Sunday, February 15, 2004

A few questions for Mr. Kerry

John Kerry's Vietnam record consists not only of his honorable service in the war, but also of his activities afterward, when he testified before Congress about the "war crimes committed in Southeast Asia." (Thanks to Hugh Hewitt) He was quite adamant about the barbarity of US soldiers, describing the testimony of soldiers in the Winter Soldier Investigation:
I would like to talk on behalf of all those veterans and say that several months ago in Detroit we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit - the emotions in the room and the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told stories that at times 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 Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

This does raise a number of interesting questions that I would like to ask John Kerry.
  • Do you stand by the accusations you made before Congress in your 1971 testimony?
  • Were these accusations consistent with your own experiences in Vietnam?
  • If so,
    • Did you witness war crimes?
    • Did you report those war crimes as required by the Uniform Code of Military Justice?
  • If not,
    • Why were you so convinced that these crimes were "committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command"?
    • Why repeatedly include yourself by saying things such as "we feel because of what threatens this country, not the reds, but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out"?
  • According to your own words, you interacted with upwards of one hundred and fifty self-proclaimed war criminals. There is no statute of limitations on war crimes. Do you intend to prosecute these criminals? Why or why not?
  • Since you claimed that these crimes were committed with "full awareness of officers at all levels of command," who else do you intend to prosecute?
Hugh Hewitt has asked whether Kerry's past has anything to do with the present. In response, James Lileks has said " I don?t care what John Kerry said when he was 25. I care about what John Kerry says today ...about what he said when he was 25." Since I'm only 29, I don't have Lileks's experience of a radical change of my own opinions in my 30s. But I do believe that people can change, so I won't make an argument that Kerry's past statements condemn him as long as he can explain that he has changed since the time he made those statements. I would like to know whether he still stands by the discredited Winter Soldier Investigation. The best path for him to take is to claim that he believed it then, but later realized his error. This makes him look gullible, and he should explain how experience has made him more skeptical. If he never believed it, then he was a liar, and he needs to explain how experience has made him more honest. If he still believes it, then he should be pressing for war crime charges against not only the people he met in Detroit, but against hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people currently and formerly in the military, and he needs to explain how experience has made him more tolerant of war crimes.

New Post: I've posted more on the Winter Soldier Investigation above.

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