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John Kerry testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.
WASHINGTON – In accusations about American troops reminiscent of what the young John Kerry said to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, the senator and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee told CBS “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer there was no reason for U.S. soldiers to continue “terrorizing” Iraqi children.
“And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the – of – the historical customs, religious customs,” Kerry said Sunday. “Whether you like it or not … Iraqis should be doing that.”
Kerry called for a withdrawal of 20,000 troops following the Iraqi elections and a shift of activity to Special Forces troops and Iraqi military personnel.
The senator from Massachusetts also said if he had it to do over again, he would no longer vote to authorize war in Iraq, accusing the administration of exaggerating the evidence for invasion.
“What I’m saying today is that this administration hyped the evidence, took every opportunity to go down a course that they wanted to go down, and that they did not judiciously parse or share with the Congress doubts that their own intelligence agencies had which they saw and we did not, and that means they misled us and misled the nation,” he said.
Kerry left open the possibility of seeking the presidency again in 2008.
But it was his comments about American soldiers “terrorizing” Iraqi children that caught the attention of many Americans who were reminded of Kerry’s most controversial testimony before the nation in 1970, when he was a returning Vietnam vet calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces in that conflict.
He told senators about hearings he helped organize among disenchanted Vietnam war vets in which accusations of atrocities by U.S. troops were recounted.
“They told 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 particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country,” he said.
It was a campaign against Kerry, led by many of his fellow swiftboat vets, reminding the American people of his actions and words during the Vietnam war that some believe cost him the presidency.