John Kerry/Attacks on Vietnam service

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John Forbes Kerry's military service, according to his U.S. Senate biography, commenced following his graduation from Yale University. Kerry entered the Navy, "becoming a Swift Boat officer, serving on a gunboat in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. He received a Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, and three awards of the Purple Heart for his service in combat," it states.

"By the time Senator Kerry returned home from Vietnam, he felt compelled to question decisions he believed were being made to protect those in positions of authority in Washington at the expense of the soldiers carrying on the fighting in Vietnam. Kerry was a co-founder of the Vietnam Veterans of America and became a spokesperson for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War -- Morley Safer would describe him as "a veteran whose articulate call to reason rather than anarchy seemed to bridge the call between the Abbie Hoffmans of the world and Mr. Spiro T. Agnew's so-called 'Silent Majority.'" In April, 1971, in testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he asked the question of his fellow citizens, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" Sen. Claiborne Pell, (D-R.I.) thanked Kerry, then 27, for testifying before the committee, expressing his hope that Kerry "might one day be a colleague of in this body," it states. [1]

On April 28, 2004, the Washington Post's Harold Meyerson provided on-point analysis of the attempted smears projected at Kerry's military service in "Prince Hal vs. King Henry." Also see's "Who served in the military?"

Also see:

John Kerry's Medals & Ribbons

  • For a first-person observation of what transpired on Friday, April 23, 1971, from someone who actually stood within hearing distance of Kerry--instead of the second-, third-, and a dozen times removed "stories" of what Kerry allegedly did (or did not do) with his medals and ribbons--, read Thomas Oliphant's April 27, 2004, account in the Boston Globe.
"When John Kerry released his military records to the public last week, Americans learned a lot about Mr. Kerry's exceptional service in Vietnam. They also learned a lot about the Republican attack machine."
"Republicans have tried to use this event to question his patriotism and his truthfulness, claiming he has been inconsistent in saying whether he threw away his medals or ribbons. This is no more than a political smear. After risking his life in Vietnam to save others, John Kerry earned the right to speak out against a war he believed was wrong. Make no mistake: it is that bravery these Republicans are now attacking.
"Although President Bush has not engaged personally in such accusations, he has done nothing to stop others from making them. I believe those who didn't serve, or didn't show up for service, should have the decency to respect those who did serve -- often under the most dangerous conditions, with bravery and, yes, with undeniable patriotism."
  • For a real and fresh perspective on "medals" versus "ribbons", here's Anthony Hecht from Slapnose's input:
"Dear News Media, ... Listen. Shut up for a second.
"You know those little colored bars military people wear on their dress uniforms? They're called ribbons. They represent the medals the soldier has earned, since wearing a bunch of actual medals on your chest is inconvenient, noisy, and also looks kind of stupid. So, they are ribbons, but they represent medals, and the words are often interchanged. If you ask an Army soldier about the little bar with a wide white bar in the middle, flanked by two thin blue bars and two fatter red bars on his or her chest, they'll tell you it's a Distinguished Service Medal. They probably won't say, 'It's a ribbon that represents my Distinguished Service Medal' and they certainly won't call it a Distinguished Service Ribbon, as there is no such thing, though the bar itself can still be correctly called a ribbon. Get it?
"Now, this wasn't very hard for me to figure out. Take a look at Defenselinks' "The United States Military Army Service Ribbons" page, for example. It seems, as the National Media and all, you could have made some small effort to look into this issue, instead of just going off half-cocked, parroting Republican smears, and accusing John Kerry of lying about something so ridiculous."

"Kerry called 'Hanoi John' by Republican in US House"

"One by one, several Republicans, many of them Vietnam veterans, stood and challenged Kerry's patriotism. They did so in marking the 33rd anniversary of Kerry's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a leader of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
"'On this day in 1971, John Kerry showed his true colours, and they are not red, white and blue,' said Rep. Sam Johnson, a Texas Republican. 'Before the Senate, before America, and before the world, he blasted our nation, chastised our troops and hurt our morale,' said Johnson, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. ... Is it any wonder that my comrades from Vietnam and I have a nickname for him similar to 'Hanoi Jane',' the name given to war foe and actress Jane Fonda, Johnson said. 'It's called 'Hanoi John'.
"Representative Randy (Duke) Cunningham, a California Republican, added: 'We do not need a 'Jane Fonda' as commander in chief.'
"Democrats were not in the chamber when Republicans began what one denounced as 'a sneak attack,' but several rushed in to defend Kerry. They noted he won awards for bravery and heroism in Vietnam as well as three Purple Hearts.
"Representative Jim McDermott, a Washington Democrat, took the offensive in speaking up for Kerry by appearing to allude to questions about whether President George W. Bush shirked his duties while a member of the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.
"Without mentioning Bush by name, McDermott said: 'For anybody to come out here and attack his (Kerry's) war record, you have to have pretty good credentials. ... If served and showed up for drills at your local National Guard, I think those would be acceptable credentials,' McDermott said. 'But if your were in the National Guard, and you didn't show up ... you have real nerve to start an attack on John Kerry's character.'
"Rep. Ray LaHood, an Illinois Republican, chaired the House at the time of the heated exchanges and repeatedly pointed out that chamber rules do not permit personal attacks on senators.
"Yet the drumbeat of criticism against Senator Kerry of Massachusetts continued.
"'John Kerry should apologise,' said Representative Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican.
"Representative John Larson, a Connecticut Democrat, said: 'What we need is leadership, the kind that John Kerry provided in the fields of Vietnam ... that he will provide as president of the United States.'"
  • E.J. Dionne, Jr., asks in his April 27, 2004, Washington Post article "Stooping Low to Smear Kerry" "Have you no sense of decency, sir?, ... the classic question posed by Joseph Welch to Sen. Joseph McCarthy 50 years ago during the Red-hunter's hearings investigating the Army for alleged communist influence. With his query, Welch, the Army's special counsel, began the undoing of McCarthy."
"Funny, isn't it?," Dionne comments, "When Bill Clinton was running against Republican war veterans in 1992 and 1996, the most important thing to GOP propagandists and politicians was that Clinton didn't fight in Vietnam. Now that Republican candidates who didn't fight in Vietnam face a Democrat who did -- and was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts while he was there -- the Republican machine wants to change the subject."
Anthony Hecht at Slapnose adds on April 27, 2004: "The answer is obviously no, they have no sense of decency. They attack Kerry for being in Vietnam, Clinton for not being in Vietnam, and Bush was playing volleyball. Who knows what Cheney was doing, he 'had other priorities.' One can only assume these included scowling lessons."
"It seems to be a habit," Dionne writes. "When Bush faces a Vietnam War hero in an election, a Vietnam veteran perfectly happy to trash his opponent always turns up. In the case of Ted Sampley, the same guy who did Bush's dirty work in going after Sen. John McCain in the 2000 Republican primaries is doing the job against Kerry this year. Sampley dared compare McCain, who spent five years as a Vietnam POW, with 'the Manchurian Candidate.' Now, Sampley says that Kerry 'is not truthful and is not worthy of the support of U.S. veterans. . . . To us, he is 'Hanoi John.'"
Dionne contacted Senator McCain and writes that "One person who is outraged by the attacks on Kerry is McCain. When I reached the Arizona Republican, I found him deeply troubled over the reopening of wounds from the Vietnam era, 'the most divisive time since our Civil War.' He called Sampley "one of the most despicable characters I've ever met." McCain said he hoped that in the midst of a war in Iraq, politicians 'will confront the challenges facing us now, including the conflict we're presently engaged in, rather than refighting the one we were engaged in more than 30 years ago.'
"McCain recalled that he had worked with Kerry on 'POW/MIA issues and the normalization of relations with Vietnam' and wanted to stand up for his war comrade because 'you have to do what's right.' Speaking of Kerry, McCain said: 'He's my friend. He'll continue to be my friend. I know his service was honorable. If that hurts me politically or with my party, that's a very small price to pay.'
"Now that McCain has spoken, will Bush have the guts to endorse or condemn the attacks on Kerry's service? Or will he just sit by silently, hoping the assaults do their work while he evades responsibility? Once more, Welsh's words call out for an answer: 'Have you no sense of decency, sir?'"

Kerry's Military Records versus Bush's Military Records

  • Japan Today headlined on April 27, 2004, with "Kerry demands Bush prove National Guard service": "John Kerry, a decorated Navy veteran criticized by Republicans for his anti-war activities during the Vietnam era, lashed out at President George Bush on Monday for failing to prove whether he fulfilled his commitment to the National Guard during the same period."
"'If George Bush wants to ask me questions about that through his surrogates, he owes America an explanation about whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard. Prove it. That's what we ought to have,' Kerry told NBC News in an interview. 'I'm not going to stand around and let them play games.'"
Kerry "charged Bush and the GOP of trying to discredit him with a 'phony controversy.' Then Kerry, who has avoided talking about the questions over Bush's National Guard service, said: 'George Bush has yet to explain to America whether or not to tell the truth about whether he showed up for duty.'"
  • Paul Waldman, The Gadflyer, writes on April 20, 2004, in "Down the Memory Hole," "Today the Boston Globe hit John Kerry for his apparently limited enthusiasm for releasing his military records, contrary to Kerry's assertion on Meet the Press that all those records would be available. But in the process, the Globe let White House communications director Dan Bartlett get away with lying about what Bush had released and what he hadn't:
"The president made a pledge before the American people, and he made his complete file available to the media and the public," Bartlett said. "They were able to review all of his medical records, and we fully released the remainder of his military files, including evaluations and performance sheets as well as days served. The president lived up to his commitment he made to the public, and we should expect the same from his opponent."
Waldman adds that "attentive readers might recall that Bush did not in fact release all his National Guard records as he had promised."
  • Political Animal Kevin Drum, "A TALE OF TWO SOLDIERS...," Washington Monthly, April 21, 2004: "Our story so far: George Bush, fresh out of Yale, uses family connections to join the Air National Guard in order to avoid serving in Vietnam. After four years of a six-year term he decides to skip his annual physical, is grounded, and heads off to Alabama, where he blows off even the minimal annoyance of monthly drills for over six months. ... John Kerry, fresh out of Yale, enlists in the Navy and subsequently requests duty in Vietnam. While there, according to the Boston Globe, he wins a Purple Heart and then follows that up with more than two dozen missions in which he often faced enemy fire, a Silver Star for an action in which he killed an enemy soldier who carried a loaded rocket launcher that could have destroyed his six-man patrol boat, a Bronze Star for rescuing an Army lieutenant who was thrown overboard and under fire, and two more Purple Hearts." See enlistment forms to compare Vietnam "choices" posted with article.
On the other hand, "Republicans said they had simply questioned Kerry's initial refusal to make the records available because he claimed on 'Meet the Press' on Sunday that all of his military records were open for inspection. ... 'We hope that he has now made good on his pledge and made all of his records available,' said Christine Iverson, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee."

Plot to Assassinate Politicians Who Supported Vietnam War

  • The March 12, 2004, New York Sun carried the latest smear. In "How Kerry Quit Veterans Group Amid Dark Plot. When Talk Turned To Assassination He Exited, Vet Says", Thomas H. Lipscomb says "The anti-war group that John Kerry was the principal spokesman for debated and voted on a plot to assassinate politicians who supported the Vietnam War. ... Mr. Kerry denies being present at the November 12-15, 1971, meeting in Kansas City of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and says he quit the group before the meeting. But according to the current head of Missouri Veterans for Kerry, Randy Barnes, Mr. Kerry,who was then 27, was at the meeting, voted against the plot, and then orally resigned from the organization."
  • However, see CounterSpin Blogspot's coverage in which Hesiod concludes "Kerry had nothing to do with this plot, and in fact by all accounts either was unaware of it, or opposed it outright. But it is relevant if this is one of the principal reasons he resigned from the organization." The incident was reported in the book "Winter Soldiers: An Oral History" [pp 294-5] (See below).

Kerry: The Vietnam Smear

  • Hesiod at Counterspin Central writes: "In other words, Kerry was no longer active in the anti-war movement by the time Fonda went nuts and took a flight to Hanoi. So, if he appeared at an anti-war rally with her in 1970, who gives a ....? What relevance does that have to what she did two years later? How does that, in any way, suggest that Kerry endorsed or condoned her actions in 1972? ... That's like saying someone who went to a dinner party with Lee Harvey Oswald in 1961 where he expressed strong anti-Kennedy political views, either condoned or endorsed Oswald's assassination of John F. Kennedy two years later! ... In fact, Kerry expressed strong disagreement with what Jane Fonda did AT THE TIME SHE DID IT." 2/19/04.

Kerry: Post-Vietnam Antiwar Record

  • "Less Than Picture-Perfect 1971 photo of Kerry doctored" by Michael Rothfeld, Newsday, February 15, 2004:[2]
"As a 20-year-old photographer documenting the country's struggle over the Vietnam War, Ken Light snapped the picture of John Kerry at a peace rally in Mineola. It captured the future senator alone at a podium, squinting into the sun. .... Light did not photograph Jane Fonda on that warm June Sunday in 1971. The actress, who is reviled by many Vietnam veterans for her vocal stance against the war, did not even attend."
  • On February 12, 2004, debunked the Claim that a "published photograph" shows Kerry and Jane Fonda standing shoulder-to-shoulder an anti-war rally.
"Unlike an earlier photograph which captured John Kerry and Jane Fonda sitting in the audience of a 1970 anti-war rally at which both were speakers, this image [cited above] of the two of them together at a speaker's platform is fabricated.
"The original Corbis stock photograph (see article for link) captured Kerry alone preparing to give a speech at the Register for Peace Rally held in Mineola, New York, on 13 June 1970 (three months prior to the event pictured in the previous Fonda/Kerry photograph). Someone has grafted an image of Jane Fonda with a microphone onto the picture and mocked it up as a newspaper photo to create an impression of closeness between the subjects."
  • The day following the debunking, on February 13, 2004, the New York Times ran the story "Conservatives Shine Spotlight on Kerry's Antiwar Record" which detailed the hunt for and purchase of the photograph showing Kerry and Fonda seated in the audience:[3]
"Ted Sampley, a retired Green Beret who runs a Web site for veterans devoted to defeating John Kerry, says he spent months looking for a photograph of Mr. Kerry and Jane Fonda, the actress whose antiwar protests still evoke bitter memories. Then, last week, a message from a stranger arrived by e-mail, telling him precisely where he could find one. ... For $179, he bought the image and posted it on his site. By Wednesday it was popping up all over the Internet and on television. Mr. Sampley, of Kinston, N.C., says he does not know who tipped him off to the photograph, and he does not care. 'I'm going to use it as much as possible,' he said. ... With Mr. Bush answering questions about his National Guard service, conservatives are working hard to shine an unflattering spotlight on Mr. Kerry's antiwar activities and his record on military and intelligence matters in the Senate."
"At the same time, Ed Gillespie, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, has been giving speeches around the country detailing Mr. Kerry's votes on military and intelligence programs, including his 1984 opposition to the missile defense program promoted by Ronald Reagan and his 1991 Senate vote opposing the use of force in Iraq. ... But officials with the Kerry campaign provided documents showing that Mr. Kerry questioned the science behind the Reagan-era missile program, and quoting him as saying he believed the country needed more time in 1991 to build support for the war in the Persian Gulf.
"'This is part of an overall slime-and-defend strategy,' said Max Cleland, the former Georgia senator and Vietnam veteran who has been campaigning for Mr. Kerry. 'They don't want to talk about Vietnam, and they don't want their candidates to talk about veterans' issues because it hurts the president.'
"One Republican, a friend of Mr. Cleland who is running for statewide office in Nevada, said he attended a meeting where officials from the Bush re-election campaign urged Republican candidates not to talk about Vietnam. ... 'Basically, they're saying don't bring up veterans' issues and don't bring up Vietnam; our surrogates will take care of it," said the candidate, Ed Gobel."

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