As more instances of Sen. John Kerry telling a story about his spending Christmas 1968 in Cambodia come to light, his campaign has yet to address the charge of fellow veterans that the presidential candidate’s account is a lie.
As of press time, neither WorldNetDaily nor Fox News Channel has received a response to the charges from Kerry’s staff, despite repeated requests.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the authors of the best-selling book “Unfit for Command,” which refutes many of Kerry’s war stories, claim that despite the senator’s 1986 speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate mentioning spending Christmas Eve in Cambodia, the candidate was never in Vietnam’s neighboring country.
“I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting in a gunboat in Cambodia,” said Kerry on the Senate floor. “I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States tell the American people I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia.
“I have the memory which is seared – seared – in me, that says to me, before we send another generation into harm’s way we have a responsibility in the U.S. Senate to go the last step, to make the best effort possible to avoid that kind of conflict.”
Kerry spent four months in Vietnam as skipper of a SWIFT Boat before returning to the U.S. and becoming a vocal leader of the anti-war movement.
Sen. John Kerry
In a letter to the editor of the Boston Herald in 1979 Kerry wrote, “I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real.”
The authors of “Unfit for Command” say that during Christmas 1968, Kerry “was more than 50 miles away from Cambodia. Kerry was never ordered into Cambodia by anyone and would have been court-martialed had he gone there.”
At the time, Kerry was stationed at Coastal Division 13 in Cat Lo, which had a patrol areas extending to Sa Dec, about 55 miles from the Cambodian border.
All of the surviving officers in Kerry’s chain of command deny he was ever ordered to Cambodia: Joe Streuhli, commander of Costal Division 13; George Elliott, commander of Coastal Division 11; Adrian Lonsdale, captain USCG and commander Coastal Surveillance Center at An Thoi; Rear Adm. Roy Hoffmann, commander of Coastal Surveillance Force Vietnam, CTF 115; and Rear Adm. Art Price, commander of River Patrol Force, CTF 116.
Since WND’s story ran Saturday, other media have picked it up, and citations of other comments made by Kerry have been publicized, turning up the heat on Kerry to respond to the charge he lied about the Cambodia excursion.
“We were told, ‘Just go up there and do your patrol,'” Kerry told AP. “Everybody was over there (in Cambodia). Nobody thought twice about it.”
The AP story continued: “One of the missions, which Kerry, at the time, was ordered not to discuss, involved taking CIA operatives into Cambodia to search for enemy enclaves.”
In a Jun 1, 2003, Washington Post story, Kerry talks of carrying a “lucky hat” in his briefcase. The hat, he says, belonged to the CIA agent with whom he claims to have entered Cambodia:
There’s a secret compartment in Kerry’s briefcase. He carries the black attach everywhere. Asked about it on several occasions, Kerry brushed it aside. Finally, trapped in an interview, he exhaled and clicked open his case.
“Who told you?” he demanded as he reached inside. “My friends don’t know about this.”
The hat was a little mildewy. The green camouflage was fading, the seams fraying.
“My good luck hat,” Kerry said, happy to see it. “Given to me by a CIA guy as we went in for a special mission in Cambodia.”
Kerry put on the hat, pulling the brim over his forehead. His blue button-down shirt and tie clashed with the camouflage. He pointed his finger and raised his thumb, creating an imaginary gun. He looked silly, yet suddenly his campaign message was clear: Citizen-soldier. Linking patriotism to public service. It wasn’t complex after all; it was Kerry.
He smiled and aimed his finger: “Pow.”
Hewitt mentioned how much activity the story is getting on blogs and talk radio:
The blogosphere pushed this story forward, with an early flare going up at KerryHaters on May 21, and then a gang tackle of the facts by Instapundit, RogerLSimon, JustOneMinute, Powerline, CaptainsQuarters and, of course, me.
Hewitt writes, “Why all the attention? Simply put, if John Kerry can be conclusively demonstrated to have lied about aspects of his Vietnam service, the media has to ask what else has he been lying about. The voters have to ask if he can be trusted. In short: Free fall.”
Fox News Channel reported Kerry campaign staff first claimed the candidate never said that he was in Cambodia, only that he was near the country. When presented with a copy of the Congressional Record and asked about Kerry’s letter in the Boston Herald, Kerry staff told FNC they would come up with an explanation. After repeated phone calls, Fox reports, there was still no clarification.
WorldNetDaily, too, attempted to secure a response from the Kerry campaign. Repeated calls were not returned by press time.