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Wednesday, August 18, 2004  

Politics: Smear campaigner retracted remarks

Considering that we are continually treated to the mud slinging of Vietnam veterans who oppose John Kerry (pictured) and also just happen to be operatives of the GOP, why we haven't we heard much about a former member of the smear campaign who has recanted? Richard Einhorn at Tristero tells us about Lieutenant Commander George Elliott, who had second thoughts after doing his duty as a conservative. After refuting attempts to discredit Kerry in 1996, Elliott succumbed to pressure from very conservative Vietnam veterans to aid them in their latest assault. He now regrets having given in and performed according to their script.

. . . a key figure in the anti-Kerry campaign, Kerry's former commanding officer, backed off one of the key contentions. Lieutenant Commander George Elliott said in an interview that he had made a ''terrible mistake" in signing an affidavit that suggests Kerry did not deserve the Silver Star. . .

The statement refers to an episode in which Kerry killed a Viet Cong soldier who had been carrying a rocket launcher, part of a chain of events that formed the basis of his Silver Star...Crew members have said Kerry's actions saved their lives.

Yesterday, reached at his home, Elliott said he regretted signing the affidavit and said he still thinks Kerry deserved the Silver Star. . .

Elliott said. ''It was a terrible mistake probably for me to sign the affidavit with those words. I'm the one in trouble here."

Readers will note that I removed as many of the lies as I could from the article in quoting these excerpts. I did so for a reason.

The people trying to slime Kerry are doing so not because they have a legitimate point of view but because they hate Kerry for opposing the Vietnam War. They are deliberately spreading falsehoods in order to muddy the discourse, to turn a clearcut case of heroism into a he said/she said "debate."

But it isn't working. The Bush campaign has publicly repudiated them and McCain has reamed both them and the Bush campaign.

More importantly, the facts speak for themselves. Those who were most in a position to know, Kerry's boatmates, stand by Kerry. As do contemporary Army records.

There is no he said/she said "debate." Kerry deserved his Silver and Purple stars.

End of story.

I haven't said much about the Right's 'swift boaters' because to refute a lie one must repeat it, thereby spreading the falsehood. Furthermore, much of the material being disseminated by these folks, who are bankrolled by a wealthy reactionary in Texas, makes no sense. My hope is that reasonable people will see right through it without having to be convinced that the swift boaters lack credibility. For example, the Southern doctor who claims to have removed shrapnel from Kerry's hand and to have applied a Band-Aid, missed something obvious, or perhaps he expects civilians to be too ignorant to realize his account defies logic. Physicians are not allowed on the front lines. They are too valuable to risk to close enemy fire. Medics supply the only medical care on the front lines. He would not have even have been where he says he was. Furthermore, his account does not match military records. And, it is unbelievable that he would have a clear memory of giving a Band-Aid to someone who wanted to run for president 35 years later. (Assuming, of course, that the young Kerry wanted to run for president then and told everyone, including strangers, that he did.) Hopefully, most people are not so vacuous as to credit such obvious fabrication. The group's book, which is apparently rife with similar lies, will be released by the Right Wing publishers at Regnery next week.

It is a good thing George Elliott has decided not to participate in the smear campaign. However, it would be a better thing if he had refused to participate from the beginning. His false assertions are included in the book and in a television ad promoting it. Elliott has done too little, too late.

Reasonably related

Elliott backed down from his earlier position in the Boston Herald.

3:10 PM