Jewish World Review August 25, 2004 / 8 Elul, 5764
Four months later
months ago, I wrote a column suggesting that critics of John Kerry who disparaged
his service in Vietnam might be barking up the wrong tree. "Kerry's problem isn't
whether he deserved the medals he was awarded," I wrote. "His vulnerability is
his record after the war especially his involvement with the radical group
Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and his role as an apologist for the communists
we were fighting in Vietnam." At the time, almost no one had heard of Swift Boat
Veterans for Truth, the organization now at the center of a storm of controversy
over John Kerry's record in Vietnam. The group held a press conference May 4 that
received almost no media attention.
Boy, what a difference a few
months and a half million dollars make. The Swiftvets are now all the rage
thanks to a low-budget ad campaign (a small buy in only a tiny handful of states)
that has dominated news coverage of the presidential campaign in recent days.
The group has unhinged the Kerry camp, which has tried to censor the ads, threatened
television stations that might air them, attempted to intimidate bookstores from
for Command," a new, best-selling, anti-Kerry book by Swiftvets John O'Neill
and Jerome Corsi, (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and fired back with its own ad claiming the Bush campaign is
behind Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
The latter charge is blatantly
false. The Bush campaign has been in the forefront of trying to shut down so-called
"527s," unsuccessfully challenging the legality of the groups at the Federal Elections
Commission this year. Most 527s are on the Left and have spent more than $60 million
trying to defeat the president. Bush campaign officials are scrupulous in avoiding
even the appearance of coordination with independent groups. The best way to ensure
that your phone calls not be returned by anyone in the Bush campaign or the Republican
National Committee is to be involved with a 527. The mere mention of a 527 sends
the lawyers rushing in and campaign officials scurrying for the doors I've
seen it happen.
Yet the mainstream media seem far more interested
in chasing down false leads about alleged ties between the Swiftvets and Bush-Cheney
'04 than they do exploring the substance of the group's charges against Kerry,
especially his dubious record in the anti-Vietnam War movement and its influence
on his Senate career. The latest Swiftvets ad uses snippets from Kerry's 1971
testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations committee in which he said American
soldiers "raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, ... cut off limbs, blown up bodies
(sic), randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of
Genghis Khan ... "
Kerry based his statements not on his own knowledge
but on the fabricated testimony of a group of anti-war activists at "hearings"
sponsored by VVAW and paid for by Jane Fonda. Some of those who testified to witnessing
atrocities later proved not to have served in the military, much less in Vietnam.
Congressional and military investigations into these allegations found no substantiation
of the specific charges which is not to say that atrocities did not sometimes
occur. Just two months before Kerry testified before the Senate, Lt. William Calley
was convicted by a military tribunal of killing 22 innocent men, women and children
in the Vietnamese village of My Lai in 1968, which made Kerry's unsubstantiated
charges all the more believable.
Why hasn't the media investigated
Kerry's anti-war activities more closely or spent time tracking down the veracity
of the allegations he made about atrocities? Why haven't enterprising reporters
asked Kerry why he went to Paris in 1970 to meet with representatives of the North
Vietnamese and the Viet Cong during the Paris Peace Talks, or why he has never
criticized the communist government of Vietnam in the years since the fall of
Saigon? Why haven't journalists called him on his claims to have taken his boat
into Cambodia during Christmas 1968 an uncorroborated assertion he has made
at least eight times since 1979, including once on the floor of the U.S. Senate
in 1986, according to research by Dr. Joshua Muravchik of the American Enterprise
Institute? News organizations spent considerable effort to investigate George
W. Bush's National Guard service, devoting hundreds of stories to the issue, but
they show almost no interest in getting to the bottom of whether Kerry made up
stories about his involvement in what would have been an illegal incursion into
These are the real leads the media ought to be tracking
not the obvious distraction of the Swiftvets' purported ties to Republicans.
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JWR contributor Linda Chavez is President of the Center for Equal Opportunity. Her latest book is "Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)
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