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Mark Hyman, the Sinclair Broadcasting hack, Sleaze Boater apologist, and on-air pimp for Tom Lipscomb's Pulitzer scam, has outdone himself this time.

His American Spectator "special report" (cue the ticker!) is so full of outdated lies, distortions, and just plain bad information, he makes Lipscomb's latest sleazefest look like real journalism by comparison.

Let's have a good laugh at what this blowhard managed to come up with.

In her article Zernike maligned T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oilman who donated funds to the SBVT effort. According to Zernike, Pickens offered he "would give $1 million to anyone who could disprove anything in the group's campaign." However, that was not the offer made by Pickens. I know because I attended the November 2007 dinner at which Pickens made the million dollar offer. Pickens said he would pay someone if they could disprove the accuracy of the claims made in the SBVT television advertisements. That is a far cry from what Zernike claimed.

It’s also a far cry from what at least two  other  eyewitnesses have said in writing.  Heck, one of ‘em even confirmed  it in writing.

I give Mark credit for boldness, though.  Unlike Lipscomb, he didn’t just make up "anonymous sources" for this one.

In an exchange of letters in November 2007, Kerry informed Pickens he was taking the oilman up on his offer and the junior senator from Massachusetts explained how he intended to spend the million dollar prize. In response, Pickens reiterated his earlier challenge for someone to "disprove the accuracy of the Swift Boat ads" and he requested Kerry's complete military records from 1971 to 1978, Kerry's wartime journal, and his home movies and tapes in order for Kerry to make his case. Kerry has not met these requirements.

Oh, you mean that Calvinball play Pickens couldn’t quite pull off?  Nice try Hyman, but no cigar.  Classy touch calling Kerry’s request that the money go to a vets’ charity "explain[ing] how he intended to spend the million dollar prize."

Nonetheless, Zernike wrote that Pickens "refused to pay on his challenge" because a handful of Kerry supporters made unsubstantiated claims purportedly building the case that the Swift Boat veterans lied.

Right, eyewitness accounts, documents, photographs, and hey, even an offer of film footage makes for unsubstantiated claims.  Unlike yours, heh.

Veterans’ Letter to Pickens

John Kerry-related Navy records that were conspicuously absent from the dozens of documents supplied by the Kerry campaign have actually supported SVBT eyewitness accounts.

Oh, this is gonna be gooood ...

THROUGHOUT HIS POLITICAL CAREER, Kerry has long offered a John Wayne Kerry version of the February 28, 1969 events that led to his being awarded the Silver Star. Eyewitnesses offered a far different account.

Well no, they didn’t.

There is not a single eyewitness account that doesn’t support Kerry’s own account.  And that includes the account of the only SBVT member who was there.  

Examples?  Sure:

SBVT member Larry Clayton Lee account

William Rood account

Charles Gibson account

Jerry Leeds account

Crew accounts:

Tour of Duty, pp. 293-296
John F. Kerry, the Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best, pp. 97-103

The core of the dispute is the details surrounding the killing of a suspected Viet Cong guerilla by Kerry. The heroic version of events offered by Kerry was presented in his 2004 campaign book Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War. This version described a guerrilla "standing on both feet with a loaded rocket launcher, about to fire" before Kerry shot first and killed him.

Actually, that’s eyewitness Mike Medeiros’ statement.  (Tour of Duty, p. 291)

Kerry buttressed his version of events with a narrative of the events in the Silver Star certificate signed by Navy Secretary John Lehman. The problem is that Lehman served as Navy Secretary under President Ronald Reagan and this certificate promoted by Kerry on his presidential campaign website was generated 16 years after the 1969 awarding of the Silver Star.

Uhm, how exactly does a citation that doesn’t even mention shooting the VC "buttress" Kerry’s account?  (It only appeared in the original citation signed by Zumwalt.)

Before going further, I’ll link to the Silver Star citations themselves, and (if you ignore the snarly - and incorrect - commentary) a rather helpful freeper comparison of the three versions.

Silver Star citation (Zumwalt)
Silver Star citations (Hyland and Lehman)
Freeper side-by-side comparison

Shortly after he was elected to the Senate, Kerry contacted Lehman's office, alleged he lost his Silver Star certificate and requested a new one. A staff member in Lehman's office told me that Kerry offered language for the replacement certificate. The staffer recognized the sensitive politics involved in the request: Kerry was a sitting U.S. Senator. The Secretary's office treated the use of Kerry's proffered language as harmless since Kerry had left military service a decade earlier. The Navy quickly issued a replacement certificate utilizing Kerry's language. The problem with this turn of events was that a copy of Kerry's original Silver Star certificate existed and could have been easily found. Because an award certificate is a public record I quickly obtained a copy from Navy archives.

Ah, so like a true Lipscomb protégé, Hyman DOES use anonymous sources when it suits him.  I guess he couldn’t claim to have looked through the files himself.

Think of all the officials he had to contact before finding someone who had actually been there all those years ago, remembered all the details of a single 23-year-old request, AND was willing to break federal law and breach all ethical standards to convey this information to a third-tier wingnut hack.  And such an easily-identifiable guy, too ... maybe he was inspired by Lipscomb’s equally brave lawbreakers(see diary linked above).  

Of course Mark didn’t need his super-secret source to tell him the copy was requested by Kerry.  Even the Navy inspector general explained (screen #7) that the 1985 version signed via machine with Lehman’s signature was the result of requests from Kerry and his office.

What a coincidence that "Kerry's proferred language" was nearly identical to the 1969 version described by the inspector general as the "official version, signed by the delegated award authority, ADM Hyland, CINCPACFLT"  (linked above, screen #10).  The guy was psychic!

While the overall tone of the two certificates is similar, the 1986 version contained superlative language not found in the original certificate signed by then-Vice Admiral Elmo Zumwalt in 1969.

I guess he never bothered to look at that "official version" signed by Admiral Hyland in 1969, which, except for the added language at the end, is the same as the 1985 Lehman version.  (Oh yes, the Hyland version shortens Kerry's middle name to an initial, and refers to "Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry" as opposed to the earlier references to "Lieutenant (jg) Kerry.")

And of course just that sort of "superlative language" at the end happened to be standard Navy format for Silver Star citations.  For instance:

"Sentence Format for Award Citations" (2005 version)


Interesting that this Navy awards "source" didn't know that, eh?

The events as described in the original Silver Star certificate and the after action report are nearly identical to the account reported in Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry.

Why no, they’re not.

UFC ignored the original citation and the after action report altogether.   In fact, SBVT claims in that "book" that Kerry actually provided "false and incomplete information" (p. 81).  They claim that Elliott, Hoffmann, et al had no idea there were troops on the boats and that they conducted the first sweep (pp. 82-85), though the after action report and original citation (linked above) say just that.  They claim that "[t]here is no indication that Kerry ever reported that the Viet Cong was wounded and fleeing when dispatched," though that’s exactly what the after action report says, and the original citation also says the VC ran away.

Of course SBVT also claims in UFC that Hoffmann and Elliott had been told Kerry had "almost single-handedly" taken out a bunker full of VC, though there’s nothing about anybody "taking out a bunker full of VC" in the second ambush, in the after action report or the original citation. In fact the after action report said: "other units saturated [the] area with fire and beached placing assault parties ashore" while Kerry chased the VC.  

Most Swift boat veterans believe Kerry's actions on February 28, 1969 were contrived as a way for Kerry to earn a medal for valor.

Of course they do.  But the only SBVT member who was there doesn’t feel that way, and believes Kerry earned his medal (Larry Clayton Lee interview linked above).

Unfit for Command reported that Kerry concocted a plan ahead of time with his crewman Michael Medeiros "to turn the [Swift] boat in and onto the beach if fired upon." There was even "a prior discussion of probable medals for those participating [in the plan]."

"Concocted" a plan?  Sort of like a pre-flight strategy briefing is "concocting" a plan?  

The best part is where SBVT deliberately misrepresented what THEIR OWN MEMBER said.  See Larry Clayton Lee’s interview linked above, where he specifically said the discussion of "probable medals" was among some of the crewmembers, and Kerry was not involved in those discussions.   Whew, talk about shameless!

"Whether Kerry's dispatching of a fleeing, wounded, armed or unarmed teenage enemy was in accordance with customs of war, it is very clear that many Vietnam veterans and most Swiftees do not consider this action to be the stuff of which medals of any kind are awarded," according to the Unfit for Command account.

Though of course the medal was NOT awarded for a single act, as Mark should know from reading the citation, but for the entirety of the operation.  And of course Kerry’s entire chain of command, including SBVT members Hoffmann, Lonsdale, and Elliott, thought his actions were exactly "the stuff of which" a Silver Star was awarded, and said so again in 1996, in 2003 (Elliott and Hoffmann), and in 2004 (Lonsdale).  

As noted in Unfit for Command, Kerry received the medal only two days after the event occurred and without proper review.

No, it was awarded six days after the event, on March 6, 1969.  Didn’t they even bother to check Tour of Duty(pp. 293-294),  or the "prior decorations" entry in his  Bronze Star recommendation?   Of course the entire chain of command insisted in 1996 that the medal was thoroughly reviewed, including eyewitness accounts.

The after-action report account closely resembled the Unfit for Command version and not the nerve-tingling kill or be killed version presented in Tour of Duty.

Oh God, it’s hard to stop laughing.  See above.

SERVING AS PROXIES for Kerry, a handful of his longtime supporters sent a June 19, 2008 letter to Pickens claiming they refuted the Unfit for Command account of the events of February 28, 1969, and demanded Pickens' million dollars. The Kerry supporters offered little more than unsubstantiated personal accounts and an ABC Nightline news report later judged to be seriously misleading.

"Little more than unsubstantiated personal accounts"?  I guess he didn’t read the letter or the description of attachments.  See above.

Their 14-page letter is filled with holes, but let us examine just one. The evidence suggesting Kerry shot a man in the back that was fleeing from battle proved damaging to Kerry's 2004 electoral efforts. Kerry's supporters did him no favors in their rebuttal letter to Pickens. According to their account, one Kerry supporter remembered seeing the dead guerilla "laying on his back" with the bullet "exit wound on the side of the VC." If the guerrilla was laying face up and the only visible wound was an exit wound on his side, then this suggests the entry wound was in the man's back.

Well, part of your problem, Mark, is that you failed to notice the Gibson account was not offered to rebut a false claim of Kerry shooting the guy in the back, but to rebut SBVT’s false claim that it was "a young Viet Cong in a loincloth" ("First falsehood," veterans’ letter linked above) .  If you had bothered to Google the Gibson account (linked above) referenced in the letter, you would know that he specifically said:

"He had not been shot in the back as some have stated. Rather, he had an entry wound at the side of his chest and exit wound at the opposite side of the chest cavity, a wound that was consistent with reports of the man turning to fire a second B-40 rocket."

Mark, you are SUCH a lazybones !

Kerry claimed to have been wounded during a nighttime patrol in a Boston Whaler only days after he arrived in Vietnam. Tour of Duty provided an account of a wild firefight between Kerry and Vietnamese enemy during which a piece of enemy shrapnel "socked into my arm and just seemed to burn like hell."

Actually, it was William Schahte who described it to the Boston Globe in 2003 as a "firefight" in which "Kerry got hit."   Tour of Duty says nothing about VC firing on him.

Again, an eyewitness account in Unfit for Command offered a markedly different sequence of events. William Schachte, who later rose to the rank of Rear Admiral, was in the Boston Whaler alongside Kerry. According to Schachte's recollection, "Kerry picked up an M-79 grenade launcher and fired a grenade too close [to the Whaler], causing a tiny piece of shrapnel (one to two centimeters) to barely stick in his arm....There was no enemy fire."

Not a single other eyewitness places Schachte in the boat.  Not the two crewmen, Runyon and Zaladonis (Boston Globe piece linked above), not James Wasser, who was on the accompanying Swift Boat (ToD, pp. 156-158), and not Mike Voss, the OIC of the Swift Boat, who said he had no idea whether Schachte was on the skimmer or not  (Boston Globe, above).    The two crewmen are also certain that neither they nor Kerry fired a grenade launcher that night .

Then-Lieutenant Commander Louis Letson was the Navy medical officer who treated Kerry's wound. "Dr. Letson used tweezers to remove the tiny fragment, which he identified as shrapnel like that from an M-79 (not from a rifle bullet, etc.), and put a small bandage of Kerry's arm."

Oh, you mean Louis Letson, who has not a shred of evidence that he treated Kerry?  Louis Letson, who if he actually did treat Kerry, is in violation of doctor-patient confidentiality requirements (and probably federal law) by saying anything at all?  Louis Letson, whose story changes with the  telling, and who originally claimed he thought the fragment came from a mortar fired from a Boston whaler?   Louis Letson, who insisted he heard the story (or maybe "his guys" did, or ... ?) from Kerry’s "crewmen," even though neither of Kerry’s crewmen, nor any from the Swift Boat, went to sick bay with him? Wow, you guys are just bowling us over with all those credible sources!

The possibility certainly exists of Navy officials losing a combat casualty card or personnel casualty report. According to a Navy archivist, the possibility of losing both documents for the same individual and for the same event is "virtually impossible."

Notice the false assumption - that casualty feeder forms (the correct term) were always filed and maintained under these circumstances - turning into a false implication - that both documents were required for a Purple Heart?  Even if both had been prepared and filed in this case, of course it’s not "virtually impossible" that neither has shown up, as anyone who has ever tried to find documents from the Vietnam era will attest. But keep looking...after all, the Navy inspector general said ALL Kerry’s awards were approved and awarded according to the proper procedures.

As a back-up to his claim, Kerry could make public his Navy medical records detailing the extent of his injury from the night of December 3, 1968, and the subsequent medical treatment.

He did, way back in 2004.  

More links to documents, etc. here:  


An excellent debunking site, with links:

Truth and Unfit for Command


To sum up, Mark Hyman has thrown a gutter ball, embarrassing even for his low standards.

Of course an online rag like American Spectator won’t allow its contributors to be embarrassed by the inclusion of comments.  But the piece is being picked up at plenty of wingnut sites that probably do allow comments.  

I hope people will put the lie to this piece of sleaze.

Originally posted to matchpoint on Sun Jul 13, 2008 at 03:38 PM PDT.

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