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Kerry’s Vietnam record and the NY Times
Posted by: McQ on Monday, June 05, 2006

Thomas Lipscomb delivers a good smack-down of the Memorial day article in the NY Times by Kate Zernike. Speaking of Zernike's story as well as previous Times coverage concerning charges by the Swift Boat Vets, Lipscomb notes:
The Times used the term "unsubstantiated" more than twenty times during its election coverage and continues to make no discernable effort to examine any of the charges in detail.

But there was plenty of evidence in the work of other news organizations that some of the charges, and the Kerry military records themselves, were worth examining seriously.
Lipsomb then goes on to review those records and the doubts raised (his former work here which we discussed in Aug. '04). As you'll see, they aren't inconsequential or "unsubstantiated" by any means. And if one looks into them with any seriousness whatsoever, at some point that person has to decide who is most likely to be telling the truth.

For instance, the "Kerry in Cambodia" story where you are asked to believe that the CIA or SEALS would opt for a rookie skipper in a noisy twin diesel 50 foot unstealthy craft for an insertion mission instead of their own assets.

As Lipscomb notes:
Tedd Peck, accompanied Kerry's PCF 44 on his PCF 57 from Cam Ranh down to their new assignment at An Thoi where they arrived on December 8, 1968. Peck served there with Kerry until he was wounded and med-evaced out on January 29, 1969. Douglas Brinkley states that "Kerry liked Peck." So what does Peck have to say about secret missions out of An Thoi to Cambodia? "There never was one. And I never saw a Navy Seal at An Thoi the whole time I served there with Kerry"
There's a very good reason Peck never saw a SEAL with Kerry. They didn't need Kerry since they had, in country, their own assets as I uncovered back in August of '04:
CTF 116 was charged with the patrolling of the interior rivers of Vietnam to include where they bordered Cambodia. Among the assets CTF 116 had at its disposal should a "secret mission" to deliver a CIA agent into Cambodia really be necessary were these:

SEAL Teams 1 and 2

Strike Assault Boat Squadron - 20 (STABRON-20)

Underwater Demolition Team - 12 (UDT-12)
Underwater Demolition Team - 13 (UDT-13)
Underwater Demolition Team - 21 (UDT-21)
Underwater Demolition Team - 27 (UDT-27)
Now, you tell me boys and girls, with those assets available to the unit who's most familiar with the waterways going into Cambodia, why in the world would someone pick PCF 44 and John Kerry and crew, who were totally unfamiliar with the territory, and have them deliver the agent?
Read the whole thing. This remains an absolute loser for Kerry, and why he feels compelled to raise it again is beyond me. Regardless of how often the the NY Times repeats the word "unsubstantiated", even they can't make this one work.
 
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This remains an absolute loser for Kerry...
In an absolute sense, this is true. The Swift Boat guys are always bad news for him, because at least some of their accusations are supported and damaging to Kerry.

But I think we don’t really understand how often politicians take moves based on a provisionary attitude. Kerry may not have decided to run for president again, but may have figured that if he does run, he wants more cover from the NYT when the charges start to fly during the actual campaign. An article like this, even poorly done and with misrepresentations, still deters others from doing articles critical of Kerry - especially those that are predisposed to think well of Kerry in the first place.

So, while the topic is a loser for Kerry, he may want to minimize how much of a loser it is through pre-emptive moves like this. In this age of transparency through Internet access, I rather doubt that it’s going to work. It looks like just another episode of the NYT squandering their dwindling credibility, which probably doesn’t matter a whit to Kerry.

 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
I think Billy’s points are excellent. In addition, there are several million of us who served in VN still out there and kicking. Fudging does not work with this audience, and the web amplifies our ability to call BS on the details that don’t add up.

Bring it on.
 
Written By: vnjagvet
URL: http://www.yargb.blogspot.com
I am of a similar age to Pres. Bush and Sen. Kerry. I was one of the privileged youngsters who was able to avoid the draft through judicious use of student deferments and a high enough lottery number. I had a couple high school friends who weren’t so fortunate and were killed in Vietnam. I tend to look at the situation involving Sen. Kerry through a different lens. Whatever his embellishments, the salient facts to me are (1) he went to Vietnam when he probably could have gotten out of it; (2) he fought and served his country honorably; and (3) he was wounded in action. Whatever else you want to say about Sen. Kerry, you have to start there.

Now what can we say about our President. (1) Family connections got him into the Air National Guard. (2) He didn’t see active combat. (3) Whatever he did while in service, at least he didn’t ruin any planes. Although I doubt if John Fogerty had heard of George W. when wrote "Fortunate Son", he is exactly the guy Fogerty was writing about.

I haven’t and don’t follow the Swift Boat controversy very closely, because frankly I don’t care. I don’t think Kerry would have been a very good President (although I think he would have been better than George W). But if one is to use the military careers of these two as a guide of any sort, I will take Sen. Kerry any day.
 
Written By: Steven Donegal
URL: http://
Steven,

I agree with your first point, and if Kerry left it at that he might be a little easier to take. However, he made his service the issue, and if you make it the issue then it needs to be examined. I don’t really care what he did back then, but he says we should, so we should take him at his word. At this point, one can’t say he measures up to what he claims. Fair enough, many candidates want to be judged in areas that don’t look good from my perspective, but we all get to point that out don’t we?

As for the "Winter Soldier" stuff, I wouldn’t call that honorable at all.

Finally on Bush. Point #1 has not been established at all. As far as I can tell there is no basis at all for the charge, but even so, who cares? What has been established is that if it happened Bush didn’t arrange it, and therefore it is not his fault and he volunteered to be assigned to active combat but didn’t get the opportunity. Nothing to hold against him. More importantly he downplayed his service and never made it an issue because it isn’t very relevant. It shouldn’t have been an issue. Kerry could have made his service a non issue as well, but he chose to make it the center of his campaign. I have never evaluated a candidate without examining his main plank, have you?

He also could have avoided the issue much better if he hadn’t lied about everyone else’s behavior. It wasn’t just that he exaggerated his own role, he specifically insulted the others there in his "No man left behind" narrative. Of course the others there resented it. Wouldn’t you have?
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
Whatever his embellishments, the salient facts to me are (1) he went to Vietnam when he probably could have gotten out of it; (2) he fought and served his country honorably; and (3) he was wounded in action. Whatever else you want to say about Sen. Kerry, you have to start there.
1) He did that because it was politcally useful to do so (he was a JFK acolyte and understood the political value of being in a war zone). He volunteered for Swift Boats when they were doing offshore patrolling, absolutely the safest billet available and still get credit for VN. It was after he had volunteered and was enroute that the mission was changed to riverine patrolling.

2) He served honorably and dissented dishonorably.

3) Once, not thrice.

Bush:
(1) Family connections got him into the Air National Guard. (2) He didn’t see active combat. (3) Whatever he did while in service, at least he didn’t ruin any planes.
1) An unsubstantiated assertion

2) So? Honorable service only counts in combat?

3) Condemnation by faint praise? Reminds me of the other Swift Boat skippers who conspired to get Kerry his 3rd PH so they could get him to heck out of theater. They didn’t want him ruining any Swift Boats or their crews.
But if one is to use the military careers of these two as a guide of any sort, I will take Sen. Kerry any day.
Well I have followed it closely and I’ve looked very closely at Kerry’s "career". He was a marginal officer at best and appears to have embellished his achievements and done everthing in his power to get out of VN after finding himself in a combat zone, something for which he never volunteered.

George Bush was what he was. Kerry never was what he claimed to be.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"Lloyd Bentsen III, a Texas venture capitalist who joined the Guard at the same time as Bush, said allegations of nepotism are ridiculous, at least in his case. He said he applied for the post of accounting and finance officer in the unit and was accepted on the basis of a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University.

"The short version of the story is that I heard there was an opening in the Guard, and I went and applied," he said. "I was obviously qualified. There were openings for officers, but there weren’t openings for enlisted personnel.""

 
Written By: Anonymous
URL: http://
(1) he went to Vietnam when he probably could have gotten out of it; (2) he fought and served his country honorably; and (3) he was wounded in action. Whatever else you want to say about Sen. Kerry, you have to start there.
I give you # 1

As for #2 and 3....we don’t know. Maybe if Kerry would release his records we’d know.

Unitl then, it’s all speculation.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Attacks on Kerry’s war record are mean-spirited and hyperbolic.

Defenses of Bush’s service record are disingenuous at best.

That said, I’ve never been a fan of Kerry and am a *former* supporter of Bush.

At some point, honest people have to overcome contrived allegiances and realize that the people they support may be flawed. Sometimes those flaws are rather meaningless (Kerry). Sometimes they are devastating (Bush).
 
Written By: Independent
URL: http://
Sometimes those flaws are rather meaningless (Kerry)...
So the flaw of advising our enemies during peace talks, as Kerry did during the Paris peace talks, is not a flaw worthy of consideration about a potential president?

That was by far the most important thing I got out of reading Unfit for Command. It’s never been repudiated by Kerry, and publications including the Wash Post have backed it up.

I would agree that a lot of the stuff brought up about his Vietnam service was pretty meaningless, though the overall pattern could legitimately be of concern. But the post-war activities are a different matter, at least to me.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://

 
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