During the Vietnam War, Sen. John Kerry filmed re-enactments of combat scenes with a home camera.
On the defensive for filming himself during the Vietnam war, John Kerry once told a reporter he had “no intention” of using the footage for campaign purposes, but some of it will be featured tonight in a video of introduction before his Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech.
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller was a columnist when he wrote in a Sept. 7, 2002, piece of his encounter with Kerry after having mocked the senator for “pulling out a movie camera after a shootout in the Mekong Delta and re-enacting the exploit, as if preening for campaign commercials to come.”
Keller said Kerry invited him to his office to see some of the 8-millimeter footage, which had been transferred to videocassette.
Keller wrote: “‘It is so innocent,’ [Kerry] said by way of introducing his youthful cinematic effort, adding a little defensively, ‘I have no intention of using it’ for campaign purposes.”
The introduction video, however, by Steven Spielberg protege James Moll, makes prominent use of some of Kerry’s footage to depict him as a war hero capable of becoming the nation’s next commander in chief.
A Kerry campaign spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
Moll told the New York Observer that after starting his video project, “it was a pleasant surprise that [Kerry] had taken his own footage while in Vietnam.”
“When Army Green Beret Jim Rassman is talking about how John Kerry saved his life, I’m using some of that footage,” Moll said. “It shows the swift boat and various shots of the swift boat, and some firing like you see in the water. Bullets in the water.”
But Moll said the bullets are “just illustrative,” not from an actual event.
In his column, Keller said he changed his mind about Kerry’s motives for taking the film footage, but a former swift-boat crewmate who witnessed some of the future presidential nominee’s filming insists it wasn’t a normal thing to do.
Steve Gardner, who served for two and a half months under Kerry from late 1968 to early 1969, has no doubt that all of the footage was re-enacted.
“It was just dumb,” he told WorldNetDaily. “Every bit of that was staged. Nobody in his right mind is going to take an 8-millimeter camera in a firefight to take pictures of John Kerry.”
Gardner, of Clover, S.C., said he didn’t express it, but thought to himself, “What an idiot.”
“The stuff he was doing was just antics,” said Gardner, a gunner’s mate 3rd class. “Nobody knew at that time he had a hidden agenda. We just thought it was goofy stuff.”
But some of Kerry’s swift-boat colleagues say they were well aware then of the future politician’s ambition.
John O’Neill, who took over Kerry’s swift-boat command, says in a book scheduled for release next month, “Unfit for Command,” that a joke circulated among his colleagues that Kerry “left Vietnam early not because he received three Purple Hearts, but because he had recorded enough film of himself to take home for his planned political campaigns.”
The book charges “Kerry would revisit ambush locations for re-enacting combat scenes where he would portray the hero.”
The Boston Globe reported in 1996 that Kerry’s films appeared “as if he had cast himself in the sequel to the experience of his hero, John F. Kennedy, on the PT-109.”
Thomas Vallely, a fellow veteran and one of Kerry’s closest political advisers and friends, told the Globe, “John was thinking Camelot when he shot that film, absolutely.”
O’Neill, an attorney, is spokesman for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a coalition of more than 200 vets familiar with Kerry’s service who oppose his candidacy for president based on their judgment of his character. As WorldNetDaily reported, O’Neill’s organization stated last month Kerry was a “loose cannon” in Vietnam and is unfit to be commander in chief.
The group includes the entire chain of command above Kerry during his tenure in Southeast Asia, as well as enlisted men.
The group has called on Kerry to stop unauthorized use of their images in national campaign advertising.
Only two of 20 officers in one photo Kerry has used support him, they say.