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September 22, 2004
WaPo Swings And Misses On Swiftvets

The Swift Boat Veterans For Truth released their latest ad against John Kerry's candidacy, and it's as devastating as any they've produced thus far in the campaign. The Swiftvets also make the seventh chapter of their book, Unfit for Command, available online for free as an explanation of the commercial's charges. Here's the money graf from the chapter:

Loyal Americans think twice about violating the legal provision against negotiating with foreign powers (18 U.S.C. section 953) and the Constitutional prohibition against giving support to our nation's enemies during wartime (Article III, Section 3). Anti-Communists do not openly support proposals that amount to an American surrender to Communist enemies, plus a demand to pay war reparations. ... There must have been contact between Kerry or his representatives and the representatives of the Vietnamese Communists. Which Communists assisted Kerry in arranging his meeting with Madame Binh, and why?

Kerry has long argued that he was a private citizen and violated no laws in his Paris meeting, which he describes as a fact-finding mission when he comments on it at all. His campaign website makes no mention of his trip to Paris, but he wasn't always that reticent.

A year after conducting this secret meeting, he appeared before the Senate in April 1971 and admitted to Congress that he had met with the Provisional Revolutionary Government, otherwise known as the Viet Cong (the insurgents in South Vietnam), as well as the official North Vietnamese delegation. Three months later, he held a press conference in DC on behalf of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War urging American leaders to capitulate to the PRG's seven-point proposal, which called for a unilateral withdrawal from Viet Nam and the payment of war reparations before the Communists would release any POWs.

In other words, Kerry advocated surrender as well as the extortion of payment for the POWs to the people who were torturing them.

Is that the kind of leadership we need in an age of Islamofascist terror?

The Washington Post misses the story by deliberately eliminating the year between Kerry's meeting in Paris and his infamous Senate testimony:

The group, whose members served in the Navy at the same time as Kerry, is referring to a meeting Kerry had in early 1971 with leaders of the communist delegation that was negotiating with U.S. representatives at the Paris peace talks. The meeting, however, was not a secret. Kerry, a leading antiwar activist at the time, mentioned it in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April of that year. "I have been to Paris," he testified. "I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and Provisional Revolutionary Government," the latter a South Vietnamese communist group with ties to the Viet Cong.

Kerry's campaign said earlier this year that he met on the trip with Nguyen Thi Binh, then foreign minister of the PRG and a top negotiator at the talks. Kerry acknowledged in that testimony that even going to the peace talks as a private citizen was at the "borderline" of what was permissible under U.S. law, which forbids citizens from negotiating treaties with foreign governments. But his campaign said he never engaged in negotiations or attended any formal sessions of the talks.

The Post gets the date wrong; Kerry met with the PRG and North Vietnamese in Paris in 1970, not 1971. I purchased an archived NY Times article that Paul Farhi could have easily found on a Lexis-Nexis search, which makes the timing clear:

Two weeks later, he married Julia Thorne, and on a trip to Europe with his new bride, Mr. Kerry, the 26-year-old ex-lieutenant took a taxicab from Paris to a suburban villa. The son of a diplomat, Mr. Kerry had managed to arrange a private meeting with North Vietnamese and Vietcong emissaries to the peace talks.

He says he does not remember who else was in the room except for Nguyen Thi Binh, the Vietcong spokeswoman in Paris, who was then bedeviling the Nixon administration by issuing peace proposals it considered little more than propaganda. ...

Mr. Kerry came home, and before a Senate hearing 10 months later he criticized President Nixon for not accepting Mrs. Binh's assurances that the Vietnamese would release American prisoners of war if U.S. troops simply left [emph mine -- CE].

At the time of the meeting, then, Kerry's meetings with the Communists certainly were a secret, only revealed 10 months later during the Senate hearings. Farhi misrepresents the events to rehabilitate Kerry in a subtle way. Nor is that the only way in which Farhi twists reality. His conclusion dismisses the Swiftvets without acknowledging their victories at all:

The Swift boat group's first ad gained widespread exposure last month through talk-radio programs, cable television talk shows and newspaper articles because of its assertions that Kerry had exaggerated his war record as the commander of a Navy Swift boat in Vietnam.

Some of the independent organization's assertions were refuted, and several links between it and President Bush's campaign subsequently came to light. But the media storm created by the ad put Kerry and his campaign on the defensive.

So far, the Swiftvets have caused Kerry to retreat on at least four points of his Viet Nam narrative, which Farhi fails to mention in his recap. The "several links" innuendo is nothing more than that; no one has shown any indication that the Republicans have coordinated anything with the Swiftvets, while the Democrats have people working both in the Kerry campaign and in 527s like MoveOn simultaneously. This Post article by Farhi is a poorly researched hack job, obviously rushed out to attempt to blunt the effects of this latest Swiftvet ad.

You'd think after the CBS debacle, mainstream news outlets would be more careful.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 22, 2004 5:20 AM

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» Kerry a wartime Leader? Only for Andrew Sullivan s from The Pink Flamingo Bar Grill
The ridiculous belief that Kerry would lead this country to victory in the war on terror should be laughed out of the room whenever someone like Andrew Sullivan tries to sell it. The latest Swift Boat ad tells us all we need to know about why Kerry w... [Read More]

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Tracked on September 22, 2004 3:02 PM

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