Saturday, August 28, 2004
A couple of weeks ago, when she (along with most of the rest of America) learned about the Swift Boat Veterans' campaign against John Kerry, a solidly conservative internet pal posted the following message to our discussion group:
I really wish they wouldn't do this. It's not going to be pretty and will probably backfire. And the Dems will counter with the missing months of Bush's [National Guard] duty. It was a freaking 30 years ago, let it alone.
In her desire to "let it alone," my online friend expresses a sentiment shared by a substantial majority of her fellow Americans. The subject of Vietnam is one that most of us--especially those of us who came of age during that era-- would very much wish to let alone.Long ago we had given up almost every hope that the nation would--in our lifetimes--resolve upon anything close to a shared understanding of its Vietnam experience. All the arguments one way or the other had been said and heard so many times that only the most boorish could be foolish enough to think that more talk would change anyone's opinion. Age and experience might change some minds (mine for instance), but further discussion was futile. In the decade following our ignominious withdrawal, communists would potash Cambodia's rice fields with the bones of millions of human skeletons. Of the millions desperately fleeing the daily terrors of communist rule, countless thousands would perish in the Gulf of Thailand or the South China Sea when their pathetically rickety boats capsized under the their own weight. If those millions of deaths weren't enough to convince you that fighting communism in Southeast Asia was a truly righteous cause, then mere words could never persuade you.
Vladimir Bukovsky, the great anti-Soviet dissident, once reproved me for quoting the old joke about the two main official Soviet newspapers: ''There's no truth in Pravda [Truth] and no news in Izvestia [News].'' He pointed out that you could learn a great deal of truthful news from both papers if you read them with proper care.
They often denounced ''anti-Soviet lies.'' These lies had never been reported by them. Nor were they lies. And their exposure was the first that readers had been told of them. By reading the denunciation carefully, however, intelligent readers could decipher what the original story must have been.
That is exactly how intelligent readers now have to read most of the establishment media -- at least when they are reporting on the ''anti-Kerry lies'' of the swift boat veterans. Two weeks ago I pointed out that the main media outlets were ignoring the story that 254 swift boat veterans were accusing Sen. John Kerry of being, in effect, a liar and a blowhard. I doubted that this suppression could be sustained for long since free-lance journalists on the Internet were examining it -- and uncovering what seemed like damaging evidence that at least some of the charges had substance.
Who's to blame for nation's Vietnam wounds? Kerry
August 29, 2004
BY MARK STEYN SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Every serious nation, in the course of history, loses a war here and there. You hope it's there rather than here -- somewhere far away, a small conflict in a distant land, not central to your country's sense of itself. During America's ''Vietnam era,'' Britain grappled with a number of nasty colonial struggles. Some they won -- Malaya -- and others they lost -- Aden -- or, at any rate, concluded that the cost of achieving whatever it was they wanted to achieve was no longer worth it.
No parallels are exact, but the symbolism of the transfer of power in Aden (on the Arabian coast) is not dissimilar to the fall of Saigon. On Nov. 29, 1967, the Union Jack was lowered over the city, and the high commissioner, his staff and all her majesty's forces left. On Nov. 30, the People's Republic of South Yemen was proclaimed -- the only avowedly Marxist state in Arabia. A couple of years earlier, the penultimate high commissioner, Sir Richard Turnbull, had remarked bleakly to Denis Healey, the British Defense secretary, that the British empire would be remembered for only two things: ''the popularization of Association Football [soccer] and the term 'f-- off.' "
Sir Richard was being a little hard on his fellow imperialists, but those two legacies of empire are useful ways of looking at the situation when the natives are restless and you're a long way from home: Faraway disputes you're stuck in the middle of aren't played by the rules of Association Football, and it's important to know when to "f-- off.'' Aden had been British since 1839: that's 130 years, or 10 times as long as America was mixed up in Vietnam. And yet in the end the British shrugged it off. Just one of those things, old boy. Can't be helped. As the last high commissioner inspected his troops at Khormaksar Airport on that final day, the band of the Royal Marines played not ''Land Of Home And Glory'' or ''Rule, Britannia'' but a Cockney novelty pop song, ''Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be,'' as a jaunty reflection on the vicissitudes of fate.
So when John McCain sternly warns the swift boat veterans of ''reopening the wounds of Vietnam,'' it's worth asking: Why is Vietnam a ''wound'' and why won't it heal? The answer: not because it was a military or strategic defeat but because it was a national trauma. And whose fault is that?
Well, you can't pin it all on one person, but, if you had to, Lt. John F. Kerry would stand a better shot at taking the solo trophy than almost anyone. The ''wounds'' McCain complains of aren't from losing Vietnam, but from the manner in which it was lost. Today Sen. Kerry says he's proud of his anti-war activism, but that's not what it was. Every war has pacifists and conscientious objectors and even disenchanted veterans, but there's simply no precedent for what John Kerry did: a man who put his combat credentials to the service of smearing his country's entire armed forces as rapists, decapitators and baby killers. That's the ''wound,'' Sen. McCain. That's why a crummy little war on the other side of the world still festers. That's why the band didn't play ''Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be'' and move on to the next item of business. Because Kerry didn't just call for U.S. withdrawal, he impugned the honor of every man he served with.
In his testimony to Congress in 1971, Kerry asserted a scale of routine war crimes unparalleled in American history -- his ''band of brothers'' (as he now calls them) ''personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads . . . razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan.'' Almost all these claims were unsupported. Indeed, the only specific example of a U.S. war criminal that Kerry gave was himself. As he said on ''Meet The Press'' in April 1971, ''Yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones. I used 50-caliber machineguns, which we were granted and ordered to use.''
Really? And when was that? On your top-secret Christmas Eve mission in Cambodia? If they'd taken him at his word, when the senator said ''I'm John Kerry reporting for duty,'' the delegates at the Democratic Convention should have dived for cover.
But they didn't. So Kerry is now the first self-confessed war criminal in the history of the Republic to be nominated for president. Normally this would be considered an electoral plus only in the more cynical banana republics. But the Democrats seemed to think they could run an anti-war anti-hero as a war hero and nobody would mind. As we now know, a lot of people -- a lot of veterans -- do mind, very much. They understand that, whether or not he ever mowed down civilians with his 50-caliber machinegun, Kerry is responsible for a lot of wounds closer to home.
In the usual course of events, Kerry's terrible judgment in the '70s would render him unelectable. Instead, over two decades he morphed into a respectably dull run-of-the-mill pompous senatorial windbag. Had he run for president in the '90s or 2000, he might even have pulled it off. But the Democrats turned to him this time because the tortured contradictions of his resume suited an anti-war party that didn't dare run as such. Ever since the first cries of ''Quagmire!'' back in the early days of the Afghan liberation in 2001, the left have been trying to Vietnamize the war on terror. They failed in that, but they succeeded in the Vietnamization of the election campaign, and that's turned out just swell, hasn't it? Remember that formulation a lot of Democrats were using last year? They oppose the war but ''of course'' they support our troops. Kerry's campaign is a walking illustration of the deficiencies of that straddle: When you divorce the heroism of soldiering from the justice of the cause, what's left but a hollow braggart?
The Vietnamese government used Kerry's 1971 testimony as evidence of American war crimes as recently as two months ago. In Aden, Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be, but in Hanoi Kerry's psychodrama-queen performance is a gift that keeps on giving. It would be a shame if they understood him more clearly than the American people do.
Sunday, August 22, 2004
His column "Democrats Peddle Their Own Unique Truth" can be found in full HERE. But for sheer devastation of the Kerry candidacy, there is little the can top his ending:
Thirty-five years on, having no appealing campaign themes, the senator decides to run for president on his biography. But for the last 20 years he's been a legislative non-entity. Before that, he was accusing his brave band of brothers of mutilation, rape and torture.
He spent his early life at Swiss finishing school and his later life living off his wife's inheritance from her first husband. So, biography-wise, that leaves four months in Vietnam, which he talks about non-stop. That 1986 Senate speech is typical: It was supposed to be about Reagan policy in Central America, but like so many Kerry speeches and interviews somehow it winds up with yet another self-aggrandizing trip down memory lane.
A handful of Kerry's ''band of brothers'' are traveling around with his campaign. Most of the rest,
including a majority of his fellow swift boat commanders and 254 swiftees from Kerry's Coastal Squadron One, are opposed to his candidacy. That is an amazing ratio and, if snot-nosed American media grandees don't think there's a story there, maybe they ought to consider another line of work.
To put it in terms they can understand, imagine if Dick Cheney campaigned for the presidency on the basis of his time at Halliburton, and a majority of the Halliburton board and 80 percent of the stockholders declared he was unfit for office. More to the point, on the swift vets' first major
allegation -- Christmas in Cambodia -- the Kerry campaign has caved.
Who is John Kerry? What is his ''unique truth?'' Consider this vignette from New Hampshire primary season as retailed in a recent 8,000-word yawneroo puff piece in the New Yorker:
'' 'He'll often thrash around in the night,' the filmmaker George Butler, who is one of Kerry's oldest friends, told me. 'He smashed up a lamp in my house in New Hampshire, in the bedroom where he was staying. Most Vietnam veterans go through this.'''
''Most?'' Whether or not John Kerry ever entered Cambodia, he seems unable, psychologically, to exit it.
Saturday, August 21, 2004
There are numerous reasons for opposing Kerry or for supporting Bush. Both men will get their core consituency. Both are fighting for the undecideds.
Here are my reasons for believing that the Swiftboat vets are important to this election.
I know that you believe that the Viet Nam issues surrounding Kerry are losers for Republicans. I disagree.
First, lying about your past is something anyone can easily understand.
Second, lying about something as serious as your “hero” status, when that is virtually the only plank in your platform is also easy to understand.
The American people are not as nearly into “nuance” as political junkies. Two decades as a senator without an important piece of legislation does not disqualify you from being president. Explaining the intricacies of economic policy does not make for
Remember, the left has been scaring old people by telling them that Republicans will take away their social security – and doing it successfully – for as long as I have been alive.
If negative campaigning didn’t work, that old canard would have been relegated to the scrap heap long ago.
Showing that a “war hero” lied about his heroism resonates with lots of people who are undecided. It certainly helps if it happens to be true. Kerry can win if enough people want Bush out of office.
Bush’s job is to make sure that enough people don’t think that Kerry is a viable candidate.
This piece by James Lileks is a classic:
I don’t like these candid candidate interviews, because they usually diminish the office and the man seeking to hold it. I don’t care who gives the candidate a sudden blush in the groinal region, especially if they name someone 30 years their junior;
it’s like catching Grandpa reading 17 magazine. As for musical tastes, it’s more
I like Bruckner, and the Pet Shop Boys. I like 1930s pop music, except for country. So? These details give a false sense of intimacy, and while that’s fine for tweens swooning because the latest issue of Tiger Beat says that Bobby Sherman loves hot dogs and OH GOSH I LIKE THEM TOO!!!, it doesn’t really tell me much. I'd prefer to read an exchange like this:"What would I do? Well, if North Korea launched a nuclear missile that so much as grazed the 12 mile limit of our westernmost Aleutian island, I wouldn’t hesitate to turn the entire country into a smooth sheet of glazed rock.
You cannot take such an action lightly, because the world would be watching.""But doesn’t that conflict with your previous remarks about how much you enjoyed Dylan’s music?""What the Sam Hell does Dylan have to do with it? We’re talking about war. He’s just a musician. I’m not likely to base my foreign policy on some
obscure metaphors warbled over a six-string accompaniment. I like Bobby Darin
too. Does that mean I have to consult with the mayor of Berlin just because I
whistle Mack the Knife from time to time?"
I don’t trust any major politician who knows too much about pop culture. I prefer that they note simply that their job requirements are rather demanding these days. Things being what they are.This part seemed typical:"Kerry tells Hainey that he had a telephone relationship with Marlon Brando in 1985 and 1986, during the contras: 'He took a huge interest in it. And he would call me. He was always asking questions. And he'd give me advice. I took his advice on a couple of angles.
A couple of points.'Which ones? Perhaps the article has the details, and we will learn that Kerry based his pro-Sandinista policies on Mr. Brando’s keen grasp of Central
American political dynamics. After all, Mr. Brando appeared, dimly, in a movie
about a war set in a hot place with many broad-leafed plants, which gave him
keen insights on the geopolitical struggle that temporarily manifested itself in
It's instructive to remember those humid times, and how right-thinking people lined up behind Ortega and sneered at the Contras. Olympian observers from the Boston Globe said:On April 18, 1985, Kerry and Harkin, reporters in tow, flew to Managua to meet with top Sandinista officials.
A congressional vote on Reagan's request for aid to the contras was five days away. And the pair of senators hoped their efforts could revive stalled peace negotiations between the United States and the Sandinistas."My generation, a lot of us, grew up with the phrase 'give peace a chance,' as part of a song that captured a lot of people's imagination,' " Kerry would soon tell his Senate colleagues. "I hope that the president of the United States will give peace a chance."
Openly partisan Accuracy in Media says: Kerry's opposition to freedom for Nicaragua was so intense that he traveled to Nicaragua with Senator Tom Harkin to offer support to Sandinista dictator Daniel Ortega.This may sound like a harsh judgment, but it is essentially the same analysis presented in the book about Kerry written by reporters for the Boston Globe "who know him best." They describe how Kerry and Harkin traveled to Nicaragua on April 18, 1985. A congressional vote on aid to the Contras was just days away. Kerry wanted to negotiate with the communists in Nicaragua and "give peace a chance." Like Neville Chamberlain waving a printed statement hailing "peace for our time" with Hitler, Kerry brought back a peace proposal to derail Reagan's request for Contra aid.
But there was a problem, the Globe reporters conceded: "In the document Kerry delivered, Ortega reaffirmed the 'non-aligned nature' of the Nicaraguan revolution, despite the country's ties to the Soviet Union and Cuba. And, in response to promises that civil liberties would be restored, the State Department said Ortega had extended for six months the government's repressive state of emergency—the day after meeting with Harkin and Kerry."Then, one day after Tip O'Neill's House of Representatives rejected the Reagan aid request for the contras, Ortega "boarded an Aeroflot jet to Moscow to collect a $200 million loan." Kerry said that he was "as mad as anyone" that Ortega went to Moscow. But Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd said, "Where did my colleagues think he was going to go? Disney World? The man is a Marxist."
The lyrics to “Give Peace a Chance,” by Lennon and McCartney:
Let me tell you now
Ev'rybody's talking about
Revolution, evolution, masturbation,
flagellation, regulation, integrations,
meditations, United Nations,Congratulations.
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance
Ev'rybody's talking aboutJohn and Yoko,
Timmy Leary, Rosemary,
Tommy Smothers, Bobby Dylan,
Tommy Cooper,Derek Taylor,
Norman Mailer,Alan Ginsberg,
Hare Krishna,Hare, Hare Krishna
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance
If that doesn’t capture your imagination, good; it shows your imagination can outrun its flat-footed pursuers. But leave all that aside: if Reagan had consulted with Sylvester Stallone for advice in defeating the Soviets, this would be bedrock political lore. Gonzo called Rambo! Livin’ in a frickin’ dream world, man! It’s all Hollywood to him! Kerry takes advice from an addled sun-basted jabba who may be the only man capable of mumbling in a falsetto, and we’re not supposed to laugh? Maybe the interview has more details; perhaps I'm being unfair. But if the candidate advanced this anecdote to pump himself up (Brando called me; naturally I paid heed, where appropriate) it's instructive.
When I read that a candidate for the highest office in the land took Brando's call to discuss the contras, I want to see the line "Kerry grinned, and rolled his eyes." Because, you know, Brando's an actor. It's like Bush saying he took a call from Tom Selleck, who had recently played Ike and had some keen insights on
the nature of warfare.
By Frederick Turner
The "mainstream press" may be in the process of squandering a precious resource that its leaders no longer have the institutional memory to recognize as the source of its legitimacy and its living. In the last few years -- essentially since 9/11 plunged us into a new world, a new agenda, that the press did not understand -- the major organs of civilized journalism, once trusted by the billion most effective people on the planet, have given away their credibility upon a trifle.
Everybody now recognizes that such voices as CNN, the New York Times, the BBC, the Washington Post, the major TV networks, the New Yorker, the Guardian, etcetera, are now the express and all-but-explicit advocates of a very special point of view, one with specific political goals. Those goals are certainly different from those of al-Jazeera or the socialist press, but they are in their own way as coherent, exclusive, and unquestioned.
This collective view emerged as a rather well-intentioned product of an age of wild hope, ill-informed academic speculation, and youthful optimism about the world. Nurtured in the great European and American universities, it was statist, existentialist, anti-religious, suspicious of any science that did not support its views, snobbish, pacifist, anti-technological, hedonistic in practice, puritan in theory, postmodernist in its tastes, committed to a social rather than an individual morality, hostile to the virtue tradition, sentimentally Romanticist in its attitude to Nature (which, in an unconsciously Creationist turn, did not include human beings), relativist about cultural differences, legalistic, optimistic about human nature, and deeply hostile to the marketplace. In one sense it was a nostalgia for the aristocratic European world of our collective rose-tinted memory, when the virtues of artists and intellectuals and university-educated people were recognized automatically, and merchants and financiers were "rightly" despised. In another sense it was a yearning for the dear lost days of revolutionary fervor, moral certainty, "free" sex and callow cynicism about tradition and respectability. It was escapist in its worship of Otherness -- cultural, social, political, economic, ideological, sexual, biological -- and conformist in its anxious attention to the next move of its "coolest" current leadership.
Harmless enough as a cultural phenomenon, one might think, though perhaps unhealthily centered upon the desires and dreams of a single very large generation of people born in the years following the Second World War. The problem arises when such a fashion effectively takes over the university system, as it did in the seventies and eighties, and then rises into positions of leadership in the great institutions of journalism. The journalistic Boomers themselves, who had often been trained by scholars who believed that there might be truth about a state of affairs that could be closely approached if not fully attained, usually knew when they were bending the truth and spinning for political advantage. Their leftist principles taught them that objectivity was desirable in the abstract and might again become feasible and desirable once the inequities of society were resolved. In any case, they felt, one should not lightly fritter away the legacy of credibility built up since the Enlightenment by the great authoritative institutions of civilization -- science, historiography, the serious newspapers, the great museums, the courts, and so on. But their younger followers and employees, postmodernist in belief-system, educated by ideologically relativist and politically correct junior professors, and increasingly deprived of the basics in logic, ethics, and inductive reasoning by their specialist education, were no longer capable of making any distinction between what was true and what was conducive to their social ideals.
Thus the scandals associated with such violators of journalistic trust as Howell Raines and Jayson Blair of the New York Times, Andrew Gilligan of the BBC, and Eason Jordan of CNN (who confessed that CNN had been going easy on Saddam Hussein for many years, with the implication that CNN had helped prepare a public attitude of sympathy for his regime and anger at the UN sanctions) are but the tip of the iceberg. Studies have shown that the huge majority of journalists and professors are liberal Democrats; no cause for alarm in itself, but troubling when the brakes of traditional critical analysis have been disabled, as they were by the deconstructionist ideology of the schools. And the general reader is beginning to realize that there is indeed a systematic bias in the traditional news media.
Part of the problem has been the rise in the popular interactive media -- talk radio and the Internet -- of an unabashedly ideological counter-movement on the Right. There is a long tradition in both Europe and the US of such partisan advocacy -- it used to be called "pamphleteering" and is a recognized and honorable part of a free and democratic society. It is a tradition that recognizes the distinction between opinion and fact, and bills itself honestly as opinion. Since the collapse of sympathy for communist and socialist causes throughout the nation when the abuses and lies of the old Soviet Union were revealed, there had been a depressing paucity of such pamphleteering from the Left, and what there was seemed pallid and bereft of ideas. In frustration, I believe, many young journalists in the great organs of record, rejecting the fact/opinion distinction, turned to the idea of using their new command over the means of information production to fight back. Remembering their professors' nostalgic stories of Vietnam protest, and indulgently encouraged by their Boomer editors, they took the war in Iraq as the ideal occasion for a counter-attack. They had a villain from Texas with an accent and an apparent ignorance of university manners, the smoldering resentments of the Florida recount, a wealth of horrific footage supplied by al Jazeera, and an expertise in spin provided both by their rhetoric professors and by the advertising profession (laundered through political campaign strategizing). How could they fail?
But what could they gain? Perhaps the next election, if the American people realize too late that their informational wells have been spiked. But if afterwards at least 40% of the public no longer believes the mainstream press and is, from the moment the election is over, furious about being lied to and vigilant to avenge itself on the perpetrators, the new president will be incapable of pressing home any of the programs desired by the aspiring Boomer professional elite that the press represents. So the gain might indeed be only a trifle.
The problem is that with the collusion of their editors the new generation of reporters chose to use their exalted position of trust in the Fourth Estate to prosecute their political ambitions, rather than -- as had the conservative talk show hosts -- doing it the hard way, by creating a soap box of their own and building a popular audience. Their anthropology and history and literary theory classes had taught them that every system of knowledge was just the servant arm of the regnant regime of power, and that therefore no respect need be given to institutions of so-called objectivity and research balance. Editorializing crept into the news pages and then right out onto the front page above the fold. The editorializing, with its suppressions, its half-truths, its word-choices, and so on, carried an odd double-entendre -- for the cognoscenti, an implicit acknowledgement that this was useful strategic rhetoric to be used for the campaign, and for the rubes, all the solemn garb of scientific or historical or judicial gravity. Talk radio is hilariously explicit about its leanings and its spin, and is honest at least in that. Internet bloggers assume that they cannot fool their readers into thinking that their propositions come from the oracular lips of Truth. They are thus more trustworthy, oddly enough, than the Gray Ladies of the traditional journalism.
In a way the recent attempts to create an explicitly leftist talk radio are rather laudable (though they seem to have failed). Certainly the Left has as much right to pamphleteer as does the Right. Michael Moore, too, though he quaintly insists on calling his work "documentary", has a certain honesty about him -- his untruths really don't pretend to be more than entertainment. He surely does not realize the propaganda value of his work to al Qaeda recruiters and its potential to prolong the war and thus cause more American and Iraqi casualties. The Arab world, which never had a free press, is not as sophisticated about such things as the American public. But Moore must have known that his work, with its falsifying elisions and juxtapositions, would be systematically refuted by internet fiskers, and that the mantle of art would cover his veridical faults -- and so he is not corrupting a medium or an institution that is corruptible, because it was never pure in the first place.
But for a while most of us felt that we had an established press whose canons, techniques, competition, and honorable tradition gave us news that was fairly reliable and when in error, honestly so, or at least the result of the coarsening and immediacy implicit in the medium. That trust is gone -- not just among Republicans and conservatives, but as the polls show, among Democrats, Independents, and liberals as well. It was bad luck for the Gray Ladies that their minions chose to break the tradition of trust just at the moment that powerful new media emerged from the boiling ferment of electronic technology, and that alternatives now exist. It may be that the old media are now self-destructing, and that like the medieval Vatican, the Ching Dynasty, the Holy Roman Empire, the French Academy, the Victorian Church of England, and the Communist Party, they are losing their hard-won authority because of wanton abuse.
So we set out now, like Adam and Eve at the end of Milton's great poem on the Fall, into a new informational world, a new period of history where we cannot rely on journalistic authority and have no guide as to what to believe. It is a fallen world, but it has a certain excitement. For we may now start learning about the current world from each other -- from Chinese or Iraqi or Israeli or Indian or Persian or Spanish or U.S. eyewitnesses, from bloggers and friends on the telephone and radio callers whose trustworthiness we must judge on our own -- just as we did before the great nineteenth and twentieth century newspapers came along.
Perhaps we could put it in an even more radical way. As such institutions as coffee-houses, town meetings, old fashioned barber shops, primary caucuses, soap box gatherings, debates, and suchlike fell into disuse, and the networks and newspapers took over, the Public itself began to disappear, to be replaced by a segmented demographic mass swayed by centralized journalistic voices and shaped by polls. What is now happening is that rather swiftly a new Public is forming, self-organizing around Google and link lists and blog chatrooms. And it will demand a new Res Publica.
2004 Tech Central Station - www.techcentralstation.com
I am convinced that the language used in my citation for a Bronze Star was language taken directly from John Kerry's report which falsely described the action on the Bay Hap River as action that saw small arms fire and automatic weapons fire from both banks of the river.
To this day, I can say without a doubt in my mind, along with other accounts from my shipmates -- there was no hostile enemy fire directed at my boat or at any of the five boats operating on the river that day.
I submitted no paperwork for a medal nor did I file an after action report describing the incident. To my knowledge, John Kerry was the only officer who filed a report describing his version of the incidents that occurred on the river that day.
It was not until I had left the Navy -- approximately three months after I left the service -- that I was notified that I was to receive a citation for my actions on that day.
I believed then as I believe now that I received my Bronze Star for my efforts to rescue the injured crewmen from swift boat number three and to conduct damage control to prevent that boat from sinking. My boat and several other swift boats went to the aid of our fellow swift boat sailors whose craft was adrift and taking on water. We provided immediate rescue and damage control to prevent boat three from sinking and to offer immediate protection and comfort to the injured crew.
After the mine exploded, leaving swift boat three dead in the water, John Kerry's boat, which was on the opposite side of the river, fled the scene. US Army Special Forces officer Jim Rassmann, who was on Kerry's boat at the time, fell off the boat and into the water. Kerry's boat returned several minutes later -- under no hail of enemy gunfire -- to retrieve Rassmann from the river only seconds before another boat was going to pick him up.
Kerry campaign spokespersons have conflicting accounts of this incident -- the latest one being that Kerry's boat did leave but only briefly and returned under withering enemy fire to rescue Mr. Rassmann. However, none of the other boats on the river that day reported enemy fire nor was anyone wounded by small arms action. The only damage on that day was done to boat three -- a result of the underwater mine. None of the other swift boats received damage from enemy gunfire.
And in a new development, Kerry campaign officials are now finally acknowledging that while Kerry's boat left the scene, none of the other boats on the river ever left the damaged swift boat. This is a direct contradiction to previous accounts made by Jim Rassmann in the Oregonian newspaper and a direct contradiction to the "No Man Left Behind" theme during the Democratic National Convention.
These ever changing accounts of the Bay Hap River incident by Kerry campaign officials leave me asking one question. If no one ever left the scene of the Bay Hap River incident, how could anyone be left behind?
A courageous, soft spoken man of the Midwest, Larry Thurlow has a heart bigger than the great plains and a commitment to truth and honesty that is boundless. He is under attack, because John Kerry is feeling the heat of truth at the hands of this honest man and others like him.
The Kerry Campaign is attacking the truthfulness of this man and the Bronze Star he so richly deserves for his actions on March 13, 1969. I was there. I saw what happened.
The mine’s detonation lifted PCF-3 completely out of the water just yards ahead of me. All boats commenced suppression fire in case enemy small arms fire ensued. None did.
All boats came to the aid of PCF-3, except one: John Kerry’s boat. Kerry fled.
Larry Thurlow piloted his boat straight toward the mine-damaged PCF-3 from which thick, black smoke billowed. He jumped aboard and personally led damage control operations that saved the boat and rescue operations that saved the lives of badly wounded men. Larry’s leadership was in the highest traditions of the naval service. His leadership allowed the other men and boats of the mission to exit the river safely.
This “single act of meritorious service” – the chief requirement of the Bronze Star – should be honored, not ridiculed, by the Kerry campaign and its allies in the mainstream media.
To reiterate, only one enemy weapon was deployed that day – the command-detonated submerged mine that disabled PCF-3. Larry Thurlow’s citation contained references to “enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire,” because that was the language chosen by John Kerry who penned the “spot report” on the action that day. There was no “enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire” received that day. John Kerry’s report was fiction – a hoax on the entire chain of command.
Larry Thurlow’s heroism and meritorious service, however, is real. To me Larry is one of the heroes of our country. He is a man who served his country when called and who returned home to be a productive citizen. Larry and men like him are the strong backbone of our society. I am proud to have served with him.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
By Thomas Lipscomb
Published 8/16/2004 12:08:26 AM
NEW YORK -- John Kerry is desperately trying to slide safely away from the collapse of his "Christmas in Cambodia" fairy tale. Two embarrassing "failures of memory" now permanently scar Senator Kerry's campaign to gain trust and demonstrate strength as he tries to move from war hero to war president.
In March, reliable witnesses came forward who placed John Kerry at a November 1971 Kansas City meeting where the Vietnam Veterans Against the War secretly voted on a proposal to kill six pro-war senators. This appeared especially odd because Kerry had told two historians, Gerald Nicosia and Douglas Brinkley, that he was not there and that he had resigned from the organization before the meeting was held. He denied eyewitnesses' accounts as well, even when six witnesses had appeared, several of whom were working for his presidential campaign.
As the story developed, and was widely ignored by the major media, several things emerged that reflected favorably on Kerry's conduct at the meeting. He had argued strongly against the assassinations and prevailed in the final vote. But Kerry still denied the accounts. He stuck to the resignation story as well, even though there was clear evidence in the New York Times and other papers that Kerry had continued as a spokesman for the VVAW, making media and speaking appearances for a year and a half after his supposed resignation.
When FBI files emerged establishing Kerry's presence in Kansas City, the campaign conceded that Kerry somehow must have forgotten his involvement in the plot to assassinate U.S. senators while still on the executive committee of the VVAW. What might have been an unforgettable experience for a man who was now a Senator himself turned out to be just one of those little memory lapses we all have.
And now the new book by Kerry's fellow Swiftboat veterans, Unfit for Command, has inspired another "failure of memory." Kerry has maintained for years that he was forced to go on a secret mission to plant a CIA agent in Cambodia during Christmas 1968 under President Richard Nixon.
He mentioned it in the Boston Herald in October 1979, saying he had been in Cambodia "on more than one occasion." He referred to it at length on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1986 and said, "I have that memory which is seared-seared into me… ." And in a touching sidelight to a Washington Post profile as recent as June 2003, Kerry revealed that his briefcase has a secret compartment that held a "frayed" souvenir he actually showed reporter Laura Blumenfeld. "My good luck hat, given to me by a CIA guy as we went in for a special mission in Cambodia."
It did seem odd that Douglas Brinkley's best-seller Tour of Duty, which came out a few months after the Post profile, placed Kerry in Sa Dec, inside Vietnam about 50 miles from the Cambodian border. And now with the publication of Unfit for Command, so do three of Kerry's Swiftboat crewmen at the time.
As the Cambodian fantasy began to look ridiculous, the "explanations" got positively surreal. Kerry apologist Jeh Johnson was sent to appear on Fox to explain. It seems that Kerry has had another memory failure, "a mistaken recollection," and Johnson spoke of a retraction of the Cambodia story. ""I believe he has corrected the record to say it was some place near Cambodia he is not certain whether it was in Cambodia but he is certain there was some point subsequent to that that he was in Cambodia." Got that?
John Hurley, head of the Veterans for Kerry campaign operation, had a totally different explanation on Tony Snow's radio program. Perhaps Kerry was not in Cambodia that Christmas after all, just close by. Perhaps he was confused about the date and unsure exactly where he was. "I don't know how anyone can say if they were in or near Cambodia." And Christmas is so easy to mistake for any other day of the year. Perhaps he had not been "under fire" there by South Vietnamese, Viet Cong, or the Khmer Rouge. It was so long ago. How is one to remember everything? We shouldn't be "shocked, shocked" in spite Kerry's Senate-floor assertion that his memory was "seared-seared." And how about that "lucky hat" in the secret compartment in the briefcase?
IT IS NOW CLEAR THAT Kerry spent many years trying to build his record. His political ambitions were obvious even as a Yale student. One former classmate relates a story about how a group of his fellow students had decided while they would support him as far as senator, but they had doubts about his making a good president. Like the young Jimmy Gatz "he always had some resolves." And like the Jay Gatsby young Jimmy grew into, Kerry's life is all about his ambitions and the green light at the end of the White House dock that has been drawing him to his destiny for 40 years.
Somewhere there are those hidden journals whose contents have been selectively shared with Douglas Brinkley. And as Brinkley puts it: "Kerry saves everything." To the amazement of supporters and opponents alike John Kerry elected to make his four-month service in Swiftboats 35 years ago the centerpiece of his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. One can understand why. He thought he had that period of his life boxed and ready for presentation.
Selective memory is everyone's' secret enemy. Kerry hadn't been challenged in his selective recall since he left Vietnam, and his stories kept getting better and better. No wonder Kerry told the Washington Post interviewer, "I wish they had a delete button on LexisNexis."
But what is now clear is that Kerry has gone a step farther. Kerry lies. He not only lies to the Senate, the press and historians, he lies to his own press people, and he lies to himself. And he has been lying for years. And whenever one of Kerry's lies is under attack, he attacks every one else -- as liars.
And there is a pattern to his responses as well. When the lie becomes undeniable, the sources are attacked. In the case of the VVAW plot, John Hurley, head of Veterans for Kerry and a former VVAW member himself, pressured eyewitnesses, like totally disabled vet John Musgrave, to change their story. In the case of the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, there has been a direct attack by lawyers for the campaign trying to silence their advertising as containing "outrageous lies." And yet no specific lie is ever charged. Nor does Kerry ever take the chance of actually bringing charges against his accusers for libel which would open the issue to a courtroom trial of the truth.
When the lie becomes unsustainable, it is attributed to a memory failure. Kerry never appears. He never tries to make an explanation. He takes no responsibility. He even hides from the press as he has for the past several days.
With rueful admiration, former Senator and Navy Seal Bob Kerrey called the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, "an exceptionally good liar." Unfortunately Senator John Kerry is an exceptionally bad liar. How many lies he has told and how serious they are remains a question that is now under examination. Perhaps no one really cares. These days historians, journalists and the public alike appear to value sheer celebrity more than any standard of truth.
Today's journalists have so little experience with the military they haven't a clue how to evaluate the charges brought by the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth about Kerry's quest for medals. They can't tell the difference between a bronze star and a Boy Scout merit badge, and can't be bothered to learn. What does the press care about cowardice, deceitful conduct, and lying about a mere war record? At least Kerry has one and there is no arguing with that. But it will be very hard for Kerry to swim out of the Cambodian fiasco without getting all wet. For here Kerry was lying directly to the press itself and they know it.
NOW DOUGLAS BRINKLEY HAS taken on the thankless task of trying to explain the florid Cambodian Christmas fairytale Kerry has been flogging for 30 years to the press, in speeches, and in his own campaign publications and Internet site. In a speech on the floor of the Senate Kerry called it one of the defining moments of his life. Now it is time to redefine it to save Kerry's political life, before the embarrassed silence of the media gives way to a real desire to find out what else Kerry has lied about. And it's not going to be easy. Look at the challenge Brinkley has set for himself in his statement to the London Telegraph last week:
"Kerry went into Cambodian waters three or four times in January and February 1969 on clandestine missions. He had a run dropping off US Navy Seals, Green Berets and CIA guys."
That is really raising the ante. All Kerry had said until now was that he had been in Cambodia on "more than one occasion." It won't be easy to find "three or four" occasions in that time period. Remember Kerry crewmember Steve Gardner was with Kerry for almost all of January, and Gardner has already said he never went into "Cambodian waters."
These missions took place under the direction of Kerry's superior officers who had to detach Swiftboats from other duties to handle these insertions. And there were indeed missions like this. Swiftvet leader Admiral Roy Hoffmann is perfectly well aware of them. How likely are any of Kerry's commanders to support his latest insertion assertion?
Kerry was stuck down on an isolated base at An Thoi on Dao Phu Quoc Island off the coast of Cambodia during February 1969. He certainly wasn't going on these missions on his own without his superior officers being aware of them. Who else was going to pick Kerry out of the other Swiftboat commanders for the assignment? And "three or four times" is pretty conspicuous in a month with only 28 days.
Kerry has stated, "I took my patrol boat into Cambodia." He recalled it was his Swiftboat, which most likely would have been PCF94, with full naval markings. And that means he had his crew on board. He couldn't operate the Swiftboat on his own. Which of his crew will back Kerry up with memories of "three or four" trips into Cambodia the way they did on stage at the Democratic Convention? Or is there an ancient CIA man out there eager to try on his hat in a photo op with Senator Kerry?
Perhaps there is a pumpkin in a patch somewhere hiding microfilms of secret Kerry papers explaining all this written on his old Underwood typewriter. But after so many "memory failures" based on selections from Kerry's journals, they are unlikely to be taken at face value at this point. Whatever Brinkley comes up with, the payoff on this story is likely to be at least as fascinating as Nixon's secretary Rose Mary Woods' explanation of how she accidentally erased the 18 and a half minutes of a crucial Watergate tape. I can't wait.
Thomas Lipscomb broke the news story on Kerry's involvement with the senatorial assassination plot. He served as chairman of the New York Vietnam Veterans' Leadership Program, which worked to assist the employment of minority area veterans.
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Newspapers are seldom caught telling outright lies. Of course they frequently quote lies knowing them to be lies, as long as those lies tell a “higher truth.” The most frequent lies in the mainstream media are the stories that are NOT told.
The story that is NOT being told right now is the unraveling of John Kerry’s carefully crafted façade as “War Hero.”
Here is a story that is struggling to be told. But because it shatters the image that the mainstream press has invested so much of it capital in, we are treated to lies of omission.
NOTHING ON THE KERRY/CAMBODIA STORY in either the New York Times or the
Washington Post this morning -- I just searched both sites. Even though the
Kerry Campaign has now admitted that Kerry's oft-repeated stories about being in
Cambodia on Christmas Day, 1968 aren't true. The Post did find the time to
condemn the Swift Boat vets, though, without admitting that one of their charges
has already been borne out.
They're spending another chunk of their
diminishing credibility to help this guy. Hope they still think it was worth it
in a few years.
UPDATE: Well here's a report:
For the first time,
Sen John Kerry, the Democratic presidential challenger, has been left
floundering by allegations that he invented a key episode of his decorated
wartime service in Vietnam - a central plank of his election platform. . . . the
Kerry campaign was left in verbal knots after a new book accused the senator of
inventing stories about being sent, illegally, over the border into neutral
Cambodia. . . .
In newspaper articles, interviews and at least one Senate
speech, Mr Kerry has claimed that he spent Christmas 1968 inside Cambodia, at a
time when even the US president was publicly denying that American forces were
inside that country.
He has cited the missions as a psychological turning
point, when he realised that American leaders were not telling the truth to the
world about the war in south-east Asia.
The Kerry campaign responded,
initially, that Mr Kerry had always said he was "near" Cambodia. Then a campaign
aide said Mr Kerry had been in the Mekong Delta "between" Vietnam and next-door
Cambodia - a geographical zone not found on maps, which show the Mekong river
running from Cambodia to Vietnam.
Michael Meehan, a Kerry campaign adviser,
told ABC Television: "The Mekong Delta consists of the border between Cambodia
and Vietnam, so on Christmas Eve in 1968, he was in fact on patrol . . . in the
Mekong Delta between Cambodia and Vietnam. He was ambushed, they fired back, he
was fired upon from both sides, from the Cambodian side of the border and the
Vietnam side during that day in 1968."
The map accompanying the story makes
short work of that geographical absurdity. I hope that if Kerry's elected, he'll
find some advisors who can read a map -- and who understand the difference
between "parallel" and "perpendicular." (You can see a bigger, and clearer, map
here, if you're interested.)
UPDATE: Harold Eddy emails:
The new "spin"
seems to be that the Mekong Delta runs into Cambodia and, as a result, Kerry
could have been near Cambodia or accidentially gone over the border. However,
that "explanation" is non-responsive to the fundamental basis for the criticism
of Kerry. He alleged, again and again, that the US knowingly, intentionally,
secretly and duplicitously sent him into Cambodia as part of US policy, while
denying the same publicly to the world. . . .
If, now, he is forced to admit
that his recollection is untrue, it makes a mockery of over 30 years of his use
of his war record. What does this say about his ability to lead? Moreover, how
can he criticize George Bush for relying on faulty war intelligence when he has
been willing to base policy on his own faulty recollection?
And Craig Henry
Did Kerry vote against key weapon programs? How dare you question
the patriotism of a man with three Purple Hearts. Is he too willing to defer to
France and the United Nations? How dare you doubt the loyalty of a man with a
Silver Star. Faced with this, does the press write about the voting record or
about the "hard ball tactics" of the GOP?
Kerry didn't just use his Vietnam
experience to enhance his stature as a man or leader. His campaign used it to
shut down debate on his Senate record. They made the biography the issue.
Yes, they did.
More here: "And the Post manages to write an entire
editorial about the veracity of the Swiftvets without even noting that their
first charge scored a direct hit this week."
And Will Collier has a survey
of the Big Media outlets that are ignoring this story:
Looks like that
American Spectator blurb from a couple of days ago was accurate: beyond Fox
News, the press is in full cover-up mode for Kerry on this one.
Your candidate has apparently lied, repeatedly, over the last 30 years. He did
so to embellish his credentials, and in the pursuit of various political ends.
His campaign is putting out false spin that doesn't pass the laugh test. Does
this say anything at all about his fitness for higher office?
Not to some
people, I guess
It is now coming to light that his memory may have been “enhanced” by someone or something because according to a witness friendly to Kerry, David Alston was wounded and removed from the Swift boat Kerry commanded in the same firefight that wounded and removed Kerry’s predecessor.
Here is the who story from CaptainsQuarters.
Alston Never Served Under Kerry
Thanks to reader Lori in Texas, I think we've just about pieced the record together on David Alston and his supposed service under John Kerry's command.
Lori points out a sympathetic article on Del Sandusky, one of the few Swift boat veterans supporting Kerry and one that served on his boat, specifically gives the timing on Kerry's command of PCF-94: In January 1969, Sandusky's boat, PCF-94, came under attack during one such ambush. Lt. Ted Peck, the officer in charge, and another crewman were seriously wounded. Sandusky had to take command.
The boat was sinking and on fire, but Sandusky steered it back to safety. They counted 155 bullet holes in the boat and found a live enemy rocket in the main cabin. It had come to rest in a sack of potatoes. For his actions, Sandusky would receive the Bronze Star.
With their officer headed home, the crew of PCF-94 needed a leader. And Lt. j.g. John Kerry, whose crew on PCF-44 had rotated back home, needed men to lead.
"I was sure glad he came along," Sandusky said, "because to be honest, I didn't want to take command."
From Jan. 30 to March 13, 1969, Kerry and the crew of the PCF-94 would conduct 18 missions in the Mekong Delta river system. In that time, Kerry would earn a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and add two Purple Hearts to the one he received earlier.
Bingo! Yachtzee! Alston received his serious wounds in that same exact battle that took Peck out of service. On January 29th, Alston was medevaced out to a hospital with head wounds and no records indicate that he ever returned to the unit. Kerry took command of PCF-94 the next day. Alston never served a day under Kerry's command. In fact, Kerry received a replacement, Fred Short, on 28 February as a replacement for Alston.
Now what does that tell us about Kerry and his Viet Nam narrative?
1. He and Alston conspired to deceive people about Alston's service under Kerry. That conspiracy was intended to give John Kerry cover against exactly the kind of campaign he faces from the other Swiftvets.
2. The "end of January" language on Kerry's website was intentionally vague in order to fuzzy up the timeline and keep Alston's true status a secret. Obviously, Sandusky remembers the dates well enough, and Kerry could easily have gotten them from him if he wanted to be as specific as his other dates on the timeline.
3. The DNC either were saps or actively participated in the conspiracy in order to assist Kerry in his Viet Nam mythology. Otherwise, why would they have allowed David Alston to speak at the convention about his experiences serving with John Kerry on the boat?
4.Kerry's band of brothers have some complicity in this cover-up as well. Those
who served on PCF-94 surely remember that Alston never served under Kerry; Sandusky specifically recalls Peck being wounded and removed from command, but he wouldn't remember that Alston left at the same time?
5. One could argue that they served on the same boat, of course, and I look forward to that Clintonian parsing used in Kerry's defense. After holding Alston up as an expert on his leadership, he'll be hard pressed to explain how that expertise came to
Alston from a hospital bed miles away from Kerry and his old PCF. If this gets out to the mainstream media, this story kills Kerry's campaign. This isn't just a guy embellishing his war record -- this is a deliberate and longstanding attempt to mislead and defraud people by creating his own witnesses after the fact. That he could have done such a clumsy job should disqualify him for higher office on that basis alone.
UPDATE: Corrected Sandusky's first name from Dale to Del. Hat tip to Menlo Bob; sorry about that.
UPDATE II: I see that Democratic Underground has linked back to this post with a suggestion that they dig up dirt on one of my readers who did research for this series. If you think all of this makes me happy, you're out of your minds. Having a candidate for the presidency who has apparently falsified large parts of his record and encouraged people to lie to back it up isn't funny, it's scary. I suggest that instead of attacking people researching records in the public domain, you spend your
time encouraging your candidate to do the same thing you demanded of George Bush
-- sign the 180 and release all of his military records. You may not believe it,
but I'd love to be proved wrong on this point. But until we see the records, all
of the evidence at hand tells us that Alston lied, and that means that Kerry and
his other band of brothers are complicit in the lie.
Saturday, August 14, 2004
He also says that he was one of those who were sent out to recon Cambodia prior to our incursion into that country. What surprised the hell out of me was this: after defending Kerry’s Viet Nam experiences, his medals and his story, he e-mailed me that to his personal knowledge, no Swift Boats ever went into Cambodia.
This is further proof that Kerry was lying about “Christmas in Cambodia” as well as the revised “January in Cambodia” that is currently being peddled.
To the question: why does this man still defend Kerry? Well, that requires too deep an exploration of this man’s psyche for me.
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,
He has loosed the fateful lightening of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps
l can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps
His day is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnish`d rows of steel, "
As ye deal with my contemners, So with you my grace shall deal;"
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel
Since God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
HH: Mr. Gardner, welcome to the Hugh Hewittt Show, it is an honor to talk to you.
SG: I am glad to be here Hugh.
HH: Thanks for your service.
SG: Thank you again, I really appreciate you're allowing me to come aboard.
HH: Now let me start with some basics. I said you served two tours in Vietnam. Can
you tell me what years those were?
SG: 1966 to 1967 and then in 1968 and 1969, when I served with Kerry.
HH: What months did you serve with Senator Kerry?
SG: November through January. Here's what I did. I served two months and two weeks of his four month, 12 day tour.
HH: Alright. Why did you leave off in january. What happened in January?
SG: That was my rotation time.
HH: OK. When you were on the boat, did you ever go into Cambodian
SG: Absolutely not. That was a physical impossibility to go inside Cambodian waters.
SG: They had four or five, at all times, boats, plus they had it wired with wire, they had concrete pylons down so that the only time they could get through it was at high tide, and that was just so the sampans and the people that trafficked back and forth could get through.
HH: Now you served with him on Christmas Eve 1968, correct?
SG: That is correct.
HH: What did you do on Christmas Eve 1968?
SG: Well, I damn sure wasn't in Cambodia, I'll tell you that.
HH: (Laughter) Do you remember?
SG: We were basically just down in the lower part of the Sa Dec. Just patrolling.
HH: All right. Were you looking for Bob Hope that night?
SG: No, (laughter) this was just how bad this guy is. People get a whiff of this and get a hold of it. Because you are just getting the edge of what drives John Kerry.
HH: What is that Steve Gardner?
SG: He is an opportunist, number one. But he is a self-seeking opportunist who used the laws that were designed to help the honest men who were over there in Vietnam who had gotten wounded three times to get them back out of it. He knew the rules well, and he used that to get out of there early.
HH: Last night on the Daily Show on Comedy Central, Jon Stewart, the host, said this about the book that is coming about by John O'Neill: There are powerful indictments, or rather it would be had any of those guys served on Kerry's boat,. By saying 'with him' they mean they were in Vietnam at the same time. Kind of the same way Snoopy served with the Red Baron. How do you respond to that?
SG: Well, on any movement we would do, we are talking four or five boats going in on an engagement, we were always within 50 or 75 yards of each other. And to be perfectly honest about it, if you were to look at an overview, if your were looking for an overview of a situation, you were better off being on another boat and looking at the rest of the other boats.
HH: OK, well put. Now, Steve Gardner, John Kerry has also been discovered to have been telling a story that he took a CIA man at least one CIA man into Cambodia and that he kept his hat. When you were on the boat with John Kerry, for your two months and two weeks of the tour that he served, did you ever have a CIA man on board?
SG: Number one, no.
HH: Did you ever take anyone to Cambodia and drop them off?
SG: Categorically no.
HH: Did you get near Cambodia and drop anybody off?
SG: The closest we can get to Cambodia, and that's a long swim, is 50 miles.
HH: Alright. Let me ask you about other people on the boat. Could John Kerry have just misunderstood someone on the boat was CIA when it wasn't CIA? Did you ever have any strangers on the boat?
SG: Nope. We always would have an interpreter, or something like that with us, or we would take others and take them in to areas in the Mekong Delta where they would be doing surveillance, but never did we have anybody that we would take close or could take close to Cambodia.
HH: Is it possible that you would drop them off a few miles away from Cambodia and they would walk in?''
SG: Fifty miles away is a long walk, let me tell you.
HH: If such a mission had been undertaken, would it have been undertaken by a swift boat?
HH: What kind of boat would it have been undertaken by?
SG: If something was going to be done, it would have had to have been done by a PBR.
HH: What's a PBR?
SG: That's one of the smaller boats that they used in Vietnam, that were water driven motors.
HH: When you read these stories about John Kerry and his CIA agents, how do you react? Does he believe it himself, do you think?
SG: No. It is laughable. John Kerry, number one, we were never, we were never made privy to anything. Even if that were so, even if there was some reason to believe that that had transpired, we would not have been made privy to that.
HH: You mean that John Kerry wouldn't have known who was on the boat?
SG: Number one, no. That would have been such a top secret operation, and a positioning, that that guy would have killed himself before he told anybody he was going to Cambodia. It didn't happen. Like I said, to get into Cambodia, you were over 50 miles away from the border.
HH: Is that the closest you think you came, 50 miles?
SG: I know it is, categorically. You couldn't go any farther.
HH: Could it have happened once you left the boat?
SG: No, you still couldn't get through that same creek.
HH: Will any of the guys who have endorsed John Kerry, who served on the boat with you, will they back him up on the CIA agent story, or the Christmas Eve story?
HH: Well they can't now.
SG: Well they all know that that didn't transpire. John Kerry has already said that from what I understand.
HH: What he said, eh, what his staff has been saying is that they think he said he was
close to Cambodia, but not in it, but in 1986 he stood on the floor of the Senate and said he was in Cambodia.
SG: That's correct, and that's an absolute categorical lie.