The question regarding if that statement is true or false has nothing to do with it. No one likes to be told something they don't want to hear. And, if what they are told is false, well that's even worse. You know, them's fight'n words!
The contention of the Swift Boat Vets for Truth is that:
"Vietnam veterans who had long resented his [John Kerry] false 1971 testimony that American troops routinely committed war crimes."And....
"Kerry's [testimony presented a] false portrait of American veterans as misfits, drug addicts and baby killers."When you quote something, you can lose the context, that's why I provide the source. It is possible that I have misconstrued SBV's statements, but in this case, I don't think so.
I have found a consistency in the absolutists portrayal of the press, Walter Cronkite, Robert Kennedy, and now John Kerry. To call something false means it is not true. To call something dishonest, means it is purposely false. To call something misleading means that the author added or left out required facts.
Did John Kerry testify that "American troops routinely committed war crimes?" Here is what he said on April 22, 1971 that relates to this charge by the Swift Boat Vets for Truth:
I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command....
They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.
We call this investigation the "Winter Soldier Investigation." The term "Winter Soldier" is a play on words of Thomas Paine in 1776 when he spoke of the Sunshine Patriot and summertime soldiers who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough.
We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out.So, yes, John Kerry accused some of his fellow vets of war crimes in 1971. Was this a false statement?
According to an August 6, 2006 Los Angeles Times article "Civilian Killings Went Unpunished."
The files are part of a once-secret archive, assembled by a Pentagon task force in the early 1970s, that shows that confirmed atrocities by U.S. forces in Vietnam were more extensive than was previously known.
The documents detail 320 alleged incidents that were substantiated by Army investigators — not including the most notorious U.S. atrocity, the 1968 My Lai massacre.
Though not a complete accounting of Vietnam war crimes, the archive is the largest such collection to surface to date. About 9,000 pages, it includes investigative files, sworn statements by witnesses and status reports for top military brass.
The records describe recurrent attacks on ordinary Vietnamese — families in their homes, farmers in rice paddies, teenagers out fishing. Hundreds of soldiers, in interviews with investigators and letters to commanders, described a violent minority who murdered, raped and tortured with impunity.
Abuses were not confined to a few rogue units, a Times review of the files found. They were uncovered in every Army division that operated in Vietnam.
Retired Brig. Gen. John H. Johns, a Vietnam veteran who served on the task force, says he once supported keeping the records secret but now believes they deserve wide attention in light of alleged attacks on civilians and abuse of prisoners in Iraq.
"We can't change current practices unless we acknowledge the past," says Johns, 78.
Digging through the LA Times website I find this official government letterhead document:
Other places for information and records are:
- The War Behind Me
- Vietnam War Crimes Working Group Files
- Stolen Honor producer Sherwood falsely claimed Winter Soldier investigation "utterly discredited"
Nothing....It is possible that "baby killer" is implied by these statements John Kerry made:
We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers who hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum.
We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of orientals."Baby killer" or killing of babies was not used in the speech. Kerry does use the term "misfit" - but it is not directed at the veteran:
"And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom, which those misfits supposedly abuse, is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart.."There were no comments, other than the acknowledgment of atrocities, implying that vets were "misfits" or "drug addicts."
The SBV's may not like the fact that John Kerry told us what the problems were in Vietnam. Like he said:
"We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out."
Argue all you want about whether he should have kept quiet. Debate on the merits of pulling back the curtain and telling us what really goes on. But if you are going to claim you are "for truth" you need to, you know, actually be "for truth." And another thing....you know that statement "the truth will set you free?" That's what Retired Brig. Gen. John H. Johns, a Vietnam veteran, meant when he said in the LA Times:
"We can't change current practices unless we acknowledge the past,"