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Swift Boat Vets Still Fighting for Their Country

Patrick J. Buchanan

August 30  2004

Why are the Big Media savaging the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? Why are the Kerryites telling us to move on and debate the real issues health care, education, the economy?

Because they know this could kill John Kerry's candidacy. Because they know this is not just about Vietnam, but about the credibility and character of the man who would be president.

I have followed Kerry since he became famous. In 1971, I urged Nixon not to enforce Chief Justice Burger's order to remove Kerry's Vietnam vets from the Mall. We don't want another Bonus Army episode, I told the president. Kerry's vets were allowed to camp out, throw their medals over the fence and depart.

While I thought Kerry's testimony to be execrable, I took him to be a man who served bravely. But, if ""Unfit to Command" by swiftboat vet and Kerry nemesis John O'Neill is true, Kerry is a dishonest man who slandered his superior officers and betrayed his comrades and country in wartime.

In that April, Kerry told the Senate he had met with 150 vets in Detroit who confessed to having witnessed and committed war crimes with the knowledge of their officers.

Said Kerry, they "had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wire from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam."

Kerry's testimony was played back to Paul Galanti, a POW inside Hanoi's dungeons. Ted Cordier says he and fellow POWs were tortured to force them to tell the kind of lies about U.S. troops in Vietnam that John Kerry told the Senate for free.

Kerry has made his service the centerpiece of his career, his convention and his campaign. He cannot evade the questions. If Vietnam was the dirty immoral war he said it was in 1971, how can he now celebrate his service in that war in 2004?

But if Kerry and his Band of Brothers were defending our country, as he now claims, why did he slime, as war criminals, the comrades he left behind to defend our country? Why did he go to Paris and meet with Madame Binh and the Viet Cong?

Kerry told the Fulbright committee, "Crimes threaten (the country) ... not reds, but the crimes we are committing." We are "ashamed of and hated what we were called on to do in Southeast Asia." But if he was "ashamed of and hated" what he was called on to do in Vietnam by 1971, how can he be proud of it today?

"(T)o attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom," Kerry told Fulbright, "is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy." But after Saigon fell, thousands of South Vietnamese were shot and thousands more sent to "re-education camps." Hundreds of thousands fled in leaky boats into the South China Sea, where many were raped by Thai pirates and drowned. A million Cambodians were murdered in 1975 in one of the great holocausts of the 20th century. What does Kerry now think the Vietnam War was about, if not the freedom of these people from the barbarism of Asian communism?

Kerry's credibility is now everywhere in question. Biographer Douglas Brinkley says Kerry told him he resigned by letter from the VVAW executive committee on Nov. 10, 1971, and was not at a Kansas City meeting days later, where the assassination of senators was discussed. FBI and pro-Kerry vets now say Kerry did not tell the truth. He was at Kansas City. Kerry's campaign no longer denies it.

Repeatedly, Kerry has said he was in Cambodia at Christmas '68. Not one former commander, comrade or any one of his Band of Brothers supports his story. Kerry made it all up to portray himself as a secret suffering warrior risking his life in forbidden land while leaders like Nixon were lying by denying they had sent him there.

Now, it appears that it was John Kerry doing the lying.

In "the sampan incident," a fog-of-war episode, Kerry's gunner Steve Gardner shot and killed a man and boy, and took a hysterical woman and baby off their bloody boat. The "after-action report" claimed five Viet Cong dead and two captured. Who wrote it?

Four of Kerry's five medals are now under question either for falsehoods or exaggerations. The more information that comes out, the less believable Kerry becomes. O'Neill's swiftboat vets may be a little older, they may be a little grayer, but they still know how to fight for their country.

2004 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

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