Food for thought…Why is it that Kerry (and most vets) can remember fellow-veterans…be it with bad or good vibes. A $10,000 reward has been posted for “anyone” who will attest to the fact that he\she remembers serving with Shrub while he was assigned in Alabama. It has not been collected. Talk about stealth! I’ll bet he reverted to “sniper.”
Kerry's Vietnam comrades join forces to tarnish war hero image
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Thursday May 6, 2004
John Kerry's campaign yesterday fended off a new wave of attacks on the Democratic challenger's war record, timed to take the gloss off a new $25m (£14m) ad campaign touting his heroism as a young navy lieutenant in Vietnam.
The onslaught on Mr Kerry reopens three decades of bitterness, which began when the much-decorated young officer returned from combat and became an activist in the anti-war movement.
The barrage was delivered by more than 200 of his former comrades, commanders and fellow veterans of the boat crews that patrolled the waters of the Mekong delta.
The group, calling itself Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, held a press conference, saying Mr Kerry's leadership in the anti-war movement made him unfit to be president.
Democratic campaign aides said the event had been organised by Republican activists, and that the attacks on Mr Kerry's character were meant to discredit the Democratic candidate just as a new series of ads were aired.
The veterans group accuses Mr Kerry of betraying his fellow servicemen with his testimony in 1971 in which he said American soldiers committed war crimes in Vietnam.
Mr Kerry has since said he spoke more harshly then, as a young man, that he would have today.
John O'Neill, the group's founder and an enemy of Mr Kerry for more than 30 years, also accused the Democratic leader of exaggerating the extent of his injuries so he could be awarded medals for courage and win an early release from overseas tour.
He demanded Mr Kerry release all medical records from his wartime service.
In an election season with inescapable references to the Vietnam era Mr Kerry has repeatedly been forced to defend his service record - although not as often as President George Bush.
White House aides spent weeks defending Mr Bush from charges that he had been absent without leave from his responsibilities in the Texas air national guard, dredging up decades-old dental records to try to prove he had reported for duty.
Meanwhile, Mr Kerry was forced last month to defend a youthful decision to toss away the ribbons from his combat decorations during a demonstration more than 30 years ago.
A Democratic campaign spokesman said yesterday that the protest group had been directed by those in the Republican party. "It is a Republican-inspired attack," said John Hurley, Mr Kerry's coordinator of veterans' affairs.
"Some of those commanders have given John Kerry glowing performance reviews - over the top."
Tuesday's event was of a higher calibre than seen earlier in this campaign because it included nearly all of Mr Kerry's former commanders, and several former allies.
One of those officers, the former lieutenant commander George Elliott, supported Mr Kerry during his 1996 Senate campaign, and Mr Hurley said he had heartily praised the navy lieutenant during a 1969 review.
Others, however, have been enemies for years, including Mr O'Neill, a Texas lawyer, who was asked by the Nixon administration to appear on a television debate to discredit Mr Kerry.
Mr Hurley said the other organisers of Tuesday's press conference had been involved in other smear campaigns against such figures as the Republican senator John McCain, who spent years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and the defeated Democratic senator, Max Cleland, who lost one arm and both legs in the war.
According to CBS television news, election commission records revealed that Merrie Spaeth, the public relations consultant representing the veterans, gave the maximum possible £2,000 donation to the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign in June last year.