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August 20, 2004

On Thurlow, Elliot: Why Reading Is Fundamental

Last night I watched John O'Neill on FoxNews and (as always) I was amazed by how Kerry supporters continue to selectively quote fragments of documents to prove their points and completely omit references to any documents that refute their position.

Alan Colmes parroted the Party Line: "your guys are contradicting themselves", quoting a fragment of one sentence of Elliot's 1st affadavit as "proof". Colmes conveniently omits any reference to Elliot's 2nd affadavit which does not contradict the 1st one, but adds information to clarify the line Colmes quoted. Had he read the 2nd affadavit, the meaning of the statement would have been obvious.

Elliot states he had no personal knowledge that Kerry shot an unarmed Vietnamese man in the back at the time he signed his award (because he was relying on a report). He later learned the facts were in doubt from reading Kerry's interview with Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe (i.e., it was Kerry's own words that alerted him to the inconsistency between Kerry's version and the report he saw earlier), and had he known then what he knows now, he would never have signed Kerry's award. He further states that Kranish misquoted him.

There is nothing contradictory in Elliot's version of events, if you read everything he has said and look at the entire timeline. His alleged "retraction" is nothing of the sort.

The Thurmont controversy follows the same pattern, with similar misstatements of fact and mysterious omissions from Kerry supporters and the media. From Thurlow's statement:

For Immediate Release Statement By Swift Boat Veterans for Truth Member Larry Thurlow
I am convinced that the language used in my citation for a Bronze Star was language taken directly from John Kerry's report which falsely described the action on the Bay Hap River as action that saw small arms fire and automatic weapons fire from both banks of the river.
To this day, I can say without a doubt in my mind, along with other accounts from my shipmates -- there was no hostile enemy fire directed at my boat or at any of the five boats operating on the river that day.
I submitted no paperwork for a medal nor did I file an after action report describing the incident. To my knowledge, John Kerry was the only officer who filed a report describing his version of the incidents that occurred on the river that day.

In other words, both Kerry's and Thurlow's awards were based on a report written by Kerry. Thurlow's version is backed up by Van O'Dell and Jack Chenowith, both present on that day:

O'Dell: The mine’s detonation lifted PCF-3 completely out of the water just yards ahead of me. All boats commenced suppression fire in case enemy small arms fire ensued. None did.
All boats came to the aid of PCF-3, except one: John Kerry’s boat. Kerry fled.
Larry Thurlow piloted his boat straight toward the mine-damaged PCF-3 from which thick, black smoke billowed. He jumped aboard and personally led damage control operations that saved the boat and rescue operations that saved the lives of badly wounded men. Larry’s leadership was in the highest traditions of the naval service. His leadership allowed the other men and boats of the mission to exit the river safely.
Chenowith: The reason the citation mentions "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" is because it is based on the "spot report" that John Kerry submitted. Any and all awards presented for actions on 13 March 1969 would be similar, if not verbatim, regarding enemy gunfire, because the only information submitted to the chain of command was falsified by Kerry.
Mr. Dobbs also grossly mischaracterizes my statements, and probably those of Richard Pees as well, when he states that we "do not remember coming under 'enemy fire.'" He needs to go back and review his notes. I emphatically told him -– as I’ve told countless other reporters -- that there was no enemy gunfire from either bank at any time, that the only event of the day was the mine under PCF 3, followed by suppression fire from all of our boats.
Mr. Dobbs is entitled to take whatever position he wants on the issue of who is telling the truth, but it is not right for him to mischaracterize my remarks so that it looks like I didn't "remember" whether there was enemy fire. I remember vividly. There was no enemy fire.

Newspapers and TV commentators who selectively quote only part of a document, or even parts of a sentence, without providing access to the full account should be viewed with suspicion. Their accounts are misleading - often intentionally so.

Witness this offering from the NY Times, which reads like a Kerry press release. It never addresses the Swift Vets' specific allegations, yet devotes copious time and attention to the Kerry campaign's slurs against their honesty. What is missing is any attempt to examine the facts - the Times engages in an amateurish "he said, she said", without once referring to the meticulous affadavits filed by the Swift vets or examining the merits of their charges. As character assassination, it is quite well done. As journalism, it fails miserably. The Times produces this graphic alleging "contradictions", which I have helpfully annotated in red text.

The first part of the graphic (not visible, however you can access the graphic from the NY Times article) details "shadowy connections" meant to discredit the Vets. But one would hardly expect the DNC to underwrite the Swift Vets' commercial. Therefore, it is hardly surprising to discover that some of the contributors were (shudder!) Republicans.

I continue to be amazed at the hints of sinister plots surrounding the Swift Vets' meagre funds when the MoveOn.org ad is backed by billionaire George Soros, hardly a disinterested party. Oddly, when the Times mentions "other ads" put forth by the Kerry campaign, it does not seem to feel that their credibility is in question because they are backed by Democrats.

The Times goes on to state (dishonestly) that:

Mr. Kerry's campaign had tried to debunk the accusations piecemeal, but on Thursday, there was a newly coordinated campaign, with a fat packet pulling together Mr. Kerry's military records, an e-mail message to supporters in which the campaign manager declared "the end of the dishonest and disgusting smear campaign," and a 50-state blitz of veterans vouching for his service in calls to radio stations, letters to newspapers and "truth squad" events.

This, gentlemen, is what is commonly referred to as supporting evidence (or as we laymen like to call them: facts). A little detail the Kerry campaign and the mainstream media have so far refused to address. The appropriate response to factual allegations is to counter with your own evidence. Not character assassination.

We await the Kerry campaign's refutation. Preferably with some reference to the factual allegations made by the Swift Vets. An smear campaign with no supporting evidence is unprofessional and unconvincing, except to those whose minds are closed.

- Cassandra


August 20, 2004 at 12:09 PM | Permalink

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Comments

So, how long will it be before NYT puts out a neat, tabular graphic showing all the lies in Michael Moore's movie Fahrenheit 9/11?

Ha.

Posted by: ELC at Aug 20, 2004 12:33:55 PM

**crickets chirping ***

Posted by: Purple Raider at Aug 20, 2004 12:45:47 PM

Alan Colmes is a mean spirited poopyhead. I think he and Rall went to the Vizzini School of Logic.

Posted by: La Femme Crickita at Aug 20, 2004 1:09:32 PM

"The appropriate response to factual allegations is to counter with your own evidence. Not character assassination."

Ah contraire, miss Cassandra. The proper approach is to counter with your own evidence, AND assissinate the character of the opposing witnesses.

Posted by: KJ at Aug 20, 2004 1:52:39 PM

Well he's certainly done the second.

We're still waiting on the first.

Posted by: Cassandra at Aug 20, 2004 2:38:46 PM

Cassandra, I can't examine the evidence you have gathered here until you answer a few questions.

Have you, or anyone you have ever associated with supported Bush or any republican for election to public office?

Have you ever associated with anyone who is a registered member of the Republican party?

Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Republican party?

At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

Posted by: Pile On® at Aug 20, 2004 3:18:39 PM

La Femme: Colmes & Rall went to the Krugman School of Logic.

Pile On: 1: yes, 2: yes, 3: yes, and 4: Do the democrats have any?

Posted by: Purple Raider at Aug 20, 2004 4:03:55 PM

Actually, you might be surprised at my answers Pile...

1. Yes if by "supporting" you mean just voting for a Republiscam. No if you mean anyone who worked on a campaign.

2. Yes - married to one. But I'm not.

3. Nope. Never.

4. Of course not - I'm a conservative. Everyone knows we have no souls...

Posted by: Cassandra at Aug 20, 2004 4:15:44 PM

Cassandra, since you answered yes to 2, your point of view must be respected. You are, after all, scr*wing a Republican, which makes you OK by Dimocratic standards.

Posted by: KJ at Aug 20, 2004 4:31:02 PM

Even if he likes it???

Posted by: Cassandra at Aug 20, 2004 4:34:12 PM

Impossible. Everyone knows Republicans don't LIKE it. They just do it to make babies, then out of habit.

Posted by: KJ at Aug 20, 2004 4:38:29 PM

Maybe he's a masochist :) Poor guy's a glutton for punishment.

Posted by: Cassandra at Aug 20, 2004 4:41:19 PM

Wait a minute KJ, I'm a Republican, and I like it.

Posted by: Purple Raider at Aug 20, 2004 5:09:08 PM

Well you're obviously not a real Republican then, Purple...

Posted by: Cassandra at Aug 20, 2004 5:26:09 PM

Well, with all due respect to the opinion of the esteemed KJ, Cassandra is clearly fraternizing with a known Republican, therefore nothing she says or writes can be considered credible.

Sorry Cass, the newspaper of record will certainly back me up on this.

Posted by: Pile On® at Aug 20, 2004 5:28:21 PM

Yeah... they'll probably have a graphic of my 'sinister connections' with Republiscams up in the NY Times any day now... :)

Cassandra shtumpted this known Rep. (wildly flashing arrow and lives NEXT DOOR to this Rep. She bought groceries from this one, and her newspaper is delivered by this one.

Obviously she is tainted by her strong ties to thises right-wing whackos and it is clear that she is in the pay of the RNC.

Posted by: Cassandra at Aug 20, 2004 5:52:06 PM

Well at least you are not "shtumpting" a libertarian. If that were the case you would probably have to be rounded up and placed in a re-education camp.

Posted by: Pile On® at Aug 20, 2004 6:47:11 PM

Oh...do Libertarians get any???

Posted by: Cassandra at Aug 20, 2004 7:39:41 PM

Oh, yeah, what was I thinking. It is not likely that anyone would be shtumpting a librarian, but if they were, they would likely need some re-education. :)

Posted by: Pile On® at Aug 20, 2004 8:37:18 PM

Not to hijack the thread, but has anyone heard about the Iraqi soccer team beating the Aussies or Austrians in the Olympics? Now, does anyone know if they have taken on Phrance, or did the Phrench phield a soccer team? I wonder if the phrench will retreat like they did the last time.

Posted by: La Femme Crickita at Aug 21, 2004 7:43:12 PM

Good heavens. I come here for a little light reading only to find out that Dr. KJ Westheimer is getting clinical on us. I thought Republicans procreated to stay ahead of the Democrats, who then realized that as long as there were lots of Republicans, there would be more taxes. Sounds like a conspiracy to me.

Posted by: La Femme Crickita at Aug 21, 2004 7:47:31 PM