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A Setup For A Slander Suit?

One would like to think that there's no lower form of life in the Democrat party than Lanny Davis. Unfortunately for hopes of a livable world, there are worse.

I watched the segment myself, and I hope that Mr. O'Neill (a lawyer himself) knows what kind of smear machine he's up against, and has adequately prepared himself. Based on what happened this weekend, he may indeed have. I'd like nothing better than for Mr. Davis, at long last, to finally have to pay at least a financial penalty for his vicious calumnies.

What was particularly irritating about the Hannity & Colmes show (which is often the case) was how ineffective Hannity was in arguing with him.

Lanny consistently referred to the Swift Boat as a "ship" (a term that any Navy vet would find laughable). The intent is obviously to imply that Kerry was commander of a vessel in which the crew, and the crew alone, worked, ate, slept, laughed, shat, and most importantly, fought with him, and that no one else was in a position to know what happened on his "ship."

That is nonsense. It wasn't a ship. It was a boat (as implied by its name), and not one on which the men lived. They lived on shore with others who got up every day and patrolled by day, often in close proximity to each other.

If one accepts the Kerry defenders' arbitrary definition of "served with," no one served with George W. Bush except the people who flew in his (single-seat) F-102 with him (i.e., no one). One doesn't have to be in the same squad, or platoon, to "serve with" someone. There are higher levels of the hierarchy in which people still interact, often on a daily basis. The Swift Boat Vets all served together, despite the mud you'll see slung over the next days and weeks as this story continues to grow more legs than a mutant millipede.

The more this goes on, the more hysterical the defenders become (Colmes: "Isn't this despicable--how can they impugn the honor of a medal winner?" Ignoring, of course, the fact that many of those testifying against Kerry have their own medals, but Alan has no problem with smearing them as liars).

As I said, this is right out of the Clinton playbook. Ad hominem, trash the accusers, obfuscate the facts, use misdirection, like any skilled magician. At least this time, the nuts aren't sluts--they're attacking veterans and medal winners, not women victimized by Bill Clinton...

I suspect that this time, the illusion won't stand up.

[Update at 10 PM PDT]

I see that Snopes has already leapt to his defense, emphasizing the evidence in his favor, and ignoring any against. I hope that this will also blow up the myth about them being non-partisan.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 09, 2004 07:40 PM
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The words "doth protest too much" come to mind in reference to the Dems denial machine. There must be something to hide or they wouldn't be trying so hard to stop it.

Posted by Bill Maron at August 9, 2004 08:30 PM

Bill, the Dems could stop it in its tracks by releasing all of Kerry's service records. That way, they could show who signed the documentation recommending him for those medals, at which point those men could be contacted to verify that Kerry did indeed earn his medals.

Of course, this assumes that Kerry did in fact legitimately earn those medals. If he didn't then the Dems would have no choice but to obfuscate, impugn, and misdirect.

Posted by Ed Minchau at August 9, 2004 10:40 PM

The gentle reader advancing to the SNOPES page only has to scroll down to the reference section of their piece to find their bias; all three citations are Kerry "histories". Not a single citation comes from a non-Kerry source, nor does any source listed there date from earlier than 2002.

"Bias?" Nope, no "bias" here - nothing to see, move along....

Posted by jtox at August 10, 2004 06:51 AM

Rand, you really do have an annoying tendency of burying the lead in your posts. You never clearly state in the very first paragraph _what you are talking about._ In this case, it is only until the fourth paragraph that you even indicate that this is about the Swift boat controversy. You need to state that at the beginning.

Posted by at August 10, 2004 09:01 AM

IANAL, but 'falsifying self-filed medal requests' would seem to be a crime.

So, they are alleging a crime. Doing so is different than slander or libel.

_IF_ the Swift Vets are lying, the courts will eventually turn them into Swiss Cheese.

If they aren't...

Posted by Al at August 10, 2004 12:52 PM

Ed - Kerry's records *have* been released, including ones where he his praised for his actions by some of the very same people who are now attacking him.

This has everything to do with Kerry's actions after he got back and little to do with his actions while he was in Vietnam.

Posted by Andrew Case at August 10, 2004 02:00 PM

Andrew, if that's true, those defending Kerry should be showing that, instead of indulging in ad hominem. I doubt that it is, at least universally.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 10, 2004 03:18 PM

Andrew, I was under the impression that while Kerry said he was going to release all his records, he has yet to do so. It would certainly clear things up.

Posted by Richard Swan at August 10, 2004 05:07 PM

Yes, it would clear things up, Richard. One suspects that this is why he hasn't done it...

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 10, 2004 05:15 PM

Which records are supposedly not available? The Kerry campaign website has a military records page here which seems pretty damn comprehensive to me. I don't know military records, so there may be some critical thing missing, but I'll need some real convincing - hard data, document IDs, and some kind of indication that the document should exist for Kerry. Last time I saw an allegation that critical document X was missing it turned out that document X was never issued for the service members in question - that case was in regards to Bush, but I see no sign that the other side is holding itself to a higher standard of spin.

In particular, there are people on the record as saying Kerry is an exemplary officer who now claim he was a P.O.S. Intervening between the two events is Kerry implying the person in question is a war criminal. Parsimony suggests the war criminal allegation has something to do with the sudden change in story.

Posted by Andrew Case at August 10, 2004 06:12 PM

Andrew: Who signed off on Kerry's first purple heart? His CO threw him out of his office when Kerry first brought it up, so we can assume that the CO didn't sign it... so who did?

Those are the records I want to see: the documentation behind his medals, with signatures from guys higher up in the chain of command than Kerry, so that those guys who signed for the medals can confirm (or deny) that the signatures are valid, that Kerry earned the medals.

If such confirmation is forthcoming, then Kerry is off the hook and the Swiftvet story slinks off under a rock. If such confirmation is not forthcoming, or if denials ensue, well then Kerry has some 'splainin' to do.

Posted by Ed Minchau at August 10, 2004 07:52 PM

Also note the Snopes page has a 'last mod date' of February, 2004. While the sources used are as noted, I would hesitate to stamp 'biased' on the site or its authors -- status of an entry has changed in the past, given more information. Now, if no mention of recent publications sneaks in there, say, before Sept 1 (whether the authors find it persuasive or not), I might revise my initial caution.

Furrfu!, as the denizens of AFU might say.

Posted by john at August 10, 2004 08:48 PM

Ed - the URL didn't show up in my previous comment. Check Kerry's campaign site, which has a page of military records. URL here:

The people saying he hasn't released his records are misinformed or being economical with the truth. If there are specific records not included in the set already released, let's hear about it, with details. Which specific forms are missing, if any, and why should we care about those particular ones? I'm open to being convinced, but the quality of the evidence presented so far simply isn't very good, and some of it is not just wrong, it's trivially shown to be wrong with all of 15 seconds on the web. Did it really not occur to anyone to check Kerry's website?

As I said, I'm open to being convinced, but it requires evidence, not mere innuendo.

Posted by Andrew Case at August 11, 2004 08:25 AM

I don't see anything on his website which states who recommended him for his medals. I friend of mine who is a medal winner told me this information should be available somewhere. He didn't mention which forms. But I think this is part of the missing records people are talking about.

Posted by Ed Colletta at August 11, 2004 08:56 AM

BTW, that same friend of mine also remembers John Kerry's anti-war activities, and is upset and suprised that he is promoting himself as a war hero. So in that sense I agree with Andrew that this has a lot to do with his actions after he got back.

Posted by Ed Colletta at August 11, 2004 09:11 AM

"9. Hasn’t Senator Kerry already released his records?

No, Senator Kerry has disclosed only a selected portion of his records. Specifically, Senator Kerry has not disclosed the records leading to the award of the three purple hearts, the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. There are also missing performance evaluations (called “Fitness Reports”) for certain periods of his service as a Navy officer. We call upon Senator Kerry to authorize the complete release of his military records by filing a simple two-page Form 180." (From the Swift Vets FAQ)

I see 'Fitness reports' at, but I can't tell if they are complete or not. Shrug. They skip all over the place. Are they supposed to be monthly? Weekly? Some are just a week apart, others are 9+ months from the last.

I only see one 'Personnel Casualty Report', and it isn't for the disputed Purple Heart. I have no idea if PCR's are always issued or not. I see award citations, I do not know what sort of paperwork leads up to the actual citation.

I think the 'Form 180' would mean that _anyone_ could request 'full records' from the military directly and receive them.

Posted by Al at August 11, 2004 11:04 AM

While it's certainly true that they are motivated (in part) by what Kerry did after the war, that doesn't mean that they're lying about it now. They were probably unhappy about it at the time, but it wasn't worth making a big deal about then. Now, with him potentially on the verge of becoming CinC, they've decided to come forward.

Andrew, whose story has changed from then to now, and of how many of them is that true?

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 11, 2004 12:09 PM

Andrew, whose story has changed from then to now, and of how many of them is that true?

Now we're getting into details where I have to either spend a bunch of time backtracking to double check or rely on dodgy memory: I'm not sufficiently interested in these details to invest a lot of time, so take the following for what it's worth: I'll stand by the accuracy of the big picture, but individual details may be wrong. Take it as a place to start looking for further info rather than an accurate account.

At least one of the superior officers who rated Kerry highly as an officer in evaluations at the time has since said he was a bad officer. The medic who is in the ad claiming to have treated Kerry's wound has stated it was on the forearm, when in fact it was above the elbow. I believe that the officer who signed off on Kerry's first purple heart has changed his story multiple times (could be one of the other medals, though - this may be the same guy who campaigned for Kerry in the mid 1990s but has now decided to slag him).

There is nothing which utterly destroys the SBVT case, but taken in sum there is enough to suggest that the truth may be more on the side of Kerry being a bit of a gloryhound and a prig at the time, followed by his alienating huge numbers of veterans with his postwar activities, rather than on the side of his being an incompetent outright liar, which seems to me the impression SBVT is trying to convey.

Memory is inherently unreliable. The fact that people's recollection of events changes doesn't make them liars, but it does make them unreliable witnesses. I don't disrespect the members of SBVT - they are all courageous men. That doesn't mean they have flawless memories, and it doesn't mean they are free from the foibles of human nature.

Posted by Andrew Case at August 11, 2004 12:47 PM

Andrew you may (or may not) find this interesting and relevant.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 11, 2004 06:38 PM

Rand - the link is interesting, but it comes down to saying Kerry can't sue because the claims of the SBVT aren't claims of fact, which sort-of agrees with my take. I'd quibble with calling "I know John Kerry lied..." a statement of opinion, but that's getting too lawyerly to be worth the time.

Nothing I've seen has changed my opinion of Kerry, which wasn't very high to begin with. I object to efforts to demonize him (as I object to efforts to demonize Bush), and object to holding him to a different standard from Bush. Subject to the same level of scrutiny, the same standards of evidence, and the same presumptions of guilt, Bush comes off looking equally bad, leaving only the policy particulars to choose between them.

Posted by Andrew Case at August 12, 2004 07:32 AM

I would object to efforts to demonize him, too, if anyone were doing that. Saying that Bush is another Hitler who deliberately lies and joyfully murders children to enrich his buddies at Halliburto, is demonization. All that's happening with Kerry is to correct a fraudulent record--a record that seems to be his main justification to make him the next Commander in Chief.

He's already had to backtrack on the Cambodia charge. It's not unreasonable to ask, given the large number of contrary witnesses who have signed affidavits, what other aspects of his Vietnam experience has he fabricated?

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 12, 2004 09:08 AM

I don't see anything on his website which states who recommended him for his medals. I friend of mine who is a medal winner told me this information should be available somewhere.

Sadly, your friend mislead you. For most medals, a letter starts up the chain of command reccomending you for the medal. When the letter reached the appropriate level of authority, it's either roundfiled, or a certificate of award is sent back down the chain and then the reccomendation letter is roundfiled.

Posted by Derek L. at August 12, 2004 05:48 PM

"Colmes: 'Isn't this despicable--how can they impugn the honor of a medal winner?' "

The case of Marshall Petain illustrates how a person who was essentally universally recognized as a war hero, could turn out to be a lousy leader. Oh, and by coincidence..... he was French! (His execution was commuted by Charles DeGaulle.)

Posted by LarryH at August 12, 2004 08:18 PM

Thanks for the input Derek. BTW, I don't know where I got the term medal "winner" from. Somehow that doesn't seem right. Not like they were playing a game.

Posted by Ed Colletta at August 16, 2004 12:30 PM

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