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August 26, 2004
This Explains A Lot

CNS News reports on a piece of John Kerry's testimony that, judging from my e-mail, explains a lot about the limited records that the Kerry campaign has released regarding his medals and the combat from which they came. While testifying to the Fulbright Commission, Kerry himself claimed authorship for many of the after-action reports:

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reveals that the then anti-war activist admitted to writing many of the battle reports during his four months of combat in Vietnam.

Kerry told the committee on April 22, 1971, "...I can recall often sending in the spot reports which we made after each mission..."

Kerry also said that many in the military had "a tendency to report what they want to report and see what they want to see."

Kerry's comments about the battle reports came in response to a question from then Senator Stuart Symington (D- Mo.), who wondered about the accuracy of information from military sources.

Did Kerry give in to that temptation to report what he wanted to report, or to report what he thought his command wanted to read? Kerry answered this question, too:

Sen. Symington asked Kerry, "Mr. Kerry, from your experience in Vietnam do you think it is possible for the President or Congress to get accurate and undistorted information through official military channels.[?]"

Kerry responded, "I had direct experience with that. Senator, I had direct experience with that and I can recall often sending in the spot reports which we made after each mission; and including the GDA, gunfire damage assessments, in which we would say, maybe 15 sampans sunk or whatever it was. And I often read about my own missions in the Stars and Stripes and the very mission we had been on had been doubled in figures and tripled in figures.

Kerry later added, "I also think men in the military, sir, as do men in many other things, have a tendency to report what they want to report and see what they want to see."

That sounds to me like a demurral. He said that his reports later on were exaggerated to the point that stretched recognition. This fits with Kerry's character; blaming as much on other people around him, and only admitting to mistakes when they can be cast in the noblest terms. He told the Senators that his reports were accurate when they left his hand, but his superiors dummied them up later on.

That, of course, calls into question the reliability of the after-action reports he's used to back his stories up. The Kerry campaign relied on these same reports to attack Larry Thurlow's recollection of the 13 March engagement; Thurlow claimed that no enemy fire accompanied the Rassman rescue, and that all of the gunfire came from the PCFs themselves in case the mine was a prelude to an ambush. When he read the citation, he said that he never submitted any such report, and in fact had been surprised to receive any medal for the action:

Thurlow's own Bronze Star citation states that there was "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" directed at "all units." But Thurlow believes his citation was based on Kerry's own account of the day.

"I am convinced that the language used in my citation ... was language taken directly from John Kerry's report," Thurlow said earlier this week. "John Kerry was the only officer who filed a report describing his version of the incident," Thurlow added.

The Washington Post summed up the controversy this way: "Much of the debate over who is telling the truth boils down to whether the two-page after-action report and other Navy records are accurate or whether they have been embellished by Kerry or someone else."

If Kerry is the only one who wrote an after-action report for 13 March, it means that Kerry's argument is nothing but circular. Who says that Kerry saved Rassmann under combat conditions? The records. Who wrote the records? John Kerry. They don't prove Kerry right -- and neither do they prove him a liar, either. They just mean nothing.

The lack of after-action reports from the other commanders, on the other hand, would speak volumes -- because if they took inbound fire, shouldn't each officer have filed a report?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 26, 2004 6:54 PM

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» Kerry, in 1971, Admitted Writing Combat Reports -- 08/26/2004 from The Pink Flamingo Bar Grill
Well no wonder all the official Navy Reports agree with Senator Kerry, HE wrote them. CNSNEWS actually reads the entire 1971 Testimony without either throwing up or falling asleep finding this gem. [Read More]

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» Kerry Compiled Own Military Reports from
According the Kerrys own testimony, he admits not only drafting his own after-action reports but also admits to sexing them up to impress the military brass. Can we conclude that these reports are as accurate as his tales of Cambodia? According to mil... [Read More]

Tracked on August 27, 2004 1:17 AM

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