SharksWithLasers -- Seth Cooper

A CUTTING-EDGE BLOG FOR THE WORLD OF THE 21st CENTURY, Currently operated by Seth L. Cooper, a 27 year-old attorney in Seattle (sethlcooper at comcast dot net)

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Below is the review of Unfit For Command that I recently posted to Amazon. As of this posting, it has already received over 45 positive votes for it.

Unfit For Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry
By John E. O'Neill and Jerome R. Corsi
Regnery, 2004

Raises disturbing & serious questions about Kerry's fitness (5 stars)

That this book is EXPLOSIVE need hardly be said. This reviewer has actually READ THIS BOOK, after an initial reluctance to purchase it. The ensuing firestorm surrounding its publication made it too tempting to resist—and in conclusion, it is definitely worth a read.

It is no easy task to take a dispassionate approach in reading and analyzing this book. Nonetheless, even if one were to read the book in its worst light and attribute all sorts of ill motives to the books authors, the book still raises serious and unsettling questions about John Kerry’s military record, and raises even more troubling questions about his conduct as a war protestor and politician. The authors have done their research, have plenty of source material to work with and have adequately backed up their assertions.

As detailed in the book, between public statements made by Kerry about his war record, two respective biographies written about Kerry that chronicle his war record, the military reports that are presently available concerning Kerry’s war performance, and the accounts of numerous Swiftees who served in and around Kerry, there is strong reason to believe that Kerry has been untruthful and self-contradicting in discussing his war record. The evidence also provides ample reason to believe that Kerry’s continuing portrayal of himself as a war hero stands in complete contradiction of his previously stated views of himself (a war criminal) and others from the war (more war criminals), and leaves him wide open to the charge of hypocrisy. Given Kerry’s continued emphasis upon his war record and image as a war hero, the book shows that Kerry’s untruthfulness concerning the war continues to this very day as an ongoing PR operation, all serving to make a strong case for why Kerry is UNFIT to be our nation’s commander-in-chief.

Author John O’Neill has been a critic of Kerry since the early 70s. EVEN IF one were to cast aspersions about his motives, one cannot deny the fact that O’Neil has been publicly outspoken in his opposition the way Kerry so slandered our nation’s military in his May 1971 testimony before the Fulbright Committee in the US Senate and in subsequent speeches. O’Neil even debated Kerry on TV, challenging Kerry’s assertions that America’s military was replete with war criminals. Kerry never substantiated such claims and this testimony alone remains very damaging to his credibility, to this very day.

The book is divided into two parts: the first deals primarily with John Kerry’s war record; the second deals with his anti-war record. Again, the first part alone raises serious questions about Kerry’s performance in the war. For instance, Chapter 3, which has been made available on the internet, discusses the “Christmas in Cambodia” that Kerry once claimed was “seared, seared” into his memory, but which his campaign has now apparently retracted, under pressure. There is also interesting discussion of the circumstances surrounding the merits of Kerry’s medals. The evidence presented in the book does not amount to arguments made from silence or lack of evidence, but rather includes statements from numerous Swift Boat Veterans, completely contradicting Kerry on countless points. Even accepting that not every charge leveled against Kerry lands and that not every inaccuracy in Kerry’s sometimes-changing recollections arises from dishonesty, an overall pattern of serious inaccuracy arises that casts serious doubts upon Kerry’s credibility. The only alternative to distrusting Kerry’s account(s) of his war record would be to believe that all of the other Swiftees are dishonest, but that Kerry alone is the true hero. It strains credulity to believe this. Over 200 Swift Boat Veterans oppose Kerry. The record does not look good. At all.

Kerry is encouraged by the authors to have his military records revealed. This point is particularly powerful: if Kerry has the ability to vindicate himself by having his war records unsealed he should do so. As long as he refuses, he looks like he has something to hide.

Even if one is to accept that Kerry’s record in Vietnam was totally honorable and commendable in every which way, one still has to get past the record compiled in the second half of the book, dealing with Kerry’s anti-war record. Kerry’s May 1971 testimony strikes the fair-minded reader as particularly outrageous. It was in this testimony that Kerry accused the entire military of committing atrocious war crimes. He favorably cited the “Winter Soldier Investigation,” which the authors effectively demolish as a dishonest, purely propagandistic ploy by extreme anti-war activists.

Kerry even went so far as to proclaim that he himself as a war criminal, it is important to note. What is more, the authors do a fine job of chronicling Kerry’s involvement with a shady anti-war group and likewise chronicle his dealings with many figures that were all but treasonous in their conduct while the Vietnam War continued.

Yet, that is not the end. For Kerry, after a failed race for a congressional seat as an anti-war activist, later re-emerged as and established a political career trumpeting himself as a war hero--deserving of everyone’s respect for his service while eschewing those who questions his war record. Is it not the height of hypocrisy to, on the one hand, slander the entire United States Armed Forces in Vietnam and yet, at the same time, somehow exempt one’s own military record from scrutiny? Would this not be particularly true for Kerry when he himself admitted to committing war crimes?

Further, specific details about Kerry’s war and anti-war records cannot be provided in this review. Nonetheless, there is a mountain of evidence that sheds an extremely negative light upon Kerry’s record in the war and Kerry’s later portrayal of that war and his own war record. Kerry would appear to have the chance to overturn the evidence mounted by the authors and to vindicate himself, by having all of his military records released. Unless and until that happens, this reviewer says that Kerry is UNFIT FOR COMMAND.


UNFIT SUMMARY: KERRY AS AN ANTI-WAR ACTIVIST. Below is an excerpt from a summary of key points contained in Unfit for Command, which was forwarded to me by an attorney acquaintance. I take no credit for the compliation, but am posting the portion concerning Kerry's anti-war activism as an FYI.


1. Ted Kennedy helped to arrange Kerry's testimony with William Fullbright, an antiwar Senator who chaired the committee before which Kerry testified. In preparing his "testimony," Kerry recruited the assistance of Adam Walinksy, a speechwriter noted for his work with Robert Kennedy. (p. 99-103)

2. In that testimony, Kerry, a leader in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, reported as credible the results of the VVAW's "Winter Soldier Investigation." The testimony taken during that "investigation" has been thoroughly debunked. For example, eleven who claimed to have been veterans had no record of having served in the U.S. military. Others who claimed to be veterans testified under false names, pretending to be people who actually had served in the military. The VVAW did not perform thorough background checks of those testifying, did not require sworn statements, and did not require independent corroboration of the testimony. Even Al Hubbard, the executive director of the VVAW, was shown to have lied about his rank, his service in Vietnam, and his alleged injury. When the Naval Criminal Investigative Service conducted a military inquiry into VVAW's allegations, the VVAW refused to cooperate. (p. 108-116, 125)

3. In 1970, while the U.S. was at war with North Vietnam, Kerry met privately in Paris with a leading representative of the Vietnamese Communists. (p. 126-129)

4. Kerry continued as a representative of the VVAW for nearly five months after he was aware that leaders of the VVAW were actively working and coordinating with the Vietnamese Communists. (p. 130-135, 158-159)

5. In a public speech on June 29, 1971, John Kerry described Ho Chi Minh, the founder of Vietnamese Communism, as "the George Washington of Vietnam." (p. 137)

6. Despite having denied it, Kerry was present at the November 1971 meeting of the VVAW in which Scott Camil proposed that the VVAW assassinate a group of U.S. senators who supported the war in Vietnam. (p. 140-143)

7. Kerry was in the Naval Reserves, and thus receiving pay from the Navy, until July 1972 when he went on Standby Naval Reserve. While a member of the Naval Reserves, Kerry met with the enemy in Paris, falsely accused the U.S. military of implementing a criminal military policy, advocated positions of the Vietnamese Communists, and gave speeches and testimony used by the enemy in their propaganda efforts. (p. 161-165)

8. Kerry is honored in Vietnam for his role in aiding the Vietnamese Communists. (p. 167-174)


ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS... None of this would hardly be an issue if John Kerry had simply refrained from playing up his "war hero" status at each and every turn of the campaign. If anything will be "seared" into the public's memory, it is his acceptance speech of the Democratic nomation for the presidency, with the "reporting for duty" line and his repeated references to his military service. If, instead, Kerry had made some sort of apology for his May, 1971 testimony and insisted that the campaign would be about the future and who will lead us there, rather than about things in the past, and if he had taken the high ground by avoiding attacks on President Bush's Air National Guard service and tried to keep focus upon the issues of today, then this Swift Boat controversy would not be nearly so colossal, nor hurtful to Kerry. However, the "war hero" bit appears to be a mainstay from the Kerry political playbook, and it is doubtful that he will change course anytime between now and November.

At present, there are well over two thousand reviews of Unfit for Command posted on Amazon's site. It seems quite apparent that most reviewers--and negative reviewers, in particular--have not actually read the book. Indeed, it is difficult to even FIND a copy of this book at a local bookstore. My copy had to be ordered. Seattle-area bookstores are replete with dislpays containing anti-Bush books of all stripes, but never once have I seen a display of Unfit for Command.

(Lake Goodwin--Stanwood, WA)