Kerry based his statements not on his own knowledge but on the fabricated testimony of a group of anti-war activists at "hearings" sponsored by VVAW and paid for by Jane Fonda. Some of those who testified to witnessing atrocities later proved not to have served in the military, much less in Vietnam. Congressional and military investigations into these allegations found no substantiation of the specific charges -- which is not to say that atrocities did not sometimes occur. Just two months before Kerry testified before the Senate, Lt. William Calley was convicted by a military tribunal of killing 22 innocent men, women and children in the Vietnamese village of My Lai in 1968, which made Kerry's unsubstantiated charges all the more believable.
Why hasn't the media investigated Kerry's anti-war activities more closely or spent time tracking down the veracity of the allegations he made about atrocities? Why haven't enterprising reporters asked Kerry why he went to Paris in 1970 to meet with representatives of the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong during the Paris Peace Talks, or why he has never criticized the communist government of Vietnam in the years since the fall of Saigon? Why haven't journalists called him on his claims to have taken his boat into Cambodia during Christmas 1968 -- an uncorroborated assertion he has made at least eight times since 1979, including once on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1986, according to research by Dr. Joshua Muravchik of the American Enterprise Institute? News organizations spent considerable effort to investigate George W. Bush's National Guard service, devoting hundreds of stories to the issue, but they show almost no interest in getting to the bottom of whether Kerry made up stories about his involvement in what would have been an illegal incursion into Cambodia.
These are the real leads the media ought to be tracking -- not the obvious distraction of the Swiftvets' purported ties to Republicans.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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