Kristoff’s dishonest defense of Kerry’s Vietnam record

To Nicholas Kristoff, New York Times:

You get some credit for admitting in your op-ed today (“A War Hero or a Phony?”) some of the lies Kerry has told about himself. It is especially welcome that you admit that he did not volunteer to go to Vietnam, as he has claimed, but sought to avoid Vietnam. Unfortunately, you’re still covering up for him on several key points:

1. Contrary to what you write, he did not enlist in the Navy, he enlisted in the Navy Reserves, and was later activated into the regular Navy.

2. Re the first Purple Heart incident, you quote Zaldonis to the effect that there was enemy fire but you don’t quote the officer (his name is Shacht, I believe?) who was in command of that boat, and who said there was no enemy fire. This is not honest of you. The claim that there was no other officer on that boat besides Kerry is impossible to credit, since Kerry himself was not in command on the boat but went out with someone else’s command.

You also fail to mention Kerry’s own journal entry of several days later which indicates he had not previously come under fire. This proves that his other statement that the first Purple Heart incident, when enemy were supposedly firing from the shore, was the most frightening incident of the war for him, was an out and out fabrication.

3. Re the Bronze Star, you simply ignore the accounts of that action that contradict Rassmann’s account. I don’t claim to know the truth of this incident, but I do know that you are ignoring the testimony that goes against Kerry’s and Rassmann’s account. This is not honest of you.

4. Re the Silver Star, three Swift boats were involved in that action, and according to an after action report unearthed this past week at the Navy Archives and published on the Web, there were 30 soldiers on each boat in addition to their usual crews of six navy personnel. The plan to attack the attackers on the shore was agreed on beforehand. Kerry was thus involved in an action that involved about 100 men. Yet his Silver Star said he was heading into a numerically superior enemy, which is impossible. Further, why should Kerry alone get a Silver Star for this action? For chasing a retreating wounded enemy and killing him? Silver Stars require much more than that. The fact is that Kerry got the Silver Star based only on his own, self-serving after action report, in which he exaggerated his own role and diminished that of others.

5. Re Christmas in Cambodia, you say that Kerry “exaggerated” this. But by your own account he said he had been sent on a mission into Cambodia, which you admit could not have been true. That is not an exaggeration but a lie.

6. Finally, having ignored so much of the evidence raised by the Swift Boat Veterans, you then say they are “engaging in one of the ugliest smears in modern U.S. politics.” This cancels out any credit you get for the few critical things you admit about Kerry. The fact is that we wouldn’t have known about Kerry’s repeated lie about his secret mission into Cambodia if it weren’t for the Swiftees. We wouldn’t have known about the strong testimony that there was no enemy fire in the first Purple Heart incident. We wouldn’t have known about the doctor and officer who were appalled that Kerry sought a Purple Heart for a scratch. We wouldn’t have known about the three different and contradictory citations for the Silver Star. We wouldn’t have known that Kerry’s self-serving account of having volunteered to go to Vietnam was a lie. Thus your cheap attack on the Swiftees reveals you to be a part of the Kerry coverup, notwithstanding the few critical facts you admit about him in order to give yourself a specious credibility.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 18, 2004 10:33 AM | Send

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