August 06, 2004
Swift Boat Veterans

Swift Boat Veteran Roy Hoffmann, part one:

Retired Adm. Roy Hoffmann, head of the Swift Boat group, said they respected McCain's "right to express his opinion and we hope he extends to us the same respect and courtesy, particularly since we served with John Kerry, we knew him well and Sen. McCain did not."

Swift Boat Veteran Roy Hoffmann, part two:

Hoffmann acknowledged he had no first-hand knowledge to discredit Kerry's claims to valor and said that although Kerry was under his command, he really didn't know Kerry much personally.

Just so you know. The latter link comes from Media Matters for America, which has quite a bit more about SV and its baloney.

Joe Conanson and Oliver Willis have some information on Bob Perry, the big bankroller of SV. Here's a little more about ol' Bob, who despite not being related to Governor Rick Perry is awfully tight with him.

UPDATE: Allow me to channel Brad DeLong for a moment and say that only Fafblog! can respond to this sort of thing in the manner it deserves.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 06, 2004 to The making of the President | TrackBack


Posted by: Ted Barlow on August 6, 2004 9:53 AM

None of these attempts at spin hold up:
Many of the vets appearing in the ad and who signed the petition did serve with Kerry. They were his fellow officers on different boats, who coordinated with him in attacks by multiple boats. Therefore they had to use teamwork, and they claim Kerry was not a good team player. Also they are his commanding officers, who would have been on different boats and on land giving him orders, and who wrote his "fitreps" or performance evals.

Also, all the cries of "Republican funding" repeat the same names: Spaeth and O'Neill. There are way more than that former officers who signed the petition, wrote their book, and appeared in the ad. Whether or not Spaeth and O'Neill are Repub ops is immaterial to the charges.

Also, that doctor could have treated Kerry, and a medical corpsman signed off on the records, which was typical procedure.

All this is detailed in the FAQ at the site.

Posted by: Yehudit on August 6, 2004 12:02 PM

Wah wah wah...

Typical liberal playcalling.

Don't address the substance of the charges, but go after the ones making the charges.

Funny how nobody was questioning the integrity of the yahoos who floated the idea that Bush didn't serve in the National Guard.

Funny how the libs and the media were so hell-bent on documenting EXACTLY what happened with George Bush and his pay stubs.

Funny how John Kerry is strangely silent against what these guys are saying... =) After all, he's got videotape proof otherwise, right? hahaha

Posted by: Chris Elam on August 6, 2004 12:12 PM

Wow, you guys are desperate. There's a pretty clear picture here: Kerry has told the same story for thirty years, the one backed up by his military records and his performance reviews.

These guys tell a different story, one contradicted by Kerry's records and even their own statements.

Heck, one of the idiots (Thurlow) got a Bronze Star for the same incident Kerry got his...yet claims there was no enemy fire. Thrulow claims all that happened was a boat struck a mine, a few people fell overboard, and everyone was pulled into the other boats.

So one has to ask, since it wasn't even his boat that hit the mine: If there was no enemy fire, what the fuck did Thurlow get his Bronze Star for?

Posted by: Morat on August 6, 2004 1:24 PM

Oh, where to begin...

Well, first, no one's giving it much attention for two main reasons:

  1. It's an obvious smear, and

  2. It's already been debunked several times over since the day it came out -- which was weeks and weeks ago.

But if you insist, we'll start with the stubstantively different account from American History magazine.

Then we have the refutation of the substance from a guy who not only was there, but was on the boat with Kerry (until he fell in and was rescued by Kerry), delivered directly to one of the lying ringleaders, on CNN.

And here's a report from Media Matters on the whole lovely affair.

And this just in: One of the SBV's appears to be retracting his earlier accusations.

Now for some smell tests:

  • As noted at DailyKos, one of the guys mentioned above (Thurlow) says that there was no enemy fire, and so Kerry didn't deserve the Bronze Star. But Thurlow earned a Bronze Star for the very same action. Was there fire, or not? Does Thurlow deserve his Bronze Star, or not?

  • I haven't looked it up, but Kerry reportedly got glowing fitness reviews from his superiors. Those are probably in the full records Kerry released to the media some months back, and should be easily verified. Aren't these the same commanders who would have been aware of Kerry "not being a team player"?

  • John O'Neill, one of the men behind this "ad," was recruited by the Nixon administration to act specifically as a "foil" to Kerry (sorry, don't have a link for that one - Charles Colson said it). Looks like he's never given that job up.

  • As John McCain said, this is an awful lot like the disgusting dirty tricks that Karl Rove and co. played against him during the 2000 GOP primaries. This has been well-documented in numerous places.

Answering specific points:

  • Yes, it does matter if a Republican Sugar Daddy is funding this smear campaign. Given enough money, you can find someone who'll lie for you.

  • Given the above, you will understand my skepticism toward anything in the FAQs at the SBV site.

  • The reason "nobody was questioning the integrity of the yahoos who floated the idea that Bush didn't serve in the National Guard" is because Bush hasn't given us any reason to. Kerry's documented his service; Bush has documented his dental visits.

  • The so-called liberal media is (rather tepidly) pursuing Bush's pay stubs because, again, they've been forced to. Bush could make this all go away by opening up. Why won't he? Don't you think Americans have a right to know about the service of their Commander-in-Chief?

Finally, do Republicans really want to go this route, to directly compare service during Viet Nam? Do you really want the media to give MORE attention to the facts that (a) Kerry volunteered for combat and Bush "served" in TANG, and (b) Kerry's completely opened his record of military service while Bush has not? Methinks George understands this, as you do not: hence the White House's repudiation of this thing.

Face it: Kerry's a war-hero. These guys are lying. Bush is toast. Whatever campaign fund is paying for professional trolls is going to dry up in three months, so collect those checks now.

Posted by: CrispyShot on August 6, 2004 1:26 PM

Isn't the George Soros/David Brock site?

Anyway, here's a better discussion than you'll ever see at this site:

Posted by: Gary C on August 6, 2004 3:28 PM

Crispy, Colson spotted O'Neill as someone who the Nixon White House might want to swing the public spotlight onto after O'Neill had already been trying to get Kerry to debate him publicly for some time and had finally lined up a face-to-face debate with Kerry on The Dick Cavett show in 1971. O'Neill wasn't "recruited," he wasn't Colson's "protege" — but he was, for unsurprising reasons, someone whose efforts the Nixon White House approved of and appreciated.

Although I've practiced law in the same specialty and community with O'Neill for the last 24 years, and although I was well acquainted with his reputation as a star student and practicing lawyer, I've only met the man once — when I cross-examined him under oath when he was an expert witness on attorneys' fees called by my opponents in a 1992 securities fraud case. I have a very high opinion of his credibility; if you'd like the details, I've posted them at my normal longwinded length on my own blog.

Posted by: Beldar on August 6, 2004 10:43 PM

PI digs into Kerry's war past

Group defends investigation; veterans say comments distorted

11:40 PM CDT on Monday, July 12, 2004

By WAYNE SLATER / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN Opponents of John Kerry have hired a Dallas-area private investigator to gather information aimed at discrediting his military service, say several veterans who served with the Massachusetts Democrat in Vietnam.

Several veterans who have been contacted in recent days accused the private investigator, Tom Rupprath of Rockwall, of twisting their words to produce misleading and inaccurate accounts that call into doubt the medals Mr. Kerry received for his service.

"They're just distorting things," said Jim Wasser, who served with Mr. Kerry. "They have nothing to go after John Kerry for, so now they're trying to discredit him."

Mr. Rupprath was hired by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth on the recommendation of Merrie Spaeth, a Dallas public relations executive assisting the anti-Kerry group.

The investigator declined to discuss his work, but Ms. Spaeth said he is a former FBI agent assigned to produce an accurate and objective account of how the Democratic presidential candidate earned his combat medals.

"You need to have a third eye that looks at this, somebody who even though you hired him, people know that his integrity is unquestioned and who puts this together the way an investigator would look at it," said Ms. Spaeth, who was a communications adviser in the Reagan White House.

The Kerry campaign accused Swift Boat Veterans of being a politically motivated group with ties to the Republican Party and the Bush administration. The Bush campaign says it is not associated with the group.

Political campaigns routinely gather information on opponents but typically use consultants or campaign aides rather than private investigators, according to political experts.

The hiring of a licensed private investigator to make calls in recent days appeared to suggest that the Kerry foes are preparing a stepped-up assault on his military record as the election approaches.

"This is unusual in that it appears to be push research and not real research," said Glenn Smith, a Democratic consultant and author of the book The Politics of Deceit. "Push research means you have a conclusion, and you're going to talk to people and push their words to reach your conclusion."

Challenging record

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth held a news conference in May in Washington to level a sharp critique at the senator. Members of the group, including veterans who had served with Mr. Kerry, have criticized his anti-war testimony before Congress in 1971 and questioned the circumstances under which he earned three Purple Hearts.

The organization is known as a "527" for the tax code provision under which it is organized. It can raise money for voter drives and issue advertising so long as it does not coordinate with the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.

A spokesman for the organization, John O'Neill, is a lawyer in Houston. He succeeded Mr. Kerry as commander of his swift boat in Vietnam and was recruited by the Nixon administration in the 1970s to counter Mr. Kerry's anti-war comments.

Mr. O'Neill and other members of the Swift Boat Veterans group have challenged whether Mr. Kerry deserved his combat medals and contend he is unfit to serve as commander in chief.

Grant Hibbard, a commander when Mr. Kerry reported his first injury in Vietnam, said the wound was most likely self-inflicted and the report at the time indicated there was no enemy fire.

Veterans who were on the boat with Mr. Kerry give a different version. Pat Runyon said the crew was patrolling north of Cam Ranh Bay the night of Dec. 2, 1968, when Mr. Kerry and fellow crewman Bill Zaledonis spotted Viet Cong guerrillas massed on a beach and began firing.

He said Mr. Kerry was subsequently treated for a wound to the arm, which led to his first Purple Heart.

Mr. Runyon said he recounted the episode for the private investigator because he gave the impression he was working for an independent or pro-Kerry veterans group. But Mr. Ruynon said he was distressed when the investigator sent him an inaccurate synopsis of their conversation suggesting that the wound was probably caused by a flare.

"I have no problems with the truth as long as they put it out the way it happened," he said. "But I told him I didn't want him to use it, didn't like it and felt he'd missed the whole feeling of the mission."

Mr. Rupprath would say only that his investigation is continuing.

"We have not talked about this publicly because I don't think we have a full understanding," he said. "We're not making any accusations until I think we have them truly buttoned up and can be presented in as authentic and credible a manner as possible."

Posted by: fancy on August 8, 2004 12:32 PM

Veteran retracts criticism of Kerry
By Michael Kranish, Globe Staff | August 6, 2004

WASHINGTON -- A week after Senator John F. Kerry heralded his wartime experience by surrounding himself at the Democratic convention with his Vietnam ''Band of Brothers," a separate group of veterans has launched a television ad campaign and a book that questions the basis for some of Kerry's combat medals.

But yesterday, a key figure in the anti-Kerry campaign, Kerry's former commanding officer, backed off one of the key contentions. Lieutenant Commander George Elliott said in an interview that he had made a ''terrible mistake" in signing an affidavit that suggests Kerry did not deserve the Silver Star -- one of the main allegations in the book. The affidavit was given to The Boston Globe by the anti-Kerry group to justify assertions in their ad and book.

Elliott is quoted as saying that Kerry ''lied about what occurred in Vietnam . . . for example, in connection with his Silver Star, I was never informed that he had simply shot a wounded, fleeing Viet Cong in the back."

The statement refers to an episode in which Kerry killed a Viet Cong soldier who had been carrying a rocket launcher, part of a chain of events that formed the basis of his Silver Star. Over time, some Kerry critics have questioned whether the soldier posed a danger to Kerry's crew. Crew members have said Kerry's actions saved their lives.

Yesterday, reached at his home, Elliott said he regretted signing the affidavit and said he still thinks Kerry deserved the Silver Star.

''I still don't think he shot the guy in the back," Elliott said. ''It was a terrible mistake probably for me to sign the affidavit with those words. I'm the one in trouble here."

Elliott said he was no under personal or political pressure to sign the statement, but he did feel ''time pressure" from those involved in the book. ''That's no excuse," Elliott said. ''I knew it was wrong . . . In a hurry I signed it and faxed it back. That was a mistake."

The affidavit also contradicted earlier statements by Elliott, who came to Boston during Kerry's 1996 Senate campaign to defend Kerry on similar charges, saying that Kerry acted properly and deserved the Silver Star.

The book, ''Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry," is to be published next week. Yesterday it reached number one on the bestseller list on, based on advance orders, in part because of publicity about it on the Drudge Report.

The book seeks to undermine one of the central claims of Kerry's campaign -- that his Vietnam War heroism would make him a good commander in chief.

While the Regnery Publishing yesterday declined to release an advance copy of the book, Drudge's website quotes it as saying, ''Elliott indicates that a Silver Star recommendation would not have been made by him had he been aware of the actual facts." Continued...

Posted by: fancy on August 8, 2004 12:37 PM

The Swift Boat Veterans, share the
funding and at least two of the same
members as the group that smeared

Look at what has been done to Bob
Kerrey, to McCain, to Chuck Hagel,
to Max Cleland and now to John
Kerry? There is a pattern here
and it is not pretty. Our veterans
BOTH Republican and Democrat are being
smeared when they get in the way of
this administration.

With political passions the way they
are, it isn't hard to round up a
couple of hundred nuts. O'Neill and
others have changed their stories
again and again. Corsi is a bigot
and a conspiracy theorist. Several
have been caught in outright lies, big
and small.

This is not a Democratic issue or a
Republican issue, it's a veterans
issue. Remember what they did to
John McCain--calling him unstable,
saying he had a child by a prostitute,
attacking his wife...

It doesn't do the GOP any good to
support this trash... sometimes the
enemy of my enemy is my enemy.
Be real. You know it. I know it.

Posted by: Greg on August 9, 2004 8:02 AM

Good post, Greg.

Ya know, having re-read my own post, and the link from Gary C., and the post by Beldar (although not the link he provides - yet), I'm going to have to issue an apology here. I think I shot my mouth off without having all my facts at hand, and worse, I made an ad hominem attack, which I deplore. If I'm going to question who's funding the SBVs, Gary C. is right to question who's funding Media Matters.

Chalk it up to sleep deprivation or partisan fervor. Instead of attacking who's saying it, I first need to address the facts. If it can be shown that one side or another is lying or distorting the truth, then I think it's legitimate to question their motives and funding. But not before.

I still think this is a smear job (and an ill-advised one for the GOP), but I don't have the time to delve into it as others do. So until I do, I'll keep my mouth shut.

Well, sorta. I would like to give a shout out to Beldar, since he's the one who made me think twice. I rose like a brook trout to Yehudit's and Chris Elam's bait, responding with (what I thought was) troll-bashing. In contrast, Beldar invited me to an honest exchange of views. While I disagree with his viewpoint, his posts are usually well-reasoned and rancor-free. (I haven't visited his site yet - hope I'm not in for a rude awakening.) If there's any hope that our body politick's bipolar disorder can be fixed, it's people like Beldar.

And don't tell the DNC I said that (I'm a card-carrying member).

Posted by: CrispyShot on August 9, 2004 9:07 AM

I am a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving with the 25th Inf Div based out of Chu Chi. I think that I am also about to toss my Vietnam medals in the trash. I am ashamed to be associated with the so called swift boat veterans ie: veterans without decency, honesty or any concept of bonds of combat veterans. Was not for John Kerry but SBV has changed my mind.

Posted by: Ronald Kittrell on August 24, 2004 3:10 PM

Read everything, listened to everybody. NOT ONE of the Swift Boat guys actually witnessed John Kerry in connection with winning any of his medals. NOT ONE.

Posted by: cypress on August 25, 2004 11:46 AM

Why aren't these veterans fighting for their eroding veteran benefits. Instead they chose to be political pawns and use their energy and time to fight for something that is not going to benefit them in any way. Neighter candidate gives a hoot about the eroding veteran benefits.

Posted by: sandy on August 29, 2004 12:48 PM