Sunday, August 22, 2004

The NYTimes > Campaign > The Military Record: Officer From Another Swift Boat B

The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > The Military Record: Officer From Another Swift Boat B:
"William B. Rood, is now an editor at The Chicago Tribune, which ran on its Web site yesterday and in Sunday's paper a 1,750-word first-person article in which Mr. Rood recounted the mission. His account added to a growing debate over the most serious claims from the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. And it ensured that questions swirling around the veracity of the group's claims, and the Kerry campaign's accusations that the group was connected to the Bush campaign, would dominate the contest for yet another day.
Mr. Rood stepped forward after Mr. Kerry called him and another veteran on Mr. Rood's boat as members of the Swift boat group blanketed cable television and radio talk shows to repeat their claim, also made in a book and a television advertisement, that Mr. Kerry had fabricated his military accomplishments to win medals.

Mr. Kerry's phone calls were part of his campaign's first concerted push to address the group's claims, which surfaced weeks ago. That push also included the release of a new Internet advertisement on Saturday highlighting accusations made about Senator John McCain by military supporters of Mr. Bush in 2000 and a public call by Mr. Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards, for Mr. Bush to tell the group to cease running advertisements against Mr. Kerry. "

The Swift boat group, which garnered much of its initial financing from men who have supported Mr. Bush's and his father's political endeavors, has been ready to defend itself and quickly provided a statement Saturday saying Mr. Rood's article was politically motivated. The group continues to raise money and on Friday introduced an advertisement with former prisoners of war recounting the pain Mr. Kerry's 1971 antiwar comments caused them when they were being held by the Vietcong.

Mr. Bush's campaign confirmed on Saturday an accusation by the Kerry campaign that one of the veterans in the that advertisement was a member the Bush campaign's veterans' advisory committee. The Bush campaign said in a statement that it did not know that the man, retired Col. Kenneth Cordier, was going to appear in the advertisement and because of that he was no longer a volunteer.

The Bush campaign denies involvement with the Swift boat group and on Saturday released a statement to the Federal Election Commission saying that the Kerry campaign's accusations of coordination were untrue. The Bush camp has declined to tell the group to stop running advertisements, but aides said Mr. Kerry should join Mr. Bush in calling for all outside groups to stop advertising.

In his article Mr. Rood disputed a claim the Swift boat group made in its book, "Unfit for Command," that Mr. Kerry had received his Silver Star for chasing down a lone Vietcong teenager "in a loincloth" who may or may not have been armed on Feb. 28, 1969.

Mr. Rood was the skipper of one of three boats involved in the mission with Mr. Kerry, conducting a sweep for the enemy through a tributary of the Bay Hap River. "I have no idea how old the gunner Kerry chased that day was," Mr. Rood wrote, but "he was a grown man, dressed in the kind of garb the VC usually wore." He also wrote that Mr. Kerry had devised a plan to face into enemy fire, a breach of typical procedure.

He added, referring to John O'Neill, a co-author of "Unfit for Command" and a leader of the Swift boat group: "The man Kerry chased was not the 'lone' attacker at that site, as O'Neill suggests. There were others who fled. There was also firing from the tree line well behind the spider holes and at one point, from the opposite riverbank as well."

Mr. Rood also noted that Roy F. Hoffmann, a retired rear admiral who was the Swift boat group's commander, lauded the operation at the time in glowing terms. Mr. Hoffmann is, with Mr. O'Neill, one of the main engineers of the anti-Kerry group's effort.
con·cept: The NYTimes > Campaign > The Military Record: Officer From Another Swift Boat B