By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Nothing cloudy: I have scanned your recent article, "Fog of War," by John Gonzalez (July 29). You report that a small group of veterans is alleging that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry "stretches the truth about his Vietnam service." I suggest that their allegations are maliciously unfair and politically motivated because there is a larger group of eyewitness veterans and veteran senior officers who strongly support the exemplary war record of Mr. Kerry. Service personnel in combat do not pick and choose their medals. Battlefield awards are presented to those deserving fighters on the basis of meritorious actions described by surviving witnesses to particular events. Unfortunately, many deserving heroes are not rewarded because their actions of valor are not observed and recorded by anyone. It is extremely unfortunate that a veteran--who volunteered for combat and has received three purple hearts--has to endure such political slander after he valiantly served his country during wartime.
The outstanding war record of John Kerry stands documented and verified. The ambiguous military records of George Bush were alleged at one press conference to have been destroyed in a major fire; however, these records mysteriously appear from the ashes during another press conference. With regard to John Kerry, there is no "Fog of War."
John W. Palich
Do the math: Nice touch, using a "Clausewitzian" term to describe the Kerry vs. O'Neill debate. Also, your mention of some personal issues concerning John O'Neill also indicates that you did some diligent research on Mr. O'Neill, rather than just jump on the (rather shrill) bandwagon of his detractors (who accuse him of being a Republican attack dog--which anyone who knows John will ensure that he is not).
To your rhetorical question "Who can you believe? Who knows?" I would answer with another. Why has Kerry not released a Standard Form (SF)-180 that would allow open FOIA access to his records? I can assure you that IF he is who he says he is, he would, just as Bush I, Ross Perot and Bush II have. Do the math, as they say.
Dirty fingers: In your article "Fog of War," you briefly mention that each side has "partisan ties." However, you fail to mention some quite startling ties on the side of those so-called Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth."
As a responsible reporter and, furthermore, as a citizen of Texas, you should be aware that the "Wilson" in O'Neill's law firm is none other than Margaret A. Wilson, who was George Bush's counsel from 1998 to 2000. You should also be aware that Merrie Spaeth not only worked in Reagan's administration (as you pointed out--although, personally, I don't feel this necessarily means she's a raging partisan) but that she was also married to Tex Lezar, who ran for lieutenant governor in Texas in 1994 on the same ticket as...George W. Bush.
I'm sure the money trail leads through many brush-filled paths to a phony ranch out in Crawford...or maybe the president just has lots of friends with dirty, tricky fingers.
I'd appreciate a more HONEST appraisal of these veterans, who may have served their country honorably at one point but who are doing a great dishonor to the nation and the world with their "recollections."
Political whores: How about a little honesty and balance here? You spend paragraphs questioning those opposed to Kerry and their motives, but how about the political whores traveling with him and paid by his campaign? Don't you find someone who takes an 8mm movie camera to 'Nam with them a little suspect? It also has already been admitted during the convention that some of the film was staged. Surely his Band of Brothers can remember if they staged events.
Kerry is a phony who has spent his entire life calculating how to promote John Kerry. Any vet with half a brain saw through him years ago because they saw 100 more in 'Nam just like him.
Kerry's "band of brothers": A very good article; however, you could have given as much attention to the funding of Kerry's "band of brothers" as you did to SBVT. Are we assured that each of Kerry's group is paying his own way? If not, the funding of SBVT is not relevant.
Swift boat liars for Bush: I picked up a copy of the Dallas Observer at lunch today when I saw the cover featuring the swift boat liars for Bush. I eagerly read through your article, hoping that the Observer had done the job of debunking these guys. Boy, was I disappointed.
I found that you left out quite a bit of crucial background regarding O'Neill and the SBVT. For example, your article asks who to believe, then doesn't conclude anything at the end. It seems to be a hodgepodge collection of random facts strung together in such a way that it obfuscates the issue. If you go to google.com and search for Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace, you will discover that O'Neill co-founded the organization as a direct response to VVAW. There is no evidence to suggest that Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace was anything other than a hatchet organization created at the behest of Chuck Colson (Nixon's political enforcer) in order to discredit John Kerry and VVAW. There is no evidence of it being a widespread movement.
In addition, I'm sure you are aware that O'Neill never served with John Kerry. O'Neill was deployed to Vietnam after Kerry came home. How in the world can O'Neill judge someone he never served with?