From Media Bias to War Crimes

| August 20, 2004 | Reply

You know, I’m going to keep hitting that nail until I think it’s been hit enough.

The major media still doesn’t get it. They’re irrelevant. How do I know this? Because of the SVB story. This is a story that’s been kept alive solely on the strength of blogging. Spin it however you like but blogs jumped on the SBVs ad, told you all about it, told you what the Kerry campaign response would be before it happened, and got on that story as well. Blogs told you all about it ever before the Washington Post and the New York Times ran their character assassination pieces in full lockstep with the Kerry campaign and then told you about that, too.

Now, read a bit of an exchange that happened this evening on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer. Lehrer had on both John O’Neill and Thomas Oliphant (a Boston Globe columnist whose daughter works for the Kerry/Edwards campaign). Glenn Reynolds unearths a few blog posts on the topic, including the one that gives us the exchange I find very interesting.

JOHN O’NEILL: Jim, one other thing, they can look at swiftvets.com, which is the web site that has a great deal of information on it.
JIM LEHRER: Is there a web site that’s comparable to that? I’m sure the Kerry –
TOM OLIPHANT: Yes, it’s called the daily press, which is the most difficult thing for these guys to deal with.

So Tom Oliphant says, right there on national television, that the counter to the SVBs web site, the site that carries all of their accusations, proof for their statements, excerpts from their book, is the daily press. That’s the counter to their accusations.

To hell with objective reporting. Fie on reporting both sides of the argument and letting the people make up their own minds. The “daily press”, according to Oliphant, has the task of being the counter to these accusations.

Sickening.

Well, no. Not really. An awful lot of people have known for an awful long time that the media has taken a side in the political discussion no matter how much it claimed to be objective and neutral. There is group upon group that every day exposes the biases of the supposed objective national press. It’s something I’ve come to expect every day when I read a major newspaper. The bias is there, it’s endemic, and it will never, ever go away.

Now, the SBVs have a new advertisement out. It takes on the statements John Kerry made before congress in 1971. Here’s the gist of what you need to know. When John Kerry came back after his time in Vietnam, he was convinced that our being there was wrong and needed to end. That change of heart came from his trip into Cambodia on Christmas Day, 1968, and event that was “seared – seared” into his memory. Well, except that it wasn’t all that seared, since on that day in 1968 he was in Vietnam writing in his journal. But that was part of the first set of SBV allegations the press has chosen to ignore.

John Kerry decided to testify before Congress about his knowledge of our soldiers’ activities in Vietnam. He accused our solders of war crimes and atrocities – rapes, tortures, burning of villages, slaughtering ot innocent people and animals, and more. Not only did he accuse them of it, he admitted to committing those atrocities himself. Now, in 2004, John Kerry is running for President as a decorated war hero, fit to be your Commander-in-Chief and surrounded by his “Band of Brothers” – fellow soldiers with whom he served in Vietman and whose friendship and service he is proud to share.

Except that by now, something is probably bothering you about what I said. John Kerry, you’re probably thinking, confessed to committing atrocities and being a war criminal and he believes this makes him a good candidate to command our military? Well, yes, I can see what might be bothering you, because it bothers me, too.

Here’s the problem. If John Kerry was telling the truth in 1971, then he is a war criminal and should be tried for it, not elected President. If he was not telling the truth, then he lied before Congress under oath and slandered every single solder who ever fought in Vietnam. His words are not open to spin.

Here is what he said our soldiers did – revelations he says come from the Winter Soldier hearings in Detroit.

Several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. Not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with a full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It’s impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit. The emotions in the room, the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. But they did. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do. They told the stories of times that they had personally raped, cut off the 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 the 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.

This topic and that of Kerry’s confession as a war criminal came up on an appearance on “Meet the Press” in April, 2004. Here’s that part of the exchange:

MR. RUSSERT: Before we take a break, I want to talk about Vietnam. You are a decorated war hero of Vietnam, prominently used in your advertising. You first appeared on MEET THE PRESS back in 1971, your first appearance. I want to roll what you told the country then and come back and talk about it:

(Videotape, MEET THE PRESS, April 18, 1971):

MR. KERRY (Vietnam Veterans Against the War): There are all kinds of atrocities and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free-fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50-caliber machine guns which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search-and-destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare. All of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and all of this ordered as a matter of written established policy by the government of the United States from the top down. And I believe that the men who designed these, the men who designed the free-fire zone, the men who ordered us, the men who signed off the air raid strike areas, I think these men, by the letter of the law, the same letter of the law that tried Lieutenant Calley, are war criminals.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: You committed atrocities.

SEN. KERRY: Where did all that dark hair go, Tim? That’s a big question for me. You know, I
thought a lot, for a long time, about that period of time, the things we said, and I think the word is a bad word. I think it’s an inappropriate word. I mean, if you wanted to ask me have you ever made mistakes in your life, sure. I think some of the language that I used was a language that reflected an anger. It was honest, but it was in anger, it was a little bit excessive.

MR. RUSSERT: You used the word “war criminals.”

SEN. KERRY: Well, let me just finish. Let me must finish. It was, I think, a reflection of the kind of times we found ourselves in and I don’t like it when I hear it today. I don’t like it, but I want you to notice that at the end, I wasn’t talking about the soldiers and the soldiers’ blame, and my great regret is, I hope no soldier–I mean, I think some soldiers were angry at me for that, and I understand that and I regret that, because I love them. But the words were honest but on the other hand, they were a little bit over the top. And I think that there were breaches of the Geneva Conventions. There were policies in place that were not acceptable according to the laws of warfare, and everybody knows that. I mean, books have chronicled that, so I’m not going to walk away from that. But I wish I had found a way to say it in a less abrasive way.

MR. RUSSERT: But, Senator, when you testified before the Senate, you talked about some of the hearings you had observed at the winter soldiers meeting and you said that people had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and on and on. A lot of those stories have been discredited, and in hindsight was your testimony…

SEN. KERRY: Actually, a lot of them have been documented.

MR. RUSSERT: So you stand by that?

SEN. KERRY: A lot of those stories have been documented. Have some been discredited? Sure, they have, Tim. The problem is that’s not where the focus should have been. And, you know, when you’re angry about something and you’re young, you know, you’re perfectly capable of not–I mean, if I had the kind of experience and time behind me that I have today, I’d have framed some of that differently. Needless to say, I’m proud that I stood up. I don’t want anybody to think twice about it. I’m proud that I took the position that I took to oppose it. I think we saved lives, and I’m proud that I stood up at a time when it was important to stand up, but I’m not going to quibble, you know, 35 years later that I might not have phrased things more artfully at times.

So Kerry won’t take back the words, no matter how many lies an investigation into Winter Soldier found. The worst he says is that he might have “framed some of that differently” or that he mght say it in a “less abrasive way”. But, the more important thing he says is that “the words were honest”. In fact he used that word twice.

So, even this year, he said that his confession to being a war criminal was “honest”.

What it really comes down to is this: do you want to elect a war criminal as President?

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