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John Kerry's Vietnam Crew Mates Still Fighting Swift Boating

Perhaps Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens is haunted by his role in the 2004 "swift boating" smear campaign against Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

The billionaire financier gave $3 million to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004. But this year he has decided he won't finance any so-called 527 groups. In its story Friday about a "nonexistent" GOP third-party effort to tarnish Barack Obama, Politico reported that Pickens is among those who have decided not to open his wallet for any 2008 efforts similar to the '04 Swift Boaters.

"He is not giving anything to 527s involved in the presidential race this cycle, and has communicated Republican strategists and operatives," Pickens spokesman, Jay Rosser, told Politico.

But Pickens could be out serious money if he follows through on his pledge to give a million bucks to anyone who can prove that any of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's assertions were wrong. Pickens made the pledge last November and Kerry personally accepted the challenge. And now, Kerry's crew mates are bellying up to take the Swift Boat challenge.

The men who served with Kerry on Patrol Craft Fast 94 sent a 13-page letter to Pickens on Friday picking apart in excruciating detail the SBVT's claims that Kerry wasn't truly worthy of the Silver Star, Bronze Star and two purple hearts he was awarded for his service in Vietnam. The debunking letter includes a thorough defense of the Vietnamese enemy fighter who Kerry killed, an incident the Swift Boaters in 2004 described as a murder of an harmless young Viet Cong.

"Mr. Pickens: the lies put forward by the SBVT are so plentiful and outrageous, from the significant to the trivial, that we would lose your attention going through all of them," the veterans write. "You've only challenged us to show one thing was false but this is important enough to all of us that we will do that and more so that you fully comprehend the nature of the people you've been dealing with and consequences of your support for them."

The letter was accompanied by pages and pages of Vietnam documents and other evidence to back up their defense, including a 2004 letter from the Naval inspector general asserting Senator Kerry's medals were properly awarded.

They conclude their letter by offering to travel to Texas to meet personally with Pickens and show him a Pentagon certified copy of Kerry's full military record. "We know the truth because we were there on the boat," write Kerry's crew mates. "We believe you will find this truth unavoidable and hope you will feel the right thing has been done in keeping your promise to write a check for one million dollars to anyone who can show anything SBVT said was false. We believe it would be appropriate for this money to go to the veteran's charity of our choice."

It's unclear why Kerry's crew mates are just now sending the letter, especially since there seems to be no danger of a Swift Boat sequel this presidential election year. Relieved as he may be that Pickens won't be participating in the destruction of this year's Democratic presidential nominee, Kerry is still clearly bitter.

"With the McCain campaign coasting on fumes, perhaps T. Boone Pickens has decided there's more money to be made in the oil business than there is to lose in the smears business," says Kerry's deputy chief of staff David Wade.

But stay tuned to see how Pickens responds to Kerry's crew mates' letter.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  June 20, 2008; 6:05 PM ET
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Whatever happened to laws that profess proven lies and personal damage? Why aren't those SBVT folks IN JAIL? I don't think this is civil... this is criminal!

C'mon federal courts and prosecutors!!! Step in here and DO YOUR DUTY... dangit! Re-read your oath to your office and position!

Posted by: Ed | June 21, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Lots of words but no specifics. What did SwiftVets say that was wrong? On the other hand, Kerry has admitted that he didn't spend Christmas in Cambodia, despite his testimony to Congress. The majority of the Government's records are based on Kerry's statements. SwiftVets views are based on what we saw while serving on PCFs in Vietnam

Posted by: Tom Wright | June 21, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Seems the Republicans chickens are coming home to roost...I dont know how any true patriot could continue to defend these Traitors to America.

Posted by: Becky | June 21, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

The candidates still need to get good VP's, and holds a weekly Vice President poll, so see who America thinks should back the candidates.

Posted by: Brandon | June 23, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Why do we allow the Super-Rich such as Mellon heir Scaife and T. Boone Pickens to manipulate the truth for their own benefit? We, as participants in this side-show, should wake-up and realize who and what these people are and what they are doing; as this is allowed to happen mainly because of our ignorance. This is not a sports event, it is real life happening and we could be hurt by allowing their (or those like them) manipulation.

Posted by: Preston | June 25, 2008 6:43 AM | Report abuse

Tom Wright said:

"Kerry has admitted that he didn't spend Christmas in Cambodia, despite his testimony to Congress."


"The majority of the Government's records are based on Kerry's statements."

Wrong again.

Bronze Star, third PH - after action report contains info that Kerry could not have known.

Silver Star - regardless of who wrote it, no one disputes its contents, not even SBVT.

Second PH - unlikely that Kerry wrote that after action report either, and no one disputes his wound.

Posted by: matchpoint | June 26, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

13 cheery picked pages
make everything avalible to the public.
Kerry is a lier and a trator.
mllions of people died because of it.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

The is issue is, was and has always been Sen. Kerry's testimony, a matter of public record, on Thursday April 22, 1971 before the United States Senate Committee on foreign relations in which he testifies as quoted below. I returned from Viet Nam on April 4th, 1971 only to discover my brother in arms characterizing myself and all Viet Nam veterans as war criminals, sadists, torturers and perpetrators of atrocities.

I am not surprised that Senator Kerry's brothers in arms have risen to his defense. If only Senator Kerry had done the same for the rest of us Viet Nam veterans, there would be no "Swift Boating." Sen. Kerry's service records, time in country, medals awarded etc. are all irrelevant and insignificant details when compared to lies, slander, and myth he perpetrated about the service of Viet Nam Veterans

"They told the stories 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 Genghis 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."

Posted by: Joe Cunningham | June 30, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Mr Cunningham is wrong. The issue SHOULD HAVE BEEN about Kerry's testimony to the Senate on that day. The Swiftboaters chose to lie about Kerry's honorable and commendable combat service, so that became the issue.

By the way, General Tommy Franks was asked by FOX news what he thought of Kerry's 1971 testimony, and he refused to condemn it. He said a lot of things went wrong in Vietnam and those things did happen.

Posted by: Lark83 | July 7, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

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