Tim Russert Mistakenly Claims Kerry Hyped Vietnam Atrocities
Jonathan Schell, in www.tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute (April 21, 2004):
Halfway through Tim Russert's hour-long interview with Democratic presidential nominee Senator John Kerry on April 18, there was an exchange that revealed in microcosm some of the fundamental unspoken rules of American politics in our day. Russert played a clip from Kerry's 1971 appearance on Meet the Press following his testimony as a leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A longhaired Kerry, in uniform, was seen saying that he stood by the essence of his testimony, in which he had said that veterans had admitted that they had"raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power." He added that under the Geneva Conventions such acts were war crimes.
Russert did not play the tape to congratulate Kerry for his truth-telling. On the contrary, he was clearly calling him on the carpet. He even suggested that"a lot" of Kerry's allegations had been discredited. In fact, every word that Kerry spoke then has been shown to be true in an abundance of testimony. Even now, new revelations pour out. For example, the Toledo Blade just won the Pulitzer Prize for unearthing the story of an army company that went on a seven-month rampage in Vietnam, routinely killing peasants, burning villages, cutting off the ears of corpses. Troops in the field can hardly engage in such conduct over a period of months without the knowledge and at least tacit approval of higher authority.
Kerry answered warily. He began by trying to make light of the clip."Where did all that dark hair go? -- that's a big question for me," he joked. He went on to say that although some of his language had been"excessive," he was still proud of the stand he had taken. His predicament is worth pondering. The powers that be, with the approval of mainstream opinion, had sent him into a misbegotten war whose awful reality they covered up. When he helped uncover it, it was not they but he who was punished. In short, by sending young men into an atrocious, mistaken war, they created a truth so distasteful to the public that its disclosure, by discrediting the discloser, keeps them in power.
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