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August 16, 2004

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Somehow, I'm unsurprised. When Republicans actually claim that that one of the things they hold against John Kerry is that he publicly spoke out about US war crimes in Vietnam, what chance does Joseph Derby have?

Hilzoy, if you can think of anything we can do to support Derby, I'm all for it.

When bullies like this come in a crowd, they're harder to stand up against. But if the rule of law is to mean a damn thing, then stand we must.

Lex
Republican since 1978

It saddens but does not surprise me. This is exactly what I predicted when the entire matter became public. Whistle-blowers do not prosper. We might wish it otherwise but it ain't.

When Republicans actually claim that that one of the things they hold against John Kerry is that he publicly spoke out about US war crimes in Vietnam, what chance does Joseph Derby have?

When that happens, yes, it'll be tragic. Currently, though, the objection is not that he spoke up, but rather that he did quite a bit of...inventing. Now, if it turned out that these atrocities were committed in Cambodia on Christmas day, that'd explain quite a bit.

When that happens, yes, it'll be tragic.

It has been happening, Slart.

Currently, though, the objection is not that he spoke up, but rather that he did quite a bit of...inventing.

I think you'll need to clarify that, Slart. It sounds rather too much like you're claiming John Kerry "invented" the war crimes he spoke out about. Which would make you part of the tragedy, wouldn't it?

I repeat, Hilzoy: Joseph Darby's behavior should be publicly rewarded. Thirty years down the line, if he's running for office, let's not have his political opponents accusing him of "ratting out his buddies" as Republicans now accuse John Kerry.

As for Kerry in Cambodia - Kevin Drum already pointed out the problems with that piece of Republican trumpery masquerading as informed criticism.

Kevin Drum...wasn't he the one beating the Bush/AWOL drum? What, I'm supposed to take him seriously?

But, assuming I am:

Who corroborates Kerry's story? Anyone? Is there any reason whatever to believe that covert ops dropoffs would be done by a 50-foot coastal patrol craft? Really, the idea that you'd do insertion missions on a boat that's 13 feet WIDE, for crying out loud, and draws about 4 feet of water, and has about 1000 horsepower of supercharged diesel in the engine room...it just defies reason.

Kevin Drum...wasn't he the one beating the Bush/AWOL drum? What, I'm supposed to take him seriously?

And once again, I ask: for those who dismiss the Bush/AWOL story out of hand, why? Have you looked at the recent analysis (particularly that of Paul Lukasiak, although I think some new stuff may appear at the AWOL Bush project) on the document dump and, if so, wherein lies the flaw?

Let me be clear: many of the people involved in the AWOL Bush project have heavy axes to grind. Most of their analysis will be heavily tainted by partisanship. All that said, I haven't yet seen a convincing disputation of the facts that have been uncovered, nor of the central contentions. I'm not saying that one doesn't exist and, indeed, by now my curiosity is pretty much academic; I'd just like to know the truth so we can put this damn thing to bed once and for all.

"(I very much hope that I'm the only person here who has actually spent several weeks trying to convince people who were sympathetic to a really dreadful and violent leftist organization that they should adopt Gandhian tactics.)"

Nope. Not if you count the Revolutionary Communist Party, at least.

"Hilzoy, if you can think of anything we can do to support Derby, I'm all for it."

It's an extremely miniscule step, but I'd start with getting his name right.

"Currently, though, the objection is not that he spoke up, but rather that he did quite a bit of...inventing."

Slart, are you maintaining that Kerry hasn't been hated by a significant portion of the right since 1971 because of his testimony before Congress, anti-war speeches, and involvement with the Vietnam Veterans Against The War? That he hasn't been called "a borderline traitor" for that about a gazillion times?

Because I can give you a gazillion such quotes, including comments made to my own blog. Could you clarify, please?

Slart, are you maintaining that Kerry hasn't been hated by a significant portion of the right since 1971 because of his testimony before Congress, anti-war speeches, and involvement with the Vietnam Veterans Against The War? That he hasn't been called "a borderline traitor" for that about a gazillion times?

I have no idea where this came from, Gary, or what it has to do with this discussion.

Nope. Not if you count the Revolutionary Communist Party, at least.

I've spent a couple hours taunting the local Stalinists. Does that count?

And once again, I ask: for those who dismiss the Bush/AWOL story out of hand, why?

1) Lack of anything resembling conclusive evidence that Bush was AWOL.

2) Lack of any sort of evidence that Bush failed to complete his service.

3) Lack of even rudimentary organizational skills of whatever evidence they do have, and

4) Lack of any displayed ability to form a coherent argument.

If the Bush/AWOL case were on anything resembling solid ground, it'd be...convincing, would it not? I haven't seen much to convince me that they even understand what AWOL means in the context of TANG, never mind that Bush was AWOL.

Can I take it from your response that you have not, in fact, examined Paul Lukasiak's latest? It may well have flaws -- among other things, it's ugly as hell -- but a lack of organizational skills or the inability to form a coherent argument do not appear to be amongst them.

Again, the usual disclaimer: a lot of people pushing this story are not worthy of your time. That doesn't preclude particular individuals having produced something of merit; and in this specific instance, I'm curious to hear people's rebuttals.

"Is there any reason whatever to believe that covert ops dropoffs would be done by a 50-foot coastal patrol craft?"

Well, there's history and endless documentation, for one.

"Really, the idea that you'd do insertion missions on a boat that's 13 feet WIDE, for crying out loud, and draws about 4 feet of water, and has about 1000 horsepower of supercharged diesel in the engine room...it just defies reason."

I don't know why. But, let reason be defied.

Even today:

Naval Special Warfare has taken control of 12 of 13 Patrol Coastal (PC) class ships. The PC class has a primary mission of coastal patrol and interdiction, with a secondary mission of Naval Special Warfare support. Primary employment missions will include forward presence, monitoring and detection operations, escort operations, non-combatant evacuation, and foreign internal defense.

The PC class operates in low intensity environments. Naval Special Warfare operational missions will include long range SEAL insertion/extractions, tactical swimmer operations, intelligence collection, operational deception, and coastal/riverine support. PCs will normally operate as a two boat detachment. This allows enhanced support and facilitates the assignment of one Mobile Support Team, MST, every two ships.

Design Characteristics:

Length: 170 feet

Beam: 25 feet

Draft: 7.8 feet

And the most modern:
The MK V Special Operations Craft (SOC), is the newest craft in the Naval Special Warfare inventory. The MK V SOC primary mission is a medium range insertion and extraction platform for Special Operations Forces in a low to medium threat environment. The secondary mission is limited Coastal Patrol and Interdiction (CP&I), specifically limited duration patrol and low to medium threat coastal interdiction.

[...]

Length: 81 feet 2 inches

Beam: 17 ft 5 3/4 inches

Draft: 5 feet

Then there's the Swift Boat Vets own history:
While pulled into the riverbank, awaiting an early morning insertion of the Seals, the 691 and 694 encountered three sampans, headed downstream, carrying NVA regular troops. A fire fight ensured, with no casualties to the Swifts or Seals. The Swifts then moved upstream several miles to the Seal team insertion site. After daylight, approximately 200 yards downstream from where the Swifts were awaiting the return of the Seals, a very large explosion sent large amounts of debris 100 feet into the air, well above the tree line. Upon the return of the Seals, the Swifts exited the Duong Keo with Black Pony and Seawolf providing covering fire. When passing the site of the prior nights encounter with the sampans, the sampans and three or four bodies, in full NVA uniform, were observed lying on the river bank.
Mind-blowing, this defying of reason, isn't it? :-)

"I have no idea where this came from, Gary, or what it has to do with this discussion."

Um, well, Jes said:

When Republicans actually claim that that one of the things they hold against John Kerry is that he publicly spoke out about US war crimes in Vietnam, what chance does Joseph Derby have?
You responded to him saying:
When that happens, yes, it'll be tragic. Currently, though, the objection is not that he spoke up....
I pointed out that it has been the main objection to John Kerry by innumerable people for more than thirty years. That's what it has to do with the conversation.

So I repeat the question: Slart, are you maintaining that Kerry hasn't been hated by a significant portion of the right since 1971 because of his testimony before Congress, anti-war speeches, and involvement with the Vietnam Veterans Against The War? That he hasn't been called "a borderline traitor" for that about a gazillion times?

If not, what on earth did you mean by "When that happens, yes, it'll be tragic. Currently, though, the objection is not that he spoke up...."?

I pointed out that it has been the main objection to John Kerry by innumerable people for more than thirty years. That's what it has to do with the conversation.

In order for it to be relevant, it'd have to be Republicans, Gary. After all, Jesurgislac's statement went like this:

When Republicans actually claim that that one of the things they hold against John Kerry is that he publicly spoke out about US war crimes in Vietnam, what chance does Joseph Derby have?

Seems like the claims would have to be made in a partisan fashion, by Republicans.

If not, what on earth did you mean by "When that happens, yes, it'll be tragic. Currently, though, the objection is not that he spoke up...."?

I believe the bone of contention is that he fabricated. Or do you know of some that admit to the crimes, and are simply upset that he ratted them out?

Regarding your earlier comments, Gary, I had composed a lengthy discussion of the other boats you'd linked to references of, but Explorer ate it. For this try, I'm simply going to suggest that you read your own links, and note this time that the craft in question carry what are in effect inflatables for the actual insertion.

As for the rest, I'm going to have to admit to making an incomplete claim, and that my previous scoffing at using Swift boats for insertion ought to have included some mention of using them for insertion far upstream, which is where one would find Cambodia. The discussion of the Swift-boat-aided insertion you link to is very close to the wreckage of PCF 43, which is only about 5 km inland from the mouth of the Rach Duong Keo. Far closer, you must admit, to the coast than to Cambodia.

Which brings us to another point, which is why Coastal Division 13 would be tasked to do a job that an existing outfit is explicitly equipped to perform; said outfit already having the assigned task of patrolling rivers-hence the name: River Patrol Force.

All this is just buttressing, though. His commanding officer says he was never there; if that's not good enough for you I'm not sure what would be. The fact that his commanding officer is part of Swiftvets surely will come to rise, but I've not seen anything compelling that says it either poisons or puts extra shine on his testimony.

"In order for it to be relevant, it'd have to be Republicans, Gary."

They generally have been, though not universally.

"I believe the bone of contention is that he fabricated. Or do you know of some that admit to the crimes, and are simply upset that he ratted them out?"

No. I believe "accusation" might be the word you want.

The fact is that, of course, Kerry has said for a long time that he regrets some of the language he used back then.

I don't know how old you are, Slarti, so I don't know if you remember those times yourself; they were a heck of a lot more heated than today's minor political arguments, and to many on both sides it seemed as if the country was on the verge of revolution. People tended to say heated things.

Were there atrocities committed by Americans in Vietnam? Of course. Were all Americans involved? Of course not. How widespread were they? A bit hard to say. Kerry likely over-stated back then. People who are in complete or major denial nowadays that there were atrocities are equally, if not more, given to over-statement.

Myself, I don't think any of it is terrible relevant to who would have good policies in 2005, any more than the fact that George Bush was a drunken sot who never did anything of worth until age 40 (and still never did anything of worth until being elected governor that wasn't failing business his father's friends gave him, until he was given the gift of making money from the Rangers ball team, and the stadium he and his partners got the citizens of Arlington to pay $130 million for, is relevant. We're electing a president to do things in the future, not the past.

I believe "accusation" might be the word you want.

I obviously didn't think so, but we can go with that. If it was a justified accusation, the anger would be that he exposed them; if unjustified it would be because he lied. I can't think of a third option, can you?

People who are in complete or major denial nowadays that there were atrocities are equally, if not more, given to over-statement.

I think the whole point was few (if any) Kerry actually served with supports his claims made in the Winter Soldier investigation. I don't think anyone's saying that no atrocities were ever committed, just that they didn't occur in anywhere near the nearly-universal fashion Kerry described.

We're electing a president to do things in the future, not the past.

Which would be fine with me, but Kerry's constant bringing-up of his time in Vietnam pretty much invites close inspection to see just how well he did there. I think close inspection of his time in the Senate might be warranted as well, but for some reason this doesn't seem held up as one of his strengths. And I don't know about for you, but for me the future's at least temporarily unavailable for examination.

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