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Saturday, August 21, 2004

WaPo digs in on Kerry's Bronze Star and third Purple Heart

I've only skimmed it, and I'm too tired right now after just writing at great length about Mr. Rood's memoir in the Chicago Tribune regarding Kerry's Silver Star to give anything else the close look it deserves.  But on the basis of a quick pass-through, my hat's off to WaPo reporter Michael Dobbs for what I believe to be the first reasonably comprehensive examination by any mainstream media source of the Bay Hap River action as the result of which Kerry received his Bronze Star, and the rice-pile action earlier  that day on the basis of which Kerry may have received his third Purple Heart. 

This article shows genuine attempts to interview witnesses, turn up new oral and documentary evidence, and examine the strengths and weaknesses of both sides' claims.  It's a vast improvement over Mr. Dobbs' first foray into the controversy, about which I blogged when it first appeared.

And hey — don't miss the exciting graphic from WaPo!  I can't wait for the movie!

Mr. Dobbs notes the conflicts in the oral recollections.  And while he charges both sides with failing to cooperate to make available all of the relevant documentary evidence, note his summary of what's missing (and who's responsible):

Some of the mystery surrounding exactly what happened on the Bay Hap River in March 1969 could be resolved by the full release of all relevant records and personal diaries. Much information is available from the Web sites of the Kerry campaign and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and the Navy archives. But both the Kerry and anti-Kerry camps continue to deny or ignore requests for other relevant documents, including Kerry's personal reminiscences (shared only with biographer Brinkley), the boat log of PCF-94 compiled by Medeiros (shared only with Brinkley) and the Chenoweth diary.

Whatcha bet that if Sen. Kerry opens up fully, Mr. Chenoweth will turn over his diary (which is the only thing any of the SwiftVets are accused of withholding)?

Posted by Beldar at 06:10 PM in Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier), SwiftVets | Permalink


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(1) Norman Rogers made the following comment | Aug 21, 2004 6:51:35 PM | Permalink

Well, it's a start.

But the problem is that modern-day "journalists" are ill-equipped to ask the right questions and all-too eager to offer their opinions as to facts.

The problem with the differing accounts of March 13, 1968 is that we've only very recently gotten a sense of the timeframe of the rescue of PCF-3. According to O'Neill, the operation took an hour-and-a-half.

If one reads Rassmann's changing stories, you get the sense from all of them that the boats sped out of the "kill-zone" immediately after retrieving him from the river.

But if the boats lingered for another hour and a quarter, patching the 3 boat and rigging it for tow, then Rassman's and Kerry's stories about being under constant fire -- without taking casualties and with no bullet damage received by ANY of the boats -- makes no sense.

Kerry MUST present Rassmann and himself for a news conference and Rassmann MUST be asked what he did for an hour-and-a-quarter while they were rescuing the three boat.

(2) Al made the following comment | Aug 21, 2004 9:57:29 PM | Permalink

An hour and a half "under 5000 meters of fire from both banks" defies belief too. The difference between 'no fire at all' and 'some small arms fire' might be memory. But '5000 meters of fire' would be, well, SEARED.

Question: Rasmussun - how close were the other boats?

(3) Birkel made the following comment | Aug 22, 2004 5:16:36 AM | Permalink

I don't know if Chenowith would release his diary or not. After all, he's got a pecuniary interest in keeping it private if the Kerry folks keep their's private. However, as soon as they release their info he's got nothing except a desire to get it over. Meanwhile, the documents will show the time frame, as covered above, and PROVE Kerry a lier or not.

(4) M. Simon made the following comment | Aug 22, 2004 6:48:22 AM | Permalink

Chec out the WaPo graphic here:

Rood critique & WaPo graphics

scroll down.

They have Alston aboard on 13 March '69. Something which Kerry now does not admit to. At most he was there tthe last week of March or possibly their service overlapped in April for a week or so. He was not in the 13 March fight. According to the Kerry folks.

The WaPo is one or two lies behind the story.

Another data point in the MSM meltdown.

What is the War Hero Afraid of?
Form 180. Release ALL the records.

(5) M. Simon made the following comment | Aug 22, 2004 6:52:41 AM | Permalink

Note also the "break" after the weir in the WaPo graphic. Not mentioned is that that "break" is about 5 km. According to the current lie. Or was that the previous one?

Another data point in the MSM meltdown.

And I'm still bothered by the shadow angles on the left vs the right of the photo of Alston and the BOBs.

What is the War Hero Afraid of?
Form 180. Release ALL the records.

(6) M. Simon made the following comment | Aug 22, 2004 7:01:08 AM | Permalink

According to a very rough measurement & calculation the canal in the WaPo artwprk covers around 600 meters. There seems to be 4400 meters missing.

What is the War Hero Afraid of?
Form 180. Release ALL the records.

(7) Patrick R. Sullivan made the following comment | Aug 22, 2004 12:42:07 PM | Permalink

It's very telling that lately the talk shows have been matching up Swift Boat vets with first hand experience, alongside professional liars such as John Podesta. No one, as far as I know, has had two vets with competing stories of the incidents square off with each other. Closest to doing so was Judy Woodruff with Larry Thurlow and Jim Rassmann (who was an army officer, not a SB guy). It's obvious why not, I think.

Also, as in the Sherlock Holmes story where the crucial evidence was the absence of a dog barking when it would have been expected to do so, the missing bullet wounds to any crewmen is crucial to evaluating Rassmann and Kerry's claims. For Chris Wallace to insist, as he did this morning on Fox News, over and over, that the medal citations are "evidence" for what took place, when they are exactly what is disputed, is pretty ridiculous circular reasoning.

(8) Patrick R. Sullivan made the following comment | Aug 22, 2004 2:24:46 PM | Permalink

"While returning from a SEA LORDS operation along the Bay Hap River, a mine detonated under another swift boat. Machine-gun fire erupted from both banks of the river..."

That's Rassmann in his Wall Street Journal Op-ed, and as far as I know NOBODY ELSE says there was machine gun fire coming from the shore. The citation for the Bronze Star says "sniper fire", and that is also Sandusky's story.

Later in the WSJ piece Rassmann says:

"When I surfaced, all the swift boats had left, and I was alone taking fire from both banks."

Now look at the graphics in the WaPo article, the above can't be true.

(9) Patrick R. Sullivan made the following comment | Aug 22, 2004 2:31:51 PM | Permalink

Here's Rassmann on CNN with Judy Woodruff:

"Mr. Thurlow's recollection of what occurred is not accurate. We had the boat hit the mine to our left. And John immediately had his driver, Del Sandusky (ph), turn to the left and head towards it."

Again, the WaPo graphics show this to be incorrect, Kerry headed downstream...away from the #3 boat.

"And it was at that time that our gunner on the bow got his gun knocked out and he started screaming for another weapon. I ran another weapon up to me, and we hit something or something hit us. There was an explosion, and I was blown off the boat to the right."

Which, if true would put Rassman even closer to the other Swift Boats. But as the WaPo graphics make clear Rassmann's story (or stories, he's told several) doesn't fit the facts.

(10) Mike Ruiz made the following comment | Aug 26, 2004 1:55:20 AM | Permalink

This may seem a minor point, but I think it merits comment. The mainstream media, in shilling for Kerry, have made much of the fact that "the official records support his account," while downplaying the fact that Kerry himself may be responsible for what the record says. However, here's an instance in which the official records are contradictory--and must therefore be at least partly false:

Kerry' medical record for the Bay Hap incident, for which he received the Bronze Star and another Purple Heart, says that Kerry suffered "contusions" on his arm. We can go ahead and call that injury by its common name: a bruise. Bruises by the way don't qualify for Purple Hearts.

However, the Bronze Star citation says that Kerry, "his arm bleeding and in pain," went on the bow and pulled Rassmann out of the water.

Well, if all Kerry had was a bruise, but the official record exaggerates that to say he was bleeding (when he wsn't), then maybe even the MSM would have to admit that the official records may not be the unimpeachable source they want them to be.

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