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Saturday, September 25, 2004

A challenge to those who claim that the SwiftVets' allegations have been "debunked" or are "unsubstantiated"

My lawyer readers will immediately recognize this as an invitation to Kerry supporters to make a motion for partial summary judgment on the SwiftVets' claims.

This short paragraph from a New York Times article perfectly illustrates the liberal media's widespread characterization of the results to date of the SwiftVets' campaign (boldface added):

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which drew national attention with advertisements making unsubstantiated attacks against Mr. Kerry's military service, has less money and uses several strategies to stretch its dollars, said one of its leaders, John O'Neill.

To find a similar example from the blogosphere, one need look no farther than Andrew Sullivan's passing dismissal of the SwiftVets' campaign (boldface added):

As word spread, anti-Kerry forces sent in more money to the Swift Boat Veterans for truth website, allowing them to ramp up their ad efforts. And within a few days, the old media was forced to cover the claims extensively — even if much of their coverage amounted to a debunking.

As someone who's followed the SwiftVets' campaign closely — someone who's read Brinkley's Tour of Duty, O'Neill's Unfit for Command, and Kranish et al.'s John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography cover to cover, plus all of the mainstream media reports I could find on the internet and a goodly portion of what's appeared from both political sides of the blogosphere — I'm simply stunned to read these sorts of statements.

I can think of one major SwiftVets allegation on which they've arguably failed to offer more than circumstantial evidence — that Kerry "gamed the system" to get his medals. Kerry's stonewall — his refusal to sign Standard Form 180 and thereby release the documentation that should, if it exists, reveal still-hidden details like how he came to get his first Purple Heart — has been effective in keeping the SwiftVets from nailing down that point with direct evidence. Yet the circumstantial case is powerful — Kerry's commanding officer at the time, Skip Hibbard, says he refused to approve that Purple Heart in December 1968, yet Kerry showed up with the medal anyway in March 1969 in some as-yet-unexplained fashion.

I can think of other SwiftVets allegations on which there is directly competing evidence that requires the public to draw conclusions. For example, does one credit Adm. Bill Schachte's account of his first-hand knowledge of how Kerry received the trivial wound that led to his first Purple Heart, or does one credit Zaldonis' and Runyan's claims that Schachte wasn't aboard the skimmer? Which of the eyewitnesses does one choose to find credible on the question of whether Kerry was or wasn't under enemy fire when he plucked Rassmann from the Bay Hap River? Other allegations require an exercise of subjective judgment. For example, was Kerry's pursuit and dispatching of a single VC soldier sufficiently valorous to merit his Silver Star?

But on none of these issues I've just listed have the SwiftVets' allegations been "debunked" or proven "unsubstantiated." Andrew Sullivan or the NYT repeating over and over that they have been simply don't make them so. To employ the legal jargon of summary judgment proceedings, a rational factfinder could conclude from the evidence that the SwiftVets have produced on each of these allegations that, indeed, they're true. A trial judge who dismissed these allegations outright, without letting the factfinder (typically a jury) consider them, would certainly be reversed on appeal and told to let the jury do its work. They haven't, in lay terms, been "debunked" — but rather, they're fiercely disputed by competent evidence (some of it eyewitness, some of it circumstantial, some of it documentary).

Hence my challenge for the weekend to my readers — you're probably a minority, as these things go, but I know from my comments pages that you're out there — who may agree with the NYT or Mr. Sullivan:

Can you identify even one specific and material SwiftVets allegation that you believe to have been fully "debunked" or fully proven to be "unsubstantiated"?

Some ground rules for this challenge that I think are not unreasonable:

By "specific," I mean to exclude sweeping conclusions like "John Kerry wasn't as big a hero as he's made out." By material, I mean to exclude trivia like "the VC soldier John Kerry shot was in a uniform instead of in a loincloth." And I ask that if you're to make an honest effort to meet my challenge, you provide quotes and links, both to the SwiftVets' allegations and to the evidence that you offer to show debunking or lack of substantiation.

If you rely on documents — for example, Larry Thurlow's Bronze Star citation as support for the proposition that he and Kerry were under enemy fire after PCF 3 was struck by a mine — then to reach "debunked" status, you ought to show that there are no contrary eyewitness accounts to those documents, nor other contrary documents. Otherwise, you've merely established that a dispute exists — what lawyers would call a "genuine issue of fact" that must be resolved by a judgment call as to which side has the greater weight of the credible evidence.

Saying your side has the greater weight of the evidence isn't "debunking" or showing that something is "unsubstantiated," it's saying that your side ought to ultimately prevail on the factual dispute, and that's a very different kettle of fish. To use a converse example by way of illustration: I would argue that the "Christmas in Cambodia" story repeatedly told by Sen. Kerry has indeed been thoroughly debunked and proved unsubstantiated — that is, there simply is no credible evidence from which any rational factfinder could conclude that Kerry's claim to have spent Christmas 1968 several miles inside Cambodia, under friendly fire and on a secret mission, was truthful.

I of course reserve the right to offer a rebuttal, as will, I'm sure, my like-minded readers. But I'm genuinely curious about this, and will try to summarize the results of this challenge fairly in a new post sometime early next week.


Update (Mon Oct 18 @ 10:40am): It's no one's fault in particular unless my own, but the comments to this post have kept coming in. Every time I'd try to take a day to write a summary of the responses to my challenge, in would come four or five new comments. Today I printed out this post to have a hard-copy handy for cross-referencing as I worked on the long-promised summary, and it ran to 154 printed pages. So: By fiat, the challenge is closed. If you have something else to say, you'll need to do it in comments on another post.

Posted by Beldar at 06:52 AM in Politics (2006 & earlier), SwiftVets | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to A challenge to those who claim that the SwiftVets' allegations have been "debunked" or are "unsubstantiated" and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» A challenge to those who believe the Swift Boat Ve from The Pink Flamingo Bar Grill

Tracked on Sep 25, 2004 10:04:10 AM

» BILL DYER from PRESTOPUNDIT -- "It's a team sport, baby!"

Tracked on Sep 26, 2004 12:18:11 AM

» Patronizing Piece of Pulp from La Shawn Barber's Corner

Tracked on Sep 26, 2004 12:12:10 PM

» Beldar: Rumors of Death of Swift Vets' Claims Have Been Exaggerated from Patterico's Pontifications

Tracked on Sep 26, 2004 12:43:31 PM

» Broder still doesn't get the problem from Solomonia

Tracked on Sep 26, 2004 2:48:09 PM

» Debunking the Swiftvets from Andrew Olmsted dot com

Tracked on Sep 26, 2004 4:23:54 PM

» A challenge to those who claim that the SwiftVets' allegations have been "debunked" or are "unsubstantiated" from In Bill's World

Tracked on Sep 27, 2004 12:48:13 AM

» Debunked from An Englishman's Castle

Tracked on Sep 27, 2004 1:12:45 AM

» Debunked? from Shot In The Dark

Tracked on Sep 27, 2004 7:57:20 AM

» Debinked? Mais non from Cold Fury

Tracked on Sep 27, 2004 10:43:27 AM

» Challenge to SwiftVet critics... from Mental Hiccups

Tracked on Sep 28, 2004 7:09:42 AM

» Submitted for Your Approval from Watcher of Weasels

Tracked on Sep 28, 2004 11:50:34 PM

» Veteran Anger at Kerry is Real from New England Republican

Tracked on Sep 29, 2004 1:11:44 PM

» SBV Non-Debunking from The Horrors of an Easily Distracted Mind

Tracked on Sep 29, 2004 8:01:19 PM

» Listening to the elephant ticks from CenterFeud

Tracked on Sep 30, 2004 9:41:30 AM

» The Council Has Spoken! from Watcher of Weasels

Tracked on Oct 1, 2004 1:05:55 AM

» Lawrence O'Donnell is an unspeakably lame hack from Opinion8 - Not just one man's opinion

Tracked on Oct 23, 2004 4:26:00 AM


(1) Palooka made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 7:08:42 AM | Permalink

You're on a roll!

I have been infuriated by liberals who declare the Swiftees full of crap, but then cannot debunk a single claim. I have tried to engage several liberals on the subject, and they eventually concede (partially) and retreat, saying "let's get to the real issues."

(2) dan made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 7:27:32 AM | Permalink

I get the same reaction as Palooka. I work with a lot of people who at least claim to hate Bush. While they all make snarky remarks, they don't want to defend him against Swift Vet attacks. And neither will they defend CBS anymore. The one guy who tried that is a smoking pile of rubble. :)

(3) BumperStickerist made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 8:25:03 AM | Permalink

Regardng Thurlow's Bronze Star citation.

My understanding is that the same source documentation (available on Kerry's site) was used to award all three Bronze Stars from the engagement.

So it's no mystery that the language of Thurlow's citation would match significantly with the language in Kerry's.

And, as far as reasonableness, I find it entirely reasonable that Thurlow, upon receiving his Bronze Star and Citation months later after leaving the service, did not dispute the award. He was out of the service at that point probably just read it, and then got himself a beer.

(4) MaDr made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 8:37:29 AM | Permalink

I'll have to pass. The weakest SwiftVet charge was re 2nd PH, so I never looked into it and have no inclination to now.

(5) Todd made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 8:49:38 AM | Permalink

With regard to the 2nd Purple Heart, the Swiftees have never argued that it was fraudulent, just that it was somewhat lame and a marginal case. The first and third Purple Hearts, as well as the Bronze and Silver Stars, are the ones that have drawn their ire.

Overall, I haven't seen much of a defense made to the Swiftees' charges by liberals on the web, other than the usual "The New York Times showed it was all lies" bromides. As we've seen, however, the New York Times (or at least Kristof) is completely confused about the issues.

As far as why Michael Dobbs stopped digging, I have no idea.

(6) Marc made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 9:11:07 AM | Permalink

Bill how do you offer a rebuttal to the sound of crickets?

(7) leaddog2 made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 9:51:03 AM | Permalink

I really, really like your blog, Bill.

However, I have a question.... do you really expect any competent Attorney or non-Attorney to rationally defend the indefensible?

All who refuse to admit there are questions about John Kerry are EMOTIONALLY involved in denial. They cannot question the proven facts of the Swift Boat vets (as you listed them in this post). There are NO circumstances where logic and facts will overcome their emotional delusions.

Good luck on your objective, but I do not expect you to receive a coherent response. You might get a Kerry IRAQ response. You know, that's the one where Only GOD Knows (and even he is confused)!!

(8) Cap'n DOC made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 9:53:51 AM | Permalink

PERSONALLY, I can't argue with PH number 2. Since I can attest to what is involved in the process for number 1 and 3, I can well understand why Senator Kerry would like those records to be kept out of the public eye. The SBVT claims CANNOT be debunked.

I used Betadine and BandAids for accidental Blooper wounds, and it was not a pretty sight. :o) I somehow managed to supervise burning the sh**ters an hour after the 'accident'... None of my brothers thought they deserved a PH, nor did they turn down the B & B treatment. They were getting tonguelashed with the 'F' word used as every part of speech at the time, so burning sh**ters was considered payback.

(9) The Raving Atheist made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 9:55:46 AM | Permalink

The interesting thing is, that even with the forgeries, Ben Barnes' earlier inconsistent statements, his daughter calling him a liar, and the Killian family and Staudt denials, you'll never hear the press refering to the "unsubstantiated attacks" on Bush's TxANG service. "Answer the questions, Mr. President!"

The Swift Vets might well be entitled to partial summary judgment on the first purple heart. Although there's a clear factual dispute as to whether Schachte was on the boat, neither Zaldonis nor Runyan claim to be eyes witnesses to what Kerry actually did or how he got wounded. Kerry hasn't given his account under oath or otherwise, and his later diaries indicate he hadn't yet experienced enemy fire. Additionally, he hasn't controverted at all the testimony of Letson, including his testimony that Carreon merely did the paperwork. Nor has he denied that he was thrown out of the room when he first asked for the award. Finally, due to his refusal to release the records showing what account he gave months later in the paperwork for the award, the court could enter simply judgment on default for failure to comply with discovery.

(10) Cap'n DOC made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 10:08:04 AM | Permalink

BTW - I was inCountry concurrent with Senator Kerry, although my duty wasn't with the BrownWaterNavy, but with the 3rdBat, 26th Marines. KheSahn ring any bells?

I dislike being called a Monster. My demeanor upon returning home to the Harsh Words was one of shame. My bad memories may be fading, but I take exception with a Messenger who will not be truthful. The end never justifies the means. A single lie begets nothing but another lie.

Opposition to war is something that is part of my past (and I admit it), and I never considered my service as dishonorable. My Marines fought for me, and I fought for them. We all fought for our Country, and for each other.

Senator Kerry did not. He fought for himself, and the Devil take the hindmost. He can't own up to his past, and I won't allow his disparaging remarks about myself and MY DEAD BROTHERS to go unchallenged. Now or ever.

You are doing a Good Thing, Beldar. Pump up the Volume.

(11) Kalle Barfot made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 10:31:43 AM | Permalink

Well, I can imagine two types of anti-SwiftVet defense:

- "Do you know who I am?" by Kerry himself


- "Shove it, sc*mbags!" by his foul-mouthed wife

Alternatively, Kerry could invoke the French trump-card: "Vichy? me? Nonono, you see, we were all in the Résistance."

(12) Cz made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 11:28:40 AM | Permalink

Thank You!!

I follow several liberal sites and I see the claims constantly regarding the "lies" and "debunked accusations".

Could you please offer a post at the end of this process with some definitive statements that persons like myself can link to or extract from, to have some fun countering statements on the lib blogs?

I'm in process of reading "Unfit For COmmand" and find the book to be thoroughly engaging, well researched and documented, and and quite believable.

(13) Dave Schuler made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 12:18:39 PM | Permalink

For the strongly partisan the mere existence of contradictory testimony is refutation. I say to all sides "bring out your proof". You won't sway the true believers on either side but neither side can win with just the true believers.

(14) Mr. K made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 12:25:31 PM | Permalink

I don't think the SBV allegations concerning the medals can be debunked. The release of all his records may at best reinforce the Kerry side of the debate, but may actually prove the SBV's case. My guess is there is something else in those records he does not want people to see...a different can of worms he would like to remain closed.

To me the allegations against both candidates would be extremely difficult to prove, either way.

I think, the way things appear, Kerry "gamed" the system, then showboated testimony about war crimes to launch his political career. He tried to make himself in the image of the original JFK.

On the other side of the debate, do I think W somehow got preferential treatment because he was the son of a wealthy politician? He probably did. Did he ever do things he should not have while he was in the Guard? Probably so. I do not think these matters can be proven definitively, one way or the other.

But there are some distinctions I would draw. It does not appear that W had any political motivations behind what he did in those days. W is a comparatively recent arrival to the world of politics.

Kerry on the other hand seems to be all about his image as a politician. He has demonstrated this throughout his career by his constantly changing positions on a number of issues. His stance on issues seems to coincide with whatever opinion polls favor and editorial writers are buzzing about at the time.

(15) Dan made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 12:30:25 PM | Permalink

What really troubles me is what RA referred to above. Not only does the MSM dismiss the Swiftee's legitimatepoints, but they continue to prop up the genuinely debunked accusations regarding President Bush's Air National Guard service.

The double standard is so glaring as to be infuriating.

(16) jonkendall made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 12:57:05 PM | Permalink

thank you bill. the second most important thing behind the SBVT claims themselves, is selling them. the media have done a good job of 'unselling' them, by attempting to discredit them. and where the media has failed to do such in a 'court of law' manner, they have succeeded in swaying public opinion. they do not address the facts and contentions, the media repeatedly uses 'unsubstantiated' and 'debunked' - which works for many readers out there. to keep the pressure on, the media's dismissal of the SBVTs must be countered. so, thank you again, Bill. John O'Neill should even address his yet-to-be-sunk-credibility in an ad - somehow.

(17) Infidel made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 1:34:22 PM | Permalink

“What about medals? Has he ever said anything about medals? Are medals important to him?”
“To Bob Lee? Let me tell you something, son—were you in the war or anything?”
“No sir, I wasn’t.”
“Well, son, the only people that are interested in medals are the ones that are fixing to run for office some day. I went from one side of Burma to the other with General Merrill’s Marauders in 1943 and 1944, and the only man I ever saw who wanted a medal or cared about a medal later became the only governor of Colorado to be impeached."

Stephen Hunter, “Point of Impact”, Bantam Books, 1993

(18) Infidel made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 1:37:09 PM | Permalink

Thanks, "jonkendall" for validating Beldar's original point.

(19) Kathy made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 1:42:50 PM | Permalink

As a scientist, not a lawyer, I use empirical evidence to make deductions. Numbers provide an objective way to evaluate evidence. One incontrovertible fact is the large number of veterans collaborating in the book Unfit for Command. Hmm... How to get that many people to collaborate on a lie, agree on which lie, or even be consistent in the same lie? Improbable. Another is the number of months of Kerry's actual service. How does anyone get five medals in four months? Improbable.
The swiftboat ad showing Kerry's own testimony in Congress juxtaposed with the response of soldiers who were POWs is incontrovertible. The swiftboat vets have the numbers all on their side, including number of books sold.

(20) Greg F made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 2:00:47 PM | Permalink

"Which of the eyewitnesses does one choose to find credible on the question of whether Kerry was or wasn't under enemy fire when he plucked Rassmann from the Bay Hap River?"

IMO, physical evidence trumps eyewitness accounts every time. The lack of physical damage to the boats in question, i.e. bullet holes, is compelling evidence that they were not under fire.

(21) Jerry made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 2:39:26 PM | Permalink

I served on a 31 ft.PBR in the Mekon Delta.I escorted ammo barges through free fire zones. The viet-cong were pretty good shots.They did their best not to waste ammo. I have a hard time believing Kerry's story, 5,000 meters of intense fire and not one injury to anyone on his boat including the Mike force. Not one injury to anyone on the other boats except the crew of the #3 boat.In my opinion what Rassmann heard when he fell in the river was what we called a mad minute. Three 50cal mg's a 60cal mg and a honeywell granade launcher coming from three boats. It's an experience you will never forget.Especially if your in the water. The three boats that stayed with the #3 boat (if under fire ) would have a lot of patch work to do the next day and that did not appear on their damage reports. Kerry traveled 5,ooo meters a little over 3 miles after Rassmann fell off his boat,thats a 10 minute run for a swift boat. There's a lot of holes in his story and there not from bullets.

(22) Patrick R. Sullivan made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 2:41:47 PM | Permalink

There is no evidence Bush used political influence to get his fighter pilot slot, and none he did anything dishonorable either. In fact, a dispassionate analysis of his military career shows it to be far more honorable than Kerry's. Bush got his honorable discharge ON TIME. After 5-1/2 years. And after the Vietnam War had ended.

Kerry didn't get his for twelve years, when he'd signed up for a six year obligation. He served three years on active duty, zero on ready reserve. He enlisted two years before Bush, and got his discharge 5 years after Bush did. Very curious.

Also, the physical evidence of no enemy fire on March 13, '69 is the absence of anyone being put in for a Purple Heart for a bullet wound (or shrapnel from when the aluminum shattered on impact with a bullet). The boats themselves were all riddled with bullet holes from prior actions. Although my source for that is "Tour of Duty", so....

(23) Pat Curley made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 2:44:16 PM | Permalink

There are three main arguments that the liberals have used to imply that they have answered all the questions raised by the Swiftees, none of which are particularly compelling, although of course Dan Rather might disagree with me on that:

1. Letson didn't sign Kerry's treatment form for the wound that gave Kerry his first Purple Heart, therefore he didn't treat Kerry like he claimed in the first ad. Obvious rebuttal, which has never been replied to by Kerry, is that Letson did indeed treat him, but delegated the chore of writing it up to an orderly.

2. Elliot, Hoffman, and Lonsdale have previously supported Kerry against charges leveled against him. This is true, but again, there is a reason. They were incensed about Brinkley's extremely negative portrayal of Hoffman and Lonsdale in Tour of Duty. If you look at the first ad all three of them mention Kerry's lying.

3. The funding of the Swiftees is largely Republican. Stop the presses! You mean Barbra and Whoopi aren't donating? Then it doesn't have any credibility with me.

It's just something they've decided to assert, and the marching morons on their side are using it robotically.

(24) Cap'n DOC made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 2:46:45 PM | Permalink

Jerry - The Testimony, and nothing but the testimony. That's what I like to hear. And THANK YOU for the service, BTW.

(25) Cap'n DOC made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 3:05:01 PM | Permalink

"1. Letson didn't sign Kerry's treatment form for the wound that gave Kerry his first Purple Heart, therefore he didn't treat Kerry like he claimed in the first ad. Obvious rebuttal, which has never been replied to by Kerry, is that Letson did indeed treat him, but delegated the chore of writing it up to an orderly."

Let me correct a misunderstanding about the way a SickBay operates: Dr. Letson says (and attests) to the fact he 'treated' Kerry. The matter of who signed the form is immaterial. Was Dr. Letson required to sign the form? NO. I signed a number of forms in my time, for Marines wounded both more severe and comparable to that suffered by Kerry. In this case, the matter of Kerry requesting to be seen by a Doctor (and being an officer), neither confirms nor denies who performed the procedure - in this case, applying Betadine and a Bandaid.

If Dr. Letson was seeing another patient, the ranking HM in the Sickbay could and did sign the form in question. Standard procedure.

There was no 'orderly'. Hospital Corpsman performed a number of procedures both in and out of Sickbay which were oftentimes equivalent to what a Doctor would be charged with, including suturing. There is nothing to nuance here, and I certainly wouldn't be calling Dr. Letson a liar as some of his more harsh critics have done.

I would really like to be able to give the man (Kerry) the benefit of the doubt on ALL of his Purple Hearts, but... Sorry. No 'debunking'is possible with this one.

(26) Cap'n DOC made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 3:14:48 PM | Permalink

Although I mentioned personal experience in an earlier comment, I'm gonna add a little footnote here:
After reading the descriptions of the incident which led to Kerry's 'wound', and speaking as an enlisted man, I'm convinced that he prolly would have been better off if he'd just consumed his HumblePie and left it at that. But... being an officer and all, that didn't sit too well with him. Hence, he just had to see a doctor, and 'officially' (and on the record) justify his incompetence with a Blooper.

The rest is history.

BTW - Anybody up for some Christmas Turkey in Cambodia???

(27) recon made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 4:13:59 PM | Permalink

Cap'n DOC,

Swap you a Christmas Turkey for a 'BFR.'

First word 'Big'
Last word 'Rat'

We report, you decipher.

(28) Fresh Air made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 5:17:26 PM | Permalink

In the court of public opinion, which is the one that counts, Kerry looks like a charlatan or at a minimum a braggart. If the allegations have been debunked, why hasn't Kerry done the debunking? Why would Kerry trot out people like Paul Begala and James Carville--people who know nothing about what happened--to defend him? Why the allergy to Form 180?

Well, yesterday I listened to the radio show debate between Del "Shifty Del" Sandusky and Van "I saw what happened" Odell, and I can say that the Swiftees have their facts down pretty well. The "Band of Brothers," however, which purports to have seen everything, can barely explain even the most basic of facts.

But why should any of this surpise us? It's a standard leftist tactic to claim things have been proven (or not proven) and then advance to their unsupported conclusion. This is nothing but a continuation of idiotarianism by the MSM know-nothings.

I'll be glad when all the reporters at the New York Times, LA Times and Chicago Tribune are sacking groceries for a living..which may be slightly above their pay grade, come to think of it.

(29) Sue Bob made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 7:11:00 PM | Permalink

These naysayers have absolutely no intention of actually disproving or debunking the allegations (although they have tried to nibble around the edges) The leftists in the media and DNC have drunk from the same well as Hillary Clinton. Hillary's tactics arise from the teachings of Saul Alinky as laid out in his book Rules for Radicals. (She admitted his influence on her in Living History) Alinksy had no regard for such objective fixed values as truth. He said: "truth to him (the radical) is relative and changing..."(page 11)

The media and DNC, instead of debating the truth of the swift vets allegations, is engaging in Alinsky's tactic of "pick the target, freeze the target, and personalize (or polarize) the target" (page 130) In other words, rather than discussing the facts or questions of fact-- they are picking out an enemy (the swift vets). Then focusing all discussion on them. And, finally, demonizing them by calling them "liars" and claiming they've been debunked and disproven. Many of these people are totally ignoring objective reality, not out of ignorance of the facts or negligence, but with conscious intent.

Now, I'd like to find a book which will teach us to counter Alinsky's tactics in a moral way.

(30) FredRum made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 8:01:18 PM | Permalink

Beldar, you should send you challenge directly to Dorf over at Findlaw.

And why not start a bounty collection for the first successful "debunker"? I'm good for $100.

(31) antimedia made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 9:33:19 PM | Permalink

The problem, Sue Bob, with debunking the debunkers is that all they have to do is scream, "Liar, liar, pants on fire." To debunk them, you have to address each issue with facts and careful analysis. (This, BTW, is what blogs do.) You cannot do that in a 5 minute interview or even a 30 minute interview with an opponent and a "moderator". Sadly, the "moderators" (people like Bill O'Reilly, et al) are some abysmally ignorant of the facts that they just muddy the waters further.

(32) Eaglespeak made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 9:46:44 PM | Permalink

A couple of weeks ago Eleanor Clift wrote a piece for Newsweek Online that made several nasty assertions about the SwiftVets. These included the following: "…The charges advanced by the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth would never hold up in a court of law."

I decided to take a look at her assertion aand wrote a letter to her challenging her statement (my response posted at http://eaglespeak.blogspot.com2004_08_29_eaglespeak_archive.html).

Now, I think you have a great idea - it time for them to put up or fold up.

Ultimately, the court of public opinion rules on Nov. 2.

(33) Billy Hank made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 9:58:30 PM | Permalink

FredRum -

You're on. I've got another $100 to add.

(34) Patton made the following comment | Sep 25, 2004 11:10:33 PM | Permalink

FredRum & Billy Hank:

Make that another C-Note.

I'm beyond caring, if I ever did, about the specifics of the individual SBVfT claims. I think it's far more important that, in total, they give the impression of a guy (JFK) who's willing to shade the truth. Is that bad? No, not really - it's almost expected of politicians. The problem is that he shades the truth poorly, in regard to his Vietnam experience and elsewhere, and violates the rule I was taught years ago by my father: Never tell a lie that can easily be proven to be a lie, and never lie about something that doesn't matter. Kerry's a loser on both counts.

His response? Utter, apparently stunned, silence on his part, and shouting-by-proxy campaign by the NYT and others, claiming that the charges have been debunked. Hogwash. For those that are still subject to factual debate and have not already been admitted to be true (e.g. the falsity of "Christmas in Cambodia"), any underpinning of presumed credibility is shot.

My mind is already made up on the charges themselves, which is neither here nor there, since I had prior, more timely reasons for antipathy toward Kerry. The charges themselves are no longer interesting, but, like Bill and others here, I'm interested in the derivative claims of debunking, which appear to be prima facie goofiness. Simply repeating it over and over does not make it true.

I'd pay good money to see someone, straight-faced, offer a fact-based debunking of the Swift Boat Vets' claims. And it has nothing to do with the election. Who knows? Someday I may decide to pursue an advanced degree in Charlatanism, and if I do, I'll need concrete examples of the genre.

(35) Roundguy made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 5:25:00 AM | Permalink

Mr. K,

"On the other side of the debate, do I think W somehow got preferential treatment because he was the son of a wealthy politician? He probably did. Did he ever do things he should not have while he was in the Guard? Probably so. I do not think these matters can be proven definitively, one way or the other."

Talk about debunked. How many times does this crap need to be debunked? He volunteered. He received zero, none, nada help getting in the ANG because it wasn't necessary. He followed the rules, all of them, and was honorably discharged. Blog around before siding with MSM and DNC.

(36) MaDr made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 9:01:27 AM | Permalink


"I'd pay good money to see someone, straight-faced, offer a fact-based debunking of the Swift Boat Vets' claims."

Put your money away - you can see it for free. Just go to any of the LLL blogs. It may not be true "debunking", but heck, those guys don't know what "true" anything is.

(37) Jabba the Tutt made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 11:51:02 AM | Permalink

Listen, the media/liberals are not interested in facts or truth. Indeed, the Swifties haven't addressed the Kerry's medals for what 6 weeks, 8 weeks? They've focused on using Kerry's own words from his Senate Foreign Relations committee testimony and how that affected them as POW's or soldiers in the field. They've run ads on Kerry's medal or was that ribbon tossing and what Kerry thinks of the symbols of this country, then they state their opinion.

In all of these ads, there is no dispute, it's Kerry and SwiftVet opinions. The media have completely ignored these, stuck to the disputed issues and declared the Swifties liars.

Yeah, we all know how honest the MSM is, so I believe them. Right!

(38) Dan made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 11:57:05 AM | Permalink

If Ben Barnes, at the request of GHWB, "helped" GWB stay out of harm's way, by putting GWB in an F-102, in a unit, which at the time was flying combat missions in VN, you would think GHWB would have hunted Barnes down and kicked his ass.

(39) Cosmo made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 12:36:47 PM | Permalink

Thanks for going after this Beldar. I've heard/read a 'debunked-SwiftVets = forged-TANG-memos' meme floating around the past few days. According to this wacky logic, disputing the ACTUAL testimony of 250+ men is all that's required to 'de-bunk' them in toto, while FORGED memos, now thoroughly de-bunked, somehow don't discredit the Bush guard story.

(40) prototype made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 12:55:06 PM | Permalink

I'm in for another C-note. Every time I hear Juan Williams or Mara Liason state emphatically on Fox News that the Swifties claims have been debunked I get angry. I can't believe Barnes, Kristol, Krauthammer, etc., let them get away with it without a challenge. Thanks very much for highlighting this issue.

(41) P.H. made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 12:57:26 PM | Permalink

Well, I would say you would have to deal with the claims on this site: http://swiftvets.eriposte.com/

All of my liberal friends just point there and consider the discussion over.

(42) TomB made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 1:01:19 PM | Permalink

If Ben Barnes, at the request of GHWB, "helped" GWB stay out of harm's way, by putting GWB in an F-102, in a unit, which at the time was flying combat missions in VN, you would think GHWB would have hunted Barnes down and kicked his ass.

LOL! The million dollar question.

Every time I get into this discussion with a dem, I always ask why W didn't ask to be put into a "safe" desk job if he was trying to avoid danger.

The only answer I've EVER seen to this was someone who actually said that he "wasn't smart enough for a desk job". So, I guess, they put him in an idiot-proof position like fighter pilot.

The left has completely lost it.

(43) Jeff made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 1:13:32 PM | Permalink

Thank you so much for sticking up for the Swiftvets. They have served their country well and have thereby earned the right to be heard.

There is, however, another group that deserves to be heard and is receiving NO coverage in the press or among the blogs. These are, of course, the guys from stolenhonor.com. They are all highly decorated Vietnam Vets and former POW's. Their group has just released video testimonial regarding what happened to them as a result of John Kerry's postwar activities. I have just purchased a copy and it is pretty damning. Even the Left, which wants to dismiss the Swiftvets, cannot dismiss these men and their suffering. This is undoubtedly why these brave men are being ignored in the press, and worse: being swept under the rug in the Dem's ruthless and unprincipled quest for the Presidency.

(44) waffletromper made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 1:45:09 PM | Permalink

Good on you, Beldar!

(45) Amelia made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 1:58:45 PM | Permalink

The only moderator I have ever heard dispute the bogus claim that the Swifties have been debunked is Britt Hume who did so rather blandly to Juan Williams on a couple of occasions.

Why is the media allowed to go with this when it just has never happened at all? Where are the conservative pundits and reporters and why are THEY not pointing out that this has NOT happened. Nor is it likely to happen.

For that matter, why is no major MSM screaming for Kerry to even sign the Form 180? Why has AP filed FOIA act for documents related to Bush but is not demanding the same from Kerry?

Why, oh why?? No liberal slant, right! They are perfectly content to go with their own distortions and blatantly give Kerry a free ride on even the release of his own records. Never would such leniency be granted to Bush, never!

Maybe we all need to write to all MSM outlets and demand that they cover Kerry's big secret records with equal vigor but I doubt they would no matter what we do. Perhaps if something can grab a major headline in this regard, it will at least open the gateway.
But why has this not happened spontaneously already?

(46) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 2:08:19 PM | Permalink

P.H., you (or your friends) are right that the swiftvets.eriposte.com website is a good compilation of the anti-SwiftVets gang's arguments. At its best, it does indeed identify some of the factual issues that are genuinely in dispute — as, for example, the question of whether Adm. Schachte was aboard the skimmer on 02Dec68. On that question, like many others, my own judgment is that a fair review of the competing evidence comes out in the SwiftVets' favor.

But that's not the point of this challenge, which is for the anti-SwiftVets folks to point to any SwiftVets allegations that don't depend on that sort of judgment call. To meet the burden of showing that an allegation has been "debunked," or that it's entirely "unsubstantiated," one would have to show that there's zero credible evidence on the basis of which a rational factfinder could accept the allegation. And I don't believe that the anti-SwiftVets partisans have met, or can meet, that burden, either on the website you've referenced or elsewhere. If someone wants to pick a particular SwiftVets allegation and argue that it's been "debunked" or proved "unsubstantiated," based on that website, however, I'd be glad to discuss those specifics.

(47) Doug made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 2:42:35 PM | Permalink

When did Barnes say that GHWB asked for the favor? He certainly wants to leave that impression but has he ever said it? Since the intermediary is dead, it would be hard to prove. It is just as likely that the wealthy oilman wanted to do GHWB a favor.


"A few months before Mr. Bush would become eligible for the draft, Barnes says he had a meeting with the late oilman Sid Adger, a friend to both Barnes and then-Congressman George Bush.

"It's been a long time ago, but he said basically would I help young George Bush get in the Air National Guard," says Barnes, who then contacted his longtime friend Gen. James Rose, the head of Texas' Air National Guard."

(48) Doug made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 2:45:19 PM | Permalink

David Broder - "implausible charges" in Sept 26 WaPo column.


"Time was when any outfit such as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that came around peddling an ad with implausible charges would have run into a hard-nosed reporter whose first questions -- before he or she ran with the story -- would have been, "Who the hell are you guys? What's your angle? What's your proof?"

(49) Don Noakley made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 3:46:14 PM | Permalink

RE: Kerry and his metals

The combat reports from Kerry are mostly the basis of his metals. Remember, he was the commander of his swift boat and thus was responsible for the reports of his actions and that of is crew. It is very unusual for a person to receive a puple heart for wounds that do not require hospitalization or at least a visit to an medical aid station.

(50) glenn made the following comment | Sep 26, 2004 4:02:26 PM | Permalink

Picked up "Unfit for Command" at the local Costco warehouse store. It was the first time I had actually SEEN the book anywhere. Some stocker with either a touch of wit, or complete absence of same, stacked it right next to "My Life." Having read, points:

In Vietnam, there are combat and non-combat scenes. Two honest men in combat can have profoundly different recollections of exactly what happened. It does not take much reading about any war to see that. Arguments will always be "he said, but he said." Not all scenes are combat. But not all men are honest. And if there is ass-covering going on, nothing will get decided.

Stateside. No distractions of combat. 20,000 pages of FBI records. Film and tape. Witnesses. Did this really happen? Article III Section 3, dammit!

"Unfit" is not a rant. I (techie, not lawyer) would call it a lawyerly book. Lots of data points. Few wasted words, rarely more than a page until the next topic. It is ... is ... relentless.

I, too, keep reading these things about how the Swiftees were "discredited." Rhetorically, when did that happen? The only exchanges I recall were of the form: 1) Swiftees raise an issue, 2) Kerry retracts. What did I miss?

Yeah, I'm baised. It's not "partisan" bias, as Bierce would have defined:

partisan a. Term of opprobrium assigned to those whose political views differ from the speaker's.

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