Rich Lowry

The campaign season is still young, yet we already have a strong contender for what might be the most dishonest paragraph of this election year. It was spoken by Sen. John Kerry, by way of explaining how a candidate wrapping himself in Vietnam veterans made his public reputation by accusing them of war crimes.

In his famed 1971 anti-war congressional testimony, Kerry cited the so-called Winter Soldier Investigation, which gathered falsified testimonials of atrocities committed by American soldiers. Kerry regurgitated stories of rapes, beheadings, torture and pillaging ("in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan") as part of his indictment against the Vietnam War. So it is odd that Kerry would celebrate the "band of brothers" he now says are fighting on behalf of his candidacy the way they once fought for their country. Does that mean they will behead Howard Dean and pillage the John Edwards campaign headquarters?

Asked about the testimony the other day by Knight Ridder, Kerry said he relied on the Winter Soldier Investigation "because some of it was highly documented and very disturbing. I did in my heart what I thought was correct to help people understand what was going on. I've always honored the service of people over there. I never insinuated that everybody fell into one pot. I was looking forward to telling the truth about some of the things that were happening."

This is a statement shot through with mendacity. Let's take it sentence by sentence: 1) The Winter Soldier testimony was not "highly documented," but -- as Mack Owens of the Naval War College has reported -- totally unsubstantiated. The fantastic stories of atrocities should have been unbelievable to any Vietnam vet. 2) Kerry didn't "help people understand what was going on," but rather helped publicize lies. 3) Kerry didn't "honor" the service of vets, but said, "We are ashamed of ... what we are called on to do in Southeast Asia," and maintained that in the vets, America "has created a monster, a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence." 4) Kerry did insinuate that the atrocities were widespread, noting that they were "not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." These crimes tainted the nation -- "the crimes threaten [the country], not Reds," as "America lose[s] her sense of morality." 5) If Kerry wanted to tell the truth, he shouldn't have traded in falsehoods.


Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
 
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