O'Neill stood up to the insults of the Kerry water carriers
During the most mean-spirited verbal gunfire of any presidential campaign I remember, I have most respected the steady, measured refusal of swift boat veteran John O'Neill to let his fierce, robot-like attackers deter him from his successful determinationto show that John Kerry is — as the title of his book puts it — unfit for command.
Mr. O'Neillwas called a "liar" to his face on a number of television appearances, and, on the Oct. 14 "Nightline," ABC-TV's Ted Koppel actually sent a crew to Vietnam to film alleged eyewitnesses in order to disprove one of the accounts in "Unfit for Command" of how Mr. Kerry won his Silver Star. Casually, ABC News director Andrew Morse mentioned that "the Vietnamese require an official minder to accompany journalists on reporting trips." The minder-censor from the Communist totalitarian state was there, watching, to ensure that the "eyewitnesses" stuck to the government script.
On camera, Mr. O'Neill told Mr. Koppel: "You went to a country where all the elections are hundred-percent [victory margin] elections, and you relied on people that were enemies of the United States" for the alleged testimony. Mr. O'Neill repeatedly showed Mr. Koppel how the supposed eyewitnesses contradicted Mr. Kerry's own accounts in the past.
At first, the mainstream media had ignored the charges of the Swift Boat Veterans. Alison Mitchell, deputy national editor of The New York Times, admitted to Editor & Publisher that she's "not sure that in an era of no-cable television we would even have looked into (the Swift Boat story)." But as happened with the exposure of Dan Rather's use of ultimately discredited documents to deride George W. Bush's National Guard service, cable television and the Internet allowed the public to examine both sides of the swift boat veterans stories.
Moreover, in a front-page Aug. 22 Washington Post story, reporter Michael Dobbs noted, as Mr. O'Neill often has, that "although Kerry campaign officials insist that they have published Kerry's full military records on their Web site (with the exception of medical records shown briefly to reporters earlier this year), they have not permitted independent access to his original Navy records." When Mr. Dobbs tried to get those Kerry records through a Freedom of Information request, he received just over six pages and was told by the Navy Personnel Command that the full file consisting of at least 100 pages could not be released unless Mr. Kerry himself signed a Standard Form 180 granting permission.
To this day, Mr. Kerry has not signed that release form.