Saturday, October 21, 2006
POWs Lawsuit: Could it force Kerry's hand?When John Kerry slandered an entire generation of men who fought in Vietnam he branded them as "war criminals." Today, much of the same thing is being said about our young men and women in Iraq.
Now, a lawsuit filed in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas will test the very foundation of Kerry’s anti-war persona for the first time. It isn’t dubious medals or Kerry’s disputed service record in Vietnam that is being called into question. This time Kerry may finally be forced to answer for the events that launched his public career, one that made him an anti-war hero for many American liberals and a turncoat for millions of Vietnam veterans.
The lawsuit (Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation, et al. v. Kenneth Campbell, et al.) challenges the basis, the factual accuracy of then Lt. (j.g.) Kerry’s acrimonious testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. It was there Kerry’s public career was catapulted with his now ubiquitous portrayal of American soldiers as murderers, rapists and torturers "who ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam . . . [and] razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan."
For the anti-war, anti-American protesters, the American soldiers are the "terrorists," and the enemies are the victims of a barbaric U.S. military which tortures and murders defenseless civilians.
That false premise, one of the most vicious and enduring smears spawned by Kerry 35 years ago, will also be put to the test once Kerry’s true "Band of Brothers" are put under oath in a Philadelphia courtroom.
The background to this lawsuit is long and complex, but even a condensed version is rich in irony and poetic justice.
It had it roots in 2004 with the documentary Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal. Many may recall the film, although it is probably best known for not being seen, suppressed after Sinclair Broadcasting Company courageously announced it was going to air the documentary in its entirety. Thanks to Kerry and his liberal colleagues in the Senate and their enablers in the mainstream media, Sinclair was browbeaten into withdrawing the film, its broadcast license threatened by a Kerry campaign manager in 2004. The film’s producer, Carlton Sherwood, a Pulitzer Prize and Peabody Award-winning investigative reporter, interviewed former POWs for the documentary.
I was among those whom Sherwood, a decorated Marine combat veteran himself, asked to participate in Stolen Honor. I was a POW for nearly six years, held in North Vietnam prison camps, including the notorious Hanoi Hilton, a place of unimaginable horrors — torture, beatings, starvation and mind-numbing isolation. When Kerry branded us "war criminals," he handed our captors all the justification they needed to carry out their threats to execute us. Thanks to Kerry, Jane Fonda and their comrades in the anti-war movement, our captivity was prolonged by years. The communists in Hanoi and Moscow couldn’t have had a better press agent to spread their anti-American propaganda.
To guarantee Stolen Honor would never be seen by anyone — not even theatre-goers — the producer was slapped with a libel and defamation lawsuit.
That lawsuit was filed by a long-time anti-war disciple of the Massachusetts Senator. He was one of Kerry's key war crimes "witnesses," one of several on whom Kerry claims he based his Senate testimony.
The lawsuit put a unique spin on the definition of defamation, claiming that Stolen Honor had damaged the public reputations of himself, Kerry and others by simply quoting their own words and criticisms of America during the Vietnam war!
The POWs and the wives of POWs who participated in Stolen Honor refused to abandon the facts conveyed in the film. For some of us, it was the first time since our release by the Communists in 1973 that we were able to have our voices publicly heard, to tell our stories about the consequences of Kerry’s treachery. In 2005, we formed a nonprofit organization, the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation (VVLF), to gather records, documents and other materials to form a fact-based, educational repository for students and scholars of Vietnam history and to tell the true story of the American soldiers in Vietnam. The VVLF’s mission is "to set the record straight, factually, about Vietnam and those who fought there."
For our efforts, we were promptly sued by two long-time anti-war Kerry followers and VVAW members. It was clear that Kerry not only wanted to punish us for Stolen Honor; he intended to use surrogates to sue us into permanent silence and financial ruin.
Forced to spend huge sums to defend ourselves from these frivolous lawsuits, we have filed a countersuit against these Kerry surrogates and intend to reveal the truth about the lawsuits and their sponsors. We believe that we can prove that the purpose of nearly two years of litigation was to protect John Kerry, to drain us financially and spiritually, and to prevent us from setting the record straight.
At stake is ultimately nothing less than the integrity of the American military in Vietnam, the honor of the men who served their country, the nobility of those who gave their lives, and the truth of America’s history in Vietnam. Until or unless we do correct the existing record, the American military may never be free of the myths and smears of Vietnam, its honor and integrity cleansed as it fights to defend freedom at home and around the world.
Our mission is hardly over. We hope you will join us in fighting this battle . . . for our soldiers, then and now. For more information about Vietnam, the foregoing litigation, or to make a donation, please access the VVLF website.
Col. George E. "Bud" Day
Director and President,
Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation
Col. George E. "Bud" Day, USAF (Ret.,) was a POW in North Vietnam for five years, seven months and 13 days. He served in three wars (WWII, Korea, and Vietnam) and earned the Medal of Honor. He is the Air Force’s most decorated living veteran. He is the Director and President of the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation, Inc., an organization created to better educate and inform the public about the Vietnam War, its events, its history, and the men and women who sacrificed to serve their country. Please go here to read Col. Day’s statement in its entirety.