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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

A great column by Phil Brennan. C
ambodia: All You Need To Know About John Kerry
Phil Brennan Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2004
This whole Swift Boat controversy boils down to one single issue: Was John Kerry in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968? Was he really there or is the whole thing a bald faced lie?

The answer is now clear. It's a lie, a whopper of the first magnitude. That fact alone should call into question everything the Massachusetts senator says about his experiences in Viet Nam and just about anything else he tells the American people.

If it weren't a deadly serious matter, the ever changing alibis and shuffling reaction of Kerry's campaign questions of his actual whereabouts on Christmas Eve, 1968 would be nothing short of hilarious. As they wiggle and struggle to evade the issue, his spokesmen come across as something out of a Laurel and Hardy skit from the 30s.

Lets start at the beginning.

As Joshua Muravchik, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in the Washington Post, the big Cambodia lie was born back in 1979 when Kerry wrote it in a letter to the Boston Herald, and has since repeated it at least eight times.

Wrote Muravchik "The most dramatic iteration came on the floor of the Senate in 1986, when he made it the centerpiece of a carefully prepared 20-minute oration against aid to the Nicaraguan contras."

Arguing that providing aid to the anti-Communist contras would lead to deeper involvement a la Viet Nam despite - Reagan administration denials that it would - Kerry recited similar denials regarding Vietnam from presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

He went on to make this claim.

"I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared - seared - in me."

When Kerry continued to tell this whopper the Swift Boat veterans retaliated by releasing statements from his commanders and members of his unit denying that his boat ever entered Cambodia. Moreover, none of Kerry's band of brothers came forward, as they had on other issues, to back up his claim which was apparently too absurd even for them to swallow.

Oops! It was all a mistake, his spokesmen said with a straight face. He really wasn't in Cambodia on Christmas Eve in 1968 after all. And as he had during that Bronze Star incident Kerry himself fled the scene and left it to his spokesmen to explain the inexplicable.

The first explanation was that Kerry had patrolled the Mekong Delta somewhere "between" Cambodia and Vietnam. As Muravchik wrote sardonically, "there is no between; there is a border."

Having lost that excuse, a new spokesman told the media that Kerry had been "near Cambodia," evading the fact that, as Muravchik wrote, "Kerry's 1986 Senate speech was that he personally had taken part in a secret and illegal war in a neutral country. That was only true if he was 'in Cambodia,' as he had often said he was. If he was merely 'near,' then his deliberate misstatement" gave the lie to the entire speech.

Now comes historian, Kerry fan and biographer Douglas Brinkley trying to pull the fat out of the fire and salvage his reputation as a legitimate historian and not merely just another Kerry flack. Brinkley admitted to the London Telegraph last week that while Kerry had been 50 miles from the border on Christmas, he "went into Cambodian waters three or four times in January and February 1969 on clandestine missions."

And while Brinkley uses almost 100 pages of his book to describe what Kerry was up to in January and February, and cites the locations of various battles, often locating Kerry near Cambodia, he never once writes about Kerry going into Cambodia.

Then along comes another Kerry campaign statement that cuts the spongy ground out from underneath Brinkley by suggesting that Kerry had really visited Cambodia on just one single occasion - date unknown.

In the face of all this obfuscation, at least two members of the Band of Brothers who are supporting Kerry - and another one who isn't - deny their boat ever crossed the border.

Unfortunately, Kerry's own journal - written while he was in Viet Nam and partially quoted in Brinkley's book - says, "The banks of the [Rach Giang Thanh River] whistled by as we churned out mile after mile at full speed. On my left were occasional open fields that allowed us a clear view into Cambodia. At some points, the border was only 50 yards away and it then would meander out to several hundred or even as much as a thousand yards away, always making one wonder what lay on the other side."

Wrote Muravchik, "His curiosity was never satisfied, because this entry was from Kerry's final mission."

It's important to remember that "seared" into Kerry's memory was that Christmas Eve in 1968 when he was five miles inside Cambodia getting shot at by a lot of hostiles. No qualifications, no evasions. Just a flat out statement - he was there and can never forget the horror of it. It was Christmas after all - you never forget an occasion like that. Especially when you are being shot at.

But he wasn't there. John Kerry is a proven bald-faced liar and that's all you need to know about him.

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