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Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Can Eric Boehlert Tell the Truth?

This is hilarious. Eric Boehlert tries one last time to resuscitate the "discredited Swift Boat Vets" claim. But in doing so, Boehlert makes two fatal mistakes: He ignores the places where the Swiftees were right and Kerry was plainly wrong, and he attributes any conflict between stories to the Swiftees lying.

Here's an example of the second:

The fourth person to appear in the first Swift Boat ad, Letson announced, "I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart, because I treated him for that injury." In another affidavit, Letson claimed Kerry's wound was too small to justify a medal.

First, Navy guidelines during the Vietnam War for Purple Hearts did not take into account the size of the wound when awarding the honor, which meant Letson's claim was irrelevant. Second, Kerry's medical records indicate Letson did not sign off as the "person administering treatment" on December 3, 1968, which raised doubts about whether Letson ever even treated Kerry. (Why, if Kerry's wounds were so minor, was Letson able to recall the incident so vividly 35 years later?)

First, regardless of whether the size of the wound matters technically, I am sure that no grunt who scratched himself while crawling through the underbrush would claim this entitled him to a Purple Heart. And second, Letson explained that the orderly signed the treatment form. The bottom line is that we don't know what happened; there is a conflict between stories. Maybe we say that given there's a conflict we'll give Kerry the benefit of the doubt. But to jump from that to saying that Letson's discredited is ridiculous.

But the major point here is that Boehlert completely ignores the places where Kerry was found to have lied, or where his supporters among the Swiftees were found to have lied, and there are several instances of this:

Christmas in Cambodia. Kerry reportedly told this story on many, many occasions, including on the floor of the Senate. But his own biographer, faced with conclusive evidence that Kerry did not spend Christmas (actually Christmas Eve) 1968 in Cambodia, did not include this story in an otherwise fairly exhaustive account of Kerry's second tour of duty in Vietnam. The Swiftees highlighted this:

Somehow Boehlert completely forgets about this story. Wonder why? Maybe because it discredits John Kerry and shows that the Swiftees hit their target?

Where Was Rassmann? I have blogged this story extensively.

Third, we come to David Alston, a crewmember briefly on Kerry's second Swift Boat. Alston famously mentioned two incidents where John Kerry showed heroism under fire:

"Manning the deck guns, most of us got wounded sooner or later, including Lieutenant Kerry. It would have been easiest, in an ambush, to simply rake the shore with return fire and roar on down the river to safety. But Lieutenant Kerry was known for taking the fight straight to the enemy. I can still see him now, standing in the doorway of the pilothouse, firing his M-16, shouting orders through the smoke and chaos.

Once, he even directed the helmsman to beach the boat, right into the teeth of an ambush, and pursued our attackers on foot, into the jungle. In the toughest of situations, Lieutenant Kerry showed judgment, loyalty and courage. Even wounded, or confronting sights no man should ever have to see, he never lost his cool."

Now the funny thing about those two events is that Kerry was not present at the first, and Alston was not present at the second. Kerry claimed the first incident as his own in 2002, but the actual man in the door of the pilothouse was Tedd Peck, as even Brinkley admitted (Page 264-265):

... suddenly there was a booming explosion that literally lifted PCF-94 right out of the water. Peck was standing in the pilothouse doorway with an M-16 at the ready to start strafing the jungle. Just as he pulled the trigger he was hit by two machine-gun bullets, one in his arm and one in his chest... [a]lthough bleeding profusely, Peck managed to continue firing back...

Alston himself was wounded in that engagement, and was not present for Kerry's beach the boat incident.

Another Kerry supporter among the Swift Boat vets was also found to have lied. From a Washington Post account of the Bay Hap River incident:

In his book, Brinkley writes that a skipper who remains friendly to Kerry, Skip Barker, took part in the March 13 raid. But there is no documentary evidence of Barker's participation. Barker could not be reached for comment.

So maybe that's what Boehlert means by "discredited Swift Boat vets"?

Hat Tip: Lone Star Pundit, in the chatroom of the Andrea Shea-King Show.

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Cited for Breaking the Christmas in Cambodia story (at Kerry Haters):

Hugh Hewitt: KerryHaters was on this story a long time ago. How could the elite media not have asked these questions before now?

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Kitty Myers Breaks Christmas in Cambodia

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