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September 24, 2004
Was Kerry In Iraq In 1991 For Cease-Fire Accord?

Frequent CQ contributor Bandit watched the O'Reilly Factor last night on Fox News, which replayed a 2001 interview with Senator John Kerry. Bandit reports that during that interview three years ago, Kerry stated that he went to Iraq on March 3rd during the signing of the cease-fire agreement that ended the first Gulf War:

"I mean, I was in Safwan. I went there when the signing of the armistice took place at the end of the war."

That would have been a pretty remarkable trip, if Bandit reports this correctly; at the moment, Fox News does not have a transcript available. Both Bandit and I recall that Iraq was still considered a war zone, an unlikely (but not necessarily impossible) place to find a US Senator, especially one who would have had no official capacity during the ceremony, and even more especially, one who had voted against the authorization to use force in the first place.

Even more remarkably, John Kerry managed to miss no Senate votes during that week. On February 28th, Kerry voted to table an amendment during a roll-call vote. On March 6th, Kerry again managed to make a roll-call vote, this time voting against tabling an amendment by Senator Tom Harkin. It's not impossible for him to have been to Iraq and back, but it seems less likely.

Bandit discovered a March 4th, 1991 Boston Globe article that narrows the timeframe more. According to the article, John Kerry attended a fundraiser for Cultural Survival, Inc. and the Rainforest Alliance (no link available):

Boston Globe Newspaper March 4, 1991

Saturday it was off to "Brazil Night" at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel ballroom for a sold-out party to benefit the Cambridge-based human rights group, Cultural Survival Inc., in conjunction with the Rainforest Alliance. Simple little black dresses were de rigueur at this party. But the most chic women took the reliable style and gave it a dramatic fashion twist. They wore understated black dresses that bared the shoulder, dipped into daring v's or somehow focused on the natural and impressive art of decolletage. They made headlines with their necklines.

Meanwhile, Sen. John F. Kerry, an honorary committee member, breezed in and out of the black-tie gala in minutes. The subject of fashion/style seemed an enigma to him. Kerry, wearing a business suit, stayed only long enough to accept a gift: a tin of candy called Rainforest Crunch.

Saturday night would have been March 2nd in Boston. However, since Iraq is several hours ahead of the East Coast, it would already have been Sunday, March 3rd in Safwan. It means that Kerry would have had to jet out in his fashion-enigma outfit, take the long flight to Iraq just to be in the country when the accord was signed, and then jet back pronto to attend the March 6th roll-call vote.

Now that's darned near impossible.

If anyone has further information, preferably with links, to any of these events or Kerry's participation in the Safwan cease-fire signing, send them to me immediately. However, based on Bandit's reliable research, it appears that John Kerry lied again about his wartime experiences. Kerry looks more and more like a world-class fantasist.

UPDATES: Definitely a fantasist, or fabulist if you prefer. CQ reader Debbie found the transcript:

SEN JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Essentially, yes. I'm not sure exactly what Joe means by that, but I think we ought to put the heat on Saddam Hussein. I've said that for a number of years, Bill. I criticized the Clinton administration for backing off of the inspections, when Ambassador Butler was giving us strong evidence that we needed to continue. I think we need to put the pressure on, no matter what the evidence is about September 11, but I think we have to do it in a thoughtful and intelligent way.

O'REILLY: Which is what? I mean, look, you know the guy -- the guy is simply -- he's an out of control guy.

KERRY: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: And he's not going to respond to embargoes, no-fly zones. He's not going to do that. How would you put enough pressure on him to open up inspections again?

KERRY: Well, I'd reinvigorate that process as step number one. And I think the administration is now suddenly starting to move in that direction. I think you have to work our allies sufficiently to pull that component of the effort back together.

But the second thing I would do, and I wouldn't hesitate to do it, is back opposition more openly and do it in a way that begins to put a counter insurgency in the country itself.

O'REILLY: So what do you do? Drop heavy weapons to the Kurds in the north and to Muslims who don't like him in the south?

KERRY: Bill, let me tell you, I was all for our following through at the end of the Gulf War with the Kurd uprising. And I thought it was a great betrayal, in a sense, that we encouraged them verbally. We gave them forces. We gave them weapons. We encouraged them and said we were with them. And then we pulled out at the last minute because the Kuwaitis and the Saudis and others were unsure of what might follow.

O'REILLY: Yes, that was a classic mistake. But if you arm the Kurds in the north of Iraq, you're going to alienate one of our most valuable --

KERRY: I didn't say necessarily the Kurds. There are other members of the opposition. There are people who are outside the country prepared to go in. There are others inside the country. And I believe -- I mean, I was in Safwan. I went there when the signing of the armistice took place at the end of the war.

And I remember seeing that land, which lent itself in my judgment, considerably to the creation of almost an enclave, which I thought we should have done then. And I think is one way to begin to approach things now, but there are other possibilities. The important thing is that Saddam Hussein and the world knows that we think Saddam Hussein is essentially out of sync with the times. He is and has acted like a terrorist. And he is engaged in activities that are unacceptable.

What's so amazing is the glib arrogance of the man, after voting against the war, that he casts himself as an expert in the field. How does he support that? By claiming to have been there at the signing of the cease-fire and talked with all sides.

Regarding the time frame, CQ reader Rod S writes this:

March 2, 2001 10PM Boston is March 3, 2001 6AM Baghdad (not Safwan, but ''close enough") time.

The Iraqi delegation arrived at Safwan at 11:30 AM and the meeting lasted two hours.

Baghdad is about 6000 miles ESE of Boston as the crow flies the air route is no doubt longer. If Kerry left the soiree at 10PM Boston time, he would have had to make the trip to Safwan in about seven (7) hours to make the signing. The "crows" would have to average better than 850 mph.

To put it mildly, BALDERDASH!

Very mildly.

UPDATE II: A letter from another CQ reader, Paul B, who bought a relevant article from the Boston Globe archive dated March 17, 1991. Paul writes:

I was in Iraq during that time and remember Kerry and a group of senators visiting. However, I think the dates mentioned are incorrect. To my knowledge (I could be wrong), Kerry wasn't at the cease-fire signing.

Here is a Boston Globe story dated March 17, 1991. I cut and pasted the whole article for you from Lexis-Nexis. If I follow this correctly, Kerry claims that he went over on 3 March 91 and then *returned* on 15 March 91?

I'll put relevant excerpts from the article in the extended entry. It shows that Kerry did indeed visit Iraq, but according to the article, he didn't arrive until March 16th.

UPDATE III: Globalsecurity.org has a page on the Safwan cease-fire signing, along with this picture (hat tip Scot M.):

It doesn't look like Kerry is anywhere to be seen, does it? Also, he supplies this narrative about how Safwan hadn't even been secured until just before the agreement was signed, making it a highly unlikely place for US Senators to visit.

Paul B follows up with a Washington Post archived article from March 6th that shows Kerry to be at DC's Mayflower Hotel on the evening of March 5th:

Last night's refresher course at the Mayflower Hotel was officially a celebration of democracy across the globe. The Washington-based institute, which gives foreign countries hands-on guidance with elections and the basics of parliamentary procedure, drew a mob of high-profile Democrats including former vice president Walter Mondale, Mike Mansfield, Andrew Young, Speaker of the House Tom Foley (Wash.), Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (Maine), Sens. Al Gore (Tenn.), Edward Kennedy (Mass.), John Kerry (Mass.) and Chuck Robb (Va.), D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon and more than 30 current ambassadors to the United States.

Abstract below in the extended entry.

=========
March 17, 1991, Sunday, City Edition

SECTION: NATIONAL/FOREIGN; Pg. 14

LENGTH: 538 words

HEADLINE: Senators doubt US will intervene in Iraqi strife;
Cease-fire in the gulf

BYLINE: By Elizabeth Neuffer, Globe Staff

DATELINE: KUWAIT CITY

BODY:
A delegation of senators yesterday told US soldiers massed on the Iraqi border that it is unlikely US forces will intervene in Iraq's civil war and predicted that the soldiers will return home soon to a hero's welcome.

The delegation swooped down in glistening helicopters on the border outpost of Safwan, Iraq, to meet with the US Army's 1st Armored Division, which helped spearhead the allied ground offensive against Iraq and tangled with the Republican Guard.

"It's unbelievable," Sen. John Kerry said, congratulating the troops
yesterday. "A lot of those of us who served in Vietnam found a new breath of air in your courage and optimism." ...

Yesterday's visit [emph mine - CE] - the second by a congressional delegation in as many days - comes during a period of continuing uncertainty as Kuwait struggles to return to normalcy after seven months of Iraqi occupation and as rebel factions are battling President Saddam Hussein's forces in Iraq.

============

Copyright 1991 The Washington Post
The Washington Post

View Related Topics

March 6, 1991, Wednesday, Final Edition

SECTION: STYLE; PAGE B1

LENGTH: 617 words

HEADLINE: Democracy, Up for The Count;
Institute Honors Czechoslovakia's Havel

SERIES: Occasional

BYLINE: Roxanne Roberts, Washington Post Staff Writer

BODY:
Lessons of Democracy, Part 1: "You can't behave like a jackass after the election and hope to be elected the next time."

Czechoslovakia's Ambassador Rita Klimova was talking about the fledgling democrats (little d) back home who are just learning the ABCs of freedom and democracy. If the Democrats (big D) at the National Democratic Institute's dinner picked up a few tips ... well, it can't hurt.

Last night's refresher course at the Mayflower Hotel was officially a
celebration of democracy across the globe. The Washington-based institute, which gives foreign countries hands-on guidance with elections and the basics of parliamentary procedure, drew a mob of high-profile Democrats including former vice president Walter Mondale, Mike Mansfield, Andrew Young, Speaker of the House Tom Foley (Wash.), Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (Maine), Sens. Al Gore (Tenn.), Edward Kennedy (Mass.), John Kerry (Mass.) and Chuck Robb (Va.), D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon and more than 30
current ambassadors to the United States.

======================

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 24, 2004 12:00 PM

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