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August 07, 2004

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Patrick R. Sullivan

Bruce, remember that embarrassing incident over at DeLong's when you had to concede, "appallingly sloppy reading"? You're doing it again.

George Elliott, along with others who'd served with Kerry--amusingly enough, not one of them who'd actually been under Kerry's command on his Swift Boat--came to Massachusetts to defend Kerry from the charge of having committed a "war crime" in the killing of the fleeing VC.

There is no contradiction between supporting Kerry against Warsh's specific suggestion, in 1996, of a "war crime", and saying that what he did didn't justyify a Silver Star (now that Elliott has been apprised of the facts).

Also, the American History article is full of errors. Brinkley has Rassman on two separate boats at the same time, just for one. And Thurlow did not win the Bronze Star for that incident--though he is a Bronze Star holder (in fact he's a heavily decorated veteran).

Beldar

Bruce wrote,

Beldar: see my Point (1) above. If I had been in Elliott's shoes and I discovered that a reporter had totally distorted me, I would NOT go "media-shy", refuse to tell any other reporters who phoned me to ask about this question whether or not the guy was a goddamn liar, and then run off and play golf all afternoon.

Then you'd be setting yourself up for more manipulation, my friend. What you suggest is sort of like a rape counsellor suggesting that the best way to "get over it" would be to dress up like a tart, write "Easy Lay/I like it rough!" on your forehead in pink lipstick, and hang out in a parking lot outside a strip joint.

Anyone with a lick of sense, and certainly any lawyer, would have told Elliott that if he'd just been abused by the press, diving back into the press mosh pit without an experienced and media-savy wingman would be the absolute worst thing he could do. "Go play golf while we get a proper affidavit drafted" is exactly what I would have told the man.

Tom O'Bedlam

I'm a Bush supporter, with grave doubts about JFK on a number of issues. But I'm starting to think there is no resolution of the actual issue of the medals. I read the link posted by GT above:

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/Nightline/Politics/kerry_medal_040624-2.html

It is consistent with all the various disputed facts: the VC may have been a kid, he may have been running away, he had an RPG, etc. But given what the account says -- that the VC needed to get some distance in order for the RPG to arm properly -- all this is consistent with Kerry deserving a medal. Now, there may be further facts which would give a different spin to the incident. There are also problems with the fact that this incident is not mentioned in the medal citation (although, again, the medal citation and the description of the incident could both be true).

My conclusion is we can't resolve this here and now anymore. It is simply Rashomon revisited. No question John Kerry put himself in harms way. For this I honor him. I'm still going to vote against him.

PAK

George Elliott, along with others who'd served with Kerry--amusingly enough, not one of them who'd actually been under Kerry's command on his Swift Boat--

Not quite correct. Tom Belodeau was there.

Anyway, to put Warsh’s article a little bit more in perspective, I thought you might want to read the November 3, 1996 response from the Boston Globe ombudsman, Mark Jurkowitz.:

The storm began with an Oct. 15 column essentially endorsing Gov. William Weld over Kerry. In it, Warsh said Kerry -- who had earned a Silver Star for a February 1969 battle in which he killed an enemy soldier -- has "parlayed a fleeting four months in Vietnam into a political identity." In a column one week later, Warsh wrote that Kerry had "killed a wounded man" and questioned the award of a Silver Star "for finishing off an unlucky young man."

The column that triggered the furor -- based on a roughly 30-minute conversation with Tom Belodeau, a gunner on Kerry's boat -- appeared on Oct. 27. Belodeau revealed that he first wounded the soldier that Kerry killed.

Acknowledging it as "conjecture," Warsh laid out the "best interpretation" that Kerry killed a dangerous enemy in self-defense as well as the "ugliest possibility" that Kerry had "administered a coup de grace to the Vietnamese soldier -- a practice not uncommon in those days, but a war crime nevertheless."

"He wanted the reader to conclude that Sen. Kerry was as likely to be a war criminal as a war hero," wrote one reader who spoke for many.

Warsh says he was drawn to the subject after reading accounts of Kerry's heroism in Charles Sennott's Oct. 6 Globe profile of the senator. (Sennott -- who believed Warsh's conjecture was wrong based on extensive reporting -- is angry that Warsh "was willing to use my name to buttress his argument.") The Oct. 27 column was generated by Kerry's war recollections in James Carroll's Oct. 21 New Yorker story that were "so at odds with Belodeau's conversation with me," Warsh says. "I decided to square these two accounts."

Prior to the Oct. 27 column, Warsh says he asked the Kerry campaign for an interview with the senator and an additional Belodeau interview. While he did get to speak to Kerry's old commander, George Elliott, Warsh says the campaign stonewalled his other requests.

"I was led to believe they were going to talk and at the last minute, they refused to talk," says Warsh. Globe editor Matthew V. Storin said the paper delayed publishing the column pending further interviews. "The most important fact," Storin says, "is that we held the column once and we waited three days for them to respond."

The Kerry campaign has refused to comment on how they handled Warsh's request for these interviews -- and perhaps things could have turned out differently if they'd been more forthcoming. Regardless, the Oct. 27 column was reviewed by the paper's top editors before it ran.

"He laid out two options," says Storin of the column. "He didn't say either is true. I think it was in the range of fair comment for a columnist."

"I thought long and hard about waiting till after the campaign to do it," says Warsh, who ultimately concluded that "campaigns are essentially machines for accumulating new information." Admitting "I had no idea how emotional an issue it would turn out to be," Warsh voices one regret. The term "war crime nevertheless," he says, "did not belong in this column."

But the issue is whether the column belonged in the Globe. The answer is no.

Warsh says that the "legitimate question was: if the guy was wounded, how badly wounded was he?" Belodeau's account in the Oct. 27 column indicates that the soldier "got up again" after he wounded him. And at an Oct. 27 press conference, Belodeau and another eyewitness, Michael Medeiros, both asserted that though the enemy might have been wounded, he was fit enough to run -- and fight -- before Kerry killed him. "The soldier . . . was standing on both feet with a loaded rocket-launcher about to fire," said Belodeau.

Warsh may have added something -- the possible wounding -- to the record. But the evidence does not justify raising even the specter of a "war crime" by a senator in the final days of a bitter and close election campaign. Not by a long shot.

This episode should probably be seen as an outgrowth of the Globe's internal culture. "We've had a tradition of allowing a lot of freedom. We have freewheeling columnists," says Storin. "I am much more comfortable defending the publishing of the column than . . . the killing of it."

That freewheeling atmosphere has been evident. Here was a business columnist delving into politics, questioning Kerry's heroics on the same day that Mike Barnicle was celebrating them elsewhere in the paper. Two days later, James Carroll wrote a Globe column assailing the paper for publishing Warsh's effort.

In theory, this climate of freedom is laudable. In practice it requires more vigilance. For Globe columnists, the marketplace of ideas should be noisy, fractious, and diverse. But they must tread much more carefully in the tabernacle of history and reputation.

PAK

There is no contradiction between supporting Kerry against Warsh's specific suggestion, in 1996, of a "war crime", and saying that what he did didn't justyify a Silver Star (now that Elliott has been apprised of the facts).

What additional facts are there between 1996 and now. Seems to me all the 'facts' were out in 1996. Fleeing, wounded...

The only new 'facts' I can gather are that he was a teenager and in a loin cloth.

Oh, and add to Tom Belodeau another eyewitness, Michael Medeiros, who was present at the press conference. That makes two who were under Kerry's command there.

PAK

Sorry, let me repost that with the italics done correctly:

There is no contradiction between supporting Kerry against Warsh's specific suggestion, in 1996, of a "war crime", and saying that what he did didn't justyify a Silver Star (now that Elliott has been apprised of the facts).

What additional facts are there between 1996 and now? Seems to me all the 'facts' were out in 1996. Fleeing, wounded, armed ...

The only new 'facts' I can gather are that he was a teenager and in a loin cloth.

Oh, and add to Tom Belodeau another eyewitness, Michael Medeiros, who was present at the press conference. That makes two who were under Kerry's command there.

PAK

Well, that didn't work. The first paragraph should be italized -- my response is the next three paragraphs.

ed

Hmmm.

"PAK"

1. "''The fact that he chased an armed enemy down is something not to be looked down upon, but it was an act of courage.''"

The interesting thing is there is not one single reference that shows that Elliott knew that there was one single VC to be shot at. If you read the Silver Star citation it definitely gives the false impression of there be a substantial number of the enemy. It clearly does not state the actual scenario nor the actual events.

If Elliott had approved the awarding of the Silver Star based on that citation and did NOT know the actual circumstances that actually transpired then he could easily have made that statement.

If I were in Elliott's shoes and I was under the, demonstrably FALSE, impression that there were a substantial number of VC in that engagement then I would also agree that chasing down and shooting a single fleeing VC was acceptable.

However if you factor the discrepency between the actual Silver Star citation and the events that did happen, then you can also easily conclude that Kerry's actions, outlined in his own words or by his official biographers, does NOT rise to the necessary level of a Silver Star.

Read your own referenced paragraph above.

2. "Kerry's staff arranged a news conference at the Courageous Sailing Center in the Charlestown Navy Yard. It also flew in several people who attested to Kerry's character and his version of events."

Interesting that you quote this as it is the ESSENTIAL question. What actually WAS Kerry's version? The version that he's repeated over the years? Or the version that shows up in his Silver Star citation?

Have you read the Silver Star citation? If so then how on earth could you be confused about this? If not, then how on earth can you debate this without having read it?

3. "Oh, and add to Tom Belodeau another eyewitness, Michael Medeiros, who was present at the press conference. That makes two who were under Kerry's command there."

Whatever additional "eyewitnesses" are irrelevant because they are trumped by Kerry's own words. In his words, and his offical biographers, he describes the scene as involving a single wounded fleeing VC. However this is completely different from the Silver Star citation.

4. "What additional facts are there between 1996 and now? Seems to me all the 'facts' were out in 1996. Fleeing, wounded, armed ..."

The additional facts are simply that, instead of a substantial number of VC, it was just a single lone wounded VC with a rocket launcher. Shooting a single lone wounded, and fleeing, VC does not rise to the level of a Silver Star.

You can keep on dancing but you cannot escape the essential facts. The situation as described by *Kerry* over the years does not match the situation as described in his Silver Star citation. That, had his commanding officer been apprised of the reality instead of Kerry's fabrication, Kerry would NOT have been awarded the Silver Star.

Keep dancing around that issue. It's Kerry's own words that impeach him. His words in 1968 when he WROTE that citation himself and over the intervening years when he impeached HIMSELF.

5. Additionally the scenario, as described by Kerry, holds that the VC in question had just shot off a B-40 rocket at the SWIFT boat. At that point a M-60 gunner shot off a few rounds that wounded the VC and induced him to jump up and run away. There is NO testimony from ANYONE that the VC had reloaded that B-40 rocket launcher. There's been no testimoney, written or otherwise, that shows that rocket launcher was loaded and armed.

Instead there is every reason to suspect that the rocket launcher was in fact EMPTY. Anyone in situation where they're looking down the barrels of multiple machineguns would consider immediately running away, and trying to outrun bullets, preferable to firing another rocket and then running away.

In fact there's no evidence at all that ANY additional rockets were found on the VC after Kerry had killed him.

6. "war crimes"

The only reason that anyone brings this issue up is that Kerry has condemned himself for having committed "war crimes". Shooting the enemy isn't a war crime unless they've surrendered and have discarded their weapons. If someone has surrendered but refuses to disarm, that person is a valid target. You can choose to give him another chance to discard weaponry, or you can shot him.

So the whole issues of "war crimes" in this situation is irrelevant. However people include it, including myself sometimes, to irritate the hell out of people. And it's fun.

ed

Hmmm.

"Anyone in situation where they're looking down the barrels of multiple machineguns would consider immediately running away, and trying to outrun bullets, preferable to firing another rocket and then running away."

Christ on a crutch. I'm going to stop posting now and make a cup of coffee. This should read:

"Anyone in situation where they're looking down the barrels of multiple machineguns would consider immediately running away, and trying to outrun bullets, LESS preferable to firing another rocket and then running away."

sigh.

HH

The Free Republic thread also has "I went to that site and yes, all the FR posts by John Corsi are taken out of context, esp. the one asking 'I hear Kerry is practicing Judaism. What religion exactly is he now?' This sounds sinister if one didn't know the background of the discussion, which I assume was posters questioning what flip flop Kerry was making to appeal to yet another special interest group."

And again, Corsi's statements have nothing to do with Kerry or the SBVs' accuracy.

Beldar

The Swifties Fire Back on Captain's Quarters reprints a fact-filled letter from John O'Neill responding to the threat letter the Dems sent to various media outlets in their attempt to discourage them from running the SwiftVets' video.

Bruce Moomaw

Regarding the clash between Thurlow and Rassmann over that incident -- which, as Maguire remarks, resembles Rashomon (with both men flat-out calling each other liars before Judy Woodruff, and both of them apparently disagreeing with Brinkley's account), the obvious thing to do is to track down the skippers of the other three Swift Boats and find out what THEY say. According to Brinkley (if he's right), they were Rich Barker, Don Droz and Rich McCann.

Well, a 2-minute stroll through Google reveals that:

(1) Barker is an wildly enthusiastic supporter of Kerry. (See http://www.abclocal.go.com/kgo/news/politics/072804_politics_kerry_vet.html and http://www.al.com/news/mobileregister/index.ssf?/base/news/1090919792168000.xml , to name just two of dozens of entries.)

(2) Droz was killed in Vietnam -- but not before sending his widow a whole series admiring letters about Kerry (whose anti-war views he shared):
http://www.abclocal.go.com/kgo/news/politics/072804_politics_kerry_vet.html

and not before (according to Brinkley's book) accompanying Kerry in his unsuccessful attempt to confront Captain Adrian Lonsdale about supposedly lousy, destructive orders by Adm. Hoffmann -- at which point, according to Kerry, Lonsdale told them he had no power to countermand those orders:
http://www.s-t.com/daily/11-96/11-04-96/d01lo120.htm

Again, there are literally dozens of Google entries about Droz and Kerry. What's especially interesting about this is that Lonsdale is now a member of SBVT on the grounds of Kerry's accusations of frequent US war crimes -- but nevertheless told "South Coast Today" in Nov. 1996: that he had known Kerry very well and that they had frequent political debates: "He was opposed to the war but it didn't make any difference in his performance...He was a very good officer."
http://www.s-t.com/daily/11-96/11-04-96/d01lo120.htm

(3) There's only one other Google entry on Rich McCann, and it's from another Kerry article Brinkley did for "Salon" this April ("Why Kerry Threw His Ribbons", cached on Google) in which he says: "Watching TV that evening was Rich McCann, who had traveled the Mekong Delta rivers with Kerry and was now a graduate student at George Washington University. 'When he threw those medals over the fence, I was pretty upset,' McCann recalled. 'I was grappling with a lot of issues myself. It was hard to accept that I had given a year of my life for a lost cause. In retrospect, however, what he did was right.' "

Now, the obvious next step is to (A) find out whether Brinkley's correct about the IDs of those three skippers, and then (B) to talk to McCann, Barker and Droz's widow (who kept her husband's handwritten letters). If Brinkley IS right about their identities, then it seems just a wee bit strange that none of them raised hell about Kerry's behavior during that incident.

Bruce Moomaw

HH: "Corsi's statements have nothing to do with Kerry or the SBVs' accuracy."

They have quite a bit to do with it, if O'Neill is associating himself intimately with this drooling idiot. Take a look at the actual quotes, HH -- as even Capt. Joe says, they rveal "a nasty piece of work". Especially since the evidence is beginning to mount that the SBVTs may be lying about Kerry's war record jsut because (A) they're furious about Kerry saying US troops were guilty of frequent war crimes; and (B) they think Bush would be a better president at this point.

By the way, Tommy Franks' statement defending Kerry to Sean Hannity on the subject of Vietnam "war crimes" may have been more forceful than I originally thought. See the "Daily Howler", to whom Maguire gives a rave review a few items below ("Even though he's Left, he's often right"):

http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh080504.shtml

Bruce Moomaw

To repeat, HH: take a look at CVorsi's actual quotes and see if there's any way to "take them out of context" enough to regard him as anything more than a hystericallly bigoted creep with a foul mouth.

Mark Amerman

Bruce Moomaw said this,

"Regarding the plausibility of Adm. Roy Hoffmann (the co-founder of SBVT),
see http://mediamatters.org/items/200408060011, and note the 180-degree
turnabout (on two subjects) between Hoffmann's May 6 quote and his August
quotes."

I don't get it. I went there I read it, I don't see the 180-degree
turnaround. All the statements could be true depending on what the
man meant.

capt joe

Wow, bruce, you quoted and is scare quotes also.

You should prefix that nasty work by IF he said that. I did see your other post about his apparent admittance to that. I only know that relying on proving what some one said based on blog identities on a free entry system is dubious to tsay the least. No, I am not saying there is a conspiracy.

Also, I did say that we cannot completely discount their statements based on what Corsi says, may have said, or will say. That would be dishonest.

As to the french, my own little foible. Being half french (oh oh, now it's going to start), I do that.

I said that I made a mistake about your liking Moore but you seem to like his talking points.

RICHARD KEELAN

I AM A VETERAN AND MY OPPOSITION TO KERRY IS WHAT HE DID AFTER THE VIETNAM WAR,HOW IN HELL DID HE EVER BECOME A US SENATOR AFTER MAKING THE STATEMENTS HE DID ABOUT THE WAR. I BELIEVE TRUE HERO'S DO NOT GO AROUND BRAGGING ABOUT WHAT THEY DID IN THE WAR. AS FAR AS HIM BEING A HERO I DON'T KNOW,BUT THE WAY HE CARRIES HIMSELF I THINK HE WAS A VICTIM OF HAPPENSTANCE.I AM A RETIRED NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER AND WITH MANY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE I CAN READ PEOPLE VERY WELL,AND AS FAR AS HE CONCERNED HE READS LIKE A BAD BOOK.

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