Jewish World Review May 7, 2004 / 16 Iyar, 5764
Scandals: Real and ignored
The hypocrisy, double standards and political bias of most in the major news
media was evident in the meager coverage given a remarkable press conference
held in Washington D.C. May 4.
A group calling themselves "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" declared John
Kerry to be "unfit to be commander in chief." The group includes 19 of the
23 officers who served in Kerry's swift boat squadron during the time he was
in Vietnam, and every officer in his chain of command, up to Rear Admiral
Roy Hoffman, who oversaw all swift boats in Vietnam at the time Kerry was
Most of their ire was directed at Kerry's false accusation that servicemen
routinely committed war crimes. But Kerry's shipmates also accused him of
having "withheld and/or distorted material facts as to your own conduct in
LtCmdr Grant Hibbard, Kerry's immediate superior, said he doubted Kerry
deserved the first of the three Purple Hearts he was awarded during his four
months in Vietnam:
"The briefing of some members of the crew the morning after revealed that
they had not received enemy fire," Hibbard said. "And yet Lt.(jg) Kerry
informed me of a wound, he showed me a scratch on his arm and a piece of
shrapnel in his hand that appeared to be from one of our own M-79s (grenade
launcher). It was later reported to me that Lt. Kerry had fired an M-79 and
it had exploded off the adjacent shoreline."
Hibbard's doubts are shared by Louis Letson, the physician who treated Kerry
for his wound at the Cam Ranh Bay medical facility:
"The story he told was different from what his crewmen had to say about that
night. According to Kerry, they had been engaged in a fire fight. He said
that his injury had resulted from this enemy action.
"Some of his crew confided that they did not receive any fire from shore,
but that Kerry had fired a mortar round at close range to some rocks on
shore. The crewman thought that the injury was caused by a fragment
ricocheting from that mortar round when it struck the rocks. That seemed to
fit the injury which I treated."
Customarily, service members are recommended for decorations by their
immediate superior. But Hibbard said he didn't recommend Kerry for that
Purple Heart, and doesn't know how he got it.
The controversy is important not just because Kerry may have gotten a combat
decoration to which he was not entitled, but because he used it (along with
his two unchallenged Purple Hearts) to leave Vietnam nearly eight months
before the end of his tour. And it may explain why Kerry has been unwilling
to disclose his medical records.
The Kerry campaign has responded to the charges made by the Swift Boat
Veterans for Truth not by providing evidence to refute them, but by charging
they are part of a "Republican plot." The Kerry campaign has provided no
evidence to support this charge, which is denied by the Republican National
Committee and by the veterans.
"We endorse nobody at all for president," said John O'Neill, who organized
the group. "If Kerry drops out and allows the Democratic Party a genuine
choice, we're all going home. "We're unified on absolutely nothing, except
one thing: John Kerry is not a fit commander in chief based on our
experience with him."
It is remarkable that so many of Kerry's peers and superiors have such a low
opinion of their former shipmate. But not to the news media, which buried
their story on inside pages, if they reported on it at all. Contrast that
with the massive coverage of recycled charges of alleged discrepancies in
President Bush's service in the Air National Guard.
Bush missed several months of drills when he moved from Texas to Alabama to
work on a campaign. Guardsmen are permitted to do this, provided they made
them up later, as the record makes clear Bush did.
If this be a "scandal", surely it is a lesser one than fraudulently
obtaining a combat decoration and using it as justification for leaving a
combat zone early. Why is it that all those journalists who had so many
questions for Bush have none for Kerry?
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan
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