Senator John Kerry, the defeated 2004 Democratic Presidential candidate, is sounding like a candidate again. But his recent spouting off about Iraq has served to divert attention from accusations that could sink any future presidential run. Kerry is the target of a lawsuit that accuses him of trying to suppress a documentary that told the truth about his anti-Vietnam War activities.
Kerry, who became famous for saying he voted for an Iraq funding bill before he voted against it, has been lashing out at the Bush administration for its handling of the war in Iraq. In early April he wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times and then appeared on Meet the Press and ABC’s This Week. His first message was that if Iraq did not successfully form a government by May 15th, then “we will immediately withdraw our military.” If they succeed in forming a government by May 15th, then “we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year’s end.”
The Bush exit strategy, which does not include an artificial deadline, is that as Iraqi forces stand up, American and Allied forces can step down. The decision to remove our troops will be based on the conditions on the ground, not some arbitrary date.
Kerry, who on NBC’s Meet the Press announced that he now supports Sen. Russ Feingold’s call for censuring President Bush, said that May 15, which is five months after the December 2005 parliamentary elections in Iraq, should be plenty of time to have formed a unity government. This figure of five months has been repeated over and over in the media to suggest the political parties in Iraq are unable to move forward. But the fact is that at the time Kerry wrote his piece for the Times, and appeared on Meet the Press, it had been less than two months since the results of the election had been finalized, and that was followed shortly thereafter by the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samara. In the aftermath, both the Sunnis and the Shi’ites have shown great restraint, and a desire to make the process work.
Here are the facts: three national elections took place on time last year. The three sides, including the Kurds, have shown a desire to create a peaceful, democratic society. Former dictator Saddam Hussein is on trial. Progress is being made. A new government has been formed.
Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reported in April that in one year, the Iraqi army had gone from a handful of battalions to almost 130, and from almost no brigades or divisions to more than 30 brigades and eight to 10 divisions. He added that “83 percent of all operations are led solely by Iraqis or Iraqis and coalition forces, with the other 17 percent being coalition-only (operations).”
Despite this progress, Kerry keeps talking about artificial and arbitrary deadlines. Perhaps Kerry is trying to take attention off his current legal and public relations problems, as he weighs his options heading into the 2008 Democratic primaries. He has recently created a controversial defense fund to cover his legal expenses in a defamation lawsuit filed last fall by Carlton Sherwood, former marine, Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist and producer of “Stolen Honor,” the film that caused so much controversy just before the presidential election of 2004.
The film provided accounts of several former POWs from the Vietnam War who talked about how John Kerry’s Senate testimony in 1971 adversely impacted their time in captivity in the “Hanoi Hilton” prison camp. Sherwood interviewed 17 former POWs for the film, who spent a combined total of 109 years and three months in captivity. The film criticized Kerry for his role in organizing the Winter Soldier investigation for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. In statements that are now seen as gross exaggerations if not lies, Kerry had told a Senate committee that he and others had committed crimes and atrocities during the Vietnam War “on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.” Kerry vividly described what he said that Vietnam veterans had told at the investigation: that “they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan?”
When Sinclair Broadcasting announced its intention to air the documentary, the liberal-left was so concerned that it could adversely affect Kerry’s run for the presidency in 2004 that it waged a multi-faceted pressure campaign complete with threats of government action and investor lawsuits. That resulted in Sinclair deciding instead to air a one-hour special on the topic that included just over five minutes of “Stolen Honor.”
Sherwood’s lawsuit accuses Kerry of being part of a conspiracy to discredit and silence Sherwood and “Stolen Honor” through a campaign of falsehoods. You can learn more about this important case by visiting the website of the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation.