Chris Matthews tore Michelle Malkin a new one on Hardball last night after she claimed Kerry self-inflicted his wounds.
The latest ad from the swift boat group selects quotes from Kerry's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 about fellow soldiers. He is seen saying, "They had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads," "randomly shot at civilians," and "razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Kahn."
Not shown on the ad is Kerry's preface to those comments, in which he said he is reporting what others said at a conference of Vietnam veterans in Detroit. Instead, a member of the Swift Boat group refers to the statements as "the accusations that John Kerry made against the veterans who served in Vietnam."
A Swift Boat member says, referring to captives in Vietnam, "That was part of the torture, was to sign a statement that you had committed war crimes" and says Kerry "betrayed us" by his comments upon his return.
Another says Kerry "gave the enemy for free what I, and many of my comrades in North Vietnam, in the prison camps, took torture to avoid saying. It demoralized us."
An official transcript of Kerry's testimony shows he was referring to the meeting in Detroit, part of what was called the Winter Soldier investigation. He told the Senate committee that at that meeting "many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia" and relived the "absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do."
"They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."
Patrick Runyon, who served on a mission with Mr. Kerry, said he initially thought the caller was from a pro-Kerry group, and happily gave a statement about the night Mr. Kerry won his first Purple Heart. The investigator said he would send it to him by e-mail for his signature. Mr. Runyon said the edited version was stripped of all references to enemy combat, making it look like just another night in the Mekong Delta.
"It made it sound like I didn't believe we got any returned fire," he said. "He made it sound like it was a normal operation. It was the scariest night of my life."
The group also offers the account of William L. Schachte Jr., a retired rear admiral who says in the book that he had been on the small skimmer on which Mr. Kerry was injured that night in December 1968. He contends that Mr. Kerry wounded himself while firing a grenade.
But the two other men who acknowledged that they had been with Mr. Kerry, Bill Zaladonis and Mr. Runyon, say they cannot recall a third crew member. "Me and Bill aren't the smartest, but we can count to three," Mr. Runyon said in an interview. And even Dr. Letson said he had not recalled Mr. Schachte until he had a conversation with another veteran earlier this year and received a subsequent phone call from Mr. Schachte himself.
Terry, the President thinks that we should get rid of all of this unregulated soft money activity by these shadowy groups. It's not known who is contributing to these groups. The President believes that there ought to be full disclosure and rapid disclosure of contributions. He's called for that previously. He has set an example by doing that himself [. . .]
Q Well, the charge, though, has been made not just in advertisements, but it has now been made directly to the President.
MR. McCLELLAN: And there have been a lot of false, negative charges made against the President by these shadowy groups. So if he would join us, we could get rid of all of this unregulated soft money activity.
Q Let me ask it this way: The President has said and believes that John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, he's made that very clear. We've made it very clear that we will not make his -- will never raise questions about his service. We haven't, and we won't.
Q This advertisement raises questions about his service, and in fact concludes that he served dishonorably. So the President thinks this ad is false, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the issue here is these unregulated soft money groups that exist. The campaign finance reforms were passed in order to get rid of this kind of activity. Yet there is a loophole in the law, and the FEC has refused to address it. We think that all of this activity should be stopped.
Why are the Swift Boat Liars and Move On "two sides of the same coin." Move On is an established organization which has been around for years and which has a very large small donor base (and, a few large donors as well). Swift Boat Liars came into being just recently to lie about John Kerry's record.
Why are the Swift Boat Liar ads and Move On's ads equivalent? On one hand we have proven liars contradicting existing Navy records and 35 years of public comment, and on the other hand we have legitimate questions, raised by many prominent news organizations, about whether George Bush bothered to show up for national guard service as he was required. There are many legitimate questions about Bush's failure to fulfill his duty, including his failure to take a required flight physical, as well as the fact that Bush lied about his military record in his autobiography. Kerry has Navy records to back up his claims, Bush does not.
Why is Move On a "far left" organization? Can you point to these extreme positions they've taken on some issues? Any issue?
... and, one more thing. If they're "the same," why are the swift boat liars on every news show and Move On people are not?
BUSH: I'm denouncing all the stuff being on TV, all the 527s. That's what I've said.
I said this kind of unregulated soft money is wrong for the process. And I asked Senator Kerry to join me in getting rid of all that kind of soft money, not only on TV, but to use for other purposes as well.
I, frankly, thought we'd gotten rid of that when I signed the McCain-Feingold bill. I thought we were going to once and for all get rid of a system where people could just pour tons of money in and not be held to account for the advertising. . .
I don't think we ought to have 527s. I can't be more plain about it. And I wish -- I hope my opponent joins me in saying, condemning these activities of the 527s. It's the -- I think they're bad for the system. That's why I signed the bill, McCain-Feingold.
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