If you read the material that Drudge is quoting from Unfit For Command and you compare it with Kerry’s own quotes from shortly after he returned from Vietnam, then either both the Swift Boat vets and Kerry are telling the truth, or they’re both lying about Vietnam.
First, one of the excerpts on Drudge:
George Bates, an officer in Coastal Division 11, participated in numerous operations with Kerry. In UNFIT FOR COMMAND, Bates recalls a particular patrol with Kerry on the Song Bo De River. He is still “haunted” by the incident:
With Kerry in the lead, the boats approached a small hamlet with three or four grass huts. Pigs and chickens were milling around peacefully. As the boats drew closer, the villagers fled. There were no political symbols or flags in evidence in the tiny village. It was obvious to Bates that existing policies, decency, and good sense required the boats to simply move on.
Instead, Kerry beached his boat directly in the small settlement. Upon his command, the numerous small animals were slaughtered by heavy-caliber machine guns. Acting more like a pirate than a naval officer, Kerry disembarked and ran around with a Zippo lighter, burning up the entire hamlet.
Bates has never forgotten Kerry’s actions.
UNFIT FOR COMMAND, DRUDGE has learned, claims Kerry “earned his Silver Star by killing a lone, fleeing, teenage Viet Cong in a loincloth.”
Compare Bates’s quotes from Kerry’s own, which were videotaped on NBC’s Meet the Press on April 18, 1971:
There are all kinds of atrocities, and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50 calibre machine guns, which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search and destroy missions, in the burning of villages.
So if these guys are lying about what Kerry did in Vietnam, then Kerry himself had to have lied to Meet the Press and in his speech as a Naval Reserve officer to the Senate on April 22, 1971.
Otherwise, Kerry’s own testimony tacitly backs them up. So either Kerry’s a self-professed war criminal, or someone who lied to puff up his own radical chic credentials in the early 1970s and smear his fellow soldiers. In either case, what makes him think either of those make him electable?
This isn’t Bill Clinton’s shadowy Whitewater dealings and other murkiness from his salad days as an Arkansas governor. Then-Naval lieutenant Kerry led a remarkably well documented–and even audio and videotaped life in the early 1970s. Didn’t he think this material would surface if he chose to run for the presidency? And if so, why did he choose to run so much on his four months in Vietnam, and only spend 26 seconds(!) on his 20 years in the Senate in his acceptance speech at the DNC?
As Glenn Reynolds wrote yesterday about the swift boat vets’ ad, “Kerry played right into this with all the stuff about Vietnam and medals”.