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C-Span will broadcast tonight film of John Kerry’s controversial 1971 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in which he accused the U.S. military of authorizing and committing crimes during the Vietnam War.
John Kerry testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.
The program, at 8 p.m. Eastern, will lead off with the new television ad by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which intersperses audio from that testimony with former POWs telling how they were demoralized hearing Kerry’s charges while suffering in a Vietnamese prison.
The swiftboat vets’ ad, which has added fuel to a firestorm surrounding the presidential candidate’s war record, will be followed by a counter-ad from the Kerry campaign, C-Span spokeswoman Robin Scullin told WorldNetDaily.
Then, with film by NBC News, viewers will see and hear Kerry’s testimony and a question-and-answer session by the Senate panel, chaired by Sen. William Fulbright.
The portions the NBC News film does not cover will be supplemented by audio from Pacifica Radio.
The program will be repeated tonight at 11 p.m. Eastern and a third time in the early morning hours.
Could broadcast of the ads and testimony be judged as C-Span favoring the swiftboat vets’ campaign, since Kerry is demanding an end to the ads and the organized challenge to his war record and post-war activism?
Scullin said C-Span’s main aim is to present material that allows people to decide for themselves.
“There is so much in the newspapers and on the cable TV talking-head shows about this,” she said.
“So, tonight this is a chance to re-air the testimony, give unfettered access to the ads and let people make their own opinions.”
She acknowledged, however, that C-Span anticipates it will hear complaints from viewers.
Scullin said C-Span aired the April 22, 1971, testimony three times in March. It also has broadcast a June 1971 debate on the “Dick Cavett Show” between Kerry and swiftboat veteran John O’Neill, now the chief spokesman for the veterans group.
Unlike many of C-Span’s programs, this one will not be archived online, because NBC maintains exclusive rights to the film, Scullin said.
The swiftboat vets’ new ad begins with audio and photographs of Kerry charging 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.
But some of those presenting horror stories at the Jane Fonda-sponsored probe 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.
The swiftboat vets’ 30-second TV spot includes former POW Paul Galanti, who says 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.”
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.”