother to take a good look at Elliot's second affidavit, before the weekend.
I LOVE this bellyaching from THE LEFT!If George Soros funds Move On .Org to the tune if 15-20 MILLIONS to attack OUR PRESIDENT,that's perfectly OK!!Put the shoe on the other foot and they start CATERWAULING like scalded cats!!!
Anti-Kerry Vietnam Veterans Hold Strong <-- Mash here, read all about it for yourself, and draw your own conclusions. Make sure you read the affadavits themselves. Also, read the Boston Globe stories. I don't have links to those, but there is no fee or registration required to read the August 6th article that provoked Elliott's second affidavit, or the Globe's CYA article of this morning.
I'll bet 99% of political donations are given by people with some partisan leanings.
It makes sense to think that individuals who are uninterested in politics probably contribute very little money to politically active groups.