Last November Swift Boat Veterans For Truth financier/Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens’ offered to “pay $1 million to anyone who can disprove even a single charge of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” against John Kerry.
Kerry promptly responded to Picken’s challenge in a letter saying he was “willing to present his case directly to Pickens” and he ”would donate any proceeds” from disproving Pickens’ to the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Needless to say Pickens’ weaseled out.
Now some 7 months later, ten Vietnam veterans who actually “witnessed or served with John Kerry” have stepped forward to take Pickens up on “his challenge to prove false one element of that group’s attacks from the 2004 campaign.” Sam Stein reports on the HuffPo on the letter sent to Pickens from the veterans:
“Dear Mr. Pickens,” the letter (pdf) begins, “We are the crew and individual servicemen who served on or with Patrol Craft Fast 94 in Vietnam in early 1969… Regrettably the lies of the SBVT, which you helped bankroll and apparently still defend, tarnished the sacrifices we made, called into question the medals we were awarded and challenged the very authenticity of our service… We have children and families who were deeply affected by these lies and we believe you and the SBVT whom you supported owe us and the American people an apology for the tactics you bankrolled.
“We are aware of media reports that at a dinner in Washington D.C. on November 6th, 2007, you made a public challenge that you would give a million dollars to anyone who could show that anything the SBVT said was false. We also know that Senator John Kerry, who was the skipper of the PCF-94, contacted you to take you up on that challenge. We are writing to you now as a group to accept your challenge and document how you funded lies and character assassination.”
What follows, aides to Kerry say, is one of the most comprehensive conglomerations of evidence disputing the SBVT attacks. Taking on the argument that, somehow, Kerry didn’t deserve his Silver Star, the signatories dispute ten “falsehoods,” including the claim that Kerry chased and killed a “young Viet Cong in loincloth” (it was an actually a “man of normal military age” carrying a B-40 rocket); that he only was in combat with this one individual (there were “multiple VC scrambling to get away”); and that Kerry made a tactical error in captaining his boat that day (“there was no ‘plan’ to charge the bank”). The letter concludes with perhaps the most poignant and currently relevant point.
“Finally, the continued insistence that Kerry has not released his full military record is refuted by the Navy, which has publicly certified he has, and by three newspapers which have independently received signed releases and reviewed those records.”
Whether the veteran’s receive a response from Pickens remains to be seen. Scott Lehigh of the Boston Globe also chimed in with an OP/ED directed to Pickens telling him:
T. BOONE Pickens, some angry Vietnam veterans would like a little of your time.
These are guys who served directly with John Kerry in Vietnam, and they have a T. bone to pick with you.
They’re upset that you helped smear Kerry – and pollute the political discourse – in 2004 by donating $2 million to the inaptly named Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
You need to sit down with them. And when you’re done, it’ll be time to reach for your checkbook once again – this time to give a cool million to the charity of their choice.
If you’re a man of your word, that is.
Frankly, I have my doubts.
The fact is this issue is very personal for the men that served with Kerry. Even 4 years after the ’04 election, these guys still want the record set straight. Kerry aide David Wade told Sam Stein:
“For some of these guys whose lives are not politics it has had a profound impact. When they saw the Pickens explanation in November they were pretty stunned by that… the crew said let us have a shot.”
And Scoot Lehigh adds on the personal aspect for the veterans:
[...] Crew member Fred Short tells me that after SBVT started running its ads, a work colleague asked him if he was worried he would go to jail, apparently thinking he might have helped Kerry concoct a false account of wartime events.
“My grandchildren will grow up and say, ‘Was grandpa a liar? What really happened?’ ” adds Del Sandusky.
The bottom line is, it’s time for T. Boone, as Lehigh says to “put your million where your mouth was,” because “Kerry’s crewmates have called your bluff.”
Come on T. Boone… Time’s a wastin’…