WPost Says Both Sides Have Withheld Information; Paper Altered Headline Before Final Edition
In its Sunday edition, Washington Post reported on an investigation into what happened the day "John F. Kerry rescued Jim Rassmann from the Bay Hap River in the jungles of Vietnam in March 1969." The Post says their investigation "suggests that both sides have withheld information from the public record and provided an incomplete, and sometimes inaccurate, picture of what took place. But although Kerry's accusers have succeeding in raising doubts about his war record, they have failed to come up with sufficient evidence to prove him a liar. . . . The Post's research shows that both accounts contain significant flaws and factual errors." In the paper's Early Edition, available throughout the DC area on Saturday, the story was headlined, "Swift Boat Accounts Incomplete," with the sub-headline "Charges Roil Kerry Campaign." On Sunday's Final Edition, the sub-headline had been changed to "Critics Fail to Disprove Kerry's Version of Vietnam War Episode."
The Post's ultimate conclusions after probing the charges agree with other analyses, such as the Christian Science Monitor's, which says in this morning's edition that efforts in the media "to fact-check the allegations of Kerry's opponents reveal an incomplete record of the incidents in question including one in which Kerry saved a green beret's life but one that still weighs in favor of the veracity of Kerry's claims."
New Witnesses Back Kerry's Version. Newsweek reports, "As sailors who weren't on Kerry's boat tell the story of what happened on March 13, 1969, Kerry did nothing very heroic. That day Kerry was leading five boats back from a mission up the Bay Hap River. Encountering a fishing net across the canal, the boats split. Kerry and one other boat went through a gap near the right bank, and the other three boats headed through an opening on the left. Suddenly, the lead boat on the left, some 25 yards away from Kerry's boat, hit a mine and stopped dead in the water. . . . When Kerry pulled the man out of the river, they claimed, no one was shooting. Del Sandusky, the man steering Kerry's boat, told a different version to NEWSWEEK. He says his boat was jarred by an explosion, probably from a rocket, knocking the soldier, Jim Rassmann, off the boat. Kerry was thrown against the bulkhead, injuring his arm. Sandusky says he could see muzzle flashes from the jungle and bullets skimming across the water. Sandusky says he can't remember if anyone was still shooting when Kerry pulled Rassmann from the river, but in any case, the boat was banged up and taking on water. An official report made available to NEWSWEEK shows windows blown out and the engine and steering damaged; it's unclear from the report when the damage happened."
The Chicago Tribune reports that one of its editors, William Rood, "who served alongside Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry during the Vietnam War, stepped forward Saturday to dispute attacks challenging Kerry's integrity and war record." Rood says "recent portrayals of Kerry's actions published in the best-selling book 'Unfit for Command' are wrong and smear the reputations of veterans who served with Kerry." In his Chicago Tribune op-ed in the, Rood wrote, "There were three swift boats on the river that day in Vietnam more than 35 years ago three officers and 15 crew members. Only two of those officers remain to talk about what happened on February 28, 1969. One is John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate who won a Silver Star for what happened on that date. I am the other. . . . Many of us wanted to put it all behind us the rivers, the ambushes, the killing. . . . I know that what some people are saying now is wrong. While they mean to hurt Kerry, what they're saying impugns others who are not in the public eye."