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John Kerry vs. T. Boone Pickens, Round 3

UPDATE: The duel that just won't end... Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), traveling in South Africa this week, has responded in writing to his archenemy T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oilman and financier of the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth campaign in 2004 against Kerry's Vietnam War record. Kerry's letter, a copy of which was sent to The Sleuth, is printed below.

Check out my previous post on the back-and-forth drama, then pick back up here with Kerry's letter. The upshot: While Pickens seems to enjoy taunting Kerry, the senator can't seem to shake the ghost of 2004. Plus, Kerry's 2008 Senate Democratic primary opponent has threatened to "Swift Boat" him anew.

Here is a copy of Kerry's letter in its entirety.

Dear Mr. Pickens,

Thank you for your response to my acceptance of your challenge.

I'm grateful that you are prepared to make good on your word and fulfill the offer you made publicly at the American Spectator Dinner in Washington, D.C. on November 6th.

I must remind you, however, that this was and is your "challenge," not mine. You are, after all, the one who said explicitly at the dinner -- in a way that was calculated to challenge any naysayer -- that you would give one million dollars "to anyone who could show that anything the SBVT said was false." (RedState.Com) These were your words -- and nowhere did you ever suggest, as you are now trying to, that your challenge referred specifically and exclusively to any advertising by the SBVT.

As you know, the lies of the SBVT were not confined just to their ads; they were a constant barrage of television, radio, Internet, speeches, and forums in which -- significantly bankrolled by you -- they launched and repeated lie after lie. Your challenge expressly stood behind all of their allegations.

It is disturbing that in reaffirming the challenge you issued, your parsing and backtracking seems eerily reminiscent of the entire approach of the SBVT -- say one thing, put out an allegation, then duck and weave, hedge and bob when your words catch up with you. I want to believe that this was not your intent because I am told that you are a man of your word, not "all hat and no cattle."

Honor and duty, which you purport to defend, demand that you not selectively back away from your original challenge. Your offer clearly said -- boldly, unequivocally -- to an audience of your friends and supporters -- that you would give "a million dollars to anyone who could prove wrong anything the Swiftboat Veterans charged about Kerry." ( In my letter, that is the offer which I accepted.

I was interested to read in your response that you don't want to see the SBVT "maligned," and that you aim "to prevent this important part of American history from being unfairly portrayed." I accepted your offer precisely because I want to prevent the honorable records of the courageous men who served with me from being maligned by the repeated lies of this organization. I want to see the word "Swiftboat" restored to its original meaning- synonymous with honorable service to country, not political lies aimed to distort and divide. I would hope that your interests should also be in protecting the record of all those who served our country.

As I've said to you before, I am prepared to prove the lie and marshal all the evidence, the question is whether you are prepared to fulfill your obligation - no variations, no back peddling, no retreat, no new bets, no changing the subject.

The only thing remaining now is to set the date for our meeting in an appropriate forum, after which I look forward to you keeping your word and writing a check for one million dollars payable to the Paralyzed Veterans of America so that we can put your money to good work for veterans who have returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

From The Archives -- A Swift Boat Primer

* Records Counter a Critic of Kerry (August 19, 2004)
* Swift Boat Accounts Incomplete (August 22, 2004)
* After Decades, Renewed War On Old Conflict (August 28, 2004)
* For the Candidates, Vietnam Choices Linger (October 16, 2004)

By Mary Ann Akers  |  November 21, 2007; 9:09 AM ET
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