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John Kerry testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.
Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign will file a legal complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth produced inaccurate television ads in illegal coordination with the Bush-Cheney campaign.
The Kerry campaign issued the statement to reporters after the veterans group challenging the senator’s war record launched a second television ad today, this time charging him with betrayal for accusing them of war crimes.
Jerome Corsi, co-author of the group’s best-selling book, “Unfit for Command,” told WorldNetDaily he is “astonished that anyone would do something like this.”
“You can’t tell a whole group of veterans they don’t have a right to speak out,” he said. “The swiftboat vets have earned the right to speak with their blood.
“What’s wrong with his answering the charges in the book?”
The ad, to be aired in selected battleground states, is the second issued this month by the group of 254 vets who served with Kerry and have signed a letter contending he is unfit to be commander in chief.
The Kerry campaign contends there is “overwhelming evidence” the swiftboat vets group is coordinating its spending on advertising and other activities with the Bush campaign, citing a flyer distributed at Republican headquarters in Alachua County, Florida.
In a press release issued early this evening, the Kerry campaign said it “busted” the Bush campaign for coordinating with the group “in their smear campaign against John Kerry.”
The Kerry campaign said the flyer indicates a rally in Gainesville this weekend is sponsored in part by “Swift Boat Vets for Truth.” The format of the flyer gives that impression, but it does not mention sponsorship and only specifies that the event will include readings from “Unfit for Command.”
Kerry campaign says this flyer shows tie between swiftboat vets and GOP.
Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel called Kerry’s charge of collaboration “a frivolous complaint.”
Corsi told WND the swiftboat vets are “going to great pains to ensure that we don’t coordinate with the Bush campaign.”
“This is not a campaign to elect George Bush,” he said. “It’s a campaign to say John Kerry is unfit for command, period.”
He added he doesn’t know of any swiftboat events going on in Florida.
“If someone got an idea they wanted to read some of the book at an event, it was on their own inititiative,” he said.
Kerry’s campaign also is calling on Regnery Publishing to withdraw “Unfit for Command” from bookstores, describing it as a book with “proven falsehoods” meant “to smear the military service of an American veteran.”
Also, conservative-turned-liberal writer David Brock, president of Media Matters for America, said today he is calling on Wal-Mart, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble to pull the book and “at the very least, inform customers about the book’s false allegations and lies.”
Brock said in a statement, “There is something fundamentally wrong when a book that is rampant with falsehoods and misinformation is published and sold as non-fiction,” he said. “Consumers are being misled by [co-author] John O’Neill, Jerome Corsi and Regnery Publishing as they are extensions of the right-wing machine.”
‘Hurt’ more than physical wounds
The new ad begins with audio and photographs from Kerry’s dramatic testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971 in which he charged Americans serving in Vietnam “had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.”
Kerry’s testimony was based on the “Winter Soldier” investigation in Detroit earlier that year in which his Vietnam Veterans Against the War heard stories of alleged atrocities committed in a climate said to have been created by the U.S. government and military command. He also claimed to have committed and witnessed war crimes on a regular basis.
The 30-second TV spot intersperses phrases from that testimony with comments from men who served with Kerry.
Joe Ponder, who was wounded in November 1968, says, “The accusations that John Kerry made against the veterans who served in Vietnam were just devastating, and it hurt me more than any physical wounds I had.”
Ken Cordier, a prisoner of war from December 1966 to March 1973, says, “That was part of the torture, was to sign a statement that you had committed war crimes.”
Paul Galanti, a prisoner of war from January 1966 to February 1973, says, “John Kerry gave the enemy for free what I and many of my comrades in North Vietnam, in the prison camps, took torture to avoid saying. … It demoralized us.”
Then Cordier returns with, “He betrayed us in the past, how could we be loyal to him now?”
In the concluding quote, Galanti says, “He dishonored his country and, more importantly, the people he served with. He just sold them out.”
The Kerry campaign responded to the commercial with a statement, calling it “another ad from a front group funded by Bush allies that is trying to smear John Kerry.”
“The newest ad takes Kerry’s testimony out of context, editing what he said to distort the facts,” the statement said. “He testified as a 27-year-old Vietnam veteran. He opposed a war that, at that point, cost over 44,000 lives of the 58,245 names that are on the Vietnam Memorial wall. It says a lot that the president refuses to condemn this smear. The American people want to hear how we’re going to cut health care costs and strengthen the economy, not smears.”
To tell the truth
Yesterday, employing stern tones, Kerry said the swiftboats group “isn’t interested in the truth and they’re not telling the truth.”
Speaking to firefighters in Boston, he castigated President Bush, saying the president wants the group “to do his dirty work.”
Responding to Kerry’s speech yesterday, author O’Neill, a Houston attorney and former swiftboat commander who speaks for the group, charged Kerry is resorting to personal attacks because “he can’t deal with the truth.”
As WorldNetDaily reported, the group’s first TV commercial quoted Kerry’s Vietnam comrades calling him a liar, questioning his honor, accusing him of misrepresenting his actions for medals and attacking his character.
Swifboat vets’ first ad charged Kerry is not fit to be commander in chief.
In response, lawyers for the Democratic National Committee and Kerry’s presidential campaign faxed a letter to television station managers warning them not to broadcast it.
The letter [Requires PDF viewer], told the managers if they decided to air the ad they would be “responsible for the false and libelous charges” made by the group. But the swiftboat vets already had supplied the stations with affidavits and other supporting documents, and only one station decided not to broadcast it.
An independent study found the ad planted doubts in the minds of 27 percent of independent voters who planned to vote for Kerry or leaned pro-Kerry, the New York Post reported.
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.
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.