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November 24, 2017

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Editorial: Condemn smears now


August 21 - 22, 2004

We have written before that President Bush should have immediately denounced "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," the group that is using bogus charges to question John Kerry's war record in Vietnam. Perhaps then the group's objective, sinking Kerry's presidential bid by way of dirty politics, could have been blunted. Now, however, the group has achieved some small gains. Donations are coming in to finance more ads and public appearances by its members, and Kerry's poll numbers among veterans groups are slipping.

Fortunately there are new reports, published independently of the Kerry campaign, that we hope will restore the faith of veterans and others who may have been misled by the Swift Boat group. Last week both the Washington Post and The New York Times published lengthy investigative reports documenting that the group's attacks on Kerry -- who earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts while commanding a Swift boat -- have no credibility.

For example, former Swift boat commander Larry Thurlow is alleging that Kerry was not under fire when he earned his Bronze Star for rescuing a soldier blown from another boat after a mine detonated. The newspapers reported that Thurlow, too, received a Bronze Star for his part in the rescue, with his award praising him for assisting "despite enemy bullets flying about him." Obviously, if Thurlow was under fire at the same time as Kerry was, then Thurlow isn't telling the truth as he seeks to denigrate Kerry's heroism.

The articles point out numerous such inconsistencies, as well as the strong ties that backers of the group have to President Bush and his inner circle. It's not too late for Bush to take the ethical high road and denounce the allegations of the Swift Boat group.