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. These were not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis, with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit--the emotions in the room, and the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.
They told stories that, 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 Ghengis 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.
Here's the text of the ad:
John Kerry: “They had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads. . .”
Joe Ponder: “The accusations that John Kerry made against the veterans who served in Vietnam was just devastating.”
John Kerry: “. . . randomly shot at civilians. . .”
Joe Ponder: “It hurt me more than any physical wounds I had.”
John Kerry: “. . . cut off limbs, blown up bodies. . .”
Ken Cordier: “That was part of the torture, was, uh, to sign a statement that you had committed war crimes.”
John Kerry: “. . . razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan. . .”
Paul Gallanti: “John Kerry gave the enemy for free what I, and many of my, uh, comrades in North Vietnam, in the prison camps, uh, took torture to avoid saying. It demoralized us.”
John Kerry: “. . . crimes committed on a day to day basis. . . ”
Ken Cordier: “He betrayed us in the past, how could we be loyal to him now?”
John Kerry: “. . . ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam.”
Paul Gallanti: “He dishonored his country, and, uh, more, more importantly the people he served with. He just sold them out.”
Announcer : “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is responsible for the content of this advertisement.”
See how the "They told stories that..." is completely dropped? The ad makes it look like John Kerry was the original source of the claims about people's ears being cut off, rape, beheading, etc. But Kerry was merely repeating the testimony of 150 other veterans, and conveying it to Congress. Furthermore, the charges that Kerry repeated were true. (At least, this account of My Lai covers the raping, randomly shooting civilians, and Genghis-Khan-like razing. I can't vouch for ear removal or genital zapping.) I can imagine how a shoot-the-messenger irrational hatred of Kerry could have developed in the Swift Boat Liars. But there's nothing here for which he can be blamed, and the Swift Boat Liars' decision to express their irrational hatred by distorting his words is contemptible.