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Kerry's Secret Mission to Cambodia

Hugh Hewitt shockingly leaves me off the list of big lefty bloggers who've failed to comment on the Kerry-Cambodia story (see, e.g., here) even though I'm a regular guest on his show! Well speaking for myself, all Hugh's darkest fears are true -- I haven't commented yet because I've been busy all day on a conference call with Josh Marshall, Mary Beth Cahill, The New York Times editorial board, some dudes from the NEA, and Muqtada al-Sadr trying to figure out what our talking points are going to be.

Seriously, in my experience these damaging-looking allegations have a way of turning out not to be true, a fact that never seems to get as much coverage as the initial allegation. But it certainly looks bad from here, and I haven't seen a good explanation yet, perhaps because there isn't one. It's a little hard to see what could possibly be the motive for a Kerry lie on this front, which makes it plausible that there's a reasonable explanation, but also a little freaky if there does turn out to be one. Personally, I've never maintained that John Kerry had a George Washington-esque level of honesty (see, e.g., my article about how Kerry is basically lying about his trade policy) so my world won't be shaken to the core if this turns out to be a fib.

But how sure are we, really, that Kerry wasn't on a covert, illegal cross-border action in Cambodia and that fact isn't reflected in the official record because it was covert and illegal? Or are people who know their 'Nam history well (i.e., not me) quite certain that there were no such actions during the relevant time period?

UPDATE: Already my friend Tom Lang is casting some doubt on these allegations over at Campaign Desk.

August 10, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

WHO GIVES A FUCK?

Posted by: praktike | Aug 10, 2004 4:23:03 PM

"In my experience these damaging-looking allegations have a way of turning out not to be true, a fact that never seems to get as much coverage as the initial allegation."

Luckily, there is absolutely NO EVIDENCE that wingers just MAKE SHIT UP.

Wait. Actually, does O'Reilly ever say *anything* that isn't made up?

At least each new lie gives the wingers something to harp on, while ignoring record deficits, burned agents, lies about the costs of programs, etc.

Posted by: MattB | Aug 10, 2004 4:24:01 PM

I resent folks telling me I should be upset about stuff that is arcane and irrelevant (See "Sandy and the sorta important, not quite what you were lead to believe copies of the top secret Mcguffins"). The Cambodia story? Bullshit. Can we talk Alabama National Guard now?

Posted by: Mr. Bill | Aug 10, 2004 4:24:13 PM

Of course, this would be a near, if not complete, non-story, if the Good Senator hadn't decided to tell the nation that his three months in combat were why he should be President, and hammered that point home every 15 minutes, while nearly ignoring his time in the Senate.

I really don't see this as a big deal, other than more proof that Senators make poor Presidential candidates, and one reason is that they cannot keep their mugs off-camera and their pie-holes shut for any length of time at all. When you yelp like a U.S. Senator for 20 years, it is inevitable that the record will be littered with all manner of stupid comments.

Posted by: Will Allen | Aug 10, 2004 4:34:21 PM

It must be true. He stated in on the Senate floor and in an official report. Why would he lie in an official report? Here's the microfiche of the report to the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate...along with the citations.

http://free.prohosting.com/cyberdog/c.jpg

http://free.prohosting.com/cyberdog/p1.JPG

July 1991

Trip to Thailand Cambodia and Vietnam

here's the relevant part on page 1
"... During the war, military operations had carried me throughout many of the waterways and coast lines of southern Vietnam and even, occasionally, into Cambodia. "


Here's the reference info, so you can make your own copy.

1750.
Author: Kerry, John, 1943-
Title: Trip to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam report to the Committee
on Foreign Relations, United States Senate.
Publisher: Washington : U.S. G.P.O. :For sale by the Supt. of Docs.,
Congressional Sales Office, U.S. G.P.O., 1991.
Description: v, 16 p. ; 24 cm.

Doc. Numbers: GPO Item No.: 1039-A, 1039-B (MF)
Govt Doc No.: Y 4.F 76/2:S.prt.102-40.

If he made all this up...he's got alot of explaining to do.

Posted by: j.scott barnard | Aug 10, 2004 4:40:32 PM

Does Hewitt defend this?

http://www.sunherald.com/mld/sunherald/news/nation/7932511.htm

Posted by: MattB | Aug 10, 2004 4:44:40 PM

Kerry's service record would not be an issue if the powers-to-be had not made his Vietnam experience the cornerstone of his candidacy. It's not that somebody is alleging that Kerry said he was in Cambodia. Kerry's speech is on the Congressional Record and is undeniable. Not one other person in Kerry's chain of command has confirmed the story (exactly the opposite) so it certainly appears fabricated.

The Swiftboat Vets are as well credentialed as Kerry so far as Vietnam experience is concerned. Their sheer numbers and the consistency of their independent reports raise serious doubts about Kerry's Vietnam service record and cannot be ignored. Intuitively you have to wonder how a person can receive three Purple Hearts for combat wounds and never need more than a band-aid in medical treatment. That has to particularly galling to the 55,000 mothers got Purple Hearts instead of sons back from Vietnam.

Posted by: Warthog | Aug 10, 2004 4:46:44 PM

Perhaps he was in there to hunt down an American SF officer who had gone rogue and set himself up as a potentate among tribal peoples in the uplands. The horror...

Posted by: Andrew Reeves | Aug 10, 2004 4:50:16 PM

It's possible he was there...I'd like to hear this from Kerry. But quotes like these are going to be hard to take back.

"My good luck hat...given to me by a CIA guy as we went in for a special mission in Cambodia."

"I have that memory which is seared — seared — in me...."

--scott

Posted by: j.scott barnard | Aug 10, 2004 4:52:23 PM

From Frontline
By 1967, the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong were operating along Cambodia's border with South Vietnam, with Sihanouk's approval. The United States and South Vietnam responded with cross-border operations, which Sihanouk publicly protested.

Posted by: MattB | Aug 10, 2004 4:52:39 PM

Warthog, if we're talking intuition here, you kinda have to wonder how one lt. was able to trick the entire Navy into giving him medals. Of course, if he was able to conjure up a firefight which no one dreamed of questioning until now, you have your answer.

And it should be a fun few weeks as all of the genuises stumble through the outrageous concept that Americans were in Cambodia, and that fifty miles away sometimes means that it's possible to later be less than fifty miles way.

Next up, of course, will be the shocking revelations that Kerry accused Ronald Reagan of dealing arms to Iranians in exchange for getting screwed by these Iranians.

Posted by: captain smart | Aug 10, 2004 4:53:09 PM

It would be nice to know how this matters (seriously -- MY doesn't seemt to have the same insane infestation of wingnuts), especially compared to the lies of Bush (pre and post 2000).

Posted by: MattB | Aug 10, 2004 4:53:36 PM

"the consistency of their independent reports raise serious doubts about Kerry's Vietnam service record"

Independent? This is more choreographed than a gym full of cheerleaders...

Posted by: judson | Aug 10, 2004 4:53:48 PM

If he made all this up...he's got alot of explaining to do.

As opposed to the president who still cannot account for himself in the Guard.

This is nothing more than the smell of fear

Posted by: Randy Paul | Aug 10, 2004 4:53:58 PM

Didn't Kerry once say, "Saigon....shit....I'm only still in Saigon....".Or was that President Bartlett?

Posted by: Will Allen | Aug 10, 2004 4:56:29 PM

Intuitively you have to wonder---

No, Warthog. You might wonder, but you probably wonder how to tie your shoelaces.

Now, where was Bush in the summer of 1972?

Posted by: ahem | Aug 10, 2004 4:57:42 PM

Warthog, it just goes to show you that if you volunteer for combat and put your life on the line for your country, suffer repeated injury and demonstrate valor in protecting your crew, mission, and country, that will not earn you the respect of your countrymen.

Posted by: wetzel | Aug 10, 2004 5:00:17 PM

Randy, last I heard Bush had released all of his records (including the so-called "lost" ones) while Kerry has not released all of his. But, having been corrected by the very model of a good commenter, Zizka, about going off topic, I'll stick to the issue of Cambodia.

The Americans were in Cambodia, that's already widely confirmed. The question before us today is whether Kerry was there as well.

I hope the story unfolds in a way that verifies Kerry's claims, even though I'm a Bush supporter. But if this thing sticks, it's gonna be harder to refute the rest of the SBVT accusations.--s

Posted by: j.scott barnard | Aug 10, 2004 5:00:53 PM

Kerry was in a tactical unit comprising three boats and about the same number of people as a professional baseball team. The possiblity that one of those boats, alone, made at least two trips to Cambodia without anybody else in the unit knowing about it is preposterous. And like it or not nobody else that served in Kerry's unit or in the higher organizational units is confirming this story.

Posted by: Warthog | Aug 10, 2004 5:05:04 PM

"Randy, last I heard Bush had released all of his records (including the so-called "lost" ones) while Kerry has not released all of his."

Nice how the right-wing media distorts this (e.g, reverses the truth / lies). You can read all of Kerry's stuff on-line. Bush still hasn't released all his pay stubs and discharge papers.

I mean, if you really think it is impossible that Kerry was in Cambodia at any point, then fine. Use this to offset lying about being AWOL, and ruining the country (fiscally, via reputation, our intelligence services, our military strength, our ability to fight terra, etc.).

Posted by: MattB | Aug 10, 2004 5:07:42 PM

Wetzel, a person very close to me crossed France on foot with a rifle in his hands, on the point of the spear. He was wounded more than once, and was decorated for valor, while many, many, of his comrades around him died. He came back, built a successful life, including some involvement in politics. What he did not do was constantly remind everybody what a big-shot hero he was,and how this gave him a leg up on other mere mortals. In fact, he didn't talk about his experiences at all, and the only reason I learned so much about them is that, in his last year of life, he wrote it all down.

I respect Kerry for his service, I just wish he wasn't compelled to remind the world of it every fifteen minutes.

Posted by: Will Allen | Aug 10, 2004 5:09:33 PM

Also, it is totally laughable to think that the right-wing machine can't scrounge up any number of Vietnam Vets to slander Kerry. I'm sure they've tried their darndest to get someone to say they served with Bush ... but those they have found are lying (were in PA when saying in AL).

Posted by: MattB | Aug 10, 2004 5:09:49 PM

Their sheer numbers and the consistency of their independent reports raise serious doubts about Kerry's Vietnam service record and cannot be ignored. Intuitively you have to wonder how a person can receive three Purple Hearts for combat wounds and never need more than a band-aid in medical treatment.

Oh please. Examine the record here. Here are some samples:

Two who appear in the ad say Kerry didn't deserve his first purple heart. Louis Letson, a medical officer and Lieutenant Commander, says in the ad that he knows Kerry is lying about his first purple heart because “I treated him for that.” However, medical records provided by the Kerry campaign to FactCheck.org do not list Letson as the “person administering treatment” for Kerry’s injury on December 3, 1968 . The medical officer who signed this sick call report is J.C. Carreon, who is listed as treating Kerry for shrapnel to the left arm.

In his affidavit, Letson says Kerry's wound was self-inflicted and does not merit a purple heart. But that's based on hearsay, and disputed hearsay at that. Letson says “the crewman with Kerry told me there was no hostile fire, and that Kerry had inadvertently wounded himself with an M-79 grenade.” But the Kerry campaign says the two crewmen with Kerry that day deny ever talking to Letson.

Also appearing in the ad is Grant Hibbard, Kerry’s commanding officer at the time. Hibbard’s affidavit says that he “turned down the Purple Heart request,” and recalled Kerry's injury as a "tiny scratch less than from a rose thorn."

That doesn't quite square with Letson's affidavit, which describes shrapnel "lodged in Kerry's arm" (though "barely.")

So Letson appears to belying as does Hibbard.

More bullshit:

Van O'Dell and Jack Chenoweth, who are among those who say Kerry lied about an incident on March 13, 1969, for which he received a Bronze Star and a third Purple Heart. Kerry was cited for pulling Army Special Forces Lt. Jim Rassmann from a river during a firefight, despite an arm injury. O'Dell says there was no enemy fire and Kerry "fled the scene." Chenoweth says that Kerry's arm was not bleeding and that the official reports were "completely different than" what he saw.

Rassmann has dismissed such accounts as "pure fabrication." Del Sandusky, Kerry's boat driver, says, "I saw the gun flashes in the jungle, and I saw the bullets skipping across the water," adding that the contrary accounts are "part of the Republican slime machine."

You find this credible?

Charles Plumly, a retired Navy captain who was Hoffmann's chief of staff. He says Kerry "required a lot of supervision" and "did things without permission." Asked in an interview for examples, he said, "I can't give you exact specifics."

John O'Neill can remember vividly everything bad that Kerry did 35 years ago, but cannot remember being interviewed for a television program this year while appearing on another program one month later.:

Blitzer: "Why have you decided you want to speak out against John Kerry right now?" O'Neill: "I have no choice, Wolf. I would far rather be home or on the other side of a TV camera than being on television. I haven't been on television in many, many years."
The trouble is, O'Neill had given an extensive interview for a TV show that had aired nationally on Sunday, March 28. The interview was prominently featured in C-Span's signature political show, "The Road to the White House." It followed a broadcast by C-Span of the entire original "Dick Cavett Show," featuring Kerry and O'Neill. Also interviewed for the new sequence was Cavett.

C-Span producer Richard Weinstein confirmed that he had interviewed O'Neill approximately 10 days before the March 28 air date. "We tracked down John O'Neill and told him that we were going to broadcast the entire 'Dick Cavett Show' from 1971 on which he appeared and asked if he would be interviewed for our show. We asked him to share his memories. He agreed to be interviewed."
I asked Weinstein if there could have been any possibility that O'Neill had been confused and not realized that his interview was going to be used on TV. "No," Weinstein said. "He spoke to us before and after the interview. He was fully aware. I feel confident that he knew exactly what he was doing. He was giving an interview for us to air on C-Span TV."

Repeated calls to O'Neill and his representatives have gone unanswered.

O'Neill has had a hard-on for Kerry for years, since he got whipped on the Dick Cavett Show. Independent my ass.


Posted by: Randy Paul | Aug 10, 2004 5:12:10 PM

Also, it is totally laughable to think that the right-wing machine can't scrounge up any number of Vietnam Vets to slander Kerry

And why is that? Because Vietnam vets are by nature lying, good-for-nothing low-lifes?

Posted by: Warthog | Aug 10, 2004 5:13:08 PM

You find this credible?

There are 254 members of the Swiftboat Vets ranging in rank from Ordinary Seaman to Admiral. They come from all regions of the country, several career paths, and comprise both Republicans and Democrats. Yea. I find them credible.

Posted by: Warthog | Aug 10, 2004 5:17:47 PM

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