Assume the Position

Friday, August 20, 2004
 
The NYT Comes to Kerry's Defense with a Hit Piece on Swift Boat Veterans for Truth

The first two-thirds of the article, "Friendly Fire: The Birth of an Anti-Kerry Ad," is a general guilt by association workup and wire-chart that might have come straight from the Kerry campaign and Democratic National Committee, and is designed to support Kerry's charge that the group is "a front for the Bush campaign." This is exactly the kind of "reporting" the Times hasn't done when it comes to the Media Fund and ACT, which more than fit the bill as fronts for the Kerry campaign and DNC. Of course, to put up a wire-chart showing the interconnections between Kerry's campaign, the Media Fund, America Coming Together, MoveOn, the DNC, and big money from the likes of George Soros, entertainers and the coastal media crowds would probably require a dedicated two-page spread.

The final third of the article attempts to debunk and cast doubt on the SBVT charges in their ad and the book "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against Kerry." It's pretty much like what you find on the official Kerry campaign website response to the SBVT ad. But, when they get to the Christmas in Cambodia story, the Times calls it "the one allegation in the book that Mr. Kerry's campaign has not been able to put to rest." Watch for this to become the standard approach of the follow-on media that hang back and wait for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times or Washington Post to run a story: The New York Times says that, with one exception, every allegation in "Unfit for Command" is false.



Thursday, August 19, 2004
 
Buried and Late

Buried in the 43rd of 48 short paragraphs making up this August 17, New York Times article (emphasis added):

The release of Mr. Khan's name - it was made public in The New York Times on Aug. 2, citing Pakistani intelligence sources - drew criticism by some politicians, like Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who charged that this leak might have compromised the search in Britain and Pakistan for Mr. Khan's Qaeda partners. (No officials in Britain, Pakistan or the United States have told The Times on the record that identifying Mr. Khan had such an impact).
If that sounds familiar, maybe it's because it's what I was trying to get the NYT to admit a week ago.

Via Rantingprofs, which also has a trackback from Patterico to posts showing he was saying the same several days earlier than I.



Monday, August 16, 2004
 
Kerry's Poor Memory and Interlocking Lies

When Richard Nixon told the American public, "There are no American combat troops in Cambodia," John Kerry was not in Cambodia, he wasn't even in Vietnam, he was in Kansas City for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) meeting where the kidnapping or assassination of US congress members who supported the war would be discussed. Nixon's press conference was conducted in the White House Briefing Room on Friday, November 12, 1971 at 4 PM EST. According to the FBI files,* the first closed executive meeting of the four-day VVAW conference began 90 minutes later, 4:30 PM CST, Friday, November 12, 1971, and lasted until 9 PM CST. Although Kerry had long maintained that he quit the VVAW in July of 1971, Kerry attended the first three days of meetings that November, announcing his decision to resign from the National Executive Committee on Friday, trying to have Al Hubbard kicked off the Executive Committee for being a fake (not even being a veteran, let alone having served in Vietnam) at both the Friday and Saturday sessions, and then resigning on Sunday.

That is the meeting Kerry supposedly never attended, saying he had quit the VVAW in July 1971.

Senator John F. Kerry said through a spokesman this week that he has no recollection of attending a November 1971 meeting of Vietnam Veterans Against the War at which some activists discussed a plot to kill some US senators who backed the war.

"Senator Kerry does not remember attending the Kansas City meeting," Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan said in a statement to the Globe in response to written questions about the matter. "Kerry does not remember any discussions that you referred to," the statement added, referring to the assassination plot.

In the past couple of weeks, some media and Internet reports have raised questions about whether Kerry was at the meeting and, if he heard about the assassination plot, whether he alerted authorities.

Kerry has long been portrayed as not being at the Kansas City, Mo., meeting because Kerry recalled quitting the organization at an acrimonious July 1971 session, four months before the November meeting at which the assassination plot was discussed.

A brief refresher on Kerry's Christmas Eve in Cambodia story from Dave Kopel in the Rocky Mountain News (via Instapundit):

As reported in The Congressional Record, on March 27, 1986, Sen. John Kerry spoke on the Senate floor against U.S. support for the anti-communist contras in Nicaragua:

"I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared - seared - in me . . ."

Likewise, Kerry wrote an Oct. 14, 1979, letter to the editor of the Boston Herald: "I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real."

He repeated the Cambodia Christmas story in Senate committee hearings in June 1992 and September 1997.

Actually, in December 1968, the president of the United States was Lyndon Johnson, not Richard Nixon. Nixon's statement that there were "no American combat troops in Cambodia" was made in November 1971.

Although Kerry is now backtracking on being in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968 ["The Brinkley piece for the NEW YORKER will now say that Kerry was not in Cambodia during Christmas, but rather in January, publishing sources tell DRUDGE," and "The Kerry campaign has since said that the presidential candidate's recollection was imprecise - that his runs into Cambodia came in the early months of 1969" (latter via PrestoPundit)] the story is still disingenuous. The central element that makes Kerry's story powerful, whether set in December 1968 or January-March 1969, is that Kerry had been sent into Cambodia at the very time Nixon was telling the public there were no American troops there. It's power relies on those events coinciding, but they were not concurrent.

How powerful a statement does the true coincidence make? "I remember a bit before Thanksgiving of 1971 sitting in a meeting in Kansas City trying to get a fraud kicked out of the VVAW while the president of the United States was telling the American people that the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared - seared - in me - because I had been in Cambodia a couple of times two-and-a-half years before and because I resigned from the VVAW when the idiots started talking about killing Senators." Big deal. [For those with reading comprehension problems, the foregoing was not an actual quote from anybody, it is a representation of what Kerry might have said if he was being honest -- lp.]

Any power in that kind of accurate rendering would rely on the standard deceit of the anti-war left's intentional misrepresentation of what Nixon was talking about in November 1971. Nixon's press conference was to announce further troop withdrawals from Vietnam. When Nixon entered office in January 1969 there were some 540,000 American troops in Vietnam, by November 1971 the troop ceiling was down to 184,000 and Nixon was announcing a further reduction of 45,000 over the next two months. This is what Nixon said regarding Cambodia and Laos during that news conference.

Q. Mr. President, with the conditions that you know now in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, can you foresee in the near future a substantial diminution of American air power use in support of the Vietnamese?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, air power, of course, as far as our use of it is concerned, will continue to be used longer than our ground forces, due to the fact that training Vietnamese to handle the aircraft takes the longest lead time, as we know. And we will continue to use it in support of the South Vietnamese until there is a negotiated settlement or, looking further down the road, until the South Vietnamese have developed the capability to handle the situation themselves.

As far as our air power is concerned, let me also say this: As we reduce the number of our forces, it is particularly important for us to continue our airstrikes on the infiltration routes. If we see any substantial step-up in infiltration in the passes, for example, which lead from North Vietnam into Laos and, of course, the Laotian trail which comes down through Cambodia into South Vietnam-if we see that, we will have to not only continue our airstrikes; we will have to step them up.

That is why I have been quite categorical with regard to that situation, because as the number of our forces goes down, their danger increases, and we are not going to allow the enemy to pounce on them by reason of our failure to use air power against increased infiltration, if it occurs.

[…]

Q. Mr. President, in your most recent foreign aid bill, you requested a total of $341 million in military and economic aid for Cambodia. The head of the Government of Cambodia has just renounced democracy as a viable form of government, which some people think has an analogy to earlier developments in Vietnam. What assurance can you give the American people that we are not sliding into another Vietnam in Cambodia?

THE PRESIDENT. We didn't slide into Vietnam. That is the difference. In Vietnam, conscious decisions were made to send Americans ;there, to become involved in combat. I am not criticizing those decisions; I am simply reflecting what the situation was. It was not a question of sliding in, but was a question of decisions being made, first, to send American combat troops in. Those were first made, you know, by President Kennedy, the first troops that went in; and then the decisions to bomb in the North, those were made by President Johnson, and the increases in forces.

Now let's look at Cambodia. We have made a conscious decision not to send American troops in. There are no American combat troops in Cambodia. There are no American combat advisers in Cambodia. There will be no American combat troops or advisers in Cambodia.

We will aid Cambodia. Cambodia is the Nixon Doctrine in its purest form; Vietnam was in violation of the Nixon Doctrine. Because in Cambodia what we are doing is helping the Cambodians to help themselves, and we are doing that rather than to go in and do the fighting ourselves, as we did in Korea and as we did in Vietnam. We hope not to make that mistake again if we can avoid it.

Nixon's point was clear, America was not going to take up the fight in the Cambodia the way it had in Vietnam, but would still interdict North Vietnam's use of Cambodia to infiltrate South Vietnam.


Whenever Kerry or anybody else attempts to portray the one line from that news conference as a categorical denial by Nixon that any US forces were ever in Cambodia, they are lying. In fact, over a year-and-a-half earlier, Nixon had openly announced US and South Vietnamese forces were going after North Vietnamese controlled areas in Cambodia. Nixon's April 30, 1970 address was carried live on radio and television at 9 PM (emphasis added):

Tonight, I shall describe the actions of the enemy, the actions I have ordered to deal with that situation, and the reasons for my decision.

Cambodia, a small country of 7 million people, has been a neutral nation since the Geneva agreement of 1954--an agreement, incidentally, which was signed by the Government of North Vietnam.

American policy since then has been to scrupulously respect the neutrality of the Cambodian people. We have maintained a skeleton diplomatic mission of fewer than 15 in Cambodia's capital, and that only since last August. For the previous 4 years, from 1965 to 1969, we did not have any diplomatic mission whatever in Cambodia. And for the past 5 years, we have provided no military assistance whatever and no economic assistance to Cambodia.

North Vietnam, however, has not respected that neutrality.

For the past 5 years--as indicated on this map that you see here--North Vietnam has occupied military sanctuaries all along the Cambodian frontier with South Vietnam. Some of these extend up to 20 miles into Cambodia. The sanctuaries are in red and, as you note, they are on both sides of the border. They are used for hit and run attacks on American and South Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam.

These Communist occupied territories contain major base camps, training sites, logistics facilities, weapons and ammunition factories, airstrips, and prisoner-of-war compounds.

For 5 years, neither the United States nor South Vietnam has moved against these enemy sanctuaries because we did not wish to violate the territory of a neutral nation. Even after the Vietnamese Communists began to expand these sanctuaries 4 weeks ago, we counseled patience to our South Vietnamese allies and imposed restraints on our own commanders.

In contrast to our policy, the enemy in the past 2 weeks has stepped up his guerrilla actions and he is concentrating his main forces in these sanctuaries that you see on this map where they are building up to launch massive attacks on our forces and those of South Vietnam.

North Vietnam in the last 2 weeks has stripped away all pretense of respecting the sovereignty or the neutrality of Cambodia. Thousands of their soldiers are invading the country from the sanctuaries; they are encircling the capital of Phnom Penh. Coming from these sanctuaries, as you see here, they have moved into Cambodia and are encircling the capital.

Cambodia, as a result of this, has sent out a call to the United States, to a number of other nations, for assistance. Because if this enemy effort succeeds, Cambodia would become a vast enemy staging area and a springboard for attacks on South Vietnam along 600 miles of frontier--a refuge where enemy troops could return from combat without fear of retaliation.

North Vietnamese men and supplies could then be poured into that country, jeopardizing not only the lives of our own men but the people of South Vietnam as well.

Now confronted with this situation, we have three options.

First, we can do nothing. Well, the ultimate result of that course of action is clear. Unless we indulge in wishful thinking, the lives of Americans remaining in Vietnam after our next withdrawal of 150,000 would be gravely threatened.

Let us go to the map again. Here is South Vietnam. Here is North Vietnam. North Vietnam already occupies this part of Laos. If North Vietnam also occupied this whole band in Cambodia, or the entire country, it would mean that South Vietnam was completely outflanked and the forces of Americans in this area, as well as the South Vietnamese, would be in an untenable military position.

Our second choice is to provide massive military assistance to Cambodia itself. Now unfortunately, while we deeply sympathize with the plight of 7 million Cambodians whose country is being invaded, massive amounts of military assistance could not be rapidly and effectively utilized by the small Cambodian Army against the immediate threat. With other nations, we shall do our best to provide the small arms and other equipment which the Cambodian Army of 40,000 needs and can use for its defense. But the aid we will provide will be limited to the purpose of enabling Cambodia to defend its neutrality and not for the purpose of making it an active belligerent on one side or the other.

Our third choice is to go to the heart of the trouble. That means cleaning out major North Vietnamese and Vietcong occupied territories--these sanctuaries which serve as bases for attacks on both Cambodia and American and South Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam. Some of these, incidentally, are as close to Saigon as Baltimore is to Washington. This one, for example [indicating], is called the Parrot's Beak. It is only 33 miles from Saigon.

Now faced with these three options, this is the decision I have made.

In cooperation with the armed forces of South Vietnam, attacks are being launched this week to clean out major enemy sanctuaries on the Cambodian-Vietnam border.

A major responsibility for the ground operations is being assumed by South Vietnamese forces. For example, the attacks in several areas, including the Parrot's Beak that I referred to a moment ago, are exclusively South Vietnamese ground operations under South Vietnamese command with the United States providing air and logistical support.

There is one area, however, immediately above Parrot's Beak, where I have concluded that a combined American and South Vietnamese operation is necessary.

Tonight, American and South Vietnamese units will attack the headquarters for the entire Communist military operation in South Vietnam. This key control center has been occupied by the North Vietnamese and Vietcong for 5 years in blatant violation of Cambodia's neutrality.

This is not an invasion of Cambodia. The areas in which these attacks will be launched are completely occupied and controlled by North Vietnamese forces. Our purpose is not to occupy the areas. Once enemy forces are driven out of these sanctuaries and once their military supplies are destroyed, we will withdraw.

The incursion into Cambodia was conducted by about 20,000 US and 40,000 South Vietnamese troops and lasted about two months, after which the forces were withdrawn. The operation was semi-successful; it disrupted the infiltration of South Vietnam and captured or destroyed much of the enemy's supplies, but it also drove South Vietnamese and Vietcong forces deeper into Cambodia. There were approximately 350 Americans killed during the incursion.

Nixon's "Big Lie" about Cambodia was not in the November 1971 news conference, but in the April 1970 address—not that it helps Kerry's story, since he had been out of Vietnam for a year. Nixon's, "American policy since then [1954] has been to scrupulously respect the neutrality of the Cambodian people," and "For 5 years, neither the United States nor South Vietnam has moved against these enemy sanctuaries because we did not wish to violate the territory of a neutral nation," were lies. US and South Vietnamese aircraft were entering Cambodia in hot pursuit during Johnson's presidency and Nixon secretly authorized bombing the sanctuaries early in his presidency.

In 1966, Cambodia continued its carefree festivities despite growing dangers within the country and along its borders.

Sihanouk had broken relations with America. His officers were becoming restless. They no longer received American military aid.

Sihanouk was also beginning to face trouble in the countryside, where small groups of Cambodia Communists, the Khmer Rouge, were recruiting some discontented peasants.

Sihanouk continued to juggle. In 1967, he invited Jacqueline Kennedy to Cambodia, hoping to draw America's attention to his dilemma. Sihanouk was concerned by the Vietnamese Communist buildup in the sanctuaries, and he feared a large-scale U.S. attack across his borders. As a counterbalance to this visit he denounced America's Vietnam policy.

NORODOM SIHANOUK, November 1967

It would be immoral to support, you know, your aggression, the aggression of the United States against the people of Vietnam. We want to have the right to continue to have the right to be united, to be free, and how could we deny to Vietnam the right to self-determination?

NARRATOR

Pursuing their enemy, American and South Vietnamese aircraft often attacked across the Cambodian border. Sihanouk criticized Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who was then trying to repair relations.

PRESS CONFERENCE, November 1967

SIHANOUK: There is a contradiction between the declaration of friendship and respect from Mr. Dean Rusk on one hand and on the other hand your forces in South Vietnam continue to come into Cambodia and to kill..

INTERVIEWER: ...what is necessary...

SIHANOUK: ...our peasants and innocent peasants, innocent civilian servants.

NARRATOR

In 1969, newly elected President Nixon launched secret B-52 bombing raids over Cambodia against North Vietnamese and Vietcong sanctuaries driving them further into the country. Nixon neither informed Sihanouk, nor sought his approval for this escalation.

HENRY KISSINGER (National Security Adviser)

We had many indirect evidences of Sihanouk's acquiescence in the bombing. Repeatedly, when he was asked at press conferences he would say that of course he did not approve attacks on Cambodia territory, but he did not know what was going on in territory occupied by what he called the Vietminh, which was the earlier name for the North Vietnamese sponsored guerrilla activity. He invited Nixon to visit Cambodia while the bombing was going on. He reestablished diplomatic relations with us.

While most consider the 'secret bombing of Cambodia' to have been the "Big Lie," I think the real lie was maintaining the pretense that Cambodia's border territories were "neutral." That's the same kind of pretense of inviolability put forward when Islamists turn mosques into armed camps. The main reason the bombing was kept secret was to give Sihanouk cover while he was waffling in the hope that he would side with the US and South Vietnam and possibly help save his country from the communists. He chose the wrong route, was deposed while out of the country, and the new government of Lon Nol asked for US help in ridding the country of the North Vietnamese, acquiescing in the 1970 US and South Vietnamese offensive against the communist sanctuaries along the border. The need for secrecy had passed, and the offensive was announced openly.

NARRATOR

In January 1970, Sihanouk departed for a vacation in France -- a trip that would take him on to Moscow and Peking. He wanted help to curb the Vietnamese Communist presence, which was arousing Cambodian hostility.

In March, anti-Communist officers unleashed mobs against the North Vietnamese and Vietcong embassies in Phnompenh. They demanded the expulsion of the Vietnamese Communists. NEWSREEL, 1970

NORODOM SIHANOUK

I can say that some officers in our army and many deputies and many members of the government in Phnompenh, they want to be your allies in order to have a bowl of your dollars. They do not take, they don't think about the destiny and the weight of our homeland. They don't mind about it. They are more patriot for dollars than for Cambodia.

NARRATOR

A week later, Sihanouk's anti-Communist opponents ousted him and issued orders for his execution. Sihanouk's former prime minister, General Lon Nol, led the new government, which promptly received secret American military aid.

LLOYD "MIKE" RIVES

Well after the coup, and of course Lon Nol's government gave the Vietnamese I think 48 hours to get out as I remember, there was wild enthusiasm in Phnompenh itself. All the children from the schools turned out and enlisted and got weapons and went off to the front and that kind of thing -- it was really real enthusiasm.

NARRATOR

Within three weeks, the Cambodian army gained 60,000 recruits. They were convinced that U.S. aid would quickly help them drive the Vietnamese Communists out of Cambodia.

Sihanouk, now in China, sided with the Khmer Rouge, his former opponents. He became chief of state of a government in exile.


* A couple reports about the FBI surveillance of the VVAW and Kerry, sympathetic to Kerry here and here, and a harsher look here and here. From the latter:

The minutes, prepared at the group's national office in New York, recount the actions taken by VVAW's "emergency steering committee" during the four-day meeting, which ran from November 12 to 15, 1971. The minutes indicate that at the end of the day on Saturday, November 13, discussion turned to "national actions and other things." The meeting is reported to have adjourned at 10 p.m. and resumed at 11 a.m. Sunday. The document goes on to say that the group passed a motion to hold a "national action… in 3 to 5 different sites." The next entry in the minutes is, "John Kerry, Scott Moore, Mike Oliver and Skip Roberts resigned as national coordinators." A later entry indicates that it was decided that the resignations and the decision on the "national action" should be reflected in all the group's papers.

According to Mr. Nicosia, the FBI documents and other records do not include any direct reference to the assassination plot. However, Mr. Nicosia said some informants who attended the Kansas City meeting warned the FBI of a "drastic move toward more violent actions."

A VVAW chapter newsletter obtained by the Sun reports that after "much argument" the Kansas City meeting went into closed session "for various opaque reasons of security and expediency in order to discuss the national Christmas action." The newsletter also notes the resignation of Mr. Kerry and the other three leaders. It cites "personality conflicts and differences in political philosophies" as the main reasons for the resignations.

A group of VVAW members seized the Statue of Liberty on behalf of the group on December 27, 1971. It's unclear whether that action was approved at the Kansas City meeting in November.

The second page of the FBI report on the November meeting is viewable here (last document on the page) and retyped below:

PAGE TWO
FRIDAY MEETING DID NOT START UNTIL FOUR THIRTY P.M. AND NO BUSINESS OF CONSEQUENCE WAS CONDUCTED. JOHN KERRY MENTIONED ON FRIDAY THAT HE WAS GOING TO RESIGN HIS POSITION ON THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE BECAUSE OF POLITICS AND KERRY ATTEMPTED TO GET AL HUBBARD VOTED OUT OF THE EXECUTIVE MEETING. FRIDAY'S SESSION ENDED AT NINE P.M.
      THE MEETING CONTINUED ON SATURDAY AT APPROXIMATELY NINE A.M. AT NUMBER TWO WEST FORTIETH STREET, KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, WITH THE SAME PEOPLE PRESENT AND WAS ANOTHER CLOSED SESSION. JOHN KERRY AGAIN ATTEMPTED TO HAVE AL HUBBARD VOTED OFF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AS KERRY STATED HE DID NOT THINK HUBBARD EVER SERVED IN BIETNAM OR WAS EVER IN SERVICE. DURING THE SATURDAY SESSION, HUBBARD GAVE A SUMMARY OF HIS TALKS IN PARIS WITH OFFICIALS OF DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM (DRV) AND PEOPLES' REPUBLIC GOVERNMENT (PHONETIC) (PRG). HUBBARD ADVISED HE HAD JUST RETURNED FROM A MEETING IN PARIS AFTER THE ABOVE ORGANIZATIONS HAD INVITED REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS: VVAW, COMMUNITS PARTY (CP) USA, AND LEFT WING GROUP IN PARIS, NAME UNRECALLED.
END PAGE TWO

The seventh page of the FBI report on the November meeting is viewable here (first document on the page) and retyped below:

PAGE SEVEN
      THE BUCKS COUNTY PROPOSAL WOULD CALL FOR MILITARY PERSONNEL TO EXTEND THE NORMAL CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY TRUCE IN VIETNAM BY REFUSING TO TAKE UP ARMS AFTER THE TRUCE ENDED. THIS PROPOSAL WAS REJECTED SINCE IT WAS CONSIDERED "TOO HEAVY" FOR VVAW AND SINCE VVAW COULD NOT GET THE MILITARY PERSONNEL TO DO IT.
      A SECOND PROPOSAL, "PHOENIX OPERATION," NAMED AFTER AN ALLEGED CIA OPERATION TO ELIMINATE HEADS OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN GOVERNMENTS UNFRIENDLY TO SOUTH VIETNAM AND AMERICAN OPERATIONS THERE, WAS PROPOSED BY A NATIONAL LEADER, POSSIBLY HUBBARD. THIS PROPOSAL WOULD HAVE CALLED FOR A WELL DASH TRAINED VVAW GROUP IN WASHINGTON, D.C. TO KIDNAP A UNITED STATES SENATOR, REPRESENTATIVE, OR GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL TO HOLD FOR RANSOM TO PRESSURE FOR ENDING OF THE WAR. NO OTHER DETAILS WERE GIVEN SINCE THIS SEEMED TO BE ONLY AN IDEA FOR DISCUSSION. THIS WAS
END PAGE SEVEN

The complete FBI files on the VVAW are supposedly downloadable here, but I haven't gotten any to fully transfer.



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