Monday, August 30, 2004
So let's make a list of the things that Presidential candidates have traditionally released that Kerry refuses to do:
1. Medical records
2. Tax returns (including his wife's, that is)
3. Military records
He has also refused to release his attendence records for the Senate Intelligence Committee, and refused to allow access to his "war journal" while apparently lying about the reason for doig so (at least according to his biographer).
Does anyone else remember the hue and cry about Reagan's health? Or more recently, how about Cheney's? And he was only running for VP!
How about the ruccus raised about Geraldine Ferrarro's husband not releasing HIS tax records?
And it seems like it was only months ago that Bush was being hounded in the press about not releasing all of his military records.
Remember the grief Bob Packwood took for not releasing his diaries? I seem to remember he was taken to court over it (and he may have even lost, though my memory on that is fuzzy).
So why is John Kerry getting a free pass from all this and more?
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Kerry had been wounded three times and received three Purple Hearts. Asked about the severity of the wounds, Kerry said that one of them cost him about two days of service, and that the other two did not interrupt his duty. "Walking wounded," as Kerry put it. A shrapnel wound in his left arm gave Kerry pain for years. Kerry declined a request from the Globe to sign a waiver authorizing the release of military documents that are covered under the Privacy Act and that might shed more light on the extent of the treatment Kerry needed as a result of the wounds.
What were the wounds for which he was awarded his Purple Hearts again?
#1 A tiny scratch on his arm that was treated with a band-aid. (He hasn't released the paperwork on this one, and it was likely accidentally self-inflicted (and in the absence of enemy fire)).
#2 Shrapnel in his left thigh.
#3 Accidentally self-inflicted rice wounds to his rear end, and a "(minor) contusion" to his arm.
So when did this "shrapnel wound" which gave Kerry "pain for years" occur? Did the band-aid wound supposedly cause him such long-lasting pain, or is this the mysterious "(minor)" bruise from March 13th?
Update: The link provided for Purple Heart #3 (on the bottom of pg 3) specifies that the "(minor)" contusion was on his RIGHT arm. So he is either refering to the band-aid wound or he forgot which arm had supposedly given him pain for so long.
Monday, August 16, 2004
"And the VC took advantage of it; suddenly there was a booming explosion that literally lifted PCF-94 off the water. Peck was standing in the pilothouse doorway with an M-16 at the ready to start strafing the jungle."
And now I've noticed another, perhaps more blatent rip-off. Later in his DNC speech Alston descibes another memory of Kerry:
"And when the shooting stopped, he was always there too, with a caring hand on my shoulder asking, "Gunner, are you OK?" I was only 21, running on fear and adrenaline."
But let's look at what another of Kerry's "band of brothers" has spoken about. Fred Short, who was ironically Alston's replacement is quoted on Kerry's own site as saying:
"His concern for us was overwhelming," says Fred Short, a PCF-94 gunner's mate who would get the shakes when the adrenaline of battle wore off. "He would come around then and put his hand on your shoulder and ask if you're all right," says Short, 56, of North Little Rock "I never had another officer do that."
While I could certainly imagine Kerry showing concern for his crewmembers in similar (or even nearly exact) ways, I don't find it very plausible that they would find such similar ways to describe it without plagerism or coaching. Either one of them stole the words of the other, or they are both reading from the same playbook.
Alston has already been established - BY THE KERRY CAMPAIGN - as not being on PCF-94 on Feb 28th, when the incidents for which Kerry was awarded his Silver Star occurred, in spite of Alston's statements indicating that WAS there. If he is lying about being there....
Sunday, August 15, 2004
"The level of danger was extremely high," says Jim Rassmann, the Army Special Forces officer who rode PCF-94 for nearly a month before Kerry saved his life during a ferocious river battle. The noisy boats "had no place to hide. People could hear them coming a half-mile away."
Imagining this story to be true, it brings up an interesting question. If, in addition to his crew there were Green Berets (and other infantry types as well?) on his boat in the month prior to March 13th, then it REALLY calls into question Kerry's decision to abandon his post on Feb 28th to go haring off after a single Vietnamese. Why didn't Rassmann (or one of his possible compatriots) do this instead?
There is another interesting nugget in this article as well. Some commenters on some of the posts on Captains Quaters Blog regarding the Alston question have wondered if it was possible that Kerry was aboard PCF 94 prior to taking command on January 30 1969. If he was, this might have offered a benign explination for some of the statements made by Alston which seem to be contradicted by all the other available facts. However, this article puts that possibility to rest:
Tedd Peck, who skippered PCF-94 before being wounded and giving way to Kerry, says he "had a dislike for the man as soon as I met him. He was not a genuine type of guy." Peck, 60, never went on a mission with Kerry;
First, the good news. It gives some support to the contention that Rassmann was on Kerry's boat rather than PCF 3. It also gives support the contention that Kerry's boat was hit by a mine.
The bad news for Kerry is that it still manages to undercut Rassmann's story. This is from Kerry's own mouth, inserted into the Congressional record:
There was the time we were carrying special forces up a river and a mine exploded under our boat sending it 2 feet into the air. We were receiving incoming rocket and small arms fire and Tommy [Belodeau] was returning fire with his M-60 machine gun when it literally broke apart in his hands. He was left holding the pieces unable to fire back while one of the Green Berets walked along the edge of the boat to get Tommy another M-60. As he was doing so, the boat made a high speed turn to starboard and the Green Beret kept going--straight into the river. The entire time while the boat went back to get the Green Beret, Tommy was without a machine gun or a weapon of any kind, but all the time he was hurling the greatest single string of Lowell-Chelmsford curses ever heard at the Viet Cong. He literally had swear words with tracers on them!
Rassmann, of course, insists that he was knocked off the boat when it hit the mine. This is quite a detailed memory of how Rassmann ended up in the water, so you would think that would give it more credence. But then, we're talking about John Kerry, who somehow claimed to vividly remember being in Cambodia in Christmas, though his proxies now admit that this story is meritless.
Friday, August 13, 2004
Painful memories of three North Vietnamese ambushes became a matter of joyous pride for Fred Short as he was reunited with the Navy patrol boat commander who he said saved the whole crew by charging into the teeth of the enemy attack.
It had been 34 years to the day since Short of North Little Rock last saw that lieutenant: current Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry (search).
Their warm embrace Monday in front of a gathering of more than 150 Democrats was the climax of Kerry's campaign swing through the home state of former President Clinton.
Short recalled the third of three ambushes on their group of boats on March 4, 1969, when his twin 50-caliber machine guns couldn't tilt low enough to shoot a Viet Cong soldier lying in a ditch, aiming a rocket launcher at their boat.
"We were in a small canal and normally we would have tried to exit, but Mr. Kerry ordered us to charge," Short said. "While I shot high, he and Tommy Bellodeau charged under me, right at the guy, and we routed them. That's why Mr. Kerry won the Silver Star."
Short said the crew avoided any casualties, even though 800 of 900 American troops caught in that zone died that day. He said it was a few weeks later, April 28, 1969, that he finished his tour and last saluted Kerry.
First, I have no idea what Short is talking about by saying "800 of 900 American troops...died that day". That is, of course, utter nonsense.
Second, just a quibble. He got the day of the Silver Star engagement wrong, though that is quite understandable this many years later.
Third, and not understandable at all, Short thinks that he saluted Kerry when he finished his tour on April 28th 1969. However, as reported on Kerry's own election site, Kerry was long gone by that time, already transfered back to the states in "early April". He reported for duty in New York on April 11th.
While it may turn out that Alston did make up part of Kerry's crew at some point, there is no question that Alston lied about the only specific detail he offers about Kerry's reactions in battle. In his DNC speech he says (emphasis added):
But Lieutenant Kerry was known for taking the fight straight to the enemy. I can still see him now, standing in the doorway of the pilothouse, firing his M-16, shouting orders through the smoke and chaos.
Once, he even directed the helmsman to beach the boat, right into the teeth of an ambush, and pursued our attackers on foot, into the jungle.
The only problem is that Alston wasn't there when Kerry pulled this stunt. This is describing the action for which Kerry was awarded the Silver Star. The reason that Alston wasn't there isn't clear, he may have still been recuperating from his January 29th injury as speculated in the CQ post, but it is clear that he was not on the boat. As noted by none other than David Brinkley, "In addition to Kerry's Silver Star PCF-94's performance on February 28 also earned Bronze Stars for Tommy Belodeau and Mike Medeiros and Navy Commendation Medals with Combat V Devices for Del Sandusky, Fred Short, and Gene Thorson." Swift boats had a crew of 6 (as Alston noted)- the officer and 5 enlisted men. How many people were given medals? Six - and Alson isn't one of them. Here you see all six crewmen after the award ceremony:
Alston is, obviously, not there. If he was wounded on January 29th, and still not back on the boat by Feb 28th, when was he Kerry's crewman? Kerry was gone by the middle of March.
Even if Alston was miraculously back on Kerry's boat just after this action, the most - the MOST - time he could have served under Kerry was a mere 13 days. Does his DNC speech sound like he's describing 13 days?
Update: Another instance of Alston lying about being on Kerry's boat that day, and in a much less circumspect manner:
"Alston recalled: "I know when John Kerry told Del to beach that damn boat,
this was a brand-new ball game. We wasn't running. We took it to Charlie."
Update 2: The report of Alston's injury had been put on the web here, on page 6. My shortened version:
"29 Jan 69 As forward gunner aboard PCF 94... Alston received shrapnel wounds in his head, when PCF came under intense hostile rocket and A/W fire. Condition good, prognosis good. ... Mother not officially notified.... Serviceman treated by corpsman and medevaced to 29th Evac Hospital"
Update 3: The Kerry campaign has admitted that Alston was NOT on the boat on Feb 28th 1969:
Whatever the exact dates, Hurley confirmed that Alston was not on board PCF-94 on February 28, 1969, the day Kerry earned a Silver Star for an engagement in which he beached his Swift Boat and chased down and killed a Viet Cong guerilla armed with a rocket launcher.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
In a CNN interview, Larry Thurlow contends that Kerry initially left the scene of the mine explosion, only to come back later when it was clear that there was no more danger:
WOODRUFF: You're basically saying he fled when there
THURLOW: I am saying he fled the area on the explosion under the 3-boat
Rassmann pretty much calls Thurlow a liar, and states in part:
JIM RASSMANN, KERRY SUPPORTER: Well, first, I was not part of John Kerry's
command. I was a Special Forces officer who happened to be on his boat at that
Mr. Thurlow's recollection of what occurred is not accurate. We had the
boat hit the mine to our left. And John immediately had his driver, Del Sandusky
(ph), turn to the left and head towards it.
And it was at that time that our gunner on the bow got his gun knocked out and he started screaming for another weapon. I ran another weapon up to me, and we hit something or something hit us. There was an explosion, and I was blown off the boat to the right.
WOODRUFF: And you ended up in the water how? RASSMANN: I was blown into the water, and I had boats coming up behind me. So, I went to the bottom of the river.
However, if you look at Kerry's Bronze Star citation, what it states is that:
So this seems to back up Thurlow, and not Rassmann. Kerry left the scene, and then had to come back to pick up Rassmann. To be fair, the rest of the citation is much more consistent with Rassman's version. However, this brings me back to my original question. How much was this looked into at the time. Was the citation made up soley of Rassmann's and Kerry's recollections, or were other people involved also questioned?
"When Lieutenant (jg) Kerry discovered he had a man overboard, he returned
upriver to assist"
There were two seperate incidences, which seems to be agreed on by both sides. The wound in the buttocks seems to be clearly not eligible for the award, despite all of Factcheck's strivings. Q and O does an admirable job demonstrating this.
Given that this wound does not merit a Purple Heart, it does bring up questions about why it was mentioned at all. Especially as it was phrased in an exceedingly misleading manner, though it is possible to read it as Factcheck does if you wish to give Kerry the benefit of every scrap of doubt . It is much more natural to read it as incorrectly attributing both wounds to being recieved in the same incident.
This leaves the arm wound as possibly meriting such an award. Kerry says he "smashed" his arm when he was thrown "violently" into a bulkhead. Rassmann states that it was "bleeding". It even states that his arm was bleeding in his related Bronze Star citation, of which I understand Rassmann was the originator. However, as Factcheck points out, that is inconsistent with the description of the wound as a "contusion". In addition, there is another document which Factcheck seems to have missed. It is actually on John Kerry's website. The relevent portion is on the bottom of page 3. This offers additional information about the arm wound. Not only does it confirm that Kerry only suffered a contusion to his arm, but it states that the contusion was "minor". So Kerry apparently received a Purple Heart for a "minor" bruise on his arm.
Sunday, August 08, 2004
Sen. John Kerry made his first forays into Cambodia during the Vietnam War
as a Navy lieutenant on clandestine missions to deliver weapons to anticommunist
forces. When he returned last week, the mission was official, but dicey
nonetheless. At the request of the United Nations, Kerry is trying to broker a
compromise on how to try leaders of the former Khmer Rouge regime, whose late
1970s reign of terror claimed the lives of some 1.7 million Cambodians.
And here is another from the Boston Globe:
To top it off, Kerry said, he had gone several miles inside Cambodia, which
theoretically was off limits, prompting Kerry to send a sarcastic message to his
superiors that he was writing from the Navy's "most inland" unit.