FP: Mr. Swett, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Swett: Thanks very much for inviting me. I've been a fan of FrontPage Magazine for quite a while.
FP: Tell us a bit about the role of the Swift Vets' much-maligned PR firm in planning their May 4 debut at the National Press Club. You were present for the planning meeting, tell us what happened.
Swett: I had been working with John O'Neill to pull together some presentation material for the press conference, and he invited me to come over to the Comfort Inn where they were staying. The planning meeting was held in a conference room downstairs, and it lasted for several hours. A number of the Swift Vets had attended various reunion events over the years, but many hadn't seen each other in more than 3 decades, so the first part of the meeting was spent getting everybody reacquainted. I passed around my copy of "The New Soldier," Kerry's hard-to-find 1971 book on the Washington protest that made him famous so the veterans could see his "other band of brothers" throwing away their medals and pretending to murder civilians on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Then O'Neill asked each "Swiftee" to stand, introduce himself, and give his own reasons for speaking out against John Kerry. Those statements were very similar to what they said before the cameras the next morning.
Next, O'Neill introduced communications specialist Merrie Spaeth, widow of his former law partner, and her assistant. They offered tips on dealing with the media and helped organize the timing of the event, mostly by trimming the Swift Vets' speeches down to around 90 seconds. It was obvious that each man's statement was what he intended to say, rather than the product of some sort of external manipulation. After a while there was a break for Chinese carryout and soft drinks, then they all went back to work. By the end of the evening they had hammered out the contents and the sequence of their presentation.
The next morning at the National Press Club, 18 combat veterans stepped up to the microphones in turn to deliver devastating assessments of John Kerry's honesty, integrity, and capacity to lead. There is no doubt in my mind that every one of them said exactly what he believes.
FP: Enlighten us as to what you know about the mounting evidence that Kerry grossly inflated his combat record in Vietnam.
Swett: That's a subject that could fill a book, and in fact has. I'll just point out that multiple witnesses have signed affadavits testifying that John Kerry's claims about the major events of his Vietnam tour bear little resemblance to reality. They state that Kerry's claim to have transported troops into Cambodia is complete fiction, that his first Purple Heart was self-inflicted and that his commanding officer refused to sign off on it, that his account of rescuing Jim Rassmann in the middle of a firefight is untrue -- three eyewitnesses say there was no enemy contact whatsoever during the event -- and so on, and so on. Many more details on all of this are available at SwiftVets.com, and in the new book Unfit for Command.
FP: Kerry’s false charges against the U.S. military have tarnished the reputations of a generation of American soldiers, helped Hanoi win the war, and paved the way for the communist genocide that followed. Do you agree? Give your angle on this.
Swett: I'd say that sums it up pretty concisely. The contempt which awaited returning Vietnam veterans was a real anomaly in American history. The country has now returned to its normal practice of holding those who fight to defend it in high regard, which forces Kerry's defenders to perform remarkable verbal gymnastics as they try to explain that he really loved and respected America's troops even though he claimed they routinely murdered civilians.
The usual counter-attack from the leftists is, "So you're saying no atrocities were committed in Vietnam?" Of course we aren't -- there are atrocities in all wars. The issue is whether they were frequent or rare, aberrations or a matter of policy. Atrocities are regularly committed in Boston. Now, most people comprehend that a large number of people live in Boston, and that isolated events cannot reasonably be used to characterize the entire city. This is the nature of Kerry's lie about America in Vietnam -- he took rare incidents among 2.6 million troops fighting a guerrilla war over a period of ten years and used them to smear the entire U.S. military, testifying before the Senate that atrocities were "not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command."
The charge that it was really American troops who committed genocide in Southeast Asia rather than the communists is the leftist Big Lie about Vietnam. It was started by the Soviet KGB, dramatized and "documented" in America by people like Kerry and Jane Fonda, amplified by a sympathetic media, and enshrined in the popular culture by Hollywood, but it is still a lie -- a claim as grotesque as insisting that American troops rather than Nazis caused the Holocaust. It is precisely that lie that we are targeting at WinterSoldier.com, by showing how the purveyors of the lie organized and operated, and by providing accurate information to help people inform themselves about what really happened.
FP: The DNC and the Kerry Campaign immediately pulled out a lawyer letter targeting the nation's TV and Radio stations one day after the Swift Boat Veteran's for Truth aired their ad. How come?
Swett: Because they understand that they can't win unless they can silence their opposition. The obvious thuggishness of this move, which risks alienating the very media outlets they count on to support them, is an indication of the seriousness of the threat they face. The Democrats just bet the farm on an attempt to sell John Kerry as a larger-than-life war hero, partly because they know they are perceived as weak on defense, and partly because they realize that few of their core positions -- increased taxes, bigger government, gay marriage, racial quotas and the like -- resonate all that well with the public. They intend to use their domination of the establishment media to denounce the motives of the Swift veterans, ignore their testimony, and sell their own myth of a heroic John Kerry to an unwitting citizenry. We're about to see how that plays out.
FP: Bill O'Reilly, Dick Morris and Susan Estrich all vigorously denounced the ad. Why in each case do you think? What are they afraid of?
Swett: I'm a bit reluctant to assign motives, but after watching Susan Estrich's virulent attack on Swift veteran Van Odell on Fox News, it seems likely enough that her response does come from fear -- fear that the Swift vets' comprehensive dismissal of Kerry's war hero myth will harm Democratic prospects in November.
Many other observers are responding to the Swift charges with skepticism, which I think is perfectly appropriate. If you're going to come forward during an election year to claim that a Presidential candidate has massively falsified his personal history, then the burden of proof is, and should be, on you. The Swift Boat veterans are supporting their claims with detailed documentation that includes official reports and eyewitness accounts backed by affadavits, but this isn't yet widely understood. For example, I doubt that Bill O'Reilly and Dick Morris took the time to read the cover letter that the Swifts provided to TV station managers along with the "Any Questions?" ad.
FP: What is the difference, do you think, if John Kerry wins the election rather than George W. Bush? What will it mean for Iraq and the War on Terror?
Swett: President Bush has taken decisive action in the wake of the 9/11 attacks against international terrorists and the regimes that support them, or in the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq, used to support them. John Kerry has consistently opposed American interests during his entire career, supporting first Hanoi, then the Sandinistas, and voting against all the military and intelligence programs requested by President Reagan during his ultimately successful effort to win the Cold War. It is difficult to imagine a greater contrast between candidates in the area of national security.
It seems most unlikely that President Kerry would continue the military support required to stabilize Iraq, or that he would authorize action against terrorist elements in Iran, Syria or elsewhere should that become necessary.
FP: David Horowitz, the editor-in-chief of this magazine, helped organize the first campus demonstration against the war at the University of California, Berkeley in 1962. As you know, he abandoned the political faith and has commented on the tragedy of the anti-war movement. I would like to take a moment to run a brief quote by him. In his "An Open Letter to the `Anti-War’ Demonstrators: Think Twice Before You Bring The War Home," he recalls how the antiwar movement prolonged the war itself and how:
"Every testimony by North Vietnamese generals in the postwar years has affirmed that they knew they could not defeat the United States on the battlefield, and that they counted on the division of our people at home to win the war for them. The Vietcong forces we were fighting in South Vietnam were destroyed in 1968. In other words, most of the war and most of the casualties in the war occurred because the dictatorship of North Vietnam counted on the fact Americans would give up the battle rather than pay the price necessary to win it. This is what happened. The blood of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, and tens of thousands of Americans, is on the hands of the anti-war activists who prolonged the struggle and gave victory to the Communists."
Could you comment on this reality and how you think it applies to the role of John Kerry?
Swett: I recently had the privilege of presenting a session on the Winter Soldier Investigation with Dr. Jerry Corsi, co-author of Unfit for Command at a four-day conference in Boston titled "Examining the Myths of the Vietnam War." Former Senator and retired Admiral Jerimiah Denton made the same point in his keynote remarks that David Horowitz did above. As the leader of American POWs in the Hanoi Hilton, Denton was brought before a gathering of the top North Vietnamese leadership after the December 1972 bombings of the North. They wanted to know what Denton would say about his imprisonment after he returned home; in particular, they wanted to hear that he would report that torture of Americans had ceased in 1969 after the death Ho Chi Minh. It was clear to Denton that the North Vietnamese leaders considered themselves on the brink of defeat, and were hoping to obtain lenient treatment from the American victors rather than facing trial on war crimes charges.
There seems little question that had we simply lived up to our treaty obligations to our South Vietnamese allies and provided air support after the North Vietnamese invaded in late 1974 and early 1975, we could have prevented the genocide that followed. But by that time Nixon had left office in disgrace, Congress had cut off all aid to our former allies at the behest of Senator Kennedy, and there was no political will to oppose the communist invasion.
FP: Do you believe that opposition by veterans to Kerry's candidacy is growing?
Swett: Yes. What I'm seeing is a growing wave of outrage at Kerry's actions, partly for gaming the system to obtain unearned medals and create his war hero myth, but primarily focused on his efforts on behalf of Hanoi. After all, the North Vietnamese tortured American prisoners to obtain confessions of "war crimes." John Kerry supported their atrocities propaganda for free.
The next major event in the emerging veterans revolt against John Kerry is the "Kerry Lied" Rally, which will be held in Washington, D.C. on September 12. The attendance at that event should give us a sense of how that wave is coming along.
FP: Mr. Swett, our time is up. Good luck on your courageous and honorable work. Take care and we hope to see you again soon.
Swett: Thanks very much. Permit me to return the compliment, and I hope we can talk again about these remarkable events as they unfold.
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