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Thursday, August 12, 2004

WaPo enters the SwiftVets fray

Thursday's Washington Post includes an editorial entitled "Swift Boat Smears" that will doubtless comfort Sen. Kerry and his allies.

To its considerable credit, the WaPo's editorialists don't altogether ignore the competing evidence.  For example:

Dr. Letson isn't listed on Mr. Kerry's medical record at the time. That doesn't disprove his claim to have treated Mr. Kerry, who received a superficial shrapnel injury to his arm. But neither does the account of Dr. Letson or others about the incident indicate that Mr. Kerry was lying.

Bravo, WaPo, for not falling for the Carreon Signature Fallacy!  But you're missing the point, my friends in Washington.  Kerry claims to have been wounded by the enemy.  Dr. Letson's statements about the physical evidence indicate that the fragment he removed from Kerry's arm was from American munitions — and that, as Dr. Letson has testified in his affidavit, "[t]he crewmen with Kerry told [Dr. Letson] that there was no hostile fire, and that Kerry had inadvertently wounded himself with an M-79 grenade."  Everyone agrees that Kerry had a trivial injury — but if it was self-inflicted, then that Purple Heart wasn't justified.

Elsewhere, the WaPo duly notes some of the conflicts in the versions of events regarding the Rassman rescue and Kerry's Bronze Star.  "But the weight of the evidence supports Mr. Kerry," opines the WaPo. 

Well, okay — that's one conclusion that can be drawn, and it depends on how you assess the credibility of the witnesses and the evidence.  Given that this is on the editorial page, I can't fault WaPo's editorial writer(s) for coming to, and expressing, an opinion. 

Personally, however, I'd find that opinion more persuasive if, for example, on the question of whether there was hostile fire from the shores, WaPo could give a better reason for believing Rassman, Sandusky, and Wasser on the one hand, over O'Dell, Chenoweth, and Thurlow on the other — beyond the fact that the SwiftVets' largest financial backer is a Texas Republican.  Yes, it's certainly worth considering what motivations these conflicting witnesses have when one's deciding whom among them to believe.  But I find it rather hard to accept that the hulls and superstructures of the Swift Boats involved in this rescue — none of which displayed any bullet holes when they returned — were guilty of partisan bias.

Still, I didn't expect WaPo to write its first editorial on this subject with a title like "John Kerry's Got Some Serious 'Splainin' to Do!"  The fact that this mainstream media outlet is beginning to react to the SwiftVets controversy in a serious manner is significant.  This editorial may calm the butterflies in the stomachs of Sen. Kerry's supporters — until they realize that the "ignore it and it will go away" dike has now been thoroughly broken.

(Hat-tip to PrestoPundit, with thanks, too, for his link to my post on the Baer article.  And don't miss Patterico's excellent take on this editorial, about which I can only say, great minds think alike.  Update:  Captain Ed also has a typically thoughtful take on the WaPo editorial, and was kind enough to link my own post.)  Update:  Patterico also shines the bright lights on his most regular and shameless target, the LA Times.

Posted by Beldar at 02:40 AM in Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier), SwiftVets | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to WaPo enters the SwiftVets fray and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» WaPo Smears Swift Boat Vets from Patterico's Pontifications

Tracked on Aug 12, 2004 2:52:38 AM

» John Kerry Stayed At A Holiday Inn Express Last Night from Right on the Left Beach

Tracked on Aug 12, 2004 4:47:07 PM


(1) JeanneB made the following comment | Aug 12, 2004 6:26:54 AM | Permalink

Indeed, WaPo is entitled to draw its own editorial conclusions. But I would like to have heard the discussion in which they decided NOT to call for Kerry to release all his military records. The subject had to come up and I bet it made for some interesting mental gymnastics.

(2) Christopher Cross made the following comment | Aug 12, 2004 11:50:59 AM | Permalink

Good analysis--but note that the Cambodia embargo continues...

(3) Old Patriot made the following comment | Aug 12, 2004 12:45:38 PM | Permalink

This has finally reached the point where it's personal with me. Kerry's lies, his constant attacks on the military both as part of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and as a US Senator, have directly affected me, a retired NCO and Vietnam veteran. I want him to be held accountable for what I consider crimes, for which I've suffered. I want him to pay, and pay dearly, for that suffering. I would love to see him stripped of his office, his pension, and forced into seclusion in this country for his lies, for his attacks on those of us who HONORABLY served, and for whom he feels such contempt. I will personally pray to God, who I know will hold all men accountable, that Kerry's accountability will be in this lifetime, and be public.

(4) Chuck H made the following comment | Aug 13, 2004 6:56:09 AM | Permalink

I urge everyone to read Unfit for comand. Research for yourself Kerry's statements about his service. Then go to swiftvets.com and contribute if you can. This has to be a grassroots movement, the media is trying to cover up the facts. Kerry must be made to release his VN records.

(5) J_Crater made the following comment | Aug 13, 2004 1:53:52 PM | Permalink

You would think that common practice would be to write editorials on items that appear repeatily within the columns of the paper.
To lead with a editorial shows that WaPo is estwhile restraining itself from using the columns of the paper for news that would seem to matter.

(6) Cowgirl made the following comment | Aug 15, 2004 5:21:02 PM | Permalink

That this is a non-political ad is more and more obvious. There is no mention of who should be president just a heartfelt warning from good and honorable men that John Kerry would be a disaster as the leader of the most powerful country in the world. I pray that their mission will succeed.

(7) Mike made the following comment | Aug 17, 2004 1:28:33 PM | Permalink

I was a Ranger Team Leader in Vietnam during 1969, and led several missions that were supported by PBRs (Patrol Boat, River), a smaller "Brownwater Navy" boat. The naval group that F Co, 75th Inf Reg Rangers, my outfit, operated with was located near the Go Da Ha Bridge over the Song Vam Co Dong River. This river flowed from two tributaries, one from inside Cambodia and one, the Rac Cai Bac, that formed part of the border between Cambodia and Vietnam. The Brownwater Navy had strict orders to stay away from the border area. I never witnessed, nor heard of atrocities committed by any of the Navy folks we worked with, but I feel certain, that had there been any, the way all service personnel tried to impress their brothers with war stories we would have heard their tales. Especially since we were Rangers and they were Naval personnel stranded inshore; an eternal, internal competitive element of war.

It has been proven that John Kerry fabricated information about atrocities that he "gave" in testimony to elected members of our government. It is also obvious that Kerry wanted out of Vietnam, but he had aspirations of political office, thereby giving reason for making the video cameo of his service in Vietnam. This, in itself, is an incredibly good example of duplicitous behavior of the worst kind.

I am troubled that a recent poll has shown that women feel they will be better ptotected by John Kerry than by George Bush as president. If Kerry were such a great combat leader, why did he make a "Drug Store Cowboy" video showing total disregard for proper handling of an M-16 while patrolling in the bush? This not only demonstrates his total stupidity in a combat situation, but it also proves that he was grandstanding for some future purpose. But for what was that purpose when he returned to the "World" and provided testimony that his brothers were less than honorable in their service to their country? I cannot fathom why anyone would consider Kerry's short tour, especially after the claims he made, to be worthy of the honor surrounding the presidency of our country.

The U. S. military has changed so much since I was in the service, that it must be hard for anyone who has never served to comprehend how far we have come. The military of today is far more disciplined and much better trained than most of us draftees were in the Vietnam era. I am in awe of their accomplishments through a leadership that is, what I consider to be, representative of the best of what our country offers.

It is my view that any veteran who votes for Kerry will be letting down the men and women who proudly serve our current military. Our military deserves so much more than the so-called leadership John Kerry can ever provide. Moreover, I, as a Proud Vietnam veteran, cannot consider Kerry's Vietnam video production and his post-Vietnam service behavior to be appropriate leadership examples, especially for the difficult years ahead. We cannot give in to terrorism by being "more sensitive", nor can we get by with "better handling" of difficult international situations.

(8) Eric Rasmusen made the following comment | Aug 22, 2004 3:03:01 PM | Permalink

I got enthusiastic last night and did a careful analysis of John Kerry's Third Purple Heart, based just on the Washington Post article and documents from the Kerry campaign:


My conclusion: unless a minor arm contusion counts, Kerry's Third Purple Heart was wrongly awarded.

As the post above says, the 1st Purple Heart seems to have been wrongly awarded too. Here is something for someone to check: A Purple Heart requires treatment by a "medical officer". I have seen Dr. Letson listed as
"Medical Officer at Naval Support Facility, Cam Ranh Bay". How many such officers were there who would have treated Swiftboat skippers? If *none* of them treated him, the First Purple Heart was wrongly awarded. So the absence of the name of a medical officer in the documents is not a good sign for Kerry. No medical officer, and he loses. Dr. Letson, and he loses. Kerry needs to find a medical officer who will speak on his behalf.

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