Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Before visiting the American Legion conference in Nashville on Wednesday, John Kerry received a letter from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. In it they urged Mr. Kerry to "Apologize for your conduct once you returned from Vietnam. Your exaggerated testimony before the US Senate; the blanket indictment of your fellow veterans ... dishonored America and the armed forces. Your rhetoric and actions were not only wrong, they aided the enemy and brought great pain to POW's, veterans and their families." The letter also offered: "If you undertake these steps we will be satisfied that the American public has been sufficiently apprised as to these aspects of your career, and we will discontinue the media advertisements you have sought so fervently to silence."
Mr. Kerry did no such thing on Wednesday. In fact, he ignored the swift boat controversy all together. This week, the swift boat vets released another TV ad, attacking Mr. Kerry for statements he made to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971. The Kerry campaign responded to the ad by arguing that Mr. Kerry's words are parsed and leave out an important line that they say distances Mr. Kerry from accusing U.S. troops of atrocities. While it is true that the ad does not include the line - "[Vietnam veterans] told stories" - does the line itself excuse Mr. Kerry's comments?
Hardly. Throughout his association with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Mr. Kerry participated in, sponsored and spoke at numerous antiwar rallies that accused Vietnam veterans of exactly the same things that Mr. Kerry told to the committee.
Consider, for example, a four-day VVAW rally held in September 1970 called Operation Rapid American Withdrawal. Mr. Kerry was a co-sponsor as well as a speaker at the event. His official biographer, Douglas Brinkley, describes Operation RAW in his book, "Tour of Duty," in this way: "The idea behind Operation RAW was for Vietnam vets to march eighty-six miles between Revolutionary War sites - Morristown, New Jersey, and Valley Forge, Pennsylvania - engaging in guerrilla theater along the way."
On the surface, this is correct, but Mr. Brinkley conveniently leaves out an important detail. While the vets staged mock "invasions" in certain towns along their route, they left behind leaflets that read: "A U.S. Infantry Company just Came Through Here! …