Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 20, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

MORE SWIFT BOAT SLIME....The conservative blogosphere is finally getting what they asked for: mainstream media attention to the charges from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The results, though, aren't pretty.

The New York Times has a long piece today that has a couple of new stories to tell. First, there's an account from one of Kerry's former crewmates about SBVT's "neutral" investigation:

Patrick Runyon, who served on a mission with Mr. Kerry, said he initially thought the caller was from a pro-Kerry group, and happily gave a statement about the night Mr. Kerry won his first Purple Heart. The investigator said he would send it to him by e-mail for his signature. Mr. Runyon said the edited version was stripped of all references to enemy combat, making it look like just another night in the Mekong Delta.

"It made it sound like I didn't believe we got any returned fire," he said. "He made it sound like it was a normal operation. It was the scariest night of my life."

And then there's the story of Kerry's first Purple Heart:

The group also offers the account of William L. Schachte Jr., a retired rear admiral who says in the book that he had been on the small skimmer on which Mr. Kerry was injured that night in December 1968. He contends that Mr. Kerry wounded himself while firing a grenade.

But the two other men who acknowledged that they had been with Mr. Kerry, Bill Zaladonis and Mr. Runyon, say they cannot recall a third crew member. "Me and Bill aren't the smartest, but we can count to three," Mr. Runyon said in an interview. And even Dr. Letson said he had not recalled Mr. Schachte until he had a conversation with another veteran earlier this year and received a subsequent phone call from Mr. Schachte himself.

In addition, there's all the usual stuff about Roy Hoffman, George Elliott, and Adrian Lonsdale, who used to say nice things about Kerry and have suddenly changed their minds; Dr. Louis Letson's trick memory about who he treated and who he didn't; Larry Thurlow's amnesia about his own Bronze Star citation; Jerome Corsi's bigoted outbursts on right wing websites; and the creepy conservative network funding the whole operation. (Too much about that, in fact.)

Something tells me that before long George Bush is going to be sorry he didn't step up to the plate and disown this group from the start. Their story, tattered from the start, looks worse and worse every time somebody shines a light into another of its dank corners.

Kevin Drum 12:42 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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