It did not matter. This was Kerry's aria, and he sang it with aplomb.
This is not to suggest that he lied (though some of Kerry's former comrades have done just that). It does however suggest that Kerry is unfit to serve as our president. After all, the Geneva conventions that Kerry was so fond of invoking require soldiers to report war crimes. This is common knowledge. The obligation to examine orders for legality, and the duty to disobey unlawful orders is made unmistakably made clear to all officers during their training. As a former Vietnam vet recalled , "This was hammered into us, and is the basis of individual culpability in war crimes cases. The individual, especially an officer, can not hide behind the 'instrument of policy' defense and claim that he is innocent, or blameless, but the policy is a war crime."
Yet that's precisely what Kerry spent the better part of 1971 doing. He claims to have participated in the arbitrary slaughter of innocent Vietnamese, but neatly shifts all blame for the massacre on to his superiors. I was just following orders, he confesses (Hmm, heard that before).
That message was a real crowd pleaser in the 70's and it's a tune he continues to tote to this day. When asked last month by CNN's Judy Woodruff whether he had accused his comrades of committing war crimes, Kerry shot back, "No, I was accusing American leaders of abandoning the troops. And if you read what I said, it is very clearly an indictment of leadership. I said to the Senate, where is the leadership of our country? And it's the leaders who are responsible, not the soldiers. I never said that."
That explanation doesn't hold water with the Vietnam vets I talked to. As one former vet put it: "It is hard for me to believe that during officer training for wartime that the requirements of the Geneva Conventions would have been glossed over or ignored. I think Kerry understood what war crimes were and what were not.
It was irresponsible of him to sensationalize his case against the war by claiming widespread, in fact daily, observance and participation in acts that meet that definition. Furthermore, were those things committed he would have had the duty, not to obey such orders or to initiate such orders himself. Rather than running for Congress in '72, he should have presented himself to a tribunal for trial if he truly thought this way."
I herewith suggest, it's not too late.