Saturday, August 7, 2004

The Journalistic Pursuit Of Truth

The "politics of personal destruction" is shifting into high gear. The Swift Boat veterans who appeared in the anti-Kerry ad and in the forth-coming book Unfit For Command were branded "liars" and "sleazy" characters by an angry Al Hunt on Saturday evening's edition of Capitol Gang.

Hunt specifically called John O'Neill, the author of Unfit For Command, a liar but offered no support for the allegation. It's hard to say how he could support it, actually, since he hasn't seen the book yet, but then evidence doesn't matter in the world of post-modern liberalism. All that's necessary for a man to be a liar in our current cultural environment is for him to say something you don't like or that you wish weren't true.

Hunt claimed that since Kerry's accusers didn't actually serve on Kerry's vessel they're not qualified to say whether Kerry actually did the things he is credited for doing. This is like saying that because some kid in your high school was a year behind you, you can't really know anything about him.

Hunt followed this bizarre claim with one even weirder. Veins almost popping in his neck, he vigorously insisted that John McCain has more authority on the matter than anyone at the table, and John Mccain has called these men "dishonest and dishonorable". Never mind that these men knew Kerry and served with him whereas McCain never did until both men were in the Senate together. As long as truth is whatever you want it to be this sort of logic will make perfect sense to you, I suppose.

Some critics have argued that these Viet Nam veterans are reprehensible because they're making an issue out of something that happened thirty-five years ago and should not be relevant today.

There are several things to be said about this objection, however. First, those who make it were themselves mute while Terry McAuliffe and other Democrats were raking through George Bush's National Guard service. I don't recall any liberal reporters, least of all Al Hunt, telling the Democrats to stop acting like political dumpster divers. According to the Democrats and the pundits the people should know whether Bush did what he claimed to do when he was in the National Guard. It was okay to call him a draft dodger and a deserter because, heck, for all any of them knew maybe he was. But it's not okay to subject John Kerry to the same kind of scrutiny. That's sleazy politics.

Second, the allegations against Bush were made by high representatives of the Democrat party. McAuliffe is the party chairman. The Republicans have nothing to do with the ad or the book, at least not that we know. These have been produced by men who are private citizens, and if they're telling the truth what they're doing is far more noble than what Michael Moore did in Fahrenheit 9/11.

Third, John Kerry and the Democrats are the ones responsible for making his war time service an issue. In his acceptance speech he spent more time talking about his four month tour of duty in Viet Nam than he did his nineteen years in the Senate. John Edwards says "if you want to know what kind of man John Kerry is, ask the men who served with him," but when we take Edwards up on his suggestion the men who served with him are slandered and vilified by the liberals because they refuse to follow the script.

Al Hunt and his Democrat allies allege that these men, upwards of two hundred of them, are simply lying or are the manipulated pawns of rich backers who are putting up the money for these ads. It is somehow sordid for rich Republicans to finance ads critical of Kerry, but when George Soros says he would spend his entire fortune to defeat George Bush the liberals revel in the prospect.

They snickered at the obvious mendacity of rich film- maker Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and rejoiced that so many people were going to see it, but when it's their guy being subject to charges which, for all they know, may be true they're outraged at such "dishonest and dishonorable" tactics.

On Capitol Gang Margaret Carlson shrugged off the claims of these war veterans, many of them decorated heroes themselves, by making the astonishing assertion that they will all soon be discredited. This is journalism? Without having read their allegations, without having seen their evidence she knows that Kerry is innocent and these men are simply fabricating this whole thing? Where is journalistic objectivity? Where's the noble journalistic pursuit of the truth wherever it may be found? In the world of the contemporary liberal, evidently, there's no need to look at evidence when you already know the truth.

Viewpoint is looking forward to the Sunday morning talk shows. They should be feisty.

Keyes is In!

No Left Turns tells us that Alan Keyes has decided to run against Barack Obama for the Illinois senate seat:

Alan Keyes has accepted the GOP nomination to run for the Senate in Illinois and Barack Obama has already agreed to a series of Lincoln/Douglas style debates. Whatever the outcome of this race, you can't miss these debates!


Loose Lips Sink Ships

A lot of people have wondered why our intelligence agencies announce the captures of various terrorists. It would seem that the wiser course would be to keep their Islamist comrades in the dark while we extract as much information from the captured individuals as possible. As soon as the terrorists read in the papers that someone who knows about them has been caught they are certain to change their methods, procedures, plans, addresses, and anything else they can in order to avoid capture.

Yet there is the hope that our intelligence personnel know what they're doing. We trust that their decisions, policies, and methods are well-thought out so we give them the benefit of the doubt. That benefit, however, is going to be much harder to concede after this MSNBC account of the leak of the name of the Pakistani who was the source of information for all the terrorist arrests in Europe that have occured in the last couple of days. Some excerpts:

A Pakistani intelligence source told Reuters on Friday that Khan, who was arrested in Lahore secretly last month, had been actively cooperating with intelligence agents to help catch al-Qaida operatives when his name appeared in U.S. newspapers. Monday evening, after Khan's name appeared, Pakistani officials moved him to a secret location.

"After his capture [in July], he admitted being an al-Qaida member and agreed to send e-mails to his contacts," a Pakistani intelligence source told Reuters. "He sent encoded e-mails and received encoded replies. He's a great hacker, and even the U.S. agents said he was a computer whiz."

The Times published a story Monday saying U.S. officials had disclosed that a man arrested in Pakistan was the source of the bulk of information leading to the security alerts. The Times identified him as Khan, although it did not say how it had learned his name.

U.S. officials subsequently confirmed the name to other news organizations Monday morning. None of the reports mentioned that Khan was working under cover at the time, helping to catch al-Qaida suspects.

Intelligence and security experts said they were surprised that Washington would reveal information that could expose the name of a source during an ongoing law enforcement operation.

"If it's true that the Americans have unintentionally revealed the identity of another nation's intelligence agent, who appears to be working in the good of all of us, that is not only a fundamental intelligence flaw. It's also a monumental foreign relations blunder," security expert Paul Beaver, a former publisher of Jane's Defense Weekly, told Reuters.

The key word here is "unintentionally". It may be that the name was released deliberately to sow confusion or deception. Nevertheless, if whoever revealed the identity of this man did it recklessly, he/she should be fired. Naming Khan may have unnecessarily alerted dozens of terrorists who might survive to murder in the future. If so, whoever made the decision to expose Khan's arrest will be partly responsible for the deaths of the victims.

Christmas in Cambodia

Jim Geraghty who writes KerrySpot at National Review Online cites what Hugh Hewitt believes is perhaps the most devastating revelations in the forthcoming book on Kerry's Viet Nam service titled Unfit For Command. Kerry appears to have deliberately lied on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1986 when he said that he was ordered into Cambodia on Christmas Eve of 1968 (Hewitt's permalinks are down so once at his site you'll have to scroll to the piece on Kerry's Christmas Eve in Cambodia).

Geraghty quotes from Unfit for Command:

Kerry also described, for example, for the Boston Herald his vivid memories of his Christmas Eve spent in Cambodia: "I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real."

Problem One: Nixon hadn't taken office yet.

Problem Two: "During Christmas 1968, he was more than fifty miles away from Cambodia. Kerry was never ordered into Cambodia by anyone and would have been court-martialed had he gone there. During Christmas 1968, Kerry was stationed at Coastal Division 13 in Cat Lo. Coastal Division 13's patrol areas extended to Sa Dec, about fifty-five miles from the Cambodian border...

All the living commanders in Kerry's chain of command-Joe Streuhli (Commander of CosDiv 13), George Elliott (Commander of CosDiv 11), Adrian Lonsdale (Captain, USCG and Commander, Coastal Surveillance Center at An Thoi), Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann (Commander, Coastal Surveillance Force Vietnam, CTF 115), and Rear Admiral Art Price (Commander of River Patrol Force, CTF 116)-deny that Kerry was ever ordered to Cambodia...

At least three of the five crewmen on Kerry's PCF 44 boat-Bill Zaldonis, Steven Hatch, and Steve Gardner-deny that they or their boat were ever in Cambodia. The remaining two crewmen declined to be interviewed for this book.

The Cambodia incursion story is not included in Tour of Duty [the book on Kerry's war years by Douglas Brinkley]. Instead, Kerry replaces the story with a report about a mortar attack that occurred on Christmas Eve 1968 "near the Cambodia border" in a town called Sa Dec, some fifty-five miles from the Cambodian border.

Somehow, Kerry's secret illegal mission to Cambodia, which he recounted on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1986, is now a firefight at Sa Dec and a Christmas day spent back at the base writing entries in his journal.

Unless O'Neill and Corsi have made some major error in their reporting, this is pretty stunning. Either Kerry is a pathological liar, or every man in his chain of command is.

Hewitt fills in some details of Kerry's recollections and adds that:

[I]f he lied about being sent to Cambodia, Kerry's narrative is in trouble. It will remain true that he saved a man's life, but that day's undeiable courage does not validate or protect Kerry's record then or since. A powerful demonstration of obvious falsehood on a key claim is a major blow to Kerry.

Which is why the focus ought to be on the Cambodia story, over and over again. Did Kerry make that claim? Did he do so in the Senate as part of a political argument about Nicaragua? If so, what's that tell us about his willingness to invent personal history to serve his political ambition?

Viewpoint wonders how long it will take the major media to start reporting on these revelations. By sitting on them they are doing a serious disservice to the American people who have a right to know the truth about the men they are being asked to elect as president. One thing we can be sure of, if new questions about George Bush's integrity had emerged they would be splashed across every headline and news broadcast all weekend and every day until November 2nd.

Unfit For Command has the potential to dampen a lot of enthusiasm for Kerry, an enthusiasm which, like Lake Okachobee, is miles wide and only inches deep to begin with. The danger to the Democrats is not just that undecideds will be persuaded to move toward Bush by the indictments of Kerry's character that the book contains, but that the millions who are moderately disposed toward Kerry and who are not driven by any particular animus toward Bush will simply stay home on election day.

The Wretched of the Earth

In the Sudan the holocaust continues while Khartoum plays dumb.

Sudanese Interior Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein says: "It is true that the situation is out of control, but we will make an effort."

"Making an effort" is not good enough. These guys have had years to "make an effort" and have done nothing to stop the militias that are murdering, terrorizing, and dispossessing millions of people in their country. Indeed, the evidence is that they have abetted it. The effort they need to make is to pack their bags and get out.

Kofi Annan announced that the Sudanese government has about three weeks left to show the U.N. Security Council that it is serious about disarming the Janjaweed [the Sudanese militia] or face possible sanctions.

That must be a real rib-tickler in Khartoum. U.N. sanctions do not have a very reassuring record of concentrating tyrannical minds on the necessity of caring for their people. Meanwhile, in three weeks hundreds more children will starve to death.

On Thursday, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail told reporters in Khartoum: "Our policy is that anything that the AU wants we will cooperate (with). Before that we need to sit down, study it carefully and reach agreement on how we are going to implement it."

Yes, of course. Examine the problem carefully, anything to prolong the genocide and to evade having to do anything to stop it. What's needed in the Sudan is for someone to say that the games are over in Khartoum and to send in several thousand well-equipped troops to wipe out the Janjaweed, restore the people of Dharfur to their homes and farms, and to bring them relief from their suffering.

These wretched people can't count on U.N. sanctions. How would sanctions help them anyway? Sanctions invariably hurt rather than help the poor and dispossessed. The U.N. is as useless as a space heater in hell and the African Union is worse.

Perhaps the French and Germans are available for a humanitarian mission. They should have plenty of cash on hand for such an undertaking after having profited handsomely from their deals with Saddam at the expense of the Iraqi people. Maybe someone should give Chirac and Schroeder a call on behalf of the suffering Sudanese.