After the media tore into President Bush?s 30-year-old National Guard record like a voracious pit bull into a bacon-scented postman, Democrats have been licking their chops in anticipation of highlighting John Kerry?s decorated service during the same time period.
A new web site launching this week, however, should give Democrats more than a moment?s pause?and it?s likely just the opening salvo in exposing the truth about the outlandish actions of Kerry and his comrades as part of an anti-war group known as Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW).
The new site, WinterSoldier.com , is named after the event that helped raise Kerry to prominence in 1971. The Winter Soldier Investigation, as it was called, was held in Detroit from January 31 to February 2?with financial backing from Jane Fonda, according to an historian cited on the web site?where over 100 veterans testified about the most horrendous war crimes imaginable happening every day.
John Kerry was an instant celebrity, and the group behind the three-day conference, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), certainly served his political ambitions well. But if the wealth of information found at WinterSoldier.com gains any traction, Kerry?s past could come back to haunt him.
VVAW was a media favorite: war veterans who were anti-war. Quite a sales pitch. But the more realistic characterization would have been Americans who were anti-American. (Literally, too: One of the documents at WinterSoldier.com is the minutes of a VVAW executive meeting where members decided to take down American flags from all VVAW offices.)
Their goal was not just to sour Americans on the Vietnam war, but to make them hate America and American soldiers.
Hence the Winter Soldier Investigation.
The three-day circus featured tales of the most sadistic forms of torture, including genital mutilation and gang rape, and wanton mass murder of innocent civilians. Kerry and the others claimed that almost unprecedented war crimes were not simply rampant, but committed as a matter of U.S. policy.
One of the most shocking quotes comes from Kerry himself, claiming that he had committed war crimes in Vietnam, then suggested he was merely following orders. Following orders, however, does not absolve someone of guilt for committing war crimes. Which begs the question: will Kerry be willing to discuss the details of the war crimes he claims to have committed?
Some will excuse VVAW?s actions and hyperbolic rhetoric as the work of people understandably disillusioned by an embittering war experience. But there is evidence suggesting that many of the atrocities routinely touted by VVAW were, well, made up.
An excerpt of historian Guenter Lewy?s book According to America posted on WinterSoldier.com discusses the results of a government investigation that attempted to corroborate the claims made at the VVAW event in Detroit. The investigators couldn?t.
According to Lewy, the VVAW had told its members not to cooperate with the government inquiry?a probe that was initiated by Sen. Mark Hatfield of Oregon in order to verify gruesome claims made at the VVAW-sponsored event. The historian also notes that government inspectors found veterans whose names had been used by people testifying in Detroit that were not actually there.
In other words, some of the ?witnesses? in Detroit were impostors, tarnishing the names of real soldiers.
It appears that Kerry was also something of an impostor. During a massive rally in front of the U.S. Capitol, a number of veterans threw their medals over a high-wire fence. One was Kerry. Or at least so it appeared.
The section ?Busted by the historians? contains an excerpt from Stolen Valor by B. G. Burkett, Glenna Whitley. The key quote: ?But years later, after his election to the Senate, Kerry?s medals turned up on the wall of his Capitol Hill office. When a reporter noticed them, Kerry admitted that the medals he had thrown that day were not his.?
Since Kerry?s comrades seem so eager to judge President Bush?s character by whether or not he fulfilled a handful of National Guard obligations, the door may already have been opened to attacks on the Democratic front runner?s own conduct from those days.
Voters could have plenty of versions of Kerry from which to choose: the communist sympathizer who gleefully defamed America and millions of American soldiers, the war hero too cowardly to throw away his own medals, or the anti-war activist who was so eager to claim he had committed war crimes.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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