Attacks on Kerry's war record malicious, untrue

August 23, 2004

Dear Editor:

Right on cue, the smear campaign against John Kerry has moved into overdrive. Presumably because their own candidate offers so few reasons to re-elect him to a second term of office, Bush strategists have pulled out all the stops in an attempt to confuse voters about John Kerry's qualifications and positions.

Questions about Kerry's service in Vietnam and his eligibility for the medals he won are the most unsavory of the lot. A few of the facts:

John Kerry volunteered for two tours of duty during the Vietnam War, spending three and a half years in active duty, far longer than the four months cited in a recent letter to the Advocate. Kerry's official military records, including complete information about his numerous decorations, are available at


The laughably named "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," funded by the biggest Republican campaign donor in Texas, are running an ad which not only distorts John Kerry's military record, it - by extension - attacks the integrity of the United States Navy which awarded his medals. Kerry's Swift Boat crewmates, some of whom are Republicans, have called these attacks "garbage," "a lie," and "without decency."

Malicious fabrications by this group, none of whom actually served on John Kerry's boat, are now repeated in a book published by the far-right-wing Regnery Press and excerpted in the Washington Times, owned by the right-wing media mogul and Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church.

Investigative reports in the mainstream press reveal that co-authors John O'Neill and Jerome Corsi, as well as a number of the veterans they quote, lack credibility. O'Neill, a long-time Republican operative who admits that he never met Kerry in Vietnam, has recently been caught lying about $15,000 in campaign contributions he made to Republican candidates. Jerome Corsi came under scrutiny several weeks ago for extreme anti-Catholic and homophobic comments he posted on an internet bulletin board, and has now dropped from sight.

A major source for the book, Retired Admiral Roy Hoffman, has changed his story about Kerry's service in Vietnam at least four times and has finally clarified that he had no first-hand information about Kerry's actions in winning the Silver Star.

Another attacker, who won the Bronze Star on the same day that Kerry did, has ironically been proven wrong in his claims that Kerry was not under fire that day by his own Bronze Star certificate, obtained by the Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

Undoubtedly, as researchers have time to delve into the claims made by this unsavory group, more distortions and lies about Kerry's service record will emerge. Sen. John McCain, who was subjected to a similar smear campaign in his 2000 primary race against George Bush, has called these attacks on John Kerry "dishonest and dishonorable," and has challenged President Bush to denounce them. So far, he has refused.

It is a sad day in America when the commander in chief refuses to distance himself from such lies about an opponent's military service. Fundamentally, by this act, George Bush dishonors every veteran who has every won a medal in wartime.

Elizabeth Perkins


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