After being cast as liars by John Kerry, the veterans group challenging the presidential candidate’s war record charges he is resorting to personal attacks because “he can’t deal with the truth.”
Houston attorney and former swiftboat commander John O’Neill, a spokesman for Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth, was responding to Kerry’s condemnation yesterday of the group as “a front for the Bush campaign.”
“He wants them to do his dirty work,” Kerry told a firefighters convention in Boston.
“This group isn’t interested in the truth and they’re not telling the truth,” the senator said. “They’re funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas,” Bush’s home state.
“The fact that the president won’t denounce what they’re up to tells you everything that you need to know.”
Kerry said if Bush wants to “have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: ‘Bring it on.'”
“More than 30 years ago I learned an important lesson. When you’re under attack the best thing to do is turn your boat into the attack. That’s what I intend to do today.”
O’Neill, co-author of the group’s newly released best-seller, “Unfit for Command,” insists he and his colleagues have no ties to the Bush administration, stating, “The Navy did not send Republicans or Democrats to the island of An Thoi,” where Kerry served for four months beginning in late 1968.
“We are responding and dealing with something that is deeply personal – our own record and the record of our unit in Vietnam,” O’Neill said. “These are issues Senator Kerry raised and we regret that he uses ad hominem attacks instead of dealing with the actual facts.
“He is doing that because he can’t deal with the truth,” O’Neill asserted.
As an example, O’Neill pointed out Kerry last week was forced to revise his decades-long contention he was on a secret mission in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968.
Douglas Brinkley, author of approved war biography “Tour of Duty,” is reported to be writing a piece for the New Yorker saying it actually was January 1969 when Kerry was sent into Cambodia, not December 1968.
As WND reported, the authors of “Unfit for Command” claim that despite the senator’s many public references to spending Christmas Eve in Cambodia – including a 1986 speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate – the candidate was never in Vietnam’s neighboring country. Rather, they say he was more than 50 miles from the Cambodian border at Sa Dec.
Also, said O’Neill, Kerry closed the Democratic National Convention with a story in which he claimed that five swiftboats fled on March 13, 1969, after a mine explosion and only he came back to rescue Lt. James Rassman. His campaign now is admitting that he fled and the rest stayed, before he later returned for Rassman.
“Attacking our organization does not respond to the facts that occurred in Vietnam,” O’Neill said. “Senator Kerry says that he has learned to charge into an ambush in connection with this, instead he is fleeing down the river from the facts.”
Yesterday, a member of O’Neill’s group responded to a Washington Post article that questioned the veteran’s veracity.
The paper reported that newly obtained military records of Larry Thurlow, who commanded a Navy swiftboat alongside Kerry, contradict Thurlow’s claim that Kerry was not under enemy fire when he pulled Rassman out of the Bay Hap River after the mine explosion.
Thurlow insists military records cited in the story are based on a fraudulent after-action report by Kerry himself.
WorldNetDaily reported Tuesday a previously unnoticed passage in Kerry’s approved war biography, citing his own journals, appears to contradict the senator’s claim he won his first Purple Heart as a result of an injury sustained under enemy fire.