« Hart in or out of GOP? | Main | On a lighter note... »

August 06, 2004

Comments

Well it wouldn't be the first time John O'Neill has lied:

Blitzer: "Why have you decided you want to speak out against John Kerry right now?" O'Neill: "I have no choice, Wolf. I would far rather be home or on the other side of a TV camera than being on television. I haven't been on television in many, many years." The trouble is, O'Neill had given an extensive interview for a TV show that had aired nationally on Sunday, March 28. The interview was prominently featured in C-Span's signature political show, "The Road to the White House." It followed a broadcast by C-Span of the entire original "Dick Cavett Show," featuring Kerry and O'Neill. Also interviewed for the new sequence was Cavett.

C-Span producer Richard Weinstein confirmed that he had interviewed O'Neill approximately 10 days before the March 28 air date. "We tracked down John O'Neill and told him that we were going to broadcast the entire 'Dick Cavett Show' from 1971 on which he appeared and asked if he would be interviewed for our show. We asked him to share his memories. He agreed to be interviewed."
I asked Weinstein if there could have been any possibility that O'Neill had been confused and not realized that his interview was going to be used on TV. "No," Weinstein said. "He spoke to us before and after the interview. He was fully aware. I feel confident that he knew exactly what he was doing. He was giving an interview for us to air on C-Span TV."

Repeated calls to O'Neill and his representatives have gone unanswered.

There are folks who find the methods of Moore and the SwiftVets equally repugnant, and Coulter and International ANSWER to be merely the shit of two different animals. I'm waiting for you. I'm counting on you. I'm ready to actually seize the radio station . . . . (so the slogan goes . . . .)

I'm with you, Von.


I'm a liberal but I haven't seen Moore's films for years (I did see 'Roger and Me') because I find he edits for entertainment a little too much for my taste. But...I am glad the left has some forces countering the right's "enetertainment".
The Swift Boat captains are a little different - though it all does start to blend together.

My guess is Elliot (and I believe one other has also recanted already) thought they were just making something to be passed around the right wing circles and got scared when serious cash showed up and the stuff actually got on TV.

FYI,

Drudge is reporting that this Elliot fellow claims to have been misrepresented in the Globe article and that he stands by his earlier statements, or something to that effect.

Drudge also says, rather interestingly, that the reporter is the same fellow that is writing a book on the Kedwards campaign.

Great post, von.

Giving credit where it's due, most right wing blogs I visited yesterday did ask folks to hold off until the dust cleared on this one or, even if it turned out to be accurate, to keep it in perspective.

A few of them though might have just a touch of egg to wipe off their faces.

hmmm...given Nathan's comment, I might want to check my own face...frickin' premature gloating...

McCain calling the Swift boat ad "dishonest and dishonorable" says it better than anyone.

This is a repeat of the same slime Bush and crew dumped on McCain in 2000 -- another point made by McCain.

And the ad is a clear adjunct of the Bush re-election campaign -- despite transparent deniability. You would at least think they would use different operatives than in 2000, but have not bothered.

I must also note that there is no way you can lump Moore's movie (which I finally relunctantly saw recently and was surprised it was not as much of a polemic as alleged to be) with the Swift boat tactics or Coulter rhetoric. Moore may not be your cup of tea, but he is not in the same league of dishonesty or utter violent bullshit as his alleged right-wing equals.

This kind of bombshell report should be treated with the same skepticism as ought to be used with WMD finds and reports of bin Laden's capture--wait 2 days and see what the story is then.

One of the disadvantages of the current media climate is that we see stories and attacks at an earlier stage of development, often when things aren't accurate. The advantage is that we often see true stories that might not have gotten much play in older times (UN Food for Palaces for instance). But I'll adopt a wait and see approach on these particular charges. Ask me again on Monday.

It's all right, Edward, eggs are delicious!

Seriously, though, this whole damn thing makes me uncomfortable.

Edward,

Consider the source, the same one who flogged the intern story. It also doesn't change John O'Neill's lie cited above.

Consider the source, the same one who flogged the intern story.

I was going to point out that Drudge's track record is spotty at best, but I think now (mmm...eggs) I'll take Sebastian's advice and wait until Monday.

I see my nefarious waiting-and-seeing approach has some new acolytes. Muahaha! Welcome, Edward!

Muahaha! Welcome, Edward!

Why do I feel like I'm tied to a train track and Slarti is twisting a well-oiled mustache?

Do we get to include Michael Kranish in the repugnant category? Just asking.

Don't you want to join the Slarti-Sebastian wait-a-thon first Timmy?

Timmy wrote:

Do we get to include Michael Kranish in the repugnant category? Just asking.
Good point.

BTW: Von, when are you going to update your post in light of the fact that Elliot seems to be sticking by his sworn affidavit and what he said in the ad while the reporter who claimed otherwise seems to be writing the Kerry-Edwards campaign book? Perhaps instead of lecturing your readers about perjury and libel, it might be time to start discussing “conflict of interest.”

"Most right wing blogs" would not seem to include a certain professor of Instathink or a certain bastion of Collaborative Republicanism For The Masses, Edward. But I gave up on seeing much more than partisan hackery and unhinged, right-wing vitriol (respectively) from them some time ago.

And once more, I'm tired of seeing Moore's fact-slippery left-wing infotainment being passed off as the equivalent of either John O'Neill's outright libel or Ann Coulter's lizard-brain cravings for a genocidal dictatorship. I've been center-left for years, and I react very badly to the suggestion that just because the rhetorical landscape has shifted to the rabid right, I need to cede an ethical shift there as well. Michael Moore's agitations against the gun and energy lobby are not the equivalent of Ann Coulter decrying the ability of liberals to speak, or the ability of Muslims to exist. Please try to keep some perspective here.

Having just completed that rant, I'd like to say thank you for that sensible call for moderation, Von. It's good to see some sanity on the internet.

Thorley:

How about we get someone from your side to address the fact that all of Kerry's commanding officers gave him glowing reports while they actually served under his command - including Elliot?

I'll have to second Thorley here, von. Elliot is apparently sticking by his earlier statements and is saying that the article is not representative of what he said.

I would like to hear the tape of the interview, though. I suppose that won't happen, though.

How about we get someone from your side to address the fact that all of Kerry's commanding officers gave him glowing reports

Nah....that's not the way it works...

Since most Americans are not that far to the right, they have to portray us Democrats as unacceptable, lacking in strength and values. In other words, they need a divided America.

That's the way it works. ;-p

Maybe Elliot went to a Cheney rally and forgot that he signed one of those loyalty oaths.

Thorley:

Von, when are you going to update your post in light of the fact that Elliot seems to be sticking by his sworn affidavit and what he said in the ad while the reporter who claimed otherwise seems to be writing the Kerry-Edwards campaign book?

So updated. But, take note, Elliot has repudiated nothing. Rather, Drudge reports that the SwiftVets report that Captain Elliot "describes an article appearing in today’s edition of the Boston Globe by Mike Kranish as extremely inaccurate and highly misstating his actual views." This is a report of a report of a paraphrase. Let's have Elliot speak up -- and Kranish respond, if he can, with notes or tape.

I wonder if the discrepancy is on account of the paper thin plausible deniability the affidavit leaves:

"Kerry was also not forthright 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."

I can easily believe that Elliott was never informed of that.

Ah, technical truth. I wonder where they learned that trick?

Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, and the USA Today guy aside, reporters don't usually just make stuff up; it's far more common for a source to deny a quote. There are misquotes and misunderstandings, but this discrepancy doesn't sound like it could possibly be explained that way. And the Globe directly quotes Elliot while the press release doesn't.

I don't know how implying rather than directly making an untrue accusation affects the legalities.

It also doesn't explain John O'Neill's lie to Wolf Blitzer cited in the first comment in this thread.

"In a combat environment often requiring independent, decisive action, LTJG Kerry was unsurpassed," "LTJG Kerry emerges as the acknowledged leader in his peer group."

A good lawyer may have stressed to Mr. Elliot that to admit libel in the press is not a good strategy in case of a court case. Recanting would be a good first step toward claiming innocence.
Or the reporter's editors forgot to read his notes and let the article pass. Doubtful considering the libel issues they could face as a result. Doubtful but still possible.

Come Monday. It'll be alright.

I saw this story about the recanting of the recanting, and... if Mike Kranish got it as wrong as SwiftVets is alleging, then he should never work in journalism again. Here are the direct quotes attributed to Elliot. They aren't ambiguous:

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

..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."

"It makes me look kind of silly, to be perfectly honest... I simply have no reason for these guys to be lying, and if they are lying in concert, it is one hell of a conspiracy. So, on the basis of all of the information that has come out, I have chosen to believe the other men. I absolutely do not know first hand."

Slightly OT, but: Media Matters has a post on Jerome Corsi, one of the co-authors of the Swift Boat book. It includes some really repellent quotes. They are unsourced, but come from his Free Republic comments ( the link is in the 6th para. below the quotes.) One they did not include (after a car bomb): "One more Mohammed al-Mohammed el-Mohammed Mohammed iced -- great."

Von wrote:

So updated. But, take note, Elliot has repudiated nothing. Rather, Drudge reports that the SwiftVets report that Captain Elliot "describes an article appearing in today’s edition of the Boston Globe by Mike Kranish as extremely inaccurate and highly misstating his actual views." This is a report of a report of a paraphrase. Let's have Elliot speak up -- and Kranish respond, if he can, with notes or tape.

WTF, Von that’s bullshit and you know it, the link I provided which you scrupulously avoided posting in your “update” did not go to the drudge report it went to a sworn affidavit signed by George Elliot in which he said he was misquoted by Mike Kranish.

Reading the updated affidavit, I see that my guess was exactly correct:

"In that sentence, I state, '...in connection with his Silver Star, I was never informed that he had simply shot a wounded, fleeing Viet Cong in the back. That statement is wholly true. As the affidavit makes clear, I received no such report."

"I do not claim to have personal knowledge as to how Kerry shot the wounded, fleeing Viet Cong."

Elliot affirms that he was "misquoted" but does not say the substance of the misquote. Based on his arguably-technically-true-but-completely-deceptive approach, of course, the misquote could be something like Kranish quoting him as saying "It was a terrible mistake probably" when he said "It was probably a terrible mistake."

Wow, Corsi is a real psycho.

Who knew Freepers could write books. Can't wait to see the sequel sponsored by LGF.

also, here is an essential 2003 article by Kranish on this subject. It quotes Elliott, along with some eyewitnesses. It sounds like he did shoot a teenager in a loincloth, but no one seems to dispute that the teenager was carrying a grenade launcher capable of killing all of them, and Kerry says he was not shot in the back. Elliott seems aware of also this, and is quoted as saying he never questioned Kerry's decision to kill the VC, and has no regrets about recommending the silver star.

This exhausting and harrowing week was only the beginning for Kerry. On Feb. 28, 1969, Kerry's boat received word that a swift boat was being ambushed. As Kerry raced to the scene, his boat became another target, as a Viet Cong B-40 rocket blast shattered a window. Kerry could have ordered his crew to hit the enemy and run. But the skipper had a more aggressive reaction in mind. Beach the boat, Kerry ordered, and the craft's bow was quickly rammed upon the shoreline. Out of the bush appeared a teenager in a loin cloth, clutching a grenade launcher.

An enemy was just feet away, holding a weapon with enough firepower to blow up the boat. Kerry's forward gunner, Belodeau, shot and clipped the Viet Cong in the leg. Then Belodeau's gun jammed, according to other crewmates (Belodeau died in 1997). Medeiros tried to fire at the Viet Cong, but he couldn't get a shot off.

In an interview, Kerry added a chilling detail.

"This guy could have dispatched us in a second, but for ... I'll never be able to explain, we were literally face to face, he with his B-40 rocket and us in our boat, and he didn't pull the trigger. I would not be here today talking to you if he had," Kerry recalled. "And Tommy clipped him, and he started going [down.] I thought it was over."

Instead, the guerrilla got up and started running. "We've got to get him, make sure he doesn't get behind the hut, and then we're in trouble," Kerry recalled.

So Kerry shot and killed the guerrilla. "I don't have a second's question about that, nor does anybody who was with me," he said. "He was running away with a live B-40, and, I thought, poised to turn around and fire it." Asked whether that meant Kerry shot the guerrilla in the back, Kerry said, "No, absolutely not. He was hurt, other guys were shooting from back, side, back. There is no, there is not a scintilla of question in any person's mind who was there [that] this guy was dangerous, he was a combatant, he had an armed weapon."

The crewman with the best view of the action was Frederic Short, the man in the tub operating the twin guns. Short had not talked to Kerry for 34 years, until after he was recently contacted by a Globe reporter. Kerry said he had "totally forgotten" Short was on board that day.

Short had joined Kerry's crew just two weeks earlier, as a last-minute replacement, and he was as green as the Arkansas grass of his home. He said he didn't realize that he should have carried an M-16 rifle, figuring the tub's machine guns would be enough. But as Kerry stood face to face with the guerrilla carrying the rocket, Short realized his predicament. With the boat beached and the bow tilted up, a guard rail prevented him from taking aim at the enemy. For a terrifying moment, the guerrilla looked straight at Short with the rocket.

Short believes the guerrilla didn't fire because he was too close and needed to be a suitable distance to hit the boat squarely and avoid ricochet debris. Short tried to protect his skipper.

"I laid in fire with the twin .50s, and he got behind a hootch," recalled Short. "I laid 50 rounds in there, and Mr. Kerry went in. Rounds were coming everywhere. We were getting fire from both sides of the river. It was a canal. We were receiving fire from the opposite bank, also, and there was no way I could bring my guns to bear on that."

Short said there is "no doubt" that Kerry saved the boat and crew. "That was a him-or-us thing, that was a loaded weapon with a shape charge on it. ... It could pierce a tank. I wouldn't have been here talking to you. I probably prayed more up that creek than a Southern Baptist church does in a month."

Charles Gibson, who served on Kerry's boat that day because he was on a one-week indoctrination course, said Kerry's action was dangerous but necessary. "Every day you wake up and say, `How the hell did we get out of that alive?"' Gibson said. "Kerry was a good leader. He knew what he was doing."

When Kerry returned to his base, his commanding officer, George Elliott, raised an issue with Kerry: the fine line between whether the action merited a medal or a court-martial.

"When [Kerry] came back from the well-publicized action where he beached his boat in middle of ambush and chased a VC around a hootch and ended his life, when [Kerry] came back and I heard his debrief, I said, `John, I don't know whether you should be court-martialed or given a medal, court-martialed for leaving your ship, your post,"' Elliott recalled in an interview.

"But I ended up writing it up for a Silver Star, which is well deserved, and I have no regrets or second thoughts at all about that," Elliott said. A Silver Star, which the Navy said is its fifth-highest medal, commends distinctive gallantry in action.

Asked why he had raised the issue of a court-martial, Elliott said he did so "half tongue-in-cheek, because there was never any question I wanted him to realize I didn't want him to leave his boat unattended. That was in context of big-ship Navy -- my background. A C.O. [commanding officer] never leaves his ship in battle or anything else. I realize this, first of all, it was pretty courageous to turn into an ambush even though you usually find no more than two or three people there. On the other hand, on an operation some time later, down on the very tip of the peninsula, we had lost one boat and several men in a big operation, and they were hit by a lot more than two or three people."

Elliott stressed that he never questioned Kerry's decision to kill the Viet Cong, and he appeared in Boston at Kerry's side during the 1996 Senate race to back up that aspect of Kerry's action.

I know it's against the cowboy code and all, but is shooting an armed hostile in the back even outside the normal rules of engagement in a combat zone? Can anybody with combat training comment?

"is shooting an armed hostile in the back"

When he's apparently moving back to get a better shot on your boat and your crew? No.

I can only imagine what the conservatives in residence would be doing if it were just some random soldier in Vietnam being questioned for his conduct versus the enemy under fire, instead of the Democratic presidential candidate. Just shameful.

What sidereal said. The funny thing is, there's actually not much factual dispute. He was fleeing, though quite possibly only to take cover to fire again. He was a teenager. He was wounded, though it was in the leg & he was still a threat. He was in a loin cloth. They say he shot him in the back; he says not. But the real difference is that they're carefully omitting the fact that the guy was carrying a very powerful grenade launcher capable of destroying a tank or the boat, and had just shot at them.

And these people are arguing that Kerry has betrayed veterans' by making untrue charges when he opposed the war. Well, some of Kerry's charges did not turn out to be true, but most of them were, and there is no indication that he acted in bad faith or deliberately spread false or misleading information. Unlike these guys.

"In that sentence, I state, '...in connection with his Silver Star, I was never informed that he had simply shot a wounded, fleeing Viet Cong in the back. That statement is wholly true. As the affidavit makes clear, I received no such report."

Quite right, it is more likely that he was informed that the enemy was armed , dangerous and heading for cover. So I cannot see how his affidavits are honest in the sense of conforming with the reality of what occured.

If Kerry had told his men to hold their fire and the enemy reached cover, I don't think he'd be getting a pass from his political opponents today.

OT and speaking as a foreigner I hesitate to comment (it's none of my business right?), but many people around the world are following your election very closely, closer than ever before at any rate. Maybe because I have not payed so much attention previously the worries I have are unfounded, and this is all par for the course in US politics but the partisan viciousness of your political process is hard to watch.

From the gerrymandered legislature to the partisan squabling over supreme court appointments, from the media attack dogs and political 'war rooms' to the crony capitalism and lobby group infested hallways of power it seems to us that there is something very sick in your civic infrastructure.

We keep hearing that you are a 'divided nation' and we wonder whether the above issues are a symptom or a cause of this, but we worry all the same.

I say 'we' because your politics has become a very common topic of conversation lately, to an extent I have never known before.

Those of us, and there are many, who love, respect, and admire your constitution and history, who DO see you as a shining light on the hill, while recognising and cherishing our own contributions to the cause of liberty [first in the world to give women the vote :) yay] are confused when we see what you are doing to yourselves. And not a little bit fearful. And not in the respect kind of way. Cheers. And get well soon. Please.

So let's recap the events here:

  • You have an organization of Swift Boat Veterans none of whom served on Kerry's boat who condemn him and the veterans who served on Kerry's boat who praise him.

  • You have a doctor who said he treated Kerry for the wound that resulted in his third Purple Heart, but another person signed the sick call sheet, and in fact, there doesn't appear to be any paper trail linking this doctor to treating Kerry.

  • The leader of this organization, John O'Neill can remember vividly everything bad that Kerry did 35 years ago, but cannot remember being interviewed for a television program this year while appearing on another program one month later.

  • Then you have George Elliott having said the following:

    "In a combat environment often requiring independent, decisive action LTJG Kerry was unsurpassed." . . . "He constantly reviewed tactics and lessons learned in river operations and applied his experience at every opportunity. . . . LTJG Kerry emerges as the acknowledged leader in his peer group. His bearing and appearance are above reproach."

    recants, then recants the recantation, then recants the recanting of the recantation.

  • Yeah, these guys just ooze credibility and exude rectitude . . .

    Yeah, there credibility is just outstanding...

    http://mediamatters.org/items/200408060011

    May 6: "Hoffman 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." [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

    August 4: "'I knew him well enough to know him," Hoffman said. 'He's the most vain individual I've ever met - aloof and arrogant.'" [Scripps Howard News Service]

    August 5: Hoffman said, "We were on the same operations, we were operating within 25-50 yards of him all the time, and for them to suggest we don't know John Kerry is pure old bull." [The New York Times]

    August 5: In response to Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) denunciation of the ad, Hoffman "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.'" [Associated Press]

    August 5: Hoffman said, "I knew him well, because I operated very closely with him and, uh, many of the operations, uh, most of the operations were-were conducted with multiple boats" - a dramatic shift from admitting no personal knowledge of Kerry three months earlier; it went unchallenged by his host. [ABC Radio's Sean Hannity Show]

    The one thing that stands out from them is their anger and rage at rage at Kerry's testimony during the early 70's... (that O'Neil was specificially charged to rebut by the Nixon White House)... I can understand that and if the debate was set on that I would have no problem... But this slurring of his service in combat is over the pale...

    Just one man's opinion...

    Tommyd....

    Yeah, there credibility is just outstanding...

    http://mediamatters.org/items/200408060011

    May 6: "Hoffman 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." [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

    August 4: "'I knew him well enough to know him," Hoffman said. 'He's the most vain individual I've ever met - aloof and arrogant.'" [Scripps Howard News Service]

    August 5: Hoffman said, "We were on the same operations, we were operating within 25-50 yards of him all the time, and for them to suggest we don't know John Kerry is pure old bull." [The New York Times]

    August 5: In response to Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) denunciation of the ad, Hoffman "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.'" [Associated Press]

    August 5: Hoffman said, "I knew him well, because I operated very closely with him and, uh, many of the operations, uh, most of the operations were-were conducted with multiple boats" - a dramatic shift from admitting no personal knowledge of Kerry three months earlier; it went unchallenged by his host. [ABC Radio's Sean Hannity Show]

    The one thing that stands out from them is their anger and rage at rage at Kerry's testimony during the early 70's... (that O'Neil was specificially charged to rebut by the Nixon White House)... I can understand that and if the debate was set on that I would have no problem... But this slurring of his service in combat is over the pale...

    Just one man's opinion...

    Tommyd....

    Apologies for the double post... :{

    http://mediamatters.org/items/200408060010

    They link to the co-author Corsi with O'Neil on the book to a range of postings he made on FreeRepublic over a variety of topics... Yeah, he just oozes credibility, a real "in the mainstream" kind of guy... The main over-riding theme is "reactionary extremism"...

    Tommyd...

    ax, it's all the Republicans' fault.

    Hey! That's wax, however much you'd like it to be about the oil.

    Don't make us ax you agin, Slarti... ;)

    What Gromit and Sidereal said--I never did understand the whole "shot in the back" thing, especially since the heroic part of Kerry's action appeared to have taken before then (beaching the boat and jumping off of it).

    In any case, is it wrong to shoot an armed hostile in the back even if he is just fleeing? If he's surrendering, that's another thing, but failing that I was under the impression that an enemy soldier is a fair target. I'm a non-combatant, though, so I don't know anything about the rules of engagement.

    What Gromit and Sidereal said--I never did understand the whole "shot in the back" thing, especially since the heroic part of Kerry's action appeared to have taken before then (beaching the boat and jumping off of it).

    In any case, is it wrong to shoot an armed hostile in the back even if he is just fleeing? If he's surrendering, that's another thing, but failing that I was under the impression that an enemy soldier is a fair target. I'm a non-combatant, though, so I don't know anything about the rules of engagement.

    I just looked at the Globe's response--they stand by Kranish.

    It also denies that Kranish is writing the foreword to the Kerry-Edwards campaign book:

    Baron noted that earlier this summer Kranish worked with PublicAffairs -- the publisher of the Boston Globe biography of Kerry, "John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best" -- to write a short introduction to a second project: an independent, unauthorized review of publicly available documents dealing with the platform and policy statements of Kerry and Edwards. That project was in no way connected with the Kerry-Edwards campaign, Baron said.

    "When PublicAffairs subsequently struck an agreement with the Kerry campaign to do an official campaign book, Kranish's relationship with the project immediately ended," Baron said.

    Peter Osnos, publisher of PublicAffairs, said both Drudge and Amazon, the online bookseller peddling the upcoming Kerry-Edwards book, had made a mistake in suggesting Kranish had written its introduction.

    I clicked through the link supplied by Drudge about Kranish writing that preface, and it doesn't mention Kranish; it may have changed, though. It appears that Amazon messed up somewhere, and Drudge picked it up.

    Wait, Matt Drudge relied on an amazon.com product page as a source? God, I hope I'm never such a collossal embarrassment to my profession.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

    Blog powered by Typepad