Lead story on MSNBC.com:
Bush, his family have many ties to Swift Boat vets
Some who now rip Kerry previously praised him
MSNBC staff and news service reports
Updated: 3:06 p.m. ET Aug. 20, 2004
The veterans behind the controversial TV ads that question Sen. John Kerry’s Vietnam war record have extensive ties to President Bush and his family, other high-profile Texas politicians and Bush’s chief political aide — ties that have raised questions about possible illegal coordination between Bush’s re-election campaign and the veterans.
Described as a “web of connections,” the links between the Bushes and the veterans were detailed in a Friday piece in the New York Times that also listed inconsistencies in the veterans' own public statements on their regard for Kerry.
[snip]..."A series of interviews and a review of documents show a web of connections to the Bush family, high-profile Texas political figures and President Bush's chief political aide, Karl Rove," the Times reported. "Several of those now declaring Mr. Kerry 'unfit' had lavished praise on him, some as recently as last year.
...Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said the charge that Bush was in league with the group criticizing Kerry’s war record “is absolutely and completely false. The Bush campaign has never and will never question John Kerry’s service in Vietnam.” But the Bush campaign has, in fact, refused to specifically disavow the Swift Boat veteran’s ad.
More from the NY Times front page:
Records show that the group received the bulk of its initial financing from two men with ties to the president and his family - one a longtime political associate of Mr. Rove's, the other a trustee of the foundation for Mr. Bush's father's presidential library. A Texas publicist who once helped prepare Mr. Bush's father for his debate when he was running for vice president provided them with strategic advice.
Tied to Bush or not, they're also full of shit...
...on close examination, the accounts of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth' prove to be riddled with inconsistencies. In many cases, material offered as proof by these veterans is undercut by official Navy records and the men's own statements...
...Several of those now declaring Mr. Kerry "unfit" had lavished praise on him, some as recently as last year.
In an unpublished interview in March 2003 with Mr. Kerry's authorized biographer, Douglas Brinkley, provided by Mr. Brinkley to The New York Times, Roy F. Hoffmann, a retired rear admiral and a leader of the group, allowed that he had disagreed with Mr. Kerry's antiwar positions but said, "I am not going to say anything negative about him." He added, "He's a good man."
In a profile of the candidate that ran in The Boston Globe in June 2003, Mr. Hoffmann approvingly recalled the actions that led to Mr. Kerry's Silver Star: "It took guts, and I admire that."
George Elliott, one of the Vietnam veterans in the group, flew from his home in Delaware to Boston in 1996 to stand up for Mr. Kerry during a tough re-election fight, declaring at a news conference that the action that won Mr. Kerry a Silver Star was "an act of courage." At that same event, Adrian L. Lonsdale, another Vietnam veteran now speaking out against Mr. Kerry, supported him with a statement about the "bravado and courage of the young officers that ran the Swift boats."
"Senator Kerry was no exception," Mr. Lonsdale told the reporters and cameras assembled at the Charlestown Navy Yard. "He was among the finest of those Swift boat drivers."
Those comments echoed the official record. In an evaluation of Mr. Kerry in 1969, Mr. Elliott, who was one of his commanders, ranked him as "not exceeded" in 11 categories, including moral courage, judgment and decisiveness, and "one of the top few" - the second-highest distinction - in the remaining five. In written comments, he called Mr. Kerry "unsurpassed," "beyond reproach" and "the acknowledged leader in his peer group."