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« ‘The Da Vinci Code’ movie review: Oh, my, it’s bad! | Main | Attorney General Gonzales should resign, or Congress should »

May 27, 2006

Comments

Talk About Selective

How can there be stories reported like the Marine massacre in Haditha and there not be atrocities in war time?

Talk about selective reporting - all those who smear Kerry over his testimony to the Fulbright commission forget that atrocities do have and there is proven factual evidence to back that up.

Frank Warner

Of course there are atrocities in every war. Reread Kerry's testimony. His "Genghis Khan" statement says more than that.

Kerry had no evidence that U.S. atrocities were any more common in Vietnam than U.S. atrocities in Belgium, Germany, Japan or Korea. But he represented practically all American troops in Vietnam as barbarians.

And he did manage to explode rice into his own ass. One Purple Heart for that.

Nicholas

I think you mean the alleged Marine massacre in Hadith.

Learn that word. Innocent until proven guilty. I take it you are familiar with this concept?

jj mollo

There is no need to pile on. Kerry will never be POTUS.

Tom Maguire

There is no need to pile on. Kerry will never be POTUS.

No, but maybe the NY Times will stop lying and start reporting.

Here is another howler from the same story:

The group has sent a letter to Mr. Schachte calling for a meeting with him, Mr. Kerry and two former veterans who maintain — as they did publicly during the campaign — that they were the only other people on the skimmer with Mr. Kerry and that he was wounded in a hail of enemy fire.

A "hail of fire"? Here are Zaledonis and Runyon telling their story to the Boston Globe reporters for their Kerry book:

Zaledonis and Runyon both said they were too busy to notice how Kerry was hit.
"I assume they fired back," Zaldonis said. "If you can picture me holding an M-60 machine gun and firing it -- what do I see? Nothing. If they were firing at us, it was hard for me to tell."
Runyon said he assumed the suspected Viet Cong fired back because Kerry was hit by a piece of shrapnel.
"I can't say for sure that we got return fire or how [Kerry] got nicked," Runyon told the Globe. "I know he did get nicked, a scrape on the arm."

"If they were firing" and "I don't know" - yup, that's a "hail of fire", all right.

FWIW - there is a very plausible case to be made that Runyon, Zaledonis, or both were *not* on that skimmer with Kerry.

Runyon never served with Kerry before or after; Zaledonis, OTOH, was on Kerry's boat a few weeks later.

However, when Brinkley put his book together, Kerry did not remember the names of the guys in the skimmer, and Zaledonis (who was interviewed for the book) never mentioned that he was there for Kerry's first Purple Heart (or if he did, Brinkley ignored it, since the guys are not identified in "Tour of Duty").

However, Zaledonis stepped forward in April 2004 to vouch for Kerry.

Odd. I have details here.

jj mollo

I thought the whole issue was mean-spirited and irrelevant during the election, part of a long tradition of Republican dirty tricks. You'll never convince me because I suspect the motivation. Continuing to hammer on the same gong now when there's nothing at stake is just pitiful. Why not focus on Hillary if you need someone to hate.

And yes, I can imagine someone doesn't know they're being shot at when they're firing an M-60 machine gun. There's a certain amount of background noise.

Christopher Taylor

I understand Kerry won't be president, but I also understand that there's no reason to lie and support this twit's lies unless you personally share his loathing of the military and apparently the United States (at least as it exists).

You'll never convince me because I suspect the motivation.

That's kind of sad, jj, someone can have poor motivations and still be accurate and correct. It happens in politics, people are out to get the other guy but happen to have something that's true.

Frank Warner

JJ,

My point in bringing this up is not to pile on Kerry. He's going no where, though he doesn't know it.

My point is, why does The New York Times not bother to report even the basics -- Christmas -- on a story about Christmas in Cambodia? Just mention it, Kate Zernike, for God's sake.

In the few 2004 stories by The Times on the Swift Boat veterans who challenged Kerry, the angle always was to find errors or "lies" in the many things they alleged, but never to test anything Kerry claimed very publicly of his war service.

Keep in mind that, during the 2004 presidential campaign, The Times and the rest of the press never asked Kerry if his statements on "Christmas in Cambodia" were true. No reporter ever asked the question. Only Jon Stewart asked, and even he was too partisan to demand an answer.

This new Times story is but another example of the biased exclusion of facts. In defense of its blessed Democratic Party, The Times is piling on.

Kevin

I think the point of the whole Cambodia issue (to the right) was that Kerry will lie, mislead, or stretch the facts to make a point that is important to him. Kind of like 'the ends justify the means'.

This is sadly characteristic of pretty much all of our politicians, but in this case it was proven. It's important to not let him get away with lying in our faces for two reasons. First is he's a Senator, and has 1/100th of their power. The second is as a message to other would-be 'liars for a good cause'. Don't do it, because we will catch you, and your career will pay the price.

jj mollo

I remember things from the seventies. My friends and relatives tell me that some of these things never happened. Some of them started out as things that happened to other people. Some of them I just can't accept my friends' versions. One thing I remember from my childhood actually got into the newspaper, so I have evidence, but they spelled my name wrong and messed up a number of details. Would my enemies believe me?

You should read some of the psychological literature on false memories and problems with eye-witness testimony. I think some of it would shock you. Note that it's also a lot easier to remember the evil that your enemies did than that of your friends -- whether or not it actually happened.

Then, we have the second point. What is the relevance. How does all this boorah turn into the moral inadequacy of a sitting US Senator who has gone through a lifetime of changes since that misremembered Christmas?

Frank Warner

Through all his changes, Kerry always remembered he was in Cambodia on Christmas (or Christmas Eve) 1968.

Through all its changes, The New York Times always remembered to leave out facts that make Democrats look bad.

Note that The Washington Post was the only organ of the mainstream media to print a complete story on Kerry's alleged Christmas in Cambodia. The Post, being as Democratic as The Times, would not assign one of its own to write the story. A fellow at the American Enterprise Institute wrote it. The Post felt such shame for exposing their party's candidate that they buried the story on Page 17.

On that Post story, linked above, I just noticed this entry in Kerry's Vietnam War log:

"The banks of the [Rach Giang Thanh River] whistled by as we churned out mile after mile at full speed. On my left were occasional open fields that allowed us a clear view into Cambodia. At some points, the border was only fifty yards away and it then would meander out to several hundred or even as much as a thousand yards away, always making one wonder what lay on the other side."

Kerry wrote that about his last mission, which I believe was on March 13, 1969, when he took the actions that won him a Bronze Star.

His words sure imply he was never in Cambodia. In Vietnam and that close to the border, he wondered what was on the other side.

Christopher Taylor

Yeah Kerry used his logs and diaries for the book that was written about his life, and in that, it clearly says it was Christmas of 1968. These are the same sources that he now claims note it was in 1969. That boat can't have made it into Cambodia, nobody would have used him to take such a trip, and the CIA would not use a boat for such a mission.

That story was a complete fiction, the man lied, outright and baldly to people over and over for crass political gain. And now he's doing it again and people for some inconscionable reason are defending him for it.

Frank Warner

Christopher, I wouldn't say we absolutely "know" Kerry never went into Cambodia. But it is odd that Douglas Brinkley didn't track this down before writing his book.

Brinkley's book does not say Kerry was in Cambodia on Christmas 1968. It says he was near Cambodia. And then the next mention of Kerry and Cambodia is Kerry's being near Cambodia in March 1969.

How did Brinkley miss all of Kerry's speeches and articles claiming to have been in Cambodia on Christmas 1968? It's impossible to explain. If I were researching a book on Kerry in Vietnam and found all these references to Christmas in Cambodia, I would have made sure Kerry explained this to me before I finished the book.

Either Brinkley asked, and got the wrong answer, or he didn't ask, or worse. It's bizarre.

F. Rottles

Until Kerry can demonstrate that his positive assertions are backed by more than his word alone, it is reasonable to maintain that his are bald assertions and that he did not go into Cambodia, at all.

Kerry, or any Swiftie, might have found himself in Cambodia under what conditions? His campaign has suggested only three possibilities: 1) Kerry unknowingly crossed the border, and 2) Kerry inadvertently wandered into Cambodia, and 3) Kerry was sent on insertion missions with Special Forces.

The first two possibilities are irrelevant to Kerry's assertions. It is not necessary to consider any possibility other than item #3. Kerry has offered only his word, which contradicts the experience of all others who have stepped forward. It is up to Kerry to prove his positive assertions.

Item #3 depends on the credibility of Kerry's first person account which has shifted in both details and core scenarios. Disbelief is justified.

If Kerry was there at that time, and if he asserts this as central to his Vietnam experience and to the formation of his understanding of governance, then, the onus is plainly in Kerry to provide material evidence, to persuade skeptics, and to answer allegations forthrightly.

Since items 1 and 2 are irrelevant to Kerry's positive assertions, Kerry needs to backup item #3, not as a theoretical and very remote possibility but as a certainty. He has not even offered evidence to show that item #3 was a plausible scenario, much less a likely probability.

If Kerry cannot manage to surmount these much lower hurdles, it is reasonable to counter that Kerry was not in Cambodia, at all.

F. Rottles

Kerry has claimed that at various times he took a Swift Boat into Cambodia. Here I'll summarize the reasons that readers ought to doubt that it was physically possible for Kerry to have done as he has claimed.

The Swiftees allegation against Kerry is that he had been in Cambodia during his part in the Vietnam War.

First what he did not claim: He did not claim to have crossed the border a step or two -- whether purposefully, accidentally, or unknowingly. Nor did he claim that he went without orders. Nor did he claim to have been the only Swiftee to have taken such action. He has been in charge of two boats: PCF-44 and PCF-94. In both cases, his assertions are disputed. The allegation against him -- that he did not go into Cambodia -- has been substantiated although some may dispute some of the facts.

Unfit For Command: "At least three of the five crewmen on Kerry’s PCF 44 boat-Bill Zaldonis, Steven Hatch, and Steve Gardner-deny that they or their boat were ever in Cambodia."

Earlier in this discussion [re Beldar's Challenge to critics of the SwiftVets] there was a dispute about whether these men served with Kerry on the same boat. It has been established that all three were on PCF-44 with Kerry in charge. None of them have supported Kerry's positive assertion that they knowingly had taken a Swift Boat into Cambodia. They have not contradicted O'Neill's statement in Unfit For Command. Wasser can be counted among them although he has offered only a feint denial of Kerry's stories.

Where major routes crossed the border, the Navy installed barriers of various sorts. Both our side and the Cambodians patrolled buffer zones around these waters as well. Swift Boats used radar to navigate routes that were less well marked to aid helmsman to avoid accidental border crossings. All Swiftees understood the prohibition on pursuing the enemy into Cambodian territory. In Tour of Duty, Brinkley described Kerry's last mission in Vietnam and noted that even shooting across the border drew lots of attention - after the action and on the record.

Exceptions, if they occured, were scrutinized and documented. But there is no record of Kerry having taken PCF-44 to the Cambodian border at Christmastime let alone into Cambodia at anytime. No action reports, no casuality reports, and no eye-witnesses accounts from men on PCF-44 and on accompanying boats. No one in Kerry's chain of command has supported Kerry's positive assertion that he and other OICs had gone on missions across the border. No diplomatic protests from Cambodia and no diplomatic response from the U.S. are on record.

Kerry was not qualified to participate in special operations. He was in charge of a Swift Boat which was clearly unsuited for such missions. His crew and boat were well-equpped to take the fight into the teeth of the VC but they were not equipped with the individualized firepower and gear to go down the throat of the enemy by surprise. Stealth was not the hallmark of Swift Boats. Rassman, a Green Beret and a pro-Kerry Vietnam Veteran, has said that the engines of PCFs could be heard from miles away.

Setting up aggressive ambushes for special ops squads that sped out of hot zones, that was something the Swiftees became well-known for doing very well. A fast boat with big guns could run interference and PCF crews were lethal in such maneuveres -- provided they took advantage of waterways deep enough and wide enough.

When Kerry and PCF-44 were temporarily transferred to An Thoi for less than a single week, he and his boat were assigned to routine coastal patrol which kept them inshore and down river. PCF-44 was reassigned to Costal Division 13 (Cat Lo) and operated far from the border while under the charge of Kerry.

In sum, during his time as OIC on PCF-44 there's no evidence beyond Kerry's word alone that he had taken a Swift Boat into Cambodia.

F. Rottles

What about the his other swiftboat, PCF-94?

Again, several fellow Swifties have denied that Swift Boats ever went on missions into Cambodia and not one of the pro-Kerry Swifties has stepped forward to overturn the border-related allegation in O'Neill's book. Medeiros served on PCF-94 for the duration of Kerry's command of that boat. Although Medeiros has recalled pursuit of the enemy along the border he has said they gave-up the chase when they neared what he thought was Cambodian territory.

Most of the action reports that Kerry has made available have placed PCF-94 miles from the border. Wright took command of PCF-44 when Kerry was reassigned to PCF-94. Wright accompanied PCF-94 on 20-Feb, 25-Feb, and 8-Mar. He is among those officers who have denied that there were missions in Cambodia.

Kerry had PCF-94 from February 1968 to mid-March 1969. This was the middle of the dry season. Due to the low waterlevels, the Swift boats were restricted to the major navigatable waterways. They needed about 4-5 feet of depth to operate their screw propellors; they needed about 10-15 feet of width to make 3-point turns. Low waterlevels meant narrower and shallower channels. Sandbars made it very difficult to navigate many parts of the Ginag Thanh River (along the border near An Thoi) and other major routes during low tides. The PCF-94 would not have had access to the interior of the canal system which might have taken a PBR or smaller vessels to the border and across. Travelling in groups of two or more, Swift Boats depended on speed and maneuverability for both defensive and offensive responses to ambushes and sniper attacks.

Even in the one channel in that locale that allegedly might have provided access to Cambodia, a Swift Boat would have run out of water after a few hundred yards -- prior to crossing the border.

Kerry arrived on the scene no earlier than December of 1968 -- during the dry season. He had command of PCF-94 in Feb-Mar -- at the driest part of the dry season.

In sum, there is no evidence that PCF-94 regularly entered Cambodia, if at all.

Even if it was possible (and several firsthand witnesses say it was not possible), under certain conditions, for a Swift Boat to wander across the border inadvertently or unknowingly, elsehwere along the border, this does not support Kerry's assertions re Cambodia.

If it was possible for a Swift Boat to go into Cambodia prior to Kerry's arrival or after Kerry's depature (i.e. full-scale incursion), there are eye-witness accounts as well as facts about the climate and terrain that support the assertion that Kerry could not been in a Swift Boat deep inside Cambodia during the Vietnam war.

Kerry's story is highly disputable given the preponderance of evidence against his assertions and given the lack of evidence in support of his Cambodia stories. It would be reasonable to say that for practical purposes, Kerry had not been in Cambodia in a Swift Boat during his time in Vietnam.

jj mollo

My reading of all this is that the irrational level of irritation expressed by Kerry-haters is more a mark of their character than his.

Frank Warner

There is a level of irrationality about it, no doubt. There is the Republican team mentality that demands the Democrats be destroyed. But there also is a legitimate frustration.

Underlying it is the feeling that when questions are raised about a Republican presidential candidate, it is splattered all over the TV networks and major newspapers, and even misrepresented documents (the Texas National Guard memos and the Iraqi oil field maps come to mind) are played up prominently, but when questions are raised about a Democratic presidential candidate, suddenly there is no zeal or curiosity to find any answer. In fact, the reflex of most news outlets is to close their eyes to most Democratic Party flaws.

Kerry is the one who once again has raised the matter of his day in Cambodia. And The New York Times has once again proven that, when it comes to a Democrat, it won't show the slightest bit of interest in the full story.

Christopher Taylor

I don't hate Kerry, I just can't believe anyone would buy his story for any reason other than a partisan need to stand by "their guy." The story is just ludicrous, we can't know beyond any possibility of doubt, but we can know beyond any reasonable doubt that he didn't.

Judge the guy on his politics or his ideas if you want, consider him a fine candidate or man otherwise, but this story is a crock and it's just sad people leap to his defense in it.

For crying out loud, people who hate President Bush and wanted him not to win trotted out the story of his wife crashing a car and killing someone when she was young. The fact that this was politically motivated and by enemies of the man doesn't make it any less true, does it??

jj mollo

I never heard that story until just now. And the fact is that I had no trouble hearing about Kerry's Cambodian fandango more than I could possibly endure. The MSM may be biased left, at least certain outlets, but the Right has no problem getting its message out.

Where's The Beef?

>> My reading of all this is that the irrational level of irritation expressed by Kerry-haters is more a mark of their character than his.

Noting the objective facts is not an act of hatred. It is a public service to the country. And that is a rational endeavor that appears to have escaped Kerry and his defenders.

Kerry, not his detractors, has made assertions that provide the basis for seeing his crossing into Cambodia as highly relevant to his military service record or anti-war statements.

Kerry has long-claimed that his story about Cambodia had shaped his view not only of the Vietnam war but also of government and of his own experience as an American citizen in the world of ideas, politics, morality, and leadership. He did not minimize his story's importance. Rather the very opposite, he attempted to maximize the political value of this supposed "seared" memory and Kerry offered it as the primary means by which voters ought to understand his character.

The desire for documentation can be met very well. Kerry publicly described his changable account over the course of a couple of decades. He is on the record repeatedly. The claimed importance, not just the particulars, of Christmas in Cambodia has been drawn from Kerry's own words. The SwiftVets, among others, have shown that the truth is not on the side of Kerry on a war story that was supposed to be central to Kerry, the war hero and the accuser of war crimes.

He alleged war crimes as the norm; he alleged 200,000 murders per year; he alleged far more than he could possibly have solid evidence to support then, or now. His Fulbright Testimony in 1971 is a further reflection of his character. He does not deny this. In fact, he expects the country to commend him for his part in playing the bullhorn to falsehoods.

Frank Warner

Beef:

What happened to Kerry's Form 180? There was a lot of discussion about it when he gave certain documents to The Boston Globe, then the blogosphere seemed to drop the question.

Did we see all the documents from Kerry's official files?

Frank Warner

And JJ, it's not the Right I'm worried about getting its message across. It's not even the Republicans. I'm interested in seeing our major news media present accurate information on the liberation of Iraq.

We're stuck with this conservative Republican president leading this liberal cause. We know he's not the most eloquent of men, and we know most reporters in the White House press corps didn't vote for him and won't do anything to help him or his causes.

BIG EXAMPLE: That 60 Minutes story on alleged Pentagon plans for divvying up Iraqi oil fields after Saddam was removed. That story's dishonesty was so craftily presented it nearly persuaded ME to abandon cause of Iraqi freedom. But it turned out to be a 60 Minutes lie, and even CBS's sources -- Paul O'Neill and his biographer -- said the oil maps were misrepresented by Leslie Stahl.

That story was monstrously wrong, and its explosive contents could have blown Iraq back to the fascist sharks. And yet, has CBS News ever apologized for its false reporting? No. Will it ever? You know it won't.

I wish that example was the exception. It's the rule.

George

F. Rottles wrote: He did not claim to have crossed the border a step or two -- whether purposefully, accidentally, or unknowingly.

For years, Kerry has said he was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968. He gave a detailed view of that experience in an article he wrote for the Boston Herald in 1979. "I remember spending Christmas Eve five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas," Kerry wrote. "The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real." A similar recollection by Kerry was mentioned in a Globe biography of the Massachusetts senator.

F. Rottles get your "facts" straight. Do you work for the Times?

Another point: accounts that I read state that the river Kerry claimed to go up into Cambodia never even reaches Cambodia. By all accounts, it was physically impossible to have taken his swift boat into Cambodia.

Furthermore, if Kerry did take a swift boat into Cambodia, why is it that not one of his "band of brothers" can corroborate the event? Did Kerry drive that boat up and back single handedly?

George

After reading more, I think I may have misunderstood the context of F. Rottles statement. Sorry about that. I should have read the whole thread before commenting.

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