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Lawyers for the Democratic National Committee and Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign have faxed a letter to television station managers warning them not to broadcast an ad by Kerry’s Vietnam colleagues which asserts the candidate is lying about his service during the war.
The letter, posted by Human Events Online [Requires PDF viewer], tells the managers if they decide to air the ad they are “responsible for the false and libelous charges” made by the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
The letter is signed by Kerry-Edwards 2004 general counsel Marc Elias and Democratic National Committee general counsel Joseph Sandler.
The lawyers say the advertisement “contains statements by men who purport to have served on Senator Kerry’s SWIFT Boat in Vietnam and one statement by a man pretending to be the doctor who treated Senator Kerry for one of his injuries.”
“In fact,” the lawyers contend, “not a single one of the men who pretend to have served with Senator Kerry was actually a crewmate of Senator Kerry’s and the man pretending to be his doctor was not.”
“The entire advertisement, therefore,” the letter states, “is an inflammatory, outrageous lie.”
The vets in the ad, however, do not claim to have been members of Kerry’s crew but say they served with him in his unit or were in the Naval chain of command.
Some, including crew members on swift boats that went on missions with Kerry, say they were witnesses of events related to his medals.
The lawyers call Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth a “sham organization spearheaded by a Texas corporate media consultant.”
The swift-boats group, which says it has the support of more than 250 veterans, claims only one of 23 surviving commanders who served with Kerry believes he is fit to be commander in chief.
The “Band of Brothers” that has backed Kerry on the campaign trail is comprised of nine of the 10 crew members who served under him on two separate boats. The 10th crew member, Steve Gardner, a gunner’s mate, strongly backs the contentions of Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth.
The lawyer’s letter asserts the doctor, Louis Letson, “was not a crewmate of Senator Kerry’s and was not the physician who actually signed Senator Kerry’s sick call sheet.”
Letson has never said he was a crewmate, and a Swift Boats spokesman pointed out sick call sheets usually are signed by an orderly, not the doctor.
In the ad, Letson is identified as “lieutenant commander, medical center.”
“I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart because I treated him for that injury,” Letson says before the camera.
The lawyers note Letson, according to news reports, “did not record his ‘memories’ of the incident until after Senator Kerry became a candidate for president in 2003.”
As WorldNetDaily reported, Letson said the wound that made John Kerry eligible for the first of three Purple Hearts was not severe enough to warrant consideration.
Kerry came to sick bay for treatment Dec. 3, 1968, one day after arriving back from a patrol north of Cam Ranh, Letson said in a written statement.
“The story [Kerry] told was different from what his crewmen had to say about that night,” Letson said. “According to Kerry, they had been engaged in a fire fight, receiving small arms fire from on shore. He said that his injury resulted from this enemy action.”
Crew members, however, told Letson the injury was caused by a grenade launcher fired at close range to rocks on shore, which caused a small piece of metal to stick “very superficially in the skin of Kerry’s arm,” about one centimeter in length and two or three millimeters in diameter.
“I simply removed the piece of metal by lifting it out of the skin with forceps,” Letson said, noting it penetrated no more than three or four millimeters.
“It did not require probing to find it, did not require any anesthesia to remove it, and did not require any sutures to close the wound,” he said.
“The wound was covered with a Band-Aid.”
Letson said he remembers “J. C. (Jess) Carreon was present at the time and he, in fact, made the entry into Lt. Kerry’s medical record which has only recently been made available to the public.”
“The statements made by the phony ‘crewmates’ and ‘doctor’ who appear in the advertisement are also totally, demonstrably and unequivocally false, and libelous,” the lawyers contend.
“In particular, the advertisement charges that Senator Kerry ‘lied to get his Bronze Star,'” they write. “Just as falsely, it states that ‘he lied before the Senate.’ These are serious allegations of actual crimes — specifically of lying to the United States government in the conduct of its official business.”
The lawyers tell station managers they are not obligated to air the ad because Swift Boat Vets is not a federal candidate or candidate committee and therefore subject to FCC “use” rules.
“Moreover,” they say, “as a licensee, you have an overriding duty to protect this public from false, misleading or deceptive advertising.
“Under these circumstances, your station may not responsibly air this advertisement. We request that your station act immediately to prevent broadcasts of this advertisement and deny any future sale of time. Knowing that the advertisement is false, and possessing the legal authority to refuse to run it, your station should exercise that authority in the public interest.”
The lawyers conclude: “Please contact us promptly at either of the phone numbers below to advise us regarding the status of this advertisement.”