John Kerry continues to play damage control on his decades-long contention he was on a secret mission in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968, as word comes the author of a positive account of his Vietnam duty is preparing a column to explain the candidate’s suspect story.
According to the Drudge Report, historian Doug Brinkley, author of “Tour of Duty,” is writing a piece for the New Yorker saying it was actually January 1969 when Kerry was sent into Cambodia, not December 1968.
Kerry spent four months in Vietnam as skipper of a SWIFT Boat before returning to the U.S. and becoming a vocal leader of the anti-war movement.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the authors of the best-selling book “Unfit for Command,” which refutes many of Kerry’s war stories, claim that despite the senator’s 1986 speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate mentioning spending Christmas Eve in Cambodia, the candidate was never in Vietnam’s neighboring country. Rather, they say he was over 50 miles from the Cambodian border at Sa Dec.
“I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting in a gunboat in Cambodia,” said Kerry on the Senate floor. “I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States tell the American people I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have the memory which is seared – seared – in me. … ”
Other references to the Cambodia trip appeared in the Boston Herald in 1979, a 1992 Associated Press story and a 2003 piece in the Washington Post.
Several analysts have pointed out inconsistencies in Kerry’s accounts, one being the fact that he references President Nixon in the Senate floor speech even though Nixon wasn’t sworn into office until January 1969.
After repeated attempts by this and other media outlets to seek a response from the Kerry campaign, the national director of Veterans for Kerry, John Hurley, told Fox News this week Kerry simply got the date of the Cambodia trip wrong.
“I think the date is what’s inaccurate, that it was just not Christmas Eve Day,” he told the news channel.
Another defense claims Kerry was near the border at Christmastime but not actually in Cambodia.
Columnist Norman Tucker writes about the January adjustment of the story:
In an attempt at damage control of Kerry’s “seared in me” memory, the revelation has just now been made that he had misspoken and that it is now “seared” in him that he was really in Cambodia not on Christmas of 1968 but in January 1969. His four-month “tour of duty” does not leave much of a time frame for adjustment.
The problem for Kerry is that President Nixon did not even begin to bomb Cambodia until March of 1969 and did not send in troops there until April of 1970. It is hard to imagine just how Kerry got “ordered” there over two years before that date.
Kerry left Vietnam in March 1969 after receiving his third Purple Heart.
Retired Foreign Service Officer Andrew Antippas wrote today in a Washington Times op-ed piece:
“I served as a Foreign Service officer in the American embassy in Saigon from March 1968 to February 1970 and subsequently at the American embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from 1970 to 1972. My job in the political section of our embassy in Saigon was to be the ‘Cambodia Man.’ My principal tasks were to follow border incidents involving U.S. forces along the Cambodian border.”
Antippas adds, “As U.S. forces in 1966 and 1967 progressively pushed the Vietnamese … U.S. commanders sought permission for ‘hot pursuit’ operations against Communist forces attacking from Cambodian territory. This always was denied, much to the military’s frustration.” He notes that “concerning the assertion that Mr. Kerry was shot at by the Khmer Rouge during his Christmas 1968 visit to Cambodia, it should be noted that the Khmer Rouge didn’t take the field until the Easter Offensive of 1972.”
Concludes Antippas: “The bottom line of all this is that … between 1961 and 1975, there was ongoing attention and scrutiny paid to the border because of the political sensitivities over the neutrality of the Cambodians. While things may have happened that no one ever found out about in Saigon, the Cambodians yelled bloody murder to the world press and the ICC whenever they found Americans trespassing.”