WASHINGTON – John Kerry stands by his claims in 1971 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that U.S. soldiers in Vietnam regularly, and as a matter of official policy, committed war atrocities against innocent civilians, according to a top campaign official.
John Hurley, national director of Veterans for Kerry, denied on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, that Kerry had overstated the case against the war when he returned home as a spokesman for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
A new ad by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth targets Kerry’s comments in 1971 as giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
“John Kerry testified in 1971 to atrocities being committed in Vietnam,” said Hurley. “So also, the Toledo Blade has won a Pulitzer prize this year for the reporting on atrocities in Vietnam. General Tommy Franks has said John Kerry spoke the truth when he testified in 1971. The My Lai massacre was a fact of life back then. What they have done (in this ad) is they’ve taken a piece of John Kerry’s testimony, left out the part that says he was reporting, repeating the testimony that was given in Detroit at the Winter Soldier hearings, and presented it as his. And that’s wrong.”
Kerry, however, was the national spokesman for the group that conducted the widely discredited investigation. He was also an active participant in the hearings, not just a reporter taking notes. In 1971, Kerry also implicated himself in the commission of war crimes and atrocities.
In fact, Kerry began his testimony to the committee stating that he was representing all those veterans who participated in the hearings.
“I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command,” he told the committee.
Kerry went on to explain: “They told the stories at times they 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 added: “The country doesn’t know it yet, but it has created a monster, a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence, and who are given the chance to die for the biggest nothing in history; men who have returned with a sense of anger and a sense of betrayal which no one has yet grasped.”
Yesterday, Hurley agreed with the testimony and said Kerry stands behind it.
“Absolutely,” Hurley said. “He’s a leader. He came back, and he spoke the truth.”
Asked repeatedly by Wallace if Kerry had overstated what happened in his testimony in 1971, Hurley emphatically said no.
“John Kerry says that he regrets the use of the language that may have offended some people,” Hurley said. “He is not — he stands behind the facts of his testimony. He stands behind the facts that atrocities were being committed in Vietnam.”
In fact, some of those presenting horror stories at the Jane Fonda-sponsored Winter Soldier Investigation in Detroit had misrepresented themselves as Vietnam War vets – even using the names of other veterans who did not attend the hearings. Several veterans provided sworn affidavits that others spoke in their names.