[The UPDATE is key - it turns out that Schachte is quite forthcoming when asked]
Retired Rear Adm. William L. Schachte Jr. said Thursday in his first on-the-record interview about the Swift boat veterans dispute that "I was absolutely in the skimmer" in the early morning on Dec. 2, 1968, when Lt. (j.g.) John Kerry was involved in an incident which led to his first Purple Heart.
"Kerry nicked himself with a M-79 (grenade launcher)," Schachte said in a telephone interview from his home in Charleston, S.C. He said, "Kerry requested a Purple Heart."
Oh, boy - two former sailors claim that there were only three people in the "skimmer" that night, so Admiral Schahte makes four. But why come forward now to lie?
Well, why indeed - what do we make of this, from the Admiral's interview with Mr. Novak:
Schachte said he has never been contacted by or talked to anybody in the Bush-Cheney campaign or any Republican organization. He said he is a political independent who has voted for candidates of both parties.
That may well be true, but it is somewhat incomplete. Admiral Schachte is now an attorney with BlankRome LLP.
According to my FEC Spy, he gave $1,000 to Bush Cheney 2004 on Feb 18, 2004, and another $1,000 to Bush Cheney 2004 on April 18, 2004 [Ooops - make that $1,000 to Bush on April 18, 2000].
On the first contribution the donor is identified as "SCHACHTE, WILLIAM L MR.; CHARLESTON, SC 29401; FOSTER WHEELER ENVIR. CORP./ATTOR"; the second contribution identifies the donor as "SCHACHTE, WILLIAM L. MR.; CHARLESTON, SC 29401; DYER ELLIS & JOSEPH/ATTORNEY".
By checking the roster at BlankRome, we see that Dyer, Joseph, and Ellis are associated with the BlankRome Washington branch, as is Admiral Schachte. Since their specialty, like the Admiral's, is law of the sea, it is a fair bet that we have a match.
This announcement places the Admiral on the payroll of Foster-Wheeler.
I also see contributions for Lindsay Graham (R, SC), and Ernest Hollings (D, SC), John McCain, and Wayne Allard (R, CO).
This doesn't mean the Admiral is lying, of course, about his politics or anything else - for all we know, he told Novak exactly this, and Novak printed what he printed.
However, I wish it was either Novak or the Admiral that was telling us this.
UPDATE: Can't fault the Admiral's disclosure with Lisa Meyers of MSNBC:
Myers: Why speak out now in the heat of a presidential campaign?
Schachte: ...I'm non-partisan. Listen, I have voted Democrat, Republican. I voted for President Clinton the first time he ran. And I know what you're talking about. That has nothing to do-- this is not a partisan issue. This is an issue of people stepping forward to tell their facts as they saw them.
Myers: You mentioned that you don't have a political motive. What have you done politically since you've been out of-- retired from the Navy?…
Schachte: Yeah, well, I guess the first thing I did when I retired – I was working for the Mayor of Charleston who was running for Governor. He's a Democrat. And I was his statewide get-out-the-vote coordinator for that election. Unfortunately, we lost in the primary or in the primary runoff. I have contributed to Democratic Senators, one in particular from my own state. And have voted Democrat or Republican, depending on the person and the issues. I don't consider myself a partisan person. And I really haven't had any active involvement in politics other than that time when I was helping the person running for Governor in South Carolina in 1994.
Myers: What about President Bush?
Schachte: …First of all, let me tell you, I went to a number of rallies for Senator McCain, my wife and I. In fact, at the request of a long-time personal friend, I helped sponsor a luncheon for Senator McCain and made a financial contribution that went along with sponsorship. I did not go to the luncheon. And we were -- I was discussing these matters with my wife. And finally decided that I-- I was going to fully support George Bush. And before the election I got a call from a fellow general officer asking me if I was supporting Bush. And I said, "Yes, I was." And that I had contributed financially.
And he said they were going to put together a letter entitled ‘Veterans for Bush.’ And I said, ‘I'll be glad to sign that letter, but only if I can edit it.’ And of course, they agreed to that. And – that was really the extent of my active involvement with President Bush in the primary campaign.
Myers: You said you have contributed to him since you retired from the Navy?
Schachte: Yes, I have.
Myers: How much total?
Schachte: Total, I don't know. I gave him $1,000 when he ran the first time. And $1,000 so far this year.
Myers: Have you had any relationship or any contact with his campaign?
Schachte: Oh, absolutely not.